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Symbolic Blood

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That's gotta hurt, even if it's just spilled water.

"And then our flag will fly, against a blood-red sky!"

When a fluid (or highly flexible solid) falls and/or spreads in a way that it is made to look like blood. This is either to show a symbolic loss or to perform a standard parody.

Often the fluid will be red, and sometimes this is a trick shot to make it appear like someone has been injured, only to later reveal otherwise. It's sometimes used in kid- friendly shows to imply violence that would never pass the censors.

See also Alien Blood for strangely colored fluids pouring out of alien beings and Machine Blood, for "bleeding" machines or robots. See A Bloody Mess for red liquids being mistaken for blood. See Blue Liquid Absorbent for blue liquid used in place of blood (or other bodily fluids) to avert distasteful imagery.


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  • There was a PSA that ran on American TV sometime in The '90s, in which a boy pretends to shoot his sister with a toy gun. The sister drops her teddy bear, and her glass of red juice spills all over it...

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Missing Hearts: Motoko stabs toward a criminal cowering in the corner and a liquid sprays out. The next shot reveals that she stabbed an organ transplant bag she was carrying.
  • In the Death Note anime, when Light kills off Aiber, he spills the red wine he was drinking, and the screen goes to a short still of the puddle.
  • In the first episode of Cowboy Bebop you see small vials of a red drug floating in space, near the woman that was carrying them in a bag inside her dress, who just got killed. The drug is a liquid (which is sprayed into the user's eye and appropriately named "Red Eye" or "Bloody Eye"), making the symbolism doubly effective
  • In one episode of Rosario + Vampire the Gory Discretion Shot for a character's fate is a splash of curry sauce.
  • In an episode of Azumanga Daioh, Osaka goes to wake up Yukari with a frying pan. When we see her enter Yukari's room with a knife instead, we get a quick shot of Tomo putting ketchup putting a huge amount of ketchup all over her breakfast and some even ends up on Kagura's face, who's sitting next to her.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion: When an Evangelion is injured the corresponding body part of the pilot is wreathed in a stream of foaming bubbles.
  • A non-spill variant shows up in the Hellsing anime. Seras asks for a glass of tomato juice after tailing a possible leak into a pub. She probably just wanted something that was non-alcoholic, but given that she's a recently turned vampire...
  • Played for Laughs in Free! when Rei is shot with a squirt gun. A huge spray of water comes from his back despite having been hit in the front, and he even coughs up more water before "dying."
  • One of Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team's most famous battle scenes features Norris Packard's Gouf Custom being sprayed with a gout of motor oil that behaves suspiciously like arterial blood after stabbing a tank with his giant sword.

    Comic Books 
  • There's an issue of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) which flashes back to a human accidentally shooting a non-human (leading to the Great War). The victim is seen lying in a puddle of... grass?

    Films — Animated 
  • Kubo and the Two Strings: Kubo has his animated paper dolls fight for part of his show, which includes strips of red paper coming out of cut up monsters to represent blood spatters. One man actually throws up from seeing this.
  • Zootopia
    • In the play at the beginning, young Judy really hams it up while "dying" from Jaguar's "attack", at first tossing out one really, really long red streamer onto the ground before her then falling on her back and squirting ketchup all over herself to simulate High-Pressure Blood.
    • During the climax, the handkerchief Nick uses as a makeshift bandage for Judy's wounded leg is dyed red.
  • In Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside - The Return of the Oni King, Touma is fatally stabbed with a red object.
  • In Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo is pelted with red tomatoes, leaving him soaked in tomato juice. This emulates a scene from the book where he's publically whipped.
  • In Watership Down, Fiver sees the sunset turning the field red and is horrified to see it covered in blood. Although the red is simply light, the animation style makes it appear to run down like liquid.
  • The Brave Little Toaster: The appliances watch in horror as the cheerful hardware store owner who took them in dismantles a blender for its motor, which in their perspective is like watching a man get gutted alive. After he's done, he leaves the remains of the blender in his workbench, dripping grease onto the floor.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • During the "Cell Block Tango" number in Chicago, each of the merry murderesses utilizes a red cloth to depict through dance their alleged murders.
  • Hellboy (2004): Director Guillermo del Toro wanted to use blood in a symbolic, non-gratuitous way. Indeed, the only time one sees actual blood is during Rasputin's resurrection. In every other instance, it's the dust that once was Kroenen's blood, change from a pay phone, slime/spittle/sweat from a monster, gumballs from a gumball machine, etc.
  • The movie High Anxiety had a shower scene much like Psycho, only it had a newspaper instead of a knife and the ink from it instead of blood.
  • The Mermaid has the scenes where Brother Octopus, a mer-octopus masquerading as a human, getting his limbs mutilated and ground up, where he throws up ink in a manner reminiscent of Blood from the Mouth.
  • Short Circuit 2 takes this to its symbolic extreme with Johnny 5's battery; when it's punctured during his beating from the bad guys, one of the baddies gets sprayed by the battery's fluid, and the supporting cast refer to the leak as him "bleeding to death". Which, given how batteries don't work AT ALL after they're punctured, despite how it clearly does after it's "patched" in the movie, opens up a whole new can of Fridge Logic.
  • Near the end of Oh! What a Lovely War the sound of a gunshot is accompanied by a splash of red... which turns out to be an out-of-focus poppy in the foreground. No blood is ever shown in the film.
  • Played for Laughs in Hot Fuzz during the climactic supermarket battle. DC Andy Wainwright is standing by a rack of pasta sauce jars when a butcher hurls a meat cleaver at him from the deli section. The jars smash and cover Andy in "blood", which causes his partner, DS Andy Cartwright, to freak out and start blindly shooting at the butchers.
    DC Andy Wainwright: It's all right, Andy! It's just bolognese!
  • Dark Night of the Scarecrow cuts from Arliss being pushed into his wood chipper to runny strawberry jam being spooned on to Otis' plate by his landlady.
  • Across the Universe (2007): "Strawberry Fields Forever" does this with strawberry juice in a Montage that combines an art project with a Vietnam War Nightmare Sequence whose disturbing images include Vietnam being bombarded with giant flaming strawberries.
  • Dave Made a Maze would be an extremely gory movie if it weren't for the fact that all the "gore" was red cardboard.
  • When Evil Calls: When the fat kid is squashed between the van and the wall, the shot cuts from his face to the janitor pressing down on his sandwich and strawberry jam squirting out the sides.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, in the aftermath of Judge Doom using the Dip on an adorable shoe Toon, the dissolved red paint from the poor shoe on his black rubber glove is very symbolic of blood, making for quite the nightmarish little image. It doesn't help that the Dip is the only way to kill Toons.
  • In Crimson Peak the red clay beneath the Sharpes' lands is an example of this (although plenty of actual blood gets spilled too). The clay oozing through the walls and ground clearly reflects Allerdale Hall's dark and bloody past. A particularly notable example is when Lucille pushes Edith over the balcony; there's an overhead shot of her lying unconscious on the snowy ground as the clay forms a pool around her.
  • The T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, being a Chrome Champion made of liquid metal, would bleed mercury similar to blood. Notably the scene where Arnie empties a machine-gun into the T-1000 in a nitrogen truck's driver seat, resulting in a massive splatter of liquid metal everywhere reminiscient of Ludicrous Gibs.
  • The final battle of The Last Jedi takes place on Crait, on a plain of red crystal covered by a thin layer of salt. After the engagement, the surface appears to be covered in blood due to the red gashes. When the First Order walkers fire on Luke Skywalker, chunks of those same red crystals fly out of the explosion. For just a few seconds, it looks for all the world like Luke has been reduced to bloody chunks. When Kylo Ren refuses Luke's wisdom and attacks, the camera cuts at the moment he strikes to the tracks his feet leave — blood red.

    Live-Action TV 
  • That '70s Show Kelso is in the shower and Laurie catches him using her shampoo (which happens to be red). This causes him to spill it, at which point we see it going down the drain as she hits him is a stabbing motion (parodying a scene from that movie no one remembers...)
  • Sparks fly when a Power Rangers character is hit, and on some occasions, a character has had a stream of sparks spraying from the same point for an extended time (usually the Monster of the Week, after being dealt the Finishing Move that's about to result in utter kablooification.) On some extremely rare occasions, the sparks have come out when a non-armored/unprotected character is hit.note 
  • White Collar: After Elizabeth is kidnapped by Keller, the FBI shows up to the crime scene, and Peter sees a red pool on the rug from a spilled pot of spaghetti sauce.
  • In Robot Combat League, the robot fighters sometimes get so damaged, they spray hydraulic fluid everywhere. Without hydraulic fluid, the robots' limbs won't work properly, essentially paralyzing the limbs and leaving the robot at a disadvantage.
  • The title sequence of Dexter is framed to make the title character's morning routine look violent. There's some real blood when he cuts himself shaving, but we also see him squirting bloody looking tomato sauce on his eggs as he cuts them.
  • CSI: In "Helpless", a shot cuts from blood that is staining the inside of a human hamster ball that is rolling out of control to red wine that is being swirled around a large wineglass.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: In "Murder and Mozzarella", the killer spills a pot of tomato sauce on the floor while murdering the victim.
  • Kamen Rider OOO has the standard "flying sparks when someone is hurt" as is common in Tokusatsu, but it also has the odd occasion where badly-hurt characters (namely the Greeed) continuously drop Cell Medals, silver, coin-like objects, from their bodies as a stand-in for blood. In one of the final episodes, Ankh, after having some of his Core Medals ripped from his body in a manner similar to having his heart ripped out, is shown to be sitting in a large, spread-out pool of medals that looks eerily-similar to a huge pool of blood.
  • Ultraman Ace has an alien invader called Space Mask, who can make his victims bleed sparks. He makes his introduction killing a couple of security guards, making them both bleed a geyser of fireworks.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Drawing Dead", the second Victim of the Week runs a print shop and is murdered by having his throat cut with a paper guillotine. As they do so, the killer knocks over bottles of blue and yellow ink that spill and pool under the victim's chair like blood.

  • In Leonard Bernstein's Mass, the Celebrant contemplates the shattered Chalice:
    "Glass—and brown wine—thick—like blood... Rich—like honey and blood... Hey—don't you find that funny? I mean, it's supposed to be blood. I mean, it is blood... His... It was..."

  • One BIONICLE commercial showed Kalmah's tentacle being cut off, and a dark liquid flowing into the water. We know that characters in the Matoran Universe don't bleed, so it was either some other fluid (ink?), or completely non-canon. Pridak also has some suspicious red markings around his mouth...

    Video Games 
  • 9 Monkeys of Shaolin have you playing as a Shaolin monk, and fitting your character's pacifist nature, slain enemies will bleed black smoke instead of blood - as a symbol of the "evil" in themselves being purged by your attacks.
  • Mario Party 2: Done in the Horror Land board, where there's a red bloodstain type puddle, which is just about shown coming from a huge overturned ketchup bottle that's been held by a gravestone.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, when fighting the Hydra, the heads being chopped off lead to leaking smoke instead of blood. In the movie and the Japanese version of the game there's slime instead.
    • The series kind of seems to like using darkness as symbolic blood. The remade version of the Deep Dive scene in 358/2 Days has a moment where the dark smoke from the Heartless he just slew flies in front of his face like he was in some kind of samurai movie.
    • in Re: Chain of Memories a pool of darkness forms under Riku Replica's body after Riku kills him, looking quite like he's bleeding.
    • The best example, though, is when Terra shot Braig in the face in Birth by Sleep - the reddish smoke fountaining from his newly missing eye and dark splotch where his scar will be might not necessarily be blood, but they sure do look like it, and the game never really bothers to make sure you realize it isn't.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, after you defeat Ganondorf's Gerudo form he falls to the ground, with his red cape unfolding around him in a way that makes it look like blood is actually flowing out of him.
  • In 'Splosion Man, whenever a scientist dies, meat (steaks and ham) replace the blood. Played for Laughs.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, Shalua is killed by Azul, in a scene in which she holds a door open with her mechanical arm so that the others can escape. When the arm is destroyed, some medical liquid starts to flow from under the door. And as you may guess, blood-like.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 uses a dark purplish/black energy to instead of blood when Noel, Serah and later Caius are stabbed/impaled; it represents the Chaos bestowed on every human's heart by Etro.
  • Fishgun, a parody of FPS games in general, sees you fighting anthropomorphic killer fruits as enemies. With colorful fruit juice in place of blood whenever you gun down hordes of enemies.
  • In the Japanese and European versions of No More Heroes, the enemies die in what could only be described as a fountain of digitized ash.
  • In Persona 5 after an All-Out attack destroys the last enemies, a short cutscene is shown where the silhouettes of said enemies shoot High-Pressure Blood. However, Joker appears as a Guest Fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is a more family-friendly game, so when using All-Out as his Final Smash, the enemies instead shoot sparkling stars; much less violent, but still similar to the original blood.
  • Pirates: Legend of the Black Buccaneer have your enemies bleeding purple smoke, for some reason, when you slice them apart via cutlass.
  • In the Overwatch short "Honor and Glory", Balderich's armor is shown leaking blue fluid from where he was cut by an OR14 unit's blade before he made his final stand in Eichenwalde's castle.
  • GoldenEye: Rogue Agent: If you look carefully, the various thugs and guards emit blue sparks when hit with bullets. This positions Rogue Agent as a little more violent than the typical Bloodless Carnage of the Bond games, but still in keeping within the relative fantasy of the 007 universe.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3, like its predecessors, mainly alternates between straightforward Bloodless Carnage and Black Blood when it comes to depicting actual injuries, but the Life Energy motes released by fallen soldiers and absorbed into Flame Clocks are colored deep red. These can usually be found on corpses around the world (as an indicator that the two off-seer party members can mourn them), and some cutscenes play the symbolism for all it's worth.

  • The "Executioner" arc in Daily JoJo revolves around people (particularly Josh and Wan) thinking that their coworkers should die (of shame) for committing slights against them, with symbolism to match.
    • Wan's cover art is monochrome and depicts him holding an umbrella dripping a dark liquid, making it look like he just executed someone.
    • At the end of the arc, Woong and Josh drink cherry juice while meeting. Josh does a Spit Take after being passed up for promotion, causing the juice to drip from his mouth to his shirt. Then Woong spills juice on his own shirt while apologizing, and Josh thinks that he should die if he's really sorry. Josh leaves the office still dripping in juice as if an execution really took place.
  • In the first comic page of Daniel, we see what appears to be goopy blood dripping down slowly....turns out it was just ketchup.
  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: Red Dice leave Dicer's body upon injury.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, when Antimony falls off the bridge, there's a flashback to a glass of water—that she dropped—spilling and shattering. Annie then thinks, "Well, now I know how the glass felt," as she falls.
  • In this page of Homestuck, Mom and Dad are shown holding hands over a wine-stained table cloth. On the next page, however, the same picture is shown as a reflection in Bec Noir's glasses, making it look more like blood. The next time Mom and Dad are shown in the comic, they're dead.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Puhoy", when Finn kills the Blanket Dragon, he slashes its throat and a bunch of feathers spray from the wound.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Most of the cast aren't human, or even animals, and thus spill various non-blood innards when injured. In "The Advice", Banana Joe is run over and leaves behind a pool of banana juice. In "The Parking", a living milk carton is stabbed and milk squirts out. In "The Girlfriend", Jamie beats up Sarah offscreen and ends up with melted yellow ice cream goop on her face and hands. In "The Blame", Colin is eaten onstage and egg yolk splashes on the audience.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Guru," Katara is attacked by Ty Lee, and drops her waterskin when she falls, which spills and forms a pool around her, as if she'd been stabbed (although she actually went down because of a Vulcan Nerve Pinch).
  • The Batman vs. Dracula had a scene where Dracula attacks a waiter who then drops a bottle of red wine that spills all over.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: "Paper Route Bout" had a clan of ninja newspaper delivery boys attacking the neighborhood, flinging bundles of papers with deadly accuracy at everyone and thing besides porches and leaving Dee Dee's father collapsed in a pool of his morning coffee. After he gasps in her arms and she goes off for revenge, she returns home, finds him still lying there, and asks if he's overreacting a little.
    Dee Dee: You know, it's just coffee.
    Dad: (opens eye) Yeah, but it was really hot.
  • Futurama in an episode entitled The Honking, Bender is becoming a "Werecar," which is a reference to werewolves, and at one point Bender wakes up in a parking lot covered in transmission fluid, fearful of where he's been.
    • Also in "The Silence of the Clamps" when Zoidberg cuts of Clamps' handclamps sparks shoot out from the stumps like blood.
  • Justice League Unlimited featured a scene where it appears the past incarnations of Green Lantern and Shayera were stabbed while on a bed, but as the camera moves up you see that it's a puddle of wine— which poisoned them.
  • Rugrats: In "The First Cut", Tommy dreams about getting his leg cut open. In a non-liquid variant, stuffing pours out of Tommy's wound. This was inspired by a damaged teddy bear before Tommy went to sleep.
  • One episode of The Simpsons has Homer get clobbered by baby Maggie with a hammer, while he's painting. The red paint spills all around him like... well, you know. The entire scene is a parody of the Psycho shower scene at that, complete with the paint swirling into a floor drain.
    • Another has Marge accidentally fold up Homer's power-adjustable bed while he's sleeping in it. A red liquid pours out from the bed. It turns out to be Homer's juice box.
    • This was deliberately parodied in "Girls Just Want to Have Sums", when the Simpson family had gone to an Itchy and Scratchy-inspired play. On stage, when Itchy attacks Scratchy with a knife, red streamers pour out from the dummy, and fly everywhere. Lisa and Bart both find it appealing, but not for the same reason.
    Lisa: I love the use of streamers as blood, it robs the violence of its power.
    Bart (excited): Woo-hoo! I'm drenched in blood!
    • In another episode, Marge is horrified when she sees the Flanders family collapsed on the floor, spattered with red liquid...which turns out to be paint.
  • The Smurfs (1981)
    • In "The King Smurf", King Brainy's soldiers attack the Resistance (led by Smurfette) with smurfberry attacks, causing them to "bleed".
    • In "The Smurfs and the Money Tree", when Greedy tries to work out with Hefty's dumbbells, he loses his balance and plunges his face into the plate of smurfberries, causing his face to "bleed".
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Grandmum's the Word", after Plankton's grandma starts flying off with the formula, she kicks her grandson off of her leg. As Plankton falls he lands on a packet of ketchup that explodes on impact, and it looks as you'd expect.
  • Total Drama: Symbolic blood is always used humorously in the series.
    • Trent is putting barbecue sauce on the ribs when Owen nails him in the head with a crate of oranges in "If You Can't Take the Heat...". When he hits the floor, his head is hidden by the crate and oranges while a puddle of barbecue sauce lies spilled underneath him. That said, it may not be blood, but he does have a minor concussion and has to drop from the challenge.
    • Owen is ever so unwisely put in charge of guarding a delicious meal meant for the challenge in "If You Can't Take the Heat...". He can't resist devouring the entire plate of ribs with such voracity that barbecue sauce splatters are left all over the kitchen and all over him. A sauce-covered knife that's stuck in the table completes the scene straight out of a horror movie. And when Leshawna returns to get the ribs, she finds a stressed-out Owen on the floor as he looks at his sauce-covered hands in dawning realization of what he's done.
    • Lindsay makes a negative comments about Heather in "Hide and Be Sneaky" and Heather shoves her to the floor for it. Because Lindsay was doing her nail, her bottle of limited edition ruby red nail polish tips over too. It spills out over the carpet in a puddle way larger than the size of the bottle justifies to humorously signify Lindsay's loss.
    • On a not-suggestion by Owen, Izzy jumps down on all fours and stuffs her face into a pizza box in "One Flu Over the Cuckoos" to eat the contents without using her hands. As her teeth sink viciously into the pizza, splatters of tomato sauce fly around and land on Lindsay and Justin. Lindsay mourns her hair, Justin his pecs, and Owen his pizza.
  • Transformers: Beast Wars: when some bot got hit, bits of metal and hydraulic fluid go everywhere.