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Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom

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All that running through scenes like this in all his games and he hasn't lost a pound...

"What is this thing?! I mean, it serves no useful purpose for there to be a bunch of choppy, crushy things in the middle of a hallway! We shouldn’t have to do this! It makes no logical sense!"
Gwen, Galaxy Quest

This is a Booby Trap in which big stone blocks, spiked walls or sharp blades repeatedly ram into each other in a narrow hallway. The way past them is to either immediately run through when they separate or find a way to jam them. Multiple traps lined up may require some pattern memorization.

Extremely common in video games as a standard obstacle, especially in medieval settings. May involve a Corridor Cubbyhole Run to get past them alive.

Having large items appear on a conveyor belt that crush down are also common... which makes one wonder what these factories are supposed to be making that require so much repeated crushing to make. It also sometimes appears in settings that are within giant monsters, which could be justified because you're within the monster's digestive tract and that the smashing/pounding things are part of its pre-digestion chewing process. May be (part of) a Living Structure Monster.


When devices commonly found in this trope are implemented as Death Traps and won't retract, they're usually either a Descending Ceiling or The Walls Are Closing In.

A one-stop Death Course.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Part of the Death Course parody in Galaxy Quest.
  • In Attack of the Clones the stamping presses on the conveyor belt of the droid factory qualifies. It also has the bladed kind later on. Also, one wonders how a machine designed to stamp metal plates into flat shapes actually molds said metal around his squishy squishy non-robotic arm.
  • Also (vertically!) in Rogue One in the Tower on Scarif.
  • A non-lethal one appears in First Knight as an obstacle course for a prize.

    Folklore and Mythology 
  • The Argonauts from Greek Mythology had to avoid a similar obstacle on their way to Colchis — the Symplegades, a pair of rocks clashing together to destroy ships attempting to cross the Hellespont. This, of course, makes this Older Than Feudalism. They got around it by first sending a dove through, when it lost only its tail fathers they went in at the same speed and lost part of the stern, but the ship was otherwise intact.
  • The Filipino strong man Bernardo Carpio was trapped for eternity between two mountains who had nothing else to do but bounce their bodies together.

  • The Dresden Files novel Skin Game uses a magical version of this, with a giant field about 200 yards long filled with Smashing Ice Blocks of Doom. Making it even more insidious is the fact that the place is so cold it starts freezing up anyone who attempts to navigate it, or at least slows them down enough so the blocks can smash them. Said trap is one of three guarding Hades' treasure vault, and Harry Dresden was brought into the heist specifically to navigate this trap, since his Winter Knight powers let him resist the freezing better than anyone else. He manages to navigate the blocks by studying their movement pattern for about a half-hour; afterwards, Hades himself praises Harry for his foresight, saying very few would-be thieves even think of trying to find a pattern.

    Live Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Many of the traps in Robo Rally go off during certain phases of the turn, making it possible to pass through safely if you can time your movement just right (and don't get pushed off track by one of the other robots).
  • Such traps are a dungeon staple in Dungeons & Dragons.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Resident Evil 4 has a gauntlet of blade pendulums in the castle, and a hallway of crushers in the mines.
  • God of War. Oddly, they didn't do much damage if they slammed on the player. This, of course, could be Hand Waved by saying that Kratos is half-god. In Ghost of Sparta, there is an underwater section of Atlantis that features these. They cause instant death, thus setting you back a few seconds to right in front of the trapped area.
  • Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. Given that the game centres around Lovecraftian eldritch abominations and their minions working over centuries to destroy humanity, they probably just did this for the evulz.
  • In the Shadow Temple of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you have to block the falling trap with a block hidden behind a fake wall, which a sign referred to as "the stone umbrella".
  • Tomb Raider games make a science of this. In the first level of Legend, you have to push a block through to stop the smashing walls, like the Zelda example above.
  • Hexen has the revolving doors that can crush you, the bottomless pits, the earthquakes, the cave-ins, the collapsing bridges, the impaling spikes... In fact, the game specifically improved the Doom engine to enabling sliding and rotating solid surfaces (Doom/Heretic could only raise or lower ceilings or floors due to the way the engine maintains and renders maps), so it's not surprising the designers found uses for their new toy.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The Thwomps in the games, since Super Mario Bros. 3. Oddly enough, the Thwomps were cognizant villains, with eyes and a mouth. Usually, rather then constantly moving up and down, Thwomps would see Mario approaching, and slam themselves down when he was near. It would take them a while to raise themselves again, during which time Mario would be able to pass through. Also, depending on which Mario game you happen to be playing, the Thwomps may deviate from their up-down-up-down pattern of moving; in Super Mario Galaxy, certain levels have Thwomp-shaped cubes called Tox Boxes actually rolling around the landscape like gigantic dice. These cubes also appear in the Shifting Sand Land level of Super Mario 64.
    • The castle levels of Super Mario World add big crushers (wooden columns) and spiked pillars (Skewers) which repeatedly crash into the floor. Though the former hazard has yet to return, the Skewers have been a recurring asset in the series (including Super Mario Maker after a post-release update) since. Taken to extremes in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where every other castle has a spiked pillar or falling spiked object trap of some sort, culminating with World 7 Castle's hallway of pillars that only give you a one-square-high gap in a certain spot to dodge them.
    • Super Paper Mario has some that are very difficult to sort in one scene, they move up and down faster than you can pass through! The solution lies in flipping into 3D reveals so you can just walk behind them.
    • New Super Luigi U has the level "P Switch Peril", which has Luigi running from a series of metal cubes that fall from the sky. Getting crushed by one is instant death. Naturally romhacks and fangames make extensive use of thwomps other creative hallways of death.
  • The guillotine-like blade traps in Prince of Persia, and the crushers and pendulums in the SNES version.
  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones also occasionally features long strings of these. Interestingly, the smashing bits are low enough to climb onto, but due to irregular timing in the traps, it's very difficult trying to stay on them.
  • Various inexplicable crushing traps in Duke Nukem 3D. In some places, you can be reduced to Ludicrous Gibs by getting caught in a door.
  • Grunty Industries in Banjo-Tooie has several, including a pair of crushers that span the entire hallway. While they're not One-Hit Kill hazards, they do employ HP To One and thus only Banjo (when separated from Kazooie) can survive them with the Sneeze Pack recovery skill.
  • Subverted in Portal where an impossible-to-pass series of pistons can simply be portalled around. Of course, in the Portal:The Flash Version map pack, the trope is played straight. The Propulsion Gel video and the co-op trailer for Portal 2 show off what appear to be hydraulically-powered spike-encrusted hallways which spring forward from their panels in the wall to crush the player. Needless to say, not being turned into instant hamburger is another fine motivator to quickly learn how to mess with physics as we know it. "Ooh! Did that kill you? It would be so awesome if it did!'" This appears all over the second half of the game, when Wheatley is trying to kill you.
    Wheatley: (comparing Chell's attempts to escape with great nemeses) "Holmes versus Moriarty, Aristotle versus — mashy spike plate!
  • In Dark Messiah, you use a rope bow to climb above the walls.
  • One appears in Doom 3: The Resurrection of Evil expansion right after you gain the ability to slow down time in respect to yourself. It more or less serves as a tutorial for using that power.
  • Quake II has this in at least one level, as did the original Quake, both vertically and horizontally, although this dates all the way back to Doom. Come to think of it most FPS by id and Raven are fond of this trope.
  • Devil May Cry: Midway through the game, you'll venture across hallways with spikes on the walls and floors retracting on specific intervals. These are made more difficult by the moving conyevor-like platform that aims to push you back to the start, and/or the demons that spawn to attack you while you're busy dodging the spikes.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening: The Trial of Skill is a hallway surrounded by countless spears that extend and retract on specific intervals or patterns. Apart from knocking you back, these traps don't deal significant damage anyway thanks to Dante and Vergil's Super Toughness. There are free gaps that you're expected to take advantage of if you want to cross safely.
  • The Metroid Prime Trilogy has a few of these. It's worth noting that with the exception of the Hunters installment, these traps would merely do approximately ten damage and screw with your morph ball's momentum for a few seconds. In the aforementioned exception, these are absolutely horrible. These alone make the second run through the planet that they are on unbearable. Going through not 1, not 2, not even 3, no, 4 sets of these. With no checkpoints. And you die instantly if they even GRAZE you.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Konquest mode in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon has quite a few of these.
  • Half-Life:
    • The Waste Disposal section of Half-Life has the crushing piston variety.
    • The moving walls in Half-Life 2 just as you go from the old Nova Prospekt building to the new one also count, although they're slow-moving enough to get out of the way in plenty of time if you don't panic.
    • In Freeman's Mind, Gordon thought some of the walls at Black Mesa look like they're designed to do this. They don't, of course.
  • Painkiller also features the "series of stone blocks smashing down" variety. The trap can be subverted with a physics bug, though — they can be stopped and pushed away using the Painkiller like they were chunks of styrofoam gliding on ice.
  • Not so smashy in the Crusader games. Like most of everything else in the game, more explody.
  • Gears of War 2, inside the giant worm. Possibly justified because you're inside its digestive track, so it would naturally have to grind stuff up in there.
  • Inside the giant worm-body of the Many in System Shock 2, you also see smashing grinding pillars, which are explicitly supposed to be part of its way of digesting organic material.
  • Similarly, the interior of the Zone Eater in Final Fantasy VI leads to a cave with smashing ceilings, which have convenient gaps for the party to use as safe spots.
  • Appears here and there in Mega Man's world, from the trash compactors in Dust Man's stage to the death-traps set up specifically to stop him.
  • Among other hazards, several crushing hallways appear in Cruella's Toy Factory in 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue, complete with differing patterns for each one. Fluffy the chihuahua explains that they're used to prepare metal for the factory's assembly line.
  • Orcs Must Die! has both of these, both the 'coming down from the ceiling' kind and the 'coming out from the walls' kind are avaiable for purchase, in unlimited numbers.. - Video Game Cruelty Potential anyone?
  • The Spellhold asylum in Baldur's Gate 2 has one corridor that smashes shut on anyone who wanders in there and automatically kills them. It is the only trap of this sort in the game, and there is nothing to indicate it will happen. There's also a group of enemies nearby that casts Confusion, causing you to wander around randomly. To make matters worse, you can detect the trap, but it will go off before you reach the highlighted area, insuring that it kills anyone who tries to disarm it.
  • The Castlevania series prefers the spiked-block-on-a-chain variety. Earlier entries featured instant-kill versions, but in interests of accessibility, they were toned down to dealing heavy damage by Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
  • Cave Story had the Presses, which are Thwomps in all but name. The most notable uses of them are found right before and right at the end of the Last Cave, the latter of which had a string of Presses one had to make carefully controlled Boosts past. Heavy Press the penultimate boss in Hell/the Sacred Grounds is a minor deviation, in that it doesn't fall on you until you kill it, which happens to be the world's most blatantly-telegraphed Kaizo Trap.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has lots of these. In the Mages Guild mission "Liberation or Apprehension?", Fithragaer, the NPC you're (meant to be) escorting charges straight into one, dying instantly. If he doesn't he'll just stand there. When the quest is done, he'll walk slowly to the exit and will most likely die for real this time.
  • You can build these in Dwarf Fortress. In addition to old standbys like the "stone-fall trap" and weapon traps loaded with ten +iron warhammers+, a bit of creativity leads to things like the Dwarven Atomsmasher (a drawbridge that slams down on an enemy, obliterating them from existence due to a Good Bad Bug) or artificially-engineered cave-ins.
  • The Earth Shrine in Final Fantasy IX is booby-trapped this way, forcing Zidane and Quina to jump past the traps in order to get to the inner sanctum:
    Quina: Aiya! We almost flat like pancake!
  • Serious Sam - The Second Encounter has smashing ceilings in quite a few places. Most notably, in the first level.
  • Contra games have them making rather frequent appearances. For example, in Area 7 of the first game on the NES.
  • Evil Genius allows you to fill your hallways with deadly devices that can comically grind anyone who falls into them. These are explicitly traps, however, rather than something that has a flimsier justification.
  • An Untitled Story has Thwomp-like enemies which come crashing down when approached. They even come in three flavours.
  • The first screen of I Wanna Be the Guy features four spiked walls that quickly zip across about 90 percent of the screen, resulting in the usual messy demise of The Kid if he's not already in the safe 10 percent when that happens.
  • Bug!! has them. Interestingly enough, there were two kinds- stomper-looking things (non-fatal, does 1 hp damage) and moving terrain (fatal). Later levels would remove the former and use the latter, upping the difficulty. Both would make Bug get Squashed Flat, of course.
  • In Miner 2049er, one station has a whole row of these traps to walk through.
  • Marathon occasionally uses these, such as the final gauntlet in Defend THIS!. In a few levels, such as By Committee in Infinity, the doors can crush you.
  • One level of the unlicensed Famicom/NES game Thunder Warrior has Thwomp expies.
  • The crush pillars in the Monty Mole series.
  • Crushing pistons in Lemmings.
  • One of the Golden Bananas in the Frantic Factory area of Donkey Kong 64 is found at the end of an area filled with fireballs, explosions, conveyor belts and giant smashing things. The banana can only be reached by Donkey Kong, using his invincibility-inducing Strong Kong ability.
  • While getting hit by them is ill advised, in Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, you can survive anything so long as you have enough beats, up to and including being smashed between two icebergs. However, even as you push the hallway traps apart, they will come back to smash you again, which will eventually wear out your beats if you don't learn how to avoid them and in the New Play Control version, you have a traditional life meter, which means hallway traps kill you instantly.
  • The La-Mulana Video Game Remake adds a lot of industrial crushers to the Tower of Ruin.
  • Subverted in the Bonk series, where the crushers flatten Bonk into a crab-like form that can fit into small spaces.
  • Fallout 3 has crushing pistons in the waste disposal area of Mothership Zeta.
  • Fantasy World Dizzy has a portcullis that works this way.
  • Rastan has these in the castle areas in the form of spiked platforms lowered from the ceiling.
  • Something series
    • Chateau de la Terre in Something is filled with big smashers. The level has no auto-scrolling sections, but the platforming is extremely difficult.
    • Space Hideout in Spmething Else has an Auto Scrolling section where Luigi must dodge electric pulses and big smashers.
  • Viewpoint has sliding block walls that push their spiky ends up against each other.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest has smashing stone blocks, first seen in the Moon Grotto. Mount Horu has a variety covered in Spikes of Doom that result in instant death if even touched.
  • Hollow Knight has smashers with tricky timing in Crystal Peak.

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius: Castle Heterodyne has traps in this fashion, though mostly they snap shut on their victim without giving the forewarning that most examples are wont to unless the castle is trying to intimidate someone without killing them which is really not its style.

    Western Animation 
  • In Transformers: Animated, to stop Longarm/Shockwave's identity from being discovered, he kills Blurr in one of these.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Beautopia", Susan Strong has to guide the party's boat through two sets of "clashing gates".
  • The Tiny Toon Adventures episode "The Looney Beginning" have these in the climactic chase through Montana Max's mansion, including a giant boxing glove and a line of cannons.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Guillotine Trap


Burning Churning Power Plant

The walls in this stage repeatedly smash together and Kirby has to hide in the holes.

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Example of:

Main / SmashingHallwayTrapsOfDoom

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