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"But I don't wanna use my head!"—Rex, Toy Story 2
It has been shown time and again, in cartoons, movies, and video games, that the best way to break something is by hitting it with your head. Really hard.
We're not talking ordinary, run-of-the-mill headbutts here. Heck, we're not even talking about headbutts of love. When a character uses his head, they transform from ordinary bloke to full-on Battering Ram. The character may go into full on raging-bull mode, charging blindly ahead at whatever stands in his path. Or his companions may actually pick him up, using the blunt end of his skull to smash down whatever it is that needs smashin'. This can be an effective means of attack for some. For others, it's simply the easiest road to destruction. When somebody breaks out the cranial cannonball, the walls are going to come tumblin' down.
Strangely enough, no character who ever employs this technique ever seems to get a concussion--or even a headache. This may be because he's a Big Guy or a Cloudcuckoolander--two character subspecies known for this trope--and for having very thick skulls, or maybe he's wearing Weaponized Headgear. (Genius Bruisers are, of course, an exception.)
Although the Trope Naming phrase doesn't always precede incidences of this trope, if you utter it in the presence of the Big Guy or a Cloudcuckoolander in battle, you know exactly what you're likely to get.
Anime & Manga
- Hanamichi Sakuragi from Slam Dunk likes to do this a lot.
- A lot? It's practically his off-basket signature move. One of his first scenes ever in the series involved him headbutting his True Companions for teasing him, then other people for unknowingly hitting one of his Berserk buttons, and more than once he has dealed them to his own teammates (like Miyagi), schoolmates (like Aouta) or people from other teams (like Hikoichi) if they piss him off enough. Akagi and Rukawa are pretty much the only ones who can resist his headbutts without being knocked-out.
- Dragon Ball
- Early on, a flying headbutt was just about Goku's primary Finishing Move, being used to end his fights, for example with Staff Officer Black.
- Goku headbutts Piccolo Jr. to send him out of the ring and win. That's right. He saved the world with a Ring Out. He already tried the same strategy against Tenshinhan 3 years ago, where it would have worked if it wasn't for that damned truck driver on the way.
- His Son Gohan performs a rather impressive, armour-splitting headbutt on his uncle Raditz. He also pulls one against Garlic Jr. on Filler.
- The second Goku vs. Vegeta fight has on the anime a rather ridiculous scene where the two fighters keep headbutting each other. Just like goats!
- Mazinger Z
- Kouji -- who is a full-blown Combat Pragmatist -- has no qualms uisng that tactic when he is fighting with Mazinger-Z. It should be justified, since he is using his Humongous Mecha's head to ram the enemy instead of his own -- but it is not, since Mazinger-Z's cockpit is on the head of the giant robot.
- Great Mazinger: Tetsuya is an even bigger of an offender than Kouji.
- UFO Robo Grendizer: Duke also uses that tactic sometimes, although he has a good excuse: usually he is trying to ram the enemy rather than head-butt it, but his Humongous Mecha head is on the front of his Starship when both mechas combine, so that it is the first thing hits the enemy.
- Mazinkaiser: Kouji also does it in this series.
- This happens during the title character's fight with Gaara. There is some injury, causing both characters to bleed, and it also shatter Gaara's control over his jutsu. You try maintaining the form of a hundred-foot tall Eldritch Abomination through that.
- Also, the filler episode where Hinata opens a door to find Naruto standing upside-down on the ceiling so that his face is, like, three inches from hers. She, of course, blushes beet-red with her crush so close to her. When Naruto puts a hand to her forehead (he mistakes the blush for a fever-flush), she screams and then impulsively headbutts him across the room, knocking both him and herself out.
- At the end of chapter 563 Naruto does this to Tobi immediately upon finding him. That's right, his opening move against the Big Bad was a headbutt. Naruto complained about him having too hard a head afterward.
- Veemon's main attack in Digimon Adventure 02 is Vee Headbutt.
- Arf does a charging headbutt in wolf form that sends Zafira flying in the second episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's to prevent him from interfering with Nanoha's Starlight Breaker.
- Luffy's attack, Gum Gum Bell, from One Piece. This one has the added advantage of Luffy being able to stretch his neck out over 100 feet before he executes it. Justified in that Luffy's rubber body renders him pretty much immune to blunt damage. One interesting use is when he wraps his arms and legs around Captain Kuro, then uses his head, his only free part, to headbutt him and knock him out.
- Sonic Boomer in Transformers Zone uses the spike on his head to but Trypticon.
- In Yu Yu Hakusho, Chu tries to finish off Yusuke with a headbutt, but Yusuke counters it with an even stronger headbutt, and then quips that humans invented it.
- Mahou Sensei Negima
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: this is, oddly enough, how hacking works. (The Gurren Lagann also has a habit of using its head, admittedly as a guided missile).
- Ash's Scraggy likes to headbutt as a greeting, though this is natural for its species.
- In addition to the use of the attacks mentioned above throughout the series, a scene in Pokémon 3 the Movie: Spell of the Unown shows Pikachu and a Quagsire suffer a Double KO when Pikachu accidentally smacks headfirst into it after rebounding off a swing.
- The Law of Ueki has a minor character whose power is the ability to turn his head into diamond when his hands are in his pockets. His only attack is using his head.
- In Holyland, Katou doing this to Shougo starts the latter's defeat.
- Rin does this in Blue Exorcist when told by his brother to start using his head in battle. He literally does when knocking out a demon twice his size with a headbutt and the only damage done to him is a minor nosebleed, which is only seen in the anime.
- In Code Breaker, this appears to be The Prince's favorite way of getting her point across.
- In one of Baccano!'s climactic scenes, Jacuzzi Splot uses a series of relentless headbutts to the face to distract and disorient his opponent.
- This is the trademark of the Spider-Man villain Hammerhead.
- The Juggernaut from X-Men uses this mode of attack as well. In the Capcom vs. Whatever series, it's his one and only Hyper Combo.
- Judge Dredd: Mean Machine Angel... Just...
- Invincible once got both his arms broken by an extremely powerful adversary. So he beat him to death with his head. Or so he thought.
- Strontium Dog: For Middenface McNulty, this is practically his signature move. Though, given his reputation, he would probably like to refer to this as a Glasgow Kiss.
- Once in Iznogoud, when he tells this to his lackey... he didn't mean it literally, but Wa'at Alaaf did.
- Shinji and Warhammer 40 K: It's called the Ikari. It begins with a headbutt and it ends with the opponent on the ground crying for mercy. The best part of this is it was first used in a Crowning Moment of Awesome where EVA-01 loses the function of both its arms and only has its head.
Films -- Animation
- Jubei, the Badass Normal hero of Ninja Scroll, keeps headbutting an immortal enemy until that enemy's face is caved in towards the end of the movie.
- Played straight in Toy Story 2. When breaking through a vent that's been screwed shut, the fake Buzz tells everyone to "use your head". Cut to a shot of them running down the hallway with Rex as a battering ram as he yells "But I don't wanna use my head!" Justified in that Rex is a toy and technically has no biological brain that can be damaged.
- Subverted in the "outtake" of this scene where the grate is on too tight, and all of them just bash against it. Ow indeed.
- In Disney's Hercules, Hercules lands his first attack on the centaur Nessus in this manner after Phil tells him to "use your head!"
Phil: Not bad, kid! Not exactly what I had in mind, but not bad...
- Princess Fiona's mother does this to walls twice in Shrek the Third. The second time she does it leaves her understandably disorientated. And humming My Favorite Things.
- Discussed by one of the Viking kids in How to Train Your Dragon, though he doesn't get to actually do it. "I will cut off the legs of every dragon I see. With my face." Also discussed by Stoick.
Films -- Live-Action
- Neo and Agent Smith both do this to each other in The Matrix.
- One of the bad guys in the movie Suburban Commando had the top of his skull replaced with a metal cap for this particular reason. Not to mention he looked patently ridiculous while doing so.
- The Horror of Party Beach features a whiter-than-white guy getting into a fight with some Hollywood-style biker thugs over a girl. At one point, the lead thug's compatriots pick him up and ram his head into the guy he's fighting.
- Flesh Gordon tries this in the famous soft-porn Flash Gordon parody, but is unsuccessful.
- Variation when the head was used to fix something. In Back to The Future numerous characters tell Marty to "Use your head, McFly". At the climax when the car won't start, Marty headbutts the steering wheel and the engine roars into life.
- The Three Stooges occasionally had a Hard Head stooge (often Curly, but once in a while Shemp) used outright as a battering ram.
- Deconstucted in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, where Blart tries this on a minion, only to hurt himself.
Blart: Nobody wins in a headbutt.
- A properly done headbutt (as in using the top of the forehead and targeting vulnerable areas) is probably one of the safest ways to strike. But doing it improperly (like, say, aiming at the other guy's forehead instead of, say, face) means damaging your head and likely your brain.
- Boy Eats Girl: When confronted by a zombified member of her Girl Posse, the resident Alpha Bitch surprisingly headbutts her undead friend and escapes.
- Felson (played by Ron Perlman) is fond of this in Season of the Witch.
- In the climax of Mr. Nanny the Big Bad uses his metal scull-plate to knock Hulk Hogan's character around.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf (jokingly, perhaps, although he was pretty cranky by that point and might well have done it) threatens to use Pippin's head as a battering ram to try to open the gates of Moria: "But if that does not shatter them, and I am allowed a little peace from foolish questions, I will try to seek the opening words."
- Done by Ecthelion in The Book of Lost Tales to kill Gothmog. Of course, at that point in time, Ecthelion had lost both of his arms and had a great big spike on his helmet.
- Danica Maupoissant, from the Forgotten Realms series Cleric's Quintet, who broke a big-ass block of stone with a headbutt. Earlier, under the influence of the evil potion, she repeatedly slams her face into brick blocks trying to figure out the technique. It gets a minor mention in the second book when she uses it to shatter an ogre's chest when he's bear-hugging her.
- Mace Windu does this to a guard twice his size who blocks his way in the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Shatterpoint. The guard taunts the "little Jedi" to draw his lightsaber. Mace simply says that his head is all he needs and proceeds to show him exactly what he means, then steps away as the guard falls.
Guard: What you gonna do, think me to death? (headbutt)
- In the Red Dwarf episode "White Hole", Holly powers down to conserve her remaining runtime, thus shutting off the engines and the powered doors. Solution? Bash down the 53 doors between them and the science room using... Kryten! Of course, he's a mechanoid, so it doesn't cause him too much damage...
Lister: You okay, man?
Kryten: I'm fine, thank you, Susan...
- Subverted in an episode of Cheers where Cliff claims to know karate and smashes a stack of boards with his head. Diane ends up having to sneak him off to the hospital.
- Played with in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of Spike's minions asks him how to get into a locked room; Spike scornfully says "Use your head!", grabs him by the scruff of the neck... and smashes his head into the compartment next to the door holding a fire axe.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Lodger", the Doctor is trying to explain to James Corden why he's living in his flat, which is to investigate time disruptions coming from upstairs. Telling James Corden would take too long, so the Doctor headbutts him for a very fast mind meld. Painful to both parties.
- Informed Ability of the Klingons in all Star Trek series save TOS; the Star Trek Fact Files claim that those much-mocked rubber foreheads are actually solid bone.
- Interestingly, a Klingon tries to do this to Data after losing their version of arm-wrestling to him only for Data to point out that his skull is made of the same stuff as starship hulls.
- In Home Improvement, Tim and Al had a Karate expert show how he break boards with his head. Al volunteered to try and Tim waited for him to hurt his head only to succeed. After Al, Tim decided to give it a try and ended up hurting his head. Al revealed that he had training in karate.
- In an episode of Dexter, Doakes gets increasingly close to figuring out Dexter's secret. Once again, he confronts Dex in his office, at which point Dexter headbutts the cop and leaves the office into the main detective area, walking like nothing has happened. Two seconds later, Doakes flies out of the office, pissed off, and tackles Dex. The other cops assume he just snapped, as they didn't see the headbutt and he is well known to have a hatred for Dexter before he had a solid reason to. The whole thing was planned by Dexter to give Doakes even less credibility than usual.
- Subverted in a Happy Days episode where Arnold's catches fire, trapping Fonzie inside the men's room with Ralph and Potsie. Fonzie tries donning his motorcycle helmet and crashing through a wall.
Potsie: Hey, look, there's an outside wall! I wonder what it's made of?
Fonzie: Concrete. (passes out)
- Drop the Dead Donkey. Psycho office assistant Joy is infamous for her ferocious headbutts.
- Game of Thrones: When Jon Snow is at some point pinned to a wall, he uses this to get himself free from his attacker.
- Angel. Vampire hunter Holtz is stalking Justine, a vampire-killing vigilante whom he intends to recruit. He turns a corner and intercepts her fist with a Punch Catch.
Holtz: "Your punch could have been quicker...without so much to drink."
Justine: "It's kind of a trade-off, because without that much to drink (head-butts Holtz) hurts a lot more."
- The Battering Ram -- a finishing move used by several wrestlers, most notably The Bushwhackers. Which was first used by Bobo Brazil (Houston Harris -- a former baseball player), and called the Coco Butt, in 1950.
- The diving head butt is mostly used by Samoan wrestlers, but to the world a large, Bam Bam Bigelow and Perry Saturn are probably the most famous users.
- The Junkyard dog would comically get on all fours and repeatedly ram fallen opponents head first.
- From the Captain Kremmen radio show: "I shall break out of this cell using the hardest substance known to Mankind! MY HEAD!"
- The danger of a concussion is why direct, intentional helmet-to-helmet collisions are not allowed in the NFL. Spearing, the practice of diving into another player helmet-first, is also illegal due to the risk of spinal injury. This practice gained a lot of notoriety during the 1990s, largely because safety Chuck Cecil was so fond of using it. Yes, before he was a controversial assistant coach often fined by the NFL for his actions, he was a controversial player who was often fined by the NFL for his actions.
- From Bionicle, the Bohrok, and their Elite Mook cousins, the Bohrok-Kal have a headbutt gimmick. In-story, they used their heads and other powers to demolish the entire island of Mata Nui.
- In Dragon Strike, when the rogue is unable to unlock a magically sealed door, the fighter makes a crack about it. In frustration, the rogue pushes the fighter into the door, causing him to do this.
- The attack Skull Bash works in exactly this manner, as well as Headbutt, Head Smash, Iron Head and Zen Headbutt. However, Head Smash actually hurts the user.
- In addition to that, Cranidos and Rampardos are Pokémon based around this trope. Like many Pokémon, this was based on a real animal, albeit one that was recently determined not to have used its head quite as much as was originally thought.
- As said before, Scraggy and its evolution Scrafty.
- The trademark attack of PC Engine hero Bonk/B/C Kid/PC Genjin.
- Super Mario Bros.
- Mario and Luigi are frequently mistaken doing this to hit and break overhead blocks. However, they actually hit overhead blocks with their fists instead of their heads.
- In the Super Smash Bros. series, several fighters use their heads as some form of attack. While most instances of this are only about one or two moves, Yoshi uses almost only headbutt-related moves when on the ground, as his arms are too short to effectively punch.
- For that matter, Luigi's side-B move, Green Missile, is basically a charge-up attack with which he launches himself head-first at an opponent. It's even possible for him to get jammed into walls this way, given enough force.
- In Super Mario RPG, give Bowser the Hurly Gloves and watch him take his frustrations with Mario out on the enemies, even if Mario is at 0 HP!
- Mass Effect
- This is how krogans say "shut up" in Mass Effect 1. Play your cards right in the sequel, and you'll get a chance to do this as well... to a krogan. Successfully.
- In the third game, Shepard can end up doing this to Khalisah Al-Jilani after she dodges his/her traditional sucker punch.
- Also in the third game, but in multiplayer, this the standard melee attack for krogan characters.
- Double H from Beyond Good and Evil does this frequently, although he prefers to put on a helmet first.
- Ristar uses this as his primary attack. On everything.
- To state the obvious, so does Dynamite Headdy.
- The Lost Vikings: Erik the Swift's power is head-butting enemies and breakable obstacles.
- Earthworm Jim offers an interesting variation of this trope: Since the player is essentially a (freakishly large) earthworm in a humanoid exoskeleton, you can actually use your wormy head to whip your enemies and as a propeller to slow down a long descent. In the sequel though, Jim gains the Snott Parachute because last game's Helicopter Head made him quite dizzy and left him with some severe lower back pain.
- In Killer 7, Mask De Smith stops a bullet by headbutting it out of the air.
- Street Fighter
Mr. Karate: You should train your head too, big boy.
Balrog: My headbutts are a work of art, eh?
- E. Honda has this, ever since his debut, as a special manoeuvre. Note that in-game graphics always show him as flying head-first like a kamikaze Superman, but one piece of art tried to pass it off as a shoulder ram. No-one's buying that, Capcom.
- Also Dhalsim, who starts with a normal headbutt attack and then takes it Beyond the Impossible by using headbutts as a drill-like Ultra move (Yoga Shangri-La).
- Alex's super Stun Gun Headbutt is an example. This chain of headbutts can stun his opponents.
- The minotaurs in The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion have the head ram as their ultimate attack. It's actually quite powerful, thanks to their horns... and the little fact that it is always coupled with a magical strike that disintegrates your armor and damages your health directly.
- In River City Ransom, Ivan, who attacks outside the high school, can use a fairly powerful headbutt.
- The Headbangers from Brutal Legend. Well, they are Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Keine Kamishirasawa of the Touhou Project is well known for handing these out to errant students. And woe be to you if she does this when she's in Ex-Mode -- it's called being CAVED with good reason!
- The Defenders of Dynatron City hero Toolbox attacks with his hammer-shaped head, but it has pitifully short range. Team leader Jet Headstrong does, too, but his is rocket-powered, making him a bit more useful.
- Although not an attack, Firebrand from Demons Crest headbutts objects in the background to find money and Upgrade Artifacts.
- One of Ram's loco moves in Total Overdose allows him to live up to his name, charging like a bull at double maximum running speed with his head down and fingers pointed forward like horns. Any non-Boss enemy hit by it is thrown in the air, and dies on landing. One battle in particular encourages its use by leaving the appropriate pickups scattered around, and takes place in the middle of a bullfight arena.
- Subverted in Castlevania II Simons Quest. One of the townspeople tells Simon to "HIT DEBORAH CLIFF WITH YOUR HEAD TO MAKE A HOLE." This is a lie.
- A favored tactic of Amaterasu in Okami. Useful for breaking pots, defeating Imps, getting other people's attention... She's a wolf, you know.
- The Godfather 2: You can do this to enemies you're grabbing.
- In Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, Ieyasu has dispensed with his staff and gone for Good Old Fisticuffs as his new fighting style of choice. One of his Super Arts, however, is an Unblockable Attack which involves him essentially smashing his face against whatever defense an opponent might want to put up against him. It almost becomes comical when players discover it can also be used as a Spam Attack.
- Quite the case for a lot of characters in Tekken. Every Mishima  has Stonehead as a throw. As you might guess it's a headbutt throw.
- All the animals save for Gon have a headbutt throw.
- Heihachi takes this Up to Eleven in two ways. First, in his Tekken 5 interlude in Story Mode, he headbutts the crap out of Jack-5 after defeating him. Second, since Tekken 3, he can perform a "Headbutt Carnival". Instead of a regular Stonehead throw, the recipient can reverse the Stonehead and, well, Stonehead him back!
- In Tekken Tag Tournament 2, if you have two Mishimas on your team you can perform a tag Stonehead throw.
- In Eight Bit Theater, as explained by Black Mage: "The main tactic of the Ram Form of Zodiackenshido is to break your opponent's equipment with your head before he breaks your head with his equipment." Fighter's the only human ever to succeed at this without dying in the process.
- An interesting version of this trope resides in Dominic Deegan with the character Rachel, whose favorite pastime is breaking objects (and occasionally people) with her face. This, of course, leads to comedy whenever villains try to punch, or occasionally headbutt, her in the face.
- V4 of Survival of the Fittest recently has the death of David Anderson via a well-placed headbutt to the face, breaking his nose and sending bits of bone into his brain.
- Faun from Tasakeru invented the story's equivalent of the Heavy Metal Headbutt by giving a Glasgow Kiss to a drunk bar patron. Nicely Lampshaded.
"Do you knowhow to do the 'headache?'"
Justin: And then I thought, "WWCD", "What Would Courtney Do"? Use her head that's what!
- In Futurama, Bender has been used as a battering ram whenever the situation calls for it. In the movie "Bender's Big Score", when ordered to break down a wall, he voluntarily does it it with his head.
- Ram-Man of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It's his frikkin' superpower! (Well, that and having coiled springs for legs...)
- Mike Lu and Og: Lu actually says "Use your head" before coming up with the idea of ramming her head into a money printing press to put her face on the island's cash.
- Toph uses this in Avatar: The Last Airbender to illustrate the basic principle of Earthbending to Aang:
Toph: You've got to face it head-on. And when I say "head-on", I mean like this. HUAH! (jumping headbutt into nearby rock, pulverising it)
- The Dinobot Slag of Transformers Generation 1 does this on more than one occasion. One of the best instances would be when he rams Devastator in Transformers: The Movie. Being a giant robot who transforms into a robot Triceratops is very useful for this. For this guy, Ramming Always Works.
- Slag's Transformers Animated counterpart Snarl (who would have been called Slag too had Hasbro not chickened out) also turns into a robotic Triceratops.
- Also, the Conehead Decepticon Seeker Ramjet has a reinforced nosecone for doing this in vehicle mode. It counts because his nosecone is indeed part of his head. Ramjet actually did fail at this once -- then again, he was trying to ram Warpath.
- There's Rhinox too, and Backstop, both of whom turn into Rhinoceri.
- In the Legion of Super Heroes, Stone Boy was used as a head-first battering ram to ram open a door. Justified in that he can turn himself into stone, and so cannot be injured from this.
- On at least one Classic Disney Short (Mickey's Fire Brigade), Goofy has been used as a battering ram.
- Donald Duck has also tried to break through doors with his head on a number of occasions, and elicits snarky commentary from his uncle Scrooge once he does this in DuckTales.
Scrooge: That's how he exercises his mind!
- In one episode of Popeye, while trapped in a cell Olive Oyl tells him to use his head, and being who he is he obviously thinks this is what she meant.
Popeye: I'd try to, but then it gets rather tender.
- Goultard tells his apprentice Sadlygrove that he needs to know how to use his head in battle. Sadlygrove takes this advice literally and defeats Rubilax by headbutting him so hard he sinks into the desert with a real risk of choking to death on sand. Goultard approves.
- Goultard himself also favors this tactic. In his special Goultard the Barbarian, he headbutts Katar so hard that a crater forms underneath them. He does the same thing to Rushu in the series proper.
- In Adventures of the Gummi Bears some of the characters are trapped in a barrel and only Tummi is around to help them. When told to use his head to find a way to free them, he of course rams head first into the barrel without any injury and creates a hole big enough for the rest to enlarge to get out.
- Football/soccer player Zinedine Zidane shows that the most effective way to punish someone for insulting your family is not a conventional kick or punch, but a headbutt square in the chest in the middle of a World Cup final. This has also been parodied rather hilariously to no end.
- The animal kingdom has its share of bad-ass headbashers. Check out pachycephalosaurs, Majungasaurus, bighorn sheep, some chalicotheres, and giraffes. Yes, giraffes. Slightly subverted with the former, as they were originally thought to have engaged on direct-headbutting action, but biomechanical studies suggest that flank-butting (like giraffes) is more likely. Giraffes are basically the living version of Epic Flail. Don't believe me? Just look at this. Yeah, you go and say giraffes aren't Badass. I'll be over here where it's safe.
- Don't forget the triceratops (no longer with us, but still). Also rhinos.
- Heck, a plain ordinary ol' bull can headbutt your ribs into splinters, even without horns. And a full-grown male plains bison can easily do the same thing to your car's door.
- ↑ Yes, Jinpachi, Heihachi, Kazuya, Jin (was the case for the first Tag title, now specific to Devil Jin), even Lars has this move. Though Lee doesn't.)