"And if you have any idea what a guy looks like after two tons of metal land on him from eighty feet up... you keep your ideas to yourself."
—Porky, The Thing on the Fourble Board
Cartoon characters can survive a lot of things. And if a character ever suffers from the dreaded Anvil on Head, one of several things can happen. They can become an Accordion Man, or this trope can occur.
Often, characters will be Squashed Flat by some heavy object landing on their head, or by going really fast into an immovable object such as a wall. The resulting injury has the character flattened down to a paper-thin state. While in this state, the character becomes incredibly light and can be lifted, manipulated, rolled up, or folded by another character.
These injuries are hardly ever fatal, and like most Amusing Injuries, are healed in just five seconds. Often, all it takes is another character flapping the flattened character around or inflating the character like a balloon to get him or her to return to his/her normal state.
Although this trope is mostly an Animation Trope, it sometimes creeps into live action shows with a more 'cartoonish' feel.
Anime and Manga
- From Cyborg 009, 007 gets crushed flat by a falling object (with lampshading and 007 saying "You said it"), but due to having Shapeshifting powers, he's practically unharmed.
- From Dragon Ball, in the episode entitled "Sgt Metalic" aka "Major Metallitron", Goku gets stomped flat by the title android and floats off like a piece of paper before "popping" back to normal.
- This happens in Kirby: Right Back at Ya! to the titular Kirby, in the first episode.
- There was a Donald Duck comic where Donald became a performance artist and one of his acts was getting squashed into a flat disc shape and being played on a gigantic gramophone.
- Leonard Le Genie: When Basile operates a hydraulic press or similar tool, you can be 100% certain this will be the result.
- Happened to the Atom in a Silver Age story.
- One robber / rapist crushed by a millstone in a story by Wilhelm Busch. Other than typical for this trope, he doesn't exactly revert.
- There's a Don Martin Mad cartoon where two guys discover a friend lying in the road, completely flat and stretched out. Naturally they conclude that he has been run over by a steamroller, and proceed to fold him up so they can take him to a hospital. Unfortunately due to a tragic misunderstanding involving a nearsighted strongman, he gets torn in half.
- In a similar Don Martin cartoon, two guys find yet another flattened friend on the street. They immediately fold him into a paper airplane shape and throw him towards the nearest hospital.
Film -- Animation
- During the closing credits of the 2011 Winnie the Pooh film, the characters frolic around on the actual credits. At one point, Rabbit fails to jump off of a block of credits before it scrolls off the screen, and is comically flattened between the top line of credits and the top of the screen.
Films -- Live-Action
- Happens to a lot of toons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but especially Judge Doom, who is revealed to actually be a toon in the process. Eddie himself falls victim when riding in Droopy's express elevator.
- A notable live-action version to go alongside the above is The Mask, after the masked Jim Carrey character jumps out the window of his apartment and lands on the street below.
- Another cartoon-like example occurs in Space Jam, when Wayne Knight is crushed by all the Monstars.
- In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the Thing crushes Rubber Man Reed Richards into a wall.
- Harold's head in Leprechaun 4: In Space.
- Vincent Ludwig's death in The Naked Gun: he falls off the stadium after being shot with a dart gun whereupon he's run over by a bus and a steam roller, and then trampled by a marching band.
"My father went the same way!"
- Tiny Antony from Mafia! is accidentally crushed between a door, leaving him flat. It's done in a cartoonish manner, so he's fine.
- Happens twice in Voyage of the Rock Aliens. Once to one of the aliens when he explodes into pieces and the other aliens put him back together and to two unlucky deliverymen who get run over by a steamroller.
- Happens to the title character's head in Drop Dead Fred after getting caught in a refrigerator.
- Slippery Jim, which of course looked realistic for its time it was made.
- Happens to Chip Diller trying to stop a panicking throng in Animal House.
- In A Fish Called Wanda, Ken, in an attempt to kill an old lady, keeps accidentally killing her Yorkies instead. One of them suffers this fate thanks to Ken's van.
- Ken also runs over Otto with a steamroller, but Otto gets smushed into wet concrete and survives.
- A rather narmy short film from a Playboy video (Don't worry, this one's safe for work, sorta.) focuses on this. Of course, since this is Playboy, this is done to a female sunbather.. It has to be seen to be believed.
- Old joke:
Q: What do you get if Batman and Robin get smashed by a steam roller?
A: Flatman and Ribbon.
- Six wise blind elephants try to find out about humans.
- On Whose Line Is It Anyway, one session of Party Quirks involves Wayne Brady as "assorted celebrities being run over by a steamroller", sans cartoon effects of course. At one point he impersonates Gary Coleman, and gets squashed flat much quicker.
- In the 1960s Batman TV series, a villain uses a weapon that turns Batman, Robin, and Batgirl into...well, Flatman, Ribbon, and Flatgirl.
- Between the Lions. The image above is from the animated segment, "Fun With Chicken Jane".
- Happened on The Muppet Show to, you guessed it, Beaker. Bunsen's invention of the week was a luggage compressor.
- Also happens to Beautiful Day Monster, in a sketch where Paul Williams is a travel agent. After BDM asks for progressively cheaper travel accommodations, Williams drops a giant weight on him to mail his squished form.
- In an early strip of U.S. Acres, Orson's brothers do this to him when they "play squash".
- In The Goon Show, Seagoon gets run over by a steamroller:
Seagoon: The weight of the steamroller had made a lasting impression on me. I was now 2 inches thick and 24 feet wide. This was very awkward. People kept opening and shutting me.
- The Wario Land and Mario & Luigi series have this as a required game mechanic, and you need to deliberately get characters smashed flat to get through narrow gaps.
- The Paper Mario series - invoked in that this is the characters' primary state.
- This is one of the standard Amusing Injuries for the Mummy in Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. It allows him to fit through bars and tiny gaps.
- Happens when certain enemies run over you in Toejam and Earl
- Also, in Mario Kart there have always been ways for racers to squash their opponents flat for a limited amount of time, making them go slower. In the earlier games, you could shrink them with lightning and then squash them, and in Mario Kart Wii, there was an item that allowed your own kart to grow, which would allow you to squash any opposing karts that you would run into.
- When Jigglypuff is defeated in the 3D Pokémon games, it deflates and flattens out.
- Introduced in the 5th generation, the Bug-type move Steamroller flattens the opponent Pokemon's sprite while a big roller squashes it flat.
- Some of the deaths in the Sierra games you end up squashed flat.
- Happens to Bug! if he gets crushed by Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom, gets hit by a boulder, or if he falls off the terrain. If it was non-lethal, he stretches himself using a hand.
- One of the many Amusing Injuries that can befall the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the arcade game.
- Also happens to Spyro the Dragon when certain enemies (and bosses) either crush him with their weapons, or run over or - in the case of Buzz from Year of the Dragon - roll over him.
- Happens to Bayonetta if she is squashed by a Golem's ball form.
- Happens in Battletoads if something heavy such as a boss lands on a toad.
- The usual result of using the Gravity line of spells on an enemy in the Kingdom Hearts series.
- Also occurs in Kingdom Hearts 3D if someone affected by the Minimum status ailment gets stepped on, or if you run them over with the Drill Rhino or Hornceratops' link attack (Some enemies are exempt from this, though).
- In Splatoon, the rollers are powerful weapons that a fast-moving Inkling can use to spread a trail of ink while "splatting" any foe in his/her path, usually in one hit.
- The Fairly OddParents uses this trope some. One prime example is the episode "Freaks and Greeks" in which Timmy is trying to protect his mother's glass case from the God of Mt. Olympus who use his living room as a place to party. "Don't ask." When the case is about to fall Timmy runs to it and tries to stop it from falling. It falls on him and when the case is removed Timmy is on the floor; very, very flat with a stunned expression.
- The Looney Tunes should get a special mention because of all the variations they would put on this trope. Sometimes characters would turn into puddles of goop with mouths, sometimes they would spring back up after being squashed into an accordion shape, or they might bend in certain ways depending on what hit them. They really had to mix it up, though, because some character getting hit with an Anvil on Head was pretty much a requirement for every other short.
- Tom and Jerry would do this too.
- Tiny Toon Adventures
- Darkwing Duck. Darkwing know how to use it to his advantage, like slipping under a door just after being squashed flat.
- Futurama sees this happen to Bender in the episode "Raging Bender".
- The Professor, Fry and Leela become two dimensionally flat in "2-D Blacktop"
- Oggy and the Cockroaches: usually the fate of the cockroaches.
- The Ren and Stimpy Show: In fact, this occurs in the opening titles.
- Rocko's Modern Life
- Dexter's Laboratory
- Fanboy and Chum Chum
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians: The Series
- Frankenstein, Jr.
- Happens to poor Plankton all the time on SpongeBob SquarePants, given his - relatively - small size.
- Happens to Applejack in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Applebuck Season". She ends up face-planting several times while trying to jump off a tower and onto the other end of Rainbow Dash's catapult while severely exhausted.
- Happens twice in "Feeling Pinkie Keen" to Twilight Sparkle with a door. (Sort of)
- And again in "Luna Eclipsed". While trying to make an escape into her house, Twilight shuts the door, causing Fluttershy to pancake herself on it.
- In Plutos Judgement Day, one of the witnesses at Pluto's trial is a cat the dog chased under a steamroller, flattening him like a pancake.
- Can't forget Throw Cat from Cow and Chicken who got a whole song dedicated to his flattened destiny.
- In Saturday Supercade this happened to Frogger Once an Episode in his segment, often followed by someone un-flattening him with a bicycle pump.