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When Elders Attack

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When you find yourself in danger,
then you're threatening a stranger...

Chief: [takes his coat off] I've been waiting for this since Nixon!
Vice-President: I got a new pacemaker, I can go all day!

An elderly person attacks someone or something, from a teenager to a monster, often with an object like a cane or a purse. Effectiveness of attack varies from annoying and harmless to actually taking down the target. A typical justification for this is that they're a Retired Badass.

See also: Never Mess with Granny, Evil Old Folks, Old Master, Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!, Improbable Weapon User. Not to be confused with Racist Grandma, though it can overlap. Someone who fights back, or worse throws the first punch, Would Harm a Senior.

Also not to be confused with When Alders Attack. (Sorry.)


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    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Alfred is usually portrayed as very elderly, but can still protect himself or his boss on occasion. In the Injustice comics, he even beat up Superman! (Granted, Superman Had The Flu, but still.)
  • In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, Scrooge McDuck often uses his cane as a weapon (he certainly doesn't need it for walking).
  • Kidney Lady, basically Howard the Duck's only unbeatable enemy. He wields a mean cane against anyone who smokes or sends off harmful fast-food fumes. Clearly nuts, but can be tricky; will use magic in a pinch.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Cornering The Duke:
    Only an elderly witch, her wrinkly face distorted in rage, swung her staff at the fast-moving blur that was Ami’s form.

    Undeterred, the old woman proceeded to whack her on the head with her staff over and over again, cursing her with language so coarse her cheeks grew hot.
  • Witches Wizards Shadows and Souls: Malik and Bakura get chased out of Knockturn Alley by a bunch of angry hags who heard the owner of Borgin and Burkes yell at them. Instead of trying to fend them off they opt for running like hell.

    Films — Animated 
  • BoBoiBoy: The Movie: In a high-speed chase, the robbers run over an old lady's groceries. Then she rides her scooter towards the robbers while angrily wielding a rolling pin, sped along by BoBoiBoy Cyclone on his hoverboard from behind. The elementals stop the robbers with their powers while the old lady gets the last attack of twisting their boss' ear.
  • The Lion King (1994): Rafiki, the wise old Baboon, pulls a Big Damn Heroes entry, smacking down a couple of hyenas with his stick during the final battle.
  • Madagascar: Nana, the little old lady from the first movie returned in the sequel, Escape 2 Africa, through sheer Popularity Power. Not only did she beat up a full-grown lion (three times!), but she showed a lot of skill as a survivalist and delivered a Rousing Speech to her fellow New Yorkers after the Penguins jacked their tour jeeps.
  • Ratatouille had the crazy old woman who tried to shoot the rats with a shotgun then gas her house with poison gas, but completely and utterly failed to be badass.
  • Carl attacks a worker manhandling his mailbox with his cane at the start of Up. Unusually for the trope, he gets into serious trouble as a result. Another example is found in the limited-animation short Geroge and AJ has mobs of senior citizens taking off with their houses in more and more insane ways, completely tormenting the titular two guys from the retirement home.
  • The Land Before Time sequels, during the rare moments when Littlefoot's Grandparents are protecting him and the other kids from any Sharp Teeth. More or less a combination of Battle Couple, Never Mess with Granny, and this trope all in one, often with Mama Bear and Papa Wolf added into the mix, since their daughter's death left them as Littlefoot's primary caretakers.
  • In the first BIONICLE movie, Mask of Light, during the scene while Ta-Koro is under attack by the Rahkshi, there's a brief scene where Turaga Vakama pulls out his staff and starts beating one of the invaders over the head with it. The only reason it seems to be remotely effective is because said Rahkshi is too stupefied by the attempt to retaliate.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Empire Strikes Back: Yoda beats R2 with his cane when the droid attempts to grab the flashlight he has taken from Luke's storage crate.
  • Every Which Way but Loose. Despite claiming to be a helpless old lady, Ma drives off an entire outlaw biker gang with a shotgun almost as tall as she is. When the bikers later encounter another elderly person, they're wary of causing trouble.
  • The page quote comes from Get Smart, where Chief has enough of the Vice-President's disparaging remarks towards CONTROL and beats the stuffing out of him in an apparently long-standing rivalry. The President wasn't present, but later gets sent a video of the fight and finds it hilarious.
  • In Grandma, when Cam threatens Elle with a hockey stick, she promptly snatches it out of his hand and takes him out.
  • In The Kid (1921), the old nanny beating up the Tramp for trying to drop the baby into her carriage.
  • The title character of the Madea series... especially in Madea's Family Reunion and Madea Goes to Jail where a school bully in the former and the police in the latter found out.
  • Night at the Museum. It turns out the three old workers are the villains and they kick Larry's ass a few times.
  • Lady with a Sword has the heroine successfully arresting the main villain (who's around her age) and ready to deliver him to the local magistrate. But alas, the villain's mother, who's in her sixties and a capable fighter on her own, isn't willing to let her take the villain away, and quickly tries attacking the heroine in an intense Sword Fight.
  • Rabid Grannies, a horror flick from Troma Entertainment, is a bit of a subversion, since the titular grannies are the monsters.
  • In Spider-Man 2, although she is the Damsel in Distress at that point, this doesn't stop Aunt May from helping Spider-Man in fighting Dr. Octopus by giving the mad scientist a good whack with her umbrella.
  • In Targets, the protagonist Boris Kar.. er, Byron Orlock ends the younger villain's psychopathic shooting spree by knocking the punk's gun away with his cane and then slapping him.

  • In both Adrian Mole and its TV adaptation, the thirteen-and-three-quarter year old Adrian confides in his beloved granny that he is being bullied at school. His tiny granny promptly goes out and Curb Stomps the bully into a whining pleading-for-mercy pulp.
  • Isaac Asimov's Forward The Foundation: During "Wanda Seldon", the 70-year-old Professor Hari Seldon is forced to defend himself several times. However, because he consistently does so effectively enough to be unharmed, he's blamed for the fights. He and his grand-daughter, Wanda, are convicted for assault and battery.
  • The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: In "Batman and Robin Have an Altercation," main character Sanderson, who's in his sixties, brings his Alzheimer's-ridden father "Pop" to their weekly Applebee's lunch, only to get into a traffic accident with a tough truck driver on the way back to Pop's assisted living home. When the truck driver (who refuses to admit he caused the accident) starts beating Sanderson up, Pop springs into action and stabs him in the neck with a steak knife he stole from the restaurant. It also overlaps with Handicapped Badass, as Pop's mind is slipping fast, but he retains enough lucidity to both use the knife properly and protect his son.
  • Captain Underpants: Geezer Powers — ACTIVATE!! Only within the Show Within a Show, though, until the grandparents accidentally get superpowers.
  • In the Discworld novels:
    • Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde are, indeed, very old, but they are very old Barbarian Heroes. As pointed out in Interesting Times, they have survived a very long time in a deadly profession. Suffice it to say, Badass is an understatement.
    • The Ankh-Morpork "Seamstresses' Guild" is guarded by The Dreaded Agony Aunts Dotsy and Sadie, who deliver, if not swift justice, slow, inexorable, exceedingly injurious justice to anyone who abuses a Guild prostitute. They've been active for at least 30 years and were both very old and very infamous even then, so there's some question of whether they're human or not.
  • In The Dresden Files, Shiro, a tiny ancient Japanese guy with poor eyesight beats the crap out of a Denarian in the shape of a six-legged bear with a cane. On the other hand, this cane turns out to be the sheath for Fidelacchius, one of the Swords of the Cross.
  • Star Wars: Kenobi: The 75-year-old Wyle Ulbreck isn't afraid to get in a shootout with Tusken Raiders or Jabba the Hutt's thugs. Admittedly, Ben makes him look more badass than he is by giving him the credit for killing most of the raiding party in Dannar's Claim.
    Wyle: [after shooting Jorrk] I killed me a room full of Tuskens. I ain't gonna let you people push me around!

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Community episode "Basic Genealogy", Troy's grandmother attacks Britta with a switch.
  • Doctor Who: In "Amy's Choice", the menace of the week is a smallish crowd of senior citizens, which is frankly hilarious, except when the old people turn out to be possessed by aliens that kill people with lethal bad breath. Amy has no compunction in running them over. Turns out in the end that it's all a dream created by the Doctor's evil side. He chose "alien-possessed old people" as something the Doctor and his companions would believe, which probably tells you something about the common Monster of the Week tropes this show uses.
  • An example from a soap opera is Crane Tolliver, Lila Quartermaine's first husband on General Hospital, who shot Susan Moore (Jason "holy hitman" Morgan's mother) when she tried to double-cross him in a blackmail scheme.
  • Foundation (2021): In the Season 1 finale, the elderly Brother Dusk/Cleon XII doesn't hesitate to get in Brother Day/Cleon XIII's face and bitchslap him when the two disagree over what to do about the fact that Brother Dawn/Cleon XIV is an imperfect clone.
  • Mad Men provides a disturbing example when Layne Pryce's father Richard, who hits his grown son upside the head with a cane and threatens to break his fingers—all because Layne doesn't want to go back to England and has started dating a black woman. The attitudes are right for the generation, but even then, it comes off as pretty harsh. It's enough to make it somewhat surprising that Pryce turned out as as stable and sympathetic as he did given his upbringing, instead of totally screwed up, given the series' norms (on the other hand, perhaps not...).
  • The 'Nanageddon' episode of The Mighty Boosh, unsurprisingly. Although little old ladies are considerably more dangerous with knitting needles when said little old ladies have been summoned from the pits of Hell.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: In "Convalescence", Murdoch's elderly landlady Mrs. Kitchen has been imprisoned for several days while criminals search her house. When a weakened Murdoch passes out while fighting one of the criminals, Mrs. Kitchen picks up Murdoch's crutch and whacks the crook over the head with it, knocking her out.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mrs. Davis beats up a gym teacher in "Angela's Wedding". He insulted the deviled eggs she prepared.
  • Perpetual Grace LTD: Pastor Brown, played by the 75-year-old Ben Kingsley, demonstrates his "old man strength" by besting the young former firefighter James in an arm wrestling contest. Later, when confronted by a cartel gangster who threatens his wife, the old man beats the gangster to death with a shoe. This is when we learn that the pastor is a life-long career criminal.

  • In one bit, comedian Patton Oswalt says that, if you can live to be 100, you should be allowed to legally murder anyone you want, provided you kill them with your bare hands. He then says, "Would any of you come to the rescue if you heard, 'Help, a 100 year old woman is beating me to death!'?"

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In old-style British wrestling, such as that featured on World Of Sport, a section of the audience with the power to terrify some of the largest, hardest, men to stalk the ring were.... the grannies. Little old ladies who let it all out on a Saturday afternoon at the wrestling. Special bile was reserved for whoever was playing the Evil Wrestler part. The old ladies were capable of seriously foul swearing, throwing things including handfuls of drawing pins or even nails. If anyone was unlucky enough to fall or be thrown out of the ring... ouch. Being belaboured with walking sticks was only the beginning of it. Some dedicated wrestler-baiters did things like sharpen the ferrule of an umbrella to a vicious point, and stab with it. Cigarettes would be stubbed out into bare flesh. Hatpins would be inserted where it hurt most. Imagine a ringside of wrestling grannies claiming vengeance on the baddie who'd just apparently beaten the golden boy to a pulp... the blows in the ring might still sting, but at least they were agreed and roughly scripted. In the ring the wrestler had an idea of what was coming. Outside the ring was a different matter.
  • Chikara's Melvin Snodgrass and Darkness Crabtree, the Senior Assault Team. They hold victories over the likes of the Wildcards (Eddie Kingston and Blackjack Marciano)
  • Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, and Ricky Steamboat vs Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania XXV, when they collectively become tired of Jericho's never ending rating about the fans because they cheer Shawn Michaels more than him. Jericho won, but the legends (Steamboat in particular) made sure he knew he'd been in a fight.
  • Just to hammer in how much TNA did not care for the tag team known as No Limit, it uncovered them from their shallow graves so they could be squashed down to fit into deeper ones by the completely grey headed Kevin Nash.
  • Kevin Sullivan and his army of darkness (or what was left of it) ambushing Ring Warriors Grand Champion Bruce Santee to prove they were still relevant.
  • Before a match with Matt Cross at Absolute Intense Wrestling's Hell On Earth XII, Colt Cabana had to first be saved from Cross's irate grandmother.

    Video Games 
  • Coffee Crisis, a game where aliens have invaded earth and possessed most of the population, have elderly mooks attacking you at various points, namely old men with walking sticks and old women who use their walking frames to smash you up.
  • The Flash game Disorderly is made of this trope. You're an orderly in a nursing home assigned by your boss to curb the overpopulation by "taking care" of the seniors, and you practically spend the entire game beating the snot out of old folks, many of them who will put up a fight before going down by hitting you with their canes or walking frames.
  • In Donkey Kong Country, when you visit Cranky's Cabin, Cranky will occasionally hit the player character with his cane.
  • Tellah does this to Edward in a scripted Final Fantasy IV battle, hitting him with his cane and calling him a Spoony Bard. It barely even hurts him, and this is Edward we are talking about.
  • Paper Mario: ELDER POWER ACTIVATE!! The Puni Elder's back acts up before it can even do anything
  • One of the Wild Wasteland encounters of Fallout: New Vegas has The Courier being ambushed by a trio of old biddies armed with rolling pins and knives, as a Shout-Out to the Hell's Grannies above. They're about as threatening as they sound, especially since the player character should be pretty well-armed by this point.
  • In The Sims games, Mrs. Crumplebottom is an NPC who visits community lots. If two Sims kiss on the lot, she'll come over and hit one of them with her purse.
  • Dragon Quest VIII: Yangus's Golden Oldies attack summons the diminutive King Trode, which leads a horde of old men, running over whatever enemy it is aimed at.
  • One of the missions in South Park: The Fractured but Whole has you fighting your way through a retirement center filled with pissed off old people after they recognize you as the local vigilante and think you're there to take their Percocet.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Kim Possible episode "The Golden Years", Drakken's army of seniors attacks Kim.
  • In a The Powerpuff Girls episode, an old lady does this from the roof of an episode to a Godzilla-like monster, who promptly eats her.
    • In another episode, Mojo Jojo gets body swapped with an old lady. It does not seem to affect his fighting prowess.
    • One time the girls are called in to take down a group of senior citizens robbing a bank, but Blossom insists they leave them be since they have to respect their elders. Instead her idea is to bring a geriatric superhero out of retirement to take down the elderly bad guys.
  • In South Park, treat your elders with respect..... or else. Case in point: "Grey Dawn". In a parody of Red Dawn (1984), the town's seniors, organized by the American Association of Retired Persons, orchestrate a takeover of the town when the state of Colorado decides to revoke the driver's license of any person over 70. They are thwarted when the boys lock the doors of the Country Kitchen Buffet (based on a real restaurant chain, the Old Country Buffet, and it gets a lot of business from seniors), where all the seniors had been eating, and thus cutting off their food supply.
    • Another episode features Butters' grandma being even more abusive then his parents.

    Real Life 
  • More than once a mugger has targeted an elderly man they thought would be an easy mark, only to discover said elderly man is an ex-special forces or combat sports champion-type Retired Badass.
  • It has been proven that elderly victims of muggings and armed robbery are twice as likely to retaliate against an attacker, compared to younger victims. The reason basically being that a younger victim would believe he or she had more to lose.
  • Andrew Jackson did this to a guy who tried to kill him, chasing him with his cane after both of the would-be assassin's pistols failed to fire. Jackson, 67 at the time and reportedly having respiratory problems, had to be pulled off his target by his aides after administering a highly justified beatdown.
  • Ann Timson (71-years-old at the time) fought off armed robbers that were breaking into a jewellery shop. The purse she was using as a weapon was filled with pound coins, making it quite heavy.


Video Example(s):


Eminem arrested for streaking

In "Just Lose It", Eminem wakes up in jail, having been arrested for forgotten drunken antics including streaking and nakedly pelvic thrusting at an old lady (who responded by hitting him with her purse).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhatDidIDoLastNight

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