It has been shown time and again, in cartoons, movies, and video games, that the best way to break something is by hitting it with your head. Really hard.
We're not talking ordinary, run-of-the-mill headbutts here. Heck, we're not even talking about headbutts of love. When a character uses his head, they transform from ordinary bloke to full-on Battering Ram. The character may go into full on raging-bull mode, charging blindly ahead at whatever stands in his path. Or his companions may actually pick him up, using the blunt end of his skull to smash down whatever it is that needs smashin'. This can be an effective means of attack for some. For others, it's simply the easiest road to destruction. When somebody breaks out the cranial cannonball, the walls are going to come tumblin' down.
Strangely enough, no character who ever employs this technique ever seems to get a concussion — or even a headache. This may be because he's a Big Guy or a Cloudcuckoolander — two character subspecies known for this trope — and for having very thick skulls, or maybe he's wearing Weaponized Headgear. (Genius Bruisers are, of course, an exception.)
Although the Trope Naming phrase doesn't always precede incidences of this trope, if you utter it in the presence of the Big Guy or a Cloudcuckoolander in battle, you know exactly what you're likely to get.
Also see Headdesk, which is Using Your Head out of frustration, or Put Their Heads Together, when two characters get hit with each other's skulls. Compare Ass Kicks You. A signature move of the Violent Glaswegian, where it is called the "Glasgow Kiss".
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Irn Bru, the Scottish national soft drink, often has very unusual and sometimes comical ads. This particular one is definitely on the funny side, and plays to the Violent Glaswegian trope by featuring the iconic headbutt as delivered by a vending machine.
Anime & Manga
Hanamichi Sakuragi from Slam Dunk likes to do this a lot. It's practically his off-basket signature move. One of his first scenes ever in the series involved him headbutting his True Companions for teasing him, then other people for unknowingly hitting one of his Berserk buttons, and more than once he has dealed them to his own teammates (like Miyagi), schoolmates (like Aouta) or people from other teams (like Hikoichi) if they piss him off enough. Akagi and Rukawa are pretty much the only ones who can resist his headbutts without being knocked-out.
UFO Robo Grendizer: Duke also uses that tactic sometimes, although he has a good excuse: usually he is trying to ram the enemy rather than head-butt it, but his Humongous Mecha head is on the front of his starship when both mechas combine, so that it is the first thing hits the enemy.
Also, the filler episode where Hinata opens a door to find Naruto standing upside-down on the ceiling so that his face is, like, three inches from hers. She, ofcourse, blushes beet-red with her crush so close to her. When Naruto puts a hand to her forehead (he mistakes the blush for a fever-flush), she screams and then impulsively headbutts him across the room, knocking both him and herself out.
At the end of chapter 563 Naruto does this to Tobi immediately upon finding him. That's right, his opening move against the Big Bad is a headbutt. Naruto complains about him having too hard a head afterward.
Veemon's main attack in Digimon Adventure 02 is Vee Headbutt. It's also worth noting that one of his evolved form's moves, Fire Rocket, can be this. That name covers two completely different attacks in the English dub though, the other being him shooting fireballs from his fists, which is known in Japan as Fire Knuckle.
Luffy's attack, Gum Gum Bell. This one has the added advantage of Luffy being able to stretch his neck out over 100 feet before he executes it. Justified in that Luffy's rubber body renders him pretty much immune to blunt damage. One interesting use is when he wraps his arms and legs around Captain Kuro, then uses his head, his only free part, to headbutt him and knock him out.
And now after the timeskip, he can vulcanize his head (or at least his forehead) to make his Gum Gum Bell hit with the force of a bungee-powered, iron-crushing bowling ball.
Legendary pirate Don Chinjao has a headbutt that can crack continents. Or rather they could back when his head was long and pointy, but Garp punched his head so hard that it dented it flat, which was also a problem as he needed his pointy head to break into his family's hidden treasure vault, hence why he hates Garp and (by extension) Luffy.
In YuYu Hakusho, Chu tries to finish off Yusuke with a headbutt, but Yusuke counters it with an even stronger headbutt, and then quips that humans invented it.
Yusuke uses his head during the Curb-Stomp Battle that is one of his last fights. While possessed by his demon ancestor, he fights Sensui a second time and absolutely beats the living shit out of him, including Rapid Fire Fisticuffs, Using Your Head and Meteor Moves to reduce the ex-Spirit Detective to a beaten body on the ground. Which he then fries.
Ash's Scraggy likes to headbutt as a greeting, though this is natural for its species.
In addition to the use of the attacks mentioned above throughout the series, the opening battle scene in Pokémon 3 the Movie: Spell of the Unown shows Pikachu and a Quagsire suffer a Double KO when Pikachu accidentally smacks headfirst into it after rebounding off a swing.
The Law of Ueki has a minor character whose power is the ability to turn his head into diamond when his hands are in his pockets. His only attack is using his head.
In Holyland, Katou doing this to Shougo starts the latter's defeat.
Rin does this in Blue Exorcist when told by his brother to start using his head in battle. He literally does when knocking out a demon twice his size with a headbutt and the only damage done to him is a minor nosebleed, which is only seen in the anime.
Better yet, the demon provided all the momentum- it charged him and all he did was hold his ground and intercept it. With his head.
In Code:Breaker, this appears to be The Prince's favorite way of getting her point across.
In one of Baccano!!'s climactic scenes, JacuzziSplot uses a series of relentless headbutts to the face to distract and disorient his opponent.
This particular move is used for great effect in Deadman Wonderland, by the main character Ganta. He headbutts Minatsuki so hard she passes out while bound by her hair whips, then immediately tells the crowd to fuck off when they demand blood.
Rachel in Doki Doki Precure once wants to fight a Jikochuu for hurting Yashima. As he's in his fairy form, there's not much he can do, but he manages to drag Cure Diamond along with him as he smacks the Jikochuu with his head, essentially defeating it while hurting his cheek.
In Tiger Mask, the headbutt is the main shtick of the real-life wrestlers Kintaro Oki and Bobo Brazil (the latter of which being fond of the Coco Butt, consisting in headbutting the upper part of his victims' skulls for increased damage). Bobo Brazil's fictional apprentice Black V brought it Up to Eleven (as Brazil specifically wanted to create an improved version of himself), as he used the ring ropes and spinning to give himself momentum and execute a devastating Missile Headbutt, and Tiger Mask himself used Bobo Brazil's trademark Coco Butt on The Convict, who, having never received one before, suffered a lot from it.
Natsu Dragneel from Fairy Tail has two magic attacks as headbutts. He flies towards the enemy and hits him/her with his head while he's wreathed in flames. They are called Karyu no Kenkaku and Shiranui Gata: Guren Hōō Ken.
Both, Gildartz and Bluenote clashes together with their heads.
Laxus does this to Hades as his first attack.
In one early Batman comic, Dick Grayson / Robin does this to a crook, complete with lampshading: "How's that for using my head?"
Jubei, the Badass Normal hero of Ninja Scroll, keeps headbutting an immortal enemy until that enemy's face is caved in towards the end of the movie.
Played straight in Toy Story 2. When breaking through a vent that's been screwed shut, the fake Buzz tells everyone to "use your head". Cut to a shot of them running down the vent with Rex as a battering ram as he yells "But I don't wanna use my head!" Justified in that Rex is a toy and technically has no biological brain that can be damaged.
Subverted in the "outtake" of this scene where the grate is on too tight, and all of them just bash against it. Ow indeed.
Phil: Not bad, kid! Not exactly what I had in mind, but not bad...
Princess Fiona's mother does this to walls twice in Shrek the Third. The second time she does it leaves her understandably disorientated. And humming "My Favorite Things".
Discussed by one of the Viking kids in How to Train Your Dragon, though he doesn't get to actually do it. "I will cut off the legs of every dragon I see. With my face." Also discussed by Stoick.
Stoick: When I was a boy, my dad told me to bang my head against a rock, and I did it! I thought he was crazy, but I didn't question him. And do you know what happened? Gobber:You got a headache. Stoick:That rock split in two!
Neo and Agent Smith both do this to each other in The Matrix.
One of the bad guys in the movie Suburban Commando has the top of his skull replaced with a metal cap for this particular reason. Not to mention he looks patently ridiculous while doing so.
The Horror of Party Beach features a whiter-than-white guy getting into a fight with some Hollywood-style biker thugs over a girl. At one point, the lead thug's compatriots pick him up and ram his head into the guy he's fighting.
Variation when the head was used to fix something. In Back to the Future numerous characters tell Marty to "Use your head, McFly". At the climax when the car won't start, Marty headbutts the steering wheel and the engine roars into life.
A properly done headbutt (as in using the top of the forehead and targeting vulnerable areas) is probably one of the safest ways to strike. But doing it improperly (like, say, aiming at the other guy's forehead instead of, say, face) means damaging your head and likely your brain.
Tony tries this on Thor in The Avengers. Thor returns the favor hard enough to knock him back several feet and leave a sizeable dent in his helmet.
In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf (jokingly, perhaps, although he was pretty cranky by that point and might well have done it) threatens to use Pippin's head as a battering ram to try to open the gates of Moria: "But if that does not shatter them, and I am allowed a little peace from foolish questions, I will try to seek the opening words."
Danica Maupoissant, from the Forgotten Realms series The Cleric Quintet, who broke a big-ass block of stone with a headbutt. Earlier, under the influence of the evil potion, she repeatedly slams her face into brick blocks trying to figure out the technique. It gets a minor mention in the second book when she uses it to shatter an ogre's chest when he's bear-hugging her.
Mace Windu does this to a guard twice his size who blocks his way in the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Shatterpoint. The guard taunts the "little Jedi" to draw his lightsaber. Mace simply says that his head is all he needs and proceeds to show him exactly what he means, then steps away as the guard falls.
Guard: What you gonna do, think me to death? (headbutt)
A Song of Ice and Fire. In his first battle, dwarf Tyrion Lannister is given a suit of ill-fitting armour, including a bucket helm with a spike on top. After being knocked off his horse by a knight wielding a mace, it appears to be all up for our vertically-challenged protagonist until he headbutts the knight's horse, ripping its guts open. The knight falls off and breaks several bones, forcing him to surrender to Tyrion.
In Animorphs, this is what Jake's rhino and Rachel's elephant morph were often used for.
In the Red Dwarf episode "White Hole", Holly powers down to conserve her remaining runtime, thus shutting off the engines and the powered doors. Solution? Bash down the 53 doors between them and the science room using... Kryten! Of course, he's a mechanoid, so it doesn't cause him too much damage...
Subverted in an episode of Cheers where Cliff claims to know karate and smashes a stack of boards with his head. Diane ends up having to sneak him off to the hospital.
Played with in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of Spike's minions asks him how to get into a locked room; Spike scornfully says "Use your head!", grabs him by the scruff of the neck... and smashes his head into the compartment next to the door holding a fire axe.
In the Doctor Who episode "The Lodger", the Doctor is trying to explain to James Corden why he's living in his flat, which is to investigate time disruptions coming from upstairs. Telling James Corden would take too long, so the Doctor headbutts him for a very fast mind meld. Painful to both parties.
Data: My upper spinal support is a poly-alloy, designed for extreme stress. My skull is composed of cortenide and duranium.
In Home Improvement, Tim and Al had a Karate expert show how he break boards with his head. Al volunteered to try and Tim waited for him to hurt his head only to succeed. After Al, Tim decided to give it a try and ended up hurting his head. Al revealed that he had training in karate.
In an episode of Dexter, Doakes gets increasingly close to figuring out Dexter's secret. Once again, he confronts Dex in his office, at which point Dexter headbutts the cop and leaves the office into the main detective area, walking like nothing has happened. Two seconds later, Doakes flies out of the office, pissed off, and tackles Dex. The other cops assume he just snapped, as they didn't see the headbutt and he is well known to have a hatred for Dexter before he had a solid reason to. The whole thing was planned by Dexter to give Doakes even less credibility than usual.
Subverted in a Happy Days episode where Arnold's catches fire, trapping Fonzie inside the men's room with Ralph and Potsie. Fonzie tries donning his motorcycle helmet and crashing through a wall.
Potsie: Hey, look, there's an outside wall! I wonder what it's made of? Fonzie: Concrete. (passes out)
In Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Bishop uses this in order to break in to Mr. Devious' office, by having his entourage pick up one of their number and using him like a battering ram. They not only break the door down, they almost knocked down the whole set.
The Battering Ram — a finishing move used by several wrestlers, most notably The Sheepherders, whose Finishing Move was called the Battering Ram. Which was first used by Bobo Brazil (Houston Harris — a former baseball player), and called the Coco Butt, in 1950.
The late Chris Benoit used to do this as a tribute to the Dynamite Kid, with much the same tragic results severe brain trauma). Harley Race has gone on record as saying he wished he'd never invented the move (he'd actually just fallen from the top-rope head-first the first time, but subsequently did it intentionally).
The Junkyard Dog would comically get on all fours and repeatedly ram fallen opponents head first.
The danger of a concussion is why direct, intentional helmet-to-helmet collisions are not allowed in the NFL. Spearing, the practice of diving into another player helmet-first, is also illegal due to the risk of spinal injury. This practice gained a lot of notoriety during the 1990s, largely because safety Chuck Cecil was so fond of using it. Yes, before he was a controversial assistant coach often fined by the NFL for his actions, he was a controversial player who was often fined by the NFL for his actions.
From BIONICLE, the Bohrok, and their Elite Mook cousins, the Bohrok-Kal have a headbutt gimmick. In-story, they used their heads and other powers to demolish the entire island of Mata Nui.
In Dragon Strike, when the rogue is unable to unlock a magically sealed door, the fighter makes a crack about it. In frustration, the rogue pushes the fighter into the door, causing him to do this.
The attack Skull Bash works in exactly this manner, as well as Headbutt, Head Smash, Iron Head and Zen Headbutt. However, Head Smash actually hurts the user.
In addition to that, Cranidos and Rampardos are Pokémon based around this trope. Like many Pokémon, this was based on a real animal, albeit one that was recently determined not to have used its head quite as much as was originally thought.
As said before, Scraggy and its evolution Scrafty.
Mario and Luigi are frequently mistaken doing this to hit and break overhead blocks. However, they actually hit overhead blocks with their fists instead of their heads.
In the Super Smash Bros.. series, several fighters use their heads as some form of attack. While most instances of this are only about one or two moves, Yoshi uses almost only headbutt-related moves when on the ground, as his arms are too short to effectively punch.
For that matter, Luigi's side-B move, Green Missile, is basically a charge-up attack with which he launches himself head-first at an opponent. It's even possible for him to get jammed into walls this way, given enough force.
In Super Mario RPG, give Bowser the Hurly Gloves and watch him take his frustrations with Mario out on the enemies, even if Mario is at 0 HP!
This is how krogan tell each other to "shut up", as a display of dominance. In the second game you have a Renegade Interrupt that allows you to do this to the obnoxious Uvenk, which not only is successful in getting him to back down, but leaves him a little dazed afterwards.
Shaman: (laughs) I like this human! S/he understands!
Matriarch Aethyta (Liara's "father") assures her that, since her grandfather was a krogan, it's perfectly natural if she ever feels the need to headbutt someone.
In the third game, Shepard can end up doing this to Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani after she dodges his/her traditional sucker punch.
Also in the third game, but in multiplayer, this the standard melee attack for krogan characters.
Double H from Beyond Good & Evil does this frequently, although he prefers to put on a helmet first.
Ristar uses this as his primary attack. On everything.
The Lost Vikings: Erik the Swift's power is head-butting enemies and breakable obstacles.
Earthworm Jim offers an interesting variation of this trope: Since the player is essentially a (freakishly large) earthworm in a humanoid exoskeleton, you can actually use your wormy head to whip your enemies and as a propeller to slow down a long descent. In the sequel though, Jim gains the Snott Parachute because last game's Helicopter Head made him quite dizzy and left him with some severe lower back pain.
In Killer7, Mask De Smith stops a bullet by headbutting it out of the air.
Balrog, in all of his incarnations, always has a move that involves grabbing his opponents and headbutting them multiple times. It's even lampshaded in SNK vs. Capcom Chaos:
Mr. Karate: You should train your head too, big boy. Balrog: My headbutts are a work of art, eh?
E. Honda has this, ever since his debut, as a special maneuver. Note that in-game graphics always show him as flying head-first like a kamikaze Superman, but one piece of art tried to pass it off as a shoulder ram. No-one's buying that, Capcom.
Also Dhalsim, who starts with a normal headbutt attack and then takes it Up to Eleven by using headbutts as a drill-like Ultra move, the Yoga Shangri-La.
The minotaurs in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion have the head ram as their ultimate attack. It's actually quite powerful, thanks to their horns... and the little fact that it is always coupled with a magical strike that disintegrates your armor and damages your health directly.
In River City Ransom, Ivan, who attacks outside the high school, can use a fairly powerful headbutt.
Keine Kamishirasawa of Touhou is well known for handing these out to errant students. And woe be to you if she does this when she's in Ex-Mode — it's called being CAVED with good reason!
The Defenders of Dynatron City hero Toolbox attacks with his hammer-shaped head, but it has pitifully short range. Team leader Jet Headstrong does, too, but his is rocket-powered, making him a bit more useful.
One of Ram's loco moves in Total Overdose allows him to live up to his name, charging like a bull at double maximum running speed with his head down and fingers pointed forward like horns. Any non-Boss enemy hit by it is thrown in the air, and dies on landing. One battle in particular encourages its use by leaving the appropriate pickups scattered around, and takes place in the middle of a bullfight arena.
Subverted in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. One of the townspeople tells Simon to "HIT DEBORAH CLIFF WITH YOUR HEAD TO MAKE A HOLE." This is a lie.
A favored tactic of Amaterasu in Ōkami. Useful for breaking pots, defeating Imps, getting other people's attention... She's a wolf, you know.
Every Mishima note Yes, Jinpachi, Heihachi, Kazuya, Jin (was the case for the first Tag title, now specific to Devil Jin), even Lars has this move. Though Lee doesn't.) has Stonehead as a throw. As you might guess it's a headbutt throw.
All the animals save for Gon have a headbutt throw.
Heihachi takes this Up to Eleven in two ways. First, in his Tekken 5 interlude in Story Mode, he headbutts the crap out of Jack-5 after defeating him. Second, since Tekken 3, he can perform a "Headbutt Carnival". Instead of a regular Stonehead throw, the recipient can reverse the Stonehead and, well, Stonehead him back!
In Tekken Tag Tournament 2, if you have two Mishimas on your team you can perform a tag Stonehead throw.
The Barroth uses this as its signature form of attack, and it hurts about as much as one might expect, coming from a thick-headed, nine-foot tall dinosaur running at what's probably around 40 miles per hour. It also flips you into the air on impact for extra measure.
The Monoblos and Diablos also utilize charging headbutts, the horns on their heads making it look extra painful if it connects, while at the same time allowing them to get stuck in walls.
In Solomon's Key, Dana can break blocks by butting into them from below.
Dynasty Warriors has badass bodyguard Dian Wei, whose running attack for the longest time was a charging headbutt. This can send enemy officers flying and will result in a Foe-Tossing Charge if steered into a crowd of Mooks. Fittingly, he possesses the Bald of Awesome and in the opening for the fourth installment of the game, is depicted headbutting a boulder to pieces and wiping the rock dust off his head with a smug grin.
Some of the various characters of Mortal Kombat have headbutts in their moveset.
Kano had a weird sort of short headbutt in the sprite-based days, justified by having a metal plate installed in a fair portion of his face and head.
Mortal Kombat 9: Sub-Zero will end his X-ray attack with a skull-shattering headbutt.
In one of the weirdest instances of this trope, particularly for a fighting game, there is a challenge mission that causes all of your limbs to fly off at your opponent the instant you make an attack. This includes flinging your own head at an enemy to headbutt them from across the screen. Bizarre does not begin to cover it.
The absolute strangest use of this trope comes from Dead Space 3. Divider heads are disembodied heads that scamper around on tentacles, and if they find a human corpse, they'll replace its head and take up residence, directing the body to murder the player. Sometimes, the monsters will remove their own heads and lob it at Isaac, initiating a grapple sequence where the head attempts to replace Isaac's head with their own.
Many Pokemon with short arms in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity use a headbutt as an attacking animation for some of their physical moves. Not all of them actually learn the move Headbutt, however.
A favourite technique of CaptainGrim in Tomb Raider 2013. He calls it the "Glasgow Kiss" and boasts about using it on the Loch Ness Monster. It foreshadows his awesome last stand later in the game, where he headbutts a goon trying to hold him hostage against Lara, and tries to take out another with a headbutt only for the goon to drag him to his death.
In the japanese SNES game Mahou no Boushi, Donald Duck, not content with simple Goomba Stomping, he can fall upside-down to deal double damage to enemies.
One of the more prominent Dwarf Fortress mods allowed dwarves to do this among other additions. It could easily send anything a human warrior skidding five feet across the ground, breaking bones with each bounce, which tended to do a lot more harm than the headbutt itself (which could smash bits of skull through the aforementioned warrior's brain even with a helmet, mind you).
In 8-Bit Theater, as explained by Black Mage: "The main tactic of the Ram Form of Zodiackenshido is to break your opponent's equipment with your head before he breaks your head with his equipment." Fighter's the only human ever to succeed at this without dying in the process.
An interesting version of this trope resides in Dominic Deegan with the character Rachel, whose favorite pastime is breaking objects (and occasionally people) with her face. This, of course, leads to comedy whenever villains try to punch, or occasionally headbutt, her in the face.
Slag's Transformers Animated counterpart Snarl (who would have been called Slag too had Hasbro not chickened out) also turns into a robotic Triceratops.
Also, the Conehead Decepticon Seeker Ramjet has a reinforced nosecone for doing this in vehicle mode. It counts because his nosecone is indeed part of his head. Ramjet actually did fail at this once — then again, he was trying to ram Warpath.
Goultard tells his apprentice Sadlygrove that he needs to know how to use his head in battle. Sadlygrove takes this advice literally and defeats Rubilax by headbutting him repeatedly, so hard he sinks into the desert with a real risk of choking to death on sand. Goultard approves.
Goultard himself also favors this tactic. In his special Goultard the Barbarian, he headbutts Katar so hard that a crater forms underneath them. He does the same thing to Rushu in the series proper.
In Adventures of the Gummi Bears some of the characters are trapped in a barrel and only Tummi is around to help them. When told to use his head to find a way to free them, he of course rams head first into the barrel without any injury and creates a hole big enough for the rest to enlarge to get out.
In Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, the other characters attempt to use Zane for this. Justified in that he's a robot who actually has a "Battering Ram" program for some reason. Subverted because the door doesn't even budge.
In the Talkartoons short "Jack and the Beanstalk", when Bimbo is thinking of a way top reach a giant after his large cigar falls through his house from the sky, his cow tells him to "Use your bean", which gives him the idea to grow a beanstalk.
Kung Fu Panda. In "The Secret Museum of Kung Fu", the Furious Five are trapped in the museum. On a roll after giving a "We have to work together" speech, Po says they can just get through the massive boulder blocking the door if they just use their heads. Smash Cut to the others using Po as a battering ram.
If you're in a close grapple with someone, it's not a bad idea to use your forehead to smear your opponent's nose across his face. You may end up a little dazed but, if you did it right, he'll be much worse off.
The animal kingdom has its share of bad-ass headbashers. Check out pachycephalosaurs, Majungasaurus, bighorn sheep, some chalicotheres, and giraffes. Yes, giraffes. Less so with the former, as they were originally thought to have engaged on direct-headbutting action, but biomechanical studies suggest that flank-butting (like giraffes) is more likely. Giraffes are basically the living version of Epic Flail. Don't believe me? Just look at this. Yeah, you go and say giraffes aren't Bad Ass. I'll be over here where it's safe. Heck, a plain ordinary ol' bull can headbutt your ribs into splinters, even without horns. And a full-grown male plains bison can easily do the same thing to your car's door. Orcas can headbutt hard enough to cause a whale's internal organs to explode.
Capoeira employs spearing headbutts as one of the prime ways to show an opponent that they've left their mid-section open, particularly during cartwheels.