"If my head were any harder, you could use it for a cannon ball."
Concussion? What's that?
A subtrope of Made of Iron
, perhaps its most common usage. Whether in a Tap on the Head
situation, Use Your Head
, or any other, getting hit on the head has no lasting effects whatsoever. If you clobber The Hero
, the villain, or assorted small fry, they may be very, very dizzy or even out for a while but they will never suffer worse than a headache once they wake up — unless Easy Amnesia
is needed. In short, fictional head injuries are no worse than inconvenient, so have as many as you want.
All right, you can also have Circling Birdies
if you want. But nothing else.
This is in no way Truth in Television.
A blow to the head is probably the worst
way to render someone unconscious, especially if you're trying to do it "gently". Injuries from even relatively light blows can be serious, permanent, or even fatal. Whether or not you'll actually knock the person out is something of a crapshoot as well. As a rule of thumb, anyone who's involuntarily unconscious for more than a few seconds has
a concussion and needs immediate medical attention to ensure they don't have a subdural haematoma or some other time-bomb of a brain injury. A person who appears fine often subverts the trope by abruptly falling down dead.
See How Many Fingers?
. The Hard Hat
may be the reason for this.
Can sometimes be justified
in cases of alien biology, superpowers, or artificial enhancement.
Not to be confused with Hollow Sounding Head
. See also Can-Crushing Cranium
, when the trope actually works.
open/close all folders
Films — Animation
- In Castle in the Sky, after Pazu jumps off a wall, crashes through a brick floor, and lands on the floor, he give the page quote. He gets plenty other blows to the head throughout the movie. In the original Japanese, he says something closer to: "My head is harder than my boss's fist."
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
- Rude has a thick metal billboard and its supporting structure fall on his head while he's busy fighting Loz. The billboard AND the structure bend/split in half where they connect. He's only momentarily stunned.
- He also gets whacked upside the head by Reno's Nightstick — which did send him stumbling, but he recovers remarkably fast.
- 9: Even after 9 smacks him in the face with a monkey wrench (by accident), 2 only needs to be helped back onto his feet and walks around, with seemingly no ill effects from the blow, despite the fact he's one of the older stitchpunks. His head gear might have absorbed a lot of the blow. That and for all we know there isn't anything in his head that would be damaged by it.
- Averted in a scene in the Pixar movie Up. Early in the movie Carl in a moment of anger hits a man over the head with a metal object (his steel walker cane). The injured man makes cries of pain as he stumbles back with blood running from a gash on his head.
- Toy Story 2 has Rex being used as an impromptu battering ram. Over his objections. An "outtake" shows them doing this, and failing. Justified in that Rex is a toy and can probably take the punishment just fine.
- In Tangled Flynn takes a frying pan to the head more than once with out any side effects.
- In Treasure Planet, Jim thinks Bones is babbling after a head injury, but he proves to be all too accurate.
Films — Live Action
Live Action TV
- Blake's 7: Avon was knocked out an impressive number of times through the series, apparently without damaging his IQ (although he did go slightly off the edge in the last season).
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Giles has been KO'd by blows to the head many, many times. He never suffers any ill effects. He actually lampshades it in the game by suggesting he had built up a tolerance for cranial trauma.
- Lampshaded by Cordelia in the episode Gingerbread:
Cordelia: How many times have you been knocked out, anyway? I swear, one of these times, you're gonna wake up in a coma.
- Chuck: Although less extreme than many examples, Casey seems to have a very hard head. He's fond of headbutts, and in one fight scene his opponent punched him in the forehead and clutched at his hand in pain, while Casey ignored it completely.
- Dexter: Dexter headbutts Doakes in the face and walks away apparently unaffected by the impact. The only effect on Doakes is to infuriate him into attacking Dexter — in front of everyone else. Then again, Dexter probably didn't ram Doakes very hard, as the point of the attack was to provoke and not to injure Doakes.
- Doc West: The title character trains three guys for a fight match, making them focusing on their stronger point: kicks for one, Berserk Button for another, and Hard Head for the third. This last one is trained to get punched in the face for several minutes, without countering or dodging on purpose, to tire the opponent. It works.
- Flashpoint: In one episode, Sam is caught in a bomb blast and knocked out for about fifteen minutes. When he comes to he's completely fine. Notably out of place in a series that treats injuries more-or-less realistically.
- Forever Knight: When the vampire protagonist-turned-cop is shot in the head he naturally regenerates, and his friends have to scramble to cover things up. LaCroix steals the X-Ray and hypnotises the doctor into saying that the bullet merely glanced off the protagonist's "exceptionally thick" skull.
- Happy Days: In the episode where the restaurant burns down due to Chachi being, well, Chachi, Fonzie and the gang are trapped in the bathroom, and the Fonz gets the bright idea to open up a pathway by putting on his motorcycle helmet and bashing a hole in the wall. After crashing through the wall, he pulls his head out, and one of his friends asks what the wall was made out of because it broke so easily. The Fonz calmly replies "Concrete" and falls unconscious. Other than knocking himself out, he suffered no injuries from headbutting through a concrete wall.
- LOST: Headbutting, Pistol-Whipping, and other Taps on the Head are (usually) of no consequence. For instance, in the season 5 finale, Jack is hit with a flying toolbox, but gets up moments later. May be justified in that the island has healing powers and won't let people die if their destinies are not yet fulfilled.
- Merlin: Prince Arthur. Repeatedly. Like, every time Merlin has to do a spell in front of him, he's conveniently knocked out. Morgana as well.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Averted Trope. Kimberly, while practicing after being exhausted by a battle, falls off the balance beam and hits her head. She suffers a concussion and has to be put in the hospital.
- Played straight two decades later back in Japan's Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, where the local Grey Ranger is themed around a Pachycephalosaurus, and consequently displays this trope even when not suited up.
- Revolution: Charlie must have a bionic skull. In Episode 9, not only does she survive getting shot in said noggin - a grazing wound only, but she then hits her head on concrete steps hard enough to cause bleeding and a near-death experience, yet she eventually wakes up and shrugs it off, even though in real life (as has been proven in the sad case of actress Natasha Richardson and many other cases) a head wound of that nature has the potential to be fatal.
- Scrubs: Dr. Kelso apparently has a "head like a mountain goat", as evidenced by an occasion where the Janitor hit him over the head with his mop and it "only made him mad".
- Smallville: People get knocked unconscious Once per Episode. No exceptions.
- The Wild Wild West: James West and Artemus Gordon should have been prime candidates for brain damage after the season 1, and the subsequent 3.
- The Young Ones: Vyvyan who, in one episode, strikes oil by cracking the basement floor with his head, later helps dig it out by headbutting the hole (which leads to Neil accidentally putting a pickaxe through his head), and, from his first appearance, has metal studs on his forehead.
- In Flash Gordon, Thun. Dale, seeing him unconscious, asks after him, and Flash can not only assure her it was a minor head injury, but that he will regain consciousness in a few seconds.]]
- Generally considered a trait of all Samoans, whether they are Wild Samoans or not. This even extends to at least one female: Tamina Snuka, the daughter of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.
- A Running Gag would be someone would try to headbutt a Samoan and wind up hurting themself more due to the thickness of their skull. Or during a tag match against teams like The Headshrinkers or Meng and The Barbarian someone would try the Double Noggin Knocker on them (Ramming both opponents head against one another) only for it to have no effect and the two would ram their heads into their opponents own head.
- WWE's Vladimir Kozlov often uses his head as a battering ram to devastating effect on his opponent and no ill effect on him.
- The Missing Link also famously used his head as a weapon.
- The Junkyard Dog was known for having a hard head.
- Japanese indy wrestler Keni'chiro Arai has a head so hard that hitting him over the head with a chair revitalizes him.
- The Sheepherders/Bushwhackers had heads so hard, their Battering Ram finishing move involved one grabbing the head of the other and running it into their opponent.
- Bad News Brown often simply got angry when his head was slammed into a turnbuckle.
- Averted by Al Madril of Pacific Northwest Wrestling: he was known to lose matches when he attempted to head-butt his opponent and then fell back unconscious.
- Averted in the case of Chris Benoit. Benoit was known for his Diving Headbutt finisher, but using it so often throughout his career contributed to the massive number of concussions he suffered, resulting in brain damage and one of the factors in his ultimate fate.
- Averted in GURPS. Blows to the head do quadruple damage, have a good chance of causing unconsciousness and the "critical head blow" table is pretty nasty.
- Nearly all characters in BIONICLE- Justified due to their being heavily armoured cyborgs with Artificial Intelligence. Hitting one of them in the head tends to knock them out with no adverse side effects.
- Hewkii, in particular, has been known to smash rocks with his head- for fun.
- Bully: Jimmy Hopkins can take a bat to the head ,yet he can't stay up past 2 AM.
- Subverted in the game Godzilla Unleashed. Whenever a monster (Godzilla, Rodan, King Ghidorah, etc.) runs headfirst into another monster (especially a Giant Mecha like Mechagodzilla or M.O.G.U.E.R.A), the first monster ends up stepping back and shaking its head as if in a daze. This is also played straight with Mecha-King Ghidorah, whose "victory pose" consists of him slamming his mechanical center-head into his flesh-and-blood side heads (which must be the three-headed dragon version of a "high five"). Don't ask how this doesn't cause the side-heads to end up with broken jaws or whatnot.
- Mario (as well as Luigi) can break blocks made of brick with his head. He can sometimes hit the exact same brick several times in a row without showing any signs of headache or loss of brain cells. But this is an overweight plumber who can jump unnaturally high, is rivals with a giant fire-breathing turtle, and can fit into a drain pipe. In most of the games, he holds up a fist and hits the blocks with it, instead. Mario's methods are lampshaded in a Howard & Nester Super Mario Bros. 3 comic, where Nester tries to break a floating block by hitting it with his head, and knocks himself out. Howard helpfully points out that he should try hitting it with his fist instead.
- Averted by Baldur's Gate. Minsc took a blow to the head in the defense of his witch Dynaheir, and ended up a little off as a result. Permanently.
- The first recruitable units in Brütal Legend were once enslaved miners, forced to break rocks with their heads instead of proper tools. Freed from the mine, they now use their heads for ramming attacks in battle. (It's a setting that runs on The Power of Rock, so they're referred to as "headbangers.") It's made clear that they have severely limited and confused mental capacity as a result.
- Mega Man X and Mega Man X8 justified this by giving X a reinforced helmet upgrade.
- In Fallout 1 2, scoring a critical hit with an aimed attack to the head may cause stunning, unconsciousness for several rounds, or death. If you're the recipient of the second and manage to wake up before your foes kill you off completely, you will have suffered no obvious loss from the trauma, other than hit points.
- Jagged Alliance 2: Attacks to the head may cause reduction in the wisdom attribute. Also, death.
- In Dwarf Fortress, a headshot can K.O. a creature. It's difficult to say whether dwarves can suffer permanent head trauma, since they act no more or less retarded than before.
- Creatures with permanently injured brains do fall unconscious more frequently (and for less reason) than their healthy peers, though.
- A Pokémon with the ability "Rock Head" will not take recoil damage from its own attacks. Quite useful, as attacks that cause recoil damage tend to be very powerful.
- Link in the 3-D The Legend of Zelda games will often ram into walls with his head while performing an Unnecessary Combat Roll. He is never harmed in any way by this, despite taking damage from falls and some other impacts.
- Eric from The Lost Vikings smashes through the walls with his head on a regular basis.
- Played straight in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, where Batman, being against killing, gets rid of the thugs by combat, which consist in many kinds of strikes, some ones on the head, and takedowns, which includes bone breaking and hitting heads against the floor, letting the enemies like "unconcsious", but being absolutley still in the floor, just breathing and with a blood pressure half the normal. Also we had to consider Batman had so much medical skills, so, he would must be aware of the fatal effects of the hits on the head.
- Possibly played straight in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. A quest in Vasj'ir has the player relive a naga's memories of fighting kvaldir. The memory starts off with a naga remarking that "The skulls of these kvaldir are hard as rock!" since the player controlled naga had apparently just broken her trident over a kvaldir's head. Since this event is off-camera whether or not the kvaldir survived the blow to the head isn't known, but naga throughout the memories only kill kvaldir with torso-targeted attacks.
- Fritz in Brain Dead 13. During the confrontation on the stairs, Lance uses a big, strong iron hammer to whack Fritz on the head, which only makes him suffer a minor concussion until he gets up and chases him again. This is even lampshaded by Frankomatic.
- Jajamaru from Ninja Jajamaru-kun can break bricks open with his head.
- Violence Fight has Ron Max, whose character profile says that his head is hard enough to break rocks.
- In Ōkami, Amaterasu can hit boulders, vases and jars with her head. A late-game ability learned in Kamui allows her to gradually strengthen her head as she keeps hitting objects.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Fighter is a master of the ram technique of Zodiac Kenshido, which consists of breaking your opponent's equipment with your head before he breaks your head with his equipment. He also gets stabbed a lot, and once broke through the Armoire of Invincibility with his head (cheap particle board base notwithstanding). In some cases, getting hit/stabbed/shot in the head has made Fighter smarter.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja plays with this one. In most instances a character who takes a wallop to the head (or a chop to the neck) comes out fine. However, the back of Doc's head was once rudely introduced to a piece of wood (pirates and alcohol were involved) resulting in a concussion and a hallucinatory conversation with a roast turkey. (He got better.) In "Why a Gorilla", the trope is parodied by having Doc "wake up" while being pounded into the ground repeatedly by an angry gorilla; he had been unconscious for the better part of an hour but emerges from the experience completely fine.
- Dan from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has such a hard head that he actually has to ask if another character tried to knock him out.
- "Gnnngh! It was like hitting a solid rock!"
- In Dominic Deegan: "I break things with my face."
- El Goonish Shive: Elliot is whacked when found by a guard in the 'Sister' arc. Wrong Genre Savvy, perhaps? When he comes to, he's worried about concussions, brain damage, et cetera. Tedd brushes him off and gets on with some exposition.
- In Endstone, Cole seems unfazed by a serious blow to the head, and Herrik comments on it.
- Played with in Girl Genius. After Oggie knocks Lars unconscious, the next scene starts with Lars awakening in a bed with Oggie assigned to watch over him to make sure he was OK. After confirming this, Oggie excitedly informs another character of it: "See? He's avake und talking und no more schtupid den he vos before!"
- Mora from Las Lindas. Bludgeoned in the back of the head with a shotgun? Bludgeoned so hard the shotgun breaks in two!? Feh. Just a minor annoyance.
- In The Order of the Stick, Durkon gets a lump on his head. His only reaction is to feign memory problems, to lack a spell to cast on Belkar.
- Precocious: You must have a pretty hard head
- Lieutenant Der Trihs in Schlock Mercenary has an artificial skull made of carbonan (a diamond-like carbon material). A doctor comments that in his case, this is like "keeping potato chips in a safe-deposit box".
- Parodied in The Gamers. The characters try to knock their friend unconscious, so his "paralysing fear of water" won't get in the way as they cross a shallow river. They try a few times, in vain, with him losing health points every time, till eventually, one character lands in such a strong hit, that he is "very unconscious". But unfortunately, as the player counts the hit points his character lost, it also turns out he is dead. The blow killed him.
- Subverted in Survival of the Fittest in the case of Sean O'Cann. Upon his introduction to the game, Sean is already suffering from a head wound as a result of landing on something hard after being thrown onto the island. After this wound is bandaged, it's seemingly forgotten, up until a couple of days later, when Sean really starts to suffer, his vision blurring frequently and he himself collapsing on more than one occasion. Averted in the v4 Pregame when Christopher Carlson gets the crap beaten out of him by Monty Pondsworth at lunch; he's stated to have spent a good week with a headache and spent the rest of the day having trouble walking.
- Practically a defining trait. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Tom and Jerry — etc.
- In The Transformers episode "Call of the Primitives", Autobots and Decepticons are united against a common foe. Druing the battle, the massive Trypticon lands on Grimlock and he is presumed dead. Much later, after the battlefield was abandoned, Grimlock, still alive, manages to blast his way out from under him. Upon freeing himself, he quips, "Good thing me Grimlock have hard head. Otherwise would now be Dino-splatter!"
- Brought up in The Simpsons, where an episode reveals that Homer has thick layer of fluid between his skull and brain that give him enormous resistance to cranial damage. Known as 'Homer Simpson Sydrome' Homer: "Oh, why me?!"
- Subverted humorously in Beast Wars, where Blackarachnia falls unconscious shortly after knocking out Silverbolt with a headbutt, and feeling rather stupid about trying it in the first place. Even though this is the one series where you might get away with ignoring the KO considering that they're Mechanical Lifeforms.
- In Code Lyoko, the kids get smashed in the head all the time, but it doesn't seem to have much effect on their fighting. The frequent Returns to the Past certainly help staving off any long-lasting effects.
- While he unsurprisingly has yet to be knocked out by a blow to the head, Hammerhead from The Spectacular Spider-Man has used his to smash through brick walls without ill effects.
- In Wakfu, a Hard Head seems to be one definite trait of Iops. Sadlygrove defeated Rubilax in his true form — a huge demon made of stone — by repeatedly head-butting him. Not that the other heroes are slouch either, and regularly receive some serious beating with barely a trace a few frames later.
- Lampshaded in Archer: When the title character knocks out a colleague in order to take his place on a mission, he advises, "Try not to stay unconscious too long. It's like, super bad for you."
- Others later comment on how he could have serious head injuries and he agrees about that and already has a medical appointment to make sure there's no permanent damage.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender :
- Zuko from has gotten more than a few neck or head impacts, but was never shown to have any serious effects from them.
- In a demonstration of earthbending, Toph jumps head-first at a boulder being used for Aang's earthbending training, unaffected by the self-inflicted blow used to split the rock.
- Truth in Television for certain animals — such as bighorn sheep — but emphatically not so for humans. If something knocks you unconscious, seek medical attention immediately. This would be why humans engaging in hazardous activities often wear helmets. Even with a helmet on, a hard enough blow to the head (or being too close to something exploding) can still cause brain damage.
- There are masters of the Iron Head kung fu technique who can break things with their heads. Don't Try This at Home, folks. Not even with stacks of Polo mints. To achieve this, the skull must suffer microfractures. The healing process thickens the skull a bit. Then you repeat the process. Most objects used in breaking demonstrations tend to have a 'sweet spot' where fracture can be induced with significantly less force (and hence less trauma). For practitioners who exploit this fact the stunt becomes as much an artful display of precision as it is a show of this trope.
- Subverted with the dinosaur Pachycephalosaurus. It was once believed that this dinosaur did use its dome-shaped head to ram into one another's heads (much like modern-day bighorn sheep). However, recent fossil evidence indicates that this was not the case and, instead, Pachycephalosaurus tended to fight for mates/territory by using their dome-shaped heads to ram one another in the stomach, thighs, or legs (Much like what you'd see in modern-day giraffes).
- The NFL has had to change its rules, due to recent research into head injuries. The discovery of a previously-unknown type of dementia common among retired NFL players has resulted in an unpopular increase in player fines for unnecessary roughness, and has changed the standards for players to be allowed to return to the field after a head injury. Research suggests that the time it takes to recover from a concussion is actually unknown, but may take weeks or months; and repeated concussions during that period may lead to dementia. Football culture has traditionally valued the ability to play through this type of injury; former Chicago Bears safety Doug Plank, for whom the "46" defense is named, used to speak of playing while so disoriented that he had to be guided to the correct sideline when leaving the field.
- The NHL is also beginning to acknowledge this, especially after several players like Derek Boogaard whose primary role was to fight guys like that on other teams and consequently took a lot of blows to the head died relatively young and were found to have serious brain damage post mortem. The suicide-ripple amongst NHL-players was introduced by Tom Cavenaugh a skill-player. After that three more followed suit and scumbags blamed them being enforcers at it.
- Very rarely this is played straight in real life, and a human being will have a biological oddity that grants them a minor version of this. For example, CT scans discovered that boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. had a skull that was considerably thicker than normal, which perhaps explains why Chavez was able to fight for many years (Chavez' pro career lasted from 1980-2005) and in so many slugfests while seldom being affected by his opponent's punches, and also without suffering significant brain damage and post career health issues, as so many boxers do. Other boxing examples exist as well, such as:
- Longtime middleweight champion "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler, who was never knocked down or seriously hurt in a boxing match. Similar to Chavez, medical tests showed that he had a biological quirk (the muscles surrounding Hagler's skull are several times thicker than normal, and thus it was believed that they created a cushioning effect against blows) that may have been responsible for this.
- Jake LaMotta, (whom the movie Raging Bull is based on) had the reputation of being impossible to knock out. He was famous for simply "bull rushing" his opponent and withstanding any punches they hit him with, with little to no effect. Many accounts describe opponent who tired themselves out beating on Jake's head with little to show for it. Most famously, when Jake faced "Sugar" Ray Robinson (whom many boxing experts pick as the greatest fighter ever) for the sixth time, Robinson beat LaMotta so savagely in the later rounds that newspapers afterward dubbed the fight (which happened on Valentine's Day) "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre". The fight was stopped by the referee, but afterward LaMotta taunted Robinson about how in that fight, and all their other bouts, Robinson had never been able to knock LaMotta down.
- George Chuvalo is frequently cited by boxing fans as this (since Chuvalo fought powerful, hard hitting heavyweights such as Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, and many lesser known but powerful punchers) without ever being knocked down. Chuvalo himself has said that's a mistake by the fans, and that a lot of times punches that looked like they hit him flush were being partially blocked by Chuvalo's arms or that he was moving in subtle ways to rob the blows of their force. Chuvalo has been known to quip "If I really got hit by all the punches people think I was hit by, I'd be brain dead!"
- The legendary Roberto Duran fought professionally for over three decades (from 1968-2001) starting as a skinny 120 pound kid and fighting as high as light heavyweight (175 pounds) in a sport where few fighters are able to effectively fight at more than 20 pounds above where they begin. During all that time, and all those fights frequently fighting bigger men, he was knocked out exactly once, by none other than Tommy Hearns, who is a serious contender for being one of the hardest hitting fighters of all time. In a few other bouts the fights were stopped due to injuries or a referee stopping a fight, but that is the only time that Duran was legitimately knocked out.
- Shortly before his death, Billy Mays faced airplane turbulence and was struck on the head, after which he insisted he was fine and quoted this trope by name. The coincidence of the timing had led many to believe that he had died of a concussion before the autopsy came out, revealing the cause as heart disease.