Head Desk

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This Trope is when a character expresses his overwhelming frustration by banging his head (often repeatedly) against something nearby. Desks and walls are the most prevalent targets, but other hard surfaces or objects—such as telephone poles, nearby appliances, or trees—are also acceptable.

Most often seen in visual comedies, as doing this in Real Life could prove very painful. On the other hand, it can appear in more serious works, either to lighten the mood of a moment or to punctuate the gravity of the situation.

Compare and contrast with Face Fault, Face Palm, and Wall Slump. Also contrast with the more serious Punch a Wall. An out-of-universe version is Wall Banger.

Examples of Head Desk include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • This is a stock gag in Dork Tower, where a sufficiently annoying situation will prompt any of the main characters to bang their head against the nearest wall or table.
  • Archie Comics: After ignoring a warning from his mom that it looks like rain and he might catch a cold if he goes out, he and Jughead both get soaked and head for Veronica's place. After going through a sauna and doing laps of a pool to try and avoid getting sick ("No germ would be stupid enough to stick around for that punishment") Archie gets home and...sneezes. "Banging your head against a wall is not an accepted cold medicine!"


Fanfiction[edit | hide]

  • In the Harry Potter fic Surprise! by FirePhoenix86, after a buxom St. Mungo's receptionist tried to get Harry to autograph her chest, he flooed back to Grimmauld Place and started banging his head on a table while muttering "I. Am. Going. To. Destroy. Witch. Weekly."
  • In the Harry Potter fic When in Doubt, Obliviate by Sarah1281, during an argument with Remus about why Wormtail had been made the Secret Keeper instead of him, Sirius started banging his head against the wall of his room in St. Mungo's, prompting Remus to remark "Oh, that will convince them that you don't have any brain damage..."
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Progress has Princess Luna doing this in one chapter. She makes a Badass Boast to a pair of monsters threatening the Cutie Mark Crusaders, only to be frustrated immensely when neither of them recognize her.

Both tyrannosaur and megaprimate were treated to the rare sight of a deity in wrath beating her head against the wall.

  • In the Harry Potter/Sailor Moon/Ranma ½ crossover The Girl Who Loved, one of the Sailor Scouts made a suggestive remark involving Harry and Sailor Pluto, and he tried to beat the resulting images out of his head with the aid of a nearby table, which broke partway through and had to be magically repaired.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Scott Pilgrim does this against a telephone pole in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, after Ramona breaks up with him. It looks seriously painful. He's also doing it in time with the music.
  • Buckaroo Banzai. Perfect Tommy lightly bumps his head against the prison bars while Buckaroo is talking to Penny Priddy in jail. The expression on his face and later dialogue indicates that he's doing it out of disbelief that Buckaroo is wasting his time with a woman who tried to kill him. Watch it here, starting at 3:20.
  • On The Road to El Dorado, Tulio is banging his head against a wall to try to figure out a way to escape from Cortez's ship. He appears to get an idea... but just resumes banging. Made funnier when Tulio appears to have a black eye and the wall had a dent in it.
  • Jim Carrey's character does this in Liar Liar.
  • Sylvester Stallone's character also does this in Oscar.
  • Stitch does this when he's in the pound, and actually knocks a brick out of place because of his power.
  • Miss Piggy does this to her office desk in The Muppets. "I can't believe I fell for Muppet Man!"
  • In Corpse Bride, Victor bangs his head on the bar counter.
  • Dramatic example: In the aftermath of Smith's death in Event Horizon, Miller does a subdued version of this against the nearest wall.
  • The Graduate has Ben Braddock doing an "I can't believe I'm doing this" variant against a hotel room wall just before he sleeps with Mrs. Robinson for the first time.
  • Before they meet Anya, Dimitri and Vlad are holding an audition for girls to play Anastasia. One prospect is a middle-aged woman, who says in a sultry voice, "Granmama! It's me, Ana-STASIA!" Their reaction is a combination Head Desk and Face Palm.
  • The Whole Nine Yards and sequel, with more violent head-on-wall banging, The Whole Ten Yards. Dramatic and played for laughs in one go.
  • Done a lot in the movie Cold Turkey as the townspeople go through the withdrawls from smoking, most notably a pre-All in The Family Jean Stapleton clonking her head against a tree.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • President Bartlet from The West Wing does this on the Resolute desk after being tormented for hours by the thrilling tales of an Old Soldier-esque retired diplomat while stuck in the Oval Office waiting on the phone during an international crisis.
  • The TV series of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil has a very drunken priest seemingly hitting his head on the table to clear it enough to string sentences together.
  • In an episode of The Wizard (film), Simon mentions "trying to punch a hole through the wall with [his] head" to a robot he built. This leads to the robot lasering a hole out of said wall a few inches from his head.
  • Sesame Street character Don Music, a frustrated composer, had a habit of slamming his forehead on the keys of his piano. Which is why you don't see him on Sesame Street anymore.
  • In the "Sectionals" episode of Glee, Artie does a full-body version of this in a wheelchair when the club realizes their set list's been stolen. Emma even mentions on the phone that it's been going on for a few minutes.
  • At one point in Ally McBeal, the main character makes her head meet desk a few times, saying "I have my health" every time.
  • Gordon Ramsay has only this reaction in an episode of Kitchen Nightmares when the cooks of Fiesta Sunrise manage to set flame to a plate of nachos.
    • And in Hells Kitchen when a chef kept messing up souffles told Gordon that he was going to try brushing sugar and cocoa powder around the rims of the ramekins to keep them from sticking.[1]
  • While Rimmer is explaining to Lister that the latter has accidentally signed himself (and, unbeknownest to Rimmer, the other main characters) into a suicide squad in Red Dwarf, partway through the explanation, Lister starts banging his head on a table.
  • This is Peggy Olson's reaction in season 4 of Mad Men when she finds out Pete Campbell's wife is pregnant.
  • Captain Blackadder's reaction to Baldrick's testimony during his court martial.
  • This scene from "The Stepford Peg" in Married With Children:

(There is a knock at the door.)
Al: Pumpkin, can you see who's at that door?
(Kelly stares at the door intently.)
Kelly: ...No. Maybe I need glasses.
Al: (headdesk)


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Done in one Warhammer 40,000 battle report — a chaos Space Marine leader wallbanged his metal forehead against the inner wall of a bunker, in response to his units' abysmal accuracy.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Charlie Brown does this in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, during the song "Little Known Facts" (when Lucy incorrectly explains "little known facts" to Linus, including that an elm grows into an oak and that sparrows grow into eagles that are eaten on Christmas and Thanksgiving). She does this rather than explain the truth to Linus.
    • Specifically it was against a tree, and Lucy's explanation for this was that he's loosening the bark so it can grow faster. Yeah.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Manfred von Karma does this in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney.
    • Gumshoe in game 3 pulls a wall bang (off screen) when Phoenix and Maya tell him that Maggey hates him for betraying her.
  • Played for Drama in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty by Otacon, who appears to take his step-sister's death well-ish but suddenly breaks into this before Snake tells him to get it together.
  • In Spellforce, to get your siege units to use their anti-building attacks against buildings, you have to set them next to the buildings without ordering them to attack—otherwise, they'll bang their heads against the walls (as they melee attack the buildings).
  • In the vein of his source material, Strong Bad sometimes does this if he has a bad hand during the course of Poker Night At the Inventory. Especially hilarious because he doesn't say a thing during it, he just has this look while he slams his head into his cards and chips.
  • Not really done to express annoyance, but the first Dead Space game has Isaac come across a guy randomly doing this in a part of the USG Ishimura. The guy is just standing in the hallway beating his head against a wall, with more blood coming out with every hit. Eventually, he hits his head against it hard enough that it kills him. And when his corpse is on the ground you can see that there was nothing left inside him, all of his intestines had apparently been ripped out.
    • I believe that was a reference to the Doom movie, where a religious character (Goat, I think his name is) smashes his head against a wall because he knows he's turning into one of the monsters running around. Especially considering that the character smashes his head against the wall in almost the exact same fashion as the character from the movie.


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • Arfenhouse Teh Movie Too has a random interscene with someone saying "BREAK TIME" repeatedly while bashing his head against a desk.
  • Strong Bad gets this every so often in the course of a sbemail. Most notable at the end of the sbemail virus.
    • In the "deleted scene" from the email "from work", he hits his keyboard so hard it knocks the caption off the screen. No, not his computer screen. The cartoon's screen.
    • In email "sisters", he facedesks onto his keyboard after accidentally deleting an e-mail from a girl, an action which somehow types "head hit keyboard" onto his screen.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Web Comics[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Danger Mouse did it at least once.
  • One episode of Sealab 2021 has Sparks performing this while Captain Murphy rambles on about a video game.
  • Veggie Tales had Archibald Asparagus do this in the Silly Songs with Larry segment The Biscuit of Zazzamarandabo.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron did this when he couldn't think of a script for a movie.
    • And in another episode, Jimmy and Cindy were forced to work together for a science project—find the sunken ship The Oozing Scab and its treasure. After going through heck to find it, they finally retrieve the treasure chest, supposedly full of valuables. It turns out to be full of saltwater taffy. Cue Head Desk.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
    • Rarity beats her head against a mannequin in "Suited For Success" after Rainbow Dash tells her that the Gala outfit she's making "needs to be about 20% cooler" without giving any actual details.
    • In "Show Stoppers", Scootaloo bangs her head against the piano when she has difficulty composing the Cutie Mark Crusaders' song for the talent show.
    • In "A Friend in Deed", Twilight Sparkle bangs her head against a tabletop when Pinkie Pie insists on trying to befriend Cranky Doodle Donkey, despite Twilight trying to convince Pinkie that maybe he just wants to be left alone.
  • When Bart is on a mission to get his soul back after selling it on The Simpsons, the Comic Book Guy tells him he sold it to someone else. He then tells Bart to stop banging his head on the display case as it contains a rare Mary Worth in which she has advised a friend to commit suicide.
  • In the South Park episode "Hooked on Monkey Fonics" Kyle falls in love with the Homeschooled Kids Rebecca, who is unfamiliar with the public school system. When he asks her to come to the dance, she says she might see him there. Kyle explains that he meant going to the dance with him, but Rebecca explains there is no need for that since her father will drive her there. Once she leaves the room, Kyle bangs his head against her chair.
    • Stan bangs his head on the desk in "Pinkeye" when he is stuck dressed as Raggedy Andy. He was supposed to pair with Wendy who would dress as Raggedy Ann but she ditched her costume after realizing how stupid she would look. She thought Stan would reach the same conclusion.
  • Gravedale High: In "Monster on Trial", Max Schneider does this when the judge declares him guilty in favor of old lady Fresno, who faked whiplash after Reggie accidentally bumps into her while taking Driver's Ed.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Ember Island Players". Aang slams his head on a balcony banister after being a little too forward with Katara about his feelings for her.
  • The Ren and Stimpy Show: In "Space Madness" Ren bangs his head on the table after seeing the Food Pills Stimpy presents.
  • In the Pinky and The Brain episode "Das Mouse", the Brain appoints Pinky to disguise the bad taste of hypnotic sapo in his pancake recipe. Later, when they are making the Titanic rise, Pinky keeps trying to ask the Brain about the "icky stuff that tastes bad" in the recipe, but the Brain keeps telling him, "Cut it out!" Finally, after the pancake jamboree is held...

Brain: Tell me, Pinky, your pancake batter -- how did you manage to hide the bitter taste of the hypnotic sapo?
Pinky: Well, like you said, I cut it out.
Brain: Cut what out?
Pinky: That hypnotic stuff tasted terrible, Brain. So, like you said, I cut it out.
(The Brain walks up to a test tube and repeatedly hits his head against it.)
Pinky: Ooh, Brain, that looks painful.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • According to historian Lewis H. Lapham, after the destruction of 15,000 Roman troops (and 10,000 camp followers) under their commander Publius Quinctilius Varus (and his subsequent suicide) at the Teutonberg Forest in 6 AD, Emperor Augustus, "...from time to time until the end of his life... was seen wandering through the rooms of the palace, beating his head against the wall and crying out... "Quinctillius Varus, give me back my legions."
  • Popular YouTube vloggers Hank and John Green (known collaboratively by their channel name of vlogbrothers) sometimes do this in their videos to express dismay at the idiocy of the average internet user (see various You Fail ____Forever tropes) or other frustrations. In one video John performed a *headdesk* to the extent that he wondered (possibly jokingly) if he'd given himself a concussion and pretended to have memory loss through the remainder of the video.
  • Some editors in This Wiki tend to use this at times as a reaction...and Pothole it to this very page.
  • Millions of workers when faced with idiotic management
  • Alexander Graham Bell did this when he was trying to create the telephone.
  • One of the special effects programmers can be seen doing this in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, when under serious deadline pressure at the end of the last film.
  • It wouldn't be that much of a stretch to assume everyone's done it at some point.
  1. For non-chefs, this is one of the first things you should do when making a souffle