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When a character is tied to a chair, bench, stool or other sitting device, they usually try to pick their handcuffs, rub their ropes against a Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing, or some other action that affects their bindings. Not so with the Bench Breaker; the character manages to break free by destroying whatever they are tied to.

This is not simply Breaking the Bonds - it usually is done by a normal human who is desperate enough to ram themselves into a wall just to damage the chair, or nearly break a limb leveraging it.

Examples of Bench Breaker include:

Film

  • Black Widow of The Avengers does a flip while tied to a chair, shattering it on impact and freeing herself.
  • Lennie Pike from It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World breaks the chair that he was tied to after breaking himself free from the pillar and duct tape that the gas station attendants tried tying him up to.
  • Twice in The Boondock Saints. Connor, handcuffed to a toilet while his brother Murphy is being taken out back to be shot by two goons from The Mafiya, smashes himself screaming against the toilet trying to break it apart before he finally just rips it up from the floor. Before he drops the toilet off the roof onto the Russians.
    • Later in the film, both brothers have to help each other escape from being handcuffed to chairs. While this involves one brother kicking the other brother's hand to break his thumb, it is relatively tame compared to the toilet scene.

Literature

  • In The Last Knight, Sir Michael is chained to a bed by a captor and spends most of his time kicking the bedpost to try to detach it from the bed. He succeeds just in time to aid Fisk in rescuing him.
  • Stephen King's short story "The Gingerbread Girl", from the collection Just After Sunset, features a version of this. The protagonist is duck taped to a chair by a pyscho who will return in a little while to kill her. She's unable to get free of the tape, so she ends up breaking the chair instead to free herself. This later comes in handy when the psycho returns, as she's able to use the splintered remains of the chair to fight him off.
  • In Dean Koontz's Intensity, the protagonist escapes her captor by ramming a wall with the chair she is tied to and splintering it. She injures herself in the process.

Live Action Television

  • In 24, Jack Bauer escapes by smashing his chair and attacking his captor.
  • In the episode of Burn Notice where Fiona gets abducted, she breaks the arms of the chair she's handcuffed to so that she can move around the room freely.
  • From time to time in The Incredible Hulk TV series David Banner would get tied to a chair, only for him to Hulk Out; so Hulk breaks the chair.
  • Doreau does this accidentally in the Sledge Hammer episode "Wild About Hammer". The villain for that episode ties her to a chair. Sledge manages to untie her ankles from the chair before he's attacked. While those two are fighting, Doreau manges manages to stand herself up on her now freed legs, only to trip, fall over backwards, break the chair, and free herself from the rest of the rope.
  • In The Avengers, Mrs Peel gets handcuffed to a wooden chair. When the time comes, she swiftly breaks the chair and beats up the baddies with the sticks. At the end of the episode, as they stroll off across a golf course, Steed asks her what her handicap is. She shows him the chunk of wood still cuffed to one of her wrists.

Video Games

  • In the intro scenes of Batman: Arkham City, Bruce Wayne rocks back and forth in a chair he's been tied to, and then escapes from his bonds once he (and it) topples to the ground.
  • Max Payne waits until Franky is out of the room, and then falls backwards on his chair in order to crack the wood.
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