Created By: CaveCat on July 6, 2013 Last Edited By: CaveCat on December 2, 2013
Troped

Improvised Catapult

A catapult made from an ordinary everyday object.

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Wren: Ha, ha! Take that, you Cyclonian dog!
Finn: Was that a mattress?
Storm Hawks, "Gale Force Winds"

A catapult is one of the staples of weapons-making. However, you can make a catapult by just using either a tree, or you can stand on a board and throw a rock on the other end of the board and catapult yourself into the air. This is a pretty common form of MacGyvering that has been around for a long time.

Related to Tree Buchet


Examples:

Anime and Manga

Film - Animated
  • Done in Tangled to free Flynn from jail—done with a wheeled wagon as the catapult, and a big guy jumping from the roof as the propelling force. Watch it here, at about 1:10.
  • On Oliver & Company, the gang makes one to send Oliver inside Sykes' hideout.
  • Subverted with the makeshift catapult constructed of cathedral relics by the gargoyles in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame in that upon completing the device, they simply push the catapult off the roof onto Judge Frollo's soldiers below. However, the impact triggers the release mechanism, resulting in the base pinning three soldiers to the ground.

Film - Live-Action
  • Small Soldiers: The Commando Elite construct one using a mousetrap and teaspoons for "Operation Sandman": launching sleeping tablets into drinks.
  • Discussed in passing in Tropic Thunder, when Jeff Portnoy brings up a zany scheme from a low budget movie he had been in previously, in which the campers built a catapult out of logs and underwear to launch themselves into the cool kids' camp.

Literature
  • In the 1939 novel Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, the main character is trapped down a hole. The guy guarding the entrance kills a wild cat (of which the trapped man had been fond) and shoves it down the hole to taunt the trapped man. He manages to combine letting the cat get its own revenge and constructing a means of escape by improvising a catapault from the muscles and sinews in the cat's dead body.

Live-Action TV
  • M*A*S*H: A guest character wins a bar bet by using a tongue depressor to flip a syringe up and it lands point first in an orange; neither BJ nor Hawkeye can duplicate the feat.
  • The MythBusters took on an accidental improvised catapult story (guy using a boom lift as an engine hoist, catapulted 200 feet when the chain broke) and busted it.
    • In another episode, the busters also tested, and busted, using a tree as a catapult in order to fling soldiers (or infected corpses) in castles.
  • Mac builds an improvised catapult, complete with a time-delayed trigger, in the MacGyver episode "The Road Not Taken".

Newspaper Comics
  • Calvin once tried to launch a snowball bigger than his body by putting it at one end of a board on a log and jumping on the other end. It launches... only to land on his head.
  • Dill's brothers in Cul de Sac make a habit of constructing these, although they're always left as Noodle Implements.

Video Games

Western Animation
  • Mr. Bogus:
    • The second act of the episode "A Day At The Office" had Bogus use a spoon as a catapult by sticking it between the foot and shoe of a woman, before he catapults himself into the vending machine to eat the contents inside. The ensuing smorgasbord results in Bogus gaining a Balloon Belly afterwards.
    • Brattus does this in the third act of the episode "Et Tu, Brattus?", standing on a spoon and using a turkey drumstick to catapult himself over into the punch bowl.
    • In the first act of the episode "Beach Blanket Bogus", Brattus uses a toy shovel to catapult some sea shells and a beach ball at the sand castle that Bogus is hiding in.
    • The claymation short shown after the second act of the episode "Battle Action Bogus" had Bogus stand on a wooden spoon, before throwing an orange onto the other end of the spoon in order to catapult himself to a bottle of orange juice.
  • Seen It a Million Times in Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, and Tex Avery cartoons.
  • In the Storm Hawks episode "Gale Force Winds", the inhabitants of Terra Gale defend their home using a catapult which looks like a last ditch attempt made of scrap. Later in the episode, Wren nearly uses the catapult to launch the Stormhawks down into the wastelands, but halts his attempts after Radarr bites him in the ankle.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers keep the mousetraps-with-spoons variant on the roof of the police station in the episode "Catteries Not Included". These devices launch them all the way back to Ranger Headquarters.

Real Life
  • Who hasn't done this at the dinner table with a spoon and some food?


Needs More Examples
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • July 6, 2013
    Chabal2
    Calvin once tried to launch a snowball bigger than his body by putting it at one end of a board on a log and jumping on the other end. It launches... only to land on his head.
  • July 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    MASH: A guest character wins a bar bet by using a tongue depressor to flip a syringe up and it lands point first in an orange; neither BJ nor Hawkeye can duplicate the feat.
  • July 14, 2013
    Antigone3
    The Myth Busters took on an accidental improvised catapult story (guy using a boom lift as an engine hoist, catapulted 200 feet when the chain broke) and busted it.
  • July 14, 2013
    m8e
    Related to Tree Buchet.
  • July 25, 2013
    eowynjedi
  • July 25, 2013
    TooBah
    Under Film (Animated):
    • Done in Tangled to free Flynn from jail--done with a wheeled wagon as the catapult, and a big guy jumping from the roof as the propelling force. Watch it here, at about 1:10.
  • August 2, 2013
    hbi2k
    Real Life:

    • Who hasn't done this at the dinner table with a spoon and some food?
  • August 10, 2013
    arbiter099
    Small Soldiers: The Commando Elite construct one using a spoon to launch sleeping tablets into drinks.
  • August 15, 2013
    TalonisWolf
    Under Western Animation, Stormhawks has an episode in which the inhabitants of Terra Gale are defending their home using a catapult which looks like a last ditch attempt made of scrap. Later in the episode,Wren nearly uses the catapult to launch the Stormhawks down into the wastelands,but halts his attempts after Radarr bites him in the ankle. Episode 3:Gale Force Winds

    Quote alluding to this, fourth one under Gale Force Winds http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Storm_Hawks#Gale_Force_Winds_.5B1.03.5D
  • August 21, 2013
    robbulldog
    Discussed in passing in Tropic Thunder, when Jeff Portnoy brings up a zany scheme from a low budget movie he had been in previously, in which the campers built a catapult out of logs and underwear to launch themselves into the cool kids' camp.
  • September 7, 2013
    arbiter099
    update on that Small Soldiers example, after having seen the movie again:

    The Commando Elite construct one using a mousetrap and teaspoons for "Operation Sandman": launching sleeping tablets into drinks.
  • September 8, 2013
    TonyG
    On Oliver And Company, the gang makes one to send Oliver inside Sykes' hideout.
  • September 11, 2013
    foxley
    Mac builds an improvised catapult, complete with a time-delayed trigger, in the Mac Gyver episode "The Road Not Taken".
  • September 21, 2013
    RedBuster
    In Grand Theft Auto IV have a Glitch using a Swing to catapult a vehicle.
  • October 7, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    Anime And Manga
  • October 30, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    Might want to add to the Mythbusters example that they also tested, and busted, using a tree as a catapult in order to fling soldiers (or infected corpses) in castles.
  • November 9, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers keep the mousetraps-with-spoons variant on the roof of the police station in the episode "Catteries Not Included." These devices launch them all the way back to Ranger Headquarters.
  • November 9, 2013
    Bezy
    In the 1939 novel Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, the main character is trapped down a hole. The guy guarding the entrance kills a wild cat (of which the trapped man had been fond) and shoves it down the hole to taunt the trapped man. He manages to combine letting the cat get its own revenge and constructing a means of escape by improvising a catapault from the muscles and sinews in the cat's dead body.
  • November 30, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film Animated
    • Subverted with the makeshift catapult constructed of cathedral relics by the gargoyles in Disney's The Hunchback Of Notre Dame in that upon completing the device, they simply push the catapult off the roof onto Judge Frollo's soldiers below. However, the impact triggers the release mechanism, resulting in the base pinning three soldiers to the ground.
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