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Defenestrate and Berate

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Kevin: How do you know when a relationship is over?
Matt: Well, all my clothes on the front lawn usually does it for me.

It's a scenario when a couple is breaking up. The man is leaving his wife or girlfriend. Perhaps he has cheated on her, and the woman is showing both her ire and her desire to be rid of this man and all memory of his presence in her life by throwing his belongings out of the window of the dwelling they shared up until she discovered the infidelity or other dealbreaking thing he's done. This is usually accompanied by the woman screaming or faux-calmly berating him for what he's done, or delivering the litany of reasons he's being dumped along with his belongings.

For maximum amusement factor, the window is usually at least on the second story of a building (Tossing stuff out the first floor window isn't funny; tossing stuff out a higher window could be dangerous to passerby, and not just humiliating and inconvenient for the cheating boyfriend). The hapless guy's reaction tends to run:

  1. He's desperately trying to explain it's not what she thinks.
  2. He's begging forgiveness
  3. He's trying to prevent her from tossing a particular item [it's either something he values highly or something extremely heavy that will make a large destructive impact when it lands].

There are bonus points of amusement for the hapless man getting beaned with his own prized possessions, like trophies or other sports memorabilia.

Darker, less humorous versions of this trope tend to have the woman taking fire (see Break-Up Bonfire) or razors to the cheater's belongings. This variant does get used with men as well as women, when a divorcing husband trashes his own stuff rather than let his wife's lawyers take it away from him.

Note that in Real Life being upset with your significant other does not give you the right to damage their property or evict them from their home; Carrie Underwood lyrics to the contrary notwithstanding.note 

Surprisingly, this one is often used in commercials. Especially in Mexican commercials, since the phrase "tirar la casa por la ventana" (literally, "defenestrating the house") means "throwing a huge party".

See Tantrum Throwing for a milder version of the trope. Compare Appliance Defenestration when someone is so aggravated with whatever they're doing they chuck it out the window. Also see Destination Defenestration when it's a person that gets tossed out of the window. Also see It's All Junk.


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  • There's a Levi's commercial which subverts the trope: the guy is in his underwear and dodging belongings hurled from above. He hurriedly yanks some flowers from a nearby flowerbed. He knocks on the door with the flowers. The girl, touched by the gesture, forgives. While she's going to find a vase for the flowers, he retrieves from a tree his beloved Levis and dons them. Seconds later, he's cheerfully walking away with his jeans on, and the vase and flowers go crashing to the sidewalk.
  • A TV ad with two couples — neighbors — going through this trope. The first unlucky man's things are kept in normal plastic containers, which quickly open as they fall and spill the contents everywhere. The second man's belongings were kept in Rubbermaid containers, and bounced safely as they hit the ground, unharmed.
  • There was an Australian TV commercial for the Yellow pages where a guy came home and found all of his stuff on the sidewalk. When he made some remark about how was he supposed to move it, the girl flung the Yellow Pages at him from an upstairs window, smashing his model ship.
  • A commercial about an American insurance company had a woman casually asking her friend about her car insurance while staring out the window. The window showed an irate girlfriend throwing her boyfriend's possessions out the window on to the (hopefully) well-insured car. The objects start with clothing, then a TV, then a couch...
  • A Tesco's (British supermarket) commercial does the taking scissors to version, with the point being that the (admitted quite nice looking) clothing is so cheap the partner/husband is simply able to buy a replacement.
  • A Chevy Silverado commercial. After a long night out, a man is driven home by his friend to find his stuff being thrown out the top floor window. The friend backs the truck up to catch it in the box. "C'mon," says the friend, "You can sleep on the couch." "... you don't have a couch." Accompanied by a howl of fury, a couch is thrown out, landing neatly on top of the pile of stuff. "... right."
  • This trope happens in a Burger King commercial, because the guy... bought play-off tickets for an anniversary. Dorky, yes. Deserving of a psychotic destruction of all his stuff?
  • A man comes home to find all his furniture out on the pavement. He rushes in shouting: "But darling, she meant nothing to me!" only to find his wife has simply gotten new IKEA furniture (cue shot of his shocked wife accidentally snipping the head off a rose).
  • A Bud Light commercial had a group of office workers brainstorming about how to save money. One guy suggests they stop buying Bud Light for every meeting. The next shot is of him (and the chair he's sitting in) being thrown out of the window.
  • An Argentinian commercial for a lottery site has the girl throwing her boyfriend belongings from a higher floor. Then she throws his guitar case just to discover that is full of money. Then she begins acting nice but the boyfriend just leaves her.
  • A local body shop had a spot of a woman arriving at a Golf course and finding her husband's brand new red mustang convertible. She then starts smashing it with a sledgehammer while screaming at him about the other woman. One man is seen cringing from the course. Then her husband pulls up in the identical car and asks "Honey, what are you doing?"
  • This DirecTV ad.

  • In Instinctive Harry throws all of Roger's things out the window of their flat after catching him being given a blowjob by a groupie.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Airheads: After Chazz gets into an argument with his girlfriend Kayla, she kicks him out of her apartment, throwing his music collection out as well.
  • Done early in the 1998 Dirty Work with passersby picking up and taking the protagonist's things. The scene culminated in a dropped commercial-style popcorn maker.
  • Earth Girls Are Easy varies the trope a little. Valerie (Geena Davis) tosses Ted (Charles Rocket) out of the house clad only in his underwear. And then, while singing a song about how much his cheating has hurt her, Valerie systematically destroys all of Ted's favourite belongings in the fireplace, the microwave, and randomly tossing them. Close enough for horseshoes. Extra points to Valerie for rolling a bowling ball down his skis into the monitor of his computer.
  • Seen in flashbacks in Exit to Eden, when a male photojournalist who enjoys being spanked is given the heave-ho by women who are squicked by his desires.
  • Subverted with one of the couples in He's Just Not That into You, when the cool and calculating woman finds out her husband had slept with another she tries to act rational about it by suggesting that before they do anything hasty they should go into counselling. It's not until she finds cigarettes in her husband's things (something she had suspected him of having and that he denied to the point of making her feel guilty about asking) that she realizes she wants him out of her house and after smashing some porcelain in anger, neatly packs up all his belongings and leaves them on the stairs with a note telling him she wants a divorce and that he should get lost.
  • High Heels and Low Lifes: After throwing Ray out of her flat, Shannon tosses one last piece of his audio equipment at him from the balcony. Having his arms full, Ray fails to catch it and drops everything he is already carrying.
  • In The Holiday, Amanda is tossing her ex boyfriend's belongings out of the house while he denies [and eventually admits] he cheated.
  • Done in It Could Happen to You. Sort-of parodied in that the man's offense is donating money to charity that she would rather he spent on her.
    • Not entirely. She's seen newspaper pictures of him with the waitress who he insisted on splitting their lottery winnings with and suspects—not entirely wrongly, given the husband's strong feelings for her—that they're having an affair.
  • In Jungle Fever, Lonette McKee throws out her husband Wesley Snipes's stuff, cursing him so loudly that everyone in Manhattan should know about his infidelity.
  • In Next Friday Craig's cousin Day-Day tells him about a girl he started dating 3 weeks ago who started claiming he was the father of her unborn child (she was six months pregnant). She gets really angry when he leaves her and starts destroying his stuff, actually going over to his home multiple times to damage his car. It's apparently subverted since the restraining order Day-Day managed to get indicates he wasn't lying about when he started dating her (and thus the impossibility of him being the father).
  • In The Movie of Brazilian sitcom Os Normais, once Vani figures out her husband is cheating on her (with the wife of the one who would become Vani's fiance in the series, Rui), she starts throwing his things out the apartment window.
  • Hilarious example in Pootie Tang. A school-age Pootie Tang calmly watches as a distraught adult (grown-ass) woman throws out all of his toys and finally his big wheel before she collapses on the window sill and sobs, "...Pootie, don't go!" Wa-Da-Tah.
  • In the biographical film Rocketman (2019) based on Elton John's rise to fame, John moves in with a young woman and eventually starts to date her. When she finds out he's gay however, she kicks him out and throws out all his belongings onto the street.
  • Waiting to Exhale. Angela Bassett's character Bernadine gets dumped by her husband for another woman. This is after she's spent the last 11 years sacrificing her dreams of owning her own business to help him build his. Her reaction? Taking his entire very expensive wardrobe, stuffing it in his very expensive car and setting the whole shebang on fire. And what she couldn't get in the car, she sold. For a dollar.note 

  • In Always Coming Home, a completely legal divorce procedure for the Kesh is simply the wife taking her husband's things and placing them outside the door.
  • In Divorcing Jack, the protagonist cheats on his wife and she melts his prize records in retaliation.
  • In the novel Fools Die, one of the character's wife cuts his clothes to ribbons and then masturbates on the pile with a vibrator.
  • Deconstructed in the How NOT to Write a Novel section "Prince Charming Doesn't Deserve Me (Wherein the bad boyfriend is more sympathetic than the protagonist)". Melinda cheats on Joe and throws his clothes out on the lawn for the heinous crimes of "not wanting to help with her mother's taxes on their anniversary" and "buying her the wrong colored roses". The example paints Melinda as petty and vindictive, tormenting Joe at the slightest provocation rather than giving him his just desserts.
  • In one of Carla Kelly's Regency romances, this is done to the heroine because she married well beneath her station.
  • In Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold, this trope is subverted in that Ekaterin Vorsoisson isn't throwing her husband Tien out for infidelity, but leaving him because he's a bribe-taking traitor. And that it's him throwing the tantrum while she simply stands there quietly clutching her remaining dignity to her, demanding that she stay with him and trying to (entirely irrationally) blame her for his crimes, and pitching her prized bonsai tree (in the family for 70 years!) off a fifth-story balcony at one point to punctuate his childish rant. Her only reaction?
    Ekaterin: You ass, Tien. You didn't even look to see if there was anyone below.
  • In The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld, this is how Moz gets an expensive electric guitar for free, and also how he meets Pearl.
  • Tricky Business: The ship's barman used to be a pool cleaner. Because this is Miami, he once showed up for a job only to see the owner (a lawyer in a diving mask) continuously diving into the pool to retrieve the items that his wife also continuously throws into it from the house. They greet him quite civilly and get back to screaming at each other (the lawyer's mistress apparently forgot to remove her underwear from his car).
  • In the second book of The Witcher cycle, Sword of Destiny, there's a story where Geralt, looking for his friend Dandelion through the streets of Novigrad, comes at the some commotion, and sees Dandelion trying to catch his stuff that his current lover, Vespula, throws at him from the window, berating him for unfaithfulness all the time. He makes a point of staying until he can get his prized lute back from her the obvious way. Hilariously, one of the items she tosses is another man's trousers, implying she might not have been so faithful either. What's interesting, is that during The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, some dozen years later, she apparently remembers him fondly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: When Penny finds out that her boyfriend writes a blog about their sex life, she violently breaks up with him. She storms to the guys' apartment, opens the window and throws out her soon-to-be ex's iPod. There's a Brick Joke as their friend Raj finds it on the pavement outside and brings it back.
    Penny: Hey! Jerkface, you forgot your iPod!
  • The CSI franchise also uses the divorce or break-up variant for both sexes.
    • Though not seen, one episode has man who is thrown out by his girlfriend describe how she tossed his stuff into the street.
    • A couple on CSI: Miami destroyed or gave away practically everything they'd owned to keep it from each other,
    • CSI: A man on the Vegas original killed himself and a friend while chain-sawing the furniture he'd just lost to his ex-wife in their divorce settlement.
    • One episode of CSI: NY begins with the window toss. Eventually the man on the balcony throws the dog over, and the woman below is horrified when her new boyfriend is spattered with blood...Fortunately we are then shown that she caught the dog safely, and the blood was being sprayed by a road salter driving past.
  • In an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray accidentally lost his wedding ring, and when Debra finds out another woman was flirting with him, and he didn't mention he was married until the end of their conversation, he stands in the yard, where she's throwing his stuff out the second floor window, while he tells her, "C'mon stop! The neighborhood already thinks you drink!"
  • Season 1 of Friends has Rachel throwing out Paolo's stuff from her balcony. They were supposed to have a romantic weekend off, and he hit on Rachel's friends Phoebe. He's the classic Romantic False Lead (the original, natch). There's even a special Establishing Shot of the apartment building showing his clothes falling onto the sidewalk.
  • Gilmore Girls used this trope when Lindsay found out that Dean had slept with Rory. Nearly the whole town saw it.
    • Early on when Rory breaks up with Dean, she immediately packs up everything that reminds her of him and asks Lorelai to get rid of it. However, Lorelai, knowing Rory will regret it later, secretly stashes the box away in her closet.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Inverted by Ted who keeps many belongings from old ex-girlfriends, but Robin (whom he was dating throughout season 2) is uncomfortable with them and demands he gets rid of it all, which turns out to be almost everything he owns. On the other hand, Ted himself is uncomfortable when he finds out Robin got all her dogs from ex-boyfriends, and Robin decides to send them to a farm (literally). However, when they get back to Ted's apartment she sees that he has gotten back everything he threw out. This culminates in a huge argument that Future Ted struggles to remember, but it somehow ends with the two deciding to move in together.
    • In season 8, Ted had a crazy relationship with the psychotic Jeanette. After making up with her in one episode and Ted inviting her in his apartment, she finds out Barney's Playbook, whom she thought was Ted's, and she throws him out of his apartment and threw out all his stuff that he had collected from his exes, along with the book.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "Like Angels Put in Hell by God", although there's no berating because Louis de Pointe du Lac is giving Lestat de Lioncourt the Silent Treatment, his act of throwing his boyfriend's coffin out the second floor window of their townhouse speaks volumes.
    Claudia: No one here wishes to speak with you.
    Lestat: Well, I know [Louis is] upstairs. I can see his silhouette. Perhaps we should let him decide if he wants to see me or not.
    (Louis shoves Lestat's coffin out the window, which smashes on impact behind where Lestat is standing)
    Claudia: How's that for an answer?
  • Keen Eddie: In Inciting Incident, a woman is sent photo-shopped photos of her husband with another woman and becomes so furious with him, she throws all of his belongings out the window while the police watch and comment. She eventually beans her husband in the head with a suitcase, leaving him with a nasty bump for the rest of the episode.
  • Pete Campbell throws his wife Trudy's chicken dinner on an episode of Mad Men. The twist is that she didn't cheat and he's not leaving her but he was angry because she kept pressuring him to adopt a child.
  • While Peggy was separated from Al in Married... with Children, Marcy helped her by showing her how to destroy Al's stuff.
  • Done in the Midsomer Murders episode "Ring Out Your Dead". A woman breaks up with her lover by flinging all of his belongings out of the window of her flat. Including his pants, forcing him to run outside naked to retrieve them.
  • In in Modern Family, Haley throws out her boyfriend's things while screaming at him after he goes to a movie with another girl.
  • In an episode of My Name Is Earl, this is a step in the Bad Boss's Humiliation Conga. He berates Earl, gets beat up, sent to the hospital, and his wife shows up with his mistress there. She then throws his stuff out of the window, and finds the money he laundered.
  • Weeds season 7 episode "Bags" a classic example involving Shane in Copenhagen. He's breaking it off with Renata, a much older woman, who screams at him and berates him for not being ready to impregnate her and similar stuff.
  • On Wings Casey dumps her husband's money out the window of his yacht when she finds out he was lying about being poor. She eventually throws him overboard as well.
  • Used hilariously in The X-Files episode "Dreamland," in which Mulder switches bodies with an Area 51 worker Morris Fletcher. Fletcher's wife thinks that her husband (really Mulder) is cheating on her, as Mulder was muttering something about Scully in his sleep and Scully herself showed up at the door five seconds later looking for Morris Fletcher. She ends up throwing out all of her husband's possessions while Mulder tries to convince Scully that it's really him, even though he looks like Fletcher.

  • Music video of Lily Allen's "Smile" shows a really extreme version. The woman getting revenge upon her cheating boyfriend hires thugs to beat him up and trash his apartment. They stash his clothes into a toilet (too bad she put laxative in his coffee) and scratch his precious LPs.
  • The Barenaked Ladies song "The Humour of the Situation" has the protagonist drive home to find all his belongings on the lawn courtesy of his girlfriend.
  • The BlackHawk music video "Goodbye Says It All" has a man coming home to find his home trashed with a video showing his ex ruining his possessions. He throws the television in the lake after she says, "And even though I'm leaving you, I still hope we can be friends."
    • SHeDAISY's "Little Goodbyes" is essentially the Perspective Flip Distaff Counterpart to "Goodbye Says it All", and is about a woman who trashes the house when she leaves her boyfriend. In very specific ways. She leaves the cat litter, takes the cat. Leaves the VCR, takes the TV. Took the hourglass, left the sand. As well as a general mess. It's never explained in the song just what her boyfriend did to deserve such treatment, but it's clear she's fed up with him.
  • Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" is about a woman who sells her lover's things, pays the bills a month late, and uses up the credit cards after he cheats on her.
  • In Bowling for Soup's song "A-Hole," the singers mention coming home to find all his stuff on the front lawn. "I thought she was happy, but I was wrong."
  • Parodied with Kelly Clarkson's My Life Would Suck Without You video. She teasingly steals first the magazine he's reading and tosses it out, he does the same to the one she was reading. Then she goes and grabs some of his clothes and tosses them, he does the same (and she even takes some of her clothes and tosses them herself). The video ends with the pair kissing.
  • Sheena Easton's "Almost Over You" is about the singer expressing her heartbreak for her man who was "painting the town" (committing adultery). The music video has her playing the piano while also featuring some video games of the time, such as Defender implying that her boyfriend is a gamer. The climax of the video has her throwing an arcade machine out of the balcony.
  • A Finnish singer Anssi Kela has a couple of lines in his song "1972" that translate roughly into "When I returned home yesterday, my key didn't fit into the lock/My clothes are flying out of the window". It's very likely to be an example of this trope.
  • Willie Mabon's R&B song "I'm Mad" (featured in the cartoon Sing, Beast, Sing), has him venting his anger on his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, eventually threatening to pitch her clothes: "Won't be any more washin', or hangin' upside the wall/ I'm throwin' them out the window/ Run out and catch 'em before they fall."
  • Mentioned in David Nail's "Let it Rain," after the singer confesses to his wife he has slept with someone else.
    Now me and my pile of things
    That she threw out the window,
    Drowning next to me
    No seven years of good can't hide the one night I forgot to wear that ring
  • In Oran "Juice" Jones' "The Rain", he kicks his girlfriend out after finding her cheating. Beforehand, he took all the money out the bank, cancelled the credit cards he gave her, and took back the clothes he gave her.
  • Pet Shop Boys ' "The boy who couldn't keep his clothes on" has the girl in the spoken break threaten to do this to her boyfriend due to his extracurricular activities.
  • P!nk:
    • Pink's video for the song "There You Go" shows a motorbike crashing through the cheating boyfriend's window.
    • Pink and her BF fought in the "You Make Me Sick" vid. Nothing goes through a window, but they sure wreck each other's stuff.
  • Referenced in "Let Me Tell You About My Operation" by They Might Be Giants:
    Ground floor, screen door, yelling inside
    I think you know the scene
    Front lawn, break of dawn, clothes on the ground
    How could you be so mean?
  • "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood is mainly about a woman scorned defacing her philandering ex-boyfriend's beloved truck while he's with another woman. The video for the song does show her tossing some stuff through the window, though the man is otherwise "occupied" and doesn't actually get to see the results on screen.

    Video Games 
  • Happens in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, albeit in dialogue only. If Geralt drops Yennefer for Triss, then Yennefer throws out Geralt's bed from his room at Kaer Mohren. The reason here is that he slept in it with Triss.


    Western Animation 
  • Oscar Kokoshka and his wife Susie go through this a number of times on Hey Arnold! Arnold's used to it.
    Arnold: (to Gerald) Stand by for pottery!
  • In Moral Orel, Principal Fakey finds out that he has an STD while having sex with Nurse Bendy. He immediately comes to the conclusion that his wife is cheating on him. He angrily marches down to his house and throws out his wife and then her possessions while calling her a whore. He has his pants down the whole time.
  • Robot Chicken used it in a sketch, with a pair of birds and their nest.
  • The Simpsons: Homer and Marge realize that Apu and Manjula are having trouble with their sex life (specifically, that he had been spending all his time at work) when they throw the Kama Sutra out of the window. Homer picks it up and finds it fascinating and tries reading it as they're driving home, swerving all across the road, which makes Marge take over the wheel. Shortly after he points out one particularly interesting page Marge starts swerving just as it did when he was driving.
  • Happens in Stōked! when the staff go on strike and Bummer locks them out of the staff house. The staff not on strike dump their belongings on them from the balcony.


Video Example(s):


"Almost Over You"

Sheena Easton, from her "Almost Over You" video, throwing her cheating boyfriend's arcade machine (Most likely "Defender") off the balcony.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

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