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Axe Before Entering

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Jack Nicholson, putting the "Axe" in "Ax-Crazy".

"Why did you pummel my door with a shovel?"
Edd, Ed, Edd n Eddy, "O-Ed-Eleven"

So, Bob's taken a trip down Ax-Crazy road, and his terrified Love Interest, Alice, is hiding in a locked room, praying she will be safe. She isn't in any less danger, of course; once Bob discovers her hiding place, he will immediately try to break the door down to get at her. Technique varies, but he may employ such time-tested classics as striking the door with an axe, pulling at the door from the outside, throwing his body against the door, or breaking a glass panel and putting his hand through in an attempt to unlock the door from the inside.

All this takes time, of course, and in the meanwhile the camera (and the audience's sympathy) will be with the frightened Alice crouching in a corner, listening to Bob's assault on the door and hoping it will hold...

A specific form of "Open!" Says Me. Compare to There Was a Door for when somebody's so impatient, they just break through the wall instead of the door. Or Shoot Out the Lock, when they resort to guns instead.

Despite the name, it may also involve other melee weapons such as hammers, saws, or brute strength, not just axes.

Truth in Television for first responders, police and military. First responders arriving at a house fire or train derailment use big, heavy fire axes to break down doors and free trapped people. Police serving ac"no knock warrant" on a suspected drug dealer may break down his door with a sledgehammer or battering ram to prevent him from destroying evidence. The police euphemism for this is "dynamic entry." A SWAT unit may use the same tactic with a hostage-taker barricaded in a building (the goal is to capture or kill the suspect before they kill hostages). Soldiers in Urban Warfare use a sledgehammer or a shotgun with door-breaching shells to open a locked door of a house.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hanamaru Kindergarten's 10th episode had a horror-style ending that used this trope, among others.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: Belarus has done this to her brother Russia once by ripping out the door handle.
  • Outlaw Star: Melfina shoots down Harry's requests to "go with him" and locks the door of the ship. Harry's pretty unstable and doesn't take it well. He bangs incessantly on the door but Melfina ignores his cries to let him in. Cue Harry shoving his fist through the door, and wrapping it around the throat of a surprised Melfina effectively pinning her in place and choking her for a few moments. He releases her and opens the locks in a quick fashion, much to Melfina's horror.
  • Penguindrum: Tabuki in episode 11. Ringo's Love Potion actually works on him, but then he starts acting like a frog ("ribbit" included) and making really horrible Nightmare Faces... as well as when he also punches through a door to try and get Ringo back inside, presumably to rape her after she decides to not have sex with him.

    Comic Books 
  • In one of the final Pre-Crisis Batman stories, Roy Spivey, a thoroughly deranged axe-murderer who has already killed his ex and shrunken her head, smashes the window of his ex's roommate after severing the phone line so she can't call the police (this was written in 1986 when cell phones weren't exactly common yet) before trying to come in and kill her. He's thankfully stopped due to a panther left by Catwoman attacking him and clawing his face, but it's still a well-done and terrifying sequence.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Body Bags: In "The Gas Station", the killer uses a sledgehammer to smash out the reinforced glass in the cashier booth, and then to knock down the bathroom door after Anne locks herself inside.
  • The Trope Maker and likely Ur-Example is the 1919 silent film Broken Blossoms by D.W. Griffith. Yes, the same guy who infamously produced The Birth of a Nation. Maybe even more terrifying in that the woman locking herself in is a teenage girl cowering from her abusive father, and that the space she's locked herself in is a closet instead of a larger room. And no, it does not end well for the poor girl. The scene in The Shining is a clear reference to this one, even if The Shining is what every following Shout-Out is to.
  • In Cherry Falls, the killer uses an axe to break down the door of Leonard's house.
  • In The Crazy Family, the dad uses an industrial sized drill to break into the daughter's room.
  • When the cult members in The Final Sacrifice are trying to break into the teenage protagonist's house at the beginning, they sneak around for a bit and then unsubtly chainsaw through the door. Mystery Science Theater 3000 has him object, "It's open."
  • Friday the 13th: This trope is used in every movie, usually against the Final Girl. A machete against a closet door in the first film, a pitchfork against a kitchen door and a pickaxe against a shrine door in Part 2, a regular axe against a closet door in Part III, an axe that goes through the door and into someone's torso in The Final Chapter, et cetera.
  • Michael Myers from Halloween also likes this trope. A particularly hilarious example happens in Halloween: Resurrection where Michael simply walks through a reinforced mental-hospital door as if it were made out of cardboard.
  • Halloween (2007): Michael Myers likes this trope so much he even bursts through solid walls.
  • In The Hazing, Jacob acts out the "Here's Johnny!" scene from The Shining in an attempt to scare the pledges.
  • In The Man Who Knew Too Little, Wallace uses a croquet mallet to smash through a door. Naturally, he shouts "Heeeere's Johnny!" right after.
  • In Midnight Movie the killer uses his weapon to break through a door and kill the biker with a heart of gold.
  • In Mumsy Nanny Sonny And Girly, the titular family favor this type of dramatic entrance as one of the psychological games they play on their "friends".
  • My Bloody Valentine: The killer hacks through some boards at least once.
  • My Bloody Valentine 3D: The killer takes the supermarket's "Knock Before Entering" sign to its logical extreme by smashing through the door with his pick.
  • The Phantom Carriage: David is drunk and endangering the children by getting too close to them (he has TB). His wife Anna locks him in the other room. He chops through the door with a hatchet. This is another shot highly similar to The Shining, complete with David looking through the hole he's hacked in the door and then reaching for the knob.
  • This happens in Prince of Darkness when the Sealed Evil in a Can infects several members of a research team. It sends them after the uninfected members, having them break through blocked/locked doors to do so.
  • In Scare Campaign, Rohan comes after Emma with an axe. JD manages to grab her and haul her into the kitchen, sliding the door shut behind them. Rohan then uses the axe in an attempt to bash his way through the steel door.
  • The Shining is the Trope Codifier. Jack Torrance, having gone Ax-Crazy and played to the hilt by Jack Nicholson, hacks through a door with an axe after his wife Wendy and shouts, "HEEEEEEERE'S JOHNNY!" In fact, there are enough parodies of this one scene out there to form its own Sub-Trope, "Here's Johnny!" Homage.
    • One of the reasons this scene is so dramatic is that the door was weakened by the crew, not realizing that Nicholson had worked as a firefighter before becoming an actor, and thus knew how to properly use the axe — hence he tore through the door like it was made of paper and much more violently than anyone on set thought was possible.
  • In Train, Vlad uses an axe to smash open the locked door to the burning train carriage where Dr. Velislava is trapped.
  • Winterskin: In the prologue, the mysterious intruder chops down the front door of John Carver's house with an axe.
  • The Wizard of Oz has a heroic example, where the Tin Man uses his axe to break through the door and let Dorothy out of the room where she's imprisoned.

  • The Famous Five: Locked doors are often broken down, by the Five or their enemies.
    • In Five on a Treasure Island, the Five use an axe to open a locked wooden door protecting the treasure. As they valiantly attack the door, Dick is injured by a flying splinter of wood.
    • In Five go Adventuring Again, the Five enter the villains' bedrooms through a secret passage, locking the doors from the inside. The villains break the door down by throwing themselves against it.
    • In Five get into Trouble, Rooky tries to smash a door down with a chair.
    • In Five go to Demon's Rocks, the Five are rescued from a locked lighthouse by the door being smashed in.
  • Early on in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Keith ends up hurting Catarina with his magic and locks himself in his room out of fear of doing so again, even taking the spare key and the master key so no one else can get in. Catarina, fearful that this will cause him to go down the path of a lonely playboy not just because she fears it'll lead to her doom but also because she genuinely cares for him, tries in vain to get him to open the door by speaking to him. When this fails to work, she decides to take a more direct route in breaking him out of his emotional bubble: grabbing a battle axe and breaking down his door. It might get a scolding from her mother, but her forceful way of getting into Keith's room finally bursts his emotional bubble and helps him let go of his fear and grow up without issues (falling in love with his sister notwithstanding).
  • In contrast to the scene in the movie where he uses an axe, Jack Torrance from The Shining uses a roque mallet to try to get through to the bathroom where poor Wendy is trying to get away.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Angel episode "Billy", Wesley goes insane and goes after Fred with an axe. Parodied on the blooper reel, when the blade comes off the axe mid-chopping. Alexis Denisof, without missing a beat, continues... politely tapping on the door with the axe handle.
  • Parodied in A Bit of Fry and Laurie, when the two Special Squad policemen arrive at a woman's house looking for a suspect. Laurie's character begins smashing the door down with a sledgehammer, and Fry points out that it's unlocked and steps inside. Laurie answers that he didn't carry the hammer all this way just to turn the handle and makes Fry close it behind him so he can keep breaking it down, and puts a couple of extra holes in it once he's on the other side himself.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "School Hard", one of Spike's minions is trying to break down a door. Spike tells him to use his head, grabs him by the scruff of his neck, and uses his head to break the glass on the fire axe case beside the door.
  • A regular occurrence for the firefighters of Chicago Fire, who often have to break down doors in burning buildings just like real-life firefighters would. Special mention goes to Cruz's "slammigan" due to its ability to double as a pry bar and a battering ram.
  • Chicago P.D.: The Intelligence Unit frequently do this regularly with a battering ram (usually wielded by Ruzek or Atwater) when making entry into a suspect's locked residence, though due to procedure, they'll subvert the trope by announcing their office right before bashing in the door. In fact, one episode resulted in the suspect of the week getting away scot-free because they played this trope straight and the district attorney had an issue with no-knocks.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Horror of Fang Rock", after Reuben the lighthouse-keeper (who is actually a Rutan that has killed the real Reuben and taken his place) doesn't respond to her order to "come out", Leela uses an axe to break the door down.
    • In "Fear Her", Rose uses a pick to break through Chloe's bedroom door.
  • Jonathan Creek: In "Satan's Chimney", this is how characters in a movie get into a study in a pivotal scene where they are supposed to discover the suicide of the main character. The twist is that when they break down the door, they find that the actress playing that character has been somehow shot — in an empty, locked room with the window closed and no hole in the glass. The axe was part of the murder. The killer used a gun hidden in the handle of the axe to shoot her as he smashed in the door.
  • The killer of the Midsomer Murders episode "Dark Autumn" attempted to cut through a door with a machete to get to his final victim, only for the victim to disarm him by hitting the blade. He, nevertheless, manages to get in the room but is stopped by Barnaby and Jones before he can kill again.
  • In the pilot episode of Misfits, the psychotic probation officer uses an axe to bust into the toilet cubicle where his first victim is hiding.
  • Strangers From Hell: Deuk-jong breaks down Jong-woo's door with an axe.
  • Supernatural: A possessed firefighter does this when trying to get at Dean, Sam, and John in "Devil's Trap".
  • Done in the Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps episode "When Janet Killed Johnny!" as a Shout-Out to ''The Shining".
  • In one episode of The Young Ones, the students' landlord goes crazier, becomes an "axe-wielding homicidal maniac", and starts to hack his way through the door.


    Video Games 
  • Alan Wake has a direct reference to The Shining when Stucky slams an axe through the door Alan just ran through.
  • A random Exocella-possessed corpse (or zombie, if you like) does this in a room of Cold Fear. Noticeably, it's one of the few times where they actually do such a thing, as normally they can't operate doors.
  • The Raincoat Killer in Deadly Premonition.
  • Axe-wielding zombies will sometimes make an entry this way in the House of the Dead series, although there's nothing stopping you from blowing half their body to smithereens before they can finish breaking through the door.
  • Little Nightmares II features several examples. Mono, the player character, regularly has to use lumber axes or hatchets lying around (that are taller than he is) to break the lower half of rotted doors that otherwise can't be opened. It's also how he meets Six, albeit there's a justifiable misunderstanding that causes her to think he means harm. This eventually becomes an important part of a certain boss battle.
  • This is the main use for the axe in Mitadake High. It's also the loudest sound in the game.
  • Minecraft:
    • Axes are a quick way to break down wooden doors, though they cannot be locked so it's easier and quicker to just open them (breaking them down is only useful for relocating them or replacing them with ones made of different wood). Iron doors, on the other hand, need a pickaxe to break through unless you place a button or pressure plate near them, or find a way to power them with redstone.
    • Vindicators, a late-game foe encountered in woodland mansions and village raids, can chop down wooden doors with their axes to get to any players or Villagers hiding behind them.
  • In Night Trap, while Kelly reveals herself as a S.C.A.T. member to her friends in the bedroom, the two augers approach the bedroom door, and one of them pulls out a short ax and begins hacking at the door in hopes that it will open.
  • Sledge from Rainbow Six Siege makes holes in walls and breaks down barricades with a sledgehammer, which is how he got his codename.
  • Resident Evil 2 (Remake): During your brief time controlling Sherry, she tries to escape Irons by stealing his keys and trying to lock him out of a hallway. Only for him to grab a fire ax and hack his way in to continue his pursuit.
  • In Zombies Ate My Neighbors, the Jason Voorhees Captain Ersatzes are able to destroy obstacles such as doors, just like the player's bazooka.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Boondocks episode "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back", while Tom is possessed by the ghost of Stinkmeaner, he parodies the famous scene from The Shining by hacking down Robert's bathroom door with an ax.
  • In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Out with the Old, In with the Ed", the neighborhood kids break into Edd's house to rob him of his school supplies, with Rolf breaking down his front door with a large axe.
  • The Simpsons: In the Treehouse of Horror segment The Shinning, an obvious parody of The Shining, Homer does this:
    (Homer chops through door)
    Homer: Heeeere's Johnny!
    (camera pulls back to reveal an empty room)
    Homer: D'oh!
    (Homer chops through another door)
    Grampa: Hi David, I'm Grampa!
    Homer: D'oh!
    Homer: (holding a ticking stopwatch) I'm Mike Wallace, I'm Morley Safer, and I'm Ed Bradley. All this and Andy Rooney tonight on 60 Minutes!
    Family: AAHHH!
    • Also in "Homer Goes to College", nuclear health inspectors use an axe to break through Mr. Burns' office door when he refuses to oblige to doing an inspection.

    Real Life 
  • Exaggerate this trope, and this is probably what happens when a smaller city is besieged and the invading army decides to pull out a battering ram, with people hunkered up, cowering in their homes, hoping the gates will hold.
  • Standard procedure for firefighters when confronted by locked or obstructed doors in a burning building.
  • The military, however, goes for a "breaching tool" the layman's term for this advanced piece of hardware is a sledgehammer.
  • SWAT teams tend to use a small one-man battering ram to break through doors.
  • Crossing this trope with Chainsaw Good, some police forces in the UK employ circular saws when battering rams prove ineffective. Also used by boarding teams in several navies, as the metal doors on many ships would be difficult to breach with an axe. But a saw will take the hinges and dogs (the metal tabs that hold watertight doors shut) right off. Sometimes called the Quickie Saw in the US Navy.


The Shining

Heeeeeere's Johnny!

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