Blood Sport

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Skates beat Motorcycle every time.

In the not too distant future, wars will no longer exist. But there will be Rollerball.
Tagline for Rollerball (1975).

In The Future, life is cheap. No better way to show that than with some good old-fashioned violent spectator sports, where fatalities are a very real possibility every single game, if not the major selling point. Essentially, a Blood Sport is a Deadly Game version of a modern spectator sport.

Of course, this trope is not limited to the future; gladiator-style entertainments often pop up in the Backstory of a Barbarian Hero, for instance. This is historical Truth in Television, of course; formalized bloodsports have been around since at least the ancient Greek Olympic Games, and informal ones most likely go further back than that

Exactly how the sport is dangerous varies. It could be as simple as something extremely risky, such as racing at supersonic speeds, a more mundane sport with the added bonus that the players are allowed/encouraged to physically attack each other, or flat out gladiatorial matches of some kind where the entire goal is for one side to kill or seriously maim the other. Apparently, mankind forgot the whole thing about the sanctity of life somewhere in the past nineteen minutes.

Usually, the deaths will be of the many young rookie players, but sometimes, a veteran slips up, or a longtime feud will come to a sudden, violent end. Frequently, the players are Condemned Contestants and their violent deaths are part of the attraction.

These sports may form the central part of the story, but in many cases, they're just shown or described as a way of letting the audience know just how messed-up this world has become.

A slightly more optimistic variation is where the Blood Sport has come around as an alternative to actual wars. In many cases, it will often be actual fighting, only more ritualized. Of course, if you thought sports was Serious Business before...

Also common in many martial arts stories, with pit fighting and Kumite-style tournaments where people fight to the death.

See also Vehicular Combat for a type commonly found in videogames. I Know Madden Kombat is the inversion of this trope, kinda sorta; sports skills used as combat arts off the field.

Not to be confused with Bloodsport, the Jean-Claude van Damme film, though the eponymous tournament definitely is one.

See also Snuff Film. Beastly Bloodsports is a subtrope involving animals.

Examples of Blood Sport include:

Anime and Manga

  • Motorball from Battle Angel Alita and spinoff Ashen Victor may not be intentionally lethal to participants, but some of the players certainly make it so. Also, a prime example of controlling the underclass by giving them a Blood Sport to keep them occupied.
    • The Scrapyard also has gladiatorial combat between giant cyborgs for entertaining the masses.
  • The Gundam Fight from Mobile Fighter G Gundam is described in-show as "A war based on the principles of sportsmanship", with every country in the world being represented by a Motion Capture Mecha piloted by a trained fighter. Although the battles are (usually) bloodless, the Mobile Trace system that runs the Humongous Mecha feeds back any damage incurred on them back to the pilot as physical pain. Thus, for example, if your machine has its arm torn off, you will feel as though your own arm just got torn off. The fact that many such injuries are simply shrugged off as an annoyance is one of the many reasons why just about everybody in the show is a major Badass.
  • Space Adventure Cobra has a sort of "no-holds-barred" version of Base-ball called "Rug-ball" where the idea is to reach each base in one piece... Naturally, there are a few deaths involved, and naturally , Cobra proves himself to be a spectacular player.
  • One episode of Kino's Journey features a pair of cities whose constant warfare has been replaced by regular pogroms of the local villages. The cities compete to see who gets the most kills.
    • Compare Clive Barker's "In the Hills, the Cities."
    • And then there was the city where people constantly fought each other in arena for status, and any travellers who entered were automatically forced to participate. The winner would become a first class citizen, and could also make a new law for the city. Kino probably ended up making the place even more bloody than it already was, but also ensured peace in the long term.
  • Similarly, the Zoid Battles featured in Zoids New Century Zero and Fuzors are Humongous Mecha cockfights. Somewhat subverted in that there are multiple rules and restrictions in place to prevent death, though serious injury is a very viable possibility...
  • The anime Starship Girl Youko Yamamoto centers around a game that replaced war in which teams of small, agile spacecraft dogfight each other. Fortunately, highly advanced teleportation technology means that the pilots rarely die.
  • There are two crash race mini arcs in Future GPX Cyber Formula.
  • Bakusou Kyoudai Let's & Go!! provides a A Lighter and Softer version as they're toying with toys rather than real people. The show starts up with a typical mini 4WD racing competitions, but later, there's a Big Bad and his team who introduce battle parts to be used in racing. Kids are encouraged to make their toys mini weapons to crash and destroy oppornent's cars. Since the plot has more than one of the heroes' machine trashed by these rules, and since they have a believe that their mini 4WDs have souls. They take it a Serious Business.
  • The Air Treks of Air Gear initially began as a worldwide fad that was supposed to be inline skating taken Up to Eleven. It turned into the Blood Sport it is today right around the time people discovered you could use the skates to make Razor Wind, Thorn Whips, Electrical Spider Webs, Sound Barriers, Shockwave Stomps, Time Manipulation, and Frickin' Laser Beams.
  • While killing is explicitly forbidden in Dragon Ball's World Martial Arts Tournament, considering it's a full-contact fight between serious fighters who often have superhuman powers it's not surprising that severe injury does sometimes occur. It's somewhat telling that there even needs to be an explicit rule about not killing your opponent.
  • Deadman Wonderland is a prison where the prisoners are forced to do insanely dangerous "events" like an obstacle race where you can be cut to ribbons, fall to your death or just fall into a pit of spikes. To make matters worse, the audiences watch and believe it is all "special effects". And then there's the Carnival of Corpses; where prisoners with Branches of Sin powers fight each other and sometimes are cheered to kill their defeated opponents. Oh, and the loser (if they live) gets a randomly selected body part (ranging from hair to eyes to entire organs or limbs]]) removed while they're awake. If you don't participate and are on "Death Row", then you are killed by poison after 72 hours and can only buy antidote to keep living for another 72 hours with Cast Points; earned by surviving and winning the Blood Sport games.

Comic Books

  • Enki Bilal's comics feature chessboxing (boxing first, then chess) and a version of ice hockey where the points are counted by goals, wounded and dead.
  • Spinball, from the notorious Action comic. Played only by Condemned Contestants. Rollerball on ice with giant pinball pins as targets. Really.
  • Supersurf from 2000 AD's Judge Dredd. An (initially) illegal Sky Surfing race through densely-populated streets, weaving between high-speed traffic. Later races included moving obstacles, snipers or dangerously narrow checkpoints.
    • Also used in a ritualized "war" between Megacity One and the Sovs, in which Judges from each side fight to the death in a televised contest.
  • Another 2000 AD example would be Aeroball from Harlem Heroes, which is described as a cross between football, basketball, boxing and Kung Fu. With jetpacks.
  • In the 1980s, DC released The Outcasts, a Five-Man Band mini-series set in a Northeastern megalopolis of tomorrow. Two heroes of this were Slaughterbowl veterans.

Fan Fic


  • Gladiator, and any other film featuring Gladiator Games.
  • The B-Movie Death Race 2000 revolves around a cross-country race where contestants scored points for mowing down pedestrians.
  • Its remake, Death Race, deals with a closed-circuit race on an island prison, where the competitors are death row inmates racing for their freedom. Death Race 2, a prequel, shows how it began as a cage fight and how they brought cars into the formula to increase ratings.
  • The Condemned is basically The Most Dangerous Game meets Battle Royale with cameras, or Death Race (the recent one) sans racing.
  • Rollerball from the William Harrison short story The Rollerball Murders and its two film adaptations (the 1975, pictured above) version won awards, and is a cult classic. The remake? Not so much.
  • In Future Sport, the titular game is the world's most popular sport after the NBA was destroyed by scandal (Take That, soccer fans!), and was originally used as a replacement for gang wars. It is, needless to say, extremely violent and very Serious Business, with the fate of Hawaii being decided by a game of it.
  • Escape from New York: Snake Plissken vs a huge guy. First they fight with baseball bats, then with baseball bats with huge nails.
  • The Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Bloodsport. You know, "Kumite...kumite...kumite!"
  • The titular Thunderdome in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
  • Danny the Dog (a.k.a. Unleashed) features an underground pit-fighting circuit involving barbed wire on the walls, axes, spears, and sledgehammers.
  • "Rehabilitation" in Idiocracy is a judicial sentence as well as a televised event. The convict faces armed "corrections" personnel in a gladiator-style match featuring monster trucks, explosions and plenty of phallic imagery.
  • The Blood of Heroes is about a post-apocalyptic world where the heroes make a living playing a game that involves hitting each other with chains and huge clubs while one person is trying to score a touchdown with a dog's skull.
  • The film version of The Running Man involves this, set up by a Corrupt Corporate Executive to deal with condemned criminals. If the contestants are really "criminals" is another story.
  • In Gamer, a technology that allows people to control others remotely is, among other things, used to play live-action death match games by controlling condemned criminals.
  • Used a couple of times in the Star Wars films: the podrace in The Phantom Menace and the gladiator-style arena execution in Attack of the Clones.
  • The 1989 movie Arena is about people fighting for mass entertainment. IN SPACE!!
  • The Game Grid in the Tron films. Errant Programs are sent there to fight until brutally de-rezzed for entertainment. In the first film, video games played in the analog world were really life-and-death combat. This Trope was averted in Betrayal with the Games being non-lethal sports under Flynn's administration, but as soon as Flynn's back was turned, Clu re-instated the deadly aspect.
  • In the 1982 version of Conan the Barbarian, Conan is forced to fight as a gladiator for his owner's amusement and enrichment. Needless to say, he gets really good at it.
  • Boxing in Real Steel. Since robots have replaced humans on the ring, there's nothing to stop the competitors from obliterating their opponents.
  • In Snatch, unlicensed, bareknuckle boxing matches and dogfighting seem to be Brick Top's two primary sources of income.
  • So Bad It's Good Public Information Film The Finishing Line features various athletic events (race across the tracks, throwing rocks at trains and chicken) with children playing on railroad tracks, where several of them die horribly (supposedly, several kids get run over and are only covered in bad fake blood) as the events non-nonchalantly continue without them. Most bizarrely, the framing device for all this that the events are all in the imagination of some kid thinking how cool such a sporting event would be.


"The good news is, you made the Orcball team! The bad news the ball."
Sgt.Major Guzrak, Grunts!
    • Since there's no rules, the halfling team decides this means they can play Orcball mounted on horses with polo mallets. The orcs decide that means they can use mounts too. Harley-Davidsons, specifically.
  • Stephen King's The Running Man. In this version, TV is free and is dominated by bloody gameshows where desperate contestants agree to risk life and limb for the chance at cash prizes. The most popular show, "Running Man" offers the biggest reward, but is almost certain suicide. The contestant is set loose into society, and viewers are asked to keep a watch out for him and provide tips for the show's bounty hunters.
  • Another Stephen King as Richard Bachman: The Long Walk. 100 teenage males are required to walk at no less than four miles per hour, with no breaks. Drop below 4 miles an hour and you draw a warning. Walk for an hour without going below the limit and you lose a warning from your record. You can have up to 3 warnings and continue. Draw a fourth warning, and the army grunts who've been tailing the Walkers the entire time shoot you in the head. Last person left alive wins. The Walk follows the same route every year (the end point varies, naturally), and crowds gather to watch when it passes through their area. News updates when Walkers are eliminated or reach certain significant points on the route are broadcast nationwide, too—characters mention as a matter of course that the Walk is the national pastime.
  • Robert Sheckley's Victim Prime and The Tenth Victim are both set in a world where war has been replaced by "The Hunt". Taking place on a Caribbean island, The Hunt is quite simple: pay your entry fee, then face ten hunts against the same opponent, five as the Hunter and five as the Victim. The Victim is not only allowed, but expected to try to kill the Hunter. Bonus points are awarded for style and ingenuity, points are deducted for unnecessary collateral damage and killing non-victims. The very few who survive all ten hunts are treated as huge celebrities.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, Emperor Jagang brings to the world the game of Ja'La, which is like football without pads and no penalties for unnecessary roughness...or unnecessary murder.
  • The people of Adumar seem to love this trope. They are pilot-crazy and refuse simulators and practice weapons as 'dishonorable', to the point where they were forced to make rules about who could fly against whom to keep the population from plummeting. Even so, those who aren't pilots get into blastsword duels. Even if the loser isn't killed in defeat, the winner can turn to someone to signal palm-up or palm-down whether the loser will live or die, and to turn to someone for the signal is a sign that the winner is sweet on someone. Turns out that it's really only one prominent nation that is so obsessed, the middle and lower classes are not nearly as fond of it, and people can be convinced of their error.
  • While not a focus, passing mention is given to Brockian Ultra-Cricket in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's been noted that rules disagreements end up at times starting wars. Which, all things considered, are considered more healthy.
  • The "ritual war game" variety is featured in Ecotopia, where it's used as an outlet for people's aggression and warlike instincts.
  • Blood sports are (naturally) one of the entertainments on offer in China Mieville's Bas-Lag novels, with one of the protagonists in Perdido Street Station being a veteran of the city of New Crobuzon's not-exactly-legal underground arena circuit.
    • And in a very literal example in The Scar, the scabmettler's ritual dueling system.
  • In Dune by Frank Herbert there are at least two blood sports. Notably, these are sponsored by both in the antagonist and protagonist Houses. One is seen in detail: the Harkonnens have classical gladiatorial matches (with the additions of personal shields (read: force fields)) which the na-baron Feyd-Rautha participates in. Frequently. The second is bull fighting. The Atreides apparently took part in this, though only off camera. They may have stopped in recent years leading up to the book because a bull killed the Old Duke, Duke Leto's father. In the ring. He was fighting it at the time. Actually, at the time he was being gored by it, but you get the point.
  • These show up in the Riftwar cycle, where slaves and prisoners of war are made to fight for entertainment in Kelewan.
  • This is common in the Time Scout series. Ancient Rome is a tourist destination. So is Ancient Mongolia. And Late Modern Denver, and Medieval Japan. A lot of these places have dangerous games. Like boxing. And ritual sacrifice, game style.
  • Although not technically a combat game, the Scottish boulder-catching sport of Creaothceann from Quidditch Through the Ages was eventually banned, due to its extremely high player mortality rate.
  • The Year of the Flood, parallel novel to Oryx and Crake, has Painball, a highly violent version of paintball played by convicts and televised.
  • Killerbowl, by Gary K. Wolf, is centered around "street football", a version of American football which is played in a 24-square-block area of the host city. The players are armed with knives, bolo clubs, and spears, and every team has one "hidden safety", who has a rifle with one bullet. Oh, and a single match takes a whole day to complete.
  • The Hunger Games in which kids are selected to compete, taken to the city, dolled up for sponsers, trained and set loose in an arena to kill each other. Made worse by the fact the people controlling it can make anything happen from letting loose mutants, to sending out contract killers to creating natural disasters.

Live Action TV

  • The Zulu-style cricket match in Monty Python's Flying Circus is probably a form of this, as most of the players wind up speared by assegais.
  • Played for laughs in The Goodies episode "2001 and a Bit", with 'rollerball' and its successor 'rolleregg' (which combines rollerball with an egg-and-spoon race). Finally they attempt to combine the ultraviolence of rollerball with cricket.
  • In the short-lived Max Headroom series, this trope is subverted. An evil TV executive was hyping a new sport involving melee weapons and teenage skateboarders, and did all kinds of nasty things to ensure there'd be spectacular violence ... but when players started dropping on camera, the studio audience booed and the ratings plummeted. The public apparently was NOT eager for that kind of gratuitous gore (yet).
  • Used in The Outer Limits episode "Judgement Day."
  • The Babylon 5 episode "TKO" introduces the intergalactic sport of "moo-tai," which sounds suspiciously like "muay Thai" but is more a fantasy counterpart to karate. Combatants wear a gi with a colored belt, practice in dojos, and ritually bow to each other. The ancient grand master who presides over the fights is basically a kung fu movie stock character wearing an alien mask.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Bread and Circuses," the Power Trio ends up in Rome crossed with the 1960s, where traditional-style gladiator battles are televised sport events.
  • In Deep Space Nine episode "By Infernos Light" Worf is held captive by the Dominion and forced to fight a series of Jem'hader to the death as a Jem'hader training exercise.
  • Angel ends up fighting in an arena in the first season of his show.

Tabletop Games

  • BattleTech's Clans are the latter version of this trope - rules of warfare and codes of honour shared among the clans are carefully designed to minimize interplanetary collateral damage, discourage brawling, and avoid hard feelings - at least the dirty personal conflicts-kind.
    • See also the planet of Solaris VII, which is known across the galaxy for commercial mech-fights.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons setting X-Crawl takes the traditional D&D dungeon crawl, transplants it into an Alternate Universe based on the real world, and turns it into an extreme sport, complete with sponsorships and television coverage.
    • In the Mystara setting, "court ball" is a blood sport favored by several Aztec-based cultures. In the Hollow World, athletic Blacklore elves engage in dangerous aerial duels on hoverboards, attacking one another with flame-cutters. (Not really a sport, they're just bored out of their minds.)
  • The wargame/Tabletop RPG hybrid Car Wars, from Steve Jackson Games: not only is the favorite sport "autoduelling" (Vehicular Combat with armed stock cars), but its primary competitor is "combat football".
  • Battle Cars is another game about dueling cars.
  • The universe of Shadowrun has both "Urban Brawl" (essentially paintball or airsoft sans paint and soft) and "Combat Biker" (motorcycle polo with guns). American football is also implied to be a good deal bloodier, as players are all cyber-enhanced for increased performance.
    • In Germany there's even combat football (or soccer, if you like). Jamming an opposing player's head into a camera is a great way of neutralizing obstacles on your way to the goal.
    • And then there's Desert Wars, where the various megacorps field armies and have a war. In a desert. For sport.
      • More like for advertising. Oh, and to field-test their latest military hardware, same as Real Life auto races test new vehicle technology.
    • Even bloodier sports are practiced in Aztlan, including modern-day Aztec Court Ball matches and deadly last-man-standing game shows like Suerte y Muerte.
  • Aside from the good old-fashioned Gladiator arenas found in many places, the Rifts setting includes a whole list of "Juicer" sports, played mostly by juicers (drug-induced supermen), and by those few who can keep up. This includes Deadball (a form of Handball where the ball in question randomly extrudes spikes), the Murderthon (was once won by a Mighty Glacier juicer who flattened everyone else as they passed), and Juicer Football. Juicer characters can actually take "deadball" as a weapon skill, and buy exploding deadballs for weapons.
  • Games Workshop's Blood Bowl is a Warhammer Fantasy Battle-themed version of American football and rugby reimagined as a bloodsport that has replaced warfare in its alternate universe. Orcs, skaven and even undead field teams and are expected to try and maim their opponents to get ahead. Even sneaking a chainsaw onto the field isn't grounds for stopping the game.
  • A theme deck from Magic The Gathering's Ravnica block was called Rakdos Bloodsports.

Video Games

  • The computer game inspired by the movie Death Race 2000, Carmageddon, was even more so - and duly immediately ran afoul of Moral Guardians.
    • In some countries they got around censors by making the pedestrians into zombies, but in the third game specifically titled Carmageddon TDR 2000, they headed it off by making zombie peds in the first place. Though cars get destroyed, no one is seen to die, and the way your own character survives auto-destruction implies your rivals may not be killed either, so it's no longer a Blood Sport.
  • Speaking of cockfighting accusations, there's Pokémon, which is (somewhat paradoxially) Lighter and Softer, but with far more powerful animals in question. Don't bother bringing a chicken unless it can kick though a brick wall.
    • The aforementioned chicken can jump buildings and control fire. It is considered so-so at best, unless it can limber up as it fights. Then it's just as awesome as advertised.
    • The Pokemon canon does not portray Pokemon battling as especially risky; while by any human standards they would seem highly dangerous, the worst that happens is that they "faint", they can always be brought back to full health, and the subject of Pokemon death is in the anime usually never associated directly with battling, or at most only with trying to battle rampaging legendary creatures. A lot of Pokemon Fan Fiction, on the other hand, loves to take a somewhat more cynical approach to the battling aspect.
  • Another of the tamer uses of this trope, being from Nintendo: F-Zero, a supersonic racing game where one false move can send you hurtling off a track suspended several kilometers above the ground. It looks like the real life Formula 1... however, the Formula 1 has many safety features in its regulations - such as chicanes in the tracks, tyre walls at every corner, and engine size limits, all of them aimed at keeping active (driver skills) and passive (crumple zones) safety caught up with the vehicles' speeds - while the F-Zero is technically anything goes.
    • F-Zero X and onwards makes mentions to various safety features added after a Great Accident. It is unclear what these are, and strangely, at the same time, the player now gets rewarded for killing his foes (with extra continues) as opposed to merely having less competition.
      • It's implied that fallen vehicles are recovered in mid-air, and there's probably some form of beaming safeguard to remove the driver from a burning vehicle. All done by a trio of Chao in a small ufo.
    • Wipeout adds weapons, and the level of lethality depends on how much of a Crapsack World the installment is. Most recent titles are considered to have emergency teleportation, and Fusion had some sort of safety monocoque containing the pilot that would survive when the rest of the ship blew up. On the other hand, in Wipeout 64 pilot deaths were considered to draw more viewers.
  • The Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC game Skate Ball was one-third handball, one-third roller-hockey, and one-third barroom brawl, played on a field full of deadly traps. On ice.
  • The Unreal Tournament series features full-on gladiatorial combat with BFGs.
    • Well, until Unreal Tournament III, whose central conceit is that the Respawner technology used in these tournaments has been back-adapted to conventional warfare... with limitations and operation that are inexplicably similar to the contests of more traditional Unreal Tournament games. It doesn't make sense, but it's an interesting idea and is an excuse to include a plotline not revolving around the tournaments, so it works anyway.
  • On the far end of the spectrum, however, we have Mutant League Football. Players included trolls, skeletons, aliens, and robots, fields were littered with landmines, pits, and other booby traps, each team had a number of "audibles" representing tricks and gadgets that could be used once per half (like giving a player a Jet Pack, hand grenades, or lethal flatulence, or rigging the ball to explode and then fumbling it), players would occasionally be killed from taking too much abuse on the field, and you could occasionally bribe the ref to call bogus penalties on your opponent for things like "whining" or "nose-picking". Of course, your opponent could then kill the ref and only take a five-yard penalty. There was also Mutant League Hockey, which was pretty much the same thing with a different sport.
  • In Monday Night Combat, the entire game is one big blood sport in which all the human players are clones. You get extra points for certain types of kills, from a sniper rifle headshot to attaching an airstrike beacon to the opponent's head.
  • Saints Row the Third features Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, a game show where players fight their way through booby-trapped mazes and fursuited enemies for cash and prizes.
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy XI, where the former blood sports of Ballista and Brenner were banned years ago due to "accidents", then reintroduced softened into completely nonlethal combat in modern times. It's still got 100% of the violence, you just can't actually die.
  • Midway's classic video game Smash TV. Blow away enough mindless, bloodthirsty drones (and there are hundreds of those - per level), and you could win a new car and enough 20-inch TV sets to fill an entire wall of your house. This editor is convinced that this and The Running Man were direct inspirations for X-Crawl.
  • Speedball, that Amiga classic, and it's sequel Speedball II: Brutal Deluxe - american football + rugby meets real tennis + pinball. The result? A game where you score as many points for goals as you do for incapacitating the opposition.
  • The old NES game Base Wars had robots playing a violent version of baseball - a bloodless Blood Sport. Whenever a tag out occurred, the tagee got the chance to escape it by beating the mechanical stuffing out of the tagger. Deal enough damage to a player and he explodes; take out enough players and the opposing team forfeits due to lack of players.
  • Bet On Soldier: Blood Sport. B.O.S. is the name of the show, in which contestants and viewers bet on the outcome of one-on-one mercenary battles. Which also decide the tide of wars. In game, these function as boss battles.
  • The Mortal Kombat games, for the most part, focus on a grand martial arts tournament whose combatants fight to the death in order to ensure the survival of their home realm and their souls.
  • The Elder Scrolls series features The Arena, where fights to the death happen all day long and the player can either bet on them or become a participant. Of course, the empire draws heavily from Rome so...
    • Given that these fights go on every single day for as long as the sun is up, and that every fight is a fight to the death, one has to wonder where they keep finding competitors.
    • Inverted in Oblivion: The Shivering Isles, where notes found in a ruined Arena show that slaves were abducted to engage in sex for the spectators. The captives instead assumed they were being prepared to fight to the death, and instead murdered each other on the arena floor, to the disappointment of their captors.
    • Skyrim actually doesn't have any kind of violent arena combat in the final game, but significant unused (though unfinished) content for an arena in Windhelm exists in the game's code. One quest was going to have you get yourself caught and thrown in to kill an assassination target.
  • A bloodless Blood Sport, strange as it sounds: the primary export of the planet Solaris VII from Mechwarrior seems to be Mech-on-Mech arena fights. All the battles are live-fire; ejection seats are mandatory equipment for obvious reasons. In MW 4: Mercenaries, you can choose to become a Solaris pilot, meeting - and fighting - plenty of fellow contenders along the way.
  • MadWorld centers around a gory deathmatch game show where the goal is to kill each other senseless to the last man standing. And boy howdy, it certainly puts the "blood" in this trope.
  • In the Dreamcast game Headhunter we learn that criminals imprisoned in the undersea-dome (so you could say it's sort of a waterdome) get to fight each other to the death which then gets broadcast live on TV, the winner gets a shorter sentence and the loser gets to generously donate their organs. Maybe they just didn't like Wade but some criminals got much better weapons than others.
  • Whacked was called a gameshow, but there weren't any questions. It was a hyperviolent bloodsport where you used egg guns, pitchforks, axes, and cacti among other things to slaughter your opponents. The contestants consist of manifestations of the seven deadly sins and the host, a demon in disguise.
  • No-one remembers Deathrow for the original xbox? A sports game which is a mix of frisbee, basketball and a gladitorial arena. Two teams of four play, one team wins when they knock the entire other team out, or they've scored more goals when time runs out. Most players go for the fighting option.
  • Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball. Mmmyep.
  • Quake III Arena is basically an interdimensional game of "Kill everything with guns". Luckily the Vadrigar that own the arena make sure that it's impossible to stay dead.
  • The Club's premise is based on this trope. Convicts, adrenaline junkies and psychos fight for survival and people bet their money on whether they survive or not.
  • Combat Racing in Jak X.
  • Twisted Metal is a demolation derby game with armed cars.
  • Megarace is a gameshow of some sort involves racing with Jerk Jock racing gangs. What you do? blast them away with guns attached to your car, or take their postitions and put them into tension so that they can't keep it up go kaboom on their own.
  • Bloody cute as it is, Fat Princess features a few sport minigames such as soccer where people are literary killing each other on the field.
  • Dead Ball Zone for the PlayStation. Just get this weapon and put that damn ball in the net.
  • The Xbox game Toxic Grind, a game show meant to deal with outlaw offenders who break the "no extreme sports" law by putting them on a BMX, pumping them with a deadly toxin only counteracted by adrenaline and setting them loose on a death course (yes its as silly as it sounds).

Web Animation

  • Red vs. Blue's GrifBall, where the object is to score points... and kill Grif.


  • Last Res0rt is based almost wholly around this concept, featuring a number of sporting challenges within the Deadly Game Reality Show. That said, only one player's died so far...
  • The city of Templar, Arizona has a sport that is some kind of illegal street hockey called diesel. it is classified as a misdemeanor assault.
  • "Cutthroat combat croquet" from Strange Candy. A running gag is that the characters treat it no differently than any other rough varsity sport, even though every match seen - including a practice match - ends with at least one player (often an entire team) dead.
  • The Great Outdoor Fight from Achewood: three days, three thousand men, one victor.
  • Mentioned briefly in Schlock Mercenary, although medical technology seems to play a role here as a player is blown to smithrines but will be back for the game next week. Rugby on the other hand...
  • "FLARPing" in Homestuck, a roleplaying game on Alternia in which the goal is to lure your opponents into very real death traps, including "trials" that almost always ends in the execution of the "defendant" (and often the "prosecutor") and a "plank" over the mouth of a man-eating Giant Spider.
  • In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things Jared and his Gyarados Mr. Fish were kicked out of the Pokémon League because he assumed Pokemon battling was a Blood Sport and let Mr. Fish eat his opponents.
  • Order of the Stick has an arena for gladiatorial combat. Many contestants end up crushed and/or eaten by a T-rex.
  • The Perry Bible Fellowship presents: Extreme Crocball. Then there are Memorabilia...

Web Original

  • Associated Space has the planet of New Tau Ceti, where a religious cult believes that only humans can sin, so the members put on pelts and pretend to be sheep. Of course, they still sin from time to time, so who to blame? The Shepherd, of course. So passing travelers are abducted, given shepherd's crooks, told they are shepherds...and forced to fight a genetically-engineered super-wolf in an arena. If they fight well enough, they have defeated sin, and may depart in peace. If not, well, they are a blood sacrifice to atone for sin.

Western Animation

  • In Thundercats 2011 Thundera's Gladiator Games in their Thunderdome: A racing Chase Fight between two Cat competitors climbing, swinging, jumping and running up a giant tree to to ring a bell at its top, where violent kicking and punching in order to knock a competitor out of the tree are entirely acceptable methods of getting ahead.
  • Samurai Jack winds up in two of these during the show's run. A Thunderdome after being captured and forced to compete which he single-handily manages to shut down after the area's warriors prove no match for him. and an underground creature fight ring after being turned into a chicken and captured by a greedy Italian man.
  • Bionicle: The Legend Reborn, is very heavy with this. The glatorians fight in the various arenas to solve disputes instead of out and out war. But it ends up being more of an aversion, as matches are heavily regulated to avoid serious injury.

Real Life

  • The Other Wiki article on the term 'bloodsport' primarily focuses on human-instigated fights between animals, which is much closer to and occasionally even more extreme than fiction's idea of human bloodsport. Sports and pastimes that are lethal to humans tend to receive their own articles with different terms.
  • The gladiator fights in ancient Rome. However, the number of gladiators who were actually killed in such fights was much, much lower in reality than in fiction. Though the grand majority of gladiators did die in the ring eventually, they were expected to have fought over a dozen times beforehand, even if they lost every time. There could be months of recuperation periods between the matches, as well.
    • Of course there's a difference between Gladiators, who were well trained and expensive slaves who earn more if they live longer, and prisoners. Prisoners were given some form of weapon and then given to wild beasts to fight.
  • Though this example technically isn't a man-to-man fight, bullfighting is definitely a bloodsport. Granted, the fatality rate of the bulls is statistically much higher than that of the matadores (the full title is matador de los toros, or "bull-killer") but the threat of being gored by the horns is still there.
    • The bull always dies; even if the matador fails to kill it, the bull is led out of the ring and slaughtered. This is because a bull that was allowed to fight more than once would mangle every matador that faced it; fighting bulls learn quickly. There are some illegal bullfights where amateur, inexperienced, or hard-luck matadors fight bulls that, in violation of the law, were not killed after being in a bullfight. These tend to end bloodily for the matadors.
  • In the Ancient Greek martial art pankration, a fighter can die from being strangled or having his neck snapped. The only rules prohibited eye gouging and biting, and the implementation of those rules caused Sparta, in a sign of their immense badassness, to withdraw their team in protest. Subverted in that, while beating the other dude bloody was approved and applauded, killing your opponent was an instant forfeit, as it showed that they had more fighting spirit than you did, and were willing to continue fighting even unto death. The philosopher Plato was a two-time champion at pankration. Genius Bruiser indeed.
  • During its early years, Mixed Martial Arts was compared to "human cockfighting", and the sensationalistic word "bloodsport" is still commonly used in mainstream media to describe it. Old school boxing purists will stand beside their framed pictures of Muhammad Ali looming with fist cocked over an unconscious Sonny Liston and complain about how "brutal" the emerging sport is. Suffice it to say, modern MMA is no more dangerous or brutal than boxing, and arguably less so.
    • A major reason for this is that MMA fights often reduce to grappling, and fighters will tap out. That beats getting beating senseless. That said, submissions are going down every year as fighters learn how to break more and more holds.
  • Boxing. Yes, fights go 'only' to knockout. But repeated concussions are not a good thing: 20% of all professional boxers eventually develop "dementia pugilistica," and some boxers have even gotten seriously hurt or even killed in the ring. The American Medical Association calls for a ban on boxing.
  • In its early years, American Football (then primarily played at the collegiate level) was an incredibly violent sport. It was a regular occurrence for players to die as a result of injuries sustained on the field. Many of these deaths were the result of mass movement plays, a now-banned type of play in which the whole offensive team started running from 20 yards behind the starting line right before the whistle blew. A lot of skulls got caved in this way. It got to the point that the President of the United States threatened to push for it to be outlawed, leading to the creation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association (now known as the NCAA) in 1906 to regulate the game. The President in question who made that threat? Theodore Roosevelt. Yes, football used to be so violent, even the most Badass President in history thought it went too far.
  • This trope may explain some of the appeal of Australian Rules Football.
    • And, by extension, the International Rules series.
  • So-called "backyard wrestling" attempted to imitate the spectacle seen in televised Professional Wrestling matches. Oftentimes, the fights were done by people with a lack of proper training, without much in the way of rules, and with a wide variety of melee weapons. The injuries and deaths resulting from this caused a good deal of the controversy that surrounded wrestling in the late '90s.
  • The Mesoamerican Ballgame: can't forget the Aztecs' old favorite of court ball and the similar game played by the Mayans, both of which could get quite bloody even before the losing (or perhaps winning, nobody's quite sure) teams in championship matches were sacrificed.
  • Lacrosse and polo both evolved from games that were essentially war simulations, complete with hand-to-hand combat.
  • Arguably, ice hockey in the NHL had its moments of being this for most of its existence. The altering of play thanks to European import players' techniques, stricter rules after the 2004/5 Lockout and the more recent push it has been enduring from top brass to reach more markets than it probably should has turned the sport into only a shell of what it was for some fans. Others are completely in favor and some still on the fence, as the game has been "cleaned up", but is completely different from the game they knew all their lives.
    • Let us not forget, hockey is probably the only sport (barring actual combat sports) where straight-out fist fights can be allowed in the middle of a game. Where in (American) football you can be fined for doing your job too well, hockey allows one-on-one fights between players, only stopping them when one or both players fall to the ice (or if the ref feels like stopping it).
      • Along those lines, detractors often claim of hockey fans that they "don't go for the game, they go for the possibility of a fight."
  • From 6 Ancient Sports Too Awesome For the Modern World. Pankration and Aztec court ball are on that list.
  • American wrestling. Not the stuff on TV, but what it used to be. Wrestlers would grow their thumbnails out specifically for eye gouging. It was a brutal sport.
    • Come to think of it, Professional Wrestling tends to adopt this kind of look at times, although primarily arranged with some nod to the wrestlers' safety. Hard to sell tickets to see John Cena fight Triple H when Trips is in rehab and John's too concussed, you know.
  • Demolition Derby type races.
  • The Irish sport of Hurling seems like a setup for a blood sport: 15 men on a side, each one wielding a 3-foot-long iron-shod ash hurley (it needs to be iron-shod, otherwise you risk it splitting when you hit the ball), batting a small cork ball at each other at over 90 miles an hour. Face-protecting helmets only became mandatory in 2010. Yet it is fairly civilised.
  • Ultimate tazer ball.
  • Bull riding, a sport that requires trying to stay on a bull for eight seconds, then trying to not get trampled after falling. Injury and death rates are higher than any other modern sport. Helmets were adapted by some riders in the 2000's, but they could sometimes be worse if a hoof got hooked in one of the holes. A purpose-built helmet was finally designed in 2011.
  • Jousting is potentially deadlier than any of the above, and was responsible for the deaths of many, many nobles and the occasional unlucky king.
    • At that, jousting was a fairly tame version of that. The melee was just a cavalry fight for fun and sometimes it was not even kept inside a tourney field but would sprawl all over the country trampling everyone around. Imagine the SCA having a convention with sharp weapons, no forbidden blows, and no concern about bothering bystanders.