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Just for the Heli of It
Bob thinks he has to use a chopper to get somewhere. Alice thinks he's being ridiculous.


(permanent link) added: 2013-07-12 13:26:10 sponsor: 69BookWorM69 (last reply: 2013-08-31 06:35:37)

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Former Title: Gratuitous Helicopter

Sure, helicopters are their own special brand of Cool Plane, but sometimes taking one to get somewhere seems a bit much. Using helicopters when there are perfectly good roads available? Expending emergency resources on a non-emergency, or something less than urgent? Demonstrating you have more wealth and importance than someone in a mere limousine? Sheer publicity value? For some people, the use of the helicopter is preferable or even quite reasonable, for others, not so much.

When this trope is operating, expect someone in-universe to question, criticize or ridicule the use of the chopper. This person may be unaware of all the reasoning behind the choice to use the chopper, or they may simply find it unconvincing, if not outright ridiculous. In either case, they will draw attention to what they consider the absurdity of the thing.

Simply having a particularly spiffy chopper with weaponry/gadgetry (which would fall under Cool Plane) is not this trope. Contrast this with instances where helicopters are expected (media about modern wars) or even practical (say, T.C.'s helicopter charter service in the multi-island state of Hawaii).

Examples

Advertising
  • 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!
  • In an ad within an ad, we see Michael Bay is spoofing his Signature Style, including having seven helicopters. The people to whom he's pitching the ad have no idea why the copters are there.

Anime and Manga
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler Isumi keeps trying to convince her friends to ride with her in her helicopter as a means of travel, despite the lack of need to use it. Considering this is her fifth helicopter in as many days it's no surprise her friends prepare more normal methods of travel.

Film
  • 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, making this Older Than They Think), apparently for the PR value. The bride and her father are not favorably impressed:
    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.
    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.
The bride ends up leaving before the ceremony to run away with Peter, a newspaper reporter.
  • In the Richard Pryor version of Brewster's 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 (to fulfill the challenge to spend a large sum of money and have nothing tangible to show for it).

Literature
  • Animorphs had a bizarre case: Tobias and Rachel (in bird morph) are following a woman by latching on to a taxi. Then Tobias, for some reason, gets it into his head that they'll lose her if they stay on the taxi, so he flies up to a nearby helicopter and grabs on to the skids, a dangerous act and, as it turns ot, pointless, since the helicopter ends up landing at the airport where the woman (Visser Three in morph) was going.
  • In Aunt Dimity and the Duke, the Duke of Penford (in Cornwall) provided the local physician with a helicopter for his use. Emma Porter learns of it from the estate mechanic. When she expresses surprise at the idea, he tells her, "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.
  • 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."

Live-Action TV
  • In the Columbo episode "A Friend In Deed," Richard Kiley plays 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 turns out the chopper ride was part of the construction of his alibi, plus it made it seem 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. Before the flight, Columbo actually asks the deputy commissioner if the helicopter was really necessary.
  • Discussed a few times in WKRP in Cincinnati, where newsman Les Nessman wants a traffic 'copter for the station in order to keep up with the better funded competition. In the first episode new program director Andy promises him one just to shut him up. Cut to the third season premiere:
    Les: You promised me a helicopter.
    Andy: Yes, but that was three years ago and I was lying.
Clearly Andy doesn't think a helicopter is a high priority.
  • Subverted in the Sao Paulo, Brazil episode of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain and his friend hop in a helicopter to fly across town rather than drive. It's set up as gratuitous until Bourdain mentions in a voiceover that people who stick to the street need armored cars and defensive driving courses because street crime horrific traffic are such serious problems there.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • Played for laughs in The Powerpuff Girls episode "Jewel of the Aisle". A jewel thief loses a precious gem in a box of Lucky Captain Rabbit King cereal, which he then has to recover from the Powerpuff Girls. Among his attempts to get the jewel back are taking a helicopter up to the roof of their house, getting knocked off the roof by a squirrel attack, and then taking a second helicopter back up to the roof.
  • One episode of Metal Ocalypse had Nathan say; "Guys, I think we need to build a space helicopter!" He's immediately shot down with "That's impossible!" The band also frequently uses a helicopter the size of a good-sized house to travel with, when they're not using their longship car.
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