Glass is harder than you think it is. It takes a lot of force to break a glass window, and, even if you succeed, you have many shards of glass all over the place, which can be sharper than a surgical scalpel. However, horribly hurt heroes aren't awesome. It's so much cooler to have your Bad AssAction Hero effortlessly leap through a window and come out unharmed.
As a result, fiction tends to make windows and the like a lot softer than they are in real life. After all, impressive visuals beats realism ten times out of nine.
Also note that the stunt glass you see people jump through all the time in movies is not real glass. Traditionally, it's actually made of sugar. They cook up a nice, thin, cheap sheet of hard candy that looks like glass, but breaks much easier and is less likely to cut the stuntman to ribbons (the iconic crashing noise is added in post-production). Afterwards, just turning a hose on the area washes it away so nobody can get cut after the jump. Modern "breakaway glass" is usually some form of plastic such as acrylic.
When breaking a window to gain entrance to a house or vehicle, it's becoming common for the person to use a physical object to break the glass (averting this trope) or wrap their hand in cloth to "protect" their skin before punching through (downplaying this trope, glass shards can easily cut through most clothing and the wrist/arm is still unprotected). There's a good chance they will then clear all stray glass by rubbing the object (or the "protected" hand) along the frame of the window.
One of the many ways Television Is Trying to Kill Us. If you don't believe us, well, there have been plenty of Darwin Award winners who didn't, either.
See also A Glass in the Hand and Grievous Bottley Harm, where the strength of glass is also underestimated.
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Wrangler's ad campaign "We Are Animals" consists of subsequent still frames of people jumping through the pane glass.
Exaggerated in the "Stunt City" deoderant ad, with various men casually smashing through glass (among other things). Starts with one man punching through his medicine cabinet mirror to get at the product, another leaping through a store's glass door, a motorcycle courier jumping through a lobby window (right beside the door), and finally ending with the first man plumetting from a helicopter through a skylight.
Anime & Manga
In Ranma ½, sending someone flying through a window is a favorite pastime of the characters (especially female ones). Akane's bedroom window, and the homeroom window at school, are the most common victims. Ironically, after Akane tossed Ranma through the open window one time, he tried to leap back up, only to smack firmly into the glass when she closed it.
Subaru of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has a tendency to smash through windows both intentionally and unintentionally, though being a Combat Cyborg certainly helps the plausibility of her doing this. Also, she's wearing a Barrier Jacket (essentially clothing with magical Deflector Shields), which have been shown to withstand some seriously impressive impacts with no damage to the wearer at all.
Played straight (or possibly stealth parodied, it's a tough one) in Paprika, when a small, bespectacled, elderly scientist goes bonkers and runs through a top floor window. The window didn't even slow him down.
In Domu: A Child's Dream, Hiromi's dad goes after Etsuko in the hospital, shattering an entire sliding door. Possibly justified because he was possessed at the time and could have gotten extra strength from the Psychic Powers.
Futaba-kun Change!: Futaba goes through glass windows several times, including once nearly naked, without so much as a scratch. The Justicemaker, on the other hand, can get plenty of shards in his huge head along with comical spurts of blood.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has a few scenes where the Major either busts through or is tossed out a window without acquiring any serious injuries, but this is justified since she's a full-body cyborg. The trope is also averted when the Major has to track down "Angel Feathers", a terrorist who's infamous for bombing glass skyscrapers and causing heavy casualties from the glass shrapnel.
During the Water 7 arc of One Piece, Luffy breaks into Galley-La headquarters by slingshotting himself through a window, and is completely unharmed despite the many large, dangerously sharp-looking pieces of glass on-panel and him using only his bare arms to shield himself. That said, Luffy is made of rubber and has a fair resistance from cuts and piercing (blunt damage is totally negated).
In Darker Than Black, during Hei's training of Suou he blocks a punch of hers with his liquor bottle, it shatters, her hand has no visible injury, and she only seems mildly annoyed.
Subverted in a City Hunter story arc, where the running gag was Ryo trying to break through windows only to discover they were made with bulletproof crystal.
Subverted in an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man, where Spidey, trying to make a dramatic entrance into the Kingpin's office, finds that Fisk has installed much stronger glass than last time Spidey was around.
In another issue of Spider-Man, Peter and his family are staying at Stark Tower, which has been fitted with indestructible windows. After Wolverine taunts him and Mary Jane a bit too much, Peter demonstrates how indestructible they really are by tossing Logan through them. At least Tony got his money back.
In Spider-Man Unlimited #5, a minor villian named Fox traps Spider-Man and The Human Torch in a big glass box, in an attempt to suffocate them. It takes Spidey multiple tries to just crack it enough so that air can be let in. Spider-Man can lift 10 tons by the way.
Played straight(-ish) later when Rorscharch is escaping the set-up at Moloch's home: he leaps through the window to escape the cops, and doesn't appear to be cut by the glass. He is damaged by the fall, however, and is quickly arrested. It's possible that his long-coat and mask protected him from the glass but, since they don't appear to be armored at all, this is improbable.
Bookhunter is all over the place on this one. Library Police SWAT teams are shown crashing through windows and are naturally unharmed, because they're wearing full armor. Then Agent Bay, a plainclothes Cowboy Cop, leaps through a closed window onto a fire escape and isn't injured at all. And then Chief Spencer gets flung through a plate glass window and gets cut and bloodied in the process. Apparently volition determines whether or not breaking glass injures you.
The Defenestrator from DC Comics. Carries a portable window to put people through. Since he's a good guy, hopefully the intention is just on his pyschosis (through the window!) and not the shredding from dangerous glass.
Sin City architects and automakers must stock up on soft glass since several characters have jumped and punched their way through glass with no harm. Then again, characters in this series are usually Made of Iron.
A Star Wars: Legacy comic has Cade Skywalker shattering a display case with the Force, using the resulting shards of glass as shrapnel which he then force-throws at the assembled Siths.
In one issue, Doctor Strange threw himself through a glass window — but he put his striking hand and as much of his body as possible behind his unbreakable Cloak of Levitation.
Tends to be averted in The Punisher. Jigsaw's shredded face is the result of being thrown through a window, and Frank throws a woman against a window dozens of times without it breaking in the MAX series.
Films — Animation
Played completely straight in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Gray fires three shots into a large window, and when he fails to do more than make three little holes, runs up to smash through the window, unharmed. The book averts this, in that he simply chucks a chair through it. Played with in the "outtake" of said scene, in which Gray, after firing the shots, runs into the window and bounces harmlessly off of the glass, falling backwards.
Played straight in Rango. Rango and Beans are trapped in a huge glass jar which is flooding with water, and they were able to break free in it with Rango's last bullet which breaks the glass with a simple tap.
Films — Live-Action
Virtually all bar-fights in any Western series result in at least one cowhand going through a saloon window, often followed by him getting up and running back into the fray.
As in Die Hard below, shooting the glass beforehand is in fact pretty standard for a lot of action shows where they want to show they are paying at least a little bit of attention to realism. Plus it shows off the hero's badassitude in that, yes, they're not only going to jump through that window, they've planned out jumping through the window.
Subverted in A Life Less Ordinary: Ewan McGregor's character, a janitor at an office building, gets replaced by an R2D2-esque cleaning robot. Outraged, he grabs the machine, storms into his boss's office, yells "This is what I think of your robot!" and hurls it at the plate-glass window. The robot bounces off the glass, gets up, and proceeds to clean the office floor.
Spider-Man Trilogy: Shards of glass rarely give more than a few minor scratches. Averted with the death of Rosie Octavius in the second movie.
Angel is able to jump through a skyscaper window without attaining so much as a scratch, shirtless.
And then there's Storm, whose face is slammed through a glass table during a fight scene and yet she doesn't suffer the slightest scratch.
And yet another glass-proof Angel — Nicholas Angel in Hot Fuzz, who managed to jump through a glass door without hurting himself. However, he threw a truncheon through it first so it shattered — but still... That's actually played fully straight — the truncheon goes through the window, and Angel then jumps through the door. He also gets straight-up thrown through another window later on, and is none the worse for wear even after hitting concrete. Then again, given the fact that the whole film is an Affectionate Parody of several genres, realism wasn't high on their list of priorities.
Last Action Hero, as part of the premise, lampshaded this and many, many other tropes. In movieland Jack Slater does this habitually, but after punching a car's window in the real world he notes that it "really hurt". After getting back, he satisfiedly remarks that it works again after punching the glass door to Da Chief's office.
During the shooting of another film of his, True Lies, Arnold accidentally smashed a real car window instead of the one made out of sugar.
In Lethal Weapon, Riggs takes a shotgun blast from Mr. Joshua and flies back through a window without any injuries worse than getting the wind knocked out of him. Of course, Riggs is crazy enough to ignore many injuries.
In Gremlins, Billy smashes open a glass window with a children's toy. The kind that looks like a lawn mower full of little popping balls. Aside from being weird, it's fairly believable. He and Kate manage to climb through the hole without cutting themselves at all, although they don't make it look easy.
Subverted in I, Robot. Detective Spooner attempts to debunk the theory that Dr. Lanning defenestrated himself to commit suicide. He does so by throwing a desk chair at the next pane of glass, and noting that, as safety glass, it shattered in place but did not break.
Murphy is allowed to shoot former-OCP officer Dick Jones... who subsequently stumbles backwards from the bullet impacts and breaks through a skyscraper window pane like it wasn't even there. He screams all the way down, presumably from the fall rather than the bullets or having walked through a window. Though it looked like the bullets went through Jones and damaged the window.
Both subverted and played straight for humor in the movie version of Lucky Luke starring Terence Hill. During a bar brawl, one of the mooks tries to smash a bottle against a table, and repeatedly fails to actually break it. Luke helps him out by grabbing the bottle and smashing it (successfully) against the mook's head.
In Beethoven, Charles Grodin enters the bad guys' headquarters through the skylight.
Played straight near the end of the French movie The Fox and the Child, when the fox jumps through a window with thick wooden framing as though it was nothing. Subverted because she nearly bleeds to death on the ground below.
Even animals sometimes get in on this act, as in the velociraptor's crash through the laboratory window in Jurassic Park. While scales might offer some protection against being cut, it really ought to have shown at least some damage from the collision.
This must be a Batman thing, because the saga is known for its realism — and even it suffers from this. Batman once glided through a window without being injured or noticeably slowing down (though the S.W.A.T. team members in The Dark Knight were at least shooting the windows).
In Batman Begins, in which it is even more ridiculous because it is done by actual bats. Little animals like that aren't gonna be able to break through glass windows.
Parodied in Bridget Jones' Diary, in which two guys hurl themselves through plate glass like action movie heroes and then simply lie whimpering in agony in the glass shards below, too hurt to move.
Quite a painful one in the Jackie Chan film Police Story 2, where he jumps through a window from the roof of a moving bus. A candyglass window was set up for the stunt, but Chan misjudged how far the bus had traveled and ended up jumping through a real one. The outtakes over the credits show how painful this was.
In The Mummy Returns, Rick and Jonathan jump out a window, and land unharmed on the awning beneath.
Used in The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. The brothers swing from a window washer's platform, and through the window of a skyscraper in order to get at the guys inside. They do fire several .357 Magnum rounds through the window first to weaken the glass, but right after landing, they slide on their knees across a floor that should have been covered in razor sharp shards.
Made into a subtle hint of future plot development in the French supernatural thriller Vidocq, where the villain called the Alchemist cheerfully breaks the laws of physics in his every appearance, once jumping through a large window and several stories to the ground, walking away unharmed. Later on, another character does the same with no explanation. Coincidence?
Unintentionally averted in The Way of the Gun, when Benicio del Toro's character breaks into a car and has to elbow the window several times before it shatters. The glass was supposed to break on the first try but didn't, so del Toro just kept hitting it until it did. Possible double subversion: he had a screwdriver in his sleeve, and it still took him 3 hits to break the window.
Probably one of the craziest examples ever happens in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, when Kara flies face first through a window and belly flops to the ground two stories below with no discernible injuries from either the glass or the fall. Honestly, with Made of Iron abilities like that, why the hell is she afraid of Michael Myers? Also, Michael Myers seems to have no problem punching through car windows without sustaining any injuries.
Earlier in the series (Halloween II) Michael simply walks through a glass door, which of course shatters into a million tiny pieces.
In The Good Son near the end Mark is locked in a study room for his seemingly insane behavior, when he sees Henry walking with his mother knowing his intention to kill her he breaks the window with a chair that he doesn't seem to hit very hard.
In Jaws 3D near the end when the shark breaks through the aquarium glass it doesn't bump the glass very hard at all causing it to instantly shatter, the scene is quite hilarious considering how fake the shark looks in that shot with the 3D effects.
Played with in Uncle Buck. When Buck arrives at his brother's house, he sets himself up for a Dish Dash when he knocks a china plate off the shelf — and it doesn't break. Amazed, he tries banging the plate against the piano. It doesn't go as well.
Played straight in Star Trek: Generations. The transparent Bridge ceiling, which is supposed to be made of transparent aluminum, shatters and rains down on the crew, hurting no one.
Another painful one from Hong Kong — during the filming of Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee got quite badly lacerated during a take of his fight with O'Hara (Robert Wall), as the glass bottles Wall smashed to make his ersatz daggers were quite real.
Played dead straight in Attack of the Clones when Obi-wan jumps headfirst through Padmé's window. This is particularly egregious because according to the Star Wars Expanded Universe Coruscant's windows are made of transparisteel, not glass. This is a transparent material that is much tougher than glass (they use it for viewports on starships among other things).
Subverted at the end of Ransom. Tom Mullen and Jimmy Shaker crash through a plate-glass window during the climactic fight, which breaks into pie wedges. Both men are cut badly; Jimmy's injuries have him spurting blood from his neck.
Possible Double Subversion in Grosse Pointe Blank. During the final battle Martin kills Grocer by smashing a television over his head and leaves him lying there with his head stuck through the screen. On the one hand, the glass from which they made the screens on CRT televisions is even tougher than regular window glass. On the other hand, the guy still died. On the third hand, Rule of Funny.
At the end of The Game, Nicholas attempts suidice after he thinks he accidentally killed his brother and falls several stories into a giant pane of glass. He lands on one of those giant air bags stunt men use and is told to lie perfectly still; he fell through breakaway glass, but it could still hurt him if they don't brush it off.
Averted, to nauseating effect, in Pan's Labyrinth, when Captain Vidal beats a poacher in the face with a wine bottle. The bottle doesn't so much as crack. The poacher's face, however, is smashed in with a series of wet crunching noises.
Averted and Played for Laughs in Sin City, as Marv throws himself out of a window then through a car windshield, covering him in lacerations and blood; the next scene shows he has had to almost cover himself in tape to stop the bleeding.
Zhora does this when being chased by Deckard in Blade Runner. She IS a replicant, though.
Subversion of the "glass bottle" variant: in Night Watch, a drunken man smashes a glass bottle... and then screams as this badly injures his hand. Vimes then tells the Watch a story about a man he saw/will see who smashed a bottle the wrong way, and ended up with a handful of broken glass, then his opponent leant forward and squeezed.
Also averted several times in Witches Abroad, as Granny Weatherwax smashes several mirrors during the course of the story, and almost gets killed by a shower of broken glass. (The ever-patient Nanny Ogg patches her up, lamenting, "Oh, Esme, you do take winning hard.")
In Maskerade, a panicked lady clobbers Nanny Ogg with a full bottle of champagne to try and knock her out so as to make an escape. The bottle doesn't break, but the book takes this moment to point out that somewhere in the Ogg family tree is a bit of dwarf, meaning Nanny has a skull you could break rocks with, so all getting hit really does is stun her momentarily.
Played straight in the YA novel Lisa, Bright and Dark. The title character, a young girl going mad, walks through a glass patio door in a desperate cry for medical attention. Let's just repeat the relevant bit: She walks through the glass patio door. The narration makes it very clear this is what's happening — no running, no jumping, not even any hard shouldering. She does end up badly cut, but still...
Star Wars Expanded Universe: Both averted and lampshaded in the novel Wraith Squadron: Iron Fist. A team of New Republic spies instigate a bar brawl with a group of Imperial pilots by having one of their members hitting a fellow teammate in the head with a glass bottle. The bottle shatters because it is made out of stage glass. After the fight, the team member who took the bottle to the face stated that the first bottle didn't hurt him but complained that he was hit by a second bottle and that one was made out of real glass (the bottle didn't even break). Earlier in the book, in their inspiration for setting up the scene later, a person who instigated a bar brawl for similar reasons smacked a member of the team on the head with a bottle, which not only didn't break but gave him a minor concussion and was unable to fight for a while.
Used in Thieves Like Us, when a girl escapes her captors by going into the bathroom, locking the door, and breaking open the window with a shampoo bottle. Subverted in that she wrapped her hand in a towel to pull out the larger shards still in the frame afterwards and gets a deep cut in her side while climbing out.
In The Catcher in the Rye, when Holden, the main character, finds out that his brother died, he breaks all the windows in the garage with his fist. He messes up his hand so badly that he can never make a proper fist again.
MythBusters hit on this subject twice: Destination Defenestration and Grievous Bottley Harm (more specifically can someone be flung through a window and come out on the other side uninjured and is the amount of Grievous Bottley Harm greater with or without liquid in the offending bottle). In both cases, it was busted (you can throw someone through a window but they will be heavily lacerated and taking a shot to the head with a full bottle is far more lethal as a result of concussive force than an empty one, even with the potential for laceration).
Angel: Angel is rather fond of crashing through skylights. He also smashes through a lot of windows. The fact that he's a vampire might account for his ability to survive such an impact, but not the fact that he never gets cut.
Subverted in one episode in which he's thrown out of a Skyscraper window. He recovers shortly after but is shown to be in extreme pain and spitting up Blood upon impact.
In the very first episode, Angel kicks a office chair (and vampire occupate) out of a skyscraper window without too much effort. Possibly justified since as a vampire, Angel has Super Strength.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Played straight and subverted in "Homecoming". Buffy, Cordelia, and a demon need to get out of a house that's about to explode. Buffy and Cordelia dive through a window, which shatters with no great hello. The demon dives through another window... except it's boarded shut and he just bounces right back onto the grenade. Buffy is a powerhouse, though, smashing through glass is much less of a problem for her. Generally, characters treat glass windows pretty much as doors.
Done completely the other way round: Claire punches through a car window to intimidate Elle and gets several glass shards in her hand, when realistically, a car window should be made of safety glass that is specifically designed not to create sharp shards because of the great risk that would pose in accidents. Her power is regeneration though, so she's OK.
Then subverted at the end of season two: Elle blasts Sylar through a glass door; he keeps running and it seems he's perfectly fine, but in the next scene, he has several gashes and wounds. Regeneration is used again, though, as he injects himself with Claire's blood, healing his wounds, and granting his powers back.
In Jeeves and Wooster, Bertie Wooster jumps through a closed glass window, and emerges unharmed.
In an episode of My Family, Ben and Susan house sit an extremely hi-tech apartment, where they do not know how to operate anything or open the windows. A fire starts and they break the glass (which looks pretty damn thick) by throwing a DVD player at it.
A version of this happened on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Puma Man, where the title character effortlessly punches his way through a roof. Mike comments "Thank goodness they made their house out of peanut brittle!"
Carla has to get into Turk's car and brings fellow nurse Laverne along with her. The car's locked, so Laverne shouts a battle cry ("Lavern Robaaaaaarts!") and punches out the window with nary a scratch. Carla is taken aback and cries "Laverne! I have the keys!"
Near the end of the third season, J.D. and Elliot get back together, then J.D. tells her he doesn't love her at the reception dinner. She shoves him onto the table, where he crushes several wine glasses. No injury occurs.
The Stewart/Colbert/O'Brien Mêlée à Trois includes a scene where all three smash beer bottles over each other's heads — this is where the Stewart-Colbert alliance breaks up and it becomes a true Mêlée à Trois, as Jon accidentally breaks a bottle over Stephen. The blooper reel shows Conan going to hit Jon and hesitating at the last minute, disturbed by how real the sugar glass bottle looks, and the weight of it — sugar glass is usually much lighter than the real thing.
Very much not averted when Will Bailey breaks the "glass" between his and Toby's office. The scene showcased the extent of his frustration, as Toby has never been able to break it with his rubber ball no matter how hard he threw it. Funny thing is, the thump of the ball against the window always sounded like plexiglass before this incident. Go figure.
Oh mercy, "The End of Time". Watching the 10th Doctor plummet through Naismith's stained glass ceiling and land very painfully. He's cut up, but not as badly as the fall should have made him. (Of course, he probably broke most of the bones in his body on the landing, which wouldn't be quite so noticeably bloody and graphic, but still....)
"Closing Time" — the 11th Doctor jumps through a window to rescue Craig, and doesn't get so much as a scratch. Fixing the window before Craig's wife gets home is more of a problem (apparently, finding a glazer on a Sunday isn't easy even with a time machine).
Oddly averted in "Partners in Crime". Donna was even hitting that window with a wrench and nothing was happening. Maybe deadlocking windows to make them sonic-screwdriver-proof also strengthens the glass.
Played with on QI, when Stephen Fry and Alan Davies had sugar-glass goblets and the other panelists had real ones. After Fry harmlessly broke a goblet over his head and munched on a piece, another panelist carelessly threw his into the floor — where it broke in the usual fashion and startled everyone.
In the HBO show Oz, characters repeatedly break through glass walls. Which is even more bizarre considering the fact that it's set... in a maximum-security prison. A maximum-security prison where the walls are made out of glass. Not Plexiglass or even safety glass, but regular, breaks-into-nice-sharp-pieces-perfect-for-shanking-someone glass. Justified in that Em City is designed specifically like that. Also averted in that when Beecher smashes a glass window with a chair, a shard nearly blinds Schillinger
Also done in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Conspiracy", where Riker fights an alien-possesed guy who slams him into a glass-topped table. It shatters, and Riker is completely uninjured. (This also raises the question of how stupid they have to be to put glass-topped tables in a spacecraft, rather than, say, transparent aluminum...)
The season one midseason finale of White Collar has Neal Caffrey swinging into a locked room of an art museum this way. Well, technically the window was made of panes of glass separated by wood, which is what he actually breaks, but he should've gotten a few cuts at the very least.
Played straight in The Cape; the second episode starts with the main character jumping through a plate glass window, out of a skyscraper, onto a car (whose window also shatters) and the only injury he suffers is from being stabbed before jumping out the window.
LOST. Locke gets shoved out a window and falls eight stories. He lives. However, much of LOST is about characters surviving/healing from stuff they should not.
There were several instances where Richie crashed through a glass window. Justified at least once in that in the scene, he hit the glass at full speed on his motorcycle (though it's a surprise he wasn't cut, unless the motorcycle gear was heavy enough to protect him.)
In the pilot, he averts the trope, cutting Mac's antique shop window with a glass cutter.
Played straight for laughs in a season 3 episode of Happy Endings, when Penny accidentally walks through a glass window in a car dealership. The glass shatters fully, but she doesn't get a single scratch. There's a Brick Joke later in the same episode, when she walks through the same window again — only this time, it's covered with a plastic sheet.
In an episode of Get Smart where CONTROL is trying to get KAOS to recruit Max, CONTROL has replaced many real bottles at a tavern with breakaway glass so Max can hit the Chief over the head with one, "knocking" the Chief out. After they go through this several times without the KAOS agent in the tavern noticing, Max gets a real bottle of champagne. His plan is to break the bottle on the bar counter and threaten the Chief with the broken pieces, but when he tries it the bottle just knocks a hunk of wood out of the bar.
Played with in Firefly: at one point Mal gets thrown through what turns out to be a holographic window.
Averted on Doc Martin. Never treated as anything but a hazard, particularly when a girl crashes through a glass doorway and ends up unconscious and nearly bleeding to death.
For an angle in WCW, Goldberg was required to punch through a real glass window of a limousine. He was originally supposed to conceal a small piece of pipe in his hand to aid with the punching, but after the cameras started rolling he lost it and decided to punch through the window with his bare fist. A shard of glass caused a huge gash down his forearm and he was out of action for months. Watch it here. Watch for him checking his arm after smashing the third window and the subsequent splatter of blood when he pounds on the white hood.
In a WWE example, there was the spot during King Of The Ring 2001 where Kurt Angle attempted to suplex Shane McMahon through a sheet of glass. The glass did not break and Shane landed right on his head. It took them three tries before the glass finally broke. Moments later they tried the same thing again with the same amount of success. If you listen to the match commentary on the DVD with Shane and Kurt they talk about this, and proving that he's actually got a bit of badass in him, Shane apparently told Kurt once they were through the first one to just fling him head-first through the glass on the way out. He did, and it looked awesome.
Sabu and Cactus Jack had a match in ECW where they brawled through the crowd and backstage area. Sabu got hold of a bottle, which he proceeded to break over Jack's head. Except that it was a real, non-gimmicked bottle, and took several attempts...
The set for Brutus Beefcake's Talk Show with Fists, The Barber Shop, has a big glass window that was just begging for someone to be thrown through it. That someone was Marty Jannetty, courtesy of his tag-team partner Shawn Michaels, in a move that solidified Michaels's Face-Heel Turn and launched his singles career. Note that in Real Life, the window was not real glass, and Jannetty was applying the blood while he was draped over the windowsill and his face was out of sight. (Interestingly, many people misremember this as "Michaels superkicking Jannetty through the glass," when what actually happened was Michaels superkicking Jannetty to the floor, then picking him up and throwing him through the glass.)
This happens a lot in Japanese and American "Death Match" or other Garbage Wrestling venues. The lucky ones work for a league that invests in prop beer mugs and break-away panes of glass that, like most pro wrestling, looks horrid but is relatively safe. The unlucky ones get dropped through actual, thin window panes, have actual glasses and bottles busted over their heads, and get hit with/thrown through actual fluorescent tubes. The latter of which, btw, shatter into countless razor-sharp shards, tend to turn the upper layer of skin and flesh into hamburger, and contain potentially carcinogenic chemicals.
In a later scene to escape from a building-soon-to-be-destroyed, despite having superhuman augmented cyborg arms that can shatter concrete and don't feel pain, he STILL throws a chair at a window (which bounces off instead of breaking it outright) before going out of it, because his fist would leave a small, well...fist-sized hole instead of the larger one he would need to jump through. In-universe, this makes sense — most of the windows seem much thicker than modern-day windows, and after going headfirst through an intact one, Adam probably wanted to weaken it first.
Played entirely straight, but not in the way you're thinking, in the original Space Quest adventure game. After your escape pod crashes on a desert planet, one of the things you need to recover from it is a glass shard from the shattered pod windshield. But don't worry, hilariously accident prone Roger Wilco! It's safety glass, and therefore shatters specifically in such a way to prevent any sharp edges. Good thing you've got your Xenon Army Knife. Wait, that can't cut through hot butter...
Played straight in Resident Evil 4 and 5. Characters are at least smart enough to shield their face while diving through windows, but it doesn't do them any damage either way.
Mirror's Edge gives us a woman diving head first through panes of glass (provided you hit the glass first) with no ill side affects.
Canabalt has the protagonist leaping through glass windows without even slowing, much less taking damage.
It's both averted and played straight in Heavy Rain. Most of the fight scenes play it straight since they have characters fighting through glass rather easily (characters punching through glass, a fish tank shattering, etc.). When glass actually has to be broken outside of a fight, though, it takes at least three well-placed kicks to break open, thus averting the trope. And then it's averted in another way when Origami Killer forces one of the characters to crawl down a ventilation shaft lined with tons broken glass. The state of the character's clothes and arms afterwards tells you all you need to know about how painful it must have been.
In Grand Theft Auto IV the protagonist's method of stealing cars is to simply elbow the window, and unlock it from the inside.
In Sonic Adventure, glass is broken in a few areas, but never is it a danger to you. When ZERO breaks through the wall of monitors, Amy can walk through the shards, no problem. In Speed Highway, Sonic and Tails can break glass by walking on it, but all that means is they have to get back up. Also in Speed Highway, there's a part where Sonic runs down the side of a building, smashing glass as he does so. Not only does he not get hurt when he runs through glass, but he's also never even injured from being rained on by all those shards of glass.
In The Godfather windows shatter easily. Naturally a second floor toss is an insta-kill. First floor? The mook will get back up and attack. Taken to a hilarious extent in the sequel, where you can vault through grilled windows without concern.
The Dead Rising games let you punch or kick through sheets of glass with no problem. You won't get hurt even if you're in your underpants.
Max Payne 3 plays this ridiculously straight as, after shooting a pane of glass anywhere, Max can literally stroll through it and it will snap around him without harming him (though this is mainly in place for common, awesome window jumps and throws).
Averted in The Last of Us, when Joel stabs a Hunter neck first onto a broken window pane.
Birds crashing through windows is a common occurrence in Hatoful Boyfriend. Fans have theorized that since sapient birds took over the world, they replaced all the windows with safety glass.
Lampshaded: Elan mentions that Dashing Swordsmen get reduced glass damage precisely so they can make dramatic window entrances. It doesn't even have to be dramatic, so he can apparently just break glass by touching it.
It seems he's the only character with this ability. For everyone else, it plays out realistically.
In the Prequel Start of Darkness, Xykon hurls Redcloack and Right-Eye through a diner window. Both are shown to be scratched up afterwards.
During a hurricane in Freefall, Sam uses the ship's momentum to bust Florence, who's dangling from a rope, through the window of a building. Florence is completely unharmed in the next comic.
Used dead straight when Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! gets thrown through sheets of glass, on at least two occasions, without a scratch. Of course, since he also survives even worse attacks without a mark on him, this may just be because he's Made of Iron.
Maxim the Jägerkin gets tossed through the window of a Sandwich shop without a scratch. Of course the knife wound in his hand from a few panels before is gone too, so maybe it's a Healing Factor.
During the McDonald's arc, Dr. McNinja interrogates three workers to learn Ronald's whereabouts. After they refuse to talk, he "super sizes their pain" by throwing one of them out the window. They were robots, but still... and then there's this line.
Dr. McNinja: More defenestration? Or you gonna talk?
The plate glass windows of Doc's office have also been emergency egresses (and ingresses!) to the point where Doc's got a "wall and window man" on call.
Concerned has Gordon Frohman escaping from the office building in Counter-Strike by jumping out the window. It shatters effortlessly, but apparently still hurts.
Parodied when Homer punches through a deli window to get some food, then walks to the pharmacy to punch the window to get bandages to wrap his glass cuts in.
Homer does this by accident when trying to hit the jukebox and make it start playing a la Fonzie: "'aaaayyy.... (smash) AHH!! HEMORRHAGE-A-MUNDO!!!"
In another episode Bart throws a brick against a store window only for it to bounce back and hit him in the head without cracking the window.
Rocket Power actually explained this trope. When a film crew is in town for a movie, they explain that the fish tank is actually made out of sugar and not glass, which Sam then proceeds to give a lick.
One episode of Justice League Unlimited had Wonder Woman stop a fast-moving car by punching it. This is essentially the same as it hitting a wall, and sending the drivers and passenger flying through the windshield (instead of just knocking the thing straight out) and into another car, yet the guys not only survive, but weren't even unconscious.
In "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy", like most times, Batman can send a grappling hook through a glass window like it was nothing. Then it was subverted when Batman was unable to break a large lightbulb by just throwing his utility belt at it, and had to throw a pole at it like a spear. Then, two minutes later, he throws the belt at a glass wall, and it goes straight through it.
At one point, the Joker lampshades this.
Joker: Either you've never heard of a door before or you like pulling glass out of your pants.
In The New Adventures of Batman & Superman episode "Critters", Robin is running away from a giant bull, and he at least picks up a trashcan lid to leap through a window.
Played straight in The Spectacular Spider-Man. When fighting Green Goblin, Spider-Man is thrown out a window, catches himself, swings back up, and breaks back through another window, all while commenting on the definition of Defenestration.
A weird place for this to be averted is the Darkwing Duck episode "Life, the Negaverse, and Everything". Three metahumans (metaducks?) and three normals are trapped in a glass tube, likely sealed at the top, as villain Negaduck taunts them. Granted, the powers involved are electricity, plant control, and water, but the glass did hold... until a mechanical doll with an axe or seven took care of the issue.
Subverted in the episode "South Park Is Gay": Mr. Slave attempts to assassinate the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. He manages to crash through their hotel window... and then lies bleeding on the hotel room floor.
Later, in two episodes of the "Imaginationland Trilogy" this happens three times in order to break into the same room in the Pentagon. Twice by Cartman, once by Kyle. Part of the window was broken the first time; the second time the window was put together with tape and broken again; the third time Kyle simply dove into the non-broken part of the window.
Usually played straight in Code Lyoko, like in "The Pretender" where Yumi jumps through a window unharmed. The ravens in this episode also have no trouble flying through panes of glass — but since they're possessed by XANA, they are basically super-powered birds.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars ironically averts this when there was no need to. In one scene Anakin slashes a window with his lightsabre, presumably to weaken it, then uses the Force to smash the glass. So... what was the lightsabre needed for? Considering the Jedi frequently send large metal robots flying across a room, surely this would be one scenario where the glass shouldn't need weakening. Transparisteel, perhaps?
The Venture Bros.: Downplayed with Sergeant Hatred. When he's running to the glass door, he can't open it, with the reinforced steel about to lock him out, so he shoots the door several times to weaken it and jump through. He gets through because he weakened the glass, but the shards do no harm to him.