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Paper Destruction of Anger

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This trope describes a situation when a character destroys a piece of paper in either hot or cold anger.

When we get angry, furious, seething, exasperated, enraged, infuriated,... it feels so good to destroy something. Best if it is something that angered us in the first place. A character who gets angry with someone or because of something can furiously tear a piece of paper into little pieces, or crumple the paper out of anger to vent the frustration. The paper ball can be thrown away, the pieces can be tossed on the ground, or tossed into fire and burned for good.

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However, characters can also destroy a piece of paper in 'cold anger', which means their action is calculated and well-thought out, and the person is actually in complete control of their emotions. For example, they might do so to show off their superiority and that they are on top of things, or to emphasise that the document is not worth any attention and can be disregarded.

The trope can come about in various scenarios. Writers suffering from the Writer's Block are likely to destroy their good-for-nothing drafts and vain attempts. Students obsessed with their marks may wreck their test marked A minus. Someone who's reading a bad news (for them) in a newspaper might tear it up afterward. Someone who got dumped or cheated on might destroy photos or letters from their (soon-to-be) ex. Characters working a Soul-Crushing Desk Job might crumple annoying reports and start playing Wastebasket Ball. Or the character can rip up an unfair contract, hoping to make it null and void. If the character is freakishly strong and absolutely furious, they might tear a whole book in half.

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It can be a part of Anger Montage and it can be combined with its sister tropes like Agitated Item Stomping, Desk Sweep of Rage, Flipping the Table, Tantrum Throwing and others. Percussive Therapy is the Supertrope of this (dealing with anger by hitting, kicking or destroying things). Break-Up Bonfire is a related trope when a character who recently broke up burns pictures and letters from their ex (or gifts and other mementos of the relationship).


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Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1942): As she sees how little attention she's getting as presenter while Priscilla Rich is introducing Wonder Woman's act at a charity performance she crushes her notes in her hand. Her next act is to secretly sabotage Wonder Woman's act in a murder attempt.

    Fan Works 
  • Codex Equus: Moon Ray Vaughoof once got into an incident in his youth that involved him and his bandmates getting stranded in Maressissippi by Ham Hock, ZZ Top's manager, with no way to go back to Lonestar. To make matters worse, Ham Hock had the gall to demand reimbursement from Moon Ray for equipment expenses. Moon Ray was so angry that once everyone finally made it back, he tore up the contract he signed with Ham Hock and left.

    Film - Animated 
  • 101 Dalmatians: After Roger makes it clear to Cruella that he and Anita are not selling their puppies, Cruella angrily tears up the check she had written and throws the pieces over Roger.
  • Shark Tale: Oscar foolishly bets Sykes' money on seahorse named Lucky Day. When Sykes finds out, he furiously snatches the betting slip form Oscar, but decides to watch the race with Oscar to ensure the horse wins. Just when it seems Lucky Day is going to win, he literally trips just short the finish line and loses the race, costing all the money Oscar bet. Sykes seethes with fury and tears up the betting slip into tiny pieces. And then the situation gets From Bad to Worse for poor Oscar.
  • Tarzan: Clayton wants Tarzan to take him to the gorillas, pointing at a picture of one. Tarzan is more interested in wooing Jane, so Clayton tears up the picture in a fit of rage.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Jane Austen in Becoming Jane tears two pages of her writing in frustration, and then she throws the pieces into fire after Tom Lefroy slighted her art after she was reading for her family and friends.
  • Chushingura: 51 ronin are waiting to make an attack on Lord Kira's compound in order to behead him and avenge the honor of their late master, Lord Asano. Only they're The 47 Ronin, not 51, because they get a last-second message from four of their number that they won't be coming. One of the older samurai rips it into pieces in a fit of anger, and then burns the pieces in a candle flame for good measure.
  • Cosy Dens: Mr. Sebek tears his son Michal's poster of Mick Jagger into small pieces, crumples it and then throws the crumpled pieces on the ground. He hates everything Western and hippie-like. Michal made his sister to put it on their father's noticeboard on purpose to tick him off. Mr. Sebek was already in a bad mood because he's hungover, but the poster got under his skin real bad.
  • Emma.:
    • Harriet wants to burn her portrait and its elaborate picture frame in anger after she hears that Mr Elton never loved her and meant to marry Emma. Emma drew the picture while she was convinced that Mr Elton is in love with Harriet. Emma actually stops Harriet and persuades her to save the picture itself, but doesn't mind her burning the frame which was commissioned by Mr Elton.
    • Harriet spontaneously throws a book with Mr Elton's transcribed sermons from Emma's carriage into the river. Because Emma told her she had had enough of her moping and talking about Mr Elton and Harriet wants to show her grand friend that she understands and that she no longer cares for him.
  • Harriet: Mister Brodess does not take kindly to his slaves approaching him with a letter from a lawyer, proving that half of them should have been legally freed years ago.
  • Lemonade Joe: Hogo Fogo tears a piece of paper (advertisement for Kolaloka) with his signature in small pieces with gusto and tosses them on the ground. He's angry he had to sign it and beyond happy he could destroy it. Joe made him sign the advertisement when he defeated him and held him at gunpoint. To sign advertisement for a soft drink beverage is an insult to Hogo Fogo who had to compromise his honour of a Card-Carrying Villain, and his brother's honour whose business relies on Trigger Whisky.
  • In Mary Poppins, Mr. Banks drafts an advertisement for a nanny to put in the newspaper. His kids also draft an advertisement for a nanny. When Mr. Banks finds out that the kids' ideas of what traits the nanny should have are completely opposite to the traits he thinks the nanny should have, he tears up the kids' draft in disdain and tosses the bits into the (extinct) chimney.
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before:
    • Lara Jean and Peter have a contract for their Fake Relationship. She tears the contract in small pieces and crumples it when she's angry with him.
    • Lara Jean's best friend Christine tears down and crumples a printed screen grab of Jean and Peter' sex video that someone put on Lara Jean's locker. (They did not actually had sex, they just made out in a hot tub.)
  • In the film 12 Angry Men, Juror #3 rips up a photo of himself with his son during his breakdown and then he finally votes not guilty. He was voting "guilty" simply because of the bad relationship he has with his estranged son, not because of the facts.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Billions episode "The Deal", Chuck wants to buy Axe off with a big cheque, but the latter crumples it up and throws it at Chuck. Watch the scene here.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • "Old School": The detectives blow up Brogan's book with a bomb-disposal robot. It'a a book which Jake loved from childhood, but Jake got furious at Brogan for calling Captain Holt 'homo', so he's done with Brogan, the book and everything it stands for.
    • "Skyfire Cycle": At the end of the episode, Terry tears a Doorstopper of a book in half because he gets exasperated by its author whom he idolised almost his whole life but who turns out to be a jerk.
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, "The Campaign": Myra decides to quit Hank's saloon, so she rips her contract with Hank in half when he refuses to let her go.
  • In Emma (2009), Frank Churchill angrily crumples a letter from his aunt which cuts short his visit in Highbury just before the ball.
  • ER. Carol starts to write up a nurse for an error that she made (icing a patient's football instead of his severed foot, leaving surgeons unable to reattach it) when the woman grabs the paper and rips it half, throwing the pieces in the air, declaring, "I quit!"
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Before King Robert dies, he dictates his will to his Hand, Lord Eddard Stark. Widowed queen Cersei rips it in pieces in front of the whole court and tosses it on the ground. She then orders to have Ned arrested because Ned found out that Cersei's son Joffrey is not Robert's true heir.
    • At a small council meeting, Cersei reads aloud Robb Stark's peace terms and then she tears the document up. Her brother Tyrion, acting Hand of the King, sarcastically compliments her that she perfected the art of tearing up papers.
    • Balon Greyjoy coldly throws a letter from Robb Stark, delivered by his son Theon, into fire. Balon has no desire to be Robb Stark's ally against Lannisters. Instead, he means to raid the coast of the North controlled by Starks.
    • As his wedding present to his nephew and king, Tyrion gives Joffrey a copy of the illuminated Lives of Four Kings, a book that is incredibly rare and priceless. Tywin Lannister gives his grandson a Valyrian steel sword; Joffrey, being the little shit that he is, loses it and immediately uses the blade to destroy the precious book and smashes it to shreds. One of the reasons is Joffrey's hatred for Tyrion.
  • Girls: In "Female Author", Jessa relieves herself between two parked cars on a New York street when she can't find a bathroom. A police officer in a passing car spots her and gives her a ticket for public urination which she rips up, resulting in more serious charges against her and Adam.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In the promo material/DVD extra set between seasons 2 and 3, Marshall and Lily spend their honeymoon in Scotland. Lily is excited to be there and wants to enjoy her time in Scotland to the fullest, but Marshall only wants to sit by Loch Ness and search for Nessie. Lily bears with him and says she's happy as long as she knows they are going to see A Midsummer Night's Dream in Edinburgh on Thursday... Later she angrily tears the tickets in pieces because Marshall refuses to leave his spot.
  • Vikings: Rollo (of Viking origin) has a lesson of Old French at court in Paris. The lesson doesn't go well at all. Rollo gets increasingly fluent in Angrish resembling Old French, and then it just escalates to tearing a book page in tiny pieces and crumpling it, flipping his own table, grabbing his teacher by the collar, flinging said teacher across the room, knocking down a chair and storming out of the room.
  • Wives and Daughters: Cynthia coldly but somewhat hastily throws a note in which Mr Preston asks her to dance with him at the ball into fire. She also says she won't dance with him and tells Molly she must't either.
  • The X-Files, "Bad Blood": Agent Mulder tries to write a report, but he ends up crinkling up the piece of paper. He throws it across the room and tries to hit the trash can. He misses. He proceeds to kick the can as if he was trying to destroy it. He's on edge because he stabbed a teenager with a wooden stake but he was drugged and convinced that the teen was a vampire.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: When Ron receives a letter from his pompous brother Percy, congratulating him on becoming a prefect and advising him to stay away from Harry, whom Percy's bosses at the Ministry of Magic are currently trying to discredit, Ron furiously tears the letter in half three times while insulting Percy in a manner similar to Punctuated Pounding.
    "He is —" Ron said jerkily, tearing Percy's letter in half, "the world's" — he tore it into quarters — "biggest" — he tore it into eighths — "git." He threw the pieces into the fire.
  • Little Women: Amy burns Jo's manuscript in anger to punish her for not wanting to take her to see a play with Meg and Laurie. Jo worked on her stories for years, she copied them and destroyed the old drafts.
  • Lolita: Humbert Humbert destroys his wife Charlotte's letter which she wrote shortly after she found out about his obsession with her teenage daughter. He's in a state of shock and strange relief because Charlotte just died in a freak car accident but angered that she wrote the letter and wanted to leave him/report him, which means he would be separated from Lolita and in huge trouble. Later he tries to put the pieces together
because he wants to know what was in the letter.

    Video Games 
  • In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, when the team returns to the Sedgewick Hotel, Egon shreds the order left by Peck/PCOC when he learns that it refers to them by name.
  • In one of the game paths of Ripper, Vincent Magnotta shows you a photo accusing Joey Falconetti of being the titular killer. When you scan it to prove it's fake, Magnotta tears up the picture in rage while begrudgingly releasing Falconetti.
  • Moshi Monsters: During the "Merry Twistmas" song, Santa is asking the characters what they want for Twistmas (their equivalent of Christmas) and they respond in their language. For some reason, Katsuma looks a bit ticked off and he's ripping a piece of paper, but it's never revealed why.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama, "Luck of the Fryish": Fry angrily tears his ticket when his horse doesn't win the race and he loses the money he bet.
  • Bugs Bunny from The Looney Tunes Show, jittery from the effects of caffeine, accuses his physician, Doctor Weisberg, of not being a real doctor. Pulling the doctor's diploma off the wall, Bugs reads it, and cries: "Syracuse? That's a basketball school!" Bugs breaks the frame open, then halves the diploma. Doctor Weisberg calmly explains his diagnosis, at which Bugs cools down, and hands the wrecked diploma to his doctor. "You can probably tape this."
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Selma's Choice", The family stops at a diner on their way to Aunt Gladys' funeral. Homer keeps failing to solve a maze on a placemat, so he keeps crumpling them in anger and tossing them on the floor.
    • In "Lisa on Ice", Lisa receives an academic alert that's she's failing gym. She angrily crumples up the alert and hurls it at a trash can, but airballs it by several feet.
    • In "The Old Man and the Lisa", Lisa coldly tears the check from Mr. Burns in half because the money was made immorally and destroyed a chunk of sea life.
    • In "Burns, Baby Burns", Chief Wiggum crumples a piece of paper with a tracked phone number which Eddie hands him and then throws it into fire. He thinks it's fake because it starts with 555.
    • In "White Christmas Blues", Lisa catches Bart burning a book which she got him for Christmas. He's angry because she knew he wouldn't like such a gift.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Smoking Peanut", SpongeBob tries to confess to Sandy that he's the one who made the giant clam Clamu cry, but Sandy is so angry about it she tears a phone book in half while taking about finding the culprit, so SpongeBob decides to drop it.
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • In the animated short "Mouse Trouble", after all of Tom's attempts to catch Jerry per the book's instructions ended in failure culminating in him accidentally swallowing a toy mouse, Tom goes insane and tears down the whole book in anger before planting loads of explosives into the hole just to kill the mouse.
    • In "The Million Dollar Cat", after Tom inherits millions of dollars, Jerry keeps showing him the telegram that points out that he will lose everything if he harms another living thing, "even a mouse" in order to do whatever he wants. Eventually, Tom has enough of the mouse's antics and tears up the telegram, then stuffs the portion that reads "EVEN A MOUSE" down Jerry's throat.
    • In "The Truce Hurts", Tom, Jerry and Spike (or Butch, as he is known as here) are fed up with fighting and decide that they should get along instead. So they write up a peace treaty where they agree to coexist in peace and become friends. Unfortunately, when they get their hands on a steak, they can't decide how to divide it between them, and they end up losing the steak in a storm drain. This causes them to get so upset at one another that Spike tears up the treaty in anger, and the short ends as it began: with them fighting.

 
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Mr Sebek is not a fan of posters. "What kind of ugly longhair of a hippie is this?" -- "You mean Yuri Gagarin's brother?" -- "...And I wanted to put you in charge of this noticeboard, punk."

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