The Best Axe-Wielders in Literature & Pop Culture

Posted by David Winnick

On July 19th 1860, one of the most infamous women in history was born. Lizzie Borden was an upstanding member of her community. She taught Sunday school at her local church and was a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance League. Then on August 4th 1892, Lizzie allegedly picked up an axe and murdered her father and step-mother in a most brutal fashion. The general belief is that Borden did commit the murders, but she was acquitted of the crime. We can never definitively say if Borden ever wielded that axe, but as a tribute to her, here is a look at some of the best axe wielders in pop culture and literature.

Patrick Bateman
Nobody in the world has an axe as shiny as Patrick Bateman’s. This unstable ‘80s yuppie has a streak of loathing so strong that he feels the need to kill anyone in his way. No doubt his violent habits costs him a pretty penny, as he seems to use a completely new chrome axe in the film version of American Psycho. He seems like the kind of person who would have to replace all of his murdering implements every time he kills.


Johanna Mason 
The Hunger Games is the ultimate dog eat dog competition and Johanna Mason is hell bent on being top dog. She is the toughest of the tough-having, already won one Hunger Games competition. Coming from District 7, which seems to hold the market on the lumber industry, Johanna’s weapon of choice makes perfect sense. Odds are that Johanna was practically born with an axe in her hand.


As one of Thor’s best friends, it is important to be ready for a fight at a moment’s notice. When he isn’t busy eating, Volstagg can often be found hewing ice giants with his massive battle axe. Though he is portrayed in the comics as a great swordsman, the film version of this character is almost always seen with his double sided axe in hand.


It was obvious from the start of The Lord of the Rings that Gimli was a badass. While everyone else sat around pondering what to do with the evil One Ring, Gimli took matters into his own hands. Swinging his mighty axe, the dwarf attempted to split the ring in two. It is a shame that the One Ring can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. Still, he manages to put that axe to good use, chopping down more than his fair share of orcs.


Jack Torrance
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” That is what Jack Torrance claims in the Shinning. It is a bit terrifying that Jack’s concept of play includes chasing his family around the Overlook Hotel with an axe. Though his love for sharp edged tools is a change from the blunt Roque mallet he uses in the novel, the axe through a door has become almost synonymous with Stephen King’s terrifying creation.


The Once-ler
It wasn’t so bad when The Once-ler picked up his axe for the first time and cut down a truffula tree. He needed a thneed for some unknown reason and one tree was not going to be missed. Unfortunately for the Lorax, The Once-ler was not satisfied with just one thneed. With great ingenuity, the villain of Dr. Seuss’s book The Lorax created a cutting machine which swung multiple axes and cut down almost all of the trees. It is only after his mass destruction that The Once-ler reconsidered his horrible axe wielding acts.


Melaka Fray
Before it was brought to life on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the axe of The Slayer was introduced in a short run comic series by Dark Horse titled Fray. The comic took place in a distant future where Melaka Fray is the new Slayer. While Buffy spent most of her time doing in vampires with a stake, Melaka was busy lopping off heads with her mighty axe.


Black Axe
David Petersen’s Mouse Guard revolves around a group of anthropomorphized mice who live in a medieval world. The guardsmen are tasked with protecting the other mice from all predators who seek to consume them. While many of the characters are great warriors, it is the legendary Black Axe who is the best of them all. The Black Axe has almost no fear, and will bow to no predator.


Nina Locke
The matriarch of the Locke family only lifted an axe once in the first issue of Joe Hill’s amazing Locke and Key, but what she did with it was shocking. In order to protect her family, Nina buried the axe right in the back of the evil Al Grub’s skull. The violence of Nina’s actions are visceral thanks to the great artwork of Gabriel Rodriguez.