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Seesaw Catapult

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You could say he got catapulted.

"When you have a fat friend, there are no see-saws; only catapults."

It's one of the most elementary of Improvised Weapons (and indeed, is a simple machine): Take a plank, place it over a rock or barrel or some other object to create a fulcrum, place a payload (which might often be a person) on one end, jump on the other end, and voila, instant airborne surprise. Of course, it requires great expertise in ballistics to hit one's target by such rudimentary means, and many depictions have the payload sail upward only to crash down on the launcher, which is actually a fair approximation of what would usually happen.

Because this device is so basic to construct, it often occurs spontaneously, if not accidentally, during action or chase scenes. It is also seen with real playground seesaws, when a small child is launched into the sky by either a fat kid innocently sitting down, or a large bully with malicious intent.

See(saw) also Catapult to Glory, Fastball Special, Tree Buchet.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Discussed in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. When showing off her "knowledge" of the Earth to Kanna, Tohru refers to some seesaws in a park as a training catapult for children. Comes back as a Brick Joke 14 chapters later when Kanna repeats this while playing with Saikawa.
    • In the anime, after Kobayashi's tried explaining what a seesaw actually is, Tohru and Kanna start using it to launch each other sky-high.
  • In episode 38a of Jewelpet Sunshine, the Jewelpets, while helping Sakuran the Sweetspet to deliver Christmas presents, set up a seesaw and use it to catapult some presents into a stocking hanging outside the house.
  • Seen in the first episode of Oh, Suddenly Egyptian God, when Anubis, Thoth and Medjed are playing with a seesaw, the latter jumps on the see-saw a bit too hard and accidentally launches Anubis, who is on the other end, flying into the air.
  • Dragon Ball: Goz's flying machine is a giant version of one of these, with a teeter-totter about 30 feet long, held in place by a boulder and requiring the other person to get on top of a cliff before jumping.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 75, Wolnie finds herself on a seesaw after being chased around by the other goats, who are all pretending to be Tibbie to distract her from the real Tibbie, who wanted to sacrifice herself to save a bunch of Tibbie impersonators. Jonie charges at Wolnie and jumps onto the other side of the seesaw, sending her flying into the air.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one strip, Hobbes turns Calvin's improvised skateboard ramp into a catapult with expert timing.
    • In another strip, Calvin tries to use this mechanism to launch a giant snowball. The predictable result is that he gets a faceful of snow himself.
      Hobbes: Then it worked very well.
    • In yet another strip, Calvin tries to use the same configuration to make a springboard so that he can jump into a pile of leaves. Predicably, the rock that he uses as a counterweight flies up and hits him in the head.
  • In a 1930 Mickey Mouse comic (written by Walt Disney himself), Mickey tries to break into Sylvester Shyster's office by launching himself into his second-story window this way. Unfortunately, the boulder he uses breaks the board in half.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey Chance launches Sassy into the air when Hope sets her on a seesaw at the wedding reception and later recreates the same trick with a balancing stone in order to launch the mountain lion stalking him and Shadow off a cliff.
  • The Muppets (2011): During the opening song, Walter and his brother Gary are on a see saw and Gary launches Walter to the sky.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a hippo ballet dancer at the Maroon Studios sits down on a bench next to a man, launching him into the air.
  • Young Frankenstein. While wandering the countryside, the monster meets a little girl and plays with her. They get on a teeter-totter and when the monster sits down on it, the little girl is flung through the air and miraculously lands on the bed in her bedroom, to the relief of her parents.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Full House: Late in the episode "D.J.'s Choice", the Tanner family joins the neighbors to clean up and rebuild a vandalized local park. Danny is tasked with the seesaw, but he secures the bolts too tightly, as evidenced when Stephanie and Kimmy try it out, with Kimmy on the lower end. Several of the adults then push Stephanie's side of the seesaw down, which sends Kimmy flying off the seesaw and into a nearby tree.
    Rebecca: Excellent dismount, she really nailed that landing!
  • Johnson and Friends: In "The Birthday Balloon", Alfred has Squeaky sit on one end of a xylophone and McDuff jump onto the other end to catapult Squeaky up into the air and bring Johnson and the balloons back down. McDuff jumps at the wrong time, sending Alfred into the air instead, but he still manages to bring Johnson back down.
  • The MythBusters once tested a variant about a skydiver who crashed onto a playground seesaw after his parachute failed, launching a child who miraculously landed on a high rise and survived. After some very bizarre experiments, they concluded that A) the impact would cause any seesaw to instantly buckle that wasn't made from industrial materials (which, the MythBusters being overdoers by principle, theirs was), and B) there's no way in hell that either the kid or skydiver would survive.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch had this courtesy of her cousin Amanda. She plays with Salem on a plastic seesaw and then stamps on the end, causing him to fly through the air.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Between the Lions: In the Cliff Hanger short, "Cliff Hanger and the Awfully Big Seesaw", Cliff sees an awfully big seesaw below his cliff and jumps onto one end after a little boy gets on the other end. A Gorilla then gets onto the boy's end and accidentally launches Cliff back up to the cliff (also breaking the seesaw in the process).
  • Sesame Street:
    • In Episode 3634, Telly, Rosita, and Lexine take Slimey to the park to play with them and Big Bird. When they arrive, they place Slimey on one end of a seesaw. When Big Bird sits on the other end, he launches Slimey into the air, causing him to land on a lady's hat.
    • In the Elmo's World episode about Up and Down, Mr. Noodle falls onto both sides of this trope when Elmo asks him how he goes up and down on a seesaw. He first places an ant on one end of the seesaw, and when he gets on the other end, he launches the ant into the air (when he lands, the ant says he's okay). Mr. Noodle then gets Snuffy to push one end of the seesaw with his snuffle while he sits on the other end. At the end of his segment, Mr. Noodle is launched into the air by Snuffy.

    Video Games 
  • Pink Panther: Hokus Pokus Pink has the panther use one of these to get out of the rat cave. The problem is finding something to land on the other side.
  • In The Secret of Monkey Island, Herman Toothrot has built a fixture on Monkey Island that he insists is modern art, but consists of a log placed over a rock with a boulder on one end. This leads to a puzzle in which Guybrush must turn the log to the correct angle and drop a rock from an overhanging ledge in order to knock down a banana tree on a distant beach. If he gets the angle wrong, he may hit his own ship, resulting in slight embarrassment on his part and an extra scene in the ending in which his crew are marooned on the same island.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog and 2, there are seesaws in Star Light Zone and Hill Top Zone, respectively. In the former game, there is a spiked ball on one end, and in the latter game, there is a Gohla enemy on one end. Sonic can launch the projectile to the other end and stand on the end it was on originally so it can launch him in the air, causing him to reach higher places. In the former game, this is also the key to defeating Dr. Robotnik in Star Light Zone, as he drops spiked bombs onto empty seesaws. If timed perfectly, Sonic can even hit Robotnik's machine simply by launching the spiked balls back at him.
    • In SegaSonic the Hedgehog, Sonic, Mighty, and Ray get chased by a giant boulder in Volcanic Vault. They eventually evade it and land on one end of a giant seesaw. The boulder then lands on the other end, launching them into the air.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles: Mushroom Hill has a variant where there are two mushrooms with a shared stem, and pushing one mushroom down by landing on it raises the other and launches a weight into the air. When the weight comes back down, Sonic is launched into the air himself.
  • Used at the end of various levels in Earthworm Jim 2. The first time works correctly, others fail in hilarious ways (one of which introduces the taxi).
  • The Final Boss of the SNES/Genesis The Smurfs game had to be fought using such a device, to launch acorns dropped by a cracoucas.
  • In C So! (a Compile game for the MSX and SG-1000), the object is to get rid of enemies by using the seesaws scattered around the levels to propel them into ceiling or trap them underneath. The game's name is an Engrish homophone for "seesaw."
  • In the The Flintstones Licensed Game for the Sega Genesis, the boss of the Dino Express level is a giant condor that stole Betty's ribbon and is using it as a bowtie. He flies above two seesaws with boulders on them. When he is flying above one the seesaws, Fred must jump onto the other end so that the seesaw will launch the boulder into the air and it will hit the condor.
  • In Snoopy's Grand Adventure, the boss of the Peppermint Jungle is a giant wooden mask that resembles Peppermint Patty, who tosses baseballs at Snoopy. When the baseballs land on one end of the seesaws, Snoopy must jump on the other end to launch them back at her.
  • In the bonus rounds of Flicky, there are a pair of Tigers on seesaws that launch Chirps into the air. Flicky must catch as many of them in her net as she can.
  • In the The Jungle Book Licensed Game, there are seesaws that have boulders on one end. Mowgli can jump onto the other end to launch the boulder into the air, and when it comes back down, it will launch Mowgli into the air.
  • In the Pocahontas Licensed Game for the Sega Genesis, there's a section in the final level where Pocahontas must jump onto one end a seesaw that Meeko is sitting on the other end of. When she launches Meeko into the air, he will soon land on one end of a seesaw that Percy is sitting on the other end of. At that point, he will launch Percy into the air, and Percy will knock down a beehive, scaring away one of Governor Ratcliffe's henchmen standing near it.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Maker 2: One of the course parts introduced in this game is a seesaw (colored red in the Super Mario Bros. 1 and 3 game styles, and orange in the World and New U ones; it's absent in the 3D World style) that can be used to catapult an item or enemy placed in one extreme by performing a Ground Pound on the other, or making a Thwomp ground-pound one extreme so Mario or any of his friends gets launched upward by standing onto the other. There's a level in Story Mode designed to demonstrate this trope.
    • Mario Party 6: The "Cashapault" mini-game involves teams of two jumping on a seesaw to get coins floating in mid-air. Each player takes a turn launching their teammate into the air, and the first team to collect all of the coins wins.
    • Mario Party 9: The minigame Bowser Pop challenges two players to pop eight Bowser Jr. balloons floating up in the air. To reach them, they use a seesaw to launch each other up at them. Whichever player is currently standing on the seesaw can move it left and right, and in order to maintain momentum, the player in the air must land on the raised side to launch their partner when they land.
    • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker: This is a common puzzle element. It usually requires the player to shift around other parts of the level so that a heavy object will fall on the opposite end of the seesaw.
  • The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout: Bugs can stand on one end of a seesaw and use his hammer to hit the other end, causing the seesaw to launch him into the air.
  • In Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, Freddy must use a seesaw to launch a huge pile of baking soda to put out a fire.
  • In Garfield: Caught in the Act, the boss of "Cave Cat 3,000,000 B.C." is the Odiesaurus, who jumps across the ledge above, causing boulders to rain down. When the round boulder is on the ground, Garfield must push it onto one end of a seesaw so he can jump on the other end and launch it into the air, at which point it can bring the Odiesaurus down so Garfield can attack him.
  • In The Incredible Machine, this is one of the most common applications of the seesaw puzzle- put an object on the lower end of the seesaw and drop a heavier object on the raised end to catapult the other object to wherever you want it to go.

    Web Animation 
  • Used by Kano to inflict a fatality on Johnny Cage in Kombat Kids.
  • Used in quite a hilarious subverted example in the Eddsworld episode "Moving Targets". When the boys are accidentally dropped from a plane, Tord falls on one half of a wooden plank that is situated on a barrel. Edd, Tom and Matt fall on the other side and Tord eyes them nervously, worried that the plank is going to work like a seesaw and fling him into the air. It instead snaps in half, and Tord breathes a sigh of relief. Then a hippopotamus randomly falls on top of him.

  • Bubble Fox: In the fourth part of The Flying Fox, Simon attempts to get Bubble to fly by having him be on one side of a giant seesaw and dropping an anvil onto the other, which leads to Bubble flying straight into a cliff from above.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears had an episode where Igthorn tries to get into the King's castle before a potion which put everyone inside to sleep. His final attempt is to use one of these... so the heroes drop the drawbridge upon it. Igthorn flies over the castle, and his Mooks run after him.
  • The Early reel of The Amazing World of Gumball sees Gumball and Darwin waiting at one end of a seesaw while a series of Batman Gambits turn their classmates into a living Rube Goldberg Device designed to get Hector to step on the other end, launching Darwin and Gumball over the schoolyard fence to freedom. The good news: the sequence happens exactly as planned. The bad news: the actual launch from the seesaw instead wedges them between Hector's buttocks. The actual show homaged this scene in "The Bumpkin": Gumball again tries to catapult away on seesaw, except he's by himself this time and just asks Hector to step on the other side. He just goes straight up, and then straight back down.
  • Deconstructed in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode, "Rent A Ed"; During the Eds' circus act at the playground, Ed attempted to make Double D and Eddy go flying using the seesaw by jumping on the opposite end from the slide like a stunt he saw on TV, but because the seesaw is not durable to handle someone of Ed's size and strength jumping on it from such a tall height, he ends up breaking it instead.
  • Garfield and Friends:
    • In a U.S. Acres Quickie, Booker and Sheldon want to play on a seesaw, but since they both weigh the same, Orson suggests that they both sit on the same end while he sits one the other end. When Orson sits on his end, Booker and Sheldon slide down to him, wishing they could go up instead of down. Roy then jumps onto the now-empty end and launches all three of them into the air.
    • Another U.S. Acres Quickie has Booker play a game of tag with Roy. Roy chases Booker to a seesaw, where Booker jumps on one end, launching Roy, who is standing on the other end, into the air. When Roy comes back down, he lands in Orson's mud waller.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • This happens in several of Chuck Jones's Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner cartoons, with the teeter-totter being made of stone. The Coyote would either use the teeter-totter rock as part of his scheme or end up falling on it as a result of a scheme. He would be flung into the air when a large rock fell on the other end of the teeter-totter rock, or when he tried to fling the rock into the air, it would fall on him instead. There was also the time when he tried using one to fling himself across a gorge. The rock was too much for the ledge the other end was on, so it smashed through and turned the catapult into a ramp poor Coyote slid down to his doom.
    • In "Bear Feat", the Three Bears train for the Mingling Bros. Circus when Pa sees a want ad for it in the newspaper.note  At one point, Pa stands on one end of a seesaw as his son Junyer jumps onto the other end to launch him into the air so that he can land on a chair that Ma is holding. Because Junyer is much bigger than Pa, Junior launches Pa so high into the air that it takes Pa an entire day to fall back to Earth.
  • Lou (2017): During the chase around the playground, Lou ends up on a seesaw, and then J.J. lands on the other side, catapulting Lou into the air.
  • In the The Loud House episode, "Kick the Bucket List", Lincoln and Clyde attempt to complete all the activities on their Spring Break bucket list in one day. When they split up so they can each do half the things on their list, Clyde uses a rock as a substitute for Lincoln. When Clyde plays on the seesaw with Rock Lincoln, he gets launched into the air and lands on Lola and Lana's sandcastle, destroying it and prompting them to beat him up.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the episode "Applebuck Season", Rainbow Dash intentionally invokes this, asking Applejack to jump from a height onto the seesaw to launch her for an aerial trick. Things don't go as planned: AJ keeps missing due to her sleep deprivation, and when she finally does land properly, it's at a moment when Rainbow Dash isn't ready for it. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Rugrats (1991):
    • In the episode, "Circus Angelicus", when Angelica stages her own circus in Tommy's backyard, she wants Chuckie to be a "human candyball". However, Chuckie can't remember what he's supposed to do, and as Angelica tries to explain it to him by sitting on one end of a seesaw, Phil and Lil jump onto the other end, launching her into the air.
    • In the episode, "The Turkey Who Came to Dinner", the babies befriend a live turkey and try to protect him from getting cooked and eaten by the adults. They attempt to launch the turkey out of Tommy's backyard by putting him on one end of the seesaw and having Phil, and later Chuckie, jump onto the other end. They only end up getting the turkey to land on Stu and Drew's satellite dishes, causing interference with the many football games they're watching.
    • In the Snow White special from the "Tales from the Crib" series, to get the dwarf babies into Queen Angelica's castle, Chuckie (as Scaredy) slides down a slide in the nearby playground so that he can land on one end of a seesaw and launch whichever dwarf baby is sitting on the other end into the air so they can fly through the open window. When there's no one to launch Chuckie into the air, he climbs up the arrows that the Archer spreads around the castle wall to advertise a Garage Sale at the Giant's castle.
  • Happens twice in the short, "Bag that Bunny" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "It's Buster Bunny Time". When Elmyra interferes with Calamity Coyote's second attempt to catch Buster with the ACME Bunny Extractor, she presses a button that launches Calamity into the air, causing him to land on the playground seesaw. Hamton is on the other end, eating a popsicle, and is launched into the air, where he lands on Calamity. Calamity later gets launched by another seesaw when he sets off the trap from his third attempt to catch Buster.
  • Chuck Jones also directed some Tom and Jerry cartoons, one of which is "Bad Day At Cat Rock." The concluding scenes of this cartoon occur at a construction site where a building's framework is being erected. Tom assembles a fulcrum and plank for this mechanism, aiming to launch himself up to Jerry Mouse, who's perched contentedly on a higher crossbar. Six efforts in a row fail horribly, and the cartoon irises out on Jerry shaking his head as if apologizing to the audience.
  • Total Drama:
    • Inspired by Izzy's acrobatics in "Anything Yukon Do, I Can Do Better", Noah jumps on the nearest ice floe and encourages Owen to follow along. However, Noah slips and slides forward over the ice floe and when Owen jumps to help him up, he launches Noah up and away back to the riverbank.
    • Team Amazon lacks a source of fire to make direct use of their cannon and meaty cannonballs in "Sweden Sour", so Sierra rips a plank loose from their ship and places it over the cannon. Courtney and Heather catch on without instruction and as soon as Sierra places a meatball on one end, they jump on the other end to launch the projectile to Team CIRRRRH's ship. They miss.
    • The challenge for the teams in "Bigger! Badder! Brutal-er!" is to reach up to their team totem hanging from a tree and cut it loose. Climbing isn't working out, so B cobbles together a seesaw and sequentially invites each of his teammates on it. He personally launches each of them up onto a Human Ladder until the one on the top reaches the totem.
    • Zoey is hanging from one of the wings of the totem in "Grand Chef Auto" and loses her grip just as Cameron drives up in his go-kart. She lands on the hood and Cameron gets launched all the way to the top of the totem.

    Real Life 
  • The pierrette is possibly the simplest form of catapult device used in ancient and mediaeval warfare and works pretty much on this premise. Depending on size, between eight and twenty-four people working as a team would pull on ropes in unison on a centrally balanced beam. The other end on the beam would carry a payload, which was propelled purely by the force put in by those operating the opposite side. A properly trained and experienced team could deliver a large rock with surprising accuracy - but a lot depended on their being trained to pull their ropes with exactly the right amount of force at exactly the right moment.


Video Example(s):


Snifit seesaw

Mario jumping on the seesaw from a building catapults the Snifit on the other side into a sign.

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Main / SeesawCatapult

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