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Most of the time, heroes have the choice of "fight or flight" when faced with their enemies... except, if that enemy is an Implacable Man or an Immune to Bullets monster, it's really more like "momentarily inconvenience while risking death by fighting or flight", or more commonly "hide or flight". This is why 90% of Slasher Flicks are spent (wisely) running the eff away from these menaces and hiding breathlessly in highly insecure locations.

Which leads us to this trope. Once the hero relaxes while hiding behind a wall or in a closet, and thinks the danger is past, a hand will break through the wall and grab him! This very effectively demonstrates that their enemy has Super Strength and a grasp on how to use it unconventionally. Usually, the villain will either punch the hero or pull them through the wall! Much like a Cat Scare (if cats could jump through walls), the audience will be scared along with the hero.

Variations include the newly risen zombie Ankle Drag, busting through a Beehive Barrier, and Vertical Kidnapping. Sadistic slasher villains will use the Sinister Scraping Sound to freak out hiding characters before pulling this. Depending on the barrier, can be a variation or a subversion of Concealment Equals Cover. See also There Was a Door.

Examples of Barrier-Busting Blow include:


Advertising

  • See the first stunt in this Reebok commercial, where professional football players pitch themselves for the fantasy football draft. Whether these stunts are real or movie magic is a subject of lively debate.


Anime & Manga

  • In the Martial Arts Figure Skating battle in Ranma ½, Ryōga has just crushed Mikado Sanzen'in, the rival male skater, between two icebergs, forced Asuza Shiratori, his female partner, to flee, and buried Female!Ranma in the resulting multi-ton mass of broken ice (and she was already fully submerged in ice water, too). Just as he's relaxing and thinking about going to greet Akane after his victory, Ranma's hand breaks through the ice and she clings tenaciously to his leg.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed has knocked out several soldiers who were looking for him. The last one in the squad hides next to a door and waits for him to walk through. Ed punches through the wall with his automail arm and grabs the guy in a stranglehold.
  • Invoked by Guyver 1 in Guyver after regenerating in the Chronos Japan HQ. When at first several blows fail to remove the blast doors quickly enough, try, try again with the Megasmasher to take out the whole floor!
    • Happened in volume 4 where Guyver III's megasmasher at least took out Guyots shield. A Zoalord's shield was shattered much much more easily in volume 13 during the Imakarum vs. Agito battle.
    • And again by the Guyver in vol.16 of the Manga: when the Guyver, in Gigantic mode, is fighting the Zoalord Purgstall, the latter encases himself in a personal force field. The Guyver then starts hammering away at it with his fists until he breaks through.
    • And yet again in vol.25, when the Guyver Gigantic in Exceed mode is facing off against the Draglord and erects a forcefield around himself to deflect incoming missiles, only to find to his chagrin that the missiles will actually drill through the force field and then explode inside.
  • In the Trigun anime, Monev the Gale used a variant of this. Breaking into a jail to capture Vash, rather than using the cell door Monev punched through a wall and grabbed Vash by the throat, all in one move.
  • Happens in GTO once. After Teshigawara snaps, Onizuka taunts him unseen until he backs against a wall, then Onizuka busts through it with one hand and drags him through.


Comics

  • Batman does this twice in The Dark Knight Returns. The first time he hides under the floor, shoves his hand up through the floorboards, grabs the ankle of a nearby mook and pulls him down and probably beats on him even more. The second time he rams his arm through a wall (looks to be made of concrete, though the art makes it difficult to tell) and pulls a mook through it and beats them up more.


Films -- Live-Action

  • Near the end of Blade Runner, replicant Roy Batty punches through a wall, pulls Deckard's hand through it and breaks two of his fingers.
  • Ash gets his back up against a door in The Evil Dead when suddenly... you know the rest.
  • Pretty much every Friday the 13 th really. The picture above is from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood.
  • In The Rock, Goodspeed is trying to dodge a pair of soldiers and hides behind a really flimsy wooden wall. Cue the soldiers smashing through the wall to grab him.
  • In Iron Man, one of the villains gets pulled through a wall when he thinks he can hide from Tony.
  • Agent Smith punches through a wall to grab Neo in The Matrix... only to be saved by Morpheus's self-sacrifice.
  • Used by RoboCop in the first movie to get the drop of a hostage taker in the town hall. After determining the perp's exact position with his infrared vision, he punches both arms through the wall, grabbing the criminal from behind and dragging him all the way in the other room.
  • Shaun of the Dead has David apologize while moving back towards a window... cue the zombies breaking through the barricade and pulling him away to be eaten.
  • Subversion: in The Wall, Pink tries to escape the wall in this manner... and fails miserably.
  • The opening Nightmare Sequence in Day of the Dead when hundreds of zombie arms break through a white wall to grab the female protagonist.
  • In Live Free or Die Hard, as a mook is trying to get through Farrell's door, McClane punches him through it.
  • Dead Snow has an unusually squishy version of this, where the zombies burst through the protagonist's barriers, grab the resident Genre Savvy nerd and crush his skull.
  • Spoon really should know better than to stand near the window.
  • In Species, Sil punches through a bathroom stall to rip out a woman's spine.
  • Phantasm and its sequels love this trope.
  • In Dagon Paul quickly learns not to rely on aging wood in old hotels, especially when an angry mob is outside.
  • The famous axe-through-the-door scene from The Shining.
  • Subverted in Sunshine where the killer grabs a corpse lying on the other side of the wall instead of the girl he's stalking, giving her a chance to stab him before he realises his mistake.


Literature

  • One of the Dirty Harry novels has the hero doing this. Inspector Callahan looks through a large hole in the wall of a basement and sees a rape in progress. He reaches through, grabs the punk by his long hair and says, "Do you remember what it was like to be born?" then forcibly pulls him back through the hole.
  • Septimus Heap: This is how Septimus gets kidnapped in Physik: Marcellus Pye pulls him through a mirror.


Live-Action TV

  • Happens in the Angels and Demons episode of Red Dwarf, with Low Kryten grabbing Lister through a wall.
  • Doctor Who example/inversion: in the TV Movie, the newly-regenerated Eighth Doctor does this in order to escape from the hospital morgue. Bonus Playing with a Trope points for the fact that after we saw him denting the thick steel door and ultimately knocking it down... he looks kind of scared and confused and is clutching his shroud around himself like a little kid with a blanket.
  • On The Shield, a punk tries to evade Vic Mackey by running down an alley and climbing over a wall made of wooden boards. Mackey simply crashes through the wall and tackles him.
  • In Alphas, Bill does this to take out a kidnapper.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the finale of Season 5, Xander pulls this one on a god, no less, with a wrecking ball.
  • In Beauty and The Beast, Vincent breaks through a boarded-up section of wall to get to the man who shot Catherine.


Music Videos

  • A zombie in the music video for "Bad Idea" does this through a brick wall.


Video Games


Web Animation


Web Comics

  • The Omega Key: Subverted here -- the next page reveals that the person being grabbed just turns part of her body into spikes and skewers the character on the other side of the wall. (Ouch!)


Web Original


Western Animation

  • In the Transformers: Beast Wars episode "Gorilla Warfare", Optimus Primal, driven insane by a berserker virus, cranks this trope up a notch by pulling Waspinator through a wall into the corridor, then promptly flinging him through the other wall.
  • In the Batman the Animated Series episode 'Legends of the Dark Knight', Batman does this to a mook in a sequence based on the aforementioned The Dark Knight Returns.
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