Created By: SpiderRider3July 12, 2012 Last Edited By: 69BookWorM69July 12, 2013
Nuked

Everything's Better With Helicopters

A work uses helicopters for coolness

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Needs A Better Description / Needs More Examples

Helicopters are amazing machines. With the ability to take off without a runway, fly backwards and sideways, and hover, they are like the flying cars we never had. Some works add helicopters even when they're not necessary.

See also Cool Plane.

Examples

Advertising
  • An Acura commercial of a car driving around a racetrack shows the helicopter carrying the overhead camera.
  • A commercial trading service has a customer bragging the service has their own helicopter. Why do they need a helicopter? He doesn't know, but it's a helicopter!

Video Games
  • In the beginning of one of the missions in Call Of Duty Black Ops there is an entire swarm of helicopters around a landing site.

Film
  • The 1996 adaptation of Romeo And Juliet showed a lot of shots of the prince of Verona and other Verona Beach police flying around in helicopters.

Radio
  • Almost all news or traffic stations have a segment where the reporter in their traffic helicopter reports directly on the air instead of simply passing the information to station staff.
Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • July 24, 2012
    IronLion
    This is just "Helicopters Exist", and a terrible snowclone title.
  • July 24, 2012
    Routerie
    ^ Very much agree.
  • July 24, 2012
    Prfnoff
    Perhaps the best case against this trope is this Dave Barry quote:
    "The badness of a movie is directly proportional to the number of helicopters in it."
  • July 24, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    ^^^I don't know about that. I'd argue that this is Older Than They Think. In the 1934 film It Happened One Night, the groom arrives at the society wedding in a helicopter (called an "autogyro" in the terminology of the time), basically just because he can. I suspect it's done to highlight the prospective groom's unsuitableness. The bride ends up leaving before the ceremony to run away with a newspaper reporter.
  • July 24, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In the Richard Pryor version of Brewsters Millions Brewster flies his minor-league baseball team in on helicoptors for a press event before an exhibition game he has paid for between the team and the New York Yankees. The coach calls him on it, saying that the team will be tired after the trip which was compeltely unneccesary because they're just over in New Jersey and could've gotten there faster on the bus. Brewster counters that he did it to make an impression - he doesn't mention that he did it so he could spend more money.
  • July 25, 2012
    Koveras
    Coolness is not a trope. It's a side effect of an action story being well-written.
  • July 25, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    The use of helicopters for the sake of it, or to go over-the-top in some fashion (as in the Brewsters Millions and It Happened One Night examples) might be tropeable. Even the radio example to me is bordering (YMMV); IIRC most such traffic reports make a point of having the audio include the noise from the chopper to enhance whole idea that the reporter is literally on top of the situation.

    Contrast this with instances where helicopters are more expected (media about modern wars) or even practical (say, T.C.'s helicopter charter service in the multi-island state of Hawaii).

    I'm not sure where to place this literary example. Is it quite what the OP wants?

    • In Aunt Dimity's Christmas, when a vagrant collapses unconscious in Lori and Bill's driveway, the couple bring him inside. Willis Sr. calls in an RAF rescue helicopter to transport the man to hospital in Oxford (in part because the roads were blocked after a blizzard). Various neighbours express astonishment when they repeatedly ask Lori, "Did you really call out the RAF to rescue a tramp?" Peggy Kitchen ("shopkeeper, postmistress, and undisputed mistress of Finch") roared, "In a helicopter! Seems the lap of luxury to me."

    Clearly, some of the characters think the use of the helicopter is excessive, but the audience?
  • July 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Live Action TV: In WKRP In Cincinnati newsman Les Nessman wants a traffic helicoptor for the station. Rival station WPIG has one. As of the first episode, he just beats on his chest (to simulate the sound of a helicoptor) and says "traffic is light to heavy on all major thoroughfares." Andy, the new Program Director, promises him he'll get a chopper but tells him not to do that any more. Two seasons later, Andy admits he was lying to Les when he said he'd get him a chopper, and Les hires a crop duster to do traffic reports out of. A decade later in The New WKRP In Cincinnati Les still doesn't have his helicoptor.
    • Film: In Escape To Witch Mountain the Big Bad in a helicoptor is chasing Tony & Tia in an RV. Tony & Tia use their telekinesis powers to make the RV fly. Then they all go through a cloud formation; after they emerge the Big Bad notices that the RV is flying upside down. Then he discovers that they're not upside down, the helicoptor is. The pilot manages to land the chopper safely blades down.
  • July 26, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Oh, just got reminded:

    • In Aunt Dimity and the Duke, the Duke of Penford (in Cornwall) provided the local physician with a helicopter for his use. According to the estate mechanic's telling, "Yes, well, Dr. Singh had to have one, and since the village needed him, His Grace got him his chopper." The chopper later comes in handy when the duke's cousin, fashion model Susannah Ashley-Woods is found unconscious from a head injury and airlifted to hospital in Portsmouth.
  • July 26, 2012
    Routerie
    "Just for the sake of it" = not a trope.

    Tropes have purpose. And, indeed, most things that allegedly appear "just for the sake of it" have purpose too. Identify that purpose, or this will just be a list of helicopters.

    Helicopter Status Symbol could be a trope (though it should probably be lumped with other things). Helicopter Cam is a news trope. Helicopters Are Just Better is an excuse to list scenes with helicopters, tropability be damned.
  • July 27, 2012
    Arivne
    How do we know if the creators put in the helicopters for coolness or for some other reason?

    If it's just each troper's opinion why the the helicopter is in the work, this is a YMMV trope and can't be added to a work's main page.
  • July 30, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    ^Well, I tried to list examples (like Brewsters Millions) that have characters comment on the perceived excess of using helicopters. The mechanic's response quoted from Aunt Dimity and the Duke is in response to another character's reaction to the first mention of the chopper. The villagers' reactions are also noted in the other Aunt Dimity example. And I think there's some comment on the autogyro in It Happened One Night, though whether it's a condemnation of excess (surely appropos in 1934) or a suggestion of tasteless self-promotion (the prospective groom was a professional daredevil/pilot type), I cannot clearly recall. Perhaps it's time for another viewing...

    FWIW, I think the perceived excess of using helicopters is key to this.
  • July 31, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ In that case, the description should say that an example counts only if there's an In Universe acknowledgement that the helicopters are cool or that their use/appearance is excessive.

    That would keep it from suffering Trope Decay into "any work with helicopters", which is a fate that many other "Everything's Better With" tropes have fallen victim to.
  • July 31, 2012
    oztrickster
    Used in an opening sequence for Excel Saga which shows an army helicopter flying across a city and has a soldier asking what their mission is, the leader says that they just needed some cool footage for the opening.
  • July 31, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    ^^I concur. Of course, the "excess" can be quite broadly construed. In Aunt Dimity and the Duke, the chopper is also an indicator of wealth, which is suggestive since the same duke's father had to sell off family heirlooms in the prologue (set some twenty years earlier, when the current duke was twelve). In other words, how did he grow up to be a mere thirty-two and wealthy again when he's a duke (and presumably cannot work for a living due to his social status)?
  • August 5, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Would Gratuitous Helicopter work as a title? This seems a bit like the gratuitous language tropes (sure they can speak Latin/French/Swahili/whatever but do they need to, or are they showing off a bit?).

    Actually, I don't mind the current title, since it seems to be suggesting something similar to the ideas behind the others with that title construction. Does the "Everything's Better With..." construction invite Trope Decay?
  • August 5, 2012
    Routerie
    The problem with Gratuitous Helicopter is that is literally means the helicopter serves no purpose - and if it serves no purpose, it's not a trope. If it is a trope, it does have a purpose, and the title must state that purpose.

    So, what is the purpose of these helicoters? Helicoter As Status Symbol?
  • August 5, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Hard to say for all of them. The display of wealth is certainly a factor in a number of these, but for different reasons (implied or explicit criticism of excess/lack of taste, waste of resources on the undeserving, or as a big fat clue to a character's new wealth). The element of critique is also there, either implied (Excel Saga) or explicit (the coach in Brewsters Millions, the neighbours in Aunt Dimity).
  • August 15, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Cool Helicopter is a trope, as is Gratuitous X as "gratuitous" refers to the story and not the storytelling.
  • August 15, 2012
    Routerie
    "Thing doesn't affect the story" isn't enough for a trope. Tell us what it does affect.
  • August 15, 2012
    ccoa
    I would contest that the Cool X tropes are not actually tropes, but that's an issue for the TRS.
  • August 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ I would say they would be, in that the stories that use a Cool Car or Cool Horse don't just have them there, but also be an important part, and in many cases have them be practically part of the cast (or actually part of the cast if they are sentient).
  • September 4, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    ^ Exactly. The features of the vehicle (or horse) are important, either in terms of "extras" or in terms of doing what they do really well. Not just a car, but a souped up sports car (possibly armed or outfitted with gadgetry). Not just a horse, but a fast horse (and possibly sapient to boot). Helicopters' ability to hover, land and take off in tight vertical spaces (compared to other aircraft) is important to this trope in the same way, with some choppers having extras (think Airwolf).

    That said, I'm of two minds as to the name: either the "Cool..." version or the "Everything's Better With..." construction seem to be the best suggested thus far.
  • September 4, 2012
    Routerie
    "Everything's Better With..." is not a good suggestion for a name - every trope currently using that construction is broken, and the name itself is close to meaningless. Cool X has a lot of problems, as Dragon Quest's post reveals, and we can discuss them elsewhere, but that construction is especially inappropriate for this page. No one has suggested examples of pimped-out or unexpectedly elaborate helicopters. These examples so far are just Helicopters and do not fit in with the Cool X family.
  • September 4, 2012
    Rognik
    While I admit there is a trope here, but I would call it Everythings More Important With Helecopters. A VIP is coming in? They'll arrive by helicopter. You want an Interesting Background Event? Throw in a helicopter! And how many times have you seen spies coming in or leaving on a helicopter?

    Of course, the mere presence of a helicopter does not make this trope. It has to be important that a helicopter is used. The WKRP Cincinatti example above would also work, as a helicopter for the station would be a status symbol if nothing else. The Escape From Witch Mountain example is not, however, as the helicopter is a convenient means to chase someone up the mountain and faster than the car fleeing.
  • September 4, 2012
    Psi001
    • Subverted then played straight in The Railway Series with Harold the Helecopter, who was introduced as an egotistical rival for Percy that the latter bested in a race. In Christopher Awdry's continuation and the TV show Harold made reappearances and became friendlier and helpful to the engines.
    • Parodied in Family Guy with helecopters used in abundance for action genre parodies. Perhaps subverted most disasterously with "The Petercopter", which Peter takes off in as a dramatic getaway only to break down and crash in Joe's lawn.
  • September 4, 2012
    Generality
    Anyway, helicopters are cool. They have spinning parts.
  • September 4, 2012
    Routerie
    ^^What exactly is subverted or parodied there?
  • September 4, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Quinjets. Plus, Stark Tower's landing pad that we get to see. Is this for a quinjet? There's a lot of these, plus S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopters, in The Avengers.
  • September 4, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    @ Rognik I think you might be onto something there. I also think the first two sentences of your second paragraph (from your post of 2012-09-04 08:11:32) should be part of the description.

    I hesitate to add Blue Thunder and Airwolf, since they are but dim and distant memories to me, but I think they might fit. I will suggest the Columbo episode "A Friend In Deed," in which Richard Kiley is a deputy police commissioner who covers for his friend's accidental killing of his wife and then demands the friend's help to cover up his own wife's murder. Kiley's character tries to make it seem as if an unknown burglar-cum-killer is besetting his posh neighbourhood, and at one point he rides along in a helicopter in hopes of catching this person. It's difficult to resist the notion that the chopper wasn't absolutely necessary to the construction of his alibi, but made it look like the LAPD was putting a high priority on catching this non-existent crook, and the guy used it in part because he had the power to do so.
  • September 20, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Bump.
  • September 24, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Right. So here's some of the relevant dialogue from It Happened One Night:
    Mr. Andrews: Everything's set. Creating quite a furore, too. (Pause) Great stunt King is going to pull.
    Ellie: Stunt?
    Mr. Andrews: Yeah, he's landing on the lawn in an autogyro.
    Ellie: (Flatly) Yes, I heard.
    Mr. Andrews: Personally, I think it's silly, too.

    Oh, and Ellie and her father aren't the only ones to find it a bit silly:
    Peter: I'd like to get a load of that three ring circus you're pulling. I wanna see what love looks like when it's triumphant. I haven't had a good laugh in a week.
    I'm pretty sure that makes this trope Older Than They Think.

    On reflection, I'm inclined to support Gratuitous Helicopter for a title. Getting back to Routerie's objection above, I think the word gratuitous is actually quite good for what we're getting at here. Most dictionaries define "gratuitous" to mean "unwarranted; being without apparent reason, cause, or justification: as in the phrase, 'a gratuitous insult'." In other words, it's deemed excessive and seemingly done for the sake of it. While this sort of reaction could be on the part of the audience, often the intention to invoke is quite clear; since Family Guy is ostensibly about a middle class man and his immediate family/neighbours, the example Psi001 gave would seem to fit (besides, isn't the toddler son depicted as a stupefyingly well-equipped mad scientist at least once?).

    Now I grant you, a medical evacuation in the aftermath of a blizzard doesn't fit most people's criteria for unwarranted excess, but I cited it because several characters in the book reacted that way. As I said before, I'm with Arivne that the criticism should be in-universe. I'm pretty sure Columbo asked if the helicopter was necessary, but it's been a while since I watched that as well.

    As for other points in the description, I suppose there should be some stress on the ways the unwarranted excess might be perceived as such. Using helicopters when there are perfectly good roads available? Expending emergency resources on a non-emergency, or something less than urgent? Demonstrating wealth and importance? Sheer publicity value? Mostly, there should be a distinction between these issues and simply having a particularly spiffy chopper with weaponry/gadgetry (which would fall under Cool Plane).

  • February 20, 2013
    MokonaZero
    In Infamous Cole holds onto a helicopter with one hand while firing bolts at The Beast.
  • February 20, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film Live Action
    • Doctor Kelloway sends assassins in all-black helicopters to find and kill the three astronauts of Capricorn One so that they can never divulge that the manned landing on Mars was an elaborate hoax.
  • February 28, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film Live Action
    • The US Army launches an armada of helicopters to capture warlord Mohammad Adid in Black Hawk Down. Subverting this trope, a young sentry uses a cell phone to transmit the rotor noise to alert Adid's forces that the Army is on the move.
  • February 28, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    Chris Hastings has noted at least once that the only reason he ever has for drawing an helicopter in The Adventures Of Dr Mc Ninja is so that a few pages later it can explode.
  • March 1, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Music

    • In the music video to German hiphop artist DJ Tomekk's "Kimnotize" featuring Lil' Kim and Trooper Da Don, a black helicopter from which Tomekk enters the scene is prominently featured for no apparent reason other than it looking cool. DJ Tomekk even stated in an interview about the making of the video that he wanted a big-budget American-style hip hop video, so he had a helicopter (as well as other luxury vehicles, such as Hummer H3s) make an appearance for that added coolness.
  • July 11, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    I had another look at the Columbo episode "A Friend In Deed," with Richard Kiley as the killer deputy police commissioner who uses a helicopter to pursue a nonexistent burglar-cum-killer. Columbo actually asks him if the helicopter is necessary, so it has the in-universe comment in the script.

    By the way, where are we on the name and the text? Any consensus emerge while I was gone?
  • July 11, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    The name is bad. We can't go with it.

    Also, what's up with the distinction between this and Garnishing The Story.
  • July 11, 2013
    PancticeSquadCutterback
    ^ I agree with this. We don't want more "Everything's Better With X" tropes.
  • July 11, 2013
    DracMonster
  • July 11, 2013
    StarSword
    This is just going to turn into "This work has helicopters in it." Motion to discard: we have enough problems with the other "Everything's Better With Blah Blah Blah" tropes, and most of the time a work uses helicopters because of their capabilities rather than because Rule Of Cool.
  • July 11, 2013
    dragonquestz
    "Also, what's up with the distinction between this and Garnishing The Story."

    This should be a Sub Trope, but it doesn't look like it. If we don't have a cool copter trope, make it that. Otherwise discard.
  • July 11, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I couldn't agree more with Star Sword. Too poorly defined, too subjective, and it's going to be misused. A lot.
  • July 11, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Cool Copter = Cool Plane at the moment. At least three agreements to discard. Tossing.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable