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Battering Ram

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"Knock knock!"

"Great engines crawled across the field; and in the midst was a huge ram, great as a forest-tree a hundred feet in length, swinging on mighty chains. Long had it been forging in the dark smithies of Mordor, and its hideous head, founded of black steel, was shaped in the likeness of a ravening wolf; on it spells of ruin lay. Grond they named it, in memory of the Hammer of the Underworld of old. Great beasts drew it, orcs surrounded it, and behind walked mountain-trolls to wield it..."
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When you want to enter a structure, you politely knock on the door. When the door does not open after that, you knock harder.

A common element in sieges is the use of a large blunt object to batter down the fortification's gate. The type of object varies depending on the attacker, from tree trunks barely cleared of branches to metal-capped beams carried and swung on a wheeled carriage. Some can even be fully covered by a protective shield to ward off arrows and oil. Just watch out if the gate opens just as you're about to hit.

This is very common in fiction. After all, it's dramatic, looks cool, and has plenty of basis in Real Life. The Theory of Narrative Causality, however, means that it's only effective half the time. If they are successful, it's Breaching the Wall.

Sometimes, a person has to be substituted as the battering ram, mostly through his head. Other times, a large, powerful animal or monster may be used in this capacity instead.

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If you use a vehicle as the ram, then you have found that Ramming Always Works. If the vehicle is an automobile, then you have mastered the art of Car Fu. See also Anti-Structure.


Examples:

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    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Battering Ram destroys walls that block it. It's a relatively weak artifact creature in and of itself, but can team up with another attacking creature so that anything that blocks the one also has to fight the other.

    Comic Books 
  • Kajko I Kokosz: Used twice. On one occasion, Clumsy suggests that the brigands simply break down the town's gate (as opposed to coming up with scheme of the week) They agree to the plan but forget to bring the ram and end up using Clumsy's head instead. On the other occasion the one shot villains, the Falcon Band, break down the gate with a ram, only to realize that the heroes had covered it with glue the night before.
  • The Smurfs: Used in "The Fake Smurf" (and its Animated Adaptation). Also used in "The Smurfs And The Book That Tells Everything" to pound open Brainy's door, until Brainy opens the door and lets the Smurfs with the ram enter only to crash into a wall.

    Films — Animation 
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ben-Hur: There's a Hope Spot when the Roman galley appears to have escaped danger, only for a Greek warship to come baring down on them and ram straight through their hull, causing their own galley to break up and sink. In a further horror, there's a Roman prisoner strapped to the front of the ram.
  • In Braveheart, the hero and his man are seen ramming in the gate to York. This gets an added Incendiary Exponent — if the door doesn't fall down it can burn down.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: A highly modern one is used to breach Fury's SUV, because the thing's armored like a tank.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The apes and gorillas are shown using the handheld version, only to leap out of the way when Koba comes riding up on a runaway armoured vehicle. The steel doors come crashing down under the impact, and the human defenses quickly fall once the numerically superior apes swarm inside.
  • Dragnet features an LAPD vehicle which is a cross between a battering ram and a tank.
  • In Fury (1936), an angry mob uses a large wooden beam to break open the door to the sheriff's quarters.
  • The Great Bank Robbery: After numerous unsuccessful assaults, the Mexican bandits successfully smash their way into the fortress-like bank using a giant tree trunk as a ram, only to learn the bank's already been robbed by someone else.
  • In Hairspray, at one point they use a hairspray battering ram.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: Hilariously combined with Use Your Head. When the orc forces begin their attack on Dale, a troll with huge chunk of stones tied to his head rams the wall as a living battering ram and then... promptly flops back after knocking himself out.
  • Hot Fuzz: two huge chains of shopping carts were used as this.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: In the 1923, 1939, and 1956 adaptations, Quasimodo drops a long piece of wood onto the rabble attacking Notre Dame, and the rabble use it as an improvised battering ram.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • In The Two Towers, the Uruk-hai use a battering ram against Helm's Deep's gates.
    • Likewise, the orc army in The Return of the King uses a battering ram to attack the gates of Mines Tirith. Their standard battering ram has absolutely no effect on the gate, so they bring up Grond...
      Gothmog: What are you doing, you useless scum?
      Murgash: The door won't give! It's too strong!
      Gothmog: Get back there, and smash it down!
      Murgash: But nothing can breach it!
      Gothmog: ...Grond will breach it. Bring up the wolf's head!
  • The Man with Two Brains: Some policemen attempt to use one to break into an apartment.
  • In The Pirate Movie, the pirates use a battering ram to... ring the doorbell. On their second charge, the butler opens the door and they charge through.
  • Siege of the Dead: the protagonist constructs a Rammbock to break through the walls of the apartment building he's trapped in during a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Treasure Island (1934): A bunch of pirates after a treasure map break their way through into an inn with a log acting as a makeshift battering ram.
  • In Up the Chastity Belt, Sir Braggart's men use a battering in an attempt to break into Lukalot's workshop, but he defeats them with Door Judo.
  • Young Frankenstein: When the angry mob attacks the castle, they use Inspector Kemp (with his artificial arm extended) as their battering ram.

    Literature 
  • Able Team: Carl Lyons takes part in a SWAT raid and notes with amusement that their battering ram has the letters L.A.P.D. engraved in reverse on the head, so it would stamp them on any door it's rammed into.
  • Animorphs: Jake's rhinoceros morph and Rachel's elephant morph are used as living versions of this on a number of occasions.
  • The Infected has a curious incident in which a battering ram, mounted in some kind of IFV, is used to bring down a chain-link fence. Nevermind that an armored vehicle could probably bring down the fence by simply driving through it.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The army attacking Minas Tirith uses a battering ram called Grond against its gates.
  • Masters of Rome: Julius Caesar is fond of using "battering ram" as an Unusual Euphemism for his... you know what.
  • In The Mouse That Roared, the solders of Grand Fenwick need to get past a locked door at the New York Institute of Physics. So they chop down a tree and cover one end with a chain mail shirt. They then batter down the door. Cut to later on as an almost crying historian examines the chain mail shirt and laments over the destruction of a perfect replica of ancient chain mail.
  • Pyramids has Alfonse, a pirate covered in highly explicit tattoos who appears to have found employment as a battering ram in the past. He also turns into a shamefaced wreck when the woman in charge of the palace handmaidens' education uses him as a living diagram, his fingers stuck in his ears as hard as he can.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: A device similar to the "big red key" is used by "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. to break into a Hulk-proof safehouse in "Afterlife".
  • The Bill: A smaller version that can be operated by one person, referred to by British Coppers everywhere as "the big red key", has shown up a few times.
  • Brainiac: Science Abuse: Brainiac: History Abuse had the Brainiac Battering Ram Squad, whose job was hitting things with a battering ram.
  • Dad's Army: In "Museum Piece", the platoon uses a battering ram in an attempt to break down the doors of the museum, only to be defeated by some Door Judo by the museum caretaker.
  • Masada features a battering ram with a massive ram-shaped metal head mounted on a siege tower to bring down the walls of the Last Bastion of the Jewish Zealots.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In "The Bishop" sketch, the Bishop's acolytes use one of their number as a battering ram at one point.
  • Power Rangers Turbo: In the end of the series, the Big Bad's Mooks enter the command center using one of these.
  • Red Dwarf: In one episode, the crew needs a battering ram to get through a series of doors. "All we need is something, say, I dunno, six foot long, fairly sturdy, with a flat top." Everyone looks at Kryten. "Fifty-three doors? You can't be serious!" Fifty-three doors later...
    Lister: Kryten, are you okay?
    Kryten: I'm fine, thank you Susan!
  • Reno 911!: In the opening theme for the first season, Dept. Jones tries to open a door by ramming into it using his shoulder. He only succeeds in hurting himself.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Shelter", Dr. Bill Stockton's neighbors fashion one together to break into his bomb shelter. Immediately after they break the shelter's door down, they learn from a CONELRAD broadcast that the unidentified objects were satellites as opposed to missiles.

    Radio 
  • From Kremmen of the Star Corps
    "I shall break out of this cell using the hardest substance known to Mankind! MY HEAD!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has both the traditional version (check the Dungeon Master's Guide) and smaller man-portable rams similar to the type used by police in Real Life. Dragon magazine has also had at least two articles on siege-warfare that include magical rams.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Caestus Assault Ram, a spacecraft intended to get close to enemy flagships, fire a magnamelta shot at it, then ram through the now-softened armor to deliver a squad of Space Marines inside. Later someone figured that what can ram a Mile Long Spaceship without damage to itself or passengers will probably work well against ground targets as well.

    Theater 
  • Lysistrata: This occurs when Greece's women have barricaded themselves in the Acropolis and vowed to withhold sex from their husbands until they call off The Peloponnesian War. So we get a scene where the much-deprived men of Athens grab a big trunk of wood and ram it against the doors of the Acropolis again and again, desperately trying to force their way inside.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires II: Battering rams are one of the units that you can create.
  • Age of Mythology: The Norse get light man-portable rams. The Egyptians and Greeks opt to use siege towers with rams in the base.
  • Age of Wonders: In the first game, rams are the most basic way to get past enemy walls. Even small villages can build them. However, their slowness makes them difficult to use.
  • All Points Bulletin has these for the Enforcers when the player is to breach a door or car to get to an item.
  • Bastion: Near the end , the player character receives one as a weapon... which he carries himself. He can use to smash down doors and clear the room of obstacles and enemies in a single move. However, it slows him down to a crawl, turning him into a Mighty Glacier.
  • Civilization: Attila and the Huns have this as a unique Ancient Era unit in the fifth game, where it is extremely effective in the Ancient Era, capable of taking down any city in two hits or less. The battering ram would make a return in the sixth game as an Ancient Era unit for all civilizations, which provided the ability for melee units to bypass the wall health of a city when attacking.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: During the "Here Lies the Abyss" quest, the eponymous military force assaults an ancient fortress called Adamant. Part of the assault involves swinging a battering ram at the door; it's shaped like a giant arm clutching some kind of weapon in its fist.
  • Dynasty Warriors: One of the many siege weapons available. 8 also has the "Siege Spear" wielded by Xiahou Ba: a bizarre fusion of a spear and a rocket-propelled battering ram.
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: One of the siege weapons. Beware when using it, however: a player defending the keep may pour flaming oil down on you.
  • Empire Earth: In the early ages, the very first siege weapon available is the Samson, an infantry unit carrying a huge log he repeatedly bashes against whatever building he's pointed at. Due to Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, he's unable to attack anything but buildings. Later eras have wheeled battering rams that can still only attack buildings and are best used in large groups (the AI certainly will).
  • Final Fantasy XIV: The end of the Stomrblood story has a unique take on the trope. The huge door leading into the city of Ala Mhigo is sealed shut. How does the Alliance get it open? By having their black mages all cast their fire and ice spells on the door at the same time to weaken it, followed by a barrage of cannonballs until they blow a huge hole in the door.
  • Kingdoms Of Camelot has battering rams as a weapon. They're a higher-level weapon, not unlocked until the player has a level 9 Barracks and several high level researches completed. They also tend to require a lot of food upkeep, so they aren't trained quite as often as foot or horse troops. They are great for attacking other players' cities, though you have to watch out for defensive trebuchets, which specifically target siege weaponry.
  • In Stronghold, engineers build rams on the field and must man them to be usable.
  • Total War: A reliable way to smash through city or castle gates in many games, assuming enemy archers don't get lucky and set it alight with flaming arrows... or it's not late enough in the game for the enemy settlement to have cannon towers that smash the ram to splinters in one shot. Unlike many video game examples, these rams aren't constructed normally, but built by your armies in the field once they besiege a settlement.
    • War elephants can also be used as battering rams.
    • Total War: Warhammer includes the ram when besieging, but it becomes redundant for some races who have access to monstrous creatures (such as giants, Dragon Ogres, or Varghulfs) who are more agile and durable than a wooden ram and can smash a gate apart just as easily.
  • Warcraft III has the Steam Tank/Siege Engine, which (despite being a steam-powered tank) is functionally a battering ram, as it has very short range and can only target buildings. In the expansion, it gains a Macross Missile Massacre attack against air units.

    Webcomics 
  • Girl Genius: Along with a more traditional example, the comic features something a bit different in the form of a gigantic, flesh-and-blood ram sent to headbutt the gates of Mechanicsburg.
    General Zog: At least it ain't vun ov de vuns vot breathe fire. Dose vuns wos alvays hexplodeink ven dey hit.
  • In The Senkari, a dragon serves as a makeshift battering ram.

    Western Animation 
  • Fairly OddParents: "Information Stupor Highway" used battering rams in a Running Gag.
  • Motorcity: Texas's car, Stronghorn, has one.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In "Red Riding Hoodwinked," the Big Bad Wolf uses a log this way to bust down the back door to Grandma's House. But then he encounters Sylvester's own solution: a boulder slingshot from the front door.
    • In "Mouse Divided," this is how a horde of cats attempts to access Sylvester's house. He answers with Door Judo.
  • The Simpsons: One time when Maggie Simpson is locked inside the bathroom all by herself, Bart uses Homer's head as a battering ram to try to open the door.

    Real Life 
  • Police forces and fire brigades use smaller versions of battering rams to access locked doors. The former tends to use them on particularly stubborn suspects who refuse to come out of the room they're locked in, making it a real life example of Cutting the Knot. The latter use it to open any door they deem necessary to put out a blaze as quickly as possible while mitigating any potential damage. You might lose a door, but at least you'll get your man or get the flame put out.
  • Luftwaffe named a heavily armoured and armed version of Focke-Wulf 190A-8 as Sturmbock ("battering ram"). Why? Because it was intended to bring down the Flying Fortress! Some time in the 1950s, Popular Mechanics ran a front-page article proposing to take this more literally. Machine guns and cannon couldn't reliably bring down a huge multi-engined bomber and reliable guided missiles were some way off, so why not design a fighter that could just smash into them and (hopefully) come through mostly intact? Not surprisingly, the idea was never pursued by the US Air Force or any aircraft designers.

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