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Brain Freeze

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"I think I froze the left half of my brain! [waves arm around stiffly] Look! I can't move my right arm!"

Characters eating cold food or drinks too fast will get a "Brain Freeze". Almost universally a Comedy Trope. Brain Freeze will be treated as the most searing pain imaginable. Expect to see rivers of tears, screams of anguish, and the victim frantically clutching his head in agony.

Truth in Television; you most definitely can give yourself a headache by eating cold food too quickly. This is due to the blood capillaries in your sinuses; cold food causes them to constrict, and then experience extreme rebound dilation as they warm up again. This rebound triggers nearby pain receptors, which the brain interprets as coming from the forehead. You can recreate this effect when you put an ice cube on your forehead (and you don't have a headache, that is).

Now, if you want to prevent it, just lick your soft palate before diving into that milkshake and you should be fine. Eating warm or hot food can also help. Pressing your thumb against the roof of your mouth also helps it pass more quickly.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Cowboy Bebop episode "Mushroom Samba", a one-shot character is eating shaved ice when he notices the man who killed his brother outside the restaurant. He doesn't want to miss his chance at revenge, but also doesn't want to waste the desert, so he attempts to gobble it up all at once. He does not enjoy the resulting brain freeze.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: In both the anime and Kanna's Daily Life, Kanna experiences it with someone else while eating cold food. In the anime, she and Kobayashi both experience it when they eat their parfait. Kobayashi expresses her surprise to learn that even dragons can experience it. In Kanna's Daily Life, she and Ilulu experience it when having shaved ice.
  • In one chapter of Kochikame, Ryotsu bought a shaved ice maker and a big block of ice to make shaved ice bowls to eat which he got addicted and goes far as making sushi with ice rather than rice. His addiction got him severe brain freeze ends the chapter with him laying down with bags of ice over his forehead.
  • Komi Can't Communicate: Komi and her father suffer this after eating shaved ice. They both give each other hot tea afterwards.
  • Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Ren: Yuuta and Rikka both get one in the beginning of Episode 7 after eating their ice cream.
  • Ururu in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo gets one from sweeping an iced drink. She does it again once she gets a refill.
  • Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire: Used by Team Rocket in episode "The Spheal of Approval", giving the characters loads of ice cream and then stealing their Pokémon while they were disabled by the freeze.
  • In Powerpuff Girls Z, the girls have a brain freeze after eating some ice cream, which repels the powers of Him that had transformed them temporarily into little girls, as he had a weakness against cold.

    Comic Books 
  • In the appropriately-titled Trolls comic story "Brain Freeze", Cooper gets a brain freeze upon eating a large bowl of ice cream, leading to the Snack Pack to try to help him. When Poppy gives him cocoa, Cooper is cured, but thinks that the actual correct treatment was Poppy's previous attempt by giving him more ice cream.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Encino Man, Link experiences one of these after Stoney's lesson on "wheezing the juice". His mouth is still full of Icee as he silently clutches at his head.
  • Hot Fuzz: Double Subverted after Nick has a "Eureka!" Moment while they're eating Cornettos;
    Danny: What's the matter? You got brain freeze?
    Nicholas: No - brainwave! Get us back to the station. Now!
    Danny: [tries to swallow his Cornetto whole] ARGH!
  • Spoofed in Kangaroo Jack, when Charlie and Louis are wandering the desert. Charlie hallucinates finding a car, food, and drink. Louis stares at Charlie drinking an imaginary drink and screaming, "Brain freeze!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: In "Field of Pete", the brain-freezing power of the Orange Lazarus slushy incapacitates anyone who drinks it. The villain of the episode enjoys the feeling like it's a drug high. The legendary drink has since spawned a Pete and Pete fanlisting, an improv group, and a band.
  • In an episode of Roseanne Dan eats ice cream too fast, quickly getting a headache and he puts his mouth under the tap drinking warm water to alleviate it.
  • In one Scrubs episode, a patient's wife is approaching Turk and Elliot in the cafeteria. Turk declares the first one to chug their Slushie is off the hook, and proceeds to give himself brain freeze.
  • On Cheers, Frasier can't get Norm to understand what a stress headache is until he compares it to eating ice-cream too fast.
  • In a cold open from Malcolm in the Middle, Reese tries very hard to get brain freeze, but is unable to, with Malcolm being highly amused.
  • On Misfits, Rudy is dared by Abby to eat his Cornetto in one go. He does so and spends a bit of time holding his hands to his head.
  • On Step by Step, Cody gets a brain freeze, so (someone... Dana, possibly) advises him not to (consume his frozen foodstuff) so fast. Cody remarks that he wouldn't get the brain freeze if he stopped. Apparently, this is a desirable condition for him.
  • The Studio C sketch "Brain Freeze Funeral" is built on this trope.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield once had the character trying to eat his ice cream cone in one bite, despite Jon warning him not to. We see him writhing in great pain, his bloodshot eyes bugging out like the suffocating Martian colonists in Total Recall (1990).

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • When Steve Geyer was young, the kids called them "Slurpee Tumors".

  • Heathers: in "Freeze Your Brain", JD deliberately gives himself painful headaches from drinking cold Slushies as a less lethal alternative to self-harm.

    Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem Heroes: Fjorm suffers a brain freeze after eating too quickly an ice cream that Nifl left behind for her in Tempest Trials event "Nihility & Dream 1".

    Web Animation 
  • Button's Adventures: Button gets a crippling one near-instantly after challenging Sweetie Belle to a milkshake drinking contest. He continues flailing on the floor and screaming for quite some time.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of The Angry Beavers, Daggett dares Norbert to drink his entire frozen jalapeno slushie all at once. Naturally, he's reluctant to do this, for fear of getting a "brain freeze and burn"- an agonizing combination of Brain Freeze and Fire-Breathing Diner.
  • In one episode of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, the lads experience a synchronized brain freeze after meeting their own challenge to drink very large Slurpee analogues in an unadvisedly short period of time. This is portrayed as a harsh guitar riff and Screen Shake as they cry out in brief agony.
  • The second half of the first episode of Camp Lazlo ends with the Jelly Cabin indulging in some ice cream (actually frozen glue) after a night of scaring the Squirrel Scouts with a prank. Predictably, the Jelly Cabin ends up being subjected to this, with Clam, Raj, and Lazlo getting brain freeze in this order.
  • In the Chowder episode "The Thrice Cream Man", when the titular Thrice Cream Man goes on a rampage and begins filling the kitchen with thrice cream, Mung and Shnitzel try to eat it only to end up obese and get brain freezes, which is depicted as the tops of their heads freezing over.
    • A later episode, entitled “The Brain Freeze” entails Chowder going through one that freezes his entire body and populates his brain with arctic versions of the cast in order to help Chowder reverse things.
  • Numbuh One from Codename: Kids Next Door never got a brain freeze. This is a plot point in one episode, as Professor XXXL gets extreme brain freeze and needs Numbuh 1 to test out recipes for the perfect snow cone.
  • In the DuckTales (2017) episode "They Left a Moonlander on Earth!", Penumbra accidentally gets a brain freeze due to eating too much ice cream too fast, which rekindles her distaste for Earth after Webby almost succeeded to convince her that Earth is a nice place to be at.
  • Happened to Earthworm Jim at one point - particularly bad, since earthworms have four brains, and they all froze at once.
  • An episode of Evil Con Carne has Boskov eat some ice cream, causing Hector to freeze up into an ice cube.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy is seen with a brain freeze from eating a "Sloppy Slush" too fast. Cosmo then finishes it in seconds and feels nothing. Later in the episode, Timmy invokes this to defeat the Big Brain.
  • Exaggerated during a Cutaway Gag in the Family Guy episode "Airport '07", where Peter's head explodes after eating an entire ice cream popsicle in a single bite.
  • The unaired pilot episode of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi has this happen to the girls when they go to a corner store and down some frozen drinks. They express their agony in Japanese, subtitled:
    Ami: Yagh! My skull!!! Like iceberg!!!
    Yumi: Ugh! My eyeballs are trying to escape my face!
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy and Beezy both experience one after having to eat several enormous vats of Misery Inc.-produced ice cream, much to the delight of Lucius, who has finally found a product that makes Jimmy miserable.
  • Megas XLR: Kiva gets one after drinking her first Mega Slush. Something similar appears in the opening credits.
  • An episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998) opens with the Gangrene Gang raiding a convenience store. Ace is drinking slushies straight from the machine. He screams in pain as he gets a brain freeze...then dives straight back in. When the gang gets superpowers, his end up being cryokinesis.
  • Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty: At the end of the episode "Purrfect Party", Felicity and Miguel drink milkshakes and get brain freezes. The brain freezes are represented by big ice cubes appearing around their heads.
  • Sunspot gets one at the beginning of the Ready Jet Go! episode "Mindy's Ice Rink" after he eats a popsicle.
  • In one episode of Regular Show, Mordecai, Rigby, Pops, and Thomas compete on who can make the funniest brain freeze face. Thomas manages to win, bypassing his immunity to normal cold foods using a Gigantic Gulp slushie called the Cool Cubed, but he goes catatonic because of the freeze literally spreading through his brain. This leads to a "Fantastic Voyage" Plot where Mordecai and Rigby have to shrink down and deliver a payload of dynamite to the core of his brain to thaw it out. They meet a slightly less anthropomorphic goat in there, representing his brain and the freeze is spread by an anthropomorphic slushie cup only capable of saying "freeze" with an Inuit dogsledder as a translator. It's that kind of show.
  • One episode of The Simpsons had the church hold an ice cream social, complete with a brain freeze clinic. Cut to a severely-affected Nelson getting an oral hot fudge injection.
  • One episode of Marvel's Spider-Man had Peter getting one during his regular meet-up with Harry at Cup O' Joe, and referring to it by the medical term. When Harry asked why he didn't just say brain freeze like a normal person, he replied that it wasn't accurate.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Karate Star", Patrick eats a towering ice cream cone, causing him to freeze over, then he karate chops himself free.
    • Exaggerated in "The Goofy Newbie", where Patrick eats so much ice cream that he freezes the entire planet over and it thaws out five billion years later.
  • Strawberry Shortcake: Berry in the Big City: This makes up the plot of "Blueberry is Frozen", where Blueberry Muffin ends up with a severe brain freeze after eating a ton of ice cream trying to come up with a new flavor.
  • Teen Titans (2003): Played literally when Beast Boy throws The Brain to be frozen.
    Beast Boy: Hey, check it out! [flash-freezes The Brain] Brain freeze!
  • The Tick fights one Uncle Creamy, a man mutated into a big walking ice cream cone, who hurls a big ball of ice cream into The Tick's mouth - "AAAAHHH, ice cream headache!!!"
  • Total Drama:
    • Owen's second challenge in "No Pain, No Game" is to speed-eat several buckets of ice cream. At six seconds of a required ten, he gets a brain freeze, screams, runs, falls unconscious, and thus loses.
    • Gwen gets a brain freeze from eating her sundae during the speed eating part of the challenge in "Sundae Muddy Sundae". She takes a short break to recover, but loses because of it.
  • The Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? episode "Hookie 101" has Robot get brain freeze from consuming a Super Cooler with his friends.
  • The Weekenders use this as a way to "draw straws"... they all start drinking their Slushees at the same time, and whoever stops first due to brain freeze, loses.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: In "Ring of the Nine Dragons", one of Omi's clones, who is a fat Big Eater, gets a brain freeze after it's implied that he ate snow.


Brain Freeze

Gives me chills, everytime.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (28 votes)

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