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Improvised Weapon / Literature

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  • In Artemis Fowl, Captain Holly Short uses a cot to beat her way through concrete so she can reach bare earth and plant an acorn in it to regain her powers.
  • In the second book of the Old Kingdom Trilogy, Lirael, Sam and his classmates fend off zombies with cricket equipment. (Note: the book pre-dates Shaun of the Dead by three years.)
  • Stephen King likes this trope:
    • In the novella The Langoliers (also in the screen adaptation), Albert (teenage violin player) not only uses his cased violin as a weapon at one point, but improvises an even more destructive one from a tablecloth and toaster. At another point, Nick ponders coins/keys between the fingers as improvised brass knuckles. The character in question is basically Michael Westen, though.
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    • Another King example is The Mist, where apart from one handgun, the protagonists have to scrounge monster-fighting weapons from the supermarket in which they are trapped. One elderly woman has great success using cans of Raid.
    • Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers (part of the Bill Hodges trilogy) bring us the Happy Slapper, made of ball bearings in a sock. In the latter, a character uses a whiskey decanter as a makeshift weapon as well.
    • In "Lunch at the Gotham Café" (from Everything's Eventual), the protagonist uses a pot of boiling water and a hot skillet to at least slow down the crazed Guy enough to escape.
  • Lisbeth Salander uses a nail gun and a golf club to save herself or other people, at different points in time. And, that's not counting the times she gets highly creative with everyday objects when not, strictly speaking, improvising... since she's had time to plan. When she gets creative, it gets messy.
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  • The Bourne Series, with Bourne using kitchen knives, pens, magazines, hand towels and goodness knows what else, to lethal effect.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons based Dragonlance novels, Tika the barmaid defeated a Draconian with a frying-pan. Although she only did it once, it's now seen as her defining characteristic.
  • Discworld has a number of examples. There's Vimes' creative use of a signal flare in The Fifth Elephant, Susan Sto Helit's magical poker in Hogfather, three elves being defeated with a fourth elf in Lords and Ladies. Oh, and Rincewind's judicious use of a half-brick in a sock in Sourcery. And Truckle's wooden log in Interesting Times. And probably many other but this should do for now.
    • Vimes was taught by the best improvised-weapon user he'd ever encountered in a bar fight, a heavily scarred man named Gussy Two Grins, who could even see the weapons in a piece of cloth or a piece of fruit (as mentioned in Night Watch Discworld).
    • Also in Night Watch Discworld, where Vimes kills a man with a ruler. A ruler! In a segment on technology for prisons, a case of cell-made shanks were shown; one was a wooden ruler that had been perfectly sharpened from the six-inch point on. So this isn't quite so unreasonable, although in this case the ruler was three feet long and made of steel, so it would have functioned similarly to a blunt sword. The area the rebels led by Vimes are 'holed up' in includes the city's main butchery shops. Falls somewhere between Kitchen and Farmland, and maybe edging towards Nightmare (a sword is the sort of weapon you expect to deal with, a meat-hook will probably catch you off-guard), especially when they're used by men with as much or more experience with them (40 odd hours a week or more) than most soldiers have with their swords.
      • At one point a solder tasked with explaining why the army hasn't put down a rebellion of unarmed civilians notes to himself that 'unarmed' is rather stretching the point when applied to a 200 pound slaughterhouse worker carrying a meathook and a flensing knife.
      • Goes badly off the rails for one would-be bottle fighter. He's never done it before, and screws up breaking the bottom out of a beer bottle, causing the whole thing to shatter into sharper-than-razors fragments. While held firmly.
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    • In Snuff, we see Vimes' instinctive consideration of this trope as he visits a cadre of townsfolk with their work tools and offhandedly notes how much damage each of them can do if used (im)properly. In the climax, he's without his sword and has to resort to one such, a steel toolbox.
    • And then there's Conina the Barbarian Hairdresser from Sourcery. "The one she stabbed with the scissors was probably better off than the one she raked with the (steel-toothed) comb."
    • There's also Tiffany Aching, who takes out elves with a frying pan.
    • In Making Money, we get a description of the Fools' Guild's own martial art called Sloshi, which is based around typical circus and joke props such as the water-squirting daisy, the Plank Gag and the Pie in the Face. Mr. Bent, who's a clown's son and got some training even though he tried to suppress it, actually takes down a professional Assassin with a balloon animal.
  • Mariel, the spunky anthropomorphic mouse girl of the Redwall series. She was thrown into the sea, tied to a piece of wood. The wood floated to shore, and she was attacked by a seabird, which she proceeded to beat away using nothing but the knotted end of the rope she'd been tied with. She took the rope as her favoured weapon, calling it the "Gullwhacker".
    • Barkjon, Keyla and the rest of the Marshank slaves in "Martin The Warrior" near the start of the story planned to use whatever they could steal or get their paws on to make into weapons(sharp rocks, kitchen utensils, building tools etc)and buried the weapons in a spot for when the time came and needed them. The weapons are almost found out due to Druwp being a spy for the villains and told Badrang where they were buried. But Keyla suspected Druwp of treachery and reburied the weapons in a different spot without Druwp knowing. This foils the villains but the weapons end up never getting used anyway due to half of the slaves escaping from the help of Brome, Felldoh and the Rambling Rosehip Players and then later on the other half are rescued by Brome disguising himself as a corsair and fooling the guards. The weapons are just left buried in Marshank and forgotten about for the rest of the story.
  • Jonathan Hemlock, of the Eiger Sanction and the Loo Sanction, is the master of this. None of the martial arts instructors can figure out how he keeps passing his requirements, until they try to teach him a lesson.
  • In A Proper Taming, Portia Haverall whacks Conner Dewhurst, the Earl of Doncaster, over the head with a bedwarmer, knocking him senseless. An image of a bedwarmer can be seen here.
  • Slippery Jim DiGriz, in The Stainless Steel Rat Goes To Hell. Not to spoil too much, but there's a need to go to an area that doesn't let electronics or machinery work. So Jim arms a company of Marines with three-foot-long salamis. After they are used to smack down the bad guys, a secondary, peaceful application is found.
    • Plus there's the time he's on the Big Brother planet and can't smuggle in weapons. He improvises a sap by stuffing coins in a sock while hidden from prying eyes under his bedsheets.
  • In Treasure Island, Long John Silver throws his cane at a man to knock him down so he can finish him off with a knife.
  • In William Boyd's spy novel Restless, the main character is trained as a spy but her handler tells her she doesn't need actual combat training, and that her survival instincts will serve her well enough if she's in a dangerous situation. Later in the book she kills an armed assassin by stabbing him in the eye with a pencil
  • Sacred Monster: Jack beats Buddy to death with his Oscar statue. When he sobers up enough to remember, he's horrified, not because he killed Buddy, but because he broke the Oscar.
  • World War Z has the Lobotomizer, essentially a bladed shovel made of old car steel. At this point, the government is so badly reeling that it accepts the "Lobo", and it becomes a signature anti-zombie weapon.
  • In Wolf of the Plain, Temujin and Khasar kill the man who hired the Tartars to kill their father and his bodyguards by ripping off plates of their own armour and slashing their throats with them.
  • Specialty of BND agent Karl Hahn in Phoenix Force.
  • In Neal Stephenson's Reamde, Zula Forthrast uses the broken shards of a DVD of the film Love Actually to kill a terrorist.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Winds of Fate, Kerowyn makes a point of training Princess Elspeth to think of anything around her as a weapon, which promptly proves its value when an assassin attacks her and she breaks a vase and cuts his throat with it. Later it becomes a bit of a joke between the two of them.
  • The second Gears of War tie-in novel, "Jacinto's Remnant" features a battle in a general store between COG and Locust forces in a flashback to the year 1 AE. After Marcus's bayonet breaks trying to pierce a Drone's tough hide, Tai saves him with a nearby circular power saw. This served as the in-universe inspiration for the series's signature Chainsaw Bayonet.
  • In Matthew Reilly's Ice Station, gas-powered grappling hooks are used as weapons at one point. Very effectively.
    • In Area 7, broken pieces of airplane are used as swords and shields.
  • Innocent items put to lethal use are one of humanity's distinguishing traits in the Known Space series. It particularly makes a point of how any high-tech equipment that involves a laser can be modified into a lethal weapon (including a highly advanced adjustable flashlight), but it also has a lot of smackdowns with mining equipment.
    • Another notable offensive (and defensive) use of non-combat technology involves a group of humans (in pressure suits) taking on a group of 8-foot tall Kzinti warriors. The only one they're worried about is the one in the armor, which is handily taken care of with a power drill to the chest. The rest of the Kzinti are practically helpless, as their instinctive mode of attack is to slash with their claws. These humans are wearing industrial pressure suits, the kind used by asteroid miners and other people who need suits that are highly resistant to being cut or torn.
  • A professional hitman in Safe Harbor by Eugene Izzi has taken this trope to heart, since infiltration's a lot easier when you're not obviously armed. His Weapon of Choice is a credit card that he meticulously sharpened one edge of, and he can actually slit people's throats with it.
  • Played with in Pest Control, when the hitman-hounded New York protagonist realizes that his best weapon to fight back is New York City, itself. Say, by slipping through a certain restaurant's back door with a killer hot on his heels, luring the gunman through the kitchen, and then ducking for cover as both emerge into a dining area packed with mafiosi and their trigger-happy bodyguards.
  • In Dean Koontz' "Odd Thomas" series, the titular main character states that he hates using guns, but can, will, and has used anything else on hand as a weapon.
  • Julio Poertena from the Prince Roger series carries a big wrench, which he uses to adjust the attitude of malfunctioning gear and enemies in close range with equal fervour and precision.
  • In Blackout, Cal Leandros, who is normally happiest using large-caliber firearms, kills a spider the size of a German shepherd — with a fork.
  • In The Honor of the Queen, Honor uses a metal tray as a thrown weapon against Protector Benjamin's would-be assassins.
  • Time Scouts prefer to stay invisible. Failing that, they prefer to use their favorite weapons. Failing that, they'll use whatever they can lay their hands on.
  • In an explicit shout-out to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Dresden tries to turn his recently-broken blasting rod into two stakes for fighting vampires. It doesn't work. He's also been known to hold mouthfuls of garlic and let vampires tackle him, and use a (steel) letter opener and nails to ward off Fae. He's killed a demon with an elevator. He was much more fond of this earlier in the series.
    • Toot Toot saved Harry from the skin-walker when Toot Toot tried to attack the skin-walker with a box-cutter and wearing makeshift armor. Remember, Toot Toot is the size of a G.I. Joe action figure, the skin-walker is (at the moment) about ten feet tall, and is always one of the heavy-weight eldritch abominations in the series.
    • Thomas Raith broke a chair over another White Court vampire. The chair was made of metal.
    • A badly constructed Entropy Curse will do this. Bees? Electric shock in a pool of your own blood? A car, while you're jet-skiing? And, in what may be the single funniest scene in the series, a frozen turkey falling out of the sky.
    • Harry once confided to the reader on the merits of a ring of keys as a projectile weapon. And tried to trip up a chlorofiend (read: plant monster) with gumballs.
    • Murphy melted down silver earrings and forged them into bullets.
  • In The Savannah Reid Mysteries, Atlanta saves her sister Savannah's life by smashing her guitar into the murderer's leg, breaking both the leg and the guitar.
  • Clockpunk in "Clockpunk and the Vitalizer" uses the streetlight The Vitalizer wrapped around her to beat him into submission.
  • In Manly Wade Wellman's short story "O Ugly Bird!" John uses his guitar to kill the monster. It's strung with silver, and when he smashes it onto the creature, the silver kills it. John removes the strings and puts them on a new guitar.
  • In Fate/Zero, Berserker's special ability turns any object in his hands into a super-powerful weapon and also makes him an expert at using it, even completely random objects.
  • A heavy stone paperweight is pressed into service on two separate occasions in A Brother's Price.
  • From the Old Icelandic Saga of Grettir the Strong: When two parties start fighting over a stranded whale, things get violent:
    "Ivar's brother Leif beat one of Steinn's men to death with a rib of the whale. Then they fought with anything they could get.”
  • Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter" involves a woman using a frozen leg of lamb on her philandering policeman husband to lethal effect. Then she feeds it and the rest of the dinner to his colleagues who come to investigate.
  • In Doom, Arlene likes to make creative use of things around her. First was her Chainsaw Good moment on Deimos. On Earth, she uses a fire extinguisher to surprising effect on an arch-vile.
  • At one point in Legion of the Damned, a group of human miners are trapped on a small asteroid by a massive armada of alien warships. They utterly shatter the fleet my destroying all their battleships (and thus eliminate their entire command and control capability) by ramming them with the mass-driver launched drones they use to scoop-mine the local star for dust that glitters in a very pretty way.
  • In the Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman novel Good Omens, Crowley grabs a tire iron to fight Beelzebub with. Ironically, this would be better than an actual weapon, because "It wouldn't be any good, but then, nothing would. In fact it'd be much more terrible facing the Adversary with anything like a decent weapon. That way you might have a bit of hope, which would make it worse."
  • Pan Tadeusz has some Russians taken out of the fight by clever collapsing of a cheese storage.
  • John Varley’s The Golden Globe: "You’ve got to stop this business of assault with a deadly musical instrument." Which isn't completely accurate: in the second encounter, after the sousaphone melee, Sparky attacked Isambard Comfort with a violin case, not the violin itself.
  • Valeriy Yantsev's short story "A Million Years Later" starts with humans discovering subspace travel that allows them to get to any place in the galaxy in a matter of months (the time being used to accelerate and decelerate to and from near-light speeds for the instantaneous jump). However, there is a nasty side effect, if a ship happens to exit subspace near a large stellar body, resulting in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Ninety years later, a solution is found that allows for safe subspace travel, signaling the start of a Golden Age of interstellar exploration. Another Time Skip, and the top brass reveals the existence of a potentially hostile alien race, which has been observing humanity for decades. Humanity's only advantage is FTL Travel, but the aliens have many warships, while humans have only a small number of civilian ships, none of them armed (there has been peace on Earth for centuries). A starship is sent in the direction of the alien scout ships' departure to obtain intelligence on their homeworld at Altair. Another Time Skip (10 years later for the crew; 40 years later on Earth), and The Captain and his Number Two discuss the possible plans of action upon finding out that the aliens have a massive armada preparing to depart for Earth. There is no possible way Earth can be ready go meet it, so The Captain suggests disabling the subspace drive's safeguards and jumping into the heart of Altair's sun, which would trigger a supernova, ending the threat for Earth at the cost of their lives. A million years later, an organization back on Earth dedicated to studying supernovae determines that the Altair supernova was not natural and that the aliens, whose remains have been found on one of the planets, did not see it coming.
  • The main characters in Eden Green are often forced to either create weapons from their own immortal bodies or adapt them from whatever debris is at hand.
  • In The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the hero is attacked from behind, but sees his attacker reflected in the glass over a framed picture. Not having a proper weapon to hand, he takes the picture off the wall and hits his attacker with it.
  • The Eye of Argon: Grignr manages to stab a man in the throat with a rat pelvis of all things.
  • X-Wing Series: Aside from a couple of examples of Grievous Bottley Harm:
    • In Rogue Squadron, the Rogues are carrying drop tanks during Second Borleias. Corran's gets punctured in a dogfight, he drops it, and the TIE behind him collides with the falling tank and crashes.
    • In Iron Fist, Ton Phanan cuts a man's throat with a laser scalpel from his medical kit. During the debriefing he explains to a bemused New Republic Intelligence agent that under the right circumstances he can kill you with nearly anything else in there, even things like bacta patches.
  • In Traitor Queen Lara, a Combat Pragmatist, at one point successfully uses a broken wineglass to fight a soldier.
  • The Lie Tree Myrtle uses a poker to prevent Uncle Miles from harming her daughter, Faith.
  • In R.S Belcher's King of the Road, there's a symbol-engraved silver railroad spike that's been used in experiments involving railroads and leylines so it gained a large measure of power. A 12 year old boy used it to kill and disintegrate a member of a clown-themed serial killer cult and later a scientist of the Brotherhood of the Wheel stabs an almost 2000 year old alchemist with it.
  • The magical power of the Spartans in the Mythos Academy series is the knowledge of how to weaponize any object they are holding. While they generally prefer to have a conventional weapon on their person, they invariably end up needing to find and use some random item to get themselves out of a pinch.
  • Rob Roy: When three Highlanders pick a fight with Frank, his butler and Mr. Jarvie in an inn, the latter is unable to unsheathe his rusted sword, so he picks a plough's coulter which was lying next to a fireplace, where it had been used as a poker, and sets his adversary's plaid on fire.


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