Lizzie Borden took an ax,
and gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done,
she gave her father forty-one.
—American Nursery Rhyme note
An "ax-crazy" character is someone who is psychologically unstablenote and
presents a clear and present danger to others. They are capable of extreme violence, whether carried out with a Slasher Smile
, insane laughter
, speaking in a Creepy Monotone
, or out and out murderous rage
, and with no way of knowing just what will set them off
, which makes them extremely frightening to deal with. This mainly differentiates them from other eccentric characters who may themselves be obsessive, weird or seemingly crazy, but use this condition hand in hand with doing good, or at least not being in the way. However, some formerly established heroes can go through an episode of ax-craziness and still retain their heroic mantle.
Despite the title, ax-crazies aren't limited to wielding axes
. Any instrument of death will do, from knives
or straight razors
to swords to chainsaws
. A good number of other ax crazies are also Trigger Happy
, preferring either Hand Cannons
that blow really big holes in people, or weapons that allow them to kill lots of people with reckless abandon, such as any automatic weapon
. And for the truly psychopathic among psychopaths for whom the above just won't do, a heaping helping of high explosives
or a good-sized flamethrower
will do quite nicely. Sometimes, they don't even need weapons and just use magic spells or other powers if they have them.
It is rare for a truly Ax-Crazy character to be a protagonist
, largely due to it being a Sub-Trope
of Obviously Evil
, and most Ax-Crazy characters usually are Obviously Evil. They're common as the antagonists in Superhero
and Crime and Punishment Series
, often serving as a Psycho for Hire
. If they are
a protagonist, they will most certainly be a Nominal Hero
or Villain Protagonist
. The difference between them and Blood Knight
is this trope is all about killing while the Blood Knight
is only interested in fighting
. There is, of course, plenty of room for overlap.
Note that in cases like The Joker
, this trope does not really apply; and it probably also doesn't apply for anyone who adheres to Chaotic Evil
or similar alignments, but who is otherwise quite sane and conscious of what they are doing. The single main reason is because your common psychopath has a much lighter Super Weight
than most supervillains do. The Joker is a legitimate threat to Batman, but if faced by someone like Charles Manson
, Batman would probably just laugh.
See also Insane Equals Violent
, The Butcher
, The Dreaded
, Mad Bomber
, Cute and Psycho
, Blood Knight
, Psycho for Hire
, The Sociopath
, and Hair-Trigger Temper
. Compare and contrast Mama Bear
, Papa Wolf
, and Violently Protective Girlfriend
, who may be capable of temporary Ax-Craziness when their kids or mate are under threat, but are often played sympathetically. The canonical Character Alignment
for most Ax-Crazy characters is Chaotic
or Neutral Evil
, though a couple of Chaotic Neutral examples exist
. Sometimes The Unfettered
, depending on whether they feel freed or enslaved by their bloodlust.
It's very common to be Played for Drama
, while uncommon to be Played for Laughs
A very large number of pages link to this when they should link to An Axe to Grind
. This page is about violent crazy people, not people whose Weapon of Choice
is an axe (despite the potential for overlap).