troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Absurdly Ineffective Barricade

When characters attempt to physically seal off access to a room, passageway or building, but are doomed to fail miserably due to poor choice of materials or bad tactical planning.

This trope can come in many flavors. A person on the run from a killer may choose to block a door with light and easily movable objects. Other times, Myopic Architecture can easily come into play; characters may put a serious effort into blocking a single door in a room with multiple exits and/or easily breakable windows. In comedic situations, the ineffective barricade may come in the form of what amounts to a (quite surmountable) waist high fence, or the character in question could simply forget that the door he's trying to block opens outward instead of inward.

This can also be seen when multiple characters are making serious attempts at fashioning a barricade of some sort, while one of their companions piles on extremely light objects like pillows or potted plants or else is steadily deconstructing their barrier in order to make his own. Occasions like these can at times serve as a lesson to not allow the Cloudcuckoolander to assist in defense planning.

A common comedic situation tends to occur where the barricade is being built, but the builders turn around and find that they have sealed themselves inside with what they were trying to escape. Sometimes the thing they were trying to escape may have even helped them construct the barricade while they weren't looking. Either way, Hilarity Ensues. The Rule of Funny aspect of this trope is really played up, however, when what is an obvious Absurdly Ineffective Barricade is shown to actually work. In these cases, the barricade builders are often just as surprised as anyone else.

While the Absurdly Ineffective Barricade is often Played for Laughs, it can sometimes be used to show the effects of panic on a terrified character on the run. In the latter cases, the poor choice of defenses will often lead to the realization that the builder has made a fatal mistake... moments too late to do anything about it, of course.

Note that in order to qualify as an Absurdly Ineffective Barricade, there must be some obvious flaw on the part of the characters making it. If the defenses are well planned but the villain is powerful enough to burst through them anyway, it does not count.

A Sub-Trope of Rule of Funny. Contrast Berserk Board Barricade, Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence. Concealment Equals Cover becomes a subtrope of this when subverted.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In The Smurfs story "The Smurfs And The Howlibird" (and its Animated Adaptation), a Smurf tries to keep the Howlibird from destroying his house by piling a lot of furniture around his front door, only to realize that the bird destroys the house from above.

    Film 
  • In Dead Air, after the crew of a late-night radio talk show realizes that their building is smack in the middle of a Technically Living Zombie Apocalypse, they all decide to start barricading the doors to their studio. While the male crew members are stacking up heavy tables and filing cabinets, the show's producer contributes by setting a small potted plant on the pile.
    Logan: Lucy... and what exactly is that supposed to accomplish?
    Lucy: (walking off) Fuck you!
  • In Scary Movie 3, the heroes are shown boarding over a cellar door to keep aliens out (in a parody of Signs). Cue Cindy opening the door with no problem. It turns out they'd just nailed some planks to it without fastening them to the wall.
  • The Big Lebowski: After suffering multiple home invasions, the Dude gets gets kinda sick of it and carefully creates a barricade on his door by wedging a chair between it and a plank of wood nailed to the floor. When the home invaders return, it's revealed that the door opens outward, making the barricade completely useless. To add insult to injury, the Dude later trips on the plank still nailed in front of his door.
  • In Signs, the family barricades all the doors and windows downstairs. Realizing they don't have enough wood to barricade all the upstairs windows, they instead barricade the doors of every upstairs room with a window. It's only after the aliens break into the attic that the family realizes they forgot to barricade the attic door.
    • Also played with in the basement scene; after barricading an entrance with several large, heavy bags of dog food, one of the characters notices a single can of food rolling on the floor, and adds that to the barricade as well.
  • In Candleshoe, the group does the usual "toss the villains out and move the furniture to block the door" stunt, but the baddies reappear through the open door at the opposite end of the room.
  • The Three Stooges shorts used this in a couple of varieties, including the door opening outwards and the villains coming in behind them, sometimes handing them things to put on the barricade.
  • In 28 Weeks Later, a safe room turns out to have a back door.
  • In UHF, Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) is being chased around the offices of Channel 8 News by the top exec's murderous thugs. He shuts himself into the top exec's office and barricades the one door with everything he can find, until the door is completely covered. He then collapses in exhaustion, but is proud of his quick thinking. They'll never get him now. The thugs then come through the conveniently large window.
  • In The Last Lovecraft our "heroes" are trapped in a small RV, when one of the monsters from the deep smashes through the window all they can do is close a flimsy fold out wooden screen to slow it down.
  • In Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the duo attempts to keep the rampaging monster out of their refuge by pushing a heavy bed up against the door. Unfortunately, the door opens the other way. They also once tried to barricade a door with their own bodies, in the end it didn't work...because there were no walls.
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: during the chase around the Miramax lot, the titular pair place a small trash can in front of one of the doors before fleeing. Although to be fair, one of the security guards does smack his shin into it and limps around for a moment.
  • In Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World, they barricade a door against the monster, but the door opens the other way.
  • In the Bean movie, Bean, having accidentally defaced Whistler's Mother, locks the door and drags a plant pot in front of it to keep out the curator. A couple of seconds later, the curator enters via another door, right next to the one Bean locked.
  • Almost happened in The Fellowship of the Ring: after Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Boromir (Sean Bean) barricade the doors of Balin's Tomb with sturdy Dwarven axes, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) adds a tiny and completely useless wooden stick to the barricade. This prompts the cast to break character and start laughing on the "typical elf work". Naturally, this did not make the final cut, but you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvkzW3Ilfys
  • In The Blues Brothers, at the end as the titular characters were going to deliver the 5 grand to the Cook County assessor's office, they did this to the lobby of the building they were in...to keep out the army. Bonus points for doing it again with office furniture to blockade the assessor's glass door and wall.
  • In Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer's film Alice, Alice does this to the White Rabbit to keep him from seeing her when she's very large. Then he starts throwing rocks through the window.
  • Unintentional example in the z-grade horror film The Curse of Bigfoot, where the main characters prepare to ambush and fire-bomb the titular creature by constructing a formidable and inflammable fortification consisting of...a stack of about three or four bales of hay in an open field''
  • World War Z. While on an airliner thousands of feet up in the air, the protagonist realises that passengers in the compartments behind have become infected and the only thing separating them the rampaging flesh-eating zombies is a curtain. Everyone starts piling luggage in front of the curtain, only for a bag to fall through the curtain and give them away. Needless to say the barrier isn't very effective anyway.
  • Pacific Rim sees the Jaeger program being defunded due to diminishing returns in fights against the Kaiju and being replaced by very tall concrete walls. These prove to be even less effective at keeping the monsters out.

    Literature 
  • Happens to a elderly wizard in Discworld, he knows that he is going to die soon so he hides in a chest that is magically sealed against Death. Unfortunately, he made it airtight.
  • In 1812: The River of War, some of the soldiers defending the Capitol Building rip the doors off of one entrance to use them as material for barricading another entrance. After the stupidity of this is pointed out to them, they fix it by dragging two enormous statues to block the now empty doorway.
  • In the non-fiction book On Wings of Eagles the protagonists, U.S. businessmen escaping from the Iranian revolution, are in a van that's stopped at a revolutionary checkpoint. One man whispers, "Quick, lock the door!" causing his companion to repress some hysterical laughter, as the revolutionaries are armed with assault rifles that can easily shoot through the entire van.
  • Serious example in A Song of Ice and Fire. Harren the Black spent three generations constructing the most impregnable castle imaginable, Harrenhal. On the very day it was finished, the Targaryens launched their invasion of Westeros...on dragon back. Dragons can fly, and their flaming breath is absurdly hot. Harrenhal has an interesting melted look to it now, and is considered cursed.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the episode "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", after a spell gone awry has caused every girl in the school aside from Cordelia to fall madly in love with Xander, he attempts to take refuge in the school library by moving library card catalog in front of the double doors that serve as the entrance. Since he apparently didn't realize that the doors open outward, Buffy in a coat (and not much else) calmly opens the doors and walks around the catalog while Xander's back is turned.
  • In one episode of That '70s Show Hyde does this. After it looks like Laurie is moving out and he's getting her room, she ends up staying. The end of the episode shows him standing there with the dresser up against the door telling her that she'll never get in. Cue Red opening the door outward.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: during the "Upper-Class Twit of the Year" sketch, one of the competitions in the obstacle course is to jump a wall composed of matchboxes. The wall is three matchboxes high(roughly half a foot). Subverted in that the Twits do end up taking a while to clear the jump.
  • Doctor Who: In Destiny of the Daleks, the Doctor and Romana take refuge behind a hastily cobbled together privacy screen. The Doctor says something like There, That Should Keep Them Out, and Romana sneers "That wouldn't keep out a determined mouse!"
  • In one episode of Kenan & Kel, Rigby's becomes the setting of Ron Harper's accident, so the boys and Chris have to set up a barrier made of products to keep out irate basketball fans. At the end of the episode it's revealed how ineffectual this is, as the store's doors open outward.
  • The Young Ones: In the episode "Bomb", neil is standing next to an atomic bomb, and painting himself white "to deflect the blast."
  • Teen Wolf: While trapped in the school by the alpha werewolf, while most of the others are looking for ways to barricade the single door into the room, Stiles points out the very large wall of windows that could easily be crashed through.
  • El Chapulín Colorado tried this by placing a plank in front of the door, only to be remainded that the door opens inward. And then when he opened the door to get inside, he tripped with the plank.
  • In Three's Company, Ralph Furley initally attempts to barricade a door with a sofa. Upon realizing that he lacks the physical strength to move said sofa, he opts instead to barricade the door with a single seat cushion.
  • The sci-fi version happens in Star Trek: Voyager. An insane hologram is trying to kill B'Elanna, who shuts the door just in time, but the hologram just projects himself inside the room.

    Roleplay 

    Theatre 
  • In A Very Potter Musical, a group of students led by Ron barricade the door to keep out Voldemort. Because it's a play, there's no wall, just a doorframe in the middle of the stage. Voldemort walks around it. And then kicks the barricade.

    Video Games 
  • In the original version of Ao Oni, Megumi barricades herself in a room with most of the furniture. It looks effective at first glance... but Hiroshi can easily shove the ottoman blocking off the doorway aside, giving him room to slip right past her defenses. Good thing he's able to lock the door.
  • In Half-Life 2, if you use a bunch of few-inch-high objects (like computers, computer monitors, & stools) to block an open doorway, combine soldiers can't figure out how to get in.
    • In the zombie mod for Counter-Strike, the people with guns can shoot objects like sofas and vending machines to topple them in narrow doorways, making it much harder for the zombies to get through. In real life you would generally try to use your hands to move the objects out of the way, but if you're playing as a zombie and stabbing the sofa does not move it, then you're out of luck and will be slowly shot to death by humans as you ineffectively try to pass over it by repeatedly crouching and jumping. Conversely, the game engine makes some objects and forces rather wacky compared to real life, so that once the vending machine moves (for example by having another object pushed into it), it can actually end up flying across the room as if it was a mere tin can.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Many episodes of Scooby-Doo involve the gang building a barricade, only to discover the door opens outward as opposed to inward. On at least one occasion, Shaggy and Scooby do this, and they don't immediately realize that the monster they're escaping entered from the opposite side of the room and is helping them build the barricade.
    • In "Mystery Mask Mix-Up", the wall the door was in turns out to be movable, leading Shaggy to quip, "Wouldn't you know he'd be coming through the wall..." Also averted in "Spooky Space Kook" where Shaggy realizes a pile of chairs isn't going to hold the monster back and suggests that Scooby should try something else. It was played straight previously in the episode though.
    • A hilarious subversion of the "sealed yourself in with the monster" situation, when Shaggy reveals that by removing a single item, the whole barricade collapses, allowing the gang to escape.
  • In The Simpsons, when a hurricane is approaching, Homer removes the back door of the house and nails it over the window, leaving the doorway without a door. It doesn't work very well.
    • The house had perfectly serviceable shutters too, at least in that episode, which were just left to flap in the wind.
    • Under attack by zombies, the family tries to barricade the windows. Homer forgot to barricade the front door.
  • In Camp Lazlo, the Jelly Bean Scouts barricade the cabin door with planks to keep the Squirrel Scouts out. It's revealed that they took the planks from the back wall of the cabin, leaving a huge hole for the Squirrel Scouts to get through.
  • In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Home-Cooked Eds", the Eds try to barricade themselves in Eddy's house to keep out the Kanker Sisters, who have decided to take a vacation on Eddy's front lawn. Yet the Kankers somehow get into Eddy's house anyway.
  • In a clip from 1935 called Little Black Sambo seen here, the titular character and his dog are trapped in their house by a tiger. They start piling up chairs and such in front of the door to keep the tiger out—but the tiger simply ties a rock on a rope to make it sound like he's still pounding on the front door, climbs in a window, and watches them continue building the barricade without even noticing him for a while, even handing the dog a few items to add to it before they realize he's inside with them.
  • In the Looney Tunes Brother Brat, babysitter Porky is fleeing a vicious axe-wielding baby. He shuts himself behind a door and rapidly barricades it with every object in the room - including the waiting baby.
  • South Park
    • In the episode "Butt Out", believing Kyle is going to sneak behind his back to steal the commercial position for the Anti-Smoking team, Cartman sneaks into Kyle's house to nail his bedroom door at night. It turns out not only was Kyle just getting back to his room after getting a glass of water, but the door opened the other way. This still didn't stop Cartman from boarding up the door once Kyle went into his room.
    • The Shitty Wall built to keep outsiders out of South Park because they will kidnap their children. Goddamn Mongorians!
      • Which is another poke at history: The townspeople hire the only Chinese member of their town to build the wall to keep out Mongolians, because they have so much experience doing so.
  • Done in The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Fight", when Gumball is escaping Tina.
    • "The Name" also pulls a vehicular equivalent of the "door opens the wrong way" version: police set up a barricade of cars and a spike strip for a car reported as stolen, but the vehicle's path went along the front of the barricade instead of through it, so said cars drove right past while the cops tore their own tires following.
  • In Happy Tree Friends, Sniffles is chased into a museum by an ever-growing crack because he stole a cursed idol. He uses various ancient artifacts from around the museum to block the door but the crack goes under the door and the artifacts fall into the crack.

    Real Life 
  • In Somalia US troops decided to use the much-vaunted 'sticky foam' to create a barrier against rioters. The Somalis watched in some puzzlement as the strange substance hardened into a barrier…then they just climbed over it.
  • In Port Arthur, a Victorian era prison town in Tasmania, there is a very impressive gatehouse to the military barracks...which you can bypass completely by going around the corner and stepping over a half metre high wall. (Yes, it was so back then, too.).
  • Schools, houses and such that have a waist-height gate with a lock... in a knee-height wall.
  • Fire code in most countries requires that almost all buildings open to the public have doors that open outward, so that panicked crowds cannot be trapped against them. This means absolutely none of them can be barricaded from the inside.
  • In 2009, a group of NYU students barricaded themselves in a cafeteria by stacking tables and chairs at the entrance. When a elderly security guard had finally had enough of the ordeal, he simply started moving the chairs and tables out of the way while the students watched. Once he was able to walk through the barricade, the protest ended.


Absurdly Bright LightZany CartoonAcme Products
Absurdly High-Stakes GameAdverbly Adjective NounAbsurdly Long Limousine
    This Index Is in the WayBarrier Warrior
    Insecurity SystemAir-Vent Passageway
Haunted HouseHorror TropesThe Adjectival Man
    Rule of FunnyAmusing Injuries
Absurdly Bright LightAnimation TropesAccordion Man
Absurdly Bright LightComedy TropesAcceptable Targets
The Big LebowskiImageSource/Live-Action FilmsSerious Business

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
39294
25