"What happened to your hand?"A character, deeply unsatisfied with their current state of being, looks in a mirror or a pool of water. After a while, the character will either say (or sing, in a musical) something about themselves or just become angry, and disrupt the reflection in some way to show their dissatisfaction. This can involve punching or throwing something at a mirror in order to shatter it, slapping or stirring water to distort the reflection, or otherwise make the image of themselves go away. For some added Angst, the puncher could injure their hand in the process. Can occur with characters who have been transformed or feel like they're being forced to become something they're not. If it's the transformed variant, sometimes the reflection will show their original form instead of their current form. Also sometimes used by characters who are either ugly and suffering because of it, or made a decision that they regret and are angry at themselves about it. Could also be used by a character who has unresolved parental issues and can't stand the resemblance reminding them of that relationship. Contrast Distracted by My Own Sexy where characters like looking at themselves, and for an extreme case see House of Broken Mirrors.
"I got hit in the mirror."
"I got hit in the mirror."
— Sam and Suzy, Moonrise Kingdom
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Anime & Manga
- Princess Tutu has a scene with an interesting variation — at one point, Fakir smashes through a window and threatens Kraehe with a shard of glass. She was actually in the middle of questioning her motives, but when she sees her reflection in the falling shards of glass and hears Fakir's accusation of being a "crow", she accepts who she is and mockingly responds "Why yes, I am a crow!"
- Happens twice in Tokyo Babylon, once with Seishirou oddly enough given that he's not a character associated with self-hatred to say the least, and at the end with Subaru, with the added subtext of his reflection being a symbol for his dead twin sister Hokuto.
- D Grayman takes this to a whole new level. The Earl of Millennium is driven mad by his two new split personalites that conflict with first and are an obstacle to his holy mission. Torn apart he looks at the mirror and first plays the trope rather straigth by tearing it appeart not by punching it but by scratching to shattering till his finders bleed! But then he decides to go even further and to blow up not the reflection but the real source of the problem: that is to say his own face .
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Al does this by pressing the palm of his hand against a mirror, cracking it. At that point in the manga, it's the first time we saw the depth of his angst with his lack of a human body.
- Digimon Frontier: Takuya does this after he recovers from his Next Tier Power-Up, which caused him to go berserk and attack all his friends.
- Ban does this in Get Backers, after a brutal beating of his opponent. He catches a glimpse of his reflection in a nearby mirror and remembers his mother's cries that he was a monster, not her son. Cue the mirror-smashing.
- In Soul Eater, Stein has a moment during his Sanity Slippage, complete with bloody knuckles.
- Kamina in RahXephon returns to Tokyo Jupiter in an attempt to figure out who he actually is, and ends up throwing a chair at a mirror out of frustration.
- Space Pirate Mito: Ranban punches the mirror and then rages against it. Or rather, rages against Mito, who he considers his "mirror-image" since they share the same blood (his drips on the mirror shards as he says this) and were both in line for the throne. He wonders how it can be that they're so alike, yet only he was "cursed" with a genetic defect that lead to him being imprisoned by the rules of their society.
- Happens to the main character in IRIA: Zeiram the Animation during a shower scene.
- In Future GPX Cyber Formula, after suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Hayato and his Super Asurada 01 in the England race trials, Shinjyo looks himself at the bathroom mirror and punches it.
- Black Butler II: Ciel does this when he thinks he sees Alois in the mirror.
- Black Lagoon: Roberta does this after she takes a Shower of Angst following the death of her master, Diego Lovelace.
- Pulled by Misaki Touno in Private Actress, right after she crosses the Despair Event Horizon. What follows is her using her own blood to draw a cross on the wall and her pulling a Bath Suicide.
- In Ergo Proxy, Raul Creed punches his reflection on two occasions as his frustration and inner turmoil grow. The second time, he hits hard enough to break the mirror and injure his hand.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Shark smashes his mirror when he learns he is really a Barian.
- in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Ms. Chono breaks a mirror out of rage at being stood up.
- In Tokyo Ghoul, after a particularly traumatic outing makes Kaneki realize something is wrong with him, he rushes home and looks in the mirror. The sight of his left eye sporting a Ghoul's iconic kakugan leads him to punch the mirror in horrified denial.
- In Neil Gaiman's The Sandman "The Kindly Ones", Hippolyta Hall does this in her hallucination journey.
- Fantastic Four villain Doctor Doom smashes anything reflective when not wearing his mask.
- The shot of Doom hunched over, fist in a smashed mirror is re-used during one story arc for Reed, after Doom burns his face.
- Batman villain Two-Face does this in his Golden Age origin, where he throws a flowerpot against the mirror. This becomes a recurring theme of adaptations of the character inevitably trashing a mirror when he finally gets a look at himself after his scarring.
- Starting in the 1980s, this was added to the Joker's backstory as well starting with Alan Moore and The Killing Joke. In this version, after the man that would become the Joker suffers his worst day ever, it's topped by him looking at seeing his disfigured face in a puddle as he starts laughing. Notably, while the Joker himself even admits he might be making this up and he's retold many different stories about his past, this particular detail tends to repeat itself.
- The Flash villain Mirror Master slightly subverts this in his origin story. After realizing he had killed his father (whom he had never met before due to being given up into foster care as a baby), Evan McCulloch checks on his mother. Evan sees she has committed suicide over the loss by smashing the mirror in the bathroom and using a piece to slit her wrists. Evan then stares at the smashed mirror for 12 hours afterwards.
- For one more obscure, try Alias the Blur from Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, of the Brotherhood of Dada group. The story goes that a young girl fell in love with her reflection in the mirror. As she grew older and her face grew less pretty, she saw this as a betrayal by the mirror and attacked it with acid, and ends up getting crushed by the mirror. Her spirit enters the broken mirror, and becomes Alias the Blur, The Ghost Who Eats Time.
- In Morbius's 90s solo series, Michael uses Spider-Man's blood to develop a serum that changes him back into a human. While out on the street, he is attacked by a gang who beat him up. Crawling out of the gutter they left him lying in, he makes his way across the sidewalk to look into a shop window and sees he has reverted back to his vampire self. He runs off after punching a hole in the shop window.
- In Justice Society of America, Damage says that after his face was irreparably destroyed by Zoom, he smashed out all the mirrors in his apartment.
- When Michael Myers in Halloween: Nightdance starts seeing visions of his past as a child in the reflections of a hall of mirrors, he stabs the nearest one with his knife.
- In the first volume of the third series of the Italian comic book Orfani (Orphans, in Italian language), there's a scene where the Villain Protagonist Jsana Juric accuses her stepfather Sàndor Kozma by ignoring her and focusing solely on his job as the EMR's President, and then, she takes a perfume gift and she throws it into a mirror and smashing it.
- A variation in The Venture Bros. fanfiction The Sorrows of Young Werner, telling the backstory of Baron Ünderbheit. The future Baron tells his manservant to smash the mirror when he wakes up in hospital with his jaw blown off.
- In The Chong Sheng Trilogy, the author's original character, Zha, invokes this trope after learning that his father, whom he thought was dead, is actually very much alive and fighting on Zuko's side against the throne.
- A variation happens in Stars Above: The mirror image Homura rages against is a doppelganger of herself, with an affinity for mirrors.
- In the Pony Psychology Series, Rainbow Dash is flying by one day when she hears yelling. Inside? Pinkie Pie screaming hateful insults at herself while smashing a mirror with her FACE. This severely weirds out poor Rainbow.
- In the Kingdom Hearts fanfic Darkness Born, slightly subverted in that it's not the character's own reflection that enrages them. Marluxia hallucinates his abusive father in his mirror, mocking him and calling him weak. He screams at it to shut up and punches out the mirror. The broken glass slices up his hand, arm, face, and legs.
- In Vengeance from the Grave Harry punches a mirror when he discovers that the Unspeakables transferred his consciousness to the body of a stranger after he jumped off the Astronomy Tower.
Films — Animation
- In the opening montage of Beauty and the Beast, the Beast slashes a portrait of himself in human form with his claws and hides his face in shame. There are also numerous broken mirrors in his castle, as Belle later finds out.
- Disney's Tarzan has young Tarzan slap at his reflection in a pool because of his frustration with being so obviously different from the "other" gorillas.
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride has this with Kovu's reflection. Why? Unlike Simba, who saw Mufasa in his reflection, Kovu sees Scar.
- There's a scene in Aladdin where Jasmine slaps at her reflection in a pool and says "Maybe I don't want to BE a princess anymore!"
- After Fiona has left to marry Lord Farquaad, Shrek sees his ogre reflection in broken glass shards and splashes mud upon them. Earlier, when Fiona sees her ogre reflection in a bucket of water, she dashes it aside.
- A variation occurs for Coraline when she looks in a mirror and finds her parents trapped in a frozen prison. She panics and starts pounding her fists against the glass to try to save them until the mirror shatters and reveals nothing but a blank wall behind it.
- The Swan Princess has Odette slapping at her reflection in the lake, in swan form, at several points in the movie.
- Neither a mirror or pool of water, but in The Nightmare Before Christmas, when Sally tries to talk Jack out of Subbing for Santa by showing a picture of Jack as the Pumpkin King, Jack simply takes the picture and breaks it over his knee.
- The Award Bait-filled 'Reflection' in Mulan
- The Shadow Man in Happily Ever After kicks a puddle of water upon seeing his reflection in it. It's a pretty obvious clue as to who he is and why he's with Snow White. It's the Prince under a curse.
- Variant in Pinocchio: after Lampwick has been completely transformed into a donkey, he kicks a couple of mirrors to pieces, but in panic rather than anger.
- Near the end of Frozen's reprise of 'For The First Time In Forever', Elsa becomes distressed at the revelation that she had created an eternal winter over her kingdom when she tried to avoid harming it. In despondence, she sees her reflection through the icy walls of her palace as she causes a storm around herself to form, horrified that she has brought forth destruction.
- After the appliances in The Brave Little Toaster fall down a waterfall and nearly die, the Toaster blames herself and her fear of water. Looking at her reflection in a puddle, she swats at it in frustration.
Films — Live-Action
- Kevin Costner's Elvis-obsessed bank robber, cop killer and terrorist, Murphy, in 3000 Miles to Graceland. Both he and Kurt Russell's character (Michael) are later revealed to be the illegitimate, unrecognized offspring of The King (for reals); whereas Michael learned to accept it and got on with his life, though, Murphy was driven insane by his heartless abandonment. Once this information comes to light, Murphy pauses in the middle of a shootout to gaze straight into a grimy mirror as he hallucinates Elvis singing "My Way."
"...Do you recognize me now? Because I recognize you." (shoots at mirror, shattering it)
- Martin Sheen punches the mirror in the beginning of Apocalypse Now; the director called to Sheen to shadow-box in the mirror, but Sheen misjudged his punch and hit the mirror instead - that's real blood on his hand later in the scene.
- The song "Hopelessly Devoted To You" from Grease ends with a variation of this trope.
- Parodied in Zoolander. At Derek's lowest moment, he looks into a puddle in the road, gets philosophical, and then a car goes by and splatters him with said puddle.
- High School Musical 2, during the song "Bet On It".
- V shatters a mirror and breaks down crying in The Movie of V for Vendetta.
- Occurs in SLC Punk!!: Heroin Bob punches a mirror in a fit of pique (or to emulate the iconic BlackFlag album). Parodied in that unlike almost every example here, the consequences of punching a mirror are explicitly played out.
- In Tropic Thunder, when Kirk Lazarus finally starts breaking character and remembering who he really is, he drives the point home to himself by shattering his reflection in a nearby mirror.
- An unusual case appears at the climax of the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Harry, trapped in a battle in his own mind, caps off his rejection of Voldemort and his Not So Different sentiments by punching a symbolic mirror into shards.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban there is a mirror hanging above the fireplace in the Shrieking Shack that has very clearly been punched in, most likely by Lupin in his younger years.
- In the Rags to Riches caper film P & B, the main character is tipsy and laughing at his reflection in a bathroom mirror. We see him gradually sober up, put out his cigarette in the eye of his reflection, and begin to cry.
- Variations occasionally show up in adaptations of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". The 1987 Cannon Films take has the evil queen, upon learning that a prince's bride-to-be is fairer than she, toss something at her magic mirror to break it. It wildly spins and starts to fracture. As she heads off to the wedding in a huff (to discover that said bride is the revived Snow), each crack in the mirror progressively ages her, leaving her an old hag by the time she arrives. When it shatters once and for all, she does the same, crumbling to dust.
- Also used in the film Snow White: A Tale of Terror. In it, the wicked stepmother has a mirror which once belonged to her mother. When the stepmother loses her mind and starts trying to kill Lilli, the mirror guides her, showing her reflection as being young and beautiful. The stepmother is killed when Lilli stabs it with a dagger, destroying the reflection.
- Terry Gilliam's fantasy The Brothers Grimm goes wild playing with this. The Big Bad Vain Sorceress, the Mirror Queen, is confined to her bed in a decaying tower having cast a spell on herself centuries ago to live forever, not realizing it wouldn't keep her from aging - she's now a shriveled old crone. However, the reflection in the giant mirror in the room shows the former glory of the place, and of her. She uses her magic to convince men to look only at the reflection (which she can make move independently of her bedridden self), and from there seduce and control them. She almost does this to Jacob Grimm but a tossed rock from below (his brother Will signaling for help) cracks the mirror and breaks the spell on him. In the climax, after she restores her youth in reality, she uses the mirror to tease Jacob by seemingly invoking a Disney Death on the wounded Will; actually she is putting him under her control. To stop this, Jacob breaks the mirror with a hatchet - and the real Queen cracks in a similar manner. When the mirror is smashed to bits, so is she, though the final shot suggests she still isn't dead and could be put back together.
- In a variation of this, after performing oral sex on a Jerk Jock, one of the titular characters in Heathers takes a drink of water and spits it at her reflection in the mirror. The self-loathing in that scene certainly explains why the character is so rotten to everyone else.
- In Phenomenon (with John Travolta, not the older horror movie), Travolta's character is angry at who he has become and yells at a mirror. When angrily gesturing at his reflection, he inadvertently smashes it with his telekinesis.
- Edward Norton's character in 25th Hour has a long monologue into a bathroom mirror, complaining about all of New York until he finally lays into himself. He never actually attacks the mirror, but he comes as close as one can without. In an expressionistic touch, it's the reflection that does the talking.
- In Punisher: War Zone, Jigsaw's brother starts destroying mirrors so that Jigsaw (who was previously vain before the Punisher destroyed his face) wouldn't have to see himself.
- In Pan's Labyrinth, Captain Vidal slashes his mirror with his razor while shaving, symbolizing the more self-destructive aspect of his obvious father issues.
- In Bride of Frankenstein, the Monster sees his reflection while drinking from a pool. He churns the water in disgust, only to see the reflection reappear to his horror. This is based off a scene in the original Frankenstein.
- In Carrie, Sissy Spacek smashes a mirror in her room by telekinesis.
- In a particularly hard-to-watch scene from the film Vulgar, the main character returns home after being brutally gang-raped by an insane father and his sons. He not only smashes his mirror and injures his hand, but attempts to slash his wrists with a shard of the broken mirror.
- Near the end of Spider-Man 2 Harry does this by throwing a knife at a mirror after hallucinating that his father is talking to him from the mirror. It reveals the entrance to the Green Goblin's secret armory.
- In Tommy it is Mrs Walker who smashes the mirror — thus revealing Tommy's true self and releasing him from his self-imposed prison.
- In Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid Garrett shoots at his reflection right after shooting Billy.
- In Hulk, Hulk smashes the water in a lake when he thinks he sees his father's reflection.
- A slightly different take in 28 Days Later, when one of the soldiers who's got the rage virus stares fixatedly at his reflection in a free-standing mirror, before fleeing. It's just as well he didn't strike it as a little girl was hiding behind it.
- Happens in I Miss You I Miss You after Tina's identical twin sister Cilla has died. Tina takes out some of her anguish on her mirror image, imagining that it's actually Cilla she's seeing. Eventually the mirror cracks.
- In the Dirty Harry movie Sudden Impact, Sondra Locke's character smashes the mirror after she herself resembles the image she painted of herself.
- In the 2010 remake of The Wolfman (2010), Lawrence angrily flips a mirror around when he sees the bite wound he received less than a month prior has healed without leaving a single mark.
- In Moonrise Kingdom, Suzy is revealed to have injured her hand punching her mirror when she was feeling particularly disgusted with herself.
- Happens to the hero in π, who smashes his bathroom mirror in pain during a severe migraine attack.
- In Zardoz, Zed shoots his former Exterminator self inside the Tabernacle.
- Done literally in Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness; in the first film, Ash's reflection actually reaches out of the mirror and grabs him by the collar to tell him flatly that they're both freaking out. In the latter, Ash smashes a mirror into shards and each shard's reflection comes to life as an evil mini-Ash.
- In Elysium Kruger punches and partially shatters a mirror after his face is reconstructed. Seeing one of the shards is what gives him the idea to kill Delacourt.
- In Face/Off, after Sean Archer undergoes plastic surgery that gives him Castor Troy's face. Upon waking up after the surgery and seeing his enemy's face in the mirror, he takes his rage against the reflection out by trying to smash the mirror with a coat hanger, only to be stopped by his friends.
- In The Hideous Sun Demon, when Gilbert McKenna transforms for the first time and sees himself in the mirror, he smashes it.
- The infamous film The Room has Tommy Wiseau's character do this to a mirror during his wimpy Anger Montage. Appropriately mocked on Rifftrax:
"I hate you, guy who looks like me!"
- In the film version of Dolores Claiborne, Dolores has a flashback and then smashes a pane of window glass where she'd been looking at her reflection.
- In The Crow, Eric Draven smashes the vanity mirror before applying the trademark makeup of the titular avenger, suggesting a severance with his past self in order to avenge the murder of himself and his fiancée.
- In Left Behind (2000), Rayford Steele throws his wife's Bible at the mirror in their bedroom, although this is more how angry Rayford is at God for his wife being Caught Up in the Rapture than anything that he sees in himself.
- In Daft Punk's Electroma, after being forced to detonate the switch on his only companion's back and trekking in the desert alone for some time, he tries to reach his own switch, but is unable to reach it. He removes his helmet and sees his true face in the refection, then he smashes the helmet in a fit of rage.
- In Unknown (2006), one of the characters smashed a bathroom mirror out of frustration.
- In Iron Man, when Tony Stark learns from a CNN report that Stark Industries weapons were used by terrorists against innocent people in Yinsen's hometown, he blasts a glass wall in his lab with his gauntlet's repulsor, after catching his reflection in the glass.
- Happens in Chromeskull: Laid To Rest 2 when the titular antagonist watches his disfigured face.
- The titular protagonist of the splatter movie "Adam Chaplin", punches the mirror full of rage during an Angsty scene while is conversing with the Devil.
- In the Italian splatter movie "Infidus" (by the same guys who did Adam Chaplin), there's a scene where Barabba (one of the protagonists) has flashbacks about his brother killed forcibly by himself, then, enraged about it, Barabba punches the mirror.
- In Ex Machina, after Caleb fails with his Robotic Reveal in the bathroom, he sees his reflection in the mirror which he then smashes with his fist.
- In The Country Girl, alcoholic Frank looks up from his drink, sees his sad-looking reflection in the mirror, then chucks his glass, shattering the mirror.
- In the short movie "Binding Silence", the protagonist suffers an abstinence from reading a cursed book, then, destroys his bedroom until he looks himself in the mirror for some seconds and punching it.
- Before the end of Summer of Sam, After Dionna's left Vinny for his infidelities, the latter one, before the arrival of his friends, sniffs cocaine and, enraged, shouts profanities and smashes his mirrored furniture.
- At the end of The Phantom of the Opera (2004), the Phantom smashes several mirrors after Christine leaves him.
- Happens in a deleted scene of Bad Country where after the death of Jesse Weiland's wife and baby, Detective Bud Carter is drunk and goes into a bar fight by injuring most of the people present there, then, he shoots a mirror with his pistol while shouting random curses.
- In the Discworld book Witches Abroad, Granny punches out a mirror in the house of late fairy godmother Desiderata Hollow because the face she sees in it is not hers, but that of Big Bad Lady Lilith, who is scrying through the mirror in order to find Desiderata's magic wand. Extra symbolism points for Lilith being Granny's sister — not a twin (Lily is older, Granny looks older), but still very similar siblings.
- In Les Misérables, Fantine throws her mirror out the window after she sells her teeth and hair and becomes a down-on-her-luck whore.
- Older Than Print: In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, after Xiahou Dun gets his Eyepatch of Power, he's said to have at least had a very frightening, "wanting to break things" expression on his face every time he got near a mirror.
- Tess of Blind Lake is a young girl with a bad habit of breaking mirrors when she sees "Mirror Girl" looking back at her.
- Esther of The Bell Jar does this with a hand mirror upon gazing at her disfigured appearance in the reflection.
- The Shadow King in The City of Dreaming Books sees his reflection for the first time in ages:
"I saw the monster into which I had transformed myself. Not the one fabricated by Smyke, but the real monster deep inside this paper shell, for which I myself bore responsibility. I smashed the mirrors — smashed them all in a towering rage."
- One could interpret the prologue of book eight of Guardians of Ga'Hoole this way.
- Very justified in "I Miss You I Miss You" where Tina works through her unresolved issues with her dead identical twin sister Cilla through the mirror, imagining that she's talking to Cilla and not her own reflection.
- At one point in The Girl Who Would Be King, Lola smashes her reflection in a mirror.
- In Rachel Griffin, Siegfried smashes the reflective looking glass when it shows how his girlfriend was Mind Raped and molested by the villains.
- In Horus Heresy, Fulgrim does it several times after his guilt catches up with him in form of Ferrus Manus, Abel to Fulgrim's Cain, appearing in various reflections as a silent, if mocking reminder of what he did.
- In season five of Dexter, after Lumen tells Dexter she is leaving because she no longer wants to be involved in his killing, he looks down at the plate he's holding, sees his own face reflected there, then throws the plate against the wall.
- Dark Angel episode "The Berrisford Agenda". Alec is haunted by his past and angrily punches his reflection in the mirror. Possibly a callback to when Ben glares at the mirror in "Pollo Loco".
- An interesting version happens in Farscape during the second season finale. Harvey, in Scorpius' image, appears to John in a mirror; when John punches it, the mirror shatters, but the image remains. He punches it at least five more times, and as soon as the glass falls, Harvey reappears, taunting him. When Aeryn enters the scene, we see that the mirror actually did shatter: John's been punching the wall for the last minute, and his knuckles are bleeding. And then everything goes to hell.
- Lorne does this in Angel, after having his sleep surgically removed, while hallucinating his reflection reminding him about all the work he still has to do. After a moment's silence his reflection continues speaking from the now cracked mirror.
- Also happens in series 2. Pylea brings out the full manifestation of a vampire's demonic state. Angel is overcome by the strength of his demonic side when he transforms and only comes to his senses upon seeing his monstrous reflection in a pool of water. He smashes his fist into the water to disrupt his reflection and then goes into a state of shock that leaves him catatonic for hours.
- Also in season 2, Angel comes upon the place where Darla — who was a vampire for centuries, slain, then resurrected as a human by an evil law firm — had been staying and discovers that all of the mirrors have been smashed. Angel explains that she couldn't bear to look upon herself now that her human soul forced her to feel guilt for her vampire atrocities (Angel never had that problem when his soul was returned because he'd still been a vampire and thus had no reflection).
- When Damar does this in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it signifies the beginning of his Heel–Face Turn.
- In "Second Skin", Kira is held on Cardassia, surgically altered to resemble a Cardassian spy and is told she actually is her. This is her reaction as she looks at her altered face in the mirror, uncertain if it's true.
- During the second season of Heroes, Nathan sees a hideous version of himself in the mirror (probably what he would look like if Adam didn't heal him with his blood) as a reminder of what a jerk he used to be in the first season. He punches the mirror too in one episode. Didn't help him from becoming a jerk again in the next season...
- Somewhat subverted with Niki/Jessica in the first season. Niki's reflection looks like her, but is not Niki.
- A variation on this is in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season four episode "Who Are You?" Faith and Buffy have switched bodies, and Faith gets an eye-opening experience at what it's like to be Buffy and to have have friends and family who love her and trust her. This affects her so deeply that at the end of the episode where she and Buffy face off, this exchange takes place:
Buffy-in-Faith's-body: You can't win this.
Faith-in-Buffy's-body: Shut up! Do you think I'm afraid of you? (starts punching Buffy, beating her own face) You're nothing! Disgusting! Murderous bitch! You're nothing! You're disgusting!
You don't have a soul! There is nothing good or clean in you. You are dead inside! You can't feel anything real!
- Buffy suffers long-term depression after being dragged back from the afterlife at the beginning of Season Six. Her attempts to rediscover her passion in a Destructive Romance with Spike only make things worse. When Buffy (incorrectly) thinks she has murdered an innocent woman, she savagely beats an unresisting Spike, describing him in terms that clearly mirror her own fears over what she has become.
- Dollhouse: Episode "The Public Eye" - After releasing Echo and the Senator, Bennett smashes her forehead into her black reflection on the reflective surface of the monolithic server, breaking the glass.
- In one episode of Without a Trace, the team are looking for a missing teenage boy whose blood has been found on a shattered bathroom mirror. It turns out he punched it in a rage after the girl he had a crush on cruelly humiliated him.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Sarah Connor punches and breaks a mirror at the end of "Strange Things Happen at One Two Point".
- Battlestar Galactica (2003): An enraged Adama punches the mirror, cutting his hand, after discovering his long-time friend Saul Tigh is a Cylon.
- There is a lot of symbolic focus on characters looking into mirrors in Lost season six's sideways timeline. Sawyer smashes a mirror with his bare fist after an argument with Miles.
- In The Twilight Zone episode "The Mirror", a Fidel Castro-like dictator acquires a mirror that shows him images of his enemies and those destined to betray him. After killing most of his allies after seeing them in the mirror, the dictator sees an image of himself. He goes crazy and smashes the mirror before committing suicide.
- Liz Lemon has a self-loathing speech in front of a mirror in the "Retreat to Move Forward" episode of 30 Rock.
- In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Caught in the Act", a college girl named Hannah is possessed by an alien and goes around seducing people, then eating them after sex. In the girl's bathroom, Hannah loses her temper after the alien tries to seduce her roommate and punches the mirror. She then picks up a shard and attempts suicide, but the alien regains control and makes her drop it and continue its mission.
- In Breaking Bad, Walt repeatedly punches his reflection in a bathroom tissue dispenser after hearing the news that his cancer is in remission. Ordinarily this would be good news, but for Walt, it means his "exit strategy" for getting out of the crystal meth business just vanished.
- There are multiple interpretations to his rage here, none of which are mutually exclusive. Along with the above, it also robbed of him of a convenient excuse to continue doing criminal deeds. This gained even more traction in the Grand Finale four years later when he admits that everything he did, he did because he enjoyed doing it.
- In Doctor Who series 6, the Doctor is badly poisoned and activates the TARDIS voice interface because he can't work the controls anymore. The interface uses a holographic image of the Doctor himself to communicate. The Doctor tells the TARDIS to shut it off and show him someone he likes instead.
"I know who you are...there's only one person in the Universe that hates me as much as you do."
- In the end of the series 5 episode "Amy's Choice", the Doctor reveals that the Dream Lord was in fact a creation of his sub-conscious, making this whole episode an example of this trope.
- In Once Upon a Time, in the first episode with Belle, Rumplestiltskin has a sheet over the one mirror in his home, which seems at first like a reference to this trope and its use in Beauty and the Beast (as it turns out Rumplestiltskin is the Beast). It turns out to be a subversion: his actual reason turns out to be that the Evil Queen is capable of spying and work magic through mirrors — he winds up pulling the sheet off to rant at her a bit.
- Characters on Twin Peaks who are subject to Demonic Possession by BOB have the tendency to smash their heads into mirrors. Since the reflection is always of BOB himself, this nicely demonstrates the conflict between BOB and his victim.
- One CSI NY episode had a woman who suffered from a condition that prevented her from recognizing her own reflection. In the police station, she sees her reflection in the two-way mirror in the interrogation room and attacks it, yelling that it's the killer.
- In the Criminal Minds episode Outfoxed, the unsub saw their reflection as a teenager, and shot it.
- On The Big Bang Theory, Raj shouts "What is wrong with you?" to his reflection after a disastrous date with one of Penny's friends (and after the friend screams the same thing to Penny, who in turn screams it at Raj).
- Castle: Ryan smashes a mirror while staring at his reflection after a VIP is shot and killed on his watch in "At Close Range".
- Implied in The Phantom of the Opera miniseries, where Erik declares, "My eyes are the only part of face that I can look at in the mirror without wanting to break the glass."
- In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "A Hen in the Wolf House", Cal is choking Raina as she desperately tries to talk him down. When he sees a reflection of himself in the mirror, he lets her go and smashes the mirror instead.
- The song "I Break Mirrors With My Face in the United States" by Death Grips namechecks the trope in its title and throughout the lyrics.
- The music video for I Would Do Anything for Love by Meat Loaf is based on the story of Beauty and the Beast. There's a scene where Meat Loaf (as the Beast) smashes a hallway of mirrors.
- Leading to a hilarious joke on VH1's Pop Up Video, where the titular pop-ups show a running counter of the "years of bad luck" Meatloaf has accumulated on that scene.
- Likewise, the literal video version, has the line "Break things to show that I'm upset/That's 56 years of bad luck" during that scene.
- The video from "Everybody's Fool" by Evanescence shows Amy Lee punching a mirror... And she hurts her hand in the process. Now guess the emotional tone of the song.
- The music video for "Animal I Have Become" by Three Days Grace ends with the lead singer, wanting to destroy the Animal once and for all tosses a stool at a mirror.
- "Awase Kagami" ("Self-Portrait in Two Mirrors") by Miyuki Nakajima, complete with both the speaker's hands bleeding after breaking the mirror.
- The music video for Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" features, among other scenes, an anorexic woman looking at herself in the mirror disapprovingly, then punching the mirror to shatter it, symbolizing her refusal to agonize over her body.
- Eminem seems found of this trope. Using it in the songs "When I'm Gone" and "Going Through Changes".
- P!nk smashes a mirror in the video for her song "Don't Let Me Get Me".
- In the music video for "Jessie's Girl", Rick Springfield smashes a mirror with the neck of his guitar, because he doesn't think he's good enough to get a woman like Jessie's girl.
- An anorexic woman throws things at her bathroom mirror in the video for Linkin Park's "Burning In The Skies" (the same scene is in the Music Video of "Breaking The Habit").
- In Korn's "Here to Stay" the singer supposedly smashes his head into a mirror during the line about it but the audience sees it from the other side of the mirror so it just looks like he's slamming his head through glass. There is also no mirror finish shown on the pieces of broken glass that spin back to face the audience.
- Mark Owen's (of Take That!) solo song "Clementine" has the subject of the song do this though it's less rage and more a Despair Event Horizon and the final line suggests a Downer Ending.
Into the mirror she stared at herself,
Asked is this my life? Is this what I'm here for?
Her reflection chose not to respond,
As so she froze to the spot like a cold stone statue,
And bathed in her tears, said her time was through.
- This performance of "Vesti la Giubba" from Pagliacci ends with Pagliacci looking in a mirror then breaking it.
- "No point in blaming a mirror when the face is crooked" is an actual Russian proverb.
- In William Shakespeare's historical plays:
- The titular character of Richard II breaks a mirror when his reflection fails to show any maturity or hardship after his deposal. "A brittle glory shineth in this face — as brittle as the glory is this face".
- Inverted in the sequel Richard III where the titular character, after successfully wooing the widow of a man he murdered, decides to buy a mirror to see if he has suddenly become less hideously ugly.
- All of the mirrors in Herbert's bathroom in Tanz Der Vampire are shattered. Considering he's a vampire, and from the way he dresses it's clear that he tries to pay a lot of attention to his appearance, there's a heavy implication that he probably smashed them when he discovered he no longer had a reflection at all.
- Done by Ulala Serizawa to a mirror in the animated introduction of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.
- Having fallen into dereliction after his daughter's death in Splinter Cell Double Agent, Sam Fisher gives the ole mirror a bloody-fisted whack.
- Haunting Ground has Daniella, who will stop and scream whenever she sees her reflection for a moment or two before breaking the mirror.
- Infinity series:
- Ever17: In Coco's Route, the Kid has a truly epic Freak Out in front of the locker room mirror. The reflection therein looks nothing like the Kid; he's a Tomato in the Mirror.
- Remember11: Done by both Kokoro and Satoru upon first learning about their "Freaky Friday" Flip. Hotori's first episode is a result of that too, but you don't find out until much later.
- Implied in Fallout: New Vegas - going into Boone's motel room in Novac reveals a broken bathroom mirror and a bottle of drugs left in the sink. Of course, every mirror in the game is broken, but that still doesn't mean he didn't break his.
- It's implied in Deus Ex: Human Revolution that Adam Jensen does this to his mirror a lot. The superintendent of his apartment building has all but given up on even trying to replace the computer-backed, rather expensive mirrors.
Adam: I never asked for this.
- Implied until he outright states during the showdown with Taggart that the first thing he did upon viewing his post-surgery self was put his fist through the mirror.
- If Walker shoots the hallucination of Konrad in Spec Ops: The Line, he shatters like a mirror with the wrong reflection.
- Near the end of Morpheus, an apparition of Jan Pharris bemoans his heavily deformed face, and his stepsister, Claire Moon being crippled by polio. Then he punctuates it by smashing his own mirror. Weirder still, it was fully intact until you approached, and behind the glass is the combination to his father's cabin.
- In the flash game Die Anstalt, Dolly the sheep does this when shown a mirror.
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ends with Big Boss smashing a mirror with his prosthetic hand because he just learned he's not actually the real Big Boss, but his best MSF soldier who was surgically altered to look like him.
- Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender rages at her hallucination of her mother in a mirror as she realizes that she is completely alone and unloved, thus also clearly raging against herself.
- In the Futurama episode "I, Roommate", a sober Bender winds up lying in an alley in a puddle of his own bodily fluids (mostly oil). He sees his reflection in the puddle, and, predictably, smacks it.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, upon awakening after getting caught in an explosion, Harvey Dent demands a mirror. When he sees the grotesque scarring of half his face, he screams with horror and anger, and his transformation into the villain Two-Face becomes complete (except for the occasional Hope Spot that keeps Batman tormented that his old friend might be saved).
- In a later episode, Batman is chasing Baby Doll through a funhouse, into the Hall of Mirrors. She's caught up short when one of the mirrors shows her as she would have been if she did had not been born with a rare condition that makes her forever look five years old. Cue Villainous Breakdown during which she empties her gun into the mirror.
- In the episode "Terror in the Sky", Francine Langstrom does this when witnessing her transformation into Man-Bat in the mirror of an airplane bathroom.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Red Hood (The Joker's Alternate Universe good twin) breaks a mirror after looking at his newly warped face.
- The Simpsons:
- The Tim Burton Batman example is parodied in episode "Last Exit to Springfield" with the shadowy silhouette reveal of Lisa's horrific Braces of Orthodontic Overkill when the family has no dental nsurance.
- And again in Homie the Clown when, after Krusty the Klown gets extensive plastic surgery, this exchange takes place:
Surgeon: Now Krusty, when I remove the bandages, don't be alarmed by the total stranger staring back at you...
Krusty: (looks in mirror) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHH!!!! (turns round revealing his face) I LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME, YOU MORON!
Surgeon: Oh, nonsense, Krusty. You look at least 10 years younger. Plus, I did your breasts.
Krusty: Does anybody hear me complaining about the breasts?
- In Batman Beyond, Magma shatters a reflective computer panel over how some kids looked at him as if he was a monster, despite having rescued them.
- In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick is talking to his reflection about going on the "Fiery Fist o' Pain" roller coaster. It calls him a coward, causing Patrick to punch it out — not the mirror, the reflection.
- "I thought we'd settled this the last time!"
- In Adventure Time, Lemongrab does this in the episode "You Made Me," in the form of turning around and pointing/yelling at his face in a mirror when a group of kids calls him "crazy."
- ReBoot has Matrix do this twice during an All Just a Dream episode. First time is when he's rebooted as Megabyte and a vidwindow reflection does a Hannibal Lecture, and Matrix smashes it which makes him look normal again. Second time is when another vidwindow appears and a reflection of himself does another Hannibal Lecture, and Matrix shoots that.
- Gargoyles did it twice:
- In "Reawakening", Big Bad Demona ressurects one of her clanmates in the form of a Hollywood Cyborg. When he sees his image in a mirror, he shatters it in disgust.
- In "The Mirror", Demona uses a magic mirror to capture Puck and have him do her bidding. Among the things she wants is for him to Kill All Humans, but he tells her he's not powerful enough for that. Another thing she asks for is to no longer turn to stone during the day (as all gargoyles do). At the end of the episode, Puck grants this wish by having her turn into a human during the day. When Demona realizes this, she smashes the mirror in horror.
- Superman: The Animated Series: In "The Way of All Flesh", Metallo finally comes to terms with his Sense Loss Sadness and knows he is trapped inside of lifeless robot body for the rest of time. He is no longer John Corben, tearing much of his artifical skin off and he smashes that man's reflection in the mirror.
- Jenny does this in the first episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot (And the original Oh Yeah! Cartoons short the series is based on), lamenting on how no one would want to be friends with a robot. In her case, she vaporizes the mirror.
- Young Justice: In "The Fix", Tigress (Artemis) smashes the mirror when she looks into it and sees her real face staring back at her, rather than the illusion everyone else sees, as she is so angry at the lie she is living.
- In The Smurfs episode "Hats Off To Smurfs", Vanity becomes so horrified at how disfigured his face becomes after he started wearing the yellow hat created by Gargamel that he smashed all the mirrors in his house.
- A variant in Miraculous Ladybug's Christmas Episode: Adrien is so angry about how Christmas has gone with his father that he decides to destroy the city's Christmas tree with his Cataclysm attack. At the last second he can't do it, but since the attack is already charged he quickly looks around for something else to use it on, and chooses an advertisement for his father's fashion company, which Adrien himself models for. (For added symbolism, he's said before that he models mostly just to make his dad happy.)