Yakko: It's made of solid iron...
Dot: It weighs a ton or two...
Wakko: We know you'd like to meet it...
It wants to meet you too!
While in a cartoon, always beware of falling anvils! These large solid metal objects weigh a ton, are invariably dropped from great height and are used to crush heads, though hands, feet and rib cages sometimes create soft landing spots. Sometimes used to create Accordion Man
. They may drop without warning, or they may be heralded by the Shadow of Impending Doom
and the Bomb Whistle
. The victim usually just has time to look up
and see the falling object before it lands on him. Thankfully for the victim, as a slapstick
trope, this is rarely ever fatal.
In some cases, especially if full-body crushing is desired, an n
-ton weight may be substituted for the anvil. This is a metal weight shaped like a pyramid with the top cut off, a ring at the top for attaching a rope, and the exact weight (usually 1, 10, or 16 tons) painted in white on the frontnote
. The 16-ton weight was favored by Monty Python's Flying Circus
. In cartoons, if the toon is driven completely out of sight, often a Cranial Eruption
will shove the weight out of the way. Or, if the cartoon is very zany, the victim might have either the "NO SALE" eyes
, or the Circling Birdies
And once in a while, it's a safe. In those, occasionally the safe's lock whirls open and the character, who has somehow wound up inside the safe
, falls out. Grand pianos
are used as well, in which case the character will either end up inside where the strings are, or with a mouth full of piano keys for teeth. Another sometimes used option is for a tree or telephone pole to fall over on top of the character, repeatedly bouncing on their head and driving them into the ground like a piledriver. In anime
, it's usually a washbasin
Often results in an Accordion Man
, a Squashed Flat
or a Hammered into the Ground
May have its origins in the real life practice of inverting an anvil, putting gunpowder in the hollow in the bottom, laying a fuse leading out of it, and then placing a second anvil right-side-up atop the first. This was used as a Fourth of July celebration. Obviously the real-life consequences of this trope place this FIRMLY in Don't Try This at Home
Not to be confused with Dropped a Bridge on Him
. If something more surreal than an anvil is used for the purpose, that's Drop the Cow
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- The Orbital Anvil Delivery System, for all your spammer-flattening and clue delivery needs!
- TV ads for Ditzo car insurances would often end with a Corrupt Corporate Executive being flattened by a car dropping inexplicably from the sky. See for yourself. (Dutch)
- The Kids' WB! Saturday Morning line up did an ad that ended with characters from their shows getting flattened by anvils. Since Superman was, well, Superman, the anvil bounced harmlessly off his head.
- In a commercial for Geico, the Geico gecko is in an unusual place, what appears to be Monument National Park, where he narrowly avoids getting nailed by a dropping Acme anvil and a grand piano. Cue Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote appearing. When Wile E. stops to ponder having the gecko for a meal, he has an Acme safe drop on him while, once again, narrowly avoiding the gecko.
Anime and Manga
- The rough Japanese equivalent of the anvil is a large falling basin, its purpose much the same — land on somebody's head. Two characters prone to summoning these basins onto people's heads are Koyomi in Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou (on accident) and Yukari in Rosario + Vampire (on purpose).
- The Americaphilic author of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure included a semi-serious version of this. The heroes, during a gritty seinen action/adventure story, drop an anvil on a zombie's head. Of course, the results are realistically gory. And of course, there's also the steamroller.
- Another semi-serious version: In the anime version of Naruto's fight against the Deva Path, which bears an odd resemblance to Looney Tunes in general, this happens to the Deva Path.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the movie opens with a cartoon short that ends with a refrigerator being dropped on Roger. Later, toon prop magnate Marvin Acme is killed by a safe falling on his head. Halfway through the film, Eddie Valiant reveals that his grudge against toons stems from his brother Teddy's death, which was caused by a rogue toon dropping a piano on him.
- Related is, in the final confrontation scene, Roger Rabbit's "Come down on you like a ton of bricks" being made literal.
- Occurs, out of nowhere, in Drag Me to Hell.
- Used, quite horribly, and even literally, in Hot Fuzz. Ewww.
- Also played for drama with realistic results in Lethal Weapon 2 when Riggs dispatches The Dragon by dropping a shipping crate on him.
- Dr. Meinheimer gets this several times in The Naked Gun 2˝. Actually includes a real anvil.
- In Easy Street, The Bully isn't stopped till The Tramp drops a metal stove on top of him from a second storey window.
- Terry Pratchett uses that frequently to deal with minor characters in his Discworld books. One petty thug dies when he's hit with an armadillo, another one - falling bed, and the alternate universe Carrot dies when he's hit with an aardvark. A vampire in bat form was stunned by a thrown (garlic) sausage and then eaten by a cat.
- Of course, the cat in question was Greebo, whom Nanny Ogg still sees as a tiny, adorable kitten, and everyone else sees as death on four legs who will attempt to fight or rape anything up to and including a four-draft-horse logging wagon, the local equivalent of a Mack Truck.
- In Small Gods a villain is killed when a tortoise is dropped on his head. The tortoise is actually the god Om and in addition to saving the life of the hero it is his way of sending an Anvilicious message to the citizens of Omnia.
- The Eyre Affair pays homage to the anvil tradition in the subplot involving the Minotaur who has been tagged with a slapstick marker.
- In Edmond Rostand's play Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano is assassinated by someone throwing a log off a tall building on him.
- A Crowning Moment of Funny in one Dresden Files book is when Harry redirects a curse, causing a frozen turkey to fall out of a passing plane and impale a vampire. Quoth Harry: "For my next trick, anvils!"
- Really powerful wizards like to drop old communication satellites on their enemies from orbit.
- It's (probably) not played for comedy, but in the 13th century Saga of the Jomsvikings, a berserker who is immune to regular weapons gets killed by an anvil thrown on his head.
Live Action TV
- Monty Python's Flying Circus and You Can't Do That on Television favored the X-ton weight.
- In season 3's "Mystery Spot", there's a "Groundhog Day" Loop where each day Dean dies a different death. The beginning of the day always starts the same way, and when he and Sam go outside, one of the things they see is movers trying to get a desk into a building from the ground floor. At the end of one Tuesday, out of nowhere it drops on our hero and kills him. Turns out the movers had spent the rest of the day trying to get it in the window.
- In the eighth season episode "Hunteri Heroici", the villain, who is using a senile Reality Warper to inflict cartoon physics on selected portions of the world in order to facilitate burglary, drops a literal anvil on an unfortunate security guard. Dean later tries to drop one on the villain.
- LazyTown - literally. Robbie attempts to knock Sportacus out by putting a small anvil on one side of a seesaw and catapulting it at him, but misjudges it. Hilarity Ensues.
- The Slammer: Gimbert rigs up a 'burglar alarm' that consists of a 10 ton weight that drops on the burglar's head. Naturally it ends up falling on the Governor's head, giving him Easy Amnesia.
- Discussed over a Friday dinner conversation in an episode of Gilmore Girls. Lorelai continues that anvils must have been plentiful in days of old cartoons, enough so that children would instantly recognize them for their tremendous weight and toughness. Which raised the question, if there were so many anvils back then, and they were really so tough, was there some sort of secret storage facility filled with indestructible anvils? Lorelai's mother quickly asks to change the subject.
- A Far Side cartoon had children being warned not to play under the Anvil Tree.
- Ignatz Mouse's pastime is dropping bricks on the head of Krazy Kat, who seems to take it as a sign of affection.
- A week-long arc of Garfield had every strip end with a dog in a superhero cape crushing the title character.
- The aptly named homebrew Falling Anvil discipline for ''Dungeons and Dragons' (versions 3.X) includes this in varying degrees, starting with flowerpots, and ranging upwards through anvils, safes, and finally Viking longboats. Of course, it also includes a wide variety of other toon-like attacks and defenses.
- Toon mentions that an anvil is about the limit of what you can viably carry in your Back Pockets. Given that Toon is one long love letter to slapstick animation, it can be taken as read that you are not expected to use it to make horseshoes.
- Literally done with anvils in ''Two Worlds II'': the game uses numerous schools of magic, which allow for the creation of hundreds of spells. Among those is a spell that drops tons of iron anvils on the enemies. Demonstrated in this Youtube clip.
- In the opera house scene in Final Fantasy VI, Ultros tries to kill Celes by dropping a four-ton weight on her while she is on stage.
- In Final Fantasy VII, the enemy skill ???? (yes, that is its name) takes the form of a falling weight.
- Rarely when using the Chocobo Summon Materia, instead of the charging Chocobo, the enemy is hit with a "Fat Chocobo" which drops from the sky. The attack name is listed as ???.
- Similarly, the skill "Press" in Star Ocean: The Second Story drops a weight on an enemy, with the upgraded "Gravity Press" dropping a whole bunch of them.
- In Discworld II: Mortality Bytes/Missing Presumed...?!, one of the puzzles requires you to smash in a wall. At a different point in the game, you steal a prop 1 ton weight. If you try to swing this at the wall, it bounces off and clobbers you. Once you add a 0 to make it a 10 ton weight, puzzle solved.
- The SNES game Yoshi's Safari got a boss where you need to shoot a flying (wings included) anvil so that it falls on the boss.
- Lemmings (the first one) had the 10-ton weight version as one of the many traps that could eviscerate the green-haired critters.
- In the old video game Quest for Glory I: So You Want to Be a Hero?, breaking into the wrong room drops a guard Antwerp on your head. (They're basically very large creatures said to be nearly impossible to defeat, much less capture.)
- The 16-ton weight version occurs in Dark Castle, should you take the wrong key in the dungeon.
- In the online flash game, Jelly Battle, the "Random Drop" attack will make an anvil, heavy weights, or a piano fall on an opponent.
- This is often the primary attack method of the Stone copy ability in most Kirby games. Kirby Super Star and its remake in particular allows the user of the ability to transform into various heavy objects, including a heavy weight. The ability to change into a weight is also seen in the Super Smash Bros. games as one of Kirby's special moves.
- Banjo-Tooie's obligatory end of the game game show segment has massive anvils hovering over the contestants which Gruntilda will drop on the loser of the round. She seems to have little concern for the fact that two of the contestants are her sisters, or the fact that she could just drop the anvil over Banjo and Kazooie without any reason besides the fact that she's evil. In fact, it's not until after she flees the room that she actually considers this. Fortunately Banjo is already gone when the weight drops.
- In Sonic Shuffle, Eggman would drop a 16t weight on the character who was unfortunate enough to be the furthest away from the Precioustone after it has been collected, causing the victim to lose half his/her rings.
- In Sonic Riders, attacking someone whilst riding the OpaOpa Machine resulted in the victim getting a weight dropped on them.
- Sid & Al's Incredible Toons, and its successor, The Incredible Toon Machine, use both anvils and pianos. Unsurprisingly, when a piano lands on Al E. Cat, he pokes his head out of the rubble with a mouthful of keys.
- In the Wii version of A Boy and His Blob, the Anvil transformation is not only handy as a stepping stone, but, if you push it on to most enemies' heads... They go "splat" very quickly. The ones which don't can be used for Cranium Ride.
- In the 'Polar Push' and 'Crate Crush' subsections of the minigames in Crash Bash, one of the hazards that the player can pick up is an icon resembling a weight (as described on top of this page). If picked up, the icon appears over the player's head, who now has a limited time to pass it onto another player by touching them. When this time (roughly 8 seconds) elapses, a weight marked as being 16 tonnes heavy will drop on the head of the poor sap who's left with it, OHKOing them.
- A whole line of attacks from Toontown Online focuses on this trope. Starting from a flower pot, to a sandbag, to an anvil, to a big weight, to a safe, then a grand piano, and finally, an ocean liner
- In the VGA remake of Space Quest I, the droid in the weapons room would sometimes kill Roger by dropping an anvil on him instead of just vaporizing him with a blaster.
- Throwing an anvil is possible in the roguelike ADOM. In case of hitting a small enough monster, it could count as hitting from above...
- Used as one of the sketch items you can use in Epic Mickey, you can crush NPCs or enemies with it its also used as something to trigger switches that mostly involve you pressing one switch while the anvil holds the other one down to trigger whatever the switches do. It can also be used as something to help you climb to reach stuff but its not really used for that purpose all that much with the exception of one pin you can get in the very definite final dugeon.
- If you stay too long in the Tetris room in I Wanna Be the Guy, a giant capsule from Dr. Mario crushes you. There's also the falling error message box in a dead-end room.
- Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 3 drops an arcade machine on his opponent as one of his Fatalities.
- In Exile and its remake Avernum, a mage named X is obsessed with researching a spell which would teleport an anvil above somebody's head. By Avernum 6, he perfects it.
- In Fantasy Zone, Opa-Opa's "Heavy Bomb" is a falling 16-ton weight. One of the humorous illustrations in the Japanese manual for the PC Engine version showed Opa-Opa being squashed under one, though this doesn't actually happen in the game. The tonnage was increased to 100 in Fantasy Zone II.
- 16t, an obscure Mega Drive game, is entirely about dropping 16-ton weights on enemies.
- In the Office Jerk Spin-Off Office Zombie, every so often an anvil will lower from the top of the screen which you can drop on the Zombie's head.
- Rayman: Raving Rabbids has a mini-game where you have to lead a blindfolded Rabbid into painful objects in order to score points. The mini-game ends with a huge-ass weight landing on him.
- Minecraft has craftable anvils that are mostly used to repair enchanted weapons and tools. As an homage to this trope, anvils can also be used in Awesome but Impractical traps to crush enemies, dealing damage roughly proportional to the distance the anvil falls.
- They also sound like a ton of iron hitting the ground even if you're just dropping it down for the repair function.
- In the North American and European releases of Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, whoever loses a Janken match will have a giant weight dropped on them. Their eyes and feet pop out of the weight, and they scramble around using their feet. This got a Shout-Out in Sega Superstars Tennis, in which Alex Kidd's All-Star move involves him playing Janken, then dropping weights on the opponent(s).
- Peacock in Skullgirls has this as one of her special attacks, in which she summons an object to fall on her opponent. These objects range from a flower pot or a teacup to Andy Anvil or Tommy Ten Tons (Assist Characters who are an anthropomorphic anvil and 10t weight, respectively) to a piano or an elephant.
- "Taxman" is a clone of Pac-Man. It has different cutscenes than the original, and the second one features the 16-ton weight falling on a ghost's head.
- Stay Tooned has a few that nudge towards Looney Toons as much as possible, given the obvious references. There's even a fun shooting gallery-style minigame which has a crossbow with either plunger darts, bombs, or anvils that you can fire at the passing characters.
- Clown Man's stage in Mega Man 8 has boxes that trigger booby traps if you're standing on them when the bell goes off. One possible effect of them is for an object to fall on Mega Man's head.
- Homestar Runner favors the "Heavy Lourde", a weight of indeterminate mass. Oddly (for a cartoon), we're initially led to believe that Homsar was killed in this manner, but it is later revealed that he was merely hospitalized.
- The end of Savlonic's "Electro Gypsy" music video has a giant synthesizer fall on the drummer (and a smaller one bounce off the singer's head.)
- Stickman and Cube has been known to drop quite a few weights on characters. Some of them weigh "infinity tonnes" and others weigh "N tonnes". At one point, a dropped weight was so heavy it smashed through the bottom of Panel 3 into Panel 6. It must have pretty cheap panels.
- Used brilliantly by Deux Ex Machina Man in this strip.
- This strip of The B-Movie Comic, and the associated rant.
- Picking up a coin? Why, it's perfectly ... safe.
- 8-Bit Theater once had Black Mage get the entire continent of Australia dropped on him.
- In this Grrl Power strip, Sydney drops her teammate (named Anvil) on a villain. She then does a Road Runner impression, bemusing Harem, who doesn't get it.