Created By: DaveyNC on September 11, 2011

The Virtuous Truck

Protagonist always drives an old, beat up truck.

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This first occurred to me years ago when watching "Murphy's Romance". Sally Fields was a struggling single mother trying to run her farm and only had an old truck. Then, of course, "Mr. Majestyk" with the famous chase scene in the old truck. Even Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino" mostly drove around in an old truck.

It's always used to convey the inherent virtue of the protagonist and to position the protagonist as the underdog since the antagonist will usually be driving something flashy like a sports car or a Mercedes sedan. Guess we could probably call that the "Evil Merc".

Used to drive my wife nuts, when I had a wife, when The Virtuous Truck would appear and I would call it out.

I suppose it's sort of like the good guy wearing the white hat, probably the oldest trope of all.

Anyway, first time here, so be gentle with me. Funny, interesting site!
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • September 11, 2011
    • Phenomenon's hero drives a beat up truck to show you what a good guy George is.
  • September 11, 2011
    Canton Everett Delaware III drives an old truck in the premiere of Season 6 ofDoctor Who
  • September 12, 2011
    Rick Simon's Powerwagon pickup in Simon And Simon. In that case, the contrast is more about buying into mainstream values and a bit of class tension; Rick served in the Vietnam War and hung out with disreputable people in dive bars, while his college educated brother A.J. always drove flashy a Camaro.

    BTW Their detective partnership worked because of their ultimate familial loyalty and the different skill sets each brought to the partnership.

  • September 12, 2011
    Related to Wealth Is Evil... Which appears to be unexpectedly absent. WTF?

    Well, there's the carpenter from Overboard, he has a truck, and it's pretty beat up. And he kidnaps anther man's bride and manipulates her so she thinks she's his wife..
  • September 13, 2011
    Spaceballs: Lone Starr drives a Winnebago motor home. That flies in space, but still looks like a truck.
  • September 13, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    Tremors: The two main characters drive a beat up 1963 Jeep Gladiator.
  • September 13, 2011
    Funny, I thought I saw this around somewhere. Musta been somewhere else where they document tropes.

    • The Beverly Hillbillies: Despite being a multimillionaire Jed Clampett still drives his old beat-up truck. Jethro occasionally gets a new convertable when he's puttin' on airs.
  • September 13, 2011
    Bella from the Twilight series drives a beat up old pick-up truck.
  • September 13, 2011
    Not the protagonist, but his mentor- Ebenezar from The Dresden Files.

    Also Kate Daniels drives one for the first four books in the series.
  • September 14, 2011
    Jeez, today I thought of the ultimate Virtuous Truck. Han Solo's Millennium Falcon.

    "What a piece of junk!" --Luke

    "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid." --Han to Luke

    "I've made a lot of special modifications myself." --Han to Luke

    "You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It's the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs." --Han to Ben and Luke

    "You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought." --Leia to Han

    "Don't worry, she'll hold together . . . You hear me, baby? Hold together!" --Han to the Falcon

    "This bucket of bolts is never going to get us past that blockade." --Leia to Han

    "This baby's got a few surprises left in her, sweetheart." --Han to Leia

    "Would it help if I got out and pushed?" --Leia to Han

    "We're in trouble!" --Han

    "She's the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy." --Lando Calrissian
  • September 14, 2011
    Subverted for laughs in Condorman. The titular hero appears in disguise in a beat up truck that looks like a gypsy wagon. However, at the press of button, the outer shell falls off, revealing the condormobile.
  • September 14, 2011
    Can use a better title, "virtuous" is a distraction. Trusty Old Truck? Reliable Rig? Heroic Old Truck? I'm short on ideas...
  • September 15, 2011
    ^ I'm not sure it is; the point as I understand it is that the truck signifies that its owner is virtuous. "Trusty Old Truck" and "Reliable Rig" don't work because they're about the qualities of the truck instead of the driver (and because it's not un-heard-of for the Virtuous Truck to be The Alleged Car, and neither trusty nor reliable).
  • September 15, 2011
    There's a Virtuous Truck/Evil Merc dynamic going on in Oliver And Company between Fagin (driven to crime by poverty, but fundamentally decent) and Sykes (a monster, and certainly doesn't have poverty as an excuse). Fagin doesn't manage a beat-up old truck; he's got a beat-up old motor scooter instead.
  • September 16, 2011
    In The Queen, whe she isn't being chauferred she likes to drive a WW 2 era humvee.