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Another of the Discretion Shot siblings, the Scream Discretion Shot is when something horrible and/or unspeakably painful is done to a character (whose significance to the viewer varies but is important at some level to the heroes or the plot), but the viewer doesn't get a direct view of the horror (such as Cold-Blooded Torture, Rape as Drama or Cruel and Unusual Death) visited on them. The viewer gets visuals of other things, such as a villain's sinister grin or other expression of delight in what's going down or the hero or other sympathetic character looking on in horror, accompanied by the audio cue that lets us know it's something terrible — a protracted scream that likely goes on for several seconds.

Additionally, it's not always horror in the classic blood and gore sense. Sometimes it's a horror that exists in the mind of one person, and the scream is their reaction to perceived or imagined situations or consequences. But don't confuse it with Distant Reaction Shot.

In Comedy, it is often parodied with strange items flying at the onlookers and odd noises. Chainsaw sounds are especially popular.

Examples of Scream Discretion Shot include:


  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, we have these starting from the very second episode. Typically Shinji Ikari, the protagonist, screams at some Nightmare Fuel he has just witnessed, as the camera pans away or the screen blacks out. When his screams are due to "physical" injury, however, this trope is brutally averted.
  • In the first episode of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, after joining an after-school club that formerly consisted of four girls, Keiichi loses a game where the stakes were that the winner could do whatever they wanted to the loser. As a result, three of the club members grab him and hold him still while the winner Mion approaches, slowly and mock-sinisterly, while holding a marker. The scene changes to outside of the school and we hear Keiichi scream. In the next scene, we see that Mion drew black circles around his eyes and nose, as well as whiskers on his cheeks. In the last episode of the first chapter, something similar happens, but it isn't played for laughs. Mion and her friend Rena are in Keiichi's bedroom, and Rena is holding Keiichi still again. Mion approaches sinisterly while holding what Keiichi suspects is a hypodermic syringe filled with a drug that causes suicidal insanity. One Scream Discretion Shot later, Keiichi realizes he's just beaten two people to death with a baseball bat and he has no idea why.
    • It gets worse when in Tsumihoroboshi-hen, we discover that Keiichi has been hallucinating all along, and the syringe was a marker.
    • Towards the end of the last episode of Yakusamashi-hen (the anime-only arc at the start of Kai), Ooishi visits Satoko in the hospital, and talks at length about the Hinamizawa disaster, and eventually hands over Rena's hat, covered in blood. Then we're treated to a flashback, where we see Rena running through the mountains. When she is inevitably cornered by several men with knives, we see a final look of fear on her face, and then we cut to her blood-stained hat falling down towards the river while she gives off a blood-curdling scream.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, when Miaka is shown Yui being supposedly raped through a magic mirror, all we see is Miaka, Tamahome and Chichiri's horrified reactions as Yui screams for Miaka.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kamina's fatal injuries are portrayed in this way. It's a Tear Jerker, especially when his adoptive brother sets off a VOLCANO with his anguish. That's hardcore.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia has this when Japan stabs China In the Back.
  • In Naruto's Three-Tails arc, after Hinata realizes that her attack against Nurari was ineffective, Nurari counterattacks, and the scene pans upward as only her screams are heard, and she is next shown seriously injured.
  • Black Lagoon has this, most noticeably in the vampire twins story arc.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh manga, only shadows are shown when Dark Marik skins his asshole father alive.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has a comedic one when Asuna goes after Negi during the aftermath of a Forceful Kiss incident.
  • Allen Walker from D.Gray Man fits this trope when Road messes with his mind before stabbing him in the left eye with a really sharp-ended candle. Instead of showing the real action, we see Road laughing with a huge speech bubble of Allen screaming his head off. Luckily, it's toned down in the anime, where Road commands a candle to shoot straight at Allen's eye. Still, we see a bunch of floating toys while we listen to poor Allen screaming.
  • Partial case in Code Geass, with the Emperor giving Lelouch his Fake Memories.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S there is a scene where you only see the gloating of the big bad and then one of his minions cringing while the screams of the victim resound. To make it more terrifying, the victim is a five year old girl.
    • Hardly the first time Nanoha had this. In the very first season, the cruel scene where Evil Matriarch Presea viciously whips her nine year-old daughter Fate for failing a mission takes place almost entirely offscreen. In the Compilation Movie, it takes place entirely offscreen, so one only heard the whip and Fate's screams. To make matters worse, Fate's familiar Arf is sitting outside, jerking painfully with every scream--and it's not their magic bond that makes her feel Fate's pain.
  • In Noir, Silvana aka the Intoccabile has a treacherous underling's wife and baby daughter executed in a neighboring room, so we only hear their screams, shots, and the poor guy's face at that moment. While this was allegedly done to avoid offending the network censors, the end result was much more horrifying than any graphic death they could give them.
  • Otou x Maho: Jou, off-panel, after refusing to give Kanata what he wants, screams "Ahhh! Don't make my arm turn 360 degrees! Gyaaaaaaaaah!"
  • In GoLion, Prince Sincline first confronts a captive Princess Amue and knocks her out, then carries her out of her cell in her arms. Few afterwards, a high-pitched scream is heard and Amue returns in tears, which carries the strong implication that Sincline raped her. The screaming scene, surprisingly, more or less stayed in the Bowdlerized Voltron, save for some dialogue changes and the removal of the sequence where Lotor is supposed to hit Romelle.
  • In the climax to Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan, Goku while barely trying to stand up to the titular antagonist despite Vegeta's insistence that Goku stop fighting due to viewing it as pointless even with Goku's gaining ki-transfers from the other downed Z-fighters, at one point runs towards Goku. Just as he tackles him with arms flailing, it then cuts to the area the Z-fighters were currently lying down, with Goku's anguished scream being heard in the distance (implying the blow Broly supplied to Goku was an exceptionally painful one).

Comic Books

  • Though we don't get it as it is happening, in Sin City, we see Marv get caught near the farmhouse where Kevin, the farm boy cannibal who murdered Goldie lives, and thrown into a dungeon with Lucille, his parole officer, who already lost her right hand to Kevin, and the stump sewn shut. We leave the scene on a bloodcurdling scream from poor Lucille: "HE MADE ME WATCH!"


  • Star Wars
    • A New Hope: Darth Vader and a torture droid enter Leia's cell, and then the door slams shut, and the camera follows a guard walking past.
    • The Empire Strikes Back: When Han is being tortured, we can still see him when it just starts - resisting. Then flinching, then trembling and gasping in pain, and then, just before he loses control, it cuts to the passageway, where Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett can now hear him screaming through the walls.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension: When Lizardo puts a lectroid taser at Buckaroo's crotch, the shot pulls back to Buckaroo's wide eyes and his screaming mouth.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street does this with the rape of Lucy Barker at the climax of the "Poor Thing" scene, not showing us anything beyond Judge Turpin descending upon her with the big cloak, showing us instead the nightmarish image of the masked crowd surrounding them and laughing at her, as well as the Beadle's sinisterly grinning face. We do get to hear Lucy's screams as the flashback/musical number concludes, as well as Sweeney's Big No when the scene snaps back to the present.
  • The Apocalyptic Log on Miranda from Serenity ends with the speaker trying to shoot herself before the Reavers get her. She's not quick enough. We don't see what happens next--but the Serenity crew does.
  • In Jurassic Park, when Dennis dies in the Jeep, the camera pans toward the ground as the Jeep is shaking wildly and he's screaming.
  • Serves as a crucial moment in the film Mr. Frost, starring Jeff Goldblum. A psychiatrist treating a patient/SerialKiller (Goldblum) who claims to be Satan is approached by a former police officer who apparently believes the same. He gives her a video that the killer gave to him — a "home movie" he shot of his crimes. She watches the video, but we never see it. Instead, we hear screams in the background as her face contorts in horror.
  • In Reservoir Dogs the camera "looks away" as Mr Blonde hacks off Marvin's ear. Quicky subverted though, as the camera cuts right back to show the after effects.
  • Used for comedic effect in The Birdcage when Albert walks into the apartment which has been emptied in his presence.
  • Alien features this at the death of Lambert. The camera cuts away from the Alien doing horrible things, to Ripley who reacts to Lambert's lingering death scream.
    • There's another death wherein the camera cuts away from the death to the cat, who is curled up cringing in fear but unable to look away from the horror.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark has an example on the ship out of Egypt. Marion rotates a mirror — banging Indy in the face. Hard. Cut to a shot of the ship from the air with Indy's scream audible.

 Marion: You say something?



  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Bellatrix throws Harry and Ron in the dungeon while she personally tortures Hermione. All the boys can hear are her screams. But before this, there is a strong hint that Greyback will get Hermione when Bellatrix finishes with her. Try not to think about what this sounds like.
    • His favorite targets WERE children.
    • And during the entire scene, Ron is about to go berserk which shows just how much he cares for her.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, Ghosts infiltrating the Patricians' quarters learn that Rawne is being tortured by his screams.
  • Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart has a scene where Phedre, the heroine, is captured, tortured and raped by Melisande Shahrizai. We only hear Phedre's very short and non-explicit summary. This reader felt cheated.
  • Used at the end of the first scene of the Conan story "A Witch Shall Be Born," when Queen Taramis's Evil Twin Salome, before throwing the queen into the dungeons and taking her place, hands her over to her Dragon, Constantius, to be raped. Here, the audience is shown Salome's expression of sadistic delight as she leaves the scene.

 Constantius smiled with a glint of strong white teeth under his thin mustache. "Very good; but you would not deny me a little—ah—amusement first?"

"Not I! Tame the scornful hussy as you will." With a wicked laugh Salome flung her sister into the Kothian's arms, and turned away through the door that opened into the outer corridor.

Fright widened Taramis's lovely eyes, her supple figure rigid and straining against Constantius's embrace. She forgot the men marching in the streets, forgot the outrage to her queenship, in the face of the menace to her womanhood. She forgot all sensations but terror and shame as she faced the complete cynicism of Constantius's burning, mocking eyes, felt his hard arms crushing her writhing body.

Salome, hurrying along the corridor outside, smiled spitefully as a scream of despair and poignant agony rang shuddering through the palace.

  • In the third book of A Song of Ice and Fire, this is played completely straight when Jaime Lannister's hand is cut off. You "see" the knife flashing through the air, and the chapter ends with his scream.

Live Action TV

  • In Heroes when Sylar kills someone for their powers he opens their heads, but we almost never see this, instead the camera shows us Sylar and we hear the victim scream.
  • Subverted in the Babylon 5 episode "Falling Toward Apotheosis". G'Kar has been stubbornly refusing to give Cartagia the satisfaction of hearing him scream; the episode ends with Cartagia ordering a guard to pluck out one of G'Kar's eyes, followed by a long silent view of G'Kar's cell door.
  • Done twice in I, Claudius. First with Caligula's attempted abortion on his sister's baby where we only see a bit of blood around Caligula's face when he leaves the room and Claudius' reaction to what he sees. And then when Macro orders the rape of Sejanus' daughter, which we never see but only hear her scream. These were cut for American audiences.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode 'Resistance', the audience never sees the bad guys torturing Tuvok, but Torres realises she should be more worried about him after she hears his screams through the cell walls.
  • This is done a lot on Supernatural.
  • Season 5 of Dexter introduces Lumen, who spent some time being raped and tortured by 5 men. They were also responsible for the rape, torture, and murder of at least eleven other women. In one episode it's revealed one of the men made DVDs of it. Mercifully virtually nothing is shown, but you can hear the victims screams just fine. Played with in that all of them, especially Lumen's, are terrifying.
  • In a season 2 episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, after Hilary spends way too much after spending way too long without a job, Philip demands her credit cards. She hands them over, and snaps them in half. The camera then cuts to a scene outside the house — and Hilary's piercing scream is heard.
  • In an episode of BBC's "Jekyll", Tom Jackman wakes up in an almost totally empty apartment shortly after his son was nearly fed to the lions, only to discover Christopher (the mook that put said son in the lion's den) is in the next room, all tied up. After a couple of questions from Tom to Christopher, Hyde "calls" Tom, convincing him to set an example to their enemies by basically unleashing Hyde on Christopher. The phone is hanging on its chord, all we see is Jackman's/Hyde's back, Christopher begins to ask nervous questions... then Hyde turns around, grins widely while the camera focuses on his eyes, and Christopher screams. Cut to Hyde walking in a hospital with a very deformed and bloody bundle.


  • The ballet Fall River Legend has a famous version of this, in which the Accused (Lizzie Borden), just about to hack her father and stepmother to death, mimes an agonized, protracted scream. Cut to Dream Ballet.

Video Games

Web Comics


 Elle: "Oh believe me. If you weren't gay before you walked through those doors, you're sure as hell gonna be after we get through with you!"

outside shot AAAAAARRGGHHH!!!"'


Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In addition to an inverted Shadow Discretion Shot, the audience also gets to hear an agonized scream of pain from Zuko at the tragic ending of the Agni Kai against his father in "The Storm".
  • Ben 10 Alien Force: A prisoner gets forced into the ranks of the bad guys. We get a shot of the toothy squirmy thing about to be applied to him; then the shot changes to the closed door of the room he's in, and we hear him screaming.
  • The 1990s Spider-Man had a big moment in the "Mutagenic Nightmare" storyline as a Scream Discretion Shot done one second too late. We actually see Peter Parker abruptly (but bloodlessly) sprout four additional arms. Then the shot pulls back to the house and we hear not one, but two BigNos.
  • Lemongrab gets one in the Adventure Time episode Too Young, after Princess Bubblegum fires him and calls him a butt.
  • Justice League Unlimited: At the end of the episode "For the Man Who Has Everything," Mongul's mind gets trapped in the Black Mercy plant, which lets him dream of his heart's desire. As Wonder Woman wonders what he's dreaming about, the camera zooms in on his smiling face — to the sounds of horrific screaming.
    • Another one from JLU was when Lex Luthor tried to resurrect Brainiac. He did this by hooking Tala up to a machine that sucked the life out of her, which given the timbre and volume of her scream, was exceedingly painful. Bruce Timm has stated in several interviews that Tala's voice actress Juliet Landau literally scared him with her performance.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: In "The Magic Tree of Nowhere", Courage climbs into a hornets' nest. The camera pans left, showing a picturesque sunset and a remarkable specimen of butterfly flying past, as the sounds of chirping birds and a loud, agony-filled scream are heard.
  • Happened a couple of times in TMNT, usually to Baxter Stockman or Hun, after they failed the Shredder again.
  • Invader Zim pulls this a few times, such as when Zim decides to test which one of the schoolchildren is most suited to be his friend. To do so, he measures their absorbency, electrical conductivity, and then holds up a beaver and a toy taxi while smirking ominously. Cue the camera shifting over to the clock and the horrified screaming.
  • Played for Laughs on Jimmy Two-Shoes, where Beezy and Heloise have one thanks to an Accidental Kiss.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: Scarecrow attacks a local sheriff and deputy. After the entity grabs both of them, the scene cuts to their patrol car, and all you hear is the Scarecrow laughing and the poor bastards screaming. They're never seen again onscreen, and Goose states they were "found" on the side of the highway the next morning.
  • Rugrats: "That's okay, Uncle Stu. I'm not hungry anymore."
  • Played for Laughs in Lilo and Stitch. Pleakly gets attacked by a giant swarm of mosquitoes. When he finally figures out what is going on, the camera cuts away just in time to hear a yell loud enough to be heard across the island. When shown again, everything except his eyeball is covered in bandages.
  • The Powerpuff Girls The girls and Bellum turn the tables on Sedusa. We get a shot of Sedusa begging for forgiveness as Bellum brandishes the scissors. Then we get a silhouette of them all, and the shot pulls away to the night sky, with Sedusa's screaming ringing out.
  • Subverted in Transformers Prime, when Starscream offs the last of his clones. There is a scream, but since Starscream feels the pain of his clones, it's almost immediately followed by him complaining "that hurt!"