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Hard Head

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"If my head were any harder, you could use it for a cannonball."

Concussion? What's that?

A Sub-Trope of Made of Iron, perhaps its most common usage. Whether in a Tap on the Head situation, Use Your Head, or any other, getting hit on the head has no lasting effects whatsoever. If you clobber The Hero, the villain, or assorted small fry, they may be very, very dizzy or even out for a while but they will never suffer worse than a headache once they wake up — unless Easy Amnesia is needed. All right, you can also have Circling Birdies if you want. But nothing else.

In short, fictional head injuries are no worse than inconvenient, so have as many as you want.

This is in no way Truth in Television. A blow to the head is probably the worst way to render someone unconscious, especially if you're trying to do it "gently". Injuries from even relatively light blows can be serious, permanent, or even fatal. Whether or not you'll actually knock the person out is something of a crapshoot as well. As a rule of thumb, anyone who's involuntarily unconscious for more than a few seconds has a concussion and needs immediate medical attention to ensure they don't have an epidural haematoma or some other time-bomb of a brain injury. In short: If you hit them in the head hard enough to knock them out, they stand a good chance of dying very quickly. A person who appears fine often subverts the trope by abruptly falling down dead.

Sometimes hand-waving by having the characters treat it as potentially serious and even lethal, but a statistically improbable number of characters turn out to be lucky and suffer no serious damage.

See How Many Fingers?.

Can sometimes be justified in cases of alien biology, superpowers, or artificial enhancement.

Not to be confused with Hollow-Sounding Head, Use Your Head, or Bald Head of Toughness. Super-Trope to 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain, for cases of the head injury in question being a shot to the head. See also Can-Crushing Cranium, when the trope actually works.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Batwoman: Kate Kane's training to become Batwoman involved her getting regularly beaten, to the point that she became effectively immune to concussions.
  • The Beano: It's a Running Gag that Smiffy of The Bash Street Kids is so thick that his head is indestructible.
  • Played with in one of Don Martin's paperback collections. One story tells of Fester Bestertester discovering that Karbunkle has "The Hardest Head In The World". The plot then becomes a parody of the typical movie rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-recovery story: Karbunkle becomes a star, rich living makes him soft (to where his skull can't even stand up to creamed spinach), his family forgives him, and he works his way back to success again.
  • Hawkeye: Hawkeye: Blind Spot plays this trope somewhat realistically (at least at first). Hawkeye is dealt a head injury during a battle with Ronin, and the resulting brain damage is severe enough that he slowly starts going blind. Of course, since Status Quo Is God, the hero is cured by the end of the story.
  • The horrid comic Rock Heads, MiSTed here.
  • Spider-Man: Hammerhead has an Adamantium plate embedded in his head. That's not the entirety of his shtick — he's a mobster movie fanboy, who dresses and acts like Al Capone and often uses a tommy gun.
  • The Spirit: Notoriously, the Spirit.
    The Spirit: "Hand me that chair, Lorelei, this one's got a head like concrete...."
  • Tintin, Tintin, Tintin. Barely a page went by without someone suffering a Tap on the Head, and they'd usually be back on their feet within five minutes, nursing the bump and watching the birdies circle.
  • The Transformers (IDW): The series gets a groan-inducing Pun out of this when Hardhead gets shot in the face.
    Hardhead: Hard. Head. It's not just a name, you know.
  • Valhalla: The Jotun Hymir has the thickest skull in Jotungard, both figuratively and very, very literally. A beer mug made from the skull of his grandfather is solid enough that it can serve as a bludgeoning weapon, and even Thor isn't able to break it because everything he tests it against breaks before the skull does. Until he gets the bright idea of testing the mug against Hymir's head, which sees the cup lose. Even then, having the mug chucked at his head at ballistic speed doesn't harm Hymir — he's just upset that his mug is broken.
  • Wolverine's skull is nigh-invulnerable to anything, it helps that he has his healing factor to back it up. His skull is so hard that he can take a bullet at point-blank range and it will just bounce off. Of course, given his long-term memory problems, brain damage is a distinct possibility. This is definitely subverted in the World War Hulk storyline. A pissed-off Hulk is in no mood whatsoever for Wolverine's bullshit and curb-stomps Wolverine. He does this with both his superhuman strength and speed, hitting Wolverine in the head multiple times so hard and so fast that Wolverine's brain is still slamming against that Adamantium skull, his healing factor can't even begin to keep up, and he's left completely unconscious and out of action for quite some time.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1 & Sensation Comics: Back in the Golden Age comics there was at least one Tap on the Head doled out per story, often to the entirely human Steve Trevor, without any damage or effect beyond harmlessly knocking out the victim for a bit. At one point Diana herself knocked out Steve this way to keep him out of harm's way.

    Comic Strips 
  • Flash Gordon: Thun. Dale, seeing him unconscious, asks after him, and Flash can not only assure her it was a minor head injury, but that he will regain consciousness in a few seconds.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Gensokyo 20XX Series, it was mentioned that Ran had this as a child and presumably still does, though, it is noted to be kind of a deconstruction in that a rock hard skull may protect from long-term brain injuries but not from pain or, for that matter, concussions, seeing as she had gotten three of them in her childhood.
    Yukari: She reminds me of Ran when she was little. Three busted holes in the roof, one large-sized hole in the floor, three concussions, five nights of crying bloody murder, and five more of a groggy and dazed baby. Yeah, a rock-hard skull does not protect from pain. Brain damage maybe but not pain.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender fanvid "Simple Explanation" (by umekograsshopper) is a clip-show of blunt trauma that provides the only logical reason for Zuko's choice in the finale: brain damage.
  • Played for Drama in Advice and Trust: A sniper attack on the pilots and their loved ones (courtesy of SEELE having realised their Assimilation Plot is on the verge of going Off the Rails) sees Toji take a glancing hit to the temple from a ricocheting bullet. He's immediately knocked unconscious and doesn't come round until several hours later, and spends several days in hospital afterwards because that was definitely no mere Tap on the Head and he's lucky to be alive.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Castle in the Sky, after Pazu jumps off a wall, crashes through a brick floor, and lands on the floor, he gives the page quote. He gets plenty of other blows to the head throughout the movie. In the original Japanese, he says something closer to: "My head is harder than my boss's fist."
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children:
    • Rude has a thick metal billboard and its supporting structure fall on his head while he's busy fighting Loz. The billboard AND the structure bend/split in half where they connect. He's only momentarily stunned.
    • He also gets whacked upside the head by Reno's Nightstick — which did send him stumbling, but he recovers remarkably fast.
  • 9: Even after 9 smacks him in the face with a monkey wrench (by accident), 2 only needs to be helped back onto his feet and walks around, with seemingly no ill effects from the blow, despite the fact he's one of the older stitchpunks. His headgear might have absorbed a lot of the blow. That and for all we know, there isn't anything in his head that would be damaged by it.
  • Averted in a scene in the Pixar movie Up. Early in the movie Carl in a moment of anger hits a man over the head with a metal object (his steel walker cane). The injured man makes cries of pain as he stumbles back with blood running from a gash on his head.
  • Toy Story 2 has Rex being used as an impromptu battering ram. Over his objections. An "outtake" shows them doing this, and failing. Justified in that Rex is a toy and can probably take the punishment just fine.
  • In Tangled Flynn takes a frying pan to the head more than once without any side effects.
  • In Treasure Planet, Jim thinks Bones is babbling after a head injury, but he proves to be all too accurate.
  • In Turning Red, Mei falls flat on her face as a human onto concrete from about a metre up a couple times but appears to be completely uninjured.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Three Stooges used this a lot. Curly in particular dulled and blunted axes, saws, and chisels galore. In one short, he headbutted a charging bull - and the bull was instantly knocked unconscious.
  • Rocky Balboa from the eponymous franchise has an incredible chin, which shapes his fighting style of him keep his hands ready to punch instead of up to block.
  • In the Drew Barrymore movie The Boys In My Life, a guy manages to defeat a jock simply by making him hit his head and break his hand. Based on a True Story?
  • In Ernest Rides Again, the eponymous Great Redneck Hope ends up shot in the head by a renegade nailgun while pretending to be Indiana Jones at a construction site. He removes his hat to reveal that all three nails bent on impact — "I'm glad it was the hard end!" — and later, when the villainous Dr. Glencliff tries to remove the Crown Jewels of England from his head by cutting the top half of his cranium off with a surgical saw, Ernest's head turns out to be hard enough to blunt it.
  • Uncle Buck. John Candy's character survives a bowling ball falling from a tall closet shelf onto his skull.
  • The Back to the Future trilogy:
    • In Back to the Future, Marty McFly gets KOed when he gets hit by a car belonging to his mom's family, whacking his head on the pavement in the process. There don't appear to be any direct long-term consequences unless you count the risk of Critical Existence Failure from his mom falling for him.
    • In the second film, Biff's goons KOs him when he visits the clock-tower hotel and casino. Later, he is briefly KOed by a door when his earlier self opens it; however this is a just a temporary stun without loss of consciousness. And these are probably not all the examples.
    • In one of the series' famous sets of parallel events, Marty is knocked out cold in each movie, followed each time by a scene of him recovering with Lorraine (in Part III it's Maggie) at his bedside. In Part III the concussion happens when his head hits a fencepost. Needless to say, Marty will need a CT scan when he gets back to 1985.
  • In the 1992 boxing film Gladiator (1992), Brian Dennehy claims that a punch to the top of the head will do more damage to the fist than the head in a bare-knuckle brawl. In his fight with the hero, he tilts his head forward before several punches so that the hero injures his hands on his skull.
  • In Shaolin Soccer, the eldest of the Shaolin monks is "Iron Head", who has a seemingly impervious cranium. His abusive boss repeatedly breaks bottles over his head to chastise his poor performance, with no effect.
  • Handled somewhat more realistically in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, when Paul headbutts a Mook:
    Paul: [holding his head in pain] Nobody wins with a headbutt!
  • Conspiracy Theory: Mel Gibson goes around knocking people out with blows to the head. A few hours later they are just fine.
  • In Home Alone 2, Marv gets hit by several bricks dropped by Kevin from three stories above, which normally should've killed him (but then again, so should a lot of the other traps).
  • In The Avengers, Hawkeye gets his head smashed into a metal railing and is then knocked out with a punch to the face. Despite the fact that Black Widow mentions that she hit him hard enough to reset his brain and undo Loki's brainwashing, he is somehow still able to rush into battle and effectively take down multiple targets with a bow and arrow.
  • In The War Wagon, Levi Walking Bear gets a bottle smashed over his head during the Bar Brawl and takes it without blinking.
  • Seven Ways from Sundown: When Flood tries to escape, he punches Seven in the head and knocks him out, only for Seven to wake a minute or so later and clock Flood with a lump of wood. When Flood wakes up, he compliments Seven; saying the last man he hit like that was out for three hours.
  • The Killing: During the brawl, he stages to distract the guards, Maurice gets a beer bottle smashed over his head, and pays it no attention at all.
  • Cry Blood, Apache: During the fight in the river, Billy gets slammed headfirst into a tree hard enough to snap the trunk. All that happens to him is that he is stunned for a while.
  • The Gentlemen: During the fight in the flat, Dave gets hit in the head with a ball-peen hammer and it doesn't do more than stagger him.
  • Parasite: Ki-woo gets struck over the head with a large scholar's rock twice and suffers from massive blood loss and brain damage as a result. However, he survives this after several weeks in the hospital though appears to have recovered a lot faster than most people would've.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Legolas slams Bolg's face into a wooden beam in Lake-Town repeatedly until it cracks, but Bolg himself shows no signs of injuries. Even more perplexingly, Bolg appears to have had his head injured at some point before the film, judging by the metal straps holding it together.
  • In Lady in Cement, a cop slugs Gronski six or seven times over the back of the head with his pistol before he finally passes out.
  • In The Man Who Turned to Stone, Tracy smashes a glass jug over Eric's head to no effect, as his skin is turning to stone.
  • It takes two solid blows from a blackjack to knock out protagonist Vito Cipriani in Revolver (1973).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7: Avon was knocked out an impressive number of times through the series, apparently without damaging his IQ, although he did suffer from increasingly severe Sanity Slippage during the final season.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Giles has been KO'd by blows to the head many, many times. He never suffers any ill effects after regaining consciousness. He actually lampshades it in the game by suggesting he had built up a tolerance for cranial trauma.
    • Lampshaded by Cordelia in the episode "Gingerbread":
    Cordelia: How many times have you been knocked out, anyway? I swear, one of these times, you're gonna wake up in a coma.
  • Chuck: Although less extreme than many examples, Casey seems to have a very hard head. He's fond of headbutts, and in one fight scene, his opponent punched him in the forehead and clutched at his hand in pain, while Casey ignored it completely.
  • Dexter: Dexter headbutts Doakes in the face and walks away apparently unaffected by the impact. The only effect on Doakes is to infuriate him into attacking Dexter — in front of everyone else. Then again, Dexter probably didn't ram Doakes very hard, as the point of the attack was to provoke and not to injure Doakes.
  • Doc West: The title character trains three guys for a fighting match, making them focusing on their stronger point: kicks for one, Berserk Button for another, and Hard Head for the third. This last one is trained to get punched in the face for several minutes, without countering or dodging on purpose, to tire the opponent. It works.
  • Flashpoint: In one episode, Sam is caught in a bomb blast and knocked out for about fifteen minutes. When he comes to he's completely fine. Notably out of place in a series that treats injuries more or less realistically.
  • Forever Knight: When the vampire protagonist-turned-cop is shot in the head he naturally regenerates, and his friends have to scramble to cover things up. LaCroix steals the X-Ray and hypnotises the doctor into saying that the bullet merely glanced off the protagonist's "exceptionally thick" skull.
  • Happy Days: In the episode where the restaurant burns down due to Chachi being, well, Chachi, Fonzie and the gang are trapped in the bathroom, and the Fonz gets the bright idea to open up a pathway by putting on his motorcycle helmet and bashing a hole in the wall. After crashing through the wall, he pulls his head out, and one of his friends asks what the wall was made out of because it broke so easily. The Fonz calmly replies "Concrete" and falls unconscious. Other than knocking himself out, he suffered no injuries from headbutting through a concrete wall.
  • Lost: Headbutting, Pistol-Whipping, and other Taps on the Head are (usually) of no consequence. For instance, in the season 5 finale, Jack is hit with a flying toolbox but gets up moments later. May be justified in that the island has healing powers and won't let people die if their destinies are not yet fulfilled.
  • Merlin: Prince Arthur. Repeatedly. Like, every time Merlin has to do a spell in front of him, he's conveniently knocked out. Morgana as well.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Averted Trope. Kimberly, while practicing after being exhausted by a battle, falls off the balance beam and hits her head. She suffers a concussion and has to be put in the hospital.
    • Played straight two decades later back in Japan's Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, where the local Grey Ranger is themed around a Pachycephalosaurus, and consequently displays this trope even when not suited up.
  • Revolution: Charlie must have a bionic skull. In Episode 9, not only does she survive getting shot in said noggin - a grazing wound only, but she then hits her head on concrete steps hard enough to cause bleeding and a near-death experience, yet she eventually wakes up and shrugs it off, even though in real life (as has been proven in the sad case of actress Natasha Richardson and many other cases) a head wound of that nature has the potential to be fatal.
  • Scrubs: Dr. Kelso apparently has a "head like a mountain goat", as evidenced by an occasion where the Janitor hit him over the head with his mop and it "only made him mad".
  • Smallville: People get knocked unconscious Once per Episode. No exceptions.
  • Stargate SG-1: Teal'c at one point "blocks" a punch by simply bowing his head and allowing the fist to hit him square in the emblem he has embedded in his forehead, which seems to break the attacker's hand. That emblem is made of solid gold.
  • The Wild Wild West: James West and Artemus Gordon should have been prime candidates for brain damage after the season 1, and the subsequent 3.
  • The Young Ones: Vyvyan who, in one episode, strikes oil by cracking the basement floor with his head, later helps dig it out by headbutting the hole (which leads to Neil accidentally putting a pickaxe through his head), and, from his first appearance, has metal studs on his forehead.
  • Averted in the Leverage episode "The Blue Line Job". The team has to protect a hockey enforcer who already has serious brain damage from the fights his manager gets him into, and throughout the episode, Eliot has a lot of work cut out for him in keeping anything from hitting his head. He doesn't even fight back when the guy attacks him.
  • "Primeval": Connor gets an unfortunate amount of concussions, especially in season 3. Half of the time, these knock him unconscious, but as soon as he wakes up he's got nothing more than a headache.
  • Supernatural: One or both of the Winchesters get knocked out in almost every episode. They do not appear to have serious brain damage. Even when Dean mentioned that he thought he had a concussion in one episode, he didn't seek medical treatment, and he appeared to be fine in the next episode.
  • Teen Wolf: All of the characters have been bashed in the head one time or another with no repercussions. Justified case as most of them are supernatural creatures with healing powers, particularly all the werewolves. However, there's no excuse for Stiles, the Token Human of the pack, who gets knocked out multiple times thanks to being the Non-Action Guy but shakes it off within minutes.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Generally considered a trait of all Samoans, whether they are Wild Samoans or not. This even extends to at least one female: Tamina Snuka, the daughter of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.
    • A Running Gag: someone tries to headbutt a Samoan, but winds up hurting themselves more due to the thickness of their skull. Or during a tag match against teams like The Headshrinkers or Meng and The Barbarian, someone tries the Double Noggin Knocker on them (ramming both opponents' heads against one another), only for it to have no effect, and the two then ram their heads into their opponent's head.
  • Ox Baker would bash his own head with a chair to both show his opponents that he was not worried about anything they might try to do to him and try to intimidate them by showing what kind of harm he was willing to do himself, so how much he would try to do to them would set in.
  • The Missing Link also famously used his head as a weapon.
  • The Bushwhackers had heads so hard, their Battering Ram finishing move involved one grabbing the head of the other and running it into their opponent.
  • Bad News Brown often simply got angry when his head was slammed into a turnbuckle.
  • Junkyard Dog's signature move was to get down on all fours and repeatedly ram himself headfirst into a downed opponent.
  • Japanese indy wrestler Keni'chiro Arai has a head so hard that hitting him over the head with a chair revitalizes him.
  • Averted by Al Madril of Pacific Northwest Wrestling: he was known to lose matches when he attempted to head-butt his opponent and then fell back unconscious.
  • Averted in the case of Chris Benoit. Benoit was known for his Diving Headbutt finisher, but using it so often throughout his career contributed to the massive number of concussions he suffered, resulting in brain damage and one of the factors in his ultimate fate.
  • Bryan Danielson uses both the flying headbutt and the Junk Yard Dog ram. He's seemingly passed this trait onto one of his proteges, Sara Del Rey, who has survived headbutting contests with Manami Toyota.
  • Bob Sapp had a legitimately hard head but unlike most examples, getting hit there tended to demoralize him even though it didn't hurt very much because he was a large man used to towering over opponents and thus not used to it.
  • WWE's Vladimir Kozlov often uses his head as a battering ram to devastating effect on his opponent and no ill effect on him.
  • Christina Von Eerie is both kinds of hardheaded, as she will continue to headbutt opponents even if their heads are hard enough to hurt hers too, such as Santana Garrett's.
  • Deconstructed in Ring of Honor when Takaaki Watanabe passed through while on his learning excursion. The ROH officials learned to pay special attention to his matches after they had several concussion scares with Watanabe, who continued to use headbutts despite them.
  • Also Deconstructed in case of Katsuyori Shibata, who is known for his hard-hitting offense, including headbutts. During the match with Kazuchika Okada at Sakura Genesis 2017, he gave Okada such a powerful headbutt that it caused a subdural hematoma that required surgery. Although the surgery was successful, Shibata suffers paralysis on his left side and perhaps may never compete again.
  • Eddie Kingston, considered the biggest Badass in CHIKARA, tried headbutting Hallowicked in their Falls Count Anywhere match at CHIKARA Chapter 11, November 18, 2007, and King was the one who sold it.
  • S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones packed a rather powerful headbutt. Being a jobber, it was usually a Curb Stomp Cushion.
  • Bobo Brazil was nicknamed "King of the Coco-Butts" for this very reason. The Coco-Butt was his Finishing Move.

  • Subverted in Survival of the Fittest in the case of Sean O'Cann. Upon his introduction to the game, Sean is already suffering from a head wound as a result of landing on something hard after being thrown onto the island. After this wound is bandaged, it's seemingly forgotten, up until a couple of days later, when Sean really starts to suffer, his vision blurring frequently and he himself collapsing on more than one occasion. Averted in the v4 Pregame when Christopher Carlson gets the crap beaten out of him by Monty Pondsworth at lunch; he's stated to have spent a good week with a headache and spent the rest of the day having trouble walking.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Averted in GURPS. Blows to the head do quadruple damage, have a good chance of causing unconsciousness and the "critical head blow" table is pretty nasty.
    • That said, there aren't any lasting effects (such as brain damage) unless optional rules in the Martial Arts supplement are in play.
  • Cyberpunk 2020 averts it too in a pretty nasty way even if there're no lasting effects. Hits to the head cause double damage and an attack that causes critical damage (quite easy) there will kill your character on the spot.
  • In Blood Bowl, characters can have an ability called Thick Skull. Thick Skull means that your head is so hard that you have a 50% less chance of getting KO'ed.
  • Blows to the head in Deadlands added two dice to the weapon's damage. Since having more dice increased the shooter's chances of getting 'exploding' dice, this meant that headshots could do far more damage than initially advertised. A headshot was how an inexperienced saloon gal once got nearly 80 damage with a derringer, a weapon that only does 2d4 damage. For reference, a human only needs 30 damage to kill them (if shot in the torso or head) or have that limb completely destroyed (anywhere else).
  • Reign has the advantage Thick Headed, which grants an extra wound box at the head location. The head location normally has the fewest wound boxes, and filling it up with damage will take you out. Even so, shock (nonlethal) damage to the head still goes away just as quickly and cleanly as it does to any other body part, so Reign characters can still get knocked out without any long-term effects. Even killing (lethal) damage to the head doesn't actually impede you until all your wound boxes are filled there.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Orks have surgeons capable of replacing parts of of their patient's skull with adamantium (and in one case this caused the patient to receive visions from the ork gods), and some people have been known to joke that an ork just needs to land on his head to survive a fall.


    Video Games 
  • Bully: Jimmy Hopkins can take a bat to the head, yet he can't stay up past 2 AM.
  • Subverted in the game Godzilla Unleashed. Whenever a monster (Godzilla, Rodan, King Ghidorah, etc.) runs headfirst into another monster (especially a Giant Mecha like Mechagodzilla or M.O.G.U.E.R.A), the first monster ends up stepping back and shaking its head as if in a daze. This is also played straight with Mecha-King Ghidorah, whose "victory pose" consists of him slamming his mechanical center-head into his flesh-and-blood side heads (which must be the three-headed dragon version of a "high five"). Don't ask how this doesn't cause the side-heads to end up with broken jaws or whatnot.
  • Averted by Baldur's Gate. Minsc took a blow to the head in the defense of his witch Dynaheir, and ended up a little off as a result. Permanently.
  • The first recruitable units in Brütal Legend were once enslaved miners, forced to break rocks with their heads instead of proper tools. Freed from the mine, they now use their heads for ramming attacks in battle. (It's a setting that runs on The Power of Rock, so they're referred to as "headbangers.") It's made clear that they aren't the brightest bulbs on the stage, though they do occasionally pull of surprising feats of intelligence, like constructing the Skullsplitter.
  • Hi-Fi RUSH: Chai accidentally runs Korsica's head into two door frames while carrying her, and then a set of heavy closing doors hit her head again for good measure. She experiences no apparent brain damage from all this; about the only reaction she has to it is groaning in pain.
  • Mega Man X and Mega Man X8 justified this by giving X a reinforced helmet upgrade.
  • In Fallout 2, scoring a critical hit with an aimed attack to the head may cause stunning, unconsciousness for several rounds, or death. If you're the recipient of the second and manage to wake up before your foes kill you off completely, you will have suffered no obvious loss from the trauma, other than hit points. There was also a perk that could be taken called Bonehead, which made you much more resistant to the effects of crits to your head.
  • Jagged Alliance 2: Attacks to the head may cause reduction in the wisdom attribute. Also, death.
  • Subverted in Dwarf Fortress, where a headshot can K.O. a creature. Creatures with permanently injured brains also fall unconscious more frequently (and for less reason) than their healthy peers.
  • A Pokémon with the ability "Rock Head" will not take recoil damage from its own attacks. Quite useful, as attacks that cause recoil damage tend to be very powerful.
  • Link in the 3-D The Legend of Zelda games will often ram into walls with his head while performing an Unnecessary Combat Roll. He is never harmed in any way by this, despite taking damage from falls and some other impacts.
  • Eric from The Lost Vikings smashes through the walls with his head on a regular basis.
  • Played straight in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, where Batman, being against killing, gets rid of the thugs by combat, which consists of many kinds of strikes, some to the head, and takedowns, which include bone breaking and hitting heads against the floor, letting the enemies lie "unconscious" but totally still on the floor, just breathing and with a blood pressure half the normal. Also, if Batman had decent medical skills, he would surely be aware of the fatal effects of hits to the head.
  • BioShock 2: Alpha Daddies are the only enemy in the game that use headbutts. It's more than just their hard helmets - they're so insane from the loss of their pair-bonded little sisters that they can't take head trauma brain damage.
  • Possibly played straight in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. A quest in Vasj'ir has the player relive a naga's memories of fighting kvaldir. The memory starts off with a naga remarking that "The skulls of these kvaldir are hard as rock!" since the player-controlled naga had apparently just broken her trident over a kvaldir's head. Since this event is off-camera whether or not the kvaldir survived the blow to the head isn't known, but naga throughout the memories only kill kvaldir with torso-targeted attacks.
  • Fritz in Brain Dead 13. During the confrontation on the stairs, Lance uses a big, strong iron hammer to whack Fritz on the head, which only makes him suffer a minor concussion until he gets up and chases him again. This is even lampshaded by Frankomatic.
  • Jajamaru from Ninja Jajamaru-kun can break bricks open with his head.
  • Violence Fight has Ron Max, whose character profile says that his head is hard enough to break rocks.
  • In Ōkami, Amaterasu can hit boulders, vases, and jars with her head. A late-game ability learned in Kamui allows her to gradually strengthen her head as she keeps hitting objects.
  • The T29 Heavy Tank in World of Tanks is infamous for how heavily armored its turret is. It has so much frontal armor on the turret that when it's hull-down it's effectively immune to all but the most powerful guns, and even they won't be able to reliably damage it.
  • Yakuza: Exaggerated by Kiryu, who has proven resilient to head-hits to the point where he can just No-Sell having a bottle smashed over his head and block a punch by headbutting his assailant's fist.

  • In 8-Bit Theater, Fighter is a master of the ram technique of Zodiac Kenshido, which consists of breaking your opponent's equipment with your head before he breaks your head with his equipment. He also gets stabbed a lot, and once broke through the Armoire of Invincibility with his head (cheap particle board base notwithstanding). In some cases, getting hit/stabbed/shot in the head has made Fighter smarter.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja plays with this one. In most instances, a character who takes a wallop to the head (or a chop to the neck) comes out fine. However, the back of Doc's head was once rudely introduced to a piece of wood (pirates and alcohol were involved) resulting in a concussion and a hallucinatory conversation with a roast turkey. (He got better.) In "Why a Gorilla", the trope is parodied by having Doc "wake up" while being pounded into the ground repeatedly by an angry gorilla; he had been unconscious for the better part of an hour but emerges from the experience completely fine.
  • Nate is knocked out by a blow to the head in The Back o' Beyond, and is up and running about soon after, albeit followed by some loss of balance and vomiting. As it later turns out, he does have a Healing Factor, though.
  • Diego from Because I'm Depressed smashed his head against the bathroom counter and spent hours lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood before being discovered, and the only long-term damage he seems to have suffered is a scar over his right eye.
  • Arianna in Castoff gets hit on the head a lot, often times with blood. She just shrugs it off like it's nothing.
  • Dan from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has such a hard head that he actually has to ask if another character tried to knock him out.
    "Gnnngh! It was like hitting a solid rock!"
  • In Dominic Deegan: "I break things with my face." This is basically the sum of Rachel's gimmick. It's not a one-way street, though - things that hit her face of their own free will also break. Like the hand of the guy who tried punching her.
  • In Dragon Mango, we are assured that concussions will just wear off, which will leave the patients fine.
  • El Goonish Shive: Elliot is whacked when found by a guard in the 'Sister' arc. Wrong Genre Savvy, perhaps? When he comes to, he's worried about concussions, brain damage, etc. Tedd brushes him off and gets on with some exposition.
  • In Endstone, Cole seems unfazed by a serious blow to the head, and Herrik comments on it.
  • In Everyday Heroes, Jane first met Mr. Mighty when she was working as a villain. She tried to ambush him with a kick to the head, resulting in a broken ankle for her (and some very unladylike language).
  • Muko from Furry Fight Chronicles takes a lot of beatings, which are mainly focused on her head. She's still able to be in good shape despite the damage. Later subverted when Muko experiences headaches from many blows to the head in a short time span.
  • Girl Genius has a few.
    • Played with when Oggie knocks Lars unconscious — the next scene starts with Lars awakening in a bed with Oggie assigned to watch over him to make sure he was OK. After confirming this, Oggie excitedly informs another character of it: "See? He's avake und talking und no more schtupid den he vos before!"
    • Lampshaded when Agatha needs something to hammer her newest device into the ground, so it can knock out their enemies. Dimo has a prosthetic metal arm, so Agatha asks him if he can... She doesn't finish her sentence before he uses his head to hammer it into the rock.
    Agatha: I thought you'd use your metal hand!
    Dimo: ...oh.
    Jenka: Dunno. Hiz head is probably harder.
  • Mora from Las Lindas. Bludgeoned in the back of the head with a shotgun? Bludgeoned so hard the shotgun breaks in two!? Feh. Just a minor annoyance.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The Rant once mentions a martial art school called Head of John (taken from the official spinoff RPG), which involves having three metal studs hammered into your skull, rendering your head (and only your head) invincible via magical acupuncture, as well as making your headbutts stone-pulverizingly powerful. Supposedly its oldest master was once decapitated but survived four weeks as a severed head and regained all bodily functions after being sewn to someone else’s headless corpse. Incubus is reportedly another master, and has the three studs to prove it, but it hasn’t come up in the story yet.
  • In Kill la Kill AU, Ragyo is apparently tolerant to head injuries and, according to her, this comes from her being a party girl in the past.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Durkon gets a lump on his head. His only reaction is to feign memory problems, to lack a spell to cast on Belkar.
  • Precocious: You must have a pretty hard head
  • Lieutenant Der Trihs in Schlock Mercenary has an artificial skull made of carbonan (a diamond-like carbon material). A doctor comments that in his case, this is like "keeping potato chips in a safe deposit box".
  • Shelly of Wapsi Square turns out fine after taking a bowling ball to the head. However, the injury is treated as potentially serious, and she is taken to the hospital. The doctors find nothing unusual save for an abnormally thick skull.
  • Yosh!, where the first thing Phil does after knocking out a witch is check that he didn't kill her (she's alright).
  • In Randie and Ryan, the concussion is treated very realistically. That is, after a period where Randie appears to be fine after her fall, she, subverting this trope, starts to act and speak in a confused and incoherent manner. Fortunately, Spill is driving and very quickly changes route to the ER. A prolonged recovery ensues.

    Web Videos 
  • Parodied in The Gamers. The characters try to knock their friend unconscious, so his "paralysing fear of water" won't get in the way as they cross a shallow river. They try a few times, in vain, with him losing health points every time, till eventually, one character lands in such a strong hit, that he is "very unconscious". But unfortunately, as the player counts the hit points his character lost, it also turns out he is dead. The blow killed him.

    Western Animation 
  • Practically a defining trait. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Tom and Jerry — etc.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Big Man on Hippocampus", Peter gets amnesia from a blow to the head. This amnesia is cured when the Giant Chicken clobbers him in the head with a rake. It's then immediately reinstated when Peter insults the Giant Chicken and the latter beans the former with a length of pipe. This is repeated multiple times. Peter suffers no ill effects, except for amnesia from every other bonk, which is reversed upon the very next bonk (fortunately, the Giant Chicken had an odd number of objects to strike Peter with).
  • In The Transformers episode "Call of the Primitives", Autobots and Decepticons are united against a common foe. During the battle, the massive Trypticon lands on Grimlock and he is presumed dead. Much later, after the battlefield was abandoned, Grimlock, still alive, manages to blast his way out from under him. Upon freeing himself, he quips, "Good thing me Grimlock have hard head. Otherwise would now be Dino-splatter!"
  • The Simpsons: Brought up in "The Homer They Fall" when it's found that Homer has a thick layer of fluid between his skull and brain that gives him enormous resistance to cranial damage, known as 'Homer Simpson Syndrome'. Homer: "Oh, why me?!"
  • Subverted humorously in Beast Wars, where Blackarachnia falls unconscious shortly after knocking out Silverbolt with a headbutt and feeling rather stupid about trying it in the first place. Even though this is the one series where you might get away with ignoring the KO considering that they're Mechanical Lifeforms.
  • In Code Lyoko, the kids get smashed in the head all the time, but it doesn't seem to have much effect on their fighting. The frequent Returns to the Past certainly help staving off any long-lasting effects.
  • While he unsurprisingly has yet to be knocked out by a blow to the head, Hammerhead from The Spectacular Spider-Man has used his to smash through brick walls without ill effects.
  • In Wakfu, a Hard Head seems to be one definite trait of Iops. Sadlygrove defeated Rubilax in his true form — a huge demon made of stone — by repeatedly head-butting him. Not that the other heroes are slouch either, and regularly receive some serious beating with barely a trace a few frames later.
  • Lampshaded in Archer: When the title character knocks out a colleague in order to take his place on a mission, he advises, "Try not to stay unconscious too long. It's like, super bad for you." Others later comment on how he could have serious head injuries and he agrees about that and already has a medical appointment to make sure there's no permanent damage.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Zuko has gotten more than a few neck or head impacts but was never shown to have any serious effects from them.
    • In a demonstration of earthbending, Toph jumps head-first at a boulder being used for Aang's earthbending training, unaffected by the self-inflicted blow used to split the rock.
  • Even among Cartoons, Donald Fauntleroy Duck is particularly hard-headed. The Comic Book version of "This Is Your Life, Donald Duck" shows his infant self able to chisel away at a stone statue by headbutting it; and DuckTales (2017) shows him running up a giant pachinko machine head-first, plowing through every steel peg on the way up.
    • In DuckTales (1987) episode "A Whale of a Bad Time" Scrooge suggests Donald use his head to disable a submarine since Donald knows its controls better. Donald takes the advice too literally and starts beating the control panel with the side of his head. That works too.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television for certain animals — such as bighorn sheep — but emphatically not so for humans. If something knocks you unconscious, seek medical attention immediately. This would be why humans engaging in hazardous activities often wear helmets. Even with a helmet on, a hard enough blow to the head (or being too close to something exploding) can still cause brain damage.
  • There are masters of the Iron Head kung fu technique who can break things with their heads. Don't Try This at Home, folks. Not even with stacks of Polo mints. To achieve this, the skull must suffer microfractures. The healing process thickens the skull a bit. Then you repeat the process. Most objects used in breaking demonstrations tend to have a "sweet spot" where fracture can be induced with significantly less force (and hence less trauma). For practitioners who exploit this fact, the stunt becomes as much an artful display of precision as it is a show of this trope.
  • Subverted with the dinosaur Pachycephalosaurus. It was once believed that this dinosaur did use its dome-shaped head to ram into one another's heads (much like modern-day bighorn sheep). However, recent fossil evidence indicates that this was not the case due to the curvature of its neck (which would have been less effective at controlling the stress of a charging collision) and the rounded shape of its skull (which would have increased the likelyhood of the animals deflecting off each other during impact) and, instead, Pachycephalosaurus probably fought by using their dome-shaped heads to ram one another (and also potential predators) in the stomach, thighs, or legs like modern-day giraffes.
  • The National Football League has had to change its rules, due to recent research into head injuries. The discovery of a previously unknown type of dementia common among retired NFL players has resulted in an unpopular increase in player fines for unnecessary roughness and has changed the standards for players to be allowed to return to the field after a head injury. Research suggests that the time it takes to recover from a concussion is actually unknown, but may take weeks or months; and repeated concussions during that period may lead to dementia. Football culture has traditionally valued the ability to play through this type of injury; former Chicago Bears safety Doug Plank, for whom the "46" defense is named, used to speak of playing while so disoriented that he had to be guided to the correct sideline when leaving the field.
  • The NHL is also beginning to acknowledge this, especially after several players like Derek Boogaard, whose primary role was to fight guys like that on other teams and consequently took a lot of blows to the head, died relatively young, and were found to have serious brain damage post mortem. The suicide ripple amongst NHL players was introduced by Tom Cavenaugh, a skilled player. After that, three more followed suit and scumbags blamed them for being enforcers at it.
  • Based on the experiences of other sports, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association introduced a concussion protocol and has instructed referees and other officials to look at potentially illegal contact to the head extremely seriously.
  • Very rarely this is played straight in real life, and a human being will have a biological oddity that grants them a minor version of this.
    • For example, CT scans discovered that boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. had a skull that was considerably thicker than normal, which perhaps explains why Chavez was able to fight for many years (Chavez's pro career lasted from 1980-2005) and in so many slugfests while seldom being affected by his opponent's punches, and also without suffering significant brain damage and post-career health issues, as so many boxers do.
    • Longtime middleweight champion "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler, who was never knocked down or seriously hurt in a boxing match. Similar to Chavez, medical tests showed that he had a biological quirk (the muscles surrounding Hagler's skull are several times thicker than normal, and thus it was believed that they created a cushioning effect against blows) that may have been responsible for this.
    • Jake LaMotta (whom the movie Raging Bull is based on) had the reputation of being impossible to knock out. He was famous for simply "bull rushing" his opponent and withstanding any punches they hit him with, with little to no effect. Many accounts describe opponent who tired themselves out beating on Jake's head with little to show for it. Most famously, when Jake faced "Sugar" Ray Robinson (whom many boxing experts pick as the greatest fighter ever) for the sixth time, Robinson beat LaMotta so savagely in the later rounds that newspapers afterward dubbed the fight (which happened on Valentine's Day) "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre". The fight was stopped by the referee, but afterward LaMotta taunted Robinson about how in that fight, and all their other bouts, Robinson had never been able to knock LaMotta down.
    • George Chuvalo is frequently cited by boxing fans as a man with a hard head, as Chuvalo fought powerful, hard-hitting heavyweights such as Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, and many lesser-known but powerful punchers, without ever being knocked down. Chuvalo himself has said that's a mistake by the fans, and that a lot of times punches that looked like they hit him flush were being partially blocked by Chuvalo's arms, or that he was moving in subtle ways to rob the blows of their force. Chuvalo has been known to quip "If I really got hit by half the punches people think I was hit by, I'd be brain dead!"
    • The legendary Roberto Duran fought professionally for over three decades (from 1968-2001) starting as a skinny 120-pound kid and fighting as high as light heavyweight (175 pounds) in a sport where few fighters are able to effectively fight at more than 20 pounds above where they begin. During all that time, and all those fights where he was fighting bigger men, he was knocked out exactly once, by none other than Tommy Hearns, who is a serious contender for being one of the hardest-hitting fighters of all time. In a few other bouts, the fights were stopped due to injuries or a referee stopping a fight, but that is the only time that Duran was legitimately knocked out. That said, while Duran displayed an amazing ability to take punishment and be unaffected by it on many occasions, he was also a master at defense and excellent at avoiding or minimizing the blows of his opponents.
  • Shortly before his death, Billy Mays faced airplane turbulence and was struck on the head, after which he insisted he was fine and quoted this trope by name. The coincidence of the timing had led many to believe that he had died of a concussion before the autopsy came out, revealing the cause as heart disease.
  • Subverted by any production that involves live actors, whether in theatre, web videos, or live action films and TV. These productions can often fake a character being hit in the head by hitting the actor with a prop that looks hard but is actually made of a very soft material like foam or paper mache. The prop bounces harmlesly off the actor's head, but they react and collapse as if they were hit by something solid.


Video Example(s):


Lucy gets hit on the head

Lucy gets whacked on the head by the minute hand of Big Ben, causing four cat-shaped bowls of soup to go over her head.

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Example of:

Main / CirclingBirdies

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