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High-Pressure Emotion

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"Squidward, you're steaming. You're like a steamed vegetable, only smarter."
SpongeBob SquarePants, "Squidville"


Embarrassed or angry, a cartoon character can go beyond a red face. The deep redness wells up from the neck (teakettle or steam locomotive whistle sound effect here is useful) and culminates in a puff of steam erupting from both ears, the top of the head, or an indeterminate point on the face. The visual effect is similar to an old thermometer rising so high, it blows its top.

The Shrinking Violet is prone to this when in the presence of her crush.

Resembles, but should not be confused with, some manifestations of the Fire-Breathing Diner. Compare Burning with Anger.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Various characters from Anpanman who are related to tea and pots have this trait.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • Early in the series, Holy Roman Empire was attempting to paint when young (north) Italy (who Holy Rome had a crush on) came over to help him. When Italy put his hand over Holy Rome's, the latter quickly turned bright red.
    • When young Romano (south Italy), was trying to explain to Spain that he was worried about him, his face got increasingly red and puffs of steam came off the top of his head.
  • Common for girls in B Gata H Kei, particularly Yamada when presented with any romantic or sexual situation that she doesn't know how to handle (ie. all of them).
  • When mortified, Centorea from Daily Life with Monster Girl not only burns red and emits steam, but can also burn wooden surfaces.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Majin Buu, who literally blows steam from his head when he gets angry. While amusing to see on the outside, on his inside it was noted the steam was likely hot enough to strip flesh from bone.
    • Played for Drama when the steam in question turns into the recently-reformed Buu's more powerful evil half, who then absorbs him to become the very dangerous Super Buu.
  • Durarara!! example: resident Shizuo Heiwajima gets like this... sort of. While his expression doesn't seem to change, he's too red to get away with a Luminescent Blush. Just compare it to the color of his hand.
  • In Gate 7, since Hana kissed him to put a myouhou spell on him to come back to Kyoto, Chikahito does this when he gets some ship tease with her.
  • In Jack to Mame no Ki near the end when Jack repeatedly insults Tulip his face gets bright red and steam comes out his head, later after Jack and Crosby make him crash into a pillar he starts snorting steam and his head morphs into a smokestack and he starts running like a locomotive.
  • Kamisama Kazoku has Tenko, who emits a halo-like ring of steam from her hair when embarrassed enough - as she's an angel, this is very appropriate.
  • Kanna of Koe de Oshigoto! often has this with her luminescent blushes due to her status as the shy heroine of an ecchi series.
  • In K-On! Mio gets so embarrassed it leads to a small mushroom cloud.
  • Lotte no Omocha: Happens to Lotte after Asuha kisses her throughout the series.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! has an epic example. The people watching actually think that Negi is using some sort of spell to cause it.
    • In Negima!? has a slightly strange example Asuna's bells in her hair blow off steam when she is frustrated, angry or embarrassed.
    • Nodoka as well gets this although it radiates upward like steam.
  • Lunar does this in My Bride is a Mermaid after someone hints that she might be in love with Sun.
  • Nagasarete Airantou has Ayane doing this whenever someone raises the topic of her Accidental Kiss with Ikuto, and, after the incident, whenever said person is around.
  • Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: So, so much - every time Haruka and Yuuto get friendly or intimate. Happens less and less as the series progresses and the protagonists' relationship grows.
  • In Pokémon, Serena starts with the standard Luminescent Blush when Shauna tells her that she knows about Serena's crush on Ash, only to spout steam like a kettle when she thought that their friends (including Ash) had heard the two of them.
  • Ranma ½: Trying to fool Nabiki, Ranma accidentally confesses his love to Akane. This is the immediate aftermath.
    • A more extreme example can be seen when Nabiki, trying to explain to Kuno that the "pig-tailed girl" is actually Ranma's female form, mistakenly implies Ranma is holding said pig-tailed girl as a love slave. Kuno's head briefly turns into a volcano.
    • Given how Jusenkyo curses work, it's typical to change someone back by tossing a kettle of hot water straight at them —the water will somehow spill on contact and revert them to their true form. When this was tried on Rouge, who, at the moment, was an earthly avatar of the goddess Asura, the kettle merely hit her head-on and made her furious, turning the water to steam instantaneously with her anger.
  • In episode 3 of Sakura Trick, Mitsuki gets annoyed when Yuu mentions how Haruka can help her get her glasses repaired. During Mitsuki's annoyed ramble about Haruka, she says it's not like Yuu is dating Haruka or anything, and Yuu-chan goes bright red, turning into a "human steam pot".
  • Various characters in School Rumble.
  • Giroro from Sgt. Frog does this a LOT in context of Natsumi. That's one hot-blooded frog.
  • Super Gals: In Episode 31, Miyu does this when she realizes her mistake of rudely barging in on Yamato helping Towa with the café; the entire lower half of her face turns bright red and steam comes out of the top of her head.
  • The Zashiki-Warashi in XXX Holic does this when being treated with kindness from Watanuki.
  • Hanazano takes this one step further in Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl. He not only gets the steam, he runs off puffing like a steam engine, complete with matching audio, until he runs into a tree.

    Fan Fic 

  • Give Roger Rabbit a shot of whiskey, and he'll give you an earful.
  • The Taking Of Pelham 123 (1974). The cop protagonist claims to a group of Japanese (who he wrongly assumes don't speak English) that the supervisor in charge of the New York City Subway often has steam coming from his ears when he's annoyed (which is all the time).
  • Drinking strong alcohol sometimes made The Three Stooges react this way.
  • The police chief of Last Action Hero displays this during a Turn in Your Badge speech, his face rapidly becoming bloated and red with sweating streaming down it and steam pouring from his ears. By the end of the speech, he's essentially yelling garbled abuse at the main characters which neither can understand.
  • Treasure of Swamp Castle: The Governor is a Literal Metaphor example—his pressure valve has to be released when he gets mad.
  • Invoked but not depicted in Clue by Mrs. White:
    "Yes. Yes, I did it. I killed Yvette. I hated her.. so much.. it-it- the f - it -flam - flames, flames, on the side of my face, breathing-breathl- heaving breaths. Heaving breaths... Heathing...
  • In Muppet Treasure Island during the "Cabin Fever" musical number, when the crew sings about how they're going mad from being cooped up on the ship one of the pirates sings the line "it's burning in my brain!" as his face turns bright red and steam comes out his ears.
  • In Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College!, steam comes out the Rat Ghoulie's ears with the sound of a train whistle, after he drinks a bottle of drain cleaner.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Power Rangers Mystic Force, mechanical villain Morticon actually blew steam when really pissed. (In a nice touch, you could see actual condensation on him sometimes.) This is pretty much lifted from Branken of Mahou Sentai Magiranger.
    • Similarly, in Engine Sentai Go-onger, Kegalesia had an actual valve that one of the other villains had to open to allow her to 'let off steam' when she was particularly annoyed.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch did this all the time in earlier episodes.
  • In Kamen Rider Fourze episode 36, Miu did this one after Gentaro hung up the telephone.


    Video Games 
  • Done quite often with bosses in later games of Mario series.
  • Rena often does this in the Higurashi: When They Cry visual novels.
  • Day of the Tentacle: Wild Ed Edison gets this when Bernard messes with his stamp collection.
  • In Battle Chess, when one Pawn takes another, the defending Pawn taunts the attacking Pawn (who has just missed), and steam pours from the attacking Pawn's ears, complete with steam whistle sound effect.
  • Victor von Gerdenheim from the Darkstalkers series does this during one of his victory poses.
  • The Hebby Repp and Pricklemane dream eaters in Kingdom Hearts 3D both emit visible steam while in their rage mode. The former gets extra points for emitting a steam whistle sound when it triggers its rage.
  • Some Pokémon moves like Bulk Up or Rage have this as an animation.
  • Taunting an enemy in God Hand or successfully landing enough hits without taking damage causes this reaction.
  • Any Miis that winds up in a fight with another Mii thanks to the Random Number God in Tomodachi Life is represented with this.
  • Legend of Mana: Inspector Boyd is prone to teakettle-like fits of anger.

    Web Works 

    Western Animation 
  • It would be easier to name the Looney Tunes shorts that don't use this trope than the ones that do.
  • Donald Duck.
  • Grimlock in Transformers Animated takes this one step further. When he's mad or otherwise excited, he shoots flames from his collar, setting his own head on fire.
    • A pissed-off Optimus once had his engine revving to sound like heavy breathing.
  • Minus the steam, this happens to Darla Dimple in Cats Don't Dance when she gets very angry.
  • Hades from Disney's Hercules is similar to Grimlock in that he's literally setting his head on fire (or rather making the existing flame much larger and brighter).
  • Tom and Jerry
  • Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender once reacted to his uncle's fooling around by actually breathing smoke. Makes sense, in that he is a firebender and thus can control fire.
    • Or, if you want to get really picky, it makes no sense, because the fuel that the fire uses is the energy he draws from his breath, meaning no residue for smoke.
      • Unless he's burning his nose hair.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Marge be Not Proud", after Bart hears that the family is going to have their photo taken at the same store he was caught shoplifting at earlier (the family doesn't know about it, and the security guard has threatened him with juvenile hall if he catches him in the store again) steam appears to shoot out his ears accompanied by a loud whistle. Marge then announces her tea is ready and reveals two hot kettles previously hidden behind Bart's head.
    • Referenced in another episode with a big town-wide chili cookoff. Homer tries Chief Wiggum's chili, made with Guatemalan insanity peppers. Homer, having drank a melted candle to coat the inside of his mouth with wax to prevent a repeat of earlier (one touch of the pepper on his tongue made him run off screaming), he then proceeds to eat several insanity peppers, much to everyone's shock and dismay...
      Dr. Hibbert: By all medical logic, steam should be shooting out of his ears!
      Krusty the Klown: His ears if we're lucky!
  • Happens to Pandarama in Elefun And Friends: A Tangled Tale. Her character description indicates that she may turn other colors when frustrated, but in that one short, we just see her turn red.
  • Benson's gumballs become red everytime he's angry in Regular Show.
    • Because she's a cloud, when C.J. gets angry or upset, her entire body turns grey and she turns into a living storm.
  • This happens to Twilight Sparkle in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen" when the "doozy" Pinkie Pie predicted turned out to be something else. Causing her mane and tail to burst into flames (her coat also turns white, making her look like a Rapidash).
  • Has popped up on occasion in Thomas the Tank Engine. It has in fact been implied that this occasionally causes burst safety valves, making such occasions the steam engine equivalent of an aneurysm.
  • Happens sometimes in The Ren & Stimpy Show when Ren gets really angry or scared.
  • In the Beavis And Butthead episode "Good Credit" after realizing the duo stole his credit card Tom Anderson gets so angry steam comes out his ears and mouth; note that this was back when the shorts had a more cartoony style.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Spider's Little Daddy", Jeff the spider is getting advice from Mandy on how to make Billy who he thinks is his dad to like him, Mandy loses interest and leaves the headpiece behind while Grim is cleaning in the other room and Jeff starts repeating everything he says, eventually Grim gets so mad steam comes out his eyes and mouth with a train whistle sound effect and Jeff says "TOOT!" at that part.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Eddy does this a lot.
  • In Shrek the Halls, after the fairy tale characters ruin Shrek's Christmas decorations, he gets mad as the teapot sound is heard. One of the three pigs notices a nearby kettle whistling and says the tea is ready.
  • Duckman: Duckman steams in "A Room with a Bellevue" during a particularly rough day; he gets stuck in traffic due to road work, his engine breaks down and finds his car disassembled apparently in the few seconds he wasn't looking.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: A few examples include after hearing that Spongebob gave away some of his money Mr. Krabs gets so upset his eyes pop out and steam shoots out of the sockets, and on one occasion Squidward gets so angry his head explodes.
    • Happens to Squidward a few times when he gets annoyed out by SpongeBob and Patrick's antics, as described by the page quote.
    • Mr. Krabs in "Imitation Krabs":
    • Also happens to SpongeBob when he and Patrick fight over clean vs. filthy and Patrick puts Krabby Patties on his unclean feet. He gets so angry that he turns red with rage, inflates, and finally blows up!
  • Whenever Tinker Bell gets pissed off in Disney Fairies, she gets this.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016):
    • Buttercup in "Little Octi Lost" after she loses the kickball game.
    • Buttercup gets this again in the "Air Buttercup" short while trying to toss trash into a garbage can but keeps missing.
    • Bubbles does this in "Road Trippin'".
    • Blossom's entire body turns red and there's a whistling sound while being pressured by her sisters in "Splitsville".
  • Stumpy from Kaeloo sometimes blows steam out of his nose when he gets mad.
  • In The Rugrats Movie, after Drew found out from Rex Pester that Stu had lost his daughter Angelica (actually his father Lou, because he was asleep), Drew's face turns boiling red in fury just before he lunges at Stu to fight him.
  • The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, has her face turning red twice: When she falsely accuses Alice for toppling her over in the croquet match, and when she argues with Alice about where the verdict should come first before the sentence.
    • Much earlier in the film, the Carpenter's face also turns red in fury before chasing the Walrus away for devouring all the oysters behind his back.

    Real Life 
  • In case you were wondering, it is possible for a person to produce steam, but it requires a long period of activity, so that your body temp is hotter then the air around you. The top of the head, being the place most body heat is expelled from, is the most common area to see steam, but if the work out was extra hard (and the surrounding air extra cold), it is not uncommon for it to be visibly coming off your entire upper body.

Alternative Title(s): Blowing Your Top


Example of: