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Handbag of Hurt

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Turtles: Turtles fight with honor!
Irma: And women fight with handbags!

The use of a purse or a briefcase/suitcase as an Improvised Weapon.

Sometimes, handbags may contain heavy objects, like bricks or anvils, to add more power to the attack, especially in cartoons.

Often occurs in the Cat Fight and Wimp Fight. Often wielded by elderly women, and one possible reason why people should Never Mess with Granny. If the handbag is used to hide a gun, you're thinking of Briefcase Blaster.

Little note — fights in football in Britain are often mere slap fights, and the commentators occasionally describe such a fight as "handbags", a shortened version of Handbags At Dawn.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Stuck Rubber Baby is a comic depicting civil rights demonstrations in the south. One character learns to defend herself with a brick - in her handbag.
  • Ms. Tree carries her pistol in her handbag, which makes it handy to swing at a enemy with unexpected force. Case in point when an argument with a militant feminist got physical and the protestor suddenly hit the detective:
    Militant: That was my black belt!
    (tree hits back with her handbag with a CLANG!)
    Ms. Tree: That was my black gun in my black bag!

    Fan Works 
  • First John Gage, then Chet Kelly in the Emergency! fic "You Make Me Feel Like Dancin'" get this. John and Roy get injured hilariously at the station and Chet has to drive them to Rampart. John is dressed as a clown after a fire dept. carnival. He has to make Chet stop so he can throw up and a woman starts hitting him with her bag, thinking he's a drunk clown. Chet gets out of the squad, and is naked except for Roy's turnout coat (It Makes Sense in Context). The old lady turns her bag on Chet, thinking he's a pervert. And John, wanting to annoy Chet, directs her how to hit so Chet will feel it more.
  • Many The Sentinel fanfics have Blair using his backpack this way.
  • In the story Bonnie Double of the The More Things Change Series, while fighting the Fashionistas, Espadrille attempts to fight Max with a handbag. Max is not impressed.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the live-action 101 Dalmatians (1996) movie, when Roger mistakes Perdita for Pongo and attempts to take her away, Anita puts a stop to it with this.
    'Roger: What do you have in that purse of yours, rocks?
    Anita: Oh, no; bricks.
    • She really was carrying bricks. She was collecting bricks one or two at a time as she saw them; she was paving her garden and there were leftovers.
  • The Sting: after Hooker yanks a woman out of a phone booth, the woman hits both Hooker and his partner with her purse.
  • Mrs. Marcus from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World will very often hit other people with her purse when she's really angry. The following characters she's hit with her purse are; Melville Crump, J. Russell Finch, Col. Hawthorne, Otto Meyer, and a random pedestrian.
  • In Jingle All the Way, various mothers hit Howard with their purses when they accuse him of touching a little girl (he was actually trying to get a lottery ball for a Turbo Man action figure that ended up in her grasp).
  • The heroine of The Gods Must Be Crazy's sequel keeps the two soldiers in line with her handbag. When they see her pull out a half-brick one worries about what else she's got in there.
  • In the miniseries "Smiley's People", elderly Russian émigrée Maria Andreyevna Ostrakova, fearing she will be attacked on the streets of Paris by Soviet agents, packs a flatiron in her capacious shopping bag. It comes in handy.
  • Coal Miner's Daughter shows Loretta Lynn, in self-defense, hitting her husband with her purse. She ended up breaking his finger.
  • All Through the Night: Leda uses her purse to hit Gloves over the head to knock him out (though it's to keep Pepe from killing him).
  • In the opening scene of Maniac Cop, a waitress is attacked by two muggers as she walks home. She beats them off with her handbag and runs, before she has the misfortune to encounter the eponymous maniac cop.

  • Harry Potter: Mrs. Figg hits Mundungus Fletcher with her handbag, which, from the clanking, appeared to be filled with cans of cat food.
  • In Discworld, Agony Aunt Dotsie's unnaturally heavy purse provides a quick removal of any threat. Vimes, who is no stranger to delivering a proper Tap on the Head to end a fight, considers her his superior in that aspect.
    • And as Nanny Ogg says: "A lady is always polite, appreciative, and carries a horseshoe in her handbag. This is not for luck: the added weight can come in handy."
  • In the first book of the Alcatraz Series, Bastille mostly used her handbag to store her sword, but she also used it to whack Alcatraz.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's The Serpent's Shadow, Dr. Maya carries a "miser's purse" full of lead shot when she makes housecalls in dodgy parts of London, as well as an umbrella with a weighted handle and a solid steel shaft. When she becomes an adept-class Earth Mage she's even more formidable.

    Live Action TV 
  • A staple of Ruth Buzzi's old lady character on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Lessons", Dawn improvised a weapon from a handbag and a couple of bricks. On the commentary, Joss Whedon refers to it as "Bag fu."
  • The Big Bang Theory has one where Amy tries to hit Bernadette with her purse, but she ducks and Amy accidentally hit Penny instead, breaking her nose in the process.
    Penny: You idiot! What the hell do you have in there?!
    Amy: (mortified at what she did) Just my wallet, keys and a coffee can full of change I've been meaning to take to the bank!
  • The Golden Girls: Sophia would sometimes indulge in this, using the beaded purse she carried with her everywhere. One episode of note is when her sister, Angela, moves to Miami and moves in with Sophia's current boyfriend. Sophia automatically assumes that the two are having an affair and goes to confront them. Angela pleads her innocence...only for Sophia's boyfriend to walk out of his bedroom with another woman. Sophia and Angela gang up on him.
    Angela: You've insulted my sister's honor!
    Tony: I don't know what to say.
    Sophia: I'll tell you what you can say! Say "ouch"! {whacks him with her purse}
    Angela: Say, "That hurts!" {whacks him with her purse}
  • Discussed in the final episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. The villain asks if she's going to hit him with her handbag. She doesn't, unfortunately.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Dewey starts to carry a handbag with him as a backpack. Reese knowing that his brother would get picked on for this, tries to get him to use a backpack again. Despite spending the entire episode and still not changing Dewey's mind, Reese finally sees Dewey getting picked on for using a handbag. Dewey then proceeds to beat the crud out of his hecklers using his handbag. After they run away Dewey reveals he was carrying a brick inside the handbag, as he expected this too.
  • Three's Company: When Mr. Roper believes a prospective tenant is a cross-dresser, she whallops Mr. Roper with her purse for poking her in the chest.
  • In the opening sequence for The Odd Couple, Felix is shown trying to help an old lady cross the street. The lady hits him with her handbag and a Boy Scout punches him. It's just not Felix's day.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Phryne uses her handbag to disarm and then knock down a killer in "Murder Under the Mistletoe".
  • On The X-Files a lizard man (unintentionally) attacks a Transgender prostitute, who fights back with her purse in this fashion. The encounter leaves a huge hole in her purse.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
  • Leverage sees this happen to Sophie in "The Wedding Job." Well, in the first season, she wasn't much of a fighter.
  • Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son was (in)famous for this method of attack. There was even a line of purses named for her.
  • Batman: Though Catwoman wasn't a Dark Action Girl like in the comics, she did occasionally use a handbag to hit Robin over the head.

  • Jennifer Hudson has a song on her first album called "Pocketbook," the refrain of which is "Don't make me hitchu' wit' ma pocketbook," delivered with Tranquil Fury at a guy (Ludicris) who won't stop hitting on her.

    New Media 
  • There is an (obviously faked) YouTube video of a little old lady in a crosswalk responding to the impatient honking of a motorist by whacking his front bumper with her handbag hard enough to set off his airbags.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • When she was with Randy Savage in the late-1980's, Sherri Martel regularly came to the ring with a loaded purse. It backfired on her at SummerSlam 1989 when Hulk Hogan got a hold of it.
  • At New Year's Revolution 2006, Shelton Benjamin defeated Viscera after Shelton's mother clocked Viscera with her purse when the referee wasn't looking. After the match, she opened her purse and showed the audience there was a brick inside it.


    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Eddie Izzard once suggested that the Queen should be attacked by dogs (long story) and that she could defend herself with a handbag with a brick in it.
  • Mike Harding described his grandmother as the sort of woman who would carry a brick in her handbag. So that if anyone ever tried to rob her, she could break his legs to prevent him from running away.

    Tabletop Games  
  • In 4th edition Champions, the combat example was a bank robbery. At one point, a little old lady customer thwacks one of the goons with her purse. He goes down.

    Video Games 
  • Killer7: Garcian Smith's down attack involves hitting an enemy with his large suitcase.
  • MapleStory: Both a leather purse and a briefcase are usable, though weak, weapons for players.
  • Handbags were available as weapons in Final Fantasy Tactics - but only for female characters of a few classes. Some of them actually packed a rather impressive punch.
  • Chat in Tales of Eternia uses these as weapons, though sometimes she just pulls hammers out of them.
    • Karol from Tales of Vesperia smacks foes over the head with his large handbag for his various debuffing artes. He uses these as his secondary weapon and can be seen storing his main weapon in them outside of battle. The one he's currently using has his Bodhi Blastianote  attached to it.
  • Handbags are a possible weapon, albeit a very weak one, for players to find in the Dead Rising games.
  • In The Sims & 2, the ambiguously wedded Mrs./Miss Crumplebottom carries a handbag that, while not murderous, is quite humiliating.
  • Kisarah Westfield from SNK's NeoGeo Battle Coliseum is a schoolgirl who fights with her bookbag, which is a callback to the fighting game she originally comes from (Aggressors of Dark Kombat) where various weapons can be picked up and temporarily used.
  • Also wielding a schoolbag is Kyo's lover and hidden-battle Joke Character Yuki in SNK Gals Fighters. One of her special attacks has her throwing contents from it at the opponent.
  • Silent Hill 4: Eileen's handbag is the first weapon you get for Eileen, before even meeting her. Unfortunately, unlike most starter weapons in the series such as the Steel Pipe, it has pathetic damage and reach, and may in fact be worse than giving her no weapon — her AI doesn't distinguish weapon power when setting her aggressiveness against enemies, meaning she'll happily charge right into combat and take damage while swinging a "weapon" that is barely powerful enough to make monsters flinch when hit.
  • Old ladies with handbags are a pretty common NPC in Grand Theft Auto III. Despite their frail appearance, they're actually very aggressive and more than eager to whack you with them once things get violent.
  • Tingle does a variation of this in Hyrule Warriors. Some of his attacks feature him walloping enemies with a big wallet stuffed with Rupees.
  • Banjo-Tooie:
    • After Banjo returns Groggy (the fat polar bear kid) to Mrs. Boggy, Groggy lies about Banjo forcing him to eat a hamburger (in actuality, he refused to let Banjo pick him up until after he ate it). Mrs. Boggy doesn't believe Groggy at all, and she hits him with her purse several times in retaliation.
    • Banjo himself provides a gender-inverted example. He can learn the Pack Whack, which allows him to take his empty backpack and swing it around his head, smacking any nearby enemies to their deaths.
  • Persona 4: Arena Ultimax: Marie's shoulder bag is her primary melee weapon. If swinging it around doesn't do the trick, she can also pull presents out of it, with varying surprises depending on which button combo the player uses.
  • In one of the God of War games, there is an unlockable character skin called Tycoonius, who beats people up with a pair of briefcases.
  • Eileen's bag is the first melee weapon you find for her in Silent Hill 4: The Room. It has very short reach and pitiful damage.
  • Death Stranding allows you to attack human enemies with briefcase-shaped cargo that you can carry on hand. They can either be slammed or thrown against up-close enemies. Doing this with your own cargo isn't a practical approach to combat since with one hit it damages the cargo, and another hit destroys it entirely. Enemy cargo can be picked up, however, and you can freely use them to knock enemies out if you don't intend on taking their stolen cargo for yourself.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Saeko and Eri can use both handbags and clutch bags as weapons for the Barmaid and Hostess jobs, respectively.
  • Hitman 2 features briefcases as a mundane prop that Agent 47 can use to sneak items into secure areas. Being a large, heavy piece of plastic lined with metal, 47 can also use it to swiftly render people unconscious with a whack in the head. It could also be thrown at people's heads for similar effect. An extremely popular Good Bad Bug caused the briefcase to become a Homing Projectile and pursue targets at a slow but dogged pace. Despite all of its comically absurd abilities, the briefcase could only concuss people and would never kill them, as it has the 'non-lethal' damage flag.

    Web Animation 

  • Laura Gates of Beyond Reality has a lead weight sewn to the bottom of her purse for this exact purpose.
  • El Goonish Shive: while on a double date in the cinema, Tedd & Grace and Nanase & Ellen get accosted by one of Nanase's ex-boyfriends, Gerald. When Gerald refuses to leave, Grace threatens him with her handbag.
  • In Lackadaisy, Mitzi slams one into Mordecai's face in shock when he hid in her backseat to have a word with her.
    Mordecai: I'd like a word with you... if you can refrain from assaulting me with a bakelite for a moment.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs:
    • From the intro: "Goodfeathers flock together, Slappy whacks 'em with her purse."
    • An issue of the comic has Minerva Mink do this to a man after he gets a little too excited.
  • In The Flintstones Betty and Wilma can knock anyone out with their purses. Enough so that they look like more badass fighters than their husbands.
  • In the Looney Tunes shorts:
    • Boston Quackie, Quackie's girlfriend Mary clobbers the man in the green hat with her handbag. Of course, she is carrying an anvil in it...
    • Ballot Box Bunny, Bugs pretends to be a baby and accuses mayoral candidate Yosemite Sam of biting him on the nose during a "kissing babies" PR stunt. A crowd of angry mothers immediately swarm Sam and beat him with their handbags.
    • Carrotblanca has Bugs dressing in drag and smacking Sam with a handbag with an anvil in it.
  • In the Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) cartoon, Ms. Lapierre swats at a shrunken Mega Man with her purse.
  • Aunt Bogunda from Mr. Bogus will very often use her purse to beat up those who dare to oppress her, sometimes even bonking Bogus on the head. It especially doesn't help matters that Bogunda is an Expy of Mrs. Marcus.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Mysterious Mare Do Well", Rainbow Dash gives Granny Smith an unwanted helping hoof and gets bonked with Granny's purse for her troubles.
  • In one episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man, an old lady on the subway saves Spider-Man's life by employing this technique ... against the Lizard!
  • Irma, the dorky friend of April O'Neill, utters the battle cry in the page quote in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), while facing off against an unstoppable robot.
  • Shaun the Sheep: In "Hard to Swallow," a jealous mother duck packs a wallop with her purse.
  • Top Cat: In one episode, a female cat sends Fancy-Fancy flying with her handbag.
    Fancy: Oh boy, she's weakening! Last time, she hit me with her fist.
  • A minor Batman Beyond villain, a small-time gang leader and biological mother of her underlings, immediately attacks Batman with her handbag when the two of them meet up. This was so unexpected to Batman that she successfully knocks him to the floor with it.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Grandmum's the Word", Grandma Plankton constantly hits SpongeBob, Mr. Krabs, and Plankton with her purse.

    Real Life 
  • Supergran!
  • The famous picture called "A Woman Hitting a Neo-Nazi With Her Handbag" from a 1985 Neo-Nazi demonstration in Sweden.
  • While she was never knownnote  to use her iconic blue handbag as a melee weapon, Margaret Thatcher was proud of what her supporters and detractors call her "handbag diplomacy".
  • To be fair, getting hit with a handbag or any kind of bag can hurt, especially if that bag is filled with heavy objects like books or other things. In fact, it's sometimes taught as part of self-defense for women. Indeed, swinging a handbag or using any kind of improvised weapon can save your life, so don't worry about something as trivial as looking silly or weak; use whatever you can to defend yourself from and escape an attacker.


Video Example(s):


Dewey's "Girly" Handbag

Dewey takes on bullies who make fun of him for wearing a handbag by swinging it at them. Immediately after, he tosses out the brick he was hiding inside it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / HandbagOfHurt

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