Created By: hbi2kOctober 30, 2013 Last Edited By: hbi2kJanuary 23, 2014
Troped

One Wheeled Wonder

A vehicle or creature (usually a robot or cyborg) that moves by balancing on a single wheel.

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Trope
Barring the odd three-wheeler, most wheeled vehicles throughout history have sported an even number of wheels, usually four. But that doesn't seem streamlined enough for certain aesthetics. This trope describes creatures (usually robots or cyborgs) or vehicles that move by balancing on a single wheel.

Try not to think too hard about how it stays upright.

Truth In Television insofar as the unicycle has been in use since at least the late 19th century, when riders of penny-farthings found that they could lean forward, raising the rear wheel off the ground, and still maintain balance. Eventually the rear wheel was left off of the design altogether, resulting in the modern unicycle. However, it has largely been regarded as a gimmick since the development of the safety bicycle (what most people think of simply as a "bicycle").

Monowheel Mayhem is a subtrope in which a vehicle is a single wheel. Non-robotic creatures to which this trope applies are examples of Bizarre Alien Locomotion.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Film 
  • The droid waitress WA-7 in Dexter's Diner on Coruscant from Attack Of The Clones serves customers while balanced upon a single wheel.
  • Officer Shrift from the animated adaption of The Phantom Tollbooth gets around on a wheel that resembles that of a rolling chair, connected to something that looks like a car jack that can be raised to compensate for his height. It's unclear whether this is a vehicle that he is seated on under his long jacket or a part of him or what.

    Literature 
  • Ciaphas Cain: One of the techpriests in Emperor's Finest and Caves of Ice had his lower body replaced with a single wheel. Made even worse by the fact that techpriests have huge metal dendrites attached to their backs and like to replace as much of their body with metal as possible, though Ciaphas mentions that he must have very good gyroscopes to work.
  • The Mulefa in the third book of Phil Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. They're a race of Starfish Aliens who use a giant round seed as a wheel, and attach it to their two middle feet.

    Video Games 
  • Claptrap from the Borderlands series is a roughly half-human-height robot that gets around this way.
  • Some of Dr. Robotnik's robots from the Sonic The Hedgehog video game series are like this. The earliest (and probably most notable) example is Motobug from Sonic The Hedgehog 1.
  • The Securitron robots, which form the personal guard of the post-apocalyptic mogul Mr. House from Fallout New Vegas, look like this.
  • Robot Medics in Team Fortress 2 are the only robots in the game to not use legs, instead opting for a single wheel.
  • Mega Man
  • The helper Wheelie from Kirby Super Star.
  • Skylanders has two: The legendary Giant Bouncer and the Swap Force entrant Magna Charge.
  • Maestro in Mystery Mountain. He is the only android designed this way; Mrs. Beasley and Eggbert hover and the rest are bipedal.
  • Roadkill Rodney, a robotic enemy from the arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and its ports. Not only could it stay upright on one wheel, but it could send out an electric cable to try to zap a turtle. Whether or not it succeeded, it never fell over until it was defeated.
  • The obscure video game MoHo had gladiatorial robots with a single ball on which they moved.
  • The Stillborn Franchise Defenders Of Dynatron City included Buzzsaw Girl, a mutant heroine whose lower body was a buzzsaw that functioned as a wheel.

    Western Animation 
  • Fenton Crackshell of Duck Tales gets around this way as Gizmoduck. Besides the question of how he stays upright, one wonders where his feet go when he transforms.
  • The title hero of Snyder-Koren Productions Roger Ramjet has a few episodes facing the Solenoid Robots, all of which balanced themselves upon a single wheel.
  • The Muni Mula men from The Ruff And Reddy Show balance on a single wheel.
  • Jimmy Neutron designed his android little brother Brobot this way.
  • Bigweld in Robots rides on one giant ball, which makes up most of his body.
  • Starting in Season 2 of ''Code Lyoko, Ulrich had the Overbike, which also flies.
  • Ogo from Robot and Monster.
  • Re Boot: Hack and Slash, Megabyte's minions.
  • Buzz Lightyear Of Star Command ends by introducing a love-interest for XR: a robotic personality named 42 living inside Star Cruiser 42. By the end of the episode, 42's personality is "surgically" removed from the cruiser and placed inside a short, humanoid, robotic body with a single wheel as its mode of locomotion.

    Real Life 
  • The unicycle, of course.
  • A a self-propelled unicycle has been developed. Like a Segway, all the rider need do is lean forward. The unicycle more or less self-balances.
Community Feedback Replies: 53
  • October 30, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • The title hero of Snyder-Koren Productions Roger Ramjet has a few episodes facing the Solenoid Robots, all of which balanced themselves upon a single wheel.
  • October 30, 2013
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
  • October 30, 2013
    RedBuster
  • October 30, 2013
    Chabal2
    Ciaphas Cain: One of the techpriests in Emperor's Finest had his lower body replaced with a single wheel. Made even worse by the fact that techpriests have huge metal dendrites attached to their backs and like to replace as much of their body with metal as possible, though Ciaphas mentions that he must have very good gyroscopes to work.

  • October 31, 2013
    MercenX
    You think perhaps something like Unicyborg would work as a trope name? IRL
    • A device has recently been developed: it is a self-propelled unicycle. Like a segue, all the rider need do is lean forward. The unicycle more or less self-balances. This makes it easy for pretty much anybody to at least cosplay as a Unicyborg.
  • October 31, 2013
    m8e
  • October 31, 2013
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    I second the "Unicyborg" name.
  • October 31, 2013
    Bisected8
  • October 31, 2013
    aurora369
    The Securitron robots, which form the personal guard of the post-apocalyptic mogul Mr.House from Fallout New Vegas, look like this.
  • October 31, 2013
    DRCEQ
    "Unicyborg" would mean that the robot is at least part biological lifeform.
  • October 31, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Yeah, Unicyborg doesn't really make much sense. Since this covers not only robots but also vehicles, it might be a good idea to try to come up with a name that implies so.
  • October 31, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • October 31, 2013
    MercenX
    The description says vehicle or creature, usually robot or cyborg... I figured the term robot was more discriminative than cyborg. Anyhow... there's a tribe of creatures, not too bright, from a story like Oz or Alice or maybe Narnia... I don't remember. But though they have feet, they pretty much only get around by riding on a unicycle which has no seat or pedals (just a wheel with pegs to stand on). Is there anyone who knows what I'm talking about?
  • November 1, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Pic plz?
  • November 1, 2013
    henke37
    • Robot Medics in Team Fortress 2 are the only robots to not use legs, instead opting for a single wheel.
  • November 1, 2013
    SenseiLeRoof
    MercenX: You mean Segway, not segue. Segue is a literary technique.

    Anyway, I remember there being a character from the old cartoon Galaxy High who was half motorized unicycle, but the name escapes me...
  • November 1, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • The droid waitress WA-7 in Dexter's Diner on Coruscant from Attack Of The Clones serves customers balanced upon a single wheel. It is WA-7 that announces Obi-Wan Kenobi's arrival: "Someone to see you, hon; Jedi, by the look of him."
  • November 1, 2013
    Arivne
    Edited by Arivne to change a picture that was breaking YKTTW to a link as per YKTTW Guidelines. Original poster was Mercen X. Mercen X, to put your name back on this post just edit it in any way, such as by removing this paragraph.

    B.C. character

    If I could remember exactly what these things were called or what they were from, I could find a better picture. They have probably been mentioned in a Dr. Seuss story for all I can remember. All that I can be sure of is that I'm not the who thought of it and I know it was involved in a story.

    Film Animation The Phantom Tollbooth features a character named Officer Shrift. I saw it about three months ago, I'm sure he travels on a single wheel. I can't find any references (pics, descriptions, videos) to show of it. I'd have to obtain the movie again and take a picture when he showed up.


  • November 2, 2013
    RedBuster
    From Mega Man games

  • November 2, 2013
    DAN004
    The helper Wheelie (not the mook one) from Kirby Super Star.
  • November 6, 2013
    hbi2k
    Yeah, I like Unicyborg for the Just For Pun value, but it implies something more specific than what this trope is. Something that encompasses both vehicles, robots, and cyborgs would be best. I'm liking One Wheeled Wonder for that reason.
  • November 6, 2013
    PhantomDusclops92
    Skylanders has two: The legendary Giant Bouncer and the Swap Force entrant Magna Charge.
  • November 6, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    • Jimmy Neutron designed his android little brother Brobot this way.

    • Maestro in Mystery Mountain. He is the only android designed this way; Mrs. Beasley and Eggbert hover and the rest are bipedal.
  • November 6, 2013
    RedBuster
    ^^^ You forget Thrust, Demolishor, Arcee, Chromia and Deinos & Chaser.
  • November 6, 2013
    LeeM
    The page image for artist Taral Wayne features a one-wheeled, two (furry) person bike/tank.
  • November 13, 2013
    JonnyB
    Bigweld in Robots rides on one giant ball, which makes up most of his body.
  • November 15, 2013
    GeminiSparkSP
  • November 20, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    poor snowclone. not much of a pun here compared to One Hitpoint Wonder or One Scene Wonder. Unicycle Robot was already good (if rather plain).
  • November 20, 2013
    hbi2k
    It wasn't changed for snowcloning purposes or to be a pun. It was changed because Unicycle Robot makes it sound like it's specific to robots, whereas the trope has broadened to be inclusive of cyborgs, vehicles, and pretty much anything else with wheels, and One Wheeled Wonder is indicative of that. It could just as easily be One Wheeler or something, but why not go for Added Alliterative Appeal if the opportunity presents itself?

    For that matter, I should probably futz with the trope description to dial back the emphasis on sci-fi designs, since this isn't a sci-fi only trope.

    Edit: And done.
  • November 20, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    hmm. makes sense. might wanna indicate that it's not a pun, as someone might try to put it in the Just For Pun index in the future.
  • November 20, 2013
    RedBuster
    Why you didn't added the mentions to Transformers that I have mencioned before?
  • November 20, 2013
    hbi2k
    Because the spelling, grammar, and syntax are sufficiently bad as to make the examples unclear, and I don't know enough about Transformers to correct them. (Am I correct in assuming that English is not your first language?) If you rewrite them such that the sentences make sense, I'll put them up.
  • November 20, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    South Park: Mr. Garrison invents "IT", a one wheeled superfast transport which gets 300 miles per gallon of gas. Unfortunately, he designed it so you have to have a dildo up your ass and another in your mouth in order to run it, which creeps everyone out. Still, it gains investors and causes the airlines to practically go out of business so the govenmet outlaws it.

    v Ah yes. Was not aware of that trope page.
  • November 20, 2013
    hbi2k
    ^ IIRC that was more like Monowheel Mayhem than this trope.
  • November 22, 2013
    Sailor11sedna
    Starting in Season 2 of Code Lyoko, Ulrich had the Overbike. ...It also flies.

    Should also mention the Mulefa in the third book of Phil Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. They're a race of starfish aliens who use a giant round seed as a wheel, and attach it to their two middle feet.
  • November 25, 2013
    Nyperold
    • Roadkill Rodney, an enemy type from the arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and its ports. Not only could it stay upright on one wheel, but it could send out an electric cable to try to zap a turtle. Whether or not it succeeded, it never fell over until it was defeated.
  • November 26, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    Anime

    • Yu Gi Oh 5 Ds, Jack's Wheel of Fortune / Phoenix Whirlwind Duel Runner is a giant wheel with Jack riding inside it.
  • November 27, 2013
    SharleeD
    Non-robotic creatures to which this trope applies are examples of Bizarre Alien Locomotion.
  • November 27, 2013
    hbi2k
    ^^ That sounds more like Monowheel Mayhem than this trope.

    Speaking of which, opinions needed: would it be fair to call this a supertrope to Monowheel Mayhem?
  • November 27, 2013
    GoldenFootballPlayer
  • November 28, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^ Yes, this is a Super Trope to Monowheel Mayhem and should noted as such in the description.
  • November 28, 2013
    Susyspider
  • November 28, 2013
    Susyspider
    Not sure if mono-spheres apply as well, but they don't seem to fit anywhere else.
    • Re Boot: Hack and Slash, Megabyte's minions.
  • December 4, 2013
    hbi2k
    We're currently sitting at three hats. Open to suggestions for any changes / improvements that need making so that we can launch this sucker.
  • December 4, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Well, there are still quite a lot of Zero Context Examples that just mention a series and a name and nothing else...
  • December 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Simply a vehicle with one wheel don't need anymore context, I guess...
  • December 5, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ But since this trope covers both vehicles and robots that have one wheel, the examples need to make clear which one they're talking about.

    Also, it wouldn't hurt to briefly describe the general look of the vehicle/robot in question. Simply listing things is never really that useful, and there's always something more to say about the example.
  • December 5, 2013
    hbi2k
    Looking through the list, it's really only the Megaman, Robot and Monster, and Reboot examples that are zero-context. I don't know much about those examples so it'll have to be up to someone else to flesh them out.
  • December 5, 2013
    DAN004
    ^^ Hmm, okay...
  • December 7, 2013
    hbi2k
    The obscure video game MoHo had gladiatorial robots with a single ball on which they moved.
  • December 7, 2013
    hbi2k
  • December 11, 2013
    Az_Tech341
    Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (TV Series) ends by introducing a love-interest for XR - a robotic personality named 42 living inside Star Cruiser 42; by the end of the episode, 42's "personality" is "surgically" removed from the cruiser and placed inside a short, humanoid, robotic body with a single wheel as its mode of locomotion.
  • January 23, 2014
    serialkillerwhale
    What about Devastator from Revenge of the Fallen? It has two wheels, but only one is ever on the ground essentially making it an example of this.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable