Grace: Are you suggesting that Mr. Rochester, your employer? — makes sport of throwing decorative glassware? — in the middle of the night? — in his OWN HOUSE? — where his DAUGHTER sleeps? — because he needs to let off little STEAM — every once in a while?
Sometimes you are just angry. Angry enough that you decide to take it out on something or someone. Physically. This violent behavior may target a simple inanimate object, an opponent in a boxing match, or other similar situation, or maybe some convenient villain who happens to be in the area. Anyway, the point is that you are resolving your anger in a violent, but still somewhat socially acceptable way.
The psychiatric term for doing this in a therapeutic context is "catharsis". At one time this was all the rage, but it has fallen into disfavor among psychotherapists in the last few decades, as evidence has emerged that all it does is reward violent outbursts.
Can cross with Percussive Prevention if the person being prevented is getting on the preventer's nerves. Can cross with Percussive Shutdown in cases where a device stubbornly continues to function. This can also cross with Working Out Their Emotions, where they're getting some exercise while also pummeling something in anger. Contrast Get A Hold Of Yourself Man, where the violence is meant to help calm the victim, and Percussive Maintenance, when the violence is motivated (at least partially) by attempting to make something work. Cathartic Chores may involve a good deal of anger directed at things like surfaces or dishes that need to be cleaned. Contrast Cope by Creating.
Subtropes of violence against inanimate objects to relieve stress include:
- Agitated Item Stomping
- Appliance Defenestration
- Burn Baby Burn
- Dartboard of Hate
- Distressed Woodchopping
- Door Slam of Rage
- Flipping the Table
- Paper Destruction of Anger
- Punch a Wall
- Rage Against the Reflection
- Ring Ring Crunch
- Shoot the Television
- Tantrum Throwing
- That Satisfying Crunch
- Working Out Their Emotions
- One Get Rid of Cable commercial had a father smack the armrest of his chair in frustration over his cable problems. This left an impression on his young daughter, who grew up to be a rebellious hellion who marries a bad boy. The commercial concludes that if this series of events happen when your cable's on the fritz, "you will get a grandson with a dog collar".
- Crayon Shin-chan: "The Happiness Bunny"—a Japanese woman and daughter who release anger over their abusive husband/father by beating up their stuffed rabbits.
- In Legend of Galactic Heroes, Reinhard exhibited a tendency to smash wineglasses whenever some particularly bad news was delivered to him.
- At the conclusion of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Bright Noa allows Judau Ashta to punch him to relieve a bit of the frustration Judau felt toward the Earth Federation leadership, thus inverting the famous Bright Slap.
- Ranma ½: Akane is often seen breaking cinder blocks to blow off stress. She also does the wall-punching variation once... which injures her hand and leaves her with a handicap against a challenger to the dojo.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us:
- After Dick Grayson's death, Batman punches up a training dummy for hours until he tears holes in the knuckles of his suit.
- Midway through Year Five, Harley gets it in her head that the best way to sort out her emotional issues is to go "smoosh" Shazam for a while with her mallet.
- In Krypton No More, Superman's one-time villain Protector storms the Fortress of Solitude right when Superman is feeling confused and mad after an argument with Supergirl. Clark decides that punching Protector out may be a good way to vent.
Superman: In a way, I feel sorry for you, Protector! You picked the wrong moment to challenge me! I'm bewildered and I'm mad and I'm just aching to work off steam! Unfortunately, I'm going to work that steam off on you!
- Demon Spawn, after having an argument with a bullying co-worker, Linda shuts herself in her office and she is so angry that she punches -and cracks- a wall.
Linda: That lousy 'Nasty'! She's out to get me fired! That rotten, under-handed stupid w... I'd like punch... OOOPS!
- In Supergirl Vol 5 #33, Supergirl is severely distraught after failing to save a child. Then she runs into super-villain Clayface and decides he is exactly the punching bag she is looking for.
- After breaking up with her boyfriend in Supergirl Vol 2, Linda changes clothes, dons her Supergirl's costume and starts her daily patrol, hoping to find someone or something she can legitimately hit.
- Demon Spawn, after having an argument with a bullying co-worker, Linda shuts herself in her office and she is so angry that she punches -and cracks- a wall.
- One T-shirt had a picture of Dogbert walking away from a smashed computer with a baseball bat over his shoulder. It was captioned "The network is down, but I feel a lot better!"
- In another strip, Alice, frustrated with her computer, hurls it out of her cubicle following the angry cry of, "STUPID COMPUTER! Won't compile, eh?"
- Doing It Right This Time: Ritsuko suggested to Rei that she should take her feelings towards Commander Ikari out on the Angel. Even Misato, who has ample reason to hate Angels, was a bit creeped out by the results.
- In Ultimate DCU Headverse, Maggie Sawyer is so angry with Batwoman, after the vigilante almost botches the transport of a witness, that she smashes three vases when she goes back to her home.
- In 50/50, Adam finds out his girlfriend cheated on him. He and his best friend Kyle take her huge abstract painting out to the garden and start throwing eggs at it, then they throw a knife, then a hatchet; then they cut it with a big pair of garden shears and finally set it on fire.
- Along Came Polly: There is a scene involving the malicious stabbing of the ex-girlfriend's throw pillows. Ben Stiller's character notes how good it feels.
- Analyze This: Following a phone call that gets Paul Vitti all riled up, his therapist suggests "hitting a pillow"—cue Vitti emptying a full clip into a defenseless couch cushion. He definitely feels better afterward.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Captain America: The First Avenger: Played for Laughs when Peggy Carter pumps several shots into Steve's vibranium shield after catching him being smooched by a Sexy Secretary, then has a visible sigh of relief afterwards.
- In the beginning of The Avengers, Steve Rogers is using said therapy to deal with the loss of his familiar world after waking 70 years later. He gets so into it he literally knocks a heavy punching bag off its stand. (No worries, he has six or seven lined up to replace it.) He even takes one home.
- Citizen Kane: After Susan leaves him, Kane tears her room apart.
- The Room features a homage to the Citizen Kane scene. Like everything else in this movie, it's hilariously poor.
- The Crow: Eric Draven plays an emotive guitar solo on the rooftop of his apartment building until the memories of his murdered fiancée become too much and he smashes the guitar in grief and anger.
- Die Another Day: Colonel Tan-Sun Moon is introduced to the audience while beating on a punching bag to work out some frustrations—then the punching bag is unzipped, revealing that he'd stuffed his anger management therapist in there.
- Fight Club: The premise of the film is a bunch of guys coming together to do this to each other. Of particular note is the main character beating up the attractive blond guy so badly that his face is ruined. Why'd he do this? Because he "felt like destroying something beautiful".
- The Whole Nine Yards: Matthew Perry hates his life. While driving to work, he stops every nine yards or so to flail around madly and headbutt his horn three times.
- Happy Gilmore: What did those golf clubs ever do to him? Was he just testing their durability? And then just placed 'em in the woods because that's what they were made of!
- In He's Just Not That into You, when the cool and calculating woman finds out her husband had slept with another, she tries to act rationally about it by suggesting that before they do anything hasty they should go into counselling. It's not until she finds cigarettes in her husband's things (something she had suspected him of having and that he denied to the point of making her feel guilty about asking) that she realizes she wants him out of her house. She smashes some porcelain in anger, and one would expect Defenestrate and Berate trope, but she neatly packs up all his belongings and leaves them on the stairs with a note telling him she wants a divorce and that he better get lost.
- Lost in Space: At the climax of the film, Dr. Smith comes running into the bridge yelling "We're DOOOOMED!!!" — Major West just knocks him out with a punch to the face, casually noting afterward how good it felt.
- Office Space has Peter, Michael and Samir take the printer into a field and smash it to pieces with their feet and a baseball bat. Michael really gets into it, having to be pulled away when he starts punching the printer parts. The whole sequence is set to entirely appropriate music.
- Kylo Ren from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens doesn't kill personnel willy-nilly like his predecessor did: Whenever he succumbs to anger, he instead whips out his lightsaber and vents his frustration on a nearby piece of hardware (console, etc.), slicing it to charred ribbons. The staff are apparently familiar with this, as two Stormtroopers can tell just from the sound that they should leave instead of investigating further. Shortly into The Last Jedi he destroys his masks in reaction to Snoke's expression of disapproval.
- In the "One of My Turns" scene in The Wall, Pink goes nuts and breaks everything in his hotel room, his aggression focused seemingly more at objects around him, like his TV and his guitars, than against the groupie who just happens to be in the way.
- At the beginning of The X-Files: Fight the Future, Mulder can't get his drink out of a vending machine. At first he whacks it as if he might fix it, but then he just shakes it angrily, Percussive Therapy-style, mad that he lost his money. Moments later, he actually finds explosives inside the unplugged machine.
- The movie Zombieland show us how it's done in twice, first when Tallahassee trashes out a family van and then when the protagonists break every single little thing in a store with music in the background.
- Played for Drama in the first Death Wish movie. Paul Kersey drives off a mugger with a sock full of quarters. Despite being visibly terrified during the mugging, he's shown afterwards swinging around his Improvised Weapon in exhaltation over being able to fight back. This early success encourages him to take up more dangerous vigilante activities.
- A very dark example is shown in The Patriot. After one of his sons is killed by a sadistic British officer and his oldest son taken by British regulars to be executed, Benjamin Martin takes two of his other sons to rescue his oldest via guerrilla warfare. Benjamin kills the final regular by repeatedly chopping him with a tomahawk, even well after hes dead. Benjamins absolutely slathered in the poor soldiers blood by the time hes done.
- Played for Laughs in Guardians of the Galaxy. Not that Rocket doesn't enjoy more lethal versions of this trope, but after he's guilt-tripped into doing something noble for once he repeatedly kicks a clump of grass sticking through the floor.
- Short Term 12: Grace and Jayden thrash an inflatable dog after Jayden has a violent outburst, which helps the latter calm down. Later, they smash Jayden's father's car with a baseball bat instead of beating the man up as catharsis after bonding over their shared abuse.
- In ...And Your Name Is Jonah, Danny kicks a trash can when he finds out his baseball teammates don't want Jonah around.
- Life, the Universe and Everything: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the Silastic Armorfiends of Striterax:
"The Silastic Armorfiends were an insanely aggressive race who lived on the planet Striterax approximately twenty billion years ago 'when the universe was young'. They were extremely keen on fighting—one of the best ways to deal with a Silastic Armorfiend was to lock him in a room by himself, since he would beat himself up sooner or later. They wrecked the surface of their planet in constant wars, and the whole population lived within bunkers deep below the surface. ''In an attempt to deal with the problems their violent nature created, the Silastic Armorfiends passed a law that anybody who had to carry a weapon as part of their normal work (including policemen, security guards and primary school teachers) must spend a minimum of 45 minutes each day punching a sack of potatoes. It was hoped that this would allow them to work off their surplus aggression. This plan worked only until someone had the idea to simply shoot the potatoes, and the Silastic Armorfiends were excited about their 'first war for weeks'."
- In the book Man on Fire by A. J. Quinell, one character named Benny gets in trouble with the law after trashing the office of an mayor who promised him a job and later acted like every politician will. Benny tried to pay off his frustration with him, but he escaped, so...
- They sent two dogs after him. The dogs reappeared 30 seconds later...through the windows... with their necks broken.
- In Polgara the Sorceress, one scene has Polgara's first romantic interest, Ontrose, suggests in a heated moment that they take a moment to calm down and pick up the sexual tension again after an oncoming battle. Her reaction, once he's left, is to break some plates.
- Spider Robinson's characters often resort to this. The central character in the short story "Antinomy" is seen punching a window, "shattering the shatterproof glass and two knuckles". One hero of Mindkiller deals with a stressful moment similarly:
"I went to the kitchen, mixed a pitcher of five-to-one martinis, frowned at it, dumped it down the sink, mixed a pitcher of six-to-one martinis, took it to the living room, and threw it through the television."
- In Foxglove Summer, the fifth Rivers of London book, Peter is goaded into attacking a tree to let out some of his frustrations that has piled up since the last book, frustrations that are only hinted at to the reader because of the style of the narration. Even during the actual event, the narrative remains just as calmly objective as the rest of the series, meaning that the actual catharsis happens entirely between the lines.
- One of Shaun's typical ways of expressing stress in Newsflesh. If his male coworkers are lucky and/or not the reason he's stressed, he punches walls. If they're not so lucky and/or the problem, he punches them. Female coworkers are safe, although he does cheerily threaten Kelly Connolly with bodily harm on several occasions, when he thinks she's done something to deserve said harm. He never actually acts on those threats.
- A very emotional Harry (As Sirius just died) trashes Dumbledore's office at the latter's suggestion at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
- Gianni Rodari's story Planet Of Christmas Trees features a planet on which all work is done by robots and machines and everyone has access to any resources the want. So, for the case when people need to work off some frustration, or kids need to satisfy their breaking impulses, they just go to a castle in the middle of the city which is full of things to break down. The castle are constantly being rebuilt, because once the dishes and furniture run out, it's time for the walls.
- In Robert Sheckley's "A Ticket to Tranai", the titular "Utopia" planet solves the problem of domestic violence by, among other things, producing cheap Robot Maids which can be kicked apart when a person feels frustrated. The protagonist finds a job as a robot designer, and they tell him to make a robot durable enough for daily work, yet weak enough to be smashed apart by a single kick. He ultimately solves the problem by using special plastic which breaks apart when exposed to a certain chemical and selling a pair of shoes coated with the chemical along with each robot.
- Whateley Universe: From Silver Linings 2 (Parts 2-9): When Madcap couldn't get a rocket working:
Madcap got out of the cockpit, stood on the nose of the rocket and hit it with the Star Witch's scepter out of sheer frustration.
The ship exploded in a ball of fire.
The force of the blast blew out the glass windows
- In one of the Adrian Mole books, Adrian visits a therapist who encourages him to vent his anger by beating a chair with a stick. He subsequently complains that it didn't help his issues but did injure his shoulder.
- Arrow has the 'hero is having a bad day, so goes and beats up some criminals' version from time to time, but Roy Harper does a literal version in "State vs. Queen" when he gives his girlfriend Thea Queen (who is upset over her mother's trial) some boxing gloves and gets her to release her anger by pounding on him. And there's this line from "11:59" when Thea is angry that her Archnemesis Dad escaped.
Thea: I'm gonna go hit the streets.Oliver: Thea, no one is gonna give up Merlyn.Thea: Well, then I'm gonna hit people on the streets.
- In Season 2, Laurel Lance takes up vigilantism specifically due to her grief and anger over her sister's death, telling Oliver the only time she doesn't feel that anger is when she's out there pounding on rapists and wife-beaters.
- Babylon 5: Na'toth's rescue of G'kar from an assassination attempt combines this with Percussive Shutdown. She comes across G'kar helplessly restrained by "pain-givers'' from dispatching the assassin on his own. After convincing the assassin she's been sent as back-up, she starts beating up G'kar. Moments later, G'kar is able to knock out the assassin unobstructed, where before the attempt would have killed him. Then he and Na'toth share words.
G'Kar: That hurt.
Na'Toth: Ambassador, it was the only way to disable the pain-givers. I had to hit them as hard as possible, as often as possible and still make it appear as though I were beating you into another incarnation.
G'Kar: And you didn't enjoy it in the least?
Na'Toth: I didn't say that.
- The Expanse: In the wake of Naomi's betrayal in handing the protomolecule to Fred Johnson, Holden is not in the best of moods. All he wants is a cup of coffee. Alas, the coffee machine is being uncooperative, so he gives it a solid jab, which damages it irreparably. Unable to get his coffee, Holden rips the entire machine out of the wall and slams in on the floor.
Prax: You should try tea.
- Finn, still seething after the betrayal of his best friend's affair with and impregnation of his girlfriend, gets to Sectionals with enough time to teach the group a few songs he printed off with the Cheerios printer. After he "trashed the thing."
- Mercedes had developed a crush on Kurt (unaware that he was gay). After he turned her down, but failed to mention he was gay, she smashed his windshield, then sang a song about it. Possibly the window smashing may not have been to make herself feel better, but to make Kurt feel worse.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- "When She Was Bad": Buffy grinds The Master's bones "into talcum powder with a sledgehammer" to help her deal with the trauma from being killed by him in last seasons finale, then being brought back to life to kill the Master in turn.
- Spike spends much season 7 with an intense case of Badass Decay, presumably due to the after-effects of him being given a soul and then tormented by the First Evil. In "Get it Done", after retrieving his Badass Longcoat, he tracks down the demon and engages in a brutal brawl with the guy (this being the first time we see Spike enjoy himself all season) before snapping its neck. Afterwards, he tells the corpse that a good fight is "good for the soul". Note that, for Spike, as much therapy comes from being percussed as it does from killing his opponent.
- In "A New Man", after a Humiliation Conga of events make Giles feel outdated and useless, he comes across his old enemy Ethan Rayne and says, "You have no idea how much thrashing you is gonna improve my day."
- In "Ted", Buffy claims she's not angry over her mother getting a boyfriend. Gilligan Cut to Buffy whaling the crap out of a vampire with a dustbin lid while a nervous Giles stammers that she really should move on to the staking...
- In "Homecoming", after being dumped by Scott Hope, Buffy is shown making Faith of all people wince by pounding on the training pads she's holding, leading her to suggest that Buffy would make a better Slayer if she got dumped more often.
- Likewise in "I Was Made To Love You", Buffy is pounding on the pads while venting about her lousy love life. A Reveal Shot then shows that her pads are on a "puffy suit" worn by Xander.
Buffy: Oh! Puffy!Xander, uh, I'm sorry, I got... guess I got carried away. Are you okay?
Xander: I'm alive. I can tell 'cause of the pain.
- Played for Drama in "Dead Things" when Spike encourages Buffy to work off her issues by beating him to a pulp. Buffy is shocked at the damage she inflicts on him.
- In "Shadow", Buffy is freaked at Glory and Dawn. She auditions for the UFC by ground 'n' pounding a snake demon to death.
- In "Killed By Death", Buffy is suffering the flu, implied to be a psychosomatic illness due to the whole Angel-turning-evil thing.
Angelus: Not feeling well, lover?
Buffy: [knocking him down] That helps.
Angelus: You know, you being off your game's kinda takin' the fun out of all this. [punches Buffy in the face] Nope, still fun.
- In "The Gift", Buffy starts whaling on the punching bag in the back of the Magic Box while the gang are trying to work out how to rescue Dawn from Glory. She hits the bag so hard it gets knocked off the chain.
- Angel. In "Habeas Corpses", when Angel sees his Love Interest Cordelia having sex with his son, he kicks down the door to the stairwell, then we hear the sound of him doing the same to every other door he comes upon.
- Joe tends to do this a lot on NewsRadio.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- In "For the Uniform", Starfleet defector Eddington is always one step ahead of Sisko, so Sisko pummels a punching bag. It works a little better than most since he also shares his feelings with Dax at the time.
- Also invoked (and then averted) in "Take Me Out to the Holosuite", when Sisko is frustrated at his officers' general lack of baseball skills. Kasidy sarcastically invites him to smash something if it will make him feel better, since he looks like he wants to. He doesn't, but he does explain to her why it's so important to him to win a holodeck baseball game against a Vulcan arch-rival from his academy days.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command": Cardassian Gul Madred has been torturing Picard since the end of the previous episode. Part of the torture involves a remote-activated pain implant. At one point, Madred leaves Picard alone with the remote, so Picard smashes it against the table. Madred walks in and tells him it won't help; he has more remotes. Picard's response:
"Still...it felt good."
- Star Trek: Lower Decks shows just why this doesn't work. When Mariner reprograms the holodeck to allow her to play as a villain and fight the entire crew, the rest of the actual people with her point out just how unheathy it is. It isn't until she nearly kills her own mother's hologram and fights the holographic version of herself that she begins to address her issues in a better way.
- The Goodies. In "Lighthouse Loonies", Bill goes insane and ends up chasing Tim around the lighthouse wielding a pie. After eventually copping Tim in the face with it Bill calmly says, "I feel better now."
- Subverted in Merlin:
Arthur: After Sophia left, I wanted to take my mind off her. So, I went for a hunt.
Morgana: And killing things mends a broken heart?
Arthur: No, but it's good fun.
- Something similar happens in Game of Thrones. War is likely to break out between House Lannister and House Stark, so King Robert leaves Ned Stark in charge and goes off hunting. When an incredulous Ned calls him on this, King Robert snaps back, "Killing things clears my head!"
- The X-Files: It's definitely Agent Mulder's thing.
- Mulder gets very frustrated in "Bad Blood" and he gives full vent to his anger in kicking the hell out of a trash can. Why? He killed a teen by jamming a wooden stake in his chest and the FBI faces a lawsuit for $446 million dollars. However, said teen was a murderer and a vampire, and Mulder had been drugged anyway.
- In "Anasazi", Mulder thinks he received a fake tape with "gibberish" instead of top secret government files. He hits a pencil holder and smashes it against the wall. But the files are actually encrypted. Poor Mulder has been being drugged, which he doesn't know yet at that moment. He also ends up punching Assistant Director Skinner a moment later.
- "Wetwired": Mulder is on his way to identify a body which might be Scully. The messenger of his jerk of an informant follows him and insists that he keeps investigating the case, yet gives him only super vague leads. Utterly frustrated, Mulder kicks the door of Plain-Clothed Man's car.
- "Sein Und Zeit": Mulder attacks his desk when Scully tells him that his mother committed suicide.
- Horatio Hornblower: "The Examination for Lieutenant": Sailor Bunting has a hard time dealing with Finch's death. When Matthews tries to sell Finch's stuff to raise money for his widow, angry Bunting buys it all, puts it in a bag and throws it overboard. It doesn't help him much with his grief, though.
- In the episode "Little Girl Lost" of Castle, a woman whose daughter was kidnapped smashes a lamp against her husband's painting when she feels he's not concerned enough.
- An episode of Blue Collar TV had a fictitious show called Fix It or Feel Better. If the host (played by Jeff Foxworthy) proved unable to fix an appliance, he would recommend the owner get a baseball bat or similar implement, and beat the crap out of the offending machine.
"Hit it like it was your ex-husband!"
- In the Supernatural episode "Everybody Loves A Clown" (S02, E02), Dean deals with his father's death by smashing a window on a nearby car and then taking a crowbar to the trunk of the Impala.
- In Leverage first season finale, "The Second David Job" Maggie, main character Nate's ex-wife, needed therapy (the regular kind, not this trope) to help deal with the tragic death of their son and Nate's spiral into alcohol. After learning Nate's former boss stalled paying an insurance premium that would help cover a treatment that could have saved their son, she helps take the man down. At the end, villain tries pleading with her. Maggie just punches him.
"Screw therapy. That felt really good."
- In Seinfeld, Kramer spends the entire episode "The Serenity Now" bottling up his anger while repeating this mantra. He eventually explodes, destroying a bunch of computers that George had stored in his apartment.
- Sense and Sensibility (2008): Elinor tells a maid who's been told by Fanny to beat an already-clean carpet that she, Elinor, will do it. Her own whack is quite forceful.
- Sex Education: The second season features a junkyard. Adam is a troubled teen with a strained relationship with his father and he comes here to smash things as an outlet, which he shows Eric who enjoys the hell out of it. Adam later takes there Ola to deal with her frustrations over Otis. Following the Detention Episode, Ola shows the place to the other girls and they happily wreck things as In-Universe Catharsis for their shared experiences of sexual harassment.
- One of the most iconic scenes in Fawlty Towers sees Basil, after his evening falls apart thanks to a drunk chef, a ruined replacement meal and his unreliable Austin 1100, give the car "a damn good thrashing" with a tree branch. The scene took several attempts to get right, as the crew struggled to find a branch that made Basil's enraged, hapless flailing look funny enough.
- Gavin of Silicon Valley is prone to doing this when things don't go his way. He can smash up whole entire rooms of objects, and at one point destroyed almost everything inside his house.
- For All Mankind. Ed Baldwin during his Not So Stoic moments.
- After Patty is killed in a training accident while Ed was her instructor, Ed smashes a phone in anger, then grabs a chair. His wife stops him and firmly tells Ed to go mow the lawn instead.
- Ed has been ordered not to touch a Soviet surveillance camera, but when the Soviet base sends him a message of condolence over his son's accident (which he hadn't been told about) he thinks they're trying to mess with his head and smashes up the camera with a rock hammer.
- Yoshiki Hayashi playing drums. Just go look up his drum solos on YouTube, especially the ones from before he threw out his neck drumming. He's admitted in interviews and in his official autobiography that he actually took up drumming as a way of expressing his feelings.
- Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff" does a good job of describing this trope.
- Nick Lowe's "I love The Sound of Breaking Glass."
I need the noises of destruction
Deep into the night
- Ruby Quest's Tom feels better when he smashes inanimate objects.
- The Kafer Sourcebook for 2300 AD mentions that all devices built by the Kafers are constructed to be very sturdy, because the designers know that sooner or later the user will get frustrated with the item and try to make it work by hitting it with something.
- Leviathan: The Tempest: A Leviathan whose bestial self is growing unruly can propitiate it (and regain Ichor) by smashing up an object... or a person.
- In-universe: In Dead Space 2, keep hitting the stomp button for a while after killing a Necromorph, and eventually Isaac Clarke will start swearing a blue streak, apparently getting out all his frustrations on these horrible undead abominations that are making his life utter hell.
- Towards the end of the Prolonged Prologue in Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas regains (some of) his memories of his time in Organization XIII, and realizes that he's spent the past six days living a fake life before he could be sacrificed to revive The Hero. Angry at the deception, Roxas attacks a nearby computer terminal to blow off some steam. When Sora sees the smashed terminal in the endgame, he decides to find a way to revive Roxas.
- Mass Effect 3: Admiral Han'Gerrel, a bit of a General Ripper sort, fires on a geth warship the second you disable its kinetic barriers, even though you and up to three past or present members of your team are still aboard (counting Legion) and wasting his only chance to get the fleet safely out of the system. With a Renegade Interrupt, you get to explain to him how angry this makes you by punching him in the stomach.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition: After the mission at the Orlesian court in Val Royeaux, Sera can be found venting her frustration at everyone involved by firing arrows into her own door. She imagines the last one being a Groin Attack on the Big Bad himself.
- Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures: There is a pail and oil drum in Pac-Man's yard that he plays like drums. If he is angry, he just slams his fists on them, making him feel a bit better. Subverted when tries this with a set of bass drums in the department store. He ends up breaking them and get chased out of the store by the angry clerk, without any changes to his own mood.
- The WiiWare game Stop Stress is all about this trope, as you take control of a guy going around smacking things with a hand held object. However, playing the game is about as likely to induce stress as it will relieve it.
- Oxygen Not Included: If a Duplicant with the Destructive stress response gets too stressed out, they will start smashing up random machines, which can include machines needed to keep your Duplicants alive like batteries or oxygen generators.
- You can see this in just about any multiplayer shooter. Players that have been killed a dozen times tend to get very ticked off when it keeps happening, and after a while, will look for ways to take out their anger on something. Cue them finally killing someone on the enemy team, which is followed by three spent magazines worth of ammunition filling the other guys chest as the player lets out his frustration on the sap he just killed. Bonus points if the enemy player in question, is the one that killed them so many times.
- In Queen of Thieves, after an argument between Nikolai and the heroine late in his first season, Nikolai offers to let the heroine vent her frustration by taking some swings at him with one of his fencing sabers. It's particularly effective in this case because the root of their argument lay in each of them feeling that the other didn't trust them; letting her whack at him for a bit with a weapon, even a safely blunted practice weapon, not only provides the visceral satisfaction of catharsis but also serves as a concrete demonstration that they can and do trust one another.
- One Scandinavia and the World strip features Finland beating the life out of his computer in rage and frustration with many screams of "Perkele!" until his tech-savvy neighbor Sweden steps in and fixes it for him...
- In Freefall, Dr. Bowman has a "tantrum room" for this very purpose.
- The Order of the Stick: During a fight with the Linear Guild, Nale (fighting his Good Twin Elan) and Thog (fighting Roy) switch foes. Roy points out to Nale that this might not have been the best of moves... because Roy now has the opportunity to beat the crap out of someone who looks exactly like Elan.
- Post Volume 3 of RWBY, James Ironwood has developed a habit of smashing whatever desk he's sitting by or throwing whatever he's holding whenever he becomes particularly angry or frustrated. As the series goes on, these Not So Stoic moments happen with increasing frequency and force. In a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, this actually makes his issues worse.
- Early in season two of Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk, the Barbarian has such an episode.
Barbarian: This pisses me off, I need to punch someone!
[minstrel says something]
Barbarian: I know who I'm gonna punch... [minstrel runs away]
- "I Like Monkeys": The man decides to severely beat up one of his dead monkeys when he got agitated at his inability to dispose of his monkeys and to use the bathroom. He felt better thanks to it.
- The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: There was an accident in Mr Rochester's house—crashing of glass rather violently, and Mr. Rochester got injured. He blames it on having a nightmare, knocking a vase over, and injuring himself with the broken pieces. Jane doesn't buy it, and thinks there is more to it, because he also asked her whether she had seen something. She speculates that Mr Rochester is under lots of stress. She asks Grace, his personal assistant, who gets furious and thinks that Jane should shut it and stop with these insinuations.
- Idiotsitter: Episode 5, "Fight Day", revolves around the titular Russel family tradition—beating each other with therapy bats. Billie is the only one to realize how messed up this is, but eventually gets bribed into participating by Mr. Russel for $1,000.
Billie: We're gonna go in there and we're gonna tell them that this is over because it is a terrible and violent tradition.
Mr. Russel: Yes, it is. It is terribly cleansing and violently healing.
- The Cry of Mann: After his art show is ruined, Jack goes berserk and destroys not only the work in the living room, but also the work in his artist's studio.
- Philosophy Tube: Olly relates a story in "Men. Abuse. Trauma." of how he ended up tearing to shreds an IKEA Trysil wardrobe he'd installed for his then-girlfriend when they'd moved into a flat together. It was only months later, when relating the story to his therapist, that he realized he'd been in an abusive relationship and had unconsciously used the wardrobe for catharsis.
Olly: I started off with a screwdriver, but I-I... The more I worked, the more I just had to get this wardrobe out of my life. So I went at it with my hands, I was like, smashing it and ripping apart the woodwork, pulling apart the screws and I threw it onto the curb; I fucking Songesandednote that wardrobe, I Visthusednote and Dagstorpednote it 'till there was nothing left but Hövågnote . It was like Beowulf DIY, it was really masculine; the most masc IKEA's ever been. And I dunno why I did it, but goddamn did it feel good. And my therapist said, "you know, I think this is trauma? I think you've been traumatized".
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- The day before the eclipse, Aang is having serious mental health issues on account of feeling unprepared for the upcoming invasion. His friends try to help him in various way. One way they try is to have him scream into a pillow. It doesn't work.
- Throughout the same episode, he attacks inanimate objects for training purposes. It still doesn't help.
- Zuko deals with his anger in this fashion a lot.
- The fact that the Fire Nation's firebending depends on rage is a plot point: once free of the need to work out his inner conflict (by realizing he should stop trying to win his father's approval despite recognizing that his father is a monster), Zuko can no longer use it, so he and Aang take a trip to meet the original firebenders: dragons.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!: In one episode featuring Ultron, Thor flies headlong at Ultron and knock's the robots head clean off. When Hawkeye notes it was a "nice shot", Thor describes the experience as "satisfying, indeed."
- Ren in The Ren & Stimpy Show does it sometimes. A particularly good example is the beginning of the Adult Party Cartoon episode "Altruists", where he beats Stimpy up as if it's some kind of routine.
- Steven Universe: Future: This is what Jasper taught to Steven, saying that the Crystal Gems were holding him back by not letting him express his anger. It's deconstructed when Steven accidentally shatters Jasper, with him barely restoring her gem. It goes From Bad to Worse in a different way when Jasper finally decides to accept him as her diamond only after he nearly gave her a Fate Worse than Death because of her Social Darwinism.
- When told she needs to stop working so excessively, Nicole of The Amazing World of Gumball decides to start breaking household objects to relieve stress.
- Benson from Regular Show does this often, as he has anger management issues. It's lessened gradually, thanks to character development.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Fluttershy tries to do this once in the episode "Green Isn't Your Color", kicking a vase, but only managed to slightly rock it.
- On Archer, sometimes Archer's elaborate voicemail pranks on Malory get her so mad she smashes her phone on her desk.
- In Episode 105, when Mr. Cat gets angry at Kaeloo, Stumpy and Quack Quack, he goes around kicking sheep and smashing trees with golf clubs in order to calm himself down.
- When Stumpy suffers a misfortune due to a certain object, like losing a video game or his laptop not picking up the Wifi signal, his reaction is to smash the video game console or laptop into pieces in anger.
- The Simpsons: In "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish", as a Shout-Out to the Citizen Kane example, Mr. Burns trashes the Simpsons' living room when his chances to be elected governor are sabotaged. At one point, he has difficulty flipping a table and has Smithers do it for him.
- The Powerpuff Girls: In "All Chalked Up", Buttercup gets sick of Bubbles filling up the blacktop with chalk drawings and smashes her chalk out of spite.
Buttercup: You know what I think of Bubbles and her drawings?! You know what I think?!
[raises her foot and stomps on the chalk in slow motion]
Buttercup: THAT'S what I think!
- King of the Hill: In "Hank's Got the Willies", Peggy is jealous that Hank apparently loves his guitar more than her, and she buys a guitar at a yard sale just so she can smash it.
- Combined with Percussive Maintenance in Invincible (2021); after the Mauler Twins' attempt to resurrect The Immortal seemingly fails, one of them starts punching his lifeless body. The other says it probably won't work, while the first one says he's mostly just doing it to feel better. It works anyway.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Demonicism", Star is frustrated that her attempt to talk Tom out of getting a "demonicism" failed, and decides to vent by going and punching a tree.
Ponyhead: You know how much I hate trees!
- "Rage rooms" are a class of businesses in Japan and several Western countries where people can pay to enter a room full of fragile objects and take out pent-up anger by destroying them. A similar business model also exists where people can rent time to take a sledgehammer to a junk car.