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A Glass in the Hand

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When you're on edge you're gonna squeeze whatever you're holding until it breaks!
"Don't worry. Don't fuss, Petunia. I have a very firm grip."
Aunt Marge (to Petunia Dursley), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

We've all seen this before. Perchance the character Does Not Know His Own Strength. Maybe he's entering a Heroic BSoD or Villainous Breakdown. Perhaps her Berserk Button has just been pushed or heard something shocking. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: that glass in their hand doesn't stand a chance.

Next thing you know the character has clenched the glass (or other breakable object) so hard that it shatters in their hand. Depending on the mood, realism of the work and the thing that broke, there may be a cut to a dramatic closeup of blood dripping down from the hand that got cut on the shards. If the character is mad enough they're likely to not notice the bleeding, which might be a good sign that it's time to start running away really, really, fast.

What shatters doesn't have to be a cup; it doesn't even have to be made of glass. It can be a metal can being crushed, or paper being crumpled unconsciously. The important thing in this situation is the distress of the character which caused them to inadvertently crush whatever they were holding. A purposely snapped pencil is a common way to show Suppressed Rage, especially when it becomes personal.

This trope can be used to heighten drama or, in the case that the character breaking the glass is unscathed, played for comedy.

A subtrope of Dramatic Shattering. Truth in Television under certain (painful) circumstances, but usually invokes the Soft Glass effect. Result of Rule of Drama, or possibly Rule of Funny, depending on the mood of the scene. It can serve as an example of Tranquil Fury. Intersects with Knuckle Cracking. Geometric opposite of Dramatic Drop.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Death Note, Light, acting as L, "advises" Near to escape from a situation Light himself created to trap him. While smirking. Near crushes the toy in his hand at Light's brazenness in barely even trying to hide his satisfaction.
  • Bleach:
    • Non-glass example: when three of Barragan's Fraccion are defeated, he crushes one of the skulls on the sides of his makeshift throne, showing that he is quite pissed.
    • Earlier, Ichigo becomes very upset when he hears that Chad has been beaten. He gets lost in thought trying to convince himself that he'll be okay...until his child companion Nel starts complaining that he's crushing her.
  • Roberta does this with a beer mug — holding just the handle — at the Yellow Flag in Black Lagoon, one of the few hints we get that she's an utter badass before she breaks out the kevlar-lined Parasol of Pain and starts blasting people to hell. It also doesn't hurt her hand because she's wearing gloves or, more likely, because she is that badass. And, as the next episodes show, this is the bottom of what she can go through unscathed.
    • In "Roberta's Blood Trail", she does this with an entire bottle (also in the Yellow Flag, or what's left of it).
  • In Carole & Tuesday, Catherine snaps her pen in half after hearing the Mermaid Sisters' Cluster F-Bomb of a song.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Vegeta does this to his scouter after reading Goku's Power Level and much later, Jeice does this to his scouter after reading Vegeta's.
    • A much more literal example comes when Gohan and Goku return from the Hyperbolic Time Chamber having learned how to become Super Saiyans in their daily lives — they attempt to have dinner with Chichi but Goku and Gohan can't help smashing glasses in their hands due to their insane strength.
    • In an early episode Chi-Chi, while washing dishes, becomes frustrated at Goku for being so late (unaware he has actually been killed) and crushes the plate she is holding, then tosses it aside to reveal a garbage bin full of broken dishes and promptly breaks yet another one.
  • Geki Hyuuma crushing his communicator is a Running Gag in GaoGaiGar.
  • Shinn Asuka does this at least three times with soft drink cans in Gundam SEED Destiny.
  • Was also by Michelo Chariot in the first episode G Gundam, although it was more from battle lust.
    • Parodied in G Gundam the Abridged Series where he crushes the glass... and screams out in pain as we cut to the title.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: King Dedede crushes a potato chip. What? He later does it with a ramen cup when he's angry that Kirby gets to eat some fancy dinners at several people's houses for free while he's stuck with cheap dinners.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1999): Ganondorf crushes the ocarina Link got from Saria when he realizes that it is not the Ocarina of Time.
  • A JSSDF official in the first episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion snaps a pencil in two over astonishment that no conventional weaponry is working against Sachiel.
  • Kanou shatters a glass after pouring over a jerk's head in Okane ga Nai, as a clear indication that he is a badass.
  • In the second volume of the manga Naisho no Tsubomi, when strange men show up at the beach and try to lure the girls away, eventually even just grabbing them, En picks up a bottle from the sand and crushes it to scare them off.
  • One Piece:
    • Crocodile snaps the handle of his tea cup after Mr. 3 admits that he never used his transponder snail on Little Garden, indicating that the Straw Hats are still alive.
    • Boa Hancock does this while speaking with Granny Nyon.
    • Duval crushes a glass of wine in his hand when he hears that the Straw Hats pirates, including the hated Sanji, are coming near his island.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In the special "Mewtwo Returns", Giovanni did this once with a whiskey glass, and later again with a cellphone. The man must have incredible grip strength.
    • In the Pokémon Adventures manga, Norman is so upset when he finds out his son Ruby ran away from home that he does this with his cell phone. His wife implies he does that quite often.
    • Similarly, Pokémon Adventures' Koga does this to a Golbat-shaped viewing screen/communicator after being defeated by Green.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • In the anime episode covering the unveiling of the Nekoken, Genma does this while lamenting over how his son has suffered by having learnt the technique in question, crushing the glass he was drinking from (bloodlessly) while weeping over how you "just can't save a child from himself". The Hypocritical Humour here, of course, is that Ranma never wanted to learn the Nekoken — Genma was the one who repeatedly wrapped his son in fish and hurled him into a pit of starving cats until the trauma gave him a phobia that could induce a cat-like split personality if he got too frightened.
    • In both anime and manga, when Akane has "traded" Ranma to Nabiki, she at one point hears what she thinks is Ranma entering Nabiki's room, which is right next door, and does the "listen through a glass against the wall" trick. Between the sounds she hears and her own imagination, the glass promptly shatters violently between her fingers as she sees in her mind's eye Ranma jumping a not-exactly-unwilling Nabiki for sex, whereupon Akane goes storming into Nabiki's room. And gets even more pissed off when she finds out that Nabiki psyched her out; Ranma isn't there and never was there, and Nabiki was just messing with her to get her to pay Nabiki to break up with Ranma.
    • An occurrence from the last book of the manga: Mousse, Ryōga, the Jusenkyō guide and his daughter Plum are spying on Ranma and Shampoo through a wall, Mousse using the old trick of putting a glass against his ear. When he hears Ranma asking for Shampoo to take off her clothes (a ploy to steal some of the Phoenix people's magical eggs, but Mousse doesn't know this), the glass between Mousse's fingers cracks.
    • Also, it isn't uncommon for Ryōga to break whatever is in his hands when he gets upset, considering his great strength. For example, at the end of the manga story where female Ranma pretends to be his sister Yoiko, when she finally reveals the trickery Ryōga pulverizes the phone receiver he was holding.
  • In Shaman King, Tao En seems like a nice guy, right? I mean, he's stroking a panda's head. Then when he gets riled up... Complete with Lampshade Hanging as he tosses the now decapitated panda aside. And yes, the panda felt it coming. And because he has the power to animate "Chinese zombies", the same panda makes an appearance at his lap again a few weeks later.
  • In Texhnolyze, Ichise accidentally does this after recently having a mechanical arm grafted on. He particularly has trouble with fine motor control using his new hand.
  • In Descendants of Darkness, Tsuzuki does this after his new partner Hisoka introduces himself very curtly.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Yugi's aura was once so powerful, he broke a glass in Pegasus' hand. Through a TV screen.
  • Mima from Perfect Blue does this with a tea cup in one scene.
  • Ouran High School Host Club: Tamaki does this with his cell phone in the second Kasanoda episode.
  • In the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, manga, Teana does this with a paper cup when Subaru suggests that they can, through effort, shake off their reputation as the "airheaded pair," before grabbing her necktie and telling her it's her fault they have this reputation.
  • In the My-HiME manga, Haruka does this with a phone receiver when Shizuru informs her that Mai has defeated Nao.
  • In Noein, Yuu crushes a paper cup when he notices Haruka is fawning over Karasu.
  • Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman has a Running Gag where Riko (the Salmon Pink Shinesman) crushes paper cups of hot coffee when excited. Lampshaded when someone asks her "Doesn't that hurt?"
  • Sasuke from Naruto does this with a hand-sized rock to try and size up the Sand village team before the start of the Chunin Exams.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Makato Shishio crushes a wakizashi with one hand, a momento returned to him by his AWOL The Dragon, symbolic of his relentless belief in Social Darwinism. The animated adaptation goes further and shows whatever remaining fragments in his hand afterwards was held so tightly that it vaporized.
  • VAVA in the Mega Man X manga ends up doing this to a glass of liquid, as a demonstration of how it matters little to him as to what's in the drink to X (he comments that Reploids can't tell the difference between bourbon or mud in a glass). Such was even given a Mythology Gag with his D-Arts action figure, where it shows him with a glass of bourbon and even comes with it.
  • During the third round of Liar Game, Yokoya performs this maneuver with mice during a minor Villainous Breakdown.
  • In Ultimate Muscle, Sunshine does this out of anger regarding his forced retirement.
  • In Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Yang Wen-li crushed a disposable cup filled with hot tea with his hand when he received news of the death of his mentor and friend Alexandre Bewcock, scalding him in the process.
  • UQ Holder!: Karin has this behavior as a Running Gag whenever her Yandere tendencies for Yukihime start spiking up. It's also perhaps the only real way to tell when she's angry, given that she is well and truly The Stoic.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, when Z-one came to the conclusion that humanity was too wicked to be saved, he got so angry that he crumpled up the Shooting Star Dragon card in his hand.
  • In the TV Hellsing series, Alucard did this in the end after asking Sir Integra for orders. Given that he's immortal, he doesn't to care.
  • Date A Live: In the Hot Springs Episode, Origami Tobiichi gets so jealous of Tohka's relationship with Shido that she causes the unopened soda can in her hand to burst.
  • In Sailor Moon, Usagi and Chibiusa were eavesdropping on a disguised Tigers Eye and Fish Eye, who were at the time targeting Makoto. Having danced with her before, Tigers Eye makes an offhand comment about how it's so easy to romance other girls and that he can have as many as he wishes. Usagi is so angered that she crushes a pack of food in her hands, shocking Chibiusa in the process.
  • In Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, Illya makes an unopened soda can in her hand burst when she sees Kuro flirting with Shirou.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has a variant where Lisha cracks the glass window she's leaning on when she sees Krulcifer kiss Lux twice.
  • Ginga Teikoku Kouboushi: Volume 2: Foundation: Jorane Sutt and Hober Mallow are drinking wine while they discuss a compromise. Incensed by Mallow's declaration that he can gain a political seat despite Sutt's opposition, Sutt smashes his glass on the table between them and says that he can put Mallow in jail for twenty years if the trader won’t accede to his demands.
  • Shimoneta: When Anna catches her crush Tanukichi sharing a bed with Kosuri (in reality, Kosuri snuck in), she shatters a carrot in her hand.
  • Omamori Himari: Rinko gets pissed off when Himari flirts with her crush Yuto and shatters a pen in her hand.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions: Seto Kaiba rants at his scientists about his desire for a real final match against the Pharaoh and ends his speech by crushing his metal drinking flask and then dramatically tossing it aside. He then concludes with this gem:
    Kaiba: Fire whoever designed that bottle. KaibaCorp products should not bend that easily!
  • GTO: The Early Years: At the end of Chapter 107, Eikichi crushes a glass in his clenched fist when he overhears Makoto telling his friend that "Onizuka and Danma are my dogs!"
  • Dr. STONE: Village chief Kokuyo has a habit of crushing clay cups in his hand when he's angry.
  • You're Under Arrest!: An episode has the cast dealing with an Idol Singer who gets away with committing plenty of parking violations, due to his records being deleted. When Natsumi goes to complain with the Chief, he says that he can't really do anything, so she angrily grabs the cup of tea he's drinking and crushes it in her hand.

    Comic Books 
  • A Treacherous Advisor type does this in X-Wing Rogue Squadron after two Rogues refuse to turn on one of their own.
  • In Watchmen, Rorschach makes another person do this as an interrogation method, crushing the glass in his hand to cause tremendous pain.
  • Fantastic Four: Lilandra's reaction to Reed Richards saving planet-devouring Galactus.
  • Scott Pilgrim crushes the plastic booze cup in his hand when he first tries to talk to Ramona Flowers.
  • Batman
    • The arc "Prey" has Bruce Wayne break a glass when he hears Hugo Strange on a news broadcast perfectly outlining a profile for what might drive a man to become Batman; it's unclear if it's meant to be a Mythology Gag to Strange smashing a wine glass against a wall when Batman foils him in his debut.
    • Batman does the same in the first part of the "War Crimes" arc, while watching a videotape of a show detailing Stephanie Brown's death.
  • In John Constantine's first appearance, he stares down a biker who's hassling him in a bar. The man isn't very intimidated, until he notices that John crushed his glass when he made a fist and is still squeezing the shards. His hand seems fine soon after, so it may have been an illusion.
  • In I Feel Sick, Devi grips a paint can while arguing with her living doll Sickness and ends up shattering it. Devi then complains at the doll for making her spill her paint. Sickness informs her that there was no paint in the container. Devi says a bad word.
  • In an issue of Spider-Man, Doctor Doom shatters a diamond in his armored hand as punishment to the Black Fox for having stolen an emerald that once belonged to Doom's mother. That was likely what Doom had intended for the Fox himself, had Spidey not convinced Doom that the Black Fox never intended to steal from Doom.
  • In The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #23, a jealous Hollywood star crushes a glass in his hand as he watches his costar flirting with Indiana Jones.

    Fan Works 
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Snape gets so angry during Harry's sorting that he crushes a silver goblet into a lump.
  • In Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns, while in Orzammar, the only reason anyone realizes that Raonar is pissed off at how Faren was slammed with Leske's betrayal is because the prince grips on his glass of wine hard enough to crush it in his bare grasp, blood and all.
  • Paul in With Strings Attached does this twice, once with a trash can lid and once with a stone cup. The first time, he is annoyed at John; the second time is inadvertent, and he douses himself with tea.
  • My Little Mages: The Nightmare's Return: When Twilight first mentions Nightmare Moon to Celestia, the princess breaks the handle off her teacup in surprise.
  • Turnabout Storm: After Sonata is exposed by Phoenix and Trixie, she furiously snaps a pencil in half with her magic.
  • Sketchbook in this Don't Hug Me I'm Scared Character Blog.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh: Tilting The Balance: Degas crushes his wine glass in his hand when Jean-Vic is defeated. He then ends his list of grievances with "And I have glass in my hand!"
  • In Child of the Storm, Steve doesn't take hearing HYDRA is back well, resulting in this. The same thing also happens to Harry when he gets angry at a fellow student's idiocy-this one is rather justified, since Harry is just growing into his Super Strength.
  • Fates Collide: Nora Valkyrie crushes a cup three times: when she finds out Ren's new roommate is a girl, when she sees her, Kiyohime, for the first time, and when Kiyohime declares Ren will be her boyfriend, not Nora's.
  • Lost to Dust:
    • When Achilles pisses off Sienna Khan by saying the White Fang's path of violence achieves nothing except causing pain and creating monsters like the White Fang Killer, she crushes the armrest on her throne.
    • When Qrow unmasks Hinako Akuta as the villain Yu Miaoyi, she crushes her glasses. This cuts up her hand, allowing her to use her Bloody Murder powers.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In A New Home, Mukrezar had the wine glass in his hand shatter, "as he suddenly clenched his fist" after learning the lethal amount of magic that Ami used, and he basically has no way of matching to one-up her.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Cinder and Qrow, multiple times, shatter glasses when Jaune gets more exasperating than usual. Justified because Aura shields them from harm. At one point, Cinder specifically notes she can't break a glass because it's her last one and she refuses to drink straight from the bottle.
  • YuyaVision: Kiryu shatters a glass in his hand when he learns from José that their current plan (at the time) was to sit back and do nothing.
  • I'm Nobody: * Roxas accidentlly crushes some chopsticks after he hears how the Quarians are treated by the other species. The Chef bafflingly notes they were metal chopsticks.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Incredibles: Bob/Mr. Incredible is almost out the door to save a mugging victim when his boss threatens to fire him if he leaves. He lets go of the now crumpled doorknob.
  • In The Black Cauldron, the Horned King shatters the goblet in his hand when Taran refuses to show him how Hen Wen predicts the future.
  • Cats Don't Dance: Angry at Danny crashing her premiere, Darla squeezes a doll so hard the head pops out.
  • Gru in Despicable Me 2 crushes a glass in his hand when he witnesses his eldest adopted daughter Margot dancing with El Macho’s son Antonio.
  • In Flushed Away, Rodney the mouse angrily does this to a cheesepuff.
    Sid: Here, have a cheesepuff.
    Rodney: [crushes it with one hand]
    Sid: Have another.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: Ratigan crushes a wind-up ballerina in his hand when threatening Flavisham.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: Spoofed when Wyldstyle does so with a cup of overpriced coffee, when Emmet brings up "Everything is Awesome" and her dislike for it.
    Emmet: That song really bugs you, huh?
    Wildstyle: No, it doesn't!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Flashbacks in Gerald's Game reveal Jessie was sexually assaulted by her father as a girl. On the night of the assault, she sits at the dinner table holding a glass. Her mother asks about her day with her father, and she suddenly breaks it in her hand.
  • Sutler in V for Vendetta shatters a glass of warm milk as he sees a comedy sketch mocking his inability to stop V on television. Including a line mocking his fondness for warm milk, no less.
  • James Bond
    • Not quite a glass but the same general idea: In Octopussy, the angry henchman Gobinda crushes dice in his hand.
    • Which was basically a copy of the time in Goldfinger when the insanely strong Oddjob crushes a golf ball in his hand, although he seems rather cheery about it.
    • Dr. No crushes a golden goblet with his metal hand to intimidate Bond.
  • In L.A. Confidential, Russell Crowe's character, Bud White, does this with a goddamn chair, snapping the solid wood chair back in half right before he busts into the interrogation room to play Russian Roulette with the prisoner.
  • Deception: Hollenius shatters a champagne glass in his hand while he seethes with rage at the wedding reception of Christine, who used to be his mistress. After this display of temper he spends the rest of the movie in Faux Affably Evil mode while he sets out to undermine and destroy Christine's marriage.
  • The Scorpion King does this in a similar fashion to the Watchmen example above, except the guy doing it wanted the other guy to bow rather than for any practical purpose.
  • In Catwoman (2004), the villain crushes her glass and marvels at how her hand is completely unscathed, an attempt at The Reveal. Unfortunately, it didn't work so well, considering how ground into the mind Soft Glass is.
  • In Superman Returns, during Clark's first day back on the job at the Daily Planet, he picks up a picture of Lois and her son from her desk. Jimmy sees it and confirms that yes, "fearless reporter Lois Lane is a mommy." The glass in the frame cracks instantly.
  • Enter the Dragon: After being defeated by taking that large kick by Bruce Lee's character, Oharra grabs a bottle and shatters it, intending to use it on Lee. Unfortunately for Oharra, this wasn't enough to prevent his death by being crushed underfoot by Lee.
  • A Raisin in the Sun: Walter crushes a glass in his hand upon learning that his mother has put a down payment on a better house, rather than giving him the money to invest in a liquor store.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Lucas Lee crushes a paper cup filled with coffee after realizing that Scott beat up all his stunt doubles.
  • True Lies: Harry uses binoculars to watch the slimy used car salesman he thinks is sleeping with his wife. His partner makes several quips about the situation, and we know one has hit a nerve when we see one of the lenses crack under Harry's grip.
  • In Army of Darkness, Ash crushes a pewter mug with his new gauntlet-hand.
  • In Breaking the Waves, a Church Elder at Bess and Jan's wedding spots one of Jan's fellow riggers chugging down a can of beer and chugs down his glass of lemonade in response. The rigger watches, then crushes his beer can and smirks in invitation. Not to be outdone, the old man crushes his glass with his bare hand.
  • In War, Inc., Hauser gets so stressed out at seeing Yonica acting slutty (the infamous scorpion down the pants scene) that he accidentally crushes the vial of cobra venom he was about to pour into Omar Sharif's food.
  • Dick Blaney crushes a glass in his hand while having lunch with his ex-wife in Frenzy. He's on the books as a Domestic Abuser, and while he denies it the audience is never really sure.
  • At the start of the otherwise forgettable Chuck Norris action movie Firewalker, Chuck is staked out in the desert to die. To taunt him, the villain leaves a bottle of water in his hand. Chuck is able to break the glass with just his hand, giving himself the glass shards to cut his bonds.
  • Calvin Candie does it in Django Unchained. It was not part of the script, but Leonardo DiCaprio stayed in character and kept going with the scene.
  • The Ribald Tales of Robin Hood: When Little John is informed of Tina's rape and murder at the hands of the Sheriff, he snaps his quarterstaff in half.
  • In First Man, Neil Armstrong attends a reception at the White House when he receives a call notifying him about the Apollo 1 fire. After putting the phone down, he breaks the wine glass he was holding and cuts his hand.
  • Blade Runner 2049 plays this pretty brutally. Joshi frequently carries a glass in her hand, but this trope only occurs when Luv begins actively crushing her hand as she holds the broken shards of one to torture her.
  • In Corvette Summer, Kenny crushes a styrofoam Coca-Cola cup while he yells at his classmate Kootz for letting his beloved Corvette get stolen.
  • In The Con is On, Gabriel shatters his wine glass in frustation over the increasingly bizarre situation he is facing at his dinner table, and the fact that he is paying for it.
  • Done twice in Re-Animator. Herbert West does the pencil version during Hill's lecture to show his mounting Tranquil Fury over plagiarist Dr. Hill using theories he stole from West's mentor Dr. Gruber. And in a deleted scene, Dean Halsey, while being hypnotized by Hill, squeezes his drink too hard, shattering the glass in his hand.
  • In The Fifth Element Korben is standing with his hands on a light fixture while Munro is recruiting him. When Munro reveals he had already rigged a contest so Korben would be sent to Phloston's Paradise, Korben tears the light off the wall.
  • In the 1994 film of The Little Rascals Darla does the kid version of this, crumpling a soda can in her hand to show her anger at Alfalfa.
  • Rope: On arriving at the apartment, Mrs. Atwater sees Kenneth and mistakes him for David, promoting her to call out David's name... and Phillip immediately breaks the champagne glass he's holding, cutting his hand.
  • Used humorously in Jaws, where (big strong tough guy) Quint crushes a beer can, and (bookish weaker guy) Hooper crushes a styrofoam cup in response. Note that in 1975, beer cans were made from tin rather than aluminum, so crushing one actually was an impressive show of strength.
  • Halloween Ends: When some bullies start taunting Corey Cunningham, he gets so pissed that he shatters a bottle of chocolate milk in his hand. This cuts up his hand.

  • Downplayed and Played for Laughs in Campione!. When Godou tells Liliana that her hobby of writing romantic novels is nothing to be ashamed of, she becomes flustered and crushes the ice cream cone she's holding, then throws it at him before running off in embarrassment.
  • Shizuo ends up doing this in vol. 5 of Durarara!!. Since it's Shizuo, he doesn't break a glass. Instead, he crushes a steel cup into a ball of foil. Accidentally.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In one book, Dean crushes the glass in his hand after Harry kisses Ginny.
    • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Aunt Marge believes she has accidentally broken a glass by squeezing it too hard. In actual fact, Harry subconsciously made it explode. However, she does claim to have accidentally broken another glass a few days before at someone else's house.
    • Snape once demolished a silver goblet with one hand.
  • In The Five Red Herrings, Peter is talking to a witness/suspect while playing with a tube of paint. When the witness innocently says something important to the case, Peter accidentally bursts the tube. The real clue here turns out to be the brand of paint.
  • A mild variant of this — the narrator crumpling a photograph in his hand when startled by a noise, then reflexively stuffing it in his pocket — sets up The Reveal in H. P. Lovecraft's "Pickman's Model".
  • Subverted in Tim Powers's The Anubis Gates: the protagonist tries to break a beer mug in his hand to show how tough he is and intimidate his way out of an awkward situation, but discovers, to his embarrassment and onlookers' amusement, that he isn't quite strong enough.
  • In Magic Bleeds, Kate Daniels is on the phone with a man who tried to seduce her away from her love interest. Said interest listens to their conversation with a blank face while slowly rolling his plate into a tube. His metal plate. Kate has to explain the screeching noise as "construction". When he finally sets it down, it's been compacted into a ball an inch across.
  • In the Liaden Universe book Conflict of Honors, Shan does this when he thinks Priscilla might be dead.
  • In Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian, Artemis convinces a fairy named Gobdaw (Who's just awakened after several millenia of slumber) that he's become something of a joke in fairy society in his time away. Gobdaw responds by snapping a martini glass in two and attempting to stab Artemis with the jagged end of the stem.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Space Wolf, the title character Ragnar gets a new set of Power Armor. To demonstrate his new strength, he is given a fist-sized rock and told to crush it. He succeeds.
  • A potential villain does this in a Nancy Drew book while exchanging nasty looks with another potential bad guy, thus revealing that regardless of their status as far as the story goes, they share an ugly history.
  • The BattleTech Expanded Universe has Justin Allard do this as a threatening gesture at Hanse Davion's wedding—he silently toasts Prince Davion as a Worthy Opponent before taking a drink of wine and then summarily crushing the wineglass in his hand. Notable for doing this with absolute calm when the wedding has just been thrown into chaos by Davion's announcement of the Fourth Succession War during the reception (and a mad grab for dining plates and cake being thrown everywhere). Justified by the fact that Justin has a robotic arm with far more than enough strength in the limb to crush glass (see also the Real Life section below regarding prosthetics).
  • In Nova Prince Red, whose right arm is artificial and freakishly strong, does this twice to threaten Lorq, first time to a table, crushing thick oak tabletop like cracker. Later he squeezes a fistful of sand and literally makes a glass lump in the hand.
  • In Shaman Blues, Witkacy crushes the glass he's holding in his hands when Vulture starts making unseemly suggestions towards romancing fifteen-years-old Wiktoria.
  • In Neuromancer, this comes as a clear sign that Armitage is beginning to crack: at dinner, Case catches him staring blankly into space, and he snaps the stem off his wineglass when Case tries to get his attention.
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, the White Queen is happily cooking breakfast when Kyousuke says another girl's name in front of her. She crushes the handle of the frying pan.
  • Done by Taur Urgas in The Belgariad, crushing a golden goblet after drinking from it. Shortly after, he orders the butchering of a camp of foreigners. Part of this was to clear out potential spies before his upcoming invasion of the West, but mostly to feed his bloodlust.
  • Kate Shugak: In No Fixed Line, Auntie Vi is so angry when she learns that the children rescued from the crashed plane had been sexually abused, she breaks a Pyrex measuring cup and a mixing bowl while making dinner, and Kate is sure these were not accidents.
  • The Syrena Legacy: In Of Poseidon, Galen sees his Love Interest Emma flirting with another boy during their temporary break-up. He snaps his plastic fork in half between his fingers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: The normally timid Charles Boyle has gone full Mama Bear (his words) badass to get his Latvian adopted son Nikolaj a Captain Latvia action figure. When faced with an apathetic import warehouse manager, he does this repeatedly to the man's mugs to intimidate him. Jake tries it once - and instantly begins screaming when the shards cut his hands.
  • Red Dwarf's "Out of Time" has the Cat say of Rimmer: "You can tell he's tense by the way he scrunches up cups and throws them in the bin, and I'm not talking Styrofoam, I'm talking enamel." Of course, he is a Hard Light hologram.
  • Twin Peaks has the pencil-breaking variety in the first episode. The morning Laura Palmer's dead body is found, a teacher comes in to Laura's secret boyfriend James' homeroom, presumably to tell the homeroom teacher school is out early after the principal's announcement. They then see a girl run screaming across the courtyard through the window. James and Donna both look at Laura's empty desk, and the penny drops. Donna starts crying and James snaps the pencil in his hand in half.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Homecoming" the other Scoobies abandon Buffy to support Cordelia's campaign for Homecoming Queen. Buffy insists to Giles that it's all just fun and nothing serious....and then grips her glass water bottle so hard it shatters. Then again she does have Super Strength.
    • In "Seeing Red", Spike breaks a bottle in his hand after having a flashback of his Attempted Rape of Buffy.
    • In "Checkpoint" Giles does his trademark Glasses Pull during a tense discussion with the Watcher's Council. When Travers threatens him, he breaks his glasses because he's cleaning them at the time.
  • In the sitcom Sparks, a judge is talking about a criminal at a party, unaware that said criminal is all spruced-up and standing right next to her. The wine glass he's holding breaks when she calls him "scum".
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie parodies this in one of their "John and Peter" sketches, where the normally hard-drinking mid-level businessmen have been reduced to operating a public restroom and sipping instant coffee out of paper cups. John, as disproportionately passionate about their situation as ever, keeps crushing the empty cups in his hand, leading to the prematurely crushing of one that's still full of very hot coffee.
  • Near the end of the run of the original Iron Chef, Chairman Kaga crushes a glass in his hand at the thought of closing his beloved Kitchen Stadium. We later see him holding a glass in his bandaged hand — and, unfortunately, getting anguished enough to crush that glass too.
  • Happens multiple times on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as pictured above. The trope was quickly exaggerated, as Jon would first break the glass, then the bottle, then a "comically-convenient fish tank". Then, after an incident in which he cut himself badly enough to require several stitches when he accidentally shattered a margarita glass, he would don protective equipment before picking up the glass to be broken.
  • In an interesting Cut Himself Shaving twist, in The West Wing Josh's hand is (supposedly) cut up by a broken drink glass in the episode "Noel", when in fact he smashed his hand through a window during a particularly intense reaction to his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Spoofed in Garth Marenghis Darkplace, when Thornton Reed crushes a paper cup in his hand... despite the fact that the shot immediately before showed him holding a shovel.
  • Smallville:
    • When Clark does this to whatever poor object is in his hand, run.
    • Happens exactly so to Oliver Queen. This is, of course, not the first nor the last time in the show's history a character breaks something because they don't know their own strength or how to control it.
    • Another notable example is glass-breaking girl Maddie who can control glass with her mind.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Assignment", O'Brien is compelled to act normally at a party by a pah-wraith possessed Keiko. The stress becomes too much for him when she shows mock-affection for his daughter, and he shatters his whiskey glass.
  • In the Knight Rider episode "Knight of the Juggernaut", Philip Nordstrom breaks a drinking glass in his hand. Justified, in that the hand in question is cybernetic and therefore super-strong.
  • In Leverage, this happens when a Victim Of The Day starts hitting on Parker's "pretzels". With a beer bottle.
  • Warehouse 13 has an episode where an artifact granted Super Strength The man using it threatened the agents by crushing a cup.
  • Bill from Alphas crushes a coffee thermos when he feels a sharp pain in his chest.
  • Phil from Modern Family is tasered while holding a mint-condition baseball card. He continues to seize, crushing it more and more while going through a descending list of collectible quality levels from "mint condition" to "trash".
  • Jenna from 30 Rock in response to Liz throwing a deliberately lame bachelorette party for her.
  • Happens to the butler in S3E1 of Downton Abbey. The aristocrat's youngest daughter has married a commoner with certain opinions about aristocracy that he freely shares at the dinner table. The butler is upset by his comments about the king.
  • Lily from How I Met Your Mother is upset that Marshall took a judging position without consulting her, and every time she hears a legal term — "judge", "court", "trial" — she breaks the glass in her hand.
    • The Mother broke a glass after she finds an ad placed by her jerkass bandmate seeking to replace her, and it insulted her looks in the process.
  • Family Matters: A teacher frequently does this with a juice box, a milk carton, and an orange, thus revealing her increasing irritation with Steve Urkel, who keeps interrupting her, then has the unmitigated gall to chastise HER for interrupting him.
  • One Life to Live: Having seduced his ex-wife Alex on the floor of the living room of the mansion she shares with her new husband Asa—whom he despises, Carlo Hesser is helping himself to some of Asa's brandy when Asa arrives home. The close-up of Carlo's hand shattering the glass of brandy tells you exactly how he feels about this.
  • The Golden Girls: Rose (normally a sweet woman, but also known as a poster child for Beware the Nice Ones,) when suspecting her boyfriend Miles was cheating, shatters a coffee mug with one hand.
  • This happens in the episode "Days Past" in Walker, Texas Ranger. The person who murdered Walker's old fiancee is let off on a reduced sentence. Walker sees the announcement from the TV in C.D.'s bar and pulverizes his drinking glass, mangling his hand with enough blood to make the shards cling to his flesh. So angry he doesn't even let anyone nurse his wound, he walks out to his Dodge Ram and stamps it with a bloody handprint when lays his damaged palm against the window as he seethes with rage and his eyes burn with a monstrous Death Glare.
  • Peep Show has a mild example, where a buddhist slams his drink down too hard at a stag night and ends up with a bloody hand. As Super-Hans puts it, "I think maybe Buddha wasn't too pleased".
  • Happens in the The Big Bang Theory episode "The Opening Night Excitation". Penny snaps her wine glass in half when she hears Sheldon announce that he plans to finally have sex with Amy.
  • An unusual variation of this occurs in Black Books. Bernard, driven crazy by Manny's dad's incessant humming, looks ready to smash his teacup in frustration, but instead takes a bite out of it. Then goes back for seconds.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Revelations of Becka Paulson", Joe Paulsen is electrocuted while holding a beer bottle, which he proceeds to crush in his hand.
  • The Partridge Family: When Shirley withdraws a large sum of money from the bank, the president is so enraged that the pencil he's holding snaps.
  • In a 2018 Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Bill Hader, Rex Tillerson (portrayed by John Goodman) does this while discussing being fired by Donald Trump.
    Tillerson: It's just crazy how, one day, you're the CEO of Exxon - a 50 billion dollar corporation - and the next day... you get fired by a man who used to sell steaks in the mail. [shatters glass]
  • In the Broad City episode "The Last Supper," Abbi shatters a wine glass she's holding, severely cutting up her palm, after she accidentally stabs herself with Ilana's EpiPen.
  • Fresh Meat: Episode 1x4. Josie to Kingsley while he is washing a mug in the sink: "Sex." He doesn't appear to injure himself with his reaction. Or at least he's able to brush it off with a casual "it's fine" easily enough to respond "yes, please!"
  • Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Alice breaks a glass after her stepmother suggests geting her married to a young man.

    Video Games 
  • In Streets of Rage 3, if you get the ending as a result of you fighting Shiva as the final boss, you see Mr. X staring at a monitor showing him defeated with the heroes standing triumphantly over him. He promptly crushes the glass of wine in his left hand.
  • Castlevania
  • In this trailer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam pours himself a glass of whiskey and, presumably due to not being used to his mechanically augmented arms, cracks the glass when he holds it. It's a minor example, since the glass doesn't actually shatter, but it still counts.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Travis breaks an (empty) glass as he tells Sylvia that he wants revenge on the people who killed Bishop.
  • Street Fighter's Vega will take his aggression out on his mask in Alpha 3 if he fails to KO his opponent by round end.
  • In an early cut scene in Max Payne 3, Max does this whilst getting absolutely blotto in his new Sao Paulo apartment.
  • In the Dominion trailer of Wildstar, Malvolio Portius crushes his wine goblet in a fit of rage near the end and asks for another later on.
  • In Leon's campaign in Resident Evil 6, Derek Simmons crushes his fancy cell phone as he starts to transform.
  • In Anarchy Reigns, Douglas and Max do this when they're selected in the multiplayer menu. In Douglas' case, he crushes his goblet with the Pilebunker built into his arm.
  • Grodd in Injustice 2 combines this with Skull Cups in his intros, first drinking from a human skull and then crushing it in one hand.
  • In Yakuza: Dead Souls, Kazuma cracks the phone in his hand when he learns Haruka was kidnapped.
  • In one of the plot summaries for Private Eye for the Atari 2600, the plot summary of one of the cases mentions protagonist Pierre Touche doing this.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney
    • According to Gumshoe in case 3 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Edgeworth did this as a result of Phoenix's work in court the previous day... it was a paper cup, but it was filled with hot coffee, so he still hurt himself doing it.
    • When you break through Dee Vazquez's alibis, she crushes her pipette between her fingers.
    • Diego Armando does it to his cup of coffee at the end of the fourth case of Trials and Tribulations, after the defendant commits suicide before he can testify against his girlfriend. This instance also leaves out the Soft Glass (soft ceramic?) effect, as his hand bleeds profusely after breaking the mug, but he doesn't even flinch as he delivers one of the most iconic lines of the series. For added effect, this trope is the only outward sign of the fury he has to be feeling at that point.
    • Barok van Zieks in The Great Ace Attorney does this often with his wine chalice.

    Web Animation 
  • Duke Nukem ForeverQuest does a parody of Streets of Rage 3, where the mysterious figure watching the monitor doesn't quite get his glass to smash.
    "Come on, break, you bastard— (thumps glass on the table) You stupid thing, makin' me look like a pansy... (smashes glass, cutting his hand open) BWAAAAA-
  • Lackadaisy: Played for Laughs. As Viktor tends to the bar, and scares off the patronage, his boss gently scolds him and asks him to be more friendly, just as he accidentally breaks the shotglass he was wiping.
  • RWBY: At the beginning of the Volume 2 Food Fight, Ruby declares war on Team JNPR while crushing a full carton of milk in her hand.


    Web Videos 
  • The Cinema Snob pulls a wine glass out of his suit for this express purpose in reaction to the Oogieloves making a bad joke.
  • Critical Role has a moment early in the first campaign where Travis Willingham gets so angry at Vax's prank of shaving half of Grog's new beard he breaks his mechanical pencil with one hand.
  • Flander's Company: Parodied with Caleb crushing his coffee cup in the series finale. Though considering how much Caleb loves coffee, it shows well how upset he his.
  • Whenever something needs juicing, squeezing or mashing on Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time, it stands a fair chance of getting crushed to death in one hand.
  • In "7 Bosses You Had To Kill From The Inside Out, Ew", Luke Westaway crushes a drinks can in one hand when discussing the boss battle against Galdon in Star Fox Adventures, because of his sheer hatred of Tricky. He then requests another can, so that he can crush that one too.

    Western Animation 
  • Malory on Archer does this on more than one occasion. As a Lady Drunk who almost always has a glass of liquor in her hand, she is prone to crushing them whenever somebody, usually Sterling, angers her.
  • Spoofed in The Simpsons, where Mr. Burns is incapable of crushing a paper cup without Smithers' aid.
  • Used in an episode of Code Lyoko. Yumi is in the middle of threatening Sissi when her cup (made of plastic or something otherwise hard to break, but not glass) shatters. Yumi's hand is mildly cut (but no blood) and Sissi wisely backs down. Somewhat subverted in that Yumi wasn't actually responsible for breaking the cup; XANA has been testing sonic vibrations to eventually knock down the school. Yumi is as surprised as Sissi when the cup breaking occurs. This ends up being lampshaded by Ulrich when he's helping Yumi patch herself up and she throws out the idea of the glasses being fragile, pointing out "We're talking about cafeteria plastic, not Venetian crystal."
  • On Phineas and Ferb, Isabella snaps a pencil in "Summer Belongs to You" when Phineas talks about failed romantic encounters in Paris, oblivious to the fact that she wanted one with him.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob does this in "Can You Spare a Dime?", when he starts getting sick of Squidward's demands and laziness. Being a cartoon sponge, the broken glass is never touched on after it happens.
  • Justice League: In "Ancient History", when Katar Hol spies his wife kissing another man, he crushes a stone railing to dust.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
  • In Doug, when former mayor, Bob White, is introduced as the new principal to Doug's middle school, it's brought up how he had lost his reelection campaign to Mrs. Dink, causing him to snap the ballpoint pen in his hand.

    Real Life 
  • During the making of Genesis' epic The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, band member Steve Hackett was reportedly so tense that he succeeded in this, severing a tendon in his thumb in the process.
  • One of the challenges in designing prosthetic hands and grippers is avoiding this trope. It's funny when your manipulator's force feedback sensors fail and you squish a glass. It would be less funny if you were shaking someone's hand at the time. Or the shards from the glass fly at your face or drop in your lap.
  • Benito Mussolini employed this trope when he was haranguing his lackeys and REALLY wanted to make a point stick in their minds. Didn't work so well the last time, when they laughed him out of parliament with a bloody, painful hand.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Crushstration


Drunk Uncle

Drunk Uncle demonstrates his thoughts on one of the presidential candidates.

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / AGlassInTheHand

Media sources: