Fan blades are dangerous. So dangerous, in fiction, that if you get too close, even a humble household ceiling fan might take your head clean off. Sometimes the blades are sharp or serrated, but the most blunted of fans turn into deadly shredding machines when moving fast enough.
These are most commonly encountered in narrow spaces where they cannot be easily avoided, sometimes as part of a Death Course
. In video games, it is sometimes possible to slow them down or break them by jamming a rod or beam between the blades, allowing the player to get past. Some characters employ them as weapons. They can also be deadly if a rope is involved, with one end looped around the victim and the other end looped around the axis of the fan.
This is Truth in Television
to an extent, as fans can be very destructive and very deadly; after all, this is the same principle on which a blender or lawnmower operates. That said, in fiction this effect tends to be greatly exaggerated - an ordinary domestic fan with ordinary plastic/wooden blades will at most give you a (rather) bruised finger in normal circumstances.
Supertrope of Helicopter Blender
and Turbine Blender
. Compare Deadly Disc
. Not to be confused with Paper Fan of Doom
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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- Taken to its most absurd conclusion in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series when Electro captures Andy, Socrates, and Sherman, dangled from the ceiling by power cords, and set to slowly descend into a blender. As in, a normal, household blender.
Films — Animated
- In Finding Nemo, during the Tank Gang's first attempt at jamming the filter, Nemo swims inside the filter to jam the fan with a pebble, but unfortunately it turns out that Nemo didn't jam the filter hard enough, and as a result the other fish actually had to stick a fake plant inside the filter to get Nemo out before he gets sliced into sushi.
- Subverted at the end of Rio where the evil cockatoo Nigel is actually revealed to have survived being shredded alive by an airplane's propellers, and as a result it also caused him to lose all of his feathers.
Films — Live-Action
- Charlie and Grandpa Joe narrowly escape one of these in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, during the Fizzy Lifting Drinks scene.
- In Alien³, one of the prisoners (Murphy) is killed in a ventilation fan.
- In Idle Hands, one of the girls is killed by the fan in the school ceiling.
- Indiana Jones examples:
- Played straight in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where a burly German mook is fighting with Indy and ends up getting hit with an airplane propeller.
- Averted in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Indy wraps one end of his whip around a Mook's neck and the other end around the ceiling fan in his room; the thug is pulled into the fan blades and breaks his neck.
- Both of the above mooks were played by the same actor, Pat Roach.
- And a ship's propeller tears apart a boat in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, although nobody dies this time.
- In Razorback, the eponymous boar gets killed by a giant industrial cooling fan.
- In The Mummy, O'Connell hoists Beni up as an interrogation-technique, as if he's about to ram the little creep's head into a ceiling fan. Subverted because Beni spills his guts rather than field-test this trope's validity. Bonus points for the metallic ring of the fan's blunt wooden blades.
- In Army of Darkness, Ash incorporates a windmill's vanes into his battle-refitted Oldsmobile, then drives this whirling mega-fan into the undead horde and sends flying every one that fails to evade.
- One slimy bit character in the absolutely terrible B-movie Superfights is killed by the villain's mooks by having his head held up to an ordinary bedroom ceiling fan — which cleanly slices off the top of his skull.
- At the end of Cats Eye the little troll is thrown into a normal-sized fan and gets sliced as a result.
- A man has his skullcap sliced off by a ceiling fan that has machetes attached to the blades in Killing Spree.
- Frankie's head is shredded by an engine block fan in Final Destination 3.
- The Refrigerator in... The Refrigerator brings some fans to life, and has them obliterate a man's face.
- One character in The Outing is decapitated with a rotary fan when the genie lifts him to it.
- Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. Brandt has to infiltrate a computer server room via the heating vents, which involves leaping 25 feet into a vertical shaft at the bottom of which is a large cooling fan, and hope his metallic suit will keep him suspended above a remote-controlled robot with a large magnet trundling beneath it. As a Running Gag in the movie is the failure of the various gadgets the IMF team is equipped with, this plan does not fill him with confidence.
Live Action TV
- Alias: One episode ended on a Cliffhanger with Sydney struggling not to get pulled upwards through an air vent into a huge fan.
- Twiggy's character bites it this way in the Tales from the Crypt episode "The New Arrival." The ceiling fan has some sort of jagged blades affixed to it and lowers itself down to take off her noggin.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The End of the World", the Doctor must navigate a series of these in order to reach an otherwise inaccessible switch.
- The ceiling fan decapitation variant was busted by MythBusters, who found that even an industrial fan, while probably lethal, would be unable to decapitate a person.
- In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, one villain used deadly metal fans as part of his method of brainwashing people into being loyal followers of his cult. Iolaus manages to trick the villain into falling into the fans during their fight, shredding him in the process.
- In Ruby Quest, one room has a catwalk crossing over a pair of giant fans. They're proven deadly in a flashback, when Ruby shoves Stitches into them.
- Paranoia adventure The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues. One of the traps in the Mission Three "dungeon crawl" is a giant exhaust fan. If any of the PCs is sucked into it they'll "become thousands of julienne fries in seconds."
- In Banjo-Kazooie, Clanker's belly contains rapidly-moving fans with serrated blades, while the Rusty Bucket is fitted with deadly propellers. The sequel Banjo-Tooie has these in areas of Jolly Roger Lagoon that link to the Glitter Gulch Mine and Grunty Industries levels. Unlike the previous game there actually is a way to get rid of them (for good) to make your life easier; to do so all you need to do is freeze them with ice eggs and then blast them with grenade eggs to destroy them.
- Skyrim features large rotating blades coming from the ground in Dwermer ruins.
- In Conkers Bad Fur Day, underwater rotating fans are encountered during the U-Bend Blues segment.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, Peahats attack using these.
- The Sonic Adventure enemies E-06 Spinner and E-16 Electro Spinner are fitted with these. The game also features a Helicopter Blender obstacle in Speed Highway.
- In Half-Life, there are several instances of this. The first time you have to pass by an exposed fan, a headcrab demonstrates exactly what will happen if you touch the fan blades. The trope returns in Half-Life 2, in the "Nova Prospekt" chapter: the only way to cross the fan in the vent shaft safely is by jamming the blades with something sturdy enough to break the motor.
- At one point during Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth you have to flee into the sewers, but the way is blocked by a sharp fan. You have to break one of the blades to slow it down and open a passage and even then you'll get chopped (but not always killed) if you're hit.
- One of the Nightmare Realm levels in Gauntlet: Dark Legacy has several huge fans blocking your way. You can hit the "slow down" switch to make it past them.
- Some levels in Super Meat Boy have giant fans that can propel you through the air. Get too close to the blades, though, and SPLORCH!
- In Monster Bash there are spinning ceiling fans which you have to shoot the motors of in order to stop them from hurting/killing you.
- In Lab Of The Dead, the Handheld Fan rotor can cut a zombie's jaw off.
- Dead Space contains several menacing ventilation fans.
- Bulletstorm has a skillshot called "Sucker" for killing an enemy by knocking them into a fan.
- There are a series of these in Epic Mickey's "World of Gremlins" dungeon (which imitates the "It's a Small World" ride). They spin too quickly for Mickey to easily get through unharmed, but he can use paint thinner to erase some of the blades long enough to pass by unscathed.
- The Unreal Deathmatch level DmDeathFan features a big rotary fan at the very bottom of the level. Players being pushed into it, naturally, die. Unreal Tournament 2004's Deathmatch level DM-Insidious also features one, in the center of the map.
- Open Arena's deathmatch level pxlfan also features a big deadly rotary fan at the very bottom of the level.
- Featured prominently in MadWorld.
- An obstacle in some levels of Shadows of the Empire.
- Seen in World of Warcraft, in a quick shoutout to Indiana Jones in the Uldum questline. At one point "Harrison Jones" is in a fistfight with an enemy while you finish a nearby quest. You have plenty of time to finish it, of course, but those who remember the movies will know exactly what will happen when you hop in a nearby airplane...
- In Deepholm, Stormcaller Myra uses the rotary fan of an airship to interrogate a Twilight's Hammer leader into giving you some information. After all is said and done, Myra reveals she had air elementals supporting the Ogre's weight and he wasn't in any real danger. The Ogre, knowing that his superiors would give him A Fate Worse Than Death if they found him decides to kill the air elementals and let himself fall into the fans, dying in a spray of Ludicrous Gibs.
- Tomb Raider 2 and 3 use giant fans in vents that can quickly kill you if you get too close. The ones underwater can also drag you into them if you aren't careful. Most fans have to either be avoided, turned off, or have the fans spin slower so you can pass through without harm.
- Dead Rising and its sequels feature the auger - a man-portable giant drill. Drilling it into a zombie will cause it to stick to the drill, turning the zombie itself into a deadly rotary fan. (Until after its limbs fly off after striking a few other zombies, leaving only a torso on the drill.)
- The second stage of The Ninja Warriors Again has these. They will pause for a while, giving an opportunity for the player to get through. Mooks, on the other hand, blindly walk into these when they are spinning.
- This is one possible way to deal with the mooks in the godawful SNES video game adaptation of The Shadow. It reduces the tediousness of the game somewhat.
- World of Goo features these as hazards in some levels.
- This is one of the special interrogations in The Punisher video game.
- This is the stage fatality in the Prison stage of Mortal Kombat 4, naturally. Though the fan is starting up at the beginning of the match and gains momentum, it starts speeding up when the stage finisher starts. It's also unique in that it doesn't have the winner simply uppercut the opponent into the thing, but rather grabbing an arm and a leg and spinning just fast enough to throw them into the blender without missing.
- In Atomic Robo-Kid, one type of enemy resembles a corridor-spanning rotary fan (with a central eye) that slowly advances toward the player. Apparently, its name is Brade.
- Deus Ex has the occasional deadly fan, normally large metal fans only accessed by doing the usual vent-crawling. Bob Page seems to be a fan of them.
- Some levels of Quake II have these. One level has an alternate route that requires you to swim through one. In another, the fan has to be turned off to proceed.
- In addition to providing air currents that the player can utilize, the fans in Turok 2's Primagen Lightship stage can also be a death trap.
- In one of Soldier of Fortune's cutscenes, a mook is sucked into a fan and reduced to Ludicrous Gibs when Mullins activates the ventilation system. The player can also suffer the same fate if they're not careful.
"The people have spoken. Viva la Resistance!"
"You pushed the resistance leader into a giant fan."
"He was a traitor and a scoundrel!"
"He was trying to stop you from pushing other people into a giant fan."
- Red vs. Blue mocks the trope in the third season, using the giant fan in Zanzibar:
Tex: "Then we'll have to get past the giant fan..."
Tucker: "What, that thing? It's moving at like two miles per hour!"
Tex: "I didn't say it'd be hard to get past."
- The Celebrity Deathmatch episode "Fandemonium I" features a giant killer fan wheel during the Adam Sandler vs Chris Rock fight.
- Subverted in one episode of Family Guy where a fight against Peter Griffin and Ernie the Chicken Man ended with Ernie supposedly being shredded alive by propellers at an airport... but like always, it turned out that Ernie survived.
- In the Happy Tree Friends episode "Party Animal", Cuddles gets shredded by a ceiling fan.
- One of Kenny's deaths in South Park when "Jimmy the Don't-Hold-On-To-A-Magnet-While-Someone-Else-Uses-A-Fan-Nearby Falcon" demonstrates on him by handing Kenny the magnet while turning on a giant fan.