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Desk Sweep of Rage

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A character swipes everything off of a desk, either out of rage or frustration

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
TooBah on Jun 19th 2012 at 7:47:00 AM
Last Edited By:
eroock on Mar 2nd 2018 at 2:35:20 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Suggest/vote for the best fitting title here.


http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rage_swipe.jpg

Maybe the Cowboy Cop has been forced to turn in his badge, or the Big Bad's plans have just been thwarted, or the hero's Berserk Button just got pressed. How better to show rage or impatience than to take one arm and swipe everything off the desk (sometimes accompanied by an inarticulate scream)?! Used as shorthand to show that the character is out of control and they need something to take their frustrations out on.

Often a part of an Anger Montage, Rage Quit or Villainous Breakdown. Sister trope of Flipping the Table and Tantrum Throwing.


Examples

Anime & Manga

  • In an anime only scene of Naruto, after Shikaku mentions Asuma's death when playing Shogi, Shikamaru sweeps the board in anger. Shikaku eventually suggest that Shikamaru let his rage go out after he makes a scene.

Fan Fic

  • Facing the Future Series story Trial by Fire:
    Lost in ... anger... Danny lashed out at a nearby workstation, sweeping away a keyboard, a mouse, and a cup.

Film

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox. When Mr. Bean, leader of the local farmers, gets word that Mr. Fox has robbed them blind by digging under all of their security, he swipes everything off his desk, flips it, and keeps going, completely wrecking the trailer he was using as a headquarters.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has Peter do this when his investigations into his parent's deaths end up nowhere.
  • Quite famous scene with a "work place" in Jurassic Park.
  • In Birdman, Naomi Watts' character sweepes a table clean in the dressing room in rage after her acting partner forced himself on her on stage.
  • In The Wall, the first thing the hero does during his Anger Montage is dramatically sweeping all the stuff off the living room table.
  • In The Machinist, the protagonist goes into a rage and wipes dishes from a kitchen table when finding a suspicious photo at his girl friend's place.
  • Deon, the creator of the titular robot in Chappie, goes to sweep a table clean in anger about the kidnapping of his brain child.
  • Johnny does this at the end of The Room as he smashes his room up.
  • TRON: Legacy had CLU 2.0 do this to Kevin's table after finding that Flynn had abandoned his hideout.fv
  • In Doctor Strange, Strange wipes a desk clean at his apartment out of frustration about his injured hands not healing after the car accident.
  • In The Shining, Jack swipes a table in the corridor while roaming the hotel.
  • The 1973 adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has Mad Scientist Doctor Clerval mentor eager med student Victor Frankenstein on reanimating the dead. However, Clerval observes that some of his successes have Gone Horribly Wrong, and sweeps his notes and materials from his workbench to begin writing a warning in his journal: "The process is reversing itself." However, Clerval has a seizure at this point, which kills him, leaving the journal entry unfinished. Victor reads, "The process is re ..." and interprets it as "ready to begin."
  • In A Few Good Men, it looks like the case is about to be lost, and Kaffee is drowning his sorrows. Galloway says that Kaffee should just put Jessup on the stand, but the risk involved gets Kaffee to go on an angry rant, finishing with doing this to the paperwork on his desk.
  • In Prisoners, detective Loki does this to his office desk out of frustration after all his leads turned out to be dead ends.

Live-Action Television

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In the season 2 episode "Heavy is the Head", Fitz sweeps a bunch of papers off the desk when he gets frustrated with his difficulty communicating due to the brain damage he had suffered.
  • Will Gardner does this in a state of fury in The Good Wife after he finds out Alicia, Cary Agos, and others are leaving to start their own firm, taking many of Lockhart & Gardner's clients with them.
  • An exec does this on his way out of the office after getting made redundant in Mad Men.
  • Community:
    • Pierce in "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples" rage-swipes a desk at the local precinct when Jeff treats him like a small kid.
    • In "Geography of Global Conflict", Annie freaks out when she is about to lose a competition against her Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Annie Kim and swipes the table clean. Watch it here.
  • Played for dark laughs in an episode of NYPD Blue. The suspect in the murder of his sister wants a refreshment, specifically a Coke. At first some detectives brought him a can of ginger ale (offscreen), and later Simone brings him a Diet Coke because the machine was out of regular. The perp dramatically sweeps the can off the table insisting that he get a regular Coke. "Does this look like a Coke to you?!" Simone sarcastically asks him that if they give him a Coke, will he confess? The perp surprises them by responding "Can I have a liter?" Long story short, they give him two 2-liter bottles of Coca-Cola and he confesses not only to the murder of his sister, but also the never suspected murder of his brother 30 years prior.
  • In The Wire, Lieutenant Rawls does this in frustration at Detective McNulty, only to be informed that the desk in question wasn't actually McNulty's.

Video Games

  • Issac Clarke of Dead Space 3 does this in the beginning of the game, right before he's brought into another mission.

Web Comics

Web Video

Western Animation

  • Classic Disney Shorts: In No Smoking, Goofy vows to quit smoking and sweeps all the tobacco-related on his work desk into a rubbish bin below.


Feedback: 71 replies

Jun 19th 2012 at 8:04:38 AM

  • Fantastic Mr Fox: When Mr. Bean, leader of the local farmers, gets word that Mr. Fox has robbed them blind by digging under all of their security, he swipes everything off his desk, flips it, and keeps going, completely wrecking the trailer he was using as a headquarters.

Jun 19th 2012 at 9:00:21 AM

Between Professionals Do It On Desks and Anger Montage, this seems to be covered. IMO of course.

Jun 19th 2012 at 9:21:40 AM

@randomsurfer, it's certainly an element of an Anger Montage, but I think it stands on its own as well. Let's stand back and let the Wiki magic do its thing, and we'll see. I could limit it to just the anger angle, if people think PDIOD has that part covered.

Jun 19th 2012 at 1:00:53 PM

Do you mean "sweep"? "Swipe" really doesn't sound like the right word here.

Jun 21st 2012 at 1:07:56 PM

Yeah, 'swipe' usually means 'steal'.

  • A third Friends example. Phoebe is enamored of and has gone on multiple dates with Hollywood Nerd David. She asks if he's ever going to kiss her, and the conversation builds up to the dramatic sweep, which is immediately subverted as he starts carefully putting away expensive equipment.
    Phoebe: Well, now you're just tidying.

Jun 21st 2012 at 3:31:36 PM

What about "Desk Sweep of Rage"?

Jun 21st 2012 at 6:02:29 PM

There's a related trope in which a player of some board game angrily sweeps the pieces off, usually as a response to losing.

Jun 22nd 2012 at 9:01:18 AM

I got "Swipe" from the comic, but OK, we can use Sweep. Swipe, btw, can also mean, "a strong, sweeping blow". Swipe is slang for stealing, not mainstream.

@surgoshan, sounds like that's later in the same scene already cited above. Seems unlikely that David the Hollywood Nerd and David the Scientist Guy are two different people, doesn't it?

Jun 22nd 2012 at 9:04:17 AM

Yeah, I didn't see you already had it.

Jun 22nd 2012 at 10:05:02 AM

Angry version can be a less energy intensive form of Flipping The Table.

Jun 22nd 2012 at 5:15:48 PM

Perhaps Passionate Table Sweep, then have the description point out that the passion can be sexual or enraged.

Jun 27th 2012 at 1:52:06 PM

I like that, surgoshan. I like it...

Jul 3rd 2012 at 7:28:08 PM

Johnny does this as he smashes his room up at the end of The Room.

Nov 30th 2013 at 2:47:41 AM

Hmm, I feel that the passionate version should be separated from the enraged one... either that or maybe it needs a more general name.

Nov 30th 2013 at 4:41:18 AM

Yeah, I think the trope should focus on the action only. Leave the cause to be explained by the examples.

One "classic" is a scientist getting an idea, and clearing out a bit of desk this way to get an instant workspace.

Nov 30th 2013 at 9:16:06 AM

Clu does it in Tron Legacy after finding that Flynn had abandoned his hideout (for context, Flynn had sensed that his son and Quorra were in grave danger and had followed them).

Nov 30th 2013 at 8:31:57 PM

Professionals Do It On Desks doesn't mention the sweep, just the doing it. I've seen this particular action so many times I'm amazed it doesn't have a trope page yet.

Dec 1st 2013 at 2:44:47 PM

I'm not sure if this is a related trope or the same trope, but it's common when showing two people playing a board game for a player who is either angry or frustrated to sweep the pieces off the board and storm off. I'll leave an example here:

  • Several famous real-life chess players have been known, when losing a game that they thought they deserved to win, to react with anger and sweep the pieces from the board.
    • One was Nimzovich, who was defeated in 1925 by a far inferior player. He swept the chess pieces to the floor, got up on the table, and exclaimed: "Gegen diesen Idioten muss ich verlieren!" ("That I should lose to this idiot!")[1]
    • Viktor Korchnoi was frustrated during a 1987 game with Karpov, and then accidentally lost because he picked up his king at the wrong moment. He was so furious, he swept the pieces to the floor, got up, and walked out. Karpov on the other hand never looked up from the board.[2]
    • Bobby Fischer, during a 1960 game with Miguel Najdorf, was winning but made a blunder. "Realizing that he could no longer win, Fischer swept the pieces off the board and declared to an astonished Najdorf, 'I'll take a draw.' Miguel accepted the proposal, but later, in the foyer, made it known that Fischer would have to wait a long time before being invited to a tournament in Argentina."[3]

Sep 26th 2014 at 5:57:11 PM

  • Fixed Bug link.
  • Linked media types
  • italic-ed work titles

Sep 28th 2014 at 2:21:26 AM

  • Added blank lines for readability.
  • Examples section formatting
    • Deleted unnecessary blank lines.
    • Namespaced work names.
    • Alphabetized media sections.

Sep 28th 2014 at 3:07:00 PM

  • A third Friends example, Chandler tries it with Monica, sweeping everything off the table in the apartment:
    Monica: Okay, trying to turn me on by making a mess? Know your audience!

Oct 1st 2014 at 7:56:05 AM

I like Desk Sweep of Rage,

Oct 1st 2014 at 8:05:10 AM

  • On The Good Wife, Will does this when he hears Alicia and Cary are leaving to start their own firm, along with many of the fourth year associates, taking many of Lockhart & Gardner's clients with them, and gives Alicia a The Reason You Suck speech.

Oct 5th 2014 at 6:10:20 AM

@ Svarti Kotturinn: Please use phases "he does this" as little as possible. See Word Cruft and Zero Context Example. That example barely makes sense with all the spoiler-tagging (Handling Spoilers).

Live-action TV:

  • Played For Laughs on How I Met Your Mother when Robin is dating an Argetinian guy Gael. When they're in Argentina and he sweeps off some fruit with the words "I must have you" and sits her on the table, Robin is turned on. When he sweeps off stuff in her New York apartment, she just desperately cries, "Ooh, Laptop! Laptop! Laptop!"

For a name, I'd like Desk Sweep of Rage and Passion .

Oct 5th 2014 at 12:09:59 PM

@ Dcoetzee: GIGGITY! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Oct 5th 2014 at 5:32:54 PM

Film:

  • In The Wall, the first thing the hero does during his Anger Montage is dramatically sweeping all the stuff off the living room table.

Can we merge with Flipping The Table? Or at least mention it as a sister trope.

Oct 5th 2014 at 5:35:22 PM

^ I think this is distinct from Flipping The Table, but it certainly seems to be a Sister Trope. At any rate the description should at least say "Compare...".

Oct 6th 2014 at 8:06:54 PM

  • Agents Of SHIELD. In the season 2 episode "Heavy is the Head", Fitz sweeps a bunch of papers off the desk when he gets frustrated with his difficulty communicating due to the brain damage he had suffered.

Jun 7th 2015 at 4:21:45 PM

This should be merged with Desk Swipe.

Compare Clear The Table.

Jun 8th 2015 at 1:55:37 PM

Film:

  • In The Machinist, the protagonist goes into a rage and wipes dishes from a kitchen table when finding a suspicious photo at his girl friend's place.

Sep 25th 2015 at 5:22:01 PM

Film:

  • Deon, the creator of the titular robot in Chappie, goes to wipe a table clean in anger about the kidnapping of his brain child.

Oct 27th 2015 at 6:27:55 PM

I feel like Jake did this in Brooklyn Nine Nine but I'm afraid I don't remember specifically enough to provide context.

Oct 28th 2015 at 3:49:24 AM

  • In an anime only scene of Naruto, after Shikaku mentions Asuma's death when playing Shogi, Shikamaru sweeps the board in anger. Shikaku eventually suggest that Shikamaru let his rage go out after he makes a scene.

Oct 28th 2015 at 4:23:36 PM

Film

  • The 1973 adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has Mad Scientist Doctor Clerval mentor eager med student Victor Frankenstein on reanimating the dead. However, Clerval observes that some of his successes have Gone Horribly Wrong, and sweeps his notes and materials from his workbench to begin writing a warning in his journal: "The process is reversing itself." However, Clerval has a seizure at this point, which kills him, leaving the journal entry unfinished. Victor reads, "The process is re ..." and interprets it as "ready to begin."

Oct 28th 2015 at 4:35:02 PM

  • In A Few Good Men, it looks like the case is about to be lost, and Kaffee is drowning his sorrows. Galloway says that Kaffee should just put Jessup on the stand, but the risk involved gets Kaffee to go on an angry rant, finishing with doing this to the paperwork on his desk.

Oct 28th 2015 at 7:29:04 PM

For the impatient variant:

  • In Lords And Ladies, Granny Weatherwax sweeps a bunch of stuff off King Verence's dining room table to clear a space where she can put down someone who needs medical attention. Lampshaded:
    Granny swept a candlestick and some crockery on to the floor with a dramatic motion and laid Diamanda on the table. In fact there were several acres of table totally devoid of any obstruction, but there's no sense in making an entrance unless you're prepared to make a mess.

Oct 31st 2015 at 7:09:14 PM

Played for dark laughs in an episode of NYPD Blue. The suspect in the murder of his sister wants a refreshment, specifically a Coke. At first some detectives brought him a can of ginger ale (offscreen), and later Simone brings him a Diet Coke because the machine was out of regular. The perp dramatically sweeps the can off the table insisting that he get a regular Coke. "Does this look like a Coke to you?!" Simone sarcastically asks him that if they give him a Coke, will he confess? The perp surprises them by responding "Can I have a liter?" Long story short, they give him two 2-liter bottles of Coca-Cola and he confesses not only to the murder of his sister, but also the never suspected murder of his brother 30 years prior.

Nov 1st 2015 at 8:22:26 AM

  • In Brooklyn Nine Nine, Jake goes to visit Sophia in her office and dramatically sweeps everything off her desk so they can make out. Sophia then quietly points out that her desk is the other desk in the office, on the opposite side of the room.

Nov 2nd 2015 at 8:43:46 PM

  • Classic Disney Shorts: In No Smoking, Goofy vows to quit smoking and sweeps all the tobacco-related on his work desk into a rubbish bin below.

Sep 9th 2016 at 11:31:16 AM

  • In The Wire, Lieutenant Rawls does this in frustration at Detective McNulty, only to be informed that the desk in question wasn't actually McNulty's.

Oct 21st 2017 at 4:15:37 PM

Film:

  • In Prisoners, detective Loki does this to his office desk out of frustration after all his leads turned out to be dead ends.

Dec 8th 2017 at 11:14:22 AM

I'd suggest going with Passionate Desk Sweep if you're including "Clear off space so you can make love on top of the desk" in the trope. If you're limiting this to "Throwing stuff off the desk because you're angry", then go with Desk Sweep Of Rage.

Dec 8th 2017 at 2:54:54 PM

  • A less angry and more excited example occurs in Steven Universe, when Connie swipes a stack of paper, a pen, and a paper cup off Steven's table to make room for Buddy Buddwick's journal.
    Connie: Ah! Sorry, I'll clean that up later!

Dec 8th 2017 at 4:01:27 PM

^ That seems to be Clear The Table. There is a clear line: You sweep out of rage or you sweep to make room. That should also answer where ^^ examples should go (if not under Professionals Do It On Desks).

Dec 8th 2017 at 8:25:26 PM

Passionate desk sweep makes it sound more like when people shove things off the table to have make room to have sex. Maybe tweak the name. Then I'll give a hat

Dec 9th 2017 at 1:26:46 AM

^^ We are in the process of finding the right trope name. See my suggestions 7 posts above, You can add your own ideas.

Dec 9th 2017 at 4:29:30 AM

  • In Arrow, Oliver once does this in the Arrowcave.

Dec 9th 2017 at 10:05:31 AM

^x8: Vote for either Rage Swipe or Desk Sweep of Rage as trope title. The first "sounds better" / is catchier, though the second probably is more clear. Both are better than current title anyway.

Dec 9th 2017 at 2:56:39 PM

Clear comes before Cool, so my vote is with "Desk Sweep of Rage".

Feb 5th 2018 at 2:22:05 PM

Launching soon. Any concerns? Raise it now.

Feb 5th 2018 at 4:02:24 PM

Should we split this draft into two separate tropes? Desk Sweep of Rage for anger-based clearing, and Passionate Desk Sweep for the setup to Professionals Do It On Desks. Also, make sure the examples here aren't better suited for the Clear The Table draft, which is for sweeping stuff out of the way during a Eureka Moment or an emergency.

Feb 14th 2018 at 11:57:43 AM

^ - So, unlaunched yet... So, those concerns are still concerning?

Example:

Fanfic.Facing The Future: Trial by Fire:

Lost in ... anger... Danny lashed out at a nearby workstation, sweeping away a keyboard, a mouse, and a cup.

Mar 2nd 2018 at 1:36:14 PM

I moved all "clear desk for sex" examples to Clear The Table. We can still decide if they deserve to have a draft of their own.

Feb 22nd 2018 at 12:06:29 PM

Not sure of the applicability of this example, but...

  • In The Prince of Egypt, during the Plagues montage Ramses finds Hotep and Huy hiding behind a curtain applying ointments and medicines to their boils. Ramses flips the table and orders them to get out, implying that they're being fired.

Feb 24th 2018 at 4:21:06 AM

Bump for title crowner votes.

Feb 27th 2018 at 1:35:12 PM

Any last comments before launch?

Mar 2nd 2018 at 12:25:14 PM

Too Bah has abandoned this draft, eroock adopted the draft but seems to have forgotten to launch it. I don't want to be accused of rogue-launching, so... now what?

Mar 2nd 2018 at 1:06:10 PM

I sent a reminder to eroock, and — wow, this was unexpected — eroock PM-ed me back and gave me permission to launch this.

Mar 2nd 2018 at 1:07:29 PM

However, the last-edited-by timestamp shows eroock has been busy recently, so I'm gonna wait a little bit and make sure (s)he's absolutely done.

Mar 2nd 2018 at 1:47:04 PM

T-minus 3, 2, 1, oops! Refreshed the page and eroock's at it again! Eroock, whatcha editing?

Mar 2nd 2018 at 2:23:07 PM

Last check to see if eroock's still on a thirty-minute edit interval... darn it - that's it, I'm private-messaging eroock.

Mar 2nd 2018 at 2:35:20 PM

OK, eroock's response has me thinking either null edits or software glitch. Either way, (s)he's not in the middle of catching typos or some such project, so I'm LAUNCHING THIS DANG THING ALREADY (and about time too).

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