Created By: BaffleBlend on January 30, 2014 Last Edited By: BaffleBlend on February 14, 2014
Troped

Wallbonking (Launched)

Bonking into a wall repeatedly.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

There's a door, you know...

In which one gets up close and personal with a wall for an extended period of time.

For whatever reason, a character will find themselves either running aimlessly with their face against the bricks or slamming into said bricks, over and over and over again.

In most media, it's a Comedy Trope where the affliction's caused by the character is being incompetent, misled, etc. and steered into a dead end. And staying in that dead end.

In video games, however, it most often shows up as a common glitch. Collision data is complicated — No matter how smart the AI is, there's bound to be some problems where they forget the location of a wall or a building and just try to run through it, sometimes for hours if the player doesn't intervene somehow. Another, more common variation is that they strangely slide sideways while running until they find a path that they can run through. This is often caused by The All-Seeing A.I. when the player's location is always detected, but in exchange for everything else. As minor instances are pretty common, generally only examples that either affect gameplay or are interesting to look at should be added for this type.

A subtrope of Artificial Stupidity. Not to be confused with Wall Banger, and definitely not with Wall Bang Her.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • During the parade scene at the end of Animal House, one of the Delta Fraternity members mugs the drum major of a marching band, steals his baton and leads the band into an alley. The band marches up to a wall and tries to go through it.
  • The hospital floor in Idiocracy is much dirtier than any floor in a hospital should rightfully be. The Roomba responsible for cleaning the floor is stuck in a loop, ramming itself against a chair and proudly announcing that the floor is now clean, except the floor is only clean in the spot where the Roomba is stuck.
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats opens with a strait-laced military general getting up from his desk and running straight into a wall. It's revealed later that he was trying to use his psychic powers to run through it. This is followed up by a disclaimer reading: More of this film is true than you would believe.
  • The SAINT units from Short Circuit all have pre-programmed paths to take within the Nova Robotics compound, and all of them follow this path normally, except Number Five, who is not functioning properly. When the other SAINT units complete a corner turn, Number Five continues forward into the wall, much to his frustration.

    Jokes 
  • Two men walk into a building. You'd think one of them would've seen it.

    Literature 
  • In the Discworld novel Mort, the hapless Mortimer of the title becomes apprentice to DEATH. An attribute of DEATH is that he can walk through walls as if they were not there. In theory, any authorised subordinate, carrying out the Duty on behalf of the anthropomorphic personification of Death, should inherit this ability. But it's all a bit hit-and-miss for Mort, who sometimes attempts to walk through walls only to be brought back to Disc with a dull thump and a few bruises...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Reese joins the army in Malcolm in the Middle. To become a better recruit, he turns off his mind and decides he is a perfect order-taking machine. Reese's commanding officer tests this by ordering him to face a wall and forward march, causing Reese to endlessly walk into the wall. The officers then debate how long they'll let him continue doing that.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Magnificent Ferengi", Gaila accidentally shoots Keevan and kills him, so they have to use technobabble to pull an Of Corpse He's Alive. They end up steering his animated corpse into a support beam, and for all we know he's still there, trying to walk through it.

     Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed, some characters appear to become... a little more than obsessed with walls out of nowhere, due to the "pushing" animation appearing on loop. Read about it in Cracked here.
  • The NPCs in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, of the "sliding until a path is found" variety.
  • in the Core era Tomb Raider, collision detection works fine on walls for Lara, but enemies still run when in contact to one. Doors are right out though, as Lara will run/walk in front of them until she slides to the wall beside the door.
  • Because of the way custom stages are handled in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the AI would occasionally get confused and do this, but more commonly and more infamously, if a stage had a spike hazard, the computer opponents seemed to do absolutely everything that they could to stay above them and keep getting hit, racking up hundreds of damage to the point where even a weak attack would cause Critical Existence Failure.
    • Early on in Super Smash Flash 2's development, the Hidden Leaf Village stage was impossible to play a solo match on, as the wall of the building on the right proved to be stupidly irresistable. The computer players would do nothing but keep trying to run into it, even under vicious attack by the player.
  • The monsters in id Software's DOOM series routinely take the shortest path toward the Space Marine, even when walls and obstacles impede them. Savvy players can exploit this mechanic by leading a mob of monsters into a cul de sac, then moving toward the access point; the monsters will usually emerge in ones and twos rather than all at once.
  • This is one of the many Video Game Cliché Moments you can collect in The Simpsons Game, uncovered when you find Ralph Wiggum running in a corner like this.
  • In the Creatures series, the fandom coined the term "Wallbonking" (the ex-Trope Namer) when, in Creatures 2, the eponymous creatures would become so obsessed with the walls that they would forget to eat or sleep, becoming a literal case of Too Dumb to Live. This was also present in Creatures 1, although the results weren't as fatal.
    • Unlike most examples, this wasn't caused by failing to detect a collision, but rather a flaw in the Artificial Intelligence — the "reward-and-punishment" systems in the norns' brains were flawed, causing them to see innocuous actions such as turning around when crashing into something as amazing. This specific instance caused the poor norn to turn around twice instead of just once when running into something because its own brain tricked it into thinking it was just that euphoric. This was fixed in The Albian Years.
  • One of the symptoms of the "auto-pillock" in the X-Universe series is that ships have trouble maneuvering around large objects. They fly straight towards their destination, detect something in their path, turn and fly away from it for a bit, turn back towards their destination, and repeat until they either get around it or crash into something. This is fixed in X Rebirth with a rewritten pathfinding algorithm.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons, Marge joins an online game and gets stuck walking into a wall. She comments "how incredibly annoying!" only for Grandpa, who is stuck like this in real life, to respond "tell me about it."

    Real Life 
  • Happens pretty often with GPSes, which are frequently based on outdated map systems and can often lead a driver who reacts to its directions at a moment's notice to drive through a spot where something has since been built or turning down a road which no longer exists.

Community Feedback Replies: 94
  • January 30, 2014
    StarSword
    Non-video game, TV:

    Simulation Games:
    • One of the symptoms of the "auto-pillock" in the X-Universe series is that ships have trouble maneuvering around large objects. They fly straight towards their destination, detect something in their path, turn and fly away from it for a bit, turn back towards their destination, and repeat until they either get around it or crash into something.
  • January 30, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Added.
  • January 30, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Pic looks pretty hilarious. but they look like they're taking a leak.

    so not sure about how it actually demonstrates the trope.
  • January 30, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Post by Baffle Blend, edit this part out if you want your name back on it.

    edit reason: images break the comments section. they only work in the original post, just link to it next time.
    If the image isn't clear, I could use this one instead:

    <image put in the OP>

    The resolution's obviously not as good as Assassin's Creed, but it should have a bit of a clearer meaning. Or of course we could find another image.
  • January 30, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    That's better actually. we can at least see clearly that he's running while in contact with the wall.

    also, limit this to modern examples in videogames? this was a pretty common limitation in ye olden times of polygonal anatomy and pixel perfect bodies. though aversions would be noteable in those cases.
  • January 30, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    What would be the cutoff point for that?
  • January 30, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    A little hard for me to say. not really that updated when it comes to gaming.

    Animated Film

    Videogame
    • in the Core era Tomb Raider, collision detection works fine on walls for Lara, but enemies still run when in contact to one. Doors are right out though, as Lara will run/walk in front of them until she slides to the wall beside the door.
  • January 30, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    I added the new examples, and does the restriction I suggested in the draft sound good?
  • January 30, 2014
    StarSword
    I made a minor adjustment to the X example in the draft.

    Add to the compare/contrast line, "and definitely not with Wall Bang Her."
  • January 30, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    A webcomic example.

  • January 30, 2014
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: Marge joins an online game and gets stuck walking into a wall. She comments "how incredibly annoying!" only for Grandpa, who is stuck like this in real life, to respond "tell me about it."
  • January 31, 2014
    Koveras
    I hate to ask, but is this really a trope in video games? I mean, is this a conscious gameplay/story design decision on the part of the developers? I mean, sure, in non-VG examples like Wreck It Ralph, this is invoked on purpose, but in actual games this is usually just a programming flaw...
  • January 31, 2014
    robinjohnson
    In UK English, the word 'bonking' has a connotation you probably didn't intend.
  • January 31, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    @Koveras: Please see Error Index.

    @robinjohnson: ...I'm really not sure what to say about that... the current name is, after all, a Fan Nickname for the phenomenon, the only one I've heard.
  • January 31, 2014
    Noah1
  • January 31, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Is there a reason you're sticking with "Wallbonking"? I mean, it's not really indicative and it sounds a lot like some other, very different tropes. A cursory Google search shows the only use of "wallbonking" meaning this in the top 10 being the Creatures wiki, a Creatures message board, and this YKTTW, so this seems like a case of a Bad Trope Namer.
  • January 31, 2014
    Koveras
    @BaffleBlend: Oh well, go ahead then. :D
  • January 31, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    Non-video game example.

    • Reese joins the army in Malcolm In The Middle. To become a better recruit, he turns off his mind and decides he is a perfect order-taking machine. Reese's commanding officer tests this by ordering him to face a wall and forward march, causing Reese to endlessly walk into the wall. The officers then debate how long they'll let him continue doing that.
  • January 31, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    @Larkman: Do you have a better suggestion? Because I'm open to them. I thought about something along the lines of "wall walking", but that's a different trope.
  • January 31, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Pathfinding Error, NP Cs Love Walls... I dunno, nothing particular in mind.
  • January 31, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    I've got another.

    • The SAINT units from Short Circuit all have pre-programmed paths to take within the Nova Robotics compound. All of them follow this path normally except Number Five who is not functioning properly. When the other SAINT units complete a corner turn, Number Five continues forward into the wall, much to his frustration.

    And another. They're just piling up today.

    • The hospital floor in Idiocracy is much dirtier than any floor in a hospital should rightfully be. The Roomba responsible for cleaning the floor is stuck in a loop, ramming itself against a chair and proudly announcing that the floor is now clean, except the floor is only clean in the spot where the Roomba is stuck.
  • January 31, 2014
    StarSword
    The Computer Cant Read Maps? (Trying to come up with something less bland than Pathfinding Error.)
  • January 31, 2014
    AgProv
    Literature:
    • In the Discworld novel Mort, the hapless Mortimer of the title becomes apprentice to DEATH. An attribute of DEATH is that he can walk through walls as if they were not there. In theory, any authorised subordinate, carrying out the Duty on behalf of the anthropomorphic personification of Death, should inherit this ability. But it's all a bit hit-and-miss for Mort, who sometimes attempts to walk through walls only to be brought back to Disc with a dull thump and a few bruises...
  • January 31, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    First Person Shooter
    • The monsters in id Software's DOOM series routinely take the shortest path toward the Space Marine, even when walls and obstacles impede them. Savvy players can exploit this mechanic by leading a mob of monsters into a cul de sac, then moving toward the access point; the monsters will usually emerge in ones and twos rather than all at once.
  • February 1, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ that's pretty old. not sure if that counts.
  • February 1, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    ^Well, I decided not to count it by age (since we had no idea what to do with that), but by notability instead - whether it affects gameplay, and that definitely does.
  • February 1, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ That's a good compromise.
  • February 1, 2014
    Arivne
    Non-Video Game Examples

    Film - Live Action
    • Animal House. During the parade scene at the end of the movie, one of the Delta Fraternity members mugs the drum major of a marching band, steals his baton and leads the band into an alley. The band marches up to a wall and tries to go through it.
  • February 1, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Now the name... what to do about it? I personally think it's fine as it is because the trope itself is obsessively bonking into a wall, but if people think it should be changed... do enough people think it should be changed?
  • February 1, 2014
    DAN004
  • February 1, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    The problem is, most of the examples aren't even video games. I had to Retool the draft to account for it.
  • February 1, 2014
    DAN004
    Type Labels Are Not Examples. Just mention "video game examples" and "non-vg examples".
  • February 1, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
  • February 1, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    ^^Ahkay, fixed.

    ^If you're implying that this is The Same But More Specific, it's not, because they have different causes and significance. Running Into the Window is caused by someone thinking it's a clear passageway, and it often has its own associations with it; namely, the goofy squished face we can see on the other side and the sliding impression. Wallbonking is more often than not always the result of (and an effective display of) someone's outright stupidity rather than an honest mistake that could happen to anyone. The key to Wallbonking is the character's total failure to realize that they're doing something wrong.
  • February 1, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    I am aware that these are different tropes; one is an honest mistake and the other is usually the result of programming bugs.

    I want to suggest a new title, but I don't want the new title to be confused with an existing trope.
  • February 1, 2014
    StarSword
  • February 1, 2014
    DAN004
    I'm thinking of hard-splitting this YKTTW if both sides have enough examples. :P
  • February 4, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Is this name slightly better? I fully intend to keep the "wallbonk" part because I don't like the "No New Trope Namers" mindset — most new tropes sound like we're just reading from a dictionary.
  • February 4, 2014
    StarSword
    ^Definitely agree with that. IMHO Trope Namer Syndrome =/= No New Trope Namers, it just means make the name comprehensible to folks who aren't familiar with the Trope Namer. The problem is, this can be hard to do.
  • February 4, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    By the way, just noticed several instances of "type N" stuff.

    Type Labels Are Not Examples, just use a short, descriptive name for them instead.
  • February 4, 2014
    DAN004
    Trope naming, if it's a trope in itself, is a Sturgeon Trope. At least that's how I put it. :P

    Anyways I'm liking the new name.
  • February 4, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    ^^^Yeah. I thought the old name was fine, though, since it was Exactly What It Says On The Tin.

    ^^That's a remnant from a previous format. I'll fix it right away.
  • February 4, 2014
    robinjohnson
    I think Wallbonking's fine, too. It might cause a few chuckles on this side of the pond, but that's all good. Also, not all examples are induced by stupidity, and there's no need to limit it.
  • February 4, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
  • February 4, 2014
    Diask
    The All Seeing AI is a common cause of this.
  • February 5, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Okay, let's hold a vote — how many for Wallbonking, and how many for Stupidity-Induced Wallbonk?
  • February 5, 2014
    robinjohnson
    Note that it's not just about which name is preferred: adding "stupidity-induced" changes the meaning.
  • February 5, 2014
    DAN004
  • February 5, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Robinjohnson brings up a very good point. The problem is, without it, everyone goes "No New Trope Namers".
  • February 5, 2014
    DAN004
    I didn't even know "wallbonk" is named after something. O.o That means it's a good trope namer.
  • February 5, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    wallbonk is not a character name. it's a term (and it's clear either way). objecting to it is like objecting to having a trope for "Selfie Obsessed Tourist" or something.
  • February 5, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Then why were people so objected to it?!
  • February 5, 2014
    StarSword
    Larkmarn seems to be alone in thinking it had Trope Namer Syndrome. Vote putting this back as Wallbonking.
  • February 5, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ The thing he had in mind when he searched Wallbonking was Creatures. I don't even know what that is.

    That is definitely coincidental.
  • February 5, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    I don't really like the term Wallbonking. I'd rather it be something clearer.
  • February 5, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Ain't that clear enough? D:
  • February 5, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    how the hell is wall bonking not clear?

    what else could be clearer than that? Barricade Beating? Blockade Pummeling? Bulwark Banging?
  • February 5, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    Something that doesn't inspire the thought of battering rams or just punching through a wall when There Was A Door.

    I'm thinking something more like Path Planning Problem.
  • February 5, 2014
    StarSword
    Oh, the hell with it. Titles crowner.
  • February 5, 2014
    StarSword
    Jokes:
    • Two men walk into a building. You'd think one of them would've seen it.
  • February 6, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Why are "NPC Wallbonking" and "Pathfinding Error" even candidates since it's not a video game-exclusive trope anymore?
  • February 6, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Cuz it's mainly a Video Game Trope.

    Just make a section only for video games and then make another for non-vg. That's easy.
  • February 6, 2014
    StarSword
    ^I agree with the soft split we had originally.
  • February 6, 2014
    DashSpendar
    How about "Theres A Wall There" for a title? Broad enough that it covers game and non-game, and not much it could be mistaken for I don't think.
  • February 6, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    ^No. Too close to There Was A Door, and violates No New Stock Phrases.

    ^^ I'm just not sure, personally...
  • February 6, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Put Up For Grabs. Call it a Rage Quit, but... on second thought, yeah, that's exactly what I'm doing.
  • February 6, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    ^ Don't feel bad. It happens to all of us.
  • February 6, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ don't feel too bad.

    i'm as exasperated as you are at the opposition. but this is a trope.

    and you are having progress (except for this silly name hurdle, at least).

    lets not let this get into our heads.


    tell ya the problems of the other suggestions:

    Pathfinding Problem — completely obfuscates the fact that it is about hitting walls as opposed to someone having trouble with navigating. which is what Pathfinding Problem sounds like. (and yet it's winning... o_O hell is this, John Barleycorn And Friends II?)

    There Was A Wall There — is a good redirect to Running Into The Window. i.e. There Was A Window There. but here? not so much, the name makes it sound accidental, something this usually is not.
  • February 6, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    wait, you already gave up? NOOOOOO!
  • February 9, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Perhaps "Blind To Barrier" might apply? The character in question detects an objective and moves toward it mindlessly. The fact that a wall or fence or some other barrier impedes all progress becomes irrelevant; since the objective lies in that one direction, the character unthinkingly moves only in that direction as if he cannot see any impediment. As noted, this unilateral thinking is one aspect of Artificial Stupidity.
  • February 9, 2014
    Diask
    • In Spelunky, enemies that chase the player like bats, spiders or frogs tend to ignore any barriers between them and the spelunker, resulting in them continously bumping against walls.
  • February 9, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    ^^ Barrier Blind. Compare Door Dumb.
  • February 9, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ I'd preder Boundary Blind
  • February 14, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    As angry as I am about this, I'd hate to see a valid trope die over a name dispute... Bumping.
  • February 14, 2014
    Lakija
    The name is important, but the trope won't thrive without getting launched in the first place. Barrier Blind is fine; it accounts for Video Games and every other medium. I like the sound of Boundary Blind, but that makes me think of people with boundary issues.

    Seriously, though, enough with the name disputes. This mutha trucka is ready for launch.
  • February 14, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    X Blind is perfect for Running Into The Window. Window Blind. see? damn clever and clear!

    Which is why the name Wallbonking was the clearest for this(there is a wall, characters bonk on it for no discernable reason) but noooo~ Pathfinding Error was waaaaay better...
  • February 14, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    You know what? Fuck this. I'm taking back MY trope. If you don't think the name's clear, then you've wallbonked yourself a little too much.
  • February 14, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ ha, thumbs up to that. THAT's the attitude you need to have.

    by the way, i just googled "bonk" and it turns out, specifying that one is bonking a wall is kinda redundant.

    so given it's an actual term (detractors:*GASP*) might wanna add "bonking the wall during a race" to the description.
  • February 14, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    (Shh... don't give them ideas! I don't want "Hitting The Wall" to be added to the list of S.P.O.O.N. bullshit on this page!)

    On a side note, I can't edit the main draft at the moment due to being on a 3DS, and the browser has a character limit for text fields.
  • February 14, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    good point, that's pretty bland.
  • February 14, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Let's just get those last two hats and end this forever.

    (And can you do me a favor and edit out the "up for grabs" rant from the draft, please?)
  • February 14, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    I can't do that, only mods can. go to Ask The Tropers and request for removal. though it's safe to ignore as tags are just for identification and don't really do anything other than be there.

    actually, don't even bother with that and just launch.
  • February 14, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    I meant the sentence in parentheses at the top of the article draft.
  • February 14, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    I still don't like the name.
  • February 14, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Not quite "bonking" but a very similar principle:

    Western Animation
    • The Jetsons episode "Rosie's Boyfriend" has building super Henry Orbit build a robot named Mac to help with building duties. Mac is programmed to leave a room through the door. However, Mac was never told to open the door first, so Mac left a robot-shaped hole in Henry's door. On his second trip, Mac opened the door first, then exited through the opening. On his third trip, though, the door was already open; Mac moved the door to one side, and smashed through the wall where the door had been. If nothing else, this illustrates gloriously how difficult it is to program mindless machines to perform simple tasks.

    Real Life
    • Many flying insects cannot grasp the concept of glass, and will spend hours attempting to fly through a closed window.
  • February 14, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    ^The former trope is Efficient Displacement. It doesn't qualify because the character doesn't get stuck, but brute-forces through and is still able to continue.

    The latter example is Running Into The Window, not because they don't know how to go around but because they're mistaken about the presence of transparent glass.
  • February 14, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Switching to iPhone and launching NOW. F.O.R.K.S. wins THIS one!
  • February 14, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    Troping isn't about winning. It's about cataloging.
  • February 14, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    And the best way to catalogue here is to make new terms to enter everyday speech. The Scrappy? Flanderization? Common words now, and Wallbonking has the bonus of already being pretty damn clear what it means by just looking at it.
  • February 14, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    Forgive me for gloating, but I just want to help TV Tropes get back to its glory days. That's all I want.
  • February 14, 2014
    DAN004
    Forgive me for bursting your bubble, but TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Vocabulary is actually something we want to avoid nowadays...

    That said, Wallbonking is actually clear enough.
  • February 14, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    I thought the only reason The Scrappy and Flanderization kept their names was due to the Grandfather Clause, and character-named tropes are no longer in use today.

    I just don't like the way it sounds. Personal preference.
  • February 14, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    dude, press the launch button to launch this. Right now, this isn't launched. you just put "launched" in the title.

    and forgive me for going on with the bandwagon but troping also involves being Clear Concise Witty. Big Words and obscure or technical terms are Terribad.
  • February 14, 2014
    Rotpar
    The thing is, you don't get to "win" and have your way with "your" trope. It's not your trope. Yeah, Pathfinding Error is a terrible, dry name but you can't just ignore a consensus because you want to.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qt4drtouh1b8i3qb0d46qy0t&trope=Wallbonking