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Evil Is Visceral

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To be visceral, that is the heart of evil.

"The fear of blood tends to create fear for the flesh."

There is something about organic material, especially viscera, being arranged in a grotesque eldritch fashion that is just not right and inherently disturbing/pain-inducing. That makes organic material — internal organs in particular — a favorite representation of evil. There are also things that evil forces make organic, or organic-looking, that really shouldn't be. The usual purpose of this is to Squick people as much as possible.

This trope also covers instances where the mere suggestion that something is like an organic thing — for example, something pulsating as if it was a heart — is supposed to indicate evil.

Sub-Super Tropes:


Related Tropes:

Examples which do not fit neatly into the above:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the climax of AKIRA, Tetsuo's body turns into what can only be described as a giant evil fetus.
  • The bad guys in the Getter Robo series all tend to have this to a degree, but the most obvious ones are the Invader in Armageddon.
  • In Chainsaw Man, whether a Devil specializes in bending time or possesses Elemental Powers, they will have a grotesque, flesh-and blood form anchoring them to the human world. This is something of a narrative concession as Denji would otherwise have a hard time fighting them with his chainsaws if they didn't have physical forms he could attack.
  • Guyver: The zoanoids' designs evoke this trope, as well as some of the bioboosted armors.
  • Macross: Do You Remember Love?: This visual element is added onto many Zentraedi things, especially their intelligence/command personnel.
  • MD Geist: The final boss' second form is introduced with a lot of strange fluids, and pulsates and breathes in an organic manner.
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: The newborn God-Warrior takes this form, though much of this is due to it being awakened before its time and collapsing into goop as a result. Subverted with the rest of the creatures, when it turns out that humans can live together with them peacefully.
  • The demons in Urotsukidouji.

  • Much of H. R. Giger's artwork is based on this, thus leading to many of the subtropes listed above.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Thousand Shinji: During Third Impact, as dark gods were forming inside the Black Moon, the place looked "a high vaulted, cathedral like chamber coated in a mockery of organic tissue, pulsing and quivering with foul energies."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien: In addition to creating many of the subtropes, the alien eggs and the visual design of the space jockey are also this.
  • Hellraiser uses this trope in the extreme.
  • Jacob's Ladder: During the hospital gurney scene, many organs are shown laying on the floor, some of which get run over by the gurney.
  • Poltergeist (1982): Carol-Ann's closet turns into a squidgy, pink, mucous throat-esophagus sort of thing with a tentacle reaching out to grab her and pull her in.
  • Poltergeist II: The Other Side has the Beast, a creature based on concept designs by H. R. Giger.
  • Species: In addition to many other subtropes, part of the horror is simply that the alien hybrids were designed by H. R. Giger.
  • The Thing (1982): When it's not disguised as something or someone, the titular Thing always manifests as a dangerous and gruesome mass of shifting gore, blood and body parts that come and go as needed.

  • Clark Ashton Smith's short story "The Garden of Adompha" plays with this: the eponymous Evil Overlord's Court Mage built him a private Garden of Evil full of unnatural plants from Hell, then grafted body parts from pretty women and disfavored courtiers onto the foliage for his amusement.
    "A bare, leafless creeper was flowered with the ears of delinquent guardsmen. Misshapen cacti were fruited with the breasts of women or foliated with their hair. Entire limbs or torsos had been united with monstrous trees..."
  • In H. P. Lovecraft's fiction, many things are described as "squamous", which means scaly or looking like a close-up of a layer of skin cells.
  • Nightside:
    • The Big Bad of Something from the Nightside turns out to be a house on the outside but all squidgy and organic on the inside.
    • Additionally, Evil Weapon/Artifact of Doom the Speaking Gun is made out of meat, just to up the "ick ick get it away from me" factor.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Aspects of Andromeda's Magog that are not already covered by the subtropes: they spit on people, and have exposed noses.
  • The Reavers in Firefly are quite fond of torturing, raping, flaying, and eating people, in no particular order. They also favor the visceral aesthetic, like mutilating their own bodies, wearing human skin as clothing, and using blood as paint.
  • The monster designs in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger/Power Rangers Samurai are very visceral-looking, some clearly intended to look like bare flesh. And then, from the old days, there's Lord Zedd. Missing all of his skin, no skull so the top of his brain's exposed, tubes all over his body carrying fluid, a visor and vent-mask on his face... And this is an American-original villain.
  • Stargate Atlantis: The Wraith use Organic Technology and are not very pretty themselves.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Species 8472, also known as the Undine, are introduced in "Scorpion" as the only threat to the hitherto biggest threat (the Borg). Their ships are organic and the (CGI) aliens themselves look "more organic" than the usual Rubber Forehead Alien because they don't wear clothes, have extra limbs and strange eyes with complicated irises.


  • The Magnus Archives has this in the form of The Flesh, an Entity that represents all the fears related to meat. This includes mutation, mutilation, cannibalism, and factory farming - because it's not just the fears humanity has related to meat.
  • Desert Bluffs from Welcome to Night Vale. The first hint that it's something more than an innocuous rival town in the series is when Kevin finds it strange that Cecil's desk is "bloodless" in "The Sandstorm". We find out why in the alternate version of the episode — we see Cecil's side of the pair swapping radio stations. Every surface is covered with blood and the control panel has viscera instead of buttons and dials.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Daelkyr of Eberron love this trope. From their biological armor and symbiotes, to practicing Body Horror as both science and a hobby. However, said armor and symbiotes can be used for good, if you can overcome their will.
  • Phyrexia does this a lot in Magic: The Gathering, to the point where a horrible mess of tattered flesh, visible internal organs, and dark metal is the defining Phyrexian aesthetic (although New Phyrexia, which has five different Phyrexian subfactions, does provide multiple new horrible spins on the concept). If you've ever wanted, say, a robot with clearly visible meat intestines, Phyrexia has you covered.
  • Inverted in Splicers. After humanity has lost a Robot War, metal becomes unusable, and so the resistance is based around Organic Technology.
  • This is very prevalent in Warhammer 40,000:
    • Everything about the Tyranids.
    • Many creatures of Chaos have long prehensile tongues and various other features covered by subtropes.
      • Nurgle — The Great Unclean Ones have exposed organs, use their intestines as weapons, use vomit and pus as ranged weapons, etc.
      • Slaanesh — Daemonettes have big crab claws in place of one of their hands, and are rumored to have a nasty surprise instead of normal genitals. Keepers of Secrets are a mix of many different body parts, including breasts.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Abadox is full of this trope, since it involves going inside a giant biomechanical monster.
  • Act-fancer: Cybernetick Hyper Weapon is a sidescrolling arcade game in which you play a morphing biological weapon and fight against an invasion of far larger and far nastier variants. Also notable for featuring a huge twist in the end. The Big Bad is revealed to be an expy of a classic R-Type ship, leading to a full inversion, as the bio-mechanical hero fights a fully robotic villain. The Soundtrack Dissonance of the fight only makes it more jarring.
  • Alien Soldier: Nearly all the enemies and bosses until the last few bosses are this.
  • American McGee's Alice: The Queen's castle is made out of her own organs, with tentacle-like veins acting as walls throughout the game.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has The Shadow, a cosmic force that generates walls and lumps made out of some kind of acidic, pulsating, and fleshy substance.
  • Astalon: Tears of the Earth: In their true forms, most of the gorgons appear as hideous, fleshy monstrosities.
  • Bad Omen: The final boss is a beating heart.
  • Battle Clash: The design of the ST Valius, the internals of the ST Baron, and everything about the ST Thanatos all invoke this trope.
  • Bio-Hazard Battle: The whole game, especially the organic rocket and the final level. Your characters are Living Ships, so it's not all evil.
  • BIOMETAL has a borderline example. The titular enemies may look metallic grey, but they are more like a cross between flesh and metal.
  • Brütal Legend: In the land of Heavy Metal and Heavy Mithril, everything one could associate with Fire and Brimstone Hell is either neutral or good. In particular, Ormagoden, a hellish looking monster Made of Iron, is actually the storiy's Big Good and Crystal Dragon Jesus. Instead, the Big Bad is the Tainted Coil, a race of disease, S&M and Body Horror coated demons.
  • Burgmund Trilogy: The Pigman Pods from The Return have tentacles made of what looks like flesh, and the same stuff coats their interiors. The Mothership is entirely made of the stuff.
  • Most of Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land is set in a classical World War I Scenery Porn setting with mud, trenches, ghost villages, and bomb craters. The penultimate and the last levels add to this organic growths and hostile tentacles protruding from nods in the soil.
  • Carrion: YOU play as the evil visceral creature.
  • Chimera Beast: Another game where you play as the evil visceral creature.
  • Contra: One of the recurring bosses is a gigantic beating heart. More generally, anything to do with aliens is this.
  • Cyber-Lip, despite being designed by members of IREM, provides a major subversion. The Giger-esque aliens in question appear horrific, but are actually allies to humanity, at least before an insane AI brainwashed them. And that's not even starting on the true villains.
  • Darkest Dungeon: This is a game where the things your adventurers fight include a giant demon-possessed pig with its brain and intestines exposed, a seething mass of constantly mutating flesh, a humanoid form made out of still-living heads merged together and draped in a yellow cloak, and a wide selection of things that used to be human. And that's not counting the Darkest Dungeon itself, which is covered in people covered in eye-studded tumours and Meat Moss, and eventually transitions into a full Womb Level where you fight the giant heart of an eldritch entity with the body of your Ancestor merged into the side. Notably, however, this is just this particular brand of evil's style. In the Colour of Madness DLC, the evils brought on by the comet aren't nearly as meaty. More crystalline, geometrical and stone-cold colorless, rather, contrasting heavily with what's inside the Darkest Dungeon.
    • Darkest Dungeon 2, the sequel, has Foetor. Foetor used to be a huge farmland, until mysterious meat began to pop up everywhere, filling the land with tentacle-like growths of rotting meat everywhere, mutating farmers and landlords into terrible, gluttonous monstrosities.
    • The main antagonists of every act are evil, gigantic, sentient organs that are personification's of Scholar's flaws and sins. There is a giant chained brain, a draconic set of lungs, a huge mass of eyes and many arms clumped together into one entity. The final boss, Body Of Work, is an amalgamation of these abominations with the addition of sentient, acid spitting gut. Each of these monstrosities spread the misery and chaos across the world and so must be killed to prevent the End of the World as We Know It.
  • Darkstalkers: Jedah fights by mutilating himself and using his tissues and blood as weapons(for example, he'll make claws by cutting the joints of his fingers and stretching them in lines of blood, as well as attack with a spray of blood by DECAPITATING HIMSELF). His stage is the inside of a giant womb, complete with giant demonic fetus in the background.
  • The Dead Space series purposely uses as many of the related tropes as possible. Even the creatures and bosses that are not man-shaped at all use organic features for maximum Squick factor. The game studio that develops the games is named Visceral Games, too.
  • Dota 2: Pudge, the Butcher, who looks nothing short of a Flesh Golem, with certain internal organs sticking out of the gaps in his stitched body.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: The upper levels of the Circle Tower are decorated in High Tumor.
  • Dwarf Fortress: The "evil" alignment is generally associated with visceral elements. Such as evil biomes having rains of blood or corpses coming back as the undead, and tentacles and eyes as "plants." Evil-aligned creatures include Creepy Crawlers (which resembles masses of human fingers) and Blood Men (humanoids made of "corrupted blood").
  • EarthBound (1994): Giygas looks like this when the Devil Machine is active. After that... it's a little hard to classify what he looks like, other than pure horror.
  • Final Fantasy VII's Jenova, an unspeaking Eldritch horror from outer space. When it landed on Gaia thousands of years ago, it assumed the form of humanoids to get close to them. In the present day, it resembles a nymphet without clothing, but can't get the details right: the "human" shape is a doll attached to tentacles and various fleshy components plugged into its torso. It's also missing ambulatory limbs.
  • Gradius: The final boss in each game tends to be some sort of brain, or a head with a very big brain. The entirety of Life Force is also this.
  • Guild Wars: Especially in the "Gate of Pain" map, which is set in a landscape composed of overgrown viscera, but the whole landscape infected by Abaddon throughout the later parts of Nightfall show signs of this trope, with tentacles and insectoid body parts growing out of the ground, rock formations with eyeballs in them, etc.
  • Kabuki Quantum Fighter: Most stages incorporate this.
  • Mahou Daisakusen: The boss of the Dead Forest stage in Shippu Mahou Daisakusen is a naked woman connected to a three-faced Eldritch Abomination via meat-tentacles.
  • Metroid: Mother Brain and the Aurora Units are big brains that do not look very pretty. Starting from the first game, the Metroids themselves have visible blood vessels of some sort. In the second game, they were given an insectoid life cycle. In the third game, one of them grows really big, letting you see even more organic bits inside of the body.
  • Mother Russia Bleeds features the Nekro Dimension, a hallucinatory mindspace resulting from the main characters' Nekro addiction that's covered floor to ceiling in viscera with a giant beating heart at its center. This is where the players fight the embodiment of Nekro at the end of the game to try and kick their addiction.
  • Ninja Gaiden: Almost everything related to demons and fiends, especially the NES games.
  • Psyche Metal is all about this trope. Even the main character is a floating eyeball.
  • Almost all the humanoid B.O.W.s from Resident Evil look just human enough to give you the creeps, but with enough exposed organs, protruding muscles, and tentacles to shove them right into this territory.
  • Robot Unicorn Attack (Heavy Metal Version): The foreground islands, except for the layer on which you run, are made of assorted bones, and the background islands are held up by tentacles of some sort.
  • R-Type:
    • All of the advanced forms of the Bydo. This includes and is not limited to: weaponized giant sperm, phallic bosses, bosses that look like vaginas, and on and on...
    • R-Type Final also introduces the B-Series which attempted to make Bydo-like lifeforms which could be safely piloted. Most worked fairly well, but the project also had its little bumps.
  • This is inverted in The Sexy Brutale. The Bloody Girl has no skin and is constantly oozing blood. However, she's kind and compassionate, giving you her handprint which separated you from the time loop in the first place, and she's the only one trying to help you save everyone. On the other hand, The Golden Skull is thoroughly evil, but he wears a fancy, shiny mask, red gloves, and an impeccably fancy white suit.
  • Shadows of the Damned takes place in a very fleshy, organ-splattered Hell.
  • Silent Hill:
    • Many of the monsters are based on this — if not visually, then with their sound effects.
    • The mirror room in Silent Hill 3 uses the growth of veins and blood as part of its horror factor.
  • Soul Series: The evil weapon Soul Edge and things associated with it tend to have a flesh-and-bone look, with a pulsating demonic eye as a focal point.
  • Everything in the Splatterhouse game series.
  • Aspects of StarCraft's Zerg that do not fit neatly into other tropes: the way that buildings pulsate when they are being constructed, their sound effects (especially if liquids are involved), the Overmind's influence is represented by a big eye. Then there's the growing tissue sample in StarCraft II...
  • Terraria:
    • The Wall of Flesh.
    • The Crimson Biome too, which is a fleshy, Meat Moss alternative to the Corruption that also spreads into its surroundings. Inhabitants include flesh-based monsters like the Blood Crawler, Face Monster, Crimera, Herpling, Ichor Sticker and the Brain of Cthulhu.
  • In Valis 2, Emperor Megas has lots of twisted bundles of huge biomechanical arteries underneath his armor and face.

    Visual Novels 
  • Saya no Uta: The protagonist suffers insanity-producing hallucinations that the whole world is... meat.

  • SCP Foundation:
    • The site is rife with this idea, especially early in its history. Many early entries could be summed up as "strange monster that horrifically kills you". After the site became oversaturated with these, the most unoriginal were culled, and today their works tend toward existential or cosmic horror, though still liberally sprinkled with visceral imagery just to keep your attention.
    • The Sarkic Cults are generally portrayed this way in Foundation canon. Sarkicism revolves around manipulation of the flesh towards a vaguely defined apotheosis, and the results are... not pretty, as SCP-610 illustrates. The Foundation canon, contrary to its usual vagueness, is uncharacteristically explicit about Sarkicism being bad guys, and the Foundation itself considers Sarkicism one of the most dangerous and inimical to humanity of all the Groups of Interest. Their rival religious group, the Church of The Broken God, is usually portrayed as Well-Intentioned Extremists at best and the Lesser of Two Evils at worst, with Sarkicism portrayed as ABSOLUTE worst. In fact, there have been various cases of the Foundation actually working together with the Church of The Broken God to take down Sarkic operations. There are a couple isolated Sarkic communities that retain the 'visceral' but not the 'evil', but they're few and far between.

    Western Animation 
  • Ricardio from Adventure Time is a sentient heart who wants to rip out Princess Bubblegum's heart and make it his lover. When he returns in "Lady & Peebles", he constructs himself both a strong new body and a fleshy dungeon out of the Ice King's biomass so he can have Princess Bubblegum's "whole package".
  • While it's not the case with every villain, this frequently comes up with the monsters of Generator Rex.
  • In Spiral Zone, anyone affected by the eponymous zone will begin to develop Meat Moss and "overcome" The Evils of Free Will. However the latter effect doesn't apply to the Black Widows (due to Applied Phlebotinum), resulting in the villains having parts of their bodies covered in red blotches.
  • Subverted in Young Justice (2010). The first two-parter seems to play it straight, with hordes of monstrous bioweapons and Meat Moss covering the lower areas of the lab. However, it turns out that the only villain present who's truly evil is completely human (though he does go One-Winged Angel later) — the bio-weapons are innocent Punch-Clock Villains secretly helping both sides to ensure their freedom. Even better, in the next episode, the heroes get a bio-ship of their own.

Our ships (or mecha or...) look like bricks. Their ships that look like... some sort of Eldritch Abomination...

    Anime & Manga 
  • The enemy ships in Irresponsible Captain Tylor are rather insectoid and organic.
  • In the Lensman anime, the Boskone ships are depicted as more organic than their opponents.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the humans and Beastmen use your typical technological mecha and spaceships. The Anti-Spirals have spaceships that look like hands and feet, and their capital ships are Star Destroyers with giant human heads on them. It also contains a mild inversion: the human mecha all have faces and the first Anti-Spiral units seen, part of the Extemination System, are abstract machines with no organic looking features. They're quickly dubbed Mugan or "Faceless". They still look like Eldritch Abominations though. Or TRON rejects.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Inverted again in Splicers: The Machines have all the cool technological toys, while La Résistance uses Organic technology and living weapons.
  • Tyranids from Warhammer 40,000. Even their orbit-to-surface rapid re-entry vehicles are living monsters called Mycetic Spores.

    Video Games 
  • V'rix ships (as well as the V'rix themselves) in Earth & Beyond look very insectile and appear to be living ships, while human ships look much as you'd expect human technology to. Design documents released after the game's cancellation revealed that this was not the V'rix true form, but rather one "constructed" specifically to trigger base human fears.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Your ship is all clean lines and metal. The Collector ship is all black monolith tech overgrown by some kind of organic... stuff. The Collectors themselves have an exaggerated insectoid and exposed-muscles look.
    • Slightly less prominent but still present in the case of the Reapers, who all look like gigantic black metallic space cuttlefish.
  • Pure Bydo ships from R-Type are visibly cybernetically-enhanced alien creatures. Infected ships have a big fat glob of Meat Moss growing on them.

Aliens look like a cross between a bug and a tree or something...

    Anime & Manga 


Video Example(s):


Diavola, Mother of All

The true final boss of Dead Estate, Diavola is a fleshy demonic monstrosity who casts blood magic and is capable of transforming into a gigantic mass of meat and teeth when hurt enough.

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Main / EvilIsVisceral

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