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Gory Discretion Shot

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Some details are better left Nazi-n.
There's a saying in interrogation: "Violence perceived is violence achieved."
Michael Westen, Burn Notice

Blood or brains are seen splattering against a wall and the rest is left to the imagination.

Most often used with women and children, because it's more okay to hurt men in Hollywood, but available for everyone to control the tone/rating of the work. Often found in the form of a Reaction Shot as the reacting characters' expression (or lack thereof) can serve as a commentary on the action, the character, or the world they inhabit. Sometimes combined with Blood-Splattered Innocents, as the gore splatters on or near them.

A Japanese variation of this trope involves seeing the silhouettes of the participants from behind a translucent washi screen, typically a shoji sliding door, on which the blood gets spattered. The form has since been widely adopted by the west and is often used to give a sense of art. A similar variation is to have the splatter hit the other side of a pane of glass or a window. Another variation shows blood seeping out under a door, through an opening or across a sill or a threshold to imply that violence has occurred on the other side.

A Gory Discretion Shot can serve to keep the rating PG-13 to reach a wider audience. It may also be done for budgetary reasons: red-dyed corn syrup splashed over a window: cheap. Showing someone's head explode: expensivenote . Note that it could also be done to keep the truth hidden from the viewer. Showing the murder in question straight out, so the viewers can see the culprit, doesn't make a good murder mystery in most shows or movies after all.

Combine it with Bloodless Carnage, and you get the Sound-Only Death — the audience hears the gunshot and the body hitting the deck, but what they see is (for instance) the victim's hat falling to the ground with a hole through it. Or the killer walks through a door and we hear gunshots and screams after it closes behind him. Also crosses paths frequently with Scream Discretion Shot.

A related trope is the camera cutting away when things get nasty. Say if someone is getting whipped, we'll only see their face contorting in pain. Alternately, a cut similar to a Screamer Trailer may be used, showing a split second worth of the carnage. In the same vein, the aftermath of murder may be demonstrated minimally with a Dead-Hand Shot, hopefully one still attached to the body.

Contrast Gorn. Compare and contrast Battle Discretion Shot, Abuse Discretion Shot, and Nothing Is Scarier; though this may be less "scary" than not showing anything at all in a less overtly violent work, in splatter works this can be used for horror—with all this overt violence running around, what is so horrible you don't get to see it...? See also Empathy Doll Shot and Pink Mist. A Monochromatic Impact Shot may be used in tandem to give a general idea of the carnage without getting too gory. May precede a Mortal Wound Reveal, especially if it's unclear who exactly got injured—note that this is a Subversion of sorts, when it does happen.

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  • Édouard Manet
    • He unintentionally did this in The Execution of Maximilian. The section of Maximilian and his dying generals was cut from the canvas. It's odd because he didn't cut the deaths out of later versions of the painting.
    • While Manet would sometimes cut up paintings by him he felt failed artistically and rework any salvageable fragments (he notably did this with an "Incident" at The Bullfight" from which the Dead Toreador in the National Gallery and the Bull Ring in the Frick come from), MoMA claims that in this case the London Maximilian painting was cut up after Manet's death.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Such a part can be found in Animal Farm (1954). When Napoleon's Dobermans execute the animals that attempted to revolt, it's so gruesome that not only do we the audience not see it, but the raven that's watching looks away in fear. A rather clever subversion of the raven's connotation with death, but it's nonetheless one factor that makes the movie unsuitable for minors. Also, when the animals rebel once again in the end and kill Napoleon, all you can see is the portrait of the Big Bad falling to the floor and shattering.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker's edited version utilizes this. In the original, a brainwashed Tim Drake snaps and shoots the Joker in the heart with his flag-gun, killing him. In the edited version, Tim instead throws the gun away and assaults the Joker, spilling various liquids all over the ground, which eventually get in contact with some live electrical wires, electrocuting the Joker off-screen with a hideous scream. Some consider the edited version worse, as we cannot clearly see what happens, but we can hear it...
  • In Batman: Under the Red Hood when Batman and the Red Hood fight the armored assassins, the Red Hood breaks one of their helmets and sticks a taser into it, the man screams and writhes in pain just before his head explodes, we then cut to his blood splashing on a wall.
  • In The Book of Life, we're not shown how Carlos died fighting Chakal, which is probably for the best.
  • Inverted in The Brave Little Toaster when a completely non-gory scenario uses this to appear violent and frightening. The scene of Mr. St. Peter dismantling a blender and removing its motor is framed exactly like a scene in a horror movie, complete with malevolent shadows and the blender's lifeless "corpse" dripping "blood" to give the blender's dismantling all the gravity of an actual murder.
  • Catwoman: Hunted: We don't see the exact moment when Cheetah falls into the construction spikes, only the aftermath of her impaled silhouette.
  • Disney Animated Canon: Disney usually accomplishes this through the obvious means (where they have a subpage to themselves), but they're also known to dispatch villains in non-gravity-related yet still excessively vicious manners, and still manage to obscure it in a way that makes it perfectly G/PG-13 as far as the censor is concerned but even worse for the impressionable kiddies who now get to imagine in as much detail as they like what just happened.
    • The oldest example would be its very first animated movie Snow White, where the inside of the chest the Huntsman hands the Queen, which contains a pig's heart, is never shown.
    • Pinocchio: Monstro slams himself into a seaside cliff, and we cut away before we see more than the first part of a decidedly non-comedic accordion effect.
    • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: The Headless Horseman throws doom pumpkins at Ichabod. We're to presume they didn't stop midair after the camera left.
    • Oliver & Company: Cutaway before the villain's car is smashed by an oncoming train.
    • The Little Mermaid (1989): Mercifully, all we get is Ursula's facial reaction and several flashes of lightning to obscure the fact that she's skewered through the gut on a ship's bowsprit.
    • The Lion King (1994): The camera pans upward just in time for the audience to miss seeing the villain, Scar, get ripped apart by hyenas, only seeing part of it in shadow.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: When Quasimodo's mother is murdered by Frollo, she instantly dies the moment she lands headfirst on the stairs with no hint of gory anywhere, not even when the archdeacon holds her we don't see any hint of blood where her head got hit.
    • Hercules has more than one example during the "Zero to Hero" music number, all of them cut away just as Herc is about to stab, strangle, or pummel a monster to death.
    • Mulan: Shan Yu is shot with a massive rocket into a stockpile of fireworks, and this is carefully only seen from a great distance.
      • One of the "messengers" Shan Yu sends to the Emperor is killed by an archer.
      • "How many men does it take to deliver a message?" *readies bow* "One."
      • When Mulan gets slashed across the chest, she's clearly bleeding.
    • A Bug's Life: Hopper is lowered into a nest of adorable yet strangely vicious birds.
    • The Incredibles: Cutaway as Syndrome is sucked into a jet engine.
    • The Black Cauldron: Averted with The Horned King's death. You can clearly see his decayed flesh stripped from his bones. The film got a PG rating, which was quite a feat for animated films at the time.
    • Tangled: Near the end of the movie, Mother Gothel undergoes Rapid Aging when Rapunzel's magic hair is cut, robbing it of its life-giving powers. She glances at herself in the mirror, and pulls her hood over her rapidly-aging face in horror, only to stumble out the window thanks to Pascal. By the time Gothel hits the ground, there's nothing left but her cloak and a cloud of dust.
    • Cars 2: Rod "Torque" Redline's (an offscreen explosion is reflected onto a computer monitor after he is blasted away by the Lemons' radiation cannon) and Tony Trihull's (another offscreen explosion, this time from an above view of the river Thames in London as he is blown up by Finn McMissile's bombs) deaths.
    • Wreck-It Ralph: Applied to impressive effect... when Ralph wrecks the car he and Vanellope made with his bare hands.
  • Aside from Sparky's death, this is completely averted in Frankenweenie. All other deaths are depicted in gruesome, violent, and gory detail. This is a PG rated film.
  • Ice Age:
    • Soto being impaled by the falling icicles.
    • Also, Manny's family being killed by hunters.
  • Done in the opening of The Prince of Egypt, when Pharoah Seti I orders the massacre of the Hebrew boys. We see the Egyptian soldiers bursting into a woman's house, shoving her aside, and raising their swords above her baby son's crib, before an immediate hard cut to the soldiers calmly walking out of the house, past the sobbing mother.
    • Also done with the final plague. Except for the first victim (which is is so quick and quiet that it might take you a second to realize what just happened) none of the victims of the Angel of Death are struck down onscreen - we just see someone's hand falling through a doorway, two panicked soldiers running behind some pillars, followed seconds after by the bright light, and an exterior shot of a house with a single candle in the upper window, which then blows out. Since the deaths weren't actually gory, not showing them onscreen is presumably due to a combination of artistic preferences and all the victims being children.
  • The Land Before Time does this when Sharptooth jumps onto Littlefoot's mother and bites a chunk out of her neck (we see it in shadow though). Interestingly, this was not the original plan, it was altered late in production.
  • This happens a couple times in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island first when Simone and Lena's people are forced into the lake by Morgan Moonscar and his pirates and are eaten by crocodiles, as the crocodiles descend upon them it cuts to Simone and Lena's horrified reactions, then later after they become cat people to get revenge they attack Moonscar and his pirates and it cuts to darkness as they pounce on them, and the same thing happens later when they kill some plantation workers they hire.
  • The Direct-to-DVD Superman: Doomsday makes use of this, while still remaining ten times more violent than anything in Superman: The Animated Series or Justice League combined. The most notable part is when the camera cuts away when the Superman clone removes a piece of kryptonite in his body by using heat vision, x-ray vision, a mirror, and a pair of scissors to perform improvised surgery on his own brain. Eww.
  • In The Thief and the Cobbler, during Zigzag's death scene, he falls into a pit and is eaten alive by a pack of crocodiles; we see him as a silhouette and a pair of eyes being munched by the crocs' teeth until all that remains is his still-talking head, which is then eaten by his pet vulture (also not shown).
  • Watership Down:
    • General Woundwort's death. While the film is fairly violent throughout, we don't see the outcome of his demise when he picks a fight with the dog that Hazel leads to him and his officers; we see the two about to clash with their jaws open, and the camera then cuts away before the impact. This also makes it ambiguous whether the dog manages to kill Woundwort or not.
    • We also don't see the hawk kill Violet; as it grabs her, it cuts to Fiver's reaction, then shows the aftermath with some feathers and a few drops of Violet's blood. Nor the aftermath of the two Efrafa officers being hit by the train.
  • In Despicable Me 2, when the PX-41 formula is used on a rabbit in the documentary film, it turns into a giant purple monster and attacks the scientist in a hazmat suit. We then cut to Gru and two of the minions' reactions, implying it's pretty gruesome. It then cuts to the monster rabbit dragging the (presumably dead) scientist under a table and attacking the cameraman.

  • While Animorphs is no stranger to Family-Unfriendly Violence, Marco is conveniently unconscious when Erek removes his pacifist programming and kills the Controllers in #10: The Android.
  • Blood Meridian ends with one of these despite being rife with gore, after the protagonist is horrifically murdered by Big Bad and Satanic Archetype Judge Holden.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry, Hermione and Ron looked away when Buckbeak was being slaughtered. This, of course, serves the narrative purpose of preventing them from seeing Harry and Hermione's future selves rescue Buckbeak.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: "The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn't bear to look and had covered their eyes."
  • The Miserable Mill, book four in A Series of Unfortunate Events has the Baudelaire children being threatened by one of Count Olaf's henchmen in an active sawmill. They manage to escape, but not before the henchmen trips and "there came a most gruesome incident indeed."
  • In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck and Jim come across the House of Death. There's a dead body inside the house, and Jim goes to investigate, leaving Huck (and also the reader, as Huck is the narrator) to the side. All we learn of the body is what Jim tells Huck: He was shot in the back, dead for two or three days and naked.
  • A variation is used in The Hardy Boys Casefiles and the Nancy Drew Files. Whenever somebody had to die when the Boys or Nancy were present they usually did so in a way that no blood was actually spilt. An example is a No Celebrities Were Harmed Howard Stern called Ron Minkus getting electrocuted at a mall whilst the Boys were there.
  • In Sourcery, Carding, an important wizard dies from a horrible curse. The only thing that is described that is his skin began to blister.
    Most of the wizards managed to turn their heads away. A few - and there are always a few like that - watched in obscene fascination.
  • In The Plague Dogs, you never see the Tod's death. He jumps over the stone fence, pursued by hunting dogs who jump after him, you hear one last agonized yelp, and the dogs' owner holds his dead body up by the tail, angled in such a way that you only see his backside and not what the dogs had likely done to him. Which is just a little ironic since there is plenty of gore and horror to be had in the whole story.
  • General Woundwort's death in Watership Down: we last see Woundwort clash with a dog. Later no trace of his body is found, there is just blood at the site of the battle — perhaps he was eaten (being a rabbit).
  • In Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, forgemaster Inch's rather messy death — being crushed by the works of the waterwheel he was using as a torture device — is not directly observed by the characters; the text relates only the nasty bits raining down out of the mechanism, and the reaction of the soldiers who have to "clean up" the mess afterwards.
  • In the Left Behind book Armageddon, Chloe William's televised death was purposely blanked out on the screen by the angel of the Lord.
  • Despite Warrior Cats having many High-Pressure Blood moments and being built on Family-Unfriendly Violence, this occurs during Needletail's death scene. Violetpaw, who narrates that particular chapter, doesn't see the exact moment where she dies because she's running for her life. She does, however, hear her scream, out of sight.
  • In the Dear America book Hear My Sorrow, during the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire scene, Angela passes out when she sees her cousin Rosa about to jump from the window and regains consciousness to be told that Rosa jumped and is dead, which means that the reader is also spared a description of those moments. note 
  • Not Even Bones: The reader doesn't get to watch Kovit torture Mirella, but Nita hears her bloodcurdling screams echo throughout the building. The same occurs when he tortures Boulder — the next time Nita sees him, Boulder's missing a front tooth.
  • Troubled Blood: When Robin is reading a salacious book about Dennis Creed's multiple murders, she reaches a point where he kidnaps a teenage girl and tortures her for months before killing her in his Torture Cellar. She skips these pages.
  • In Neverwhere, the Marquis de Carabas is captured by Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar and wakes crucified to a makeshift wooden frame. The two hitmen finish hammering in the nails, make a few threats, step aside to reveal a table of small, sharp metal implements...and the chapter ends and cuts to the protagonists continuing with their quest. By the time the narrative makes it back, the Marquis's dead body is described as nothing more than a "bloody thing" hanging from the wooden frame.

  • In Garth Brooks' ''The Thunder Rolls'', it jumps from a woman pointing a gun at her husband to a window that suddenly shatters, thus avoiding the onscreen shooting.
  • At the end of Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" music video, Jeremy shoots himself in the mouth, splattering blood on his classmates. In the edited-for-TV version, the shot of him putting the gun in his mouth is cut.
  • Due to MTV's restrictions on violence, the live-action version of Snoop Dogg's music video for "Vato" employs Non-gory gory discretion shot. The camera shows Snoop walking towards one, PLOW, the person falls. Snoop turns to face another, PLOW, the person falls. Only scene contains a split-second image of Snoop Dogg lowering his pistol.
  • The video for Bella Poarch and Sub Urban's "INFERNO" ends with the latter having to scrape some sleazy businessmen out of an elevator after they were subjected to some not-so-Harmless Freezing while trying to sexually harass the former. We don't see him do it, but the sound effects and the disgusted reactions of a passing bellhop let us know that it's not a pleasant process.


  • Older Than Feudalism: In a very early version, Ancient Greek Tragedies often used this trope. In the Medea a woman is given a dress that melts her skin; in the Bacchae a group of women tear a man to pieces and prance about with his body parts; in Oedipus Rex, Oedipus uses pins to claw out his eyes; in the Agamemnon the title character is brutally murdered in his bed. All of these gruesome scenes are described but never seen, given all the more detailed description precisely because they are hidden from sight; the death of Agamemnon is noted for being particularly gruesome.
  • During the fight between Crystal and Gary in Bethany, the lighting momentarily amplifies then blacks out when one deals a blow to the other.
  • Notably for an opera, the final knife fight between Turiddu and Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana is not shown at all, it and Turiddu's death taking place offstage. We only know about the latter because a Screaming Woman informs us that Turiddu was killed.

    Theme Parks 
  • In The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios when a gangster/bandit attempts to steal a cursed jewel in the Raiders of the Lost Ark scene, a cloud of smoke surrounds them once they touch the cursed jewel, hiding the process of them getting roasted into a skeleton.

    Visual Novels 
  • Inverted in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. Although you never see the pieces of the exploded characters, they will give you its run for money in Description Porn. Fleshy, bloody description porn.
  • Zigzagged with Liar Liar. It goes into descriptive detail about some of the scenes instead of showing them, however the few scenes that actually are bloody aren't too violent (they're mostly just characters being stabbed or being covered in blood). Bad Ends usually fade to black before anything is actually shown and several deaths aren't depicted in the art themselves.
  • In ATOM GRRRL!!, it's implied in the text that Big E's killings are quite brutal, though all the audience sees is a splatter of blood on top of the current background.
  • Used on multiple occasions in Sickness, though the text does not hold back from describing the brutality.
  • Used in the executions of Celeste and Kyoko in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

    Web Animation 
  • In Dora No More Dora is not seen dying while on the train track nor after running with scissors.
  • Mostly avoided by Happy Tree Friends, as just about every death and injury, no matter how gory (and gory they almost always are) is shown onscreen with no discretion. However, there have been moments where the deaths happen offscreen.
    • The first example of this in the series was in "Nuttin' Wrong With Candy" where Nutty gets trapped under a vending machine as its spiked dispensers lower towards him; the closest one scrapes his eye before we cut away, blood leaking out from under the vending machine.
    • Another happens in "Party Animal" when Flaky, after swelling up due to an allergic reaction, is accidentally popped by The Mole with a pin; we cut away just as the pin pokes her eye and see blood, limbs and other body parts flying across the screen.
  • RWBY:
    • In the Volume 5 finale, Professor Lionheart attempts a Villain: Exit, Stage Left. Unfortunately for him, Salem's Seer Grimm is waiting for him, and he has Outlived His Usefulness. Begging for mercy, he's dragged offscreen. The wet, visceral sounds that ensue suggest that he's being repeatedly stabbed by its tentacle spines.
    • In Volume 6, Salem's many suicide attempts and the battle that killed their children are both portrayed primarily through shadows on the wall and Ruby's horrified reaction.
  • One of the things Strong Bad has often been asked by fans is that he remove the wrestling mask he always seems to wear. He has repeatedly insisted that it's actually his face, but eventually he finally chose to oblige the perennial request... after having bought a fancy high-backed chair that obscured almost the entire view of his usual set-up. But judging by the horrific gargling screams of pain he makes during the attempt, this may have been a blessing in disguise.
  • At the end of the short Voodont, the doll rips her own arm off, Ellie is heard screaming in pain off-screen. Considering Ellie actually got a cut when Sam slit the doll's arm at the beginning, not to mention Sam's satisfaction with what is going on, it should be pretty obvious what happened.
  • In Chadam, the shot of Bella being crushed is off-screen; all the audience sees is Chadam's terrified face, and blood splattering the screen.
  • Dear Rabbit: At 2:25-2:30, the wolf looks down at the rabbit with a vague expression, but the screen slowly warps and the rabbit looks more frightened. After a fade to black, it's shown that the wolf killed the rabbit after all.

    Web Original 
  • During Entry #49 of Marble Hornets, Jay removed a scene of Alex smashing a stranger's head in with a rock. We were only told what happened.
  • ᴛʜᴇ ɴᴏᴇᴅᴏʟᴇᴋᴄɪɴ ᴀʀᴄʜɪᴠᴇꜱ: The very end of "Strange Nicktoons Network Anomaly (2007)" features a cropped photo of Jenica Wakeman's corpse with her face censored by a red box.
  • Pizza Time Pizza: In Pizza Time Pizza 10, after The Pizza Man jumps hosts from Alex to Julien, Julien, under the control of the Pizza Man, shoots Alex, resulting in a few drops of blood splattering Julien’s face.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum tend to do this with more violent or disturbing fics - sometimes a violent scene in a mission will consist mostly of descriptions of the agents vomiting, with a few Noodle Implements from the fic thrown into the description.
  • Episode 8 of Sex House has one where the camera goes black as Frank attempts to castrate himself with a hammer.
  • To Boldly Flee:
    • In part two, 8-Bit Mickey is looking like he's about to snap from Prick's barrage of short jokes. Cut immediately to The Nostalgia Critic wondering what's taking him so long, at which point Mickey walks in, covered in blood, and throws Prick's severed hand to Paw.
    • Then there's the scene where Mechakara does...something to the Nostalgia Chick involving a power drill.
  • SF Debris uses playful kittens when discussing particularly gruesome events.
  • The SCP Foundation's reports on the things they keep the world protected from include descriptions of what happens when an SCP's behaviour is left unchecked resulting in [DATA EXPUNGED], or a line of research into what it does leads to [REDACTED], with implications of casualties, injuries to researchers, property damage and reprimands for allowing it to happen.
  • This has happened at least a couple times in Survival of the Fittest, such as in the Second Chances game, when Nicole Husher was found hiding under a bed by Adam Reeves, who proceeded to brutally dispatch her, possibly raping her first.
  • Roméo and Julieta: This is how Roméo dies, complete with Symbolic Blood splatter and a shot of the rope he's hung on swinging back and forth.
  • Averted in Starbarians Episode 2 when the Eternoid shoots the spear back — you think it won't show anything, but it really does.
  • His review of the original Back to the Future video game, The Irate Gamer goes back in time to kill the main developer of the game because it is so bad. Using a Nintendo Zapper, he shoots "him" and we only see blood splatter on the back wall...which closely resembles grape jelly.
  • Used in the The Key of Awesome video "Modern Monster Mash", which has Frankenstien's monster's attempt at inviting modern movie monsters to the party ending in disaster. Most of the modern monsters' violent actions are done off-screen with the video cutting to the other monsters' appalled reactions once the violence starts (such as Hannibal Lecter eating a woman's face and Jigsaw ripping off a man's jaw), the only on-screen violence being when Michael Meyers beheads the Wolf Man.
  • This video presents itself as a Retraux instructional VHS for an invention called the "Scalpere 2000". Soon after its true purpose is revealed, the tape promises a "live demonstration", but is thankfully damaged during this section to the point that nothing is recognizable.
  • In Solid jj's video "Jimmy's Last Brain Blast", whenever the characters' heads explode, the video immediately cuts to an outside view of the Neutron residence, although the sound of heads exploding can still be heard.

    Real Life 
  • An interesting, completely unintentional real-life example happened with a father who had discovered that his son was molested by a family friend, then lay in wait at an airport to execute him with a shot to the head. As a news cameraman filmed the arrested man being escorted through an airport by an officer, the father lifts his gun and shoots the guy in the head just as the officer passes in front of the camera and obscures the actual headshot, only letting us see the guy subsequently fall to the ground.
  • Happened during the execution by firing squad of Romania's dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena. A TV crew who were to film the execution only managed to catch the end of it, as the Ceaușescus lay on the ground shrouded by dust kicked up by the bullets striking the wall and ground.

Alternative Title(s): Violence Discretion Shot


Hushabye Mountain

Ray covers Rachel's eyes and ears and has her sing a lullaby while he kills Ogilvy to protect her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / CoverInnocentEyesAndEars

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