Follow TV Tropes


Improvised Catapult

Go To

A catapult is one of the staples of weapons-making. However, you can make a catapult by just using a tree, or you can stand on a board and throw a rock on the other end of the board and catapult yourself into the air. This is a pretty common form of MacGyvering that has been around for a long time.

Related to Tree Buchet.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Animation 
  • Done in Tangled to free Flynn from jail — done with a wheeled wagon as the catapult, and a big guy jumping from the roof as the propelling force. Watch it here, at about 1:10.
  • On Oliver & Company, the gang makes one to send Oliver inside Sykes' hideout.
  • Subverted with the makeshift catapult constructed of cathedral relics by the gargoyles in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame in that upon completing the device, they simply push the catapult off the roof onto Judge Frollo's soldiers below. However, the impact triggers the release mechanism, resulting in the base pinning three soldiers to the ground.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Small Soldiers: The Commando Elite construct one using a mousetrap and teaspoons for "Operation Sandman": launching sleeping tablets into drinks.
  • Discussed in passing in Tropic Thunder, when Jeff Portnoy brings up a zany scheme from a low budget movie he had been in previously, in which the campers built a catapult out of logs and underwear to launch themselves into the cool kids' camp.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has an unintentional example that ends badly for the catapultee. When Laketown is attacked in an orc skirmish, one orc attempts to flee on a boat and sits on the far end. A dead orc falls from a house onto the other end, launching him into the air to be decapitated by Legolas.

  • In the 1939 novel Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, the main character is trapped down a hole. The bad guy guarding the entrance kills a wild cat (of which the trapped man had been fond) and shoves it down the hole to taunt the trapped man. The protagonist manages to combine letting the cat take its own revenge and constructing a means to kill the bad guy and escape by improvising a spear-throwing catapault from the muscles and sinews in the cat's dead body.

    Live-Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H: A guest character wins a bar bet by using a tongue depressor to flip a syringe up and it lands point first in an orange; neither BJ nor Hawkeye can duplicate the feat.
  • MythBusters:
    • They took on a story of an accidental improvised catapult (guy using a boom lift as an engine hoist, catapulted 200 feet when the chain broke) and busted it.
    • In another episode, the busters also tested, and busted, the use of a tree as a catapult in order to fling soldiers (or infected corpses) into castles.
  • Mac builds an improvised catapult, complete with a time-delayed trigger, in the MacGyver episode "The Road Not Taken".

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin once tried to launch a snowball bigger than his body by putting it at one end of a board on a log and jumping on the other end. It launches... only to land on his head.
  • Dill's brothers in Cul-de-sac make a habit of constructing these, although they're always left as Noodle Implements.

    Video Games 
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, there is a glitch using a Swing to catapult a vehicle.
  • In Earthworm Jim 2, Jim exits most levels with one of these, consisting of a board on a rock. He throws a large weight at the other end to launch himself out.
  • In The Secret of Monkey Island, there's some rock art at the base of a cliff. Guybrush can push rocks off the cliff, which will land on the rock art and result in it being shot at various places around the island.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY has an episode where Nora and Jaune need to cross a broken bridge. Nora uses her hammer to strike the side they are on in such a manner that launches Jaune over to the other side.

    Western Animation 
  • Mr. Bogus:
    • The second act of the episode "A Day At The Office" had Bogus use a spoon as a catapult by sticking it between the foot and shoe of a woman, before he catapults himself into the vending machine to eat the contents inside. The ensuing smorgasbord results in Bogus gaining a Balloon Belly afterwards.
    • Brattus does this in the third act of the episode "Et Tu, Brattus?", standing on a spoon and using a turkey drumstick to catapult himself over into the punch bowl.
    • In the first act of the episode "Beach Blanket Bogus", Brattus uses a toy shovel to catapult some sea shells and a beach ball at the sand castle in whiçh Bogus is hiding.
    • The claymation short shown after the second act of the episode "Battle Action Bogus" had Bogus stand on a wooden spoon, before throwing an orange onto the other end of the spoon in order to catapult himself to a bottle of orange juice.
  • In the Storm Hawks episode "Gale Force Winds", the inhabitants of Terra Gale defend their home using a catapult which looks like a last ditch attempt made of scrap. Later in the episode, Wren nearly uses the catapult to launch the Storm Hawks down into the wastelands, but halts his attempts after Radarr bites him on the ankle.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers keep the mousetraps-with-spoons variant on the roof of the police station in the episode "Catteries Not Included". These devices launch them all the way back to Ranger Headquarters.