Created By: JDogindy on June 30, 2014 Last Edited By: JDogindy on July 2, 2014

Total Escape Malfunction

When an attempt to avoid a bad situation (usually death) by employing outside means fails.

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Trope
"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.

Examples

Anime and Manga

Film
  • 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.

Live-Action TV
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • 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.
Community Feedback Replies: 7
  • June 30, 2014
    GuyIncog
    Film
    • 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.

    May want to mine Hollywood Skydiving and Ejection Seat for examples - I feel like there's a ton of "malfunctioning parachute"-type examples out there.
  • June 30, 2014
    DAN004
  • July 1, 2014
    Arivne
    • Examples section formatting
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
    • Corrected spelling (it's -> its, worksmanship).
    • Corrected improper Example Indentation in the The Simpsons example.
  • July 1, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    • Shakugan No Shana: Poised to retreat at the last second, having played his hand in the finale battle, Dantalion the Mad Scientist of Bal Masque is snuffed out of existense by his own explosive device. Turns out it is his escape contraption that gets unpowered some time before, thanks to unwitting but cautious infiltrators at the other side of the facility.
  • July 1, 2014
    JDogindy
    @Arvine: Thank you so much for that. I still am learning how to improve on the formatting.
  • July 1, 2014
    marcoasalazarm
    Possible example/variant/whatever: White House Down: The Cracker that comes along with the Right Wing Militia Fanatic group that takes over the White House has completely deleted his criminal record and is well on his way to become a Karma Houdini... until he tries to deactivate an explosive charge that he brought along to protect the White House perimeter so he can leave, not knowing that it had been tampered by The Hero earlier, and it blows up in his face.
  • July 1, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Soldier: The bad guy 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.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=yyci3zvsv6mb292j48eoop0e