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[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/{{Freakazoid}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ride-the-lightning_freakazoid2_6862.png]]]]

->''"Why don't you make someone else ride ''your'' lightning, for a change?"''
-->-- '''[[Music/OzzyOsbourne The Guardian of Metal]]''', ''VideoGame/BrutalLegend''

Using lightning or electricity as a form of travel. It can vary from turning into electricity yourself to traveling along it, using it as some sort of conduit, or even just surfing on a bolt of lightning.

A SisterTrope to ElectricSlide. For riding lava, see LavaSurfing.

Compare PsychoElectro, SkySurfing, ElementalShapeshifter.

Not related to ElectricTorture or the Music/{{Metallica}} album (although the trope was named for the latter). Also not related to when a bipolar person decides NoMedicationForMe while in a manic phase, occasionally termed "riding the white lightning". Nor does this refer to execution via electrocution, although the trope title is a slang phrase for such an execution.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* [[PsychoElectro Enel]] in ''Manga/OnePiece'', who has the power to transform his body into lightning.
* [[Manga/MahouSenseiNegima Negi Springfield]] devises a technique to absorb his own lightning-based spell and turn himself into lightning, making him considerably faster than most of his enemies.
* ''Manga/ACertainScientificRailgun'':
** A character is capable of surfing along steel-framed concrete walls, Spiderman-style, thanks to her [[ShockAndAwe abilities to control electricity]]. When she does that, there is a visible lightning "leash" extending from her body.
** Taken to a more literal extreme in the [[OriginalVideoAnimation OVA]], where, in an alley with steel-framed concrete walls on both sides, she uses her abilities to [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin fly through the air]]. [[spoiler: The point of which was to RideTheLightning fast enough to fit through a small section at the end and circle back around through the next alley to get behind whoever was following her the whole episode, who, in their inability to RideTheLightning would be forced to turn around to leave.]] [[SoCoolItsAwesome Riding The Lightning]], indeed.
** Taken UpToEleven in the SS novels where it shows that she can use her ability over large bodies of water to induce hydrolysis in water molecules to RideTheLightning as well.
* Laxus from ''Manga/FairyTail'' can turn himself into lightning for a short time in order to dodge an attack.
* Rotom in one of the Decolora Islands ''{{Pokemon}}'' episodes does this to get into appliances and eat electricity.
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* {{Spider-Man}} foe Electro is sometimes shown traveling by surfing a lightning bolt.
* ''{{Superman}}'' [[DorkAge Blue]] could travel as a lightning bolt.
* [[TheAuthority Jenny Sparks]] does the "transform-into-electricity-via-power-lines" variant for cross-country travel.
* Comicbook/DoctorStrange learned how to teleport via lightning when the Ancient One's nemesis Kaluu was his mentor, but he considered it a form of [[TheDarkArts dark sorcery]].
* Captain Marvel in ''ComicBook/FiftyTwo'' exploits his transformation method (yelling "Shazam!" and getting struck by a bolt of lightning,) and then rides the bolt of lightning down to a rampaging Black Adam (who gets his power via the same method) to strike him with it instead to force him to transform back to normal.
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[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* The Pronghorns use this to travel in the ''MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fanfic, ''[[FanFic/ItsADangerousBusinessGoingOutYourDoor It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door]]''. They use it to relay messages between rulers. [[spoiler: They teach Rainbow Dash to do it as well.]]
* The ''FanFic/PoniesOfOlympus'' series has the Jupiter Lance technique, which allows pegasi to do this as a fighting technique.
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[[folder:Film]]
* The villain of ''Film/{{Shocker}}'' has this power.
* The 2005 remake of ''Film/TheWarOfTheWorlds'' had the aliens using lightning to travel to their buried pods.
* One of the gremlins in ''Gremlins2TheNewBatch'' gains this ability and starts traveling through the Clamp building's phone lines.
* In ''AndYouThoughtYourParentsWereWeird'', ghosts can manifest as electricity to [[HauntedTechnology possess technology]].
* At the climax of the 2003 ''Film/{{Hulk}}'', David Banner absorbs enough electricity to become a monster made of lightning. He grabs the Hulkified Bruce and they travel miles inland on his coattails, fighting in the clouds.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* This is what Twoflower thinks Rincewind is talking about when he expresses a desire to "harness the lightning" in ''Discworld/TheColourOfMagic''.
* LightningDust Does the turn into lightning version, once winding up inside a streetlight on his first flight.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* It's been...''[[EpilepticTrees theorized]]''...that all the supernatural entities in ''TwinPeaks'' travel this way. A few odd incidents (particularly in TheMovie) are accompanied by shots of buzzing power lines. The same thing happens in ''MulhollandDrive'' at one point, [[WildMassGuessing possibly for the same reason.]] Uhh, [[MindScrew maybe.]]
* The Psycho Rangers from ''Series/PowerRangersInSpace'' all seem to have this ability, as well as mechanical possession. One of them even uses it to take over a Megazord.
* In the first episode of ''{{Tracker}}'', Cole, in his natural energy form, travels through a power line to get to the ground.
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Simbul of ''ForgottenRealms'' after lots of experiments with polymorphing into inanimate objects (which sane mages avoid) and self-enspelling acquired an ability she uses when even the most powerful magic-user in her world (and not quite in right mind) must leave in haste: she turn herself into chain lightning, thunders through the area, ''then'' the last bolt turns into a meteor and flies away.
* The Nightbane of Palladium's ''Nightbane'' RPG can purchase a [[MagicAndPowers Talent]] called "Lightning Rider", which [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin lets them turn into living electricity]].
* Ofanim of Lightning in ''TabletopGame/InNomine'' can become electricity in order to travel along wires between two electric devices. It's rather hard on the devices used though.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}}'' has a supplement called ''Ultimate Magic'', which features a spell called Ride the Lightning, where the user turns into a lightning bolt that blasts through enemies, ignites flammable objects and melts metal.
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[[folder:Videogames]]
* In an old hilarious DOS game ''Space Dude'' one of the environmental stages ''literally'' made you ride the lightning - that is, the {{Surfer Dude}} had to keep shocking himself, otherwise he would fall.
* One of Ky Kiske's Chaos Move in the ''GuiltyGear'' is named this because it, too, was named after the song "Ride the Lightning."
* In ''GuildWars'', there is an Air Magic spell called Ride the Lightning that warps you next to a targeted enemy, dealing lightning damage to the enemy.
* Cole of ''VideoGame/{{inFamous}}'' can travel extremely quickly by sliding along electrified wires - and they do have to be electrified. Amusingly, this works of something similar to the principle of a railgun. The sequel introduces the Lightning Tether, which is essentially a grappling hook made of lightning.
** He can do this across any normal platform in his playable appearance in ''VideoGame/PlayStationAllStarsBattleRoyale''.
* {{Pulseman}}'s array of [[ShockAndAwe electricity-based powers]] includes the Volteccer, which turns him into a flying ball of electricity. This also allows Pulseman to travel along power lines. In addition, he can transform himself into an electrical signal to travel through {{Cyberspace}}.
* The Electrical Melee powerset in ''CityOfHeroes'' has "Lightning Rod" as its final power. It works very similarly to the ''GuildWars'' "Ride the Lightning" already mentioned. The user teleports to a targeted location, damaging any enemies near the landing point.
* Raiden's '''[[{{Mondegreen}} I NEED MY MONEY]]''' [[TeleportSpam teleport attack]] in ''MortalKombat''.
* Ghosts in ''VideoGame/GhostTrick'' can travel through phone lines.
* In {{Skylanders}}, Zap the water dragon says this as his CatchPhrase. He doesn't ride lightning per se, but he spits it from his mouth. He rides sea slime.
* The protagonist of ''VideoGame/{{Teslagrad}}'' finds a pair of boots that allow him to do this over short distances early on.
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[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Powerful electricity mage "the Maestro" does this in ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan''. As a side-effect, he's constantly undergoing mild electrocution, which leaves him stuttering.
* George of ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'', among his other lightning-based powers, has this ability. He seems to be turning ''himself'' to lightning to do it.
** In an earlier example, Elec Man the robot master as well. This is actually what [[spoiler: [[IdiotHero Megaman]] takes advantage of to beat both Bomb Man and Elec Man]]. [[WordofGod David Anez]] in previous commentary stated that [[PhysicsGoof the idea of becoming "fast" lightning is absurd]] and that as we all should know electrons only move as fast as the medium they're in conducts them. He's a physics professor, but he essentially admits he's not above [[RuleofCool putting in something cool for the purposes of the plot]]
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Freakazoid}}'' sometimes travels as a head on a zig-zag bolt of electricity/lightning.
* ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}''' pesky Kremzeek.
* ''Franchise/{{Superman}}'' villain Livewire used this trick.
* In ''WesternAnimation/StaticShock'', Static can rail-slide on power lines, but his typical mode of travel is surfing on a collapsible metal disc.
* Juice, the member of the Ultimen, in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'' can do this.
* WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck's foe [[PsychoElectro Megavolt]] can "skate" along power lines.
* ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'' had the Shard of Lightning, a Shen Gong Wu that let its user travel at the speed of light for the brief seconds in which the lightning struck, as well as the Denshi Bunny, another Wu that turns the user into electricity so that they can travel through wires and other electrical circuitry.
* ''WesternAnimation/SWATKats'' villain Hard Drive can travel through phone lines and electrical and computer systems and steal data from the latter while wearing his Surge Coat.
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[[folder:Real Life]]
* This is approximately how a railgun works - although it does require a metallic rail (or two) as a medium, it's the closest thing to this trope that exists in reality.
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