Disposable Vehicle Section
To continue, break off the damaged part of your vehicle.
Tropeworthy? Up For Grabs

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Alternate title: Emergency Vehicle Separation


One or more characters are travelling somewhere in a vehicle. The vehicle is damaged, runs out of fuel, the reactor malfunctions, etc. Or maybe it's just not fast or maneuverable enough. Normally that would be bad news for everyone on board, but instead someone pushes a switch and a large section of the vehicle containing the problem detatches itself, leaving the characters with a smaller, undamaged, fully fuelled vehicle to continue the mission.

Sometimes:
  • This will be Played for Drama as the characters have to leave something (or someone) behind in order to escape, or are in a Race Against the Clock to complete the separation.
  • The part left behind is still capable of carrying out a supporting role, often giving the separated vehicle covering fire.
  • The smaller vehicle has a third, even smaller vehicle that the characters end up in at the end of the sequence or plotline.

Do note: this is not for small vehicle carried aboard a larger one. It has to be an integral portion of the vehicle so that the remaining section is not functional, and the manoeuvre should come as a surprise to the audience.

A form of Travel Cool. Related to Combining Mecha, Detachment Combat, Didn't Need Those Anyway. May serve as a justification for Shed Armor, Gain Speed for armored vehicles. Compare Escape Pod (a specialized compartment used in emergencies to escape certain doom on your vehicle) and Life or Limb Decision (when the disposable thing happens to be your own limb).

Examples:

Advertisements:
  • There was a commercial for some beer company (possibly a Superbowl Special) where an airplane full of passengers and cases of the beer was forced to land place far away from any help. The pilot (or someone) says that in order to get back up they have to reduce the weight of the plane, the assumption being that they'll have to leave the beer behind. The next shot is the plane taking off, without its ouside fuselage.

Comic Books
  • Downplayed in the issue of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero that introduced the BATs. The Awe Striker is being pursued by a Cobra Stinger driven by one of the BATs and their main cannon has been unloaded. When Bazooka complains about the situation, Crankcase suggests getting rid of the cannon to save them some weight. He does and throws the cannon at the Stinger, decapitating the BAT.

Film - Live Action:
  • In Thunderball the Spectre yacht separates to transform into a faster hydrofoil ship. The remaining section is still usable as a gun platform and boat dock.
  • In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Obi Wan Kenobi's starfighter is shown to have a separate bulky hyperdrive section that it docks with to travel in Hyperspace. As soon as he drops back into real space, his fighter disengages and continues on its way, leaving behind the extra mass to allow his ship to stay as lean as possible.
  • The Dark Knight has Batman ejecting from the Batmobile on a motorcycle, leaving behind the damaged part to self-destruct.
  • In Batman Returns, this happened as well. The Batmobile split off the flarings on either side and the wheels retracted to form a vehicle (the "batmissile") that could fit through a narrow alley.
  • Death Race - the hero's car has a 6 inch thick armor plating in the back called "The Tombstone". When it gets damaged, the hero jettisons it in the hopes that it will damage the car behind him.
  • In Van Helsing, when the titular character's riding a horse-pulled cart away from Dracula's brides, he has to sacrifice the cart in order for his horses to jump over a ravine. The brides fly towards the falling cart, thinking that Anna and the Frankenstein's Monster might be inside... and then they're greeted by silver stakes instead, courtesy of the exploding cart.
  • The Green Hornet film showcases that the Black Beauty has front-wheel drive, which allows the car to keep on moving when the rear end is torn off by an elevator.
  • In Innerspace, the assassin pulls this trick when his miniatured pod is damaged beyond repair. In the style of an Implacable Man he ejects himself out of it and continues attacking the hero wearing a gadget-loaded space suit.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact where a Borg sphere shoots out of the nearly destroyed Borg cube and carries on with it's mission to assimilate the earth.
  • In The Core, the vehicle carrying the scientists to the centre of the Earth becomes progressivly more damaged, and damaged sections must be jettisoned.

Film - Animated:
  • In Ice Age III, Scrat the squirrel and his love interest are fighting over an acorn when a geyser erupts beneath them, sending the three and a large rock skyward. As the two squirrels climb the rock toward toward the acorn, the bottom of the rock falls away in a Shout-Out to staged rockets (see below).

Literature
  • Known Space once featured a freighter owned by Sigmund Ausfaller, built as bait for a pirate gang. When the pirates attacked, the ship would ditch the huge lumbering cargo module, revealing itself as a devastating miniature battleship with an invincible General Products hull.
  • Startide Rising once had a mostly dolphin-crewed starship unable to escape its pursuers...until it suddenly jettisons all its swimming-around water. The pursuing ships smash into the resulting ice cloud and go boom, and the suddenly much lighter Terran ship easily outruns the survivors.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Space Vampire", the ship that the Vorvon and Vamp!Wilma escape on is programmed to fly into a star. Once the star's radiation returns Wilma to normal, she detaches the rear portion of the ship and flies to safety while the Vorvon continues into the star in the front portion.
  • A specific Top Gear example: the Homemade Limo challenge. Clarkson's Absurdly Long Limousine had to have a large section removed to be made road legal. The modification was poorly done, and the limo eventually split apart. Undeterred, Clarkson plops the celebrity he's escorting in the front passenger seat and drives off in the front half, leaving the rest behind.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Castrovalva" we learn that in an emergency the TARDIS can eject one quarter of itself in order to propel it. Problem: you can't decide which quarter will be ejected, it just might be the part you're standing in at the time.

Manga and Anime
  • In Macross:
    • The Zentraedi recon pod can detach the legs and use the body of the mecha as a shuttlepod.
    • Rick Hunter, piloting the heavy armored space fighter, detaches the armor after battling a Zentraedi cruiser, revealing an ordinary valkerie mecha inside.
  • In Macross II, after taking heave damage, the the bridge of The Macross, detaches to become an airborne command post.
  • In Gall Force:
    • In "Eternal Story", the Star Leaf's forward section splits apart to reveal a landing pod that can act as an oversize escape pod.
    • In "Destruction", a heavy shuttle detaches the rear section to act as a decoy while the forward section and mecha launched from it's cargo hold infiltrate an Elaborate Underground Base.
  • In Break Blade, the Delphine goes into battle wearing colossal heavy armor plates. Once those are too damaged to help anymore, Rygart drops them and gets about 200% faster.

Video Games
  • In Final Fantasy VII, the ending FMV of has an emergency switch to eject the bridge from the Highwind.
  • Many Gradius-like shoot-em-ups have this trope in force (creating Sequential Boss in the process) it's impossible to list them all. They all follow a similar pattern: shoot the large flying mechanical boss; when it takes enough damage it ejects the damaged portions, becoming smaller, but faster and more likely to unleash Bullet Hell upon you.
  • The final boss in FTL: Faster Than Light which loses a wing and escapes after you beat it the first and second times.

Western Animation
  • In Looney Tunes, IIRC, Bugs Bunny gets launched into space this way.
  • In Transformers: The Movie, the Autobots perform an "emergency separation" of the front cockpit so the rear portion would be destroyed and fool the Decepticons into thinking they were killed.
    Arcee: "Did we have to let them detonate three-quarters of the ship?"
    Springer: "Seeing as how they were going to detonate four-quarters, I think it was a good choice."
  • Birdman episode "Number One". When Birdman breaks into the title villain' pirate satellite, Number One activates a Self-Destruct Mechanism and escapes in the detached head of the satellite.
  • The Galaxy Trio episode "The Duplitrons". When a rocket pod the Trio are flying in malfunctions, Meteor Man presses a button and the pod splits in half. The rear section falls away and Meteor Man continues to fly on in the front half.

Real Life
  • Many larger rockets are designed to stage, separating an engine along with the now empty fuel tanks feeding it to lighten the load after reaching the upper atmosphere, perhaps most notably the Saturn 5, which may have been the Most Triumphant Example.
  • Allegedly, some passengers incorrectly believed the Titanic could do this.
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