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Anime And Manga
- InuYasha is, at one point fairly early on in the series, tied to a tree by a demon using her hair like garrote wire. He breaks the tree. Only a partial example, though, because he doesn't qualify as an ordinary human.
- Kotomine Kirei from Fate/zero is tied to a tree by his hands. His response? Rip the damn tree straight out of the ground. Kirei is also arguably a normal human.
- Kick-Ass. After he's captured, tortured and is about to be executed by Frank Genovese's goons, Kick-Ass comes up with a frantic and desperate last-ditch escape plan that revolves around taunting them to punch and kick him to death instead of shooting him, until the chair he's tied to shatters, then he picks up the splintered parts of the broken legs to fight his way out.
- Black Widow of The Avengers does a flip while tied to a chair, shattering it on impact and freeing herself. And then she uses bits of the chair as weapons.
- In Charlie's Angels, Dylan breaks her chair with a flip, similar to the The Avengers example, although her hands stay tied after the chair is broken.
- Lennie Pike from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World breaks the chair that he was tied to after breaking himself free from the pillar and duct tape that the gas station attendants tried tying him up to.
- Twice in The Boondock Saints. Connor, handcuffed to a toilet while his brother Murphy is being taken out back to be shot by two goons from The Mafiya, smashes himself screaming against the toilet trying to break it apart before he finally just rips it up from the floor. Before he drops the toilet off the roof onto the Russians.
- Later in the film, both brothers have to help each other escape from being handcuffed to chairs. While this involves one brother kicking the other brother's hand to break his thumb, it is relatively tame compared to the toilet scene.
- Red 2. Frank Moss is being interrogated by US officials while handcuffed to a desk. Then a hit team bursts into the building killing everyone. Frank convinces an agent to uncuff him, but too late as the hitmen burst in and shoot him, catching Frank helpless...until he breaks the desk with his head and uses the pieces to knock out the hitmen.
- Later in the movie, Frank handcuffs Han to a refrigerator. When police show up to arrest him, Han rips the door off and uses the pieces to etc.
- A flashback in Unknown (2006) reveals how one of the characters frees himself from the chair he was tied to by breaking the chairback.
- House of Wax (2005): When Cary is strapped to a surgical chair in the basement of the gas station, she manages to escape by pulling loose the rail on one side of the chair.
- In The Last Knight, Sir Michael is chained to a bed by a captor and spends most of his time kicking the bedpost to try to detach it from the bed. He succeeds just in time to aid Fisk in rescuing him.
- Stephen King's short story The Gingerbread Girl, from the collection Just After Sunset, features a version of this. The protagonist is duck taped to a chair by a psycho who will return in a little while to kill her. She's unable to get free of the tape, so she ends up breaking the chair instead to free herself. This later comes in handy when the psycho returns, as she's able to use the splintered remains of the chair to fight him off.
- In Dean Koontz's Intensity, the protagonist escapes her captor by ramming a wall with the chair she is tied to and splintering it. She injures herself in the process.
- In Lee Child's 'Die Trying' book, the main character Jack Reacher finds himself chained up to a huge beam of wood with a female captive, who is about to be sexually assaulted by their captors. Reacher, summoning up every ounce of his considerable strength, tears the chain clean out of the wooden beam. The chain is intact, but the beam is destroyed.
- In Unseen Academicals, Mr. Nutt is a "goblin" ( not really; he's an orc) recently arrived in the big city after being raised by Lady Margolotta. Before he came to Lady Margolotta he was kept prisoner in some kind of mine or forge, and grew stronger by first lifting the light tools, then the heavier tools, and finally, the anvil. Trev asks why it was so important to be able to lift the anvil, and Nutt says "Because, Mr. Trev, I was chained to the anvil."
Live Action TV
- In 24, Jack Bauer escapes by smashing his chair and attacking his captor.
- In the episode of Burn Notice where Fiona gets abducted, she breaks the arms of the chair she's handcuffed to so that she can move around the room freely.
- Hawaii Five-0: When Danny is tied to a chair by gangsters, he manages to escape by ramming himself into the wall to break the chair and subsequently fighting and shooting his way out.
- From time to time in The Incredible Hulk TV series David Banner would get tied to a chair, only for him to Hulk Out; so Hulk breaks the chair.
- Doreau does this accidentally in the Sledge Hammer! episode "Wild About Hammer". The villain for that episode ties her to a chair. Sledge manages to untie her ankles from the chair before he's attacked. While those two are fighting, Doreau manges manages to stand herself up on her now freed legs, only to trip, fall over backwards, break the chair, and free herself from the rest of the rope.
- In The Avengers, Mrs Peel gets handcuffed to a wooden chair. When the time comes, she swiftly breaks the chair and beats up the baddies with the sticks. At the end of the episode, as they stroll off across a golf course, Steed asks her what her handicap is. She shows him the chunk of wood still cuffed to one of her wrists.
- The Prisoner episode "The Girl Who Was Death" had him tied to a chair inside a missile set to launch and destroy London - he struggles against the rope for some time before he realizes he can just pull the back of the chair up and off, freeing himself.
- On Chuck, whenever Casey gets handcuffed to a piece of furniture, he ends up breaking it and using the attached pieces as a melee weapon.
- Glen does this in one episode of The Walking Dead after being locked in a room with a zombie.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- In "Gingerbread" the residents of Sunnydale fall under the influence of a demon and try to burn Buffy and Willow at the stake. Buffy is bound so tightly she can't snap the ropes even with her Super Strength. When the demon attacks her, she breaks the stake and leans forward, impaling it on the tip.
- In "Never Leave Me" after Spike is revealed to be a Manchurian Agent, Buffy ties him to a chair until she can figure out what to do. Spike even tells her to tighten the bonds. When he's activated however, he breaks the chair in berserker fury and attacks Andrew, forcing Buffy to chain him up in the basement next time.
- In the intro scenes of Batman: Arkham City, Bruce Wayne rocks back and forth in a chair he's been tied to, and then escapes from his bonds once he (and it) topples to the ground.
- Max Payne waits until Frankie "The Bat" Niagara is out of the room, before falling backwards on his chair in order to break it and set himself free.
- In the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "The Nest Hats Craze!," Blythe gets so mad at Whittanny and Brittney tying her to a wooden chair that she breaks the chair to escape.
- This becomes a Running Gag in Dragons: Race to the Edge — when captured by dragon-proof chains, break the winches; when captured by chains on a dragon-proof winch, blast the winch off the wooden deck. The dragon hunters are finally forced to make ships entirely out of dragon-proof metal to defy this trope.