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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.



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  • A McDonald's commercial from two decades ago has a boy telling the audience that one of his lifelong ambitions is to become a scientific genius so that he could cure "that thing that happens to your head when you eat ice cream too fast." (Exactly what this had to do with McDonald's, I can't remember.)
  • A 1990s 7-Eleven TV spot was perhaps the Trope Namer. It featured a young man ingesting a Slurpee, letting loose a bloodcurdling scream, and then explaining: "Ugh. Brain freeze."

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Cowboy Bebop episode "Mushroom Samba", a one-shot character is eating ice cream when a Chase Scene in progress passes him. He decides to join in, but rather than abandoning his ice cream, he attempts to gobble it up all at once. He does not enjoy the resulting Brain Freeze.
  • Used by Team Rocket in the Pokémon anime, giving the characters loads of ice cream and then stealing their Pokemon 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.
  • 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.
  • Ururu in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo gets one from sweeping an iced drink. She does it again once she gets a refill.
  • Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Ren: Yuuta and Rikka both get one in the beginning of Episode 7 after eating their ice cream.

  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • In Inside Out, Riley gets one at one point during the Time Passes Montage, which causes a panic in Headquarters when everything literally freezes over, including the emotions that run the place.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".

    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.
  • Megas XLR: Kiva gets one after drinking her first Mega Slush. Something similar appears in the opening credits.
  • Teen Titans: Played literally when Beast Boy throws The Brain to be frozen.
    Beast Boy: Hey, check it out! [flash-freezes The Brain] Brain freeze!
  • Taken Up to Eleven during a Cutaway Gag in Family Guy, where Peter's head explodes after eating an entire ice cream popsicle in a single bite.
  • Numbuh One from Code Name 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.
  • 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.
  • In one episode of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures, the lads experience a synchronized brain freeze after meeting their own challenge to drink very large Slurpee analogues in an inadvisedly short period of time. This is portrayed as a harsh guitar riff and Screen Shake as they cry out in brief agony.
  • Happened to Earthworm Jim at one point - particularly bad, since earthworms have four brains, and they all froze at once.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • An episode of Evil Con Carne has Boskov eat some ice cream, causing Hector to freeze up into an ice cube.
  • In Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, one of Perry's special weapons will give the victim an ice cream headache.
  • 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!!!"
  • An episode of The Powerpuff Girls 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.
  • 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.
  • Sunspot gets one at the beginning of the Ready Jet Go! episode "Mindy's Ice Rink" after he eats a popsicle.
  • The Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? episode "Hookie 101" has Robot get brain freeze from consuming a Super Cooler with his friends.
  • 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!
  • 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" when Patrick eats so much ice cream that he freezes the entire planet over and it thaws out five billion years later.


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