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Lizzie Borden took an axe,
and gave her mother forty whacks.
And when he saw what she had done,
she gave her father forty-one.
American Nursery Rhyme note 

An "ax-crazy" character is someone who is psychologically unstablenote  and presents a clear and present danger to others. They are capable of extreme violence, whether carried out with a Slasher Smile, insane laughter, speaking in a Creepy Monotone and/or Word-Salad Horror, or out and out murderous rage; and with no way of knowing just what will set them off, this makes them extremely frightening to deal with. This mainly differentiates them from other eccentric characters who may themselves be obsessive, weird or seemingly crazy, but use this condition hand in hand with doing good, or at least not being in the way. However, some formerly established heroes can go through an episode of ax-craziness and still retain their heroic mantle.

Despite the title, ax-crazies aren't limited to wielding axes. Any instrument of death will do, from knives or straight razors to swords to chainsaws and beyond. A good number of other ax-crazies are also Trigger-Happy, preferring either Hand Cannons that blow really big holes in people, or weapons that allow them to kill lots of people with reckless abandon, such as any automatic weapon. And for the truly disturbed for whom the above just won't do, a heaping helping of high explosives or a good-sized flamethrower will do quite nicely. Sometimes, they don't even need weapons and just use magic spells or other powers if they have them. There are also plenty who are just as happy to beat people into an unrecognizable pulp-like mass with their bare hands. Less outwardly violent and unstable examples are likely to be the vindictive and vengeful sort; any sort of petty slight (real or imagined) is likely to trigger a Disproportionate Retribution, and these types tend to be the more dangerous variety due to the lengths to which they will go to carry out their revenge and make the party who attracted their wrath suffer.

It is rare for a truly Ax-Crazy character to be a protagonist, largely due to it being a Sub-Trope of Obviously Evil, and most Ax-Crazy characters usually are Obviously Evil. They're common as the antagonists in Superhero and Crime and Punishment Series, often serving as a Psycho for Hire. If they are a protagonist, they will most certainly be a Nominal Hero, Villain Protagonist and/or Heroic Comedic Sociopath. The difference between them and Blood Knight is this trope is all about killing while the Blood Knight is only interested in fighting. There is, of course, plenty of room for overlap.

See also Insane Equals Violent, The Berserker, The Butcher, The Dreaded, Mad Bomber, Cute and Psycho, Blood Knight, Psycho for Hire, Yandere, The Sociopath, Mad Doctor, Pyromaniac, Hair-Trigger Temper, Colonel Kilgore, General Ripper, Insane Admiral, Sociopathic Soldier, Holy Is Not Safe, Psychopathic Manchild, and Jerkass Gods. Compare and contrast Mama Bear, Papa Wolf, Big Brother Instinct, and Violently Protective Girlfriend, who may be capable of temporary Ax-Craziness when their kids, younger sibling(s) or mate are under threat, but are often played sympathetically. Compare Hot-Blooded, in which the character may have such tendencies but in a less threatening way (even if both could overlap).

Contrast Suicidal Pacifism, when a character never, ever resorts to violence even if it is necessary; and Extreme Doormat, when a character is a complete pushover unable to fight back.

The canonical Character Alignment for most Ax-Crazy characters is Chaotic or Neutral Evil, though a couple of Chaotic Neutral examples exist. The Ax-Crazy character's twistedness may land them comfortably in Stupid Evil or even Chaotic Stupid in more satirical works. Sometimes The Unfettered, depending on whether they feel freed or enslaved by their bloodlust. At least one or more examples are an Anti-Villain, where you kinda feel bad for them since their enemies pushed them too far with actions such as killing their family, their friends, or even the enemies trying to kill them, making them go Ax-Crazy — they may be a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. The Heroic Comedic Sociopath is almost always Ax-Crazy, as their inability to control their madness is a good way of having a Bloody Hilarious character who is still innocent enough to be a little sympathetic.

It's very common to be Played for Drama, usually as either the Big Bad, or The Dragon to the Big Bad. It is far less common, but not unheard of, for it to be Played for Laughs; this is most likely to be seen in a Sadist Show, especially one featuring a lot of Comedic Sociopathy and/or heavy Satire, with it appearing most often in humorous comic strips, Anime, Web Original works, and the more adult-oriented Western Animation of the Renaissance and Millennium periods.

This page is about violent crazy people, not people whose preferred weapon is an axe.


Example subpages:

Other Examples:

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    Audio Plays 

    Comic Strips 
  • In one story arc in Bloom County, Steve Dallas, in a bid to not die in six months, tries to quit smoking. As Michael Binkley puts it, "He's a psycho even with Nicotine in his veins!" Opus ties him to a chair, but this doesn't help, as later Steve is seen hopping after Opus, still tied to said chair, holding an axe in his mouth. Later on, Milo Bloom is looking through the boarding house windows with binoculars, and sees Steve holding Opus by the throat, screaming something along the lines of "A pack of Marlboros or I'm having penguin pate for dinner!" Fortunately, Steve's withdrawal-induced insanity is alleviated when he finds a huge stash of Hostess Ding Dongs, and gorges himself into a sugar-coma.
    • Another arc had Steve being the defense-lawyer for a crazed elderly female murderer who "signed" court documents by chopping at them with her axe.
  • Pig's Guard Duck from Pearls Before Swine has this played for laughs.
    • Snuffles, Zebra's cat, is probably even more so. As compared to Guard Duck he's completely The Unfettered.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Adventure Of Tom Thumb & Thumbelina: The Mole King towards the end when he chases down Tom and Thumbelina.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Rourke attacks Milo with an ax as the hot air balloon transport is crashing. He himself admits that Milo has done what few people have, which is royally piss him off.
  • Beauty and the Beast: Gaston. Most evident during the final showdown with the Beast (where he goads the Beast on for no discernible reason, then stabs him In the Back with a very nasty Slasher Smile after being spared), but it's clear that by his Villainous Breakdown he's already well on his way to seeing red.
  • Mr. Gristle from The Boxtrolls takes much more delight in the unpleasant parts of his job than Mr. Trout and Pickles.
  • Hopper and Thumper of A Bug's Life, the latter even more so to a thoroughly animalistic degree.
  • Mrs. Tweedy in Chicken Run when she sees the chickens escaping and suffers a Villainous Breakdown. Her wielding a hand axe makes matters worse.
  • Corpse Bride: Big Bad Lord Barkis Bittern after finding out that Victoria is poor after he married her. He murders Emily so that he can get her fortune and it is implied that he plans to do the same to Victoria. He also attempts to kill Victor.
  • Finding Nemo: Once he is exposed to smelling blood, Bruce loses all judgment and consciousness and becomes an absolutely deranged and homicidal fish-killing machine. Not even his own friends are able to control him. Just imagine Jack Torrance as a shark.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: Ratigan towards the climax, when he's enraged. Technically he is always a violent maniac, seeing as he struggles to maintain his composure outwardly while killing his own men for minor infractions but this is the moment where he completely snaps and shows the animal that he really is, abandoning all pretensions of being a gentleman.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: At first, Judge Claude Frollo seems composed and calm. But as he begins to develop an unhealthy obsession for Esmeralda, he slowly loses his sanity, devolving into a Psychopathic Manchild who goes as far as torching Paris all to search for her, and having her burned at the stake when she refuses his advances. And by the end of the film, he's willing to hack Quasimodo and Esmeralda with a sword while laughing derangedly and flashing a horrific grin.
  • Zira from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, who is MUCH less composed and self-controlled than her predecessor Scar.
  • Ursula from The Little Mermaid. When she transforms into Vanessa, it's implied that she lost quite a bit of sanity (to the point of becoming borderline Ax-Crazy) when turning into her, as she talks to her mirror in a manner similar to a schizophrenic, emits a psychotic grin when throwing a pin at a mirror's head with enough velocity to knock the mirror back, and would most certainly kill a person had that been a human being, and then her cackling. She's most certainly Ax-Crazy when she has her Villainous Breakdown after Ariel destroys her eel pets, though.
    • It's actually hinted that she was never sane to begin with... If you take notice of the fact that she has a number of former mermaids as a polyp garden in the entrance to her cave...
  • Captain DuBois from Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. She wants to have Alex's head on the wall so much that, when Alex, Gloria, Marty and Melman are tranquilized by her men, she tries to use a saw to cut Alex's head off. She doesn't stop there. Even after Alex is put back in captivity in the zoo, DuBois tries to use a poison dart to kill him. Thank goodness Gia shows up with the circus animals to save him in the nick of time.
  • Quest for Camelot, the former knight of the round table Ruber is mentally insane along with his Twitchy Eye. His Unstoppable Rage at the beginning of the film even shows signs of this when he attacks Arthur's knights - and even kills Lionel.
  • Shaw from Open Season is a deranged Big Bad hunter intent on killing for the fun of it. Has named his rifle "Lorraine," sings to it and covers it with a blanket so it won't get cold at night. Believes in animal uprisings, but scoffs at the idea of a Bigfoot. Drives his truck into the river, using it as a speedboat in an effort to get Elliot and Boog, while screaming "It's like huntin' and fishin' at the same time!"
  • The Rescuers Down Under: Percival C. McLeah is an Evil Poacher who clearly enjoys being a violent, murderous thug far more than he actually wants to make himself rich.
  • Shrek:
    • Rumpelstiltskin. Don't be fooled by the trickster shell. Deep down, he's really a homicidal sociopath.
    • Prince Charming in the Scared Shrekless story "Boots Motel", (a parody of Psycho's Bates Motel) which Donkey and Puss in Boots make up.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation: Mr. Hitcher has a REALLY strong affinity for chainsaws and for using them on small animals and despite being an over-the-top parody of slasher movie villains he is still a downplayed case of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain as whenever he is not on a rampage he blunders and faces comical mishaps.
  • Toy Story:
    • Toy Story 2: Stinky Pete the Prospector at the climax of the movie. Or rather, "Pickaxe-Crazy". When it becomes apparent that the Roundup Gang does not want to go to Japan anymore, he actively tries to chop Woody to pieces with his pickaxe.
    • Toy Story 3: Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear is a very subtle example. He never goes visibly nuts; However, he's rampantly brutal in managing his regime, and has no qualms about using torture or even murder to get his way. It certainly doesn't help the fact that his sole motivation in his life is just to torture and mentally crush any toy into loathing their existence as much as he does, suggesting that he's an extreme Sadist.
  • Muntz from Up. Polite and reserved... but for the love of God, don't make him think for one second you're going to "steal" Kevin, or else you'll find out just how off his rocker he really is.

  • In Chonchu, most characters have their Ax Crazy moment, even non-fighters. It helps that the action happens in wartime and features many ethnic conflicts.
  • Tick Tock in Dorothy of Oz could possibly count as one of these due to her tendency to cut off the arms of those who displease her or give her false information. The fact that she is nothing short of proper and polite before attempting to do this is rather disconcerting. However, she is a robot who is programmed to do whatever it takes to achieve her goals.
    • A better example would perhaps be Shine, who had no qualms whatsoever about blowing up a city full of innocent people for the sole purpose of traumatizing Mara... and then grinning about it as she screams in pain.

  • Emilie Autumn's "I Know Where You Sleep". The title alone should tell you enough, but just take a look at the chorus:
    You can lie to the papers
    You can hide from the press
    You can fake it on stage
    Crawl from your cage
    Search and destroy
    You can kill and depend on it
    I know your tainted flesh
    I know your filthy soul
    I know each trick you played
    Whore you laid
    Dream you stole
    I know the bed in the room in the wall
    In the house where you got what you wanted and ruined it all
    I know the secrets that you keep
    I know where you sleep
  • In the video to Babes in Toyland's "He's My Thing", a Creepy Doll mutilates another Creepy Doll out of jealousy.
  • The title character from The Beatles' "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", who goes around bashing people over the head with said hammer whenever something doesn't go his way. Or even when something does.
  • The Villain Protagonist of the The Birthday Massacre song "Happy Birthday" murders a bunch of people at a birthday party.
    I think my friend said, "Stick it in the back of her head"
    I think my friend said, "Two of them are sisters"
    "I'm a murder tramp, birthday boy," I think I said
    "I'm gonna bash them in, bash them in," I think he said
  • Julie Brown's "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun":
    Debbie's smiling and waving her gun
    Picking off cheerleaders one by one
    Oh Buffie's pompom just blew to bits
    Oh no, Mitzie's head just did the splits
  • In the first few lines of Cage's "Among the Sleep", he wakes up to find a dead prostitute with an ax in her back.
  • At least one character in every single song off Nick Cave's Murder Ballads, but especially notably Lottie in "The Curse of Millhaven", a fourteen-year-old girl who takes the notion that everyone has to die some day a bit too literally. Bashing a little boy's head in and throwing him in the river with his pockets full of stones is just one of the atrocities she commits.
  • Harry Chapin takes a turn in this direction with "Sniper". Take a guess as to what the song's about, given that title.
  • The Writer from Coheed and Cambria's first Good Apollo album. By the end, he is definitely mentally unstable and has the ability to kill off any character he wants, since he wrote them into existence.
  • Alice Cooper has a couple on the album, From the Inside:
    • The title characters of the sweet-sounding duet "Millie and Billie" are revealed to be this when the lyrics take a dark turn:
      And I liked your late husband Donald
      But such torture his memory brings
      All sliced up and sealed tight in baggies
      Guess love makes you do funny things
    • "Inmates (We're All Crazy)" quotes the Lizzy Borden verse from the top of the Ax-Crazy page.
  • The narrator of Creature Feature's "Such Horrible Things" has been this ever since birth, and spends the song recounting various increasingly horrible acts he committed growing up, like for example burning his house down at age eight because he didn't like its colour. He even admits that he deserves to rot in Hell.
  • Eazy-E in the song "Sorry Louie". The song describes how he sadistically kills an enemy — castrating him and leaving him completely covered in blood — and then proceeds to kill the man's wife and son.
  • Eminem's character Slim Shady, a mentally ill criminal, serial killer and drunken idiot who spends most of his songs describing intricately-rhymed acts of absurd violence, as a satire of moral panics about hip-hop lyrics.
    The ill type, I stab myself with a steel spike
    While I blow my brain out just to see what it feels like
    'Cause this is how I am in real life
  • Robert from Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks":
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, outrun my gun
  • "The Irish Ballad" from Tom Lehrer's Songs by Tom Lehrer is about a little girl who kills off her entire family one by one because they annoy her, or, in the case of the baby, just because she was bored.
  • Megadeth:
    • "Black Friday" is about a self-admitted sadistic maniac who massacres people with a hammer and a blade.
    • "Sweating Bullets" is about a person going on a murderous rampage with an axe.
  • The Megas:
    • Bomb Man responded to the gift of emotion by running around blowing everything up.
      You lit a fuse inside me
      And now my instincts guide me through
      To what I must do
      [cue explosion]
    • Heat Man in Get Equipped does not come across as particularly more stable. "Man on Fire/Heat Man" is largely a deranged rant about how he's going to burn everything.
      Can you feel the fire? (The fire)
      Can you see those cities burn? (Those cities burn)
      From the depths of hell I call your name (Mega Man)
      Can you feel the heat?
    • Skull Man adds either Demonic Possession by the spirits of dead Robot Masters, or, perhaps more plausibly, outright delusions of such to the cocktail. He's not quite as hamtastic about it as Bomb Man and Heat Man, but it's not a subtle theme of "Cracked Skulls" either.
      It's killing we're craving
  • Metallica:
    • "Battery", as in "assault and", is about a person absolutely obsessed with committing the titular act.
    • Their cover of Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy", about a man who dreams that he's Al Capone and then shoots people with a Tommy gun as he walks down the street.
  • Unfortunately for the protagonist in Mitski's "Happy", her husband is not having an affair, he is hacking women to pieces in their basement and giving her their jewellery. Said husband is not happy when she finds out. He pulls her to the ground and starts choking her, but she manages to grab the axe in the nick of time and kill him.
  • The protagonist from Pearl Jam's "Alive" has, by the time of "Once", turned into an out-of-control serial killer who kills more or less indiscriminately and is a slave to his homicidal urges.
  • P!nk, in her video of "Please Don't Leave Me", goes Misery on her boyfriend, and then when he tries to get away chases him down with an ax and does the Jack Nicholson hatchet-job on the door, complete with menacing look through the opening.
  • Pink Floyd:
    • "One of These Days":
      One of these days
      I'm going to cut you into little pieces
    • Referenced in "One of My Turns" from The Wall. As Pink proceeds to demolish his apartment in front of a groupie, he screams the following:
      Run to the bedroom
      In the suitcase on the left
      You'll find my favorite axe
      The lines have a double-meaning, since Pink is a guitarist and would under normal circumstances simply be referring to his guitar.
  • Implied in the video for Poets of the Fall's "Lift". Taken together, Mad Dreamer Mark smiling and manifesting Black Eyes of Evil when presented with an evidence bag containing a straight pin, a photo of a woman with moth wings that figures prominently in both his psych hearing and his Happy Place, and his fixation on pinned moths all suggest that Mark has done very, very bad things to end up in Poet County Jail and deemed a "menace to society".
  • The Primus song "My Name Is Mud" follows a guy who murdered someone because they were in an argument. The music video supplies a good amount of less-than-welcoming smiles.
  • "Mister Psycho" by Space. He'll blow you away.
  • Miles "Tails" Prower is turned into one in the Starbomb song "Sonic's Best Pal", being a drug addict who wants to kill someone just to know how it feels and threatens to break Sonic's legs if he looks at him wrong.
  • The Weeknd usually plays this persona in his music videos, especially in "Blinding Lights". The music video begins with him making a Slasher Smile. Then he starts driving maniacally.
  • X Japan:
  • YAPOOS's Nikya no Youni ("Like a Butcher" in English). If the title didn't give it away:
    One quick tug on the chainsaw starter
    Oh please, won't someone stop me
    It reverberates in the bones
    The feeling of ecstasy through my body, oh no
    Light the boiler coke of my murderous intent
    Oh, I can't hold out any longer
    I thirst for trickling lifeblood
  • The title character in "Excitable Boy" by Warren Zevon, who bites the usherette's leg at the movies and rapes and kills his date to Junior Prom before taking her home.

  • The eponymous hero of Sophocles's Ajax goes on a murdering rampage of sheep and cattle after Athena strikes him with madness. It's pretty clear that he was intending a rampage against Odysseus and the Greek troops anyways, but it would have been slightly less humiliating.
  • Jonathan Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace is indicated to be a prolific Serial Killer with a love of torture, and it's clear that he's been this way since he was a child, since his hobby then was torturing his brother by putting needles under his fingernails. He's murdered as many people as his two aunts combined, but did it far less calmly. He wants to kill again just so he can be ahead in the count.
  • Just like his movie counterpart, J.D. from Heathers is incredibly mentally unbalanced and violent, seeing killing the Alpha Bitch as the solution to all of Veronica's problems.

    Web Animation 
  • ATTACK on MIKA: After Himeka poisons Kotomi's dog Ron, it's revealed that she was like this since she was little; often breaking or trying to get rid of things. Ultimately, her behavior and her mom's refusal to treat her sociopathic behavior led the former to burn down the house, much to the latter's dismay.
  • Bionicle Adventures has Monkeydude, whose solution to practically every problem is to burn everything and everyone nearby to a crisp.
  • The Demented Cartoon Movie: The actress playing Juliet throws a bomb at her Romeo. After being told to not do it again, she goes crazy and throws a bomb at the replacement Romeo.
  • Dragon Ball Deliverance:
    • As Vegeta puts it, Broly's as much a monster as ever. We first see him attacking and killing for his own sadistic amusement.
    • Didger is without a doubt the most insane of Commander Daiko's crew. He's positively giddy about the idea of killing Pan and Bra.
  • Dreamscape: Melinda becomes rather unhinged and bloodthirsty as Ghost Melinda.
  • Gossip City: Akio, Haruka's husband, looks like a Nice Guy at first, but he also has a violent side whenever he gets mad at her. The reason for this, according to Inuzuka, was because he was a drug junkie.
  • Happy Tree Friends: Flippy suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the time he spent in the W.A.R (Weaponized Animal Regiment). His flipped-out state under PTSD, known as Fliqpy, is a serial killer who takes pleasure out of killing others.
    • Even though he's not at Flippy's level of violence, Nutty also counts in a more genuine sense, as he has killed people just to get candy.
  • Madness Combat: The series is called Madness for a reason. But the biggest examples by far are Hank and above everyone else Tricky the Clown. Tricky in particular takes it up to 111.
  • Plan 3: Played for Laughs with Stephen in the scenarios; if murder is (or in the loosest sense possibly) a solution to a problem, he’s more than happy to pull out a knife.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • O'Malley/The Omega A.I., the Arc Villain of The Blood Gulch Chronicles, is a being made of Ax Crazy.
    • Seasons 9 and 10 introduce Agent Carolina. She was sane enough during Project Freelancer, but afterwards... Thankfully, once her revenge quest is solved, Carolina mellows out.
    • Season 12 introduces Dr. Emily Grey, who might as well be the most psychotic person on the show despite how cheerful she is. Thank God she is one of the good guys.
  • RWBY: Tyrian is very eager to be given tasks that involve hunting down people. When Salem orders him to go after Ruby, he mocks Cinder by implying he'll take Ruby's eye, giggling madly at the thought. When Salem orders him to capture Ruby alive, he's visibly disappointed. When Jaune makes it clear the gang won't let Tyrian take Ruby without a fight, he smiles and says "good". When Salem reveals she's disappointed in his failure to complete his task, he goes berserk; he leaps on a Beowulf and begins slashing it repeatedly while laughing and crying at the same time. Cinder watches him unravel in open-mouthed horror.
  • SolarBalls:
    • Sun, particularly in the earlier episodes, as he often has a Slasher Smile and would often threaten planets that if they leave their orbit then he’ll shoot them with solar flares.
    • If you thought that The Sun was bad, Ceres is even worse as he contains all the traits of Sun in the early episodes but without any of the good qualities The Sun has, even the thumbnail of his debut episode, he has a Slasher smile and he is the only character in the entire show whose dialogue only consists of laughter, further establishing himself as crazy.
  • Of Weasels And Chickens: Prima, who sings a song about the wonderful world of murder in Episode Three.
  • Wolf Song: The Movie: Cobalt is highly brash and is heavily prone to violence, to the point where merely getting yelled at by him is a luxury, otherwise he will subject you to some awful fate that usually ends with your death, even if under orders not to kill. Oh and he has the Slasher Smile to go with it immediately before or after some violent acts (including breaking news of his violence to his captors). If he wasn’t cowardly, who knows the extent of the damage he could do

Alternative Title(s): Axe Crazy



Once Wendy draws her sword she loses control, becoming a ruthless killer called Love-P! Even other members of High Card are wary of her due to Love-P's bloodlust.

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