and gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done,
she gave her father forty-one.
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, or out and out murderous rage, and with no way of knowing just what will set them off, which 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 psychopathic among psychopaths 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.
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 or Villain Protagonist. 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 Butcher, The Dreaded, Mad Bomber, Cute and Psycho, Blood Knight, Psycho for Hire, Yandere, The Sociopath, Mad Doctor, Pyro Maniac, Hair-Trigger Temper, Colonel Kilgore, General Ripper, Insane Admiral, and Sociopathic Soldier. Compare and contrast Mama Bear, Papa Wolf, and Violently Protective Girlfriend, who may be capable of temporary Ax-Craziness when their kids or mate are under threat, but are often played sympathetically.
The canonical Character Alignment for most Ax-Crazy characters is Chaotic or Neutral Evil, though a couple of Chaotic Neutral examples exist. Sometimes The Unfettered, depending on whether they feel freed or enslaved by their bloodlust.
It's very common to be Played for Drama, usually as either the Big Bad, or The Dragon to the 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.
A very large number of pages link to this when they should link to An Axe to Grind. This page is about violent crazy people, not people whose Weapon of Choice is an axe (despite the potential for overlap).
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