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Can-Crushing Cranium

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Wilson: Well I decided that being a little bit more like you wouldn't hurt.
[Wilson takes off his hat and crushes a beer can against his forehead]
Tim: How do you feel now?
Wilson: ...I hurt.
Home Improvement, "Wilson's World"

Crushing a can of beer or soda with your forehead.

Often starts by a drunken person wanting to show how tough they are, and hey, they just HAPPEN to have an empty beer can in their hand...

Sometimes it's a macho thing, and sometimes it's Played for Laughs. The most frequent variation involves the can being full, with resulting cranial trauma.

In Real Life, this could result in a concussion if you slam the thing against your head (as opposed to placing it there and applying steady pressure). Using a full can is especially not recommended, as these are strong enough for you to stand on them.

It should also be noted that the ability to smash a can against one's forehead is not as impressive of a feat as it used to be, because modern beverage cans are made of thinner aluminum than vintage beverage cans (which were usually steel).

Compare Beergasm, Rockers Smash Guitars.

Contrast I'm Crushing Your Head.


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  • In a "How to Speak Australian" ad for Foster's Lager, a lady at a bar does this after topping off a guy's drink with what was left in the can. She's called a "keeper."
    • Miller Lite:
    • One of Miller Lite's "Man Law" commercials had the Men of the Square Table debating whether crushing cans on your forehead was macho or just moronic. They decided on moronic.
      Eddie Griffin: Cans ain't as thick as they once were. I mean, back in the day, you crushed a can against your forehead, you were saying something. But now...
      Burt Reynolds: Lame.
    • Head crushing was the subject of a commercial back in the late '80s. Former Bears safety Gary Fencik did the crushing while making comments about being known for "using your head" (Fencik graduated from Yale). Another patron tries to imitate him and knocks himself cold.
  • One Pepsi commercial had can-crushing as a final test for initiates in a Buddhist monastery.
  • An Australian beer ad had a similar in spirit version where a tough guy attempting to impress a pretty girl in a midriff top on the other side of the bar opens his beer bottle with his eye socket. The unimpressed girl picks up her beer, holds it below bar level so it is out of sight, and twists it before holding up her open bottle. The tough guy is visibly shocked until the girl stands up revealing that she had opened it with her navel.

  • A prop comedian once demonstrated the ultimate way to one-up tough guys who crush beer cans on their foreheads: He showed a beer can, crushed it against his forehead, and subsequently un-crushed it by inflating it back to its original shape.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • One For Better or for Worse during Michael's college years had Michael deciding to "never take advice from a guy who crushes beer cans with his forehead" after his roommate Weed does so.
  • A 2002 Over the Hedge strip showed RJ, Verne, and Sammy drinking cola, burping, then smashing the cans against their foreheads. Verne wound up with his can stuck directly through his head, with RJ remarking "That's gonna leave a mark."

    Films — Animation 
  • In Chicken Little, Fish Out Of Water does this to a can during the baseball game. Justified as he always wears a sturdy diving suit helmet.
  • Trolls: World Tour: After drinking his "fiber" juice, Thrash crushes the box against his head.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bluto in Animal House crushes a can to try and cheer up Flounder. When that fails, he goes whole hog and cheerfully smashes a beer bottle on his head instead.
  • In Shaolin Soccer, "Iron Head" does a variant with a glass bottle.
  • Parodied in Sorority Boys when Doofer confesses he crushes beer cans on his head out of peer pressure and he undergoes a lot of CAT scans.

  • Invoked by Mr. Tulip, in The Truth, who smashes a bottle of alcohol against his forehead. The narrative notes that he is not doing this to be perceived as tough by the drinkers at Beirs, but simply because he had a bottle that he no longer needed and putting it down on a table required more concentration than he deemed necessary. This is implied to be what causes the other customers in Biers to later lock the door in case Mr. Tulip and his partner come back. For those less familiar with Discworld, Biers is Ankh-Morpork's resident bar for the undead.
    • A brief reference to Bad Guy Bar toughs who "open beer bottles with their teeth, or—if the evening has been going really well—other people's teeth" in an earlier work is similar in spirit.
  • Deconstructed in one humorous college survival guide, which shows a step-by-step guide to doing this, the last step being that you will not make a good impression on your girlfriend's parents, with the boy meeting the parents with the marks from crushing the can still on his head.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Boy Meets World had Mankind teaching Topanga how to do this.
    • Also, Cory tried to do it to impress the wrestlers in season 2.
  • Buddy Lembeck from Charles in Charge bragged about crushing a number of cans in a row, and could have done more if they were empty.
  • Wilson did this in Home Improvement, and wound up giving himself a headache in the process.
    • Tim’s college buddy Stu did this in an early-season episode. Brad, Randy, and Mark were highly amused by it. Jill, however, was not.
  • Gary in Men Behaving Badly tried this once to prove how tough he was. Not only did he fail miserably but he also managed to skewer his hand with a fork.
  • An episode of My Name Is Earl had Earl attempt this... with what appeared to be a full can.
  • The Rockford Files had an ex-con try to intimidate Jim by crushing a can on his forehead. Jim pointed out that beer cans had switched from steel to aluminum while he was in prison, and anyone can do that now.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard once instructed Ronon in proper beer can crushing technique. It was their day off.
  • Exaggerated with X-Play's Johnny Extreme, who shatters beer bottles against his crotch.

  • In David Frizzell's "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home," the wife sarcastically announces that she will renovate the house to meet the husband's drunken needs so he won't be staggering home anymore. Among the things she promises: "And for you, I'll always keep in stock those soft aluminum cans / And when you're feeling macho, you can crush 'em like a man."
  • Referenced in "Crushin' It" by Brad Paisley, which is even bookended by the sound of a can being crushed: "I can stomp it with my boot, clench it with my fist / Smash it on my forehead, yeah, I got this."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Sandman smashed several cans against his head during his entrance.
    • He would do this until he split his forehead open too.
    • At Heat Wave '98, Spike Dudley tried to do this but only succeeded in dazing himself.
  • This was a trademark of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
  • During one territorial moment, Roddy Piper did this with a bottle of beer, busting him open.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In Brütal Legend, the headbanger legions do this with beer bottles repeatedly without detriment, thanks to their extremely Hard Heads. Understandably, the keeper of Beerhenge does this more than anybody ever.
  • A variant occurs in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in the Castle Brunwald section, where Biff will do this after you offer him a stein (or trophy) of ale.
  • In Monday Night Combat's Spunky Cola trailer, the rough-and-tumble Tank does this with a can of, well, Spunky Cola. The wimpy Sniper actually knocks himself out trying to do the same.
  • One of Roadhog's emotes in Overwatch is to crush the canisters of Fantastic Drug that he uses to heal himself against his head.
  • In the Wii version of Punch-Out!!: Soda Popinski does this with his bottle during one of his opening scenes. The fact that it crumples rather than shatters is a testament to the fact that yes, it is actually soda pop this time, and not the lazily-censored vodka it was in older versions.
  • In the first Ratchet & Clank game, Ratchet does this to the second can of Heart Container juice.
  • Sims in the The Sims 2 University will occasionally crush plastic cups directly on their forehead whenever they finish drinking from a Juice Keg.
  • Variant in World of Warcraft's Mists of Pandaria expansion. In the Pandaren starting zone, you encounter a Pandaren named Ironbrow who proceeds to break bamboo, wood, and stone with his forehead. Eventually, you bring him a jade pillar to test his mighty brow against... and he ends up getting a concussion, while the pillar remains intact. Next time you meet him, he's wielding the jade pillar as a weapon.

    Web Animation 

  • In one strip of Air Force Blues, Barbie manages to tick off Lt. Col. Rowland during a euphoric high from getting to pilot the F-22 for the first time. After he comes back to relative sanity two strips later, Rowland crushes a Diet Coke can on Barbie's forehead to express his displeasure.
  • In Bigger Than Cheeses, Thanatos and Violent Bob engage in a bout of this, escalating as they crush larger (and filled) containers of beer with their heads until Thanatos does a running headbutt into a beer truck, with explosive results.
  • Krakow, when Kia the Succubus tried to demonstrate that she could be "one of the guys" too, but the can is full.
  • Pv P has Robbie show Skull how to do this. Problem is, when Skull tries to imitate him, he forgot to drain the can first.
    Robbie: [staring at Skull who's given himself a concussion] Uh, Skull, the can has to be empty.

    Web Videos 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall:
    • Linkara attempts this in his Adamantium Rage review, but the can remains intact.
      Linkara: Ow!
    • When a character in a later review manages to successfully perform the stunt, Linkara flashes back to his failed attempt and proceeds to call the character a "showoff".

    Western Animation 
  • Done by Sheen in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius to practice for Jimmy's "college party".
  • On American Dad! Roger tries to do this in the episode "My Affair Lady" and fails, leaving a ring-shaped imprint on his forehead.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch had Nick Diamond attempt this in the Testosterone Poisoning episode "Sex, Lugs And Rock N' Roll", which he learned during his college days. Problem is, he used a glass bottle and almost gave himself a skull fracture.
    Nick: Ow! I used to be really good at this...
    Johnny: Shouldn't that be an aluminum can?
    Nick: Oh yeah...
  • Daria:
    • Mentioned:
      Jane: I bet that any minute now, Kevin will astound and amaze his friends by crushing that can with his skull...
    • In an earlier episode, Jodie mentioned to Daria that was all Kevin was really good at doing.
  • Captain Hero is shown doing this in the series premiere opener of Drawn Together, also with a keg.
  • In Futurama, Bender once did this with a whole keg.
  • In an episode of Goof Troop, when PJ has a crush on a girl who doesn't know he exists, Pete tells PJ that this is a great way to impress women — especially if you belch loudly afterwards. PJ tries it and it doesn't work at all.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series do this a few times, mostly Stitch. In fact, he even did this once all the way back in the first film.
  • Brain of Pinky and the Brain is both startled and horrified by a kitschy can crusher in the shape of Cher's head which does this. Put an empty can in her fake hand, press the button, and it smashes the can flat while playing a tinny recording of her voice. The joke is that Cher is well known for being Straight Edge and glamorous, so a licensed gimmick item that encourages that sort of hedonistic, lowbrow behavior is completely against her image.
  • Pixar Shorts:
    • Party Central: Percy Boleslaw crushes a can with his skull, and then eats the can.
  • One episode of The Raccoons has the Three Pigs try this. The third one only succeeds in putting a can-shaped indentation in his forehead.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Marge Simpson does this with a wine bottle in one episode.
    • In a later episode, an Abe Lincoln robot does this with a can of Duff Beer as part of a short rap number.
  • Robotic villain Atlas does this in Teen Titans (2003) episode "Only Human" with an oil drum.
  • Total Drama: Izzy goes wild at the end-of-season buffet in "Total Drama Drama Drama Drama Island". As soon as she's swallowed her 95th marshmallow, she flushes it down with a soda pop, burps without a shred of restraint, and smashes the can against her forehead.

    Real Life 
  • Joel O'Keefe, frontman for the Australian band Airbourne smashes unopened beer cans on his head during live shows until they burst, then throws them to the audience.
  • Russian Airborne Forces soldiers have a tradition of smashing glass bottles this way to show how badass they are.
  • You can buy novelty soft plastic cans that look a bit like the real thing which will crush gently and not injure you when whacked against your head.
  • The trick to this move is to crumple the sides of the can close to the end you're holding in your hand with your fingers as you do it — this compromises the structural integrity of the can, allowing it to collapse more easily.


Video Example(s):


Punch-Out!! (2009)

Soda Popinski drinks soda from a bottle and then crushes it against his forehead with a laugh.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / CanCrushingCranium

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