Flipping Helpless - Crowner YKTTW Discussion

Flipping Helpless - Crowner
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(permanent link) added: 2013-02-03 14:13:11 sponsor: KZN02 (last reply: 2013-03-20 10:43:12)

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A common Weaksauce Weakness, especially for turtles, is flipping something on its back. While it is possible to reorient, it usually takes a significant amount of wobbling to do so, leaving one vulnerable.

In video games, this is very effective against Stone Wall enemies, especially shelled ones.


  • In a mid-90s commercial for Snapple, a young man writes in to the Snapple Lady asking if Snapple has a mascot (and if not, could he be it)? Snapple sends him to mascot boot camp, and he discovers the hard way that once you fall over while wearing a fake giant glass jar over 70% of your body, its pretty near impossible to get back up again.

Anime and Manga

  • In the first Gamera film, the army attempted to invoke this to stop him. In their defense, no one could have anticipated the giant turtle would fire rocket boosters out of it's shell and fly away.
    • Gamera Vs Viras (AKA Destroy All Planets): the giant turtle Gamera is trapped lying on his back (shell) and a giant alien with a pointed head repeatedly spears him in the stomach while he's helpless.
  • In A Christmas Story, Ralphie's little brother is dressed up in so many layers for the Indiana winter, he can't get back up when he falls down. The narrator even mentions he looks like a turtle on his back.
  • Blade Runner: In the Voight-Kampff test that Holden gives to Leon, one of the questions involves a flipped tortoise.
    Holden: You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and you see a tortoise. It's crawling towards you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs, trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?

  • Om in Small Gods. He took it hard.
  • It was also done by the protagonists to a giant sea turtle in Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island, who then left for some reason. While they were away, the turtle was carried away by a high tide.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H, an ambulance-truck flipped on its back demonstrated to Colonel Potter the general unfitness of his camp: after everyone pushing together can't get it rightside up, a group of 6 marines happens by and rights it all by themselves.
  • This was a common weakness of competitors on Robot Wars, at least before the advent of the self-righting mechanism (SRIMECH).
  • My Name Is Earl: Crabman's pet turtle Mr. Turtle is scared of being flipped on his back, at least according to Crabman.
  • Elementary: Sherlock brings home the pet turtle which used to be owned by the Victim of the Week, claiming he is going to make turtle soup out of it (after fattening it up first). At one point he uses it as a paperweight by putting it shellsidedown on a stack of papers. Joan is not pleased.

Video Games
  • Mario Bros. arcade game: Mario and Luigi could flip turtles (Shellcreepers) over by jumping up from directly below and hitting the level the turtle was walking on. If neither Mario or Luigi ran into the turtle and knocked it off, it would eventually jump out of its shell, kick the shell over, get back in and continue walking. This could be done with crabs (Sidesteppers) as well, but required two hits.
  • Paper Mario: Koopas can be flipped on their backs when jumped on, which also lowers their defense.
  • This is how you defeat Hookbill the Koopa in Yoshi's Island and (adult) Bowser's first form in Yoshi's Island DS; Flip them over, then Ground Pound their underside to cause damage.
  • Similar to the Yoshi's Island example but more infamous: the Giant Enemy Crab from Genji: Days of the Blade.
  • The Spiked Beetle, Terrorpin, and Snapper are various enemies in The Legend of Zelda series that are based on turtles and thus have this weakness. Typically they can be flipped with the hammer or the shield, or in the latter case, by getting underneath them using a Deku flower.
    • The boss of the fourth dungeon in Oracle of Ages, beaten by flipping it with the Switch Hook.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, this is the weakness of two bosses. The eighth Colossus is only vulnerable when it falls and lands on its back, while the ninth is flipped.

Web Comics
  • Drowtales: This trope is lampshaded when Kiel'ndia Val Vloz'ress' turtle golem gets flipped upside down by the Beldrobbaen spellcasters:
    "Once a turtle is on its back, it's done for."

Web Videos

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: When Selma takes Bart & Lisa to Duff Gardens, Surly (one of the costumed mascots, dressed as a Duff Beer bottle) falls over and can't get back up again.
  • On the Futurama episode "Crimes of the Hot", Bender rescues a turtle because he feels a kinship with it, because he too can't get up when laid on his back. (He claims that all those times he got up from his back he was actually slightly on his side.) At the climax, when all the robots have to vent their emissions upward to save themselves, Bender and the turtle are on their backs, unable to get up. Then the turtle manages to flip over, which gives Bender the incentive to do the same.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang tries to invoke this trope by flipping over the Fire Nation's Tundra Tanks with his airbending powers. However, this doesn't end up working like he hoped for: for the sole purpose of averting this trope, the design of the Tundra Tank includes a rotating cabin.

Real Life
  • Ironically not Truth in Television when it comes to most species of actual turtles, which can use their heads or tails to right themselves if they wind up on their backs.
  • Beetles and grounded horse shoe crabs.
  • For obvious reasons, this trope applies to pretty much every single human-built ground vehicle ever. Whether it was a tank, a horse carriage or a motorcycle, if its wheels don't touch the ground, it ain't moving. To avoid this trope is why vehicles meant to travel on uneven terrain need to have a low center of mass.

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