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"Prolonged exposure to the Animus caused a 'Bleeding Effect' within Subject Sixteen's genetic structure. The result was a blending of genetic and real-time memory."
―Lucy Stillman's e-mail to Warren Vidic.[src]-[m]
AC2 Eagle Vision Code

Desmond's Eagle Vision, a symptom of the Bleeding Effect

The Bleeding Effect refers to a disorder wherein the genetic memories of one's ancestors begin to blend with the sufferer's own, real-time memories, often leading to difficulties in distinguishing between the two. In severe cases, this eventually resulted in mental breakdown. The most common source of the condition tended to be overexposure to the Animus virtual machine, which deliberately sought to view an ancestor's genetic memories in a controlled fashion.


Some phenomena such as past life regression and mental illnesses like dissociative identity disorder are thought to stem from a rare, naturally occurring Bleeding Effect, though these theories have not been confirmed nor fully discredited.[1]

Anastasia Nikolaevna

"I have strength now, Whether that was Shao Jun or something within me, it does not matter. I know exactly who I am."
―Anastasia Nikolaevna, 1918.[src]-[m]
ACCR RF (17)

Anastasia being imprinted with Shao Jun's genetic memories

In 1918, following the execution of her family by the Templars, Princess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia fled with her family's Precursor box and was soon found by the Assassin Nikolai Orelov, who carried a shard of the destroyed Imperial Sceptre, a Staff of Eden. The close proximity of the two Pieces of Eden created a sort of Bleeding Effect for Anastasia, imprinting her with the genetic memories and skills of Shao Jun, one of the box's previous wielders.[2]

Anastasia made great use of her newly-gained abilities while she and Nikolai fled from the Templars and Bolsheviks pursuing them. However, Shao Jun's personality would occasionally take over Anastasia's mind for a few moments, such as when she threatened to kill Nikolai for pushing her down.[3] By the time she left Russia under a false identity, Anastasia learned to control these episodes and was confident that she would be able to keep Shao Jun's personality in check.[4]

Daniel Cross

"Though the specific symptoms may vary from subject to subject, the end result is the same: they lose their minds."
―Lucy Stillman's e-mail to Warren Vidic, 2012.[src]-[m]
AC3 Daniel Cross Bleeding Effect

Daniel suffering from the Bleeding Effect

Subject 4 of the Animus Project, Daniel Cross, manifested the Bleeding Effect in the form of images of people and objects from the past, as well as unknown symbols. Additionally, he sporadically experienced the memories of his ancestors Nikolai and Innokenti Orelov.[5][6] Around 1998, it was believed that the Bleeding Effect occurred naturally in Daniel, without prior exposure to an Animus. However, it was later discovered that he had in fact been placed in an older version of the Animus around 1985.[5]

By taking new medication and having weekly appointments with Dr. Sung, Daniel began to cope with the Bleeding Effect,[7] although close proximity to a Piece of Eden could still cause a sudden relapse.[6][8]

Clay Kaczmarek

Abs Room

Clay's blood messages

In her analysis of Subject 16, Clay Kaczmarek, Lucy Stillman e-mailed her overseer Warren Vidic to describe Clay's reaction to the Animus in detail. After having remained in the Animus for days at a time, Clay gradually became unable to control the Bleeding Effect, and was apparently driven to insanity by the genetic memories he experienced outside the Animus.[9]

Clay showed difficulty in remembering who he was and what year it was, going so far as seeming unable to recall his own name. However, he thought clearly enough to keep the goal of revealing the Truth in mind, and to leave the messages and clues necessary to do so. He became increasingly obsessed to this end, leading him to write warnings to future subjects in his own blood, around the laboratory he was held in, which resulted in his apparent suicide.[10]

Desmond Miles

"What we're saying, Desmond, is if you're not careful, you may not need the Animus to visit with your ancestors. Which wouldn't be a bad thing assuming you could control it. Up until now, though, no one has."
―Shaun Hastings to Desmond, 2012.[src]-[m]
AC2 Bleeding Effect

Desmond experiencing the Bleeding Effect for the first time

Subject 17, Desmond Miles, gained the combat and freerunning abilities of his ancestors, as well as the ability to use Eagle Vision, through prolonged exposure to the Animus. This was followed by several hallucinations of his ancestors' memories outside the Animus; however, Desmond was told that as long as the visions lasted less than thirty seconds, he was not in any danger. To begin with, the visions started out phantom-like and indistinct, but became longer and more vivid, at one point causing Desmond to black out.[10]

Over time, Desmond's symptoms grew worse, and he despaired to Lucy Stillman that if he could not stop the slowly lengthening visions, it would not be much longer before he started "painting symbols on the walls," as Clay had. Additionally, Desmond began confusing his ancestors' memories with his own, notably when he told Lucy about "the last time [he had been] here" while they were exploring the tunnels beneath Monteriggioni, prompting Lucy to correct him that it had been Ezio Auditore who had experienced those events.[11]

Despite his concerns, the hallucinations proved quite useful, with Desmond being able to navigate through the tunnels under the Villa Auditore, the Colosseum, and the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli by following his visions of Ezio. Desmond even performed his first Leap of Faith at Monteriggioni by following another Ezio vision.[11]

Arrival 4

Desmond seeing Ezio in the Sanctuary, as a result of the Bleeding Effect

However, Rebecca Crane also once e-mailed Lucy that Desmond had started screaming in his sleep since they had arrived at the Sanctuary. This concern was expressed in turn by Lucy to Warren Vidic, who was using the name of William Miles. Vidic responded saying he sympathized with Desmond's well-being, but reminded her that they needed him in order to locate an Apple of Eden.[11]

Later, Desmond's condition worsened to the point where he fell into a coma, fragmenting his mind within the Animus. To revert the damage done to his psyche, Desmond finished the remaining memories from Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad and Ezio Auditore to create a Synch Nexus, and ultimately regained his own consciousness.[12]

Templar Order

"Once you enter the machines and the transfer is complete, you will have the skills necessary to crush the remnants of Assassin Order, ending this war once and for all."
―Warren Vidic to several Abstergo agents, 2012.[src]-[m]

Similarly to the Assassins' attempts to train Desmond more quickly through use of the Bleeding Effect, Abstergo Industries also began to instruct potential Templars in a similar manner, in a large-scale project known as the Animi Training Program. Using multiple Animi, the trainees were exposed to the memories of previous Templars and non-Assassins, in order to incorporate their skills.[11] However, this was not the case in all their projects. For Project Legacy, which was open to a wider variety of candidates, messages of the DDS would constantly monitor whether their participants were beginning to show signs of the Bleeding Effect. In one such poll, the participants were requested to report if they were having difficulty recalling their name, or the present year.[13]

Likewise, participants of Abstergo Entertainment's Sample 17 Project in 2013 were limited to a few hours inside the Animus each day, so as to limit the risk of any side effects, although this rule could be easily ignored if the researcher so wished. As much as six hours in the Animus at any one time could trigger the Bleeding Effect.[14]

Callum Lynch

"I'm crazy. I'm crazy for feeling so lonely..."
―Callum Lynch to several Abstergo agents, 2016.[src]
ACMovie Callum hallucinates

Callum experiencing a hallucination of Aguilar

During his imprisonment in the Abstergo Foundation Rehabilitation Center, overexposure to the Animus caused Callum Lynch to suffer from the Bleeding Effect. Not only did he relive past memories in his mind, but he even hallucinated that his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha was a phantom that was attacking him in his cell.[15]

This caused Lynch to attack the Abstergo security personnel. When they subdued him, he kept declaring himself insane to McGowen and began singing "Crazy" by Patsy Cline—the song which was playing on the radio when he'd discovered his mother's dead body as a child—to all the Abstergo agents as they dragged him to the Animus 4.3 in order to stabilize his condition.[15]

Owen Meyers and Grace Collins

When Owen Meyers and Grace Collins were captured by the Templar Isaiah, they felt a strong Bleeding Effect in each other's presence, allowing them to use the skills of their Assassin ancestors, Varius and Eliza, to incapacitate several Templar agents.[16]

Sean Molloy

Sean Molloy suffered strong episodes of the Bleeding Effect as a result of Isaiah placing him in the Animus for prolonged periods of time in a fruitless search for the faith prong of the Trident of Eden. When Isaiah left him alone, Sean experienced hallucinations of his ancestor Styrbjörn the Strong, who encouraged him to free himself. Following Isaiah's death and the destruction of the Trident of Eden, Sean made regular visits to Dr. Victoria Bibeau for counseling to manage the Bleeding Effect.[17]

Layla Hassan

In 2017, Layla Hassan was sent to Qattara Depression, Egypt, in order to track down an artifact on Abstergo's behalf. After finding a mummy, Layla used her own portable Animus to relive the memories of the Medjay Bayek of Siwa. After some time, she exited the Animus and experienced the Bleeding Effect, leading her to another mummy, that of Bayek's wife, Aya of Alexandria.[18]

However, Layla's refusal to check in with Abstergo led to the company deploying a Sigma Team to find her and her helper, Deanna Geary. While Deanna was assaulted in her hotel, Layla made use of the skills she had obtained through the Bleeding Effect to dispatch her attackers.[18]

ACOD Victoria knocked out by Staff

Layla attacking Victoria while under the Bleeding Effect's influence

In 2018, after reliving the memories of Kassandra's half-brother Alexios, Layla's emotional state became dissociative and sporadic. On another occasion after being suddenly pulled out of the Animus by her doctor Victoria Bibeau, Layla, still under the effects of Alexios' hysteria, killed Bibeau in a moment of madness.[19] By 2020, Layla was given a mood stabilizer by Shaun Hastings to help her keep the influence of both the Bleeding Effect and the Staff of Hermes Trismegistus under control.[20]

Kō Risa

"It starts with hallucinations. Seeing and hearing things that aren't there. Then, you get confused about who you are. You lose your sense of time. Basically, the division between you and your ancestor gets blurry. You forget which one you are and what century you're living in."
―Kiyoshi Takakura explaining the Bleeding Effect to Kō Risa and Mari, 2019.[src]-[m]

In 2019, while reliving the memories of her ancestor Shao Jun at the Abstergo clinic in Yokohama, Kō Risa began to experience the Bleeding Effect. Due to her strong connection with Shao Jun, Risa empathized with many of her ancestor's feelings, such as the strong guilt Shao Jun felt for indirectly causing the 1526 Macau fires, which made Risa cry.[21]

In time, Risa started experiencing hallucinations, such as mistaking a civilian on the street for a Ming dyansty soldier. This made the young woman worry for her mental health, especially after the Assassin Kiyoshi Takakura warned her of the dangerous side-effects of the Animus.[22] However, Risa's doctor, Kaori Kagami, was not concerned about her patient's well-being and only sought to use Shao Jun's memories to find the Precursor box. As such, she dismissed Risa's worries and insisted on long sessions in the Animus, which only aggravated Risa's condition.[23]

Eventually, when Risa decided to stand up to Kagami, the doctor took her hostage and forced her back into the Animus at gunpoint.[24] However, Risa, having gained Shao Jun's fighting abilities, was able to overpower Kagami and her guards and escaped the facility alongside cousin Mari and Kiyoshi.[25]

Basim Ibn Ishaq

"Now I can take from you anything I want... your memories, your skills, your secrets. They're all mine."
―Basim addressing Eivor Varinsdottir's remains, 2020.[src]-[m]

In 2020, after reliving the memories of Eivor Varinsdottir using Layla Hassan's Animus, Basim Ibn Ishaq experienced the Bleeding Effect, seeing an apparition of Eivor smiling and nodding at him, a gesture he returned.[20] Later, he experienced another vision, of Eivor and her past form of Odin discussing the Great Catastrophe and that which had caused it.[26]

Noa Kim

"Back there... I moved like I was in someone else's body."
―Noa reflecting on the skills he gained through the Bleeding Effect, 2023.[src]-[m]
ACFT - Noa and Edward

Noa "conversing" with a hallucination of Edward

Following his abduction by Abstergo, Noa Kim was forced to relive the memories of his ancestor Edward Kenway, spending extended periods of time in the Animus. As a result, he began to experience the Bleeding Effect, assimilating Edward's skills and abilities, but also some of his personality traits. He also experienced a number of hallucinations, including one where he mistook several Abstergo guards for ninja,[27] one where he was attacked by an apparition of Edward, and one where he saw Edward speaking to Zhang prior to his departure from Macau.[28]

In one of the more severe instances of hallucination, Noa saw Edward as if he was alive and speaking to him, though the Assassin clarified that he was nothing more than a fragment of a long-forgotten memory. During his "conversation" with Edward, Noa revealed that he admired the Assassin's freedom and hoped that by reliving his memories he would find his own place in the world, which Edward encouraged him to do.[29]

Identity substitution

Identity substitution is a rare symptom of Bleeding Effect in which the subject not only absorbs the physical abilities of the person he is reliving memories of through the Animus, but also his personality and his way of thinking.

In 2012, the Assassin Desmond Miles asked his team member Rebecca Crane if he would become the people whose memories he had been reliving in the Animus. Rebecca said it was possible, but unlikely.[10]

It was also the case of Layla Hassan, who, being connected to the Staff of Hermes Trismegistus, became involved with the memories of the violent warrior Alexios and let his psyche take hold of her, accidentally killing her friend Victoria Bibeau during an outburst and severely wounding the Templar Juhani Otso Berg.[19]

This symptom of the Bleeding Effect was of particular interest to rogue Assassin Nathalie Chapman, who used it in an attempt to overwrite the personalities of patients she had access to as the director of the Clinique des Rameaux with those of long-dead Assassins.[30]

Behind the scenes

When Desmond relived the memories of Ezio's pilgrimage to Masyaf, and Altaïr's return from exile to Masyaf, ghostly images from Altaïr's past could be perceived. Whether this was a side effect of Eagle Sense's ability to track where targets have been, or merely the Bleeding Effect causing the memories to overlap, is unconfirmed.

The Lost Archive downloadable content for Assassin's Creed: Revelations contained a mission titled "Bleeding Effect".