People fainting in Real Life when presented with a shocking development is a dire occurrence. When it does happen, it's not just suddenly falling asleep. Extreme onset of emotion from fear or anxiety can actually cause some people to go into a comatose state. This is the reason doctors or emergency personnel often ask the recipient to sit down before breaking bad news, such as the death of a loved-one or a scary diagnosis like cancer.
Medically, fainting is called "syncope". It's generally caused by the brain not getting enough of a bloodflow to work properly, which in turn may be caused by a number of factors, some harmless and some not-so-harmless. When in doubt, ask your doctor.
Fainting in fiction usually takes one of the following forms:
- The Corset Faint: One of the oldest versions of the trope hanging around from the late unlamented days of the tightlaced corset, when, supposedly, women were a deep breath away from being cut in twain.
- Anemia Faint: An affliction common among Japanese shoujo heroines, causing them to black out at inopportune times and thus, give their love interests a convenient excuse to hold them and act all manly and protective. Also tends to happen to people who have recently been kissed by a vampire or lost blood in some other dramatic way. note
- Fake Faint, or Faint Feint: A character pretends to lose consciousness in order to create a distraction. Shares its habitat with Corset Faint above, although it can be done by anyone in just about any time period. Even Sherlock Holmes has done it! (Watson also mentions him fainting from hunger, but this never happens on page.)
- Pregnancy Faint: A way to indicate that a female character is now expecting, slightly more dramatic than Morning Sickness. In real life, it's very rare (usually it ends at dizziness).
- Exhaustion Faint: This one happens when a character is exhausted from overwork, overexercise, a heat wave, Crossing the Desert etc. Also Truth in Television. See Power-Strain Blackout and Post-Victory Collapse for common forms of this in fiction. A Fainting Seer may be considered a subtrope.
- Faint in Shock, sometimes called an "Emotional Faint", is a subtrope. Any time a character faints due to their emotions getting to be too much to handle. In Real Life, this is called "vasovagal syncope".
Not to be confused with Non-Lethal K.O., due to the term "fainting" being occasionally interchanged with getting knocked out thanks to certain games like Pokémon.
The Corset Faint
- This is both played straight and parodied in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Early on, Elizabeth faints from her overly-tight corset; near the end, she pretends to faint in order to distract the local guards. In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, it's parodied again as she pretends to faint in an attempt to break up a fight between her current and former fiancés, and they both ignore her.
- The fact that she's not wearing a corset in the latter instance probably has something to do with the men ignoring her. The reason cited (the heat) is less-than-convincing coming from a convicted pirate/swordswoman who's spent more than her share of time in the tropics. That, and they're so focused on surviving their three-man swordfight that they continue to not notice her when she starts shouting and throwing clumps of sand.
- Miki seems to suffer from this quite a bit in Marmalade Boy, giving two of her potential love interests a chance to get closer to her.
- Brutally parodied with Hyatt in Excel♡Saga, who has the tendency to die at random moments, only to get up a moment (or a week) later as if nothing happened.
- Nagisa in Strawberry Panic! has fainted a few times in romantic scenes, apparently because Onee-sama Shizuma's presence is just that powerful. Usually it's only for a few seconds—just long enough to be caught by another character (who, surprisingly, is not always Shizuma), or fall to her knees but recover. However, the first time kept her out long enough to be moved from the field to her room quite some distance away, and for her roommate to have watched her for long enough for it to be creepy.
- Female Ranma, in the Picolet Chardin saga of Ranma ˝. Since Madame Saint-Paul does not allow her to eat at all unless she does it "properly," she loses weight at distressingly high rate. Coupled with intense speed and dexterity training, the stress this causes on her body culminates with her fainting from starvation, just as she has finally mastered the Gourmet De Fois Gras technique. The dramatic effect is ruined when, before hitting the floor, her head smacks into a watermelon, cracking it open (the watermelon, not her head.)
- Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon gives blood up for her injured friend earlier in the episode, and then faints while fighting. She fights through the pain to rescue Sailor Moon and defeat the youma alone.
- Yuki faints in Episode 11 of Betrayal Knows My Name due to exhausting himself from healing Tsukumo.
- This happens a few times in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, usually to Nodoka, although once she was let in on The Masquerade * she got much better about this.
- In Magical × Miracle, Merleawe, as the shojo heroine, faints; Vaith, as the Love Interest, catches her; and Yue lampshades it.
- Kyon of Haruhi Suzumiya uses this as explanation to Taniguchi when caught with Nagato in a compromising position.
Kyon: That's when Nagato, an anemic all her life suffered a seizure. As I lunged to catch her from falling to the hard linoleum floor, you came walking through the door.
Taniguchi: You liar.
- Love Hina: Mutsumi Otohime suffers from this on a regular basis. In fact, part of the reason why she's failed her college entrance exams despite being actually pretty smart is because she's fainted midway through them.
- In Time Will Tell, Jorryn gets an odd ailment. The symptoms worsen until Jorryn faints in the USA. She somehow appears in the Shire, and remains unconscious for days, until she wakes up.
- In The Awkward Adventures of Meghan Whimblesby, when Meghan sees too much blood, she faints in her high school and wakes in Middle-earth.
- Doctor Who: In "Smith and Jones", Martha uses CPR to revive the Tenth Doctor, who has fainted dead away after having a life-threatening amount of blood drained by a plasmavore.
- Star Trek: The Original Series. When the effects of a Negative Space Wedgie causes members of the crew to start passing out, Kirk orders them given booster shots. McCoy is later shown injecting a line of Starfleet personnel— who are all female. Presumably tough spacemen are not in the habit of swooning. Or maybe they're just in a separate line being injected by Nurse Chapel?
- In Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, Jasmine's briefly fainting and being caught by Umeko (not a love interest... theoretically) replaces the usual Psychic Nosebleed.
- Scully in The X-Files episode "Redux" faints in a meeting with Skinner and other FBI higher-ups after her cancer progresses to a dangerous point. She was about to tell the board who the mole was working in the FBI, and as Skinner catches her before she hits the floor, she whispers "You", implying that she believes he is the mole.
- One of many reasons (overlapping with emotional and exhaustion) why Yoshiki is known for fainting onstage during shows (and offstage as well...)
- Tokimeki Memorial 1: Mio Kisaragi has this as one of her main traits. Suffering from anemia, she can faint at any moment. When she utters the memetic words "Memai ga..." ("I'm feeling dizzy..."), it's the signal of an impending black-out.
- In Tsukihime, Shiki is a Rare Male Example, suffering from it after his backstory Near-Death Experience. Like many female examples, it often serves the purpose of allowing his love interest to protect him and keep him safe, and throughout the story he ends up semi-regularly collapsing from it, especially in the Far Side routes where he's getting too close to figuring out the secret behind where it comes from.
- Hatoful Boyfriend - Holiday Star: In the chapter Fallen Chronicles - Absolute Zero, Anghel becomes anaemic due to Tohri stealing his blood to power a giant laser. The protagonist eventually finds him collapsed at the foot of some stairs.
- Miho from MegaTokyo has this shortly after being introduced.
- Darkest Night: Mags faints at the party, concerning Nessa. This turns out to be from blood loss as she fed the monster.
- The The Simpsons episode "Blood Feud" has a scene near the beginning in which Mr. Burns falls ill with hypohemia (a fictional counterpart to hypovolemia and/or anemia) and collapses on his bedroom floor. When Smithers finds him, Mr. Burns faints shortly after, in Smithers' arms.
- As shown in this video, during a 2006 broadcast of America's Next Top Model one of the contestants had fainted while being commented.
- A related issue: Fainting at the sight of blood or from blood draws (even when you can't see them). The medical term for fainting from a blood draw is vasovagal syncope, as seen in this anecdote (the comments section discusses a lot of facets of the issue).
- This type is used a lot in the Carry On movies, mostly with the wives married to the womanising Sid James characters that he doesn't find attractive anymore.
- Betty from Unwed Mother faints early in her pregnancy. Her mother finds her and calls a doctor, which is how they find out that Betty is pregnant.
- She Creature: When Lily faints, Angus tells her it's because of the immense tension and stress, but it's really because of her Mystical Pregnancy by the mermaid.
- The Parasol Protectorate: Near the end of Changeless, Alexia faints into her haggis while Lord Maccon is carrying out the very gory process of changing Lady Kingair into a werewolf. When she wakes up, Lord Maccon points out that despite the bloody goings-on, Alexia practically never faints. Madame Lefoux then takes it upon herself to reveal that she's figured out that Alexia is pregnant, to the surprise of her and her husband.
- In Dziecko piątku by Małgorzata Musierowicz, Gabriela faints a couple of times, to the puzzlement of the reader and everyone around, until she comments to herself "I never fainted with the other two". Only then she tells her Second Love they're having a baby (the first for them together, but second for Grzegorz and third for Gabriela).
- 24: Chloe discovered her pregnancy this way.
- Lidia in Cable Girls discovers she is pregnant when she is taken to hospital after fainting.
- Phoebe in Charmed fainted twice because of demonic pregnancy.
- How Days of Our Lives' Billie discovers she's pregnant—she's taken to the hospital after collapsing for the second time in a week.
- Jane in Jane the Virgin finds out that she's pregnant after fainting on the bus. Of course, she hadn't even entertained the possibilty because she's a virgin.
- Hatice Sultan of Magnificent Century faints early in her pregnancy. She didn't know she was pregnant until a physician was called after she fainted, to examine her.
- Happens several times in The X-Files episode "Requiem", which ends with Scully's pregnancy being revealed.
- Roxie Hart from Chicago faked this to attract media attention and help influence the jury in her murder trial.
- Parodied in Of Thee I Sing, where President Wintergreen's impeachment proceedings are interrupted by his wife bringing the news that he's going to have a baby. He faints, and the Senators have no choice but to exonerate him, since they would never impeach an expectant father. (If you wonder how on earth a show from 1931 could parody a musical from 1975, see Adaptation Displacement.)
- In The Most Happy Fella, Rosabella finds out she's pregnant after she faints during a wild dance. The doctor tells her the truth, but tells Tony that she's "just a little dizzy from all the excitement."
- A Raisin in the Sun has Ruth fainting at the very end of the first act for this exact reason.
- In Dragon Quest V, your wife faints on the trip to Gotha. Eventually, it's revealed to be this trope when she faints again while meeting King Albert.
- Queen of Wands: It happened to Shannon due to gestational diabetes.
- A reversed version in this Not Always Healthy story. When the poster goes in for a routine follow-up appointment for a fractured wrist, the doctor wraps up the appointment by congratulating her on her pregnancy (the first she'd known about it). Her boyfriend immediately faints.
- Played for laughs in Pokémon: The Series when, in the episode "Here Comes the Squirtle Squad", Ash keeps getting very unlucky on his way to get a super potion for Pikachu. After being barely able to walk, Ash notices the shop and as he is about to enter, Gary opens the door right in his face. He mumbles "I beg your pardon," and then faints out of exhaustion.
- In The Phantom Zone, Charlie Kweskill passes out on his desk due to exhaustion and lack of sleep. His boss Perry White, who was lecturing him angrily, becomes concerned enough to get him on a cab to his apartment and give him a day off.
- In Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom, Supergirl faints in exhaustion after being manhandled by a Darkseid's elite soldier.
- Let My People Grow!: Superman passes out in exhaustion after flying into a supernova and has to be caught and taken to safety by Supergirl.
- The Condemned Legionnaires: Lightning Lass is repowering an electric generator when she begins feeling weak, sick and dizzy before passing out.
- Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "The Turnip Princess": After being accosted by a monster and getting wounded while fleeing, the prince passes out due to a mix of fear, tiredness and blood loss.
- In Chapter 3 of Enchanted Miracle Pretty Cure, Cure Chameleon faints after using up all his energy during a vision of the future.
- In Travels of the Trifecta, Paul faints from exhaustion and illness after having won his Mine Badge.
- Blondie from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly passes out after Tuco marches him through a blisteringly hot desert (and, more importantly, after he learns the location of $200,000 in gold from a dying Confederate soldier).
- X-Men: Apocalypse: Professor X loses consciousness after each time he's Mind Raped by the eponymous villain. Nightcrawler passes out after he simultaneously teleports several members of the X-Men before their jet crashes.
- Matilda: Miss Trenchbull faints after receiving what she thought was a threatening message from a dead man, laughed at by children, and being pelted by telekinetically propelled chalkboard erasers.
- Stations of the Cross: As a result of her malnutrition and stress, Maria faints in front of the Archbishop at her Confirmation. Fittingly, this scene is based on the ninth station of the cross, "9. Jesus falls for the third time."
- "Clockpunk and the Vitalizer": Clockpunk faints twice of exhaustion from battle and injuries, though the second time is debatable as a combination of exhaustion and emotion.
- In Exiles of ColSec, this happens to Cord when he gets his ass handed to him by Lamprey after trying and failing to stay up all night, to Jeko after trying to play hero while severely injured, and then to Cord again after the final battle and successfully staying up all night. And Jeko has the gall to needle Cord after that last.
- In National Velvet, the title character faints from exhaustion after winning the climactic horse race. This is what leads to the on-site doctor examining her and discovering her true gender.
- Game of Thrones: Still very sick and weak from recent events, Jaime passes out in a moment of high emotion in "Kissed By Fire".
- Sesame Street absolutely loves this trope, particularly with Grover.
- Stranger Things: Eleven is prone to this after using her powers, especially in the first season.
- The Bridgemen did this en masse at the end of their 1978 show after holding an Incredibly Long Note.
- In Disney Magic Kingdoms, during the Turning Red Event, Mei faints from exhaustion after a prolonged fundraising campaign.
- The protagonist of Daughter for Dessert passes out in an early scene at the diner. And it's no wonder, as he puts in many hours every day at his business with no time off.
- Girl Genius:
- Gil manages to just barely avoid this in public after his single-handed victory over a small army attacking Mechanicsburg:
Gil: I—I could have handled that.
Jenka: Ov cozz. Now, lean on me all sobtle-like before hyu falls down.
- After Gil pulls Tarvek out of the time stop, and rather painfully heals his most recent poisoning by his family, Tarvek ends up falling dead asleep the minute their conversation pauses, and doesn't even wake up when Gill carries him to bed or when he's abducted.
- Much later on, Seffie immediately passes out after confirming she's managed to save her doofus brother Tweedle's life; her attendant comments she hasn't slept in days.
- Gil manages to just barely avoid this in public after his single-handed victory over a small army attacking Mechanicsburg:
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! — Bob has suffered exhaustion faints a few times: twice after climbing partway up a mountain, and once after having suffered a head injury and losing a fair amount of blood.
- Mr. Bogus and Brattus both do this at the end of the first act of the episode "Waterboy Bogus", after a harrowing experience involving an orca.
- In Disney's Cinderella, when Gus and Jaq are carrying the key up the stairs, Gus faints when he sees that there are still many more steps to go and he's already tired.
- During the Animaniacs sequence "All The Words In the English Language," Yakko faints from exhaustion right before getting to the final word, but then he wakes up and says it, completing the song. He then does an Emotional Faint from shock at the very end when Dick Button announces that next time, Yakko will sing all the numbers above zero.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The first time the Mane 6 use the Elements of Harmony, in "Friendship is Magic Part 2", they are next seen laying unconscious on the ground before they wake up. This doesn't happen any other time they use the Elements.
- Applejack faints from both exhaustion and shock in "Applebuck Season" on seeing there were a lot more trees full of apples when she thought she was done applebucking. While shock is a major factor here she was already extremely sleep-deprived from trying to buck all the apple trees on her own and was subsequently screwing up helping out her friends with various tasks throughout the episode.
- Twilight appears to faint from exhaustion when Starlight takes her cutie mark in "The Cutie Map Part 1". The other Mane 5 stay conscious when she does the same to them.
- In a Claude the Cat video, Claude's owner passes out after putting his gas heater in his room.
- Esther before Ahasuerus, Artemisia Gentileschi's portrayal of the biblical heroine Esther, depicts the moment where Esther faints after pleading the Jewish people's case to Ahasuerus.
- In Superman story arc The Plague of the Antibiotic Man, Lois Lane falls ill with a mysterious malady and collapses on the hotel's floor.
- Yorick And Bones: When Yorick goes to a hot dog vendor hoping to get something to get Bones to let go of his leg, the vendor pulls out a couple hot dogs. He gets a good look at Yorick, and then faints.
- In A Snowflake In Spring, the already emotionally frail Elsa faints upon seeing her Love Interest Anna dressed in a gorgeous ballroom gown.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Step by Step, Kirk (who is sick with the flu and has been trying to ignore it) can barely keep himself upright after Spock drags him off the bridge, and before he can get into bed, he loses consciousness. Fortunately, Spock is there to catch him.
- In The Loud House fanfic What You Wish For, it turns out that Lori was unconscious from breathing in noxious fumes and dreamt the whole story.
- Night of the Animated Dead: Barbra faints after Ben slaps her to try and bring her back to her senses.
- Dawning of the Dead: The male anchorman faints when he sees the broadcasts of zombies in other cities.
- At a certain point, Chuck Noland from Cast Away faints... from the pain of removing his own rotten tooth. With a rock and an ice skate.
- In Cinderella (2015), Ella's mother's fatal illness is first signaled by her coughing and then by her fainting in her husband's arms.
- Ophelia: Near the ending, she collapses from exhaustion as she walks into a convent, with a nun rushing forward to catch her and help her inside. She'd been travelling for days, possibly weeks, and recovering from the effects of snake venom, on top of going through the emotional wringer, so it's unsurprising she needs a break once she's safe. Plus, she may be in the early stages of pregnancy.
- Paws has Zac fainting in shock when he sees PC, a dog, using his computer to talk to him. Later, Samantha does the same when PC talks to her, now using a Translator Collar.
- In Color Me Perfect: Dina faints after giving a speech at a fundraiser due to withdrawal, because Linda took her off the intelligence-boosting formula without telling her.
- In Hold On! (1966), Dudley hires three women to pretend to faint at Herman's Hermits' concert. Lindquist faints for real. He does so again later on when fans mob a private concert.
- Tevya: Naturally Khave has to do this when some gossip from her sister gets Tevye to start ranting about how it's a terrible idea for Jews to marry Christians and he'd disown anyone in his family who did.
- In "The Yellow Dwarf", Princess Toutebelle faints during her kidnapping from a combination of blood loss and terror.
- Hoshi from Hoshi and the Red City Circuit hates going into the morgue because she almost always faints.
- In The Mermaid's Mirror, Lena's dad takes her to meet his boss, who works in a corner office on the twenty-ninth floor of a skyscraper. Lena faints from being so high up. Her mermaid ancestry means that if she's too far away from the ocean, she suffers health problems.
- In Underdogs, the protagonists find Shannon shortly before she stabs an assassin to death and then passes out. She stays unconscious while they transport her back to their base. Lorraine, a nurse, thinks she's faking at least some of it, since faints typically only last a few minutes.
- Prudence Penderhaus: Before her surgery, the increasingly severe pain from the cancerous tumor in Prudence's arm causes her to faint sometimes.
- In Twelve Days, the drug lord Ramone Quinones is suddenly killed by a series of violent convulsions on live television. The interviewer faints.
- Doctor Who: In "The Empty Child", Rose faints after Jack rescues her from dangling from a barrage balloon in the middle of a Nazi air raid. He says that his spaceship's Tractor Beam can sometimes make people dizzy, and Rose lampshades it before she passes out.
- Sesame Street: When the Count gets the "Counting Flu" in one episode, the main symptom is that it causes him to faint every time he tries to count anything, even in his imagination.
- St. Bear's Dolls Hospital: In "The Forgetful Elephant", when the titular elephant is informed of his actual species, he faints from the shock... and wakes up believing that he's a tiger.
- The Bible: Believed to have happened at King Solomon's inauguration of the Temple in Jerusalem, as recorded in 1st Kings and 2nd Chronicles; that, when the Ark of the Covenant entered the Holy of Holies, the glory of God entered and filled the Temple, so that "the priests could not stand to minister". Also likely to have happened in the Book of Revelation when John the apostle on the isle of Patmos saw Jesus in His glorified form.
- In La Bohčme, Mimí faints immediately after making her entrance in Act I. This serves as early foreshadowing of her fatal illness, which isn't properly revealed until Act III.
- In Survivor: Fire, failing to give the sister an inhaler results in her passing out.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, one of the pickpocketing quests in the Crime Spree questline requires you to steal a heavily jeweled decorative sword off a lady knight while she's shopping. If you have a high enough persuasion/cunning, you can convince her that she's afflicted with a horrible disease that will cause her lungs to stop working in a short time and tell her the only thing she can do to save her life is to breathe as rapidly as she can. She promptly begins to hyperventilate and faints, allowing you to steal the sword.
- If you lose at the 'stay healthy' level of Life: the Game, you slip into a drug withdrawal coma.
- During the mission to recruit Thane, Mass Effect 2, you happen upon a group of Salarian night workers who have narrowly avoided being murdered by Eclipse; one of them, Telon, is so freaked out that he goes so far as to hold you at gunpoint. If you avoid punching him out and opt to talk him down, he'll eventually just faint from sheer stress.
- Vanish: If you take too long, you will pass out and wake up in another area.
- In Questionable Content, Roko Basilisk faints at one point while Faye is repairing her foot. Considering that Roko is a robot, and at the time was a police officer...
Faye: Why is fainting even a thing she can do?
Bubbles: It is, I suspect, psychosomatic.
Hannelore: Oh God, she's heavy!
- Unsounded: Bastion passes out when Ilganyag strangles him for daring to question her plan, when he's starting to realize he's being used to carry out genocide, and as he slips unconscious she acts like he's just passing out because he needs rest as she tells him to sleep.
- Jekyll passing out just as he's to give an important speech in The Glass Scientists is caused partly by exhaustion (he's been overworking himself for months, getting most of his calories from wine) and partly by Hyde.
- Batman: The Animated Series: In the episode "Pretty Poison" we watch Harvey Dent pass out face first into his chocolate mousse following the goodnight kiss he shared with Pamela Isley.
- The Defenders of the Earth episode "A Demon in His Pocket" contains a scene where Mandrake is apparently taken ill on live TV, sending Lothar hurrying onto the studio floor. It turns out that there's nothing physically wrong with Mandrake, whose collapse was brought on by his sensing the presence of the demon Shogoth.
- The Pentecostal phenomenon of being "slain in the Spirit", as those who are overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit when a person lays hands on them fall to the ground. There are usually people in Pentecostal and Charismatic services that are designated as "catchers" to help ease those who are "slain in the Spirit" to the ground and lay cloths on them to maintain their dignity.