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Improvised Screwdriver

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Using a mudane object other than a screwdriver to undo a screw

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
foxley on Aug 24th 2018 at 6:07:01 PM
Last Edited By:
foxley on Sep 14th 2018 at 6:50:44 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Heroes often find themselves trapped. On closer inspection of their predicament, they discover there is a way out, but it is sealed with screws. Lacking proper tools, the hero is forced to improvise a screwdriver from materials at hand.

Coins and rings are popular choices, as these are common items that villains might not think to remove from a hero.

Compare Improvised Lockpick.

This can be Truth in Television.


Examples:

Film—Animated

  • Toy Story 2: Woody unscrews the cover of an air vent by turning the screws with his bare hands—as a toy, he's small enough for that to work. Later, Stinky Pete uses his toy pickaxe to re-tighten those same screws, closing the cover to prevent Woody from leaving.

Film—Live Action

  • In D-Tox, Malloy uses the Tragic Keepsake of his murdered fiancee's engagement ring to unscrew the bolts on a hatch cover when he gets locked up in the underground clinic.
  • In Sahara (2005), Dirk Pitt uses the gold dollar as a screwdriver to detach the pickup truck bed from the back of the truck.
  • In Starred Up, Eric creates a Sinister Shiv out of a toothbrush and a razorblade. The shiv doubles as a makeshift screwdriver, as he uses it to unscrew the light fitting in his cell in order to hide the weapon.

Literature

  • Dirk Pitt Adventures: In Cyclops, Pitt uses the catch from his Doxa watch as a screwdriver to escape a cell.

Live Action TV

Video Games

  • Edna & Harvey: The Breakout has a puzzle in which Edna must learn to loosen screws with fingernail clippings.
  • After Larry's death in The Walking Dead Season 1, Lee must search the corpse's pockets for some coins, which he can use as improvised screwdrivers to remove an air conditioner from the wall of the room they're locked in.
  • In The Escapists, a plastic knife can be used as a makeshift screwdriver.
  • In The Longest Journey, April has to unscrew a grating and uses the single Arcadian coin she has left to do it.

Web Video

  • Tribe Twelve: While working to swipe Karl's journal, Milo had to use one of his buttons to unscrew the box it was hiding in.

Feedback: 13 replies

Aug 25th 2018 at 1:38:59 AM

  • Edna And Harvey The Breakout has a puzzle in which Edna must learn to loosen screws with fingernail clippings.

  • After Larry's death in The Walking Dead Season 1, Lee must search the corpse's pockets for some coins, which he can use as improvised screwdrivers to remove an air conditioner from the wall of the room they're locked in.

Aug 26th 2018 at 12:46:43 AM

That's an adventure game trope, isn't it? I've seen it in The Longest Journey, when April has to unscrew a grating and uses the single Arcadian coin she has left to do it/

Aug 26th 2018 at 11:41:35 AM

^ The fact that the coin is Arcadian is relevant, by the way, because coins have not been in circulation in her own world, Stark, for centuries.

Aug 26th 2018 at 12:17:25 PM

This, I feel, can be Truth In Television. I know I have had to unscrew some things with something other than a screwdriver since I either didn't have one, or the screwdriver I had wasn't doing the job. Effectiveness varies...

Prolly better not to word it like that in the examples portion though. I don't know what the stance is on first person pronouns here, but I don't think it would look very appropriate on a tropes page.

Aug 28th 2018 at 9:16:33 PM

Just say "This can be Truth In Television" in the description.

Aug 30th 2018 at 8:54:33 PM

One good Truth In Television example: the LCD screen add-on for the original Play Station. the bolts they used to affix the screen to the console were heavy duty enough that a quarter was the best tool for the job.

Sep 5th 2018 at 8:49:23 PM

Do we need Real Life examples with this trope? What do tropers think?

Sep 5th 2018 at 8:53:17 PM

I think Real Life examples would be too general with this trope.

Sep 7th 2018 at 12:20:09 AM

Tribe Twelve: While working to swipe Karl's journal, Milo had to use one of his buttons to unscrew the box it was hiding in.

Sep 13th 2018 at 10:34:47 PM

  • Toy Story 2: Woody unscrews the cover of an air vent by turning the screws with his bare hands—as a toy, he's small enough for that to work. Later, Stinky Pete uses his toy pickaxe to re-tighten those same screws, closing the cover to prevent Woody from leaving.

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