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The Shovel of Hope.

"Prepare to taste justice! Shovel justice!"
Shovel Knight, Shovel Knight

A Sub-Trope of Improvised Weapon and closely related to the Powerful Pick, shovels are primarily used for excavation but can instantly become a weapon if the need arises. The handle gives the weapon a good reach while the head provides a weight allowing it to function as an oddly-shaped mace. With proper sharpening of the blade, the shovel can even work as an oddly-balanced polearm. Especially dexterous individuals can even use the flat of the shovel as a shield, which can be quite comedic if the blocked blow was a punch.

Can alternately be used as an easy way to render an enemy unconscious or as a lethal weapon depending on the user and media. Not to mention, it carries the advantage of being something inconspicuous in any home and useful if you need to get rid of a body.

Truth in Television: after studying the infantry dynamics of the World Wars, most modern military forces have been giving their entrenching tools a semi-sharp tool edge that can easily be honed further before a battle to increase its cutting power.

Examples of Shovel Strike include:

Anime and Manga

  • Chiri Kitsu of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei uses a shovel as one of her preferred ways of inflicting violence (although she sometimes goes for knives instead). She also uses it to bury her kills, and "to bury" is one implication of her Meaningful Name.
  • Pumpkin Scissors is set shortly after a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of World War One, and one of the heroes scares some would-be terrorists into backing down by mentioning that shovels (like the one he's holding) killed more people in the trenches than guns or knives did.
  • MAR designated plant user Jack wields the Battle Scoop as his main weapon, given to him by his father, who, like Jack, was a farmer.
  • Dalton in One Piece wield a large weapon that can only be described as a "Battle Shovel": that means the handle of a shovel and a large, flat blade similar to a sword.
  • Leaky-Eye Luka uses a shovel as his weapon of choice in the Vento Aureo segment of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. He winds up killing himself when he tries to slam a frog with it. Reason? The frog was a creation of Gold Experience--meaning that any injuries it would have suffered are instead sustained by the attacker...

Comic Books

  • The Goon uses one as his Weapon of Choice against zombies.
  • Piledriver of the Wrecking Crew had a son who ran with the group at one point — Excavator. Excavator's weapon of choice was a long shovel complete with a handle at the end.
  • To quote Elsa Bloodstone of Nextwave:

 "I've got two Uzis and a shovel. Which, I suppose, means I can shoot things and bury them afterwards.

A short time later she's attacked by a bunch of samurai robots.

"Samurai robots beat guns. No question. So it's just me and a shovel." *Badass pose* "Rock."

  • Bobby Brunswick, the first Hack Slash villain, used a shovel as his main weapon.

Film — Animated

  • At the end of Monsters, Inc., Randall is beaten with a shovel offscreen.

 Trailer Son: Mama, another gator got in the house!

Trailer Mom: Another gator? Gimme that shovel!


Film — Live Action

  • Mystery Men. The Shoveler. He hits people with shovels. He hits people with shovels very well. He also has a smaller trowel in case he gets disarmed. In the original comic, he used a magical singing shovel.
  • Blazing Saddles: Taggart gets clobbered by a shovel-wielding Bart near the beginning of the movie.

 Taggart: Send a wire to the main office, and tell them I said... [CLONG] OW!

Lyle: "Send wire, main office, tell them I said 'ow'." Gotcha!

  • All Quiet on the Western Front is set in the trenches of WWI. Kat, Paul's mentor tells him not to use a knife during trench raids since they often get stuck; in the time it takes to kick the enemy hard enough to free the knife he'd be dead. He is told to instead use a sharpened entrenching tool between neck and shoulder: faster, cleaner and safer for him. Truth in Television, disturbingly enough.
  • In Home Alone, when the burglars finally catch Kevin, Old Man Marley saves him by beating them senseless with his snow shovel.
  • Shaun of the Dead: Ed uses one.
  • In Holes, Zero hits Mr. Pendanski in the face with a shovel.
  • A gardener gets his head smashed in with his own shovel in Las Vegas Bloodbath.
  • In Three Ten to Yuma, Doc Potter does this to a prospector and then enthusiastically declares "Did you see me hit that guy with the shovel?"
  • In Motorcycle Gang, the heroine's WW 2 veteran father sharpens the edge of his trench shovel and uses it to kill several of the gang who kidnapped her.
  • A character attacks Jason with a shovel in Friday the 13 th Part VI: Jason Lives. It fails to faze him.
  • The eponymous villain of Stepfather III beats and stabs a man to death with a shovel, in a particularly gory instance of this trope.
  • Karl, Jr. stabs a girl in the face with a shovel in Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand.
  • Shovels appear prominently in both My Bloody Valentine films, with The Remake featuring a girl getting beheaded at the jawline with one.
  • During the final battle of the Wild Wild West movie, Will Smith's character faces a man who does a number of flashy martial arts moves and brags that he learned them from a Chinaman. Smith knocks the man out with a shovel to the face and counters that he just made that up.
  • A groundskeeper gets his head whacked off with a shovel in the first Nekromantik.
  • During a brief scene about 20 minutes into The Legend of Zorro, Catherine Zeta-Jones' character attempts to fend off some attackers with a shovel.


  • In the Codex Alera, a young Knight Terra (really, really strong when he needs to be) prefers using his shovel over a heavy mace because he grew up on a farm and that's what he knows. He even sharpens the edge and lines it with salt to take out wind furies.
  • At one point in Liseys Story, Lisey uses a commemorative shovel of her late husband's as a weapon.
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: The Grave Robbing scene, where Dr. Robinson strikes Muff Potter with a shovel.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front references entrenching spades, as mentioned under Real Life. The protagonists sharpen the edges of the spades, and even use them as a defense against attacks on their own trench, because however cruddy they may be, the standard German bayonets are even worse at close range.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide stresses that the Monk's Spade is an invaluable weapon against zombies as it can easily decapitates them and has good length. Granted, the real world weapon described in the book is more thrusting polearm than actual spade, but it did indeed evolve from a shovel.
  • World War Z has the U.S. Marines making use of this trope via their standard-issue entrenching shovels, as they are credited with creating "the Lobotomizer": sharpened along the edge, the shovels made great battle axes for lopping off zombie heads. Surprisingly effective, and rather common by the end of the war, thanks of their ease of production and utility. The before-mentioned Monk's spade is also used by a old blind man to great effect in defending himself.
  • In Deadly Quicksilver Lies, Slither kills a Super Speed-endowed flying killer bug by swatting it Home Run Hitter-style with the blade of a shovel.

Live Action TV

  • In the Pushing Daisies episode "Girth," Emerson knocks out the Murderer of the Week with a shovel. And then tells the shovel that he loves it.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Pangs," Willow attempts to kill a vengeful American Indian spirit with a shovel. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • On Deadliest Warrior, the US Army Green Berets used their entrenching tool (a folding shovel) as their melee weapon vs. the Russian Spetznaz' spring-loaded ballistic knife. The knife won that particular showdown.
  • In the first episode of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, Dr. Rick Dagless, M.D. euthanizes his former friend's disembodied head after he explodes, by hitting him with a shovel. This is viewed as highly unorthodox medical practice.
  • In the straight-to-TV movie Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, small-town bully Otis and his cronies dish out vigilante justice to a retarded Gentle Giant who turns out to be innocent — the posse later start dying horribly one by one. When Otis's last friend freaks out and is ready to turn himself in, Otis soothes him — and then brains him with a shovel from behind.
  • Rick did this to Niel once one an episode of The Young Ones.
  • The Walking Dead has Rick Grimes using an entrenching tool to distract a zombie as he escapes the army tank he was trapped in.
  • Since the motif is adventure and archaeology, the main Humongous Mecha of Go Go Sentai Boukenger/Power Rangers Operation Overdrive has a huge shovel as one of its weapons.

Professional Wrestling

  • The Undertaker has been known to use a shovel as a weapon during "Buried Alive" matches in which the winner has to bury their opponent alive.

Real Life

  • Soldiers during WWI trench raids used what worked: knives and makeshift weapons over guns since they were much quieter. In particular sharpened entrenching tools could be swung with considerable force in cramped spaces. They were capable of killing instantly as opposed to the slow death of bayonet strikes. [1]
  • According to The Other Wiki, the short-handled trench spade made such an effective weapon that Soviet Spetsnaz carried them even though they were generally never called upon to dig trenches.
    • Soviet military equipment often had an extra, and usually unexpected purpose. Behold not just a sharp-edged combat tool, but the Mortar shovel.
  • Winnipeg has seen a spate of cases where shovels were the preferred weapon for assaults.
  • In any Real Life case, shovels do have a primary advantage over other weapons, ie, you can't dig a grave with a gun. Well, you can try, but it probably wouldn't work very well.
  • The U.S. Army Combatives Field Manual actually advocates the use of the entrenching tool as a field-expedient weapon when better alternatives are unavailable.
  • Well the Monk's Spade used to be an actual spade.
  • The Chinese Military Shovel is a Swiss Army Weapon, which can be used, among other mundane things, as a bludgeon and even a shield.
  • This trope may be Older Than Feudalism. The kunai of ninja fame was a multiple-use tool that could be used for, amongst other things, a trowel for gardening purposes, yet it's famed as an improvised weapon.


  • In Eugene O'Neill's play The Emperor Jones, Brutus Jones escaped from a chain gang after killing the overseer who struck him with a whip by bringing down his work shovel on his head. When Jones returns to the chain gang in a hallucination, he relives the incident until realizing that he doesn't have a shovel.

Video Games

  • In Shovel Knight, both Shovel Knight and Black Knight use a shovel as their weapon of choice. The shovel can be used for digging treasures, opening secret paths, breaking obstacles, striking enemies, and even propelling the wielder upward by landing successful downward strikes.
  • The melee weapon for the Germans in Day Of Defeat is this.
  • A certain polearm-class weapon in World of Warcraft is called "The Shoveler." No points for guessing its model.
  • No More Heroes: Holly Summers uses a shovel as a weapon, and probably also used it to dig all the holes on the beach where you fight here.
  • Team Fortress 2: the Soldier's default melee weapon is a folding trench Shovel. In "Meet the Soldier" he's seen backhanding an enemy Spy with it, and in game you can earn an achievement for getting revenge with it. In a tactical sense, the Shovel is more a formality to fall back on if you don't have time to reload your rocket launcher and shotgun. Due to the class' stats and other weapons, the Soldier is probably tied with the Pyro and Heavy as the least likely to use his default melee weapon, and thus most likely to replace it with an unlockable weapon with a special effect.
    • The Soldier can also unlock the Market Gardener, another trench shovel that scores an automatic Critical Hit if you melee an opponent while Rocket Jumping, at the expense of not scoring any random Criticals while on the ground.
  • Brutal Legend: the Grave Digger units fight with these.
  • One of the "fun" weapons in Disgaea 3 Absence of Justice and Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. It's treated as a spear for gameplay purposes.
  • zOMG!: players can make the item "Shovel Blade" with the proper recipe, loot components, and gold.
  • Postal 2 gives you a shovel as a melee weapon. It can not only be swung with a loud CLANG as it whacks someone in the skull, it can be thrust forward with enough force to decapitate the victim.
  • Silent Hill 4 has a shovel as a weapon. If you down an opponent with it, instead of stomping them as a follow-up attack as usual, you jab the shovel into their chest and stomp on it. Ouch.
  • Dean's initial equipment in Wild Arms 5 is a shovel. Sadly, he switches to boring tonfa-gun things after an hour or so.
  • In the first Kane and Lynch game, Kane beats the man who just shot his wife to death with a shovel in a moment of Unstoppable Rage.
  • The very first melee weapon Ash acquires in Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick is a shovel.
  • City of Heroes lets players use a shovel as either a club or an axe.
  • In The Bourne Conspiracy, Jason Bourne uses a graveyard shovel twice in the Manhiem fight, once as the arena Action Command weapon, and finally to knock him to his death in the final Press X to Not Die sequence.
  • Makai Kingdom has the shovel weapon type. It does extra damage to buildings and using mostly digging attacks, including finding a hot spring under your opponent.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, the shovel's main use is for grave robbing, but it can also be used as a melee weapon.
  • The Dragon Quest series has a group of mole-type enemies that hit people with their shovels.
  • Scribblenauts lets you use a shovel as a weapon, though considering the wide variety of weapons you can use, there's never really any advantage in using it.
  • In the Yuri's Revenge expansion to Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2, Yuri's mining vehicle is a mobile refinery which collects ore by sending unarmored slaves out to dig it up with shovels. Destroying the miner frees the slaves, who join the other side and attack with their shovels, though they are extremely weak (then again, nobody said shovel versus tank was a good idea_.
  • The champion Yorick in League of Legends uses an ancestral shovel as his weapon (his family were grave diggers and attendants of a cemetery for generations).
  • The Flash MMO Dofus has shovels as one of its base weapon types, being the preferred class weapon of the Enutrof utility loot-finding class, and occasionally used by other classes with Water builds.
  • The Grave-Digger's weapon in God of War: Ghost Of Sparta. Of course, being Zeus he can turn it in the Sword of Olympus at will.
  • In Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, shovels can be found and used as melee weaponry. Farmers are often equipped with it.
  • Keiichi has this as one of his weapons in Higurashi Daybreak, alongside a baseball bat and a golf club.
  • Shovels are a melee weapon in the videogame adaptation of The Godfather.
  • Age of Wonders 2 basic Frostling unit Snowscaper uses his shovel for melee attack.

Web Comic

  • Housepets: King finds himself trapped in a toolshed by Duchess, and uses a shovel found in the shed to knock her out, in this strip.

Web Original

  • Xombie: Dirge's Weapon of Choice is a sharpened shovel, not only useful against rogue zombies and robots, but also to salvage for spare parts to fix himself up.
  • The National Novel Writing Month forums have for some years featured the Traveling Shovel of Death, a memetic item that as many novelists as possible aim to work into their stories.
  • Gordon Frohman of Concerned has a shovel as his Weapon of Choice. It's ultimately responsible for his demise when it hits him in the head after both he and it fall from the Citadel.
  • Jenny's Weapon of Choice in The Zombie Hunters.

Western Animation

  • Total Drama Island has Gwen; her shovel strike of doom in season two has become a Memetic Mutation among the fanbase.
  • In the Looney Tunes cartoon "The Bee-Deviled Bruin", Junyer Bear takes care of a bee on his pop's nose by hitting it with a shovel — hard enough to leave a face-shaped imprint in the blade. Pop sets the dead bee on Junyer's nose, takes the shovel, and lets him have it. And Pop gets it again at the very end.
  • To quote Bender Bending Rodriguez:

 "This one time, I pounded a guy into the ground like a stake with a shovel."

  1. The heart is a surprisingly small target and lung strikes that kill in sixty seconds just aren't good enough.