Rage Breaking Point

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Don't tell me to calm down. Calm was killing me."
—Stuart, Small Soldiers

Sometimes characters have every reason to be angry, but they try to hold it back for various reasons. Sometimes the reasons are selfish; sometimes they are because they know it would be wrong to get angry or that blowing their top would have bad consequences (such as losing their job or getting killed); and sometimes the reason is just for the sake of appearances.

Eventually there will be a last straw. It could range from a minor thing, to out-and-out hitting the character's Berserk Button. But now the character's Rage Breaking Point has been reached and a flood of anger comes pouring out like water from a burst dam. It usually involves Unstoppable Rage, but in some cases it can even be Tranquil Fury. Some stories might even have this trigger a Heroic Second Wind. Also, if the berserk button is hit, this character might even be twice as berserk as usual.

A Sub-Trope of You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry.

A Super-Trope to Rant-Inducing Slight (in that the trigger is very minor).

Compare Trying Not to Cry, Teach Him Anger, Break the Cutie, Not So Stoic, Beware the Nice Ones, Sudden Principled Stand (principle is handled similarly), and Moment of Weakness (which the Rage Breaking Point can provoke).

Contrast Hair-Trigger Temper, The Stoic.

Examples of Rage Breaking Point include:

Anime and Manga

  • Minoru Shiraishi from Lucky Star. His moment was even made the page image for Beware the Nice Ones.
  • When Naruto learned of the harm he caused by using the Kyuubi's power to the point where he can't even control himself, he restrains his anger to avoid transforming again. After what seems like a month or so, his beloved mentor Jiraiya is killed, his village is destroyed while he is away, and his teacher Kakashi has died from overuse of chakra. All have been caused by one guy, Pain. Naruto goes to defeat Pain with his new power, but is quickly brought down. Of all times, Hinata comes to confess her love for Naruto and defend him from Pain, but she is thrown around and then stabbed. Naruto, now an over-pressured boiler filled with rage, gives himself to the very power that harmed his comrades before...
  • Possibly the most heartbreaking example happens to Gohan in Dragon Ball Z. First off, he and all his friends (and family) are fighting against the super powerful Cell, and one after another, they all fall. Eventually, Android #16 decides to try and perform a Taking You with Me Attack that doesn't work, because the bomb inside him was removed by Dr. Briefs. Cell then completely destroys him, save for his still-alive head, which Mr Satan tosses to Gohan. #16 then proceeds to tell Gohan to unleash his rage, as it's for the greater good. Then Cell crushes his head. This is the final straw that pushes Gohan over the edge, going beyond his normal Super Saiyan form and into Super Saiyan 2. Let's just say things didn't go well for Cell.
    • Earlier Frieza killed Krillin on Namek and then threatened to do the same to Gohan, finally infuriating Goku enough to trigger his first Super Saiyan transformation.


  • In the movie Drive this pretty much describes the character of Driver. He is a quiet emotionless guy but after his Love Interest's husband comes home from prison, you start to see that he is holding back a lot of anger. As things start going to hell, he maintains his cool up until the elevator scene where he stomps on a mook's head so many times that it is nothing more than a bloody smear once he's finally done.
  • Star Wars: Luke Skywalker had already been through enough by the time the climactic battle in Return of the Jedi rolls around. But he knew that getting furious now would lead to The Dark Side. Vader and the Emperor taunt him, but he stays calm. But then Vader threatens to take the last family he has left. Luke lets out a Big "Never!" and wails on Vader, coming very close to killing him.
  • At the start of Thor, Thor pays a "visit" to the frost giants, and Loki manages to talk him out of violence. Until one of the frost giants resorts to name calling...
  • Small Soldiers: Tom punches out resident Jerkass Larry near the ends of the movie, providing the page quote.
  • In the 2009 Star Trek Kirk is advised to do this to Spock, by Spock's alternate timeline self, in order to make his other self realize that he had been emotionally compromised due to seeing both his mother and his homeworld die.


  • In the novel Bishop's Heir, after Morgan and Duncan fail to save Sidana's life when Llewell slashes her throat just after she exchanged wedding vows with Kelson, Morgan looks up and sees Llewell's triumphant expression, leaps to his feet, grabs Llewell by his tunic, yanks him downward and shouts, "On your knees before your king, Mearan excrement!" He wants to kill Llewell and says so. Cardiel has to grasp Morgan by the wrist and forbid him from acting.
  • In Small Favor, from The Dresden Files, Harry is tired, angry, scared (mostly for his friend who is being eyed intently by a Valkyrie) and being chased by fallen angels. When one of them shoots his friend with an AK-47, Harry flips out and blasts a massive hole in the shooters chest (the shooter being a 2000 years old, demon possessed and a heavy weight sorcerer to boot) with a fire blast that is described as so intense it was almost a solid object.

Harry: Fuego. Pyrofuego! BURN!

    • Earlier, in Grave Peril, Harry quickly discovers that he's been manipulated into a losing position: if he acts, it's bad. If he doesn't act, it's bad. In addition, he's found out that his lover has been cursed, his friends are in peril, and his lack of forethought and planning might spell doom for the Knights of the Cross. On top of all that, his discovery was planned for all of this to have maximum psychological impact. He responds thusly:

Harry: Fuego! Pyrofuego! Burn, you greasy bat-faced bastards! BURN!

  • The Worlds of Power novelization for Ninja Gaiden explains the "art of the fire wheel" as a weapon Ryu was taught to create through his anger. He unleashes it when struggling against a difficult enemy gets heaped on top of the other issues currently plaguing him—becoming a CIA lackey, failing to protect his father's old associate, and having no leads on his father's whereabouts.

Video Games

  • Bartz, the protagonist of Final Fantasy V, is a pretty even-tempered guy throughout the game. He supports his friends, rolls his eyes at their antics, and keeps up a steady determination to save the world from Exdeath despite numerous failures. Then Exdeath hurls Bartz's hometown into the Void for no reason but to demonstrate his power, and Bartz flips his lid, sending the airship careening across the world so fast he nearly destroys it.
  • Paragon Shepard from the Mass Effect series gets a few of these moments.
    • During the Overlord DLC for Mass Effect 2, Shepard will get a Paragon interrupt where s/he pistol whips a scientist who was using his own autistic brother as a test subject in a brutal experiment.
    • In the third game of the series, one mission has Shepard investigating an indoctrinated hanar diplomat. When the hanar justifies his actions with some Insane Troll Logic, Shepard snaps:

Shepard: You... Big! Stupid!! Jellyfish!!!

Web Comics

  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl sees Mike eventually reach this point when he thinks Lucy is passive-aggressively Playing the Victim Card and trying to guilt him into feeling bad that his long distance girlfriend Sandy is visiting over winter holiday. Instead of lashing out physically, he lays out a devestating "The Reason You Suck" Speech, which takes her to task for ten years of abuse. Made all the more painful by the fact this calling-out comes while she's trying to improve and stop being such a hot-headed Tsundere.
  • Happened in Gunnerkrigg Court twice, to Antimony, who is usually nice and calm to the point of seeming emotionless. The second time was very unhealthy and prompted her to jump on the first proposal of teaching her some self-control.
  • Piro from the webcomic Megatokyo. Normally the nicest guy you could ask for, wouldn't hurt a fly. But he's been shown to have a violent temper, so push him over the edge at your peril. See also Beware the Quiet Ones.

Web Original

  • Played for Laughs when Brows Held High reviewed A Serbian Film. Oancitizen kept insisting the film was art, and not deserving of the hate many reviewers gave it. He kept a Stepford Smiler attitude about it, right until the review was over, and then snapped and called NATO, asking them to bomb Serbia (fortunately they didn't).

Western Animation

  • In the American Dad episode "Bullocks to Stan", Stan's boss has been mistreating him all through the episode, making him do lots of menial tasks, all to get his promotion. The also includes being quiet about sleeping with his grown daughter. But then after the two break up, Bullocks calls her a slut. Stan goes berserk, with a few And This Is For punches.
  • Invoked in Avatar: The Last Airbender when an Earth Kingdom general wants to utilize Aang's Avatar State. Aang doesn't want to do it, since it's so devastating. The general threatens his friends to make it happen, but sees what Aang meant when he finally got him to lose control.
  • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, whenever Korra gets frustrated with her Airbending training, out come the fireballs at whatever object incurs her wrath.
  • In the Samurai Jack episode, "Jack Vs Mad Jack," Jack has just fought off a small army of bounty hunters single-handed, but he manages to calm himself down... then his sandle strap breaks...
  • Ned Flanders in that one The Simpsons episode about the hurricane where his house was destroyed, when Ned saw the crappy job the town had done on his house, he lost it. He tried to be nice, but he spoke gibberish and then snapped, and insulted everyone there. Particularly notable in this case, because he'd been building up his rage for decades. Hell, it's the reason he has his Verbal Tic.
  • Lois has one in a Christmas episode of Family Guy, after Peter lost all of the gifts and the house was practicaly destroyed in a fire she says that everything's going to be all right.

Lois: Meg, get me the paper towels.
Meg: We're out of them.
Lois:(throws chair through the window)