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Catapult to Glory

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Who knew The Avengers would make such great projectiles?

When Siege Engines are loaded with people rather than rocks/bombs/plague victims. Typically in the context of a siege, so as to get attackers on a walltop quickly, or to give particularly tough characters a Dynamic Entry. Artistic License – Physics is usually required to avoid the problems of how to launch someone in a controllable manner and enable them to survive the landing; the person might just have to be Super Tough or Made of Iron.

Title comes from a Darwin Award (that isn't about this, but a Tree Buchet-induced death).

See also Fastball Special, Human Cannonball, Abnormal Ammo.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Knight Sabers of Bubblegum Crisis 2040 launch into battle via a magnetic mass driver in their base.
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Spiral City has an unintentional example at the ending, when Gian assists in the final battle by using a giant slingshot to launch giant tennis balls on Onigoro's clones. Unfortunately, Gian got himself caught in the slingshot and launches himself into knocking out a few clones.
  • This is the main way of transportation of the Samurai Pizza Cats, and they do this Once per Episode.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: "With my Catapult Turtle, I launch my Dragon Champion at your castle..."
  • Zoids: Chaotic Century: Van was shot from the Gravity Cannon in his Blade Liger in order to take out the Death Saurer.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Lamput episode "Hilltop", Lamput escapes from the docs by stretching his arms around some nearby trees and catapulting himself back to the hilltop where he was relaxing before the docs appeared.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In Flying Island: The Sky Adventure episode 13, one of Wolffy's attempts to get back to his family is to shoot himself into the air with a giant catapult. The base of the catapult detaches from the ground and comes flying at him, leaving him right in front of a tree trunk.

    Card Games 
  • Very common in Magic: The Gathering, especially with goblins (and giants, who are always happy to help them fly).
  • Catapult Turtle and Cannon Soldier from Yugioh are two more Prime examples, firing off their fellow monsters for use in direct attacks.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix:
    • Asterix and Cleopatra has this twice: once as an accident, a Roman soldier lands on the boulder loaded in the catapult just as it fires, the second is deliberate, Asterix loads himself into one to escape from the Romans.
    • Asterix does it again in Asterix and Caesar's Gift, launching himself from a catapult to escape a Roman camp while he's out of magic potion.
  • Lanfeust: Lanfeust uses this method to get a troll onto a wall quickly.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: While it is not seen used for such Paradise Island has an odd cannon-like contraption designed to fire Amazons at attackers. In story it's used as part of a kanga jumping game by shooting a bunch of balloons up in the air.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Dilbert, the Elbonians use giant slingshots instead of planes.
  • In the March 26th strip of Hägar the Horrible, Hagar is about to use a catapult to send some of his warriors over the wall of an enemy castle.
  • One The Far Side strip featured a knight being flung from the catapult on a castle's parapet. The chief engineer is calmly berating the others by saying "I told you to slow down or something like this would happen".

    Fan Works 
  • If Wishes Were Ponies: Harry and the CMC build a trebuchet and begin launching themselves. It quickly becomes popular. Once they finish building a larger one, some enterprising pegasi decide it would be great fun to use the flung ponies to play dodge-ball. Then an equally enterprising unicorn decided to make the dodging pagasi's jobs harder by firing off spells while they're still mid-flight. The pegasi in question just take it as a challenge.
  • A Thing of Vikings: Hiccup invents a "dragon catapult" early on, but the dragons mostly use it as a toy. Much later, during the Pecheneg attack on Constantinople, they make a comeback, not as a toy for the dragons, but as a war machine to launch dragons and their riders directly into battle.
  • Vow of Nudity: In one story, Haara fires herself out of a trebuchet to put some distance between herself and the swarm of ice mephits trying to chase her down. (It helps that as a monk she can drastically reduce her fall damage.)

    Films — Animation 
  • Suggested as yet another escape plan by Ginger and Mac in Chicken Run, though the potential negatives of the landing are explored when they use a miniature model of the catapult and a turnip as a chicken for the demonstration. The turnip is flung with such force it smashes into the other wall and explodes, to the squeamish of the observing chickens.
    Fowler: *observing the remains* The turnip bought it!
  • At the climax of Inside Out, Joy manages to launch herself and Sadness back to Headquarters with the unlikely combination of a human tower formed from a Bag of Holding full of clones of Riley's imaginary boyfriend and a giant trampoline.
  • A variation occurs in Lilo & Stitch when Stitch uses an exploding tanker truck to launch himself at Gantu's spaceship.
  • Used as part of the ludicrous Rube Goldberg Device transportation method in Robots.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Evil Ash tries this so as to make his dramatic getaway at the end of Army of Darkness. It doesn't end well for him.
  • A giant slingshot is one of the increasingly desperate measures the Lost Boys use in Hook to try to rekindle Peter's ability to fly.
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again. With the help of a goat, Inspector Clouseau is inadvertently launched into a castle's window via catapult and lands on Professor Fassbender's Disintegrator Ray device, disabling it and saving the day.
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights parodies the Prince of Thieves example with the Sheriff of Rottingham, who gets catapulted into a very eager Latrine's bedroom.
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: In order to get inside the castle and rescue Marian, Robin and Azeem use a catapult to launch themselves over the wall.
  • Mathyas in The Scorpion King stumbles into the Evil Overlord's captive scientist's laboratory during his first attack on the palace. When he asks if there is any other way out of the room, the scientist offers his newly invented catapult as an option. Apparently, he designed it for this purpose explicitly (but admits "there was a little problem with the landings") and he expresses regret that his boss plans to use the "transportation" device for war.
  • In Sucker Punch, during the Mordor sequence, two orcs are launched by catapult toward the girls' plane. One misses, the other is quickly shot and goes through the Turbine Blender.
  • Done by Douglas Fairbanks in the classic silent movie The Thief of Baghdad.
  • Willow plays this straight when Madmartegan uses a catapult to launch to a rampart to get into the thick of a fight.
  • Young Einstein has the titular character launch himself from a homemade catapult to test Newton's second law.

  • A Bernard Werber short story is set 20 Minutes into the Future, when pollution of any kind is banned (the ozone layer is barely there anymore), and catapults are in development as a rapid transit method.
  • The Marvellous Land of Snergs: In order to cross over the river, the Snergs and Vanderdecken's crew build a giant ballista and shoot the anchor tied to a long rope across the gorge. It worked, but if they had failed to secure the anchor, Vanderdecken's Plan B was to wrap a Snerg in a straw bale and catapult him across the river.
  • Done with trebuchets a few times in A Practical Guide to Evil.
    • In the First Battle of Liesse, after an important shot misses with the first stone, Catherine could distantly hear her Senior Sapper screaming that if the second shot is off that badly, the third shot will be launching the offending engineer.
    • During the Second Battle of Liesse, Adjutant rides a trebuchet stone into battle to join Catherine for the taking of the outer bastion. He ends up injured, but not badly enough to slow him down.
    • In the siege of the Red Flower Vales, when General Nekheb strafed the Proceran army the Valiant Champion tried to have herself launched at them from a catapult, but the engineer insisted that she couldn't survive that and refused to cooperate.
    • While fighting the Dominion, General Rumena reinforces a faltering battle line by catapulting Mighty Jindrich into the enemy lines.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used as a death trap in an episode of the live-action Batman (1966) series ("Penguin Is a Girl's Best Friend"). Penguin has Batman and Robin strapped upon a catapult, with movie cameras strapped to their calves to record their flight and hard landing. The catapult will be released when a taut rope is burned through. The Dynamic Duo do manage to escape this trap through their own technology.
  • The MythBusters tested a myth regarding using this technique via a portable slingshot to illegally cross the U.S. border. Unfortunately, as Jamie put it, "humans are big, heavy things", and any slingshot powerful enough to accomplish the distances state in the myth (300 yards) wouldn't be even remotely portable; the MythBusters' use of radio towers wasn't enough to do that. Not to mention the likely injuries suffered when landing after travelling that distance.
  • In an episode of Northern Exposure, Chris builds a trebuchet as an art project, and is looking for something to "fling" from it. First he wants to fling a cow, but Ed tells him Monty Python already did it. Chris finally settles on a piano ruined by fire, saying, "It's not the thing you fling, it's the fling itself." Then in a later episode, his mentor (who died) sends Chris his corpse...
  • One series of sketches on Sorry, I've Got No Head involved a mother and son pair who tried increasingly bizarre means of transportation in an attempt to beat the traffic while getting the son to school. One of there attempts involved using a giant slingshot.

  • In Hook, activating the kickback shows Peter Pan being launched into the air with a giant slingshot.
  • NBA has the Free Throw saucer, which kicks the pinball through the air and towards the playfield basketball hoop; a magnet in the backboard grabs the ball and drops it through the hoop.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Even appears in Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Book of Marvelous Inventions has the Manapult. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs, however, and the Manapult almost always kills its pilot.
    • In Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, the gnomeflinger is a gnomish catapult designed specifically for launching people great distances as a form of rapid transportation. It's safe to use, so long as you're wearing a parachute and you don't crash into anything before you land.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • The Doom Diver Catapult from Warhammer and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar is a slingshot or ballista that fires goblins/grots with pointed helmets and crude wings. These strange war machines are surprisingly effective as the ammo is able to use its wings to guide itself onto the target.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • Orks utilize a high-tech variant in the form of gretchin-guided missiles and one possible malfunction for the Shokk Attack Gun ("move the Big Mek into base contact with the target squad and resolve as if he had charged them"). The intended function of the shokk attack gun is to fire a tiny goblin into the target via The Warp, but that's more of a Tele-Frag.
      • The fan-created Angry Marines have a vehicle class called the Angrinator, which fires Angry Marines directly into combat. Guns that launch Angry Marines (or giant cannons that launch vehicles filled with Angry Marines) are pretty much the only kind of ranged weapon the Angry Marines will use, as they prefer melee combat.
  • In the Paranoia adventure Alpha Complexities, R&D offers a gigantic human slingshot as the only way the Troubleshooters can possibly get to their mission location on time. Given that even toothbrushes from R&D are usually fatal, the Troubleshooters are expected to insist on walking, especially after talking to the suspiciously nervous tech. Anyone who uses the slingshot passes out from the G-forces, but then wakes up lying on a giant mattress, perfectly unharmed.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Angry Birds is all about this. On one side, birdbrained birds and a sling. On the opposed side, evil pigs hiding in elaborate-but-not-unbreakable structures. You must smash the pigs.
  • While nigh-impossible to achieve, it is possible in Board Game Online to get a random event that makes you able to launch yourself out of a catapult, and land on another player, killing them and ensuring you get away scot-free.
  • Burrito Bison similarly uses this as its core mechanic. Bison launches himself off the wrestling ring rather than a real catapult, though.
  • Castle Crashers catapults the player(s) into battle against the Coneheads during the mission at Flower Fields.
  • The dramatic ending to the tutorial zone for Champions Online features your character carving a path through the Qular invasion into the Hall of Champions. Once there, you finally pound through to the controls for the massive cannon outside. BUT WAIT, you're undoubtedly thinking to yourself, "We've established that nothing we've tried can penetrate the mothership's shields!" Well that's when Ironclad climbs into the cannon... And he one-shots the entire mothership.
  • The Soviet amphibious transport vehicle from Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 is capable of launching (with parachutes) any infantry (which includes bears) through a cannon. It is, in fact, the only way for your troops to exit the craft.
  • Doom Eternal:
    • During a level on a space station in Mars' orbit, the Doom Slayer hijacks a nearby ion cannon, kicks the cannonball-shaped projectile out of the way, and launches himself to where he needs to go much to the exasperation of Dr. Hayden.
    Dr. Hayden: That is a weapon, not a teleporter.
    • The Slayer pulls the same stunt in part two of The Ancient Gods, where the Night Sentinels load him into a catapult and launch him into the walls of Immora without protest.
  • God of War sees this done a couple of times throughout the series. In GoW 2, Kratos launches himself from a catapult so he can get up close and personal with the animated Colossus of Rhodes. In GoW 3, he hitches a ride on the boulder launched instead.
  • Some multiplayer maps in Halo have Man Cannons as an alternative to teleporters; they also show up in some of the later games' campaigns.
  • Near the end of Hero of Sparta 2, after defeating Hades' mooks you then launch yourself towards Khronos' island via catapult while avoiding flaming arrows coming towards you. It's also one of the longest catapult to glories in history, the subsequent stage having you thrown through the skies and remaining airborne for two minutes.
  • Very early on in Hexen II, your path is barred by a wall with a locked gate. There's a catapult nearby, and when you get close, a sheep helpfully demonstrates the launch angle and what you need to do to get to the other side.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], this is one of the more amusing applications of the Reality Shift function, it being used to load Pete and Beagle Boys into a cannon and fire them out of it; first blasting the latter into the former to get him to come down from his perch, then launching the former into a wall as a finisher.
  • The Legend of Zelda has used this a few times.
  • This is how Sir Dan escapes the castle he is dropping into lava in MediEvil.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, during the final assault on Outer Haven to stop Liquid Ocelot's plans, Snake, Meryl, and Akiba use rocket-powered catapults to launch themselves onboard. Only Snake manages to hit his mark — Meryl ends up on a different part of the vessel and breaks her ankle, while Akiba smacks into the hull of the ship and plunges into the water.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy: In all three games, Samus takes advantage of her ability to become cannonball-shaped to use various types of "Kinetic Orb" cannons as transportation.
  • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri): One of the masks your Shakalaka companion (Cha-Cha) can use is the Artillery Mask, which will produce a cannon that fires him at a nearby monster. It does a massive amount of damage, but completely depletes the health of whoever serves as the ammo. This can also be done with Kayamba in the Updated Re-release 3 Ultimate.
  • The Flying-type Gym in Pokémon Black and White games requires the player to shoot themself out of cannons through the gym to reach the Leader. And the last one smashes them against the wall.
  • In Prop Cycle the player character and his flying bicycle is shot to the final level in a sky with a giant slingshot.
  • Sengoku Basara has ballistas in certain stages that can be used to launch the player across the stages, either for shortcuts or to hidden areas.
  • Sheep Raider (or Sheep Dog and Wolf), being based on Looney Tunes and Wile E Coyote Ralph Wolf, naturally has these.
  • Sly Cooper: In the third game, when preparing to fight the Black Baron by sabotaging his armed blimps. But, he has to get to the blimps.
  • In Skunny: Save Our Pizzas, Skunny can use small catapults to launch himself across chasms.
  • In Supreme Commander 2, the UEF side can build a giant artillery cannon that is also a giant factory. It builds a small army (more quickly and more cheaply than regular factories do) and fires them across the map where they parachute to the ground. It's useful for parking a force right inside an enemy base.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Though a fan-made piece by Zack Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, the Team Fortress 2 map cp_smbcastle features a catapult for attacking teams to fling themselves over enemy walls. It's appropriately nonsensical and every bit as funny as it sounds to send a fat Russian man flying over a castle wall with his minigun spinning.
  • Warhammer Online :
    • There's an ad for showing an Orc doing this to clear a castle wall. Orcs being the Plucky Comic Relief race of Warhammer, he goes too low and splatters against the wall before landing on a pile of dead orcs who had no doubt tried the same thing.
    • In-game, you can fire yourself out of a Rock Lobber to get to the top of a dam in Warhammer Online's Greenskins campaign. Fortunately, the crew has had time to correct their aim.
    • In the second cinematic trailer for the game, in a real blink and you'll miss it moment, you see another Orc smash into a rooftop, presumably being fired too high this time.
  • There are at least three places in World of Warcraft where you can do this:
    • One is in the first bossfight of the Ulduar raid, where the players get to control siege vehicles and fight against a giant steam-tank. A passager of the catapult-like siege vehicle can load himself in the catapult and be fired onto the boss, where he can destroy some turrets and temporarily immobilize the boss.
    • One is in the Isle of Conquest battleground, which also features vehicles, one of which is a catapult specifically designed to do this. It has low health and no weapons, but it can be used to launch people over the walls of the enemy keep or onto their keep towers.
    • A a quest in the Worgen starting zone involves hijacking a Forsaken Catapult and using it to launch yourself onto their invading ships.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The animated Ivanhoe had one episode about a Leonardo da Vinci -like character, who built one to test his gliding apparatus. However, his sponsor Prince John was only interested in the catapult itself, so the inventor eventually sabotaged it, buried his plans in a secret crypt, and fled the country by gliding from a cliff instead.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Batman again, this time in the famous episode "Almost Got 'Im", where Two-Face straps Batman to a giant penny, with the intention of catapulting it high into the air. Batman escapes, captures Two-Face, and even gets to keep the penny.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy once punished Samy this way.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Knighty Knight Bugs", the Black Knight (Yosemite Sam) uses a catapult to try to launch himself into the window of a castle, but hits the castle instead.
    • Wile E. Coyote tries this in one of the Road Runner shorts, with predictable results.
  • Rocko's Modern Life. Heffer thought it a good idea for Rocko to use a catapult over public trasportation so he wouldn't be late for work.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Used in one episode as punishment for illegal alcohol distilling.
    • In an episode where Lisa was Joan of Arc, she persuaded the French army to use rocks instead of people in their catapults.
    Man in a catapult: I don't know how to feel right now.
  • In South Park, the Moral Guardians protest the Toilet Humour Show Within a Show "Terrance and Phillip" by catapulting themselves against the headquarters of the network.
  • The Tick:
    • There was a superhero named the Human Bullet. His gimmick was to be fired out of a giant cannon - something which usually failed to help with whatever problem was at hand.
    • The cannon even became a Chekhov's Gun (heh) in "The Tick vs The Bread Master" when it was used to generate a sonic boom large enough to detonate the villain's doomsday weapon (a giant soufflé). Naturally, The Tick himself had to be fired to generate the blast as it would have killed anyone else.

    Real Life 
  • While live victims were a historical rarity, its far from unheard of to catapult dead things into cities in order to spread disease, particularly if aforementioned corpse died of something infectious. The most famous example is the use of this trope by the Mongols to attempt to weaken a European city they were besieging by lobbing their own dead of bubonic plague. It worked too well—thus began the Black Death in medieval Europe, which ended up wiping out somewhere between a third and a half of the continent's population. The thing is, the besieging Mongols were themselves so ravaged by the disease, they didn't even manage to capture the city.
  • There were instances of inmates using improvised catapults (see-saws, actually) to jump out of a prison yard. A few were even able to run away after the landing.
  • An odd example of sorts comes from USS Enterprise (CV-6). During an air attack, one of the fighters that was preparing to launch was caught on the ships catapult and strafed before it could be launched. While this wasn't much of an issue normallynote , the aircraft, loaded with ordnance to support Marines, suddenly burst into flames. The Catapult Operator, recognizing the danger, immediately launched the plane in order to save the ship. The aircraft went into the water and exploded, but the Enterprise would survive to fight another day.