Conveyor Belt O' Doom

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

You, my metal friend, will have the honor of becoming 174 Slurm cans!

—The Slurm Queen to Bender, Futurama

Not to be confused with Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt, a common hazard in video games.

The villain ties the goodie to a conveyor belt, an ore cart, a log floating in a flume, or any other mechanized delivery system. At the other end is a blast furnace, grinding machine, large saw or other such unfriendly device, into whose open maw the hero is expected to go. Often found in factories, mills, mines, labs, sweatshops and other places that have safety issues.

Playing Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" in the background is purely optional.

Occasionally this is used as an incentive to talk during an interrogation.

Other times there is no tying involved. The hero just finds himself on a running conveyor belt and must avoid all sorts of machinery that, while doing its job, also has the annoying tendency to kill, maim and/or destroy any extraneous entities on the belt. If the belt has a stationary side, or is above a floor, the Hero never, ever runs diagonally to the side, where he would be safe, but instead always opts to run straight against the direction of the belt. Sometimes, while doing so, he gets stuck on something, and the situation reverts back to the original trope. Occasionally, the Big Bad's minions find themselves on the belt along with the hero, and invariably end up cut up, smashed or perforated by the machines.

Originated as a standard Cliff Hanger scenario in 19th-century melodramas and the silent matinee film serials that followed them, such as The Perils of Pauline (and echoed repeatedly on The Perils of Penelope Pitstop). Probably a Dead Horse Trope, at least in the dramatic sense. But then, it wasn't too bad in Enemy Mine. See also Packed Hero.

Examples of Conveyor Belt O' Doom include:


  • A 1970s commercial had expies of Steed and Mrs. Peel strapped to one of these and headed for another giant buzzsaw—while they discussed whatever product the commercial was for. Then "Steed" managed to work one of his shoes loose, tossed it with a kick, it hit a control lever, and the board they were tied to pivoted so the blade passed between the heroes, cutting the ropes holding them.

Comic Books

  • Tintin en Amérique features a cannery, where Tintin is tricked into falling into the meat grinding machine.
  • In "The Pearl" in Jonah Hex v.1, #64, Jonah and the Girl of the Week are tied up and dropped on a conveyor belt leading into a copper smelter.
  • In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe story "W.H.A.D.A.L.O.T.T.A.J.A.R.G.O.N.", Huey, Dewey, and Louie get trapped on one when they're wandering around a woodwork factory looking for the logs that used to make up the old Junior Woodchucks' fort club house. Donald saves them in the nick of time by turning it off.

Films -- Animated

  • Played straight in the New Zealand movie Footrot Flats: A Dog's Tale - the main canine character, Dog, ends up on a conveyor belt that is moving towards a swinging circular sawblade, three very vicious, very evil dogs surrounding the sides, ensuring he doesn't escape. He does, of course.
  • At the end of The Brave Little Toaster, the characters are all stuck on one of these while anthropomorphic cars are smashed to death in a crusher at the end of the line.
  • In Toy Story 2, the conveyor belts in the airport are this.
    • How about the conveyor belt in Toy Story 3 that leads to the incinerator?
  • In Monsters, Inc., Sully thinks that Boo is on one of these, when it was only a piece of her monster costume. In a way, this allows the scene to be much more gruesome than it otherwise would be; the costume-piece actually goes through one crusher and thrasher after another (instead of being saved before the first one), forcing us to imagine the horrors that Sully is imagining—or not so much imagine as see his serial spells of Emotional Fainting (quite possibly Nightmare Fuel all by themselves).
  • Chicken Run has the various machinery inside and leading into the Pie Machine, which is basically lots of conveyor belts all put together.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2. Po gets caught on one made of bamboo in Lord Shen's cannon factory. Although he's not tied to it, Po can't run fast enough to avoid going over the edge into the smelter fortunately he's grabbed onto a fork that he can stick into the bamboo planks and get carried away underneath.
  • Robots: Fender is placed on one and is able to escape before getting chopped to pieces and thrown into a furnace. However, it's a little embarrassing when he loses his original bottom half and has to do with one more suited for a female.
    • Bigweld is also put on a conveyor, but is saved before getting dumped into the furnace as well.

Films -- Live-Action

  • Farmhands somehow fail to notice that they're feeding Buster Keaton into a threshing machine in The Scarecrow.
  • Subverted in the movie version of Dudley Do-Right, where the eponymous Mountie goes 'bad' to fight against Snidely Whiplash, who has taken over the town. He ties one of Snidely's minions to a conveyor belt heading for a sawblade for interrogation. Once he has gleaned the information he needs, Dudley seems to have trouble stopping the conveyor belt—then he breaks apart the sawblade to reveal that it's just a cardboard prop.
  • In one of the film's most famous scenes, the eponymous villain of Goldfinger straps James Bond to a table and uses an industrial laser in place of the traditional sawblade; here, it is the peril that inexorably advances toward the hero, rather than the other way around (compare Chained to a Rock). Bonus points because of where on Bond the laser is headed.
  • In the Jackie Chan Movie Mr. Nice Guy, during the construction site fight, Jackie is knocked down on a piece of plywood sliding towards a circular saw, which he rolls out of the way of at the last second, then does a sideways roll over while it's still spinning.
    • Remember, live stunts, no stuntman.
    • There's another Jackie Chan movie with a conveyor belt o' doom. It's a sticky surface that gets chopped into lengths by blades at the end of the conveyor belt. Jackie and the girl get stuck on it while fighting mooks. In the end, Jackie gets himself and the girl off (with some Clothing Damage)... and then goes back and stops the belt just before the mooks get sliced into pieces.
  • In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Anakin and Padme find themselves on a conveyor belt on Geonosis. Anakin battles Geonosians, and in the process has his lightsaber destroyed and his arm stamped on a metal plate. Padme falls in a giant crucible, and is only saved from being incinerated by molten metal by R2D2, who deactivates the machinery just in time.
  • In Minority Report, the main character, John Anderton, finds himself on a conveyor belt on which machines are building cars, and fights his enemy on it. He manages to avoid the machines for a while, but in the end finds himself trapped in a car that's being built right around him. At a certain point we see a machine close in on him, then the camera cuts on the outside of the car, leaving the audience to think he has been squashed flat. Instead, as the car is completed we see he is right in it, and as it exits the factory he drives away from his pursuers.
  • Another James Bond example is the conveyor belt in Licence to Kill, leading to a crusher crushing blocks of cocaine.
    • Also in Diamonds Are Forever, as Bond is knocked out, placed in a coffin, and conveyed into an incinerator at a Vegas-style funeral parlor.
  • As an example where someone actually died in Child's Play 2, a factory worker is shoved in and has plastic eyes forced into his.
  • In Like Flint. Derek Flint falls onto a conveyor belt and is almost carried to his doom inside a document furnace. Later, a man falls from a height onto the belt and suffers that fate.
  • In Hellboy II: the Golden Army, the eponymous demon hero does this to a villain (sort of)- he goads the enormous troll into firing his spring-loaded, retractable fist at him and ducks- while standing in front of an enormous pair of spiky wheels.
  • The Ice Pirates has the castration factory.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy fought a Thuggee guard on a conveyor belt that led to a rock crusher. Things were further complicated by the brainwashed prince stabbing a voodoo doll of Indy just as he gained the advantage in the fight. Indy of course escapes, the guard... doesn't.
    • The same film features a cage that is used to lower human sacrifices into a large lava pit. Indy manages to save Willie from a fiery demise in this device, but an unnamed Sacrificial Lamb is not so lucky.
  • In the film adaptation of Richie Rich, Professor Keenbean invents a sort of futuristic recycling machine that transforms trash into various objects. Later in the movie, the bad guys try to use the machine to dispose of Richie and his friends, who are forced into its cage-like intake hopper. Thanks to Keenbean's intervention, they barely escape being transformed into bedpans (or possibly bowling balls).
  • In the 2009 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, Lord Blackwood has Irene Adler tied to a conveyor device designed to saw pig carcasses in half. Cue the tense rescue scene.
  • The late-entry AIP beach movie How To Stuff A Wild Bikini leads up to a melodrama sawmill setting, and perpetual biker-shnook Eric Von Zipper gets comically sawn in half, with bloodless, cheap effects photography.
  • Titular beast in Razorback meets its demise during the climax inside a pet food factory when the hero tricks it into a conveyor belt, leading to a giant fan that shreds it to mincemeat.
  • In the film Mannequin, the protagonist's nasty, jealous ex-girlfriend puts several mannequins on a conveyor belt, including the hero's lover, hoping to destroy them. Luckily, he is able to save her in time.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? contains elements of this trope along with Chained to a Rock near the climax of the film, when Roger and Jessica Rabbit are suspended by chains while a nearby contraption spraying The Dip, Judge Dooms weapon of choice, inches ever closer. Notably comparable to Goldfinger, although this plays with the tension by having the stream swung back and forth haphazardly.
    • The scene where Judge Doom gets his hand stuck to the steamroller and is slowly crushed contains the inescapability of the trope.


  • The Anthony Horowitz book Skeleton Key has a scene like this too, where Alex Rider is drugged so he's unable to move except for his head, and put on a literal conveyor belt. The main purpose is to get information out of him, on threat of being ground to a pulp starting with his feet.
  • This also happens to Charles in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
  • In Animorphs, once, the kids morphed bulls and went into a slaughterhouse to investigate Yeerks tampering with human food. Ax was very happy to get out of there.

Live-Action TV

  • This happened at the Part 1/Part 2 break of Batman at least once, and probably more.
  • In the Blake's 7 episode "Ultraworld", unconscious Cally is strapped onto a conveyor belt to be assimilated into the giant brain running Ultraworld. She is saved at the last minute, the other characters having to contend with zombie-like baddies, who switch the machine back on each time they switch it off—cue lots of fake fighting.....
  • In one of the old episodes of All That, Kenan Thompson's super alter ego, who is lactose intolerant, gets strapped into a conveyor belt which will spray milk on him, but he gets rescued all right
  • The Doctor Who serial "The Seeds of Doom" featured a man-eating mulching machine, and plenty of gory description of what would happen to any living bodies that went through it.
    • "The Sun Makers" crossed this with Sauna of Death, when Leela is captured and sentenced to death by "steaming".
  • In one episode of CSI: Miami, a woman is drugged on a plane and chucked onto an airport convoy belt—where she gets a fatal head injury from a luggage arm.
  • In the Jonathan Creek, two sisters are practicing a magic trick where one of them is strapped down and moved towards a buzzsaw which drops away at the crucial moment. Except it doesn't and she gets cut in half lengthwise.
  • In an episode of the Game Show Truth or Consequences, a woman from the audience had to stop an incredibly complex machine before its conveyor belt dropped a pie on her husband's face. There were all kinds of lights, switches, etc. on the machine which she flipped frantically, but unbeknownst to her, the only way to stop it was to pull the electrical plug out of its outlet.
  • One of the so-called "Bonus Rounds" on Distraction; if your prize (which they state very clearly that you have already won) makes it to the end before you answer the question correctly, it meets the wrong end of a wrecking ball.
  • The entire premise of Downfall. Don't answer in time, and your prizes, your money and eventually you go over the side of a 10-story building.
  • Mrs. Peel of The Avengers is tied up and put on a conveyor belt to a giant buzzsaw in the episode "Epic".
  • Knightmare had one of these in the form of the "Corridor of Blades", a conveyor-floored hallway with large rotary saws toward which the dungeoneer hurtled. It picked off many hapless dungeoneers who were poorly guided through, or into, it.
  • In the New Tricks episode "Dark Chocolate", Gerry is almost dragged into a chopping machine when his jacket gets snagged on a conveyor belt in a chocolate factory.
  • In the MacGyver episode "The Black Corsage", MacGyver and Frank Colton are captured in a fish processing plant, tied up and placed on a conveyor belt that will feed them into a fish grinder.


Tabletop Games

  • Robo Rally, a board game by Richard Garfield, has lots of these. If you aren't careful, they'll carry your robot off the board and/or into a bottomless pit.

Video Games

  • In Robo's sidequest in Chrono Trigger, a room in a Bad Future's factory sports a conveyor belt where live humans are transported and (with a blood-curling scream) transformed into...small, shiny stuff.The whole point of the quest is to stop everything.
  • Wildly twisted in God of War 2: You can't get to the next area because there is a large crushing wheel blocking your way that is right in front of a Conveyor Belt O' Doom that constantly tries to make you hit the damn thing. The solution? You find a half-dead member of Jason's Argonauts, bring him to the belt, lay him on it, and then watch as he screams in horror and is carried under the wheel where his crushed bones jam it, allowing you to break it and pass through.
    • There are a couple of instances in the original game that are both straighter and infinitely more annoying.
  • Subverted in Quake IV, where the player gets Strapped to An Operating Table on a conveyor belt, having drugs injected and parts of his body removed and replaced by Strogg cybernetics. The Stroggification is interrupted when the People Jars your character is placed in towards the end is smashed before the control chip can be activated. It's pretty traumatic; you can watch it here! The conversion actually improves your character, including increasing your health by 25%, and giving a noticeable boost to running speed. Sure, his fellows are disturbed and distrustful of the Strogg on their side, but he never complains. And, in the end, it pays.
  • In Portal, GLaDOS attempts to kill Chell by tricking her onto a conveyer belt that travels through a furnace. The trap would be extremely difficult to avoid had Chell not had a portal gun, which makes it very simple.
  • The original Half Life has a section where Gordon has to cross over a bunch of conveyor belts to get through a section, in which some are going one way and others are going another way. and they basically create a long obstacle course, if you stay on one of them long enough you end up back where you started. This is in addition to a conveyor belt he has to use in an entirely separate part of the game to get through a crushing piston.
  • Early in Space Quest III, Roger gets dumped onto a conveyor belt and must jump off before he lands in the garbage shredder at the end.
  • In Adventures Of Rad Gravity, Rad's Robot Buddy Kakos is captured and taken to the planet Effluvia, where the bad guys plan to convert him into a Killer Robot. At the end of the level, he is placed on a Conveyor Belt O' Doom headed towards the conversion machine, and to stop it, you must shoot the overhead machinery. If Rad fails, he is faced with a Hopeless Boss Fight and must hit the Reset Button.
  • Getting caught by the Big Bad in the NES game Nightshade leads the eponymous character to end up in this situation, and it's up to the player to figure out a way to escape before the inevitable occurs.
  • The boss of Gene Gadget Zone in Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island takes place on one of these, with a large row of spikes at the end of the conveyor belt. The player must hit Eggman's ship, avoiding spike strips and missiles.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel for the Game Boy had a variant on this, except it was the player who got the pain. In what is probably the otherwise great game's Scrappy Level, legendary Badass Solid Snake must infiltrate the enemy base, by going through a color coded box sorting system via conveyor belt. It eventually leads into a showdown with Marionette Owl, part of the Quirky Miniboss Squad.
  • In Creatures, there were a number of 'torture stages', where Clyde has to save other critters who have been tied to Conveyor Belts O' Doom by solving a complex item interaction puzzle.
  • The fourth floor of Grunty Industries in Banjo-Tooie has a conveyor belt dragging everything on it toward enormous Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom which prevent access to the area behind. After the crushers are deactivated, it turns into an Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt by switching directions.
  • They turned up a lot on the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games, where Sonic is on a conveyor belt and has to be really quick to avoid being crushed by something or cut with decending buzzsaws.
  • One particularly nasty moment of Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth has Jack, the protagonist, walk to an ore grinder and suddenly have a vision of a man who is bound and carried by the conveyor and then dumped into the same grinder. A second later, poor fellow's mutilated remains rain onto Jack. Furthermore, after getting upstairs, Jack discovers that the only way out is up the same conveyor. Naturally, the villain activates the conveyor again, and Jack survives only by jumping onto the catwalk over the grinder, which breaks and blocks the cogs. The whole episode is pretty nightmarish.
  • In the finale of Heavy Rain, Norman Jayden can get into a fight on a conveyor belt of doom with the Origami Killer, who can kill him if you fail the button prompts.
  • One of the most iconic executions in Danganronpa is the "After School Special" in the first game. The victim is seated at a desk on the conveyor belt, the end of which has a giant compactor that will smash the victim flat at the end. Worse, as the desk moves backwards, Monokuma appears to gloat, dressed as a teacher and giving the victim a class lesson (specifically sex education). This is the fate intended for Kyoko, but she only gets it in the Bad Ending should the player call her out for lying in the fifth trial; if the player avoids this, Makoto is the victim, but he is saved by Alter Ego, which leads to the sixth and final chapter. It is also the sixth part of the Ultimate Punishment given to Junko. For extra awesome, this is included in Cyber Danganronpa VR Class Trial. Who’s the victim here? YOU are!

Western Animation

  • Fillmore!, where it gets a Lampshade Hanging (Filmore is saved by an erupting model volcano clearly labelled "Mount St. Cliche").
  • In "Don't Fool with a Phantom", the last episode of the original Scooby-Doo series, the Wax Phantom (the Monster of the Week) left Shaggy and Scooby tied up on a conveyor belt that would dump them into a tank of melted wax, and Shaggy quipped, "That bit went out with the silent movies!" You know it's a Dead Horse Trope when it's being parodied in the early 1970s.
    • Not that this stopped the Snow Ghost from tying Velma to a log and sending it towards a buzzsaw in an earlier episode...
  • One of these was set up by cliché devotee Señor Senior, Sr., on Kim Possible. At the end was a stolen cryogenic freezing device. As a keen observer of villain codes, he points out the power switch to them.
    • But they can't reach it, and Rufus the naked mole rat doesn't weigh enough to push it.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, the deathtrap is neatly subverted, as Catwoman is carried to her doom while Batman has captured Harley Quinn, who tells him that he has to choose whether to keep her or save Catwoman. As it turns out, all Batman has to do is reach for the conveniently placed power switch to turn off the conveyor belt.
  • In the Wallace and Gromit animated short A Close Shave, Gromit fights robo-dog Preston on the Conveyor Belt O' Doom of a dogfood machine.
  • Spoofed in Darkwing Duck, where in one episode Darkwing has to train a newbie villain how to carry off the trope properly.
  • Averted in Codename: Kids Next Door: After being placed on one such conveyer belt, Numbuh Five calmly takes one step to the left (and off the machine), walks to the end of the belt, and switches it off.
  • An interesting subversion in ReBoot occurs where Enzo has himself tied up and put on one of these devices on purpose. The intent was to get his quarrelling friends to rescue him, and reconcile with each other in the process. This fails when the two start arguing again when they meet each other in front of the Conveyor Belt O' Doom, and Enzo has to be rescued by his dog.
  • In The Brave Little Toaster, the Master is caught in the conveyor belt of a junkyard trash compactor, leading Toaster to do a Heroic Sacrifice to save him.
  • In Futurama, Fry has to choose between saving Bender, who is tied to the Conveyor Belt O' Doom (which will turn him into Slurm cans), saving Leela, who is being dunked in a slurm-filled pit (which will turn her into a Slurm Queen), or drinking from a trough of delicious concentrated Slurm. He chooses the Slurm, of course. However, he saves Leela by dragging the trough with him, who then saves Bender. Hey, he was literally addicted to the stuff.
  • Underdog has been in this situation three times, and Sweet Polly was in the same mess each time:
    • In the episode "Batty Man", Underdog and Polly are chained up and placed on a conveyor belt that goes to a machine that turns anything into bowling balls. Underdog is still able to access his Super Energy Pill, though.
    • In "Pain Strikes Underdog", the conveyor belt is part of a candle-making machine that the villain Riff-Raff is using to disguise stolen swords as candles; in this case, both victims are bound with the wicks and hardened wax, the wick cutter intended to be used like a guillotine. (It even looks like one.) Unfortunately for Riff-Raff, wax and normal rope can't hold Underdog for long...
    • In "The Silver Thieves", Underdog's ring has been stolen, he's already nearly powerless because of it, and he and Polly are thrown onto one that leads to a furnace designed to melt down silver. Fortunately, Polly is lucky enough to find the stolen ring there.
  • In the Inspector Gadget episode "A Star Is Lost", Gadget, Rick Rocker, etc. are tied up with reel-to-reel tape and put on a conveyor belt that goes through a record pressing machine. Similarly, in "Quimby Exchange", the characters are frozen in blocks of ice and sent towards a chopping machine.
    • There was another with Penny on a Conveyor Belt o' Doom, tied up and heading for a laser that's used to cut up diamonds.
  • Mr. Nezzar puts the title characters of the Veggie Tales episode "Rack, Shack and Benny" onto one of these in the way to the furnace. The episode takes place in a chocolate factory.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Simpsons in an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon. Itchy ties Scratchy to a log and sets it on a conveyor belt to a buzzsaw, but the conveyor belt is ridiculously slow. Frustrated with how long it's taking, Itchy simply gets an ax and butchers Scratchy himself.
  • In Transformers Animated, the episode "Home is Where the Spark Is" has Bulkhead on a conveyor belt that brings him towards a large machine that would crush his head(he wrestles with it to keep it from getting him during most of this part).
  • Swat Kats had one of these that Dark Kat put the heroes on, while he and Hard Drive were stealing the Turbokat in "Night of Dark Kat".
  • Used straight in an episode of King of the Hill (and the person on it doesn't make it off safely).
  • It happens in almost every Totally Spies! episode, to the delight of certain fans.
  • Richard Adler, the workshop teacher in South Park, attempts suicide by placing himself on a conveyor belt with a circular saw at the end. He appears to have second thoughts about it, but only because he realises that he's going toward the saw balls-first, and proceeds to reorient himself.
  • In an episode of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the title characters are stuck running on a conveyor belt that is (at most) two or three feet off the ground.
  • In Johnny Bravo, episode "Yukon Yutz", the villain ties Johnny to a conveyor belt with a buzzsaw at the end. If I recall correctly, Johnny was saved by the ultra-hard gel in his hair, which broke the buzzsaw.
  • The eponymous heroes of Goldie Gold and Action Jack get into this.
  • In the episode "Part-time Job" in Cow and Chicken, the Red Guy sends Chicken on a conveyor belt to a frying machine.
  • In a Super Chicken episode, a melodrama villain actor snaps and thinks he's a real villain, taking his female co-star to all the usual places, including the sawmill, to persuade her to go to the Villain's Annual Picnic with him.
  • In The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Operation: Plush and Cover", the penguins are caught in a conveyor belt in a toy factory, which leads to an incinerator for rejected toys. Attempts to turn it off only activates more crushing devices.
  • Happens to an over-stereotyped Foxxy Love in Drawn Together.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop has done this a few times.
  • Veggie Tales does this in the chocolate bunny factory ep-naturally, they get off it just in time.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "MMMystery on the Friendship Express", one of Pinkie Pie's Imagine Spots has a Dastardly Whiplash villain dispose of the cake Pinkie was guarding with one of these. With Pinkie herself Chained to a Railway, the cake inexorably meets its gruesome end on a sawblade.
  • The Looney Tunes short "The Ducksters" begins with Porky Pig tied on a conveyor belt to a buzzsaw as part of a quiz show hosted by Daffy Duck (he had to answer the question before reaching the saw). At the end, Daffy is in the receiving end of the conveyor belt after Porky buys the radio station with his prize money and turns the tables on him.