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Nasal Trauma

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"Still, could be worse. My nose could be gushing blood!"
Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot, Batman Returns

When it comes to attacks on the human face, the nose is one of the biggest targets after the eyes and the mouth: after all, it's the first element of the face that's within reach. Though it doesn't have quite the same visceral response as attacking the eyes or the teeth, it's a very obvious vulnerability with its own special brand of pain and visual flair attached.

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Hitting someone in the ear, for example, is painful but not quite as visually distinctive; in fiction, breaking someone's nose is not only noticeable thanks to the spectacular nosebleed, but it's often considered a sign that the attacker has done some serious damage. As anyone who's ever experienced this in real life knows, a broken nose is a big deal: the pain is immediate, the impact is disorienting, breathing may be impeded, the bloodflow is often quite dramatic, and the nose itself may end up a different shape altogether if not properly treated. With this in mind, it's no surprise that bloody or broken noses are the most recognizable facial injury in fistfights, a visual shorthand for "you've just been hit hard."

When it comes to more serious injuries, there's a reason why characters with no noses appear unusual in live-action works: the nose plays a very important role in the human perception of the face and without it, the entire face looks wrong... and that's not even getting into the horror of having the nose reduced to a gaping hole, for example. As such, going for the nose is one of the most common tactics in facial mutilation as a means of leaving the victim noticeably scarred for life.

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Long story short, this trope deals with attacks on the nose of any kind. If they cause pain, they're here.

Depending on the severity of the attack, this can result in the character becoming The Noseless.

Extreme cases may involve Facial Horror or Cold-Blooded Torture of some kind.

Compare Agony of the Feet, Ear Ache, Fingore, and Tongue Trauma for other injuries to specific body parts.

Compare Psychic Nosebleed. Contrast Nasal Weapon.

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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • One ad for Little Caesar's Pizza has a Roman family dressed in togas and wearing laurel wreaths on their heads enter a limo while throngs cheer. As Papa Caesar waves through the vehicle's open window, the pane motors up, pinching his prominent nose against the top.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Jesse Custer, ever the Combat Pragmatist, inflicts this on an opponent early in Preacher. Not only does he ram his fingers up the guy's nose, but rips them out through the sides, practically shredding the damn thing.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Multiple occasions from different causes:
    • Ami's corrupted Shabon Spray has some very nasty effects on sensory organs:
      the dark magic performed the same task of blinding and disorienting the targets that Mercury's usual chilly fog would have. [...] she saw monsters claw at their eyes in the darkness. Blood was flowing from their ears and noses.
    • From A Meddler Appears, a rat gets a bloody nose due to sniffing something from that came from a room with concentrated bile demon stench:
      Ami dropped the loot unceremoniously in her own treasure chamber, where it landed on the ground with a soft thud. A rat scuttled out of the shadows and approached cautiously, twitching its nose as it sniffed the new box. Moments later, it let out an offended squeak and bounded away, bleeding from its nostrils. Bile demons, the young Keeper shuddered. A locked room would concentrate the smell...

    Films — Animation 
  • A pink bunny in Cool World is playing craps with the Quirky Miniboss Squad. The bunny needs a four, and rolls a pair of twos. Slash, however, plucks one pip off each die, then declares, "Aw, s-s-s-snake eyes. You lose." When the bunny protests this blatant cheat, Slash inserts one long finger blade into the bunny's nostril, wrenching his nose out of shape, and demands payment.
  • After losing her temper with the title character in Coraline, the Other Mother grabs her by the nose and drags her out of the room. For good measure, the Other Mother is in her true form and sporting extremely long, sharp fingers.
  • Late in Corpse Bride, the male chef - decomposing like everyone else in the underworld - ends up losing his nose when one of his fellow chefs accidentally whacks him in the back of the head. Said nose lands in the cauldron they were cooking with... and ends up becoming the key ingredient of the wedding cake.
  • In The Jungle Book, Baloo asks Mowgli to flick a fly off his nose. The monkey who'd taken Mowgli's place hits him on the nose.
  • The Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons seeks to enter the orphanage covertly through an open window. But first, he glances furtively around to ascertain the coast is clear, his long nose resting on the windowsill as he does so. Played for Laughs when the window suddenly falls, pinching his nose against the sill as the rest of him leaps in pain.
  • In Steven Universe: The Movie, Steven's nose bleeds after he gets punched in the face. Notably, this is one of the only times in the series where blood is actually shown after an injury.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Penguin inflicts this on one of his campaign staff in Batman Returns, taking a massive bite out of his nose and sending blood gushing all over the place.
  • Birdman: During Riggan's opening night show, he loads the prop gun with real bullets, intending to commit suicide onstage. Instead he ends up shooting his nose off and fainting, waking up to find he's still alive, his play is getting incredible reviews for "super realism", and he's been surgically given a new nose.
  • Appears quite famously in Chinatown when Jake Gittes is warned not to continue his investigation by a knife-wielding thug (played by the director in a cameo) who ends up slicing one of his nostrils open. As such, Gittes spends the rest of the film with his nose bandaged.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, Alex ends up earning a full milk bottle to the face courtesy of his long-abused fellow gang-members, leaving him with a nasty cut across his nose. After Alex gets arrested, a police interrogator jams his thumb into the bandaged wound.
  • In the beginning of Con Air, Poe strikes a drunk guy who was molesting his wife hard enough in the nose to kill the man, resulting in Poe being sentenced to ten years in prison and his involvement with the plot of the movie.
  • During the prison sequence in Guardians of the Galaxy, Groot rescues Quill from a fellow prisoner by jamming his root-fingers up the guy's nostrils and hoisting him into the air, complete with nasty sound effects. The aftereffects leave the prisoner slumped on the floor in a sobbing heap, hands clasped over his nose.
  • As with the book, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry is caught spying on Malfoy and gets his nose kicked in for his trouble. However, the film adds an extra layer of this when Luna Lovegood has to pop his nose back into place with magic, resulting in a loud cracking sound and a yelp of pain from Harry — bit of a change from the original novel in which Tonks' Episkey spell was completely painless.
  • Occurs courtesy of Pistol-Whipping in ''Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," resulting in a lot of blood and pained expletives.
    Gay Perry: You think that's funny, huh? I'm gonna break your nose now. [thump]
  • A fistfight between the Kray twins in Legend (2015), results in Ron Kray getting his nose broken with a Sickening "Crunch!". Ron immediately staggers away, covered in blood and screaming at the top of his lungs, and needs to steal a stiff drink from one of the club patrons before he can calm down... and then start fighting all over again.
  • Seerlena tortures Scrad and Charlie for information in Men in Black II by threading her tendrils into their noses - in one nostril and out the other, from one head to the next. In an amusing twist, this doesn't just cause them significant pain, but it actually makes them speak in Helium Speech.
  • In Pan's Labyrinth, Captain Vidal bashes a rebel's nose in with a glass bottle.
  • In Raging Bull, Jake LaMotta's wife absently mentions that his next opponent, Tony Janiro, has a pretty face... and the Bronx Bull takes it personally: when they meet in the ring, Jake goes straight for Janiro's face and doesn't stop until he's satisfied. Close-up shots show the poor bastard's nose being squished flat with a loud wet crunch, gushing blood everywhere.
    Jake: He ain't pretty no more.
  • The "Pride" murder in Se7en features a beautiful supermodel having her nose cut off "to spite her face," as Detective Somerset puts it; she is then given a choice between calling for an ambulance or committing suicide with a bottle of pills. The victim picks the latter.
  • In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne attempts to fend off the Sisters during an attempted Prison Rape in the projection room of the prison cinema, breaking Rooster MacBride's nose with a heavy film reel. Unfortunately, the Sisters take this personally...
  • Jack's affair in Sideways goes horribly wrong when his romantic partner discovers that he's actually due to be married soon. Enraged, she smashes him in the face with her motorcycle helmet, breaking his nose. Jack spends the rest of the film wearing a nasal splint, and has to crash Miles' car into a tree to make it look as if they've been in an accident, just so his injuries don't raise unwanted questions when the wedding finally rolls around.
  • Total Recall (1990): Quaid has to ram a self-guiding pincer up his nose in order to extract the bug implanted in his head. This is nasty enough on its own, but the bug is clearly bigger than his nostrils, so we get to see his nose grotesquely deforming out of shape as he slowly removes it.
  • True Romance features Clifford's torture beginning with Vincent Coccotti punching him hard in the nose, leaving Clifford with a hankie clamped over his bloody schnoz for the remainder of the scene. This is the nicest thing the Mafia have in store for him hence why Clifford provokes Coccotti into killing him.

    Literature 
  • In Badjelly The Witch, Mud Wiggle punches a shark on the nose and he has to go to the "sharks' nose hospital".
  • Early in The Cockroach War, main character Toby takes part in a friendly game of football against Beverly Cadwallader; during Bev's charge towards the goal, he tries to tackle her - only to end up getting one of her breasts square in the nose. As Toby narrates, this doesn't sound painful, but Bevery is a lot older and bigger than him, and wearing a stiff bra too: the narration compares it to being smashed in the snout with "a melon stuffed with wet cement." Toby goes down hard, leading to this immortal line from his dad: "Watch out for those bosoms, Toby, they're lethal!"
  • At the end of the Afortunado sequence in Colony, community planner Charles Perry Gordon tries to fake a mugging with the help of two thugs for hire, not knowing they're actually debt collectors out to get him. Having been told to close his eyes and wait for a supposedly superficial beating, Gordon opens them just in time for a knuckle-dustered fist to hit him so hard that his nose explodes!
  • Graceling: Katsa recounts the story of how she discovered her Killing Grace: she panicked as a child when an older, royal man seemed to be taking interest in her... and proceeded to smash his nose into his face so hard it killed him. She was just a child at the time.
  • In In The Heart of Darkness Belisarius kicks Malwa spymaster Nandi Lal in the nose, permanently disfiguring him. Afterwards, Nandi Lal stops being Faux Affably Evil and becomes more openly nasty to match his new, ogreish appearance.
  • In Just So Stories, elephants have trunks because an overly-curious baby elephant made the mistake of went to ask a crocodile what it wanted for lunch and bit down on the baby's nose, stretching it into a trunk over the course of the ensuing tug-of-war. Then, when the other elephants asked how the baby had gotten its trunk, it told them that they'd have to ask the crocodile: by the end of the story, every elephant has a trunk, which are somehow passed onto the next generation.
  • Monstrous Regiment has Corporal Strappi demand the newly recruited Private Perks demonstrate his sword skills. Perks proceeds to show what he learned from ol' soldier Gummy Abens by knocking Strappi's sword to the side and headbutting him in the nose, ending the fight quickly and earning massive respect from Sergent Jackrum. Strappi's speech is affected for the rest of the scene and his nose remains swollen for a while afterwards.
  • In The Moomins, a hattifattener (little electric creature) zaps the Hemulan on the nose.
  • Homer's epic The Odyssey has mighty warrior Odysseus return home to find a bevy of horndogs sniffing up his wife, Penelope. Odysseus goes all hacky-slashy on them, then has disloyal servants hanged. Lastly, Odysseus deals with treacherous goatherd Melanthios by cutting off his nose, ears, genitals, hands and feet, in that order. If the bleed-out doesn't kill him, septic infection will.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers introduces George McIntyre negotiating with a group of debt collectors - one of them toting a pair of industrial cable cutters. The conversation ends with McIntyre having his nose removed with the cutters and being made to eat it in front of everyone in the coffee lounge.
    • While surveying Garbage World for any sign of Lister in Better Than Life, Kryten takes a sniff of the air. His nose immediately suffers an overload and explodes; being a mechanoid, Kryten easily replaces it, but the next one explodes as well.
    • Backwards delivers a quadruple whammy: in combat with a gang of cowboys in Kryten's virtual world, Rimmer punches a man's nose flat "like a cowpie"; then, he tackles the next man in line by hooking two fingers up his nose and flipping him over his head, into a card table; later, after the Agonoid virus spreads to the VR console, Cat loses badly in a fight with Pestilence and ends up getting smashed in the face with a hitching post, squishing his nose against one cheek; then, Lister gets the Cat's unconscious body thrown on top of him, breaking his nose as well.
  • Tyrion Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire ends up having most of his nose hacked off during an attempt on his life during the Battle of Blackwater. Already regarded with disdain for being a dwarf, the hideous scars make him even more reviled than before - and make him a very recognizable fugitive when he has to go on the run.
  • In one of the Treehouse books, they think the world is going to explode but it doesn't; however, Mr. Big Nose's nose does explode.
  • In Blood Trust, Alli disables a guard by shoving her fingers up his nostrils hard enough to shatter the cartilage in his nose.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Blackadder episode "Sense and Senility," at any mention of the name of the Scottish Play, the two actors must ward off evil spirits with a bizarre series of motions that conclude with them twisting each others noses. Naturally, Blackadder goes out of his way to mention it at every possible opportunity, and the actors are left clutching their noses in pain.
  • The Brady Bunch: in "The Subject Was Noses," Marsha gets a football in the nose, leaving it to swell up and ruining a date. Plus, it leads to the fondly-remembered, near-memetic line: "Ooh, my nose!"
  • The Bugaloos nemesis, Benita Bizarre, has two bumbling henchmen: Woofer and Tweeter. Usually, when these two goofballs fail an assignment or otherwise displease Benita, she will seize the connector cords that each has in the middle of its face, and connect the two together. Judging by Woofer and Tweeter's flailing and yowling, this cross-connection is painful.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance:
    • The Skeksis Emperor always wears a silver beak-cover, even while at the spa. As it turns out, this is because his attempts to harness the Darkening have begun to corrupt his body: under the covering, his nostrils have decayed, leaving a huge rotten pit in his beak.
    • In keeping with his nature as the Butt-Monkey of the Skeksis, the Scientist is smacked in the beak with a scepter after giving the Emperor news he doesn't want to hear.
  • Farscape:
    • Crichton goes for Prince Clavor's nose after the royal pain sends a gang of assassins to kill him in "Look At The Princess Part 2." Having already punched him in the face, he grabs Clavor by the nose and forces him to nod along with his demands... and Clavor has rather a lot of nose to grab.
    • When he finally appears in "Liars Guns And Money Part 2," Ka Jothee is is sporting a particularly vicious-looking scar across his nose, believed to be a souvenir of his days as a slave. In "Die Me Dichotomy," he admits that he'd been mutilating himself to remove any signs of his Luxan ancestry, possibly including the Luxan beak-nose.
    • Rygel gets his nose broken by Crichton in "Self-Inflicted Wounds Part 1," following a botched attempt to stage a getaway with the Farscape module. He spends a good chunk of the remaining episode with a bandage over his wounded nose-slits.
    • Aeryn returns in "Promises" with a contagion-induced case of Heat Delirium, and needs to be kept bedridden despite her insistence on saving the day; Noranti attempts to deepen her sleep with a handful of sedative powder - only for the "unconscious" Aeryn to grab her arm and slam the entire handful of powder up Noranti's nostrils, simultaneously bopping her in the nose and dosing her unconscious.
    • In "Coup By Clam," the doctor that's been holding the crew hostage via poisoned mollusks ends up having the tip of his Sinister Schnoz bitten off by Rygel.
  • In The Knick, Abigail Alford, a former lover of Dr. John Thackery arrives at the hospital to ask him to examine her nose: is it happens, it's been ravaged by syphilis from her promiscuous ex-husband. Thackery suggests a grueling live graft procedure in which tissue on her arm is grafted to her face.
  • In the NCIS episode "Corporal Punishment", a PTSD-afflicted marine breaks out of a psych ward. When Team Gibbs find him, the marine attacks them as he believes they're the same enemies who captured and tortured him in Iraq. Tony winds up getting his nose broken during the fight to subdue the marine.
  • Red Dwarf
    • In "Demons And Angels," the Low crew demonstrate their ability to remote-control Lister by having him slam a supply cabinet door on his nose.
    • After the Armageddon virus locks them into a virtual reality scenario, the crew are forced to manually remove their gloves and helmets, resulting in the Cat nearly pulling Lister's nose off in his efforts to free him.
  • During one of the few genuinely violent confrontations in The Thick of It, Malcolm Tucker impulsively punches Glen Cullen in the nose. Though it's not actually broken, it does bleed pretty spectacularly and ends up getting Malcolm in hot water with the media.

    Mythology 
In the Indian epos "Ramayana", the rakshasi Surpanakha flirts with Rama, and when he doesn't fall for Cute Monster Girl, threatens his wife. His brother Lakshman cuts off her nose. (It might have been an elaborate Thanosetos Gambit against Surpanakha's brother Ravana who of course wants to avenge her and is killed by Rama.)

    Video Games 
  • The Secret World features this cropping up as a natural consequence of mummification, with the first step involving an iron hook being inserted into the nostrils to extract the brains... except the Atenists inflict this on their victims while they're still alive.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: From Dorms of Our Lives, Season 5 (Part 4), Rah-rah's injuries from the previous day, covered in the previous part, are described:
    The girl code-named Rah-Rah looked more like Rah-Raccoon, sporting two black eyes, a busted lip, and a nose swelled up like an elephant seals.

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "National Treasure 4: Baby Franny: She's Doing Well: The Hole Story", Francine finds Henri Watkin, the fireman who rescued her living as a hermit in the bottom of a well for decades. When Henri is reintroduced to his wife, the two reconcile, and then he suddenly bites off her nose.
  • King of the Hill: In "Bwah My Nose", Hank suffers a broken nose while practicing for a football game. After surgery, he finds himself more attractive and becomes obsessed with protecting it.

    Real Life 
  • The phrase "cutting off the nose to spite the face" is believed to have stemmed from various historical incidents in which nuns and other pious women cut off their noses in order to avoid being raped by Viking raiders. In some cases, it saved the recipients from rape, but resulted in the Vikings killing them anyway.
  • Amputation of the nose was a popular punishment throughout the world, existing as far back as the Code of Hammurabi and continuing up to the Renaissance: quite apart from being immensely painful, facial disfigurement guaranteed that the criminal would be easy to identify from then on, and the nose proved the hardest for an offender to disguise.
    • In pre-dynastic China, this was one of the Five Punishments — the other four including facial tattooing, foot amputation, castration, and death.
    • In Ancient Egypt, magistrates that exploited their office for personal gain were to be deported — but not before having their noses cut off.
    • In Egypt, India, Greece, Rome, and Byzantium, nose removal was used as a punishment for adultery; in 12th-century Sicily, it was also used as a penalty for soliciting prostitutes.
    • In the 16th century, Pope Sixtus V responded to the rise in crime throughout Rome by decreeing that highwaymen would be punished by the removal of their noses; by all accounts, the threat of lifelong disfigurement worked.
    • It was also used as a punishment for libel and similar offenses, most commonly in Poland, Naples and England. In the case of the latter, Daniel Defoe of Robinson Crusoe fame only narrowly managed to avoid being disfigured for seditious pamphlets, instead being sentenced to public humiliation in the pillory.
  • Snorting drugs has a very nasty effect on the septum: the nosebleeds so often encountered in cocaine users isn't due to any effect of the chemical itself, but due to the fact that the inside of your nose is being rasped raw with powder. In time, this can lead to serious side-effects, including perforation of the septum, damage to the soft palate, nasal ulcers, or even necrosis. In extreme cases, the entire nose might have to be amputated.
  • Bibi Aisha made headlines back in 2009 and 2010 when it was revealed that her husband, father-in-law, and three other family members sliced her ears and nose off and left to her die in the mountains after trying to flee their abusive household.
  • Famous astronomer Tycho Brahe lost his nose in a duel and wore a prosthetic.
  • Michael Jackson had so many beauty operations that his nose was that short from falling off. Rumors prevail it already happened.

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