A group of friends are outside playing a sport, most often baseball or soccer (since these are the games where the ball is most likely to leave the playing field unpredictably). A particularly unlucky character throws, hits, or kicks the ball and the ball breaks a window. This can branch off to a few different situations:
- A: The glass shatters and everyone begins to panic. They attempt to find a place to hide or just try to escape before the landlord comes to have a talk with them.
- B: The glass shatters, but the adult is already there. Can result in a You Are Grounded situation.
- C: No one comes out to inspect the damage, but then the one who lost the ball is forced to go retrieve it. See also Scare Dare.
- D: After impact, the owner comes out of his/her house. (Holding the ball is optional.) Oblivious to the damage, the group asks for the ball back. The owner will either be a Grumpy Old Man and keep it, or give it back.
Of course, accidents do happen in Real Life and a broken window is hardly the end of the world. Young children who are scared of getting in trouble may fear the worst and play certain variations straight.
Compare with Broken-Window Warning, in which the window breaking is used as a threat rather than the result of an accident.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints released an all-singing PSA in which an elderly man angrily inquires who hit the baseball that broke his window. A young boy steps forward to confess, leading to the ad's "You told the truth/I told the truth" coda.
- This happens twice in CLANNAD, whilst the cast are playing baseball. It's Akio's fault both times.
- A Running Gag in Doraemon, where the main characters often play baseball on an empty patch of land that is just next to someone's house. The window inevitably gets broken and is the subject of the week, with the kids wondering how to get their baseball back.
- At one point in Yotsuba&!, Yotsuba kicks a soccer ball through a window by accident. Her dad spanks her. Later, in a similar situation she breaks a couple of dishes by bouncing a yoga ball around. This time dad is more concerned about her lying about it, and when she claims it was the fault of a "lying bug", he takes her to a somewhat scary "lying bug eating statue" so that she'll tell the truth.
- In The Poor Little Rich Girl, the neighborhood kids hit a baseball into the greenhouse of the mansion where the titular poor little rich girl resides. She winds up having a mud fight with them before angry servants chase the kids away.
- Happens to Edmund in The Film of the Book of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The children's attempt to hide leads them into the Wardrobe, which sends them to Narnia. (In the book, they were hiding from the housekeeper conducting a tour of the Big Fancy House).
- The plot of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids kicks off like this, with Ron Thompson hitting a baseball through the window of the Szalinskys' attic, which lands on the machine which Wayne Szalinsky has been working on. When Ron and Nick, Wayne's son, go to get the ball back, they are shrunk by the machine, followed by Russ and Amy when they go up to check on their siblings.
- In Monster House, DJ is expected (and forced) to retrieve the ball after it is lost on the then-villain's yard.
- Type C occurs in The Sandlot. Of course, the "haunted house" the kid has to get into (past the "mean" dog) has many other treasures in store.
- Gomez enjoys hitting golf balls off the balcony of his house in The Addams Family, and he's rather nonchalant when some of them fly right through his next-door neighbor's window. This comes back to bite him later when said neighbor, a judge, is presiding over the case involving ownership of his house...
Judge: Mr. Addams, I believe these are yours! (dumps a bucket of golf balls on the bench while laughing maniacally)
- In The Mighty Ducks, Fulton's slapshot breaks a window on Coach Bombay's van, leading to his recruitment to the Ducks. In the sequel, Fulton (again) breaks someone's car window during a pick-up game, but the guy cheerfully throws the puck back.
- In The Pride of the Yankees, a young Lou Gehrig, playing sandlot ball with the kids in the neighborhood, hits one over the lot's fence, across the street, and through a shop's glass window. This gets him in trouble with his mom.
- At the end of Interstellar, some kids are playing baseball on a space station. One kid hits a ball, which crashes through the window of a house on the ceiling.
- In Going My Way, Father O'Malley, who is temporarily playing right field in a game of stickball, takes the rap when one of the kids hits the ball through the window of a Grumpy Old Man. The same gag is used in sequel The Bells of St. Mary's, when it's the nuns of Father O'Malley's school running for cover after one of the kids hits a baseball through a window.
- An Encyclopedia Brown chapter involves kids playing ball in the house and accidentally throwing the ball out the window. To avoid getting in trouble, they put a rock on the floor in the room and told their mother that someone had thrown the rock in; that's how the window got broken. The mother figured it out EB-style: If the rock had been thrown in, there would be glass in the room, but there wasn't, only glass on the ground outside.
- Comes up in Soup, when Rob and Soup are "whipping apples" — spearing them on the ends of sticks and swinging them so they fly off. Soup bets Rob he can hit the bell in a church tower and make it ring, and instead he hits a window. "Breaking a pane of plain old glass wasn't stylish enough for Soup. It had to be stained glass. Even the sound of that stained glass shattering had color in it."
- Type B happens with a pair of commoner (i.e., non-wizard) teenagers in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, followed by extremely Disproportionate Retribution inflicted by the wizard victim of the accident and the legal system.
- Harry And The Haunted House starts as the titular character and his friends are playing baseball, but after the pitcher, Earl, throws an impressive curveball, Harry hits it, but the ball flies into a window in the distant haunted house, resulting in a type C scenario.
- Completely subverted in Our Miss Brooks. In the episode "Two Way Stretch", Mr. Conklin begins to reprimand Stretch Snodgrass for kicking a football through the window of his inner office:
Mr. Conklin: I thought I told you to confine your practicing to the other end of the field.
Stretch Snodgrass: But I did, Mr. Conklin. That's where I kicked it from.
Mr. Conklin: Well, there's actually no excuse in the world for you to . . . nice kick boy!
- Leave It to Beaver: In "The Broken Window", while Wally and Beaver are playing baseball with their friends, Eddie Haskell (who else?) hits a ball through the Cleaver's living room window. The rest of the kids run off as Ward Cleaver arrives home. When Beaver asks why Wally and him don't do likewise, Wally replies:
Wally: We can't. It's our home!"
- In an episode of The Brady Bunch Peter is playing ball in the house and breaks Carol's vase. Hilarity Ensues.
- In the 8th Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "Justice", Wesley Crusher receives the death penalty for breaking a greenhouse on an idyllic planet while running for a ball, just as the local death-dispensing authority arrives for a checkup. Fortunately (or not, depending on your point of view), it doesn't stick.
- The IT Crowd: When Moss was a young child, he accidentally broke the patio window. His mother sued him, even holding a mock trial in the kitchen with herself as both the prosecution and judge and a viewing gallery for the cats. Unsurprisingly, she won, and he's still paying her back. ...And that's why Moss hates courtrooms.
- Yeralash has an episode where a boy is training another boy to be a goalkeeper "Brazilian style" - which involves catching a ball flying at a barber's window. At the end, the boy misses one goal, to which the trainer says (after a couple minutes of fleeing the barber and his client) "We won't make a goalkeeper out of you. We'll rather train you as a long distance runner. Brazilian style."
- In the US Dennis The Menace, Dennis and his friends do this to Mr. Wilson's house sometimes, usually resulting in a Type B or D outcome.
- This is the result of rathergood.com's attempt to build a rocket out of bacon.
- This happens in Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Tales of Ba Sing Se". A few kids are playing with a ball, and a window is broken. Iroh appears and the following dialogue occurs:
Iroh: It is usually best to admit mistakes when they occur, and to seek to restore honor.
A large man appears inside the house
Large man: When I'm through with you kids, the window won't be the only thing that's broken!
Iroh: But not this time! Run!
- One episode of The Powerpuff Girls plays out like this - the girls throw their ball through the window of Mojo Jojo, who tries to use it as an excuse to destroy them while pretending to be looking for their ball. After the girls continue to do more damage in the house, he instead just gives them the ball back so that they will leave. He receives the So Once Again, the Day Is Saved credit because he returned their ball.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Kid VS Kat would be two C examples.
- The Simpsons has a variation on Type C with a radio-controlled plane instead of a ball. Bart (although it was technically Nelson and Milhouse who crashed in) goes to get it and gets caught, setting off the episode's A plot of Bart working in a burlesque house).
- My Life as a Teenage Robot begins this way, as does the original pilot, "My Neighbor Was A Teenage Robot".
- Johnny Test goes through all of these variants when he accidentally ticks off the crazy cat owner in one episode, and goes through a variety of completely pointless and ever more complex plots trying to get the ball back. Turns out all the man wanted was an apology, for the kids to turn the baseball diamond around, and to join in with the kids. Of course, when the diamond is turned around, the first thing that happens is the ball goes through a window of Johnny's house, prompting the only form of this trope that hadn't been seen up to that point (Type B).
- On Family Guy Chris breaks Herbert's window playing baseball in the streets.
Peter: Chris, you have damaged this man's property, and until you pay off the debt, you'll do whatever job he wants you to do. And if at the end of the day you're exhausted and your face is dripping wet, well that just means you did a good job.Herbert: That sounds just fine.
- On Shaun the Sheep a football is kicked through a farmhouse window. One of the sheep is delegated to retrieve the ball. Following various sounds of rummaging, the ball is kicked back out of the farmhouse, breaking another window.
- A variation on Type D is what kicks off the plot in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Not A Toy." While playing with Captain America's shield, Spider-Man loses it and ends up going after it. It ends up in the Latverian embassy where Doctor Doom happens to be. After a failed attempt of asking Doom to give it back (in which Doom responds with a missile), Spider-Man then teams up with Captain America in order to get Cap's shield back.
- Angela Anaconda: In "Childhood for Sale", Angela breaks Mrs. Brinks' window while playing baseball and starts a garage sale to have enough money to pay for it.
- On Rocko's Modern Life, in the Show Within a Show Meet the Fatheads, Mrs. Fathead bashes her husband's head with a parking meter, as usual. Only this time, it actually breaks his glass eye. A little old man pops out of the broken eyeball and says, "Hey, hey, hey! Someone's gonna pay for that glass!"