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Deadly Bath

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Yet another reason not to fall asleep in the bath...

"Oh, no! Itís dark in here and here I am in the shower! Alone! Iím so naked and vulnerable!"

Taking a bath is risky business, at least in entertainment media. Nine times out of ten, either something happens to interrupt the bath, or you die. This is the latter.

In part, this is due to the Law of Conservation of Detail . The only reason to show somebody doing something as mundane as bathing is because something narratively important is going to happen during that bath — unless it's just for Fanservice.

And it isn't hard to see why the bathtub or shower would be such a common place for murderers to show up. Bathing is when you're at your most vulnerable; relaxed, alone, naked, possibly with water in your eyes, in a small room that usually has one door and no windows.

Or, alternatively, it's a Bath Suicide; a time that should be relaxing and pleasant becomes suddenly awful.

Whether murder or suicide, there may be an Electrified Bathtub involved. The "Psycho" Shower Murder Parody is a particularly common example of this trope — or a subversion, depending on the humor content. A Deadly Bath will very commonly lead directly to Blood Is Squicker in Water. Paranoid and/or Genre Savvy characters may feel they Can't Bathe Without a Weapon in anticipation of this trope.

Whenever it's a killer or monster that's the cause of death, the victim is always a woman for some reason.

A Candlelit Bath can easily turn into one of these when it isn't turning to romance.

Subtrope of the Bathtub Scene, Shower Scene. Almost always overlaps with Toilet Horror.

Not to be confused with Blood Bath.

As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


    open/close all folders 

  • In the controversial ad campaign for the Hitman game Blood Money, the "Shockingly Executed" ad features a dead woman who has been electrocuted by a toaster in a romantic candlelit bath.
  • Nationwide Insurance has an equally controversial campaign — thanks largely to its debut during the 2015 Super Bowl — which features an adorable little boy narrating all the adventures he'll never get to have, because he drowned in the bathtub as a child.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Discussed and invoked by the cult's plot in Simon Dark. The cult is spreading a zombie-like possession via little shadowy demonic entities in soap, so the victims tend to die shortly after their baths but the idea that a bath is dangerous is brought up as everyone's paranoia runs rampant.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted in Addams Family Values: Debbie tries to kill Fester by tossing a radio into the tub, but it only gives him a tickling jolt. If she paid enough attention and got to know even a little her future husband she would have known that Fester often displays his ability to light lightbulbs with his mouth.
  • A character in Cabin Fever attempts to soothe her Gorn-battered nerves with a lantern-lit bath. As the gruesome disease in the film is water-borne, this is not a wise move.
  • In Children of the Corn: Revelation a stripper/exotic dancer decides to take a candlelit bath... and ends up killed by cornstalks.
  • In Clegg, Suzy slips Lord Cruikshank a mickey, then lures him into the shower with her. She then strangles him and finishes the job by drowning him in the bath.
  • In Deadly Advice, G.J. Smith explains to Jodie how he drowned his wives in the bath by yanking on their ankles and pulling them under the water: which is illustrated with a flashback.
  • In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Tuco is ambushed while taking a bubble-bath by a one-armed man who he wronged in the past. While his left hand isn't his best, he had plenty of time to take aim at Tuco while he's naked and helpless in the bathtub. Then subverted when Tuco shoots him with his gun hidden under the bubbles.
  • The "girl goes to take a shower with the psycho in the house" variation is subverted in Hard Candy. When the man holding the knife bursts into the bathroom and pulls back the shower curtain, he finds it empty. Then the girl runs in from behind and stunguns him into submission.
  • Hostel Part II offers a very twisted example where the woman taking a candlelit bath actually is the psycho killer. She actually seems pretty relaxed after she's done cutting her victim up, letting her bleed to death, and bathing in her blood.
  • In the original I Spit on Your Grave Jennifer kills the leader of the men who raped her by seducing him into taking a hot bath with her, then slicing his nuts off causing him to bleed out.
  • In probably the most infamous scene in Jack Frost (1997), Jill takes a bath and basically gets raped to death by the evil killer snowman.
  • In Julia X, Julia goes to take a bath to de-stress and relax after her argument with Jessica. While she is doing so, The Stranger breaks loose from the kitchen and creeps into the bathroom planning to kill her. She is alerted to his presence when his blood drips into her bathwater.
  • In Mirror Mirror (1990), Megan harnesses the mirror's powers to scald Alpha Bitch Charleen to death in the girls' locker room showers. Later, a doppelganger of Nikki drowns Ron in the bathtub in Nikki's house.
  • In Mirrors (American remake of a Korean film Into the Mirror) the main character's sister draws herself a bath.... guess who dies in one of the most painful and gruesome scenes of the film? A bath is used again but this time all the taps in the house have been turned on and the mother goes to turn the tap off...
  • Jenny is slashed to death by the killer while showering in Night After Night After Night.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
    • Double subverted in the first A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Nancy falls asleep in the tub and Freddy's bladed glove pops out of the water, but she wakes up in time for nothing to happen. When she dozes off again, he suddenly drags her under into a huge underwater space that he created with his dream powers, and she almost drowns.
    • A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child: Played with as well. Alice is taking a shower when it turns out she's dreaming and the shower cabin starts filling up with water. She jumps out through a portal that just appears, but it's to lead her to something more dangerous.
  • Played with in Poltergeist, where a silent scene of Diane taking a bath is intercut with shots of the children sleeping alone to build tension for the start of Round 2 with the ghosts.
  • In B-movie Pod People, Kathy goes up to take a shower while the vengeful alien is running amok. Quoth Tom Servo, "She's Zestfully dead!"
  • In the German film The Princess and the Warrior (2000), the trope is played straight in a flashback when a mental ward patient throws a hair dryer into a bathtub used by Sissi's mother. Later, a fugitive hiding from the law in the same mental institution is relaxing after a botched heist in the same bathtub, and the same patient (believing Sissi has fallen for him) throws a toaster at him. He instinctively catches it, and both stare in shock at each other for a moment before the fugitive leaps up with murder in his eyes.
  • The Professional has Norman Stansfield kill Mathilda's stepmom with his shotgun while she's bathing.
  • In Rattlers, selfsame rattlers come in through the piping. Female victim would have preferred a rubber duck and starts screaming although it doesn't look like she was bitten and dies a few seconds later. Somewhere, a herpetologist is screaming too.
  • Road to Perdition: Michael Sullivan shoots Connor Rooney dead in a bathtub, in revenge for killing half of Michael's family.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Lord Blackwood kills his father in the bathtub through the use of a paralytic activated by Sir Thomas's ring.
  • The film She Woke Up starts with the heroine attacked in a bathtub. She survives, but falls into a coma for 15 months.
  • Shivers: A woman is quietly bathing when one of the parasites crawls in through the plughole. It then forces itself into her body through a very uncomfortable opening.
  • Sin City. John Hartigan turns down an offer of Rescue Sex from erotic dancer Nancy Callahan, but has to take a cold shower afterwards. He hears footsteps coming towards the shower, and starts to tell Nancy he's not interested in a Shower of Love, only to have Yellow Bastard pull aside the curtain and attack him.
  • In Spring Breakers, Big Arch is relaxing is his hot tub when he is shot and killed by Brit and Candy.
  • Defied in Soul of the Sword, when Nameless was ambushed by an assassin while in a bathhouse. However, Nameless bathes with his sword, where he reacts on time to grab a towel and fight his assailant, who gets killed and falling into his tub instead. Cue a shot of the tub over-spilling with bloodied water.
  • In Stardust, Lamia kills Primus in her inn's bath by cutting his throat.
  • In the film Stigmata, Frankie steps into her candlelit bath to relax, only to be suddenly struck with a vision of the last tortured moments of the Messiah, complete with wounds opening in her wrists.
  • In Wish Upon, August slips while getting into the bath, cracks his head on the edge of the tub, and drowns.
  • In What Lies Beneath, Norman drugs and paralyzes Claire and starts to make it look like she drowned in the bathtub. A Vengeful Ghost startles and causes Norman to hit his head out cold, and Claire regains enough movement to stop the faucet and lift the drain cover.
  • The evil doctor played by Bela Lugosi in Dark Eyes of London (U.S. title The Human Monster) drowns his victims in a therapeutic tub. When a henchman becomes a loose end, Lugosi sends his muscle to off the guy, who happens to be taking a bath at home when the killer arrives, so he drowns the guy there.

  • In the Grimms' fairy-tale Brother and Sister, the young queen is murdered by her wicked witch stepmother and stepsister when they give her a bath while she's recovering from childbirth, only to light a fire under the tub.
  • Johannes Cabal: In "A Long Spoon", an Evil Sorcerer attempts to dispose of the title character from a distance by transmuting his bathwater into concentrated sulphuric acid. However, his timing is a bit off, so Johannes isn't yet in the tub and loses his loofah instead of his life.
  • In Queen of the Tearling, an assassin surprises Kelsea in the bath, which is the only location where her male bodyguard doesn't follow her.
  • Antony Horovitz has a story Bath Night. It's about a bathtub haunted by a ghost of a serial killer, who killed women in this tub, before being hanged. He now stalks the heroine, an adolescent girl.
  • The Scholomance: Defied by the students of the titular Wizarding School. The place is infested by so many monsters that people only use the showers when they have friends standing guard.
  • A Touch Of Jen: Just as she's drawing a bath, Remy visits Jen, then drowns her in the bathtub.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Boardwalk Empire:
    • Gillian Darmody kills Roger McAllister, a young man who looks a lot like her dead son Jimmy, in a bathtub in a perverse effort to gain closure for the latter's death. With Jimmy declared officially dead, she would inherit the (whore-)house as well.
    • Attempted offscreen by Owen Sleater on Joe Masseria in a Turkish bath. Unfortunately, it's 1923 and Masseria still will be active in the organized crime world until 1931. Masseria and his men manage to turn the tables on Owen, and ship his body back to Nucky in a box.
  • Bones: In "The Body In The Bag", the Victim of the Week was found dead in the shower, having turned into a skeleton after being there for days with hot water pouring over her. The team even has to go through the pipes to collect more body parts as evidence.
  • In The Borgias, Micheletto tries to kill Della Rovere at a public bath, but he fails because someone else sees him underwater and yells a warning before he can actually get close to Della Rovere.
  • Played with in an episode of the 1994 revival of Burke's Law, entitled "Who Killed the Starlet?" A woman is relaxing in a candlelit bath while listening to some music. A killer sneaks in and drops her boombox into the bathtub, killing her. It turns out that the killer and girl are merely actors on a movie set, and they're filming a murder scene. Then it turns out the boombox was plugged into a live outlet by an unknown party, and the actress in the bathtub is really dead.
  • Cannon: In "Dead Pigeon", an elderly Con Man is drowned in his bathtub - fully clothed - after he speaks to Cannon.
  • CSI
    • There was an episode where a woman was drowned in a bathtub by her employer, just because she was causing him to lose by messing up his Feng Shui. Note that both she and her employer had apparently enjoyed such baths on many previous occasions without incident.
    • Averted in another episode where the bathtime preparations do lead to a bloody corpse, but all the damage was self-inflicted.
    • An episode involved a man who killed his wife while she was taking a bath (he pressed her head underwater until she drowned), then made it look like an accident.
  • CSI: NY:
    • "Heart of Glass" had a woman who had filled a bath with rose petals and water end up electrocuting herself.
    • In "Flag on the Play," the body of a lingerie football player is found in the whirlpool tub in the team's changing room.
  • In the final season of Damages, the whistleblower's murder is staged as a suicide in a full bathtub.
  • A variation of this trope was put into historical context in Desperate Romantics. Elizabeth Siddal is posing for Millais as Ophelia in a tub of cold water heated by candles. She almost drowns when the candles go out, the water cools down and she loses consciousness. Her parents are understandably not too happy.
  • Death in Paradise: In "Until Death Do You Part", the Victim of the Week is a bride-to-be drowned in her bath on the final night of her week-long hen do.
  • The Trinity killer from Dexter murders women in their bathtubs. Eventually, he takes revenge on Dexter by killing Rita this way.
  • One episode of Diagnosis: Murder showed a guy giving a girl a shoulder massage as she lay in the tub, then suddenly pushing her under the water and drowning her.
  • Discussed in The Dick Van Dyke Show episode "Long Night's Journey into Day". Laura is sitting out a two-family fishing trip, having gotten a cold. Right before she leaves, Millie advises Laura against taking a shower, because Psycho is on her mind. When Laura decides to take a shower before bed, it takes her a few minutes to psych herself up. Even then, she has to bring the Helpers' parrot into the room. Eventually, Millie returns and figures out that Laura is showering. She mutters about how brave her friend is.
  • Father Brown: The second Victim of the Week in "The Theatre of the Invisible" is found dead in a bathtub. It looks as if he has killed himself but, of course, it's Never Suicide.
  • Friends: Comically Double Subverted when Chandler accidentally orders Monica Coke instead of Diet Coke and gets pinched underwater.
  • Inspector Rex: In the episode "Das Donaukrokodil", the murderer prepares a bath for her sister with strange algae (water of the Danube) and eventually drowns her. The killer leaves the body at the Danube.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent,
    • Varied in an episode where a beautiful woman has drawn a perfumed, candlelit bath, not just for relaxation but to entertain her married lover. They have a quarrel, she threatens to tell his wife about their relationship, and he drowns her in the bath.
    • Another episode dealt with a woman whose son was accused of pushing a heater into her bath, and though the water was cold, there were candles and the tub was full. She, of course, is electrocuted, and while they try to decipher her murder they find out that she knocked the heater into the bathtub herself.
  • The Magician: In "Lady in a Trap", the thief who masterminded the theft of a rare book is drowned in his bath by the Dirty Cop who arrives to collect the loot.
  • Midsomer Murders: The first Victim of the Week in "Fit for Murder" is drowned in a flotation pool at a spa. Joyce discovers the corpse when she goes for treatment.
  • Millennium (1996): Barely averted in "Blood Relatives." The killer is about to kill the woman whom Frank Black had been helping while she was in the bath; fortunately for her, Frank had a vision of this and doubled back to her place. The fight between Frank and the assailant is tense.
  • Motive: In "Index Case", the Victim of the Week is killed when his murderer release toxic gas in his flotation tank.
  • An episode of Psych had a killer picking off members of a sorority, one of them by throwing a toaster into her bath.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: The first Body of the Week in "Partners in Crime" is drowned in her hot tub after first having been stunned by being electrocuted.
  • An episode of Six Feet Under had the corpse-of-the-week die when her cat knocked her electric hot rollers into the tub.
  • Smallville has several:
    • In the first season, Sean Kelvin attacks his ex-girlfriend in the shower, under the guise of a Shower of Love, in order to literally steal her body heat. She ends up frozen solid and toppling over, shattering to pieces on the bathroom floor.
    • Also in Season 1, Lex's new girlfriend Victoria is attacked by the villain of the week, an invisible assailant. He ends up trying to drown her in the bathtub, but she is saved by Clark after she makes enough noise to alert him.
    • In Season 4 Lana is attacked in the shower by a freak of the weak who strangles her with the shower curtain. She's rescued when her boyfriend Jason hears the commotion.
  • In The Sopranos episode "Denial, Anger, Acceptance", Brendan Filone is inside his bathtub when Mikey Palmice visits him to deliver a Moe Greene Special on Junior's orders.
  • There's two examples in Spartacus Bloodand Sand which happen in the same scene.
    • Glaber's peaceful bath is interrupted by Seppia who smashes a vase on his head in an attempt to murder him.
    • She would have succeeded if Ilithyia hadn't snuck up on her to slit her throat.
  • Subverted in the Supernatural episode "Dead in the Water" a vengeful spirit drowns people by pulling them into the water. After a case at the lake, a case involving a kitchen-sink and another one at the lake, a woman is being drowned in her bathtub, but the Big Damn Heroes arrive in the nick of time to pull her out.
  • Both subverted and played straight in The X-Files on several occasions. Scully's penchant for taking these led to a straight use in "Squeeze", a subversion in "Chinga" (the music builds, we're sure something creepy's going to happen, the phone rings and... it's Mulder, he's bored), and an extremely creepy straight use in "Irresistable" ("Is your hair color-treated?")...and a hilarious one in "Hollywood A.D.".

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Feudalism: After returning home from the siege of Troy, King Agamemnon died this way, chopped up with axes in his bathtub by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aigisthos.
  • King Minos of Crete was murdered by King Cocalos of Sicily, and his daughters. After Daedalus the Inventor fled Crete after helping Theseus escape, Daedalus found sanctuary and employment in the court of Cocalos. One of the first things Daedalus did was to invent and install hot and cold running water in Cocalos' palace. In the meantime, Minos went searching for Daedalus, and eventually tricked Cocalos into revealing Daedalus' presence. Because Minos was his guest, and had a legitimate reason for demanding Daedalus' return (and probable execution), Cocalos realized he had no choice but to hand his new favorite inventor over. However, Cocalos had no intention of doing that, so he, and his daughters conspired with Daedalus to murder Minos, in that Cocalus insisted that Minos first try out Daedalus' newly invented hot bath, and as a show of hospitality, Cocalus' daughters would help bathe him. And in doing so, Cocalus' daughters promptly trapped him in the bath, where he was scalded to death.
  • In order to restore Jason to the throne of Iolcus, Medea tricked Jason's cousins, the daughters of his evil, usurping uncle Pelias into murdering their father. She did this by performing a magical ritual where she slaughtered a decrepit old ram, cut it into bloody pieces, and placed the remains into a boiling cauldron, whereupon a young, frisky lamb leaped out. Thinking that Medea would restore their father's youth and vitality, the girls eagerly butchered their father and dumped his remains into Medea's cauldron, only for Medea to not cast the spell again at Jason's behest (and horror).
  • Celtic Mythology: Queen Medb was assassinated by her own nephew Furbaide when he shot a piece of cheese at her with a slingshot while she was bathing in a lake.


    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Kaoru's potential death in the Urashima case happens when they take a bath after the Urashima Woman is destroyed. They're found there in bloody water with turtles spewing out of their mouth.

    Web Comics 

    Real Life 
  • Roman Emperor Commodus was strangled in his bathtub by the wrestler Narcissus. note  It should be noted, if the first point is true, that this would have been a Roman bath, which was more akin to a swimming pool, than an actual bath.
  • A later Roman emperor, Constans II, was bludgeoned to death with a soap bucket while bathing.
  • French Revolutionary Marat, an architect of the Terror and the guillotine, was stabbed to death in his bath by a disgruntled female assassin. This inspired a famous painting.
  • Olga of Kiev once killed some ambassadors who came to her with a marriage proposal from another ruler by luring them into a bathhouse and burning them alive.
  • Jim Morrison (of The Doors) died in a bathtub in Paris, of unclear causes - no autopsy was performed - although most likely an accidental overdose of heroin.
  • Professional wrestler Bruiser Brody was killed in the shower room before a match. His killer successfully pled self-defense but there are many who doubt it.
  • The Candlelit Bath has been cited by many fire departments as one modern cause of fatal house fires in the United States, especially in homes where the bathroom walls aren't tiled. Lighting a bunch of candles and sticking them next to a painted wall, then falling asleep... how relaxing!
  • Whitney Houston died when the effects of cocaine use and atherosclerotic heart disease caused her to lose consciousness in a scalding-hot filled bathtub, causing her to drown. Three years later, her daughter Bobbi Kristina met the same fate.
    • Likewise for Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff, but with opiates instead of cocaine.
    • Also Pete Farndon of The Pretenders, who shot himself up with heroin in the tub, then passed out and drowned.
    • And The Cranberries singer Delores OíRiorden, though she was just drunk.
  • George Joseph Smith, the "Brides in the Bath" killer, got his sobriquet by his chosen method of murdering his wives: drowning them in the bath. It's believed the most likely way he did this without any evidence of a struggle was by grabbing their feet and sharply pulling so their heads went suddenly under water, and the shock of the sudden immersion caused them to lose consciousness, so he could try to Make It Look Like an Accident. The investigating police officer tested this theory with several experienced female divers of the same height and build as the victims, and the one who was subjected to the above action nearly went the same way - it took half an hour to revive her after he noticed she'd stopped moving.


Video Example(s):


Attacked While Bathing

Victoria is almost strangled by an invisible attacker while bathing.

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