Follow TV Tropes


High-Pressure Emotion

Go To
Momo accidentally discovers the SMIF library's collection of Victorian smut.

"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.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Various characters from Anpanman who are related to tea and pots have this trait.
  • During the second chapter of Asteroid in Love, Ao gets this after Mira happily tells her the latter has been learning a lot about astronomy due to Ao's influence. Steam comes out from her head, followed by her Twisted-Knee Collapse on the balcony.
  • 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).
  • Stella from Chivalry of a Failed Knight whenever she's particularly embarrassed.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Majin Buu, who blows steam from a set of holes on the top of his head and along his upper arms when he gets angry. While amusing to see on the outside, on his insides, it was noted the steam was likely hot enough to strip flesh from bone. It also becomes much more unnerving to watch when Buu reaches his Rage-Breaking Point, whereupon his eyes open, he gains a set of bulging veins across his head, his speech is reduced to Angrish, and considerably more steam erupts from his ports. One such instance of the latter is Played for Drama later in the series when the steam in question turned 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.
  • Haruka Nogizaka's Secret: Every time Haruka and Yuuto get friendly or intimate. Happens less and less as the series progresses and the protagonists' relationship grows.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • 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.
  • In Jack and the Beanstalk (1974) 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.
  • During one of Asakusa's many imagine spots in Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, she ends up so stressed out by Kanamori calling her out on her lack of direction for the Motion Picture Club's "alien invasion" film that she generates enough steam to melt a hole into the ground.
  • 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.
  • When mortified, Centorea from Monster Musume not only burns red and emits steam, but can also burn wooden surfaces.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Miku Nakano of The Quintessential Quintuplets is the pronest to this out of her sisters, given that she doesn't emote much. Her crush Fuutarou and any mention of him can easily trigger it.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • 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.
  • Washio from Washio Sumi Is a Hero blows steam out her nose when she gets pumped to tell Gin about a Japanese battleship.
  • The Zashiki-Warashi in ×××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, but he also runs off puffing like a steam engine, complete with matching audio until he runs into a tree.
  • Steam starts coming off of Shirogane's head in chapter 162 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War when he reads though the calender of a stationary set that Kaguya gave him for Chirstmas and sees that it's filled with notes for all the days that she wants to spend with him now that they've had their Relationship Upgrade.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 10 episode 23, Smart S. uses a Pokeball to feed a monster Sweet S.'s terrible food. A none-too-pleased Sweet S. has steam shooting out of her ears right before she chases Smart S. over it.
    Sweet S.: That was the lunch I made!
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Marching to the New Wonderland episode 2, an angry Wolffy has steam shooting out of his ears when he realizes that the goats have gotten the Energy Seed back from him.

    Comic Strips 
  • One comic from For Better or for Worse had Elizabeth locked Michael out of the house, he starts calling her names demanding she let him in, she tells him she will only let him in after he apologizes to her after he hears this his face turns beet red and steam comes out his ears.
  • Happens occasionally to Garfield or Jon from Garfield when they get really angry or eat or drink something hot.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Alice in Wonderland:
    • The Queen of Hearts has her face turning red twice: When she falsely accuses Alice of 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.
  • Cinderella The King's face turns boiling red with anger when the Grand Duke informs him that Cinderella ran away from the ball, the starts attacking him, believing he was conspiring with his son, the Prince. The Duke even lampshades this
  • 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).
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • Rollercoaster of Friendship: After learning the White Void Room they were stuck in was just a room in the park and not some sort of magical void, Sunset Shimmer gets so upset that her face turns bright red, accompanied by the sound of steam escaping.
    • Spring Breakdown: When Rainbow Dash accidentally destroys a fresh-out-of-the-oven bundt cake, Puffed Pastry (the cook) gets red in the face with a teakettle sound.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Treasure of Swamp Castle: The Governor is a Literal Metaphor example—his pressure valve has to be released when he gets mad.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Give Roger Rabbit a shot of whiskey, and he'll give you an earful.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Journey's End", Davros makes the Doctor recall all the deaths of people significant to him, including his wife, the Face of Boe and Astrid Peth, whilst taunting him. You can see the Doctor's face shaking with suppressed sadness.
  • In Kamen Rider Fourze episode 36, Miu did this one after Gentaro hung up the telephone.
  • Phua Chu Kang, a Singaporean comedy series, takes it to the extreme in one episode, when Margaret Phua reaches beyond her Rage-Breaking Point. Not only does her face turn red, but steam comes out from her ears and nostrils!
  • Super Sentai/Power Rangers:
    • 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.
    • In Yayoi's first spotlight episode Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, her constant fawning over Daigo causes Amy to blow steam from her ears in jealousy, complete with pressure cooker sound effect.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch did this all the time in earlier episodes.


    Puppet Shows 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Wally Warbles and The Head of The Train both do this in Cuphead; while the latter makes sense, given that he's an animate steam locomotive, the former even has his head transform into a steam whistle for good measure!
  • Victor von Gerdenheim from the Darkstalkers series does this during one of his victory poses.
  • Day of the Tentacle: Weird Ed Edison gets this when Bernard messes with his stamp collection.
  • Taunting an enemy in God Hand or successfully landing enough hits without taking damage causes this reaction.
  • In Grow Valley, The designer will gets angry and turns all red with puff of smokes appearing on the top of his head if the architect and the mechanic builds a train on the terrain before he could finish his first project design, making all of his work meaningless.
  • Rena often does this in the Higurashi: When They Cry visual novels.
  • The Hebby Repp and Pricklemane Dream Eaters in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] 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.
  • Legend of Mana: Inspector Boyd is prone to teakettle-like fits of anger.
  • Done quite often with bosses in later games of Mario series.
  • Some Pokémon moves like Bulk Up or Rage have this as an animation.
  • Any Miis that winds up in a fight with another Mii thanks to the Random Number God in Tomodachi Life is represented with this.
  • Nayuta Kagura in Yumina the Ethereal does this occasionally, complete with steam coming out of her face.

    Web Animation 
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device:
    • When the Emperor hears what the Inquisition does to the Sensei, his rage begins with steam erupting from where his ears used to be, accompanied by the palace shaking and followed by a cluster of warp storms.
    • The same happens when the post office accidentally sends him a message from a man complaining about his missing burger.


    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In "The Car", Mr. Robinson turns red and scowls angrily while Gumball and Darwin are tucking him into bed.
    Darwin: I think he has a temperature!
    Gumball: Come on, Mr. Robinson! Say "aaah!"
    • Much like CJ from Regular Show, Masami is a cloud who turns dark gray when she's either sad or angry, as shown in "The Pressure" and "The Storm".
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Zuko once reacts to his uncle's fooling around by actually breathing smoke. Makes sense, in that he is a firebender and thus can control fire.
    • In "Lake Laogai", an angry Aang's head blows steam when he furiously snaps at Joo Dee for forbidding him from putting up posters in the city.
      Aang: We don't care about the rules and we're NOT asking permission! We're finding Appa on our own and you should just stay out of our way!
  • In the Beavis and Butt-Head 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.
  • Minus the steam, this happens to Darla Dimple in Cats Don't Dance when she gets very angry.
  • Disenchantment: In "Faster, Princess! Kill! Kill!", king Zog tries to invoke this trope with help of special pellets Sorcerio created, which are supposed to make steam come out of his ears while Zog gives Bean a lecture. However, they fail to go off until after Bean starts to leave, much to his frustration.
  • Whenever Tinker Bell gets pissed off in Disney Fairies, her body turns red and glows hot.
  • Donald Duck frequently has this happen to him during his infamous tantrums.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stumpy from Kaeloo sometimes blows steam out of his nose when he gets mad.
  • It would be easier to name the Looney Tunes shorts that don't use this trope than the ones that do.
  • The Loud House: In "Feast or Family", this apparently happens to Luan when she finally has enough of Mr. Loud pressuring her to be his heir. However, the steam doesn’t actually come out of her ears, but from the high pressure cooker standing behind her.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Pinkie Pie blows her stack in "The Last Roundup", after Applejack breaks her "Pinkie Promise".
    • "A Flurry of Emotions": When Flurry Heart gets upset about being ignored at the hospital and throws a tantrum, her face turns red with anger.
    • "Triple Threat": When Ember tries to express how mad she feels to Spike, she gets very purplish in the face and briefly makes a teakettle sound.
    • "Frenemies": After Rusty Bucket accidentally buries Cozy Glow in snow falling from his roof, the filly gets so red-faced from anger that she melts the snow covering her.
  • 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".
  • Regular Show:
    • Benson's gumballs become red every time he's angry.
    • Because she's a cloud, when C.J. gets angry or upset, her entire body turns grey and she turns into a living storm.
  • Happens sometimes in The Ren & Stimpy Show when Ren gets really angry or scared. "Man's Best Friend" took it a step further by adding the sound of a jet turbine starting up when George Liquor gets angry.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied in 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 drunk 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!
  • 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":
      Mr. Krabs: Day... OOOOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFFF!!!!!???
    • 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!
    • In "Naughty Nautical Neighbors", after SpongeBob smashed the bassinet due to Patrick interrupting his song, Squidward is shown to have red in the face and has steam erupting from his head, along with the kettle whistle sound effect, before kicking SpongeBob out of his house.
  • Has popped up on occasion in Thomas & Friends. It has in fact been implied that this occasionally causes burst safety valves, making such occasions the steam engine equivalent of an aneurysm.
  • The Town Santa Forgot:
    • Jeremy Creek turns an angry red when his parents refuse to buy him a toy at a store and throws a temper tantrum.
    • Happens again when he's not satisfied with a new toy and expels steam from his head.
    • Jeremy turns purple with rage after he finds that all the kids in town received gifts from Santa except for him. Smoke shoots out of his ears and he grits his teeth.
  • 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.

    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 than 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.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Blowing Your Top


Majin Buu

After Hercule manages to convince Majin Buu that there's more to life than causing chaos and destroying things, the formerly-mischievous Majin becomes protective of his new family. Very, very protective. As seen here, anyone who'd be stupid enough to interfere should be very afraid of pushing him over the edge...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / HighPressureEmotion

Media sources: