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Fan blades are dangerous. So dangerous, in fiction, that if you get too close, even a humble household ceiling fan might take your head clean off. Sometimes the blades are sharp or serrated, but the most blunted of fans turn into deadly shredding machines when moving fast enough.
These are most commonly encountered in narrow spaces where they cannot be easily avoided, sometimes as part of a Death Course. In video games, it is sometimes possible to slow them down or break them by jamming a rod or beam between the blades, allowing the player to get past. Some characters employ them as weapons. They can also be deadly if a rope is involved, with one end looped around the victim and the other end looped around the axis of the fan.
This is Truth in Television to an extent, as fans can be very destructive and very deadly; after all, this is the same principle on which a blender or lawnmower operates. That said, in fiction this effect tends to be greatly exaggerated.
- Rick Chalker from X-Factor attempts to use rotors grafted in place of his hands as weapons, extremely incompetently.
- Charlie and Grandpa Joe narrowly escape one of these in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, during the Fizzy Lifting Drinks scene.
- In Alien3, one of the prisoners (Murphy) is killed in a ventilation fan.
- In Finding Nemo, during the Tank Gang's first attempt at jamming the filter, Nemo swims inside the filter to jam the fan with a pebble, but unfortunately it turns out that Nemo didn't jam the filter hard enough, and as a result the other fish actually had to stick a fake plant inside the filter to get Nemo out before he gets ground up into sushi.
- Subverted at the end of Rio where the evil cockatoo Nigel is actually revealed to have survived being shredded alive by an airplane's propellers, and as a result it also caused him to lose all of his feathers.
- In Idle Hands, one of the girls is killed by the fan in the school ceiling.
- Averted in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Indy wraps one end of his whip around a Mook's neck and the other end around the ceiling fan in his room; the thug is pulled into the fan blades and breaks his neck.
- In The Mummy 1999, O'Connell hoists Beni up as an interrogation-technique, as if he's about to ram the little creep's head into a ceiling fan. Subverted because Beni spills his guts rather than field-test this trope's validity.
- In Army of Darkness, Ash incorporates a windmill's vanes into his battle-refitted Oldsmobile, then drives this whirling mega-fan into the undead horde and sends flying every one that fails to evade.
- The ceiling fan decapitation variant was busted by Myth Busters, who found that even an industrial fan, while probably lethal, would be unable to decapitate a person.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The End of the World", the Doctor must navigate a series of these in order to reach an otherwise inaccessible switch.
- Alias: One episode ended on a cliffhanger with Sydney struggling not to get pulled upwards through an air vent into a huge fan.
- In Ruby Quest, one room has a catwalk crossing over a pair of giant fans. They're proven deadly in a flashback, when Ruby shoves Stitches into them.
- Paranoia adventure The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues. One of the traps in the Mission Three "dungeon crawl" is a giant exhaust fan. If any of the PCs is sucked into it they'll "become thousands of julienne fries in seconds."
- In Banjo-Kazooie, Clanker's belly contains rapidly-moving fans with serrated blades, while the Rusty Bucket is fitted with deadly propellors.
- In Conkers Bad Fur Day, underwater rotating fans are encountered during the U-Bend Blues segment.
- In The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, Peahats attack using these.
- The Sonic Adventure enemies E-06 Spinner and E-16 Electro Spinner are fitted with these. The game also features a Helicopter Blender obstacle in Speed Highway.
- Half Life: in the first game, there are several instances of this. The first time you have to pass by an exposed fan, a headcrab demonstrates exactly what will happen if you touch the fan blades. The trope returns in the second game, in the "Nova Prospekt" chapter: the only way to cross the fan in the vent shaft safely is by jamming the blades with something sturdy enough to break the motor.
- At one point during Dark Corners of the Earth you have to flee into the sewers, but the way is blocked by a sharp fan. You have to break one of the blades to slow it down and open a passage and even then you'll get chopped (but not always killed) if you're hit.
- One of the Nightmare Realm levels in Gauntlet (1985 video game): Dark Legacy has several huge fans blocking your way. You can hit the "slow down" switch to make it past them.
- Some levels in Super Meat Boy have giant fans that can propel you through the air. Get too close to the blades, though, and SPLORCH!
- In Monster Bash there are spinning ceiling fans which you have to shoot the motors of in order to stop them from huring/killing you.
- In Lab Of The Dead, the Handheld Fan rotor can cut a zombie's jaw off.
- Dead Space contains several menacing ventilation fans.
- Bulletstorm has a skillshot called "Sucker" for killing an enemy by knocking them into a fan.
- There are a series of these in Epic Mickey's "World of Gremlins" dungeon (which imitates the "It's a Small World" ride). They spin too quickly for Mickey to easily get through unharmed, but he can use paint thinner to erase some of the blades long enough to pass by unscathed.
- The Unreal Deathmatch level DmDeathFan features a big rotary fan at the very bottom of the level. Players being pushed into it, naturally, die.
- Unreal Tournament 2004's Deathmatch level DM-Insidious also features one, in the center of the map.
- OpenArena's deathmatch level pxlfan also features a big deadly rotary fan at the very bottom of the level.
- Featured prominently in MadWorld.
"The people have spoken. Viva la Resistance!"
- Red vs. Blue mocks the trope in the third season, using the giant fan in Zanzibar:
Tex: "Then we'll have to get past the giant fan..."
- In the Happy Tree Friends episode "Party Animal", Cuddles gets shredded by a ceiling fan.
- The Celebrity Deathmatch episode "Fandemonium I" features a giant killer fan wheel during the Adam Sandler vs Chris Rock fight.
- Subverted in one episode of Family Guy where a fight against Peter Griffin and Ernie the Chicken Man ended with Ernie supposedly being shredded alive by propellers at an airport... ...but like always, it turned out that Ernie survived.