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Bench Breaker

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When a character is tied to a chair, bench, stool or other sitting device, they usually try to pick their handcuffs, rub their ropes against a Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing, or some other action that affects their bindings. Not so with the Bench Breaker; the character manages to break free by destroying whatever they are tied to.

This is not simply Breaking the Bonds—it usually is done by a normal human who is desperate enough to ram themselves into a wall just to damage the chair, or nearly break a limb leveraging it.

Compare Bring the Anchor Along, where the prisoner ends up dragging whatever they're tied to along with them.


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     Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Kick-Ass. After he's captured, tortured, and is about to be executed by Frank Genovese's goons, Kick-Ass comes up with a frantic and desperate last-ditch escape plan that revolves around taunting them to punch and kick him to death instead of shooting him, until the chair he's tied to shatters, then he picks up the splintered parts of the broken legs to fight his way out.

    Film Animation 
  • In Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus, Annika escapes Ollie the giant by tricking him into testing his strength by chaining himself to a post and breaking free. Rather than breaking the chain, he ends up breaking the post causing his roof to collapse on him.

    Film Live-Action 
  • Black Widow of The Avengers does a flip while tied to a chair, shattering it on impact and freeing herself. And then she uses bits of the chair as weapons.
  • Twice in The Boondock Saints. Connor, handcuffed to a toilet while his brother Murphy is being taken out back to be shot by two goons from The Mafiya, smashes himself screaming against the toilet trying to break it apart before he finally just rips it up from the floor. Before he drops the toilet off the roof onto the Russians.
    • Later in the film, both brothers have to help each other escape from being handcuffed to chairs. While this involves one brother kicking the other brother's hand to break his thumb, it is relatively tame compared to the toilet scene.
  • The Butchers: When Simon is tied up by John Wayne Gacy, he escapes by smashing the chair he is tied to.
  • Cold Pursuit: When Kyle and Dante are abducted, Dante has his wrists bound over his head to the handle above the car door. During the confusion, while the gangsters are trying to subdue Kyle, Dante manages to escape by ripping the handle off and jumping out into the snow.
  • In Charlie's Angels (2000), Dylan breaks her chair with a flip, similar to the The Avengers example, although her hands stay tied after the chair is broken.
  • Lennie Pike from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World breaks the chair that he was tied to after breaking himself free from the pillar and duct tape that the gas station attendants tried tying him up to.
  • House of Wax (2005): When Cary is strapped to a surgical chair in the basement of the gas station, she manages to escape by pulling loose the rail on one side of the chair.
  • Mission: Impossible Fallout has Ilsa Faust simultaneously breaking a chair she was tied to and attacking the one who put her there in the first place.
  • Red 2. Frank Moss is being interrogated by US officials while handcuffed to a desk. Then a hit team bursts into the building killing everyone. Frank convinces an agent to uncuff him, but too late as the hitmen burst in and shoot him, catching Frank helpless...until he breaks the desk with his head and uses the pieces to knock out the hitmen.
    • Later in the movie, Frank handcuffs Han to a refrigerator. When police show up to arrest him, Han rips the door off and uses the pieces too, etc.
  • in Today We Kill... Tomorrow We Die!, O'Bannion is tied to a chair with one of the Comancheros advancing on him with a set of brass knuckles. Just as the Comanchero gets to him, O'Bannion manages to rip the chair apart with his Stout Strength.
  • In Tomorrow Never Dies, Wai Lin undoes the handcuffs chaining her and Bond together while they are under a shower. She then handcuffs Bond to the shower pipe and leaves. Bond simply snaps the copper pipe and follows her.
  • A flashback in Unknown (2006) reveals how one of the characters frees himself from the chair he was tied to by breaking the chairback.
  • In Pulp Fiction, Butch breaks free at the Torture Cellar by ripping the chair apart he was tied to.

  • In Lee Child's Die Trying book, the main character Jack Reacher finds himself chained up to a huge beam of wood with a female captive, who is about to be sexually assaulted by their captors. Reacher, summoning up every ounce of his considerable strength, tears the chain clean out of the wooden beam. The chain is intact, but the beam is destroyed.
  • Stephen King's short story The Gingerbread Girl, from the collection Just After Sunset, features a version of this. The protagonist is duck taped to a chair by a psycho who will return in a little while to kill her. She's unable to get free of the tape, so she ends up breaking the chair instead to free herself. This later comes in handy when the psycho returns, as she's able to use the splintered remains of the chair to fight him off.
  • In Dean Koontz's Intensity, the protagonist escapes her captor by ramming a wall with the chair she is tied to and splintering it. She injures herself in the process.
  • Kate Shugak: In A Taint in the Blood, Kate is captured and tied to a camp bed in an old cabin. She escapes by breaking the bed till she can squirm across the floor, and then lighting a Coleman stove and using it to burn through the rope.
  • In The Last Knight, Sir Michael is chained to a bed by a captor and spends most of his time kicking the bedpost to try to detach it from the bed. He succeeds just in time to aid Fisk in rescuing him.
  • In Unseen Academicals, Mr. Nutt is a "goblin" ( not really; he's an orc) who recently arrived in the big city after being raised by Lady Margolotta. Before he came to Lady Margolotta he was kept prisoner in some kind of mine or forge, and grew stronger by first lifting the light tools, then the heavier tools, and finally, the anvil. Trev asks why it was so important to be able to lift the anvil, and Nutt says "Because, Mr. Trev, I was chained to the anvil."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24, Jack Bauer escapes by smashing his chair and attacking his captor.
  • Altered Carbon. In "Fallen Angels", Vernon tries fighting Kovacs while still strapped to his chair, then breaks it, but is still not able to defeat Kovacs, who then secures him to a huge puffy armchair with an excess of duct tape.
  • In The Avengers (1960s), Mrs. Peel gets handcuffed to a wooden chair. When the time comes, she swiftly breaks the chair and beats up the baddies with the sticks. At the end of the episode, as they stroll off across a golf course, Steed asks her what her handicap is. She shows him the chunk of wood still cuffed to one of her wrists.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • In "Gingerbread" the residents of Sunnydale fall under the influence of a demon and try to burn Buffy and Willow at the stake. Buffy is bound so tightly she can't snap the ropes even with her Super-Strength. When the demon attacks her, she breaks the stake and leans forward, impaling it on the tip.
    • In "Never Leave Me" after Spike is revealed to be a Manchurian Agent, Buffy ties him to a chair until she can figure out what to do. Spike even tells her to tighten the bonds. When he's activated, however, he breaks the chair in berserker fury and attacks Andrew, forcing Buffy to chain him up in the basement next time.
  • In the episode of Burn Notice where Fiona gets abducted, she breaks the arms of the chair she's handcuffed to so that she can move around the room freely.
  • On Chuck, whenever Casey gets handcuffed to a piece of furniture, he ends up breaking it and using the attached pieces as a melee weapon.
  • Hawaii Five-0: When Danny is tied to a chair by gangsters, he manages to escape by ramming himself into the wall to break the chair and subsequently fighting and shooting his way out.
  • From time to time in The Incredible Hulk (1977), David Banner would get tied to a chair, only for him to Hulk Out; so Hulk breaks the chair.
  • The Prisoner (1967) episode "The Girl Who Was Death" had him tied to a chair inside a missile set to launch and destroy London - he struggles against the rope for some time before he realizes he can just pull the back of the chair up and off, freeing himself.
  • Doreau does this accidentally in the Sledge Hammer! episode "Wild About Hammer". The villain for that episode ties her to a chair. Sledge manages to untie her ankles from the chair before he's attacked. While those two are fighting, Doreau manages to stand herself up on her now freed legs, only to trip, fall over backwards, break the chair, and free herself from the rest of the rope.
  • Glen does this in one episode of The Walking Dead after being locked in a room with a zombie.

  • One tale of Hercules has him go down to the Underworld to rescue Theseus, who'd gone on a profoundly stupid quest to help abduct Persephone (yes, the wife of the god of the Underworld) along with Pirithous, the friend he was accompanying (whose idea it was in the first place). They ended up trapped on an enchanted bench that prevented whoever sat on it from getting back up. Hercules just ripped Theseus off the bench (ow), but the earth started to shake when he tried to do the same to Pirithous, due to the magnitude of Pirithous' blasphemy.

    Video Games 
  • In the intro scenes of Batman: Arkham City, Bruce Wayne rocks back and forth in a chair he's been tied to, and then escapes from his bonds once he (and it) topples to the ground.
  • Max Payne waits until Frankie "The Bat" Niagara is out of the room, before falling backwards on his chair in order to break it and set himself free.
  • In Red Dead Redemption II one of the missions on Guarma begins with Arthur being knocked out and interrogated by the local regime. He manages to escape by toppling the chair he's tied up in and knocking out his captor.

  • In El Goonish Shive, when Grace breaks free of her shackles Damien had her in she destroys the chair she was sitting in in the process. This has consequences for the prisoner who was sitting near her.

    Western Animation 
  • This becomes a Running Gag in Dragons: Race to the Edge — when captured by dragon-proof chains, break the winches; when captured by chains on a dragon-proof winch, blast the winch off the wooden deck. The dragon hunters are finally forced to make ships entirely out of dragon-proof metal to defy this trope.
  • In the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "The Nest Hats Craze!," Blythe gets so mad at Whittanny and Brittney tying her to a wooden chair that she breaks the chair to escape.


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