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The ubiquitous 2x4, (even though it's really 1.5x3.5" 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 or screws in the business end for added pain.

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 2x4 as a weapon in its standard form.

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Examples:

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    Film 
  • Sara and Billy utilize this trope in Day of the Dead (1985) 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 2x4s in their efforts to kill Robert Morgan.
  • Night of the Living Dead (1990) features 2x4s 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 2x4 and smacks Tommy across the face, knocking him cold. Richard looks up and says "Hey, Prehistoric Forest!"

    Live Action Television 
  • The A-Team made occasional use of this trope whenever BA needed to go flying for a mission, and the usual sedative wasn't available for the job.
  • In the BBC series The Young Ones Vivian rips up a floorboard and uses it to beat Rick over the head with.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Jim "Hacksaw" Duggan made use of a 2x4 as a weapon.
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    Video Games 
  • Castle Crashers features the 2x4 as an available weapon in the DLC Blacksmith pack.
  • The 2x4 is a very common weapon in the Dead Rising series.
  • 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 playable 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. 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 2x4 as a very common available weapon.
  • The 2x4 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 2x4 in the game despite the fact that it's clearly square (likely a 4x4).
  • The video game Urban Reign features the 2x4 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.

    Web Original 
  • Zombie Go Boom has tested the 2x4 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 2x4s, with the latter trying to talk the former out of his adopted redneck lifestyle.

    Real Life 
  • 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 2x4.

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