But, Shego, we escaped with the E.M.A. unscathed. Shego:
) Yes. But I broke a nail! Drakken:
I break mine all the time; you don't see me crying. Not on the outside.
of the City Mouse
, Fallen Princess
, Rich Bitch
, Alpha Bitch
or, more stereotypically, the token woman
. Sometimes used by the Action Girl
after a particularly grueling fight in which this is the only injury she is concerned about. In any case, the character is Always Female
unless it's a deliberate play on the trope. The phrase is, of course, used to show off how petty or vain she is, especially if it's used in the face of more pressing concerns. It may also be a Berserk Button
This is mostly a Discredited Trope
nowadays. Most Writers Are Male
, with short-clipped nails that rarely if ever get broken. As a result, it took a long time for women to get across that broken nails hurt,
is usually why they're crying. When nails break, they tend to take a bit of skin with them... a bit of skin that has a cluster of nerves within. Then there's bleeding and the risk of infection so while it's not life-threatening, it's still a legit nuisance. Nowadays, it's used more as a joke than anything. Often an Action Girl
will punch a Mook pretty hard, and as he hits the ground, she'll jokingly whine, "Damn, I broke a nail (in the sense of "you ruined my manicure"), now you have to pay."
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Anime & Manga
- Pet Shop of Horrors: Count D, a male, breaks a nail once. He proceeds to bandage his whole hand.
- Ludwig Revolution doubly subverts this: The title character, Prince Ludwig (obviously male), who is always pictured to pay a lot of attention to his looks and is directly said to be incredibly vain, breaks his nail while shooting at a monster (his love interest) in order to save his male servant. The servant starts screaming: "Prince, you broke your finger nail! It's bleeding!" To which the Prince replies: "Who cares about one or two nails..."
- In Cowboy Bebop, Faye, expecting a fight, once pulls on a pair of gloves specifically to avert this trope.
- The dub of Digimon Adventure gives spoiled brat Mimi this line in one episode.
- Said word for word by Ayako in the manga of Ghost Hunt.
- Beetle Bailey: This turns out to be the reason Sgt. Louise Lugg mauled a guy so badly while playing American football. The trope is played straight (it's not a very recent strip) and she's shown "emotionally" crying over it; the comic in general repeatedly plays with her combination of masculine aggressiveness and feminine sensitivity.
Films — Animation
- Used by Georgette in Disney's Oliver & Company. Which is slightly weird, considering that she's a dog.
- Cinderella: Drizella sings a line about this when cleaning dishes during the third film.
- In Superman/Batman: Apocalypse:
I've been chased, shot at, kidnapped, beaten up, had my mind controlled and
I broke a nail.
- She's a Kryptonian under a yellow sun. Her fingernails should be practically indestructible, so some impressive forces were at work there, and that's very possibly the only actual injury she took in that whole ordeal.
Films — Live-Action
- Early in the 1940 film My Little Chickadee, Mae West's character, Flower Belle, calmly and cooly forces a tribe of Indians who are attacking her train to retreat with a few sharp shots from revolvers akimbo and a shotgun. Her response to a well-deserved congratulations?
- Willie Scott uses this line twice in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The first time she only "cracked" a nail, rather than actually breaking it, but that was still apparently a good enough excuse for her to practically throw Indy's gun out the side of the car.
- Inverted in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. ("I didn't even break a nail.")
- Vala Mal Doran in Stargate: The Ark of Truth: "Look at my hands, all right? They are raw and bleeding. I've broken every nail. We've been out here in the scorching heat for days. I haven't showered!"
- Ladybugs: "Get those nail-breakers! Get those nail breakers!"
- DOA: Dead or Alive: "Perfect. Broke another nail."
- Tremors: "Doesn't matter. They're all the same: dead weight. 'Ooh, I broke a nail!' Ugh! Makes my skin crawl."
- Troop Beverly Hills: "The parents here are so self-involved. Shit, I broke a nail!"
- This is done to a lesser extent in the movie Lost in Space where Dr. Smith attempts to smuggle himself on board the Jupiter Two in a crate. The crane abruptly stops, causing him to fall over and immediately afterwards he glances at his nails and makes an annoyed little sound.
- In the action movie/porn film Barb Wire, after having a hand to hand to guns to stiletto heels to groin fight and killing a whole crapload of men, Barb Wire (played by Pamela Anderson) looks at her hand, on which is a broken nail:
- Erin Brockovich: "Goddamnit!" — Erin shortly after breaking her nail getting into the car, and shortly before getting T-boned.
- A variant is played with in Spaceballs, where the mooks, Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy graduates all, somehow manage to singe Princess Vespa's hair... which elicits a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Barf says "Not bad... for a girl"; Vespa's Robot Maid counters with "That was pretty good for Rambo!"
- Batman Returns: Batman vs. Catwoman. When Batman pushes Catwoman off him, she ends up in a pile of broken plant pots. Batman removes the sharp metal nail from his suit and tosses it at her. Catwoman picks it up and examines her hand back to front and lets out an irritated "Damn..."
- Played with in Lizzie McGuire. In the Breakfast Club episode, Kate refuses to help clean the school cafeteria. Lizzie's animated alter ego sarcastically suggests that she's afraid of breaking a nail. Then the real Kate gives that as an actual reason, forming an Ironic Echo Cut.
- In The Facts of Life, Blair punches another girl for insulting Jo. She later says "I broke a nail for you!" as if that were more of a sacrifice than getting in trouble for decking someone in school (which, for Blair, it is).
- That's So Raven: Raven has a vision, at a highly inopportune time, of this happening to Chelsea. When it comes true, Chelsea claims, "I don't even care," but Raven's new telepathic friend says, "Yes, you do."
- Australian Gladiators: "Ouch! I broke a nail! Gotta stop punching those brick walls."
- Saved by the Bell:
- In an early episode, Lisa Turtle gets frustrated during an interrogation — and breaking a nail makes her frustration even worse.
- Also, in another episode, she tells Nikki that she also doesn't want to dissect frogs — but that, instead of sharing Nikki's concern for the welfare of animals, she just doesn't want to ruin her nails. However, she doesn't care that much — that she would risk getting an F.
- Gilligan's Island: In a Season 1 episode when a battle of the sexes forces the girls and guys to live on separate sides of the island, the girls are finding doing all the work harder than they expected.
Ginger: I've broken eleven nails today.
Mary Anne: Eleven?
Ginger: I broke one twice.
- At the start of the Stargate SG-1 episode "Urgo", the team set off on an apparently dull mission and Jack comments that "It's all fun and games until someone breaks a nail."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Buffy uses this when trying to get the attention of Giles, who is preoccupied because he just learned in a prophecy that Buffy will die tonight.
- Cordelia has also used this more than once.
- Used as a plot point in the season 1 episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, "The Extra Man". The first person to find out the body of the Victim of the Week breaks a nail by stumbling in the dark (and says the trope name), cluing Goren that there was a woman present when he finds the red-polished nail shard.
- Myrtle Urkel says this trope after falling down from Eddie's window in a Family Matters episode.
Myrtle Urkel: Oh, shoot. I broke a nail.
- Life With Boys: A friend of Tess was worried that, being on the wrestling team, Tess could suffer cuts, break bones, or a nail.
- Happened once in House of Anubis
Patricia: I hope the sight of us working hard doesn't bother you.
Eddie: You're a couple of strong, 21st century women. What do you need my help for?
Amber: I broke a nail...
Eddie: Go sisterhood!
- Happened on The Amazing Race. It appears to be a Minor Injury Overreaction, until you realize the girl who did it actually was bleeding — mind you it hurt.
- Similarly, a contestant split her fingernail on Survivor... but with a machete.
- Naturally Sadie: Sadie says it in "Advanced Girl Lessons" when she is attempting to become more feminine. Played With when she then admits that she has no idea what she is supposed to do about it.
- Upon their first meeting on Thursday Night Smackdown, Christie Hemme, accidentally broke one of Melina's, leading to Melina screaming for revenge and demanding a match with Hemme. While Melina was a cheat, she was one of the few wrestlers not to used closed fist and made use of her nails much less that most female cheats (until she got into title contention and changed up her style)
- In Ménage à 3, just as Zii and Yuki are discussing how they need someone "solid" as the bassist for their group, there's a Gilligan Cut to Sonya (Zii's recruit for the role) saying the line while practicing the bass guitar.
- In Noob, it happens to the player behind Couette (basically a walking female gamer stereotype) from typing too intensely on her keyboard.
- A woman named Lee Redmond grew her fingernails out for thirty years to a length of two-and-a-half feet each, breaking the record for longest fingernails. In 2009, she was in a terrible car crash. She sustained severe injuries and broke off all of her nails. Upon finding out, she was devastated. She later discovered it was easier to manipulate objects without her giant talons.
- Fear of committing this trope played straight and just one of this girl's issues with her new job. Averted by the girl who's been there a while.
- Mocked in this iFunny page.
- Losing a nail is actually a painful experience, particularly if it's only partly come off and a new one is growing trying to push the remains of the old one out. It's even worse if you're doing something that primarily involves your fingers, like playing video games (as happened to ProtonJon during his livestream of Pepsiman).