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Cathartic Scream

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"I'm so frustrated I could just scream!"

Things have been getting crazy, the plot has been thickening, and The Hero has been keeping calm the whole time, despite the fact that the one thing The Hero wants to do is to go off and scream for a little while. This trope is often prefaced with the character inhaling sharply and deeply as their Rage Breaking Point is reached, and may sometimes also be accompanied by them furiously gripping their head immediately before something snaps.

Despite the similarity in name, has nothing to do whatsoever with And I Must Scream, or The Scream (which is a Fate Worse than Death and a horrific reaction, respectively. This is a frustration trope).

May overlap with Skyward Scream and Angrish. Sister trope of Cathartic Crying. Has nothing to do with a Jerkass having a screaming breakdown to the satisfaction of the audience. That's Catharsis Factor.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Aggretsuko; Whenever the stress of work or her incompetent/rude coworkers gets to her, Retsuko locks herself in the bathroom and lets rip with a a Metal Scream about whatever has pushed her over the line.
  • In Ergo Proxy, The Stoic detective Re-l keeps her calm throughout the series until a particular episode where nothing whatsoever happens for the entire episode. This forced idleness, multiplied by her lack of understanding of the overall plot and her companions' weirdly relaxed attitudes, finally drive her frustration over the edge. She decides to take it all out on the wind, which died at the beginning of the episode, stranding them in the middle of nowhere (since they are traveling on a wind-propelled land "boat"). The wind picks up immediately after she's done yelling.
  • In March Comes in Like a Lion, Rei belts one out amidst an empty street after his post-game encounter with Yasui, venting out the frustration he gained from Yasui during and after the match. Yasui implicitly blaming Rei for not being able to have a happy last Christmas with his daughter (whose mother he's having an impending divorce with) is what sets it off.
  • In Monster Musume chapter 25, Kimihito shoves his head inside Suu's body and screams at the top of his lungs when he learns that The Organization will cover all living expenses, basically meaning he put himself through hell all throughout the chapter for nothing.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul √ A, in the episode where Kaneki comes back, Hinami, who's kept her emotions bottled up, because, since she's so young, she didn't know how to confront him about what he's doing, so she unleashes two out the window after the conflict is somewhat resolved.

    Fan Works 
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, the cast listing for Minerva McGonagall states that, in addition to desperately needing something alcoholic, she needs to go off somewhere private and scream for a while.
    • Harry decides against it after the traumatic events of Hermione's death, concluding it wouldn't help.
  • The Legend of Total Drama Island:
    • In the phobia confession scene, the contestants have cause to suspect that Courtney is afraid of green Jell-O as per canon.note  This leads to a running gag wherein various people refer to this suspected phobia in passing and Courtney vehemently denies it. The alleged phobia is finally mentioned once too often, and "[t]he camp rang with Courtney's scream of frustration."
    • Various people are occasionally described as looking like they are about to scream due to tension or exasperation. The first such incident comes when Chris, who is losing patience with the dimwitted Lindsay, addresses her by saying, "look, bra", and she responds by looking down and inspecting her straining halter top. Chris looks ready to scream.
  • Scream to the Trees features Marinette using the Horse Miraculous to duck out of Paris so that she can vent her emotions without risking Hawkmoth taking advantage of her frustration to akumatize her.

    Films — Animation 
  • Lilo & Stitch: After Lilo and Nani have an intense argument, both of them retreat to scream into their respective pillows in frustration.
  • In Turning Red, Mei screams into her pillow after her mother severely embarrasses her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 42, Jackie is brutally verbally harassed by a racist hick on the opposing team. You will want to punch the guy in the face, and maybe a few other places as well. After five straight minutes of this, Jackie calls a timeout, goes down to the dugout hallway, and screams his lungs out while slamming his bat into the walls so hard it breaks, and even after that he keeps hitting it.
  • In the film Bringing Down the House, Steve Martin's character listens to a (presumably long) confession from his teenage daughter about all the things in her life. After hearing this, he calmly walks upstairs, takes a pillow, holds it to his face, and screams. He then proceeds to take a couple of pills, then scream into the pillow again.
  • Do Revenge: Drea has been publicly humiliated after her boyfriend leaks a nude video of her. She meets Eleanor, who admits years ago a girl named Carissa outed her and cast her as a predatory lesbian. After Drea comments that "being outed by your own team" is pretty brutal, Eleanor suddenly screams. She then calms down, explains this trope to Drea, and encourages her to do it as well, which she eventually does. In truth, Eleanor was pissed that Drea doesn't remember that she started that rumor.
  • The Fallout: Vada's father takes her to a deserted hill where they can scream out their frustrations about the shooting and its aftermath.
  • High Anxiety: "I'm so close to my menstrual cycle that I could scream!"
  • Aragorn's Skyward Scream in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers doubles as this, since it follows a realization that he, Legolas, and Gimli have been chasing after their kidnapped friends for days on foot only to discover that they have been slaughtered along with their captors. And then Aragorn calms down, looks around and realizes that Merry and Pippin may have not been killed, after all. Of course, the real reason for the scream was that Viggo Mortensen broke his toe kicking a helmet, but they decided to just Throw It In! because it fit the story so well.
  • Little Miss Sunshine: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!
  • The Dragon in the original Total Recall (1990) does this at least once after Quaid has gotten away from him.

  • Dragon Knight: Lady Angie lets out a loud and 'rather refreshing' scream upon seeing a dragon in her castle. Of course the next second she realizes it's just her husband.
  • At the end of Maskerade, the villain has been defeated, but everyone at the opera house is still hanging around instead of leaving. Agnes, the exceptionally-talented but decidedly stout singer who carried most of the weight in the story, is struggling to deal with the absurdities of opera, the least of which isn't that the conventionally beautiful, airheaded, and talentless Christine is getting all the credit for her work. Nanny Ogg suggests Agnes have a good yell, and she lets out in a truly spectacular scream that goes all the way up through her magically enhanced range. Then the audience leaves. Because it ain't over until the fat lady sings.
  • Portnoy's Complaint has a rare example of this trope at the very end of a work. After spending the entire novel monologuing, Alex asks his psychoanalyst's permission to let out a scream of frustration over his perpetual guilt. "Because that's maybe what I need most of all, to howl. A pure howl, without any more words between me and it!" There follows a scream running several lines of type. Then comes the novel's final "Punch Line":
    So [said the doctor]. Now vee may perhaps to begin. Yes?
  • Yil, the main character of Tough Magic, goes off by himself to think things over. He doesn't have much success until he lets out a scream of frustration.
  • In X-Wing: Iron Fist, Imperial infiltrator Lara Nostil/Gara Petothel has a mental breakdown when her desire to make a Heel–Face Turn is complicated by her not being sure who she is anymore. She asks a fellow Wraith where to go to have a good scream, and is directed to an unused storage room in the asteroid base they're operating out of... and is warned not to go past a line marked on the deck, because that's where the artificial gravity cuts off. After yelling her lungs out, she's able to pull herself together enough to keep going, but is still affected by her Double Consciousness and remains mentally fragile for the rest of the series.
  • Frankie from Tornado Brain sometimes deals with stress by screaming into the wind at the beach, where no one will hear her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Andromeda, Rev Bem mentions that when he studied at the Wayist school, there was a cliff nearby for such screams.
  • In Breaking Bad, Lydia, put on edge by a visit from the DEA who arrest one of her men, locks herself in her office and screams in a pillow before calling Mike to inform him.
  • Cybervillage has Baragozin’s deputy and some girl standing on the roof and screaming "Jackass".
  • In The Dropout, Elizabeth Holmes does this (in addition to banging her iPhone on her desk until the screen breaks) after Don Lucas tells her that he is going to call for a vote of no confidence on her as CEO from Theranos from the board of directors.
  • Played for laughs in The Golden Girls, the episode where Rose fears she has AIDS. Blanche tells her to scream or throw something or whatever to let it all out, and it appears she's going to, but it's just a loud "HECK!". Possibly a subversion. Played straighter another time when Blanche, said "I'm so mad I could scream" and then did. Prompting a "that's the first time I ever heard someone say that and then do it" type comment from Rose.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Hal is so frustrated over an expensive dental bill that he asks Lois for his "scream box". He screams and thrashes about after putting it on.
  • NCIS: Gibbs lets out an epic, gut-wrenching one of these after killing the man who killed his wife and daughter.
  • Elliot lets out quite a few of these during one of Mr. Robot 's most dramatic Wham Episodes after having the repressed memories of his father's sexual abuse forcibly dug out of his mind.
  • On The Young and the Restless, after the death of her daughter Cassie in a car accident, Sharon is in a Heroic BSoD, unresponsive to her mother-in-law's attempts at comforting her—until she offers to make her breakfast. At this Sharon, begins babbling hysterically, eventually working herself up to screaming hysterically as her mother-in-law encourages her to "let it out, just let it out."
  • Loki: Sylvie lets out a scream when Loki pulls out the Tempad and it is completely broken because of his fall, which sends out a green shockwave and cracks the ground near her.
    Loki: Did the, uh, scream make you feel better?
    Sylvie: Yes, it did. You should try it sometime.
  • In one episode of Full House, when Jessie is stressed out because the opening night of the SMASH Club isn't going right, Rebecca tells him when she's in those kind of situations, she gets in her car, rolls up the windows, and lets out a good yell. Jesse's takeaway? From now on, he'd do the driving.
  • Daredevil (2015): In season 3, one of Wilson Fisk's methods of gaining Dex's loyalty is to tell him that a primal scream may help him deal with the countless stresses his situation is putting on him, which he does. Note that Dex is a clinical psychopath who spent years genuinely trying to do good under the guidance of a therapist who died and left him without anyone to act as his non-existent conscience (which Fisk is fully aware of thanks to his contacts), so Fisk's apparently kindly suggestion of coping strategies is a major step to making the confused man come over to his side. We later see Dex doing it again after he fails to complete the task of assassinating Karen Page, but it becomes increasingly clear that it's only effective in the short-term.
  • In an episode of Frasier, after repeatedly getting beaten by Martin at chess, Frasier steps out onto his balcony, and screams into a pillow.

  • Spanish band Taxi has a subversion in its song "Grita", which contains no scream, but encourages the listener to scream so the world will hear him.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Fraggle Rock episode "Gone But Not Forgotten", Wembley's friends all try to help him feel better after the death of his new friend Mudwell the Mudbunny. Boober's method is to have Wembley cover his head with his blanket in bed and scream again and again. It doesn't work for Wembley, but Boober gets into it with enthusiasm.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy X:
    • Early in the game Tidus states that he just wants to scream. And he does so, right in the middle of the Killika Temple.
    • Later, in Luca, Yuna asks him if he wants to scream again. Tidus states that it's really not going to help this time.
    • Even Rikku, when you talk to her in the airship at the end of the game, admits it sometimes helps her to scream when she has a lot on her mind.
  • In the seventh chapter of the Lonely Wolf Treat series, Mochi is really upset by the revelation that her family lied to her about the death of her uncle Mango, and runs off to a nearby cliff in order to scream her anger out. The screaming actually helps her cheer up, and she encourages Treat (who feels guilty over Mochi getting upset) to do the same.
  • There's an NPC in Pokémon Black and White that mentions it's best to scream at the ocean to vent your frustration.


    Web Videos 
  • History of Power Rangers: In Linkara's review of Power Rangers Turbo, he drops this little gem.
    Linkara: After a filler episode where they get baked into a giant pizza... Excuse me for a moment.
    [walks away from the mic, lets out a loud scream of torment, then walks back]
    Linkara: The story then continues in "The Phantom Phenomenon"...
  • Arin of Game Grumps is the reigning champion of this.
  • In the Hellfire Commentaries playthrough of Sonic the Hedgehog, FTA's reaction to the "Who's the Captain?" mission.
    FTA: WHAT?! You're fucking joking! Please tell me you're joking on that. Please tell me, tell me he, what, I, just... Excuse me for ten seconds, please... [walks away from his mic] WHAT THE FUCK?! GRAAAAAAAAH! [thud thud thud thud]
    NTom: All better now?
    FTA: You have no clue how close I am to wanting to kill myself, now.
  • The Necro Critic does this using his cat the same way one would scream into a pillow. To be fair, this started when the cat wouldn't get off the pillow he was going to use.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, the school counselor tries to teach Gumball and Darwin scream therapy. Gumball can only muster up a feeble squeak, while Darwin blows a huge bubble that pops so loud it leaves the other's ears ringing and is shown with Stock Footage of an atomic bomb test.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender Sokka encourages Aang to do this in the episode "Nightmares and Daydreams" to alleviate the stress of preparing for the upcoming invasion. It doesn't work.
  • In Cyberchase, Hacker does this on occasion. For instance, when Buzz and Delete accidentally drop his undead monster right in the middle of his Evil Gloating, Hacker quietly leaves the room and screams.
  • When Dave takes a crack at being a therapist in one episode of Dave the Barbarian, he suggests this to Lula over her anger issues as "primal screaming". She screams so loud that she ends up waking an Ancient Evil deep underground.
  • Kaeloo:
    • In one episode, the main four are informed that they've been fired from their jobs and spend the whole episode feeling stressed and anxious. Once everything clears up and they get their jobs back, Kaeloo pulls a pillow out of nowhere and screams into it.
    • The buddies try to help Stumpy study for a test and he keeps failing to understand what they're teaching him. Eventually they nearly give up and Kaeloo says she's starting to feel exhausted. She asks Pretty if she feels the same way and Pretty runs away, screams angrily, and comes back saying she feels fine.
  • Peggy does this in the King of the Hill episode "Goodbye Normal Jeans". In the middle of her self-induced Humiliation Conga due of Bobby being able to do the housework and cooking better than she can after Peggy learns that Hank was up all night bonding with Bobby over his newfound skills. Unable to accept that Bobby is better at her job than she is, she stomps into Bobby's room and does so out of pure jealousy.
  • Fluttershy does this in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Green Isn't Your Color". Because she's so timid and quiet, her scream humorously came out as more of a long squeal.
  • In The Simpsons, Bart and his friends get stranded in Tennessee during their Spring Break and are forced to get jobs to make enough money to get back home. Lisa finds out about this and is asked to keep their situation quiet, but when it becomes obvious that Bart won't be back in time, she is forced to confess to Homer what Bart did, forcing him to put on the helmet of a Hazmat suit and then...
  • Steven Universe: In "Made of Honor", shortly after learning from Steven that Rose Quartz is Pink Diamond, Bismuth claims she's fine then goes off to yell into a pool of LAVA.
  • In the last episode of Undergrads, Brody and Krueger are studying for exam week, when the social and academic pressures become too much for Brody. He opens up a window and starts screaming. Krueger declares it brilliant, and joins in, sparking a chain reaction which eventually causes the entire city to erupt in a massive chorus of screams.


Video Example(s):


Taskmaster - I LOVE THIS

Having to start over her silent cocktail one too many times, Daisy May Cooper lets off some steam.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / CatharticScream

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