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Head Desk

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When a Facepalm just isn't enough.

"Don't dent my desk with your horns."
Zephan Zoeng (to Dabbler), Grrl Power

This is when a character expresses their overwhelming frustration by banging their head (often repeatedly) against something nearby. Desks and walls are the most prevalent targets, but other hard surfaces or objects — such as telephone poles, nearby appliances, or trees — are also acceptable.

Most often seen in visual comedies, as doing this in Real Life could prove very painful. On the other hand, it can appear in more serious works, either to lighten the mood of a moment or to punctuate the gravity of the situation.

Compare and contrast with Face Fault, Face Palm, Face Plant, and Wall Slump (the non-violent variant, to say the least). Also contrast with the more serious Punch a Wall. Not to be confused with a different kind of "wall bang".



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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • This is a stock gag in Dork Tower, where a sufficiently annoying situation will prompt any of the main characters to bang their head against the nearest wall or table.
  • Archie: After ignoring a warning from his mom that it looks like rain and he might catch a cold if he goes out, he and Jughead both get soaked and head for Veronica's place. After going through a sauna and doing laps of a pool to try and avoid getting sick ("No germ would be stupid enough to stick around for that punishment") Archie gets home and...sneezes. "Banging your head against a wall is not an accepted cold medicine!"
  • A completely serious example in one of The Joker's stories; he's been arrested and is going to trial, and the possibility of an insanity defence has (unsurprisingly) been raised by his attorney. While getting exasperated with his client, the lawyer sarcastically asks "and getting declared insane is that easy, is it?" The Joker calmly slams his own face down on the table he's sitting at, sits up with his face covered in blood, and says "It's that easy."
  • Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade: Linda Lee bangs her head against her desk because her bully of a schoolmate Belinda is playing a tape where Linda is complaining about her "bad-smelling" schoolmates over the school intercom.
  • Donald Duck does it at the beginning of the Carl Barks story The Golden Helmet, because his nephews were so slow at catching up on his urgent plans. First, he asks them to gather winter clothes, and they just ask why they need them in midsummer, and then he explains they are going to Labrador. Cue this dialogue:
    Nephews: What is Labrador? Is it a movie?
    [Donald smashes head-on into the nearest wall in sheer frustration]
  • I, Arne Næss, a comic book telling the life of the eponymous Norwegian philosopher, made for his ninetieth birthday, has one as well. Næss was an eager mountaineer, and often took his nephew with him. One sequence shows the two of them arguing about climbing further up or going down. Næss, being somewhat of a Trickster, got his will by tossing a coin (heads or tails), and lost it on purpose down the mountain. Thus, he just said "Ouch, now we have to go down to find it..." His nephew, who was the one who argued for climbing upwards, is then shown banging his head in the mountainside in sheer frustration.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Bloom County strip, Oliver Wendell Jones learns that he is competing against Stephen Hawking in his quest to discover a Grand Unification Theory. He responds by screaming and slamming his head several times against a wall.

    Fan Works 
  • Harry Potter:
    • In [[Surprise!]] after a buxom St. Mungo's receptionist tries to get Harry to autograph her chest, he floos back to Grimmauld Place and bangs his head on a table.
      Harry: I. Am. Going. To. Destroy. Witch. Weekly.
    • In When in Doubt, Obliviate during an argument with Remus about why Wormtail was made Secret Keeper instead of him, Sirius bangs his head against the wall of his room in St. Mungo's.
      Remus: Oh, that will convince them that you don't have any brain damage...
    • In The Girl Who Loved one of the Sailor Scouts makes a suggestive remark involving Harry and Sailor Pluto and he tries to beat the resulting images out of his head with the aid of a nearby table, which breaks partway through and has to be magically repaired.
    • Insane Asylum Escapees has Harry who doesn't believe in magic walk out into the dragon arena shirtless with a lawn chair and a tanning mirror, as he thinks the dragons are iguanas on steroids. Cue Remus hitting his head on a book going "Stupid. Stupid. Stupid." with "He's gonna die." thrown in every once in a while.
    • In Petunia's Boys Lucius bangs his head on a table after realizing there are so many Muggles it would take the entire world magical population several centuries to kill them all off.
    • In Two Halves Of A Whole, Harry bangs his head on a table when Andromeda tells him her and her daughter Nymphadora's reinstatement into the Black family means he not only has to give Remus and Nymphadora permission to marry but determine the dowry as well.
    • Played for Laughs in the Potter Puppet Pals episode "Wizard Angst", where Harry is banging his head against a wall while chanting "angst" over and over again.
    • In The Poker Game Harry bangs his head on a table every time a new girl is added to his Unwanted Harem.
    • In Time Turned Back Harry bangs his head on a desk after discovering magic has declared him the new Heir of Slytherin.
    • In Harry Potter and the Rune Stone Path Professor Babbling bangs her head on a table after hearing Ron decided to fly his father's car to Hogwarts.
    • In Potter's Protector Harry bangs his head on a table after his name comes out of the Goblet of Fire.
    • In Angry Harry and the Seven it's Valentine's Day, so Harry recites poetry and gives a large bouquet of roses and baby's breath to his betrothed Daphne right in front of everybody in the Great Hall, making the rest of the boys with girlfriends look like unromantic clods in comparison. A Seventh Year Hufflepuff who recognizes he's been outshone lightly bangs his forehead on the tabletop a few times. And then Blaize publicly presents his girlfriend Tracey with a carnation and a pretty necklace and helps her put the necklace on, again making the rest of the boys with girlfriends look like unromantic clods in comparison. The poor Hufflepuff, seeing he's been outshone again, resumes banging his forehead on the tabletop.
    • In Choices - Part I Bill bangs his head on a desk after finding out that Ron gave a highly insulting interview about Veela which gets him killed by Fleur's angry relatives.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The fic Progress has Princess Luna doing this in one chapter. She makes a Badass Boast to a pair of monsters threatening the Cutie Mark Crusaders, only to be frustrated immensely when neither of them recognize her.
      Both tyrannosaur and megaprimate were treated to the rare sight of a deity in wrath beating her head against the wall.
    • The Many Secret Origins of Scootaloo:
      • Twilight smashes many, many tables as she's subjected to Crack Fic after Crack Fic about Scootaloo. Prior to chapter 20's, she summons a pillow in preparation. Then, once the crack starts, she whips the pillow away as a threat to the table's health.
      • In Chapter 22, Twilight is punished by all the tables she's injured by performing this by being turned into a table herself and having Shining Armor and Cadence have sex on her. It's all a dream.
    • Shining Armor from the Pony POV Series develops a habit of doing this in frustration at the bizarre situations he keeps finding himself in.
    • A Brief History of Equestria describes an incident during the unicorn migration to what would eventually become Equestria. Exasperated by the bickering and delays of the aristocracy, Princess Platinum began going up to trees and tapping on them. When questioned, she did not explain her reason until she had found a suitably dense tree, which she began smacking her head against in frustration. On the plus side, they did manage to get some fruit for the caravan.
    • There's also the question about whether a unicorn can actually truly headdesk due to the horns on their heads. Rarity indirectly addresses that question in this blog.
    • My Little Alicorn: Bringing Up Blueblood:
      Blueblood barely resisted the urge to slam his face into the desk. He could tell exactly what most of his day would be filled with.
    • Ultra Fast Pony takes the head-banging-on-a-piano scene from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (see Western Animation, below) and redubs it to add plenty of Comically Missing the Point.
      Sweetie Belle: Yeah, I just sold your scooter and bought some cheap knockoffs at the store.
      Scootaloo: <Really?>
      Sweetie Belle: Yeah.
      Scootaloo: <Will you please excuse me for a moment?>
      Sweetie Belle: Sure, okay.
      [Scootaloo smashes her face into the piano keyboard repeatedly]
      Sweetie Belle: What'd you do that for?
      Scootaloo: <Being in this group makes me want to cry.>
      Sweetie Belle: Well, maybe you wouldn't feel so bad if you didn't hit your head on the piano.
      [Sweetie Belle smiles at Scootaloo]
      [Scootaloo resumes smashing her head against the keyboard]
      Sweetie Belle: I like that noise, though. Totally brutal.
    • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: The mare Rainbow Dash repeatedly smacks her head against a wall at one point.
    • The Alarmaverse: In Twilight Sparkle and the Strange Case of Old Res, when the shop owner realizes that his plan to corrupt Twilight Sparkle has failed, because he misunderstood her, he starts his Villainous Breakdown with some:
      He dropped his face onto the counter with a loud thud, kicking up another dust cloud.
      "Oh!" Twilight said. "Are you—"
      "Get Out!," the stallion hissed. He slammed his face several more times, until dust clouds completely obscured the room, until the wood cracked beneath him.
  • Project Freelancer Phase One: Genesis features Dr. Killian's reaction when he's told that the Director is bringing in more agents after a dangerous mission: "Eight thump more thump medicals thump for thump eight thump more thump Freelancers thumpthumpthumpthump."
  • A frequent occurrence in Naruto Fan Fiction. It has been rationalized that the use of the Shadow Clone Jutsu (Kage Bunshin no Jutsu) can defeat a Kage's greatest enemy: paperwork. When someone (usually Naruto) points this out to the Third Hokage (or any Kage for that matter), the common reaction is for him to bash his head on his desk repeatedly while muttering "stupid" every single time, usually because he's known that jutsu for decades and never realized that he could use it for paperwork.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Insontis, Spock wants to "impact his cranium with the nearest solid object" from the stress of dealing with the de-aged Kirk.
  • In the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney fan game, Phoenix Drive, Phoenix does this while claiming that to be the culprit for the murder Larry is on trial for.
    Phoenix: I hated her! Whooo!! Wanted to murder it! Whooo!!
  • Dipper starts hitting his head against a tree in Faking It when Bill admits even he has no idea what kind of cover story Dipper can give to get Ford to stop wondering how his nephew managed to put most of the town to sleep, at least unintentionally.
    Bill: I don't think ritual sacrifice, or soul destruction, or eating a still-beating human heart could be written off as an "accident".
  • This Bites!:
    • In Chapter 23, Cross does this after Soundbite gives the Teenage Dugong Warrior Squad their name.
    • In Chapter 28, Cross does this after Isaiah, perching on Pierre's head while the latter is in his hybrid form, says "I'm on a horse."
    • In Chapter 33, Vice Admiral Jonathan does this when he realizes the full extent of the chaos the Straw Hat Pirates are capable of causing.
    • Chapter 37 has Vivi doing this after Boss successfully negotiates with Franky by flexing.
    • Chapter 42, when Sengoku hears that Admiral Kizaru (with the inadvertent help of Nami), has ended up refracting himself out of the fight, he does this. While in his Buddha form. Denting the Gates of Justice in the process.
  • Doing It Right This Time: This trope is Misato's reaction to finding out more than she ever wanted to know about Ritsuko and Commander Ikari's sex life.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku slams his head against his desk when Bakugou starts screaming at him in the middle of class for not applying to U.A.
  • In Destiny is a Hazy Thing, Idate starts slamming his head against a pillar when Sasuke wastes time challenging Rock Lee to a fight, especially since Idate knows Lee is out of his league.
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Chloe gets into this after spending three days unable to write a story, with her echoing Hiro Hamada below.
    Chloe: (banging head on writing desk covered with crumpled paper) Dumb brain! Got nothing! Stupid! Useless! No good!

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Road to El Dorado, Tulio is banging his head against a wall to try to figure out a way to escape from Cortez's ship. He appears to get an idea... but just resumes banging. Made funnier when Tulio appears to have a black eye and the wall has a dent in it.
  • Lilo & Stitch: Stitch does this when he's in the pound, and actually knocks a brick out of place because of his power.
  • In Corpse Bride, Victor bangs his head on the bar counter, in response to being told by the woman he accidentally married that he said his vows perfectly. In this case, he's trying to wake himself up from what he thinks is a dream.
  • Before they meet Anya, Dimitri and Vlad are holding an audition for girls to play Anastasia. One prospect is a middle-aged woman, who says in a sultry voice, "Granmama! It's me, Ana-STASIA!" Their reaction is a combination of this and Face Palm.
  • Happens in the beginning of Big Hero 6 after Hiro tries to come up with an innovative idea to get into his brother's school. After a subverted Hard-Work Montage, the scene cuts to him banging his head on a desk covered with dozens of crumpled pieces of paper.
    Hiro: Nothing! [bangs head on desk repeatedly] No ideas! Useless! Empty! Brain!
    Tadashi: Wow, washed up at fourteen. So sad.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: This is Twilight's reaction after she sees the embarrassing video made by Sunset Shimmer, and she says that no-one is going to vote for her now.
  • The DMV sloth scene in Zootopia has Judy punctuating her frustration by banging her head against Flash's desk when she realizes to her horror that the sloth is going to slooooowly share a joke to his fellow sloth.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dramatic example: In the aftermath of Smith's death in Event Horizon, Miller does a subdued version of this against the nearest wall. Then he wishes he hadn't.
  • The Graduate has Ben Braddock doing an "I can't believe I'm doing this" variant against a hotel room wall just before he sleeps with Mrs. Robinson for the first time.
  • The Whole Nine Yards and sequel, with more violent head-on-wall banging, The Whole Ten Yards. Dramatic and played for laughs in one go.
  • Done a lot in Cold Turkey as the townspeople go through withdrawal from smoking, most notably a pre-All in the Family Jean Stapleton clonking her head against a tree.
  • In the 1997 adaptation of Lolita, a Deleted Scene has Humbert convincing Dolores to let him kiss her on the eyes to remove a speck of dust. After she leaves the room, the infatuated pedophile slowly lets his forehead drop down to the desk.
  • The first Police Academy movie: after the climax, Tackleberry removes both his sunglasses and motorcycle helmet before he starts banging his head against the hood of a police car for having missed the shoot-out.
  • Star Trek: Nemesis. Worf's reaction to: "Irving Berlin..."
  • Subverted in Kick-Ass. Dave's mother appears to do this in response to him saying something dumb at the dinner table. As it actually turns out however, she just happened to pick that particular moment to die of a brain aneurysm.
  • In UHF, when George is confronted by Teri about having lost yet another job after coming home near the beginning...Though he seemed to do it in sarcasm.
  • During the Impostor Exposing Test in The World's End, Gary bashes his head repeatedly against a support beam to prove that he hasn't been replaced by a "blank" and to avoid showing a scar on his arm as a proof because the others would also see that he tried to commit suicide.
  • Characters do versions of this in both the western comedy Support Your Local Sheriff and its non-sequel followup Support Your Local Gunfighter. (Against a tree-branch and a wall-beam, respectively.)
  • In Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Fred slams his head into the Mystery Machine's steering wheel after finding himself on the wrong end of Manipulative Editing.
  • In Love Actually, after David, the Prime Minister, realizes he is falling for Natalie, the PM's personal assistant, he non-challantly tries to find out whether she has a boyfriend. After finding out that she had just broken up with him, David offers to send British Special Forces to "take him out," playing it off as a joke. Natalie sees the attempt at humor, grudgingly smiles and leaves his office. David immediately bangs his head on the desk when he realizes just how creepy the "joke" sounded.

  • John Grisham's The Appeal: This is how F. Clyde Hardin's final scene (once he learns the verdict in the final judgement) plays out, when he passes out after another drink.
  • Barefoot Boy with Cheek by Max Shulman:
    I was all shaky inside as we entered Fflliikkiinnenn's room. He was standing in a corner beating his head methodically against the wall. "He's toughening up for the football season," Roger whispered.
  • Brennus: Basil gets in on this in the aftermath of the Hastur Arc, when his girlfriend Prisca-who has spent most of her life crippled and confined to a hospital bed- finally manifests powers of her own: to create a Flying Brick body to inhabit while her real body is sleeping-and she's gorgeous like this by the way-she proceeds to fly to Basil's bedroom and try seduce him, except he refuses on account of the fact that she's essentially drunk on power and not thinking straight. She reluctantly agreed and leaves...and he begins banging his against the wall in regret.
    Amy: That's no reason to punish the wall with your thick head.
  • Implied at the end of the Doby Gillis story "Her Face Was Familiar, But...", in which Doby is constantly interrupted every time he tries to find out the name of the girl he started dating (she doesn't realize he hasn't learned her name, and he's too proud to come right out and ask). He finally gets his chance when they go on a date to the radio studio, and he's chosen to participate in a trivia contest. He lets her take his place so that he can hear her give her name at the end, even though he is very upset to learn that not only was the trivia on a topic he knew very well (the meanings of names, of all things), but the prize money was triple what it normally would have been. He's still cheered up when he learns that her name is Mary Alice. Then, he takes her home and she gives the last line of the story:
    "Why, you know perfectly well I didn't give my real name. Doby! Why are you beating your head against the wall?"
  • In That Meanie Jim's Birthday from the Junie B. Jones books, Junie B.'s father resorts to this after he and her mother try to console Junie B. about not being invited to Jim's birthday party and Junie B. says that she's going to move to the "It's a Small World" ride in Disney World.
  • Kitty Norville sometimes takes advantage of her radio talk show's format to indulge in this during or after a paricularly inane/fustrating call. Needless to say, when a PETA shill gets through during her (voluntary) TV debut complete with studio audience in Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand....
    Kitty: Sorry, you weren't supposed to see that.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms: One Good Knight has a referenced one where a cross-dressing knight and rescued princess (who are both virgins) encounter a quartet of (related) talking unicorns that want to accompany them. The knight is... less than happy about this.
    "Cousin? Why is the Warrior Maiden beating her forehead upon the tree?"
  • Tortall Universe: In the Trickster's Duet, protagonist Aly is acting as The Spymaster for a rebellion against a corrupt court. To get information from the palace, she hides a whole bunch of magical creatures called darkings; little, sentient black black blobs that are excellent at hiding and eavesdropping. Less than an hour after doing so, she's confronted by a Friendly Enemy who discovered the youngest darking when it decided to go and play with the three-year-old king it was spying on. It's all Aly can do to stay in character and not immediately start banging her head against a wall.

    Live-Action TV 


  • Gordon Ramsay employs this trope in cooking shows:
    • He has only this reaction in an episode of Kitchen Nightmares when the cooks of Fiesta Sunrise manage to set flame to a plate of nachos.
    • In Hell's Kitchen, repeatedly, when a chef kept messing up soufflés told Gordon that he was going to try brushing sugar and cocoa powder around the rims of the ramekins to keep them from sticking. For non-chefs among readers, this is one of the first things you should do when making a soufflé. This may be why, in the next scene, he is complaining that he's got a fucking headache.
    • He does this in the final episode of the first season of Hotel Hell after the owner, who is also acting as the head chef, is unable to serve him a proper soft-boiled egg.


  • Ally McBeal: At one point, the main character makes her head meet desk a few times, saying "I have my health" every time.
  • Blackadder: In "Corporal Punishment", Blackadder is on trial and, when Baldrick is called as a witness, tells him "Deny everything!" Baldrick takes him literally and denies his own name and position within the British army. Cut to Blackadder bashing his head against the table.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", Xander Harris, when he unwittingly unleashed a love spell on the entire female community of Sunnydale, tried to seek refuge inside Buffy's home while getting Cordy out of harm's way. When Joyce suddenly tries to lead him on, he bangs his head on the table.
    Xander: [exasperated] Whatever!
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Into the Dalek": After schoolteacher Danny Pink messes up his chance to go with Clara Oswald to a party, he bemoans his mistake out loud and repeatedly bangs his head on the desk until he realises Clara is standing in the doorway, watching with amusement.
    • "Listen": Danny does it again after saying the wrong thing to Clara in the middle of their date, causing her to storm off.
    • "Spyfall": The Master smacks his forehead against the console of his TARDIS several times when he realizes that the Doctor isn't dead after he had one of his sort-of-minions attack her.
  • Glee: In the "Sectionals" episode, Artie does a full-body version of this in a wheelchair when the club realizes their set list's been stolen. Emma even mentions on the phone that it's been going on for a few minutes.
  • The Life and Loves of a She-Devil TV series has a very drunken priest seemingly hitting his head on the table to clear it enough to string sentences together.
  • Limitless: Some of the first NZT test subjects are shown doing this to the point of blood on the wall.
  • Mad Men:
    • This is Peggy Olson's reaction in season 4 when she finds out Pete Campbell's wife is pregnant.
    • Pete did a facewall (for when facepalms are not enough) in the season 4.
  • Married... with Children: This scene from "The Stepford Peg":
    [there is a knock at the door]
    Al: Pumpkin, can you see who's at that door?
    [Kelly stares at the door intently]
    Kelly: ...No. Maybe I need glasses.
    Al: [headdesk]
  • Nostromo: Dr. Monygham feels guilt because in the last revolution while under torture he gave the names of people who were then executed (actually the people he named weren't revolutionaries at all; he just named them to protect the real ones). In prison and believing he'll be tortured once again, he bangs his head against the wall saying each time, "This time I WILL hold out!"
  • Reba: In one episode, Reba has to work for her obnoxious ex-husband, and his equally irritating new wife:
    Reba: You know how when Barbara Jean and Brock come over and visit for, like, 10 minutes, then I come in here and bang my head against the refrigerator? I've been with them for 8 hours today! [points to forehead] Touch it! It's still hot!
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In "Cassandra", while Rimmer is explaining to Lister that the latter has accidentally signed himself (and, unbeknownst to Rimmer, the other main characters) into a suicide squad, partway through the explanation, Lister starts banging his head on a table.
    • Rimmer himself does this in "Stoke Me a Clipper" when Ace's face appears onscreen.
  • Scrubs: Dr. Cox does a variant on this in one episode, where he takes the liftable entry part of the desk and slams it into his head. Repeatedly.
  • Sherlock: In the 7-minute special "Many Happy Returns", Lestrade does one when Anderson tells him about another sighting of Sherlock.
  • Supernatural:
    • Played for horror in "Repo Man", when Hallucifer, annoyed because Sam is trying to ignore him, creates a hallucination in which everyone starts banging their heads on the desk until their faces are a bloody pulp.
    • Played for laughs in "Scoobynatural", when Fred bangs his head against a tree when Sam and Dean tell the gang that they hunt for real supernatural beings.
      Fred: We've been stopping real estate developers when we could have been hunting Dracula?!
  • Three's Company: Jack (and sometimes, Janet) would sometimes do this when Chrissy would try to prove a point.
  • The West Wing: President Bartlet does this on the Resolute desk after being tormented for hours by the thrilling tales of an Old Soldier-esque retired diplomat while stuck in the Oval Office waiting on the phone during an international crisis.
  • The Wizard: Simon mentions "trying to punch a hole through the wall with [his] head" to a robot he built. This leads to the robot lasering a hole out of said wall a few inches from his head.
  • The X-Files, "Rain King": Daryl Mootz seemed to be a real deal Rain King who is able to bring rain to dried out farms. When the person who is really affecting the weather stops feeling guilty for him, Daryl's show doesn't work any more. When he learns the sum people are sueing him for, he bangs his head on the desk.
  • You Can't Do That on Television had this sketch:
    Lisa Ruddy: Oh, Mom, it was Love at First Sight.
    Valerie Prevert: I know what you mean, dear. It was the same thing when I met your father. [the slovenly Senator Prevert scratches himself and belches]
    Lisa: [turns around and starts banging her head on the wall]

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street character Don Music, a frustrated composer, has a habit of slamming his forehead on the keys of his piano. Which is why you don't see him on Sesame Street anymore.
  • Miss Piggy does this to her office desk in The Muppets. (The 2011 one.) "I can't believe I fell for Muppet Man!"
  • In one episode of Julie's Greenroom, Hank bangs his head on his piano in frustration when collaborating on a song with Spike isn't going as smoothly as either of them had hoped.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Done in one Warhammer 40,000 battle report — a Chaos Space Marine leader wallbanged his metal forehead against the inner wall of a bunker, in response to his units' abysmal accuracy.

  • Charlie Brown does this in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, during the song "Little Known Facts" (when Lucy incorrectly explains "little known facts" to Linus, including that an elm grows into an oak and that sparrows grow into eagles that are eaten on Christmas and Thanksgiving). She does this rather than explain the truth to Linus. Finally, Charlie Brown can't take it anymore...
    Charlie Brown: Oh good grief! (Runs off-stage)
    Linus: Lucy? Why is Charlie Brown banging his head against a tree?
    Lucy: To loosen the bark so the tree will grow faster.
    Linus: Oh.

    Video Games 
  • Played for laughs in Final Fantasy XIV at the end of Shadowbringers' Patch 5.3 story. The Scions had spent In-Universe years in The First, an alternate world from the Source while their friend, the Warrior of Light, could teleport freely. It's a few days after they finally recover getting back into their bodies that Alisaie smacks her head on the table and is utterly depressed that Thancred, Urianger and Y'Shtola have the same gear they had from their time on the First but now in the Source while she's languished for years as a red mage.
  • Played for Drama in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty by Otacon, who appears to take his step-sister's death well-ish but suddenly breaks into this before Snake tells him to get it together.
  • In Spellforce, to get your siege units to use their anti-building attacks against buildings, you have to set them next to the buildings without ordering them to attack — otherwise, they'll bang their heads against the walls (as they melee attack the buildings).
  • Poker Night at the Inventory games:
    • Strong Bad sometimes does this if he has a bad hand. Especially hilarious because he doesn't say a thing during it, he just has this look while he slams his head into his cards and chips.
    • Claptrap does this in the sequel while saying "Crap!" repeatedly.
  • Not really done to express annoyance, but the first Dead Space game has Isaac come across a guy randomly doing this in a part of the USG Ishimura. The guy is just standing in the hallway beating his head against a wall, with more blood coming out with every hit. Eventually, he hits his head against it hard enough that it kills him. And when his corpse is on the ground you can see that there was nothing left inside him, all of his intestines had apparently been ripped out.
  • In Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC, you can encounter Wrex lamenting getting to sire half of Tuchanka after the Genophage Cure. He's swarmed day and night by eager newly fertile females who want their firstborn by his seed. His poor quad are so achy he needs an icepack for them. While complaining to Shepard, he drops his headplate on the bar table repeatedly, each time with a resounding, glass-rattling *THUD*
  • A decidedly noncomedic instance can be found in BioShock Infinite's' Comstock House, where inmates may weakly bounce their heads, encased in masks of the Founding Fathers, off of surfaces in an attempt to ease their torment.
  • Trevor from Grand Theft Auto V is reduced to banging his head into a wooden pallet when he realizes that the government's top-secret, ultra-precious "cargo" he just stole is A FUCKING NUKE, and, as a result, cannot sell the payload without getting the government on his ass.
    • In Grand Theft Auto Online, Trevor once again bangs his head against something, this time a tree. After completing his Heists— which involved stealing drugs or drug-making materials, from various factions around San Andreas— Trevor meets with his buyer... who turns out to be an undercover government agent. Trevor is forced to flee the sting, and after getting to safety, bangs his head off a tree while sobbing at the failure of his plans.
  • In 2 Tasty Cole bangs his head on a wall after he invites Libby to a local bar instead of telling her he likes her.
  • The ending of the PS1 Spider-Man sees Doctor Octopus start banging his head against the bars of his cell while Rhino erroneously gloats about beating Mysterio, Scorpion, and a bank robber at Go Fish. One of the things that shows Spider-Man 2 – Enter: Electro is an Immediate Sequel is that Ock is still doing this when Hammerhead and Shocker, in the cell across from them with Electro, asks Ock and his cellmates if they know Go Fish.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Manfred von Karma does this in one game, while ranting about how Edgeworth and his father gave him a scar on his shoulder and a penalty on his record, respectively, and vowing to bury Edgeworth with his own hands.
    • Gumshoe in game 3 pulls a wall bang (off screen) when Phoenix and Maya tell him that Maggey hates him for betraying her.
    • Played for Drama in Spirit of Justice. When Apollo finds out that Dhurke, his adopted father who had saved his life several times over, had died, he goes into a Heroic BSoD and slams his head into the defense bench in despair.
  • The Player Character in Planets indulges in this ... with a brick wall ... and ends up bleeding.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao does this late in Rin's route, after they have an argument, blaming himself for things going wrong.

    Web Animation 


    Web Videos 
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • Happens in many episodes, as the Critic reviews in front of a desk. It happens so often that his "desk" is actually a massage table; padded so he can safely bash his head against it, and then dub in the thud effects later.
    • In particular, the beginning of his A Kid in King Arthur's Court review had him slamming his head into his desk in an attempt to forget what he just saw.
    • Upgrades to slamming his head against a wall in The Room.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius:
    • Jimmy Neutron does this when he can't think of a script for a movie.
    • In one episode, Jimmy and Cindy are forced to work together for a science project — find the sunken ship The Oozing Scab and its treasure. After going through heck to find it, they finally retrieve the treasure chest, supposedly full of valuables. It turns out to be full of saltwater taffy. Cue headdesk.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, "The Ember Island Players". Aang slams his head on a balcony banister after being a little too forward with Katara about his feelings.
  • In The Crumpets episode "The Courting of Ms. McBrisk", Cordless, a teenager who has a crush on the episode's titular character, bangs his head on the floor and repeats her Screen Name. He is unhappy because Granny stopped lending her laptop to him, and he was secretly contacting McBrisk with a fake dating profile.
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Top Duck", Launchpad is upset over crashing during an air show and begins banging his head on his plane, stopping only to lament his mother and father seeing him do it. Then Louie adds that his sister also saw it. Launchpad goes back to head-banging and Dewey gives Louie a Dope Slap.
  • Done literally by AJ in The Fairly OddParents at the end of the episode "Shelf Life" after Crocker gives him an 'F' on his book report (thanks to Timmy changing the stories of the books).
  • Gravedale High: In "Monster on Trial", Max Schneider does this when the judge declares him guilty in favor of old lady Fresno, who faked whiplash after Reggie accidentally bumps into her while taking Driver's Ed.
  • Kaeloo: In the episode "Let's Play Prince Charming", Mr. Cat does this after Quack Quack answers a bunch of ridiculously difficult questions — and the desk had a buzzer on it, which, when pressed, gives Quack Quack an electric shock.
  • In The Looney Tunes Show, Daffy Duck does this when Bugs Bunny said he didn't make a parade float.
  • The Loud House: In "The Sweet Spot", Lincoln does this in a Flashback Cut when he is sitting next to a speaker in the family van playing a romantic song his parents danced to at their prom.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses this fairly often:
    • Rarity beats her head against a mannequin in "Suited for Success" after Rainbow Dash tells her that the Gala outfit she's making "needs to be about 20% cooler" without giving any actual details.
    • In "The Show Stoppers", Scootaloo bangs her head against the piano when she has difficulty composing the Cutie Mark Crusaders' song for the talent show.
    • Apple Bloom does this in "Hearts and Hooves Day" when she realizes that she and her fellow Crusaders have turned Cheerilee and Big Mac into "a couple o' nonsense-spouting-nincompoops."
    • In "A Friend in Deed", Twilight Sparkle bangs her head against a tabletop when Pinkie Pie insists on trying to befriend Cranky Doodle Donkey, despite Twilight trying to convince Pinkie that maybe he just wants to be left alone. Twilight has a book in front of her at the time. Cue jokes by the fans that Twilight has just joined Facebook.
    • In "Too Many Pinkie Pies", Pinkie thumps her head against a giant mushroom being used as an outdoor cafe table, having realized just how big a mess she's made by creating so many duplicates of herself.
    • "A Royal Problem":
      • Starlight Glimmer bangs her head in frustration against the desk supporting "Ballerina Twilight", making the music box jump.
      • Princess Luna later slams her face against the diner table after realizing that doing Celestia's job isn't that easy.
    • "Uncommon Bond": Starlight Glimmer again, while Sunburst and Twilight are gushing over the antiques they've bought after a lengthy stay at the shop, during which Starlight had been bored out of her skull.
  • In the Monster Allergy Monster Allergy episode "The Horn of Kong", Magnacat (in human form) bangs his head on his desk repeatedly after finding out that he's spent so much money on evil schemes that his company has gone bankrupt.
  • In the Pinky and the Brain episode "Das Mouse", the Brain appoints Pinky to disguise the bad taste of hypnotic sapo in his pancake recipe. Later, when they are making the Titanic rise, Pinky keeps trying to ask the Brain about the "icky stuff that tastes bad" in the recipe, but the Brain keeps telling him, "Cut it out!" Finally, after the pancake jamboree is held...
    Brain: Tell me, Pinky, your pancake batter — how did you manage to hide the bitter taste of the hypnotic sapo?
    Pinky: Well, like you said, I cut it out.
    Brain: Cut what out?
    Pinky: That hypnotic stuff tasted terrible, Brain. So, like you said, I cut it out.
    [the Brain walks up to a test tube and repeatedly hits his head against it]
    Pinky: Ooh, Brain, that looks painful.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Fact or Fiction?", Sean does an epic one when Jet rules in favor of Lillian in the Kangaroo Court.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "Space Madness" Ren bangs his head on the table after seeing the Food Pills Stimpy presents.
  • In the Scooby-Doo crossover with Supernatural, after Sam & Dean reveal to Mystery Incorporated that monsters are real, Fred slams his head into a tree while exclaiming that his life is meaningless after realizing that they've spent all this time chasing guys in masks when "we could've been hunting Dracula".
  • One episode of Sealab 2021 has Sparks performing this while Captain Murphy rambles on about a video game.
  • The Simpsons:
    • When Bart is on a mission to get his soul back after selling it, the Comic Book Guy tells him he sold it to someone else. He then tells Bart to stop banging his head on the display case as it contains a rare Mary Worth in which she has advised a friend to commit suicide.
    • In a Treehouse of Horror segment that parodies Avatar, Milhouse does this to a tree after the second time the Rigelian girl berates him.
  • South Park:
    • In the episode "Hooked on Monkey Fonics" Kyle falls in love with the Homeschooled Kid Rebecca, who is unfamiliar with the public school system. When he asks her to come to the dance, she says she might see him there. Kyle explains that he meant going to the dance with him, but Rebecca explains there is no need for that since her father will drive her there. Once she leaves the room, Kyle bangs his head against her chair.
    • Stan bangs his head on the desk in "Pinkeye" when he is stuck dressed as Raggedy Andy. He was supposed to pair with Wendy who would dress as Raggedy Ann but she ditched her costume after realizing how stupid she would look. She thought Stan would reach the same conclusion.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Krusty Krab Training Video" has Squidward bang his head against the cash register after asking Patrick if he wants his Krabby Patty for here or to go.
    • In "Squeaky Boots", Mr. Krabs does this several times when he goes insane.
  • Star Wars Resistance: At the end of the short "The Search for Kaz", BB-8 drops his magnetically-attached head-dome against the floor after, having been sent out by Yeager to look for Kaz, he returns to the repair shop to find Kaz there... and Kaz, unaware of what BB was just sent out to do, asks him to go out and find Yeager.
  • Steven Universe:
    • "Fusion Cuisine": Connie plants her face into the table when Steven tells Connie's parents that Alexandrite (the fusion of Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl) works on an apple farm. Her mother then chastises her for putting her head on the table.
    • "The Trial": Steven tries to explain how he thinks the shattering of Pink Diamond went down. Blue Zircon repeatedly slams her head into a pillar during his entire spiel.
  • VeggieTales:

    Real Life 
  • According to historian Lewis H. Lapham, after the destruction of 15,000 Roman troops (and 10,000 camp followers) under their commander Publius Quinctilius Varus (and his subsequent suicide) at the Teutonberg Forest in 6 AD, Emperor Augustus, "...from time to time until the end of his life... was seen wandering through the rooms of the palace, beating his head against the wall and crying out... 'Quinctillius Varus, give me back my legions.'"
  • Alexander Graham Bell did this when he was trying to create the telephone.
  • One of the special effects programmers can be seen doing this in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, when under serious deadline pressure at the end of the last film.
  • This is a fairly prevalent form of stimming used by autistic people; depending on the surface and degree of force, it can pose a greater or lesser risk for self harm. This particular case may be directly related to the trope, since autistic people tend to use various forms of stimming as calming/focus behaviors to cope with overwhelming stimuli or emotion, and the trope is used in response to a character experiencing overwhelming irritation, rage, frustration, etc.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Wall Bang, Face Desk



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Example of:

Main / HeadDesk

Media sources:

Main / HeadDesk