Windows are there to be broken in fictional settings. And not just broken in Bar Brawls or by the sonic boom of some fast or loud thing happening in the middle of your action movie.
No, you can damage a window in more "subtle" ways.
If your teenager needs to get the attention of his crush who's grounded, he can throw pebbles at the window. Too much force, though, and CRACK!
If your crime syndicate is trying to scare a witness into leaving town so they don't have to Make It Look Like an Accident, they may toss a rock or a brick through the window, and CRACK! Threatening message sent.
The good guys are trying to get a Well-Intentioned Extremist to give up his hostages? Fire up that tear gas canister gun, and CRACK! Canisters released right at the guy's feet to get him to come out with his hands up.
The most innocent variation is kids playing ball. One kicks or hits the ball too far. We hear the window break offscreen, and the children scatter to avoid getting in trouble for it.
Frequently, a cat is heard from behind the broken window.
Other variations include:
Generally the window never shatters as it would with a person getting thrown through. The object just goes through and makes a hole big enough for itself.
Note that this trope isn't abouta guy getting thrown out a window. Nor is it about the frustration and annoyance caused by a certain PC operating system.
There are numerous panes of glass in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but only one dramatic window-smashing incident: Madoka throws a bucket through one (because it was full of potentially lethally toxic volatile liquids). Appropriate, since "mado" means "window."
Vivian Stanshall's LP version of Sir Henry at Rawlinson End includes the following scene:
There was a terrific crash and a brick smashed through the window. About the brick was wrapped a note, which read simply: (Irish accent) "Hello, now. Oi'm yer new neighbour."
Henry was plainly delighted. "He seems a decent enough egg. At least he didn't have the impertinence to present himself at the front door."
Doomtown lets you install Stained-Glass Windows in one of your buildings to set this up (so that e.g. your dudes in the Town Square can join the fight).
Parodied (as many, many superheroes tropes) in Rat Man. A superteam break-in plan to enter a villain house requires one of them to stealth to a windows, cut the glass, and crawl inside. Then he signals the other to enter... which they do by purposely smashing every other windows in the process.
Happens in Tintin in America, with a note reading, "For the last time: mind your own business!" From the implication that this is not the first time, Tintin starts to realize who he's up against.
Arby's restaurant has frozen burgers thrown into their restaurant with the note tied to them. The workers in Arby's are not terribly threatened.
Geico insurance has one that proudly proclaims "Casey Mears drives [list of vehicles], Geico insures [previous list]. We insure almost everything Casey drives!" Casey hits a golf ball, it breaks a window. Announcer repeats, "...almost," as Casey drops the club and sheepishly backs away.
Parodied in the Mel Brooks movie High Anxiety. The main character, the new head of a mental asylum, receives a rock to the window with a message - a friendly welcome note from the psycho ward.
In Forrest Gump, Jenny Curran throws rocks through the windows of her father's house.
The main action of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids starts when Ron, one of the Thompsons from next door, hits a baseball through the Szalinskis' upper window, which activates Wayne's shrinking machine and gets in the path of the laser that was making it so that it blew up the apples he was using to test the machine out.
In Home Alone 2, Kevin breaks the window of the toy store in order to set off the alarm.
Played with in Hot Fuzz, where Nicholas Angel throws his nightstick to shatter a glass window...before jumping through the still-intact door beside it.
Repeatedly in Penelope. Every last suitor up to the point Penelope's mother realized shatterproof glass was a good idea.
The original Die Hard turns this into a plot point when the villain shoots out all the glass around the barefoot hero.
In The Matrix when a helicopter crashes into a glass building.
In Blade Runner, Zhora runs through several store window panes while being shot by Deckard.
In Gia, the made-for-TV movie adaptation of the life of Gia Marie Carangi, Gia smashes her girlfriend's window to let herself in.
In Young Frankenstein, the title character is playing darts with Inspector Kemp, and the conversation is unnerving him enough that the darts end up in all sorts of unlikely places, including through the window.
In the climactic chase scene of 1973's What's Up, Doc? (with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal), a giant pane of glass is being carted across the street and is missed several times by the chase entrants and is finally shattered by a pursuer swinging down from the roof on a street banner.
In The Last Castle, the prisoners construct a trebuchet to put rocks through the warden's office window.
In Sarah Caudwell's The Sybil in Her Grave, someone throws a rock through Daphne's window to scare her away. The kicker is that Daphne threw it herself, to make herself look sympathetic and persecuted.
In Jodi Picoult's Salem Falls, a molotov cocktail is thrown through the main character's window after it becomes common knowledge that he was previously convicted of rape. It's discovered before it can cause too much damage, and it is implied that it was poorly made and more to send the message than cause real damage.
During Galaxy of Fear, Zak Arranda has recurring Bad Dreams about his dead parents standing or floating outside of his window hammering on or otherwise trying to open it. In one, they break it.
The short Dresden Files story Day Off'' has Darth Wannabe throw a smoke bomb into Harry's basement via window. Unfortunately, Harry kind of had some bigger problems some at the time...
Later that same episode, the same criminal throws a rock with a note attached—except the note is a mime, who acts out the message.
In another episode, the neighborhood protection racket tries to send a message to the owners of a key store by perforating the place with machine guns... and then throwing a rock through the window. Naturally, Frank Drebin focuses on the rock and fails to notice the machine-gun fire. He later asks the forensics lab to find out where the rock came from, and gets a geology lesson in response. Later on Drebin confronts the mook who threw the rock, who starts giving the exact same geology lesson.
House breaks a window with a rock to illegally enter a patient's home in "Alone."
Heroes episode 1, volume 4. Matt gets shot with a taser that comes through the window.
Happens quite a lot in Heroes. In season one, Jessica threw Matt through a window. In season two, Claire punched out Elle's car window, which didn't have Soft Glass, to intimidate her by showing off her regeneration. At the end of season two, Elle blasts Sylar through a window, which also didn't have Soft Glass (but he had a bottle of healer juice so all was good).
A The Whitest Kids U Know sketch features a businessman "at war" with a rival investment bank across the street, culminating in him launching a mortar shell through their window (this is after, of course, a sniper shoots one of his interns and a flashbomb sails through the window and goes off).
In the Pilot of Outsourced, one of the disgruntled employees whose job was outsourced throws a brick with an attached message through the window.
Todd: "You bastard"? Jerry: [cheerfully] That's for me. [places it on a pile of similar bricks]
Good Luck Charlie has the mom playing goalie for her younger son's practice at hockey. But the kid's first shot goes through an internal window out into the yard.
In Misfits, Kelly uses the leg of a stool to punch out a window pane so they can break into a flat.
Parodied in an episode of Will and Grace. Will and Jack start renting a place together, and one of their new neighbors throws a brick through their (open) window. It's actually a loaf of homemade banana bread, with a note giving them a warm welcome to the neighborhood. (The locals are thrilled to have two gay men move in, since if a gay district springs up, property values would increase).
In one episode of Burn Notice, some hitmen are sent to take out a guy Team Westen needs alive. In order to buy some time, Fiona throws a brick through the target's window and starts screaming for him to come out and face her like a man. The hitmen, seeing that the guy's "crazy ex-girlfriend" has just triggered the alarm and alerted the cops, decide to come back another day.
Averted in the Firefly episode "The Train Job", where Mal gets thrown out a hologram bar window. Presumably it's cheaper than repeatedly replacing real windows.
Red Dwarf: In the 'Sdrawkcab episode, Lister gets in a pub fight and has to leap backwards through a broken window that reassembles itself, landing in the arms of two kind people who catch him so as to cushion his fall.
Sledge Hammer!; when a classic Cartoon Bomb is sent to Trunk's office, Hammer begins pounding on a window with a chair so as to throw it out. The window is both fixed and reinforced, so it takes some battering. However, even after Doreau has extinguished the fuse by dipping it in her coffee, Hammer keeps battering away at the window till it shatters. Despite the need to break the window having passed.
Happens when Fred and Barney run afoul of some criminals in The Flintstones
In Batman: The Animated Series, it's not a rock, but one of the poisoned Joker Fish that comes through the window of a predicted victim's home.
In The Simpsons: Ralph (with a note attached) is thrown through the Simpsons' window; he announces "I'm a brick!"
On another occasion, instead of a brick with a note, a ringing telephone is thrown through a window.
In "Moe'N'a Lisa", Mow throws a brick with a note through the Simpsons' window after Homer forgets his birthday.
Parodied in "The War of Art", where after the Simpsons refuse to give back a valuable painting they bought from the the Van Houtens, a rock gets thrown through the window telling them to give the painting back, followed by rock with another note telling they have the right to keep the money. Soon, dozens of rocks have been thrown through the window and the Simpsons are sorting out the notes supporting and threatening them.
Marge: We don't even get this many Christmas cards!
A would-be assassin shoots a harpoon through a porthole in an episode of Jonny Quest.
The Powerpuff Girls kept the glaziers working overtime in the city of Townsville with all their entrances and exits.
IIRC it was mainly roofs that the PPGs demolished, although with all the mayhem that went on in Townsville the glaziers were kept as busy as all the other repairfok.
SWAT Kats escaped from the newly originated Dr. Viper in season two by throwing themselves out through the window.
Vicky defenestrates forest animals through of the Turner house in "Vicky Loses Her Icky".
Timmy gets toy chattering teeth attached to bricks thrown through his window by the mean dentist, "Dr. Bender".
Cat 22 in Cartoon Network's "Wedgies" series throws himself through windows on several occasions to get away from his bosses and their ministrations once he's injured doing his spy-on-dogs job.
In Cow and Chicken, the Red Guy uses bricks engraved with a single word to send a long message to the eponymous characters' house, with each brick tossed nailing Chicken in the head. Naturally, the house is a mess afterwards.
In Rankin-Bass' adaptation of The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, the villains, a group of troll-like monsters called Awgwas, go the threatening-note route, throwing a rock through a window of Santa's workshop tied to a note that reads "If you make one more toy, we're coming for you." Santa is undeterred.
In the notorious Family Guy, episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven", after the town discovers that Brian is an atheist, not only does a rock get thrown through the window, but a CAR as well.
Brian: I thought he who is without sin can cast the first Prius.
In "Ratings Guy", a trash can gets thrown through the window.
This happens in the Thomas the Tank Engine episode "Whistle & Sneezes" where a group of troublesome boys were throwing stones at Henry's Express coaches, which nearly endangered the passengers. The coaches then express their pain: