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Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness

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Inspired by the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness, this similar scale is used to measure how graphically or gruesomely violence is depicted in Works from 0 to 10.

This is a measure of how detailed or graphic the violence is, not the quantity of it. The sadism of the violent acts are considered relative to how bloody or gory it is. For instance; a level 8 act of violence inflicted onscreen to a completely defenseless victim note  (human or animal) who expresses related pain would rank at 9. 10 if the victim is a child).

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Slaughter of a comedic or cartoonish nature note  may have the "edge" taken off of it, resulting in it being placed at a lower level than if the carnage was played seriously. How realistic the violence looks is taken into consideration somewhat. Violence and gore related to non-sapient beings (be them real or fictitious animals, androids, other "alien" organisms) are factored into the decision of what level the piece of media will be rated, but usually it's ranking would be relative to how realistic the suffering of said being is. Animal cruelty towards real world species will be measured the same as a humans. Documentaries are not included.

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It's worth noting that "stacking" factors into a ranking to an extent. Such as a victim with multiple significant, and apparent level 8 acts inflicted upon them getting bumped to a 9 (I.E. ED-209's first victim in RoboCop), and so on.

Outline of levels:

  • 0. The work contains no violence whatsoever, outside of the very mildest of slapstick.

  • 1. The work may contain some non-fatal (to sentient beings, at least) slapstick-style violence, but there's no blood or anything like that.

  • 2. Fatal violence starts to appear here, but it is, for all intents and purposes, bloodless (well, except for the most minor of nicks and scratches). Harsh slapstick that might be fatal in real life but isn't in the piece of media's universe might show up here.

  • 3. Blood may show up in small quantities (and it never splatters). Films, T.V. episodes, games, etc. with fatal or near-fatal violence that's a tad rough, yet essentially bloodless, may show up here. People whose clothes are on fire and are presumably wounded or killed by said flames may appear here if there's no gruesome detail. No gore.

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  • 4. Relatively small amounts of blood may be a fairly frequent sight on this level. Violence that may be too intense for level 3 may be found here.

  • 5. Blood is a frequent sight during acts of violence. A few blood squibs note  may or may not be seen, but none of the liquid from them explicitly spurts or splatters. Movies, T.V. shows, etc. with harsh, yet basically bloodless, acts of violence committed against defenseless civilians may appear here, if brutal enough. Maybe a puff or two of blood in vapor form can be found here. Somewhat cartoonish burned flesh may appear on level 5. Implied/offscreen or Attempted Rape appears on this level.

  • 6. Blood squibs frequently make an appearance, but the fake blood from them doesn't exactly spurt or splatter in an explicit way. Puffs of blood in vapor form may be seen on numerous occasions. If handled the right way, a bloodless/goreless decapitation or two may show up on this level, as well as some charred flesh that's not exactly hideous. Some blood-covered bodies may be shown, but nothing truly gory.

  • 7. Blood splatters/spurts start to become noticeable. Mild gore may be seen. Onscreen acts of mutilation of bare flesh by bullets or blades generally start here. Mostly bloodless but onscreen (clothed) genital trauma may appear. Mildly or cartoonishly bloody decapitations start here. Mild obliteration or "gibbing" (little to no graphic/discernable body parts) may appear. Graphically and gorily burnt skin starts to show up on this level. Onscreen rape will always rate at least a level 7.

  • 8. Explicit and/or particularly large, but not comedic, blood squibs, spurts, and splatters are a frequent sight. Perhaps some moderate gore can be seen. Such as a moderately graphic (realistically spurting blood) dismemberment, decapitation and/or head explosion (maybe a not-too-graphic, semi head obliteration, if brief or out of focus enough) and somewhat bloody, but not explicit genital trauma may appear.

  • 9. Gore really starts becoming common here. Exposed organs, bone, or muscle may be seen briefly. Bloodily exploding body parts really start showing up. Graphic semi-obliterated/decapitated heads appear here.

  • 10. Gorefest territory. Nightmarish depictions of bodily harm such as being reduced to pulp, skinned corpses, explicitly mutilated genitals, etc. show up here, as do realistic, prolonged, brutal sequences of genuinely gory mayhem. The very hardest of hard-R and even NC-17 make their appearances on this level. Real-world graphic violence (within fictional context) and on-screen graphic/gory scenes involving children reach this level.

While how much violence a work has isn't necessarily representative of how adult the rest of the work is in terms of language or themes, if one were to give an MPAA rating to these works based solely off of the violence, this is guideline for what they would generally get:

  • G: 0
  • PG: 1-3
  • PG-13: 2-7
  • R: 6-10
  • NC-17: 10

This isn't exact, of course: Movies with violence levels as high as an 8 have gotten away with a PG-13 rating, and even being a Level 10 is no guarantee of an NC-17 ranking. By and large, though, Level 5 is about as high as something can get while still being considered "for kids"

Important Note: For editors going to add new works to Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness pages, please add a note to the new entry explaining why it is placed on that level. This will help us avoid Zero Content Examples.



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