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Barrier-Busting Blow

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Well I'm quite sure that this sturdy wall will pro-*crash* Oh, Crap!

Most of the time, heroes have the choice of "fight or flight" when faced with their enemies, but when that enemy is an Implacable Man, it's really more like "momentarily inconvenience" or "hide or flight". This is why 90% of Slasher Movies are (wisely) spent simply running the hell away from these menaces and hiding breathlessly in highly insecure locations.

Which leads us to this trope. Once the hero relaxes while hiding behind a wall or in a closet, and thinks the danger is past, a hand will break through the wall and grab him! This very effectively demonstrates that their enemy has Super-Strength and a grasp on how to use it unconventionally. Usually, the villain will either punch the hero or pull them through the wall! Much like a Cat Scare (if cats could jump through walls), the audience will be scared along with the hero.

Variations include the newly risen zombie Ankle Drag, busting through a Beehive Barrier, and Vertical Kidnapping. Sadistic slasher villains will use the Sinister Scraping Sound to freak out hiding characters before pulling this. Depending on the barrier, can be a variation or a aversion of Concealment Equals Cover. See also There Was a Door.

Not to be confused with Armor-Piercing Attack.


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  • See the first stunt in this Reebok commercial, where professional football players pitch themselves for the fantasy football draft. Whether these stunts are real or movie magic is a subject of lively debate.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed has knocked out several soldiers who were looking for him. The last one in the squad hides next to a door and waits for him to walk through. Ed punches through the wall with his automail arm and grabs the guy in a stranglehold.
  • Happens in Great Teacher Onizuka once. After Teshigawara snaps, Onizuka taunts him unseen until he backs against a wall, then Onizuka busts through it with one hand and drags him through.
  • Invoked by Guyver 1 in Guyver after regenerating in the Chronos Japan HQ. When at first several blows fail to remove the blast doors quickly enough, try, try again with the Megasmasher to take out the whole floor!
    • Happened in volume 4 where Guyver III's megasmasher at least took out Guyots shield. A Zoalord's shield was shattered much much more easily in volume 13 during the Imakarum vs. Agito battle.
    • And again by the Guyver in vol.16 of the Manga: when the Guyver, in Gigantic mode, is fighting the Zoalord Purgstall, the latter encases himself in a personal force field. The Guyver then starts hammering away at it with his fists until he breaks through.
    • And yet again in vol.25, when the Guyver Gigantic in Exceed mode is facing off against the Draglord and erects a forcefield around himself to deflect incoming missiles, only to find to his chagrin that the missiles will actually drill through the force field and then explode inside.
  • My Hero Academia: In the fight of Kirishima and Fatgum vs Rappa and Tengai, Tengai raises a barrier to protect them from the heroes' incoming attacks, while confidently stating that nothing can penetrate it. However, when Kirishima bravely stands between Rappa and Fatgum, he gives the latter the opening he needs to burn all his stored fat and channel it into a powerful blow, shattering Tengai's barrier and and sending them flying across the room.
  • In the Martial Arts Figure Skating battle in Ranma , Ryōga has just crushed Mikado Sanzen'in, the rival male skater, between two icebergs, forced Asuza Shiratori, his female partner, to flee, and buried Female!Ranma in the resulting multi-ton mass of broken ice (and she was already fully submerged in ice water, too). Just as he's relaxing and thinking about going to greet Akane after his victory, Ranma's hand breaks through the ice and she clings tenaciously to his leg.
  • In the Trigun anime, Monev the Gale used a variant of this. Breaking into a jail to capture Vash, rather than using the cell door Monev punched through a wall and grabbed Vash by the throat, all in one move.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman does this twice in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The first time he hides under the floor, shoves his hand up through the floorboards, grabs the ankle of a nearby mook and pulls him down and probably beats on him even more. The second time he rams his arm through a wall (looks to be made of concrete, though the art makes it difficult to tell), pulls a mook through it, and beats him up more.

    Eastern European Animation 
  • In Kayko & Kokosh's first episode, Corporal is running from Hegemon after reporting that the titular duo intercepted the delivery of the dragon egg. He runs out of the keep, slamming the door behind him. Hegemon punches through the door with his fist... and then grabs the handle to actually open the door.

    Film — Animation 
  • Megamind: When Megamind traps the real villain Titan in a copper ball, he starts taunting Titan, claiming he couldn't break through the trap. Titan punches through anyway, much to Megamind's surprise.
  • Mulan: After Mulan draws Shan Yu's wrath towards her, she closes the door between them... and then he punches a hole. Before a full-body charge that destroys the whole door. Shan Yu also later jumps through the ceiling to find Mulan in the rooftop.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Ralph bursts through barriers several times, such as to free Felix and Vanellope. He was literally programmed to be a wrecking ball, so things like "solid walls" and "locked doors" are just momentary inconveniences to him.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Abbott and Costello :
    • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein: Glenn Strange's Monster punches through a door Bud and Lou are hiding behind, conking Lou in the head. Lou was supposed to stand on marks so Strange would miss him, but he kept forgetting. The director liked Lou's reaction and kept the take.
    • In the earlier Abbott & Costello film Hit the Ice, Bud makes a bet with Lou that, if they're standing on the same handkerchief, Lou won't be able to hit him, then wins by closing a door between them. Lou later tries the same trick on a hulking gangster...who just punches through the door and knocks him out.
  • Near the end of Blade Runner, replicant Roy Batty punches through a wall, pulls Deckard's hand through it and breaks two of his fingers.
  • In The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Cortner's assistant is killed when Jan-in-the-Pan lures him near the door holding back one of Cortner's failed experiments, who punches through the door and rips the assistant's arm off. When this clip was used on Whose Line Is It Anyway?'s game "Film Dub", Colin Mochrie supplied this immortal line: "BUY AN ENCYCLOPEDIA! BUY AN ENCYCLOPEDIA! I'M WORKING MY WAY THROUGH COLLEGE!"
  • The scene from The Shining was a Shout-Out to the silent film Broken Blossoms, which is more impressive because the villain chops through the door using the wrong side of the axe.
  • In Dagon, Paul quickly learns not to rely on aging wood in old hotels, especially when an angry mob is outside.
  • Dead Snow has an unusually squishy version of this, where the zombies burst through the protagonist's barriers, grab the resident nerd and crush his skull.
  • Dog Soldiers: Spoon really should know better than to stand near the window.
  • Ash gets his back up against a door in Evil Dead when suddenly... you know the rest.
  • Every Friday the 13th really. The picture above is from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood.
  • In Iron Man, one of the villains gets pulled through a wall when he thinks he can hide from Tony.
  • Jurassic Park III has one that doesn't end with the heroes captured: the humans go through a hole in a fence, and then the Spinosaurus just smashes through it. And yet once the heroes close a laboratory door on him, it surprisingly withstands the enormous dino charging at it.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service has a Shout-Out to the famous scene in The Shining, only done with a machete.
  • Kruel: In the film's climax, Jo's dad gets into the room Willie's holding her in by kicking the double doors in.
  • The Turkish film Aslan Adam or Lion Man has the Big Bad, Antuan, trying to flee from the protagonist, Aslan, only to have Aslan punch through a stone wall, grab Antuan by the neck, and drag Antuan out. The fact that Aslan has Super-Strength due to being raised in the wilderness by lion certainly helps.
  • In Live Free or Die Hard, as a mook is trying to get through Farrell's door, McClane punches him through it.
  • Living Dead Series:
    • Night of the Living Dead (1968):
      • Ben walks past one of the boarded-up windows, and a bunch of zombie hands suddenly reach in at him.
      • The film's climax, when a mob of zombies reach into the house to pull Barbra away. Including her zombified brother Johnny.
    • In the opening Nightmare Sequence in Day of the Dead (1985), hundreds of zombie arms break through a white wall to grab the female protagonist.
  • Agent Smith punches through a wall to grab Neo in The Matrix... only to be saved by Morpheus's self-sacrifice. Morpheus inverts this trope in the same scene; he breaks out of the wall and falls on top of Agent Smith.
  • During the climax of Mission: Impossible Fallout, while Benji and Ilsa try to look for Lane and the second nuclear bomb, Ilsa spots Lane in a nearby cabin and locates the second bomb. When Ilsa is about to contact Benji that she found the bomb, Lane bursts through the wall and knocks Ilsa unconscious by bashing her with a log.
  • Phantasm and its sequels love this trope.
  • Pitch Black: After the suns go down and the planet is covered in darkness due to the eclipse, the Bioraptors roam free. The protagonists temporarily hide out in a storage compartment of the crashed ship. Imam sits down against a wall, but then an alien pierces its claws through the hull right next to his head, almost impaling him.
  • Used in RoboCop (1987) to get the drop of a hostage taker in the town hall. After determining the perp's exact position with his infrared vision, Robo punches both arms through the wall, grabbing the criminal from behind and dragging him all the way into the other room.
  • In The Rock, Stanley Goodspeed is trying to dodge a pair of soldiers and hides behind a really flimsy wooden wall. Cue the soldiers smashing through the wall to grab him.
  • Shaun of the Dead has David apologize while moving back towards a window... cue the zombies breaking through the barricade and pulling him away to be eaten.
  • Sheitan: The boys think they are safe as the start to pull away from the manor in Ladj's car. However, Joseph appears running beside the car, smashes one of the windows with his bare hands, then lunges in and starts strangling Bart.
  • The famous axe-through-the-door scene from The Shining. "HEEEEERE'S JOHNNY!"
  • In Slashers, Chainsaw Charlie smashes through the wall to grab Rebecca by the throat. Later Dr. Ripper does something similar to grab Brenda, but only punches through a paper poster.
  • In Slaughter High, Marty punches through a reinforced glass window to get at Carol (but don't worry... he's wearing gloves).
  • In Species, Sil punches through a bathroom stall to rip out a woman's spine.
  • Subverted in Sunshine where the killer grabs a corpse lying on the other side of the wall instead of the girl he's stalking, giving her a chance to stab him before he realises his mistake.
  • Suspense: A woman is hiding, inside her locked bedroom, from a knife-wielding tramp who has invaded the home. He gets in the bedroom by simply punching his way through the bedroom door and then reaching to unlock the door.
  • An interesting variation in TC 2000, where Matthias Hues's character flees Bolo Yeung's character and hides behind a big metal door, pressing his back against it. The latter remembers Newton's cradle (the suspended metal balls that transmit kinetic force between them), and uses a similar trick to deliver a fatal blow to the bad guy on the other side by punching the metal door. The door doesn't even appear to have a dent in it, but the bad guy collapses with Blood from the Mouth.
  • In the home movie that opens Transylvania 6-5000, a tourist is leaning against the door of the old chapel when the Frankenstein Monster's arms smash through the door and grab him.
  • In The Tripper, Mayor Hal Burton is on the phone to Frank Baker when the killer smashes the window behind him, grabs him and drags him bodily out of the building.
  • Subversion: in Pink Floyd's The Wall, Pink tries to escape the wall in this manner... and fails miserably.
  • Weird Science: When the bikers start trashing the Wild Teen Party, Gary and Wyatt hide in the coat closet. One of the bikers punches through the wall, grabs Wyatt and drags him out.

  • One of the Dirty Harry novels by Dane Hartman has the hero doing this. Inspector Callahan looks through a large hole in the wall of a basement and sees a rape in progress. He reaches through, grabs the punk by his long hair and says, "Do you remember what it was like to be born?" then forcibly pulls him back through the hole.
  • This is how Septimus Heap gets kidnapped in Physik: Marcellus Pye pulls him through a mirror.
  • Averted in H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds; the narrator, hiding in the cellar of the wrecked house, is at the mercy of Martian war machines with heat rays and digging machines with all sorts of mechanical apparatus, but the Martian ultimately elects to open the door.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Alphas, Bill does this to take out a kidnapper.
  • In Beauty and the Beast (1987), Vincent breaks through a boarded-up section of wall to get to the man who shot Catherine.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the finale of Season 5, Xander pulls this one on a god, no less, with a wrecking ball.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Day of the Doctor", the Zygon chasing Osgood smashes an arm through the door to the Undergallery hidden behind the portrait of Queen Elizabeth I: punching out Elizabeth's face in the process.
  • In Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Kamen Rider Genm's upgraded form is zombie themed. The new Transformation Sequence ends with his fist punching through his own special effects and usually in the viewers' direction, before tearing it apart and being revealed in a zombie-like pose.
  • Lost Tapes: Happens in the vampire episode.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Jessica Jones (2015): Luke Cage does this when Kilgrave commands him to fight Jessica.
    • Luke Cage (2016):
      • Diamondback opens fire on Luke, Misty and Claire at a medical clinic where Claire is secretly treating Luke for a gunshot wound Diamondback had given him earlier. Misty fires back, seemingly dropping Diamondback. As she goes to check, Claire and Luke begin to relax....and then Diamondback uses his arm to break the glass window and tries to grab Claire, prompting her to stab him in the arm with the pair of scissors in her other hand.
      • Luke repeatedly uses his fists to break through walls and doors, such as giving Claire a shortcut to get to a wounded Misty during Diamondback's hostage situations.
    • Iron Fist (2017): One of the signature scenes is when Danny uses the Iron Fist to blow open the steel door when escaping Birch Psychiatric Hospital.
    • The Defenders (2017): By virtue of their superpowers, Danny Rand and Luke Cage have the ability to throw punches that break down doors.
  • MythBusters tests this in the zombie special, using a rickety old barn like what you'd be likely to see the protagonists using in a zombie movie and seeing if a horde of zombies could break it down. The verdict is that the normal, worn door on such a barn would barely slow the zombies down, but if the protagonists had time to reinforce it with wood planks, it'd successfully keep the zombies at bay (at least until they lost interest).
  • Happens in the Red Dwarf episode "Demons and Angels", with Low Kryten grabbing Lister through a wall.
  • In The Shield, a punk tries to evade Vic Mackey by running down an alley and climbing over a wall made of wooden boards. Mackey simply crashes through the wall and tackles him.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Our introduction to Species 8472 in "Scorpion, Part 1".
    Chakotay: The lifeform's five meters away and closing.
    Kim: From where?
    [alien smashes through the wall of the Borg vessel, knocking the humans aside like skittles]
  • In the Supernatural episode "Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie", a man on the run from a killer unicorn hides behind a metal plate before his chest gets impaled.

    Music Videos 
  • The ending of Michael Jackson's "Thriller"; Michael and his fellow zombies chase after his frightened girlfriend. When the girl enters the haunted house and locks the door, one of the zombies crashes through the wall.
  • A zombie in the music video for Lemon Demon "Bad Idea" punches through a brick wall.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In Ohio Valley Wrestling there was an ongoing effort by security to keep a trespasser who called himself Boogeyman off of the premises. When he didn't find his way in through completely unexpected entry points, this was usually the result of their attempts to block him off.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, BattleMechs can smash through buildings - with some damage - for surprise flank attacks. The back cover of the CityTech sourcebook shows a 85 ton STK-3F "Stalker" crashing through a city wall behind enemy lines, crushing a tank in the process.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: The Practical Magic of the Court of Swords is a heroic version of this. A Princess of Swords may spend a Wisp to break through any barrier, whether physical or mental, that separates her from someone she loves.

    Theme Parks 
  • At Universal Studios:
    • In a former segment of Animal Actors, a dog would come on stage by bursting through a stone wall.
    • The shark in the JAWS ride is able to smash its way into the boathouse, and then makes a lunge for the boat.
    • In the climax of Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, King Goobot blasts his way in through the walls of Jimmy's lab.

    Video Games 
  • Some people get owned this way in Aliens vs. Predator 2.
  • Batman gains this in Batman: Arkham City, allowing him to punch through a weak wall to take down a henchman on the other side. One of the Abramovici twins does this to Bats in a Jump Scare as well.
    • Bane does this to Batman in Batman: Arkham Origins, punching through the roof of an elevator to grab Bats then throwing him to the floor.
  • BearZerkers: The bears can bust through Wormsign barriers the Player Characters can create by tunnelling, but you can't.
  • The scissor man from Clock Tower will gladly smash the bathroom door open if you're foolish enough to hide behind it.
  • One of Adam Jensen's possible moves in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. X-Ray Vision + super strong synthetic arms = Neck Snap from the opposite side of a wall. Frustrating and somewhat humorous to someone going for a Pacifist Run is that while Jensen will always snap their neck if they're on the other side, taking it down with a bomb tends to do just knock them unconscious.
  • Abobo from Double Dragon commonly does this. Double Dragon Neon gives him the subtitle "Brick Busting Bruiser".
  • Haunted Halloween '86: The Curse Of Possum Hollow: When Donny and Tami fall into the basement of the farmhouse, they get out of the room they end up in by punching/kicking a hole in the wall.
  • The larger dinosaurs in Jurassic Park: The Game like to do this a lot. A Triceratops knocks down a steel gate while Gerry is struggling to close it. The Tyrannosaurus smashes her head through the Visitor Centre's front door, and then smashes the doorway aside on the next attempt. And this is just for the first episode.
  • In Last Year: The Nightmare, the Giant can spawn in by busting through certain walls if a survivor is standing close enough to them, instantly killing the survivor in the process.
  • Happens in Left 4 Dead with the Witch in the opening cutscene after Louis accidentally alerts her - she attempts to break through a door as Louis holds it closed, and just as he starts to calm down slightly she just punches through it.
  • There's an exaggerated example in The Matrix: Path of Neo after you get knocked back into the beginning of a later level it becomes a free-for-all of vampires exploding out of walls/columns to try and kill you. Also happens in an in-game cut-scene where a vampire bursts out of a wall, grabs Neo and they bust through a wall into a dungeon.
  • In Phantasy Star Online 2, Buster Quests require the players to defend several towers in order to summon Buster Rams that can pierce the Arx Demonica protecting the main body of the Castrum Demonica, which is otherwise impervious to attack. In the same quests, the Castrum Demonica may erect walls between the Buster Towers that make it difficult for players caught on either side of it to help one another, forcing them to slowly whittle away at the weak spots to bring the wall down. However, by using Dark Blast [Elder]'s "Punishment Knuckle" attack, the walls can be brought down with a single charged hit to the weak point.
  • In Red Faction: Guerrilla, your trusty hammer has more than enough power to break through most cover as well as whatever's hiding behind it.
  • In Resident Evil 2, the Implacable Man Mr. X has a habit of introducing himself by busting through walls. In one darkly hilarious moment, he'll bust into a room from the hall surrounding it to kill you, and when you take him out or run away, he'll bust back out of the room, through a different wall, to keep chasing you. And in one hallway, zombies can grab you through the boarded-up windows; in this case, however, it's more of a Cat Scare, as the hands are completely harmless and will let go and recede all on their own even if you don't mash buttons to pry yourself away.
    • In the remake, Mr. X kills the reporter Ben by grabbing him through the back wall of his cell before lifting him into the air still through the wall before finally killing him by crushing his skull with one hand. Mr. X can also come through the wall of the interrogation room hallway from the briefing room, and bursts through the parking garage wall in a cutscene.
  • Tachibana Muneshige from Sengoku Basara 3 made this kind of entrance as an Advancing Boss of Doom. If you flee up to a certain point after capturing a certain base, he will bust another wall to get you while avoiding stepping on his boss' image made appear by capturing the aforementioned base.
  • Sam Fisher can do this in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Double Agent, albeit only with particularly thin and/or easily-punctured surfaces, like paper walls in the Japanese bathhouse level of the former and patches of ice coming up to the oil tanker in the latter.
  • You can do this to people in Stubbs the Zombie.
  • In Syndicate (2012), at several scripted points, you get prompted to charge through weak walls and obstacles.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: In addition to all the other ways in which it breaks the rules of the game up until this point, the Advancing Boss of Doom in Griffith Park is the only entity in the game that can break through walls (and one of very few who can break through doors). This will likely come as an extremely nasty surprise to first-time players who are told immediately before the battle that they can hide from the boss inside a nearby building, only to have said boss drop in on them through the roof.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
    • Berserkers have Bull Rush, an ability to run and punch straight through walls, damaging anything within its area of effect. With lesser armors, this is enough to kill any XCOM soldier on the other side; after Powered Armor and the melee-resistant Chitin Plating, the main danger is that it destroys the target's cover and leaves them exposed.
    • In the Enemy Within expansion, MEC Troopers equipped with the Kinetic Strike Module can punch walls and other scenery that count as high cover. Anything on the other side of a thin wallnote  will also be hit for at the very least 12 damage, enough to kill most low/mid-tier enemies, and that is without an upgrade that bumps the punch's damage to a devastating 18.
  • In Xenonauts, it is a special ability of the Androns, alien battlebots. Later it is also employed by Sentinel power armors, used by Xenonaut soldiers.

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Actually its more of a Finger Poke of Doom. In the battle with Melinda in episode 7, Keedran puts up a barrier to block her fireball rain. However, Melinda destroys the barrier by casually slapping it.
    Melinda: Did you think seals were the only thing I could shatter with ease?
  • In Red vs. Blue, Tex punches through a wall to grab Simmons in an episode of Revelation. While he's lampshading Never Split the Party, no less.


    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Legends of the Dark Knight", Batman does this to a mook in a sequence based on the aforementioned Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
  • In the Transformers: Beast Wars episode "Gorilla Warfare", Optimus Primal, driven insane by a berserker virus, cranks this trope up a notch by pulling Waspinator through a wall into the corridor, then promptly flinging him through the other wall.
  • Subverted in Beavis and Butt-Head. After watching RoboCop (1987), the two decide that it would be a fun stunt to try. Butt-Head plays the criminal standing beside their door, while Beavis plays RoboCop. When Beavis tries to ram the wall, he smacks it hard enough to knock some plaster off it. Butt-Head goes outside and complains to Beavis' unconscious (and possibly dead) body that he hardly made a dent.
  • An episode of The Mask features Stanley fleeing into his apartment to escape an android, who punches through the door in order to reach the lock and open it.
  • In one episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Shaggy attempts to shut a door on a mummy, only for the mummy to punch right through.
  • In the Tom and Jerry short "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse", Tom has accidentally fed Jerry a potion that turns him into a super-strong mouse.note . To avoid him, Tom closes a door and tries to hold it shut, but Jerry breaks it down right over him (creating an Impact Silhouette in the process). Afterward, Tom locks himself inside a metal safe, but Jerry drills a hole into the door with his fist and pulls Tom out through it.

    Real Life 
  • Thanks to the wall being made of relatively thin chipboard, this builder working as part of a crew renovating a house not only got grabbed by one of his colleagues through a wall, but dragged through it as well!
  • Sideshow performer Oofty Goofty seemed to have developed an immunity to pain after being coated with so much tar he had to be left on a roof for it to dissolve, and then falling onto a street. He then utilized his newfound resistance to pain by inviting the citizens of San Francisco to take a whack at him with a baseball bat for ten cents a swing. Worked out pretty well...until boxing champion John L. Sullivan took up the challenge and broke the bat over Oofty's back, fracturing three of his vertebrae.
  • The combination of Battering Ram and Flash-bang tends to be this for those finding themselves on the wrong side of a SWAT incursion.
  • Various militarys also employ this tactic when breaching a room, only their tools are typically a bit more lethal.


Video Example(s):


Busting the Door

The furious IRS agent busts through the locked janitor's closet with her two arms and gives Alpha Waymond a Neck Snap.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / BarrierBustingBlow

Media sources: