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Overly-Nervous Flop Sweat

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Commonly referred to as "Flop sweat", this is when a character will break out into an excessive sweat when either nervous or scared. Another term for it is "sweating bullets". Can be associated with a character who is a Nervous Wreck or a Butt-Monkey. May sometimes be accompanied with a Loud Gulp, or as part of an Oh, Crap! moment.

Truth in Television, especially for people with anxiety disorders.

Might be caused by Perp Sweating.

Contrast: Sweat Drop

See also: Briffits and Squeans (where sweat is referred to as "Plewds")


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the first chapter / episode of Asteroid in Love, Mira breaks into this, with at least 11 drops of sweat visible, when she finds out Ao, the "boy" she made The Promise with years ago, is actually a girl.
  • This happens in Beastars when Haru first tries to seduce Legosi. When she began to disrobe him, he starts sweating excessively, wondering if she was engaged in a ritual typical of small animals. It was only after she began to pull down his pants that he realized she wanted to have sex with him, and he grabbed his pants back up.
  • Full Metal Panic!:
    • On his first day in a normal Japanese high school, someone asks Sōsuke who his favorite musician is. Since he's never had any interest in such things, he stands there silently sweating trying to come up with an answer.
    • When Kaname first meets Tessa, who is coming out of Sōsuke's shower, Sōsuke stands between the two of them with sweat literally raining off him.
  • Izumi Sakurai from Nichijou often has small drops of sweat flying off of her whenever she's nervous, which happens often due to her Shrinking Violet nature. In the anime, they even come with their own sound effects.
  • In Episode 5 of Please Tell Me! Galko-chan, Otako does it when Galko mentions her older sister, a college student, often borrows her school uniform. Combined with Galko discovering...something on her uniform in Episode 4, Otako soon realized that Galko's uniform was being used for fetish purposes.
  • In Prison School Meiko Shiraki of the Underground Student Council has a metabolic condition that causes this for her at the drop of a hat, be it nerves or light exercise. When it's revealed that the plastic sword that the council president was picking her teeth with was found on the bathroom floor. Meiko gets flustered trying to excuse her mistake and sweats at least a gallon of fluid.
  • In Sakura Gari, Masataka breaks out in a nervous sweat when he is forced to have lunch with his rapist boss and the guy's yandere younger sister.

    Comic Strips 
  • Happens to Jon in the December 2011 Garfield strip (pictured above).
  • In a 1994 Dilbert strip, Dilbert notices that the girl he just met, Liz, isn't wearing a ring. She tells him that she has a ring, but it's so big she needs to hire a team of eunuchs to carry it around. His response, visibly and audibly, is "Flop sweat time".

    Films — Animation 
  • On The Simpsons Movie, Krusty is seen dumping a whole cistern tank of flop sweat into Lake Springfield.
  • The Princess and the Frog - Charlotte La Bouff, the titular princess's best friend, starts "sweatin' like a sinner in church" when she gets nervous and/or anxious about something (such as when it seemed like Prince Naveen wasn't going to show up to the party she and her dad were throwing at their estate).
  • In Turning Red, Mei flop sweats when she is trying to hide her journal from her nosy mother.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country during the climax when a group of conspirators are going to kill the Federation president, one of them, Admiral Cartright, is shown with sweat soaking his face.
  • In Star Trek (2009), Kirk gets what Bones refers to as a "flop sweat," but not because of nerves—it's because he's experiencing the side effects of Melvaran mud flea vaccine.
  • In Total Recall (1990), when Rekall's President Dr. Edgemar meets Quaid to convince him that he is caught in his memories and should take a pill as a symbol of his desire to break out of it, Quaid puts the pill in his mouth and pretends to swallow it while watching Dr. Edgemar's reaction. When he sees a drop of sweat running down the doctor's face, he knows it's a trap and kills him. Or does he?
  • Airplane! plays this for laughs during the landing by having Striker's forehead gushing sweat.
  • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) does this a lot when under pressure or when coming close to getting caught in a lie. According to Word of God, Bale was so talented an actor that when doing repeated takes of the famous business card scene, he was capable of sweating on cue.
  • Invoked by Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop II when he's pretending to deliver "sound seeking projectiles" to try to bluff his way into a gun club run by the Big Bad. He splashes water on his face making it look like he's sweating buckets.
  • Big Bullet: The rookie cop, Apple, sweats a lot whenever she's nervous, and in the climax of the movie with her trying to prevent a hijacked plane from taking off, she is practically drenched in her own sweat.
  • Loaded Weapon 1: When determining how long the detectives will have to solve the case via the chance wheel, repeated cuts to Da Chief show him sweating more and more profusely.
  • In Broadcast News, the first time Albert Brooks' character attempts to work in front of the camera, he breaks into a sweat so bad it soaks through his suit coat in minutes.
  • The Barefoot Contessa: Oscar, the pathetic Professional Butt-Kisser Hollywood publicist. When Oscar gives Maria the hard sell (re: signing a contract with Kirk), Maria is repulsed, describing Oscar to Harry as "the man with sweat on his face." Later Oscar has to wipe the flop sweat off of his face when he quits his job with Kirk.
  • Svend from the The Green Butchers has a habit of doing this whenever he is nervous and/or agitated, and seeing how he is at his core an incredibly neurotic person, it is quite often, which has earned him the ill-flattering nickname "Svend Sweat" by his Mean Boss, Holger.
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy opens with British spy Jim Prideaux meeting a Hungarian general in a cafe. But when the waiter serves them coffee, he's sweating so much that it drips on the table. Jim then looks around and sees a number of people watching him, then quickly looking away when they see him looking in their direction. Realising he's walked into a trap, Jim suddenly gets to his feet and walks away, only for the waiter to rush out and shoot Jim in a panic much to the fury of the other secret policemen.
  • Man of Iron: Winkel the sad alcoholic failure is often shown to be very sweaty, especially when he's talking to his Communist bosses.
  • Downplayed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Among the signs that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the elevator are about to ambush him that Steve sees, is that one of them is visibly sweating nervously.
  • Ocean's Eleven: Livingston Dell is a brilliant hacker but by far the most nervous of the Caper Crew and is usually seen with a sheen of sweat. At one point he has to go in person to hack into the security system of Terry Benedict's casino and is so sweaty he smudges the map drawn on his hand to help him find his way back out.

    Literature 
  • The Concrete Blonde: The POV comments more than once on how Belk, Bosch's fat attorney who is defending him in a civil suit, sweats a lot in court. Once the POV notes Belk's habit to "break out in flop sweat" every time the judge looks at him.
  • Troubled Blood: The narration describes Steve Douthwaite's "bloodshot eyes, his forehead sweaty" as he nervously denies knowing anything about the death of Margot Bamborough (a 40-year-old cold case). Later, "Patches of underarm sweat were visible through his thin turquoise T-shirt: Strike could literally smell his fear." It turns out that he's breaking out in flop sweat because he does know who killed Margot.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Lois & Clark had them talking to the accomplice of the episode's bad guy. Throughout it, he's very clearly nervous, and when Lois asks if he's sweating, he says yes, then tries to brush it off by saying he's wearing wool.
  • There was a Saturday Night Live skit, with Alex Karras as guest host, where Billy Crystal plays a guy at a soda company who sweats excessively at a board meeting.
  • Chuck: In "Chuck Versus the Cougars", an old high-school friend of Sarah's is sweating a lot while they're at dinner, because he's about to hand over government secrets to the Russian mob.
  • An episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody has Maddie trying to hold down a date on a hot day and keeping her hair from frizzing up. It turns out that the date has his own problem, in which he, in London's words, "sweats like a donkey in a sauna."
  • The sketch "Clear History" on Key & Peele features a wife learning that her husband has been using their computer to watch porn. He starts to flop sweat when she starts to figure out in a roundabout way what kind of porn he's watching, to the point that his sweat is outright squirting out of him. Then when he says that at least she's thinking of him when they have sex, she immediately beings to flop sweat.
  • Vod (Zawe Ashton) unexpectedly falls in love with a handyman in a Series 2 episode of Fresh Meat. She spends most of the episode behaving oddly and bathed in a nervous sweat.
  • Daredevil (2015): Wilson Fisk realizes that Leland Owlsley is double-crossing him when he notices that despite the cold weather, Owlsley is sweating profusely and his hands are very shaky.
  • On Succession, Kendall is described as "a sweaty corpse" during his Addled Addict phase.
  • Ted Buckland from Scrubs is the epitome of this trope. It's taken into overdrive in the presence of Neena Broderick though, to the extent that when Ted puts his hand on the edge of a table, it slips due to the sweat and he slams his head into the table, knocking him out.
  • The Americans: In the second season episode "Arpanet", Charles, a Deep Cover Agent who has become an alcoholic, is pressed into service by Philip to break into a lab so he can plant a bug. Charles has written a code for Philip to use on his hand, but he's so nervous, he sweats, causing the ink to be smudged (similar to the example in Ocean's Eleven above). Fortunately, he remembers the code in time.

    Music Videos 
  • In the video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Amish Paradise", Al is profusely sweating in several profile shots, directly parodying L.V.'s less outrageously visible sweat in similar shots in the original Coolio video.

    Video Games 
  • In Fire Emblem: Awakening in the beach DLC, Chrom gives Stahl some encouragement which causes him to start sweating and hyperventilating, thinking he has to live up to Chrom's expectations.
  • In Hollow Knight, if you find Millibelle after she absconds with your banked money, she'll recognize you and start sweating bullets.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney: A lot of characters sweat bullets when they see themselves trapped into a corner, attorneys, witnesses, or otherwise. Then the radio a certain witness is using to testify starts leaking acid instead.

    Web Animation 

    Webcomics 
  • Homestuck: After Rose embarks on her destructive fact-finding mission, the turtles who live in her Land are typically seen sweating nervous bullets as they watch her casually tear entire temples to pieces.

    Web Videos 
  • Flander's Company: Parodied with the villain wannabe "Transpire-Man" ("Sweaty-Man"). He does indeed sweat a lot when nervous... and by "a lot", we mean he can weaponize it by producing a blast of water from his armpits, strong enough to propel an opponent through a wall.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad! episode "1600 Candles" does this to Stan after Francine gives a story of how she was beaten naked in a shower.
  • The Critic: In the episode "Lady Hawke", Jay and Marty attend a taping of the SNL-parody "Yesterday Night Live" featuring "Mr. Sweaty Guy", the living embodiment of this trope. Complete with cheesy intro theme:
    He's Mister Sweaty Guy!
    He sweats like a pig, oh my!
    When he gets nervous, he explodes!
    Sweat spurts out like a firehose!
    He's Mister Sweaty Guy!
    • At the end of the episode, Jay and Alice screen Quiz Show 2, in which Mr. Sweaty Guy reappears as a contestant. When the host reads the questions to him, Mr. Sweaty Guy immediately fills his sound-proof booth with so much sweat that it threatens to drown him.
  • Futurama: In the episode "A Big Piece of Garbage", Prof. Farnsworth suffers this after his crude napkin drawing of the Smelloscope is jeered by the Society of Inventors. Made worse when he wipes his sweat away with the napkin, blotting out the drawing and leading to further derision.
  • Goofy does this several times in "How to Play Baseball".
  • Done very frequently on Mr. Bogus.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Spike is sweating abundantly throughout the episode "Triple Threat", either from his feverish imagination picturing the worse or from speaking to Thorax and Ember while trying to keep up the mascarade. Don't ask how/if a dragon can sweat at all, that's not the point here.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Weekend at Burnsies": Homer and Mr. Smithers are listening to Mr. Burns rehearse for a meeting. After a joke falls flat:
      Smithers: [whispering to Homer] One of us has gotta start laughing. If Mr. Burns gets flop sweat, he'll die of dehydration.
      [Burns gets a drop of sweat on his forehead and starts to feel giddy]
      Burns: Oh, I'm drenched with sweat. [pushes the droplet back into his head]
    • "Dumbbell Indemnity": Moe sweats so much that a person walking behind him trips on his puddle of sweat.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Done by Mr. Krabs in the episode "Pickles".
    • In the episode "Squirrel Jokes", SpongeBob does this when his jokes are falling flat in front of the audience.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons: In the (later banned) short "Uncle Tom's Cabaña", Big Bad Simon Legree ties up Uncle Tom to a lit barrel of gunpowder. The fear of impending doom causes him to sweat many times his own volume, flooding the room enough to extinguish the fuse.
  • The Turbo FAST episode "Tur-Bros" has Tito doing this when he's rehearsing his speech for a racing convention, and he ends up soaking most of his shirt. He tries to overcome this by wearing a wetsuit under a white coat, but that just causes the sweat to build up.

 
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