Created By: maxwellsilver on January 27, 2013 Last Edited By: StarSword on April 2, 2013
Troped

Artistic License - Cars

Cars do not work that way!

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
This is a listing of liberties taken with how cars a presented in fiction.

Often Acceptable Breaks from Reality, since portraying how real cars work is incredibly boring. Many of these are either impossible or incredibly difficult to do in Real Life.


[[index]]
  • Driving a Desk: Often while still in Park. It is, however, becoming more common for cars to be filmed on a special-built trailer.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Obviously cars don't actually explode in collisions. The infamous defect was the rear axle bolts, which would rupture the gas tank, coupled with a lack of a proper bumper, and the friction from the two cars could cause a fire. Interestingly, only the Pinto coupe was affected. The Pinto wagon, Mercury Bobcat and Mustang II did not have the defect because they had the fuel tanks situated differently and used a different rear axle. The Mustang II was also equipped with a proper rear bumper, unlike the Pinto and Bobcat.
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: Every vehicle made for the North American market has a steering column lock to prevent this very trope. And even then, crossing two wires may start the engine, but if only two are crossed, it won't stay running unless a third wire is connected. There are better ways that defeat the column lock, but it's probably best not to list them here.
  • Hollywood Driving
  • Hollywood Police Driving Academy
  • V8 Engine Noises
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Usually just cutting a brake line, which, because every vehicle made since the 1967 Model Year has been required to have a dual split master cylinder, which splits the braking power between the front and rear wheels (and, in newer front wheel drive cars, the left front and right rear, and the right front and left rear), for the express reason to keep half the brake power in the event one of the lines is ruptured. A light turns on when a loss of pressure is detected. Interestingly, the mechanical parking/emergency brake is never mentioned, nor is gearing down (though Truth in Television, as the general public can be misinformed as how to handle such situations).
[[/index]]

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
  • In the first half of That Yellow Bastard, Hartigan, after dispatching Clump and Schlubb (Fat Man and Little Boy), tells himself to think like a cop and disable Junior's Jaguar. He then leans over the engine, and the next panel has him holding two spark plugs... somehow, mentioning that Junior wouldn't be getting away, even though it's a six cylinder engine. A simple solution would to show Hartigan holding ignition wires instead.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • The "bat country" scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the Shark is clearly in Park for all of the closeup shots of the interior.
  • The Fast and the Furious has the wrong wheels powered quite a bit, accomplished by either disabling the front wheels (by removing the CV shafts) on an all wheel drive Nissan Skyline, to filming a front wheel drive car doing a powerslide in reverse, then played backwards.
  • In The Blues Brothers has several:
    • The Bluesmobile 'throws a rod' halfway through the chase through Chicago and sprays oil on the windshield, which then disappears moments later. The rear window that is shot out early on also reappears throughout the film, finally disappearing in final chase.
    • While being chased through Chicago, Elwood takes a wrong turn on the highway and ends up on an unfinished portion, slams on the brakes, and shifts to reverse. The rear end dips down, causing the Bluesmobile to flip end over end, and somehow face the opposite direction. No one's figured out how. The Nazis chasing them drive right off the end, and crash into a street, causing a hole to break open in the road, which the second car then drives into.
    • A deleted scene had Elwood fill the tires of the police cars at the concert with an overcharged glue that would cause the tires to explode when heated up.
  • Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) uses hotwiring almost exclusively to steal the cars.
  • The Last Stand. Ahnold jumps a Corvette onto the guard rail of a highway, slides sideways like a skateboard, hops off and drives away.
  • Near the end of Speed, the bus flies off an unfinished highway, without a ramp, and manages to land on the other side. MythBusters proved this completely impossible: it would have fallen no matter what.
  • Wanted has a Conspicuous CG Viper and Lada1200/VAZ 2101 leap into the air without ramps, do barrel rolls, and otherwise handle in impossible ways. This is the film that gave physics the finger, but still.
  • Little Cars In the Big Race has a scene where Wrangler, one of the racecars, spits out a wad of gum on the racetrack. Somehow, one car manages to get stuck on the gum and can't move, despite the gum having very little to hold onto the tire with.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • In "The Bris" episode of Seinfeld, George's car is in Park during the drive to the hospital.
  • One episode of Person of Interest had a Marine vet who lost his right arm defusing an IED steal a motorcycle from a dealership and drive off with it at speed. Now granted, he had one of the fancy electronic prosthetics, but even so it's highly unlikely he would even have been able to get it moving, seeing as how 99% of stock bikes have the throttle on the right handlebar.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • The Driver series has several:
    • In the opening cut scene of Driver 2, Jericho is driving a Pontiac Catalina (for some reason with a 1977 Chevy grille), but the interior scenes show it's in Park and has no key in the ignition (or signs of hotwiring).
    • In the cutscene before the final level, the front wheels of the 1964 Thunderbird Tanner pursues Pink Lenny's helicopter in spin when he peels out, despite the Thunderbird being rear wheel drive for almost its entire lifetime [[note]]moved to a FWD platform in 1999[[/note]].
    • Driv3r has a number of front wheel drive French and Italian compact cars perform as though they were rear wheel drive.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • The Simpsons has Homer accidentally cut the rear brake line on Marge's station wagon while doing... something underneath (and supporting the car with a wicker basket), which causes the "Brakes Cut" light to illuminate while Marge was in the hill district of Springfield [[note]]This isn't too far off from reality. There is an actual light the alerts the driver of a loss in hydraulic pressure, but it lights up as soon as the pressure drop is detected.[[/note]] and somehow prevents the front brakes or emergency brake from being engaged.
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • January 28, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Every Car Is A Pinto is a sub-trope to this.
  • January 28, 2013
    Tanshanomi
    Films and TV constantly show someone stealing a modern car by reaching under the dash and touching a couple of wires together. The engine starts and they quickly drive away. Not only is it impossible to "hot wire" most current cars that way, but all cars since 1970 (at least in North America) are required to have a mechanical steering column lock that must be defeated separately, which is never addressed. I've Seen It A Million Times, but one example is Taken
  • January 28, 2013
    Kiereth
    Is this not Car Fu?
  • January 28, 2013
    StarSword
    ^No, that's ramming things with the car. This is cars not behaving like real cars.
  • January 28, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    I almost forgot about the wheel lock. Thanks for reminding me.

    If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know.
  • January 28, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    The Last Stand (the new Ah-nold movie) has a scene where a Corvette pulls a stunt on a bridge, pretty much doing a skateboard-style grind with the railing and then keeping on going-where normally that would most possibly do some damage to the axle and the suspension, *at least* (dunno how much drive-worthy the car would be, but it sure wouldn't be as much as it was before the stunt).

    One of the 'Shane Schofield' books by Matthew Reilly has the eponymous hero pulling that same stunt as one of the barrage of crazy things that happen during a chase sequence (there is some handwaving about him having received tactical driving training and the instructor being an ex-stunt driver, but seriously, that is just impractical for a Marine to learn, no matter what).
  • January 29, 2013
    Catbert
    Problems with this draft:

    First of all, to be consistent, this would have to be titled Artistic Licence - Cars.

    Secondly, we are trying to avoid making more tropes that are organized by types. If there really is that much of a differnce between the types that they have to be seperated, maybe you consider making them seperate tropes. See Type Labels Are Not Examples for one of the reasons we don't like doing this.

    Thirdly, there is no such thing as a "simply unforgivable" use of Artistic Licence. We aren't here to complain about artistic license. See Tropes Are Tools.

  • January 29, 2013
    ShadowHog
    I don't really have the context for this, but Jem brings us this scene, where a vehicle starts swerving out of control and somehow leaps off the ground without any reason to have suddenly gained vertical momentum.
  • January 30, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Speed the bus leaps off an unfinished freeway overpass and lands safely on the other side, without a ramp.
  • January 30, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Changed the title. In the Trope Repair Shop of Every Car is Rear Wheel Drive, Routerie came up with two other names, You Fail Auto Shop Forever and Somewhere A Mechanic Is Crying. Don't think we can use either one, but feel free to correct me.

    I'd also like to point out that I was hesitant to list hotwiring, since we already have Hassle Free Hotwire.
  • February 1, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    If you have any ideas on how I could clean up the description, please let me know.
  • February 1, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    The general description is sound-the thing would be to rewrite it so it sounds that the 'Artistic License' is not about cars doing cool things for the sake of the Rule Of Cool, but the writers/special effects people/etc going into full-blown 'They Just Didnt Cared' mode about even the simplest details of a car and its operation (how hard is it to put a towed camera car on 'Drive', any case?).

    Some examples of insane stunts could be placed here because, up until the stunt happens, the automobile had been handled (mostly) realistically (like the Speed example).

    Another possible Speed example: taking a very tough turn, the hero only has all the passengers sit on one side to prevent the bus from rolling over. The bus goes on two wheels during the turn and then the wheels land with no loss of speed or performance-or a blown tire.
  • February 2, 2013
    AFP
    • The Hire had some minor Type A examples, mainly because various safety features in the cars had to be disabled to allow them to do perform the Badass Driver stunts.
  • February 2, 2013
    balrog1911
    The Wanted film gives the scene where Jolie's character somehow semi-rolls and plants a Viper (I think) sideways on a bus and then just drives on. Granted, the film didn't take physics seriously in any way, shape, or form anyhow...
  • February 2, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    And then there's her stealing a Yugo (a real-life The Alleged Car) and driving it just like that Viper, culminating on ramming it into a train (which it shouldn't have even been able to catch up to, anycase).
  • February 4, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    I'd just like to point out that it is a VAZ 2101 (derivitive of the Fiat 124 and marketed in North America as the Lada 1200), not a Yugo.

    That screen shot also shows just how poor the CGI is in that film.

    But yes, that's an example.
  • February 4, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    OK, thanks for mentioning that. Mea culpa-I didn't do a complete research.
  • February 4, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Remember, you can edit the draft, so if you have any examples, feel free to add them.

    If you have any ideas on how to clean up the description, while I would like to see them first, feel free to edit as you see fit.
  • February 7, 2013
    evil_cucumber
    Can be used as a tool in works that use the Retro Universe trope, for example to try to create a car that's more "timeless" with design features from different decades.
  • February 7, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Maybe. Although the spirit of this Trope is pretty much showing when the writers and movie/tv creators went for They Just Didnt Care, and on some examples just hoped that Rule Of Cool would cover it.
  • February 8, 2013
    StarSword
    Major cleanup: folders, namespaces, spelling, grammar, formatting.
  • March 11, 2013
    StarSword
    TV, Class A example:
    • One episode of Person Of Interest had a Marine vet who lost his right arm defusing an IED steal a motorcycle from a dealership and drive off with it at speed. Now granted, he had one of the fancy electronic prosthetics, but even so it's highly unlikely he would even have been able to get it moving, seeing as how 99% of stock bikes have the throttle on the right handlebar.
  • March 11, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • The TVR Tuscan "spy car" seen in Looney Tunes Back In Action sprouts a pair of stubby wings and two rocket engines, which propel the car vertically up the side of a building to a height of about five thousand feet, where it levels to a cruising attitude. A jumbo airliner passes beneath the car at one point. Considering the film is a complete deconstructionist comedy, this is passable under Rule Of Cool, Rule Of Funny and Cartoon Physics.
  • March 11, 2013
    AmyGdala
    How is this better than any of the current artistic license pages, which we have to cut?
  • March 11, 2013
    MrRuano
    Type B:
    • Little Cars In the Big Race has a scene where Wrangler, one of the racecars, spits out a wad of gum on the racetrack. Somehow, one car manages to get stuck on the gum and can't move, despite the gum having very little to hold onto the tire with.
  • March 14, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Just changed the description, removed the types and added subtropes.

    Thoughts?
  • March 14, 2013
    StarSword
    @Amy Gdala: Why do we have to cut them? First I've heard of it.
  • March 14, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Would this cover the omnipresent "driver turns to passengers to talk to them while driving" thing I see so so very often?
  • March 15, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Might be the supertrope.
  • March 17, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    That would be Hollywood Driving.

    Added.
  • March 22, 2013
    maxwellsilver
  • March 23, 2013
    spacemarine50
    Hollywood Driving is a mess of a trope. It's in TRS for that reason.
  • March 23, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    So, should I remove it now, or wait until the TRS makes a decision?
  • March 23, 2013
    StarSword
    Description as written makes it a valid subtrope IMHO.
  • March 25, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Then I'll leave it as a subtrope.
  • March 28, 2013
    Unknown Troper
    Anime/Manga/Film example: The Speed Racer franchise. *All Of It*. Would be a hell of a lot easier to describe what *is* realistic.
  • March 31, 2013
    ricjac
    The James Bond movies are a good place to look for examples...
  • March 31, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Such as?

    Not to deride it, but it's best to avoid Zero Context Examples.
  • March 31, 2013
    StarSword
    I changed the bluelink on "but it's probably not best to list them here" to And Some Other Stuff, as that trope's definition (omitting steps on how to do something dangerous and/or illegal so you don't give idiots ideas) is more in line with the text.
  • March 31, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Thanks.
  • April 1, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    So, is it ready to launch?
  • April 1, 2013
    StarSword
    I think so. Five hats, far exceeds the Three Rules Of Three. Pick some indexes to put it on (Artistic License and Motor Vehicle Tropes being the obvious ones) and fire it off.
  • April 1, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Small question: Would Speed Racer count on this Trope? Throughout the whole franchise there are a whole lot of examples about cars that just work too unrealistically (hard to think of where to even *start*).
  • April 1, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    If you can think of some examples, yes.
  • April 1, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Done, and added to both indexes.
  • April 2, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Well... one example would be "The Fastest Car In The World": simply said, no matter how exhilrating speeding can be IRL, a car that can go fast enough to trigger psychotic episodes from the awesomeness of the speed alone is... well, not realistic.

    Or "The Mammoth Car": a car made out of gold wouldn't really be an unstoppable juggernaut capable of taking being hit by a speeding train without much more than scratched paint, no matter how big it is.

    Then there's the insane amounts of jumping the show (let alone the movie) has thanks to the Mach 5's jacks. In reality the speed should be tearing them right off the undercarriage (and it actually happens once during the show).
  • April 2, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
  • April 2, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Artistic License Cars is up, so if you have an example to add, you can add it directly to the trope now.
  • April 2, 2013
    StarSword
    You know, you usually do it by hitting launch and following the directions.

    Whatever; I'll give this a symbolic launch to clear it off the stack.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ozkiazh7sr6bngnatdkcs0vg&trope=ArtisticLicenseCars