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Circling Saw

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Never saw that one coming, did you?

At first you hear it: a strange, rhythmic grinding noise. And then you look down and realize that there's a handsaw cutting a circle in the floorboards right beneath your feet. And of course, Rule of Funny states that by the time you notice it, you have just enough time for an Oh, Crap! take before plummeting through the newly-created hole.

A staple of classic cartoons, seldom seen in live-action unless the work is itself excessively cartoony. Fridge Logic may have you questioning how the unseen miscreant was able to pinpoint their victim's location, how a handsaw was able to cut through the various layers of insulation, plumbing pipes, electrical wiring, etc., how the saw could even find a good starting point to start sawing the hole, considering it would have to go through the solid floor firstnote , how the floor doesn't simply flip downward before the cut is complete, and of course the fact that logically the miscreant would be at ground zero for their victim and the broken floorboards to land on.

This gag doesn't always end with the victim taking a tumble, however. Some variations include:

  • The victim tries to flee, only for the saw to chase them unerringly around the room, bisecting anything in its path.
  • The hole is cut, but the rest of the room collapses instead.
  • The victim turns the tables by dropping something nasty, like a bomb, down the hole instead.

If this backfires on the culprit, laws of physics be damned, it's because Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress. If a character saws or otherwise cuts through the floor to make a daring escape, it's a variation of Bullethole Door. If no saw is needed because the floor is just that weak, see Floorboard Failure.

Not to be confused with circular saws, which are covered by Saw Blades of Death.

Not likely to happen in Real Life, although you may have minor paranoia when a downstairs neighbor is renovating.


    open/close all folders 

  • In the commercial for Tyson Foods' Looney Tunes themed frozen dinners, the characters are all trying to one-up each other. Bugs Bunny is the last and is completely unfazed by the saw around his feet — because the entire stage falls away instead, as he finishes his pitch standing on the circle in a featureless white void.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1999): Mido tries to pull this on Link by sawing his balcony, but Link leaves his treehouse early and falls on top of Mido.
  • Super Gals: One of the ways Kasumi Tsukino tries to ruin Ran's reputation as the #1 Gal in Shibuya is to try sawing a circle underneath her while Ran is on stage during a contest at the school festival. Kasumi succeeds in making Ran fall through the circle; however, Kasumi realizes at the last minute that all she did was make Ran and the wooden floor circle land on herself, squishing her underneath without anyone noticing (and it doesn't succeed in ruining Ran's reputation, either).

    Comic Books 
  • In a Gold Key Looney Tunes comic, Porky Pig is a talent scout and Daffy is trying to sabotage everybody else's acts. On stage comes "Tommy, the Smiling Tap-Dancer". During Tommy's dance, Daffy saws a hole under him. As Tommy plummets through the floor, he shouts, "HELP!"... while tipping his hat and grinning.

    Comic Strips 
  • Charles Addams used this gag more than once in his strips. In one example, a guy is doing up the multiple locks on his apartment door while the saw works around his feet. In another, an ice fisherman is the victim.
  • Garfield frequently uses this trope to various effects:
    • The page image comes from this comic, where Garfield wakes up and realizes he is about to face this fate, leading him to the conclusion that it must be Monday.
    • In this comic, Garfield tries to get into the fridge by sawing a hole in the floor underneath it, but either his calculations are off or Jon moved the fridge.
    • In this comic, Garfield saws a hole in the table to steal Jon's food. Jon realizes the danger and quickly takes his plate off the table, but Garfield simply pulls Jon through the hole instead.
    • In this comic, Garfield uses this trope to steal Jon's hamburger, and later the ketchup.
    • An interesting variation happens in this comic, where instead of the hole being sawed underneath Garfield, it's being sawn in the ceiling above him so the dog sawing the hole can jump down on Garfield.
  • This happened to Ziggy once. The universe being as cruel to him as usual, the reason he didn't notice was that he was engrossed in a book entitled It Only Happens in the Movies.
  • One Herman comic sees a fisherman on a dock noticing that a semi-circle is being cut out of the dock beneath his feet by, presumably, a vengeful sawfish.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Help!: The Cult of Kaili tries to kidnap Ringo during a recording session with The Beatles by sawing under his drum kit. The ploy seems to have been done for no other purpose than to set up the pun from the recording engineers: "Are you buzzing?"note 
  • In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch uses this to steal an entire Christmas tree. He pops out of the hole and mugs for the audience with glee.
  • In Revenge of the Pink Panther, Clouseau thinks that he's beaten Cato in their nightly sparring session, only to hear the telltale sound. Idiot that he is, Clouseau at first thinks that he's having breathing problems before he finally looks down. It's even a Justified Trope as to why Cato would be down there with a ladder and a saw, as the downstairs apartment was being remodeled.
  • The Three Stooges: In Pardon My Scotch, a door falls on Moe and pins him to the floor. Larry and Curly use a power saw to cut a Moe-shaped hole in the door. However, they don't notice that they're cutting straight through to the floor below, and when the hole is cut Larry gently pats the cut-out section, causing it and Moe to fall fourteen feet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Big Time Rush, Kendall does this to the chef of a Morning Show's Cooking segment.
  • Green Wing has a variant - from below, Sue White saws a hole through the surface of a table and pops up through it to announce her (alleged) pregnancy to the assembled diners.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Jungle Goddess", Joel accidentally does this to himself when demonstrating his remote-controlled circular saw. He distractedly has it circle him repeatedly and ends up in a waist-deep hole.
  • What We Do in the Shadows (2019): In the season 4 episode "The Lamp", the wraiths working for The Guide sabotage one of the construction workers that are turning the Vampiric Council headquarters into a night club by sawing a hole in the floor underneath his ladder.
  • Lowell does this to himself on an episode of Wings. The gang is renovating an old house, and they notice that Lowell is sawing a circle in the ceiling from the second floor. They wonder if he's stupid enough to saw around himself like in cartoons. The answer comes soon enough, as Lowell comes crashing down.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The intro sequence for Sooty & Co. depicts Sooty sawing a hole in the floor that Little Cousin Scampi is standing on. After Scampi falls into the hole, Sooty emerges from it.


    Video Games 
  • In Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage, the penultimate stage (level 13) is lousy with black cats, which means all kinds of unlucky things are happening as stage hazards. Holes sawed in the floor by the cats are all over the place, and while most are a one-way trip to a Bottomless Pit, Bugs can use some of them to take shortcuts.
  • The Great Green Mouse Disaster ending cinematic has the floor of an entire ballroom cut out with a saw.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman: In "Strange Minds", Batman enters into the Joker's mind to find the location of Yin, who has been strapped to a bomb in an unknown place. He finds an office worker, Joker's former self, organizing files in Joker's memory bank. Batman convinces him to provide information but before he can get Yin's location, a saw comes up from the floor and cuts around the office worker, causing him to fall into a vat of chemicals and transform into another Joker.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In "Canned Feud", Sylvester is trying to get a can opener back from a mouse. He starts sawing open the wall where the mouse's hole is, only for the mouse to begin sawing through the floor underneath him. As the mouse matches Sylvester's movements flawlessly, Sylvester stupidly assumes that the blade of his own saw is somehow coming up through the floor. Even dumber, his solution to this conundrum is to saw even faster...
    • In "Bugsy and Mugsy", Bugs Bunny is successfully making Rocky mistrust Mugsy, to the point that Mugsy is now tied up in the other room. Bugs pulls this trick on Rocky as he sleeps, and then places the saw in a hapless Mugsy's hands just before his furious boss comes in. "I dunno how ya's done it, but I know ya's done it!!!"
    • In "A Mouse Divided", Sylvester is trying to protect his adoptive mouse son from a gang of cats. One of them tries this trick and gets some dynamite for his troubles. The cat then sheepishly replaces the missing segment of the floor and nails it back in place.
    • In the Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner cartoon "Stop! Look! And Hasten!", Wile E. has set up a plate of birdseed in the middle of a bridge. As the Road Runner stops to eat the seed, Wile E. saws around him from below. The whole bridge comes down, along with Wile E., while the Road Runner and the sawed-off portion remain in mid-air.
    • In the Sylvester and Tweety cartoon "Tweetie Pie" (their first pairing that won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short), Sylvester goes to the second floor of the house and begins sawing around Tweety's ceiling-suspended cage. But the cut circle of ceiling holding the cage remains intact while the rest of the ceiling comes crashing down, bringing Sylvester with it.
    • In the Sylvester & Tweety short "Putty Tat Trouble" Sylvester and an orange cat find themselves in the middle of a frozen pond when they hear a slight ticking sound and notice it is coming from Tweety chipping out a round hole right around them. Tweety tells them to throw her hat back to her and the cats oblige in a plea for mercy. After putting it on Tweety finishes the job and both cats wind up falling into the ice-cold water.
    • In one of Sylvester's solo adventures in "Heir-Conditioned", Elmer Fudd (Working as Sylvester's financial advisor) is trying to keep Sylvester's recently inherited fortune safe from the other cats by putting it in a case. He notices them attempt to saw a circle to retrieve the case, so before they finish, he switches the case of money with one containing a stick of dynamite. One explosion later, the remains of the case can be seen returned, with nails being hammered in from below afterwards.
    • In the webtoon "Window Pains", one of Foghorn's ploys against Barnyard Dawg is setting up a Rube Goldberg Device which ends with a handheld circular saw being turned on so it can cut a hole in Dawg's platform, leaving him to fall a good number of stories.
    • The professional Warner Bros. Sound Effects Library from Sound Ideas includes a track that includes this trope being played out, titled as "Cartoon - Saw Through Floor And a Quick Trip To The Basement, Crash".
  • Loopy De Loop: Loopy is trying to woo a female bear for a lovesick male bear, only for a romantic rival, a Crazy Jealous Guy named Braxton, to assume Loopy himself is trying to take his girl. He does this to Loopy, even sawing through the walls and ceiling in pursuit.
  • Oscar's Orchestra: Near the end of "Viva España!", Thaddius Vent has the floor cut out from under him by Rebecca.
  • Appears in Piggy Tales S1 E27 "The Catch".
  • In the Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks short "Nice Mice", the two mice are trying to feed a kitten by swiping a bowl of cream from Mr. Jinks. In a rather intelligent use of this tactic, they use holes to cut off Jinks's escape routes before dropping him. To add insult to injury, Pixie pops out of a vent and snatches the cream as Jinks hangs in midair before falling.
  • The Simpsons: In "This Little Wiggy" Homer saws a hole into the floor of Bart's home for some reason. He pops his head up, sees Marge and Bart, then says "Uh-oh" and departs.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Done with a lightsaber instead of a saw in the episode "Jedi Night" to a pair of stormtroopers. In fairness, they thought the Jedi was gonna be coming in through the window, not through the floor. The hapless pair of stormtroopers just have a second or two to appreciate the gravity of their situation before falling down through the floor into the chasm the room overhangs and to their inevitable offscreen deaths.


Video Example(s):


Scooby Doo, American Dad Style

For Halloween, the Smiths, minus Stan, go as the Scooby Doo gang, and later they would encounter a monster.

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5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpoofyDoo

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