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Dramatic Sit-Down

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"Do sit down, Sergeant. Shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent."
Lord Summerisle, The Wicker Man (1973)

Everything seems to be going according to plan. There are some risks of failure but you are confident that everything will turn out okay. Maybe it's just a normal day for you when Alice comes in. "Oh, how nice! I wasn't expecting company. Do you want me to fix you some tea? ... Why do you want me to sit down? What?! Jimmy's dead?! I think I need to lie down..."

That's right. This is a very specific example of a Heroic BSoD or a Villainous Breakdown. It involves a chair, couch, rock, etc. as a plot device. It shows that the person is so shocked by the revelation that they can't keep standing. Maybe they hit the Despair Event Horizon. Maybe the Shell-Shocked Veteran has reached his limit. Maybe someone gave them an Armor-Piercing Question. This may lead to a Get A Hold Of Yourself Man or Quit Your Whining.


If played for comedy, you may get People Fall Off Chairs right after this or I Think You Broke Him. This is occasionally Played for Laughs along the lines of "You'd better sit down." "I am sitting down." "Then stand up... now, you'd better sit down." Or "I need to sit down." "You are sitting down." "Oh."

This may overlap with Contemplative Boss. This trope is about having to sit or lie down due to emotional stress. This may lead to a Big "NO!" This is Truth in Television since this is a common reaction to stress. This is not about the fact that People Sit on Chairs. Compare Troubled Fetal Position. This may be used alongside a Dramatic Drop.

In extreme cases, the effects will cause the character to Faint in Shock instead of just sitting or lying down.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lelouch from Code Geass does this after the Euphinator incident. He goes to somewhere private and sits down and cries. He accidentally made his second-favorite sister commit genocide. He was forced to kill her and then he turned it to his political advantage.
  • Mazinger Z: The Hero Kouji did this in the Mazinger-Z vs. Great General of Darkness movie. Tokyo is attacked by Mykene Warrior Monsters, so he launches Mazinger-Z to fight them... and loses. Badly. Tokyo and his mecha are easily destroyed. It becomes worse when he learns that his Home Base is in ruins, his Love Interest Sayaka and Boss' Humongous Mechas have been destroyed by more monsters, and his little brother Shirou was put in a coma after a ceiling collapsed on him. Kouji ends up sitting in his (destroyed) room and crying. He starts talking to himself about how he knows he can't win the next battle and will die because of it; an eavesdropping Sayaka is driven to tears at this.

    Comic Books 
  • In Immortal Iron Fist's Seven Deadly Weapons spin-off mini, Fat Cobra is an ancient warrior who meets with his biographer. Fat Cobra used chi to give himself a long life. However, he has amnesia from too much drinking and concussions. During their conversation, he learns just how he became the Cobra Warrior of Peng Lai; he had scores of children with many women. The children grow up and came to get revenge on their dead beat father. He was forced to kill them and, in doing so, gained enough power to become a Cobra Warrior.. Upon hearing this, he burns his biography and dismisses his company. He glares at the fireplace in disgust as he sits alone.
  • Happens in the graphic novel series Justice. Things have gotten so bad that Green Lantern notes:
    The Flash, the Fastest Man in the World, does the unthinkable. He sits down.
  • Superman: Red Son: Lex Luthor's Armour-Piercing Question, which doubles as a What the Hell, Hero? speech in a single sentence, hits Superman so hard that it literally brings him to his knees.
    Lex Luthor: Why don't you just put the whole world in a bottle?

    Eastern Animation 

    Films — Animation 
  • Basil has a bad Heroic BSoD in The Great Mouse Detective. He can do nothing besides sit there through the "The Reason You Suck" Speech and wait for the death trap to go off. He gets better.
    Dawson: Dash it all, Basil! The queen's in danger, Olivia's counting on us, we're about to be horribly splattered, and all you can do is lie there feeling sorry for yourself!
  • In The Princess and the Frog, Tiana sees fake Naveen ready to marry Charlotte. She runs into the French graveyard and sits down on a tombstone, completely depressed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Robert Neville (played by Will Smith) has a moment like this in I Am Legend. His dog is infected by the vampire disease and he puts it down. The dog was his only companion for three years during the vampire apocalypse. The following shot is of Neville sitting in his car after burying the dog's body and blankly staring at the now empty passenger seat. He almost commits suicide when two unaffected survivors show up and help him.
  • In the third Transformers, many bystanders are shown to be standing in shock or sitting dejectedly after Chicago's invasion by the Decepticons and even Epps and NEST soldiers gave up and declared the fight over. Sam has a Heroic BSoD as well. They fortunately snap out of it when Optimus and the rest of the Autobots come back.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), set in 2285, Kirk collapses on the floor, completely missing his chair and screams when the Klingons kill David Marcus, his son. Interestingly, this particular reaction isn't in the script — Shatner was told to do whatever he thought appropriate, resulting in his quite literal breakdown. Additionally, at least according to Shatner, Kirk falling on the floor was never planned. Shatner actually missed the chair by complete accident while shooting the scene, but he kept going and didn't break character and it fit the situation, so they decided to use that take in the film.
      Kirk: You Klingon bastards, you killed my son. [Kirk tries to sit, missing the command chair entirely] You Klingon bastards, you killed my son!
    • Kirk performs a more comedic version of this in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier when Spock reveals that the loony Vulcan who just took over the Enterprise is his own half-brother.
      Spock: Sybok also is a son of Sarek.
      Kirk: You mean he's your brother brother? [beat] You made that up.
      Spock: I did not.
      Kirk: You did too. Sybok couldn't possibly be your brother because I happen to know for a fact you don't have a brother.
      Spock: Technically, you are correct. I do not have a brother.
      Kirk: There, you see? You see?
      Spock: I have a half-brother.
      Kirk: [beat] I gotta sit down.
  • Saving Private Ryan:
    • At the beginning, a general drives into the mother's driveway to tell her three of her four sons are dead. Even as she sees the cars come up the drive, she comes running out onto the porch. She seems tense when she sees an Army general, but her legs just give way under her and she plops down onto the porch as she sees a priest.
    • The epilogue has the old man kneeling in front of the tombstone, overcome by his emotions.
  • The movie Downfall, which is about the days of World War II for Hitler, Hitler has a massive Villainous Breakdown in this infamous scene. He reacted like this after he was told Felix Steiner couldn't hold back the Allies (the Soviets get there first of course) with the forces he has. After his breakdown, he is permanently hunched over and he is usually the only one sitting while everyone else has to stand.
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. After Anakin slices off Mace Windu's hand, allowing Palpatine to kill the latter, he chokes out a "My God, What Have I Done?" as he crumples into a nearby chair.

  • Pyramids: Dios the High Priest is so shocked at a Djelibabian ruler not following the rituals that he sits down on a chair which happened to contain a model ship for the king's tomb. The ghost of the king notes that it's the first time he's ever seen Dios do anything comical. Later on, he also has to sit down on the temple steps when the entire pantheon is coming to life.
  • The Way of Kings (the first book of The Stormlight Archive): Sadeas invokes this trope by bringing a chair when he tells the other characters some bad news. He then looks disapproving when Renarin sits down.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Remus Lupin collapses into a chair upon hearing of Dumbledore's death. It's particularly poignant as this is the first time Harry has ever seen Remus lose control like that.
  • Jeeves and Wooster: Bertie Wooster occasionally engages in a comedic version of this when receiving word of the latest imbroglio involving his fellow Upper-Class Twits.
  • Animorphs:
    • Marco does this when the team first sees Visser One - and she's in the body of his presumed-dead mother. As he's in gorilla morph at the time, he notes that it probably looked funny to an outsider.
    • Played for laughs in "The Separation", when Rachel is split into "Nice" and "Mean" versions of herself. Rachel normally treats Marco with lightly-amused sarcasm, but "Nice" Rachel calls him funny and cute. Upon hearing this, Marco's reaction is to sit down on the floor.
  • Northanger Abbey: After Catherine hears from her friend Eleanor that she's being thrown out of their house unceremoniously, she sits down breathless and speechless. It was a major breach of the Sacred Hospitality.
  • Flashman and the Mountain of Light. Flashman does this on being told that a nymphomaniac Indian princess wants to marry him. Unfortunately he's in a children's classroom and Flashy's a big guy, so the child's stool he sits down on collapses under him. The man breaking the news picks him up with some annoyance and plants him in the teacher's chair.
  • March Violets: A father "sat down heavily" in a chair after learning from detective Bernie Gunther that his daughter, thought to be murdered, was Faking the Dead and is still alive.
  • In Antti Tuuri's The Winter War, the narrator's unit receives an attack order, which they have already seen to be practically a Suicide Mission. The men quietly prepare themselves. When the order is cancelled in the last minute, the narrator can only sit down and try not to weep.
  • The Naked Sun: Artificial Human R. Daneel is so shaken by witnessing an attempted murder (even though there was nothing he could do, so he wasn't breaking the First Law) that he sits down "as though there were a weakness in his knees."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Supernatural, Sam sits on the floor and stares on in horror after he realized that by killing Lilith, he set Lucifer free. Ruby monologues until Dean bursts in and they kill Ruby together.
  • In Battlestar Galactica, Adama does this several times in the last season. He and Colonel Tigh get into a fistfight after he learned Tigh had sex with a certain Cylon prisoner. Tigh retorted that Adama was endangering the fleet by pining for the missing Laura Roslin. He gives up his command to sit alone in a Raptor and wait for her. When he had to confront the fact that Galactica was on the verge of structural failure, and that Roslin was dying, he collapses while defiantly trying to fix the cracked wall in his quarters.
  • Exaggerated for comic effect in one episode of Roseanne. Roseanne tells Dan she's pregnant, and Dan proceeds to sit in one spot staring into space for about eighteen years.
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: "Last Kiss of Summer". Joe Hardy's fiancé is killed in a car wreck; she dies in his arms. In the next scene, he is sitting in a police waiting area, staring into space, fighting the urge to cry, trying to process what just happened, and he doesn't snap out of it until Frank comes in and talks his brother down.
  • Used for comedic effect in an episode of Jeeves and Wooster, the normally unflappable Jeeves has to stop and sit down on a convenient rock when a friend of Bertie's mentions that he often wears his pajamas well into the afternoon.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Penny accidentally shoots paintballs all over Sheldon's spot on the couch. Even after she gets the cushion dry-cleaned, Sheldon still refuses to sit on it. Then Leonard tells him that the Chinese restaurant they get take out from had closed weeks ago. Upon hearing these devastating news, Sheldon sits down on his spot, the previous issue completely forgotten.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Subverted in "The Harvest".
      Willow: I need to sit down...
      Buffy: You are sitting down.
      Willow: Oh. Good for me.
    • Played straight when a doctor informs Buffy of her mother's illness. He starts by asking her to sit down, but Buffy has been sitting in the waiting room for hours now and says she'd rather stand up. She ends up sitting down anyway when the implications start to sink in.
    • Played with when Buffy is informed of Jenny Calender's death; she leans against the wall for support, then slides down against it into a crouch.
  • Played straight in CSI: NY's 9th season episode, "White Gold." Mac & Danny go to a pizzeria to notify the victim's family of his death. Upon hearing it, the uncle who had raised him since his parents were killed in an accident when he was nine is visibly shaken and his knees start to give way. Danny tells him to have a seat and he does so on the nearest stool.
  • A Running Gag on Ghostwriter — whenever the titular ghost appears in front of someone new (usually scaring the crap out of them), the current members of the gang will guide the newbie to the nearest convenient chair and say "Sit down!"

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Shawn Michaels does this in the third encounter at WrestleMania between The Undertaker and Triple H in their Hell in a Cell match, were Shawn was the guest referee. During the match, Undertaker told Shawn not to stop the match no matter what. This was after 'Taker had taken a few chair shots to the back and Triple H had just gotten the same in return. Shawn was sitting in the corner of the ring having a nervous breakdown while Undertaker and Triple H were trying to get to their feet after a two count had occurred.

  • Shakespeare famously makes use of this in Richard II when the title character, who has just learned that his exiled cousin Bolingbroke is marching a giant army through England, his closest followers have either deserted him or been executed, and he's about to lose his crown, invites his remaining supporters to "sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings."

    Visual Novels 
  • In Shizune's Bad Ending of Katawa Shoujo has Misha asking Hisao to have sex with her since she is so lonely. Shizune proceeds to break up with Hisao because she believes she is ruining his and Misha's lives. The last thing we see of Shizune is her sitting all alone on the stairs.
  • Shiki does this in Tsukihime when Arcueid disappears. Throughout the day, he is merely going through the motions at school. It was easier for him to go to school than deal with Akiha. He only gets better when after he sits alone waiting for a teacher. He waits for several hours, then Roa and Arcueid show up and start fighting to the death.

    Western Animation 
  • In the episode of Higglytown Heroes "Kip's Dad Gets a Strike", Kip's Dad breaks down when his X-57 bowling ball breaks. During the rest of the episode, he sits in his massage chair whimpering over the remains of his shattered bowling ball.

    Real Life 
  • Famously done by former German chancellor Willy Brandt with the "Warschauer Kniefall" ("Warsaw Genuflection"). The incident took place on December 7, 1970, in what was then the communist People's Republic of Poland during a visit to a monument to the Nazi-era Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. After laying down a wreath, Brandt, very surprisingly, spontaneously knelt down. He remained silently in that position for a short time, surrounded by a large group of dignitaries and press photographers.
  • A rare positive example of this trope: in his semi-autobiographical novel On Writing, Stephen King recalls a very important phone call with his agent regarding his first bestselling novel, Carrie. His agent asked if he was sitting down. King asked why. The agent then revealed that Carrie had just sold for $400,000 and that under the terms of his contract, it meant that he was getting $200,000. King, who had been suffering from massive debt at the time, found himself sitting on the floor in complete stunned silence as his agent jokingly asked if he was still there.


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