Tapping the car with a hammer: $0.00. Knowing where to hit it: $5,000.00.Bringing a malfunctioning piece of equipment back on-line by giving it a good bash: Priceless.There are some things money can't buy; for everything else, there's Mastercard.
Also known as "Technical Tap", "Ape Mechanics," "Fonzarelli Fix", "Spike Spiegel School Of Repair", or "Emergency Repair Procedure #1." This is a case of Truth in Television, as many people will often do this with malfunctioning machinery, frequently with mixed results.
A common variation involves a character, having tried every method they can think of to get something to work and after working for hours with no success, hits the malfunctioning device solely for the purpose of Percussive Therapy, only for the device to respond to the Percussive Maintenance and start working again.
Compare Percussive Therapy where a character hit things solely for their own emotional benefit, rather than the proper functioning of whatever they're hitting. For use on life forms, see the Dope Slap, Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!, or Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off.
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This advertisement features a man running through a delightfully old-fashioned area (Kastelruth/Castelrotto, Italy) in order to fix a delightful old-fashioned mechanical clock as the townspeople wait. Unable to find fault with the machine, he attempts Percussive Maintenance in desperation (perhaps by accident), and the clock strikes three, allowing everyone to perform their scheduled activities on time.
A recent ESPN ad features Landon Donovan with an acting-up copier. He kicks the copier...and it produces a yellow card. When he complains, it produces a red card!
A promo for a GSN programming block called "Sunday Night Buzz" featured a woman in an office panicking over a malfunctioning copier. "It keeps jamming, what are we going to do?!" Cue a sarcastic man who suggests "Kick it?! (hits buzzer) We'll kick it!"
Used with some success in the fifth episode when Taichi rescues Andromon from under a pile of gears by kicking the gears.
Also attempted in the sixth episode, where Koushiro's computer is acting up. Typically, both Taichi and Agumon say that all it needs is a good whack and charge at Koushiro, who then moves out of the way causing Taichi and Agumon to Cross Counter one another.
Spike Spiegel of Cowboy Bebop, from whom comes one of the alternate names of the trope, claims, "My ship works better when I kick it." His attempt to fix an antique Betamax player in the same fashion, however, does not turn out so well.
Rena "fixes" a sulking Mion the same way, saying it's how she fixes her TV.
A more serious example occurs at the end of Meakashi-hen. Whereas Shion seems to gain some grip on everything that had happened as she fell, in the game, she hit a roof and landed there, and that was what allowed her to overcome her insanity... and then she decided to roll off that roof too.
Another serious example is in Tsumihoroboshi-hen, when Rena takes the class hostage and started "fixing" Mion... while holding her cleaver blade facing the other way.
A semi-serious example of either this or Dope Slap occurs in the manga version of Tatarigoroshi-hen, where Mion smacks Rena in the back of the head to get her out of one of her dark moods and/or get her to shut up about Oyashiro-sama's curse.
In the Mahoraba manga, Megumi tries to fix a gas stove like this, calling it the "Russian Repair Method", possibly as a Shout-Out to Armageddon. It blows up (comedically) in her face.
One episode of Martian Successor Nadesico sees Ruri repair a malfunctioning Jovian communication device by walking up, saying, "Kick," and giving it a swift boot to the side. Particularly hilarious since this happens right after the resident Gadgeteer Genius has declared that he has no idea how to fix something as crazily advanced as a Subspace Ansible.
In Doraemon, this is the preferred method of television repair because Nobita's family is so poor (Nobita's mother even shows Doraemon the preferred angle at which to whack) until Doraemon uses a magic cloth to restore the television to shiny newness.
Josuke's Stand ability is to restore things to their previous state (or at least what he perceives their previous state to be) which can bring about this trope when he does it by punching things really hard.
During Mihoshi's introduction in Tenchi Muyo!, she stomps her foot to correct her cruiser when it starts acting up. It actually makes her look pretty cool before the rest of the episode establishes her as a complete bubblehead.
Subverted in one episode of Yumeiro Pâtissière. Ichigo tries to fix a oven by karate-chopping it. The oven starts functioning... but explodes in less than fifteen seconds.
In the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the members of Celestial Being try to get the titular Gundam's Twin Drive system to work, but never seem to get it to stable operation, even with the hypothesized 'best combination' of 0 Gundam's and Exia's GN Drives. Guess how Setsuna gets it to work when the mothership gets attacked a few minutes later.
Used by Tamama in an episode of Keroro Gunsou, where he fixes a machine with a rapid fire punch attack. It does take a few tries to find the attack that works, though.
The whole premise of Hikkatsu is centered on this, where geomagnetic abnormalities have let to a complete technological breakdown, with various electronics, vehicles and appliances going berserk, and after his martial arts master is killed by a runaway construction vehicle, the main character tries to turn Percussive Maintenanceinto a martial art.
Lucky Star: When a CRT television goes on the fritz, Miyuki mentions having heard of cases where banging on it helped. Konata, having heard of that too, tries it, and it works. When Hiyori tries it later on her frozen desktop computer, however, it goes completely dead.
In A Certain Magical Index, Touma meets Mikoto for what he thinks is the first time when he just lost ¥2000 (roughly $20) to a juice vending machine. She gets her supply of beverages by kicking the shit out of the machine, tarnishing Tokiwadai's reputation for ever. She explains it with the mechanics having rusted due to age, he explains it with the constant application of violence. Then, to regain his lost money, she hacks the machine, bombarding them with cans.
Tower of God features a little scene between Hwa Ryun and Koon, where Hwa gets juice out of a disperser he was having problems with by hitting it. She comments on how he didn't read enough manhwa and he tries to follow her suit. He hurtshishand.
In the Big Finish Doctor Who story Shadow of Death, when the Doctor is trying to rewire an automatic door without success, the narrator says "In frustration, he smacked the controls with the palm of his hand", and we immediately hear the door opening sound effect.
One of Michael Winslow's routines, he relates getting stuck with an old, worn-out "cruck" of obscure pedigree whose engine resolutely refuses to turn over until he gives the console a good solid kick.
French comedy comics Isidore has a gag in which Isidore, a mechanic, is trying to watch soccer on his TV, but it keeps breaking. He repeatedly punches his TV, without any results. A client comes in with his car, asking for repairs; Isidore, still caught in the anger, punches the car, AND IT RESTARTS. The client leaves happy, but the TV still isn't working.
"All those years of school to learn where to hit it with a hammer."
There was a Star Wars Expanded Universe comic where a frustrated and angsty Anakin Skywalker (is there any other kind?) fixed a small cleaning droid but it still wouldn't work, even when he took it apart and reassembled it. Enter Aayla Secura to give it a thump, getting it to activate, and tell him that he shouldn't ignore the simple things.
In a The Transformers comic, a two-bit crook finds Megatron, whose cyboneural circuits have been knocked loose in an earlier issue. The result is that Megatron has no free will, and will simply do whatever anyone else tells him. The crook embarks on a crime spree, but when he goes to confront his old boss, he drops Megatron — conveniently reconnecting his circuits, allowing him to Take Over the World once again.
One issue of Paperinik New Adventures features an old and obsolete Evronian cruiser whose antimatter alternator often makes an annoying noise until a giant-size technician doesn't use the "standard procedure": a powerful punch. This is ultimately subverted: when the cruiser enters in battle the alternator, damaged by too many hits, breaks down, crippling the ship.
A 1970s comic strip titled Campus Clatter included one incident where the college's new computer was malfunctioning. The genius student and a professor discussed possible high-tech fixes, but an ordinary guy suggested it needed "a good swift kick!" and applied one. The computer began running perfectly — and printed out the words, "Thanks, I needed that!"
In a 1960s installment of Our Boarding House, Major Hoople successfully repairs his old TV by using "the BSKK method: Bang, Slam, Kick, Kick."
Averted and parodied in The Perishers. On a couple of occasions Wellington has attempted to fix Marlon's buggynote (go-kart) by hitting it with a hammer. This only ended up making things worse, due to the fact that Wellington would rather sell Marlon a new buggy than fix the old one.
Lucy: This is going to work out great. My TV repairman bill is higher than my psychiatrist bill.
An early Peanuts Sunday strip has a young Lucy walking down the sidewalk holding a teddy bear with a music box mechanism. When it stops playing, she shakes it a bit, then swings it against a fire hydrant with a loud "WHAP!". It starts back up and she walks on.
Lampshaded in Growing Up Kneazle, where Harry and Ginny flew the enchanted Ford Anglia second year instead of Harry and Ron:
She enjoyed the car when it was working, but the invisibility booster had gone out for a good thirty minutes before either of them had noticed. A well-placed kick from Harry had started it up again; 'percussive maintenance' he called it.
Atlantis The Lost Empire: Milo uses this method, in the form of an elaborate series of blows, to fix both the boiler at the Smithsonian and Mole's digging machine.
At the beginning of Up, Carl is going downstairs on his Stair Lift, when it stops halfway down. One fistbump later, it's going again.
In A Goofy Movie, Max and Goofy are visiting an incredibly lame opossum-centered Theme Park. The Chuck-e-Cheese-ish animatronic band gets stuck at one point (repeating the same phrase over and over like a stuck record), until an employee whacks the base with an elbow. All better.
Happens in Toy Story 3: Apparently the best way to get your Buzz Lightyear back to normal after a hard reset is to drop a TV on his head.
Heavy Metal segment "So Beautiful and So Dangerous". One of the aliens tries to open a compartment to obtain a bag of drugs. When pushing a button fails to do anything, he kicks it and it slides opens.
Felix in Wreck-It Ralph fixes everything — brick walls, the bars of a prison cell, his face, the shattered remnants of a go-cart made of cake and candy— by whacking them with his gold hammer. Note that the hammer only fixes. Felix was trying to break those prison bars, making them even stronger instead.
Films — Live-Action
Used by Peter Ustinov's character Jules in We're No Angels (1955). He opens a lockbox by meditating, then tapping it with the edge of his hand. So this may be Older Than They Think.
Capt. Colin Maud: (walking up to a stalled vehicle) My old grandmother used to say anything mechanical, give it a good bashing. (hits hood with his swagger stick) Capt. Colin Maud: Try it now. (vehicle cranks) Private Flanagan: Sure, now; that did it.
Dick van Dyke's character in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang used this on the Truly Scrumptious Doll's stand when she stopped rotating mid-song.
Han Solo uses this method to fix a sputtering Millennium Falcon, in The Empire Strikes Back. Given the general state of the ship and Han's personality, it's a minor miracle that he only does this once.
In the Expanded Universe, he does it often enough that he and Lando (the Falcon's previous owner and one of Han's best friends) refer to it as "Emergency Repair Procedure Number One".
Inverted in one instance in Specter of the Past, where for once the Falcon is working fine until Chewie, manning the communications, gets mad at the guy on the other end and smashes the switch.
The title character of Judge Dredd used this to get a Mark 4 Lawmaster (flying motorcycle) to work.
Double Subverted in GoldenEye. After the car of the CIA agent transporting James Bond breaks, said agent tinkers with it, finally asking Bond for a hammer ("No, [not that one,] the sledge.") He leans over and lightly taps the engine with the gigantic hammer, then steps back and swings it full strength, making it run again. Joe Don Baker doesn't do subtlety.
The Julie Andrews Movie Musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (as well as the The Musical adaptation for the stage) featured an old timey elevator that you had to tap-dance in to get started.
Hudson Hawk. While Eddie is climbing on top of the Vatican he jostles a television aerial causing the Pope's TV set to have wavy lines. The Pope tries to get the set working by hitting it with his staff.
The ship's boiler in The African Queen has to be kicked vigorously every morning to get started. Charlie explains that this is caused by a screwdriver stuck inside. He admits he could open the panel and remove it, but he leaves it in there because kicking it is kind of fun.
In Commando, Cindy couldn't get the seaplane to start. Then John Matrix pounds the control panel.
Matrix: Come on you piece of shit, fly or die! (seaplane starts) Works every time.
In Iron Eagle, Charles "Chappy" Sinclair turns his jukebox on by kicking it, and off by slapping it.
In the Jackie Chan film First Strike, Jackie has to spend a night on the street and ends up in a window alcove on an apartment building. The homeless man in the next alcove advises him that hitting the wall hard enough will turn off the building's lights.
At one point in Flight of the Intruder, the navigation computer in the protagonists' A-6 Intruder attack jet flakes out. Tiger Cole claims that the manual says to "kick the damn thing" to get it to start again. Justified in that the likely cause for that computer to fail is for the internal gyroscopes to get stuck, with the kick knocking them loose again.
In the made-for-TV film Babylon 5: Legend of the Rangers, the crew is trying to get an old Minbari ship ready for launch. The Captain (a human) suggests his Number Two and best friend (a Minbari) smack the console to get it working. The Minbari replies that this is barbaric and not a way to work with sensitive technology. Later, frustrated at being unable to get a screen working, he hits the console, and it immediately starts.
Towards the end of TRON: Legacy, Kevin Flynn and Sam Flynn are sneaking around in Clu's "Rectifier" note giant ship that brainwashes programs into being a mindless army. Quorra's been captured, so Sam goes to rescue her while Kevin steals a Light Fighter. There's a Brainwashed program standing guard, so Kevin sneaks up behind it and fiddles with its Identity Disc so it would allow him access. It doesn't work. Frustrated, he bops the program on the head. It works.
Referenced in Minority Report. When John has Precog Agatha hooked up to a recording device to see her visions and sees one he saw before, he tells the techie he's shanghaied into helping him to "slow it down." He responds by asking, "Slow it down? What do you want me to do, whack her in the head?"
In Splash, when Tom Hanks gets stranded on the boat, it doesn't start until he opens the casing and whacks it with a hammer. At which point it promptly fires up, lunges forward, and pitches him overboard.
At the beginning of Jack Frost (the family version, not the serial killer version), Michael Keaton's character is going to a music gig with his band but then decides to go back to watch his son's hockey game. His best friend gives him his car. A snow storm starts, and the guy is trying to see where he is going. Then the windshield wipers stop working. This is when he tries Percussive Maintenance on the dash to try to get them working again, as his friend showed him before. Unfortunately, he loses sight of the road and drives off a cliff.
Red Planet: "No joy on all scenarios for engine ignition. That includes hitting the console."
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon: When Sam's car (not Bumblebee but some old "sad piece of shit") won't start, angry as he already is, his best resource is to open the hood and start kicking the engine frantically. It's a mix of this and Percussive Therapy.
In the opening of WarGames one of the Air Force launch officers reports a warhead alarm on one of the missiles. The other officer tells him, "Tap it with your finger". He then taps the indicator light and it goes out, showing that the warhead was fine, it was just the alarm light was seated incorrectly.
The first Mortadelo y Filemón live-action movie combines this with a Eureka Moment of all things. Dr. Bacterio has invented a device that he just can't get to work. He's sure that something is missing but doesn't know what. When his radio stops working, he hits it to get it going again. That's when he realizes what is missing: "Of course! Beatings!" He proceeds to beat the crap out of the device with his shoe, and it works! It's the only part of the movie that is even remotely funny, and the German dub completely ruins it because the joke went right past the translator.
In Star Trek: First Contact, Geordi points out a red light on the second engine valve during Cochrane's historic warp flight. Cochrane flicks the offending light a couple times, then whacks the side of the panel. It stays on. Having failed to correct it, he just brushes it off as unimportant.
In Jumpin Jack Flash, whenever Whoopi Goldberg's computer terminal accidentally tunes into Russian TV signals, she gives it a whack to restore the terminal back to its normal functions.
In North West Frontier, the locomotive Empress of India has a tendency to suddenly and violently leak steam, which is corrected by Gupta hitting the offending pipe with a wrench. When Captain Scott tries the same thing, he's rewarded with a faceful of oil.
Old joke: A man can't get his car working, so he gets it into a repair shop. The repairmen turns over the engine a few times, then goes to his tool rack and grabs a hammer. He comes back, pops the hood, gives the engine one quick rap with the hammer, then turns the key and — presto! Engine works. The repairman then hands the owner his bill for $220, to which the owner responds "What!? $220 for hitting it once with a hammer?" The repairman responds, "Nope, hitting with the hammer is only $20. The other $200 is for knowing where to hit it."
In Larry Niven's Ringworld, Teela Brown activates her sky-cycle's emergency booster at a key moment by fainting and smashing her face on the control panel, thus saving her life. The emergency booster required several controls to be hit in a specific order, at least one of which was recessed and thus much harder to hit accidentally. The other characters take this as proof that she was literally Born Lucky (a plot point in the story).
In Tom Holt's Odds and Gods, Thor managed to get a flying engine to work again merely by threatening to hit it with a hammer, which shows that even non-sentient machines know when to stop mucking about.
Virgil Cole, a U.S. Navy bombardier in Stephen Coonts' Flight of the Intruder, uses the Fix to keep his A6 bomber's balky primitive computer in line.
Lampshaded in Good Omens, in which one of the Bikers of the Apocalypse takes up the name "Things That Don't Work Even After You've Given Them A Good Thumping".
Terry Pratchett again in the Discworld novel Hogfather, where Archchancellor Ridcully asks if the term "Reboot" means to kick the computer. Ridcully also gets surprisingly good results by threatening to hit HEX if it doesn't start doing what it's told.
The short story At the Rialto by Connie Willis involves a group of Quantum Physicists at a convention. An overhead projector isn't working and one scientist explains that "it needs its fractal basin boundaries adjusted". She proceeds to whack it twice and it works.
In The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, the protagonists manage to rent a car from a very, very low cost rental agency and proceed to fly to the moon (they were already in space and the car's a spaceship). Being a budget rental, everything goes wrong as they try to land. At one point the computer (which controls the rockets) fails. The husband hits it. No go. He hits it again. No go. His wife hits it nearly hard enough to crack the casing. It comes back on. (Briefly.)
In the short story "The Long Watch", Lieutenant Ezra Dalquist fixes the Space Patrol with a hammer. That is, one Space Patrol Colonel is planning a coup, planning to use the Patrol's nuclear bombs not to stop wars (the mission of the Patrol) but to rule the world, and want Dalquist on their side. He agrees, then walks out, tricks his way into the facility where the bombs are stored, sets up a deadman switch so that they can't blast their way in after him, and takes a hammer to the delicate instruments in the bombs. He realizes that's not enough and takes the hammer to their plutonium cores. Problem fixed, trope inverted.
Julio Poertena from the Prince Roger series carries a big wrench which he uses to adjust the attitude of malfunctioning gear. The twist is that the "wrench trick" is actually better than the standard procedure for removing jammed powered armor.
Artemis Fowl: The telescreen freezes, and Foaly goes to repair it. Julius hits it to make it go back on line, but that not only fails (with the narration making it clear that this almost never works) but he burns his hand because the screen gets hot after a time.
The Fonz (pictured) on Happy Days, using this trope to get the jukebox to play free songs and as a way to fix some cars. This was, of course, to show how The Fonz could channel Rule of Cool like magic.
Lampshaded in one episode where he hits the brick wall of a building to turn the exterior light off. Ron Howard's character is stunned near-speechless, to which the Fonz simply explains, "It's a gift."
Lampshaded by Dorian from Almost Human, season 1, episode 6, commenting on Kennex's thumping of a staticky radio.
The famed jukebox scene was subverted in an episode of Cheers when Cliff tried to fix the bar's broken jukebox by kicking it. It obviously didn't work.
Also used many times by the Doctor in Doctor Who, often on the TARDIS controls. Some notable instances:
In "The Three Doctors", the Second Doctor fixes a radio by whacking it against the TARDIS console.
The Doctor thumps a malfunctioning scanner in the rebels' base, and it starts working properly again. "Aha! Earth technology!" he remarks.
Later on, he does this again to a console in a disused scout rocket to get it working again. He expressed admiration about Earth technology.
The Fifth Doctor was particularly known for this, including a scene in which he needs to smack the console with his fist to get the doors to open after he has just overhauled the console and supposedly either fixed or upgraded everything that needed it.
This is lampshaded in "The Visitation" when Adric and Nyssa are trying to fly the TARDIS on their own. After a few failed attempts at landing, Nyssa tells Adric to think what the Doctor would do. Adric thinks about it for a moment, pushes a few buttons, and thumps the console. It works.
The current incarnation of the TARDIS actually has a hammer attached to the console with a chain for on-the-fly percussive maintenance.
The Doctor:Behave! *WHAM!*
At one point in the new series, the Doctor attempts to kick the TARDIS back into working order. The exchange goes something like this:
Mickey: Did that work? The Doctor: (defensively) Yes! Mickey: Did it hurt? The Doctor: Yes...
Of course, the TARDIS is alive, so this might be a combination of Machine Empathy and Time-Lord technology. or the TARDIS is just kinky.
The Ood also do this in their debut episode. They approach the Doctor and Rose while menacingly repeating "We must feed...", then one of them irritatedly whacks his translator device and the output becomes: "We must feed... you, if you are hungry."
The robot Kryten on Red Dwarf was known to do this to himself on occasion.
In the Get Smart episode "Schwartz's Island", Siegfried does this to the secret technobable machine by kicking it.
When the crew of Babylon 5 finds on old Earth ship in the Season 2 ep "The Long Dark," Ivanova smacks a control panel to get the ship's systems running.
In the Small Wonder pilot episode, Jamie fixes a malfunctioning Vicki by slapping her, remarking that it's how Ted fixes the stereo. In the third-season episode "Bank Hostages", Vicki herself performs this on an errant ATM: "That's how my father fixes me."
Hogan's Heroes: "It's a German machine — all it understands is force!"
In the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, O'Brien, trying to transport Odo back after a bit of sabotage on the Cardassian ship, is frustrated with the transporter not working. He kicks it — and Odo promptly materializes on the pad. It was the pilot and the Cardassians had left the station in a MESS. They were lucky that the transporter was even working. The novelization of the episode takes it a little further — his foot actually hit the control he was missing on the unfamiliar control panel.
Troy: I'm kinda tired of this song. (smacks the jukebox, but nothing happens) I would have expected sex, had that worked. Veronica: Had that worked, you would've gotten it.
Lampshaded in Stargate SG-1. While trying to frantically repair the Odyssey before the ship comes under fire, Vala rams a power crystal into one of the slots despite the fact that it's not supposed to fit there. Vala then remarks that that almost never works.
The second-season premiere of Dollhouse features a more futuristic version of this when Paul Ballard, trying to save Echo from capture by arms dealer Martin Klar, repeatedly punches the Active, hoping to coax out a personality that can defend itself. He eventually brings out the same fighter imprint that tried to ambush him in the previous season, and Echo manages to turn the tables on Martin and subdue him.
Daisy and Onslow operate their TV this way on Keeping Up Appearances, even thumping it in certain spots to bring in the right channels.
There was also an Imagine Spot in which J.D. fantasized about being the Fonz, and performing Percussive Maintenance on a patient in a coma.
The Todd claims that he saved a dying patient by giving him a high five. "The Miracle Five!" Dr. Cox replies, "Great story. It begins with a fundamental lack of understanding about the human body and ends with you shattering some old guy's hand."
The episode "Best in Faux", when Stark tells Carter the computer is malfunctioning:
Carter: Smack it. Stark:Seriously?note It works.
Also the episode "Dr. Nobel". After managing to shut down the device that's been threatening global destruction, it seems to stop, then malfunctions and resumes the countdown. The scientist who built it spends a few seconds thinking, then kicks it. It stops... for a while, anyway.
This is how Al fixes Ziggy's handlink in Quantum Leap, so often it's practically a Character Tic. Although it sometimes does more bad than good. In the third-season episode "The Great Spontini", he actually manages to break the handlink, and is seen with a different model from that point forward.
In Bottom, episode "Contest", Richie tries to fix some dodgy TV reception by waving his palm above the set and giving it a sharp smack, causing it to go off completely. Eddie quickly gets up and successfully fixes it with another smack. Richie, impressed, smacks it again causing the television to explode, throwing him to the floor.
On The Sopranos, Paulie Walnuts deals with a recalcitrant DVD player with what his Army Signal Corps training referred to as a 'brogan adjustment'. It works about as well as you'd expect a Paulie Walnuts plan to work.
Referenced on Freaks and Geeks: Mr. Rosso catches Daniel Desario trying to set off the school fire alarm in the hallway:
Rosso: You think you're pretty cool, don't you, Daniel? Desario: No, I don't think I'm cool. Rosso: You don't think you're the Fonz or something? If a jukebox was broken, do you think you could hit it and it would start playing?
A car bomb resets Cameron back to killer mode. After chasing John and Sarah across the city, she winds up slammed between two trucks and pleads with John not to deactivate her because she's "fixed now". Of course, it's slightly more complicated than that... (It should be noted that there's a high possibility that she was lying when she said that she was fixed.)
In another episode, when John tries to buy some "Let's" brand chips from a vending machine, it gets stuck. Cameron hits the machine in just the right spot to make it dispense several products at once and give John his money back.
This is Gibbs' favorite method of fixing technology. Subverted in that he has broken a truly alarming number of computers and cell phones. Lampshaded when he gives his phone to Kate to fix and she merely drops it in the trash and replaces it with an identical phone from the stash she keeps in a desk drawer. This is also his favored method of fixing subordinates.
Tony DiNozzo in a later episode is shown to use this method to score free candy from the machines in the break room.
Ziva is seen doing this as well. Unlike Tony, she is actually applying this to a vending machine in a hospital where she has spent most of the episode. Upon seeing her do it, Tony remarks something along the lines of "you know you've been somewhere too long when you know how the machines work."
Jeremy Clarkson's general attitude to car maintenance on Top Gear. During the Top Gear Ground Force special, May and Hammond assumed that Clarkson was going to use a hammer to get rid of weeds, since that's what he normally uses for fixing everything. He didn't. He got a shotgun instead.
One episode features a particularly dodgy ship that only really works when the engines are thumped with a stick.
A variation of this occurs when Aeryn awakens Pilot (one of the many organic components of a Living Ship) from a coma by pumping him with adrenaline and kicking him. With both feet.
If a Luxan is bleeding and the colour is inky-black, Percussive Maintenance must be performed on the wound until the blood turns to a clear colour. Yes, an entire species whose first aid procedure consists of Percussive Maintenance. It's that kind of show.
An episode of the Disney sitcom Hannah Montana has one of the characters, Oliver, have the nickname "Locker Man" because he is gifted with the talent of being able to open a stuck locker with a series of blows.
Lexx's indestructible assassin Kai finally suffers serious damage — which he calls being "out of alignment" — when he jumps down to a planet from a spaceship in orbit. The solution? Make another jump and land on his other side. It takes a couple of tries, but it works.
Referenced again by name by Chloe on the eight season of 24.
Mr. Bean attempts to use Percussive Maintenance in the episode "Mind The Baby, Mr. Bean" to cheat at one of those token pusher machines. It doesn't end well: As soon as he manages to get the machine to drop all the tokens, a kid comes along and nabs all the coins. Never mind that token pusher machines do not work that way.
In the second episode of Power Rangers RPM, Dillon and Ziggy notice a bunch of Grinders setting up a weapon to attack the Yellow Ranger's zord. Dillon tries to start his car, but can't because it's out of fuel. A hard whack on the steering wheel later and he gets it going again, running on the fumes.
One-upped later on during the Road Attack Zord's debut. It's out of control, but Flynn says to hit it; he designed the thing to shut down from a solid smack to the center.
That's nothing. In Power Rangers Samurai, the method for clearing jams in the Lightzord's disk launcher system is to smack the Lightzord in the butt.
Power Rangers Zeo had a visiting Cestro (Blue, The Smart Guy, basically the Alien Rangers' Expy of Billy and so often working alongside Billy. Like Billy, his solutions usually involve lots of techie-sounding made-up words.) make something in the command center work by banging his fist on it, causing a shower of sparks to erupt. He says "there, it's fixed!" It works.
Bob Barker was fond of kicking and/or slapping stuck set pieces on The Price Is Right. The pricing game Squeeze Play was the most common victim.
"Weird Al" Yankovic faces this in the video for 'Like a Surgeon'. He (a hospital intern) visits a patient who is flatlining. He thumps the heart monitor a few times, thinking it was at fault. When that failed, he tried the same on the patient.
On an early episode of Sesame Street, a Dalek-like robot named S.A.M. arrives on Sesame Street (he meant to go to Mulberry Street), asserting repeatedly that "machines never make mistakes; machines are perfect — are perfect — are perfect." The humans have to thump him hard to make him stop repeating the phrase, for which he thanks them.
Dark Heresy has it as a talent to unjam weapons. The Technical Knock is a swift prayer to the Omnissiah, and a swift smack to the jammed weapon. And it always works.
There's also the "Rite of Ignition", an ancient tradition of Forge World labourers. This is "a form of prayer to the Machine Spirit that involves striking the object in question several times". This is seldom used in the presence of actual Tech-Priests.
The rulebook appendices also note that a standard Mechanicus ritual for particularly old and revered machinery involves "a rhythmic striking with a special metal tool"
In GURPS 4e if cinematic rules are in effect and the GM allows, it is possible to do this at a big penalty if the kicker is sufficiently skilled.
In Iron Kingdoms d20 setting, the Bodger class has this as one of their main class features. At higher levels, they can even do this at range ("Toss a Hammer At It").
In Spycraft 2.0, the Wheelman class gains the "Manual Adjustment" ability, letting them use this, depending on their level, to automatically succeed at most Mechanics, Electronics, and Security skill checks, should the initial skill roll fail.
Iron Crown Enterprise's Cyberspace. One entry in the Equipment Mishandling Chart said "A sharp slap and the item begins to function normally again."
The D20 system also gives us the "Guerilla Repair" ability, which allows the user to keep a malfunctioning weapon firing a few turns yet through anything from this trope to verbally reprimanding it.
Starblazer Adventures, based on the 1980's British science fiction Comic Book.
The "Thump of Restoration" stunt (under Engineering) and an Engineering roll will cause any device that isn't working to start working again. However the device only works for a limited period of time: the better your roll, the longer it works.
The "Just Hit It" stunt works exactly the same way, but specifically for starship engineering.
Murphy's World. Brownies have an Excellent Sense for Things Mechanical. It allows them to get just about anything working with a well-applied kick or thump.
In The Time Of Your Life, Nick tells Willie to fix the pinball machine when the flag is stuck by giving it a whack. This causes the flag to go up and down repeatedly before it rights itself.
The Engineer fixes and upgrades his machines by hitting them with his wrench. Just as good: If you hit an enemy or enemy machine with this wrench? Head trauma or a damaged building respectively.
The game's "manual" [PDF] (as accessed online) is actually a manual on the Sentry, an automatic gun. The directions included for upgrading and setting up a sentry are all elaborate synonyms of "hit it with your wrench".
Even better: In the game's predecessor, The Medic can heal teammates with his axe. This is carried onto the sequel with the Crussader's Crossbow for the Medic- shoot it at enemies, it hurts them. Shoot it at your teammates, and that bolt lodged in their heads heals them.
Similarly, the Engineer could heal teammates' armor by hitting them with his wrench.
Made even better with the Gunslinger. A robotic hand added as an alternative to the wrench in the new engineer update, it lets you repair your buildings by punching them
Considering he works on a battlefield where he needs to be ready at any moment notice, he probably designed his buildings so that they can be set up and maintained in a very quick and easy way.
The Engineer in each game in the series is usually equipped with some kind of tool or device that allows them to repair vehicles as long as said tool is in contact with said vehicle.
Battlefield: Bad Company has a Drill. Yes, you drill health into tanks and jeeps. As long as you know the drill. (It's really more of a battery-powered socket drill, but that doesn't change the fact that you repair things by grinding them with the drill)
Devil May Cry 3 features Percussive Maintenance in its most basic form, with Dante punching a jukebox to get it to play ("This party is gettin' crazy!"). Destroying a jukebox in Mission 3 will inexplicably incite it to play a few notes (a remix of the combat theme from DMC 1).
Also from DMC 3's fifth mission, when Dante used an ornate trident to trigger a switch. It didn't work. Guess what he did? He kicked the device, and it worked.
Similarly, in Devil May Cry 4, Nero finds that the controls for lowering a drawbridge refuse to operate. He walks away in frustration... and then whirls around and shoots the uncooperative console. It sparks and then explodes, after which the red light turns to green and the drawbridge lowers (It should probably be noted that he looked pretty surprised when this happened, suggesting that the shooting of the controls wasn't deliberate Percussive Maintenance so much as him venting the aformentioned frustration). Dante once gets into trouble hitting the jukebox; he hit it a little too hard, as he punched it with enough force that the metal on the jukebox bent inwards from the impact, leaving his fist in a crater that he just made.
Inverted in Wing Commander IV, during the cutscene where Pliers (ship's mechanic) has found a disc of unknown purpose in a captured Dragon (to the characters, that is — the players know it as a Flash-pak, a bomb capable of burning out a entire capital ship if it hits ANYWHERE on the hull). He doesn't know what it is, so he drops it on the deck, while everyone around him dives for cover — when it doesn't explode, he then picks it up, states that that's apparently not how it works, and resigns himself to some actual work.
An FMV cutscene during a mission of the second Crusader game has Denning doing this, with the upgrade of the power outage apparently affecting the entire base.
In one scene in Army Of Two, either Salem or Rios is trying to get into a room containing a circuit breaker needed to activate a monorail. When trying to flick the switch to open the breaker room, it doesn't work, even with a few hammer blows from the contractor's fist. It isn't until he headbutts the switchbox that the door opens.
In Final Fantasy X-2, the commsphere that Shinra threw into the Farplane Abyss malfunctions and won't connect. Leblanc whacks Shinra's control panel with her fan-weapon and suddenly it connects.
Another example in Final Fantasy VIII. Zell does try to fix a machine the traditional way, but eventually gives it a kick out of frustration. The machine works fine afterwards. Zell's example is somewhat of a subversion though, as while it will does fix the machine and open the door to the dungeon, it also forces you to fight a series of tedious and difficult monster battles. While if you go about the slightly more tedious way of acquiring enough points to open the door normally, you can chose whether or not to fight the monsters.
In the same game, Selphie shuts off the power to the missile base by slamming a control panel repeatedly. (This was the intended result)
In Final Fantasy VII there is a malfunctioning vending machine in the break room of the Shinra building. If you try to hit it, the lady present will stop you. But if you return here during the "Raid on Midgar" event much later in the game, the lady is gone and you can bash the machine for a strength source.
In Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobos Dungeon, the barkeep turns his jukebox on by kicking it, then tells Chocobo that changing audio tracks is done the same way.
Shadow manages to not only bypass Eggman's security systems, but to bodily enter cyberspace by karate chopping a computer terminal.
Charmy also does this later in the game to load up an old recording by Prof. Gerald that gets promptly broadcasted on any monitor on Earth. Interestingly, in both instances, Espio tried to conventionally hack into a database of some sort with little success.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 has Section trying and failing to fix a CLAW drone. Frustrated, Harper kicks it, and it immediately starts mowing down every bad guy in sight.
In Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Big Bad robot Mad Scientist Dr. Nefarious has a habit of having screaming outbursts that make his circuitry overload causing him to freeze in place and broadcast a random soap opera. The problem is easily solved by someone (usually Lawrence) whacking Nefarious in the head (an act that Lawrence calls "the best part of (his) day"), after which Nefarious proceeds as if nothing had happened.
Also makes a brief appearance in the first game, when Ratchet repairs a drill by whacking it with a fist.
In The Sims 3 you can "upgrade" appliances by... hitting them with hammers. And let's not forget fixing broken appliances by poking them with a screwdriver. If only...
This also happened in The Sims social network app, where the Sim repaired anything that's broken by hitting them with a wrench.
Happens near the end of Metal Slug 3, when the player has to escape from the alien mothership. The formerly kidnapped member pushes some keys on a console/computer and then gives it a kick, and only then the hatch opens to release them.
Maintenance Droid: I always say, there's no repair quite like hitting something.
You can play Savage: The Battle for Newerth entirely with melee if you want to. It's probably done to keep things simple. Building, repairing structures, mining and claiming spawn flags are all done with melee. The people at newerth.com at some point said they were thinking about adding different animations for the different actions depending on what you're aiming at but they never got around to adding it.
In the Commodore64 game Super Pipeline and its sequel, your helpers fix leaky pipes by hitting the pipes with their hammers.
In the introductory cutscene for Donkey Kong 64, King K. Rool's shiny new gun is being readied by his idiot mook Kremlings. It starts to power down for no discernable reason, so one of the Kremlings gives it a nice head-butt, which causes it to power back up again.
In Zork: The Undiscovered Underground, the player's lantern has been through "several cycles of impact revitalisation", and needs to be given at least one more.
In Space Quest V: The Next Mutation, the SCS Eureka's Chief (and only) Engineer Cliffy (that's "Clifford" to you) fixes things by first actually tightening something, then whacking away at them with a wrench or kicking them. Given that the entire Space Quest verse runs on the Rule of Funny, this makes total sense. (He's actually an incredibly competent engineer, rebuilding a destroyed droid and integrating an incompatible piece of tech into the SCS Eureka without any problem)
In the 3D games, a common jam animation involves the player character whacking the malfunctioning weapon. Actually a part of the drill for clearing a jam on many military rifles.
A quarry foreman in Fallout: New Vegas also references this if you ask him about the machinery he uses.
"It's Pre-War tech, so you need to thump it once in awhile to keep it running."
Portal 2: Wheatley seems to take this method of hacking. For example, he attempts a "manual override" on a "docking gate," which is actually a wall, by slamming Chell's relaxation chamber into it.
In Batman: Arkham Asylum, there's a part where Batman needs to use a control panel to turn on a ventilation system. Instead of approaching it and using it manually, he throws a batarang, effectively destroying the panel. The ventilation system turns on as if Batman had used the panel properly.
Mega Man Powered Up: If the protagonist destroys Dr. Wily's combat machine on Normal or Hard, Wily rebuilds it — and makes it fly — by hitting parts of the cockpit with a hammer several times.
In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio solves a Clock Punk puzzle that has been under water and presumably has some gunk in the gears. It grinds to a halt, and he kicks it to get it moving again.
In the reboot of Syndicate, Agent Kilo's DART 6 chip is activated by a Mook punching him, this actually Makes Sense In Context as the opening sequence says it is fueled by adrenaline.
In Mass Effect 3 there are a couple of sections where Shepard needs to send one of his squadmates off to hack an important device. If you send James to do it, however, the game makes it clear he's not the techy type by having him kick the thing. Repeatedly.
Earlier in the series, in Mass Effect 2, Miranda gets pissed off at a slow elevator during her loyalty mission and hits it with her omni-tool, causing it to speed up and shut off the muzak.
During the Chop Shop level of The Punisher video game, you can hear one thug struggling with a pop machine that won't give him his soda. Another guy tells him "Stop beating on it dumbass, it don't hardly work as it is!", leading to this hilarious burn, "You don't work either, but beating you gets results."
The Rockmen in FTL: Faster Than Light take this approach to repair, judging by their animation. They get no penalties for this. They're also immune to fire, so put out fires in your ship by stamping on them.
Norma in Tales of Legendia kicking the machine in order for the bridge to appear to each of the four monuments in chapter 6.
Pascal in Tales of Graces F fixes a broken Valkines Cryas by beating on it with a mallet. When questioned on it she confesses that she was "Kinda just wingin' it."
In Garry's Mod, the easiest way to fix a spazzing contraption (when the physics engine breaks and sends everything spinning around wildly out of control) is to pull out the Physgun, grab the contraption, and repeatedly smash it against the nearest wall until it stops spazzing. Unfortunately, delicate player-made mechanical objects (such as guns and engines) require much more finesse to fix - performing Percussive Maintenance on these will usually make the problem worse.
In Tokimeki Memorial 2 Substories: Leaping School Festival, Homura tries to do this on her malfunctioning TV, first with punches, then with a Dragon Kick. All she gets from this is a completely broken and unusable TV. "Finishing blow!" ("Todome da!") indeed.
Schlock Mercenary has Tagon asking a medical computer whether it couldn't do illegal biomodifications or wouldn't. The computer asked the difference, and Tagon explained that hardware that can't do something gets replaced. Hardware that won't do something gets abused until it will, or until it can't. It then agrees to perform illegal biomodifications.
A regular enough practice in Girl Genius. Very few "Sparks" are subtle, especially when they're in a hurry.
In The Dr. Steel Show, Episode 3, Doctor Steel's last resort in silencing a broken videophone is to take a giant sledgehammer to it.
In the Gorillaz universe, the mechanic Murdoc hired to work on Plasic Beach insists on repairing the malfunctioning devices with a frying pan. Unlike most examples, he doesn't want to get the things to work in the first place — he's just a lazy guy who's hoping to get more cash out of it, as he eagerly explains in the Plastic Beach adventure game on the official site.
Dr. Ashen tends to resort to this, to the point of using the phrase "percussive maintenance" at one point. This doesn't stop him from taking the alternative route to prying malfunctioning devices open to find the problem, though.
In Cracked: "I've even seen people who insist that their televisions or vehicles require a special touch that only they know, a touch that usually turns out to be a pretty substantial punch or kick, which I guess makes their superpower physical abuse?"
In an episode of Family Guy, Peter tried to pull this jukebox at the school. Unfortunately, he hit the glass too hard and broke it, cutting his hand rather badly (though this did have the side effect of everyone thinking he was cool). And Fonzie was shown fixing a old guy's erection this way. Ehh!
Subversion: the TV signal goes out because of interference from Bender. Fry hits the TV just as Bender leaves the room, and does Fonz's thumbs-up "Hey!" when the signal returns.
Played for laughs in Bender's Game where the Hal Institute for Criminally Insane Robots uses hammer therapy on its patients.
In the episode "Bender Should Not be Allowed on TV" a Antonio Calculon Junior breaks down. Someone comes by and hits him on the head a couple of times. it didn't work.
The Fonz himself is featured in The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, employing his trademarked fix in order to, among other things, repair a time-traveling flying saucer, vehicle of choice of the gang in the cartoon. In several chapters the Percussive Maintenance (usually in the form of a finger snap) is even seen stopping and reversing inertial momentum (!).
Daria does this with Trent's van, "The Tank". After it makes a certain, strange noise, there's a ten count, followed by a punch to the dashboard, and suddenly everything's right as rain.
Muppet Babies: The kids are in an old roofless police car on railroad tracks with two trains coming.
Piggy: Kermit, step on it! Kermit: (turning the key) Gee, uh... the motor won't start, Piggy. Piggy:WHAT?! (he keeps turning the key to no avail as the trains get closer) Piggy: (reaches forward and karate chops the hood) HI-YAH! (motor starts) Kermit: Thanks, Piggy. Piggy: You're welcome. Now get us outta here!
Averted on Beavis and Butt-Head when the title duo try to get their TV working again with numerous kicks. Pieces fly off, but that's all that happens. Due in part to a citywide power outage they don't notice.
In The Penguins of Madagascar, Skipper tries to smack a malfunctioning flashlight. It works... for all of about three seconds, and then fizzles out again.
In an episode of Pucca Abyo try to do this with a kick, searching to repair a problem with the time clock of the Master Soo's temple, which because the dragon was sleeping (it was the main mechanism of the clock), it was causing a day loop, which only Garu could detect, but he couldn't repair the problem. Their two attempts caused that the time was going to forward and back respectively. Then, the Master Soo came and with a punch he can solve the problem with the clock... or well, until that Pucca came later, but that's another story.
VeggieTales: In "The Ultimate Silly Song Countdown", the machine used to tally the votes occasionally breaks down, and Pa Grape uses a wooden mallet to fix it. At one point, he has to hammer it so much that Mr. Lunt and Larry have to improvise a song in the meantime, and they use his "percussion" (and a Chinese takeout menu) as inspiration.
The Transformers, episode "Cosmic Rust". After trying to get the matter duplicator to work to replicate more Corrorstop to cure the Autobots of said disease, it's Perceptor who resorts to this.
During an episode of King of the Hill, the horn on Hank's truck is stuck blaring, thanks to Bobby knocking it out of park and into the garage door. After a few moments, an annoyed Dale walks outside, delivers a kick to the trucks side, and the horn stops. Though Hank tells him to "Not even try and take credit for it."
Johnny Test. With earth under alien invasion, and the twins stuck trying to get the earth's defense grid going, Susan can't figure it out, so Mary gets it going with good swift kick.
In Wacky Races the Slag brothers often do this to their stone age car. Once though, the car hit back. The other racers also do this from time to time; Peter Perfect once fixed his car that had completely fallen apart with one kick.
In Lavender Castle, Isambard often applies this to the Paradox's engine whenever they need a bit more speed. This backfires at one point when after a short burst, the engine explodes leaving them sitting ducks.
In an episode of The Dreamstone Sgt Blob manages to get the Urpneys' current mech working again after it broke down underwater.
Blob: (proudly) You lads is most probably not aware of my felicitations with engines. Of course I don't talk about it much, but it's there... it's there. Frizz: All he did was hit it with a hammer.
Dogstar: In "The Quick and the Dog", after Zeke's Doom It Yourself attempt to repair the food synthesizer, Alice is able to fix it with a single well-place thump.
In one episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, Snoopy imitates the Cheshire Cat and makes himself invisible. Unfortunately, he eventually overdoes it and can't get visible again. Lucy got him back by applying this technique, saying it's just like when the image of a television goes out.
In one episode of Danny Phantom, Jack has Tucker hit one of their devices with a coffee mug when it goes fuzzy.
Tucker: Hey! I'm a real live scientist!
During the Apollo 16 mission, an alarm light kept malfunctioning until commander John Young tried kicking it. When he reported success, the response from Earth was "It's an old American custom: kick it if it doesn't work."
Alan Bean had the job of removing the plutonium source from the cask and inserting it into the generator but after he pulled it partway out, it stuck and refused to budge any farther. After a few minutes of fiddling with the long-handled removal tool, Bean got frustrated and suggested that they give the cask a couple of good whacks with the hammer. Conrad wasn't quite ready to be so unsubtle and wanted to try using the hammer as a prying tool. But, when that didn't work either, he, too, gave in to the inevitable and gave the cask a good, sharp rap. The fuel element slid out a fraction of an inch. He hit it again and harder. And again. And that did it.
Apollo 14: While running through the pre-PDI checklist, Al Shepard and Ed Mitchell noticed that the abort light had come on, indicating that the computer had gone straight into abort mode. If this happened during the actual burn the computer would abort the descent and that would be mission over as there'd no longer be enough fuel for another attempt at landing. They got the light to go out by tapping on the console with a pen. Of course this was only a temporary fix, and a more elegant solution requires some in-flight reprogramming of the guidance computer (by tricking it into thinking it was already in abort mode it would not monitor the status of the abort button). The moment is recreated in the Apollo 14 episode of From the Earth to the Moon.
The first Skylab mission (the one that had to fix all the major malfunctions that were mostly the result of one solar wing trying to deploy during the damn launch) had a problem with the small solar array hardware having accumulated static. The fixed it by thumping it during a spacewalk. (This works on certain classes of electronics prone to malfunction due to static electricity build up. A suitable thump will help disperse it.)
World War I fighter pilots often kept a small hammer in their cockpits in the event that their machine guns jammed.
999 had a real life story where a couple were trapped in a car with its engine on fire and but found the electric locks wouldn't open. The husband in desperation started belting the steering column with his hands multiple times, until the locks suddenly opened on their own.
While this is not advisable unless you have no other choice (e.g. you don't have a backup for some reason or other, your laptop is out of warranty and you don't have money for the fan repair immediately, you're on tour or assignment and can't get to a repair shop/can't do without your only laptop for a week) this does work occasionally to restart a stuck fan on a Macbook Pro (at least the 2010 version). First try to loosen dust/dirt with compressed air if possible, then, find the location of the stuck fan (your fan control software should tell you which side is running slow/not running). With the laptop turned off, smack the case under the fan with the palm or heel of your hand once or twice, then boot, turning the fans to max speed. If this has worked, it will blast out a cloud of dust and dirt and run at normal (or at least some of normal) speed again, usually long enough for you to safely back up or get the money you need or finish your assignment/touring/work...
If you call up the Nintendo Tech Support line with a Wii Mote problem, and they diagnose it as a stuck accelerometer, the fix they give over the phone is to, quote, "Hold the Wii remote buttons-side down, and whack it into your palm loud enough so I can hear it over the phone." It works.
A 1980s guide to console gaming:
Step 1: Insert cartridge.
Step 2: Turn on console.
Step 3: Turn off console.
Step 4: Remove cartridge.
Step 5: Blow on cartridge.
Step 6: Blow in console slot.
Step 7: ????
Step 8: Profit!
Don't forget "jiggle cartridge in slot" and "cram folded pieces of paper of varying thicknesses in between the cartridge and the walls of the slot".
Also, only the console's owner can do this. Anyone else attempting to blow in the cartridge and/or console slot will invariably fail to correct the problem.
It should be noted that Step 7 isn't just applied here as a Memetic Mutation. If you get to this point and it doesn't work, keep doing random things to the cartridge and\or system until it works, because it will.
Step 8, however, is.
Best way to deal with step 7 is: "START WORKING YOU PIECE OF MOTHERFUCKING SHIT OR I SHOVE AN AXE INTO YOU AND BURN YOU ON A CROSS!!!!" Usually works. At least when you stand up to pick the said axe.
Q-tips and rubbing alcohol are cheaper. Also, they keep the system/cartridge cleaner for longer, while blowing into a cartridge can actually corrode the metal contacts over time from the moisture in your breath.
Also, for the original "VCR style" NES, banging the top or dropping it works because the connector that the cartridge plugs into might have come loose from the board. Whacking it helps seat the contacts.
This is, believe it or not, one of the many ways to (temporarily) cure the Red Rings of Death on Xbox 360s. (Another one is baking, mentioned later on this page for GPUs — because the fault is in fact an unsoldered GPU.)
This will only work temporarily at best, until the excessive heat inside the console warps the motherboard so badly that pin contact can no longer be maintained.
Smacking the console immediately after loading a disc is the easiest solution to the common "Open tray" error...assuming it's caused by the laser track getting stuck rather than the laser itself dying.
After a few years of use, the original Xbox's DVD drive may stop opening. The correct procedure for this is a good, solid thump right above the drive.
Continuing with the Xbox, a lot of Xbox Ones shipped with faulty Blu-Ray drives, due to one of the gears being loose. The solution? Unplug the console, turn it upside-down and give it a good whack.
Back when Apple was not only called Apple Computer but they made computers besides Macintoshes, their big, expensive (and most importantly, fanless and made of solid aluminum) Apple III models had an issue where the computer would run so hot, its chips would unsolder themselves. The official tech support solution was "raise the CPU three to four inches off the desk and release it," which usually re-seated the components.
Cards/components in early Macintoshes of all types would creep out of their sockets from thermal expansion/contraction cycles due to high operating temperature. Mostly affected units turned off/on daily. The solution was to pick up the case and drop it. Sometimes just carrying the unit would reseat the cards. Tech support's solution? "Just bring it in." They'd let it sit untouched for a day, then have the user come pick it up. The joggling from the transport fixed the problem. Easier than explaining.
Not only early Macintoshes. Early PCs as well. And even modern day PCs with cases manufactured under questionable quality control will have this problem. The author of "Building and Maintaining Your PC" called this issue "card creep", although his advice was a more sensible albeit time consuming "open the PC up and push every single card and RAM bar down". Yeah, a applying percussive force from the top fixes things too in many cases.
When Commodore was producing Amiga 500's in its West Chester, PA facility, the engineers and other employees became fond of drag racing on the parking lot. Subtler means having failed to dissuade this practise the company had speed bumps of ever-increasing size installed. The bumps got to the point of shaking the shipping trucks so much that the socketed main chips would loosen in the motherboards, causing sporadic failure. It got to the point where dealers were instructed to take their freshly delivered machines and drop them several feet to reseat the chips.
Atari ST enthusiasts are familiar with something similar, called the Universal 4 Inch Drop. And for pretty much the same reason as the above Apple IIIs.
Averted: This is one of the reasons why PCI-E slots (commonly used for Graphics Cards) are often outfitted with a plastic hook which will click into a small slit (or 'key') in the card. The card cannot be moved in the slot unless the hook is pulled back first.
Sun Microsystems had a period of time where a lot of tech support calls went like this:
Customer: My system won't boot. Support: <<verifies model and so forth>> OK, take the hard drive out, hold it <this way>, and slam it against the desk. No, harder. No, harder. No, harder. OK, put it back in. <<system boots>> Yeah, we got a run of bad hard drives that stick, and slamming them on the desk like that will temporarily unstick them. I'm sending you a replacement unit.
Banging the top with a closed fist sometimes does wonders with old CRT screens that have a recurring "picture suddenly compresses into a single horizontal line" issue. This is also the officially recommended way of dealing with aperture grille displays when their thin vertical wires stick together.
In the Church of the SubGenius, the laying of hands on malfunctioning equipment, done swiftly and sharply, is called "Appliance Healing".
Any British geek of late 70s/early 80s vintage worth his or her salt can tell you what a balky piece of equipment the typical Sinclair computer was. The fact that the most common storage device was a common or garden domestic tape recorder didn't help matters in the least. The tinkering that ZX-80/ZX-81/Spectrum owners would engage in with azimuth adjustment screws, volume and tone knobs, cabling position, tape recorder position, computer position and a dozen other things became almost ritualistic. But when all that failed, just whacking the tape recorder, or the computer, or the power supply brick would actually work on a disturbingly regular basis. Some still remember having to keep their feet on the power brick otherwise the dreaded R: Tape Loading Error message would pop up.
Inverted by the behaviour of the 16Kb RAM pack which attached onto the back of the ZX-81, any slighest movement of which relative to the computer could cause an instant system crash and loss of all data, slightest movements caused by, for instance, using the keyboard at all. Users jammed blu-tack, plasticine, modelling clay, cardboard and many other substance into the gap, mounted the computer and RAM pack in improvised vices, and took many other precautions to avoid the nightmare scenario.
Carowinds, a theme park on the North Carolina/South Carolina border, has a roller coaster called the Carolina Cyclone with a few restraint bars that have a habit of getting stuck. The correct method of unsticking them, as ride attendants are instructed during training, is to kick them.
One of the first things to try when clearing a weapon jam is to simply smack the magazine, which it is also recommended you do before loading the magazine in the first place. A few good mag taps on a your hand, your helmet or a nearby rock before loading will do wonders for a weapon.
A technique used in emergency medicine is the precordial thump, which involves laying a carefully aimed blow to the chest at just the right time to convert a witnessed cardiac arrest. (Contraindications include "Presence of a pulse.")
Engineer's Creed: "If it moves, and it shouldn't move, use duct tape. If it doesn't move, and it should move, use a hammer." Add a can of WD-40, a pocket-knife, and a six-pack, and you have the Redneck (or Red Green) Tool Kit.
This is an actual maintenance procedure in U.S. Navy engineering manuals, under the name, "Mechanical agitation".
The Technical Manuals for old military analog man-portable radios (such as the PRC-25/PRC-77) suggest a drop of one to three feet onto a solid surface as part of operator-level maintenance.
Slot machines typically have several different doors leading to various parts of their innards. Sensors are connected to the doors, and generate a tilt whenever they register as being open. Unfortunately, sometimes the machine will be manhandled to the point where closed doors will still show to the machine as being open. An experienced slot attendant often knows how to diagnose which door is the problem and clear the error with one well-placed smack, without going through the trouble of actually opening the door and adjusting the sensor (which often involves filling out logs and other red tape).
Recorded Books Incorporated used to put on their cassette tapes that if you ever ran into any problems with tape, you should "place it in the palm of your hand and slap it smartly against a hard, flat surface." If that didn't work, and you could not "otherwise free the reels," then you could send it in for a free replacement.
Modern vending machines: A good few hits with one's shoulder or rocking it back and forth (Don't Try This at Home!) is usually sufficient to dislodge something. The downside is that ramming one's shoulder into a piece of hard plastic can be quite painful, and rocking it runs the very real danger of tipping it over, leading to severe injury and/or death.
Capsule vending Machines like this◊ can usually be fixed by tapping between the lock and the turning knob. Over long periods of use, the path coins travel to engage the gears gets worn down. Tapping/punching said area can shift the coins over small imperfections in the path. Experienced users can usually tell how far the coin has traveled just by sound. Tapping/jiggling the entire machine sometimes works if the capsules are on the larger side(greater tendency to get stuck). They're designed to prevent free-play by tipping though, as there's a large spring which blocks the exit port unless you turn it the proper way.
London, Brighton and South Coast Railway locomotives had a special hammer for this purpose as part of their standard toolkit. The business end was made of lead, to reduce the risk that it would damage the paintwork.
Renowned SovietT-34 tank had a very poor transmission/steering design, unfaithfully copying an American project of the late 1930s which hadn't get put into production exactly because it didn't work. The massive iron levers which actuated the steering and gearshift would often get stuck, even worse in freezing temperaturs which are typical to Russia, and they had to be moved with a hammer. There were hammers issued to tank drivers just for this purpose.
The key-insert for some older models of Saturn gets stuck, usually due to temperature change making the bits inside swell/shrink/shift. The best (only?) solution: smack it hard and firm a couple of times. Inspires great confidence in new passengers.
Apparently, there is/was a car used by the US Army that was fixed like this. This particular make and model would always break down in the exact same way and could always be fixed with the same method: kicking in just the right spot under the dash. There was actually a "painting duty" the soldiers had every so often where they would paint/repaint a red circle over the spot so the driver knew where to aim his foot without having to look/think too hard about it.
Works quite well if something like a remote control or calculator has a loose battery.
This guy used this technique successfully on a plasma TV. With a baseball bat.
This is also known to many people as an "RCA Kick" - as in, give that TV an RCA kick to get the v-hold back in line.
The "RCA Kick" name is actually a reference to the Radio Corperation of America, and the devices which first popularized this practice in the early days of massed produced electronics. The finicky vacuum tubes and mechanical relay, switches, and toggles which were at the heart of any cutting edge device allowed an unprecedented level of compactness and processing power, but low dust tolerance, extreme levels of heat (and thus heat expansion of mounts), and loose tolerances in production of sensitive parts meant that these devices required frequent reseating of tubes and contacts, unsticking of switches, and clearing of dust to function at their best. Most owners of early radios and televisions quickly learned that a swift light kick or whack to the right spot was actually a quick and fairly reliable way of accomplishing all of these tasks without having to miss the rest of a broadcast doing it properly. Given that it continues to occasionally actually work, (largely by doing the same thing for today's smaller and slightly less sensitive circuit boards) this remains Emergency Repair Procedure #1.
Related to destructive repair techniques is "Baking" a delicate and highly technical process of getting a video card with screen artifacting to work again by literally baking it in a 380F oven for 8-10 minutes. particular interest to Nvidia 8800 and 9800 owners. This works because official way of mounting a BGA chip on a board is baking it in a special oven. Re-baking in a home oven restores any disconnected solder joints the chips may have.
At least supposedly, some phone techs will ask users to tap their computer on the back side of the case. This is actually a subversion - the point is that in doing so, they'll look at the back and notice if a cord is unplugged, while if you ask them whether the network/power/etc is plugged in they'll get defensive.
One of the so-called "AI Koans" told at MIT has this as a variation:
A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on. [Tom] Knight, seeing what the student was doing, spoke sternly: "You cannot fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong." Knight turned the machine off and on. The machine worked.
This is a common quick fix for automotive starters. Most of the time the starter doesn't work because the throw-out bearing is bad. Hitting it with a hammer is often enough to get it to let the starter gear to engage the flywheel and turn the engine over.
Carburetors are preferred over electronic fuel injection precisely because they can be fixed with Percussive Maintenance when stuck.
Sometimes, the wear on the starter gear teeth and flywheel gear teeth will get the starter stuck in the flywheel and therefore starting the car is impossible (turning the key has no effect other than overheating the starter motor). Solution: engage second-tallest gear (either 3rd or 4th gear, depending on car) and push back and forth violently the car a few times. Stuck starter disengages with almost 100% certainty and starts afterwards.
With cheaper phones, such as the simpler TracFones, hitting the phone against a palm or thigh can generally fix problems with the battery, screen flickering, and signal loss; in ascending order of how often it works.
Cordless power tools, especially the older ones, react incredibly well to this technique.
US Army basic training — if your M-16 jams, try Sports: Slap, Pull, Observe, Release, Tap, Squeeze. In other words, hit it, take a look, then hit it again.
The forward assist on the M16 and its variants is specifically designed for the user to bash it there, for when a round doesn't seat properly.
The easiest way to deal with a skipping record is to hit the turntable or the piece of furniture it's sitting on, jostling the needle a groove or two ahead. Jumping on the floor works sometimes too. Not really a solution, but it does the trick if all you want is to get through the rest of the record one time before having to break out the vinyl repair kit.
If your computer's video card is loose, it might not contact with the circuitry and your computer's display won't work. Although a better, long-term solution is to open up your computer and secure the card snugly, a simple short-term fix is to simply whack the side of your computer and hope that it encouraged the card back into place.
Two cases of percussive fault-finding from a telecoms company that shall remain nameless: one of the official tests for one particular new installation was the coke-can test. Power the kit, put test traffic through it, then, with a full (still sealed!) can of soft drink in your hand, raise that hand above your head and let the can (still in your hand - you don't want a loose can bouncing around the place, it doesn't look professional) fall onto the top of the kit. Infrequently, this would reveal that one of the daughterboards was not fully seated, which would save the engineer a return trip a few weeks later when said daughterboard had worked its way loose. In a similar vein for a different piece of kit, the engineer was instructed to use a large bunch of keys to tap gently (just the swing on the ring, no force required) on the front plate, which would show up as signal errors on a traffic analyser if any of the optical fibres were slightly loose.
In the Vietnam War era Grumman A-6 Intruder, the analog-digital hybrid bombing computer (DIANE - "Digital Integrated Attack Navigation Equipment") often stuck up during bombing runs - the established procedure was to gentle kick the side of the console pedestal, to try to get the gears and linkages to start moving again.
Almost mandatory to safely dislodge food stuck in a hot toaster without making a mess.