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Anvil on Head

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It doesn't hurt when you hit it,
it hurts when it hits you!

Yakko: It's made of solid iron...
Dot: It weighs a ton or two...
Wakko: We know you'd like to meet it...
All Together: It wants to meet you too!
Animaniacs, "The Anvil Song"

The anvil: A simple, yet essential tool of any metalsmith, which serves as the workbench where metal is pounded into the desired shape for whatever project the smith happens to be working on — and which, in many fictional mediums, inexplicably ends up airborne and aimed at some poor chump's cranium.

These large objects must be made of a heavy, dense material in order to survive hammer blows, and as such they weigh a ton (though not quite literally, for the smallest ones anyway) and are invariably dropped from great height and are used to crush heads, though hands, feet and rib cages sometimes create soft landing spots. It's unknown why exactly the anvil is such a favorite among fiction in terms of heavy items to be dropped. Perhaps it's their very unique shape that immediately catches the eye and screams "I'm a giant hunk of metal." They may drop without warning, or they may be heralded by the Shadow of Impending Doom and the Bomb Whistle. The victim usually just has time to look up and see the falling object before it lands on them. Thankfully for the victim, as a slapstick trope, this is rarely ever fatal.

In some cases, especially if full-body crushing is desired, an n-ton weight may be substituted for the anvil. This is a metal weight shaped like a pyramid with the top cut off, a ring at the top for attaching a rope, and the exact weight (usually 1, 10, or 16 tons) painted in white on the front.note  The 16-ton weight was favored by Monty Python's Flying Circus. In cartoons, if the toon is driven completely out of sight, often a Cranial Eruption will shove the weight out of the way. Or, if the cartoon is very zany, the victim might have either the "NO SALE" eyes or Circling Birdies.

And once in a while, it's a safe. In those, occasionally the safe's lock whirls open and the character, who has somehow wound up inside the safe, falls out. Grand pianos are used as well, in which case the character will either end up inside where the strings are, or with a mouth full of piano keys for teeth. Another sometimes used option is for a tree or telephone pole to fall over on top of the character, repeatedly bouncing on their head and driving them into the ground like a piledriver. In anime, it's usually a washbasin.

Often results in an Accordion Man, Squashed Flat or Hammered into the Ground.

May have its origins in the real life practice of "anvil firing", which was used in America to celebrate the fourth of July: one anvil was laid upside down on the ground, a charge of gunpowder was placed in the hollow in the base, a fuse was laid leading out of it, and a second anvil was placed right-side-up atop the first. After everybody got far away and someone lit the fuse, they would watch the second anvil be launched high into the air, from which it necessarily had to fall back to earth. Obviously the real-life consequences of this trope place this FIRMLY in the category of Don't Try This at Home, as a falling anvil could easily kill a person in real life. Safes and pianos, on the other hand, are probably a relic of the days before legally mandated hallway widths and freight elevators, when the only way to get a bulky object into an upper story room was with a winch, a pulley, and a hole in the side of the building.

Not to be confused with Dropped a Bridge on Him. Anvilicious is unrelated conceptually, but we call it that for having the same amount of subtlety as the average anvil dropped on the average head. The anime equivalent is Drop the Washtub.


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  • TV ads for Ditzo car insurances would often end with a Corrupt Corporate Executive being flattened by a car dropping inexplicably from the sky. See for yourself. (Dutch)
  • In a commercial for Energizer batteries, Wile E. Coyote is hired by the fictional Supervolt battery company to destroy the Energizer Bunny, and attempts to stop him with a homemade helicopter that carries an anvil. Thanks to the short life of the Supervolt batteries his helicopter runs on, Wile E. ends up taking a fall and getting hit by his own anvil.
  • In a commercial for Geico, the Geico gecko is in an unusual place, what appears to be Monument National Park, where he narrowly avoids getting nailed by a dropping Acme anvil and a grand piano. Cue Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote appearing. When Wile E. stops to ponder having the gecko for a meal, he has an Acme safe drop on him while, once again, narrowly avoiding the gecko.
  • The Kids' WB! Saturday Morning line up did an ad that ended with characters from their shows getting flattened by anvils. Since Superman was, well, Superman, the anvil bounced harmlessly off his head.
  • The Orbital Anvil Delivery System, for all your spammer-flattening and clue delivery needs!
  • One example that's most certainly not Played for Laughs comes from the 2005 commercial for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. "The Storyteller" has a man strapped on top of a bed of nails, with a tied-up anvil hanging above him. After dropping a couple of quips, she cuts the line for the anvil, sending it plummeting towards him as he lets out a horrific scream. The subsequent Gory Discretion Shot leaves the clear implication that the impact of the anvil forced him down into said bed of nails.

    Anime & Manga 

    Asian Animation 
  • In episode 5 of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, Wolffy eavesdrops on Weslie mentioning the password to the Goat Village gate's lock to Sparky. It's actually the wrong password, causing him to get hit by a falling weight.

    Comic Books 
  • The first issue of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW)'s third page has a weight marked "100" that was apparently dropped by Bulk Biceps, prompting an "OUCH!" from the pony underneath and laughter from a pony in a doorway nearby.
  • In Soulsearchers and Company #3, Barak stops the bickering Dweeb and Sleepwanker by using the rules of the Dream Land to conjure up a pair of anvils that then fall on their heads.
  • Tim Drake: Robin: The Harley Quinn Variant Cover has her comically grinning about to release an anvil she has held above Tim's head.

    Comic Strips 
  • A Far Side cartoon had children being warned not to play under the Anvil Tree.
  • From 2001/10/21 to 2001/10/27 of Garfield had every strip ended with a dog in a superhero cape and appropriate shirt crushing the title character.
  • Ignatz Mouse's pastime is dropping bricks on the head of Krazy Kat, who seems to take it as a sign of affection.
  • A cartoon from the National Enquirer depicts a man standing on a fortune-telling scale while a safe plummets down from overhead. His fortune is "You're going to die a wealthy man."

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse combines a weaponized version of this trope with Big Damn Heroes, delivered by Spider-Ham to Scorpion, who has just breached through the defenses on Peni Parker's Mini-Mecha. Scorpion feels the very real impact but, being a mutant, shrugs it off and disses Spider-Ham, who promptly curb-stomps him in retaliation. Amusingly, the anvil reappears at the end of Miles and Kingpin's fight when it's the last thing to get sucked into the self-destructing Super-Collider before it explodes.
  • Steven Universe: The Movie: After getting rejuvenated, Ruby is nearly shattered when a giant pizza cutter an equally-rejuvenated Spinel set loose cuts a rope holding up Bismuth's anvil from a crane. This proves the catalyst for her and Sapphire, who also has amnesia, to re-fuse, as the latter pushes her out of the way. This one is more justified than most examples, as Bismuth is a blacksmith (and her anvil had been seen, being used for conventional purposes, in episodes of the show) and was overseeing construction of a building where she was presumably intending to live.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Easy Street, The Bully isn't stopped till The Tramp drops a metal stove on top of him from a second story window.
  • Used, quite horribly, in Hot Fuzz when Tim Messenger is killed by a falling church spire, which messily crushes his head and impales him. Ewww.
  • Jack Frost 2 has a Bloody Hilarious example. When Jack tries to kill a young woman with falling iciclies, he keeps missing, much to his frustration. He eventually resorts to dropping a massive anvil composed of ice on her head, complete with a comical bong sound effect.
  • Lethal Weapon 2: Played for drama with realistic results when Riggs dispatches The Dragon by dropping a shipping crate on him.
  • Dr. Meinheimer gets this several times in The Naked Gun. Actually includes a real anvil.
  • Now You See It...: Played as an actual threat; Max tries to kill Danny by levitating a weight above his head for the crowd, then having it "suddenly" fall on him. He only avoids the attempt due to Allison's quick reaction time. In fact, this was how Max had killed his old mentor, Antonio DiMilo.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit:
    • Interestingly, an anvil may be the only stereotypical cartoon flattening device that isn't dropped on someone during the film.
    • The movie opens with a cartoon short that ends with a refrigerator being dropped on Roger. Later, Toon prop magnate Marvin Acme is killed by a safe falling on his head. Halfway through the film, Eddie Valiant reveals that his grudge against Toons stems from his brother Teddy's death, which was caused by a rogue Toon dropping a piano on him; while a Toon would usually survive with only some flattening for comedic effect, heavy objects tend to inflict much more realistic, and deadly injuries to humans such as Teddy and Marvin Acme.
    • Related is, in the final confrontation scene, Roger Rabbit's "Come down on you like a ton of bricks" being made literal.
    • The final fight with Judge Doom involves him shaping his fist like an anvil and using it to punch Eddie in the face.

  • Invoked in The Affix. Matt is pissed at Kilraen for trying to kill him, so he decides he'll make this happen as soon as he figures out how to get the Affix to bend probability to his will instead of its own. Ultimately subverted by a Piano Drop.
  • Terry Pratchett uses this frequently to deal with minor characters in his Discworld books.
    • One petty thug dies when he's hit with an armadillo, another one with a falling bed, and the alternate universe Carrot dies when he's hit with an aardvark. A vampire in bat form was stunned by a thrown (garlic) sausage and then eaten by a cat.
    • In Small Gods, a villain is killed when a tortoise is dropped on his head. The tortoise is actually the god Om and in addition to saving the life of the hero it is his way of sending an Anvilicious message to the citizens of Omnia.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Blood Rites: A particularly funny breather during a fight is caused when eveyone pauses for a moment after Harry redirects a curse, causing a frozen turkey to fall out of a passing plane and impale a vampire. Quoth Harry: "For my next trick, anvils!"
    • Battle Ground (2020): Many, many years later, Harry does summon an anvil on someone's head.
    • Really powerful wizards like to drop old communication satellites on their enemies from orbit.
  • I Did NOT Give That Spider Superhuman Intelligence!: She'll do it with anything heavy, but this is Goodnight's Signature Move. She uses the Push Rod to telekinetically toss something up, then just lets it fall onto people.
  • Our introduction to The Stainless Steel Rat involves this conniving criminal of the future dropping a safe on the head of a police officer who's just walked through the door to arrest him. The officer is then revealed to be a robot when it keeps reading out his lengthy rap sheet.
  • The Thursday Next book The Eyre Affair pays homage to the anvil tradition in the subplot involving the Minotaur who has been tagged with a slapstick marker.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 'Allo 'Allo! puts a spin on this trope on more than one occasion:
    • An Accidental Marriage is avoided after Monsieur Alfonse drops a hammer through the roof of the parish church, knocking out the officiating priest.
    • When Helga tries to help Herr Flick, disguised as a monk, to get down from the belfry of Nouvion church tower, the bell falls upon his assistant, von Smallhausen (also disguised as a monk).
  • CGI/Live-Action combination show Ace Lightning has a villain by the name of Anvil. Who is basically a giant, mutant rhino, with an actual anvil in place of one hand. He's usually brought into play when they want to bash the characters about a bit and not much else. It's almost a Lampshade Hanging, when you think about it...
  • Season 3 of Fargo has Maurice getting killed by Nikki after she decides to drop an air conditioning unit onto his head.
  • Farscape: The episode "Revenging Angel" plays this entirely straight, as John Crichton is in a coma dreaming he's in a Looney Tunes-like cartoon. His first move is getting payback on Harvey by dropping the proverbial weight on his head.
  • Discussed over a Friday dinner conversation in an episode of Gilmore Girls. Lorelai continues that anvils must have been plentiful in days of old cartoons, enough so that children would instantly recognize them for their tremendous weight and toughness. Which raised the question, if there were so many anvils back then, and they were really so tough, was there some sort of secret storage facility filled with indestructible anvils? Lorelai's mother quickly asks to change the subject.
  • The Grand Tour's very cartoony promo, "James May is Alive," in which James obliviously just misses being hit on the head by an anvil coming out of his workshop.
  • LazyTown - literally. Robbie attempts to knock Sportacus out by putting a small anvil on one side of a seesaw and catapulting it at him, but misjudges it.
  • Le cœur a ses raisons: One of the many, many things Butt-Monkey Extraordinaire Madge has suffered through the series is having a safe falling on top of her head. Thrice.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus and You Can't Do That on Television favored the X-ton weight.
  • Robot Wars: The later seasons of the original run introduced the Drop Zone, an area of the arena where defeated robots would be placed to have various heavy objects dropped on them as part of the post-battle Humiliation Conga, with the objects ranging from appliances to bowling balls, and in one episode of the German series, another robot. No actual anvils, though, likely because they would've been too damaging to both competitors and the floor.
  • The Slammer: Gimbert rigs up a 'burglar alarm' that consists of a 10 ton weight that drops on the burglar's head. Naturally it ends up falling on the Governor's head, giving him Easy Amnesia.
  • Supernatural:
    • In season 3's "Mystery Spot", there's a "Groundhog Day" Loop where each day Dean dies a different death. The beginning of the day always starts the same way, and when he and Sam go outside, one of the things they see is movers trying to get a desk into a building from the ground floor. At the end of one Tuesday, out of nowhere it drops on our hero and kills him. Turns out the movers had spent the rest of the day trying to get it in the window.
    • In the eighth season episode "Hunteri Heroici", the villain, who is using a senile Reality Warper to inflict cartoon physics on selected portions of the world in order to facilitate burglary, drops a literal anvil on an unfortunate security guard. The results are a little more grotesque than usual. Dean later tries to drop one on the villain.
  • Timecop: In the "Stalker" episode, the villain kidnaps a Hollywood actress under the guise of a late stage shoot so he can drop a safe on her head.
  • The cast of Victorious once went on a gameshow called "Brain Squeezers" that frustrated them with how cartoonishly arbitrary and random the rules are. At one point, the host shouts, "Car battery!", and one gets dropped on Jade's head.


    Tabletop Games 
  • The aptly named homebrew Falling Anvil discipline for ''Dungeons & Dragons' (versions 3.X) includes this in varying degrees, starting with flowerpots, and ranging upwards through anvils, safes, and finally Viking longboats. Of course, it also includes a wide variety of other toon-like attacks and defenses.
  • Toon mentions that an anvil is about the limit of what you can viably carry in your Back Pockets. Given that Toon is one long love letter to slapstick animation, it can be taken as read that you are not expected to use it to make horseshoes.

  • In Edmond Rostand's play Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano is assassinated by someone throwing a log off a tall building on him.

    Video Games 
  • 16t is a Mega Drive game entirely about dropping 16-ton weights on enemies.
  • Throwing an anvil is possible in the roguelike ADOM. In case of hitting a small enough monster, it could count as hitting from above...
  • In the North American and European releases of Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, whoever loses a Janken match will have a giant weight dropped on them. Their eyes and feet pop out of the weight, and they scramble around using their feet. This got a Shout-Out in Sega Superstars Tennis, in which Alex Kidd's All-Star move involves him playing Janken, then dropping weights on the opponent(s).
  • Arm Champs: For some inexplicable reason The Rock from II gets hit on the head by a green 1000T barrel upon being defeated.
  • Banjo-Tooie's obligatory end of the game game show segment has massive anvils hovering over the contestants which Gruntilda will drop on the loser of the round. She seems to have little concern for the fact that two of the contestants are her sisters, or the fact that she could just drop the anvil over Banjo and Kazooie without any reason besides the fact that she's evil. In fact, it's not until after she flees the room that she actually considers this. Fortunately Banjo is already gone when the weight drops.
  • In the Wii version of A Boy and His Blob, the Anvil transformation is not only handy as a stepping stone, but, if you push it on to most enemies' heads... They go "splat" very quickly. The ones which don't can be used for Cranium Ride.
  • Detective Orson Bolibar from Cosmic Star Heroine can learn an ability which drops on an anvil on an enemy, dealing physical damage to them and any other foe within a small radius.
  • In the 'Polar Push' and 'Crate Crush' subsections of the minigames in Crash Bash, one of the hazards that the player can pick up is an icon resembling a weight (as described on top of this page). If picked up, the icon appears over the player's head, who now has a limited time to pass it onto another player by touching them. When this time (roughly 8 seconds) elapses, a weight marked as being 16 tonnes heavy will drop on the head of the poor sap who's left with it, OHKOing them.
  • The 16-ton weight version occurs in Dark Castle, should you take the wrong key in the dungeon.
  • In Discworld II, one of the puzzles requires you to smash in a wall. At a different point in the game, you steal a prop 1 ton weight. If you try to swing this at the wall, it bounces off and clobbers you. Once you add a 0 to make it a 10 ton weight, puzzle solved.
  • DoodleBob and the Magic Pencil: Once DoodleBob destroys the Penciltron of Power, he then defeats Plankton by drawing a 10-ton weight above him, which then squashes him. Plankton later reappears at the final cutscene of the game swearing his revenge, only to get squashed by a 5-ton weight.
  • In Dwarf Fortress it's possible to construct a trap to drop any heavy object onto whoever is underneath it at the right (or frequently wrong) moment. Anvils are preferred by some players. Due to the peculiarities of the game's physics, they have about the same effect as in a cartoon, stunning the victim, but not generally doing serious damage.
  • In Earthworm Jim 2, Jim moves on to the next level by standing on the edge of a seesaw and tossing a heavy weight into the air and onto the other end to launch himself into the air. At points, Jim will miss and hit his own head instead.
  • Used as one of the sketch items you can use in Epic Mickey, you can crush NPCs or enemies with it its also used as something to trigger switches that mostly involve you pressing one switch while the anvil holds the other one down to trigger whatever the switches do. It can also be used as something to help you climb to reach stuff but its not really used for that purpose all that much with the exception of one pin you can get in the very definite final dugeon.
  • In Exile and its remake Avernum, a mage named X is obsessed with researching a spell which would teleport an anvil above somebody's head. By Avernum 6, he perfects it.
  • In Fantasy Zone, Opa-Opa's "Heavy Bomb" is a falling 16-ton weight. One of the humorous illustrations in the Japanese manual for the PC Engine version showed Opa-Opa being squashed under one, though this doesn't actually happen in the game. The tonnage was increased to 100 in Fantasy Zone II.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In the opera house scene in Final Fantasy VI, Ultros tries to kill Celes by dropping a four-ton weight on her while she is on stage.
    • In Final Fantasy VII:
      • The enemy skill "????" takes the form of a falling weight.
      • Rarely when using the Chocobo Summon Materia, instead of the charging Chocobo, the enemy is hit with a "Fat Chocobo" which drops from the sky. The attack name is listed as ???.
  • Flaming Zombooka: One of the ways of killing a zombie is making a 100KG anvil fall on its head.
  • Played for laughs in Fur Fighters. The introduction to Cape Canardo shows the Fur Fighters travelling on a bus that suddenly gets wiped out by an anvil falling from nowhere. Cut to General Viggo on a decrepit space station, complaining that he spent a fortune on repairing the station and giving his Dumb Muscle bear Mooks astronaut training, for them to bring only one anvil to drop from orbit onto the Fur Fighters. Disappointed, he promptly orders all of his minions to begin abandoning the station. Bond Villain Stupidity 101.
  • Gex: Enter the Gecko features levels that take place in a cartoon world, and there are hazard areas where anvils falls, as well as sinks, weights and fat women. These areas are marked by their green checkerboard floors and signs showing Gex with an anvil falling on his head.
  • Haunting Starring Polterguy: In the Gainax Ending, shortly after Polterguy transformed into his human form again, a huge anvil, presumably produced by Vito Sardini's company, lands on Polterguy's head and makes him a ghost again.
  • If you stay too long in the Tetris room in I Wanna Be the Guy, a giant capsule from Dr. Mario crushes you. There's also the falling error message box in a dead-end room.
  • In the online flash game, Jelly Battle, the "Random Drop" attack will make an anvil, heavy weights, or a piano fall on an opponent.
  • This is often the primary attack method of the Stone copy ability in most Kirby games. Kirby Super Star and its remake in particular allows the user of the ability to transform into various heavy objects, including a heavy weight. The ability to change into a weight is also seen in the Super Smash Bros. games as one of Kirby's special moves.
  • A boss fight against Mystique disguised as Magneto in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes has her try to drop an anvil on the player's characters.
  • Lemmings (the first one) had the 10-ton weight version as one of the many traps that could eviscerate the green-haired critters.
  • Clown Man's stage in Mega Man 8 has boxes that trigger booby traps if you're standing on them when the bell goes off. One possible effect of them is for an object to fall on Mega Man's head.
  • Minecraft has craftable anvils that are mostly used to repair enchanted weapons and tools. As an homage to this trope, anvils are also some of the few blocks that will fall if there's nothing underneath them, and can be used in Awesome, but Impractical traps to crush enemies, dealing damage roughly proportional to the distance the anvil falls. They also sound like a ton of iron hitting the ground even if you're just dropping it down for the repair function. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate similarly lets Steve, Alex, Zombie, and Enderman drop and ride a falling anvil for their Down Air attack.
  • Monster Hunter (PC) have a level that drops anvils all over the damn place. It's one of the harder levels in the game, due to the speed of the falling anvils and that the player gets killed in a single hit.
  • Mortal Kombat:
  • In the Office Jerk Spin-Off Office Zombie, every so often an anvil will lower from the top of the screen which you can drop on the Zombie's head.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Roger Retinz asks Apollo to come to his filming studio so they can animate cartoon anvils dropping on his head.
  • Pillage the Village has a number of spells you can buy, depending on whether you want to be an antagonist, a pacifist or neutral. One of the ones on the antagonist menu is the "Acme Anvil" spell, described thusly:
    Brought to you by the good people at Acme, this anvil is guaranteed to satisfy your cartoon-fueled fantasies of squishing your victims into pasty, pinkish jelly. Great with toast! (Piano not included.)
  • In Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, Sackboy's down grab has him pull an anvil sticker out of his Popit above whoever he's grabbed. Despite the fact that it is a sticker, it apparently is as heavy as a real anvil.
  • Quest for Glory I: So You Want to Be a Hero?, breaking into the wrong room drops a guard Antwerp on your head. (They're basically very large creatures said to be nearly impossible to defeat, much less capture.)
  • Rayman: Raving Rabbids has a mini-game where you have to lead a blindfolded Rabbid into painful objects in order to score points. The mini-game ends with a huge-ass weight landing on him.
  • Sid & Al's Incredible Toons, and its successor, The Incredible Toon Machine, use the traditional cartoon anvils, and also rolling boulders and pianos. Unsurprisingly, when a piano lands on Al E. Cat, he pokes his head out of the rubble with a mouthful of keys.
  • Peacock in Skullgirls has this as one of her special attacks, in which she summons an object to fall on her opponent. These objects range from a flower pot or a teacup to Andy Anvil or Tommy Ten Tons (Assist Characters who are an anthropomorphic anvil and 10t weight, respectively) to a piano, an elephant or Dio's Steam Roller, among others.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Shuffle, Eggman would drop a 16t weight on the character who was unfortunate enough to be the furthest away from the Precioustone after it has been collected, causing the victim to lose half his/her rings.
    • In Sonic Riders, attacking someone whilst riding the OpaOpa Machine resulted in the victim getting a weight dropped on them.
  • In the VGA remake of Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter, the droid in the weapons room would sometimes kill Roger by dropping an anvil on him instead of just vaporizing him with a blaster.
  • The safe variant is used to demonstrate how health works in Spongebob Squarepants Battle For Bikini Bottom.
    Tutorial Message: Spongebob will lose a pair of underwear every time he gets hit by a robot or touches dangerous objects or surfaces.
    [cue safe] Like this.
  • The skill "Press" in Star Ocean: The Second Story drops a weight on an enemy, with the upgraded "Gravity Press" dropping a whole bunch of them.
  • Stay Tooned! has a few that nudge towards Looney Toons as much as possible, given the obvious references. There's even a fun shooting gallery-style minigame which has a crossbow with either plunger darts, bombs, or anvils that you can fire at the passing characters.
  • In the Super Smash Bros. series, Villager's forward Smash has him/her dropping a bowling ball in front, which makes it a good move for edgeguarding.
  • Taxman is a clone of Pac-Man. It has different cutscenes than the original, and the second one features the 16-ton weight falling on a ghost's head.
  • A whole line of attacks from Toontown Online focuses on this trope. Starting from a flower pot, to a sandbag, to an anvil, to a big weight, to a safe, then a grand piano, and finally, an ocean liner.
  • Literally done with anvils in Two Worlds II: the game uses numerous schools of magic, which allow for the creation of hundreds of spells. Among those is a spell that drops tons of iron anvils on the enemies. Demonstrated in this Youtube clip.
  • In Vampire Scent, one of the spells that Genoveve can cast summons an anvil and drops it on an enemy. For certain boss fights, you can get more precise and have Genoveve aim the anvil at the boss's head.
  • The SNES game Yoshi's Safari got a boss where you need to shoot a flying (wings included) anvil so that it falls on the boss.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner favors the "Heavy Lourde", a weight of indeterminate mass. Oddly (for a cartoon), we're initially led to believe that Homsar was killed in this manner, but it is later revealed that he was merely hospitalized.
  • The end of Savlonic's "Electro Gypsy" music video has a giant synthesizer fall on the drummer (and a smaller one bounce off the singer's head.)

  • 8-Bit Theater once had Black Mage get the entire continent of Australia dropped on him.

    Web Original 
  • On Day 6 of the Minecraftian 3rd Life SMP, Smallishbeans attempted to invoke this on Scott Smajor by setting up a trap at his base while he was away, so that two anvils would fall on his head when he tried to enter. Subverted in that the trap was not set up correctly and only succeeded in giving Scott two free anvils.
  • Dream SMP: In Season 2, the Butcher Army hunts down Technoblade after his betrayal of L'Manburg at the end of Season 1, having helped blow up the country in the Manburg-Pogtopia War and threatened to blow it up again if they start another government. They then try to hold a Public Execution for Techno by dropping an anvil on his head. Thanks to a Totem of Undying, Techno survives and is able to escape, prompting him to plot a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the L'Manburgians that results in the city-state's utter and complete destruction.
  • YouTube star Guava Juice gets an animated anvil dropped on his head as part of a video taking viewers' dares. He ends up with a case of Circling Birdies.
  • Hermitcraft:
    • Exaggerated in the crossover with Empires SMP when ImpulseSV is tasked with killing someone via anvil during the Multi(verse) Tag event. He accomplishes this by dropping a cluster of 200 anvils on Scott Smajor with a redstone contraption.
    • In Season 9, Docm77 takes advantage of a moment that Etho is AFK to drop an anvil on him, something he's wanted to do for over ten years. This sparks a war between the two, waiting for the other to go AFK for even a few minutes to drop an anvil on them. This also prompted Doc to go Anvil-Crazy and attack any AFK player, and even several non-AFK targets. Eventually, several Hermits started to join in the anvil war as well.
      • Grian does this against GoodTimesWithScar by tricking him into getting him to read the sign so Grian can use a redstone contraption to kill him with.
      • Grian and Scar manages to kill an AFK Impulse by pushing him into a hole and kill him with the anvil. However, it goes terribly wrong as dropping an anvil more than 3 blocks high causes the dropped items to despawn, as all three found it the hard way.
      • Xisumavoid pulls this one off against an AFK Rendog by dropping an anvil on him during a TCG game.
      • During the TCG arena cup, FalseSymmetry has to take an AFK Doc out by dropping an anvil twice against him. She also attempted to do this against Etho, but Etho ultimately moved after he realized what's going on.
    • While on a quest spree, one of the quests Cubfan135 is tasked is to kill someone with an anvil. He manages to kill Scar with the 8th anvil Cub deployed.
  • Pirates SMP: Martyn InTheLittleWood invokes this on a couple of climatic occasions.
    • On Day 106, Martyn is the first to suggest Cold-Blooded Torture on Cruppy to interrogate it for information by dropping an anvil on it. However, this prompts Apo to pull out a lava bucket for the job, which is what they end up using until Graecie and Kuervo show up to save Cruppy.
    • On Day 125, Martyn drops one from the ceiling of the wedding hall in Ros' castle, accidentally killing Water's husband-to-be Jeffery while aiming for her. Deconstructed in this case, as given Miss Snapdragon's comment about losing her appetite from being "splattered by […] a bit of vertebrae", it can be assumed that the in-universe results are quite messy.
  • In Return of the Cartoon Man, Roy and Simon bash each other on the head with anvils during the climactic chase scene.
  • The Weather: One skit has Robby standing under where a talking piano is going to fall...and it's invoked, as this is what Robby's character wants to have happen, and he and the piano get real excited over finally doing it correctly. Ultimately subverted, as the scene changes before the actual collision occurs.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius Referenced in the episode Out, Darn Spotlight, when Hugh gives Jimmy tips on acting. "Now, when you wanna act mad, do this *growls*. When you wanna act happy, which is different than mad, go like this *laughs*. Now if an anvil drops on your head, you go uh, "OW! THERE'S AN ANVIL ON MY HEAD! OW it hurts!."
  • In the Adventure Time episode "No One Can Hear You", Jake has tied balloons to himself so he'll float, and then tied cinder blocks to his legs so he won't float away. During the climax of the episode, he unties the cinder blocks so they'll fall on the Freak Deer (the episode's antagonist). While the deer has the typical reaction (flattened head, tongue comically sticking out), it's not played for laughs; the impacts kill the deer, and the candy people roll the corpse into the sewer.
  • Walt Disney seems to have originated the trope, with anvils crowning a hapless ape in Alice the Whaler (1927) and Pegleg Pete in Building a Building (1933).
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Safety", Darwin sees a Wile E. Coyote parody on the TV, and calls the character to complain about it. One of the complaints is about the anvils being used to hurt others; when the character points out children can't imitate that, because they can't lift anvils, Darwin says they still can get hurt trying to lift it.
  • Animaniacs suggests a certain anvil-oriented mode of thought in a few episodes.
    • The episode "King Yakko" made it a Justified Trope, introducing the fictitious nation of "Anvilania" as a worldwide exporter of anvils. They ended the episode by crushing an enemy country under one.
    • The episode "Baloney and Kids," a parody of Barney & Friends in which they ended up singing a song about anvils while dropping them on the eponymous Baloney. Also noteworthy as one of the only episodes where they actually asked the question, "Where do the anvils come from?"
    • In the Slappy Squirrel episode "I Got Yer Can!", Slappy's argument with Candace Chipmunk is interrupted when Skippy drops an anvil on Candace. When Slappy asks what this has to do with the plot, Skippy says "Who cares? Anvils are funny."
    • In the episode "Lookit the Fuzzy Heads," Elmyra spots Baby Mindy wandering into an anvil factory. Off screen, Elmyra saves Mindy from a falling anvil, but gets hit by the anvil herself. After Mindy walks out unharmed, Elmyra walks out with an anvil replacing her head. After recovering, she chases after Mindy only to endure more dangerous accidents.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons often had these as well. In Bad Luck Blackie, for instance, an anvil is but one of a series of hilariously improbable objects that Blackie makes fall on the Bully Bulldog antagonist from above: flowerpots, a cash register, a piano, a safe, various large and heavy modes of transportation, and of course, a kitchen sink.
  • Bonkers had an episode during the Miranda season in which Bonkers told her nephew an old-west style story in which claim-jumpers are stealing valuable "Anvil Fields" and it was up to a Western version of the Bobcat to prevent the theft. This is rather curious, since Bonkers is a Disney license, which tends to as a rule to not embrace the funny violence favored by other Animation studios.
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • One episode has the following exchange during a Chase Scene with Megavolt:
      Launchpad: He's heading into Andy's Anvil Factory!
      Darkwing: I've got a bad feeling about this...
    • Another Darkwing Duck variation, where DW got the drop on Negaduck:
      Darkwing: (ringing a doorbell) Flowers for Negaduck.
      Negaduck: I hate flowers!
      Darkwing: Did I say "flowers"? I meant "skulls".
      (Negaduck answers the door, only to find himself facing a huge slingshot.)
      Darkwing: Oh, did I say "skulls"? I meant, "ANVILS"!
      Darkwing: Oh dear, I dented my anvil.
    • And, of course, the Humiliation Conga at the end of that particular episode, which includes Negaduck getting propelled upward into several such objects, each heavier and more painful than the last. They are, in order: a pie, a flowerpot with plant, a small anvil, a safe, and a 100-pound weight.
  • Independent animator Patrick Smith did a film called Delivery, which featured two brothers beating each other up over a package. In this case, the beatings were animated realistically, with visible blood, injuries, and subsequent Neck Snap. According to Smith it was meant to subvert this trope (and slapstick cartoons in general), saying that if an anvil falls on his character, he will die and the person who dropped it will feel remorse.
  • Earthworm Jim had the falling cow Once an Episode.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
  • Family Guy had a cutaway gag where Peter attempted to set up such a trap. He ended up hitting himself with it.
  • Freakazoid! had this happen thrice to a network censor who tried to say that no one got injured in the previous scene.
  • Garfield and Friends, too, has an Illogical Safe and some other heavy object dropped on him during his Mondaymare. Later in the episode, a piano falls on him while he believes himself safe out in the open.
  • Shows up in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), of all places. In the episode "The Deep End", a giant monster fish is on a rampage and is about to attack some civilians. Orko uses his magic to save dropping an anvil on the monster's head. And while it does no lasting damage, it's enough to distract the monster.
  • The indicatively named I Am Weasel short "I Am Cliched" has it happen right away, followed by Weasel complaining "getting hit by an anvil is the oldest cliché in cartoons!". And then every single scene afterwards has at least one anvil falling. (not to mention a Piano Drop, an elephant, a whale and a kitchen sink)
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Heloise has taken over a show by dropping a safe on the original host, then popping out of it.
  • Happened twice on KaBlam!!. They probably didn't want to do it too often, or it'd look like Nick was trying to make their own Animaniacs/Tiny Toon Adventures.
  • Deconstructed hideously on Monkey Dust. An ordinary human being (as in, not a wacky cartoon character) has an anvil dropped on his head by an actual cartoon rabbit. The results are bloody, and the reactions of everyone nearby are harrowing.
  • Even My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic isn't safe. While investigating Pinkie Pie's supposedly premonitory tics in the clear outdoors, Twilight observes the sign linked with something falling, and makes a valiant attempt at skeptical defiance before being buried under a flower pot, an anvil, a hay cart, and a piano from (literally) out of the blue. The camera pans up to reveal they fell out of a pegasus delivery truck. Derpy Hooves being among the delivery crew may have had something to do with it.
  • In the Popeye cartoon "Shoein' Hosses", while fighting over a position at Olive Oyl's blacksmith shop, Bluto throws an anvil at Popeye's head. This is perhaps the only time in this trope, ever, that having an anvil around was logical.
  • The Simpsons
    • In the episode "The Day The Violence Died", Itchy & Scratchy creator Chester J. Lampwick tells Bart and Lisa the story of how Roger Myers Sr dropped an anvil on him after he requested royalties for his creation. (Luckily, he says, he was carrying an umbrella at the time.)
    • Another episode has Homer paying a visit to Mr. Burns' office, resulting in a 1,000 gram weight dropping on his head. Burns thought it sounded heavier when he ordered it.
    • Another episode had Chief Wiggum believing a giant rat was infesting Springfield Mall. He then set a trap to make an anvil fall on said rat. Another plan was releasing a puma which fell into the trap. Wiggum then released another one.
  • There was a Taz-Mania episode where they research the optimal heaviness of an x-ton weight by dropping several weights on Bush Rats and gauging the reaction of the audience. The audience is silent for the 5, 10, and even 15.99999999 ton weights (though they "briefly crack smiles, and then fall into a deep depression"), but laugh hysterically when the 16 ton weight drops.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • They parodied Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head replacing "Raindrops" with (what else?) anvils, and in another, they had a mini-episode of anvils falling on Plucky Duck's head, scored to the Anvil Chorus. In the sequence, Plucky demands to know who wrote it, and when the scene cuts to a giggling anvil doing it, Plucky yells, "Rewrite!". After it was over, the audience loved it and demanded more. Plucky, enjoying the spotlight, agrees to do more. Unfortunately for him, the next sequence consisted of Plucky being blasted repeatedly by cannons, scored to the 1812 Overture.
    • Another episode had Buster made a deal with an impish anvil to write a script for Plucky, "Ducklahoma", where all the songs were anvilised showtunes. "Duuuuuucklahoma, where the anvils come screaming from the sky!"
    • Also, the episode where characters were dressed in lab coats and running experiments, dropping ever heavier weights on Plucky's head in front of a focus group to gauge which weight was the optimum for comedic effect.
    • And in "Thirteensomething", Plucky (facing unemployment as part of the episode's story) holds up a sign citing "Will take falling anvils for laughs." 'Ah ... that actually felt good.'
  • Tom and Jerry pretty much used all of these for random humour. And pretty often used grand pianos and trees/poles in place of falling anvils whenever something different was needed.
  • U.S. Acres:
    • Roy Rooster has safes (complete with safe illogic) and weights dropped on him in the almost-literally Anvilicious Buddy Bears Show Within a Show.
    • In another episode, he thwarts Orson's brothers by triggering his new rain-dancing robot's "27 pianos" dance.
  • VeggieTales: In the Sherlock Holmes parody Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler, one of Watson's maids drops an anvil out the window onto Sheerluck's head.
    • Also, their adaptation of the Book of Esther had the French Peas try to assassinate King Xerxes by dropping a piano on his head.
  • Warner Brothers animation, in its 40-year odyssey of cartoon violence, not only perfected the anvil drop, but most of the associated reactions and results, including but not limited to:
    • Producing and opening a very tiny umbrella
    • Producing a sign reading "Yipe!" or "Eek!" (favored by mute coyotes and hunting dogs)
    • Saying a quick, murmuring prayer
    • Taking a step to the side out of the path of the falling object (only to have it fall on the victim anyway)
    • In Duck Amuck, Daffy Duck is falling with a parachute when the cruel animator erases it and replaces it with an anvil. Daffy is then seen pounding with a hammer on the anvil, which the animator proceeds to replace with a bomb.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Falling Anvil, Sixteen Ton Weight


Wile E. vs the Energizer Bunny

Wile E. Coyote attempts to drop an anvil on the Energizer Bunny, but since his device is using Supervolt batteries, it loses power pretty quickly, sending him to the bottom of the canyon floor as well as the anvil on HIS head.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnvilOnHead

Media sources: