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"Military - The blood that comes out of a sniper's target when he/she is hit. The blood appears pinkish over the distance and the quick burst of blood that comes out makes a misty effect."
—Adapted from Urban Dictionary.

"Everything above yer' neck's gonna be a FINE red mist!"
The Sniper, Team Fortress 2.

This is the polar opposite of Pretty Little Headshots, usually found in military fiction and gorier video games. As the above quote says, it's after a sniper has shot someone, and all that delicious blood-jelly bursts into a bloody cloud, which, from a distance, appears to be pink. Usually some part of the cranium is blown off in the process. This type of headshot is almost invariably seen from the sniper's point of view.

The thing that keeps this from falling into Ludicrous Gibs is that it actually happens; read up on the Kennedy assassination or some accounts of military snipers.

See also Chunky Salsa Rule, Gorn and Boom! Headshot!. Compare Your Head Asplode and Ludicrous Gibs. Contrast, of course, Bloodless Carnage and Pretty Little Headshots.

Examples of Pink Mist include:

Anime and Manga

  • Baccano! features many headshots, at least two of which are animated in all their gory glory. The conductor who takes a bullet to the head splashes blood all over the place and is later shown with a substantial hole in the back of his head. Poor Czeslaw, who takes two shots to the head with a shotgun, gets his head blown off completely. At least temporarily.



  • The memorable restaurant scene in The Godfather has Michael Corleone turning both Virgil "The Turk" Solozzo & Captain McKlusky's brains into this.
  • The ending of Chinatown has a disturbingly realistic exit wound where somebody's eye used to be.
  • The first Young Guns has a scene in which Emilio Estevez shoots an accused traitor in the head. Unlike the usual modest blood-splats found in Westerns, another character flinches when a huge splash of gore hits his hat from about ten feet away.
  • David Mamet's Spartan has someone's head do this after being hit by a sniper's bullet.
  • Sadly (maybe) the lead characters of Jarhead never got to see the pink mist they so longed to see due to a airstrike taking out their targets just before they took the shot.
  • In the Jodie Foster film Anna and the King, a Thai servant is beheaded for treason against a king. As her head is lopped off (just offscreen) a fine pink mist sprays out across the screen.
  • A variation happens in Once Upon a Time in China; the villain that Wong Fei Hung is fighting gets his throat cut with split bamboo. At first it looks like nothing, but slowly a little red line begins to form, get longer, and suddenly a pink mist spews from the wound as he drops dead.
  • Happens in The Matrix when Trinity challenges an Agent to dodge a bullet at point blank range. The resulting headshot produces this.


  • Oh so very used in military fiction. Case in point: Tom Clancy.
  • In the John Ringo novel Unto the Breach, one of the commanders of a Chechen battle group gets this treatment. On live international TV. By a sniper roughly two miles away.
  • Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Eddie's former commander during World War II blows up when he steps on a landmine. What happens to him, though, is more like Pink Salsa.
  • In Battlefield Earth (the novel), Jonnie is thinking of running away, but is stopped by Terl, who says "If I shot you with it, you would turn into a pink mist." (Paraphrased slightly.)
  • In First Casualty the protagonist witnesses a whole foxhole of soldiers being hit by a shell. It was raining pink afterwards.

Live-Action TV

  • This effect is described in detail in one episode of the TV series In Plain Sight, by the main protagonist, Mary Shannon.
  • One of the last episodes of Dollhouse has Bennet shot in the head by whoever Whiskey is at the time. The pink mist surrounds a stunned Topher.
  • Explained to Christina Ricci and later demonstrated by the bomb squad guy on the season 2 Super Bowl episode of Grey's Anatomy

Tabletop Games

  • Dialled up to 11 in Warhammer 40000, in which the main weapon of the Space Marines is a machine gun loaded with exploding bullets. A few ONE good hit can turn your entire body into Pink Mist/Pink Salsa.

Video Games

  • Borderlands. If you get killing headshots (yes, some enemies take multiple headshots to take down) with any weapon on a human enemy, their head literally becomes this. Taken Up to Eleven if you're a high enough level with a good weapon and your headshot does enough damage, their body from the waist up disappears in red mist.
  • Cortex Command: Frequently happens to clones caught in explosions, crushed by dropship debris, or other methods of total overkill. It's not just their heads - their ENTIRE BODIES will be reduced to a mess of red pixels.
  • Grand Theft Auto: ViceCity creates a little pink cloud when someone gets beheaded.
  • This happens in Sniper Elite after you shot everybody at both entry and exit.
  • The Metal Gear Solid series uses a cloud of particulate-rendered blood whenever someone takes a hit as well.
  • Most of your foes in Mass Effect 2 have some variety of helmet/shield/hard carapace, so a headshot will cause a mist of blood (in whatever color is appropriate, red for humans and Vorcha, bluish purple for Asari and Turians, green for Salarians, orange for Krogan and Collectors, etc.) but will leave the outer shell of the head intact.
  • Left 4 Dead includes this trope, as well as an achievement called "Red Mist" awarded for killing many Mook zombies with the stationary minigun.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare features this kind of effect when enemies are hit by gunfire, as does World At War.
    • World At War takes it too far, where shooting someone's limb produces massive amounts of blood and screams of pain.
      • Typically only if you use a heavy machine gun, a shotgun, or the PTRS-41 (which is an anti-tank rifle, mind you), in which cases it kinda makes sense.
      • The limb staying on in the lattermost case, however, makes little sense.
  • The Sniper of Team Fortress 2 refers to this trope by name repeatedly ("Everything above your neck is gonna be a fine red mist!"), but the in-game effects are more similar to Pretty Little Headshots.
  • In the Teen-rated The Conduit, if you get a headshot on the alien Drudge enemies, their heads pop off with a fountain of yellow fluid.
    • Killing an alien Drudge with a headshot is more of a High-Pressure Blood fountain. However, the trope is played straight when headshotting human enemies.
  • Lampshaded in Unreal when a Skaarj decapitated by a headshot will feel for where his head used to be before dropping over dead.
  • In First Encounter Assault Recon, the shotgun is a very efficient producer of huge clouds of pink mist.
  • Headshots with some weapons in Army of Two: The 40th Day will completely obliterate everything above the target's neck.
  • A confusing one in Tomb Raider: Legend. In the flashback level, the wraith (given the Fan Nickname "Fluffy") grabs Kent and leaves behind a red mist: it is debatable whether this is the creature's presence, or Kent's blood.
  • Averted in America's Army due partially to the need to avoid a rating higher than T, and partially to the fact that 5.56mm bullets rarely cause that kind of Gorn. Plus, it's a recruiting tool; people are likely to be less open to joining the Army if their death was just rendered in agonizingly gory detail. Those to whom such things would appeal are generally more unstable than Army recruiters would like.
  • Soldier of Fortune has this plus splattered brain matter and shattered skulls.

Web Comics

Real Life

  • Tragically Truth in Television, as anyone who has seen the Zapruder Film (the film of John F. Kennedy's assassination) can attest.
  • Military snipers who use the Barrett .50 caliber rifle will get Pink Mist results - and chunks of body and gear flying around - when hitting any part of the human body. Examples abound on YouTube and other sites. Of course, it's to be expected when you use an anti-materiel rifle as an anti-personnel rifle.