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Pop The Tires
Deflating the tires of a vehicle to hinder its maneuvrability
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(permanent link) added: 2012-06-24 14:52:32 sponsor: ElodieHiras edited by: Antigone3 (last reply: 2013-03-28 11:52:45)

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The classic action movie tactic of shooting tires, or deflating them in any numbers of other ways, to hinder the maneuverability of a vehicle.

The outcome of the tire damage depends to some extent on the special effects budget. The car might crawl to a stop, or become impossible to steer, or spectacularly crash.

The tactic is Truth in Television, police have "spike strips" available for when a high-speed chase isn't the best option. This is a subtrope of Vehicular Sabotage. Spiked Wheels commonly have this effect. Compare to Anti-Cavalry, which takes out a different form of ground transport.

Examples:

Card Games
  • In Mille Bornes you can give an opponent a "Flat Tire," which stops him until he can play a "Spare Tire" or "Puncture Proof" card.

Film
  • In the Russian comedy Shirli Myrli, the main character steals a vehicle to escape cops. The cops decide to shoot his wheels. Unfortunately for them, the vehicle was a tram, and had no tires.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Judge Doom takes out a toon car's tires by pouring toon-dissolving Dip on the road.
  • The Wizard: The bounty hunter after the kids takes out the dad's tires to disable his truck.
  • In Road House Dalton keeps multiple spare tires in the trunk of his car. He is used to having disgruntled bar patrons put holes in his tires and prepares accordingly.
  • In Oceans Eleven the fake getaway van is brought down by shooting the tires.
  • This happens to the main characters' car in Rebel Without a Cause, and is done with a knife.
  • ''Goldfinger. While driving alongside Tilly Masterson's car, Bond uses one of the Q gadgets in his car to rip open and flatten the tires of Tilly's car, forcing her to stop.
  • Dick Tracy. While Big Boy's thugs are trying to escape the police cordon around his nightclub, Dick Tracy fires his Tommy gun at the tires of one of their cars, causing it to crash.
  • In the 90s Charlie Sheen movie The Chase, Sheen's character, (an escaped inmate) manages to shoot the tires out on a police car chasing his stolen car by sheer accident as it pulls up alongside him. As this happens at high speed, it sends the police car flying.
  • Terminator 2. During the scene where the T-1000 (driving a truck) is trying to run over John Conner (on his motorcycle), the T-800 shoots out the left front tire of the truck. The T-1000 loses control and rams the truck into an overpass, causing the truck to explode.
  • The Matrix Revolutions. While the Agents are pursuing Trinity and Morpheus on the freeway, an Agent shoots out the left rear tire on Trinity's car, which eventually forces her to stop.
  • In The Chase, the tires are popped at 90mph causing the car to fly into the air and crash into a series of other cars.
  • In [[Mad Max The Road Warrior'', Wez shoots his wrist-mounted crossbow at the tires of the Mack truck supposedly carrying the precious fuel. Since it's such a huge and powerful vehicle, it doesn't accomplish much, and the truck keeps on going despite the flattened tires.

Literature
  • Discussed in the car chase scene in Bride of the Rat God. They conclude that the tires are too hard targets considering none of them have any firearm experience, and they should go for the radiator instead. Then it turns out to be moot, since there isn't a gun in their car anyway.
  • In Battle Royale the Grand Finale has the heroes facing off against Kiriyama in a car chase. They use guns to pop his tires and cause his car to get destroyed.
  • Happens by freak accident in one Ciaphas Cain novel: a frag grenade goes off near one of his tank's treads, jamming it completely.

Live Action Television
  • The X-Files: In the episode "Bad Blood," Mulder originally says that he does this to an RV which was stuck going around in circles. However, after Scully notices how dirty his coat is (and how late he was), Mulder sheepishly admits that shooting out the tires was more difficult than he thought it would be. After he ran out of bullets in the attempt, and after trying to grab onto the RV (subsequently getting dragged around, explaining the dirt) he finally just had to wait for it to run out of gas.
    Mulder: Okay, here's something that you may not know: shooting out the tires on a runaway RV is a LOT harder than it looks.
    • "Darkness Falls": Ecoterrorists set up a tire spike on a road in the woods. Mulder, Scully and two guys from Federal Forest Service are screwed up because they have only one spare tire and must hike to the place they were heading.
  • Michael from Burn Notice does this on a multitude of occasions, albeit usually on cars that are not currently in use, in order to stop someone from being able to chase him in that car after he pulls whatever mayhem he's up to.
    • One time, Michael built a homemade spike strip to stop a car so he could talk to the driver.
    • Defied on one occasion. He tried shooting out the tires of a pursuing vehicle and couldn't, so he began using another tactic: shooting down at the road, causing the bullets to ricochet upwards through the unarmored bottom of the pursuing car. Understandably, this freaked the driver in the other car out.
  • Tested twice on MythBusters.
    • When they tested the above scene from Burn Notice, they found that there's too much stuff on the underside of a car to count on a bullet finding its way through ... and that shooting the tires gave them a flat within half a mile.
    • When they looked at various spy-movie gadgets, tires that drove over caltrops deflated very slowly. (Granted, they were using solid caltrops; if the police deploy these instead of a spike strip they use hollow ones to let the air out.) Jamie's tire-slashing rig worked better, but Adam was still able to maintain control of the target car.
  • Subverted on an episode of Thunderbirds: Lady Penelope attempts to shoot out the tyres of a car, only for it to fail because they've been reinforced to protect against such things.
  • In the opening of the first episode of The Walking Dead, they stop the high speed pursuit with a spike strip taking out the wheels of the escaping car.
  • Happens in an episode of Midsomer Murders to Troy. Troy repays the favor at the end of the episode, preventing the murderer from escaping.
  • At the end of the pilot of Vegas2012, Sheriff Lamb uses his rifle to shoot out the front tires of the Killer of the Week's getaway car. Helps that it was coming right at him.

Manga and Anime
  • This happens in Death Note when they are trying to stop Higuchi from driving away with the Death Note.
  • Speed Racer attempted to do this to the Mammoth car. It has so many tires that it didn't have any effect.
  • Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro: In the opening chase scene, Jigen attempts to shoot out the tires of the henchmens' vehicle. The first time, it's subverted; he hits the tires, but they are a special kind that are impervious to regular bullets. Jigen upgrades his ammo and tries again, this time hitting them and causing the car to immediately spin out and crash into the side of the mountain.
  • Psycho-Pass: Akane shoots the tires of a big truck that the culprit Makashima is trying to make his get away in, while clinging to its' side. This works really well, especially since trucks are hard to turn, and he couldn't shake her off.

Newspaper Comics
  • Garfield, in one strip, slashed the tires on a donut truck in order to eat its contents.

Tabletop Games
  • Defied in the d20 Modern setting Urban Arcana with two vehicular magic items, the Reinflating Tires, reinflating once and only once when they get punctured, and the Impervious Tires, which are tires possessing a hardness of 20 (In Layman's Terms, they can resist .44 Magnum bullets.)
  • Car Wars. Some dueling arenas have rules against shooting at other cars' tires because it's too easy to disable them that way.

Video Games
  • A possible tactic in the Grand Theft Auto series since GTA Vice City. In fact, Crazy-Prepared players might just preemptively take out the tires of stationary vehicles near the mission to prevent their opponents to escape by driving them.
  • In the car chase sequences in L.A. Noire your partner can do this if you drive into position and give him a clear shot. At the climax of one arson case you end up chasing a tram where this isn't an option.
  • In Saints Row: The Third you have to shoot out the wheels on a semi-trailer truck to stop it during one mission. Also, it's possible to shoot out the wheels of any car in the game, which greatly lowers its handling but still leaves it able to be driven.
  • This is a gameplay mechanic in True Crime: Streets of LA.
  • In many Need for Speed games that have police, if your heat level gets high enough, cops will start deploying spike strips with their roadblocks. Even losing one tire to one will cause your vehicle to be very difficult to control, and is usually followed by the cops arresting you.
  • In Plants vs. Zombies, you can pop the tires of the vehicle based Zomboni and the Catapult Zombie by planting a Spikeweed/Spikerock in its track. For some reason, this does not only pop the tires, but also make the entire vehicle blow up.
  • Popping the tires on vehicles in Crysis won't immobilize them. It'll slow them down, though.

Webcomics
  • Done accidentally in Halo A Fistful Of Arrows. Jun shoots out the tire of a car carrying a terrorist leader he's trying to capture. The car spins out of control and goes off a bridge.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • The CIA is said to have distributed caltrops to saboteurs. These caltrops could easily be disassembled/reassembled, and were designed to slash, not puncture, a target's tires.
  • In addition to the police use of spike strips mentioned above, some parking garages use spike beds designed to only puncture tires from one direction. They're used both to enforce one-way lanes and to interfere with people trying to leave without paying.
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