Follow TV Tropes

Following

Censored Child Death

Go To

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, for very obvious reasons, even in most violent movies, where child deaths are off screen. This is usually due to 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.

Advertisement:

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: If it's teenagers, then it's not this trope, as teenagers have been known to fight back. Maximum age of 11 is accepted. And this is a Death Trope, so expect unmarked spoilers.


Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the The Matrix Revolutions, while it was implied that Smith assimilated Sati, her assimilation was never seen or heard.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, 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, 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.
  • Averted in The Blob (1988), when we see Eddie get half-dissolved by the blob.
Advertisement:

    Literature 
  • The Sci-Fi Channel's film 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."
  • 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 anymore. Considering, later on, a mother comes to the castle cursing Dracula and demanding the return of her child. Yeeeah...

    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.
  • Borderline example on an episode of Criminal Minds ("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 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 
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 

    Western Animation 
  • 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, gasp, then only his arm is visible after collapsing. Other firstborns are seen after their death such as the Pharaoh's.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report