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Toilet Horror

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"Rule #3: Beware of Bathrooms. Don't let them catch you with your pants down."
Columbus, Zombieland

In some works of modern media, bathrooms (especially public toilets) are excellent places for a terrifying scene to occur. Many people feel vulnerable as they take care of intimate matters while partially-undressed. Since they often do this alone, it may stir dread about isolation. This trope plays on latent anxieties, Paranoia Fuel, and general squick many people have about bathrooms.

Common scenarios include (but not limited to) the presence of an unknown malicious entity, often a Vengeful Ghost, the discovery of a dead body, finding out that you are not what you appear to be, violent scenes involving the murder of a character, or sickening sights. Whatever it is, it's unnerving and unexpected, and sometimes involves a Jump Scare.

Scenery Gorn is part of the reason for this. There's something evocative about white porcelain splattered with blood, water filled with blood, and broken mirrors. These scenes often take place in a Disgusting Public Toilet for similar reasons.

A Super-Trope to Deadly Bath, "Psycho" Shower Murder Parody and Mirror Scare. May involve The Can Kicked Him if a toilet is the means for a violent death.

May overlap with Camping a Crapper (getting attacked in a bathroom). Only examples that are Played for Horror beyond the usual suspense of a Chase Scene would count here. Compare also Searching the Stalls. Compare with Bathhouse Blitz where the victim is being stalked but the instigator is a mundane threat. See also Swirlie and Trans Tribulations, for bathrooms as a place of distress but not necessarily horror.

Not to be confused with Toilet Humour, though the two may overlap during a moment of Mood Whiplash.


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  • A PIF from Friends of the Earth in Scotland involves someone flushing a toilet and a copious amount of blood leaking out of it afterwards as a way of speaking against cutting down mahogany trees for use in furniture.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Polnareff of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders encounters this a few times; at one point he's chased into a bathroom by a horde of zombies, and he's later attacked by an axe-wielding assassin who de-ages him into a child and attempts to drown him in a bathtub. It's Played for Laughs with the toilet in the Indian restaurant, which seems perfectly normal until the pig living underneath sticks its head up through the toilet to say hello, at which point Polnareff starts screaming, begs the waiter not to leave him alone in there, and the toilet gets the standard "menacing" Unsound Effect usually applied to villains.
  • During the Thriller Bark arc of One Piece which takes place on a horror themed island, there is abit of a homage to what happens in bathrooms in horror movies. Nami while taking a shower is attacked by an invisible Absalom. Fortunately, she is saved before the pervert could do anything worse to her.
  • In the second episode of Ghost Stories, the kids meet Hanako-san and Aka Manto (see the Folklore section). One of the teachers gets sucked into the underworld through a toilet, and the same thing almost happens to Hajime.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Arachne's spiders attacked people through the sewers and their toilets when she attacked Albrecht's kingdom.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One segment in The ABCs of Death has a kid dreaming about being in the restroom while his toilet turns into a man-eating monster.
  • A major motif in Candyman and its sequels, where the ghost of the title can only enter the realm of the living through mirrors, ideally bathroom mirrors. Naturally, frightening scenes in bathrooms - especially filthy, poorly-maintained bathrooms - are present throughout the series.
  • In Crimson Peak, Haunted Heroine Edith walks in on a ghost - with a meat cleaver still lodged in its skull - taking a bath. She later learns that this is the ghost of her mother-in-law, murdered in the bath by her own son and daughter after she got wind of their incestuous affair.
  • The first death we see happen in Deep Rising happens after the glamorous cruise ship is shaken and people panic and run. A very scared woman locks herself in a bathroom and sits on the toilet, when something comes up from the toilet (though remains unseen) and attacks her, resulting in a large gush of blood splattering on the bathroom's mirror.
  • In Final Destination, Tod Wagner gets killed when a shower clothesline asphyxiates him.
  • In The Fly (1986), having just tossed his worried lover out of his loft/laboratory, Seth examines himself in his bathroom mirror, realizing that she was right about how bad he's come to look ever since he teleported himself. When he anxiously starts gnawing on a fingernail, it comes off in his mouth, and he then finds that all of his nails are coming loose while the fingers themselves are oozing pus. Terrified, he whispers to himself "Is this how it starts? Am I dying?" From there, he gets the Internal Reveal that he's becoming a Half-Human Hybrid via his computer. David Cronenberg deliberately set this sequence in a bathroom because so many people in real life first realize that something is wrong with their body in a bathroom.
  • The Signature Scene of Ghoulies is one of the eponymous goblin-like creatures coming out of a toilet. A fairly brief moment in the film itself, but it appeared on the cover, making it the main thing anyone knows about the movie. Ghoulies II and Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College! have similiar cover art as well, likewise showing monsters emerging from toilets.
  • Glorious is about a gloryhole in a public restroom that's actually a portal to an Eldritch Abomination.
  • In The Grudge 2, after the murderous ghost invades the family's apartment, the boy hides in the bathroom and found his mother in the bathtub who seemed suspicious tells him to enjoy a nice warm bath. She then gets dragged into the water disappearing by the ghost.
  • It (2017) expands on the bathroom scene from the book: the titular monster manifests Prehensile Hair from the sink drain to grab Beverly, then sprays a fountain of High-Pressure Blood that covers her and the room. Subsequently played for Black Comedy when her friends come over and matter-of-factly help her clean up all the mess.
  • In Killer Klowns from Outer Space the largest of the long-necked popcorn Klown babies reveals itself by emerging out of Debbie's toilet before attacking her.
  • Look Who's Talking Too Mikey needs to be toilet-trained due to a Nightmare Sequence in which he saw the toilet morphing into Mr. Toilet Man, a disgusting Mel Brooks-voiced living toilet bowl with huge vampire fangs that claims the intention of biting off his "tushy" when he goes peeing.
  • In Memories of Murder, the schoolchildren claim there's a serial killer that lives in the school outhouses. The police entertain this seriously enough to investigate the toilets.
  • In Midnight Movie, the second time the killer escapes from the film, he attacks Sully in the restroom and gores out his heart. The patrons still in the cinema get to watch this occur on the screen.
  • One of the iconic scenes of A Nightmare on Elm Street is set in a bathroom in which Freddy's razor-gloved hand emerges from a bathtub still occupied by a dozed off Nancy.
  • The first horror moment in Psycho is the infamous (and much-parodied) scene in which Marion Crane takes a shower in her motel room and gets stabbed to death. Probably the trope maker for film, since earlier movies were generally very shy about even acknowledging bathrooms existed; supposedly, Psycho was the first film to ever show a toilet being flushed (and what's being flushed is just paper).
  • Saw: The main "game" of the first movie takes place in an abandoned bathroom. Said bathroom is seen again in Saw II and Saw 3D.
  • The Shining has Jack discover the ghost of one of the guests in the bathroom of her hotel room, and Jack speaks to the ghost of the caretaker in another bathroom.
  • One of the more memorable scenes in Silent Hill takes place in a bathroom in which janitor monster resides.
  • Spoofed in Spice World, when the sinister paparazzi photographer Damien climbs out of the toilet, in the mansion where the Spice Girls are staying.
  • The bathroom in Thir13en Ghosts looks normal from the regular human perspective. However, from the ghost perspective, it is completely covered in blood splatter and occupied by the self-mutilated Angry Princess.
  • The outbreak in Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead is caused by one of the main characters eating a parasitical worm taken from a fish hoping it'll help her stay slim. Instead, it causes her a diarrhea attack that she unloads in an outhouse toilet, provoking the rise of feces-covered undead.
  • Zombieland features one of the Rules: "Beware of Bathrooms". As an example, we then see a gas station attendant being attacked by a zombie while he was on a stall.

  • Japanese Urban Legends are just fond of this trope in general. Ghouls lurking in toilets include:
    • Aka Manto, a spirit in a yellow mask and red cape who asks if you want a red or blue shirt. If you say red, he will lacerate your back. If you say blue, he will strangle you.
    • Kashima Reiko, the Vengeful Ghost of a girl who was run over by a train. She has no legs, carries a Sinister Scythe and asks people, "Where are my legs?". Any answer other than "On the railway tracks." will result in death. The better-known version of this story, Teke Teke, is an aversion, being found everywhere, not just toilets.
    • There are some ghost stories in Japan which tell of a ghostly hand that emerges from a toilet to touch people in the behind when they relieve themselves. Said ghost stories are the basis of ??? from The Legend of Zelda.
    • Hanako-san of the Toilet (or just Hanako-san) is a Japanese Urban Legend that has been around since the 1950s. It's about a little girl who died in a bathroom stall, commonly either due to a bombing during World War II, an accident, or a murder. Her spirit still haunts the bathrooms where she died. If you walk into the third stall of a girl's room that is on the third floor, ask "Are you in there Hanako-san?", and knock three times she'll say "I'm here". What happens next varies, but it usually involves the person being dragged down the toilet.
    • The Akaname are a subversion. Despite lurking in toilets and being used as bogeymen, they're mostly harmless creatures who live off bathroom dirt.
  • There's an Urban Legend that claims that if you go to certain bathrooms, close your eyes, and spin around three times while chanting "Bloody Mary Bloody Mary", Bloody Mary, a Vengeful Ghost, will appear and try to kill you.

  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, students avoid a certain bathroom because an unpleasant (read: "melodramatically fretful", not "dangerous") ghost lives there. While this isn't really played for horror, eventually is revealed that said bathroom is the gateway to the Chamber of Secrets, home of a mysterious monster that's been petrifying students. It also turns out said ghost was murdered in that bathroom.
  • From the Stephen King universe.
    • It: When Beverly Marsh is in the bathroom, the titular monster speaks to her through the sink drain, mimicking the voices of her dead classmates and telling her that she'll be joining them soon.
    • "Sneakers" in Nightmares & Dreamscapes: The protagonist notices that one specific stall of his office building's bathrooms is always occupied by a man with a distinctive pair of sneakers and discovers the hard way that the man is the ghost of a drug dealer who was killed some years prior by being stabbed through one of his eyes with a pencil.
    • "A Very Tight Place" in Just After Sunset: The protagonist is lured into a portable toilet like a hostile neighbor, tipped over an embankment, and left to die inside. The story deals with how he escapes the portable toilet and exacts his revenge.
  • In the final novella of Labyrinths of Echo, Melifaro hunts down a "toilet demon": a malevolent ghost that compelled people visiting a bathroom to commit bizarre suicides. Afterwards, he realizes that toilets are a perfect place to ambush and Mind Control people, since everyone normally lowers their defenses there.
  • Whateley Universe: There's a Hawthorne Cottage bathroom that's home to a demonic entity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bones has an episode where the Victim of the Week turns up when a kid who seems to be in the middle of potty training goes into the bathroom and gets terrified by blood and body parts coming up from the toilet. The team, of course, has to figure out where they came from and find the rest of the body.
  • The disturbing reveal of the Twist Ending of Twin Peaks takes place in a bathroom. After emerging from the Black Lodge, Cooper goes in the bathroom and creepily repeats "How's Annie?" into the mirror, laughing maniacally and giving a Nightmare Face, revealing that he is an Evil Doppelgänger come to wreak havoc on the world. The whole scene is filled with Surreal Horror.

    Video Games 
  • A Dump In The Dark has you playing as a pair of buttocks through hell, connected to Earth by a toilet, killing monsters with your feces.
  • In the The Legend of Zelda games, there is a ghostly/zombiefied hand that appears out of toilets called ??? which is based on some Japanese ghost stories.
  • A variation famously opens Fahrenheit, with a brutal stabbing murder perpetrated on a random unsuspecting man at a urinal by the (possessed) player character during the opening cutscene that the player must then quickly clean and cover up.
  • OMORI: Looking at the bathroom mirror at night will show Something and a ghostly form of Mari behind Sunny. On Three Days Left, Basil has a mental breakdown in his bathroom after he learns Sunny is moving away.
  • Shinsei Toire no Hanako-san is a (Japan-only exclusive) Point-and-Click horror game where you play as one of three schoolgirls investigating the "Hanako-san" urban legend (see Folklore folder) in your school's allegedly haunted washroom.
  • Silent Hill is obsessed with this trope. This is based off of a common anxiety Japanese people grew up with as kids, who saw the traditional squatting toilet as a bottomless pit where nothing could escape.
    • Silent Hill has a mutilated corpse strung up in the school's Otherworld bathroom.
    • Silent Hill 2 has the chance for James to hear a loud scream in the prison bathroom.
    • Silent Hill 3 has a bathroom stall filled with blood.
    • In Silent Hill 4: The Room, the entrance door to the Crapsack World of Silent Hill and the only way Henry Townshend can go out the room he's trapped, is in a big hole/portal made in his bathroom, which became more and more creepy during the game.
    • Silent Hill: Homecoming has the Nurse monster first appear in a bathroom stall.
    • Silent Hills has the infamous talking fetus in the bathroom sink.
  • In Slender, there is an outdoor bathroom with cramped, twisting spaces that make it easy for Slenderman to take you by surprise.
  • Subverted in Yo-kai Watch. Toiletta (called "Hanako-san" in Japan, based on a well-known urban legend of a ghost who haunts bathrooms) has lost her edge because kids aren't easily scared anymore.

    Visual Novels 
  • Go For A Punch! Saki Sanobashi is set in a bathroom within an abandoned school where the five girls go to kill themselves with poison gas. Then one of them goes back to get the chemicals in the car, and doesn't come back. The others realize they are locked in the bathroom with no hope of escape, and what little was left of their sanity quickly deteriorates until they off themselves.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Akira's bathroom sees plenty of spooky action. The Urashima Woman spirit can only appear near water, so she haunts his bathroom until he appeases her. His cousin Ami was also kidnapped by Kakuya while in his bathroom- in the late-game it's revealed that she was trapped inside Akira's bathroom mirror; after Akira rescues her, Kakuya drags him in there himself.

    Web Animation 
  • Flicker: The cast finds Liza's dead body in the bathroom, with her having been drowned in the toilet.

  • Hyperbole and a Half: Played for Laughs in "Skeleton Man." After hearing a scary story, Allie thinks the monster is hiding in the school bathroom. From then on, she tries to avoid the room as much as possible.

    Web Original 
  • In Crypt TV's introductory video to the monster Look-See, "The Wedding Hand", a woman is trapped in a bathroom stall as the Look-See comes to get her. Forced to flush her wedding ring down the toilet to appease the monster, she snatches it back at the last moment, and is promptly killed.
  • Criticized: Arthur Lemments takes Darian Stonehall to a public bathroom (probably at the parking lot where he subdued him) after knocking him out with his stun gun. The majority of the video is spent there, and it's where Arthur tortures Darian.

    Western Animation 


Rule #3

Beware of bathrooms.

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