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Extreme violence redirects here. For the computer game, see Extreme Violence.

Graphic violence is the depiction of especially vivid, brutal and realistic acts of violence in visual media such as literature, film, television, and video games. It may be real, simulated live action, or animated.

The "graphic" in graphic violence is a synonym for "explicit", referring to the clear and unabashed nature of the violence portrayed; this is what differentiates true graphic violence from lesser forms of violence in media productions, including "cartoon" violence and "fantasy" violence.


Graphic violence generally consists of any clear and uncensored depiction of various violent acts. Commonly included depictions include murder, assault with a deadly weapon, accidents which result in death or severe injury, suicide, and torture. In all cases, it is the explicitness of the violence and the injury inflicted which results in it being labelled "graphic". In fictional depictions, appropriately realistic plot elements are usually included to heighten the sense of realism (i.e. blood effects, prop weapons, CGI). In order to qualify for the "graphic" designation, the violence depicted must generally be of a particularly unmitigated and unshielded nature; an example would be a video of a man being shot, bleeding from the wound, and crumpling to the ground.

Graphic violence arouses strong emotions, ranging from titillation and excitement to utter revulsion and even terror, depending on the mindset of the viewer and the method in which it is presented. A certain degree of graphic violence has become de rigueur in adult "action" genre, and it is presented in an amount and manner carefully deliberated to excite the emotions of the target demographic without inducing disgust or revulsion. Even more extreme and grotesque acts of graphic violence (generally revolving around mutilation) are often used in the horror genre in order to inspire even stronger emotions of fear and shock (which the viewing demographic would presumably be seeking).

It is a highly controversial topic. Many believe that exposure to graphic violence leads to desensitization to committing acts of violence in person. It has led to censorship in extreme cases, and regulation in others. One notable case was the creation of the US Entertainment Software Rating Board in 1994. Many nations now require varying degrees of approval from television, movie, and software rating boards before a work can be released to the public.


In theatrical performances, films are rated using a motion picture rating system, in part based on the level of graphic violence. Television broadcasts are similarly rated using a television rating system. Examples of films featuring graphic violence include, A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, the Saw franchise, the Final Destination series, Hostel, Natural Born Killers, Full Metal Jacket, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, The Wild Bunch, Inglourious Basterds, and The Passion of the Christ.

News media

News media on television and online video may cover violent acts. The coverage may be preceded with a warning, stating that the footage may be disturbing to some viewers.

Sometimes graphic images are censored, by blurring or blocking a portion of the image, cutting the violent portions out of an image sequence or by removing certain portions of film footage from viewing. However, more and more throughout the years, it has been a ploy for media companies to attract more and more viewers by trivializing various events like the ones mentioned above for shock appeal.

Video games

Violent content has been a central part of video game controversy. Because violence in video games is interactive and not passive, critics such as Dave Grossman and Jack Thompson argue that violence in games hardens children to unethical acts, calling first-person shooter games "murder simulators", although no conclusive evidence has supported this belief.

An example is the display of "gibs" (short for giblets[1]), little bits or giant chunks of internal organs, flesh, and bone, when a character is killed.[2] This was prominently featured in and popularized by games such as Doom, Manhunt, Mortal Kombat and Quake II, and, more recently, Gears of War and Left 4 Dead 2. Unreal Tournament included an Instagib game mode wherein a single shot causes the recipient to explode into gibs. Recently, the use of gibs has declined due to the ability to portray more realistic deaths (see also: ragdoll physics).

See also


  1. Mahood, Andy, Modify - Issue 12: Half-Life 2 on Steroids (PC) GameSpy, Jan. 26, 2006, Retrieved on Feb 27 2008
  2. Reply to Letter to the Editor, IGN, Jul 28, 1999, Retrieved Feb 27 2008
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