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"A downward swing of the Pickaxe can crush stone; a human head would be an afterthought."
Pickaxe description, Dark Souls
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A Sub-Trope of Improvised Weapon and closely related to Shovel Strike, pickaxes are tools used to break up rocks and earth but like most handheld objects can easily be appropriated as a weapon. Like the sledgehammer, which is highly similar in use, most pickaxes are far too heavy to wield effectively against an armed or skilled opponent. On the other hand, its large size and shape make it highly intimidating, and against slow moving enemies like zombies its power and ease of use make it a brutal skull-smashing machine. (That is, unless the spike gets stuck). While usually not as sharp as a conventional melee weapon, the narrow spike and heavy head of the pick make it effective against armor. Because of their original purpose, they're also exceptionally sturdy and not as likely to break as other improvised weapons. Ice picks, used as a climbing aid in icy regions, are also covered by this trope. Though smaller than mining picks, their blades will tend to have a sharper edge and the weapon will be easier to both control and conceal.

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The use of pickaxes as weapons in ancient warfare is actually true. Their shape also influenced some warhammers and traditional axes to have a big spike on one side of their heads for punching through armor (and, on occasion, ribcages, heads and other things).


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tuhl uses a huge pickaxe as his main weapon in B.Ichi.
  • In episode 19/Volume 3 of Heavy Object, an unnamed pacifist uses one to save Qwenthur from being killed by a traitorous Nutley.
  • Iemitsu Sawada from Reborn! (2004) uses one as a weapon.
  • In Made in Abyss Lyza wields a huge pick named Blaze Reapnote  as a weapon of choice, which she later passes to her daughter Rico. It's a Class 1 Abyss Artifact (which she was entitled as a White Whistle), designated as an Everlasting Pick, and it allowed her incredible feats of destruction while she was still active as a Cave Raider.

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: In his Start of Darkness origin story, Judge Death murders one of the hapless fools who accidentally awoke him from his slumber by burying a pick-axe in his back as he attempts to flee.
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    Comic Strips 
  • Modesty Blaise: In "Tribute for the Pharaoh", Modesty and Willie are ambushed by a pair of crooks who were looting a tomb. The one who attacks Modesty is wielding a pick, and actually gets the best of her before an intervention from Willie tips the balance in her favour.

    Film—Animated 
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Buzz attempts to take down the Phantasm with a pick he grabs from a wheelbarrow of tools in the cemetery. It doesn't work.

     Film—Live Action 
  • Deadtime Stories: Volume 2: By the end of "The Gorge", Donna has started stalking tour groups in the cave system and killing them with a geologist's hammer.
  • The killer in Death on Demand uses an ice axe.
  • Shit gets worse in The Descent when Juno accidentally puts a climbing pick through her buddy's neck after a protracted fight with monsters. After said friend is found by another of Juno's friends (who are now rivals because Juno slept with her husband) she gets hunted down in revenge.
  • Towards the end of Dying Breed, the ferryman's wife then kills one of the cannibals by burying a pick in his chest.
  • In Friday the 13th Part 2, Jason's very first kill is the Final Girl of the original, who he kills with an ice pick to the head. Later, he hunts Ginny down with a pickaxe.
  • In Ghost Town (1988), one of the outlaws drops a noose around Langley's neck from the top of the windmill and attempts to strangle him. Langley manages to grab the pick the outlaws had used to bury the sheriff and swing it upwards: burying it in the outlaw's chest.
  • The demon-possessed killer priest of Happy Hell Night starts using a ice axe as his weapon of choice when he finds it on a wall.
  • In Jack the Reaper, Railroad Jack's weapon of choice is a railroad pickaxe.
  • In Left for Dead, Goldie carries a pick and uses it to attack Mobius; impaling him through the stomach with it. Mobius later pulls a Lodged-Blade Recycling and uses the pick to break her back.
  • Both the original My Bloody Valentine and its remake had killers with pickaxes as their Weapon of Choice.
  • The villain of Simon Says has a severe pickaxe fetish, to the point of actually constructing a machine gun-like contraption that fires them.
  • Twice-Told Tales: In "The House of Seven Gables", after Gerald discovers the map to the vault in the basement, he murders his sister Hannah with a pick so he will not have to share the inheritance with her.
  • The Phantom Killer in The Town That Dreaded Sundown takes a pickaxe to chase a woman with through a cornfield.
  • In Wild Horse Phantom, Fuzzy picks up a pick to defend himself while he is wandering the mine tunnels. However, he gets it stuck in the wall before he can use it as a weapon.

    Literature 
  • Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom: Kate Connor got a bunch of ice picks on sale because they make good weapons and having them around the house wouldn't be looked at askance.
  • Discworld's dwarfs use special axes: one side is a pickaxe, for prospecting; the other is a traditional battle axe, so you can stake your claim.
  • The Dwarves of the Iron Hills under future King Under the Mountain Dáin II Ironfoot in The Hobbit wielded Mattocks in the Battle of the Five Armies.
  • Merkabah Rider: In "The Dust Devils", The Rider is attacked in a mine by a Bandito leader with a sabre. He grabs a mattock to defend himself and eventually wins the fight: killing the bandito by driving the mattock through his head.
  • In The Princess and the Goblin, Curdie's weapon of choice is his miner's mattock.
  • The Russian Tolkien parody The Zwirmarillion references this with A Worldwide Punomenon. This particular pun is that the Quenya name of a constellation "Valacirca" sounds in Russian like "a Vala's pick", and the constellation is Varda's threat to beat Melkor up with a pick.

    Live Action TV 
  • There was an episode of Bones where a woman was murdered with a pick used for rock-climbing in caverns.
  • The Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior episode See No Evil depicted a woman getting an ice pick rammed into her ear.
  • In an episode of CSI: NY, someone was killed with an ice pick to the neck. As it turns out he was dying of cancer and he requested that he be killed this way.
  • Leverage: In "The Underground Job", Eliot gets in a fight with the mook who was attempting to bomb the mine where both of them are wielding picks.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games  
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, picks are popular weapons among those of the dwarven or gnomish persuasion, an outgrowth of their traditional profession of mining. In 3rd Edition, they are known for low damage but very powerful Critical Hits (comparable to a scythe). Ironically, picks' low damage means they're unable to damage stone without extraordinary strength, making them useless to use as actual picks. One would assume that they ignore the hardness of stone, like axes do with wood, but it's never specifically stated. In 5th edition, they're given a damage boost but like other weapons no longer have any special properties on a critical hit.
    • Gnomes even had a special pick weapon of their own in 3rd Edition: the Gnomish Hook Hammer. It was a Double Weapon that consisted of a pick on one side and a warhammer on the other. However, due to gnomes' small size reducing the damage dice of their weapons combined with their racial penalty to Strength, it was pretty much never seen in actual gameplay.
  • In GURPS, picks are very powerful because they have high basic damage and a high damage multiplier. Their major limitation is that they can get stuck in a target, but even then they automatically do damage when you pull them out.
  • In the official board game of The Walking Dead, picks are very powerful if you use nothing but picks in a single combat.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE: Nuju's Ice Pick and Avak's Seismic Pickaxe.

    Video Games  
  • One of the kamas of Pendles from Battleborn is a BlissTek™ ice-climbing axe modified into a scythe.
  • Grayback from Battle Realms wields one; justified as he and most of the Wolf Clan pre-revolt were miners.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: one level has you using ice picks as melee weapons.
    • Well, you get to see MacTavish using ice picks as weapons. To dismount a guy on a snowmobile, no less. It's beyond awesome.
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker lets Captain Toad wield a pickaxe as a temporary weapon in a manner identical to the hammer from Donkey Kong.
  • In Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, the Zaghnol is the best one-handed axe, taking the appearence of a highly-ornated pick with a bird motif. Also surprisingly easy to made, making it overall Boring, but Practical.
  • The Grave Robber from Darkest Dungeon usually prefers throwing knives and darts for weaponry but carries a pickaxe as well. Presumably it's for breaking into mausoleums and the like, but it's just as effective at smacking the local Eldritch Abominations very hard in the face. The pickaxe attack skill has the bonus of ignoring enemy PROT, making it very useful against armored opponents.
  • Dark Souls: Pickaxes can be looted as rare drops from Boulder Giants to use as weapons, it does moderate damage and is difficult to use, however it does decent poise damage akin to straight swords.
    • In Dark Souls II by comparison the pickaxe is a ridiculously well-hidden weapon that is incredibly hard to find. Unfortunately, changes to its moveset and nerfs to its stats that make it much harder to use mean that it's also one of the worst weapons in the game. For some reason it was also reclassified from a Hammer weapon to a Great Hammer.
    • It made one more appearance in Dark Souls III, this time as a weapon that could be found in a fixed location, and was probably the most effective version of itself to boot.
  • Dead Island: pickaxes are two handed weapon made for crushing skulls of the zombies. The strongest one being The Pick of Destiny.
  • Deep Rock Galactic, starring miner dwarves in the future, naturally features these. Acting both as your Quick Melee option and terrain destruction/rearrangement for navigational and mining purposes, it can be upgraded to be even better at opening enemies up, down to adding a charged, massive swing that can clear a good swath of glyphids easy.
    TASTE THE PICKAXE!
  • One of the first weapons in Drakensang 2: The River of Time is a pick, classified as a "Two-Handed Axe" type weapon.
  • Dwarf Fortress: picks deal piercing damage, which is one of the best ways to damage internal organs (and thus, potentially kill a victim in a single blow depending on where you hit.) They also use the Mining skill in combat, unlike the axe. Convincing your militia to use them in battle is a bit trickier than it used to be, but they still make a pretty good Emergency Weapon.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has mining picks that can be equipped as weapons, but they're pretty useless in combat.
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim includes picks, which are required to mine ore. They can make a decent weapon if enchanted. Two unique versions can be found: the Notched Pickaxe, which raises the Dragonborn's Smithing skill when equipped and deals minor shock damage to enemies, and Hoarfrost, which deals frost damage and has a chance to freeze enemies solid.
  • An ordinary icepick is the closest thing Ferazel's Wand has to an Infinity +1 Sword, doing many times the damage of a dagger or a fireball spell.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has the Esthar Soldiers, who wield a pickaxe with some sort of triple barreled gun on the handle just above the handgrip. It looks about as silly as it sounds.
  • Fire Emblem: The recurring sword type Armorslayer has no tip, its blade instead splitting into a spiky T shape, creating an Anti-Armor weapon that functions more like an oddly-shaped pick than a sword. Skallagrim gives a breakdown of how these weapons would work here.
  • One of the harvesting tools/melee weapons players can use in Fortnite and Fortnite: Battle Royale is a pickax... made out of lawn flamingo heads attached to a shovel handle with a garden hose. The Death Valley harvesting tool in the shape of a pick mattock with a cow skull on top.
  • In the Mega Man Battle Network series, the Metools get these as weapons to go along with their mining hard hats. They hit the ground with them to produce shockwaves that travel straight down their row at speeds that vary from slow to barely visible depending on the type of Metool. Mega Man can also use them with the battle chips won from said enemies (For the first three games, at least).
  • You can use your pick this way in Minecraft, but it deals less damage than the more devoted weapon types. Fighting with a pickaxe usually means you're pressed for materials, because making a pickaxe first will make sure you can get more materials to make a sword or axe with, both of which do more damage than the pick regardless of version.
  • Minecraft Dungeons: You can use a pickaxe to fight the Arch-Illager's hordes, and it's more powerful than the sword, but at the cost of attack range.
  • Mount & Blade has a pickaxe, a fighting pick, and a military pick in increasing order of power as short-range one-handed weapons. They may not look so impressive at first, but they're fast, have an unnerving tendency to go right through heavy armor, and will still make a mess of lightly armored enemies besides. They are also surprisingly handy in close fighting and sieges for those same reasons, trading reach for superior armor penetration.
  • Picks are available as weapons in NetHack, with the two-handed dwarvish mattock being one of the most damaging non-artifact weapons in the game, but they are generally more useful for digging shortcuts and bypasses through the dungeon.
  • A pickaxe is also the best weapon in Penumbra: Overture—or more accurately, every other weapon is worse. You'll still have to hit Hellhounds a dozen times to kill them, but two hits can handle a Giant Spider.
  • The Imperial Pick from Phantasy Star Online is a very good Partisan weapon, despite being, essentially, a very large and ornate pickaxe.
  • Some enemies in Red Dead Revolver wield mining picks in melee combat.
  • In Risk of Rain, the miner dual wields these, using them in his basic attack. It manages to keep up with the mercenary's laser sword and Hand-E's hydraulic punch quite well, even outranging them. Still, in matters of more complex attacks, he moves on to this weapon's high-tech cousin.
  • RuneScape: partially averted; pickaxes can be wielded as a weapon, but they are less effective than weapons made of the same metal. That being said, players frequently wield their pickaxes while mining, rather than simply wield another weapon, because it saves an inventory space that could be used to carry more ore. Also, some bosses have armor that needs to be broken with a pickaxe before you can actually start hacking away at its HP with another weapon (though you can still use the pickaxe if you wish).
  • The Emergency Hammer in Silent Hill is basically a gigantic Horseman's pick with a small flat peen on one end and and a huge spiked one on the other; you guess which end Harry prefers to strike with. It's easily the most devastating melee weapon in the game.
  • The Pickaxe of Despair is by far the most damaging-per-swing weapon you can find in Silent Hill 4: The Room, and its Charge Attack is a 720 degree Spin Attack that will kick anything close to you away by a good 7 feet. The drawback is that the thing is so slow that you'll often get hurt while trying to use it, taking around 4 seconds for a single attack and over 20 to charge a spin. Interestingly, with it, your stomp attack is replaced by Henry thrusting the shovel against the enemy when it's down.
  • The Soldier class in Team Fortress 2 has two picks as unlockable melee weapons.
    • The Equalizer turns him into the ultimate Glass Cannon by raising in damage output based on how low his health level is. At 1 hit point, he can hit for 113 points of damage.
    • The Escape Plan increases the Soldier's running speed the less health he has, and marks him for death. At one hit point, he can run almost as fast as the scout.
  • In the Tomb Raider reboot, Lara can use her pick as a weapon after leveling up to a certain point.
  • In Unturned, the pick axe is a decent weapon and the only tool that lets you break up boulders for crafting stone.
  • In The Walking Dead, Molly has a climbing pick she names "Hilda" that she lends to Lee for a while.
  • Warcraft III has the Rusty Pick item, which adds a little damage and has a chance to stun an enemy. Peasants and Peons use them as tools and weapons, if you order them to attack.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • In the Dream SMP, after Technoblade's failed execution, he uses a netherite pickaxe as an Improvised Weapon until he is able to recover his items. While making his escape, Techno is evenly matched with three people at one point while weaponizing his pickaxe, and he even manages to kill one of his pursuers, Quackity (who was wearing full enchanted netherite armour and using an axe), with it by, as the image quote points out, putting it through his teeth and partially blinding him.

    Real Life  
  • Leon Trotsky was assassinated with either an ice axe or an ice pick, depending on who you ask.
  • The horseman's pick and other warhammers often had large pick-ends for piercing armor.
  • The Indian Zaghnal, while technically a war hammer, features a large, blade-like pick on the other side as its most prominent trait. Certain persian war axes adopted the pick blade in their design.
  • Karla Faye Tucker was executed in 1998 for killing two people with a pickaxe.
  • Many of the people executed in Pol Pot's killing fields were killed with pickaxes, rather than having a bullet wasted on them.
  • One of the least-commonly known Japanese weapons from the Sengoku Jidai was the "Tsuruhashi" (Crane's Bill), sometimes erroneously called "Nanman Hachiwari". Resembling a kama at a first sight, the Tsuruhashi has a sharp pick in lieu of a blade and was made to pierce through armor easily. Variants mounted on long spears did exist.

 
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Video Example(s):

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Captain Toad

The pickaxe in this game functions as an invincibility powerup, not dissimilar to the hammer from Donkey Kong. With it, Captain Toad can crush stone blocks, immediately kill enemies and cannot be harmed.

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