Axes At School

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Rena is a firm believer in corporeal punishment.

A student brings a weapon to school. They may not necessarily use it against anybody, but even then you can expect somebody's parents to panic about what could have happened. This plot will rarely last longer than a single Very Special Episode, and can focus on the incident, the following consequences, or a mix of each.

The person who brings the weapon is rarely a member of the core cast, since that would force the writers to come up with some way for them to get off scot-free. Unnamed background characters who attempt this are fair game for being caught and sent off to juvie, though. If they are a main character, expect for them to be gone from the show for a long time.

Unfortunately, this can also be Truth in Television, as school shooting tragedies such as Columbine have proven—otherwise, schools wouldn't have metal detectors and X-ray scanners, and teachers wouldn't be issued Kevlar vests. Of course, the real-life portion of this is Older Than They Think; the Columbine incident in 1999 was simply one of a handful of shootings that earned national attention. In his book Brain Droppings, George Carlin refers to schoolyard deaths back in his childhood.

Compare with Guns in Church. Has nothing to do with Cartesian Geometry.

Examples of Axes At School include:

Anime and Manga

  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni:
    • In the last episode of the first season, Ryuugu Rena brings a large billhook to school and rigs up an improvised explosive device for the purpose of holding the entire student body hostage. She did this to force the cooperation of the police, because they weren't taking her seriously when she tried telling them about an alien conspiracy to massacre the entire town.
    • Throughout the series, Mion carries her gun to school and it isn't questioned at all. Turns out it's just an airsoft pistol. Would you question her anyway?
  • In the first issue of Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke tries to bring his automatic sidearm to school on the first day. In public, without any attempt to hide it at all. Considering his background in the military, it's no wonder he doesn't see what the issue is. The teacher doing the bag check assumes it's a model, confiscating the thing and letting him off with a stern warning.
  • Yuno Gasai, of Mirai Nikki, has no problem carrying a multitude of weapons with her wherever she goes, including knives, boxcutters, axes, needles...basically anything sharp she can carry around with her. You would not believe the body count she's accumulated over the course of the series. Keep in mind that she's a middle-school-age girl doing it all out of love.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Mana Tatsumiya is frequently seen with a gun of some sort in class, at least in the anime. It's never treated as odd and all she ever does with it is sit cleaning it or occasionally aim it at people to scare them. It's unlikely she actually brings ammo to class since you'd not want to try to clean a loaded gun. Of course, it could just be the general weirdness censor. They have a robot with obvious joints sitting right there in class too.... and no one asks.
    • In the manga, she hides the guns better, although Setsuna carries a sword around literally all the time. Justified as both Mana and Setsuna are on the school's payroll, protecting it from malignant magical entities.
      • Setsuna hides her in a long bag, so most people just assumes she has a shinai or bokutō used for Kendo practice.
    • And, of course, the Weirdness Censor.
  • Hiruma from Eyeshield 21 regularly brings guns to school, and gets away with it because he has dirt on the principal (and probably half of Japan, by the look of things).
  • Angel Beats!, almost everyone with a name carries a weapon in school at some point (a school in the afterlife, but still).
  • At the beginning of My-HiME, one of Haruka's complaints against Mai was that she brought a sword to school. It was actually Mikoto's.
  • The story of Saitama Chainsaw Shoujo centers around the main character bringing her chainsaw to school... and using it on everybody.

Comic Books

  • A gun being brought into the school of the third Robin Tim Drake drives the plot of the 1993 one-shot Batman: Seduction of the Gun. It was also the subject of a storyline in the regular Robin title.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, New Transfer Student Gwen Stacy sees Peter getting bullied and threatens the tormentors with a knife. She gets in deep trouble with the school for this, though she's soon allowed back in class after making an apology. (It helps that her dad's a police captain.) When her dad starts chewing her out for it, she shoots back that he never even bothered to ask her if she had justification.
  • Transmetropolitan has a scene where Channon explains to Yelena that the first time she used a particular model of gun was to stop a classmate from raping a friend. While they were on the school bus. When Yelena meekly says that they checked for guns at her private school, Channon says, "So did mine. To make sure we had them."
  • In Power Pack issue 29 a bully Alex picked up and threw into the snow using his gravity powers many arcs ago brings a gun to school to try to force him to use them more overtly. The gun is a revolver that somehow fires twice in the story despite several panels showing it from the front where it visibly has at most one bullet loaded.


  • In The Breakfast Club, Brian is in detention for bringing a gun to school. A flare gun that is. It was found out he brought it with him when it went off in his locker.
  • In Heathers, J. D. brings a revolver (loaded with blanks) to school and "shoots" two kids in the cafeteria. It gets Played for Laughs. Yeah... kind of says something about when the film was made. Of course, it also says something about its genre.
  • In Storm, made in 1987, Booker threatens a fellow student at gunpoint, and none of the witnesses so much as tell a teacher. The gun was a water pistol loaded with ketchup, as the film predates the law requiring toy guns to look fake. A major plot point involves two main characters sneaking up and shooting each other with dart pistols every day.
  • The original ending for Saved called for Hilary Faye to snap, grab a rifle and shoot up her prom after she got expelled.
  • In Parenthood, Kevin is at the top of a tower shooting at everyone in sight with an assault rifle in Gil's second Flash Forward to Kevin's college graduation.


  • The climax of We Need to Talk About Kevin. This one doesn't end well.
  • In Pygmy, the Teen Superspy Villain Protagonist takes down a fellow student who shoots up the Model United Nations meeting. The fallout from this incident, with Pygmy becoming a hero in the media and at school, causes him to start doubting his mission to destroy America.
  • The protagonist of Rage first carries a lead pipe to school before upgrading to a handgun.
  • A rare version where the main character is caught with it in Circle of Magic. In the first book, the (recently) ex-Street Urchin Briar Moss is having a lot of trouble adjusting to his new school dormitory. When he's framed for stealing another kid's stuff, the fact he has an illegal knife stashed under his bed does not help his claim to innocence.

Live-Action TV

  • Happened on Smallville, where Lana tries to kill a fellow student with an axe (and somehow manages to escape punishment). Also the Trope Namer. Of course, while going crazy and attempting to kill classmates is a big thing in most schools, for Smallville High it's... Tuesday.
  • One episode of the The George Lopez Show had a student bring a gun to Max's school. The incident occurred offscreen, with the episode instead focusing on the psychological effects that the experience had on Max.
  • In a benign version of this trope, the 7th Heaven episode "See You in September" has Simon getting suspended from the school for one day because his mother packed a knife with his lunch so that he could cut his chicken.
    • Another usage of this trope, more along the lines of Very Special Episode, was when Simon was in Junior High Middle School: He discovered that one of his classmates planned on bringing a gun to school. The friend later claimed that he was kidding, but Simon nonetheless wrote a paper on the event, which he recited to the class, while at the same time said classmate opened his locker in front of a large amount of people, including Simon's parents, revealing that he had, indeed, brought a gun into the school.
    • In a less benign Very Special Episode, Rev. Eric Camden was shot by a teenage bully wielding his father's gun.
  • A two-part episode of Degrassi the Next Generation has Rick, pushed past the brink, bringing a gun to school. The incident ends with Rick dying and Jimmy confined to a wheelchair.
  • One episode of South of Nowhere has Spencer and Ashley skipping school while the others are forced into a day-long lockdown when a girl brings in a gun.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Buffy gained the ability to read thoughts and discovered that someone was planning to kill everyone in the school. Cue Jonathan who is up on the abandoned clocktower putting together a high powered rifle to shoot himself with. Buffy stops him and he goes into therapy (whether he gets better is a matter of opinion, although he stops being suicidal). It turns out the would be mass murderer is the Evil Lunch Lady who is planning to poison the jello.
    • Inverted in the first 3 seasons, school (the library, to be exact) was where most of Giles' weapons were kept.
  • Family Matters when Laura brings a gun to school for protection after she is threatened by Toni for testifying against her in a trial. Laura does not use her gun. However, Toni shoots her best friend Josie. Urkel, Laura, and the gang start a gun exchange program and Urkel does a rap about how bad guns are. At the end of the episode, the cast (out of character) comes together and does a Public Service Announcement about ending gun violence.
  • This makes up the "Guns" half of the "Guns & Gossip" episode of My So-Called Life. Rickie's cousin brings a gun to school and it accidentally goes off. Brian gets a lot of unwanted attention (good and bad) because he's thought to be an eyewitness.
  • The Flashpoint episode "Perfect Storm" deals with a teenager bringing a gun to school to take revenge on his tormentors.
  • In The Outer Limits episode "Abduction", five high school kids are abducted by an alien. They eventually find out that the alien chose them because one of them brought a gun to school and was planning to shoot the other four.
    • "Final Exam" took this trope Up to Eleven; the antagonist brought a nuclear bomb to school.


  • Technically didn't bring a gun to school, but initiated a sniper attack on a school from her house across the street: Brenda Ann Spencer, whose shooting spree inspired the Boomtown Rats' piano-based ballad "I Don't Like Mondays". The song title was her actual reason given.
  • In Wheatus' Teenage Dirtbag:

Her boyfriend's a dick
He brings a gun to school

  • Kelly Rowland's Stole is about the lead up to and aftermath of such a shooting:

He's not invisible anymore
With his father's 9 and a broken fuse
Since he walked through that classroom door
He's all over primetime news

  • Generally thought to be the subject of Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks."
  • Pearl Jam song "Jeremy" is about this. Lead singer Eddie Vedder has said in interviews that this song was about two separate, real-life incidents, one from his Middle School and another from a newspaper article. The music video for the song clarifies this further.
  • The Tomato Surprise in The Offspring's "Hammerhead" shows the song is about one of those.
  • The song "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People is about a kid who finds a gun and menaces the other kids—who have fancier shoes than him, thus the eponymous "Pumped Up Kicks"—which presumably happens at school.
  • Sick Of It All by The Distillers

I went to school today with an Uzi
There's this kid, he teased me
So I shot him in the face

Music Videos

  • In the video for Aerosmith's "Livin' On The Edge", a high school kid gets into a fight with another guy in the cafeteria and reaches into his backpack and it looks like he is going to take out a handgun he brought but instead he takes out a sandwich.

Newspaper Comics

  • Dogbert from Dilbert once worked as a teacher in a public school. He managed to make a pupil drop a RPG threatening to throw him a sponge.

Video Games

  • In the original Persona game, the character Masao ("Mark" in the PS 1 English version) Inaba starts off wielding a very large axe in the first battle in the hospital. Since he traveled directly to the hospital from school, the only explanation as to how he has one is that he brought it with him to school and kept it in his backpack; this just begs the question as to WHY he would bring an axe to school.


  • Killroy And Tina has a student try to shoot his teacher. Tina saves the day with a discreet Bullet Catch (the students think it's a misfire) and the kid... goes to jail and becomes an Axe Crazy Stalker with a Crush. If the series hadn't been Orphaned, it might have even gone somewhere.
  • In Mitadake Saga, the Boy with Sunglasses is carrying an axe as a weapon. Apparently, he was working with the teacher to unconver Kira's identity, and realized just what it meant when the school went under lockdown.
  • Subverted in MSF High: Because nobody can die for real, it's quite common for people to get into fights with bombs in the hallway. Rainer, in fact, first dies when he stops talking with a monologue-length bomb.
    • Explored more in the forum RP, where the general rule is "Please at least CHALLENGE the guy first!"

Web Original

  • Inspired by the Columbine Shootings, this is how Newgrounds' Mascot, Pico, got his start. A bunch of Goths started a massacre one day, so Pico grabbed an AK-47, reclaimed his school, and hasn't looked back since.

Western Animation

  • Due to a number of tragic incidents, this trope rarely flies anymore in western works outside of a Very Special Episode format. Some examples do exist, however.
  • A Static Shock episode had a kid not only bring a gun to school, but shoot the main character's best friend, Richie, in the leg. It's fairly Anvilicious in that Richie then yells about how painful it is and that its not cool or fun like it seems on TV. Although it's fair to say that getting shot is pretty painful and considerably uncool.
  • Played for Laughs on The Simpsons. One day Principal Skinner gets on the morning announcements and says "I hope you all brought your implements of destruction." Every child in the class reaches into their desks and pulls out axes, hammers, baseball bats, and so on; Bart has a BFG and is dressed like Rambo, and Nelson has a flamethrower. Skinner then gives the order to "Trash this dump!" Cut to all the children cheerfully destroying the school. I guess I should mention it was All Just a Dream for Bart, a very happy dream.
    • And Bart getting upgraded to heavy weaponry on the range when he goes to military school, since, "As a public school student, [he's] already familiar with guns."
  • The Classic Disney Short "Teachers Are People", where a kid is asked to empty his pockets, the contents of which include guns, crossbows, even a live grenade. This was back in The Fifties, where the thought of a heavily armed kid was so absurd to be laughable.
  • In Johnny Test, the titular character brings nunchucks to school to beat the school bully. They get confiscated by the principal.