Created By: KZN02 on December 26, 2012 Last Edited By: KZN02 on January 14, 2013
Troped

Low Clearance

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On situations involving fast-moving vehicles or animals (such as a Traintop Battle), watch out for low bridges, tunnels, light fixtures, and branches. In cartoons and comedies, it's for laughs as characters get knocked off with some bruises; elsewhere, it can be rather gruesome to the point of decapitation.

Alternatively, characters will duck or move to an awkward position to avoid getting hit.

This trope is not limited to vertical examples.

Instant Convertible is a Sub-Trope, where the character's car is the victim. Compare Watch Out for That Tree!.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In the thirteenth Pokémon movie, Kyurem is about to experience this trope before wisely jumping off before plowing into the mountainside.

Film
  • In a blooper they left in Star Wars a stormtrooper hits his head on a door that didn't open quite enough.
  • According to the movie, this is where Max Headroom's name came from--the last words seen by Edison Carter before getting clocked by the sign.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: in a pursuit between a Nazi pilot in his plane and Indy and his father in a car, they reach a narrow tunnel which breaks the plane's wings off as it grinds on the road humorously by the car it was pursuing before exploding at the end.
  • This is how the bad guy in Speed meets his end. As he and the protagonist are fighting on the top of a runaway subway train, he gets clocked by an overhead light, chopping off his head.
  • Played for laughs in Men in Black II when Jay is trying to subdue the giant worm alien in the subway tunnel. He's riding along on top of it and having to duck light fixtures and various other objects.
  • The Iron Giant: as Hogarth is chased by the Giant, he hits his head on a low-lying branch.
  • On the Roger Rabbit Short "Roller Coaster Rabbit", Roger narrowly avoids a sign on the coaster warning people "Don't Stand Up", but he doesn't miss the next one, which reads "We Warned You!"
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier:
    Scotty: I know this ship like... *bangs his head*

Live-Action TV
  • On The Borgias, news arrives that king Philip of France died from an injury he sustained after hitting his head on the top of a door frame. Philip was rather short so one of the cardinals jokes that he must have specifically searched for a door that was low enough.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: During an A Day in the Limelight episode focusing on Xander he is battling a zombie while in a speeding car. In the middle of getting instrucions on how to diffuse a time bomb the zombie and his (non zombie) friends have set at the school, the zombie's head gets lopped off by a mailbox they zoom by.
  • Power Rangers Samurai: In the last episode, Skull and Spike are hit by a "Maximum Height" sign from behind as they say goodbye to Bulk.

Stand Up Comedy
  • Bill Engvall has a "here's your sign" joke wherein he was driving along and came across a tractor-trailer stuck under an overpass. He pulls over and starts talking to the driver as they wait for the police. Cop pulls up and asks the driver, "You get your truck stuck?"
    Bill: And God bless this trucker, without missing a beat he goes, "No, I was delivering this overpass and I ran out of gas."

Western Animation
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In "Lighter than Hare", as Sam pursues Bugs Bunny on a handcar on his UFO, he crashes into the mountain where the train tracks lead to a tunnel through it.
  • In 1958's "A Pizza Tweety Pie", Sylvester is waterskiing behind a motorboat in pursuit of Tweety through the canals of Venice, Italy. Sylvester raises himself by the tail to avoid a mooring mast, but impacts hard against a pedestrian bridge that's marked "Duck-a you head / Lowla Bridge-ada."
  • From the Josie And The Pussy Cats cartoons by Hanna-Barbera, specifically "A Nemo's A No-No Affair", the villain tumbles into a motorcycle sidecar occupied by Alexandra Cabot. Alexandra pulls on his nose, because girls fight funny. The villain rises to his standing height to menace Alexandra, but a low-hanging conduit fulfills this trope, and the villain is ejected from the sidecar.
  • Wallace & Gromit:
    • A Close Shave. The sheep are stacked up high on top of Wallace in his sidecar, and have to duck together to avoid a low bridge.
    • The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Gromit is operating a lady were-rabbit puppet on top of Wallace's van when they go through a tunnel and the puppet is knocked off the roof, pulling poor Gromit along with it.
  • On Hercules, Phil is knocked off Pegasus by a tree branch.
  • In The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie, Dennis is about to get SpongeBob while atop David Hasselhoff when they go under a buoy and Dennis is knocked off.
    • A horizontal example in "Shanghaied", SpongeBob is told to watch the sides of the Flying Dutchman's ship as it passes close to some rocks. For the entire duration of the gag, SpongeBob keeps calling out "Keep going, you're good... keep going" as chunks of wood fly past him. Once the ship is out, we see that the entire side is gone.

Real Life
  • When The Brady Bunch was filming at an amusement part the producers wanted a shot of the bunch riding a roller coaster, shot from the lead car looking back at them having a great time. Robert Reed, who didn't want to do it anyway, noticed a few places on the coaster where the camera rig would definitely not fit through, and insisted that they perform a dry run (with the camera but without the actors). The producers balked but he eventually talked them into it, and sure enough when the coaster got back to the gate the camera was nowhere to be seen.

Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • December 26, 2012
    remande
    According to the movie, this is where Max Headroom's name came from--the last words seen by Edison Carter before getting clocked by the sign.
  • December 26, 2012
    StarSword
    Film:
    • Played for laughs in Men In Black II when Jay is trying to subdue the giant worm alien in the subway tunnel. He's riding along on top of it and having to duck light fixtures and various other objects.

    Stand Up Comedy:
    • Bill Engvall has a "here's your sign" joke wherein he was driving along and came across a tractor-trailer stuck under an overpass. He pulls over and starts talking to the driver as they wait for the police. Cop pulls up and asks the driver, "You get your truck stuck?"
      Bill: And God bless this trucker, without missing a beat he goes, "No, I was delivering this overpass and I ran out of gas."
  • December 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    This is how the bad guy in Speed meets his end. As he and the protagonist are fighting on the top of a runaway subway train, he gets clocked by an overhead light, chopping off his head.
  • December 27, 2012
    Arivne
    Often occurs during a Traintop Battle.
  • December 27, 2012
    StarSword
    @randomsurfer: Don't put a spoiler on the work name, please. For that one I'd say wrap the tags around the second sentence.
  • December 27, 2012
    TonyG
    Instant Convertible is a subtrope, where the character's car is the victim.
    • Wallace And Gromit:
      • A Close Shave. The sheep are stacked up high on top of Wallace in his sidecar, and have to duck together to avoid a low bridge.
      • The Curse Of The Were Rabbit. Gromit is operating a lady were-rabbit puppet on top of Wallace's van when they go through a tunnel and the puppet is knocked off the roof, pulling poor Gromit along with it.
  • January 3, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Real Life: When The Brady Bunch was filming at an amuesment part the producers wanted a shot of the bunch riding a rollercoaster, shot from the lead car looking back at them having a great time. Robert Reed, who didn't want to do it anyway, noticed a few places on the coaster where the camera rig would definitely not fit through, and insisted that they perform a dry run (with the camera but without the actors). The producers balked but he eventually talked them into it, and sure enough when the coaster got back to the gate the camera was nowhere to be seen.
  • January 3, 2013
    nielas
    When horse or motorcycles chases take place in a wooded area, you will often have a low hanging branch that the character either ducks to avoid or is knocked off by.
  • January 3, 2013
    TonyG
    • The Iron Giant: As Hogarth is chased by the Giant, he hits his head on a low-lying branch.
    • On the Roger Rabbit Short "Roller Coaster Rabbit", Roger narrowly avoids a sign on the coaster warning people "Don't Stand Up", but he doesn't miss the next one, which reads "We Warned You!"
  • January 3, 2013
    Jaqen
    Film Star Trek, Scotty says "I know this ship like..." and bangs his head.
  • January 4, 2013
    TonyG
  • January 5, 2013
    0blivionmobile
    In the thirteenth Pokemon movie, Kyurem is about to experience this trope before wisely jumping off before plowing into the mountainside.
  • January 6, 2013
    JonnyB
    ^^^ I believe that gag was in Star Trek V The Final Frontier.
  • January 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In a blooper they left in Star Wars a stormtrooper hits his head on a door that didn't open quite enough.
  • January 7, 2013
    AgProv
    Real life - a very large articulated lorry was just a few inches too tall to fit under a railway bridge in Stockport, England. Unfortunately, the driver did not realise this until he'd wedged the lorry very, very, tightly under the arch of the bridge. As a traffic jam built up behind the stuck lorry, police were called and couldn't find a way of unjamming the lorry. The Fire Brigade couldn't unjam it either. A senior manager from the factory that makes the trucks was called. He couldn't think of an answer either.

    And then a seven year old boy among the onlookers piped up with "Daddy, why don't they let the air out of its tyres?"

    This solution was attempted. The laden lorry then sank on its deflated tyres for the four or five vital inches that allowed it to drive out of the tunnel on its wheel rims... once out the tyres were quickly reinflated and it went on its way...
  • January 8, 2013
    randomsurfer
    ^That's a pretty common story. Not to go all "Citation Needed" on you or anything but do you have a citation for it specifically happening in Stockport, with a boy in the crowd saying that?
  • January 9, 2013
    nielas
    ^ It does sound more like an Urban Legend to me.

    • On The Borgias news arrives that king Philip of France died from an injury he sustained after hitting his head on the top of a door frame. Philip was rather short so one of the cardinals jokes that he must have specifically searched for a door that was low enough.
  • January 11, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer: During an A Day In The Limelight episode focusing on Xander he is battling a zombie while in a speeding car. In the middle of getting instrucions on how to diffuse a time bomb the zombie and his (non zombie) friends have set at the school, the zombie's head gets lopped off by a mailbox they zoom by.
  • January 12, 2013
    Chabal2
    A horizontal example from Spongebob: in Shanghaied, Spongebob is told to watch the sides of the Flying Dutchman's ship as it passes close to some rocks. For the entire duration of the gag, Spongebob keeps calling out "Keep going, you're good... keep going" as chunks of wood fly past him. Once the ship is out, we see that the entire side is gone.
  • January 13, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Another Looney Tunes cartoon from 1958 is A Pizza Tweety Pie where Sylvester is waterskiing behind a motorboat in pursuit of Tweety through the canals of Venice, Italy. Sylvester raises himself by the tail to avoid a mooring mast, but impacts hard against a pedestrian bridge that's marked "Duck-a you head / Lowla Bridge-ada."

    From the Josie And The Pussy Cats cartoons by Hanna-Barbera, specifically A Nemo's A No-No Affair, the villain tumbles into a motorcycle sidecar occupied by Alexandra Cabot. Alexandra pulls on his nose, because girls fight funny. The villain rises to his standing height to menace Alexandra, but a low-hanging conduit fulfills this trope, and the villain is ejected from the sidecar.
  • January 14, 2013
    Leaper
    The truck incident is almost certainly a UL. Should be removed (when/if this goes live at the latest).
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