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Hit Flash

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A moment of violence is replaced with a flash of light, a cloud of dust, a Hit Spark, or some other momentary obstruction covering the entire screen. Lasts a second or two, and it's used to cover up the actual action while still revealing cause and effect. Can be used to good effect in a Fight Unscene, may be present with a Second-Person Attack, or when a character is hit by something that will immobilize them. Sometimes combined with a Written Sound Effect, as the trope image shows.

Other times, it also serves to emphasize violence rather than censor it, done by displaying it for a split second at the exact moment a fist makes contact with a face to add more "oomph!" to the impact.

See also Big Ball of Violence, Flash of Pain, Hit Stop, Hit Spark, Battle Discretion Shot, Black Screen of Death, Second-Person Attack.

Looks like this, in case the trope description wasn't clear enough.

Not to be confused with Flash of Pain, when an enemy in a video game flashes a different color because it's been hit.


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  • In the Doraemon episode "Action Quiz", both times Big G hits Noby, the attack is accompanied by a hit flash, and Noby gets a bump on his head afterwards.
  • The first two seasons of Dragon Ball Z, when it was dubbed, was one of the worst offenders of this. Saban Entertainment took special care to delete every frame where a hit connected and replace it with a sloppily-drawn star on a black background. (And in a show where the main draw are the big fights, it's not hard to understand why this was so horrible.)
    • A white fog-like effect was also sometimes used to cover direct hits to the face.
    • In the edited version of Dragon Ball Z Kai, many hits are replaced with this and barrages of punches or blasts are completely removed.
    • In the original Japanese version sometimes a white or a white over black flash is used to emphasize the impact of a physical attack example:when Android 19 delivers a kick to the face of Vegeta in his super saiyan form.
  • When Funimation premiered their dub of One Piece in 2007, black and white flashes were used to cover up strong kicks and punches on the Toonami broadcast version. All streaming and DVD releases are uncensored.
  • The Rurouni Kenshin OVAs combine it with the Diagonal Cut every time someone lands a sword cut, with gruesome results afterwards.
  • Ranma ½ did this most times it had a Megaton Punch, and it even included Super-Deformed versions of characters faces.
  • While the first seasons of Digimon merely relied on cuts for censoring of physical violence, Digimon Data Squad' dub used a more childish impact screen to censor a Groin Attack.
    • The first example in Digimon Adventure 02 came in episode 4, where Gabumon gets punched in the face by Red Vegiemon. A white flash is put in its place, and also is inserted from time to time during Veemon's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by Red Vegiemon.
  • Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, where one of the running gag catchphrases is "it is implied that you are punching me!".
  • Pokémon: The Series uses this quite a lot, considering the amount of violence in the battles, though a large number of hits are still shown. Mostly they're just flashes, but like the Digimon Savers episode above, A Johto Photo Finish used a very cartoonish hit flash just to disguise Charizard getting punched in the face by Harrison's Blaziken. While the aftermath is still shown (Charizard's cheek has a sort of dent in it from the blow), the attack itself isn't all that violent. Episodes like Pasta La Vista and A Shroomish Skirmish pretty much disregarded the hit flash entirely during their climactic fights.
    • The English dub will add additional hit flashes for TV airing, but will remove them for DVD and online releases.
    • Sometimes the hit flash is actually two moves exploding and creating a field of dust; this is plot-relevant-ish and used to create suspense as we wonder which of the Pokémon survived the explosion.
  • YuYu Hakusho is desperately in love with these, and they often last for about or more than a solid second.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Boonie Bears, hit flashes are frequently used whenever anyone is hit hard enough.
  • In Happy Heroes, hit flashes depicting stars appear frequently when characters get hit by something.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, hit flashes often appear when Wolnie hits Wolffy with a frying pan.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Occurs at least twice in Ryuhei Kitamura's film Versus. The most noticeable example is that of a crook who goes into hysterics and is becalmed by a pistol-whip from his partner.
  • The Christian-themed, possibly-fake, and terminally-Canadian movie The Rev had a habit of slowing the scene to a freeze, fading to black, and jumping to the next action with no fade-in. It's as if they sat around and asked "What is the most noticeable way we can think of to avoid showing violence?"
  • Happened in The Incredible Hulk (2008). When Blonsky hit Spars in the face with a chair, the POV was hers and there was a split second of blinding white.
  • Used during Wez's fatal headbutt attack in The Road Warrior. Not exactly censoring anything, since it shows the limp body being thrown over the wall immediately afterwards.
  • Used in an unusual scene in the Lou Ferrigno film Hercules (1983), where the title character fights a bear. When Hercules punches the bear from the POV of the animal, his fist flies towards the camera repeatedly, and each time, strange strobe lights flash and lasers sound, due to the cheap FX used in the low-budget film. [1]
  • In the Hitchcock film Spellbound, a character commits suicide. Filmed from his point-of-view, the gun is pointed at the camera, and a bright red flash is seen in the otherwise black & white film. Some copies don't bother preserving this...
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a brief flash of white is seen when Sarah Conner attacks a hospital orderly during her escape attempt.

    Live Action TV 
  • The 1960's Batman (1966) TV series would often cover the impacts of blows (and ineptitude of fight sequencesnote ) with a full-frame color card splashed with descriptive words like "POW!" or "BAM!" or "WHAMMO!". Initially, the cards were not used for concealment, but for economy. In the early first season episodes, the comic-book sound effects were optically superimposed on top of the fight scene footage, often with animation (spinning into frame, changing size, etc.). However, this was expensive, so the cheaper method of cutting the full-frame card into the shot a la silent film captions was used in later episodes, and found to look even better.
    • Due to the show's popularity and use of visible words during the flashes, children of the 1960's-1980's often had the show cited in English classes as an example of onomatopoeia that they could easily identify with.
    • Parodied in an episode of The Avengers (1960s), "The Winged Avenger", where the villain is clobbered with large-scale comic book panels splayed with such words. Additionally, the background music parodies Batman's Title Theme Tune.
  • The 2010 remaster of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers adds these in where previously they didn't exist; apparently, Standards And Practices was less strict in 1994...
  • Ninja Sentai Kakuranger also uses this (in Gratuitous English). While they do contribute to its campy post-modern tone, they were probably why most of the fight scenes weren't used in Power Rangers; they appear over the picture, rather than as a separate card, making them harder to edit out.
  • Beetleborgs adds these effects during the fight scenes. This trope does make sense here, as both the villains and superhero identities of the borgs themselves are comic book characters made real through a magical spell.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Some Professional Wrestling shows (at least in the UK and Canada) do this, but only when one of the combatants is hit with a foreign object. Depending on the show it will either (a) freeze-frame just before impact but play the sound of the chair/ladder/battleship hitting the guy or (b) momentarily cut to some stock footage of a crowd. The transmission will then cut to the victim writhing in pain on the ground. It should be noted that this is mostly due to Executive Meddling on the part of the networks; the same footage generally airs unaltered in the US.
    • More important to note that the Executive Meddling comes from the US who seem to think that those outside the US shouldn't be able to see violence. The main culprit is the WWE who used to edit their PPVs before sending them to Channel 4.

    Video Games 
  • Graphic adventure game Déjà Vu (1985) used intertitle cards that covered the entire first-person view window, like the ones in the 1960s Batman (1966) series, when you fired a gun ("BLAM") or punched someone ("SOCKO").
    • Shadowgate used it as well when you hit something, giving you a view-covering "POW!"
  • In The Sims, a cat killing mice gets the same "censor pixels" as a nude Sim. Sims fighting or dying in fires invoke no censor pixels, however.
  • Then there's BioShock, which uses the flash of either white light when saving a Little Sister - and a red one when harvesting them.
  • In every Street Fighter game where you can play as Akuma, when you do the Shun Goku Satsu and it connects, the screen flashes with these before cutting back to the famous "Shoushi!" pose.
  • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade and Sacred Stones use this for the Assassin's instant-kill critical. Additionally Blazing Blade uses it in the cutscene where Eliwood kills Ninian with Durandal.
  • In Star Wars Battlefront 2, entering certain Cheat Codes in certain places depending on game version could grant you boosts like invincibility, infinite ammo, etc. One of these caused every melee attack, be it by lightsaber, wampa claw, Gamorrean ax, etc., to pop up one of these at the point of attack.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Used in Alpha Teens on Machines whenever a character gets a hit in the face.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Amazing World of Gumball which combines it with Censored for Comedy. Nicole fights some guards and is confused when they show up beaten right after the flash.
  • Batman punches a plant clone in the shape of old woman in The Batman. It's a simple white flash done to swap models between the woman and plant creature.
  • Most of the DC Animated Universe, unless a character himself (such as Superman or Batman's cape) obstructs the impact shot. Batman animators were also fond of using silhouettes, which arguably worked with his shadowy image.
    • This is absent in a number of fights after Justice League went Heroes Unlimited. Such as the Justice League Unlimited episode "Panic in the Sky", when Galatea fought Supergirl while taunting her, making the fight seem especially gruesome. Click here for a clip. In the movie Starcrossed, the hitflash is actually an incredibly brightened frame of Hawkgirl crying out in pain from the hit she took.
  • Used and abused in Ben 10.
  • Used occasionally in the Donkey Kong Country animated series, most notably when DK punched King K. Rool or another Kremling.
  • Dragon Booster used this whenever a character was hit and captured.
  • The ending to the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Who Let the Ed In?" has this happen to Ed when Eddy hits him with an imaginary potato. "Don't blink."
  • Parodied in a Family Guy cutaway gag that also parodies the '60s Batman TV show.
  • When Frankie punches out her date on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
    • Used in another episode when Bloo gets punched in the face by a young girl for taking some toy glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth. The punch is shown from the POV of Bloo, and the girl's fist flies towards the camera before the split-second Hit Flash.
  • Freakazoid! - Mostly just when it was funny.
  • Futurama isn't shy about showing violence, but they had a creative variation on this trope in an episode in which time was skipping ahead at random intervals. After Fry delivers a pickup line to Leela, there's a short timejump, and we see Fry with a black eye saying "Oww..."
    • The 60s Batman version is parodied in the Superhero Episode "Less Than hero" when the New Justice Team are fighting the Zookeeper's animals, with nonsensical cards like "YAK!!!" when Fry punches a yak or "01001010!!!"note  when Bender gets slugged by a Boxing Kangaroo.
  • Gargoyles used these particularly well, normally showing punches to the face from the point of view of the victim. Just as the incoming fist is filling the screen, Hit Flash in white and sometimes red, and change to a shot of the punchee getting knocked back.
  • Exception: G.I. JoeNo one ever got shot, but the moment of impact was always visible.
  • Hey Arnold! had such an example, of colorful stars rapidly flying on a black background that originated in the pilot episode, and was recycled numerous times throughout the series and even in the movie.
  • Used quite often on Looney Tunes.
    • In one Bugs Bunny short, Bugs hits a dog over the head with a club. You see Bugs raise the club, then a flash, and then the dog has a huge bump on his head, while Bugs is holding a broken club. The swing of the club is never seen, ironically making the action appear all the more violent.
    • In Bugs Bunny Rides Again: Chased by Yosemite Sam, Bugs goes through a tunnel and then covers the exit with a brick wall. As Sam enters the tunnel, the screen goes dark - and suddenly we see him silhouetted against the wall for a brief instant.
      • The versions cited above have suffered editing due to concerned parties afraid of what they called "imitatible violence." Since race issues were also treated differently, they likewise suffered this sort of editing.
      • It's worth noting the Golden Collection DVD sets have the unedited versions of the cartoons.
    • Occasionally happens in early cartoons when Wile E. Coyote gets hit by a boulder.
    • And finally, the outro of The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour, in which Bugs is driving a small car on the open road and the Coyote, with part of another contraption in tow, goes flying straight into him. Beep beep!
  • Done in both of the Bat-Bat episodes of Bakshi's Mighty Mouse reboot ("Ralph!" "Love!" "Bakshi!")
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Happened in "The Cart Before the Ponies," when three carts collided at the center of the track and demolished the remaining carts in the process. Stars and all.
  • Their use in OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes gets Lampshaded on the episode "Your World Is An Illusion", in which K.O. realizes his world is just a cartoon. When Raymond fights him, K.O. notices that he never actually hits him, he just rears back and a flash appears; K.O. even holds up the flash as if it were a card left on the ground.
  • Often subverted in The Powerpuff Girls (1998), which has exaggerated, Slow Motion impact shots, with green goo and teeth flying everywhere.
    • It will however use it at other times, sometimes with hidden bonuses, such as the episode "Los Dos Mojos", where a hit flash from Bubbles is actually the words "Mojo" rapidly cycled.
    • One of the main criticisms of the 2016 reboot is how most of the impact shots are now replaced with hit flashes.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Simpsons, in the "campy Seventies version" of Radioactive Man, complete with even more nonsensical descriptive words like "MINT!", "POOO!" and "NEWT!"
  • Done once on South Park (which is known for its often graphic and brutal on screen violence) in the episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" when one of the the kids while playing football headbutts Pip who was not wearing a helmet.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast parodies this in an episode that also parodies Batman, where Space Ghost would "get a word" every time he shot something with his powerbands.
  • Completely averted with The Spectacular Spider-Man, which had virtually every blow delivered on screen.
  • The Spongebob Squarepants episode "Pizza Delivery" has this when Squidward throws the pizza at a jerkass customer.
    • This also happens in "The Two Faces of Squidward" when SpongeBob repeatedly hits Squidward with a door.
    • "Mermaidman and Barnacleboy 2" parodies the 1960s Batman variation. The titular elderly superheroes knock over obvious cutouts of villains with "PROP!", "CARDBOARD!" and "LAME" flashed in starbursts onscreen (after the cardboard visibly buckles, no less).
  • Steven Universe sometimes uses these during fight sequences, where instead of directly showing the hits, the screen will go black for a second whilst the movement is shown in a light colour.
  • The 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series uses a variant - whenever a sword is used, the screen quickly cuts to black and the movement of the slash is shown. Even if it is Bowdlerization, it looks pretty cool.
  • Teen Titans would often have a shot of someone's fist rushing at the camera, a brief Hit Flash, then a shot of the target of that punch being knocked backwards.
    • Got a little odd in "Aftershock Part 2," though, when at one point they had two characters talking, had the Hit Flash and shot of one character getting knocked back, but never even showed the windup to the punch. Was either a goof, or to convey the blow coming so quickly/unexpectedly.
  • Total Drama: The series sometimes opts to show the impact of a strike and sometimes obscures it with a hit flash.
    • When Owen is bombarded with four dodgeballs at once in "Dodgebrawl", the moment of impact is hidden behind a black screen with rapidly brightening and fading stars.
    • Mike takes control over his body in "Grand Chef Auto" by beating up his other personalities. The violence is implied through a black screen that sequentially displays a forwards Hit Spark, a swiping Hit Spark, and another forwards Hit Spark that fades into stars.

    Truth In Television 
  • There is a principle in fluid dynamics called 'cavitation'. When impacts occur at extremely high speed underwater, a flash of light as well as sound and heat can be produced, as seen here, in the 'Strike at 20,000 fps' section. It's 11 minutes in. A cooler example would be the pistol shrimp shown here, which uses the same principles of cavitation just mentioned, but can do it naturally.
  • The phenomenon of "seeing stars" is caused by the fluid in the eyes moving faster than the eyes themselves and slamming into the retina. This likely causes the victim to see a flash, as well as the aftermath, and probably explains the last part of the above comment.
  • When animating pretty much anything (especially an explosion or other...fiery event) one blank frame followed by the aftermath of the strike is a whole lot easier - and is a whole lot more visually appealing - than drawing it manually. Collisions look the best either a frame after contact or a frame before.
  • Some astronauts have reported seeing spurious flashes of nonexistent light while in orbit. One explanation put forth is that this is a visual expression of damage occurring to the retina due to cosmic radiation. Their eyes get hit with radiation, but all they see is a flash.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Hit Flash


1960s Batman

Possibly the most well-known thing about this show are the cards with sound effects that appeared when someone landed a big hit. This was primarily introduced as a cost-cutting measure and to cover up some of the fight scenes.

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