Created By: Ronka87 on November 13, 2009
Troped

Brats with Slingshots

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When you need to weaponize a child in fiction, you give them a slingshot. It is always in the classic Y-shape and preferably made out of a single piece of wood. Despite the fact that it is a weapon, parents have no problem letting their kids wander around the neighbourhood picking off cans and squirrels with these things (presumably because slingshots are relatively weak). Somehow, even though they are so weak, they can be quite effective against enemies.

The Weapon of Choice of the Bratty Half-Pint and other Youngsters, probably because it allows them some means of defense without any risk of them actually killing someone. If the kid is any kind of effective with one of these, it's likely due to Improbable Aiming Skills.


Examples:

  • Dennis the Menace (the US Version) is probably the Trope Codifier, though the better-known Bart Simpson owes a lot to him.
  • The UK version of Dennis the Menace also uses a slingshot.
  • In Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the weapon you start out with as Young Link is a slingshot. This qualifies, because it's a weak weapon that you eventually ditch as you grow as a character/warrior.
  • The murder weapon in the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Murder Must Advertise is a slingshot of this sort that was confiscated from the kid in question. Peter later enlists the kid's help in finding the murderer.
  • Appears a lot in Kids Next Door.
  • Veronica Lodge's bratty cousin Leeroy was often wielding one.

(Needs a Better Name and the description could probably use some expansion; any ideas?)
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • November 11, 2009
    Micah
    • The murder weapon in the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Murder Must Advertise is a slingshot of this sort that was confiscated from the kid in question. Peter later enlists the kid's help in finding the murderer.
  • November 11, 2009
    melloncollie
    Appears a lot in Kids Next Door.
  • November 11, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The Legend Of Zelda game which has this is Ocarina of Time with Young Link. As well as Twilight Princess apparently. Oh, and the UK version of Dennis the Menace also uses a slingshot.
  • November 11, 2009
    Taeraresh
    If we want an obscure fiction example, the main characters in Clarence Budington Kelland's 'Mark Tidd' books seem to always have a slingshot when the story calls for it, along with improbably good aim.
  • November 11, 2009
    Lee M
    There was an Elf Quest story where it was claimed that Skywise's metal face-piece was originally designed to be part of a troll-designed slingshot. Not an entirely plausible explanation, since it was a non-canon story and not written or drawn by the Pinis.
  • November 11, 2009
    Shini
    The token kid character in Shadow Hearts uses a slingshot
  • November 11, 2009
    Henker
    The ten year old main character of Monster Bash uses a slingshot.
  • November 12, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    There's an episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Opie accidentally kills a bird with a slingshot and then must adopt the bird's babies to atone for his crime.

    From what little I know about it, it takes a specially constructed slingshot and a skilled user to hunt even the smallest animals with one, making the idea of a little kid killing with a toy slingshot without even trying.. unlikely.

    Ironically, in the very similar (until it takes a turn for the weird) Simpsons episode "Bart the Mother", the weapon was a (slightly) more plausible bb gun and not the slingshot Bart is usually seen with.

    Note also that slingshots are not slings, in spite of what Deputy Barney Fife's retelling of the tale of David and Goliath from The Bible would have us believe. The sling was a real military weapon commonly used before gunpowder. The word bullet referred to the sling's projectiles before it was re-applied to the ones fired by early firearms.

  • November 12, 2009
    Raw Power
    The Second Intifada. Children throwing stones at soldiers with M-16 and tanks. By hand, with slings, with slingshots. I met one of the survivors. Improbable Aiming Skills doesn't begin to describe him: he was a teacher at school, and whenever a kid made trouble, he'd throuw him a piece of chalk to the middle forehead. And he never missed. No matter how hard you try to dodge. Frightening...
  • November 12, 2009
    random surfer
    Copied from The Other Wiki:
    • Slingshots have often been portrayed as the weapon of choice of mischievous youths. Iconic examples of this are Dennis the Menace, Bart Simpson, Daniel Fiorito, Oor Wullie and Opie Taylor from the The Andy Griffith Show.
    • Former child actress Shirley Temple revealed in an interview that she was a slingshot user, with Eleanor Roosevelt as one of her "victims".
    • Woody Woodpecker demonstrates his prowess with the weapon in Slingshot 6 7/8
    • In The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Link uses a slingshot as his primary ranged weapon before using a bowlick.
    • In the anime/manga series One Piece, one of the main characters, Usopp, uses a slingshot.
    • In Earth Bound the slingshot is an equipable weapon for every party member except Poo.
    • In Anthony Horowitz's series The Power of Five, a slingshot is Pedro's primary weapon.
    • Slingshots appear as highly effective weapons in Stephen King's It, The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass and Thinner.
    • Slingshots are frequently depicted as the favored weapons of monkeywrenchers for the ability to use improvised ammunition like stones and bolts to destroy sensitive equipment.
    • In The Beverly Hillbillies, the slingshot is the weapon of Elly May Clampett.
    • In Newsies most of the Brooklyn Newsies used slingshots as their primary weapons, with marbles as ammo.
    • A slingshot figures prominently in the book and Film The Kite Runner.
    • One of the few depictions of slingshots as a serious military weapon was featured in a segment of Deadliest Warrior as IRA experts demonstrated its tactical effectiveness.

    To the above I will add:
    • on The Flintstones guns were essentially slingshots mounted on a block of wood to use one-handed.
    • The A Team once built a giant slingshot to fire at the Enemies of the Week.
  • November 12, 2009
    Silent Hunter
  • November 12, 2009
    Ronka87
    I was actually planning on getting another trope set up for slings, to better differentiate between the two. I'm just busy with essays at the mo', so I can't devote much time to a write-up.
  • November 12, 2009
    Bisected8
    Note that they can actually be quite powerful. Even a cheap commercially produced one (or indeed a Y shaped stick with some surgical tubing) can break someone's teeth.

    Fallout 3 has the dart gun, which you can construct using a paint gun, surgical tubing, toy car and radscorpian's poison gland. As the name suggests it fires darts, much like a crossbow; however it is much more like a slingshot with a trigger in it's construction (using surgical tubing rather than a bow).
  • November 12, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: the plane is launched by what Skipper calls "the second biggest slingshot I've ever seen, but it'll have to do."
  • November 12, 2009
    Ronka87
    Bisected: As far as weapons go, this is pretty low on the listed of effectiveness, but I'll make sure to note it. In my experience, unless you have a manufactured slingshot and you're quite adept, hitting anything is difficult, let alone purposefully harming someone.
  • November 13, 2009
    Whoeverski
    In PG Wodehouse's novel Cocktail Time, a young man in the Drones Club is a famous crack-shot with a slingshot. In a subversion of this trope, however, the elderly Lord Ickenham hears of the man's reputation and decides to demonstrate how easy the weapon is to use. With a slingshot, he knocks of the hat of a respectable legal professional, 'Beefy' Bastable. Bastable, assuming he was 'assaulted' by a young man, then writes a scathing satire on the degeneracy of the youthful generation.
  • November 13, 2009
    Bisected8
    @Ronka87: It's not purposly harming someone that's the problem. People tend to forget that while it isn't as dangerous as, say, a firearm, crossbow or even a BB Gun it can still do serious damage. Hence it's considered a "safe" weapon for children to use and sooner or later someone gets a stone in the teeth, eye or temple. Remember slings (which had slightly less energy and were even less accurate than a modern slingshot) dominated long range combat against armoured opponents in ancient times.
  • November 13, 2009
    DracMonster
    Brats With Slingshots fits in with Yanks With Tanks and other nation army pages so I think it works as a title.
  • November 13, 2009
    Unknown Troper
  • November 13, 2009
    DaibhidC
    For the record, in the UK it's called a catapult or (at least in Dennis The Menace UK) a "catty".

    I think most characters in The Beano used them at one time or another. Minnie the Minx certainly did, and so did the Bash Street Kids. (I want to say Little Plum used one when the rest of his tribe had their bows, but I'm not certain).

    Also from DC Thompson, Oor Wullie, a comic strip in the Sunday Post.

    Related story: Word Of God is that Matt Groening wanted to ensure Bart Simpson used his slingshot, because his recollection was that Dennis just carried one.
  • November 13, 2009
    dotchan
    In The Bible, young David uses a less conventional slingshot, in which you whirl the rock over your head to build up force before letting lose a stone, to defeat Goliath.
  • November 13, 2009
    Ronka87
    What David used was not actually a variant slingshot, but a completely unrelated weapon call a sling. Slings have existed for thousands of years, and were actually commonly used for hunting and fighting. You generally only need to twirl it once, and at your side; twirling more reduces your accuracy, and over your head would just be awkward. Slingshots, in comparisons, are relatively new, because they use elastic energy to hurl the rock, and the elastic band is a relativey new innovation. Also, as I mentioned above, they're generally not the more reliable of weapons.

    Common mistake, though; when I get around to making a sling trope, it will definitely include differences between the two and note how common confusing between them is.

    But it is correctly that many people believe Goliath was killed by a slingshot; this is the probable reason Bart was cast as David when The Simpsons did their "Bible stories" episode.
  • November 13, 2009
    SKJAM
    Just a quick reminder that the Ur Example is the oldest one, not the best one.
  • November 15, 2009
    Whoeverski
    Just Launch It Already!

    Also, David was a warrior, not a neighbourhood terror. It doesn't seem to fit the trope - otherwise we might as well just put in every single young man who fought with a slingshot, which would include a lot of characters in Redwall for a start.
  • November 15, 2009
    Ronka87
    If the characters in Redwall who use the slingshots are kids, they might fit into the trope. It includes a trend of giving kids slightly weaker weapons than adults (sort of like Staff Chick), in addition to kids who use slingshots for mischief.
  • November 15, 2009
    Paradisca Corbasi
    • Alex O'Connell in the second movie of The Mummy Trilogy uses a slingshot to torment the bad guys early in the film. And that kid is definitely a bit of a brat.
  • November 15, 2009
    Whoeverski
    @Ronka87 As far as I'm aware, and admittedly I don't know a great deal about biblical history, the slingshot was a common weapon back then for people who couldn't afford anything better. Fully grown adults were just as likely to use a sling as kids or youngsters were. Hence David's weapon had nothing to do with his age at all.
  • November 16, 2009
    Anke
    • ElfQuest plays with this. Ember thinks she has outgrown slingshots, but during a time of really bad hunting, the tribe start using them to hunt mice. Considering we're talking about stone age to medieval tech level here, apparently Moonshade is so marvellous a tanner she can produce elasticated leather...
  • November 16, 2009
    triassicranger
    Trixie in the original stage version of Lazytown could be seen with one.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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