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Kevin: How do you know when a relationship is over?

Matt: Well, all my clothes on the front lawn usually does it for me.
Two Of A Kind


It's a scenario we've all seen a million times.

A couple is breaking up. The man has cheated on his woman, and the woman is showing both her ire and her desire to be rid of this man and all memory of his presence in her life by throwing his belongings out of the window of the dwelling they shared up until she discovered the infidelity or other dealbreaking thing he's done. This is usually accompanied by the woman screaming or faux-calmly berating him for what he's done, or delivering the litany of reasons he's being dumped along with his belongings.

For maximum amusement factor, the window is usually at least on the second story of a building (Tossing stuff out the first floor window isn't funny; tossing stuff out a higher window could be dangerous to passerby, and not just humiliating and inconvenient for the cheating boyfriend). The hapless guy's reaction tends to run:

  1. He's desperately trying to explain it's not what she thinks.
  2. He's begging forgiveness
  3. He's trying to prevent her from tossing a particular item [it's either something he values highly or something extremely heavy that will make a large destructive impact when it lands].

There are bonus points of amusement for the hapless man getting beaned with his own prized possessions, like trophies or other sports memorabilia.

Darker, less humorous versions of this trope tend to have the woman taking fire (see Break-Up Bonfire) or razors to the cheater's belongings. This is common in those glossy, colourful compilations of High Octane Nightmare Fuel they sell at supermarket checkouts. This variant does get used with men as well as women, when a divorcing husband trashes his own stuff rather than let his wife's lawyers take it away from him.

Note that in Real Life being upset with your significant other does not give you the right to damage their property; Carrie Underwood lyrics to the contrary notwithstanding.[1]

The main variation on this trope is not the relationship breakup, but rather someone being so aggravated with whatever they're doing they chuck it out the window -- see also Appliance Defenestration. A less common variation is someone accidentally tossing something out a window they hadn't intended to.

Surprisingly, this one is often used in commercials. Especially in Mexican commercials, since the phrase "tirar la casa por la ventana" (literally, "defenestrating the house") means "throwing a huge party".

Compare: It's All Junk

Examples of Defenestrate and Berate include:


Commercials

  • There's a Levi's commercial which subverts the trope: the guy is in his underwear and dodging belongings hurled from above. He hurriedly yanks some flowers from a nearby flowerbed. He knocks on the door with the flowers. The girl, touched by the gesture, forgives. While she's going to find a vase for the flowers, he retrieves from a tree his beloved Levis and dons them. Seconds later, he's cheerfully walking away with his jeans on, and the vase and flowers go crashing to the sidewalk.
  • A TV ad with two couples -- neighbors -- going through this trope. The first unlucky man's things are kept in normal plastic containers, which quickly open as they fall and spill the contents everywhere. The second man's belongings were kept in Rubbermaid containers, and bounced safely as they hit the ground, unharmed.
  • There was an Australian TV commercial for the Yellow pages where a guy came home and found all of his stuff on the sidewalk. When he made some remark about how was he supposed to move it, the girl flung the Yellow Pages at him from an upstairs window, smashing his model ship.
  • A commercial about an American insurance company had a woman casually asking her friend about her car insurance while staring out the window. The window showed an irate girlfriend throwing her boyfriend's possessions out the window on to the (hopefully) well-insured car. The objects start with clothing, then a TV, then a couch...
  • A recent Tesco's (British supermarket) commercial does the taking scissors to version, with the point being that the (admitted quite nice looking) clothing is so cheap the partner/husband is simply able to buy a replacement.
  • A Chevy Silverado (IIRC) commercial featured this. After a long night out, a man is driven home by his friend to find his stuff being thrown out the top floor window. The friend backs the truck up to catch it in the box. "C'mon," says the friend, "You can sleep on the couch." "... you don't have a couch." Accompanied by a howl of fury, a couch is thrown out, landing neatly on top of the pile of stuff. "... right."
  • This trope happens in a Burger King commercial, because the guy... bought play-off tickets for an anniversary. Dorky, yes. Deserving of a psychotic destruction of all his stuff?
  • A man comes home to find all his furniture out on the pavement. He rushes in shouting: "But darling, she meant nothing to me!" only to find his wife has simply got new IKEA furniture (cue shot of his shocked wife accidentally snipping the head off a rose).
  • A Bud Light commercial had a group of office workers brainstorming about how to save money. One guy suggests they stop buying Bud Light for every meeting. The next shot is of him (and the chair he's sitting in) being thrown out of the window.


Film

  • Done in It Could Happen To You. Sort-of parodied in that the man's offense is donating money to charity that she would rather he spent on her.
  • Seen in flashbacks in Exit to Eden, when a male photojournalist who enjoys being spanked is given the heave-ho by women who are squicked by his desires.
  • In The Mexican (with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt)
  • In Next Friday Craig's cousin Day-Day tells him about a girl he started dating 3 weeks ago who started claiming he was the father of her unborn child (she was six months pregnant). She gets really angry when he leaves her and starts destroying his stuff, actually going over to his home multiple times to damage his car. Its apparently subverted since the restraining order Day-Day managed to get indicates he wasn't lying about when he started dating her (and thus the impossibility of him being the father.
  • In The War of the Roses husband and wife both throw and destroy each other's belongings including the dog, or so it is implied.
  • In The Holiday, Amanda is tossing her ex boyfriend's belongings out of the house while he denies [and eventually admits] he cheated.
  • Earth Girls Are Easy varies the trope a little. Valerie (Geena Davis) tosses Ted (Charles Rocket) out of the house clad only in his underwear. And then, while singing a song about how much his cheating has hurt her, Valerie systematically destroys all of Ted's favourite belongings in the fireplace, the microwave, and randomly tossing them. Close enough for horseshoes.
    • Extra points to Valerie for rolling a bowling ball down his skis into the monitor of his computer.
  • Done early in the 1998 Dirty Work with passersby picking up and taking the protagonist's things. The scene culminated in a dropped commercial-style popcorn maker.
  • In Jungle Fever Lonette McKee does this to husband Wesley Snipes, cursing him so loudly that everyone in Manhattan should know about his infidelity.
  • Waiting to Exhale. Angela Bassett's character Bernadine gets dumped by her husband for another woman. This is after she's spent the last 11 years sacrificing her dreams of owning her own business to help him build his. Her reaction? Taking his entire very expensive wardrobe, stuffing it in his very expensive car and setting the whole shebang on fire. And what she couldn't get in the car, she sold. For a dollar.
  • Heavily subverted with one of the couples in He's Just Not That Into You, when the cool and calculating woman finds out her husband had slept with another she tries to act rational about it by suggesting that before they do anything hasty they should go into counciling. It's not until she finds cigarettes in her husband's things (something she had suspected him of having and that he denied to the point of making her feel guilty about asking) that she realizes she wants him out of her house and after smashing some porcelain in anger, neatly packs up all his belongings and leaves them on the stairs with a note telling him she wants a divorce and that he should get lost.


Literature

  • In Divorcing Jack, the protagonist cheats on his wife and she melts his prize records in retaliation.
  • In Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold, this trope is subverted in that Ekaterin Vorsoisson isn't throwing her husband Tien out for infidelity, but leaving him because he's a bribe-taking traitor. And that it's him throwing the tantrum while she simply stands there quietly clutching her remaining dignity to her, demanding that she stay with him and trying to (entirely irrationally) blame her for his crimes, and pitching her prized bonsai tree (in the family for 70 years!) off a fifth-story balcony at one point to punctuate his childish rant. Her only reaction?

 Ekaterin: You ass, Tien. You didn't even look to see if there was anyone below.

  • In the novel Fools Die, one of the character's wife cuts his clothes to ribbons and then masturbates on the pile with a vibrator.
  • In The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld, this is how Moz gets an expensive electric guitar for free, and also how he meets Pearl.
  • In one of Carla Kelly's Regency romances, this is done to the heroine because she married well beneath her station.


Live Action TV

  • Gilmore Girls used this when Lindsay found out that Dean had slept with Rory.
  • In an episode of My Name Is Earl , This is a step in the Bad Boss's Humiliation Conga : He berates Earl, gets beat up, sent to the hospital, and his wife shows up with his mistress there. She then throws his stuff out the window, and finds the money he laundered.
  • Season 1 of Friends has Rachel doing this to the Romantic False Lead (the original, natch).
    • In Season 4, Rachel's crush, Joshua, has to buy a lot of new clothes as his ex-wife set all his old clothes on fire. He later reveals he keeps on buying clothes since he likes Rachel.
  • Though not seen, an episode of CSI has man who is thrown out by his girlfriend describe how she tossed his stuff into the street.
    • The CSI franchise also uses the divorce variant for both sexes. A couple on CSI: Miami destroyed or gave away practically everything they'd owned to keep it from each other, and a man on the Vegas original killed himself and a friend while chain-sawing the furniture he'd just lost to his ex-wife in their divorce settlement.
    • One episode of CSI New York begins with this. Eventually the man on the balcony throws the dog over, and the horrified woman below is spattered with blood... Fortunately we are then shown that the dog was caught safely, and the blood was being sprayed by a road salter.
  • This doesn't happen as much as you would think on Cheaters, though there was one notable episode where the woman set her cheating partner's possessions on fire.
  • While Peggy was separated from Al in Married... with Children, Marcy helped her by showing her how to destroy Al's stuff.
  • Used hilariously in The X-Files episode "Dreamland", in which Mulder switches bodies with an Area 51 worker Morris Fletcher. Fletcher's wife thinks that her husband (really Mulder) is cheating on her, as Mulder was muttering something about Scully in his sleep and Scully herself showed up at the door five seconds later looking for Morris Fletcher. She ends up throwing out all of her husband's possessions while Mulder tries to convince Scully that it's really him, even though he looks like Fletcher.
  • Haley does this to her boyfriend's things in Modern Family after he goes to a movie with another girl.
  • On Wings Casey dumps her husband's money out the window of his yacht when she finds out he was lying about being poor. She eventually throws him overboard as well.
  • Keen Eddie: In Inciting Incident, a woman is sent photo-shopped photos of her husband with another woman and becomes so furious with him, she throws all of his belongings out the window while the police watch and comment. She eventually beans her husband in the head with a suitcase, leaving him with a nasty bump for the rest of the episode.
  • Done in the Midsomer Murders episode "Ring Out Your Dead". A woman breaks up with her lover by flinging all of his belongings out of the window of her flat. Including his pants, forcing to run outside naked to retrieve them.
  • Weeds season 7 episode "Bags" a classic example involving Shane in Copenhagen.


Music

  • "I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up four wheel drive, carved my name into his leather seats. I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights, slashed a hole in all four tires, maybe next time he'll think before he cheats." courtesy of Carrie Underwood. The video for the song does show her tossing some stuff through the window, though the man is otherwise occupied * nudge nudge wink wink* and doesn't actually get to see the results on screen.
  • Pink's video for the song "There You Go" actually shows a motorbike crashing through the cheating boyfriend's window.
    • Pink and her BF fought in the "You Make Me Sick" vid. Nothing goes through a window, but they sure wreck each other's stuff.
  • The Barenaked Ladies song "The Humour of the Situation" has the protagonist drive home to find all his belongings on the lawn courtesy of his girlfriend.
  • A Finnish singer Anssi Kela has a couple of lines in his song "1972" that translate roughly into "When I returned home yesterday, my key didn't fit into the lock/My clothes are flying out of the window". It's very likely to be an example of this trope.
  • Willie Mabon's R&B song "I'm Mad" (featured in the cartoon Sing, Beast, Sing), has him venting his anger on his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, eventually threatening to pitch her clothes: "Won't be any more washin', or hangin' upside the wall/ I'm throwin' them out the window/ Run out and catch 'em before they fall."
  • Lily Allen's video 'Smile' shows her getting revenge upon her cheating boyfriend by hiring thugs to beat him up and trash his apartment.
  • Pet Shop Boys ' "The boy who couldn't keep his clothes on" has the girl in the spoken break threaten to do this to her boyfriend due to his extracurricular activities.
  • The BlackHawk music video "Goodbye Says It All" has a man coming home to find his home trashed with a video showing his ex ruining his possessions. He throws the television in the lake after she says, "And even though I'm leaving you, I still hope we can be friends."
  • Parodied with Kelly Clarkson's My Life Would Suck Without You video. She teasingly steals first the magazine he's reading and tosses it out, he does the same to the one she was reading. Then she goes and grabs some of his clothes and tosses them, he does the same (and she even takes some of her clothes and tosses them herself). The video ends with the pair kissing.


Western Animation

  • Robot Chicken used it in a sketch, with a pair of birds and their nest.
  • When The Simpsons realized that Apu and Manjula were having trouble with their sex life (specifically, that he had cheated on her) they throw the Kama Sutra out of the window.
    • In another episode, Luann Van Houten cheerily gathers up her ex-husband Kirk's stuff, puts it in a box, tapes it up, writes "Kirk's things" on it and happily torches it. While humming.
  • Oscar Kokoshka and his wife Susie go through a number of times on Hey Arnold
  • In Moral Orel, Principal Fakey finds out that he has an STD while having sex with Nurse Bendy. He immediately comes to the conclusion that his wife is cheating on him. He angrily marches down to his house and throws out his wife and then her possessions while calling her a whore. He has his pants down the whole time.
  • Happens in Stoked! when the staff go on strike and Bummer locks them out of the staff house. The staff not on strike dump their belongings on them from the balcony.


The Frustration or Accidental Window Toss

Anime and Manga

  • In the manga version of Chrono Crusade, Chrono actually tosses Rosette herself out the window when he becomes frustrated that she won't get up in the morning. When Azmaria responds with horror, Chrono quips "don't worry, there's a lake below!" Cue Rosette coming back up to the window in a soaking wet nightgown and a fish in her mouth.


Comic Books

  • In one Gaston Lagaffe strip, Prunelle gets overly angry at the titular character for destroying two coat hangers and violently throws the remaining piece of one out the window. As it is shaped like a boomerang, Hilarity Ensues.


Commercials

  • There are many TV shows and commercials (most recent one I've seen is with an Xmas tree) where frustration leads to something being chucked out the window.
  • In the UK a commercial for Harp lager showed a man sitting in his girlfriend's flat (established to be in a high-rise block) while she is getting ready for their date. When her dog appears, he throws a ball for it, which bounces out of the window, and the dog leaps after it. He makes "a sharp exit", as the slogan had it, and is next seen recounting the tale to his friends in the pub. After complaints from viewers, a scene was added at the end showing the dog appearing in the pub as well, unharmed.
  • There's a turkey commercial where the woman is struggling with the frozen turkey [which is huge and heavy]. She miscalculates the amount of effort to toss it into the sink. So it overshoots the sink, breaks through the window and brains a man outside [her husband?]
    • Speaking of Turkeys... Mad About You had an episode with a Running Gag that the couple tried to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving and it kept falling out a window, causing them to have to buy a new turkey.


Film

  • In the Disney film Candleshoe, Jodie Foster's character gets frustrated while searching for a clue in a book and nearly throws it out the window...only to realize that the clue was referring to the church graveyard she can see from it.
  • Braveheart has a murderous version of this trope, when King Edward grows annoyed with his son's (male) lover and tosses him out the window.


Live-Action TV

  • Averted in Hell To Pay, where John Taylor gets bored waiting for a ditzy socialite to pay attention to him, and starts fingering all the knick-knacks in the room. Fortunately for the knick-knacks, she makes time to talk to him before he needs to act out his next attention-getting tactic: tossing them out the windows. A subversion, in that it's their owner he's frustrated by, not the imperiled objects.

Notes

  1. Point of fact, this, as well as a number of other tropes that often appear in romantic comedies, is in fact a crime for which you can be prosecuted. So, technically, you can go ahead and break their shit, as long as it's worth it to you.
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