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Desk Sweep of Rage

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Maybe the Cowboy Cop has been forced to turn in his badge, or the Big Bad's plans have just been thwarted, or the hero's Berserk Button just got pressed. How better to show rage or impatience than to take one arm and swipe everything off the desk (sometimes accompanied by an inarticulate scream)?! Used as shorthand to show that the character is out of control and they need something to take their frustrations out on.

Often a part of an Anger Montage, Rage Quit or Villainous Breakdown. Sister trope of Flipping the Table and Tantrum Throwing. Compare/contrast Desk Sweep of Passion and Sweeping the Table.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In an anime only scene of Naruto, after Shikaku mentions Asuma's death when playing Shogi, Shikamaru sweeps the board in anger. Shikaku eventually suggest that Shikamaru let his rage go out after he makes a scene.
  • Black Butler: After learning that his servant, Agni has joined Harold’s side, Prince Soma trows a fit and sweeps Ciel’s tea set in anger, right before running off, weeping.
  • Terror in Resonance: A worker at police headquarters demolishes his work desk after Sphinx's latest "bomb" leaks the entire police database to the internet.
  • Sailor Moon: Mimete of the Witches 5 does this multiple times during her tenure as The Dragon (usually with expensive-looking computers and lab equipment no less!), underscoring her childishness in contrast to her fellow Witches.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: During the return of Carol Danvers in Avengers Annual #10, after Iron Man makes the mistake of asking if there is anything he and the other Avengers can do to help ease the pain of losing Marcus from the infamous Avengers #200, Carol sweeps everything off the table she was pouring herself a drink from before angrily setting things straight on who Marcus was, how she had never loved him and what he had done to her, and then giving all of the Avengers an epic What the Hell, Hero? speech about how they had let her down when she needed them most by letting her get taken away and brainwashed.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate Vision: Dima was an artificial girl, and the scientists of AIM had her all day in front of a computer that instructed her to do endless block configurations. They did not allow her to rest or do something else, because to them, she was Just a Machine. When she was with Vision, and away from the scientists, she destroyed the computer with an axe.
    • The Ultimates: Banner did not like being compared with Steve Buscemi. He threw all his folders and papers to the airs, and stormed out of the room.
  • The Transformers (IDW) has Prowl doing this when frustrated, second only to his penchant for Flipping the Table. Considering how often people disagree with his methods or motives, he needs a new desk on the regular.

    Fan Works 
  • In Facing the Future Series story Trial by Fire. Danny is torn between going after Sam or staying to protect Amity Park from Undergrowth, causing him to lash out at a nearby workstation before falling to his knees while holding his head in his hands in frustration.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In Unwelcome Surprises, a High Priest of Crowned Death is angry and "roared and swept its arm to the left, as if wiping everything off an imaginary table".

    Films — Animation 
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox. When Mr. Bean, leader of the local farmers, gets word that Mr. Fox has robbed them blind by digging under all of their security, he swipes everything off his desk, flips it, and keeps going, completely wrecking the trailer he was using as a headquarters.
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo eventually discovers and confronts Quasimodo about his helping Esmeralda escape Notre Dame. When Quasimodo admits he helped her because she showed him kindness, Frollo scatters and breaks the dinnerware and Quasi's figurines from the table in a rage as he goes on a racist tirade against Esmeralda and her people.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles takes his anger/despair out on his room's belongings following his uncle Aaron's death. Even tossing his notebook out the window.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has Peter sweep stuff off his desk when his investigations into his parent's deaths end up nowhere.
  • In The Angel Levine, Morris gets in a shouting match with his bedridden wife Fanny, who sweeps the medicine bottles off the tray on her bedside table.
  • Backstreet Dreams: Frustrated by his inability to calm Shane's crying, Dean knocks a bunch of books on autism from his bookshelf.
  • In Beauty and the Beast (2017), the Beast sweeps the dinner table when he finds that his servants have set a place for Belle and are trying to bring them together against his wishes.
  • In Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Naomi Watts' character sweeps a table clean in the dressing room in rage after her acting partner forced himself on her on stage.
  • Cadaver (2020): At one point, Leonora and Jacob see Hans talking in front of his vanity. While talking, he gets so mad that he sweeps all of his things off the vanity.
  • Change of Habit has a childhood version. Michelle tries to get Amanda to put differently shaped blocks in the right holes. They have some success before Amanda loses patience and sweeps the board off the table.
  • Deon, the creator of the titular robot in Chappie, goes to sweep a table clean in anger about the kidnapping of his brain child.
  • Cries from the Heart: Michael knocks Karen's laptop off the table, breaking it in half, the day after Jeff molests him.
  • In Doctor Strange, Strange wipes a desk clean at his apartment out of frustration about his injured hands not healing after the car accident.
  • The Doll: Drunk, sad about her dying mother, angry about her sexual harasser boss, and looking at the three separate overdue rent notices on her coffee table, Sanaa angrily sweeps everything on the coffee table onto the floor, and in the process slices her hand on a shattered glass. This results into the first blood offering to the titular doll (which is actually a demon).
  • Electra Glide in Blue: After Jolene drunkenly tells Poole and Wintergreen that she's supposed to be in a monogamous relationship with Poole but is cheating on him with Wintergreen because he's better in bed, when neither man knows the other is in a relationship with her, she knocks a bunch of glasses off the bar counter.
  • In A Few Good Men, it looks like the case is about to be lost, and Kaffee is drowning his sorrows. Galloway says that Kaffee should just put Jessup on the stand, but the risk involved gets Kaffee to go on an angry rant, finishing with doing this to the paperwork on his desk.
  • Fielder's Choice: After Philip leaves Zach at his cousin Rose's house, Zach builds a pyramid of tennis balls with a lego fence, like he does every morning. But then he angrily attacks the pyramid with his backpack, knocking it off the table.
  • The 1973 adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has Mad Scientist Doctor Clerval mentor eager med student Victor Frankenstein on reanimating the dead. However, Clerval observes that some of his successes have Gone Horribly Wrong, and sweeps his notes and materials from his workbench to begin writing a warning in his journal: "The process is reversing itself." However, Clerval has a seizure at this point, which kills him, leaving the journal entry unfinished. Victor reads, "The process is re ..." and interprets it as "ready to begin."
  • In The Guilty, Asger breaks his keyboard and desk lamp when Iben goes missing after having hit Michael with a brick and Asger is unable to reach her.
  • In Jane Austen's Mafia!, Joey Cortino does this with his (off-screen) erection when he is confronted by Anthony for sleeping with his girlfriend.
  • In Jurassic Park. Ray Arnold sweeps a whole lotta crap from Dennis Nedry's desk while trying to fix the problems Nedry's sabotage caused.
    Arnold: Look at this workstation! What a complete slob!
  • In Kill List, Jay yanks the tablecloth off the table that his wife Shel, friend Gal, and Gal's girlfriend Fiona are eating at during a nasty argument with Shel.
  • In Liar Liar, as Fletcher struggles with the fact that he suddenly Cannot Tell a Lie, one arm basically acting by itself swipes back and forth sweeping everything in his desk.
  • In The Machinist, the protagonist goes into a rage and wipes dishes from a kitchen table when finding a suspicious photo at his girl friend's place.
  • When Phillip from Miracle Run beats a boy named Ward at chess, Ward angrily knocks all the pieces off the board.
  • In Prisoners, detective Loki sweeps his office desk out of frustration after all his leads turned out to be dead ends.
  • Johnny is furious and sweeps things off of a desk at the end of The Room (2003) as he smashes his room up.
  • When Louise from The Sense of Wonder absentmindedly grabs a hot pan from the oven with her bare hands, she screams "MERDE!" and knocks a bowl off the counter, then cries from stress.
  • In The Shining, Jack swipes a table in the corridor while roaming the hotel.
  • In Solo: A Star Wars Story, Chewbacca tries this while losing a game of dejarik — except it doesn't work because...
    Beckett: No, you can't wipe them off. They're holograms.
  • TRON: Legacy had CLU 2.0 sweep Kevin's table after finding out that Flynn had abandoned his hideout.
  • In The Wall, the first thing the hero does during his Anger Montage is dramatically sweeping all the stuff off the living room table.
  • When Time Got Louder: During a meltdown, Kayden rage-swipes the desk in his room.
  • The Words: After the Old Man reads his wife's "Dear John" Letter, he knocks his copy of The Sun Also Rises off his bookshelf, then all his books. Then he grabs his typewriter and throws it to the floor.
  • In Zig Zag (2002), Cadillac Tom does this after ZigZag and Singer mess up a stripper's audition.

  • In There's More Than One Way Home, Alex rage-swipes his chess set after reading a newspaper article that accuses him of botching the investigation against Jack.
  • Early from Navigating Early sorts jellybeans to calm himself and help himself think. Once, when he thinks his long-lost brother Fisher is really dead, he sweeps all his beans off the table. Jack helps him pick them up.
  • At the end of The Alloy of Law, Wax confronts The Man Behind the Man, but ultimately has to let him go for lack of evidence. Frustrated, Wax sweeps everything on the table onto the ground and storms out, having used the action to secretly steal the villain's appointment book.
  • Can You See Me?: Nell says she'll take Tally to get ice cream in "a few minutes," which Tally thinks means two. When Nell still isn't ready after two minutes, Tally is so angry at her for saying something that's not true that she knocks the lamp off Nell's desk.
  • When My Heart Joins the Thousand: After Alvie's mama drowned when she was eleven, she spent four weeks catatonic in a mental hospital. Her first voluntary movement was knocking a plate and a cup of pills off the dinner tray with her arm.
  • In The Society of Sylphs, Sergeant Richards asks Eddie to draw what he saw on the night of his sister's disappearance. He uses his colored pencils to draw a picture of Luranna the sylph, who he saw that night. Sergeant Richards says, "Nice angel, but I need you to draw what you saw last night." Frustrated, Eddie scatters the colored pencils all over the floor with a swoop of his arm.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In the season 2 episode "Heavy Is the Head", Fitz sweeps a bunch of papers off the desk when he gets frustrated with his difficulty communicating due to the brain damage he had suffered.
  • Arrow. In "Draw Back Your Bow", Oliver Queen sees Felicity Smoak kissing Ray Palmer, returns to the Arrowcave and suddenly does this in a fit of jealous rage. However when his sidekick Roy Harper (who is having his own issues at the time) sees this, Oliver realises he needs to set a better example and invites Roy to share a late dinner with Diggle's family, so at least neither of them have to be alone.
  • Doctor Who
  • Will Gardner sweep things from a desk in a state of fury in The Good Wife after he finds out Alicia, Cary Agos, and others are leaving to start their own firm, taking many of Lockhart & Gardner's clients with them.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "Like Angels Put in Hell by God", a wrathful Lestat de Lioncourt knocks over all the chess pieces with a single arm swipe because Claudia doesn't want to continue their game.
  • Mad Men: An exec angrily sweeps things from a desk on his way out of the office after getting made redundant.
  • Community:
    • Pierce in "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples" rage-swipes a desk at the local precinct when Jeff treats him like a small kid.
    • In "Geography of Global Conflict", Annie freaks out when she is about to lose a competition against her Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Annie Kim and swipes the table clean. Watch it here.
  • Mr. Garvey from Key & Peele does it in both of the Substitute Teacher skits after being corrected for the third time.
  • Played for dark laughs in an episode of NYPD Blue. The suspect in the murder of his sister wants a refreshment, specifically a Coke. At first some detectives brought him a can of ginger ale (offscreen), and later Simone brings him a Diet Coke because the machine was out of regular. The perp dramatically sweeps the can off the table insisting that he get a regular Coke. "Does this look like a Coke to you?!" Simone sarcastically asks him that if they give him a Coke, will he confess? The perp surprises them by responding "Can I have a liter?" Long story short, they give him two 2-liter bottles of Coca-Cola and he confesses not only to the murder of his sister, but also the never suspected murder of his brother 30 years prior.
  • The Wire: In the second episode of season 1, after a story breaks in the paper about the William Gant murder being related to his status as a state's witness, Rawls storms out of his office intending to confront McNulty, who he believes to be the source of the leak.
    Bill Rawls: MCNULTY! Where the fuck is he?!
    Jay Landsman: I, uh, he's detailed, Major. To Narcotics.
    Bill Rawls: I fucking know where he's detailed! I fucking already know that!
    Jay Landsman: Yes, sir.
    Bill Rawls: Where is he right now?
    Jay Landsman: Uh, I can page him, sir.
    [Rawls takes a look at the cubicle closest to him. He promptly sweeps two stacks of bindings and a coffee cup off the desk]
    Bill Rawls: Move that fucking desk out of my unit. I do not want that fucking man's desk in my unit.
    Jay Landsman: That's... Crutchfield's desk. Crutchfield's. [Landsman points to the cubicle across from the one Rawls just trashed] McNulty sits here.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street. When rookie detective Tim Bayliss complains about a difficult murder case that's been dumped on him when he hasn't even been allocated a desk yet, Lieutenant Giardello angrily sweeps a table clear and allocates it to him, effectively telling Bayliss to Quit Your Whining.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Fury", an older Kes has turned evil and time-travels to the past to destroy Voyager. On seeing that Neelix, her Love Interest at the time, has left a meal and flowers on a table in her private quarters, she angrily sweeps them off.
  • Miami Vice:
    • In "Shadow in the Dark", Sonny Crockett angrily sweeps things from a desk because of the Shadow's influence on his mind.
    • In "Child's Play", Sony throws stuff on the ground from a desk when he's distraught after accidentally shooting a child.
  • Led up to spectacularly in Seinfeld when Elaine hits a coworker's Berserk Button by criticizing her tendency to walk with her arms hanging completely limp. Elaine calls her into her office the next day to apologize.
    Sam: No, don't apologize, Elaine. I was thinking that maybe I should swing my arms a little bit more.
    Elaine: See, yeah, that's all I was saying.
    Sam: How's this (swings arm across Elaine's desk) or this?! (now sweeping the desk with abandon)
  • Hancock's Half Hour: In "the Radio Ham", just as Hancock realises that he's lost a game of chess to his radio opponent, he sweeps all the pieces off the board in his fury.

    Video Games 
  • Issac Clarke of Dead Space 3 angrily sweeps things off of a desk in the beginning of the game, right before he's brought into another mission.
  • In Saints Row 2, Police Chief Troy Bradshaw sweeps his desk in anger when he is pressured into releasing all currently incarcerated members of the violent Brotherhood gang from prison by the Ultor exec Dane Vogel (who is himself pressured by the Brotherhood's leader, albeit taking it much more calmly).

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the first episode of Castlevania (2017), Dracula has just finished warning the humans who burned his wife at the stake that they had one year before he would kill them all in a tone of Tranquil Fury. We cut back to Dracula in a room in front of a magic mirror. He walks over to a nearby work desk and starts throwing items aside, tearing up books, and caps it off by breaking the desk into splinters in a rage.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: In "No Smoking", Goofy vows to quit smoking and sweeps all the tobacco-related items on his work desk into a rubbish bin below.
  • In Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", Fry gets tired of Morgan Proctor being an Obstructive Bureaucrat and does this to her desk. Thing is, Morgan has a mad fetish for messes, and she lustfully tackles him.
  • Played for laughs in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. Phil Ken Sebben complains that his office is filled with clutter. Cue flashback of him sitting in an empty office with a single piece of paper on his desk that he exaggeratedly sweeps onto the floor.
  • Huntik: Secrets & Seekers: In "The Tower of Nostradamus", Wilder and his men break into a museum in search of a magical scrying glass belonging to the famed prophet Nostradamus. However, Nostradamus was Properly Paranoid enough to enchant his office with a Perception Filter that made everything magic-related invisible to any unwanted guests. As a result, Wilder's men are unable to find anything valuable and Wilder angrily sweeps a bunch of antique tools off a nearby table in frustration.