retainer removal query

I've just been through another wrestling match with a couple of those horrible little retainers which mfrs seem to love to slip on the end of shafts these days to keep wheels and things in place.
They sure do hold good. Gotta say that about 'em.
Ever tried to get one off? That's another story. The ones today I was fiddling with took me two big crow bars and simultaneous force applied in opposition to pop 'em off.
These were ring type retainers. There's some even worse that look like little tophats with claws. Those almost invariably have to be torn up to get 'em off.
Question: is there any kind of universal tool that will allow me to easily remove all kinds of these types of evil devices? And, what do I call for?
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dags ring pliers.
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