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So the Murderer attacks a family. He kills the father and the mother and is left with the child. However, we never get to see the murderer kill the child. There may be a scream, but no shadow or gore, if any, gets shown to the viewers at all. This is a very common practice, especially in Hollywood and many Western films, due to the heavy taboos surrounding deaths of children (and that's with Death of a Child. Onscreen child deaths have it even worse). This still occurs even in most violent movies, where child deaths are off screen. This is usually due to that such onscreen deaths would result in censorship from the Media Watchdogs. This may also be due to the risks of the Moral Guardians complaining about such deaths onscreen. While there are some notable aversions, such aversions are rare to encounter in most works that contain children.

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A subtrope of Discretion Shot, Killed Offscreen, and Death of a Child. Compare and contrast Improbable Infant Survival, as while the child survives, these depict a child not seen dying. Related to Empathy Doll Shot, wherein a child's favorite toy is presumably all that's left of them.

Note: Mainly preteens (less than 13 years of age) are accepted, although if this applies to younger teenagers, especially compared to the depiction of adult deaths, this can be accepted. And this is a Death Trope, so expect unmarked spoilers.


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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Suzy Puppy, an anti-puppy farming Public Service Announcement, only talks about Suzy's inevitable death from parvovirus; she is not shown dying onscreen and her body is not shownnote  when the little girl buries her.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The closest Case Closed has come to killing a child on-screen was the start of the sixth Non-Serial Movie Detective Conan Film 06: The Phantom of Baker Street, which starts with a ten-year old Child Prodigy jumping off a skyscraper. He removed his shoes and stood at the ledge of the balcony before cutting away to a scene minutes later when his superiors, who have been trying to get into his room, find his shoes...
  • Goblin Slayer: During the scene where Goblin Slayer has to wipe out the children of the goblin den in the first episode, there's plenty of sound to be heard as he's doing it, but the camera cuts away as he is bringing the club down, focusing instead on poor Priestess having a breakdown as she's listening to this, though there is blood in the aftermath of the act.
  • Hunter × Hunter Chimera Ant Arc begins with one of the Queen's servants coming upon two siblings, with the brother trying to defend his sister, and the screen promptly pulls away before the ant goes to strike them. Later we see the Queen Ant eating...something and proclaiming it's delicious.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood, there's a scene of a woman brought before Dio and begging her baby to be spared. Dio complies... by turning her into a vampire and her feeding on the child. In the manga, this was shown in clear and gory detail. But the anime version, even with being alright showing mortal blows, drew the line at showcasing this and instead had the woman feeds on the baby offscreen. Much of the fanbase was actually relieved for this and one of the changes they were more than happy to see omitted.
  • While Space Runaway Ideon is known for killing off the entire cast which includes onscreen deaths of the children, they never show the death of Piper Lou, who is a baby. Though it's guaranteed that he didn't make it out alive given how the rest of the surviving cast was vaporized.

    Films — Animated 
  • The BFG: The scene in which the Fleshlumpeater devours a sleeping boy is made even scarier because we don't actually see him do it. Instead, when he reaches into the boy's window, it cuts to Sophie, whose reaction says it all, before cutting back to Fleshlumpeater, obviously chewing something we can't see.
  • In Little Nezha Conquers The Dragon King, one of Nezha's friends, a little girl is snatched by the dragon king's minions who drag her under the sea, later Nezha asks for her back and the Dragon King's son Ao Bing tells him that he has already eaten her, which leads to Nezha killing him in revenge.
  • Tarzan opens with Kerchak and Kala watching their infant child being mauled by Sabor the leopard, though the baby gorilla's death is not shown on-screen.
  • In the short “The Children and the Bear” after some children release a skinny and emaciated bear from his cage and eats his cruel owner, he befriends the children but soon he gets hungry and starts eating the children one by one until only a handful are left, whenever he eats a child they either disappear in a cloud of dust or he carries them away off camera and his stomach gets bigger.
  • In Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Wonder Woman forces that universe's version of Shazam!, Captain Thunder, back into his unpowered form of six children by using her golden lasso to force him to say his transformation word. Before they can react and retransform Wonder Woman grabs one of the children (Billy Batson), lifts him up by his wrists (onscreen), stabs him twice with a broken sword killing him (offscreen), before letting his dead body fall to the floor (onscreen).
  • The Prince of Egypt: When the Angel of Death strikes, we see a little boy carrying a jar inside his home. A gasp is then heard, and through the doorway, his arm is seen slumping lifelessly on the ground. Other firstborns are seen after their death such as the Pharaoh's.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • The theatrical cut of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem gleefully dances on the line. Though numerous children die, much of it is offscreen. The predalien reproduces by implanting embryos into pregnant women, the subsequent chestbursters presumably eat the unborn infant before "birth", and while we see a kid get hit by a facehugger, it cuts away once it latches on. Averted in the extended cut, where we see said kid die due to his chestburster.
  • In the The Matrix Revolutions, while it was implied that Smith assimilated Sati, her assimilation was never seen or heard.
  • In the The Changeling, we see a father drowns his own son, and no, it is not abrupt. We see it in slow motion and with slow but intense audio.
  • Dreaming the Reality: In the opening assassination scene, the explosive Booby Trap meant for the target ends up being interrupted by a school bus full of children, which gets blown up from a distance away.
  • Dredd: In the aftermath of the attack by the rotary cannons, a lone child crawls from the rubble caused by the destruction since he was lucky enough to be just short enough that most of the fire was above his head. However, his older sister was shown hiding next to him earlier, and her absence has tragic implications.
  • Land of the Dead: Several children are in the crowd of people who are trapped between the electric fence and the zombies. They aren't explicitly visible in the crowd of fresh bodies the zombies are eating later, but it is doubtful they could have escaped.
  • Looper have one of Old Joe's first kills, a child he mistook to be the Rainmaker's younger self. We see the child looking at Joe, then a close-up on Joe's revolver, then the camera pans out as Joe pulls the trigger.
  • Titanic: Viewers get to see a 3rd class mother telling her children a bedtime story as their room fills with water. Viewers also see dozens of children and infants floating dead in the water, but no actual drownings are shown.
  • Double Subverted in It (2017). When it was about to kill Georgie, instead of an offscreen death, we see him ripping his arm off, with Georgie trying to escape. Then It reaches out to get him. This time, his death is offscreen.
  • Warlock (1989). The warlock is shown talking to a child. When the child asks him what he needs to fly, he gives an Evil Laugh. The child is later found dead, and Redferne learns that the child was unbaptized. Redferne tells Kassandra that the warlock needed the fat from an unbaptized child to make a flying potion. All of this indirectly tells the audience that the warlock killed the child offscreen.
  • Double Subverted in Final Destination. A baby and a mentally handicapped patient are shown among the passengers of a doomed flight, but not during a premonition of how all the passengers die, or when the plane explodes for real at a distance.
  • Happens in The Lodge, possibly overlapping with Improbable Infant Survival, it ends with the strong implication that Grace is about to kill Aidan and Mia, even though we see her kill Richard in all its blood. However, the fact that we don't see it occur has led to some speculation that Grace actually came back from her psychotic break and was "only" trying to terrify Aidan and Mia, but it's most commonly accepted that Grace killed them both and then herself.
  • Maximum Overdrive, subverted, we see many people die, we even see a dog who has died with a toy police car in its mouth, poor thing, but in one scene, we see a possessed steamroller drive over one boy on a baseball field the other boy ran off in fear.
  • Nightbreed: Doctor Decker, a serial killer who targets families, is shown attacking a household of three in the opening. The mother and father are graphically murdered with a butcher's knife, but he's only seen menacingly approaching their young son before the screen fades to black.
  • In Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald when Grindelwald and co. take over a family's apartment when they get to Paris. The husband and wife are quickly killed but they later find the toddler son. They debate over killing him. Grindelwald shuts the door as he gives one of his minions the okay and all you see is the flash of green light from the killing curse from under the door.
  • Zigzagged in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, children are used as sacrifices by Conal Cochran as a Pagan ritual. They are given masks that end up killing them containing creepy crawlers (spiders, snakes, etc.). In a scene, Dr. Daniel Challis waits in a room with Conal Cochran and others to see what the masks do. In a contained room a boy is with his parents. The jingle plays on a screen igniting a button on the provided mask that the boy wears. As the jingle goes on, the boy antagonizes with pain as these critters lurk inside. We go from shots between the rooms, but we for the most part see the boy (a child) dying. At the end of the film, the jingle flashes on screens for advertising for children around to see, and Dr. Daniel Challis screams on the phone, repeatedly, to stop the jingle before it is too late, but it is heavily implied it does not.
  • Zigzagged in Freddy vs. Jason. In his opening scene, Freddy is shown with one of his child victims, but her death is only implied with her screams as the camera focuses on her doll being burned in a furnace. Later, Lori comes across the same little girl in the dream world... with her eyes gouged out.
  • In The Ten Commandments (1956), the actual murders of the Hebrew children aren't shown, but one Egyptian soldier does clean blood from his sword while a mother stands nearby with a Thousand-Yard Stare...
  • In Sleepy Hollow (1999), the Headless Horseman kills the Midwife Killian, her husband, and their young son, who was hiding beneath the floor. The scene cuts away, only returning to show the Horseman stuffing something into a sack.
  • Both Mad Max and The Punisher (2004) have the protagonist's son be run down by a villain-driven car, cutting away at the last second, in films that otherwise are not shy about graphic acts of violence.
  • Invasion U.S.A. (1985): While Hunter manages to stop a terrorist attack against a school bus in time, he's later seen surveying a destroyed carnival ride that was the target of a different attack, with it all but being stated that children were killed off-screen.
  • The baby scene from Dracula adaptations usually do this.
    • In the 1977 Dracula TV movie, we see the brides pull out the baby from the bag. Then cut to Johnathan's horrified expression before cutting back to two of the brides, now having full red eyes and blood on their mouths.
    • The 1977 Christopher Lee version had him point to a bag on the floor when one bride asks what they're supposed to eat. The brides quickly run over to it, grab the bag and leave.
    • In the 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula had the brides purring up to Dracula before he presents them with a baby. The three take, crowd around the baby, giggling, and descend upon it before we cut to Johnathan screaming.
  • In Count Yorga, a scene between Hayes and his girlfriend had them discussing if the police would believe Hayes about vampires, with the girlfriend saying she would due to reading about a baby being found in the swamp, it's neck chewed up and drained of its blood. There was mean to be a scene showing one of the brides doing this, but the scene was cut likely due to being too disturbing.
  • In Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, during the 501st Legion's attack on the Jedi Temple, Anakin walks into the Council chamber, where a large number of younglings are hiding. One of them asks what they're going to do to survive...only for Anakin to ignite his lightsaber. While we don't see him do the deed, we see plenty of child-sized bodies afterward. Not to mention the likely hundreds of other children massacred by the new Empire.
  • Subverted in The Blob (1988), when we see Eddie get dragged underwater by the Blob to be eaten. Then the Blob lifts him out of the water just to scare his friends, half-dissolved and all.
  • In the bloody climax of Ready or Not (2019), Emilie grabs her two young sons and tries to run away with them in a desperate attempt to escape the explosive effect of the curse. They manage to make it out of the room- and offscreen- before three more explosions are heard and a rain of blood sprays in from the open door.
  • Tian Di: Part of the villain's Establishing Character Moment that paints him as a scumbag had him pretending to be passive and tolerant to an old man and a little girl who had interrupted his banquet, where he had both of them sent off together with a little wrapped present for the child. A present filled with C4, which blows up the old man and child from a distance away.
  • The Kingdom: While children die in the bombing, this is only conveyed through dialogue, a small baseball cap lying on the ground, and a boy who may have still been alive being carried in a man's arms. The two children who receive the most screentime during the attack (a boy on a tricycle and a girl playing softball) both appear to survive and the two families interviewed by the team only lost one (adult) member between them. 
  • Ultraman Tiga: The Final Odyssey: During Daigo's vision of himself turning into Ultraman Tiga and embracing his real, formerly evil nature, one of the first thing Dark Tiga did before going on a rampage is to squash a little girl with his fist, but that was censored. All the audience see is Dark Tiga's fist hitting something, then the child's balloon floating into the air. A minute later however the scene turns out to be just a nightmare sequence.
  • Vengeance (2009 Heroic Bloodshed drama) opens with Costello's daughter, son-in-law and grandsons getting massacred, kickstarting Costello's quest of vengeance. While his son-in-law and daughter gets graphically shot onscreen, his grandsons, both hiding in a closet, are shot through the door with their deaths obscured and a pool of blood later confirming their fates.
  • Once Upon a Time in the West introduces its villain Frank while he's slaughtering a family of farmers with his gang. The parents are shown shot on-screen. However, when it comes to their infant son, there's only a shot of Frank's cold opening fire, and the child's death happens off-screen.
  • Doctor Sleep:Played straight with the little girl at the beginning of the movie. We see the villains rush in to grab her after surrounding her, and the scene switches to her mother looking for her as we see RVs driving away. Averted later in the movie when they kidnap another child and we see in horrifyingly graphic detail how they kill him (which presumably is the same way they killed her earlier) in order to absorb his "steam".

    Literature 
  • Devolution: In a possible overlap with Improbable Infant Survival, the book ends with Kate and Palomino, the child, alone in the camp, and they eventually leave. Frank notes that it's most likely they starved or froze while trying to leave and simply couldn't make it without a map or were killed by the sasquatches. But Frank still says he hopes that Kate and Palomino are out there killing Sasquatch, and it's possible they are.
  • As stated above, Dracula has a part where the brides attempt to feed on Johnathan Harker when he ends up in their parlor. But are stopped by Dracula who still needs Harker alive/un-vamped for the time being. One bride complains if they're meant to have nothing that night. Dracula pulls out a "wiggling bag" and hands it to them. While we're never really given a detailed description of what was in it, Harker just manages to make out a "tiny gasp" when the women look in it, implying there's a child in there. But passes out before he sees any more. Considering, later on, a mother comes to the castle cursing Dracula and demanding the return of her child. Yeeeah...
  • In The Cold Moons, most of the cubs die off-screen, though there are a few who don't.
  • The closest Harry Potter gets to killing a child on the page is when Voldemort murders a German woman and her two kids in the last book, but Harry’s vision cuts away right before it happens. Cedric Diggory is the youngest character to be killed "on-page", but at 17 he's too old to qualify for this trope.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Black Mirror episode "Crocodile," a Gory Discretion Shot is used as Mia bludgeons Shazia to death and Mia's murder of Shazia's husband is shown onscreen. The scene cuts away when the character realizes that the infant son must die as well (since his memories can be used as testimony in the context of the episode). The next time the victims' house is shown, a police officer wonders out loud who would kill a baby.
  • Breaking Bad: In "Dead Freight", the criminal main characters are forced to shoot a young teenager, Drew Sharp, for accidentally witnessing a train robbery. The following episode, "Buyout", uses the dismantlement of Drew's bike as a proxy for Disposing of a Body, but the destruction of Drew's corpse with acid is kept offscreen. All the audience is shown is a hand being uncovered from a pile of dirt and Walt grabbing another barrel with a solemn look on his face.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • Borderline example in "Psychodrama" (Season 2, Episode 4) and all the more Nightmare Fuel-laden for it: the Monster of the Week, a psychotic bank robber that forced his hostages to strip down and any children in the crowd to attack their parents (as a way to express his own hatred for his parents and what he wanted to do to them through an acting technique he learnt in prison (the titular "psychodrama")) at gunpoint pushes a kid to the ground and empties his MAC-10 sub-machine gun into him in a rage when the kid refuses to strike his mother on one of his robberies. Garcia and the other BAU agents, who see this after the fact by watching the bank's security tapes (which also means that the kid is pushed just barely "off-screen" before being shot) are understandably horrified.
    • In "The Caller" (Season 9, Episode 10), a boy goes missing and the BAU is called to investigate. The father tags along, leading to the moment when we find the boy's dead body. The boy's body is hidden from view, meaning we only know he's dead once we see the father react with an inconsolable wail. Since how the body was positioned is a clue in the case, we do get Rossi describing what the body looks like and how it's positioned.
  • The Sci-Fi Channel's miniseries of Dune shows Harkonnen forces invading a Fremen sanctuary where Paul and Chani's son, barely a toddler, lives. After killing his nursemaid, they see the boy sitting alone on the floor as Rabban smirks, reaching for his knife. Far away, Chani hears a child crying in her dreams as Paul comes into her room and bluntly says, "Our son is dead."
  • In Game of Thrones, King Joffrey Baratheon orders the City Watch to kill all of Robert Baratheon's known bastards which he considers them as threats to his claim for the Iron Throne. While most of these bastards are teenagers such as Gendry, the youngest is still an infant. When Ser Janos Slynt of the City Watch orders one of his men to kill the baby, he refuses, causing Janos to do the deed instead in front the mother by grabbing a knife to stab the baby. The next scene cuts away to the mother wailing in terror as she watches her child die in front of her.
  • Westworld: The Man in Black kills Maeve's daughter by shooting her. But the scene shows him shooting her offscreen and then, it went to Maeve's reaction to her daughter's death.
  • In an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger, a hitman has tracked down a family in the witness protection program. The final shot before the commercial break is of him confronting the son in the kitchen as he's getting himself something to drink. Afterwards, all we see is the spilled bottle of juice and the rangers lamenting, "He killed him where he stood".

    Video Games 
  • ANNIE: Last Hope have the death of the only major child character, seven-year-old Jessica, happening offscreen. One of your missions have you trying to locate your friend, the father-daughter duo, Mike and Jessica, after the zombie outbreak - you find Mike's corpse hanging from a tree and his suicide note revealing he's forced to pull an Offing the Offspring on Jessica after she gets infected by the zombie virus, but Jessica's demise isn't shown.
  • In The Sims, the Social Worker NPC spawns to remove the child from the household, when the child is exposed to certain dangers (such of starvation) that would kill an adult.
  • The third Deception game pulls a Fade to Black before it could show assassin Miguel kill the little brother of the protagonist, Reina.
  • BioShock and BioShock 2 gives players a choice to "harvest" the slug off a Little Sister, but at the expense of the young girl's life. Unsurprisingly, the girl's death is shrouded with green goo, and thus the resulting murder was carried out off-screen.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) demonstrates two examples:
    • When The Butcher proceeds to kill a kid's parent, the death occurred onscreen. However, when the kid tried to run into the smoke behind, The Butcher shoots him whilst inside the smoke, thus concealing the death.
    • If you try to kill the baby in "Clean House", the screen will become completely black, as opposed to blurring instantly when you accidently hit too many civilians or allied characters.
  • Mass Effect 3: At the beginning of the game, Shepherd helps a child get onto an escape vessel, but the vessel is shot down by the Reapers, killing everyone in it. None the less, since we don't hear screams or see dead bodies. Being that the game usually does not shy away from showing dead bodies and other assorted graphic violence, it's an example.
  • Spec Ops: The Line: Zig-zagged in that you do not see the death itself, but the aftermath - showing a dead mother and child burnt to a crisp in each other's arms. And the worst part? It's all your fault.

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 
  • Unsounded: While there are child deaths shown there's a little girl during the culling of Ethelmik shown crying over her mother's corpse while one of Bell's zealots stands behind her hands glowing with deadly spellcraft.

    Web Animation 
  • In The Twins (2022), once he's pushed onto a road by Lake, Lucas ends up dying after getting hit by a car offscreen. The silhouettes that appear on his broken glasses show Lake dragging his body across the road.

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