Follow TV Tropes


Deus Ax Machina

Go To
In case of zombies, break glass.

A character is in a public building and for whatever reason, needs a weapon. He may be the hero in dire trouble and in need of a way to defend himself, or a villain who needs to prove just how Ax-Crazy he is. But where does he find one...?

Simple: All public buildings have fire axes. It doesn't matter whether having a weapon in such easy reach would be irresponsible in that location, such as a school or an airplane.note  All the character needs to do is break glass, get ax. Sure, it might even set off an emergency alarm, but who cares?

Sister Trope to Fire Hose Cannon, where a character uses a conveniently located fire hose as a weapon instead of a fire axe.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • The Batman villain known as KGBeast cut off his own hand with a fire ax when Batman trapped him by looping a rope around it, which leads to the question of why KGBeast didn't just cut the rope.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • Rourke actually uses a blimp's fire axe as an attempt to kill Milo during the climax of Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Only to miss and crack the window of a metal container containing a magical crystallized Kida, impaling himself on one of the pieces of broken glass in the process and causing him to turn into a horrific crystalline ice monster and be shredded by the blimp's propellers.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Bad Kids Go to Hell, there is a fire axe inside the new library. Matt smashes the glass and grabs it in an attempt to break down the doors, but Tarek says it won't work as the doors are steel-cored (raising the question of why the axe is there at all). As the situation gets worse, the axe is fought over by various characters.
  • In Black Rat, Misato comes after Saki with a fire axe. As she did not have it with her when she arrived, she must have acquired it inside the school.
  • Death Bell: When Mr. Kin goes berserk during the memorial service, he grabs a fire axe from a case inside the auditorium and starts attacking the crowd.
  • During the climax of Into the Grizzly Maze, Beckett attacks the bear with a fire axe that was on the sheriff's inflatable boat for some reason.
  • Subverted in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) when the protagonist seizes a fire-axe, but this sets off the fire alarm alerting every pod person in the factory.
  • The Island (1980): During the final fight against Maynard, Nau finds himself weaponless in the engine room of the cutter. He snatches a fire axe off the wall and uses it to attack.
  • James Bond:
    • Max Zorin grabs a fire ax on board of his zeppelin in the climax of A View to a Kill.
    • Similarly, Dominic Greene attacks Bond with a fire ax during the final battle in Quantum of Solace.
  • In Lizzie Borden's Revenge, the girls are locked in the sorority house for the weekend as punishment. When Janice asks how they are supposed to get out if there is an emergency, Amanda helpfully points out the fire axe on the wall. This is the axe that Lizzie will later use to butcher the sorority sisters.
  • Maniac Cop: After driving the police van into an old warehouse on the pier, Cordell grabs a fire axe off the wall and uses it to smash the lock off the rear doors.
  • In The One starring Jet Li, during the final battle, Yulaw grabs a fire ax that was just hanging on a nearby safety rail.
  • During the climactic battle in Silent Night (2012), Deputy Bradimore grabs a fire axe from a cabinet inside the burning police station to fight Santa, who is wielding an axe of his own.
  • In Titanic (1997), Rose finds a fire ax to cut Jack out of his situation.
  • The Transporter. Frank has to fight two villains with fire axes while trapped between them in a short corridor.
  • Triangle: When being chased by the Sackhead Slasher, Jess grabs a fire axe off the bulkhead of the ocean liner and uses it to defend herself.

    Interactive Fiction 
  • In Infocom's The Lurking Horror, one can find a fire emergency cabinet in the middle of the university hallway. The description even notes that the glass-fronted cabinet lacks a fire extinguisher or hose, but contains a fire ax.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The season 3 finale of 24, Chase was forced to cuff the final bomb to himself to keep it away from the villain. When Jack is unable to disable it and time is running short, Chase notices the fire ax on the wall and tells Jack to cut the hand off. (It's okay; they reattach it after the danger is over).
    • In a later season, Jack is being pursued up a flight of stairs. At the top he finds a fire ax, which he buries in the chest of the first pursuer to reach the top.
  • Played for Drama, and later Played for Laughs, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: when Phil Coulson grabs one of the terrigenesis crystals, his hand begins turning to stone (because that's what happens when non-Inhumans touch a crystal). To prevent him from being completely turned, Mack chops off his hand with a nearby fire ax. The ax can be seen on the wall of Coulson's office in later episodes, and the event first spawns Mack's infatuation with the idea of a shotgun-ax hybrid.
  • In the first appearance of Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joyce hits Spike in the back of the head with a fire ax that was hanging in the hallway.
  • CSI: NY: "Uncertainty Rules" begins with a college student going insane with a fire ax from the building where all his friends were murdered. He was in the bathroom, just tripping on LSD that a couple of hookers had slipped him (hoping to steal some money he'd won earlier playing bingo) and their pimp (whom they'd shot and were trying to flee) was the one who used the ax to kill his friends.
  • In the Doctor Who TV movie, the Eighth Doctor and Grace find a fire axe in a fire emergency cabinet when the Master's chasing them through an observatory, but they just use it to bar the doors behind them.
  • In Person of Interest, different characters use this in different simulations, Team Machine is trying to escape from the stock exchange after Samaritan turned it into a trap. Though they don't actually use it as a weapon, instead using it to cut a lock that is preventing the elevator from working.
  • In a season 5 episode of Psych, a group of convicts hijack a ferry. They take the other passengers hostage, and one of the convicts has a fire ax while he stands guard.
  • Lana managed to find a fire ax in Smallville once. And inside Smallville High School no less.
  • In the Supernatural episode "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" (S09, Ep01), an angel uses a fire axe behind glass to break down a hospital room door.
  • In the finale of The Uninvited 1997, the heroes are cornered in an underground bunker by the leaders of the alien plot to rise CO2 levels to make the world more suitable to them. Blake grabs a fire axe to make a last stand, but as the aliens laugh, he slams it into an oxygen pipe, rising the oxygen concentration in the room to levels deadly to them.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout: New Vegas has Fire Axes; though they do turn up in a fire station, where you'd expect them to be, you also find them in the hands of random bandits and while rifling through boxes in office buildings. The in-universe explanation is that they were found and moved around by scavengers ("prospectors" is the lighter term).
    • The named Fire Axe "Knock Knock" is only found in the fire station of Camp Searchlight, the only fire station in-game... after you fight a giant radscorpion the size of a firetruck.
  • In The Forest, the first item you pick up from the wreckage of the crash (more specifically, from the chest of an unfortunate flight attendant) is the Plane Axe, which serves as a useful weapon and tool through the early part of the game.
  • A fire ax can be used in the first Kuala Lumpur level from Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, either as part of the fireman disguise in order to avoid the metal detector or as a weapon. Later games, particularly the 2016 game and its sequel also have fire axes that qualify as large weapons, meaning that they will arouse suspicion if 47 is improperly disguised and take up the large weapon slot on his back/in his hands.
  • Fire axes are everywhere in Left 4 Dead 2. May make sense in a shopping mall. But when they are scattered throughout a swamp, that's definitely Deus Ax Machina.
  • In Silent Hill, Harry finds a new melee weapon in each section of town, barring the resort district. The hospital level holds the almighty Emergency Hammer. What's great about this "hammer" — what makes it an anomaly from the later games — is that it's found in the Otherworld. So the blood-red hammer is chipped and rusted, and it has a giant, chrome horn at the end. Perfect for sodomizing demons, and indeed, there's little reason to use anything else, so keep it equipped from here on out! This is one of few times when a SH protagonist can use Otherworld artifacts in the Fog World.
  • In Zork: Grand Inquisitor, there is a glass box on the wall in one of the first locations. It contains a sword, a small hammer and a scroll with a spell and is signed "In case of adventure, break glass."

  • While Axe Cop did find his axe "at the scene of a fire," it was just lying on the ground unattended.
  • Trevor (2020): The room with the security terminal just happens to have a fire axe & extinguisher in it. Dr. Maddison uses the axe to hack down said terminal.

    Web Original 
  • This has occurred a few times in Darwin's Soldiers. The examples are justified, though.
    • In Fool's Gold, Dr. Kerzach breaks into a control room and one of the workers snatches a fire ax hanging on the wall next to a fire hose and attacks him with it.
    • In Schrodinger's Prisoners, Dr. Shelton grabs a fire ax from an emergency station and uses it to break into the control room.
    • In the RP Disruptive Selection, Dr. Pauline Wayne breaks down the door to her lab with a fire ax that she took from an emergency station in her lab. She then later uses it to kill a zombie that tried to get aboard the helicopter on which she and two other survivors were going to evacuate.
  • In the third RP of the Insane Cafe Series, Zachary uses a fire ax to kill a magically summoned knight that attacked him.
    • Some guests also arm themselves with fire axes during the "war arc."

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman Cold Open of the final episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, an alternate universe Abraham Lincoln joins Batman in fighting the steampunk cyborg John Wilkes Booth by grabbing an axe located in Ford Theater. The axe is notably labeled as being for use for both emergencies and Confederate cyborg attacks.
  • The Simpsons: While no axe appears, the trope's spirit is mocked by the Treehouse of Horror segment "The Shinning". Burns' winter manor has a Baseball Bat in a Glass Case within easy reach marked OPEN IN CASE OF SPOUSAL INSANITY.
  • In the Total Drama Island premiere episode, Duncan uses a fire axe to dispatch a cockroach that has "cornered" Lindsay in the Gophers' cabin.
  • In Transformers: Prime Miko finds an ax inside an observatory, which is promptly stolen by Soundwave. She finds another one inside a train, but the mooks leave when Optimus arrives. She has yet to hit anything with an ax.

    Real Life 
  • Merchant mariners have been known to use fire axes aboard ship as weapons, either due to a dispute or in preparation for pirate attacks.
  • A few of the boys from Murder Inc. back in the 30's and 40's were known for doing their kills this way. It saved you from the need to carry a gun and as said above, almost every public building had a fire axe.

Alternative Title(s): Deus Axe Machina