Follow TV Tropes


Trauma Button Ending

Go To

This trope is a stock comedic ending. After a whole episode of wacky shenanigans, a character sees some innocuous object that reminds them of today's harrowing misadventure and promptly has an unusually negative reaction. Its severity can vary, from an expression of distaste and exasperation ("No thanks, after today's horrific incident I don't want to see another codfish ball as long as I live") to full-blown homicidal rage, or a panic attack where the character flees screaming a Big "NO!" into the distance.

Often the other characters will express confusion ("Was it something I said?") if they aren't in on the story, or laugh uproariously if they are. Certain characters may even invoke this for their own amusement.

Status Quo Is God ensures that by the next episode, the character has already gotten over their debilitating case of PTSD (or at least change of preferences) and will mention it no more.

A subtrope of Trauma Button. Compare Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere, Here We Go Again!, and We Are Not Going Through That Again. If the events of the episode were All Just a Dream, and they respond with anger, it's overlapping with Mad at a Dream. For further laughs, the trauma button will be treated like an Absurd Phobia.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • During the Yellow Temperance chapter in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, an impostor Kakyoin licks a cherry in an unnerving fashion before challenging Jotaro to a battle, which Jotaro narrowly wins. After the battle, when the Joestar group is on the train to their next destination, the real Kakyoin eats a cherry in the exact same way the impostor does, prompting the obligatory "Yare Yare Daze" ("Good grief" in the dub) from Jotaro.
  • In Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Hori is frustrated at Nozaki's inability to draw proper backgrounds; he ends up drawing his characters floating. So Nozaki draws in a Scully Box to explain it. Boxes start appearing in every scene, and Nozaki even includes a panel with a character explaining that In-Universe, boxes are the hot new trend. Hori gets so sick of boxes that he kicks one out from under someone using it in real life to reach on top of a shelf.
  • Sailor Moon: In one episode of SuperS, Naru is targeted by Tiger's Eye and starts dating him because he claimed he was terminally ill and wanted to experience love before he died. Umino, her boyfriend, is upset by this and drowns his sorrows by drinking 15 milkshakes. After Naru is saved from Tiger's Eye by the Sailor Guardians, she visits Umino, who is sick in bed from drinking all those milkshakes, and offers him one as a gift, to his horror.

  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In one episode, it's Paddi's birthday; coincidentally, it also happens to be Wolnine's birthday as well. Her husband Wolffy bakes her a gigantic cake and kidnaps and traps Paddi inside of it, but Paddi manages to escape by eating his way out. By the time he's reunited with his friends at his party, he's much too full to eat his own birthday cake and bursts into tears while complaining about his stomachache.

  • Two classic Abbott and Costello routines that follow a similar path:
    • The "Niagara Falls" routine (also made famous by The Three Stooges), in which two men meet (one is implied to be a wanderer) and in casual conversation, Costello's character triggers Abbott's (the wanderer) Berserk Button ("NIAGARA FALLS!"), and he brutalizes Costello's character while reminiscing the time that he hunted down a man who stole his girlfriend to that location. Variations of the routine have Costello's character either reflexively wincing when someone else comes along and says the name after the wanderer leaves, being pummeled by the wanderer because of said button-pressing (but the newcomer stays safe), repeating the wanderer's irate rambling (and pummeling) to the newcomer, or discovering the hard way that the bitter rival the wanderer keeps reminiscing developed the same Berserk Button from those events and getting pummeled again.
    • The "Susquehanna Hat Company" routine has Costello's character wandering the streets trying to deliver straw hats to the titular hat company, only to find out that every person that he meets for one reason or another has the hat company as a Berserk Button (the company is rumored to be corrupt, their loved ones died wearing a hat from the company, a crazy guy (that thinks he's a ghost and is implied to be the one that a previous passerby considered "dead") was wearing one when he "died", etc) and they wreck a hat in a rage before storming off (to add insult to injury, they pluck it off Costello's character's head to do so — and in one occasion even pulling it off the box he placed it in to prevent them from destroying it the moment he noticed they were starting to act crazy). The routine ends with Abbott's character (a fellow salesman) pointing out that Costello's character only has one hat remaining ("and what excuse are we gonna give the Susquehanna Hat Company?") and Costello's character wrecking the hat as he goes in a similar screaming fury.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: In one story, Archie is called by the department store he works at during summer vacation and is assigned to work at the swimsuit department. At first, he is overjoyed at the opportunity to ogle girls in swimsuits, but his sales techniques work too well, and the customers start to fight over the swimsuits he recommends. By the end of his shift, he's sick of bikinis and swimsuits and is ready to go to bed. However, his female friends, who had gone to the beach, decide to drop by and visit in their swimsuits (because they felt sorry for him for missing the beach eye candy, not knowing about the department he's working at). The story ends with him rushing up to his room screaming, while his mother and female friends look on, completely perplexed.
  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics:
    • In the story "The Itch For Money", the Beagle Boys seek to get rich by acquiring and selling expensive crocus bulbs, but one of their attempts (robbing a fancy restaurant) ends with them clawed by live lobsters. At the end of the story, the Boys end up in prison and become enraged when the guard serves them lobster.
    • In "Archimede cittadino dello spazio", after successfully saving an alien planet from being bombarded by balls from a neighboring planet's baseball matches, Gyro Gearloose declines an offer to see a baseball game claiming that he's had enough baseball for one day.
    • In "Lamps Unlimited", after a business involving turning trash into electric lamps goes awry, Donald is forced to clean up the city. He uses a candle to light his way because, as he explains, he's quite sick of electric lighting.
    • Drie Konigen has Donald chased by The March of the Three Kings, wherever he goes, to the point of Incessant Music Madness. It ends with Daisy forcing him to sing it at an event.
    • One story has Donald experiencing a nervous breakdown and is advised by the therapist to take model building to relax. He does so, and becomes so obsessed with his new hobby that it drives Daisy up the wall. She snaps and gets taken to the therapist (the same one Donald went to), who gives her similar advice. The story ends with Daisy chasing down the therapist with a lampstand, screaming that she's had enough of miniature models.
    • Lost in the Andes! ends with the revelation that both of the cube-shaped chickens that Donald and the nephews took from Plain Awful are roosters, making their whole journey pointless. A disappointed Donald goes to a diner for lunch, only for the waiter to recommend him various chicken- and egg-based dishes, and the comic ends on a police car announcing that a mad duck is wreaking havoc in a diner.
  • This is a common Running Gag in Mortadelo y Filemón: Since Failure Is the Only Option for the two protagonists, they often return from a mission defeated and in poor spirits, only for someone to make an innocent remark that reminds them of what they just went through; cue Disproportionate Retribution and the next panel showing them in a faraway country hiding from the authorities and/or their boss.
  • Superman:
    • In "Superman's Super-Magic Show!", Superman has to deal with Lex Luthor, Mr. Mxyztplk, and the Prankster using lifelike proxies of people for their schemes. Once the villains have been taken care of, Lois Lane approaches Supes with an idea for a Daily Planet contest — finding exact doubles of people like Superman, the mayor, and so forth. Superman's response is an emphatic, "No-no! I've had all the double trouble I want for the rest of my life!"
    • In one Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen comic, Jimmy nearly gets drained of his life force by a vampiric alien posing as a girl's pet. At the end of the story, he runs away from a young woman who tries to ask him to hold her dog's leash.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Wacky Adventures of Pedro:
    • Following Pedro's 31st-century ordeal as a robot slave on the Ruby Moon of Doom, he returns home to find a red sphere floating a short walk away from his house. He screams that the Ruby Moon of Doom has found him in another time period, then faints from the shock. At the end, the strip reveals the sphere as merely a child's balloon.
    • In one storyline, Pedro's evil twin, Ordep had been posing as Pedro's butler, serving him alfalfa milkshakes to keep him off guard while he ruined Pedro's life. When Pedro finally escapes at the end, he says he never wants to see another one for the rest of his life and runs screaming away when one of his friends comes by with a milkshake glass full of green liquid.It was actually a clover frappe.
    • Another storyline shrinks Pedro down into the microscopic Pedramoeba. After a normal-sized Pedro tells his friends about the horrors he experienced, an old acquaintance reunites with him, and remarks about their "small world." Pedro runs away screaming, to the acquaintance's confusion.

    Fan Works 
  • Peeking Through the Fourth Wall, and stories MSTed by it:
    • In Episode 5, the Loud siblings read a story where their house catches fire. At the end, after reading the story, Lynn asks for fire sauce on her burger, spooking her siblings.
    • In A Town Hates a Boy, covered in Episode 28, the Lisa in the story invents a perfume that makes people want to kill the wearer. At the end of the episode, a scientist sniffs (actually due to an impending sneeze) and Lisa runs away screaming, thinking he's sniffing at the perfume.

    Films — Animated 
  • Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas: At the end of Stuck on Christmas, when Huey, Dewey and Louie are relieved that their wish has ended and that it's finally December 26th.
    Dewey: The day after Christmas!
    Donald: Aw, I understand, boys. You wish it could be Christmas every day!
    (the triplets freeze in horror and then shove the sled extremely hard)
    Boys: NOOOOOO!!!

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Curious George: Downplayed for the one with the chocolate factory. George is given chocolate at the end after having already eaten a lot of chocolate at the factory. However, he doesn't imply that he's sick or doesn't like chocolate anymore — he's just not hungry.
  • Goosebumps: Played for Horror in Don't Go to Sleep!, when Matt's mom turns the guest bedroom into his new room for his birthday. He begins to panic at the news he was given since the room can warp reality if he sleeps in it.
  • Played for Horror in "Phobia" from Tales for the Midnight Hour. The heroine already hated rodents and would get away from them if she could. However, after escaping from a rat-man and his band of rats, the mere sight of one sends her into hysteria.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad: The episode "Fly" features Walt and Jesse basically wasting a whole day of work at Gus's superlab trying to kill a fly. At the end of the episode, Walt retires to bed and, when looking up at the blinking light on his smoke detector, sees a fly land on it and gives it a rather unnerved look.
  • At the end of the Doctor Who episode "Midnight", Donna repeats "Molto bene", after the Doctor says it, something also done by the episode's antagonist, an unseen Eldritch Abomination. The Doctor, visibly shaken, tells her not to do that. The moment is made more impactful as the Doctor urging companions not to say or do certain things is a Running Gag until this episode. Here, it's Played for Drama. And after that? It never happens again.
  • I Love Lucy: In "Job Switching", after admitting housework is harder than they thought, Ricky and Fred pull out two big boxes of chocolate to apologize to their wives. Lucy and Ethel collapse, having seen and eaten more than enough chocolate during their last job.
  • On Intimate, brothers Emil and Oskar meet a girl they used to bully and, in exchange for her not going public with it, commit an act of Twincest on her orders. Afterwards they are visited by their mother who notes that they are uncharacteristically mopey. She then recounts an incident from their childhood where Oskar peed on Emil while they were in the bathtub, and when she realizes they are not amused by the story, jokingly asks them if they just got done bathing together again, which is enough to make Emil throw up.
  • In one episode of The Unit, Jonas goes home after a successful assault on a hijacked airliner and promptly shoots a couple holes in his bathroom mirror when he mistakes his own reflection out of the corner of his eye for a hijacker who had hidden behind a seat during the mission.
  • Warehouse 13: One episode puts Pete through It's a Wonderful Plot. Once everything's sorted out and he has his life back, he sits down to watch a Christmas movie with his friends. Cue Big "NO!" when It's a Wonderful Life starts playing.

  • One story in the official magazine for Moshi Monsters involves Furi eating too much cake at a party. In the end, Missy Kix offers him some cake, but he says he's "off cake" due to still feeling sick.

    Web Original 
  • The Whitestone arc of Critical Role (a very dark adventure involving vampires, necromancy, demonic possession, and a boatload of trauma for the party Gunslinger, Percy) ends with a winter festival and a children's entertainer inviting Percy to take part in his show. Percy happily agrees, but Keyleth panics, grabs the magician by the collar, pulls him close, and threatens death if he does anything to hurt her friend any further. The scene manages to be funny, scary, sad, and heartwarming, all at once.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: At the end of "Journey to the Center of Carl", Miss Fowl's class is back in school after almost becoming permanently sick thanks to Jimmy's latest invention. On this day, Miss Fowl introduces them to a new student, who happens to have a cold, causing everyone to freak out and clear the room.
  • Amphibia: Anne and Sprig spend the latter half of “Sprig’s Birthday” in a runaway hot air balloon shaped like a Monster Clown. At the end, after managing to escape, they decide to leave as soon as possible so they never have to look at the horrifying image of the deflated clown balloon again. Sprig admits that he sees it every time he closes his eyes.
  • Played for Drama in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Torch Song", featuring the debut of Firefly as he targets his rockstar ex-girlfriend Cassidy. At the end of the episode, Cassidy and her manager are discussing her kidnapping by Firefly, with her brushing off the incident since "[she's] a survivor", only to freeze in terror at the sight of a nearby flambé while her manager's making fire-themed suggestions for her next tour to ride off of her experience.
  • Happens in an episode of Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom, "Queen Thistle's Day Off", Queen Thistle goes to visit her sister for the day, and the rest of the family has to take care of Daisy and Poppy. However, the two toddlers get into a lot of trouble and cast spells on everyone who tries to calm them down. When Queen Thistle comes home and sees what's happened, she fixes all the spells the twins did. Then the family tells her that it was actually fun, and that they'd manage the twins perfectly if Queen Thistle ever went away again.
    Queen Thistle: That's good, because I'm going to visit my sister again, next week!
    Everybody Else: [gasps] NO!!
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: "Hate Canal" consists of Skumm trying to ruin Venice with plague rats he infected with treated cheese. At the end, Wheeler asks one of the locals if he wants to join them for lunch; the boy quips that he's fine with it as long as it isn't grilled cheese.
  • Dennis the Menace: In "The Time Bomb", Dennis and Joey have a rather harrowing adventure with a clock mistaken for a time bomb. At the end of the episode, hearing the sentence "don't you boys ever look at a clock?" distresses them so much that they flee, much to the speaker's confusion.
  • Family Guy: In "Valentine's Day in Quahog", when Stewie returns from a time-travel trip in which he kissed a baby that turned out to be Lois.
    Brian: Oh my God, Stewie, what happened?
    Brian: Jeez, you kiss your mother with that mouth?
    Stewie: [vomits]
  • One Gaspard and Lisa episode involves chaos ensuing when Lisa tries to buy a beach ball. When she actually gets given one, she says that she's "had enough of beach balls for one day".
  • The Ghost And Molly Mcgee: In "It's Always Sunny in Sunnyland", after the family is forced to cancel a trip to the amusement park Sunnyland, Molly entertains her family with a make-shift version of Sunnyland. Molly works herself ragged trying to make the other McGees happy, and at the end of the episode they decide to let Molly relax and enjoy one of the rides with them. Though Molly has to stop her dad from singing the Sunnyland theme song again, as after several days of playing it over and over again she complains "I can still hear it in my sleep."
  • Josie and the Pussycats began their adventure in Hong Kong when Alexandra bumped into a Chinese man, causing both to drop coins. Inadverently, Alexandra picked up a rare coin that'd been taken by Mister Wong from a numismatist. After being pursued and captured by Wong and his minion, the 'Cats thwart the villain and sunder his Evil Plan. At the conclusion, Alexandra heads for the concession area, and once again bumps into a Chinese man, spilling their coins. Having no desire to repeat her adventure, Alexandra bugs out.
    Chinese man: You meet the strangest people in Hong Kong.
  • The Loud House: In the "So Long, Sucker" short, Charles, Cliff, Geo, and Walt spend most of the short making a mess trying to get rid of a vacuum cleaner they're afraid of. When Lynn Sr. arrives home, he notices the house is clean (actually due to the pets cleaning up the mess they made) and says that the vacuum cleaner did a good job and he's buying five more, scaring the pets.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: Clark would often mischievously bring up something related to the plot to his coworkers for a final joke.
    • During "The Robots of Riga", Lois and Jimmy are almost kidnapped to be put into a People Zoo. After Superman rescues them, Clark tries to talk Lois into taking an afternoon off for some fresh air, suggesting he and she might take a trip to the zoo. Lois responds by throwing her purse at Clark.
    • During "The Warlock's Revenge", the Warlock brings a monster movie poster to life to menace Lois. After everything is wrapped up, Clark says she needs some downtime and suggests they see the same movie.
    • The events of "Luthor's Loco Looking Glass" start when Luthor has a matter transfer machine disguised as a mirror sent to the Daily Planet and Jimmy falls into it. At the end, Clark offers him a hand mirror to see something on his face more clearly, which Jimmy emphatically refuses.
    • At the end of "The Fire Phantom", Jimmy and Clark catch up with each other and compare notes on the evening, with Jimmy telling Clark how chilling it was. Clark suggests that he build a fire. Jimmy immediately says that he's had enough of fire for the evening.
    • In one episode, a Mad Scientist who is angry at Lois for sending him to jail kidnaps her and forces her into a film strip. When Clark says Lois is attractive enough to be a film star, she throws something at him, causing him to quip that sometimes she's more hazardous than a mad scientist.
    • Clark sometimes finds himself on the wrong end of this trope. For instance, in "Superman's Double Trouble." After he's spent the entire episode dealing with a giant lobster and a humongous alligator, Perry offers to buy him dinner at a seafood restaurant. Clark declines, saying he's had enough lobster for the day.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Blorpsgiving", the movie that Patrick and Squidina watch involves a race of salad aliens who try to hunt down the protagonist. After they finish the movie, their mother Bunny comes in and offers them salad. They run out of the room screaming, to Bunny's confusion.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: In "Speed Demon", the girls burst out of school on the first day of summer vacation, and they fly so fast that they create a wormhole and end up in a Bad Future where HIM has taken over the world and Townsville as "gone to heck". After they get back to their own time via a second speed-wormhole, the traumatized girls ask the Professor to cancel their planned vacation to the Bahamas.
    Blossom: Sorry, Professor, but we can't leave Townsville.
    Buttercup: Even for one weekend!
    Bubbles: Can you imagine what would happen if we weren't here to protect it?
    Professor: Well, heck if I know.
    Girls: EXACTLY!
  • The Raccoons: In "Moving In!", a pie fight breaks out on the set of Chef Surprise, which surprises the Raccoons, and George and Nicole get caught in the crossfire. At the end of the episode, when the Raccoons celebrate George's acceptance hosting Chef Surprise, they all duck underneath the table when Schaeffer brings out a pie.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: In "The Grundel", the titular Monster of the Week lures a boy, Alec, into its clutches by offering him the opportunity to do anything he wants, free of parental control. After being freed, Alec asks the Ghostbusters if he can work the siren while they're driving home. Ray says that as far as they're concerned, he can do anything he wants. Shaking his head, Alec says he's heard that before (though he's quite happy to play with Ecto-1).
  • Rugrats:
    • In one episode, Angelica decides to eat some of a freshly baked cake despite her mother explicitly telling her not to. Contrary to the usual course of events, things culminate with her winning a contest and inheriting a candy company. She becomes emancipated and enjoys her wealth. Ultimately the stress of running a company gets to her. Unsurprisingly, it's All Just a Dream; she wanders into the kitchen to find that her mother made a cake that looks exactly like the one she'd eaten without permission. Her mother offers her a slice, only for her to run away screaming, "NOOOOO!!!".
    • In the episode "Ruthless Tommy," Tommy gets kidnapped by two bumbling criminals who mistake him for a millionaire's son. Throughout the episode, one of the crooks tries to stop his crying by trying to feed him a banana, but he only goes on bawling. At the very end, after he's safely home, Didi brings him a toy banana as a present, and he starts bawling again.
  • Samurai Jack: Downplayed in "Chicken Jack". Jack is turned into a chicken and Hilarity Ensues. After the spell is reversed, Jack stops by a food stand for a meal. The stand runner offers a chicken dish, which the samurai yells, "NO! NO CHICKEN!" Calming down, Jack instead asks for shrimp.
  • The Simpsons: In one of the Tracey Ullman shorts, Bart eats all but one cookie from the cookie jar and has an Acid Reflux Nightmare. After he wakes up, Homer tries to make him feel better by offering him the last cookie. Cue the scream.
  • The Sonic Boom episode "Multi Tails" has this, not for the episode's focal character (Tails), but for Sticks — frustrated by one of his clones answering "Why?" to everything she says, she ultimately attacks the fully restored Tails for asking "Why?" for an innocuous reason — why Eggman is mildly upset with him (the Tails clones ate all Eggman's pudding).
  • Steven Universe episode "Together Breakfast" ends with the team making a new together breakfast. Since the previous one ended up possessed and turned into a giant monster, they realize that they aren't in the mood for it and go out for pizza instead.


Video Example(s):


Frog Costume

After spending the evening being hunted by a giant frog, the CyberSquad goes back to trick-or-treating. At the first house they go to, a kid opens the door for them in a frog costume and they run off screaming.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / TraumaButtonEnding

Media sources: