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These Hands Have Killed

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Will: There's no such thing as getting used to what you experienced. It bothers me a lot. I worry about nightmares too.
Abigail: So killing somebody, even if you have to do it... it feels that bad?
Will: [beat] It's the ugliest thing in the world.

During an important part of the story, our hero, or just the character in focus, kills someone or something. This death could be popping his murder cherry, or it could just be one of the first kills he thinks is wrong. Even if it was self-defense and completely justified, he still feels guilt-ridden. He looks down in a My God, What Have I Done? moment, shocked at his hands because they just became accomplices in taking a life. Often this leads to a Heroic BSoD particularly if the hero is especially moral or idealistic. The act itself is usually part of a Batman Grabs a Gun situation with the hero breaking a solemn vow that he swore never to break.

"These hands have killed! I've got blood on my hands, and I'll never be the same again..."

Could be followed by Scrubbing Off the Trauma, but it doesn't have to be. May be accompanied with Bloody Hallucinations of Guilt if they begin to hallucinate blood on their hands. This has nothing to do with washing one's hands of blood, metaphorically or literally — only with acknowledging the shedding. In some cases, murder isn't even required to invoke this trope; a sufficiently broken or driven mad character may gaze upon their hands in this way.

This is a Sub-Trope to My God, What Have I Done? — the character in question experiences that guilt while staring horrified at his hands. If this trope is in a character's backstory, it's Sympathetic Murder Backstory. Compare Bleed 'Em and Weep, where the character literally cries after taking life/shedding blood. If a character is contemplating their hands for an entirely different reason, usually drug-related, then see Contemplating Your Hands. If the character thinks what he has done is inherently wrong, he may become The Atoner. If he ultimately decides it was necessary, he may decide I Did What I Had to Do and, in darker settings, start his path down Gaining the Will to Kill.

As a Death Trope, expect the possibility of unmarked spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Angel Beats!: In a pre-afterlife flashback, Yuri stares at her own blood-covered hand, after she fails to prevent some sadistic burglars from murdering her siblings. She tries to bring the burglars a vase she thinks is valuable to calm them down, but breaks the vase and cuts her hand, leading to this trope. At the time, she thought that she metaphorically killed her siblings by breaking the vase; but the burglars probably would have been unimpressed by the offering anyway, and she eventually decides that she should stop blaming herself for their deaths.
  • Berserk: Guts does this in the first Golden Age Arc movie upon killing Count Julius' young son Adonis, a kid who reminded him very much of...him.
  • Blade of the Immortal: Hyakurin bleaches her hair blonde is because when it's dark, she keeps seeing her son's blood in it.
  • Brave10: While trapped with Isanami after the fight with the giant snake, Saizou tells Isanami he's just a killer and cannot be anybody's shining knight.
  • Casshern Sins: Casshern says "These hands have killed her!" in reference to his main 'sin' of having murdered Luna.
  • Code Geass:
    • Subverted; when Lelouch first uses his geass to kill the Britannian soldiers, he is stunned for a few seconds afterwards... before showing his evil grin for the first time, hinting at his Magnificent Bastard status. Later on, he does indeed talk about "These hands of mine"... All while wearing a malevolent smile and as a prelude to a maniacal laugh.
    • In the Code Geass manga, Lelouch actually says this shortly after having a flashback to when he murdered Clovis. (In the same scene in the anime, he just throws up.)
  • Cross Ange: Ange has this revelation when she finds out that she and her squadmates have been killing human beings turned into DRAGONs all along. Especially for her since she personally stabbed a DRAGON with her knife repeatedly.
  • A Cruel God Reigns: Jeremy, after he kills his physically and sexually abusive stepfather via Vehicular Sabotage. He doesn't care so much about that as he does about the fact that his mother was also in the car. Oops. He spends the second half of the series trying to recover from a massive guilt complex.
  • Day Break Illusion: Such is the burden faced by wielders of the Elemental Tarot: they can't kill Daemonia without killing the humans they possess, and only they remember anything about those people while everyone else forgets about them.
  • Death Note: In the manga, after Takuo Shibuimaru gets hit by a truck as a result Light Yagami writing his name in the titular notebook, Light does this in a back alley. At first.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: After Ken's Heel–Face Turn he looks at his hands and says this as he's wallowing in self-pity about the things he did as the Digimon Emperor.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Ed tells Winry not to kill Scar, so that they don't have to go through this.
      Ed: You delivered a baby. You gave me an arm and a leg. These hands...were not made for killing.
    • Dr. Knox was originally a military surgeon, but during the Ishvalan Civil War he was assigned to perform medical research on captured Ishvalans. After the war he suffered from severe PTSD and became a full-time pathologist, feeling he had lost the right to treat the living.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Invoked very hypocritically by Leonard Testarossa, when he tries to drive a wedge between Kaname and Sousuke by pointing out that the latter has killed over 100 people during his time as a Child Soldier. Leonard has actually caused many more deaths, but since they were indirect deaths (such as ordering his subordinates to kill someone), he acts like they don't count when stacked against Sousuke's active killings. This nonetheless cuts Sousuke pretty deep—not because of the tally, but because he realizes in hindsight that a fair chunk of his kills (prisoners of war or soldiers hors de combat executed as a precautionary measure) probably constitute war crimes and that he hasn't made the greatest progress trying to atone for them.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has a "These hands could kill" variation. At one point, Tirawit Kokin, one of the members of YOMI, sends the members of the Karate club to attack Kenichi, who quickly makes short work of them. Kokin then tells Kenichi that, whether he likes it or not, his hands have become weapons capable of killing, and the realization that "the power to protect your loved ones" is no different from "the power to kill your enemies" makes him afraid that he may commit Accidental Murder the next time he fights an opponent.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Both of our protagonists realize that they are responsible for the deaths of up to millions of people. Yang in particular can't stop bringing up how much blood he's shed.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Zechs Merquise aka Milliardo Peacecraft, liberated the Sanc Kingdom, but refuses to become the new ruler on the grounds that "his hands are stained with too much blood".
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit: Balsa doesn't use the phrase directly, but her entire life so far has been about saving lives because she feels responsible for her foster father having had to kill six men (his own best friends, who were all members of a king's Praetorian Guard, to boot) to keep her alive.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: A big reason why Evangeline considers herself to be a monster dates back to when she was first turned into a vampire and ended up killing her parents (along with everyone else in the castle) in uncontrolled blood lust.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: One possible interpretation of the consistent staring of one's Hand by Shinji Ikari is that he has committed a Sin. Those Sins range from almost killing a Friend, willingly killing his Best New Friend, and the infamous hospital scene.
  • No. 6: Shion has a moment like this after killing a guard/Rashi who was trying to kill Nezumi. In the manga/light novels, he tries to kill himself when he realizes what he's done.
  • No Game No Life: During the great war, Shuvi recalled it was she who wiped protagonist's village when protagonist propose to her.
  • One Piece: Kyros feels incredibly guilty for the kills he performed in the past, and wishes to atone for it. When his daughter Rebecca is born, he won't touch her without gloves because he feels that his hands are too dirty. Eventually, he's forced to teach Rebecca how to fight but teaches her to do so without needing to kill. Eventually, when they're reunited years later, Kyros states how he's proud that despite his crime of forcing her to fight, her hands have still remained as clean as her mother's.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin says something close to the trope phrase in the opening to his super-long flashback arc about his first wife Tomoe, whom he had inadvertently killed some thirteen years previous as the climax of his career as an assassin. It's a major theme for a man who's been Walking the Earth as The Atoner for ten years when the series starts.
    Kenshin: This one's wife. Himura Tomoe, who was killed by these two hands.
  • Sailor Moon: While she hadn't killed anyone at that point yet, during the S season, Haruka/Sailor Uranus looks at her hands and laments that they will become dirty after she and Neptune collect the Talismans from Eudial since the only way to get the Talismans is to rip them out of the hosts Pure Heart Crystals. Which makes it doubly ironic when it turns out the Talismans are inside her and Michiru's/Sailor Neptune's bodies the entire time.
  • Spider-Man (Manga): Yu Komori's "Great Responsibility" moment comes not from the death of his uncle, but from the guilt of accidentally killing Electro while trying to collect the bounty on him, driving him to become a "real" hero.
  • Sword Art Online: Shino Asada, AKA Sinon has her character arc centered around this. At age eleven, she was in the middle of a robbery at a post office and trying to protect her mother, she jumped on the robber and caused him to drop his gun, then in the middle of the struggle, she ended up shooting him to death. Since then, she copes with the emotional weight of her actions, and it's not until she meets Kirito, who knows what it feels having to kill someone in self-defense or to protect others, that she finally begins to come to terms with it. Also for Asuna in web version for sequence in Aincrad arc, for Kirito and Alice for Dark Territory Residents, and for Rinko for her involvement in SAO incident
  • Trigun: In the anime version, Vash is hit by this big time when Legato forces him into a no-win situation where he can either kill Legato or let the townspeople Legato is psychically controlling kill Milly and Meryl. Extremely reluctantly, Vash shoots Legato and then passes out. When he wakes up the next morning and remembers what he did, he starts screaming.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-: In the Tokyo Revelations arc, Sakura is tasked with finding and retrieving some jewel to pay Yuuko back with. Along the way, she gets ambushed by a giant acid rain mutant monster. Pinned down and unable to run, she busts out her trusty revolver and unloads into the monster, after which her hands tremble violently and her breathing stagnates. This is especially traumatic considering not only that Sakura had previously been played up as a Friend to All Living Things, but this is the most violent thing that any rendition of Sakura had ever done, or ever would do again (barring the rest of the chapter / OVA).
    • Also Clone!Syaoran when he realized that he had just killed Clone!Sakura.
  • Unlimited Fafnir: Yuu finds out that his sister Mitsuki was forced to kill a fellow student after she turned into a dragon against her will. The camera occasionally focuses on her hands, or she'll look at them when saying that she'll kill Iris too if she has to. Fortunately, he stops her from having to do that, while also helping them to defeat the dragon attacking the school and coming for Iris.
  • Vagabond: Miyamoto Musashi, likely experiencing PTSD in the aftermath of his bloody attempts to become a famous swordsman, spends some time living with a peasant family. The peasants see him as a kindly big brother figure to the children, and at one point someone tells him that he shouldn't be so sad all the time, and he deserves happiness. Musashi responds by saying something along the lines of "How can I deserve to be happy when these hands have killed over 100 men?" The scene serves to show the difference between the younger Musashi, (who was a Glory Hound that never had a second thought about killing his opponents) and the Warrior Poet he is growing into, who is haunted by the blood he has spilled and the recognition that everyone he has killed had a family and loved ones.

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: Phoney, after his first battle, throws away his sword in shock when he realizes that the blade is covered in blood.
  • Daredevil: When The Kingpin first fell from power, he muses on his early days as a street thug when he would get blood on his hands. At the end of the story, he brutally kills a bunch of thugs who believe his glory days are over and once again gets blood on his hands. Noticing this, and remembering that his first rise to power involved a lot of days with bloody hands, he washes his hands in a gutter and wanders into the streets more determined than ever to be the Kingpin again.
  • Deadly Class: Saya is shaken up after stabbing a cop through the back with a katana, even though she played it cool at the time.
  • ElfQuest: Leetah in this scene. She's struck by the enormity of her hands, which have hitherto only brought healing, being able to kill, even in self-defense. Also, she does this so much that the warrior Elves she and the Wolfriders are bunking with tell her to stop admiring her hands and get to practical matters.
  • Batman:
    • Batgirl (2000): Cassandra Cain has had at least one flashback to doing this after ripping a man's throat out with her bare hands. It did not help that she was around eight at the time. What makes it worse is her super ability to read body language. Turns out the body language of a dying person is pretty unpleasant.
    • In Batgirl (2011), Barbara Gordon hurls a Batarang at her psychopathic brother to save her mother, and James Jr. falls to his -apparent- death. Barbara feels so guilty afterwards she thinks she's lost the right to be Batgirl.
    • Nightwing: After Dick beat the Joker to death (he was immediately resuscitated) he felt he was no longer worthy and spent an issue staring at his worn knuckles and torn costume.
    • Robin (1993): Tim is traumatized when he thinks he beat the superpowered villain Johnny Warlock to death and sits limply in the Batcave vaguely staring at his hands. Johnny was really just worn out from abusing his power and walked out of the morgue under his own power shortly after being delivered there. After learning he didn't really kill Johnny this event colors the way Tim approaches fights as he resolves to never again attack anyone in such a rage.
  • No Hero: Josh's reaction to killing a mugger. Given what we find out about him later, it's almost certainly a lie.
  • Superman:
    • It happens in Bizarrogirl. After coming to understand human concepts of "good" and "evil" and remembering she killed a man only because he was loud, Bizarrogirl feels so horrified and guilty she chains herself to a rock. As she cries bloody tears she wonders if "self-punishment ever ends".
    • Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?: Superman knowingly used the Phantom Zone Projector to kill Mr. Mxyzptlk, and afterward sadly told Lois, "No one has the right to kill. Not Mxyzptlk. Not you. Not Superman. Especially not Superman." To punish himself, he stepped into the Gold Kryptonite chamber and gave up his superpowers for good.
    • The Supergirl Saga had Superman forced to take lives of three rogue Kryptonians from another timeline who had slaughtered the entire population of their Earth, and subsequent writers right after such as Roger Stern and Jerry Ordway explored its aftermath and just how traumatizing the effects of performing such an act were for the Man of Steel.
    • Who is Superwoman?: During their final battle, Supergirl rips Superwoman's super-suit into pieces, accidentally unleashing mystical energies magically woven into the costume which appear to blow Superwoman up into nothingness. Believing she has killed her cousin's wife's sister, Kara collapses on her knees, feeling horrified.
      Supergirl: "I— The suit— I couldn't— Did I— Did I just— Did I just kill Lois's sister?"
    • Superman: Doomed: Superman kills Doomsday, and even though it was a mindless monster specifically desgined to kill him, he knows his death will haunt him for the rest of his life.
      Superman: Vril Dox. You've done enough to this universe. Now it's my turn. I tried to give you another way. I always try. Even when I was fighting against the monster you sent to kill me. But sometimes there is no other way. I killed Doomsday. Ripped it right in half. I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life. But I'm not going to hurt other people trying to turn back the clock. I'll live with it, and learn from it, and do my damnedest to do better next time.
    • In The Plague of the Antibiotic Man, Superman has a breakdown when he believes he has killed his adversary Nam-Ek by accident.
      Superman: "Kryptonite is deadly to all Kryptonians! So— while the lead in the magma kept the K from affecting me...the concentration of the lava...was enough to destroy Nam-Ek...disintegrating him utterly! I... I've broken my solemn vow never to kill!"
  • Spider-Man:
    • In Spider-Man versus Wolverine, Spider-Man, while trying to punch Wolverine really hard in the face, instead, punched a woman to death. On the plane ride home, he can't erase the image from his mind. This still happened in continuity. But he never ever talks about it.
    • Morbius does this in his rewritten origin story after killing his lifelong friend Emil Nikos.
  • Tales of the Jedi: Nomi Sunrider's first experience with a lightsaber is killing robbers in self-defense. She's horrified by the results and refuses to learn how to use the weapon once she is under the tutelage of a real Jedi Master until he sets up a Secret Test of Character for her.
  • Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose: Tarot decides that she must kill her archnemesis after he manages to attack her and her mother while rotting away in a prison. After she does the deed, she is seen trying to furiously scrub away all the blood on her hands.
  • Werewolf by Night: After waking up next to a dead body in Vol. 2 and telling his father he thinks he's killed someone.
  • X-Men: In New X-Men, Dust once killed a bunch of Purifiers in a rage after waking up in her underwear and thinking that they'd stripped her (she had actually been knocked out and stripped by her roommate Laura, who had found out that Dust was being targeted and thus impersonated her to lead the Purifiers away from her.) A devout Muslim and pacifist, Dust was horrified and later struggled to wash the blood from her hands.
  • The Transformers: Drift: In Empire of Stone, Hellbat has a moment during his Motive Rant. But don't feel sorry for him just yet—he's such an Omnicidal Maniac he said it in pride.

    Fan Works 
  • Ace Combat: The Equestrian War has chapter 10, where Fluttershy reacts this way when she thinks she was (unintentionally) responsible for Razor's death.
  • Matsuda in Death Note confinuation fics like Law Has Gone Away and Apples Equals Cyanide Equals Light is deeply conflicted and traumatized after shooting Light.
  • HERZ: When Shinji visits Kaworu's grave, he states that he killed his friend and his death traumatized him.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, it doesn't really settle in for Bell until after he leaves Rakia, but learning about what made the Legiones a hero to Rakia makes Bell wonder if he was right to kill the man holding Haruhime captive. He also worries that he'll have to do it again, and if it will get easier for him to justify murder over time. Kojiro doesn't exactly comfort him about it, but does tell him that only he can decide what he thinks is right and what he can live with.
  • In The One I Love Is... Shinji felt awful and borderline suicidal after having been forced to kill Kaoru.
  • There's a fic somewhere on the X-Universe boards that has the main character go through this after (out-of-universe) taking a station defense mission and having the pirate who spawned for it refuse to surrender even as her ship was being shot to pieces. (The AI in the games is known for Suicidal Overconfidence, among other things.)
  • Empath, in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The Innocence Of A Smurf," goes through having to deal with exposing the truth to his fellow Smurfs that he has killed a Psyche during a mandatory one-on-one death battle in Psychelia.
  • In Make a Wish, Harry while disguised as "Mr. Black" stabs a man to death in self-defense and has a giggle attack out of sheer nervousness. The authorities mistake his freakout for amusement, cementing "Mr. Black's" reputation as a tough-as-nails badass super-wizard.
  • In The Land Before Time fanfic The Seven Hunters Littlefoot does this after killing Rhett.
  • In Child of the Storm, Thor and Loki responded to the human sacrifices of the Norse in the 10th century with revulsion and horror. Thor just abandoned the Earth, while Loki responded with the attitude that since there was blood on their hands, they'd better lose them. Huginn and Muninn then reveal to Harry that after what he'd done on Earth during the Chitauri invasion sunk in, he tried to cut off his own hands...
    • Warren after chapter 70, when he's finally forced to use his Razor Wings to kill, something he'd always feared. Chapter 76, however, shows that he's now shifted into a sort of Dissonant Serenity about the whole thing, which is generally considered to be very worrying.
  • In Origin Story, Alex Harris has this reaction after she kidnaps and kills Henry Peter Gyrich. Surprisingly, this isn't the first time she's killed someone. The other times were in the middle of a heated fight, though, and Alex truly believed that killing Bullseye, the Radioactive Man, and Venom was justified. The death of Gyrich, on the other hand, was simple premeditated murder. Alex thought it necessary to protect Louise, but it still wasn't like the others: they were fighting back, if ineffectively. Gyrich, on the other hand, never had a chance.
  • Occurs in Black Flames Dance in the Wind: Rise of Naruto after Naruto accidentally kills Yakumo. While he's killed hundreds of people before, they were generally Asshole Victims such as bandits and traitors. Yakumo is the first person he knows to be innocent he's killed.
  • Children of an Elder God: When a terrorist group attempted to take over NERV's German base, Shinji and Asuka had to kill humans for the first time. After the battle, they spend a good while feeling sorry and depressed, trying to cope with their actions and telling themselves what they did what they had to do.
  • It happens to Shinji in A Crown of Stars. Being forced to kill Kaworu deeply affected him. For a long time, he refused to kill. He wouldn't even kill in self-defense.
  • In Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton Asuka felt awful with herself after getting forced to mercy-killing Kaworu.
  • D.Va in the Overwatch fan fic Break My Heart, Break Your Heart starts experiencing severe PTSD after a mission in Brazil where she has to fight and kill human combatants for the first time.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel, Buffy takes over Supergirl's body to kill Zol-Am. Kara understands the necessity of it, but even so she feels guilty.
    Supergirl: Neither I, nor Superman, take human life. I know Zol-Am wasn’t technically alive. I know he was post-human. But still... These hands destroyed a thinking being. I realize why it had to be done. I destroyed M’nagaleh, when we last met. But it’s not something I’m proud of.
  • Dreaming of Sunshine: Shikako ends up feeling guilty after killing the Sound trio; Kiba follows suit when he dispatches a Suna ninja to save Shikako's life.
  • In the Dragon Age: Inquisition AU series Skyhold Academy Yearbook, Varric reacts this way in the first story when, well, exactly this happens. In a deadly fight, his opponent makes the mistake of pressing his Berserk Button and is rewarded by being shoved down a waterfall. Varric, who in this AU has fought many times but never killed anyone, is immediately traumatized.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Night Blade is horrified to realize he killed a guard during the battle in Blas Bridge. Wind Breaker isn't much happier when he later finds out that he unwittingly killed some guards with the explosion he caused.
  • In Holding the World On Their Shoulders, May gets her first kill in Vacuo, putting a crossbow bolt in the back of a mercenary to save Emerald. She ends up vomiting over it, and uses her medical knowledge to at least attempt to save the mercenary's companion out of guilt.
  • In Leviathan (My Hero Academia), Izuku Midoriya suffers from this trope at the age of four when his Quirk first manifests, turning him into an enormous dragon-like monster that flattened buildings and killed thirty-four people in its rampage. He's spent every year of his life trying to prevent a repeat incident while still trying to achieve his dream of becoming a Hero.
  • A retroactive version occurs in RWBY: Scars. Blake becomes haunted by all the people she's killed over the years and begins seeing blood on her hands.
  • Solar Winds: Blaine freaks out after attacking a soldier who tried to stop him escaping after the assassination attempt on Sue.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Val Colby stops his uncle Lex Luthor's heart telekinetically. Lex's hatred and madness had run out of control, to the point he was threatening his family's lives -something he previously always refused to do-, and he was about to murder Superman. It was definitely in self-defence, and as Supergirl points out, Lex would never stop until getting himself killed or forcing Superman or herself to kill him. However, Val is a little kid who never wanted to kill anybody, let alone his uncle, so he feels horrible about it.
  • In crossover Beyond the Sea, Rainbow Dash gets horrified after killing a trio of Splicers.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl kills her evil duplicate. It was in self-defence, after Satan Girl attempted to kill her several times and broke out every time she was locked up, but her demise weighs on her mind.
  • Mutant Storm: After Harry Potter kills for the first time (Lucius and Bellatrix), including one person with his bare hands, he spends about an hour sitting in a shower making washing motions with his hands...
  • Windows of the Soul, a My-HiME fanfic set after the series, has Shizuru at the Despair Event Horizon over her slaughter of the First District ( as well as what happened between her and Natsuki during the Carnival). Shiho also feels guilty about those she killed, though her victims have returned.
  • Light Lost: Nico looks at the bloody Staff of One, and by extension her hands, after she killed Karolina. It is also noted that she washed the Staff in hot water, burning her hands until Gert stopped her.
  • In Torque (Jak and Daxter), Keira is very shaken after her first time killing someone.

    Film — Animated 
  • Frozen (2013): Queen Elsa has a realization that she killed her sister, Princess Anna, when she sees her ice statue frozen right in front of her. She then starts weeping and completely breaks down in Tears of Remorse. Fortunately, Anna gets better.
  • Downplayed in Tarzan. After the titular character restrains Kerchak to stop him from attacking Jane, her father, and Clayton, Kerchak berates him for betraying his family, and Tarzan briefly looks at his hands in guilt of having attacked his adoptive father, who'd just come to accept him, before running away.
  • Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo: A fight with Saico-Tek, the mysterious supervillain the Titans chased to Japan, goes horribly wrong when Robin loses his cool and accidentally beats the guy to death. Once he realizes what he's done, he just stares at his hands - now coated with neon blood - in utter horror... until he realizes that the "blood" is actually ink and deduces that Saico-Tek was a Tulpa created by Brushogun. He's still accused of murder; ostensibly because Saico-Tek's inhumanity is irrelevant to the fact that he was just extrajudicially killed, but actually because the police officer making the accusation is the real Big Bad and sicced Saico-Tek (a mindless construct) on Robin expressly to frame him.
  • Downplayed in Turning Red. When Mei attacks Tyler, she looks at her paws with an expression that says "These Hands Have Maimed".

    Film — Live Action 
  • Avatar: Jake Sully — a former Marine who might know first hand — tries to keep Smug Snake Selfridge from destroying a Hometree full of Na'vi children by telling him that he doesn't want that kind of blood on his hands. It doesn't work.
  • A subtle one in Avengers: Infinity War; during the boat crash in Spiderman Homecoming Tony tells Peter Parker that he would blame himself if he'd died. After Peter disintegrates in his arms, Tony is left staring at his dust-covered hands, before pressing them against his mouth as he breaks down.
  • In The Bourne Ultimatum, after Bourne has killed the Black Briar assassin to protect himself and Nicky, he can be seen quietly staring at his hands. This assassin was far from the first person Bourne killed with his bare hands, but it's still him quietly lamenting just how many people he has killed.
  • Subverted in John Woo's Broken Arrow. After Deakins crushes Mr. Pritchett's windpipe with a tire iron, he contemplates the fact that although as an Air Force pilot he's dropped bombs on people before, this is the first time he's killed someone up close. He then scoffs, "I don't see what the big deal is."
  • In The Brave One, Erica is disturbed by how her hands don't quiver even a little after the second time she killed a man. By the time she is actively hunting down a criminal to kill, she is calling herself sick.
  • Bruce Wayne uses this line in The Dark Knight after Joker kills several civilians because Batman didn't reveal his identity.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Detective John Blake tosses his Police issue sidearm aside in disgust after he realized he just killed two perps with it (albeit in self-defense).
  • Lenina Huxley in Demolition Man, though she deals with it okay after Spartan points out it was self-defense.
  • Diary of the Dead. After fighting the zombies at the hospital, Gordo's facial expressions are screaming this reaction, and Elliot feels the same way, according to a Confession Cam bonus feature.
  • Doctor Strange (2016). After the titular protagonist has won a fight with Lucian by electrocuting his astral form with a defibrillator with which his ex-girlfriend was shocking him, he walks past Lucian's corpse and checks for a pulse. Later, he rebuffs the Ancient One's praises by telling her he became a doctor to save lives, not take them.
  • Dracula:
    Renfield: I'm loyal to you, Master, I am your slave, I didn't betray you! Oh, no, don't! Don't kill me! Let me live, please! Punish me, torture me, but let me live! I can't die with all those lives on my conscience! All that blood on my hands!
  • In Equilibrium after John Preston stops taking his medicine, he pulls this trope when he catches a dying resistance fighter in his arms that his partner shot, almost transfixed by the blood on his gloves and gun.
  • Fear Street: In 1978, when a teenage Nick Goode finds several children brutally murdered in a hut at Camp Nightwing, he gets their blood on his hands and stares at it for a moment, before wiping it on his shirt. This is implied to be guilt over not being able to protect them. But it's revealed in 1666 that the Goode family have been letting the Devil possess selected people and go on killing sprees in exchange for wealth and power for centuries; Tommy Slater, the supposed Camp Nightwing Killer, was Nick's first sacrifice. The blood really was on his hands.
  • In The Guilty, Iben sees her infant son Oliver's blood on her hands after her psychotic episode has ended and realizes that she killed him.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss's brief breakdown after paying tribute to Rue could in part be due to her having directly killed someone (Marvel) for the first time.
  • In the movie version of Jesus Christ Superstar, when Pilate washes his hands, the water in which he washes them turns red.
  • The Last King of Scotland: Nigel Stone to Nicholas Garrigan after he inadvertently causes the death of an innocent man.
    Stone: Fuck off, Garrigan. We don't just hand out passports to chimps like you. Particularly not chimps with blood on their hands.
  • In Man of Steel, Superman lets out an anguished scream after snapping Zod's neck.
  • Morgan. Both times that Morgan becomes violent while seated at a table, she puts her hands palm down on the edge of the table, then turns them palm up. The gesture is explained in a flashback where she Mercy Kills a deer, then looks at her hands in horror. The Final Girl Lee Weathers has the same gesture in The Reveal that she's an Artificial Human bred as a Super-Soldier like Morgan.
  • Inverted in The Never Ending Story, where the Rock Biter is unable to keep his friends from being pulled away into the Nothing. He sits, staring down at his massive stone limbs, and says slowly, "They look like big, strong hands, don't they?"
  • In Return of the Jedi, Luke has an instance of this, though it's because he cut through Darth Vader's prosthetic arm in anger, has his own, and grasps what he's doing.
  • Rio Bravo: Downplayed. After Feathers provides a distraction for Chance and Colorado to kill several Mooks, she is distraught enough about this to get drunk. It's quickly forgotten after the next couple of scenes, though.
  • Studio 666: After being exorsised (kinda), Dave Grohl stares down at his hands in horror once he finds out what he did to the rest of The Foo Fighters while possessed.
  • Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood utilizes this in a fairly direct homage to MacBeth with the wife being unable to cleanse her hands of blood.
  • Total Recall (1990): Quaid does this right after he slaughters the five agents trying to kill him on Earth before he goes back to his "wife" Lori. He actually has their blood on his hands at the time.
  • "This is the skin of a KILLER!" in the Twilight movie.
  • Uncommon Valor: Scott (Patrick Swayze) is a Drill Sergeant Nasty but a rookie who's never experienced combat before. During the team's first encounter with Khmer Rouge troops at the Laotian border, he unhesitatingly kills an enemy soldier on pure reflex... but then spends several seconds staring down at the dead man in shock at what he's done. He eventually recovers, though, and rejoins the battle.
  • White God: In a rare animal version, Hagen is clearly distraught after being forced to kill his opponent in a dog fight.
  • The Wolfman (2010): Lawrence stares at his bloodied hands in horror when he wakes up after his first transformation.

  • 1% Lifesteal: Freddy figured that intentionally allowing a disgruntled man to ambush him outside the gym would be a good chance for some real combat experience. He didn't figure on his punch to the face actually killing the man. He gets recurring nightmares that have him waking in a cold sweat, and every time he uses an essence technique, he's reminded that a part of his essence was absorbed from the death.
    Freddy: I'm a murderer.
  • This is the immediate thought process of Jonah Wizard from The 39 Clues after he shoots a Vesper at point-blank range. He's especially traumatized because up until this point, barring the Clue hunt a few years earlier, he's lived the sheltered, luxurious life of a teenage pop star and hasn't yet come to terms with all the violence that the conflict entails.
  • The Bible:
    • Pilate washes his hands to get the figurative blood of Jesus off of them. History lesson: it doesn't work. (The blood of the thousands of other miscellaneous threats to Rome he crucified, of course, are presumed to have come off easily.) Pilate's act was actually something of a Roman tradition, indicating that the official responsible for an act was not acting for himself, but rather in his official capacity. In other words, he wasn't trying to "wash his hands" of the Crucifixion, but rather saying (more or less): "I didn't do what just happened. That was the Roman State." Unfortunately for Pilate, very few non-Romans in that time and place understood the concept of separating the office from the person; it was quite the Roman concept, which didn't really translate for the mostly Jewish and Hellenistic Greek early Christians.
    • This was the very reason God instructed Solomon to build the Temple instead of his father, David, who has killed and was no longer as innocent and pure as he should be.
  • In the Blood Angels novel Deus Sanguinius, after Gallio, Vode, and all their men are murdered, Rafen thinks it's his fault for having sent the message; their blood was on his hands.
  • Death Star has one of the gunners manning the superlaser go through a full-on nervous breakdown after the destruction of Alderaan. He's the same guy who in the movie repeatedly says, "Stand by... stand by" right before the Death Star goes up because he couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger again.
  • The Divine Cities:
    • The source of Mulaghesh's trauma is having killed innocents when she first started out as a soldier after being ordered to by her superior officer and not having questioned it. Her regrets over these actions define her later years as depicted in City of Blades.
    • Sigrud has killed so many, and regrets his actions so much, that by the third book, City of Miracles, he has himself become a Death Seeker.
  • In Freckles, one villain objects to killing Freckles because he does not want this trope. They could have prevented him from seeing anything.
  • In Desert And Wilderness has Staś kill the kidnappers during his last attempt to escape from them. He's not proud of this.
  • In Inheritance, the final book of Inheritance Cycle, after Eragon heals the baby Hope, he says that his hands are too bloody for that type of work.
  • The Late Show: Ballard has to kill a bad guy. And even though it was a kill-or-be-killed scenario, she has to do some soul searching afterwards.
    "It didn't matter whether it was justified, she was now a part of the population that knew what it was to take a life."
  • Lensman: In Grey Lensman, hero Kimball Kinnison indulges in this when trying to make Clarissa MacDougal understand what marrying him could entail. She basically tells him to can the dramatics; she knows perfectly well what his job entails.
  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress has Bernardo deLaPaz admit that when they, as the new Lunar government, publicly out those members of the revolution who were actually paid informants of the overthrown government, those they expose as traitors will be murdered by members of the public. "I will not duck the responsibility. Their blood will be on my hands."
  • In Poul Anderson's short story "No Truce with Kings", a new alien asks an old hand whether, when they see the future their Dirty Business is needed to bring about, the blood will wash off. The old hand says no.
  • When Dorian in The Picture of Dorian Gray murders Basil Hallward, blood-stains appear on his portrait's hands.
  • Happens in the fairy tale "The Princess Mayblossom", the titular princess kills an ambassador who is trying to kill and eat her. Once the ambassador is dead, she realizes that he was the only other person on the island with her (the two were stranded there, and could not find a way out), breaks down in tears, and contemplates her fate. Luckily, she is rescued not long after.
  • In the sixth book of The Saga of Darren Shan, Darren participates in his first real battle. He kills an enemy for the first time — and when he realizes what he's done, his tone dramatically changes. Before, he had been eager to catch the "bad guys", shame them, get them, and make sure there are no survivors. The other vampires live in that mode, and Darren rode alone with their wave. But when he sees this dead person, dead at his own hands, he realizes how wrong it is. He realizes that no one ever even asked why members of the enemy clan were in Vampire Mountain, they just ran in for the kill. He realizes that everything he's been taught so far might be wrong...
  • Saintess Summons Skeletons: Lampshaded and subverted after Sofia's first murder; she is aware that people often angst about it, but she's mostly just relieved that the job is done and she's free.
    She held her bloody hands above her face. The hands of a killer.
    "I should feel bad, I think, maybe."
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
  • The Stormlight Archive: Aladar, who's a veteran of Alethkar's Decadent Court and has the cynical mindset to prove it, invokes this trope when grudgingly joining forces with the heroes.
    Aladar: You realise that I'm stained through and through. I've got blood on these hands, Dalinar. I'm not some perfect, honourable knight as you seem to want to pretend.
    Dalinar: I know you're not. I'm not either. We will have to do.
  • Tempest (2011): In Tempest Rising, Tempest kills Malu in self-defense by stabbing him in the stomach with a shell fragment. She's disgusted and horrified by what she's done, even though it was necessary. In later books, she becomes more comfortable with killing.
  • There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns: Delta didn't intend to kill anyone, but she did send out her goblins on resource gathering missions without instructing them about what to do if they encounter humans — with the result that they rob a farmer, who chases them into the Dungeon and gets himself killed by them in self-defense. When his angry and crying son comes to the Dungeon wanting revenge, Delta breaks down in tears herself, and vows to do what she can to repay the family. She also later unlocks an option to build a memorial room.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • Dimitri angsts quite a bit about all the innocents he had killed while a Strigoi.
    • Rose has one of these in Last Sacrifice, for killing Victor.
  • In the Warrior Cats: The Broken Code book A Light in the Mist, Rootspring gives Firestar permission to take over his body temporarily, and Firestar ends up fighting and killing The Dragon Darkstripe. When Rootspring is given control again, he doesn't remember the fight, but he shivers uneasily at the taste of blood in his mouth and the realization that his claws have killed a cat. He gets over it pretty quickly, though: shortly afterward, he thinks about how his paws defeated one of the strongest Dark Forest warriors and is eager to see more of what they're capable of.
  • In Wyrd Sisters, the Macbeth Expy Lord Felmet has blood-red hands from the night he murders King Verence until the night he dies. However, the fact that he uses progressively harsher methods to remove the blood (including sandpaper and a metal file) implies that maybe the reason it doesn't come off is that the blood is coming from an actual wound rather than karma. He eventually moves up to using a cheese grater after a book-long's worth of Sanity Slippage, with the result never being explicitly described except that it's 'not quite a hand anymore'. This actually leads to his Karmic Death, as, due to him being in a delirium from believing he's dead and a ghost (his Sanity Slippage really kicked into overdrive by the third act) he wanders out onto the battlements during a dramatic thunderstorm, arguing with Death himself over whether or not he's actually dead, and pointing out that is he isn't, why can he see him? Death simply responds that he's 'waiting' before Felment ends up slipping off the battlements in the rain and unable to catch himself due to his damaged hand, falling to his death and becoming a ghost for real.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The 100, Clarke stares at her bloody hands and cries after killing Finn.
  • Adam-12: When Jim Reed kills a perp in the line of duty in "It All Happened So Fast", the show goes to some length to show that Reed, while putting on a brave face, does show discomfort afterward. Malloy and Mac reassure Reed that what he's going through is normal and expected for a decent cop. In "Elegy for a Pig", Malloy's narrative brings up the subject again with an officer he knew and the first time he killed a perp on duty.
  • Babylon 5:
  • Bad Education: Alfie when he believes that he pushed Pickwell to suicide, emphasized when he spills red ink on his hands. It turns out that she didn't actually kill herself, but rather faked her death and personally blamed many people that so she could laugh at their guilt.
  • Barry:
    • While Barry is a hardened combat veteran turned hardened hitman, his old buddy Chris is neither (Chris was in logistics in the Marines). He breaks down in episode 1-7 after having to kill one of the Bolivians (and makes the fatal mistake of telling Barry about it). He tells them he was stunned and horrified at what he'd done, and decides to turn himself into the police. Barry stops him.
    • Subverted: Barry tells a story in class of the first person he killed in Afghanistan. He tells them he felt remorseful (while looking guilty and uncomfortable), and the classmate acting out his story drops to his knees in horror in overly dramatic fashion. In reality, his fellow marines were deeply impressed at his shooting skills and congratulate him, leaving Barry with an almost childishly giddy expression, in the moment clearly having disconnected from the reality of having actually killed someone.
  • In the Battlestar Galactica (2003) episode "Collaborators":
    Tom Zarek: They have a jury, but they don't get lawyers. They don't get to showboat for weeks and months on end. They don't get to blame the system. And they don't get lasting fame as martyrs or innocent people just in the wrong place at the wrong time. They just disappear. Now. In the great twilight between the long night of the occupation and the dawn of a new era, you come into office clean, without their blood on your hands.
  • Referenced/subverted in the Bones episode "The Hole in the Heart":
    Booth: I don't blame myself, Sweets, I blame the guy who pulled the trigger.
    Brennan: You still have blood on your hands.
    [Beat as everyone looks around awkwardly]
    Angela: Booth, she means literally.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Not quite the first time, but Faith has one of these when she kills for the first time (in self-defense) after deciding to attempt her Heel–Face Turn in the Angel episode "Sanctuary".
    • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Enemies", after Faith stabs a demon to death in a frenzy, she later shows Angel her bloody hands. Subverted when it's revealed that she's trying to gain his sympathy so she can seduce Angel and turn him evil.
    • In a flashback showing Angel's human soul being restored by the curse, he is clearly absolutely horrified once he remembers everything he did as a soulless vampire.
    • In the season 5 Buffy episode "Weight of the World", when the line between Ben and Glory starts to blur, Ben remembers all the people Glory killed as if it were him doing it. He stares at his hands and asks where the blood is, saying he can still feel it.
    • Played with/referenced in the Buffy episode "Villains"; Xander says that he feels partially responsible for Buffy getting shot and Tara being killed by Warren since he froze in fear and couldn't protect them.
      Xander: I just... I've had blood on my hands all day. Blood from people I love.
      Buffy: I know. And now it has to stop.
  • Midway through the third season of Chuck, Chuck himself briefly has a moment like this after he shoots Shaw. Even though it's revealed in the finale that Shaw survives, Chuck very briefly looks down almost in shock at the gun in his hands before he has to rush to prevent Shaw from killing Sarah with his dying breaths.
  • In CSI: Miami, when Horatio has to clear his name, he invokes this trope; the blood in question is the real killer's (he punched him in the face), which proves he was at the scene.
  • In the Dick Turpin episode "The Impostor"
    Swiftnick: Happened? What happened to you? What happened to Dick Turpin? Shall I tell you? He's a memory! I believed in him. A lot of us did. Because he meant freedom and a chance to hit back at injustice, to struggle from the mire! But he's a memory. And you, you stand there in his place. With my uncle's blood on your hands!
  • In an episode of Doctors, BRIAN BLESSED plays a character who exclaims: "I killed a man... with THESE!".
  • Forever: After Henry kills Adam's mortal patsy Clark Walker in "Skinny Dipper", Jo, who has also killed someone, places her hand on Henry's. Henry just looks down at their hands wordlessly.
  • Game of Thrones: As he's being kidnapped in "First of His Name", Brandon Stark wargs into Gentle Giant simpleton Hodor, and uses his body to brutally kill his abductor. Even Hodor is able to piece together what happened when he sees his bloodied hands and a neck-snapped man before him and is visibly distraught.
  • General Hospital:
    Emily Quartermaine: And now the blood of those two innocent kids she killed is on your hands!
  • In Graceland, Mike feels responsible for the death of a gang member. Mike is undercover trying to build a case against a major crime boss and has antagonized one of the man's lieutenants. The lieutenant threatens Mike, and the FBI decides to neutralize the threat by making it look like the man betrayed his boss. The give the gang member fair warning but he is Too Dumb to Live and dies right in front of Mike. Everyone tells Mike that he was not responsible for what happened, but Mike still feels really guilty. At the end of the episode, he is doing the dishes and when he looks down it seems that his hands are covered in blood, but it's just tomato sauce.
  • The Norwegian miniseries Hanging by a Thread has the main character assisting an illegal abortion. When the fetus comes out, she quickly wraps it up in a newspaper and shoves the whole thing into a burning stove. Cue this trope immediately afterwards, as she, visibly shaken, looks at her hands.
  • In Hannibal, Will Graham consults on FBI cases by using his heightened empathy to trace serial killer motives and actions. However, that doesn't make it any easier when he's forced to gun down serial killer Garrett Jacob Hobbs in order to stop Hobbs cutting his daughter's throat; the act of acting lethally to save a life still sets him on a path where he finds it easier to look into the minds of killers because he can't cope with his actions. The increasing decay of his mental and emotional state is often discussed throughout the show:
    Will: There's no such thing as getting used to what you experienced. It bothers me a lot. I worry about nightmares too.
    Abigail: So killing somebody, even if you have to do it... it feels that bad?
    Will: [Beat] It's the ugliest thing in the world.
  • In chapter 16 of Heroes, "Unexpected":
    S.R. Gustavson: You take on a partner, all you get is their blood on your hands.
  • Hightown: Junior is quite distraught after helping to murder someone with Osito.
  • In How to Get Away with Murder, this is Connor's excuse for supplying the prosecution with the evidence needed to convict Annalise's client.
    Connor: Zoey would've killed again, and I cannot deal with any more blood on my hands.
  • Subverted in the Intelligence (2014) episode "Athens" after Non-Action Guy Nelson opens fire on Jin Cong's mooks. After the fight, he's a little shocked until Agent Jameson points out all he managed to kill was an air duct.
    Nelson: I just killed people.
    Jameson: No, you didn't. [points at the ceiling]
  • In El internado: Las Cumbres, Mara, the headmistress confesses to a sympathetic monk about killing Elías:
    "I pushed him. I pushed him. With these hands. There's not... There's not a day, an hour, or a second, that I don't... That I don't see Elías... falling into the abyss. Do you still want to take my secrets to the grave?"
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Ren agonizes over this after he kills Kamen Rider Odin in self-defense.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Sento spends most of episode 21 broken after killing Aoba while using Hazard Trigger. When Sento goes to pay respects his death site, he has a hallucination of Aoba hating him, and the guilt becomes more than what Sento could bear to the point where Sento begs Kazumi to just beat him up until Kazumi is satisfied.
  • Leverage: Referenced by Eliot Spencer when he tries to warn Nate that If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!.
    Eliot: You have no idea who I was before all this started. That guy — kid — he had God in his heart, a flag on his shoulder. Clean hands. I haven't seen him in the mirror in over ten years. And believe me, I get up every morning looking for him. So you can trust me when I tell you that if you pull that trigger, two men die: the guy you kill and the guy you used to be.
  • In the Lost episode "One of Us":
    Juliet Burke: I'm taking that medication back to Claire. And you're gonna let me. Because if she doesn't get it, she's gonna die. And the last thing that either of you need right now, is more blood on your hands.
  • Monk: Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather, who was chopping up fish at the time.
    Salvatore Lucarelli: [shrugs, chuckling] I have blood on my hands.
  • In Pretty Little Liars, Emily fatally stabs Nate. Even though he was going to kill her and her girlfriend Paige, and did kill her previous girlfriend Maya, she is deeply shaken by it and even needs a Cool-Down Hug. Later in the season, she admits to still being haunted by it, and everyone saying that what she did was really brave is just making things worse.
    Emily: Everyone wants to talk about how I'm some kind of hero. Everyone tells me I... I killed someone. Someone had a life, someone was a living breathing person, and I...
    Dr. Sullivan: You killed someone.
    Emily: I know what he was planning to do, who he really was. In my head I know. But then I close my eyes, and I can see myself holding that knife. It was in my hand, and I can still feel what it felt like when it...
  • The Professionals: In "The Rack", Ray Doyle hits a man in CI5 custody, who then dies (unknown to Doyle, his single punch exacerbated a previous injury). There's a formal inquiry into CI5 that doesn't help Ray in dealing with his guilt over the issue.
  • Pushing Daisies: In order for Ned to bring somebody back to life for longer than a minute, someone else has to die in their place. He brings his mother back without knowing this as a child, and inadvertently kills his best friend Chuck's father; something he felt guilty for even decades afterwards. As a man, when given the opportunity to bring Chuck back from the dead, he takes it with full knowledge of the consequences. Although the man he killed in her place was an Asshole Victim, he still struggles with the guilt of 'accidentally inadvertently manslaughtering' someone. It doesn't help matters that Emerson calls him a killer to his face.
  • In Smallville, Chloe has an unusual version, as it is actually Davis/Doomsday who kills the person.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Things Past", Odo momentarily hallucinates his blood-drenched hands due to repressed memories of his greatest failure coming to the surface.
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle has this reaction after she kills the priestess of a dark god while trying to save someone. It's made even worse by the fact that the man she saves is also a follower of the dark god, and that Gabrielle was being duped.
    • Joxer, for so long the blowhard who fantasises about being a great warrior is finally confronted with the reality of combat when he kills the warlord of the week in a minor skirmish. He is wracked by guilt and seeks to make amends to the dead man's son. He eventually comes to terms with it, saving so many lives whilst helping Xena and Gabrielle in their quests.

  • The Breaker: Subverted. Shi Woon looks like he's going to have one of these during his Freak Out, when he asks Chun Woo if the assassins were still alive, but Chun Woo tells him they're fine.

  • In The Megas album Get Equipped, the song "Lamentations of a War Machine/End Song", taking place after Mega Man defeats Wily in his fortress, has these lyrics:
    If I've a heart made of steel
    Then does that mean I cannot feel?
    Remorse for everything I've done
    My hand's a smoking gun!
  • Tosca: Cavaradossi and Tosca sing a whole duet about it.
  • The rock opera penned by The Protomen, Act II, track 4, "The Hounds".
    "There is a flame that I've been fanning/There is a fire waiting to catch
    There is a hell that has been building/From the moment we first met
    If there ever was a time/If there ever was a chance
    To undo the things I've done/And wash the bloodstains from my hands
    It has past and been forgotten/These are the paths that we must take
    'Cause you and I, Tom, we are men/And we can bend and we can break"
  • Melodic Death Metal band Arch Enemy's "Blood on Your Hands". The first track on the album, and considered to be the best.
    "You were born your brother's keeper/Why can I see blood on your hands?"
    "Blood is on your hands/The Wages of Sin"
  • Iron Maiden's "Blood on the World's Hands".
  • DragonForce's "Through the Fire and Flames":
    Now here we stand with their blood on our hands
  • The Used's "Blood on My Hands":
    There's blood on my hands/Like the blood in you!
  • The Smashing Pumpkins' "Wound":
    Wound opens, reveal this broken man
    And soon, there's notions of blood on his hands
  • Iced Earth's "Blood On My Hands".
    • The ending of "High Water Mark" (and of the entire Gettysburg trilogy).
  • Shackleton's "Blood On My Hands."
  • The Mega Man-based rock opera by The Megas has an example in "Look What You've Done".
    Dr. Wily: ''I see his hands/(Robots are stronger than man)
    Covered in my children's blood/(I will not let victory... fall through my hands!)
    And his eyes do not waver."
  • Side Two of Alice Cooper's Welcome To My Nightmare is almost all about this; refer to track Only Women Bleed (part Two). In which the bleeding is both literal and terminal.
  • Royal Blood's "Blood Hands":
    There's blood on my hands, there's blood on my hands, yeah there's blood
  • Implied in Avenged Sevenfold's song "Angels" on The Stage, by the lines "Mother wash the devil from my hands" and "Somehow all the bullets bear my name" in "Angels", although the exact meaning of the song is somewhat ambiguous.
  • In James Young's "I'll be Good", The Atoner reminisces about what they have done.
    But the blood on my hands
    scares me to death
    Maybe I'm waking up

    Professional Wrestling 
  • During his psychotic heel run in the 90s, Bob Backlund would do this after procuring the dreaded Crossface Chickenwing on someone.
  • Booker T also used to stare at his hand obsessively - but it was a subversion, as he did it for no reason.

    Tabletop Games 
  • "These hands have killed men" is said twice in the Promethean's speech on the back cover of the Promethean: The Created core book. However, the speech is written such that it could be read in a resigned tone - she's long since inured herself to that fact.

  • In Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto, when Roberto attempts to kill Angelo, he says he's never killed anyone before. Luckily, Cesare steps in and saves Angelo the umpteenth time, but the aforementioned traitor himself isn't so lucky. His co-conspirator Draghignazzo comes in and kills him for knowing too much — and when he does, he steps back in shock, staring at his hands and at his fallen friend — it's apparently the first time for him, as well.
  • In William Shakespeare's Macbeth both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth still envisions the blood, and cannot mentally remove it.
    Lady Macbeth: Out, damn'd spot!
  • In The Mario Opera, Mario is initially devastated over killing a Goomba, as while it was evil, it was alive and sentient.

    Video Games 
  • Asura's Wrath: Subverted. Even though he doesn't do any killing, after finding the emperor's dead corpse, he gets blood on his hands and does this pose for it.
  • BioShock Infinite : Elizabeth has a moment of this after killing Daisy Fitzroy, before she could murder a child.
  • Call of Duty 4, after Victor Zakhaev kills himself to avoid being captured:
    Imran Zakhaev: Our blood has been spilled on our soil. My blood on their hands.
  • Detroit: Become Human: During the chapter "Spare Parts", Markus has the option of stabbing a CyberLife warehouse guard who's about to discover him and his crew. Doing so causes him to look down at his blood-soaked hand after delivering a Rousing Speech to Jericho at the end of the chapter.
  • Inverted in EVE Online chronicle Hands of a Killer, where the owner of said hands gleefully admits that while he has never committed physical violence, he is nevertheless responsible for the deaths of countless people, including his own crew. It's all a part of his recruiting speech.
  • Eternal Sonata: In the ending of PlayStation 3 Updated Re-release, Frederic Chopin does this when he wakes up following his defeat in battle and sees that Polka is gone and that the world around him hasn't changed. He blames himself for not being able to do anything to stop her sacrifice. "Why? The dream was at an end. Oh no. It can't be. Not Polka."
  • Far Cry 3: Jason does this briefly after his first kill: a pirate who was attempting to stab him while he was trying to get away. He quickly gets over it. A bit too quickly, actually.
  • The ending of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. Mio is utterly horrified from killing her own twin sister, Mayu, to complete the village's ritual.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Barret tries to make peace with his old friend, Dyne, by mentioning the man's daughter (whom Barret had rescued and adopted after their town was destroyed). Dyne refuses, noting that not only would she not remember him, but that his hands are too stained to carry her anymore. Then he jumps off a cliff, leaving Barret to admit that his hands aren't any cleaner.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2: Noel Kreiss does it as he asks "I killed the goddess?"
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Students who don't have a fighting background can react like this if they finish an enemy during their first real battle.
  • Kiryu's "victory" animation in Godzilla Unleashed has him look at his hands, then pull them down his face screaming.
  • Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters: This happens to Mega Man after Dr. Wily convincing him that he's as bad as Wily for destroying his evil robots. It takes all of about 10 seconds for Dr. Light to snap him out of it.
  • Odin Sphere: The skeletal form of King Valentine sobs about how "I crushed my beloved child with these hands... These fingers wrung the life from that soft neck 'til it cried no more."
  • In OMORI, one Arc Symbol is a childlike arm bent with palm facing forward, often several appearing at once. It's strongly suggested that these symbolize the moment when Sunny pushed Mari down the house stairs and accidentally killed her.
  • Silent Hill 2: James's reaction to killing Eddie in self-defense is like this, but it's ironic because he's already killed his wife, although he's blocked it out of his mind.
  • Sleeping Dogs (2012): Happens to Jackie Ma. Wei is outfought by his opponent, who knocks him down and puts a gun to his face... then blood sprays and the scene cuts to Jackie, who is now holding a gun. He drops it and spends a good ten seconds or so staring at his hands until Wei (and the sound of approaching police sirens) manage to snap him out of it. During the drive with Wei to the Initiation, it's made clear that it's the first time he's ever killed; he'd thought about what it would look like, but not how he'd feel about it.
  • Tales of the Abyss: Luke is utterly horrified the first time he ends up killing another human. Later on in the game, Jade notes that Luke has nightmares each time he kills another human, even if it was a bandit or Oracle Knight.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Regal killed Presea's sister Alicia in the past and so keeps himself handcuffed as penance. He switched to killing things (monsters) with his legs.
  • Tomb Raider:
    • Tomb Raider: Anniversary has Lara reacting this way after killing Larson, her first human kill. She stares at her hands for a few seconds and wipes away the imaginary blood in shock before moving on. When she confronts Natla, she tells Lara that she belongs in Atlantis with her as another ruler and that's who she really is. This prompts Lara to look at her hands again as if to wonder if her willing to kill brought her down before deciding that she is not a terrible person and shoots the Scion. When Lara escapes in the ending, she looks at her hands one last time, but smiles knowing that she did what she had to do to stop a world threat.
    • Tomb Raider (2013) shows Lara's first human kill in the new continuity, in the immediate aftermath of which she is incredibly upset and traumatized to the point of crying. Though she goes on to rack up a huge body count through the rest of the game, she never gets over just how disturbingly easy it is to kill.
  • In flashbacks for Yakuza: Kiwami, to fully show Nishiki's Start of Darkness he guts his disrespectful subordinate Matsushige (who completely had it coming). After slicing him open and spilling his blood everywhere. Nishiki is briefly fazed by his sudden brutality and looks at his hands, before using Matsushuge's blood to slick his hair back. Declaring that killing will be his way of dealing with things from then on fully cementing his fall from grace.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Cafe Enchante, despite his reputation as a Blood Knight, Ignis chooses to never kill anyone. In his route, he becomes disgusted at himself when it's revealed he had killed the beasts who had invaded his home in a berserk state. Later on, he becomes catatonic after he snapped out of another blood-crazed state where he killed and ate several Minotaurs and then almost did the same to Il and Kotone if the other regulars didn't arrive to stop him.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend's Sakazaki Yuuya was more or less driven to do what he did as a child but considers it his crime. The dirty hands there are his.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All: Maya Fey despairs over killing Dr. Turner Grey "with these two hands". She didn't actually kill Grey, but was a victim of a set-up orchestrated by Morgan Fey and Mimi Miney.

    Web Animation 
  • Dust of Bunnykill 5 does this after snapping out of his Brainwashed and Crazy state and realizing that he's just killed his friend Snowball while under the influence of the Psycho Serum.
  • RWBY: Downplayed, but Yang and Blake harbor some guilt over killing Adam at the end of Volume 6. It was self-defense, and their "victim" was a Complete Monster whom no one is going to miss, but it still deeply bothers them that they had to go that far.

  • Ava's Demon: Gets played a bit for laughs (during a sequence where it is very much not played for laughs) after Ava goes One-Winged Angel and slaughters an amphitheater of religious extremists who were trying to brainwash and physically mutilate her.
    Odin: Uh, whoa... y-you've got blood on your hands, you know?
    Ava: OH YEAH?! WELL, WHO DOESN'T?! ...oh, wait, you meant literally—
  • El Goonish Shive:
  • In Homestuck, Dave gets blood on his hands when he finds the dead body of his alternate self. He ends up staring mutely at them for about ten minutes. Also lampshaded when Dirk kills his session's Hegemonic Brute:
    "You spend the next ten minutes thinking about it while you stand on his head and stare at the blood on your hands, as the often utilized stock graphic in the bottom corner of the image would indicate."
  • How to be a Werewolf: Heavily downplayed (the victim's injuries, impressive-though-concealable scars aside, were rather superficial and he received far less psychological damage than his attacker) but very much invoked in an early flashback; with young Malaya staring at her blood-covered fingertips... fingertips that became claws moments earlier when her baby brother clocked her with a block and she lost her temper.
  • The Order of the Stick: O-Chul disclaims responsibility: the act is on your hands, not mine.
  • Roommates' interpretation of The Erl-King makes the title character do this in his last panel at the end after he murdered a child.
  • Unsounded: Duane was pretty shaken up by his first kill, ashamed of the dishonorable technique he used and that he was upset about the way the guy he killed screamed because he's from a religion that values warriors. He tries sending a friend away asking what's stopping him from killing them too if he was willing to use a core leach without thinking about it, but they point out he's not going to kill a friend and the guy he killed had jumped him with a bunch of friends to kill him.
  • In We Are The Wyrecats, K.A. is clearly shaken after killing a mook for the first time.
  • Wilde Life: Cliff doesn't seem all that concerned about killing a rougarou to protect Oscar, until he learns that it Was Once a Man. The revelation seems to bring his own fears about being a "monster" to the fore. It doesn't help that Oscar is understandably freaked out by his near-death experience and the rather violent means that Cliff used to protect him.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: Tim Drake feels terrible after killing the Joker, even decades afterwards.
    Tim Drake: Oh, God. I killed him. I didn't mean to. I tried so hard to forget. But I still hear the shot, still see his dead smile. Every night the dreams get stronger. He's there when I sleep, whispering, laughing... telling me I'm just as bad as he is, we're both the same.
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Sacred Cow", animal-rights activist Randy accuses Bob of this when he is about to make his 100,000th burger. Made worse for him when Linda comes out of the restaurant with actual blood on her hands, and Louise frequently screaming 'MURDERER!' at him. While he ignores their accusations at first, later on in the episode he begins to feel guilty. He feels better about it once he passes out and hallucinates about passionately making out with a cow
  • Hal Jordan has this in the Justice League: The New Frontier movie, in his segment of the setup for the actual plot. He got through what seems to have been the Korean War doing the closest thing to a pacifist run a fighter pilot has ever pulled off, and then he goes down some ten minutes after the war is officially over and can't make the Korean he lands near understand that he doesn't want to fight now, it's over, they're not at he winds up shooting him in the face at incredibly close range. Blood everywhere. Seriously screws him up.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "Look Who's Purging Now," Morty stares at his hands after killing the owner of the lighthouse.
    Rick: Whoa, Morty! You just purged!
  • In season 5 of Samurai Jack, Jack is utterly horrified when he kills one of the Daughters of Aku and discovers they were a human being instead of a robot. It takes much of the next episode for him to come to terms that he's justified killing in self-defense after which he has little trouble doing the same to all but one of them.
  • Steven Universe: Future: In "Fragments", Steven is shocked to discover that he has just shattered Jasper, and runs into the house to prepare her for a healing bath. As soon as he apologizes to Jasper, she bows before Steven in acknowledgement of his strength, calling him "my Diamond", which also shocks him.
  • Total Drama Island: Parodied when Owen is left alone in the kitchen with a plate of ribs meant for the competition. When Leshawna comes back to check on him, she finds the room spattered with sauce, a pile of bones on a plate, and Owen staring at his sauce-covered hands with a horrified expression.

    Real Life 
  • Any athlete, medical practitioner, or *ahem* murderer will tell you that blood actually is a pain to get off your hands when it dries. It's very sticky and requires some scrubbing with good soap, and forget it if it gets on your clothes. There's a reason that detergents brag about being able to get blood stains out.
  • There are several high-risk sports where a player has injured another player, which leads to the injured player's death after the game or match. Boxing is notorious for this, as is any combat sport that allows full contact with no padding. Often, the player that caused the injuries which lead to a person dying will feel terrible afterward, sometimes dropping out of the sport altogether.
  • Played straight by any veteran after a war. Any war. Ever.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Blood On These Hands


Ken confronts his past

Ken remembers how he caused his Digimon partner's death, wished for his brother's death, and all the Digimon he harmed as the Digimon Emperor.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheyDiedBecauseOfYou

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