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Razor Floss

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"How did I get roped into this again?"

"The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the hardest; that which has no [substantial] existence enters where there is no crevice."
Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching

Razor floss is when any long, thin material — string, thread, fine wire, etc — is used as a weapon with Absurd Cutting Power (for which it is a subtrope). Odd as it may sound, strings can become deadly weapons in the right hands. Besides restraining enemies and even controlling other people's bodies against their will, or triggering traps, they can be pretty handy for cutting. In many works of fiction, one skilled enough can use strings to cut opponents or even boulders, without hurting themselves. Naturally, monsters of the humanoid arachnid variety can usually be counted on to be using this trope.

Fantasy settings generally have this type of string made of human hair, while in more modern and future ones it's probably monomolecular wire. Spider thread is used in both. In series less reliant on the Rule of Cool, the wires usually manifests as garrotes or tripwires, with varyingly messy outcomes.

What the audience sees usually amounts to Sword Lines sans the sword. Can be counted on to inflict an absurdly Clean Cut on its victims.

In reality, cables and metal wires can be used to inflict not so clean but still pretty nasty wounds, provided they are of the right material and/or sufficient force is applied. Cheese slicers frequently use thin metal wires stretched in a metal frame to accomplish this trope, for instance. The monomolecular form is an eternal dream of materials engineering: any material with enough tensile strength to be used as razor floss could be woven into cables of the sort needed to build a Space Elevator. note 

A rarely addressed aspect of the trope occurs when the razor floss breaks or is cut. In such situations it may snap back at the user like a rubber band.

Compare Knows the Ropes, Whip Sword and Killer Yoyo.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Accel World
    • The Disaster Armor had this as one of the powers it could grant its bewitched user. Used to horrifying effect with the Seventh Chrome Disaster attacks Yellow Radio's hunting party and apparently can pull players right to him before devouring them, as well as being able to change his trajectory mid-jump. This proves to be his undoing when he attaches the filaments to the far more maneuverable Silver Crow, who uses their unbreakable nature to slam Chrome Disaster into a building and weaken him enough to defeat him.
    • A similar trick is used by the villainous character Rust Jigsaw, who can set near-invisible jigsaw blade traps in the air around him. His preference for hunting close quarter or melee Burst Linkers made him a dangerous threat when they inevitably tried to get close to him to deal some damage. Again, this strategy proved bad when he faced a Disaster Armor controlled Silver Crow, who cut the distance between them by applying his own wires to Rust Jigsaw and yanking.
  • After War Gundam X has a Mecha Of The Week named Britova whose weaponry includes a rocket-guided razor wire. The universe's backstory also has a Gundam Belphagor (no relation to the above) which uses several wrist-mounted wires to defend against Attack Drone-type weapons.
  • Lubbock's Imperial Arms makes use of this trope in Akame ga Kill!. He can also create a spear out of it, and use it defensively as a form of improvised armor to help him battle his enemies.
  • The first Appleseed movie had a pair of gynoids with cutting whips that did quite a number on Hitomi's car and later on Briareos' Hand Cannon as well. Then when a gynoid thinks it will be taken prisoner, it twirls the wire around its own head to slice up its cranial section.
  • Alice Fuji from Arachnid has Kumoito, a blade attached to special spider thread on a pistol that when shot flies on command and spreads webs for detecting and capturing enemies. She pulls a good number of absurd Crazy-Prepared stunts with it through the series, culminating with stabbing a sharpshooter standing miles away from her.
  • Yashamaru of Basilisk uses razor wire as his primary means of attack.
  • One character in Bastard!! (1988) has this as a main weapon.
  • The main weapon of Elf and Zwolf in Battle Angel Alita: Last Order. They've used it for defensive traps, deadly "cat's cradle" attacks, helping with Sechs' fastball special and... knitting a scarf supersonically in the middle of a tournament.
  • Jenos Hazard from Black Cat has a glove with lines of Razor Floss attached to the tips of the fingers as his primary weapon.
    • Keep in mind, he belongs to an assassin organization whose members all have weapons tailor-made to their abilities, made of an indestructible metal alloy.
  • Subverted in Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma, female ninja Aya uses a series of threads as her weapons and she tosses them out in a similar fashion to how Razor Floss is often shown. But the threads themselves do nothing. Instead at the end of each is a barbed hook and when Aya gets them set into a foe, she can tear them out to inflict vicious wounds on the subject.
  • The titular character of the Boogiepop Series wields this quite efficiently and lethally.
  • Linna Yamazaki from Bubblegum Crisis has microfilament hair ribbons from her Hardsuit's helmet that can cut through enemies and weapons.
  • One episode of Cardcaptor Sakura had Eriol manipulate Shaoran like a puppet using well-placed strings, much to Shaoran's horror. This is also stopped with Sakura using the Sword card.
  • A frequent murder weapon in Case Closed — in fact, the first case solved involved a beheading on a roller coaster using a wire.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Kaori Kanzaki uses this to simulate super fast sword strikes. Her old student Itsuwa can do it too, but she's not as skilled.
  • Showed up once in the manga version of City Hunter, when Ryo had to deal with a killer dosed with Angel Dust: due the drug the killer stood back up after getting shot three times with a Colt Python .357 Magnum, at which point Ryo pulled out a wire and beheaded him.
  • Bishōnen Benten from Cyber City Oedo 808 used this as his weapon of choice, slicing through bad guys quite stylishly.
  • In Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, Lucy's main weapon of choice is a Monowire. The Monowire is a thin razor wire that extends from her wrists, which is sharp enough to cleave people in two in a single motion.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, there is Rui, Lower Rank-5 of the Twelve Kizuki. His Blood Demon Art allows him to manipulate razor-sharp threads to slice people with. He can also wrap them around people's bodies and use them as People Puppets.
  • In an episode of Descendants of Darkness, Muraki uses this against Hisoka. Not only that, but he ties up Hisoka to a wall with razor so, if he tried to free himself, he'd get cut. YEOWCH.
  • Razor Floss is one of Amagumo/Rain Spider's many, many weapons in Desert Punk. He even compares it to a spider's web.
  • L.A. from El Cazador de la Bruja is freakishly efficient with this weapon.
    A random cop: Get forensics down here ASAP. Uh, someone who's good at puzzles...
  • The twins Raiga and Fuga from Fist of the North Star have this as the basis of their fighting style Nishin Furai Ken (Dual Gods Wind and Thunder Fist). It can only be learned by identical twins.
    • In the anime, their master Sojin uses a style very similar called Furai Jukkyoku Ken (Wind and Thunder Ten Extremities Fist).
  • Marco Adriano from Gangsta. uses impossibly long garotte wires that he stores in his specialized watch. With them, he's able to cleanly slice through flesh and bone with seemingly little effort.
  • Kazuki from Get Backers, who's also known as "Kazuki of the Strings." They're just ordinary koto strings (harp strings in the Tokyopop version) that defy the laws of physics because of the vibrations he applies to them with his fingers. In the last arc of the story, he destroys multiple skyscrapers in seconds with his strings. Other characters who use strings can also create perfect body-doubles of themselves, tigers, and supernatural cocoons attached to the heart.
  • During one of the most badass moments from Volume 2 of Goblin Slayer, Goblin Slayer uses the hair of one of the goblins' previous victims as a makeshift garrote to strangle the living crap out of the Goblin Champion of Water Town, completely turning a near-hopeless situation around for the rest of his party. He holds on so tightly that the hair is actually cutting through his heavy gloves and lacerating the skin beneath.
  • A brief murder mystery in Gosick involves a motorcyclist who was beheaded by a strand of wire stretched across the road.
  • Triela makes use of one of these to strangle a guard in an episode of Gunslinger Girl.
  • Surprisingly enough, this appears in Haruhi-chan. Yuki uses it to restraint a mutant Santa Claus.
  • Walter C. Dornez (pictured above) of Hellsing is a prominent example. With ten monomolecular filament wires, he can obliterate armies of the undead. After his Face–Heel Turn, he can slice buildings to pieces and mesh his wires into barricades. He also takes up puppetry. As sharp as they are, they can also be surprisingly prehensile and delicate when he wants them to be; for example, he used them to grab a pack of cigs when he was 14. Also, he used it to grab hold of Alucard, fling him into buildings, and hold him in place, but at the same time, other wires were cutting him.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Machi a member of the Phantom Troupe, is this. She spins her aura into threads in which she uses in a variety of ways, including seaming together dislodged limbs, attaching strands to people in order to track their movement, and as a weapon.
  • Yura of the Hair from Inuyasha. She uses her hair in this mode.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • During Battle Tendency, Joseph Joestar uses ropes doused in oil to trap his vampire enemies and burn them using Hamon. This is foreseen by Esidisi (who also uses this trope via 1000 degree blood vessels), who cuts the ropes during their battle. Unfortunately for him, Joseph had employed the cut and restore rope trick to catch him off guard.
    • In Stardust Crusaders, Joseph gains the Hermit Purple Stand that allows him to create vines out of his hand. However, in this arc it is Kakyoin who best uses the trope with his Hierophant Green Stand, setting countless wires around DIO during their final showdown.
    • In Stone Ocean, Jolyne becomes this with her Stand, Stone Free. It unravels parts of her own body into durable strings, which are used in increasingly clever strategies. It further helps that the Stand itself is free to fight off enemies at close range with brute force while Jolyne handles the Trap Master work.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: During the D of D tournament, one of the participants (known as Captain K) sets up a steel wire trap for the Shinpaku Alliance team and forces Freya to fight one on one against him. At first it seems he has the upper hand when she gets superficial cuts on her thighs, but it turns out she was the one playing him and ends up trapping him in his own wire maze.
  • The garrote wire used by Yoji in Knight Hunters occasionally functions as Razor Floss, although much more often he simply strangles or restrains people with it.
  • Yuuno from Lyrical Nanoha can use his Chain Bind spell in this manner to slice up anything he chooses. Given the fact that characters in the series tend to shy away from maiming or killing their opponents, he only uses it against Nachtwal during the final battle of A's.
  • One early case in Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro involves a decapitation via wire attached to rubber, making a "guillotine slingshot", as Neuro puts it.
  • The three Gamia sisters of Mazinger Z. They are three identical, long-haired, human-looking robots. Each hair strand of theirs is sharp and can cut through blocks of stone. They showed up again in Mazinkaiser and Shin Mazinger.
  • In the Rumiko Takahashi story Mermaid's Scar, Creepy Child Masato strings up piano wire at knee-height to trip the immortal Youta, and, hopefully, slice his head off. Youta receives cuts on his shins and a particularly deep gash on his neck but is otherwise okay.
  • In Mission: Yozakura Family,, Kyoichiro's preferred weapon is Steel Spider, a pair of gloves that produce seemingly endless amounts of wire that can rip apart an entire mansion. In addition to tearing things to ribbons, Kyoichiro also has enough precision with them to interfere with the wiring of a bomb, catch people who are falling to their deaths, and fling said bomb to another building with pinpoint accuracy.
  • Mouse's arch-enemy One uses lots and lots of this as his weapon of choice.
  • Nao in My-HiME and My-Otome.
  • Wire is a standard weapon of some ninja in Naruto, though it's rarely used to cut anything, just to restrain opponents and direct/redirect projectiles; Sasuke gets some good use out of them in the earlier parts of the series. Chiyo's puppets of Sasori's parents (originally built by Sasori himself) are the only ones with cutting wires, which are strung between the two of them.
  • Evangeline of Negima! Magister Negi Magi likes to use this like People Puppets. She says she can control a total of three hundred people simultaneously within a three-kilometer radius (long wires!). She, of course, uses Hermetic Magic to help.
  • Jubei of Ninja Scroll keeps his sword wired, so that he can retrieve it quickly. One of the villains also uses wire, mainly as a communication device (similar to a cup-and-string getup), as well as a means to electrocute people.
  • Kubinashi from Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan uses razor floss as his weapon of choice.
  • The Ordeal of Strings during the Skypeia arc of One Piece.
    • Donquixote Doflamingo ate the String-String Fruit, which allows him to generate razor floss for various purposes. He can cleanly slice through the leg of Little Oars Jr., attach the wire to his victim's limbs and do People Puppets, and attach it to clouds to swing around like Spider-Man. Considering his vast empire, which spans both halves of the Grand Line and includes many top-ranking Marines, a lot of World Government officials, a fellow Warlord of the Sea, and even an Emperor, he is a Visual Pun — the man pulling the strings on both the figurative and literal level.
  • Chiaki from Phantom Thief Jeanne uses this near the end.
  • In Ranma ½, one of Ranma's enemies, Mon Lon of the Shichifukudojin (or, in dubbed English: Seven Lucky Gods Martial Artists) uses this in the movie Big Trouble in Nekonron, China. And the whole scene was a parody of the fight with God Warrior Mime in the Asgardian arc of Saint Seiya. It's amazing how much of his clothes get cut by the closing loops, but how little of his skin actually breaks, probably because Mon Lon was toying with Ranma at the time. He was actually about to go for the kill when Shampoo intervened.
  • Belphegor of Reborn! (2004) attaches sharp wires to each of his thrown knives.
  • Gein from the Rurouni Kenshin manga.
    • (Filler) A team of two villainous brothers in Rurouni Kenshin did this so well that the local townspeople thought they were using magic. Kenshin defeated them easily once he recovered his sword- he just cut the strings off.
  • Saint Seiya
    • The Asgardian God Warrior Benetnasch Eta Mime, wears a Cloth reminiscent of a harp. As such, he is prone to laying down Razor Floss around the environment as traps, as well as send them flying towards his opponents to entangle them. Note that his harp's strings are strong, and sharp enough, to crack and cut through solid rock, as well as Bronze Cloths and the very human skin of the Saints wearing them.
    • In the Hades Saga, the Silver Saint Lyra Orphee has a similar weapon (justified; the character is indeed based on Orpheus from Greek mythology). He battles another Musical Assassin, the spectre Sphinx Pharaoh.
    • Two minor movie villains: Lyra Orpheus, the Ghost Saint appearing in the first Saint Seiya movie (Lyra Orphee has inspired by him) and one of Abel Saints, Berenice, from third movie, that has the ability to launch several strands of hair. These hairs Berenices throws are able to trap and disrupt the enemy.
  • Before he became a ninja, Dororo of Sgt. Frog was a deadly assassin and this was his trademark weapon.
  • In Shaman King, Lyserg's dowsing pendulum functions as this, when the crystal at the tip isn't being used as a homing dagger.
  • Rika from Corpse Princess has a clawed glove that also has razor floss.
  • In Silent Möbius, the serial killer Wired used razor floss to chop cops to bits in his rampage.
  • Wordof God for Slayers is that the Crown Princess of Seillune, Amelia and Naga's mother, created a spell called "Chaos String" that allows the caster to manipulate threads. Wordof God also states that Naga used this spell to kill an assassin that murdered her mother, and that Naga has been terrified of blood ever since.
  • Chocolate from Sorcerer Hunters is yet another user.
    • In the anime, Chocolate's weapon is less the wire and more the long, thin needle attached to it; in the manga, it's straight Razor Floss, with some attention paid to its physics in a few chapters — it can stretch to incredible lengths and is highly conductive to electricity. Tira has a spool of it, and at one point uses it to marionette an entire casino hall, resulting in Tira winning a fortune in cheated winnings and the pit boss ending up as party cubes.
  • In the anime Space Adventure Cobra, the Guild pirate Sandra sets a trap inside of a maze for Cobra. The trap was a web of piano wire sharp enough to cut Cobra to limit his movement, while she took pot-shots at him with a lightning gun.
  • Little Boy in the Spriggan manga uses this briefly to render mook guards into chunks.
  • Played for Laughs in Spy X Family when we see Yor try her hand at tennis. She has such incredible speed and strength, she sometimes accidentally shreds the tennis ball into little cubes with her racket's net when she swings it too hard. She has to deliberately hold back so she can serve or return while keeping the ball in one piece.
  • In Tekken: The Motion Picture, Nina Williams attempts her second assassination of Kazuya this way but Jun briefly blinds her by throwing a locket at her and Kazuya pulls her down from the rafters.
  • In Tekken Chinmi, Ironfist Chinmi, one of the many evil Kung Fu masters that the titular character fights uses this weapon as part of his style. Using a single strand of razor floss, he whips it at a target so that it coils around the target's limb, then pulls on it so that it unravels with such speed it cuts flesh. A fairly realistic portrayal in that it only works if he can strike a foe from the side with it- though he is skilled enough with it that, straight on, he can still inflict minor gashes or use it to pierce like a needle.
  • Both Rimuru Tempest and the kijin Souei from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime can pull this trope to devastating effect with the skill Sticky Steel Thread.
  • Sunny from Toriko can do this with his hairs.
  • In the Touhou H-doujin Ningyou Kakumei, Alice manages to trick the naive doll Medicine into consenting to helping her in her research to make a self-capable Doll. As soon as Medicine said that she'd help, Alice traps her with puppeteer's threads:
    Alice: It's puppeteer's thread... you'll only cut yourself if you try to struggle... so please be a good doll and stay still...
  • In Trigun, Vash the Stampede occasionally ties a string to his gun in the anime format, allowing him to retrieve it quickly if disarmed and also, with some simple pulley mechanics, to fire on an enemy from a different angle than the foe expects. In the manga format, Leonof the Puppet Master also uses invisibly thin strings to control his hordes of killer marionettes (in the anime, he apparently just uses remote control). Finally, Legato's ability to control the bodies of his enemies is revealed to work by means of microscopic threads that infiltrate the nervous system and manipulate it by means of electrical pulses.
    • Leonof did use wires in the anime; that was where Vash got the idea for the wire-trigger trick.
  • In X/1999, after Kotori dies by being stabbed in the chest, her body is gruesomely dismembered with this. Particularly egregious since it's done with electrical wires taken from a street post, which are considerably thick... but since the killer was Fuuma the Dark Messiah, he probably imbued said wires with his own power.

    Comic Books 
  • The Indigo Prime story Killing Time featured one of the protagonists executing Jack the Ripper using a harp - however, the strings weren't sharp enough to slice effortlessly through the flesh and needed him to be forced through face first. The fact that harp strings could be strong enough to not only resist breaking but also slowly carve through flesh and bone can be handwaved by the fact that the harp was from a reality created by an insane omnicidal extra-dimensional monster.
  • Diamond Lil, from Alpha Flight, sometimes plucked a hair from her head and used it as a slicing garrotte. Justified by her being Nigh-Invulnerable, over six feet tall, and very, very strong (though not superhumanly so). Since it can't be cut, her hair is also very long.
    • John Byrne loves this idea, he did the exact same thing with the invulnerable Hardbody from Next Men and he did an issue of Fantastic Four where Doctor Doom trapped She-Hulk in a cage, the "bars" of which were so thin they sliced into her arm when she tried to push against them.
  • The Batman villain KGBeast kills a key member of the "Star Wars" missile program this way, hanging wire across the street down which the victim motorcycles. The victim's head is sliced clean off.
  • Subverted in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, an alien ninja threatens the chief of security with what he assumes is a mono-molecular garrote but is really just floss.
  • In the Andrew Vachss series Cross, Cross and his crew escape from a juvenile detention center using dental floss to cut the bars on one window. They also dipped to floss in comet cleanser to provide an abrasive. This took some time, with strong guy Rhino chugging away at the floss and Cross reading him poetry to keep him motivated.
    • This is actually possible. There are a couple of real-life examples of breakouts where prisoners cut through bars with dental floss.
  • Super-Skrull pulled this off in the Annihilation Mini he received, stretching his body like Reed Richards, but keeping it Thing durability. Razor wire.
  • In one issue of The Flash, Doctor Alchemy strung fine wires of pure molybdenum across the shortest path to reach him. Flash realized what was going on and veered off in time, but if he hadn't, he likely would have sliced himself to pieces at the speed he was running at.
  • During the Rogue Trooper flashback story, "Cinnabar", Rogue uses a monofilament wire to cut through parts of Charybdis after his using his rifle only results in the creature's internal defences to react violently to gunfire. This is inside the creature. It's noted that a laser would have been more effective, but Rogue's has been confiscated and he was thrown in as part of a Blood Sport with minimal equipment.
  • In Top 10, the Libra Killer has hundreds of monofilament tentacles, which were even capable of cutting through a phased Jack Phantom.

    Fan Works 
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls: Ember invokes this when seeing how Roka heals people, (she uses needles and thread) saying how it could easily be used to tear things apart rather than sew them back together.
  • In Power Games, Shamal uses her Device's threads to decapitate a Mariage.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: Harry uses it to finish off several enemies.
  • In The (Questionable) Burdens of Leadership of a Troll Emperor, Reiko kills a Wraith patrol by setting up a monomolecular wire at waist height in one of the hallways. According to her, they likely didn't even feel it until their torsos hit the ground.
  • The Dresden Fillies: In Strange Friends the Mane Six plus Harry Dresden found themselves in a trap of high tension invisible razor wires. It ended up backfiring when they just snapped a wire causing a chain reaction that wipes out all the other wires.

  • Assassins of Brotherhood: One of the titular assassins, an unnamed Dark Action Girl, uses a fine wire hidden in her bracelet as her weapon, to stealthily slit her victim's throats. She attempts this on her own mentor late into the film, only for said mentor to deduce her ambush... and slit her throat, with her own floss.
  • Audition: Asami Yamazaki uses piano wire to horrific effect during the twenty-minute torture sequence that ends the movie.
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, henchman Patty O'Brien attempts to use this on Austin during an ambush in a casino bathroom. Patty fails. Parodied later in the same film when Austin is issued an oral hygiene product. When Austin sees dental floss, he immediately believes it to be a disguised garrote wire, but it really isn't anything more than regular dental floss.
  • Azumi 2: Death or Love features a ninja Elite Mook which attempts to slice up the title character with deadly poisoned wires. She deflects the wires back at him, causing him to be sliced apart by his own wire into bloody chunks.
  • In Blade (1998), the eponymous protagonist uses this to finally kill The Dragon by decapitation. Of course, the wire in question is silver-lined, as a regular wire would probably not be enough to decapitate a vampire.
  • Used fairly realistically in The Counselor by a cartel hitman to kill Westray. The weapon takes the form of a noose made from strong wire and quickly tightened by a small electric motor. The hitman approaches the victim from behind, throws the noose around his neck, pulls it tight, activates the motor and bolts before anyone can react. It takes only a few agonizing and very bloody seconds for the device to cut through the victim's fingers, then his jugular, before all but decapitating him as the noose continues to close. Gets all the more horrifying by the hit being carried out in broad daylight on a busy street with countless civilians to witness it, kids included.
  • Grids of such wire are used to kill off the first character we see in Cube. Many traps in the series are like this.
  • Mentioned and seen in Die Hard with a Vengeance. As the two heroes are attempting to get from a bridge to a ship passing under it, Zeus says they should jump to the attached crane. John McClane says the cables would cut them in half. Then when they use the winch on an SUV to climb down, the ship pulls the car off the bridge, leaving the hook and cable attached to the crane. As it swings, it hits a henchman. Zeus and John are then seen dragging him by his arms and legs. About eight feet apart...
  • In Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain, while fleeing from the cannibals, Steve runs into a length of piano wire strung between two trees with enough speed and force to decapitate himself.
  • In Final Destination 2, a character is trisected horizontally by a flying wire fence.
  • In Force 10 from Navarone, Force 10 uses the old "wire strung across a road" trick to decapitate a Nazi officer.
  • In the opening scene of Ghost Ship, a support wire is used for just the first part of the mass murder.
  • Hero (1997) has a rather gory scene where an informant is executed by three wires slicing through his face.
  • In Johnny Mnemonic, Shinji's monomolecular whip is attached to a prosthetic thumb (the original was cut off as a result of a previous failure which wasn't serious enough to require his life). It glows, possibly so that he can see it (or so the audience can, or just for Rule of Cool). Another character refers to him having turned this disadvantage (not having the thumb) into an advantage (having a very deadly and hard-to-remove weapon).
  • Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen has a Death Montage of various collaborators being killed by the Japanese forces in Shanghai (intersect with the hero, Chen Zen trying to rescue as many of them as possible), a few of the slain victims having their throats graphically sliced by wire garrotes (one in a barbershop who's waiting for a haircut before having his jugular clipped from behind by a wire).
  • Men of Honor: In the same vein as many of the listed Real Life examples, Carl suffers an accident in which a large cable snaps, whipping around and injuring his lower leg.
  • Naked Killer: One hit involves the two female assassins dancing intimately around their target in a nightclub, when they're actually wrapping razor floss around his body. Then they pull away from him in opposite directions, tightening the wire and decapitating their target.
  • Piranha 3D features a woman on the receiving end of a Diagonal Cut from a high-tension wire.
  • In Piranha 3DD, Chet is decapitated by perfectly normal bunting at neck height when he drives a jeep not particularly fast into it — though given the nature of the film, the absurdity is certainly intentional.
  • Predator: This is employed on one of the Predator weapons.
    • This first appears in Predator 2. Basically, the net is made of thin wire and it tightens, cubing the person it captures.
    • One of the Predators from AVP: Alien vs. Predator used a weapon that fires a net that cuts into a xenomorph's head before being dissolved by the acidic blood, leaving a net patterned scar through the rest of the movie.
  • The Laser Hallway in Resident Evil (2002) was inspired by the razor wire grid in Cube. Three members of an Umbrella reaction squad are killed; the first Died Standing Up... until her head fell off. The next becomes Half the Man He Used to Be (after first losing some fingers) and the third is able to dodge the beams until an unavoidable diamond-like mesh of laser beams turns him into chunks.
  • In the first The Santa Clause, the magic tinsel employed by the elves to break Tim Allen out of jail.
    E.L.F.S. Leader: Tinsel. Not just for decoration.
  • In The Soldier, a Gratuitous Ninja tries to sneak up and garrotte the title character. The Soldier grabs the wire before he can get it around his neck, but it's seen cutting into his arm. Weirdly, this turns out to be just an Attack Hello from one of his own men, who just injured his boss before a crucial mission.
  • In Stripped to Kill, the second victim — Cinnamon — is garroted with piano wire.
  • A famous scene in Stone involves the murder of a biker by a high-tension wire, followed by his head rolling along the road.
  • One of the tasks in 13 Sins seems to involve the innocuous task of hanging a metal laundry line. Then, the protagonist realizes that the other end is across the road and some motorcyclists are headed down...
  • The Three Musketeers (2011) has a trap made out of Razor Floss which effortlessly slices a dropped ribbon into several pieces, filling the dramatic purpose of a Laser Hallway.
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones: The killers cut off their victim's breasts with a loop of razor wire. During the final confrontation, one of them uses this to garotte two people and nearly makes the protagonist his third, except the muzzle of his pistol gets caught in the loop, preventing the wire from cutting through his throat.
  • In Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, one victim is drawn and quartered with razor wire, another is hanged and garroted with it, and the Final Girls are clotheslined while attempting to escape by snowmobile.
  • In Xchange, Stuart is given a security package at a store that caters to executives and other "corpies". One of the items he isn't yet familiar with is a roll of monomolecular wire held together by a magnetic field. It becomes useful later when he's tied up with his love interest. He has her pull out the roll and use it to cut his bonds. She accidentally slices off a few of his fingers, but it's okay since he's in the body of a clone about to die.
  • Poor Aimee in You're Next falls prey to the clothesline version. No decapitation, but the wire cuts deep enough to bleed her to death.

  • Alex Rider: In one scene in Stormbreaker, a pair of ATVs try to slice Alex apart with cheese wire in between the two vehicles.
  • The Grey Sisters of Book of the Ancestor make booby-traps out of Ark-steel wire, so thin it can't even be seen. All novices are taught to set them and to navigate them, and the graduation exam is going through a wire-trapped hall in total darkness. Nona nearly dies to one, and Ara's wire trap kills Sherezal in the finale.
  • In Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell, as one of the protagonists is being garroted by an assassin, it's mentioned that such wires are embedded with diamond so it can saw through fingers if the mark is able to get them in the way in time. This is what begins to happen, but fortunately he's able to break free before then.
  • In A Brother's Price, when the Whistler family turn in their weapons, a garrotte is among the hidden weapons. As their ancestors were criminals who then got employment as spies, they know how to use all sorts of weapons.
  • The Culture: Combat Drones occasionally use monofilament warps stretched between two remote-controlled projectiles. The filaments seem capable of cutting through most conventional materials with no effort.
  • The Dune series includes monofilament "Shigawire"; mainly used in recording devices, it also served as a very effective garotte.
  • References abound in The Executioner to guards having their throats cut open with piano wire garrotes, while monofilament trip wires (not for Razor Floss but so they won't stand out) were often mentioned in the Able Team series.
  • A Chekhov's Razor Floss appears in The Fountains of Paradise, made of the carbon filament formulated for the Space Elevator.
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Salvation's Reach, an assassin uses wire as a garotte.
  • Hyperion Cantos: The third episode, Endymion, features monofilament wire used as a tripwire in an ambush. It was also conveniently hidden in a spool of sewing thread.
  • Jessamine Lovelace from The Infernal Devices edges her parasol, turning it into an effective weapon.
  • This is used instead of barbed wire around the robotic nursery in Logan's Run.
  • In A Lullaby Sinister, the Occult Club encounters deadly strands of black hair trying to enter the Surrogate School. Simply touching a strand causes deep lacerations.
  • Alex Fierro's signature weapon in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is an enchanted pottery wire. It's magically extendable and can cut through boulders, but not always magical beings, though it still makes an excellent garrote in the latter case.
  • In Eric Nylund's Mortal Coils, Fiona Post's special ability is the power to cut through anything with she is holding at the time provided it's thin enough. She uses a rubber band, yo-yo string and her own hair throughout the novel to do this. Supposedly her mother was possessed of the same ability.
  • Isabelle Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments edges her whip. She uses it to take off Sebastian's hand in City of Glass.
  • Outbound Flight: The short story "Mist Encounter" has Thrawn running rings around the Imperials sent to investigate his place of exile, then calmly explaining exactly how and what he did to the captain. One of the many things he did was cause a TIE fighter to crash.
    Mitth'raw'nuruodo: I knew the spacecraft would come to search. In preparation, I had strung some of my monofilament line between two of the taller treetops. One of the spacecraft hit it.
  • RCN: Daniel Leary's retainer, Hogg, experienced poacher, uses lead weights on the end of monofilament fishing line for striking and restraints — he once severed a hand from a wrist.
  • Revelation Space Series: One of the bad guys in Absolution Gap has an artificial hand with razor floss built into it.
  • Ringworld: Shadow square wire is a very fine, very strong wire used to hold the shadow squares that simulate night on the titular artifact. In the first novel, the protagonists accidentally collide with a panel before crash-landing on the ring, bringing a mess of it down to the surface. It's practically invisible and dismembers a lot of people. From the same series, a variable sword is monomolecular wire in a Slaver stasis field (making it rigid and essentially indestructible) — it goes through metal like butter.
  • In one Saga of Recluce novel, the heroes set up defenses involving razor floss strung along paths down which the enemy cavalry would charge.
  • The Ship Who...: In The City Who Fought, Joat — a young girl — sets up several strands of monofilament wire across a corridor than baits a Kolnari patrol to chase her, running into the trap. The Kolnari are literally sliced to pieces by the molecule-thick wire, making for a gruesome, bloody scene. As Joat says, it " a new meaning to 'cut off at the knees!'"
  • Carl Hiaasen's Skin Tight features another low-tech implementation of this method, in this case using two trees and some fishing wire.
  • Sprawl Trilogy:
    • Monomolecular trip wires appear in Count Zero.
    • In the short story "Johnny Mnemonic", a Yakuza assassin has a monomolecular whip attached to the first digit of his thumb. When he pulls on his thumb, the filament extends and the joint becomes the weight for a whip that can decapitate his enemies with one swing.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat: Jim encounters an assassin using monofilament wire, but only to lower himself to a balcony where his target is. Jim DiGriz, who's working as a bodyguard of the target, has to drop several stories onto the balcony to stop him, as an attempt to climb down the wire would slice his hands open.
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    • Rihannsu: In The Romulan Way, McCoy's Romulan captors bind his hands with a ribbon with a monofilament at the center. It's perfectly safe if he doesn't fight it... and if he does, his hands fall off.
    • This is used as a spaceship weapon in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel Objective: Bajor — the enemy ships flew out in pairs with a monofilament net between them. The net was so fine it couldn't be seen or blocked by shields, but any ship that was netted simply crumpled to atoms, occupants and all. They also had a net pulled by torpedo, for when the paired ships were split up.
  • Trent the Uncatchable uses "fine-line" multiple times in Daniel Keys Moran's "Tales of the Continuing Time". One of his more creative uses was to string it across the hatches of missile bays in a space station that he was about to escape from. When the space station fired the missiles at his ship, they were to be cut in half by the fine-line before it melted due to the rocket exhaust, causing the missiles to explode and destroying that wing of the space station, in an attempt to prevent future launches against him. In order to prevent any deaths (even of his enemies, since Trent is a pacifist), he told the commander of the space station what he had done prior to launch. Unfortunately, the bad guy is extremely smart, and ripple-fired all of the missiles at once. Most were destroyed, but enough got through to damage Trent's ship.
  • Randall Garrett's story "Thin Edge" appeared in Analog Science Fiction Magazine in 1963, possibly making it the Ur-Example. The wires are a two-phase material (think fiberglass), crafted with a sturdier borazon matrix embedded in a softer matrix of tungsten carbide. A thread barely thick enough to see is used to cut iron bars; one too thin to see with the naked eye is used on a substance with a texture much like beefsteak, but with bones.
  • The Three-Body Problem: The protagonists, one of whom is a nanomaterials specialist, need to retrieve hard drives from a fortified ship without giving its resident Apocalypse Cult a chance to delete their contents. When they learn that the ship will pass through the Panama Canal, they prepare a spool of nanowire, string it across the canal a few times, and watch the ship and its occupants silently tear themselves apart as they run into it — a My God, What Have I Done? moment for the specialist, but a brutally effective one. Concerns are raised that the drives could be cut in the process, but it's concluded the cuts would be so thin and smoothed that electronics could be easily re-assembled. The crew, not so much.
  • Featured in the Tom Swift IV novel The Microbots; Tom wore diamond-coated gloves to handle it. In the novel, the characters are miniaturised, at which point the monofilament is thick enough to be safely used as a rope.
  • In West of Eden and its sequels, monofilament knives are the standard cutting tools for Yilane (basically intelligent tool-using dinosaurs).
  • The early Orson Scott Card novel Wyrms has the heroine keeping a strand of this in her hair for use as a weapon in case of an assassination attempt.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of 1000 Ways to Die a Golden Triangle enforcer that’s fond of decapitations to discourage opium thieves is ironically decapitated by his own razor wire booby trap while chasing off the latest pair of thieves.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ward uses this to kill Eric Koenig. While not actually seen, when Simmons does the autopsy she notes that it was a struggle and the killer must have been both physically strong and significantly taller than the victim, so this is a fairly realistic portrayal.
  • A segment on America's Most Wanted featured two convicts who broke out of their jail using dental floss to saw through the bars of their cell window, along with a cigarette lighter to melt the plexiglass window. One inmate was almost immediately captured, while the other remained at large for several years (prompting repeat showings to said segment on the show).
  • Andromeda had the M-lash, a molecule thin whip that was so sharp if you tried to set it down without turning it off first, it would cut through the table, then the floor, etc.
    • Dylan even comments on this questioning the intelligence of an opponent who would use such a weapon onboard a spaceship
  • An episode of Angel had Angel and Spike pull this trick on a supposedly-unbeatable guardian.
  • In Boardwalk Empire, Owen garrotes Del Grogan with a wire cutter. While Owen has to use much more force than usual for this trope, he does manage to garrotte Del through his fingers, leaving them severed on the floor.
  • In one Bones episode, the murderer was a sculptor who, driven to rage by his neighbour's singing, garotted him with a sharp wire he used to cut clay.
  • The CSI: Miami episode "High Octane" begins with young adults performing automobile stunts in a beach parking lot. One driver, who's sitting on the roof of his car as he uses his feet on the steering wheel, gets decapitated when, after a saboteur remotely elevates his car high enough, an electrical wire (connected to a string of lights) cuts clean through his neck at 40 miles per hour.
  • In one episode of Dad's Army Captain Mainwaring describes the use of cheese cutters as a garrotte, causing Private Pike to become ill. Sgt. Wilson suggests it's because Pike hates cheese, rather than Mainwaring's mention of decapitation.
    • Also notable as a subversion — when Mainwaring actually tries to demonstrate the technique in mid-air and ends up pulling too hard, the wire snaps and breaks out of the handle.
      Mainwaring: Instant decap- * wire snaps* oh.
  • An episode of Dark Angel had a police officer recount how some firemen got their throats slit by piano wire strung across doorways.
  • The CIA in Deadliest Warrior use a garrote made from piano wire as their close-range weapon against the shoe knives used by the KGB. In the test, the wire showed itself capable of beheading a ballistic gel dummy. The battle simulation between the two groups ends with the last CIA agent waiting in the last KGB agent's car until he gets a chance to slice his throat with the wire.
  • The first episode of Foyle's War, "The German Woman", involves a particularly cruel case of this. While out riding her horse, the titular German woman hits a length of wire strung between two trees at neck height. Foyle kindly explains to us later that — unfortunately for her — it doesn't result in complete decapitation, and she is simply left to bleed to death on the ground.
  • Renge in Kamen Rider Kabuto uses this as her signature weapon.
  • The "wire strung across the road" trick was used in a Midsomer Murders episode to decapitate a motorcycle rider.
    • And in a 1000 Ways to Die episode, "Golden Die-Angle", a drug enforcer is decapitated in the same way while riding an ATV.
  • An episode of NCIS had a killer who used a motorized garrote; just start the motor and the wire would tighten over whatever it was placed on. Yes, whatever—at one point she set the device on the handles of a pair of double doors in order to keep Gibbs in a room long enough to make her escape.
  • Jerri relates a story on an episode of Strangers with Candy, in which a guy-wire slices Bongles the clown in two at the circus; leaving "two, small, dead clowns."
  • An assassin in Teen Wolf uses a thermal, motorized wire to decapitate her victims. It works on the first one, but Scott is able to pull it away from his neck and knock her out.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy sourcebook Dominus Exxet features legendary weapons corresponding to the zodiac. Cancer's weaopn is a large array of razor floss.
  • R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk, supplement Chromebook 2.
    • The Kendachi Monowhip is extended from a handle, with a weight at one end for so it can be swung. It can be extended up to 4 meters and reeled back in by pushing a button. It cuts through all organic materials and most plastics and reduces armor to 1/3 its normal value.
    • The Kendachi Monowire is similar but has a weight at each end. It can be used for setting up traps and as a garrote.
  • Dragonstar has monofilament axes (and dwarven urgroshes).
  • Judges Guild magazine The Dungeoneer Journal #23, article "Magic Item Generator". One of the possible magic items is a Monomolecular Wire that's a single molecule thick. It can cut through any substance but must be anchored at each end to be used as a weapon (e.g. as a garotte).
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Crystal spiders from Dark Sun make glass webs that are razor-sharp, near-invisible, very strong and entangling (though not sticky as such) at once.
    • The spider-like Head Hunter in Ravenloft spins webs of this stuff—usually right at neck level. Being so thin, they're near-invisible...
  • Eclipse Phase makes use of monofilament garrotes as a very effective hand to hand weapon, but they break after one use. In the opening fiction, one of the Firewall Sentinels unknowingly puts her hand right through a web of monomolecular wire strung across a hallway by TITAN self-replicating nanoswarms; she doesn't even notice it has happened until her hand falls apart in front of her eyes.
    • The game also has more durable monofilament swords, competing with diamond-edged axes (which do more damage but have lower AP) for best bladed weapon, up until Firewall introduced plasma swords.
  • Blade (Flying Buffalo)'s original Grimtooth's Traps (1981). The Delvermatic Dicer trap pushed a door-opening PC through a fine monofilament mesh, which was described as having a "cheese grater" effect on the PC's body (i.e. it left them lying on the ground in chunks).
  • GURPS finds a bunch of clever uses for monowire from whips to swords to fences to bullets. There's also a superior version called nanothorn which is like monowire but doesn't cut things so much as it dissolves them by slicing their molecular bonds.
  • Shadowrun had monofilament swords and whips and used monofilament in traps. Judging from the hacker chatter in some of the Sourcebook, though, the monofilament whip is looked at as something of a fool's weapon, since an untrained user is as likely to decapitate himself as his enemy. This never gets reflected in-game rules, of course, although it does suggest a truly evil result when the "Rule of Ones" comes into play.
    • The 4th edition of Shadowrun does give explicit rules for what happens when someone botches a monowhip attack. It's pretty nasty.
      • This is, however, made up for by the fact that the Monofilament Whip is arguably the single best melee weapon to use against an armored opponent due to it having excellent damage, long reach, and very good armor penetration.
    • One of the sourcebooks also made fun of the use of the term "monofilament" with the chatter at the bottom of the monofilament sword entry commenting that his shoelace is monofilament (one piece) too, but it doesn't cut through anything.
      • Specifically, it pointed out the difference between any old monofilament and a monomolecular monofilament. Much of the gear in that particular sourcebook fell into either the Awesome, but Impractical or completely foolish categories.
    • In 3rd Edition, whips (including the monofilament variety) had a chance to strike the wielder if the target dodged (rather than the wielder just missing).
    • Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong adds the whip as an optional cyberware weapon implant. It can penetrate and degrade armor, has decent reach (it's treated as a short-range gun by the game mechanics, though it has a hard limit on attack distance), and can cause bleeding. It cannot, however, hurt you if you miss.
  • SLA Industries has it in gun form, the corporation Advanced Gunnery Berenyi developed the AGB Chopper which is a gun with 24 spools of razor-wire inside. Press the trigger and a line shoots out that has the hitting power and armor penetration to rival a 12.7mm round.
  • Traveller, Megatraveller Journal #3 adventure "Rapid Repo". The PC team can requisition monomolecular garottes which are really good at slicing through victims (and their armor).
  • In TSR's short-lived RPG Alternity, there was a particular type of villain named the "kroath" who made use of monofilament wire to set up traps. On a good roll, the material was capable of killing PCs in one attack.
  • The Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 are fond of monofilament wire. Their jump troops, the Warp Spiders, are armed with a gun that fires it, and their artillery is armed a much larger version of this gun that fires a cloud of the stuff, which then drops down on enemy troops and shreds them. Most notably are the Harlequins, who use a weapon called the "Harlequin's Kiss", a device that inserts a single monofilament wire down your throat and whips around at incredible velocity, which is effective, needless to say. The Eldar are still considered one of the more noble races in the setting, which says a lot about what kind of universe this is.
  • List of Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG (1001-1250) reminds us for a reason that
    1032. Monofilament does not automatically make the world a better place.

    Video Games 
  • Marcy from Chrono Cross utilizes string-based attacks as her techs, for cutting, sending energy bursts through them and even shifting earth.
  • Like its tabletop predecessor, Cyberpunk 2077 has Monowire as a cyberweapon, and if you've leveled in Blades, it is one of the most lethal melee weapons in the game.
  • Dishonored's Spring Razors are basically spring-loaded razor wire landmines.
  • Sima Yi uses "wired gloves" — gauntlets fitted with razor floss — as his primary weapon in Dynasty Warriors 6, ostensibly to symbolize his puppetmaster tendencies. He abandons them from the 7th game onwards, but 8 passes them on to his wife Zhang Chunhua.
  • Agent 47 from the Hitman series has a garrote wire as his second signature weapon. It does not leave blood, unlike knives, and is the best weapon to use as a Silent Assassin.
  • Manhunt: A barbed-wire garrotte.
  • Sion's Etherite from Melty Blood is not only used as a Razor Floss weapon but can also be inserted into people's nervous systems to allow her such abilities as reading their thoughts and controlling their bodies.
  • Mega Man Star Force: Harp Note has this as one of her attacks. After binding you with her guitar strings, she riffs a few times. It hurts.
  • Sonya Blade utilizes this as a fatality in Mortal Kombat 9. In Mortal Kombat X she uses the wire as a grappling tool.
  • Kongōyasha Myōō from Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA- uses wires attached to the tips of a vajra.
  • In Poker Night 2, Ash may complain of a peanut shell stuck in his teeth. Brock offers to lend him some garotte wire for use as floss, though recommends running it under some hot water first, implying that it had recently been 'used'. Ash wisely decides to take his chances with the gum disease instead.
  • Kurenai, from Red Ninja: End of Honor uses a tetsugen, or an iron wire.
  • Kasuga from Sengoku Basara uses these as well as Kunai tied to the end.
  • In Syndicate Wars, being the classic monofilament stuff, Razor Wire is really hard to spot and is laid down as traps in alleys to hamstring unsuspecting runners. Its badder brother Trigger Wire is as difficult to notice and supposedly adds explosions.
  • In Skate Or Die, colliding with a fence during the Downhill Jam causes the skater to be diced into cubical chunks.

  • Butch from Chopping Block has some fun with wires on a ski slope.
  • Spoofed in this strip of Ctrl+Alt+Del where the author puts forth his theory of why headshots in Fallout 3 tend to decapitate enemies.
  • Reginald Jeeves (yes, you read that right) in And Shine Heaven Now: in fact, he was the one that taught Walter how to use them.
  • Never Mind the Gap has living monomolecular wire. It was introduced cutting off a robot's metallic fingers.
  • Captain Tagon from Schlock Mercenary has a "Dorothy System" in his boots. He clicks his heels together, and it strings a mono-wire between them. This makes a dandy surprise weapon. He's used it to disarm Schlock - literally (he got better). He later uses it to decapitate Elf so that he can put her head into suspended animation and get her safely back to the ship before his last stand in one of the Schlocktoberfests.
    • Supposedly it was named for Dorothy's magic slippers. She would click her heels together and say "there's no place like home." With this weapon you need not say anything, although users do tend to say things like "eewww".
  • Subverted in this B Side Comic from Sluggy Freelance.

    Web Original 
  • The Orion's Arm universe has magmatter filaments, useful for making things like Ringworlds due to their vast strength to weight ratio. They're actually thinner than single atoms of normal matter and can trigger subatomic particle decay if they intersect an atomic nucleus. Yep, it can cut protons into pieces.
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-183, is a creature made from invisibly thin monofilament fibers.
  • In Worm, Skitter uses Clockblocker's power to make one of these suspended in air for her opponent to crash into.
  • Mary in Twig makes heavy use of this, generally wrapping it around the handles of her knives so she doesn't cut herself-which also conveniently allows her to stab people. At one point she stabs an enhanced opponent with several knives and then uses the wire as footholds to climb around, while it cuts into them the more pressure she places on it.
  • The (sadly defunct) online catalogue Villain Supply, later Villain Source, offered to surgically implant monofilament wire into your fingertip.
    Finally available outside Japan, the Monofilament Wire is the most deadly hand-to-hand weapon in the world.*
    * Especially to the first time user. No warranty for lost limbs or heads while learning to use this device.

    Web Videos 
  • Epic Rap Battles of History: In "Ivan the Terrible vs. Alexander the Great" Ivan tries to murder his second opponent, Frederick the Great, with a wire garrote after offering him a seat, but he dies of old age first. Then the next one up, Pompey the Great, gets decapitated by Catherine the Great with a garrote that has dildo-shaped handles.
  • Shows up in, of all things, the YouTube cooking channel Food Wishes, in which Chef John uses a piece of kitchen twine to slice a wheel of brie in half in preparation for stuffing. He refers to this as the "James Bond Villain Technique" because of its resemblance to what "it seemed like someone wanted to [Bond's] neck with a piece of piano wire" in every Bond film.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons episode "Realty Bites", Snake tries to kill Homer by setting up piano wire across the road as Homer drives past in his convertible. Needless to say, this doesn't take.
    Snake: Hoho, okay. Baldy boy hits wire, head comes off, L'il Bandit rolls to a gentle stop. Everybody wins.
    [Homer driving in L'il Bandit with his eyes closed, leaning up over the windscreen]
    Homer: Man, the air feels good on my neck!
    [music swells as Homer draws closer to Snake's trap]
    Homer: Ooh, gumball!
    [Homer ducks down to pick up the gumball from the car floor, narrowly dodging the wire and speeding away]
    Snake: Oh, why do I even bother?
    [camera pans back along the road, where Kirk van Houten is driving, waving a sub sandwich over his own windscreen]
    Kirk: I told that idiot to slice my sandwich!
    [Kirk's arm is sliced clean off by Snake's wire trap]
    Kirk: Ow!
  • Inverted in Transformers: Prime, the Flying Mind episode, where everyone in the sentient ship is paralysed by a diamond-mesh laser shock-beams, kinda like a net that fills-up every open space, so there is no escaping it.

    Real Life 
  • The low-tech "wire strung across the road" trick was a means of guerrilla warfare in times when most officers and messengers went about at high speeds on horseback. In many versions of the Headless Horseman myth, this is how the Hessian mercenary that became the Horseman originally lost his head. Later it would find use in World War 2 on soldiers of both sides riding either motorcycles or open-top vehicles like Jeeps.note  This trick was also taken up by the IRA during The Troubles.
    • If you look in better-done movies or old war films, you'll see an A-frame device on the front of jeeps and such. Those were used to cut wires by channelling them up into a cutting notch. There are similar devices on modern helicopters, as well as in wire-on-parachute shells and cables of anti-aircraft balloons.
    • Also a danger in the Florida Everglades and other swampy areas in which barbed wire has been strung across an area. Most of the giant fan-driven swamp boats will have a cutter in the front to prevent unanticipated decapitations.
  • Razor wire, a more advanced version of barbed wire, is used in trench warfare to stop infantry movement. It is still in use to prevent people from climbing fences or to prevent cattle from trying to get through a fence.
    • Barbed wire or razor wire is nearly harmless when tightened properly into a fence - farm animals will stop against it, but any man with reasonable agility can push the wires aside and sneak through. Wire used in trench warfare was differently deployed, in large loose coils, like on top of modern prison walls. Most people trying to sneak through would get entwined, their thick uniforms and loose gear being easily caught in the wire, and if razor wire was used, they cut themselves trying to escape, though the real lethality was from the fact that it kept enemy soldiers occupied trying to escape long enough for your machine gunner to zero in on them and tear them to shreds.
  • Partial Truth in Television: British secret agents during WWII were rumored to use so-called Gigli saw — a thin, flexible wound-wire saw with embedded diamond or corundum dust, widely used in surgery for bone-cutting — as shoelaces. Very similar in thickness and construction to a piano string (it could be substituted by the one in a pinch, in a matter of fact), it could be easily used for garroting (which requires kinking the victim's windpipe), but just pull it by one side and Off with His Head!
    • They're also used to cut pig tusks, but this can lead to potentially lethal results.
  • Cheese wire can do a lot more damage to non-cheese materials than you might think.
  • Any wire, or even occasionally rope on a ship is a potential case of this. Get your arm tangled in a spool of wire attached to something heavy (say, a sail or fishing net), lose control of it and rrrrip. This can strip flesh from bone - or even in some cases, tear limb from body. Either make sure whatever connects the wire to the heavy thing will snap before you do, or know exactly what you're doing when handling wire.
    • Mooring lines - the ropes that secure a ship to a pier - can be particularly dangerous. Modern mooring lines are typically made of nylon which is very strong but also very stretchy. If it stretches past the breaking point, it can snap back and easily kill or dismember anyone unfortunate enough to be in its way.
    • Even worse, high tension cables, chains, and ropes that snap in industrial accidents. Since they're designed to withstand many thousands of pounds of stress, all that energy goes directly into both halves of the line, which can also weigh hundreds of pounds by themselves, whipping chaotically to strike or slice clean through anything within the arc circumscribed by their unspooled length around their anchoring points.
    • Ditto the arresting wires on CATOBAR aircraft carriers. They are inspected daily. Having one of them snap is a very bad thing. There is footage of such a snap occurring on a flight deck, and a quick-thinking crewman jumps the cable as it passes, avoiding being bowled over by it.
    • During the filming of the unfinished Gone in 60 Seconds 2, a cable that was supposed to pull down a water tower snapped and felled a telephone pole, fatally crushing filmmaker H.B. Halicki.
  • The Italian mafioso Vincenzo Curcio escaped from prison in Turin by sawing through the bars with dental floss. This was possible because the bars were made of iron low in carbon, which was easy to saw through, and him adding tooth powder (an abrasive that used to be more commonly used for dental cleaning) on the wire, increasing the grinding power.
  • The Indian chuttuval is basically made of flat, sharpened wire.
  • You can supposedly spot deep-sea fishermen who've carelessly wrapped the line around their hand when reeling in a big fish. They're missing fingers.
    • Same goes to lassos carelessly used by cowboys, charros, huasos, etc.
  • That's why archers' equipment includes bracers (and protection for fingers, in some styles): no one wants to lose the skin of their arms, palms, fingers or wrists to a misbehaving bowstring.
  • The infamous kite string known as "hilo curado" ("charged string") in Chile and "cerol" in Brazil, used to have kites fly and cut each other's strings. Basically, it's normal kite thread covered in liquid glue and pulverized glass. It's dangerous as hell. People die: onlookers, participants, people who are just in the wrong place at the wrong time will get their throats slit by a kite with strings like these passing by (specially bikers, of both the bicycle and motorcycle variants, as they're unwillingly running into the thread). This style of kite combat is actually fairly common all over the world, but especially popular in the two aforementioned countries.
    • It was so bad in Brazil a few years ago, that the electricity company had some ads against it because it can cut through power cables and kill the kite flyer by electrocution. Same goes to Chile: since kite flying/fighting is very common in September (during the national holidays), every September new ads against "hilo curado" are released on Chilean TV, and many kite vendors are detained for making it. It's gotten to the point that getting caught with a roll of this kind of string will net you a bigger fine than getting caught with drugs.
    • The novel The Kite Runner focuses upon them a lot in the first (and in the last) chapters.
  • This is basically the theory behind the rope saw.
  • Simple monofilament fishing line, the stronger types in particular, can certainly be used like this (intentionally or otherwise). In addition to the above examples, it can also be used like a rope/wire saw (and can cut through PVC pipe, in fact). And for those fishermen stranded in the wilderness...strong, nearly-invisible line is perfect for making snares to catch a meal. Just don't forget where you left the traps...
  • It's worth mentioning carbon nanotubes. The longest ones are 18cm long right now, but they're getting longer and cheaper all the time. One tube has a width of only a few nanometers, and the bonding used to hold the tube together means that the tubes are harder than diamond and have a higher tensile strength than almost any other material. Also, given its structure, it really is a true monomolecular filament as fiction imagines them; application of proper force would let one slice through just about anything like a hot knife through butter.
  • The winch cable they use to launch gliders can be quite dangerous. It's a kilometer long cable moving at high speed, and there are stories of it slicing cows in two when the unlucky beasts wander onto airfields. The cables have a parachute at the end so that they fall gently after being disconnected from the glider after takeoff. If the cable breaks during takeoff, it can snap to the ground with great force, so the winch itself is usually armored or at least has reinforced bars on the windows.
  • Executing a person by hanging is actually a tricky procedure. The length of rope selected for the execution must be carefully calibrated to the weight of the condemned so the neck will break upon drop, killing them instantly and cleanly. The most commonly seen mistake in movies is to make the length too short, slowly choking the victim to death. However, a too-long rope can easily turn a clean hanging into a messy decapitation. This infamously happened to the western outlaw Tom Ketchum.
  • Similar to the industrial cable example above: nylon mooring lines (the ropes used to tie ships to a pier) are extremely dangerous if pulled too tight. Nylon can stretch quite a bit and if the line snaps it will go whipping across the deck, easily killing or dismembering anyone in its path.
  • Not a rope or a cable, but in terms of skinny floppy slicey things it's entirely possible you've witnessed or inflicted a paper cut. Though rarely intentional or even close to lethal, they are painful, since the cuts are shallow and on the fingers or palms (meaning they encounter a lot of nerves). High-quality paper for color laser printers is the worst, as it is both unusually rigid and thinner than photo paper, writing paper or cardboard.
    • It is also possible to get such a cut from corrugated cardboard (which has a paper surface on each side). While generally harder to cause, they can be much deeper and more dangerous cuts as the distance the cardboard can slide while cutting has the potential to be a few feet, rather than a few inches.
  • Chips in your computers were cut to size using wire. The silicon crystals are cut into wafers (for chip manufacturing) by using a wire saw. It uses metal wire and a suspension of abrasives (diamond powder etc.) in water. It works a bit like an egg slicer, cutting many wafers at once from a single block.
  • A cruder version of the trope is chain, bar, or wire shot. Think two balls or half-balls with something strung between them. Fire out of a smoothbore and watch the thing flail. While the ball(s) are deadly, the real business end is the thing between them, carried by the inertia of the ball(s) to provide a surprising amount of cutting power. Chain and bar shot were meant for use against masts and rigging on ships while wire shot is their evolution into a shotgun shell.


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Alternative Title(s): Razor Wire


Souei's Razor Thread

After being turned into a Kijin by Rimaru and coming to the rescue of the Lizardmen from the Orc invasion, Souei dispatches one of the Orc attackers with ease using the Razor Thread Skill.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

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Main / RazorFloss

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