One of the most famous Running Gags
in cartoons is something zany and unrealistic that happens from time to time, when the tops of the characters' heads literally opening up. This can sometimes expose their brain or make things fall out at will.
Compare Hollow-Sounding Head and Stomach of Holding. A Sub-Trope is Your Head Asplode, where the head only opens in anger.
Contrast Head Hat and Neuro-Vault.
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Anime & Manga
- Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo opens his head at least once throughout the show. A duck lives inside it.
- One Piece: Brook, being a skeleton, is fine having his skullcap opened up like a lid. He also tends to secretly hide stuff inside his head that way.
- In Locke & Key, various magical keys exist that allow various different uses. The Head Key allows someone to open up their head in this manner, and inside their various thoughts, emotions, and so can be seen. In the wake of her father's death, Kinsey uses the key to remove her feelings of fear and sadness, although eventually she undoes that decision after seeing that without the ability to feel fear or sadness she became a massively insensitive Fearless Fool. In the past it has also been used to remove memories from people, (including against their will) which is explicitly called a form of Mind Rape.
- Doonesbury: Uncle Duke takes his son Earl on a hunting trip in some marshlands to dispense some fatherly advice. Suddenly, there's a fluttering sound, the top of Duke's head flips open on a hinge, and two batlike creature come flying out. Duke nails one with a shotgun blast, downing it. Earl picks up the fallen critter and wonders if they're good to eat. "No idea," replies Duke, "Never hit one before." Amazing what being deliciously wasted can do.
Films — Animation
- The Nightmare Before Christmas. Just before Sally delivers his soup, Doctor Finkelstein opens up his skull and scratches his brain.
- Treasure Planet: Exploited by Morph upon meeting the robot B.E.N. The robot has been running all alone for hundreds of years, and is highly peculiar. The polymorphic Morph promptly reshapes himself into a scale model of B.E.N., and opens the top of his head to let a cuckoo attached to an extension lattice chime three times; it's Morph's way of commenting that the robot is nuts.
Films — Live-Action
- In The Man with Two Brains, the brain surgeon Dr Hfuhruhurr has developed the "cranial screwtop" method of accessing the brain, which consists of unscrewing the top of the patient's head.
- In Raumschiff GameStar, this happens involuntarily to Comms Officer Mikkl, after Team Evil injects the miniaturized Darth Mopp into his brain and send him back to the GameStar as a Trojan horse. After figuring out what's going on, the temporary replacement surgeon lops off the top of Mikkl's head with a buzzsaw to pull Mopp out (along with a bunch of other things Mikkl had apparently stored there). After his cranium lid is placed back, Mikkl returns to duty, no worse for wear.
- Red Dwarf: Happens in an episode where Lister has to reprogram the android Kryten; he casually flips up the top of Kryten's skull, and props it open from underneath with a built-in support strut, making him look like a mechanic working on a car engine by lifting and propping the car bonnet.
- In Discworld, golems are animated by a "chem" — a scroll inside the head — which can be accessed by opening the top of the head.
- Pathfinder: Leshies are diminutive Plant Persons grown from regular plants through magic rituals. One specific type, gourd leshies, are grown from squash or pumpkin plants; unlike others leshies, who develop all their humanoid features on their own, gourd leshies need to have the large gourds that serve as their heads physically carved in order to create their faces. Consequently, all gourd leshies have hollowed-out jack-o'-lantern heads with a "lid" where their pumpkins were originally cut into, which they often take advantage of in order to store small items inside their craniums.
- In Sonic Adventure, E-100 Alpha A.K.A. Zero has a head that can open up to reveal his weak point; his mechanical brain. During the final battle with him at the end of Amy's storyline, Amy has to knock Zero into the electric fence so his head will open and she can attack his brain.
- Stay Tooned!: Dr. Pickles is a Mad Scientist who has a head that can open to reveal his brain. This is shown in a cutscene in the Castle room where he takes out his small brain and has his assistant bring him a bigger one to put in its place.
- Team Fortress 2: A cosmetic restricted to Halloween or a full moon, the Voodoo-Cursed Sniper Soul, turns the Sniper into a zombie. When taunting with a melee, the Sniper takes off their cranium along with their hat, exposing the brain underneath.
- Furry Experience: Illustrated by Cat in the Tuesday 8 June 2010 page. Cat and Courtney are partners in preparing a report for English class. Cat is an artist, and she limns Courtney on a doodle pad as having a hinged cranium that allows her winged brain to fly away.
- He Is a Good Boy: Crange, an acorn and the main character, has the cupule on top of his head removed to reveal his brain on several occasions, most notably while being experimented on by a mad scientist and during the comic’s penultimate arc.
- The Fairly OddParents!:
- Fanboy and Chum Chum: Fanboy can open the top of his head at will whenever he wants. It's prominent in one episode when he loses his brain.
- Invader Zim: GIR the Robot Buddy can open the top of his head and uses the space within to store items. As his behaviour demonstrates, his CPU doesn't take up much space at all in there.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In "Kracked Krabs", Mr. Krabs asks SpongeBob to "keep his brain peeled", and SpongeBob responds by literally peeling the top of his head to reveal his brain.
- In "Whirly Brains", SpongeBob and Patrick have to open their heads to reveal their brains before they use the titular toys to "free their minds".