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Dramatic Shattering

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"Never ever give a fragile cup to anyone with psychic powers. You're only going to end up minus one cup and pissing off the janitor."


Drama can be quite a vandal. It likes to break things just to punctuate the mood. Often takes the form of a dropped glass or other fragile item. This could often involve trying to catch it in slow motion, accompanied by a Desperate Object Catch. Yet smashing even upright things will do for dramatic emphasis.

Rage Against the Reflection, Broken-Window Warning, and A Glass in the Hand frequently are because of this trope.

A Sub-Trope of Rule of Drama.

A Super-Trope to Dramatic Drop, Slow-Motion Drop (save examples where it's Played for Laughs).

Compare Super Window Jump (awesomely breaking glass to herald one's appearance or retreat), Glass-Shattering Sound, Grievous Bottley Harm, Rockers Smash Guitars.

See also Sheet of Glass.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • AKIRA has a particularly memorable scene in which Tetsuo breaks the window of his hospital room as his powers awaken. He also steps on a glass cup as he stumbles away from the Espers, in a rare aversion of Soft Glass.
  • Betrayal Knows My Name: Reiga does this deliberately with a wine glass in episode 7.
  • The first Bondage Queen Kate OVA briefly cuts to a pane of glass cracking and then shattering to symbolize the loss of Kate's virginity.
  • Cinderella Monogatari: One episode features Cinderella and her stepsisters being hired to clean the royal palace. The palace has a large china doll that has been in the royal family for generations. While cleaning the hallway, the stepsisters get into a fight and knock the doll off its pedestal, breaking it into pieces. As a result, the stepsisters are told that they won't be forgiven for it and are subsequently fired.
  • Death Note: The first opening has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment where a glass statue of Light falls to the ground and breaks.
  • GaoGaiGar: As far as intentional breaking goes, they have Break In Case Of Monster of the Week glass covering a button as part of the over-the-top emphasis.
    • The connector for the Goldion Crusher was designed for GaoFighGar. It was actually used by Genesic GaoGaiGar, whose arm is significantly bigger than GaoFighGar's. As Geki Hyuuma advised, Guy "adjusted with [his] guts!"
  • Hellsing: there are two examples:
    • The Major deliberately drops a glass of champagne after dedicating a toast to the impending attack on London by Millenium.
    • The second being when Alucard's wine glass falls and shatters (in slo-mo!) before the start of his fight with Luke Valentine.
  • K:
    • In the first episode, HOMRA's introduction is punctuated by Misaki's Super Window Jump, on his skateboard, from the roof of the building across the street. Because he can.
    • Used comedically in episode 3, when Misaki and Rikio come into Bar HOMRA fighting and crash into the bar, causing Kusanagi to drop the glass he was polishing, which falls to the floor and shatters, reflecting his screaming face on the way down.
  • Kill la Kill features Satsuki and the Elite Four drinking a toast of sake before throwing their cups to the ground just before the Great Sports and Culture Festival and their impending open rebellion against Ragyo and the Life Fibers.
  • The Little Mermaid (1970's version) has Marina dramatically dropping a mirror on the floor after the prince told her that he's marrying another princess whom he believes saved his life when in reality it was Marina who saved him.
  • Naruto: during Haku's backstory when Haku's father has just killed his mother and is about to kill him.
  • Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai: an hourglass does this near the beginning when it's knocked off of Tonio's desk by the spacetime distortions.
  • Princess Tutu: In one episode, Fakir smashes through a window in order to confront the Dark Magical Girl (Mytho, however, just decided to use the door).
  • Ranma ½: Happens in episode 85 when Ranma accidentally falls into Akane's dish of pot stickers which causes it to fall and break. Cue Akane getting down on her knees and staring at it with a broken expression while dramatic music plays in the background.
  • Saint Seiya: Cygnus Hyoga pulls this when stuck in an ice coffin by his own master, Aquarius Camus.
  • Umineko: When They Cry does this with its Eyecatch. It actually comes straight from the visual novel, which would use the effect whenever there was about to be a time lapse in the narration.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Pegasus has his wine glass shattered after receiving a threatening message from Yami Yugi.

    Comic Books 
  • Jason Todd's costume display case has this happen a lot in Batman. Maybe less now that he's alive.
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Plourr Ilo pours out her wineglass and then tosses it into the air to shatter when it falls, punctuating what she'd been saying about the tyranny of the nobles.
  • In Watchmen, Laurie throws a bottle of perfume against Jon's Martian palace, which of course shatters as well.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader has a subdued but no less dramatic example, when Vader in his room on a Star Destroyer receives a report from Boba Fett, revealing that the Rebel pilot who destroyed the Death Star is named Skywalker. Vader goes silent, Fett lets himself out, and as Vader flashes back to his life with Padmé while his fist shakes with Force energy, the windows before him become more and more cracked until they're just on the verge of shattering.
  • In Asterix Cleopatra breaks the vases closest to her when she gets into an argument with Caesar.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the movie Bicentennial Man, a young Little Miss is playing on the beach with a glass figurine of a horse. She invites Andrew to hold it, but Andrew fumbles the delicate figurine, causing it to fall from his grasp and be shattered on a rock. Little Miss is understandably furious at this, since the horse was not only her favorite figure, but also irreplaceable. To remedy the situation, Andrew studies the art of wood carving, and carves for Little Miss a wooden horse figurine, thereby exhibiting creativity for the first time.
  • The snow globe at the beginning of Citizen Kane.
  • Played for laughs in the George of the Jungle movie. Ursula, the heroine, nervously reveals to her parents - during a reception held for her and her fiance - that she no longer wishes to get married to her fiance. Her parents respond with a cheery, "That's OK, dear. We understand." The Narrator then quips, "Just kidding!" before Ursula's mother lets out a harrowing scream and promptly drops her wine glass, shattering it on the floor.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has Voldemort causing a shockwave during a spell that shatters every window in The Ministry Of Magic lobby.
  • The Russian admiral in the film version of The Hunt for Red October drops his tea while reading Ramius' letter.
  • Done surprisingly well in Iron Man. After learning that his weapons have been sold to a terrorist group without his consent and seeing the news report about how they're being used to terrorize an Afghan village, Tony Stark gets up and in a moment of fury/surprise uses his new and improved pulse-blasting gloves to shatter the windows of his shop.
  • The "Line Must Be Drawn Here" scene from Star Trek: First Contact, in which Captain Picard loses his temper, shouts two Big Nos, and smashes the glass case holding his models of previous Enterprises. The camera even holds for an extra moment on the model of the ship from the television series sliding off of the shelf before it hits the ground.
  • The Movie of Watchmen does this: when Laurie figures out The Comedian was her father, she freaks out and punches a pillar of Jon's Martian glass palace, which leads to the whole structure shattering around them. It's pretty awesome.
  • Done with a dropped coffee cup at the end of The Usual Suspects.
  • In the film version of The Natural, Roy Hobbs' home run ball shatters the stadium lights.
  • La Haine begins with a shattering Molotov bottle in representation of the riots of Paris's ghettos.
  • Lampshaded and deconstructed in the Bollywood movie Taal: upon hearing his nephew is going to marry the daughter of a musician (basically a commoner), Manev's uncle smashes a glass on the floor. Manev then proceeds to smash seven glasses on the floor, and then says, "If smashing a glass makes your argument more valid, then I have smashed seven glasses on the floor, so my argument is seven times more valid."
  • In the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Aragorn gets into a Palantír staring match with Sauron, who shows him a taunting vision of a dying/dead Arwen. The Evenstar pendant she gifted him with falls to the floor and shatters very prettily and dramatically into glittering bits, though he's later seen wearing it, so it was apparently a hallucination. The shot of the pendant shattering is shown before this scene, divorced from context, throughout the trilogy; it symbolises Arwen's dependence on Aragorn's victory to survive.
  • In the film version of Twilight, Rosalie shatters a glass bowl of salad in rage when she learns that Bella has already eaten and her family's efforts to cook for her were in vain.
    • The climax, taking place in a mirror lined ballet studio also has this in spades.
  • The World Is Not Enough shows Renard punching clean through a glass table in frustration, showing his utter inability to feel pain.
  • In Snow White and the Huntsman, where the queen's phantom army seem to be composed of black glass when killed, and in the climactic fight where amorphous humanoids composed of shards which fall from the queen's castle's ceiling fight the heroes. Her magic mirror though is composed of highly polished magic metal rather than glass.
  • Manhunter and Red Dragon has the killer at large; Francis Dollarhyde who leaves slivers of glass embedded in his victim's eyes. In the climax of the former, he's shown shattering a mirror as he prepares to kill his blind girlfriend.
  • In Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice, the first sign that World War III is about to break out is when low-flying jet fighters shake the house, causing a pitcher full of milk to fall and shatter.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Used at the end of the pilot of Sliders, and again with Mrs. Arturo in "Double Cross".
  • The Lost episode "The Glass Ballerina" begins with the titular object falling in slow motion and shattering.
    • And the Man In Black's shattering of the Metaphorical Wine Bottle of Metaphors at the end of "Ab Aeterno".
  • In the Korean Drama Bad Boy, a priceless glass mask is shattered against a wall.
  • The penultimate episode of Spaced Series 2 uses a slow-motion dropped wineglass to illustrate the shattering of trust and friendship when Marsha finds out that Tim and Daisy aren't a couple and have been lying to her for years.
  • Babylon 5 used it in the episode where Sheridan's dead first wife shows up at his door and Delenn drops a snowglobe to shatter in extreme slow-motion against the floor.
  • The Supernatural opening credits for season six.
  • In Game of Thrones, Tyrion knocks a wineglass off the table during a meeting with his father and his bannermen as a metaphor for the chances of securing peace with the Starks and Jaime's release from them now that Joffrey had killed Ned Stark.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: in "Passion":
    • Angelus flinging the Orb at the chalkboard right next to Jenny's head as she ducks. "Must be that shoddy gypsy craftsmanship."
    • Giles heads up the stairs in his apartment with a bottle of wine and two glasses - and drops them seeing what's been set up for him.
  • A particularly cliched Portent of Doom used in Filipino soaps: when a character is about to die in a scene, there is a quick cut to his (or a close friend's) house showing a glass falling and breakingnote , and all his friends or relatives present reacting in shock to it. It then either cuts back to show whether he died, or was just badly hurt, or, an authority calls up to bring the bad news.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Year of Hell", Voyager finds itself in a war zone and keeps getting hammered by aliens with more powerful technology. Captain Janeway is searching through the ruins of her ready room and finds her lucky coffee cup is intact, which she takes as a good omen. Then they're attacked again, and as Janeway rushes for the bridge the vibrations knock the cup off the table so it shatters on the floor.
  • In the season four finale of The West Wing, when President Bartlet finds out Zoe, his youngest daughter has been kidnapped, he drops his drink glass.

    Music Videos 
  • A common trope in 1980s music videos. Russell Mulcahey (the director of Highlander) started his career by directing many, many music videos in the 1980s. He practically invented the "glass object shattering in slow motion" motif used so often in the TEN videos he did for Duran Duran.
  • X Japan's videos for, among others, "Week End" and "Jade" feature this trope.
  • Watch the music video for "I Don't Love You" by My Chemical Romance. Right after the Subdued Section, everything shatters.
  • Subverted in the R.E.M. video "Losing My Religion"; in the beginning of the video, a pitcher of milk falls and spills on the floor but doesn't shatter.

  • In the Wolf 359-episode "Do No Harm", Lovelace insists on obstructing Hilbert to make sure he doesn't attempt to put more viruses in Eiffel's system - while Eiffel is in critical condition. Minkowski finally has enough and orders Lovelace to leave. When she tries to argue, Minkowski throws something made of glass at the wall, causing it to shatter.
    Minkowski: Leave. Now.


    Video Games 
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night: "What is a man?! *tosses wine glass* A miserable little pile of secrets! But enough talk! Have at you!"
  • One of the scenarios in the Interactive Fiction game Constraints places you in the unlikely role of a vase on a shelf, waiting for the right dramatic moment to plummet to the floor.
  • Diego Armando in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Case 3-4, grows so full of Tranquil Fury at recent events as to shatter a ceramic mug full of coffee in his bare hand.
  • In Persona 3, characters would summon their Persona by placing the gun-shaped Evoker to their head and pulling the trigger —and a flurry of blue "shards" would fly out the other side of their head, with the sound of glass breaking, to symbolize their own minds shattering in order for their inner selves to manifest. The same effect is used when the Protagonist (the only one who can switch Personas at will) "shattered" one Persona for another during battle, to represent his original personality breaking to make way for a new one.
    • Persona 4 used basically the same motif and sound effect, except that instead of their minds breaking via gunshot, the Tarot cards symbolizing the character's Persona would fly apart when struck by his or her Weapon of Choice. The Protagonist's "mind shattering like glass while changing Personas" part was removed, however, and only the sound effect remained. This is because, unlike the first game, the characters of 4 have earned the ability to summon their Personas at will, instead of needing to trigger them in moments of like or death.
  • Near the end of Mass Effect 3, Shepherd can shatter Kai Leng's sword with an interrupt.
  • In the first Dead Space, you'll run into a corridor with glass panes on the walls. Every single one shatters in some shockwave, announcing the arrival of something worse... Nope, just kidding; it's a jump scare.
  • In some of the bad endings of Streets of Rage 3, Mr X is shown with his back to the camera holding a glass of wine in his hand, which he then shatters by tightening his fist around it.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the second episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Nightmare Moon does this to the depowered Elements of Harmony. There is even a shot of Twilight looking with shock as the shards fall to the ground.
  • In the Clone High episode "Sleep Of Faith: La Rue D'Awakening", a pencil somehow shatters into a million pieces when Abe drops it from exhaustion after spending countless nights trying to help Cleopatra study for the PXJT.

    Real Life 
  • People looking to be dramatic or draw attention will sometimes break glass while throwing a temper tantrum.


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