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Helicopter Fight

Propeller fight!

"PHHPPPBBB"
—The sound effect when Sweet Bro is on the receiving end of this trope

The hero is being chased by some Mooks in a helicopter. He's probably on a car or motorbike (rarely running). The baddies are shooting automatic weapons at him, but they've of course attended the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. But wait, the hero has just gotten himself into a wide open space with no exit! He's trapped!

The helicopter first comes to a low altitude, and you may think the baddies would just open fire en masse and rain hot lead all over the place because, hey, there's only so many bullets a hero can dodge. But no, that'd be too easy.

Instead, the helicopter first hovers right above ground, then tilts forward at a very steep angle. It then proceeds to slowly move forward, its rotor becoming a deadly, razor-sharp weapon that slices and dices everything it touches. All sorts of objects, people, even vehicles are thrown aside and shredded to pieces by the Helicopter Blender.

The hero seems doomed, but at the last moment he always finds a way out (bonus points if it involves jumping over the helicopter).

Other variants:

  • The helicopter is just hovering in midair, not doing anything much, and someone falls off a cliff (or something), gets chopped up by the blades and ends up as a red mess on the canopy. The helicopter invariably keeps hovering in place, its pilot(s) deeply disgusted by the new shade they're seeing the world through but otherwise fearing no consequence.
  • The helicopter itself breaks up, but the still-spinning rotor is used to deal damage to someone.
  • Before the helicopter takes off, or after it has landed, a person can be pushed into the spinning rotors.

Trying this in real life, is, of course, very, very ill-advised. Helicopter blades are quite fragile -- or at least, fragile if slamming themselves against something very hard. Even birds damage blades.

Transforming Mecha with a helicopter as a secondary mode (and Combining Mecha with a helicopter as a component) often have these as a weapon, but it can be assumed that their blades are specifically designed with said use in mind.

Subtrope of Deadly Rotary Fan. Compare Turbine Blender.

Examples of Helicopter Blender include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • Mobile Suit Victory Gundam justifies this with humongous mecha equipped with beam rotors. That is to say, their blades were effectively lightsabers, so chopping things up with them would be rather easy. (Actually flying, however, we're not so sure about.)
    • In the Gundam Seed Astray: Red Frame short, Lowe attaches the head of a BuCUE to Red Frame's arm so he can use the double-ended beam saber in its "mouth". He then rigs it to spin, creating much the same effect as a Beam Rotor. May or may not have been a Shout-Out, given that the upgrade was a one-shot with a shorter lifespan than most of the Red Frame's.
  • Big Volfogg's Murasame Sword attack uses the blades of the Gungrue, a transforming helicopter, as a spinning sword attack, because Everything's Better with Spinning.


Comicbooks Edit

  • A character is gorily shredded by an out of control helicopter in Final Destination: Spring Break.


Films -- Live-Action Edit

  • Tomorrow Never Dies has this (and is indeed the Trope Codifier). Everybody's favorite secret agent James Bond finds himself in a large square on a motorbike, with a helicopter leaning forward and trying to blend him (and his female companion). It fails, as they manage to slide under it and motor away, but cuts up plenty of material while trying. The chopper does crash in the end - not due to physics exacting its revenge, but because a heavy rope gets thrown in the blades, tangling them and causing it to lose lift and crash. Because the blades can shred metal, but rope, that's tough!
  • Done in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The Silver Surfer flies above the place where Mr Fantastic and Invisible Woman are having their wedding, disrupting the controls of a nearby press helicopter. It careens wildly and crashes right on the place where the ceremony is being held. As it's skidding, its rotor blades hit the ground and start throwing chairs and other assorted objects in the air. The chopper is then stopped rather unceremoniously by The Thing, who proceeds to rip its tail off. It's a bit less unrealistic, as the helicopter is not deliberately used as a weapon, but the rotor really should have broken up and/or flipped the helicopter over...
    • That one scene being unrealistic was the least of that movie's problems...
  • In Grindhouse helicopter blades are used to cut through zombies.
  • Twenty Eight Weeks Later has an awesome use of this against an army of infected, truly earning the pilot his badass credentials. To clarify, the pilot had to fly with the blades spinning,angled downwards and at a height of less than 2 metres off the ground. He does it, survives, kills a heap of zombies and flies off into the sunset, leaving dozens of mangled, twitching corpses in his wake.
  • Underworld Evolution has the third variant of this trope: a military helicopter is hit and takes a dive down a hole in the ground. The rotor shatters upon hitting said hole's walls, which also keep the helicopter in position, nose-down, after it stops moving. Despite the crash, the impacts, the physical damage and the fact that nobody's at the controls, the engines keep working and the transmission is miraculously still intact. This causes the stumps of the blades to keep rotating, and they promptly blend the Big Bad as the heroine pushes him into them.
    • This seems slightly less unlikely after seeing this. Still, surely a permanent vertical position would make things a lot harder, if nothing else for fuel reasons...
  • The flying saucers ("Velocipods") that Syndrome's minions used in The Incredibles were apparently designed with this trope in mind. The craft fly by means of a spinning metal disc--a cross between helicopter rotors and a sawblade--around the edge. The rotor is capable of tilting (for keeping the craft upright while turning, and for trying to slice trespassers to bits) and strong enough to cut through a palm tree without sustaining notable damage.
  • Near the end of the first Mission Impossible film, a baddie flies a helicopter into a train tunnel (specifically the one used by the TGV train for crossing the english channel) and attempts this on the protagonist. The rotors even bounce off the walls with no ill effects (only some pretty sparks).
    • Additionally, the writers don't take any thought to the aerodynamics of the passing train, which would leave a VERY low-pressure area immediately behind it, which would make maneuvering the helicopter EXTREMELY difficult as it neared the train-- particularly in a tunnel due to the inability for air to move freely; however the movie features the chopper maneuvering as easily as if it was in an open field with no wind.
      • they also forgot to take into account that the train in question (the TGV) has an average speed of 300 km/h, most helicopters can only manage 220-250 km/h at best, that little chopper would've been very quickly left behind
      • Especially since, upon seeing the helicopter madness unfolding, the train operator at the rear told his counterpart up front to "Accelerate, accelerate!"
      • Although the aforementioned low-pressure area would likely create a "drafting" effect, speeding up the helicopter beyond what it would normally be able to do.
  • In the generic Bruce Willis actioner The Last Boy Scout, the climactic fight with The Dragon, the boss's toughest henchman occurs up in the lights over a crowded football stadium. Inexplicably, in the middle of the fight, a helicopter flies into the stadium and underneath the two men fighting on the highest catwalk, not only endangering those aboard, but thousands of football fans directly below them. Why would the chopper pilot do something this insane? Why, so Bruce can kick his opponent off the catwalk and downward into the Helicopter Blender. Take that, bad guy (and all you people sprayed with body bits, and the pilot)!
  • Played realistically in John Woo's Broken Arrow. A helicopter strapped to a flatbed traincar is preparing for takeoff when a mook is knocked up into the path of the rotor blades, resulting in only a large gash in his chest as he is flung thirty or so feet. Notably, this happens while the helicopter is still grounded, so there are no flight issues. Played unrealistically in the same movie, when a flying helicopter decides to kill some other mooks by ramming them with the main rotors. The guy that gets hit is thrown from the train while the chopper isn't inconvenienced in the slightest.
  • Although it violated several other laws of physics, The Italian Job remake averted this trope. The pilot didn't threaten the main character with his rotorblade, and when he tried to block his mini with his tail-rotor, the mini won.
  • Terminal Velocity ended with the main baddie parachuting on a wind generator. We don't get to see the blending, but the next scene shows one of the blades with blood on it, implying it's killed him. The blade has no damage whatsoever, despite the rather muscular human that slammed on it.
  • Averted in the film Year of the Comet, in which the protagonists use a helicopter to chase the villain who is driving a car. The female lead believes that they've got the advantage, to which the male lead says "What do you want me to do, hover him to death?"
  • In Shoot Em Up near the end of the skydiving shootout sequence Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) kicks the Lone Man towards a helicopter that just happened to be nearby.
  • George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead features an accidental zombie decapitation by the still-rotating main rotors of a landed helicopter. This was a Chekhov's Gun for the original Downer Ending, where the heroine commits suicide by sticking her own head in the rotors.
  • An interesting variation appears in Transformers, where Blackout uses his main rotor as a hand weapon. And then they have Lennox using a motorcycle to slide beneath him.
    • Blackout uses the tail rotor as a weapon, the main rotor hangs from his back. He can spread the blades open to look menacing.
  • Completely averted in Arabesque, where the Hero defeats the Big Bad, by dropping a ladder on his helicopter, completely shattering the rotor, and causing the aircraft to fall.
  • Averted in Escape to Witch Mountain, in which a helicopter that's flying upside-down lands in a field in that position without so much as clipping the grass with its rotors. It'd be a major You Fail Physics Forever, if long-distance telekinesis weren't actually responsible for keeping it in the air while inverted and for landing the thing safely.
  • In the intro to Spy Kids, at one point a helicopter pursuing the newlyweds beheads a couple of statues as it flies between them.
  • Played with in Die Hard With a Vengeance. The Big Bad's helicopter hits a light pole with its main rotor, producing a shower of sparks; however, instead of this causing the rotor to shatter and the helicopter to simply drop a few metres on the ground, the whole thing just blows up for no clearly defined reason.
  • In Flight of the Living Dead, a zombie that's sucked out of a rupture in the airliner's fuselage gets caught in one of the engines and has its legs diced by the turbine blades. Which is not enough to kill it, as it's seen at the end walking on its palms.
  • A helicopter crashes at the end of If Looks Could Kill and its rotor blades come off and pursue the hero across a rooftop.
  • In Hot Shots, the President exits his helicopter and lifts his baseball cap to greet those waiting for him. There's a BZZZZZZ sound before the President puts his now-shredded cap back on.
  • A similar effect (albeit with the propeller of an experimental flying-wing craft) shredded the Nazi pugilist in Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Literature Edit

  • Appears in Max Brook's World War Z. During a panicked rout, one helicopter pilot tries to cover the retreat (having run out of ammo) by chopping up zombies with the rotors, but he quickly clips a car and crashes. The soldier being interviewed for that chapter calls him a "Brave, beautiful motherfucker."
  • In the Able Team action/adventure novels (a spin-off of The Executioner series) there's a scene where a group of South American bad-guys are terrifying the locals by zooming down at them in their helicopter, pretending to strafe them. One old farmer deliberately runs for a solitary tree knowing that the pilot, flying low and focusing on him, will fly right into it. Fortunately the Big Bad points out the danger in time. In an earlier book 'Gadgets' Schwatz destroys a helicopter machine-gunning his friends by throwing a roll of barbed wire (he's standing on a cliff above it) whereupon the wire gets sucked into the helicopters rotor blades, locking them together and crashing the chopper.
  • Averted in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six. A terrorist leader is escaping down the freeway in a Jaguar, and Rainbow's transport helicopter is the only unit available at the moment to follow him. The pilot briefly puzzles over how the hell he's going to stop a car with an unarmed Blackhawk, before he decides to just run parallel with the car about 30 meters off the ground while one of his passengers empties his pistol at the car out the side door. The scene even included a moment where the first attempt to shoot the car failed when the chopper had to pull up suddenly to avoid flying into a road sign.
  • In a Godzilla novel, a harpooner is turned into a Pink Mist by a helicopter rotor that is torn off by Godzilla during a sea battle with the behemoth.
  • Cassie of the Animorphs once tried to deliberately jam up a helicopter's blades with her own transformed-into-a-humpback whale body: a desperate ploy to be sure, but they believed that if Cassie were in the form of a humpback whale, she would survive. And they were correct in predicting that the helicopter wouldn't have survived this attack, and that this particular helicopter was so important that it was worth the risk. The helicopter, seeing an enemy coming down towards its propeller, dodged out of the way and so both the helicopter and Cassie were safe. But as luck would have it, an ordinary seagull got caught in its propeller, and this was the end of the threat posed by that helicopter. And the poor seagull.
  • The novel Tin Man inverts the trope. The hero wears a suit that makes him invulnerable, and disables a helicopter by deliberately leaping into the rotors.
  • Matthew Reilly uses variants of this trope. A mook in Scarecrow tried to drop Mother onto a helicopter while she was hanging out of the side of a skyscraper, but fell through himself. In Temple and Area 7, the rotors of a helicopter on the ground are used as an improvised weapon.
  • The helicopter death scene in Underworld Evolution is heavily parodied in Stationery Voyagers: Night of the Whiteout. The Mystery Wanderer kills Mauvio...with a lawn mower.

 "Sometimes, it feels great to accomplish identical results, on a smaller budget." - Mystery Wanderer

  • In Snow Crash, a weapons specialist develops an unmanned drone nicknamed the Whirlwind Reaper. The name is perfectly descriptive.


Live-Action TV Edit

  • In an episode of ER a careless move during a landing in a blizzard costs one doctor an arm. He gets it back, but not well enough to continue as a surgeon. Then later on in the series he is killed by that same helicopter crashing down on top of him in a fireball of death.
  • Oddly averted on The A-Team, considering how Murdock loved to fly like crazy in a helicopter.
    • Not so strange if you remember this is the show that featured almost no on-screen deaths despite enormous amounts of gunfights and explosions. It is however a little difficult to justify anyone being only mildly bruised and with a slight layer of dirt on them after a blender encounter.

Torchwood: Miracle Day: In the first episode, the Torchwood team narrowly avoids getting blended by the rotor of a helicopter that they just shot down.


Videogame Edit

  • Grand Theft Auto Vice City introduced helicopters to the series as a vehicle you could drive, and this trope came as part of the package. It's difficult to pull off in a full-sized rig, but it will kill whoever you manage to hit. Somehow, the RC helicopter can do this, too, which is actually vitally important in the story mission where you use it (it's the only way to take out the armed guards). You know you're living in Vice City when even kids' toys double as a lethal weapon.
    • One of the missions in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas ends with both versions of this trope: a police helicopter tilts forward, threatening to slice up the protagonists' vehicle, and a police officer on the hood of said vehicle ends up minced in the process.
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV, helicopter blending is the most popular (if not the only) pastime in online multiplayer. In "Chopper vs. Chopper" mode of The Lost And Damned add-on, this is one of the best ways to kill your opponent.
  • In "Urban Chaos: Riot Response": after you shoot some hostage-taking psycho he will fall off the edge of the building and get cut to pieces by the T-Zero helicopter much to the annoyance of the pilot ("Damn it Mason, I only just got it cleaned!")
  • The heavily-armored Final Boss of the second Syphon Filter game can only be killed by using the knockback from a shotgun to knock him into a handy helicopter's tail rotor. At least this one isn't in the air...
  • Peahat in The Legend of Zelda attacks like this in some games.
  • Bystanders in Sim Copter can be killed or injured by the rotary blades while landing. You lose points for doing so unless it's a fleeing criminal.
  • An aversion of this concludes Resident Evil 4. After stealing the final sample, Ada jumps off of a platform. Less than five seconds later, a helicopter rises over the platform with Ada in the passenger compartment. Granted, she has a grappling hook able to zip her around quite well, so she could have dropped past it and hooked onto a skid (with a really good pilot and really good timing), but it's double-take worthy. Just accept it as an application Rule of Cool
  • One of the missions in the Spider-Man II videogame features Spidey chasing a copter. While the copter doesn't try to blender you, a few careless swings can result in you crashing into the rotor, which hurts.
  • The helicopter mini-bosses in Viewtiful Joe use this technique. While it may be tempting to go into slo-mo mode and pound away at the chopper while it's flying, you'll lose valuable VFX power if the blades are spinning and pink.
  • One of the bosses in Contra:Hard Corps uses this as an attack, complete with sparks flying as it grinds towards the vertical shaft walls. Might be justified in that it's meant to be a versatile killer mecha to begin with, but it's probably more of a question of Rule of Cool being in effect, considering this is Contra we're talking about.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, during the battle, Palmer narrowly escapes being beheaded by the Tiny Bronco's propeller and runs away mocking the heroes, only to be ran over by an inexplicably and suddenly incoming truck
  • Call of Duty 4 has a helicopter being shot down and digging itself into the ground while sliding towards the player and his partner. The latter frantically tries to get away from the blades, which come to a stop just before hitting him. He's still injured in the process, though, and you have to carry him around for the rest of the level.
  • In Half-Life 2's Ravenholm, there are several makeshift devices that are basically helicopter blenders, without the helicopter. Such a device is just an engine with a scrap-metal blade crudely attached to the drive shaft. It cuts zombies, and you, if you're not careful, in half! From the same game are "manhacks," which are spinning, flying, bladed robots about the size of a football. Their goal is to fly into you and do what their name says. Between their own clumsiness and the knockback from your weapons, they spend a lot of time grinding against concrete walls and other immovable objects, with no apparent ill effect.
  • In the Wolverine Origins game, Wolvie's status quo for taking down a helicopter is to pounce on its windshield, punch through it, pull out the pilot, and stuff his head up into the blades.
  • You can do this in (at least the DS version) of the Transformers game of the movie when using a helicopter form, but it only really works on random vehicles driving around, and only damages them a little bit.
    • In the Play Station 2/Xbox-360 versions of the Transformers movie games, Blackout and Grindor use their helicoptor rotors as powerful melee weapons, swinging them (folded up) as swords or unfurling them to spin them. As could be expected, these characters do the second highest melee damage in the games, second only to Megatron, quickly trashing large numbers of the smaller enemies with every swing. (Especially visible during Blackout's boss fight vs Ironhide).
  • Inverted with Yoshimitsu from Tekken and Soul Calibur: He's a cyborg ninja who has a spinning hand and a Laser Katana. In this case, the primary use is combat, flying is just an added benefit.
  • Metal Slug 3 lets you choose a jet or a helicopter as your starting vehicle in its final mission. If you choose the helicopter, you can fly under the soldiers parachuting down, and slice them dead with the rotor.
  • In Strong Bads Cool Game for Attractive People: Baddest of the Bands, this happens to What's-Her-Face when Strong Bad uses a Limozeen coloring book to create "Teen Girl Squad Meets Limozeen".


Webcomics Edit

  • Gordon Frohman does this unintentionally to a Combine Gunship with a Combine Soldier uniform in Concerned. Loads of Combine Soldiers are killed after the Gunship lost control when its turbine was wrecked in the blending process. Funnier than it sounds.
  • In Achewood, two of the characters argue if helicopter blades either cleanly slice peoples' heads off or causes skull-shattering blunt trauma.
  • The thirty-eighth Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff plays this for laughs in a Crosses the Line Twice sense, playing up the Gorn to incredible heights.


Web Originals Edit


Western Animation Edit

  • Many Transformers with helicopter alternate modes can do this, in part because their rotors usually become a sword or blade weapon, and partly because they are the copter and can thus maneuver correctly without falling.
  • The first episode of Metalocalypse has the band telling their current helicopter chef that all their previous helicopter chefs have died in freak accidents. Cue an unsettling grinding sound as the chopper goes off-balance and the chef freaks out -- then cut to the pilot assuring them that "we're just chewing through a few thousand doves up here; don't worry, the rotors will grind them into paste in no time." Later, the chef is launched out a window upwards into the blades and torn to shreds. He got better... mostly.
    • "SEWN! BACK! TOGETHER WRONG!"
    • This is Dethklok's personal transport chopper we're talking about. Whatever ungodly strong material the rotor is made from, it's probably designed to do this kind of thing.
  • An episode of Robot Chicken parodies this trope; a series of quick skits throughout the episode feature a parade of increasingly ridiculous objects falling off a cliff and getting shredded by the rotors of a nearby helicopter; the final skit has the helicopter falling over the cliff and into another helicopter.
  • In an episode of the Sam and Max animated series, the duo are sent on an important mission in a forgotten corner of Central Park. How are they to parachute down through the dense canopy of trees, inquires Max? Simple. That's what the blades are for, says Sam, as the helicopter flips upside down.
  • An old Yogi Bear cartoon by Hanna-Barbera showed Yogi flying a helicopter upside-down over the treetops, trimming them all to the same height like a lawn mower.
  • In The Superhero Squad Show, the Falcon's pet falcon, Redbird (a Butt Monkey of epic degree... like Falcon himself) flies out of the SHIELD Helicarrier. An instant after Falcon yells "Watch for the rotors!" we hear the sound of a buzzsaw. Redbird only suffered Amusing Injuries.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, the Peter-Copter crashes on Joe's lawn, and proceeds to shred it apart.
  • At the end of an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the obnoxious "Wisdom Cube" is floating above the Aqua Teen's house taunting them, and is suddenly shredded by a helicopter which passes by for no reason.
  • In the Fairly Oddparents episode "Just The Two Of Us", Trixie tries to kill Timmy for dumping her by attempting to shoot him with missiles from a military helicopter. When it turns out that the missiles are sold separately, she tries to shred him with the blades.


Real Life Edit

  • Parachutists getting killed by rotor blades is unfortunately Truth in Television.
  • Very sadly Truth in Television in the case of The Twilight Zone movie - Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed rather horribly by a helicopter being used in filming that spun out of control and struck them, due to the director's insistence that the helicopter pilot fly lower and lower, and the fact that he worked the pilot past the point of exhaustion, completely ignoring film industry safety regulations. [1] Director John Landis was charged with negligent manslaughter, but eventually acquitted.
  • Boris Sagal, director of The Omega Man and Katey Sagal's father died in a similar way; he was nearly decapitated when he walked into the tail rotor blades of a helicopter during the filming of the miniseries World War III.
  • Vietnam-era Huey helicopters had unusually tough rotor blades. Pilots, when called to extract troops from clearings which hadn't been cleared quite well enough, would sometimes use this to their advantages, and essentially chop their way down low enough through the tree branches (though not trunks; bamboo are fair game though) - it's not blending people, but it's still awesome.
    • This is not without drawbacks, though; The impact of chopping would deform the blades, making the return trip harder. Basically, this stunt can be used in a pinch, but not to be used every sortie.
  • Aircraft propellers are generally stronger than helicopter blades, but an intentional application of this trope during World War 2 deserves mention. Two USMC aviators were tasked with intercepting a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft that was spotting for kamikaze attacks, flying 1000 feet above the theoretical maximum altitude of US interceptor aircraft. The guns on the aircraft malfunctioned due to their lubricating oil freezing up, so instead they closed on the aircraft and used their propellers to attack the Japanese aircraft, and forced it down. The pilot credited with the kill, Bob Klingman, lost about 6 inches off each tip of the propeller of his aircraft in the process.
    • This occurred under other circumstances during the War. One Marine fighter pilot during the Battle of Guadalcanal used the propeller of his Wildcat fighter to chop the tail off a Japanese float plane after he ran out of ammunition.
    • The Russians actually had this down to a combat maneuver called the "Taran" (translated "Ram").
  • During the US invasion of Panama, a special operation was mounted to retrieve an American citizen who'd been held in captivity, but the helicopter was shot down and one of his rescuers was struck in the head by the still-rotating blades as they exited. Amazingly however, he would not only regain consciousness but had the presence of mind to check on the "precious cargo" before leading him to a safer position.
  • During the filming of From Russia with Love, Sean Connery was nearly killed when the helicopter got too close to him.
  • Witness a helicopter almost blending itself! Luckily, military choppers are made to survive light blade strikes... some can actually keep flying if one of five blades is entirely cut off.
  • The Kamov Ka-50 'black shark' has ejection seats. To prevent this trope applying to its own crew, it has explosive charges in the rotor hubs to forcibly detach the blades.
    • Leave it to us Russians to escape explosions with even more explosions!

Notes

  1. Pyrotechnic explosions hit the helicopter in flight, and it crashed at the exact angle for its blades to hit the three actors; Morrow and one of the children were decapitated instantly. The accident can be seen - from multiple angles - here. It's not as graphic as you'd expect, but it's still a terrible, terrible thing.