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Trauma Button

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Nate: Guess we have to go back to high school.
Gary: ...high school? [looks like he's having a war flashback]
Nate: Wow, you are broken.

This is when someone suddenly suffers from the onset of repressed traumatic memories because of some trigger, such as another character unknowingly saying or doing something related to the memories. This typically results in the traumatized individual getting extremely anxious, breaking down in tears, or engaging in sudden violent behavior. In comedy, it can sometimes be used to cap off an episode with a Trauma Button Ending.

Information regarding triggering or specifically relevant quotes should be placed on the Useful Notes page, which has a more in-depth description of triggers and the meta concept for those interested. This page is for the discussion of In-Universe triggering only.

A trauma counterpart to Oblivious Guilt Slinging. Compare Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?, Close to Home, Troubled Backstory Flashback, Innocently Insensitive, Shell-Shocked Veteran, Trigger Phrase, Misery Trigger, More Insulting than Intended, and Dude, Not Funny!. Contrast Kindness Button and the more comedic Berserk Button.

In-Universe Examples Only. Anything and everything can be somebody's trigger, so specific Real Life cases are unnecessary.

Example subpages

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You:
    • Iku once hit a home run during a baseball game that hit someone who had been watching. Ever since the mere act of stepping up to the plate to bat makes her flash back to that incident and makes her choke. When Rentarou and the family are helping her in a practice match, she's able to get past it and hit another home run because of Rentarou's assurance that he will catch her ball no matter where it goes.
    • Friend to All Living Things Yamame's most traumatic childhood memory was accidentally stepping on and killing a bug while helping her father out on the farm. Her father helped her get over the trauma with a bit of hypnosis to alleviate the guilt and also help her learn to use stilts when on the farm to make harming something by accident far less likely. In chapter 72, when Nano is accidentally shrunk, Yamame's immediate response is to get onto her stilts for fear of crushing Nano.
  • Marito from Aldnoah.Zero is the Sole Survivor of the 1999 conflict between Martians and earthlings. Fifteen years later; he is still deeply traumatized and suffers from PTSD. In episode 5, he attempts to use a mecha, but his vision blurs and he shakes too uncontrollably to do so.
  • Azumanga Daioh: The mere mention of getting into a car with Yukari-sensei driving is enough to give Chiyo the chills (her cheerful expression frozen in place). It also teleports her into the other car (seatbelt attached) in seconds.
  • Suzu from Belle (2021) grew up with a love of singing, but in the present day singing has become traumatic for her despite how much she wants to do it again. Since Suzu's mother was the one who encouraged her musical talent, singing reminds Suzu of her mother's death, and even attempting to do so makes her vomit from stress at first. She starts to get over it when she joins "U" and sings as her online persona Belle, since singing as Belle allows her to distance herself from her trauma.
  • Berserk:
    • Sex, especially rape, serves as a big one for Guts, both before and after the Eclipse. His first time with Casca causes him to flashback to the time when he was raped as a child by Donovan, one of Gambino's soldiers, and he nearly chokes Casca to death before snapping out of it. During the Conviction arc, seeing Farnese being pinned down and about to be raped by a possessed horse causes him to flashback to the moment of Casca's rape during the Eclipse, at which point he snaps and slices the horse's head clean off. Guts' general aversion to being touched also has its roots in this.
    • During the Eclipse, Casca was brutally raped by Griffith in his first act as Femto, the act driving her completely insane. At one point, she stumbles across three bandits who try to gang-rape her… at which point she flashes back to the Eclipse and snaps, grabbing a sword and killing them all.
  • Black Clover: When Dante impales Gauche in order to make Asta go berserk and prove to him that malice is the inherent nature of humanity, the Anti-Magic devil in Asta's grimoire becomes uncharacteristically, murderously angry (repeatedly roaring such things as "kill" and "won't forgive") for reasons that go unexplained until his backstory is revealed: after he escaped the Underworld, he was found by Licita, Asta's biological mother, who treated his injuries, gave him the name Liebe and adopted him as her own child. Then, some time later, the Supreme Devil Lucifero located him in the living world and tried to possess him in order to eventually manifest his own body. When Licita tried to stop him by draining Lucifero's mana, he manipulated Liebe's body to impale her with his arm. Licita still managed to banish Lucifero and protect Liebe from his influence by sealing him in the five-leaf grimoire before she died, but the event served as the last straw in Liebe's hatred against his own kind; seeing Dante, who served as Lucifero's host, impale Gauche with the same degree of callousness reminded Liebe of Licita's death, and enraged him so much that his anger influenced Asta's own, going so far as to allow Asta to see Liebe's vision of their dying mother before she sealed him.
  • Blend-S:
    • For both Kaho and Akizuki, any reminder that they have a different type of social life compared to the general population is enough to make them depressed.
    • When Maika's hair is undone in preparation for ponytail day, it flies out wildly because Maika has long had problems with static electricity messing with her hair if it wasn't tied down. While in this state, Maika huddles down on the floor and begins chanting names like "Medusa", implying they were used on her and making the others worry they've inadvertently awakened some past trauma.
  • A Centaur's Life: As a child, Himeno was traumatized by the horror movie The Fear of Antarctica, which featured Antarcticans as monstrous creatures that devoured other people, such as centaurs, and wore their skins as suits. As a result, she's deeply terrified of Quetzalcoatl Sassassul, an Antarctican exchange student, at first; Sassassul's attempt at a smile causes her to faint on the spot.
  • In Chainsaw Man, Denji's experience with Makima (and to a lesser extent Reze) left him terrified of being manipulated again, and when Asa invites him on a date the Chivalrous Pervert who would have previously jumped at such a thing actually seems nervous and wary. It gets much worse when Asa tells him to shut up and let her do the thinking for both of them, directly mirroring a previous statement he'd been told, causing Denji to angrily run off.
  • In Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, mentioning someone being directly tied to Arasaka, especially if they are an executive from the company, will send Lucy into an episode of PTSD. This is due to her Dark and Troubled Past involving Arasaka enslaving her into netrunning as a child as well as her being the Sole Survivor of her team when they broke out.
  • The Upper-6 demon, Daki, in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, despite being a very strong demon (and a very cocky one at that), has extreme pyrophobia, as it is a reminder of her life as human and how it almost ended back when she was burned alive for stabbing the eye of a samurai who tried to rape her; when Nezuko uses her fire blood on Daki she is struck with paralyzing fear along with all the burnt flesh.
  • Dragon Ball Super:
    • During the Resurrection 'F' adaptation, it's established that Frieza suffers from severe PTSD as a result of his suffering in Hell and his defeat at Goku's hands. When he sees Gohan choose to spare Captain Ginyu-in-Tagoma's body after defeating him, Frieza is immediately reminded of Goku's Cruel Mercy towards him back on Namek and has a massive Freak Out, personally stepping into battle and torturing Gohan with Beam Spam until he's left crippled on the ground.
      • Freeza had another early in Dragon Ball Z. His defeat and near-death experience at Super Saiyan Goku's hands results in a severe PTSD, as his horrified face shows when he finds that Future Trunks can also turn Super Saiyan.
    • Jiren’s button is being cornered. It's enough to throw him into a murderous frenzy.
  • Elfen Lied: Mayu was sexually abused by her stepfather on a regular basis, leading to her running away. When the Unknown Man attacks Maple House and tries to rape her, Mayu flashes back to her stepfather doing so and flips out.
  • Fairy Tail: Mirajane and Elfman seemingly lost their sister Lisanna due to an S-Class mission gone horribly wrong. When an enemy is about to kill one of them, the other will be reminded of that tragic event...and the enemy in question will have HELL to pay. Freed and Sol found that out the hard way.
  • In Fruits Basket, Machi can't stand seeing anything organized and "perfect" because it triggers the trauma caused by her mother constantly demanding her to be perfect as she grew up. As a result, she has a habit of compulsively breaking things or making a mess in the room she's in, meaning that her living place a total mess: after her half-brother Kakeru tells everything to Yuki, both go tidying up Machi's apartment and in a student council reunion where she's given a perfectly organized box of chalks, Yuki breaks one to prevent her from snapping out.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • In the 2003 anime, Roy suffers from PTSD and depression after the Ishbal War. In an early episode, when he fights a twelve-year-old Edward, he starts to deal a final blow but freezes up. He flashbacks to how he was forced to kill a Child Soldier in the war. This pause leaves an opening and lets Ed defeat Roy.
    • When Edward sees the mangled corpse of a woman slaughtered by a Serial Killer, he freaks out and faints. It reminds him of the horrific failed (or so he thinks) transmutation of his mother.
    • In the Brotherhood anime, Winry discovers that Scar was the one who killed her parents and is on the verge of shooting him. Ed throws himself in front of Winry, both to protect her and to stop her from doing so, and upon seeing this, Scar flashes back to the moment his brother threw himself in front of him to protect him from Kimblee and freezes up; Al takes advantage of it to attack Scar and drive him off.
  • After her rape at the hands of a pedophile in Geiger Counter, the sound of a door bell, which he had rang in order to pose as a service worker and thus gain her trust, is enough to make poor Saori Etou start screaming.
  • Henrietta from Gunslinger Girl is normally very stoic and calm whenever she's on a mission. Late into the manga, after she had been reconditioned to the point where she is basically an emotionless robot, a man in a ski-mask ends up on top of her. This triggers her memory of her rape and near-death by the man who savagely murdered her parents years prior, a memory that was supposed to be deleted when she originally became a cyborg but apparently was only repressed. She goes into a rage and ends up shooting her handler. As Jose is dying, and she suddenly regained her old personality and memories, they decide to kill each other.
  • In Heat Guy J, Clair "kidnaps" a little robot child named Teto (after the guy who built Teto illegally refuses to sell the robot to The Mafia), with the intent of reprogramming him to destroy J. Teto is programmed to ask, "Is this alright?" after obeying a command, and this causes Clair to flashback to emotional abuse and neglect from his father. Clair is visibly disturbed by Teto, and gleefully commands the robot to self-destruct after dealing with J. Daisuke himself triggers yet another flashback (this one to physical abuse) when he gives Clair a Shut Up, Hannibal! speech. This earns Daisuke three gunshots. But he had on a bulletproof vest, so he's alright.
  • Honoo No Alpen Rose: For Jeudi, it's hearing anyone sing or play Alpen Rose. Jeudi gets hit by waves of flashbacks of graphic images, and instantly freezes before begging the singer to stop. Many of these flashbacks involve a certain black cross and a lot of flames.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Mentioning the Phantom Troupe or just merely seeing a spider is enough to set Kurapika off, thanks to his clan's murder by them.
  • In Kotoura-san, being called a "monster" is a severe trigger that causes Kotoura's hard-earned sense of self-worth and happiness to crumble, reverting her to her original pessimistic and broken persona — one that has caused, during her previous decade of emotional trauma, her to internalize other people's "You Monster!" insults.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2016), Ilia nearly breaks down in fear when she spots a team of Bulblins, having previously lost her memory to cope from her time in captivity.
  • Chapter 2 of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS prequel manga reveals that the sight of ruined battlefields causes Vita to flashback to when Nanoha was nearly killed. Since she never shows any signs of this during the show proper, it can be assumed that she either underwent therapy in the intervening years or somehow overcame her PTSD through sheer force of will.
    Vita: Every time I see the ruins of a recent battle… I remember something that I'd rather forget.
  • In Monster Rancher, Genki gets chewed out by Suezo for asking Holly about her family (turns out she has a Disappeared Dad and a Doomed Hometown). She decides she needs to talk about it, anyway.
  • Naruto: In her introductory arc, Tsunade is revealed to suffer from intense hemophobia due to her hands having been drenched with the blood of her boyfriend Dan as she desperately tried to heal his fatal wounds. Being splattered with blood, no matter who it belongs to, is enough to paralyze her with fear. She manages to overcome her trauma after Naruto almost dies defending her from Kabuto and she's forced to defend him from Orochimaru. She then starts giving Orochimaru a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, who is shocked at the development.
  • In One Piece, the pirate Emperor Charlotte "Big Mom" Linlin has her portrait of a woman called Mother Carmel. At every one of her parties, the portrait is placed across from her, and if that picture is ever damaged, Big Mom suffers a Freak Out so bad that she lets loose the mother of all screams and her normally Made of Iron body becomes vulnerable. Mother Carmel ran an orphanage Linlin once stayed in and was probably the only person who forgave and tolerated Linlin's destructive behavior (to enable it, as it turns out, but Linlin never finds out). On Linlin's sixth birthday, Carmel and the other orphans just up and vanished right when Linlin was going on an eating spree., and since Carmel was a Fruit User, that's how Linlin/Big Mom got her own powers.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon, Mimikyu goes off when it encounters Ash's Pikachu. In the video game, Mimikyu is merely envious of the love Pikachu receives. But the one shown in the anime despises Pikachu so much, it joins Team Rocket just to defeat Ash's.
    • Also in Sun & Moon, Lillie is terrified of physically touching Pokémon of any kind, and freezes up whenever one Pokémon enters her personal space; it's to the extent that in one episode, she wears a full suit of diving gear to avoid making contact with them during a fishing class. The source of the trauma is revealed in "A Masked Warning!": as a child, she was attacked by a Nihilego. As the season progresses, she works on overcoming her fear.
    • Alain and (judging by her similarly dazed and silent, slowed-down staring when it first happened) Mairin from "The Strongest Mega-Evolution" specials develop one of Draco Meteor, after a messy clash between Hoenn Legendaries causes some impressive damage and Alain even injures his shoulder saving Mairin from it. It actually causes Alain to freeze up, looking horrified, when he sees it in use again in his XYZ appearance.
    • After Brock returned from the Orange Islands, something apparently went so wrong with him and Professor Ivy that the mere mention of the name causes him to go blue and embarrassed throughout the entire episode. Even Team Rocket spelling out the letters L-I-V-E sets him off.
  • Pokémon Adventures:
    • Blue was afraid of the bird Pokémon as she was taken away by Ho-oh as a kid, and after she overcomes it.
    • As in the final battle, Ruby, in order to protect Sapphire, refused to involve her and push her into the car, cause her trauma. In Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, when Sapphire knew that Ruby had once again concealed her going to fight alone, she is confused and unable to speak. Later, due to Ruby's introspection and accepted her to participate in the battle, and witnessed Ruby being shot down in battle, Sapphire can speak again.
    • Due to the emotional abuse suffered at the hands of her mother, Lillie can not handle someone complimenting her appearance.
  • In Ranma ½, the title character is deathly afraid of cats, as a result of the time his idiot father bound him up in fish sausages and threw him into a pit full of hungry cats in an effort to teach him the "Cat Fist" technique. His secret is accidentally revealed after Kasumi brings home a cat that she'd promised to take care of.
  • Name dropped and Played for Laughs in Sgt. Frog with Lance Corporal Dororo. While more common in the Anime than the Manga, Dororo is frequently reduced to tears by being forgotten or mistreated by Keroro, who frequently did such things when they were kids. The series refers to this as his "Trauma Switch."
  • Skip Beat!: Mentioning her mother leads the usually perky Kyouko to quickly let her face drop into one of pure sorrow.
  • In Space Brothers, Hibito develops a panic disorder after he almost suffocates in his spacesuit on the moon. After he returns to earth, he has a panic attack any time he's in a spacesuit or even thinks about being in one.
  • Spy X Family: Anya was once imprisoned in a laboratory and subjected to experiments which the scientists referred to as studying. Once she escaped, got adopted, and went to school, she has a hard time with schoolwork because she associates studying with the laboratory, making her unwilling to study.
  • In The Summer You Were There, Shizuku, the protagonist, bullied her schoolmate Ruri in fifth grade, culminating in pushing Ruri from behind and causing her to fall while she was carrying a pot of curry. That incident is the one Ruri remembers most, so curry brings back the memories. When Ruri's best friend Seri invites her to curry fair for lunch, Ruri flinches and Seri(who witnessed the aftermath of the curry incident) recognizes her mistake and apologizes. When Shizuku, who has long felt guilty about the bullying, tries to apologize, Ruri refuses to accept it, saying that she still has the trauma, and Shizuku "made (Ruri) hate something (she) liked."
  • Takopi's Original Sin: In 2022, Marina hates looking at glass because it reminds her of the time her mother attacked her with a broken drinking glass. Seeing her mom point a broken bottle at her face makes her start sobbing, and when her mom tries to attack her again, it causes her to lash out and kill her.
  • Rather unusually for a show aimed at young kids, Reira Akaba from Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V breaks into PTSD when the sight of a never-ending stream of Obelisk Force mooks reminds him of the gas-masked soldiers he often saw while growing up in a distant country torn apart by war. Another one happens in episode 109 to Sayaka, as the sight of Ancient Gear Chaos Giant causes her to enter a state of panic and recklessly run towards falling rubble.
  • In Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Akira's Soul-Crushing Desk Job is so traumatizing that his mental health instantly improves the minute the realizes that he never has to go back to work because of the Zombie Apocalypse. Seeing his old boss Kosugi again leaves Akira paralyzed and unable to breathe properly. His mind goes blank and all of his renewed cheer and optimism vanish as Kosugi slowly grinds Akira's newfound independence out of him.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: After the events of Avengers #200, seeing Kang's face (or a face that matches it) sends Carol Danvers into an Unstoppable Rage. So meeting his clone-son Marcus during The Kang Dynasty smashes that button with a hammer.
  • In Avengers: The Initiative, Terrance "Trauma" Ward has the ability to morph into the worst fear of anyone around him, and to begin with has no control over this. He was quickly reassigned to the black-ops Shadow Initiative after causing severe anxiety attacks in several of his fellow trainees. About the only person it doesn't work on is the Hulk, who at the time is just too angry to be shocked, and Dani Moonstar, who just puts him in a chokehold.
  • Batgirl (2011): The Mirror manages to induce a panic attack in Batgirl by pointing a gun at her in exactly the same fashion as The Joker did when he paralyzed her. He probably hadn't known how effective it would be. Later in the same story arc, Batgirl defeats Mirror by projecting the images of his dead family onto his armor itself. He has a total breakdown.
  • The Best We Could Do: Thi's mother bolts out of the room as Thi has a difficult birth, commenting later that she had "forgotten the pain". Thi later explains that she and her siblings were all born under difficult circumstances, and that her mother had lost two babies in addition to her four surviving children.
  • Bone: Tarsil the Usurper used to be Tall, Dark, and Handsome, until he was mutilated in a battle with dragons Gone Horribly Wrong. During the finale arc, the Hooded One faces off with him... but instead of trying to fight, she shapeshifts into Tarsil as he looked before his injuries. Reminded of the most horrific, traumatizing day of his life, Tarsil just stands frozen in shock even as the Hooded One launches forward and cuts him down with her scythe.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 had an issue called "Triggers", concerning an Incubus sexual predator.
  • In the Doctor Who (Titan) comics, the TARDIS deliberately incapacitates Abslom Daak, driving him to a violent meltdown, by telepathically bringing up a memory of his wife's death at the gunsticks of the Daleks. It's later revealed that the mere mention of the word "exterminate" has the same effect on him.
  • Empowered has Fruity Flakes cereal, which was what she was eating when her father died suddenly in front of her. She doesn't even have to smell or taste it; just seeing a box can drive her to hysterics. She recovers after using her powers to detect, and convincing another man to get treatment for, the same thing that killed her father.
  • Immortal Hulk:
    • On realizing Sasquatch is being possessed by Brian Banner, the Immortal Hulk, who has been shown to be one of the most ruthless Hulks, is left utterly horrified.
    • Bruce has become one for Betty Ross, after the sheer destructiveness of their relationship, so much so that Betty can't even look at Bruce without turning into her Red Harpy form.
    • During the King in Black tie-in, Hulk catches a glimpse of a Mechanix set in a toy-store window, and finds himself thinking back to Brian Banner again, smashing Bruce's toys when he was an infant. He starts smashing everything around him.
  • Locke & Key: During Sam Lesser's attack on the Locke's summer home, Kinsey Locke is forced to hide on the roof while Sam hunts for her and Tyler, tracking through spilled paint from the renovations as he does so. Three months later, the smell of a school corridor being repainted results in Kinsey being so overwhelmed that she rushes to the nearest window and throws up.
  • After the events of Nextwave, anything related to the Beyond Corporation, the cartoonishly evil MegaCorp that abducted her and four other heroes to an Alternate Universe for a year sets off Monica Rambeau hard, especially since none of them could convince anyone that what they experienced really happened. So when they return in the pages of Mighty Avengers (2013), she's pissed.
  • Paperinik New Adventures: One of Donald Duck's primary enemies in the series is an alien empire that uses brainwashed Slave Mooks called Coolflames, recognizable by the blue flames surrounding their heads. Fighting them so many times has caused blue light to activate his fight-or-flight instincts. What's worse, it's not that he's afraid of them, it's that he pities them. They are ultimately innocent people turned into mindless mooks, and he has to fight them.
    Donald: I can only fight them. How can I feel like a hero?
  • Runaways:
    • When the group visited Avengers Academy, Reptil shows off his dinosaur-impersonation abilities by turning into a Deinonychus. This doesn't go over too well with Klara, who was once trapped under a Deinonychus corpse. It's apparently enough of a trigger for her (and her teammates have enough awareness of it) that Karolina is compelled to immediately run over and try and calm her down.
    • Klara also freaks out really badly at the sight of corpses, owing to the time she was trapped in a factory fire and watched her coworkers succumb to smoke inhalation. Even a perceived corpse can set her off - during her first outing with the Runaways, she panics after Molly suddenly passed out during battle, not knowing that Molly regularly conks out after using her powers.
  • Secret Six: The first time Jeanette died was by way of decapitation, and any injuries to her neck causes her to panic as a result.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) has Whisper the Wolf, who was left traumatized after the death of her old team, the Diamond Cutters. Now anything related to the team, their cause of death, her Wispons being hurt, or the thought of anyone growing attached and then leaving her triggers her PTSD.
  • In Supergirl story arc Day of the Dollmaker, Catherine Grant, who had spent over one year using the Daily Planet as a platform to slander Supergirl, blackmails the heroine into helping her investigate a case of children kidnapped by a Wicked Toymaker. When Supergirl complains to Lana Lang that Miss Grant is being even more unpleasant than her usual jerkass self, Lana explains that Catherine's son was kidnapped and killed by a Toyman robot. Hence, someone impersonating Toyman and kidnapping children is reopening all her old wounds.
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers (Marvel): In the UK comics, Shockwave doesn't like being Buried Alive, and the result is the normally entirely stoic Decepticon goes spare.
    • Mentioned in the Transformers: More than Meets the Eye event comic featuring the Scavengers. Crankcase is reduced to shocked, catatonic fear when he is greeted by what appears to be a returned Thunderwing—understandably, since the last time he saw Thunderwing, his squad was wiped out (Crankcase himself got off lucky with a gaping head wound; his cohort Ruckus was stomped into a metal pancake). In a rare show of sympathy, Krok yells at Thunderwing about trigger warnings around the traumatized Crankcase...moments before he snaps Crankcase out of it by karate-chopping him, setting off the paired lasers in his shoulders and blasting Thunderwing. In spite of its implied serious context, this is actually all a setup for a Stealth Pun—longtime fans might recall that Crankcase is part of a subgroup called the Triggercons, and it turns out that the whole incident is actually a misunderstanding caused by an extremely incompetent Dire Wraith... who also happens to be Crankcase's long-distance boyfriend. Whoopsies all around.
    • On a more serious note, Megatron is utterly terrified of mnemosurgery, a process of entering and altering the memories of Cybertronians, to the point where he curls up in a fetal position. This is because back when he was a miner and simply writing poetry bashing the corrupt Senate, Megatron almost got his entire mind flat-out erased by a mnemosurgeon sent by the Senate.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Returning home after leaving his wrestling career, Peter sees several police cars outside, because Uncle Ben had been killed by a burglar. After that, he freaks out each time he returns and sees a police car outside his house. Not helping is Peter's guilt complex, and the fact the last time he and Ben had spoken, it had been an argument.
  • In Uncanny Avengers, it's implied that Wasp gets triggered by talk of ants, due to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband Ant-Man.
  • Venom: Flash Thompson lost both of his legs to an IED during his military service, and while the Venom symbiote allows him to replace those legs with symbiote-matter prosthesis, direct damage to said prosthetics tends to set off his PTSD… a very bad thing, when losing control of his emotions while wearing the symbiote can lead to him going full Venom and killing everything in sight. Flash learns of this the hard way on his first mission as Agent Venom, when a grenade blows off his fake legs and sends him into a panic attack that causes him to horrifically murder all the terrorists he's fighting.
  • X-Men:
    • Confined spaces will set off Storm's claustrophobia, which stems from a plane crashing into her family's house when she was a child, and her having to spend several days stuck in the rubble, staring at her mother's corpse.
    • In Uncanny X-Men #150, the team forces Magneto into a submarine he'd sunk some months prior, and he catches a glimpse of the crew's corpses, which not only forces him to acknowledge he caused those deaths but reminds him of when he was buried in a mass grave as a child, at Auschwitz.

    Films — Animated 
  • Encanto: While Mirabel is escorting Antonio during his gift ceremony, she has a flashback to the night of her own ceremony as seen in the movie's prologue, which shows the outcome of why she has no magical gift: the door that was supposed to be her bedroom mysteriously disappeared when she touched the knob.
  • Frozen (2013): Anna makes it all the way to the north mountains and reunites with Elsa in her ice castle, but when she asks her to come back to Arendelle, Elsa suddenly has a flashback to the night she almost killed Anna with her powers, which Anna doesn't remember due to the trolls' erasure of her memory, and denies the request.
  • The Grinch (2018): In this incarnation, the Grinch's hatred of Christmas is a full-blown post-traumatic trigger. He stockpiles food to avoid having to enter Whoville during the holiday season, stress eats it all so that he's forced to, and when he finds himself thrust down into the tree lighting ceremony, is paralyzed with fear as he's hit by flashback after flashback. For him, Christmas is the embodiment of his darkest, loneliest days in the orphanage he once lived in, and stealing it a desperate attempt to alleviate his own pain.
  • Happy Feet Two: In his past, discovering the humans eating chicken severely traumatizes Sven and causes him to believe they ate any birds, including his own species. Seeing them again later on causes Sven to freeze up in terror and hide behind an iceberg.
  • Madagascar: In the first movie, the titular island's lemurs fear the fossas so much, that the mere mention of them is enough to send them into a flight of panic.
    King Julien XIII: Now, for as long as we can remember, we have been attacked and eaten by the dreaded foosa.
  • NIMONA (2023): While being called a monster normally enrages Nimona, being called such by a child is shown to deeply affect her, as it reminds her of how Gloreth betrayed her.
  • Steven Universe: The Movie introduces us to Spinel, a gem with horrible abandonment issues. When her memories are wiped, she remains extremely clingy and afraid of being left behind, to the point where, when Steven tells her to stay with the others and that he'll be right back, she briefly reverts to her old, terrifying appearance, screaming "NO!" at the top of her lungs. Her issues stem from Pink Diamond abandoning her by telling her to stand very still in their garden until she came back. Except she never did. Spinel stood there, waiting for 6000 years while the garden decayed and everyone else moved on without her, until Steven's message to the universe was broadcasted there as well.
  • Marianne from Strange Magic gets lost in flashbacks about being attacked in the Dark Forest by goblins when she goes near it.
  • Wreck-It Ralph has a scene where Felix calls Sgt. Calhoun a "dynamite gal", prompting a series of flashbacks to Calhoun's relationship with Brad, a man from her backstory who was eventually eaten alive by a Cy-Bug at their wedding, with each flashback consisting of Brad calling her a "dynamite gal". The trauma is so horrible that Calhoun ejects Felix from her ship in utter panic and anger; and tells him to get lost.
  • Zootopia:
    • Seeing the "savage" animals muzzled causes Nick to have a flashback to when he tried to join the Junior Ranger Scouts and the other kids put a muzzle on him because he was a fox.
    • A fox bully clawing her face when she was a child has made certain behavior from foxes a trigger for Judy, as well. She allows herself to become suspicious the first time she sees Nick, and when Nick starts mirroring the actions and posture of her childhood fox bully during the press conference scene, she instinctively reaches for her "fox repellent" — she doesn't even realize she did it until she notices Nick's reaction to the gesture.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Played for Laughs in Airplane! where Ted Striker regularly goes into flashbacks about his traumatic war experience when someone mentions something tangentially relevant.
  • At First Sight: When Amy tells Virgil about a doctor who performs cataract surgery and could restore his vision, he angrily refuses and asks her to forget about it. Jennie later reveals to her that this is because Virgil already went through all sorts of methods (both medical and allegedly supernatural) to regain his vision, and one such instance almost killed him. Since then, Virgil has actively tried to forget about wanting to see again, in order to avoid repeating those disturbing moments of his life. He later changes his mind, however.
  • Johnny Shellshock in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain is, as his name suggests, a soldier who got PTSD while fighting in the trenches. When he's caught outside during a thunderstorm, he flashes back and thinks he's being attacked by German artillery, becoming near-catatonic as a result.
  • The Fallout: Vada seems to have somewhat gotten over the school shooting by the end. When she sees breaking news about another school shooting in Ohio however, she sobs and gasps, having a panic attack.
  • The main action of the film First Blood is started by John Rambo having a PTSD flashback while in police custody. When the deputies try to forcefully shave him, this ends up triggering a flashback to being strung up and tortured with a knife as a POW during his time in Vietnam.
  • Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives: At the beginning of the film, Tommy goes to the cemetery where Jason was buried and digs up his body, planning to cremate it in order to rid himself of his demons once and for all. However, the mere sight of the corpse triggers Tommy's traumatic memories of killing Jason back during The Final Chapter, causing him to Freak Out, grab a piece of cemetery fence, and ram it into the corpse's heart in a fit of rage. Sadly, this fence post provides the perfect conductor for the lightning strike that brings Jason back to life.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong: When Team Godzilla first see Skullcrawler Number Ten emerging, if one looks closely, Madison temporarily freezes up whilst Bernie and Josh are already running for their lives. The official novelization confirms the movie's hint that the sight of the Skullcrawler triggered Madison's PTSD, causing her mind to briefly go back to her nightmarish encounter with King Ghidorah at Fenway Park in the previous movie.
  • Alfred Hitchcock
    • Spellbound, an amnesia victim becomes uncomfortable every time he sees a pattern of wavy dark lines against a white background because it reminds him of the event which caused his amnesia - he had witnessed a murder at a ski resort, the dark lines were ski tracks in the snow.
    • In Marnie, the title character is upset by patches of red. It has to do with her mother's murder.
  • The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard: Michael can't eat or even look at gelato without being reminded of the death of his mother (it happened while he was standing in line to get some for them to share, and he happened to turn around to bring it to her just in time to see it), and quietly excuses himself when it's served with a meal. Despite the bathos, it's portrayed in a surprisingly sympathetic way for such a madcap and over-the-top movie, and while his aversion to the stuff doesn't necessarily make logical sense, it's clear that the mental link is there as a result of trauma rather than weakness. Even the rather Ax-Crazy Sonia is genuinely sympathetic when Michael's stepfather explains the issue.
  • In How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), we see that the Grinch was an outcast in his childhood and that the final straw that drove him to hate Christmas and the Whos was his entire class laughing at his botched attempt at shaving his green fur off. Later, when the Grinch is invited back to Whoville to be the Holiday Cheermeister at a big celebration, he actually begins enjoying himself... until his old grade-school bully, now the Mayor, presents him with a gift: a shaving razor. Then, things go downhill from there.
  • In Lion, the sight of jalebi, a popular sweet in India, at a party triggers Saroo's memories of home, and causes him to become obsessed with finding his hometown.
  • In Mad Max: Fury Road, watching Angharad die triggers Max to have flashbacks of another he couldn't save. This marks a major turning point in his Character Development, as he gradually goes from simply using Furiosa and The Wives for his own survival to becoming genuinely invested in their cause.
  • The Man with Two Brains: Dr Hfuhruhurr inflicts this on himself while talking about his wife's death, going right from talking cheerfully amiably with a reporter to repeatedly slamming a fist on the steering wheel and yelling "WHY? WHY? WHY? WHYYYY?"
  • The original version of The Manchurian Candidate was actually one of the first films to explore triggering in-depth, before the term was even generally used to describe it. While there's plenty of mistakes and such to go around and using triggers to create an assassin is likely impossible in Real Life (thankfully), and while it is definitely Played for Drama, the idea of using emotional triggers to manipulate people into doing things they would not otherwise do or act against their own self-interest is actually Truth in Television.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    Thor: Loki! Look who it is! (Gestures to Hulk)
    Loki: (Visibly terrified)
    • Avengers: Endgame: After Thanos killed Loki, slaughtered half of what was left of his people and reduced half of the universe to dust in Avengers: Infinity War, just saying his name cuts right through Thor's five year-long perpetual inebriation and reduces him to a blubbering mess.
  • In The Muppets (2011), they find Animal in a therapy session to control his aggressive impulses. Turns out "drums" is a trigger word for him, to no one's surprise. It's also one for Jack Black.
  • In Top Gun: Maverick, Maverick experiences this when he sees Rooster, the son of the late Goose, play "Great Balls of Fire" on a piano and is reminded of his memories of Goose, including his death. Maverick's longtime on-again, off-again love interest Penny Benjamin, who up until that point had been merrily teasing him and had just playfully had him tossed out of the bar, catches one glimpse of his heartbroken face through the window and her entire demeanor changes from affectionate teasing to gut-wrenching, heartfelt sympathy.
  • Not Okay: Rowan, who survived a school shooting, is triggered by a drill at her school and then firecrackers being shot off near her since they reminded her of this.
  • Ready Player One: At some point the heroes are exploring a reproduction of The Shining. One of them is scared out of his wits because he happened to see the film as a kid. And still is one.

  • The Accusation: Gyeong-hee's son screams and cries at the sight of Karl Marx posters, seemingly believing they're pictures of the mythical eobi. Given that they live in North Korea, where Marx posters are everywhere and signs of dissent are harshly punished, this causes Gyeong-hee no end of grief.
  • In All for the Game Andrew has multiple triggers, usually relating to his horrible time in the foster system and repeated past abuse. He doesn't like being touched, especially if he's being pushed or held down. Verbal triggers include the words "please," "misunderstanding," and "family." For your own good, just avoid using or bringing these words up around him.
  • In Black Jewels, being told they were having "leg" for dinner is this for Janelle. Turns out one of her friends had her leg cut off and fed to the inmates (including Janelle) at Briarwood.
  • Breakthrough with the Forbidden Master: Sadiz the maid lost her hometown to an attack by the Demon Armies as a child. The event haunts her even into adulthood, as the memory of it can intrude when she's going about her normal day. She can handle that normally but when, during the academy's graduation tournament, she witnesses her masters' son Earth using the same technique the Demon King used to destroy her home and family, she goes into a panic attack and Earth's father steps in to stop him from proceeding any further. Earth had never intended to harm Sadiz in such a way, and the fact that he did is perhaps the only thing he regrets about the events on that day, which included Calling the Old Man Out and effectively disowning everyone else in his life.
  • In Chance And Choices Adventures, Sally ends up developing a phobia of caves after getting stuck and nearly dying in one in the first book.
  • The Change Room: Shar had a phobia of water and especially boats after being raped on a boat, but got over this through exposure therapy, gradually taking walks closer to a marina along with a friend. At first it caused her to have panic attacks by being near there.
  • Counting to D: Whenever Sam smells turpentine, alcohol, or acrylics, it reminds her of what she smelled the day her dad left. At a party, she talks to a boy who spilled turpentine on his shirt after art class, and the combination of smells causes her to curl into a Troubled Fetal Position.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses:
    • Being underground or locked up reminds Feyre of her three months Under the Mountain, triggering panic attacks. She's also not keen on the color red for a while, as it reminds her too much of what happened Under the Mountain (Amarantha's hair, blood etc).
    • Nesta quietly admits to Feyre that she can't take baths after being forced into the Cauldron.
  • In Stephen King's novel Desperation, the song "Good Lovin'" from The Young Rascals triggers Johnny Marinville's Vietnam War flashbacks (he was there as a journalist).
  • Durarara!!: In the Izaya Orihara spin-off, after nearly being killed by Shizuo and Vorona, Izaya displays PTSD-like symptoms. Specifically, anything related to Shizuo causes him anxiety or fear. While he isn't phased after hearing about a man taller than Simon, with super-strength, Izaya becomes distressed after being told the man in question can lift a vending machine, but calms down after learning he is not capable of throwing it. He also freezes up when he sees a young woman with no resemblance to Shizuo dressed as a bartender and takes a few minutes to return to normal. It is also stated his injuries are mainly psychosomatic and with therapy, he would be able to run around as he used to without a wheelchair. However, Izaya refuses to do so, saying it is a 'punishment'. He also refuses to return to Ikebukuro. The cause for these decisions is implied to be PTSD.
  • The book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ mentions a waitress who dropped a tray containing six dinners in shock when she saw a woman who had curly red hair, just like the woman her husband left her for.
  • Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again: In Godzilla Raids Again, Professor Yamane notes that—while naturally a vicious predator—bright lights severely enraged the first Godzilla, likely having reminded him of the bright flash of the H-bomb exploding, and that it might be the same for the second Godzilla—which proves to be the case when flares are used to lure him back out to sea.
  • Guardians of the Flame: Walter's wife Kirah increasingly can't stand to be touched by him as they get older, with it reminding her of being gang-raped by slavery before he freed her (which resulted in Rescue Sex).
  • Zigzagged in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Professor Moody seriously upsets Neville Longbottom by displaying the Cruciatus Curse for the class - Neville's parents were driven incurably insane by the Cruciatus Curse. The possible subversion comes in that "Professor Moody" was actually one of the people who tortured Neville's parents into insanity and, as a thoroughly evil bastard, may have known and enjoyed what he was doing to Neville.
  • In I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, due to Azusa's reincarnation happening because of karoshi (death by overwork), the very idea of working until you reach and surpass your physical limits, at the potential detriment to your health, causes her to experience traumatic flashbacks. As a result, not only does she refuse to ever go anywhere near her limits ever again, keeping herself within or at least near her average capabilities, but any time somebody she cares about contemplates overexerting themselves, she shoots the thought down and drills into them to only do what they can handle without exhausting their body.
  • Journey to Chaos: Tiza responds badly to anything that reminds her of the incident where she was kidnapped from her parents and lost her memory. These include someone trying to make her drink a potion, someone casting a certain spell or a specific way of phrasing a demand. The reactions can be anything from paralyzing fear to violent anger to panic.
  • Knights of the Borrowed Dark has Simon, whose experiences in an occupied Crosscaper have left him well on his way to becoming a Shell-Shocked Veteran.
    ‘Can’t. Be. Around. Clocks.’ Simon’s voice was as sharp as a new razor. ‘Spent a month hiding in an orphanage from Tenebrous. They had a thing about clocks. Now I have a thing about clocks.’
  • Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Back in Fate/Zero, Waver Velvet had an encounter with Saber that almost got him killed. Even as an adult, anything that reminds him of Saber makes him break out in a cold sweat and very nervous. He can only work with his assistant Gray, who is an Identical Stranger to Saber, by ordering her to conceal her face with her hood whenever she is around him (she doesn't mind because she hates her face). He continues to be wary of Saber when they are on the same team in Fate/Grand Order.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey series, Peter suffers from a particularly nasty one. His use of his detective talents is the only thing that makes him feel useful and dispels his Survivor Guilt from the War... but because of his role as an officer then, his PTSD later is bound up with having other people die because of decisions he made that he thought were necessary, which is an inevitable result of his detective activities due to capital punishment.
  • Lost in the Moment and Found: Antsy is a young girl who won't go near Target stores since her father suffered a fatal heart attack in one while she was nearby. She once wets herself rather than be forced through the doors.
  • Meg: In The Loch (which is set in the same universe), the events that lead to Zach's near-drowning on his ninth birthday are his trigger, causing him to suffer from fierce migraines whenever anyone mentions them. He eventually gets over this after being forced to confront his inner demons and the truth about that night.
  • In Overlord (2012), one of the Empire's knights who witnessed the massacre of the Kingdom's army by the Dark Young summoned by Ainz reflexively soils himself and cries whenever he hears a goat's bleating (the Dark Young bleat like goats). None of his fellow knights mock him for it.
  • In Pact, people touching Blake Thorburn without his consent triggers his fight or flight responses, leading him to react mindlessly and panic, a legacy of time he spent as a Homeless Pigeon Person, and the traumas he suffered there. This is repeatedly exploited by his enemies, with one of them finding the ghosts of his experiences on the streets and using them to Mind Rape him.
  • Presidential: References to gun violence can still affect Emily due to the shooting which killed her father and mother while wounding sister. Her older sister Sutton also panics on seeing TV footage of the assassination attempt which Connie suffers, as it's a reminder for her.
  • The Psychology Of Time Travel: Odette found a murdered corpse in a boiler room. The incident scarred her mentally, and now the sound of boilers can trigger PTSD flashbacks.
  • Rebuild World:
    • Early in the story, Akira wakes up ready to shoot at Alpha due to expecting someone's presence when he wakes to mean he's been robbed in his sleep. He specifically mentions when talking to those who act as The Confidant to him, that being stolen from makes him feel like a helpless Street Urchin in the slums all over again, and he goes to great lengths to get Revenge on anyone who steals from him or his friends (to the point where his sanity is questioned for the odds he’s willing to face).
    • Akira reacts to certain stimuli, mainly watching Sheryl Honey Trap hunters, with a great amount of fear. This is because most of his life before the story was spent being used up and betrayed by everyone he met, leaving him as The Paranoiac. This may or may not be tied to Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: In volume 10, Oliver's attempt to finally consummate his long-smoldering romance with Nanao is derailed by PTSD stemming from his Rape as Backstory. She's understanding about it and they spend the night cuddling and petting, and decide in the morning to gradually work their way up to intercourse.
  • The Scholomance: Galadriel Higgins develops a Thing about maw-mouths halfway through the first book. Anyone aware of how hard they are to kill, damage, or even escape from once they get a pseudopod on a victim; and more to the point what they do to those they absorb fear them greatly in the abstract. However El has firsthand experience inside one with it's mockery of flesh trying to force it's way through her mystic shields so it can dissolve everything save her eyes and mouth and consciousness while she desperately tries to erode the room-sized horror away before wins by casting Mass Slay Living over and over and over... which means she copes with the idea of doing it again (and the fact that a pair of multi-story specimens are flanking the only way out) comparatively poorly whenever it comes to mind.
  • At the The School for Good Mothers: the parents have a lesson on racism and sexism prevention. The dolls assigned to them as proxy children are programmed to take turns acting hateful, so the parents practice comforting their "children" after they experience prejudice. Having to hear racial slurs is triggering for many of the parents of color, leading them to remember their own experiences. The same happens to Chinese-American Frida when her doll, Emmanuelle, has the other dolls calling her slurs and pulling their eyes into slits.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, sex, nudity, luxury, and old men are all on Lyrah's list of trauma buttons, roughly in that order. Daylen is an even bigger one, as he looks and sounds just like Dayless the Conqueror.
  • Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist of Slaughterhouse-Five is either Unstuck in Time and/or suffering from PTSD. Seeing people singing at his daughter's wedding causes him to flashback to the aftermath of the firebombing of Dresden, where he remembers the survivors' mouths gaping like singers in a silent film.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the pyrotechnics of the Battle of Blackwater cause the normally fearless Sandor Clegane to have a breakdown, triggering memories of the attack by his brother in his childhood that left him permanently disfigured. Lord Beric Dondarrion's flaming sword has a similar effect.
    • Fire & Blood: About the only thing that got an emotional response out of Aegon III was seeing a dragon. Unfortunately, since he saw his mother cooked and eaten by one while still a child, the response tended to be a Freak Out.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Star Wars novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye, when Captain-Supervisor Grammel mentions an Imperial Governor, Princess Leia remembers her interrogation in the Death Star while she was Grand Moff Tarkin's prisoner. She starts breathing unevenly, beads of sweat appear on her forehead, and she starts crying.
  • Shino Asada from Sword Art Online was traumatized at age eleven from having shot and killed a convenience store robber with his own gun in self-defense. Several years later, just someone miming a gun with their thumb and forefinger will make her afraid, and physical guns (real or model) will make her vomit. She entered the gun-based Virtual MMORPG Gun Gale Online as a self-described immersion therapy to help her fight this trauma. By the end of the Phantom Bullet arc, she's made some progress overcoming it, managing to hold it together long enough to turn the tables on Endou and her Girl Posse when they threaten her with an air gun (though she's still far from being completely recovered). By the time of volume 9, this button no longer applies as she's recovered from her trauma thanks to her friends' support.
  • Tearmoon Empire: Princess Mia was subject to Mental Time Travel after getting executed by guillotine in a revolution she didn't see coming. The story is a Set Right What Once Went Wrong with the main objective of avoiding her original death circumstance. Just about anything that was sufficiently involved with that death has the potential to make Mia extremely uneasy, sometimes going as far as making her Faint in Shock. The most awkward case is people she remembers being more than happy to see her be executed, but in the present have yet to develop that sentiment; there are plenty of reasons she can't tell those people that their very presence is the thing making her uneasy when her reaction is visible enough for others to notice.
  • In More Tales of the City, a rose peddler accidentally causes a panic attack in the amnesiac Burke, though it also enables him and Mary Ann to begin figuring out how he lost his memory — his memory loss was the result of discovering a cannibal cult, who tried to compel him to feast on a human arm with a tattoo of a rose.
  • Talion: Revenant: Finding the bodies of a family murdered by bandits triggers Nolan's memories of his own relatives being murdered, which causes him nightmares about it.
  • The Twits: The Roly-Poly bird asks Muggle-Wump to stop mentioning bird pie, as it gives him the shudders.
    Roly-Poly Bird: (to Muggle-Wump) How would you like it if it was monkey pie they made every Wednesday, and you and your friends were boiled up, and I went on talking about it?
  • The protagonist of Use of Weapons refuses to sit in chairs. It almost feels as if this Played for Laughs at first, until the references to a white chair and "the Chairmaker" pile up more and more often. It isn't until the end of the book that you learn he has very good reasons for it.
  • Played with in Venus Prime 2, in which Sparta hires massage therapists to work over her whole body, hoping that their ministrations will trigger some of the memories that the Free Spirit stole from her.
  • Alvie from When My Heart Joins the Thousand is terrified of deep water because it reminds her of when her mama drowned in a Murder-Suicide attempt.
  • Worm: Parahumans all go through a "trigger event". Afterward, being reminded of this can cause their powers to fluctuate significantly and often serves as a Berserk Button. Extreme examples of being exposed to their personal trigger can cause a second trigger event, unlocking additional powers.


  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Dragons for Simon. The mere sight of one can dreg up his intense nightmares that are centered around them. He's ignorant to the fact that it's tied to the Dark Dragon, his Superpowered Evil Side.
    • Bringing up Harriet's parents is a surefire way to make her distressed, as she feels responsible for their death.
    • Ciro quickly becomes panicked and freezes up at the sight of Daigo or any member of his gang, after the incident where they let loose a monster that nearly ate Ciro's siblings in front of him.

  • Played for laughs in the Vaudeville sketch "Slowly I Turned." A man tells another person of the story of how he took revenge on an old enemy and gets so caught up in his tale that he attacks the innocent listener. He soon regains his senses, only to go berserk again each time the listener mentions a certain proper noun—usually "Niagara Falls"—associated with the teller's past trauma.
  • Like many people who have escaped abusive relationships, Becky from Black Friday is distressed by people — particularly men — yelling at her. Even though he's frustrated with the situation in general and not her specifically, she flinches away when Tom snaps at her, clearly fearing he's about to take his anger out on her like her ex-husband used to. To his credit, he immediately realizes and apologizes, forcing himself to stay calm. Tom himself is a Shell-Shocked Veteran who's known to struggle with PTSD flashbacks, so he knows what it's like.

    Video Games 
  • Alice Liddell from American McGee's Alice reacts pretty strongly when fire is brought up, probably because her whole family was killed in one.
  • Kuchinashi of Caligula Overdose is very afraid of fire, whether it's from Eiji's powers or just a lit match, and panics every time she sees some. This combined with her breathing disorder means she usually ends up passing out. It turns out this is because she lost her family, as well as the ability to speak, in an arson.
  • The word "gentle" to former child prostitute Kotoko Utsugi in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. While she's fine with using the word herself, hearing others use it sets her off, as she would often be told that the men she was being prostituted to would be gentle with her.
  • A particularly sad example in Dead Rising: the boss Cliff Hudson is The Vietnam Vet, encountered while he's trapped in a PTSD flashback of his time in the war. When you defeat him, he snaps out of it as he lies dying, and explains that his flashback was triggered by his granddaughter's dying screams as the zombies attacked her.
  • Fable: The Hero gets catapulted into a traumatic flashback of his Doomed Hometown's destruction just by meeting another survivor for the first time, years later.
  • Fate/Grand Order: The protagonist suffers from a breakdown when faced with Halloween decorations, as they've come to associate Halloween with Elisabeth and her violent refusal to comprehend that she's a horrible singer.
  • When Lilac tells Askal in Freedom Planet 2 that Brevon left his mark on them three years earlier, she is talking from experience.
    • Lilac herself is frightened momentarily when a barber innocently plies her trade; this reminded her of the time Brevon cut off her tendrils as part of her torture.
    • Milla is particularly horrified at what Brevon did to her, and she reels visibly when Serpentine falsely declares that Brevon is returning to Avalice; what pushes it further is that, in Milla's story, Serpentine implies that Milla is from the same planet he and Brevon hail from.
    • What prompted that conversation is King Dail reeling from the sight of Syntax, who was involved with brainwashing Dail after he saw his father murdered by Brevon. Dail has even stopped using his capture cards over that same trauma, opting to wield a sword instead.
  • KanColle: Many shipgirls have triggers related to the things that sunk their real life counterparts. Reactions range from just being uneasy to having a panic attack when confronted with it.
    • Turkeys are a common one, referring to the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot (formally known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea), a Curb-Stomp Battle in the favor of the Americans where many IJN ships were sunk or badly damaged without doing much in turn to the USN. Even cooking turkey for holiday meals is a dicey affair.
    • Night is another common one, this time for ships sunk during night battles.
    • Submarine shipgirls are often avoided by surface ships because of this trope, since a good number of ships were sunk by submarines.
    • Akagi hates being surprised from above, because she was sunk by dive bombers that she was completely unaware of right up to the point when they began their dives.
    • Taihou specifically is very cautious about her fuel lines, since she was destroyed by a broken fuel line leaking aviation fuel which then spread throughout the ship and ignited due to poor damage control.
    • Katori is scared of Iowa, the ship that sunk her at Truk, as is Maikaze to a lesser extent.
    • Bismarck has Ark Royal and swordfish, as a Fairey Swordfish launched from Ark Royal crippled her rudder and left her unable to escape British battleships, who then sunk her.
  • In The Last of Us Part II, Ellie experiences vivid flashbacks as a symptom of her PTSD that can be triggered by certain sounds, such as when she rounds up sheep into the pen with Dina's son JJ in her hands, and the sound of metal shovels clattering on the ground reminds her of the sound of Abby beating Joel to death with a golf club.
  • While the Survivor Guilt afflicted asari huntress is a well-known NPC in Mass Effect 3, an easy to miss background conversation in the Presidium Commons mentions that a certain human nurse triggers a screaming fit in that asari huntress. Why is she triggered? Because that nurse looks a lot like the injured fifteen-year-old farm girl that the huntress had to kill in order to successfully escape enemy forces.
  • One of the most controversial moments of Metroid: Other M has Samus reacting to the trigger of seeing Ridley again, after he was believed to be dead. The problem most fans had with this was that Samus had never shown any indication of PTSD before Other M, aside from a brief scene in a Japan-only manga, and had likewise shown no problems in taking Ridley down despite their long, violent history.
  • A robotic PTSD version for Bastion in Overwatch. When it reactivates for the first time in 30 years, it has little memory of its original purpose and instead wanders around in the forest, observing and interacting with childlike curiosity...until the sound of a woodpecker causes it to think there's machinegun fire. This makes it react in a scared, hyperaware state, and continued exposure causes its original combat programming to take over, reverting it to Killer Robot status and shredding a large section of the forest with its built-in minigun before snapping out of it. Seeing the destruction it wrought seems to cause Bastion to fall into a sort of shocked depression.
  • In Persona 5 Strikers, it would turn out that the general population aren't the only victims of EMMA's influence. Whenever the Thieves try to reach a Monarch, they are always confronted with a traumatic audio memory that the Monarch had experienced in the past. Morgana eventually realized that this is not to keep invaders out but to keep all the Monarchs trapped. EMMA is essentially mind-raping the Monarchs into staying Monarchs by making them so afraid of returning to who they were before they received the app's power.
  • Hikari from Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth had a Flashback Echo trip that put her into the Despair Event Horizon after her father asked her "Why do you have to be like that?" when she was depressed enough to just shut herself in her room to be "normal," even though it was actually a well-meaned attempt to make her get out of her shell. It turns out that when somebody humiliates, isolates and rejects her, they would ask her the exact question, so she thought that her father was doing the same. If this isn't bad enough, remember her father is her Living Emotional Crutch and she already thought that he was ashamed of her for being unable to fulfill his expectations of being something that he is proud of.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: Even after being fully healed by the Herba Mystica, Miraidon/Koraidon still are unable to enter their Apex Form/Ultimate Mode because of their trauma from being badly beaten by a more aggressive member of their species. Only facing the source of their trauma with their friends behind their backs are they able to overcome that mental block.
  • In the Puyo Puyo series, due to being abandoned by her real father at a young age, Ess has developed a phobia of being alone. In both Tetris games, she is shown to be a crying mess when left alone.
  • John Copley of The Secret World is terrified beyond the rationality of Lilith, apparently as a result of hearing her seventeen names in a little too much detail. Among other things, when he was finally sent off on an attempt to assassinate her, he was so terrified of what Lilith would do to him he actually started hallucinating her everywhere and detonated his Filth-bomb prematurely. Even now, as a disembodied Eldritch Abomination haunting Tokyo, any mention of Lilith is enough to give him a panic attack; this actually works to the player's advantage, as when John tries to Mind Rape you into submission later in issue #10, he stumbles into a memory of your earlier encounter with Lilith and panics so violently that he actually turns the Mind Rape on himself.
  • In Stardew Valley, as part of Kent's three-heart event, his PTSD gets triggered by the sound of popcorn popping, which his wife Jodi had put on as a snack for him (as, by her explantation, he had always loved popcorn before he left to fight in the offscreen war). After the fact, however, Kent apologises to Jodi for his outburst and resolves to try and better manage his trauma responses going forward.
  • Tales of the Abyss plays this trope disturbingly realistically - Guy is afraid of women and whenever a woman goes to touch him, he recoils away in fear and sometimes even runs. He doesn't know why, and nobody else knows why, and it's Played for Laughs for a bit... until it's revealed that it came from PTSD of his family being killed. His sister hid him in a fireplace, and when soldiers came to kill them all, she and the maids threw themselves onto him to protect him. He passed out, and when he came to, he was buried in a pile of dead women. When the player learns this, it changes many skits into a Dude, Not Funny! and makes the skits and scenes on a subsequent playthrough much Harsher in Hindsight.
  • Temtem has Anahir, a Flawed Prototype Temtem created by the Boleto Clan as part of their efforts to create an indestructible Diamond type. You find it being abused by their head researcher For Science!, and as a result, it has the Trauma ability which lowers its Defense every time it's hit. The player can Heal the Cutie by evolving it to its final form Anatan, upon which it gains the Self-Care ability which gives it a Healing Factor.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky The 3rd: Scherazard has an episode during a mission triggered by using her experience as a rogue to fix a switch. Schera flashes back to being a starving orphan barely surviving by theft on the Wrong Side of the Tracks, with the vivid image of coughing up blood after being robbed in turn, and she goes into a prolonged rage.
  • The Temmies of Undertale really don't like muscles, which they find "not cute". Flexing in front of one causes it to run away frightened.
  • Unleash the Light: Even after Hessonite's journey of self-discovery, George is still wary of her because of her previous mistreatment of him, and any mention of her name or him seeing through her Paper-Thin Disguise puts him in distress. He gets over it after Hessonite sheds her disguise, joins the Crystal Gems at the last minute, and rescues him from being forcibly fused with the other Prisms by Demantoid and Pyrope.
  • We Happy Few
    • For Arthur, it's reminders of the day his brother, Percy, was taken away on the train to Germany. Seeing a picture of Percy, hearing something that sounds like train wheels and seeing the Bobby that checked his and Percy's ID all trigger flashbacks in the form of auditory and visual hallucinations.
    • For Sally, it's reminders of the day she came home to find her entire family dead by her mother's hand, as she committed a Murder-Suicide to keep her children from being shipped off to Germany. Entering her old house triggers an interactive hallucination, in which you play as a younger Sally, finding the corpses of her parents and two sisters.
    • For the citizens of Wellington Wells, it's reminders of the loss of their children. They take Joy to forget, and get really angry if you do something that reminds them of the kids they sent away. Babies and pregnant women are triggers too, as several newspaper clippings talk about angry mobs attacking pregnant women in "Breeder Riots". This becomes a huge problem for Sally, who has to hide her baby daughter from the rest of the world.
    • For Uncle Jack, it's dolls. His daughter, Margaret, had lots of dolls and loved making them herself. When the Germans ordered the children to be taken away, Jack hid Margaret in his house to stop them from taking her, but she was eventually ratted out, and was shot and killed by the Germans when she tried to run. In Uncle Jack's last tape, he has a complete nervous breakdown after doing a segment on a woman with a doll-collection, spilling the truth at the camera (the food is running out and everyone is too high on Joy to notice) while sobbing hysterically, before begging the people to stop taking their Joy and smashing the camera with a cricket bat.

    Visual Novels 
  • Miles Edgeworth in the Ace Attorney series is severely affected by earthquakes and anything resembling them, often panicking when they occur. We first see this towards the beginning of Turnabout Goodbyes — an earthquake strikes while Phoenix and Maya are talking to him in the detention center, and when it's over, they see that Edgeworth is curled into a ball on the floor, shaking. An earthquake and airplane turbulence cause him to faint in the fifth case of Trials and Tribulations and the second case of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth respectively. He's also afraid of elevators and he avoids riding them whenever possible; when he has to take one in the aforementioned Investigations case, he quickly becomes anxious and reminds himself that he's a grown man whose fears don't control him. All of this is because of the DL-6 incident that took place when he was nine years old where he, his father, and a court bailiff became trapped in a stopped elevator because an earthquake caused a power outage in the courthouse, and while they were inside, his father was shot to death .
    • Godot really doesn't like people putting things in coffee, but we only find out late in the game that it's because of a traumatic experience where Dahlia Hawthorne nearly killed him by tampering with his coffee.
    • Athena Cykes suffers emotional breakdowns whenever anyone reminds her of UR-1, where she witnessed something severely Harmful to Minors. She saw her beloved mother get killed in front of her and stabbed the culprit with a knife.
    • Armie Buff from Spirit Of Justice is severely pyrophobic, as she only narrowly survived a childhood arson by her mother's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In CLANNAD, Kotomi sees a bus crash and hearing that Ryou might have been on the bus caused her to have a Freak Out, as seen here. It's revealed that this is because her own parents died in a plane crash several years ago.
  • In Collar × Malice, Sasazuka freezes when he hears a gunshot and has a breakdown, thinking that Ichika was hurt. He reacted this way because his mother was killed by gunshot when he was younger.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, during the Tatarigoroshi arc, Keiichi accidentally triggers Satoko - who is at that point under a lot of stress from the constant abuse of her Evil Uncle - when he pats her head. It's generally a gesture she likes because it reminds her of her missing brother, Satoshi. However, when Keiichi tries to do it this time, it triggers all of the trauma she's holding back, and she has a complete breakdown.
  • Towa from Slow Damage has two. The first is hearing the word daijoubu (okay), which leads to an odd, flashing afterimage on the screen for a second. It's the word his abusive mother used whenever he had to go through the horrific things she forced him to endure as part of her business. The other is his given name, which he flat-out has repressed. When he (and the player) hears it, Towa begins to sweat heavily from the fear of just hearing it and faints.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • In the beta version of Katawa Shoujo, Hisao having a heart attack triggers Hanako and throws her into a suicidal Heroic BSoD because as a child, she saw a boy she liked get hit by a car. In her hysteria she believes that she caused Hisao to die.
    • The final game has Hanako react similarly to mentions of her birthday; in her route, she has a panic attack after Misha goads Hisao into admitting that he and Lilly were planning on surprising her.
  • In Little Busters!, Komari's route reveals that she goes into a Heroic BSoD when she sees blood or anything dead, since it triggers her suppressed memories of her dead brother. Whenever this happens, she latches on to someone she's close to and treats them as though they're her older brother. It takes her weeks to snap out of this, after which she'll forget about her brother again.
  • South Scrimshaw: After the Penumbra Shark kills the Calf's mother, all shark-like organisms utterly frighten the Calf, even Chowpers, a "stupid but friendly" shark species who serve Brillo Whales like hunting dogs.
  • Somethings Wrong With Sunny Day Jack: Serving Sunny Day Jack frozen yogurt with a cafe latte base and rum sauce will cause him to freeze up and apparently remember his troubled past life as the actor (first name unknown, last name Haberday) who played his character.

  • Vera Tolman's blowup at the end of Alfie's sixth chapter, after she stumbled across her daughter Alphanea in flagrante delicto with a longtime friend, was not set off by catching her little girl (note: Alfie's twenty-one) fornicating or perhaps even doing so with a woman as such. The fact that Mellie is married is the detail that sends the woman who had been an unwilling beard for the past two decades into a screaming tirade filled with rage and bitterness more than half-aimed at her husband rather than the daughter in front of her.
    • Alfie herself gets hit by this at the end of Chapter 12. When the violently jealous Voch'khari warrior Aghavni gets in her face over her leaving with her new girlfriend{!} Ozge, Alfie (a Havlin less than four feet tall, compared to the Voch'khari average of eight) keeps her head and takes multiple tacks on how to talk her way out of the situation. When a noncombatant human matron accompanying the trade caravan she has hired onto confronts her over having lovers (the male human caravan guard she had 'befriended' before they left her hometown, his Butch Lesbian running buddy, and the female Voch'khari guide who is about to run away with her, all of whom are within reach if things got physical) she... has a panicked meltdown and disavows everyone, wrecking all the vaguely healthy relationships she has left.
  • Credenza of Archipelago had been a slave on captain Snow's pirate sub for two years and only escaped thanks to Heroic Sacrifice from her best friend, leaving her with a healthy dose of Survivor's Guilt. When Knull tells her (in good faith and truthfully) Snow is Back from the Dead, she screams at him and would have hit him if Blitz didn't hold her back.
    Credenza: YOU'RE LYING! He can't be back! Not after all this time! He's been dead for six years! How dare you mock the hundreds he killed by even suggesting that Captain Snow could return!
  • Aurora (2019): Erin inadvertently pushes this for Alinua when he casually mentions how uncommon cloud elves are outside of the Flying Islands. It turns out the reason she lives on the surface is because when she was born her birth parents threw her off the edge. The only reason she survived implicitly being the vessel of Primordial Life, which is probably why she was thrown in the first place.
  • Batman: Wayne Family Adventures: In the "Strong Enough" two-parter, Stephanie innocuously scrapes a socket wrench on the floor, which triggers traumatic flashbacks in Jason of Joker similarly scraping a crowbar just before beating him with it then blowing him up.
  • Camp Counselor Jason: In a crossover with Carrie, Jason Voorhees' mother Pamela sees firsthand just how abusive Margaret White is towards her own daughter Carrie. It immediately makes her remember her abusive husband Elias and so Pamela decides to have a "talk" with Margaret in private.
  • Kotomi from Cross Heart was raped by a man as a little girl after he said he was going to help her find her parents after she got lost. She has nightmares about it constantly and is distant from others, though with the help of her girlfriend she's becoming more sociable. One night when she was out at night, a man asked her if she was lost and she proceeded to start screaming and shielded herself. Luckily her girlfriend was around to get the guy to leave.
  • El Goonish Shive has a minor trauma example with major consequences: As a baby, Tedd was scared by a very noisy magic detecting device, and still is well into adulthood... However his traumatic reaction to the device involves unconsciously raising his magic defenses against it, which caused him to be mistaken for a Muggle Born of Mages, one of the causes of his parents' divorce.
  • In Goblins, Kin is triggered by being trapped under a tree, since she used to be raped nightly by Dellyn Goblinslayer, who was partially made of magic wood.
  • The Greenhouse:
    • Mica hates loud noises in general, and shouting most of all. It reminds her of her parents.
    • For Mica and Liv, any reminders of the person they've lost to Laser-Guided Amnesia are agonizing, calling up broken memories and the certainty that something important is missing.
  • Homestuck: Karkat's ancestor/double Kankri is a parody of a social justice warrior on Tumblr. He tries to be sensitive to the triggers of others except he'll bring up the triggering topic first and then apologize in the most patronizing way possible. Paraphrased example: Latula, Terezi's ancestor/double can't smell. Kankri talks about how something smells then apologizes for triggering and insulting her (it doesn't, and she's actually amused by it), and congratulates her on being able to achieve so much despite not being able to smell and also being a girl.
  • Played for Laughs in Kevin & Kell. Potentially as part of his rookie hazing for the Beige U. gardening team, Rudy was given a T-shirt which said "Trigger Warning".
  • Lies, Sisters and Wives: To stop Arthur from discovering Jim and Matilda's wedding photo, Jessica starts screaming her head off. She and Jim explain it away as her having a crippling fear of spiders due to a traumatic experience.
  • Commander Badass from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things gets future 'nam flashbacks during a drinking game with Robert.
  • Curio from morphE has this reaction to any mention of "where they came from". In Chapter 4 Amical threatens to send the seedlings back and he freaks out. Billy also suffers a horrible flashback to his own torture at this mention.
  • Many characters seem to be suffering serious trauma in Monster Kind. Each of the suffering characters is triggered differently, however, it isn't yet mentioned why.
  • In Pixie and Brutus, the normally unflappable Brutus is terrified of thunder because it gives him PTSD flashbacks to firefights during his time as a military dog in the U.S. Marines.
  • National pride is one for Germany in Scandinavia and the World. Specifically, personal national pride; Germany is so traumatized by the events of World War II that any form of nationalism he might express will send him into a Heroic BSoD (see, for instance, what happened when the Nordics tried to celebrate his birthday).
  • Slightly Damned:
    • Being called or asked if she's "sick" makes Kieri go into a state of blacked-out rage, and she ends up beating a fellow angel to a bloody pulp because it triggers memories of her abusive mother.
    • For Sakido, the sight of berserk Buwaro causes her to have a flashback to when enfant berserk Buwaro clawed out Darius's eye.
  • Eli from Soul to Call has a complete breakdown and starts begging for mercy upon seeing someone hooked up to a siphon, having been tapped for blood himself so many times. James has to put him through breathing exercises in order to calm him down enough for him to be able to focus on some menial tasks that can take his mind off of what he just saw more fully.
  • Weak Hero:
    • Rooftops remind Gray of the incident in middle school where his best friend was pushed off one and left comatose. When his friends offer to hang out on one, his mood immediately sours, which is what prompts them to change their hangout location. Wolf ends up dragging Gray to a rooftop for their battle, which leaves Gray near unresponsive for the first half of it.
    • For Alex, it's the incident where Ben suffered an arm injury while standing up for him. Being reminded of it causes him to either freeze up (when he encounters Jimmy) or lash out in a frenzy (when Jack taunts them about it).
    • Played for Laughs with Teddy. Gray asks Teddy if he likes cola after the fight with Hyeongshin, completely forgetting he did the same thing before pummelling Teddy with a soda can. Teddy reacts with appropriate horror, leaving Gray confused.

    Web Original 
  • The Adventures Of Duane And Brando: the Mario 3 musical has Mario call Iggy a "nerd with a fat head", which causes Iggy to freeze up and drop his wand, complete with the word "TRIGGERED" appearing in front of him.
  • Attack on Titan Abridged has Titans as Eren's trigger. Played for Laughs.
  • Played for Laughs in Camp Camp where Cameron Campbell can be pushed into a mental breakdown when he hears somebody mention their disappointment towards him. Campbell gained this after the guards frequently stated their disappointment of him in Super Guantanamo.
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: When Jamie first meets Frank, the latter's resemblance to Jamie's father causes the boy to get a panic attack.
  • Critical Role: Whenever Caleb kills a humanoid using fire, he has to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, he is consumed by traumatic flashbacks of the night he murdered his own parents by setting the house on fire, and becomes stunned for several minutes, often requiring his teammates to physically drag or carry him out of danger.
    • In the battle pitting Red Hood against Winter Soldier, Bucky is able to grab a crowbar and begins beating Jason with it. As he does, you can hear ringing as Jason begins hearing The Joker in his head, taunting that no one is going to save him, prompting him to react violently, screaming at the voices to shut up.
    • In the battle between Harley Quinn and Jinx, Harley gases Jinx with Joker Venom. While Jinx's Acquired Poison Immunity means the gas didn't kill her, the noxious chemical reminded Jinx of her own polluted home Zaun. This, combined with the Venom, triggers her PTSD and mania, sending Jinx into a Laughing Mad rampage.
  • The Dragon Ball Z Abridged version of Broly is triggered by hearing Goku's Saiyan name, "Kakarot", rather than just Goku's presence itself. Naturally, this leads to a scene where Vegeta insists on calling him that despite everyone else begging him to stop.
  • Tommy from the Dream SMP has very obvious PTSD from the wars, his Exile, being trapped in prison with Dream, and being killed and revived. When he and Techno found the Final Control Room by accident, Tommy had a panic attack, hyperventilating and scrambling for an exit. Plains biomes, holes in the ground, explosions, and Dream being nice to him cause him to start shaking and hyperventilating, as they remind him of Exile. Spending any time in Logstedshire also makes him panicky, and it took weeks and several tries before he could stand to be there longer than a few minutes at a time. His time in prison and the Afterlife resulted in him flying into a screaming panic after taking any kind of damage, no matter how minor, as it causes flashbacks to Dream beating him to death, and even just mentioning his death is enough to send him spiraling.
  • Flippy from Happy Tree Friends takes this trope to the extreme; anything can (and will) trigger his PTSD, sending him into a murderous rampage.
  • Hellsing Ultimate Abridged has Seras developing a trigger regarding Alexander Anderson's blessed bayonets following her first encounter with the Ax-Crazy vampire hunter. When Anderson flings one with a note attached above Seras's head, the poor girl goes catatonic and shaky, much to Alucard's annoyance.
    Alucard: Oh, great, and now she's triggered. Could be all day with it.
  • Rise (2009), an Original Character tournament game, has one of these for almost every character.
  • RWBY:
    • During the Volume 5 climax, Ruby sees Jaune and Cinder charging at one another, which triggers a flashback to a traumatic event in Volume 3. Just as the original event triggered her super-power, the power activates again in response to Jaune's danger. It confirms that she's still struggling with the trauma of her loss.
    • In Volume 8, Ruby encounters an experimental Grimm that makes both her and Yang break down in despair over the implications. She discovers that the Hound is an experimental Grimm-Faunus hybrid, and that the Faunus had silver eyes. She realises that Salem must have used her silver-eyed Missing Mom in a similar manner because prior to meeting her mother, Salem used to have Silver-Eyed Warriors killed; now she wants them captured alive. This sends Ruby into a brief Heroic BSoD as she convinces herself that everything she's done against Salem is useless. Yang tries to bring her out of it by reminding her to hold onto hope that she still thinks their mother was a hero.
    • The events of Volume 3 deeply affected General Ironwood, leading him to take more authoritarian actions. In Volume 7, when talking about how helpless he felt when Cinder's virus took control of his robot army, Ironwood flashes back to seeing the Black Queen chess piece sigil on his computers. in "Gravity", just as Ironwood is starting to come down and work with people, he finds that Cinder planted a glass queen piece in his office. He flies into a panic, begins second-guessing his decisions, and starts devolving into a paranoid dictator willing to abandon Mantle just to save himself and his forces. Watching events unfold from afar, Cinder smugly notes, "Still afraid, I see."
  • Sword Art Online Abridged has the words "not your fault" for Kirito, which cause him to remember Sachi's death (or rather hear only "your fault"), and then forces him to engage in Chronic Hero Syndrome. When Lizbeth is about to say it, he manages to get her to stop talking, though he's still hopelessly tearful.
  • When Anya tries to turn into her animal form in To Belong, she flashes back to her mother's death and freaks out. The first time she transformed on-screen she ended up fainting afterward and then refused to talk to anyone for a while. As a child, Anya caused a fire that killed her mother and left her family homeless. She's still haunted by the incident.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Lemonhope and the word "unacceptable", the favored word of the psychotic Lemongrab. When Princess Bubblegum unthinkingly says it to him, he runs off into the wild.
  • Arcane has Jinx, formerly Powder, with her greatest failure - accidentally killing her adoptive family with an ill-timed explosion while trying to save them. Because of this, the names and faces of those involved become this for her as a young adult.
  • Arthur: In "April 9th," Binky is left traumatized after witnessing a fire that ravaged his elementary school. For some time, he becomes panicky whenever he sees flames, including an episode of Bionic Bunny with a fire-based villain. He also struggles to return to school because he still hallucinates smoke and fire when he's in the building.
  • In Ben 10: Omniverse, Malware is this to Ben due to having ripped Feedback, Ben's favorite alien form when he was 11 years old, out of the Omnitrix and destroying him. As a result, any mention of or encounter with Malware leaves Ben genuinely terrified. Mentioning Feedback also counts. The moment Rook asks about him, Ben becomes very closed off and tries to change the subject.
  • In Castlevania: Nocturne, Richter Belmont was traumatized from witnessing his mother's death at the hands of the vampire Olrox. Years later, when Richter sees Olrox again, he becomes consumed by dread and runs away in terror. Thankfully, with some help from his friends and his long-lost grandfather Juste, he is able to confront him again without letting his fear overwhelm him.
  • The Dragon Prince: As of Book 4, Viren has become terrified of heights, as a result of having fallen to his death form the top of a tall mountain. Naturally, the first thing he has to do after his revival is recovering his magic staff...which is at the very top of the exact same mountain he fell to death from. He's so traumatized by this that he contemplates giving up on a permanent resurrection and just living out the 30 days he's got left...but Claudia slaps him and insists that she won't let him die after everything she's done to revive him.
  • DuckTales (2017): Huey, Dewey, and Louie's mother, Della Duck, is revealed to have spent the last ten years on the moon completely alone. While she managed to not Go Mad from the Isolation, when she finally returns home in season two, it's clear that reminders of her time lost are a sensitive spot for her. She tends to get a Thousand-Yard Stare, speak in more of a monotone, and in the season two finale, a reference to the trauma starts a brief moment of mad laughter and eye twitching.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "No Speak Da Ed", Rolf flies into a violent rage whenever he encounters something wolf-related. In a rather disturbing twist, it's implied that back in The Old Country, his family was in a bloody conflict with a family of sheep rustlers who associated themselves with wolves.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: Want to send Cosmo into a Troubled Fetal Position? Just say "Super Toilet!"
  • Played for laughs (inevitably enough) in Family Guy, where Peter's impersonation of Ralph from The Honeymooners triggers Lois' brother's memories of walking in on their mother's affair with Jackie Gleason (an event which put him into an insane asylum and turned him into a serial killer). The Flashback... Back... Back... effect that he suffers is actually a result of Peter continuing to say "Pow! Right in the kisser!"
  • Hey Arnold!: The episodes "Parent's Day" and "The Journal" shows Arnold Shortman being reminded of his long-lost and presumably deceased parents. It is one of the few things that saddens him and other characters take notice of this too.
  • Hilda: After her experience as a troll, the mere sight of bells is enough to make Hilda very anxious, because of how it felt when she was a troll. It's implied that she makes it a point to remove and bury any troll bell she comes across as a result.
  • Reagan from Inside Job (2021) reacts very badly to the idea of hugging, to the point that she instinctively punches Brett in the face when he attempts to hug her as part of a training exercise. It's later revealed that this stems from being traumatized by Bear-o, a robot her father Rand built to give her hugs since he was unwilling to hug her himself.
  • Kaeloo: If anyone mentions dead parents in any way, shape, or form, Quack Quack, whose parents were brutally murdered, will go into Troubled Fetal Position and rock back and forth.
  • The Legend of Korra: After the events at the end of season 3, Korra clearly has a major case of PTSD to work through, and every time she's placed in a combat situation risks a paralyzing flashback to Zaheer poisoning and asphyxiating her. She finally manages to overcome this trigger and move on with her life after she confronts Zaheer in prison.
  • Molly of Denali: For Grandpa Nat, it's talking about the time he was sent off to boarding school.
  • In Mysticons , Zarya had this when Emerarld mentioned Captain Chaos, who captured Zarya and forced her to be a sky pirate, along with other people from her village.
  • The Owl House:
    • The Owl Beast freaks out at sudden flashes of bright light due to it reminding them of the flashbangs used when they were sealed in the curse scroll.
    • Vee is an escaped test subject who was tortured for most of her life, so being physically imprisoned (like with a snare or cage) will cause her to have a panic attack.
    • Gus has trust issues stemming from so-called "friends" taking advantage of his naivety and desire to make friends, and then dumping him once they got what they wanted from him. So whenever he realizes he's been tricked or fooled, he has a anxiety attack that makes him lose control of his illusion powers, conjuring up area-surrounding illusions and berating figures representing his self-doubts.
    • Hunter has a whole slew of these, mostly due to being raised by Emperor Belos, his extremely abusive uncle. He visibly flinches when people touch him or bring their hands near his face unexpectedly, he gains a Thousand-Yard Stare when reminded of the awful things working for the Emperor has forced him to do, and "Any Sport in a Storm" shows him having a flashback to Belos consuming a Palisman when Steve tells him his new friends' Palismen will be confiscated. After "Hollow Mind" ended with Hunter learning the truth and nearly being murdered by Belos, he starts having panic attacks at the idea of going back to the Emperor's Coven, and seeing an illusion of Belos causes him to freeze in terror. In "Thanks to Them", he grows his hair out to about the length Belos had his, which triggers hallucinations of Belos and another panic attack, during which Willow catches him frantically chopping his hair off with kitchen scissors.
  • In Pluto's Judgement Day, one of the witnesses is a Nervous Wreck cat strapped to a wheelchair. After being chased by Pluto so many times, he goes into a terrified frenzy when he so much as hears a dog barking.
    Cat Orderly: This poor guy has dog-shock
    He's scared out of his wits!
    And every time a dog barks
    Huh, he throws a dozen fits.
  • Ready Jet Go!: As demonstrated in "Galileo, Galileo!", the memory of when Sean froze up at the Christmas pageant in "Holidays in Boxwood Terrace" is a huge source of anxiety, trauma, pain, and humiliation for him. It's enough to make him nervous to do his school report on Galileo when he was previously confident. Luckily, his friends help him regain his confidence.
  • Recess: In "Dodgeball City," it's revealed that the titular game—and especially kids getting hurt by it—is one for Gus. At his former school, he was a terrifying dodgeball legend known as "El Diablo", but during one heated battle, he accidentally hit a kindergartener with a rogue throw, and the smaller boy was so badly shaken up that he never played at recess again. Gus thus swore off playing dodgeball forever...but then history repeats itself at Third Street School when Gus's kindergartener friend Hector gets caught in the crossfire of a fourth grader versus fifth grader match. A furious Gus steps back on to the court for one final game, and proceeds to deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for the ages.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "Son of Stimpy", Stimpy gets upset at the word "stinky" because that's the name of his beloved, now-lost fart child:
    Ren: It's mister litter box, come one! Take a stinky one! (scratches steps) Nice and stinky!
    Stimpy: Stinky! "(begins screaming and crying and whimpering)
    Ren: So THAT's it! YOU'RE still crying about your imaginary BUTT stinkyness!
    Stimpy: I'm not listening to this anymore! He's REAL! He's REAL!! HE'S REAL!!!note 
  • Samurai Jack: Jack has become this for Aku as of Season 5; when talking about his frustrations with his "therapist" (who's also himself) he cuts himself off upon mentioning Jack and assures himself that his lair is "a safe place". The Scotsman praising Jack after Aku destroys an attacking army is enough to kill off any enjoyment he might have gotten out of the act, such that he just slinks back to his lair and lets the Scotsman's daughters escape.
  • In The Simpsons episode, "War of the Simpsons", Homer and Marge go out to the car to argue while blasting "The Mexican Hat Dance" because Marge doesn't want the kids to know they're having a fight. However, this is clearly not the first time this has happened, as Bart, Lisa and Maggie are all aware of what's going on, and Lisa Simpson comments how that song always sends a chill down her spine.
  • South Park:
    • In "You Got F'd in the A," Stan asking former tap dancer Butters Stotch to help them in their dance-off triggers Butters to run off with a Rapid-Fire "No!". His mother reveals this is because the last time he tap danced, he killed eight people in a tap shoe accident.
    • "Insheeption" reveals Mr. Mackey has a hoarding disorder because he was molested as a child by the Woodsy Owl mascot, and whenever he'd try to throw things away, it would remind him of Woodsy Owl's slogan "Give a hoot, don't pollute" and threatening him not to litter.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The word "evil" is enough to send Mermaid Man into a frenzy.
  • In the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "wej Duj", it's quite clear that Shaxs has a lot of unresolved issues with fighting the Cardassian Occupation as part of the Bajoran Resistance.
    Shaxs: You think I had time for anything other than resisting?! Fighting fascism is a full-time job!
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Order 66 survivor Kanan Jarrus isn't too fond of working with clones when he meets Captain Rex and his two clone comrades.
    • Rex has one when he awakens to find him and the others having been captured by a surviving group of Separatist battle droids. He calls out for Commander Cody and it takes Kanan calling out for him to snap him out of it, though he spends the rest of the episode agitated.
      Rex: [awakens to the sight of battle droids] The war... it isn't over! Cody!
  • Virgil Hawkins, also known as Static Shock, has a huge disdain for guns, as it caused the death of his mother during a citywide riot. In a Very Special Episode of the series, aptly named "Jimmy", the titular bullied classmate, Jimmy Osgood, made matters worse for him when he brought his father's gun to school to kill his bullies, only for his best friend, Richie, to be accidentally shot.
  • Steven Universe: Future: This epilogue series is famous for its exploration to Steven Quartz Universe's unresolved C-PTSD from the original series and the movie. As stated in "Growing Pains", since he spend most of his childhood fighting monsters, having near death experiences or watching others' temporary deaths, stopping a "so many millennia war" and fixing everyone's problems and mistakes, his body is starting to overreact (glowing pink, random swelling and unleashing dangerous outbursts) to minor threats, especially after everyone is starting to move on content with their life without him. For instance, in "Homeworld Bound" the memories of what happened in "Change Your Mind" are enough for him to snap as he attempts to shatter a redeemed White Diamond.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In the past, Leatherhead was mutated by the Kraang and subjected to horrible experiments. The mere mention of the Kraang sends him into an Unstoppable Rage and makes him attack anyone close to him.
  • From the Thomas & Friends episode "Escape": Douglas and his brother are as close as two brothers can be, and when their old railway in Scotland stopped using steam engines like them, they were on the chopping block. Even going to the Isle of Sodor didn't give them any relief at first, as the Fat Controller had only intended to purchase one engine, and spent some time deciding which one to send back, which they both knew was a death sentence. Only a deputation by Percy saved them both.
    Edward: You and Trevor have a lot in common, you know.
    Douglas: And what might that be?
    Edward: Scrap.
    Douglas: Don't use that word! You're making my wheels wobble!
  • In Todd McFarlane's Spawn, because of his own death by burning alive, Spawn has traumatic flashbacks when a man soaked in gasoline catches on fire from a spark after trying to shoot him, and when a villain lights him on fire.
  • Total Drama:
    • Alejandro's carefully calculated charismatic demeanor falls completely apart if he's reminded of his Big Brother Bully, José. Heather saying "No way, José!" during the finale is enough to trigger him into a rant. He also hates being called "Al" because José mocks him under that nickname — at best, it makes his eye twitch, and at worst, it sends him into a rage.
    • In All-Stars, Scott developed a massive fear of sharks (mainly Fang). This was because in the previous season, Fang severely mauled Scott off-screen which left him in a life-support machine. Now, whenever Scott sees Fang, he either freaks out or freezes in fear.
  • In X-Men: The Animated Series, after Morph rejoins the team, he has the misfortune of having to go up against the Sentinels, who killed him way back in the first episode. The sight of one of their footprints is enough to cause him to suffer a flashback.

Alternative Title(s): Oblivious Trauma Triggering


Vambre's Fear of Squirrels

Vambre has a deathly fear of squirrels, due to a bad childhood experience.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes

Media sources: