"Mike, you're the worst contractor EVER!"
— Roger Smith as
"Tearjerker"' when his escape pod lands in a volcanic crater, American Dad!
It's a real nightmare scenario in which a character, trying to avoid a bad fate, attempts to escape from the homing laser of death or the super-hungry monster, but the means to escape (generally some kind of escape pod, but what it applies to will be explained) doesn't work, which sometimes can result in an even worse fate.
Granted, the idea of "escape" and "malfunction" in the same sentence may sound like it's designated mostly as a sci-fi disaster scenario, but in reality, any means to flee a situation that backfires can qualify. The getaway car can stall or run out of gas, the trusty stallion goes lame, or even the diversion itself doesn't mask the actual attempt to extradite.
In summary, the basic rule for this trope is "Somebody tries to escape, but can't, or they do escape, but get into a world of hurt".
Compare My Car Hates Me
, as well as Hollywood Skydiving
, when this trope is a comedy strucutre for most animation.
Anime and Manga
- The climax of Spaceballs sees the eponymous villains trying to flee their self destructing superweapon. Not only are they unable to reach the escape pods before they are jettisoned, but they also discover the "cancellation button" is out of order.
- What makes matters worse for the villains is that there were dozens upon dozens of escape pods, but the mooks, circus performers, a fat woman with a beard, and even a bear force their way into them, the last one President Skroob mistook as a seat.
- Soldier: Colonel Mekum decides to plant a nuclear Time Bomb on the planet and take off, killing everyone left on the surface. But Todd, the eponymous Soldier, manages to get everyone in the small colony living on the planet into the ship and then takes off, leaving the Colonel and his goons stranded on the planet just before the bomb detonates. Cue the pants-wetting for Mekum.
- The King of Queens: Doug's attempts to flee an enraged waitress after he complained about her rude service almost worked... hadn't it been for a delivery guy blocking the getaway route. And since Doug was on top of the car, he was a free shot.
- As a general guideline, this trope is often utilized as a gag in most cartoons whenever a character, usually a villain, is falling through the sky and tries to use it, but instead cutlery flies out of it, resulting in them crashing into the earth. Of, course, since these cartoons obey sets of rules that don't factor into horrible injuries and feature quick recovery times, it's a staple joke.
- The tagline for this trope comes from American Dad! and its James Bond spoof episode "Tearjerker", where the villain routinely complained about shoddy workmanship throughout his evil lair by his contractor. After his plans to take over the world were thwarted, Tearjerker attempts to flee Agent Stan by hopping into an escape pod... which lands in a volcano.
- The Simpsons. The show has had quite a few examples of this.
- Such as the time where Homer caused a nuclear meltdown in a simulator that had no nuclear material in it, and Mr. Burns hops into an emergency pod, but leaves Smithers behind because he liked to put his feet up. The pod launches, but then runs out of fuel and crashes into a bunch of cars before bouncing down the street.
- And then the time where Homer and Ned Flanders were fleeing from a bunch of Las Vegas workers, entertainers, and musicians by hopping into a show car. Instead of turning on the ignition, Homer taunts the group, allowing them to get in quite the beating. This was a case where human stupidity was the cause of failure.
- Or the time when Martin Prince's soapbox racer failed to deploy its slowing parachute, causing him to spin out and crash into a brick wall and catching on fire.
- An example of this and being combined with Hollywood Skydiving was featured in King of the Hill and the episode "The Decline and Fall of Peggy Hill" in a rare instance where the parachute that does not work is instead Played for Drama.