The ubiquitous 2×4, (even though it's really 1.5×3.5" in real life) found just about everywhere at hardware stores, construction sites, home renovations, garages, and just about anywhere else there's wood to be found. It's an unassuming little item, highly flexible in its possible applications, able to serve as either construction material for building a home, protecting said home against unwanted intrusion... or even an expedient substitute when a baseball bat isn't available. Bonus points if there are nails, screws, bolts or even spikes on the business end for added pain.
This trope also covers all other kinds of lumber/timber, from boards to planks and etc. of different shapes and sizes. As long as it's made of wood and used as a weapon.
Needless to say, a subtrope of Improvised Weapon. While it may seem the same as Carry a Big Stick, it falls more under Improbable Weapon User category due to the awkwardness that would be encountered when trying to wield a 2×4 as a weapon in its standard form.
- Sara and Billy utilize this trope in Day of the Dead when they're locked in the corral full of zombies.
- In the original The Evil Dead Ash uses a large wooden plank to beat his demonically possessed girlfriend Linda after she digs herself out of her grave. It eventually breaks and he has to decapitate her with a shovel before she can kill him.
- The infected in The Last Man on Earth make use of 2×4s in their efforts to kill Robert Morgan.
- Night of the Living Dead features 2×4s being used both to reinforce the windows and doors, and to dispatch a zombie when things have gone from bad to worse.
- The Three Stooges made frequent use of this trope, sometimes accidentally, sometimes deliberately.
- Tommy Boy: When Richard's car is well and truly ruined thanks to Tommy, he angrily pulls off the highway next to a 'Prehistoric Forest' roadside attraction, and has it out with him. They step out of the car to duke it out, and Tommy lets Richard take his best shot. After a couple of punches have no effect, Richard picks up a 2×4 and smacks Tommy across the face, knocking him cold. Richard looks up and says "Hey, Prehistoric Forest!"
- Jim "Hacksaw" Duggan made use of a 2×4 as a weapon.
- Castle Crashers features the 2×4 as an available weapon in the DLC Blacksmith pack.
- The 2×4 is a very common weapon in the Dead Rising series.
- Thanks to the combo weapon system introduced from 2 and used onward. There are a few combo weapons to be made with the ubiquitous 2" x 4". In 3 one can make "Heavy Metal" a combo weapon made with another ubiquitous weapon, the Lead Pipe.
- The wooden plank is a common weapon found in Dead Island and is often wielded by zombies.
- Dying Light features the wooden plank as a usable weapon for dispatching zombies.
- Fallout 3 features a nailed plank as a common weapon among mutants and raiders, with at least one variant called the Board of Education.
- The wooden plank is an environmental weapon available in Guild Wars 2.
- Project Zomboid lets players use the wooden plank either as building materials, or as a weapon, either by itself, or modified with nails to create the nailed plank.
- Resident Evil 4 has Ashley attempting to employ this trope in her first cutscene.
- The Majini of Resident Evil 5 are armed with a variety of melee weapons, including wooden planks with nails hammered into the end.
- The first weapon James Sunderland equips in Silent Hill 2 is the wooden plank that he rips from a safety barricade, complete with rusty nails stuck in the end. He makes use of it when he first encounters a Lying Figure. While obviously weaker than the pipe you receive later in the game, it has the bonus of being much quicker to swing.
- Silent Hill: Book of Memories also features the wooden plank as a weapon. But unlike Silent Hill 2, Book of Memories features the Breakable Weapons system, so it's only a temporary weapon.
- The Splatterhouse series features the 2×4 as a very common available weapon.
- The 2×4 is a very common weapon in The Last of Us, and is in fact the first melee weapon you come across. Durability is weak, able to withstand only four hits in its unmodified form before breaking apart, but it proves to be quite common, so another is easy enough to find when facing other humans. Interestingly enough they call it a 2×4 in the game despite the fact that it's clearly square (likely a 4x4).
- The video game Urban Reign features the 2×4 as a playable weapon, but it breaks after one use.
- World of Warcraft features a wooden board with a nail through it as a one handed weapon, simply and aptly named the spiked wooden plank.
- Mother 3 has Flint, who uses a 2-by-4 as his weapon of choice. He uses it to beat the stuffing out of everything in his way. When he goes into an Unstoppable Rage over his wife's death, Lighter has to whack him in the back of the head with it to knock him out. It was the only way to get him to stop attacking the other villagers as they try to comfort him and reign in his fury.
- Like many zombie games, Cataclysm has these as a weapon. They're actually quite weak, but they're better than your bare hands (unless you have enough points in unarmed combat) and easy to find (just break some furniture, or have a zombie do that for you). You can also craft a version with nails in it for added damage.
- The Wood board is an available melee weapon in The Last Stand: Union City. Somewhat common weapon to find, and overall is a pretty good weapon to see some use early on. Later on after finishing a quest given by Darnel you are rewarded with the "Nail Board". A wooden board with rusty nails hammered onto the business end and some kind of tape wrapped around the handle to make it more comfortable to hold and swing. It's one of the best weapons early in the game.
- Zombie Go Boom:
- It has tested the 2×4 as a possible zombie apocalypse weapon, and have found that it can indeed destroy their test skull analog zombie heads. It's even stated as being Jim Goza's favorite weapon.
- They also try out in making a real life version of the NERF Zombie Strike club. Which they find out is surprisingly very practical in practice.
- In the Celebrity Deathmatch episode pitting the best known James Bond actors, Sean Connery and Roger Moore against one another, it's a battle of improbable spy gadgets. Sean Connery eventually pulls out a board with a nail hammered through it.
- In the King of the Hill episode "The Redneck of Rainey Street" Kahn and Hank square off in a stick fight with 2×4s, with the latter trying to talk the former out of his adopted redneck lifestyle.
- In Los Angeles, California, a pitbull attack on an animal control officer was caught on tape while the officer was investigating reports on said animal. While the present camera crew failed to stop the attack, a neighbor came to the rescue and beat the dog off of the officer with a 2×4.