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Dumped via Text Message

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"All I get is a letter? You could've at least looked me in the eye when you ripped out my heart."
Mai to Zuko, Avatar: The Last Airbender, "The Boiling Rock, Part 2"

Breakups are never easy. The pain of being rejected by someone you've formed a bond with can be excruciating and very, very hard to get over. Luckily, not every breakup is quite as bad as others- if it's done properly and respectfully, the pain of heartbreak can be somewhat alleviated, and the ex-couple may even be able to reconnect as Amicable Exes. Then there are these breakups.

No warning will be given. No concern will be had for the feelings of the person being dumped. There may not even be any explanation. Worst of all, it will be done over text message, email or some other impersonal means, making the act as distant and easy as possible for the dumper but as unfair and disrespectful as possible for the person being dumped. It's inherently one-sided, with the dumper only caring about themselves.

The key is that the breakup is done in the most convenient way possible for the dumper, requiring no effort or time on their part, requiring only that they pick up a phone or, perhaps, spend five minutes writing an email. What matters more than the mode of delivery is that it's kept quick, simple and informal. Any form of breakup that can occur instantly through the use of technology is acceptable, so long as the couple could not physically talk in person and the mode of delivery only benefits the dumper. For this reason, this trope can be both compared and contrasted to a "Dear John" Letter, which is kept formal and icy and often occurs to end a long-distance relationship. However, a breakup letter can work if kept short, blunt, and unprovoked.

This is almost always a sign that the dumper is a bad, selfish, and uncaring person, who is willing to break someone's heart without even a token attempt at considering their feelings. As such, this form of breakup is the territory of the resident Jerkass. The emphasis can be on the dumper to show how callous they are, or it can be on the victim, to emphasize their reaction.

Not related to Offscreen Breakup, which is a breakup that the audience never gets to see. Compare Dinner and a Breakup.

No Real Life Examples, Please! Though this is Truth in Television, this is not the place to talk about how ethical some breakup methods are in reality.


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  • A 1990s advert by British Telecom shows how to be curt and remote with old tech: a boy is sitting on a park bench. A girl appears, and they have the following conversation. "Are you Darren?" "Yeah." "Karen says you're dumped." (Exit girl). The ad finishes with the boy using a landline to tell one of his friends that he dumped the girl.

    Comic Books 
  • Played for Laughs In issue #2 of Gwenpool Strikes Back, where Gwen tries to seduce Mister Fantastic for the sake of an intriguing cover image so her book will sell. When Deadpool points out she has a boyfriend, she quickly writes a text message to Quentin Quire to break up with him.
  • Freddy and Laura Dean's third breakup in Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is signified by Laura Dean responding to Freddy's drunken messages with a single, dismissive "don't be mad."
    Doodle: This is why modern technology will be the end of us.

    Fan Works 
  • Future Earth Futre Sky: While overwhelmed with his internal issues, Sousuke decides to break up with Makoto in this fashion. Makoto then barges over to his house to confront him.
  • Luz Clawthorne has a rare platonic example; on Boscha's orders, Skara ends her friendship with Bo over a Penstagram post. She later comes to regret it.
  • The More Things Change Series: A Flashback reveals that Shego's ex-boyfriend Max broke up with her by leaving a message on her answering machine. Naturally, she wasn't thrilled about this, and makes her disdain clear when they meet up again years later.
  • The One to Make It Stay: Lila attempts to stage this by stealing Adrien's phone and replying to a text Kagami sent to him declaring 'Sorry, but I don't have time to waste on you. I have better things to do.' This doesn't work quite the way she intends; Nino saw her returning the phone, but Adrien defends Lila rather than his girlfriend, claiming she was "just joking" and telling Kagami not to make a scene. His Skewed Priorities destroy their relationship, as Kagami gets akumatized over the realization that Adrien refuses to stand up for her.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Sierra Burgess is a Loser: The fact that Veronica is dumped by her college boyfriend over DM is used to shame her in front of the school. She herself is embarrassed and broken over it.
  • In Up in the Air, Natalie's boyfriend dumps her via text message while she's on a business trip, causing her to have a meltdown in the middle of an airport.

  • Hive Mind (2016): Buzz's Second-Act Breakup with Forge starts with her sending him a recorded breakup message.
  • The Tapper Twins: Claudia getting dumped by Jens over text message and writing a song about it is what incites the plot of the fourth book.
  • The Three Musketeers has a 17th-century variation after Milady de Winter arranges another midnight rendezvous with the Count de Wardes (unaware that every letter to the count ended up given to d'Artagnan, and even their first meeting was with d'Artagnan with the lights off), and gets a reply that basically tells her to wait her turn, he's got so many women throwing themselves at him he can afford to be picky. Milady is stunned and mortified before turning furious, seducing d'Artagnan in exchange for killing de Wardes. After she upholds her end of the bargain, d'Artagnan has the brilliant idea to reveal the entire truth to her, although this lets him see her fleur-de-lis brand that identifies her as Athos' wife.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Annika (2021): Erin dumps Morgan by text in 2.3 rather than come to a friend's birthday party with her. This leads to Morgan taking Annika's police boat on a joyride to distract herself, which gets her grounded after she forgets to anchor it after bringing it back and it drifts across the bay.
  • In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, Raj's latest girlfriend breaks up with him over email, just as he was about to introduce her to his friends. She had social phobia and found meeting them and/or breaking up with Raj in person after getting there too intimidating.
    • In another episode, Leonard attempts to break up with his girlfriend Stephanie via text after having trouble doing it face to face. It doesn't work.
  • Big Time Rush: In "Big Time Halloween", Kendall asks Frankencarlos to text Jo for him. The text was so poorly written, she assumed it was a break-up text, and set out for revenge.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Discussed in "Into the Woods". Rosa Diaz plans to break up with Marcus who is her superior's nephew. Captain Holt and Rosa are both stoic, no-nonsense people and they discuss the break-up strategy (only because Holt sensed something is off). They agree that a text will be fine. Holt later talks about it with his husband who tells him they are both "sociopaths". Rosa agrees to break up with Marcus in person.
    Holt: Listen, I know I probably shouldn't get involved, but Marcus is my nephew, and I hope you'll let him down gently.
    Rosa: Don't worry. I don't want things to be awkward. I'm gonna send him a text while he's sleeping that says, "We're done."
    Holt: Clear. Accurate. But do you feel like it's enough?
    Rosa: "We're done. Good-bye."
    Holt: Yes. That should do it.
  • In the fifth season of Chuck, Morgan Took a Level in Jerkass after becoming the team's Intersect and ends up doing things like ditching his team to work for a rival organization, getting highlights for his hair and breaking up with Alex on a text message. It turns out the Intersect in his head was a faulty version designed by an enemy agent and was corrupting Morgan all along. After removing the Intersect, Morgan is regretful for dumping Alex and tried desperately to win her back.
  • Empire: Tiana was briefly humiliated by her boyfriend Graham when he not only dumped her via a video but also spread rumors that he did so because she was "wack in bed".
  • Gilmore Girls: In the 2016 reboot, Rory's boyfriend Paul breaks up with her in the final scene over text message. Rory's been forgetting to break up with him all year, so there's no love loss.
  • An episode of How I Met Your Mother sees Ted reconsidering girls that he broke up with for seemingly petty reasons now that he's ready to settle down. He considers Natalie, whom he attempts to reunite with... only to get the door slammed in his face. When the gang asks why she reacted so badly, Ted revealed that he broke up with her over the phone. Which wasn't too bad... until it's revealed that he didn't even speak to her and just left a voicemail. While all her friends were in her apartment in hiding for her surprise birthday party, earning Ted a major What the Hell, Hero? from his friends.
  • Lucifer: At the end of S1e10, Chloe comes to Lucifer's penthouse drunk from stress after Dan (with whom she just started to make up for their daughter's sake) texts her this. Actually this was done by Malcolm Graham, keeping Dan hostage.
  • Variation in New Girl, "The Right Thing": J.J. Watt fired Pete over text message. It's still treated as humiliating and J.J. tries to find the phone to get rid of the text.
  • Primeval: Lampshaded in 2x5 when Connor decides to break up with Caroline via a two-word text message, disgusting Abby who immediately calls Connor out that that's a horribly humiliating experience for the recipient and even she doesn't think Caroline deserves that. Despite Abby's criticism, Connor goes through with it. And because of this trope, Connor and Abby incorrectly assume in the next episode that Caroline trashed their apartment and kidnapped Rex to spite Connor rather than realizing she did it because she was spying on them for a creature-collector the entire time.
  • Exaggerated in one episode of Sex and the City, where Carrie gets dumped via post-it note.

  • Universal Love Grocery: In episode 5, tragically for Lan her boyfriend Hecheng breaks up with her this way when he has to leave to study abroad. She understandably spends the rest of the episode in a horrible mood.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Comedian Jean-François Dérec has a skit about his various smart and connected appliances:
    Dérec: Wait, I just got a text message... telling me I'm receiving a fax! (goes to fax machine) We... are... through... bastard.
  • In his Purple Privilege special, Randy Feltface mentions that, in the middle of a series of terrible shows in New York, his girlfriend flew out from Australia to break up with him in person. Randy states that he would have preferred a phone call or text.
    Randy: Apparently, it's easier to kick a man while he's down if you're in the same fucking room as him, so she made the trip!

    Video Games 
  • In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, one of the echo-messages is a guy named Steve, dumping his girlfriend over text, even admitting in-text that what he was doing was cold and not ideal.

  • On the first page of the webcomic/print comic "Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong" by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks, Holly texts Charlie: "I'm breaking up with you", as shown in the page image.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has two strips on the subject.
    • One strip had the guy getting his divorce announcement this way. And it was just "sorry :(".
    • In another, the guy is bluntly told by his friend that if he does this instead of doing it in person, he'll just be a jerk. So he tries to compromise by doing so while sitting next to her.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • 6teen, in the infamous "The One with the Text Message", this is how Sirena breaks up with Wyatt, breaking his heart in the process and is remembered for the rest of the series.
  • Amphibia: Sprig gets into an Arranged Marriage with the baker's daughter Maddie so that Anne can make a pizza. This stays as a background fact for a while, with the two never really interacting, before he decides he's unhappy with the situation and wants out. He enlists Anne's help to break it to her, but they both find Maddie so creepy that Anne just writes her a quick note. Then Sprig and Anne come down with a curse and figure Maddie must be responsible, so they apologize. Maddie admits she was incredibly hurt that he couldn't be bothered to talk to her (or even write the note himself), but they didn't have much of a relationship in the first place, so she wasn't heartbroken by it. The curse was unrelated.
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Firestorm (the Ronnie Raymond side) gains the wrath of his former girlfriend, Killer Frost, like this, which according to Ronnie was "quick and painless" and "the humane thing to do". To be fair, she wasn't a supervillain at the time before her accident changed her into one. She also had a list of other reasons why Ronnie was a rotten boyfriend such that the dumping was the "cherry on top." This caused Jason to deliver a "What is WRONG with you, Coach?" to Ronnie, forcing Ronnie on the defensive.
  • In DC Super Hero Girls, Hal Jordan dumped Carrol Ferris via a text. Bad enough? Turns out she's a love crazy violet lantern known as Star Sapphire and will not take no for an answer.
    Green Lantern: You broke up with her over text?!
    Hal Jordan: I put a smiley face at the end. I'm not the Joker.
  • Steven Universe: In "Full Disclosure", in an attempt to protect her from the dangers in his life, after avoiding her for a pretty long while, Steven ends up just texting Connie "I don't want to be friends anymore." When she calls, he follows up by saying "I can't be with you anymore, I have a destiny." before hanging up. Connie refuses to accept either, saying she'll only leave Steven alone if he tells her to go away in person. Steven, ultimately, cannot go that far and pours his heart out instead.
  • Total Drama: During the "Celebrity Manhunt" special, it's discovered that Trent, Cody, Justin and Harold had formed a Boy Band after the events of Total Drama Action. To show the fame going to their heads, Justin breaks up with a girl over text in the middle of an interview, and Trent asks him to send the same text to his girlfriend. To hammer it in, a girl in the window behind them is then shown getting a text and bursting into tears.



Ouch, man.

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