Pushbacks have become a key feature of EU migration controls since 2015. As this article argues, practices of pushbacks stretch from EU spaces, such as Croatia, to its external borders and neighbouring countries, reaching as far as Iran. Although pushback tactics and their consequences are widely discussed in public, activist, policy debates, and by refugees themselves; academic literature has a limited engagement with pushbacks and their effects. To address this gap, we set up the concepts of “push” and “back” to question the ripple effect of informal and violent border controls that occurs transversely in multiple geopolitical contexts and timelines of migratory journeys. The article draws on ethnographic fieldwork in two border locations: the Croatian border with Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Turkey-Iran border. We argue that the EU’s governance of its external border encourages identical practices of “push” to different locations. We show that “pushes” generate multi-layered violence enmeshed in the local security (and at times militarized) contexts when people are “back”; or forcibly returned to their starting locations. The analysis of “push” and “back” contributes to the literature on the EU externalisation of migration governance and border violence, which we examine through informal and violent border practices inside and outside of the EU.