Created By: HawktureShorts155 on May 1, 2011
Nuked

Unicycle Legs

Cartoon characters running in place for several seconds before taking off

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Trope
A while back someone was attempting to compile a treasury of Western animation tropes, and I submitted "Unicycle Legs." I don't know if anyone ever picked up on it.

This was seen a lot in kids' cartoons during the 1960s and '70s, particularly the ones by Hanna-Barbera. A character would see something scary coming after him, become frightened, and....run in place for approximately 4.6 seconds, his legs whirling around until they formed a de facto wheel and "rattle-tattle-tat" sound effect filling the soundtrack as if someone was pushing a dining-cart tray down the stairs. Only after 4.6 seconds would the character actually try to get the hell out of there - and, conveniently enough, the villain or monster would always (well, almost always, as I saw this trope subverted at least once) wait five seconds before actually trying to grab the guy.

The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo were probably the most guilty of this cliche.
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • May 1, 2011
    KawaiiMelon
    Trope. Not cliche.
  • May 2, 2011
    peccantis
    Trope. Also a cliche.
  • May 2, 2011
    Stratadrake
    See Wheel O Feet for starters.
  • May 2, 2011
    TonyG
    This is definitely Wheel O Feet.
  • May 2, 2011
    MC42
    This can involve Wheel O Feet but is different. Wheel O Feet describes a certain running motion while this trope describes the behavior of running in place for a few seconds before actually moving. Definitely seen this in Hanna Barbera cartoons that don't involve Wheel O Feet.
  • May 2, 2011
    Scooter007
    If it's for "running in place for a second before taking off", it could be expanded to include other instances of motion 'anticipation': Rearing back when about to start running, bending double when about to leap straight up into the air, etc.
  • May 2, 2011
    elwoz
    I recall this happening a bunch in the Disney Robin Hood movie.
  • May 2, 2011
    FossilsDaDaDa
    I say it's a Subtrope of Wheel O Feet.
  • May 2, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Real Life: Croatian highjumper Blanka Vlasic does the lean back bit just before running towards the bar.
  • May 3, 2011
    Mishaguji
    Described poorly as it stands now. Doesn't help that its title suggests that it's pretty much Wheel O Feet.
  • May 3, 2011
    peccantis
    It should also include the way they swing their upper torso (and fisted hands) to one side and stand on the back leg for a moment (head stays in the intended direction), and only then start off, usually with Wheel O Feet.

    For an indicative name, how about "Flight Delay Routine"?
  • May 3, 2011
    jaytee
    ^^^^Definitely not a subtrope of Wheel O Feet. There can be overlap, but neither is sub of the other.

    If we don't include other kinds of "rearing up" (which I kinda don't think we should... I don't recall seeing those other examples in animation so much), possible title could be Treadmill Takeoff.
  • May 3, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Treadmill Takeoff sounds workable.
  • May 3, 2011
    peccantis
    Good title for the current narrower scope.
  • May 4, 2011
    Stratadrake
  • May 4, 2011
    TonyG
    @jaytee: what you are describing is Off Like A Shot.
  • May 4, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ That's indeed a close relative, but not strictly the same.

    Here, we have the character attempting to run so quickly that their feet don't seem to gain any traction against the ground, resulting in them seemingly running in place and going nowhere, at least for a moment.

    Compare a person pulling their car out of a gravel driveway: Hit the gas too hard, and your tires start kicking up gravel instead of propelling the car forwards.
  • May 4, 2011
    jaytee
    ^Ok good, we can definitely exclude stuff like that from this trope. I think Treadmill Takeoff is great then.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=62a7y0uxnxyisczu1f6jeokq&trope=DiscardedYKTTW