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Broken Lever of Doom

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Textbook example of Broken Lever leading to Oh, Crap!.

Lev: Pull the lever!
AJ: [waving it in his face] THIS IS THE LEVER!!!

Someone breaks a lever, so whatever was controlled by it can't be turned off and it goes into overdrive. Likely to result in an Oh, Crap! moment for the culprit and/or witnesses.

Usually Played for Laughs as we watch the character trying to stop the runaway machine from wreaking havoc. This task is harder with No Off Button. Sometimes someone who Does Not Know His Own Strength will break at least one lever.

Contrast Destruction Equals Off-Switch. See also Removable Steering Wheel and Failsafe Failure.



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  • The Honey Nut Cheerios ad "Honeyway Train" has Buzz encounter a broken brake lever on a Runaway Train. He uses his honey dipper as a substitute handle to engage the brakes.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Goofy Movie: While Goofy and Max try to stop their runaway car, arguing all the while, Goofy accidentally pulls out the gearshift when he tries to stop it.
    Max: You should have put the brake on!
    Goofy: Why don't you just put it on yourself?!
    [he pulls on the shift and removes it]
    Max: See? You ruin everything.
  • Happens in Incredibles 2, when Mr. Incredible tries to stop the Underminer. They have a struggle inside the Tunneler vehicle during which Mr. Incredible throws the Underminer on a control panel, bending a lever in the process. When Mr. Incredible later tries to stop the vehicle by pulling the lever, it breaks off and he watches helplessly as the machine digs its way up to the surface where it causes extensive collateral damage to the city before it can be stopped by a concentrated effort of the superheroes. Watch the lever breaking here.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Armageddon, while aboard the Russian space station AJ is told to keep an eye on the fuel pressure and pull a lever if it gets too strong. When the pressure spikes, AJ tries to pull the lever and has it snap off in his hand. Cue Stuff Blowing Up.
    Lev: Pull the lever!
    AJ: [waving it in his face] THIS IS THE LEVER!!!
  • In the Horror Comedy remake Little Shop of Horrors, the sadist dentist Orin Scrivello puts on a gas mask that allows him to take in large amounts of laughing gas from tanks on his back. After a while he wants to take off the mask but accidentally breaks the valve controlling the flow of gas, and he slowly begins to asphyxiate. Watch the scene here.
  • Spider-Man 2: During the train scene, Doc Ock hijacks the train, then pushes the gear lever up until it breaks, so that no one can stop the train easily. Spider-Man has to resort to physically stop the speeding train with his powers.
  • In the black comedy Undertaking Betty, Christopher Walken's character is a progressive funeral director arranging for a Star Trek-themed funeral. But Hilarity Ensues when a machine that is supposed to lift the coffin a couple of feet up goes out of control after its lever breaks off resulting in the coffin breaking through the churches' ceiling. Watch the scene here.

  • The Famous Five: In Five on Kirrin Island Again, the villains set up Uncle Quentin's equipment to cause a massive explosion, and have altered the mechanism to the dungeon entrance so that it cannot be opened from the inside, preventing Uncle Quentin and the others from escaping.
    In vain, Uncle Quentin swung the lever to and fro. Nothing happened. The stone did not move.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "The Edge of Destruction", a broken spring causes the Fast Return Switch to get stuck, causing the TARDIS to go whizzing back in time to the creation of the Universe... and, therefore, destruction.

    Video Games 
  • In Psychonauts, Sasha Nein's training stage only begins for real when Raz manages to break off the lever on the Training Dummy-spawning machine, sending it into complete overdrive, so the two of them have to work together to get the literal horde of enemies under control.

    Western Animation 
  • The 1936 Betty Boop cartoon "Betty Boop And Little Jimmy" has Betty using a reducing machine (basically, an orbital motor agitates a leather belt that allegedly jiggles body fat away). Little Jimmy stumbles onto its control lever, both pushing the device to maximum and snapping off the handle. A desperate Betty sends the boy out to fetch an electrician. Y'know, instead of pulling the cord from the power socket himself.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters: In "Train to Doom-de-Doom-Doom," Apparitia snaps the brake lever off of a train engine's controls, rendering anyone unable to stop it.
  • In The Perils of Penelope Pitstop episode "The Diabolical Department Store Danger", the elevator brake lever, which the Hooded Claw had sabotaged, snaps when Penelope pulls it. The Bully Brothers had also placed a rocket under the elevator, sending it and Penelope toward the roof at high speed.
  • Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?: On his first day working at a pickle factory, Pontoffel blows it by pushing on the pullem and pulling on the pushum. By pulling, he ends up breaking the lever off the pushum, causing everything to go haywire. This also results in him getting instantly fired.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SB-129", Squidward panics while using his Time Machine to escape from the prehistoric age and snaps the lever indicating the "Past" and "Future" options. Once the machine goes haywire, he suddenly ends up finding himself in an endless white void, seemingly divorced from time and space as he knows it.