A literal version of the old phrase.
When a passenger gives constant advice or orders to the person behind the wheel. The Henpecked Husband
's wife or mother-in-law will do this a LOT. The Logical Extreme
is a passenger who actually grabs for car controls (usually the wheel). In Real Life
, there are
legal consequences for this.note
The role can occasionally be played by the Guy in Back
, reminding the Ace Pilot
not to burn up all of their fuel, or warning him of enemies coming up on their six. Of course, this is part of his job
, but too much implies a lack of trust between them, or a certain fresh inexperienced quality
about the guy in back.
- Yusei constantly gives this to Crow in the 2008 Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's show. Which Yusei tends to always show that Big Brother Instinct attitude of his. And that he had more experience turbo dueling than his buddy; Crow.
- A severaly injured and distressed Dwight McCarthy becomes one in the Sin City story A Dame To Kill For. Subverted in that Marv, the driver, takes his advice.
- Driving Miss Daisy - Daisy starts off like this because she is angry about needing a chauffeur.
- In Broadcast News, Jane gives specific, practically turn-by-turn directions to cabbies on a regular basis as part of her "need to be in control at all times"-ness.
- Independence Day has the space ship variant where Jeff Goldblum constantly shouts orders to Will Smith who tells him not to be a "side-seat driver".
- Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted:
Marty: Stop backseat driving!
Alex: I'm passenger seat driving!
- A plane varient in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, where Polly and Joe argue on the best route through town during rush hour.
- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - Milton Berle's character has his mother-in law (Ethel Merman) taking this role to heart in a race to buried treasure. She bellows "We're the ones in the Imperial and we're in last place?" Later, she continues barking orders to different drivers in different vehicles.
- Quite literally in Cannonball Run 2 when two of the characters participating go in a car with a very visible driver seat that has a orangutan suppose chauffeuring them. Turns out they're really driving the car from the backseat.
- Thor: The Dark World: Loki, of all people, is this to Thor:
Loki: Don't hit the buttons, press them gently.
Thor: [hitting the buttons harder] I am pressing them gently!
Loki: Look, why don't you let me take over, I'm clearly the best pilot.
Thor: Is that so? Of the two of us which one can actually fly?
Loki: Now they're following us. [shots] Now they're firing at us!
Thor: Yes, thank you for the commentary, Loki! It's not at all distracting!
- Two chase scenes involving the hero not driving:
- Played with thrice in Tomorrow Never Dies:
- Bond escapes the arms bazaar at the beginning by flying a fighter jet out, only to have a terrorist in the backseat try to strangle him. "Backseat driver" is literally the Bond One-Liner when he ejects the bad guy!
- Needing a quick escape, Bond is forced to dive into the rear seat of his BMW and drive it from a cell phone screen. Fridge Horror ensues when one realizes, with the extent of the damage suffered to the BMW, Bond would be a dead man had he driven "properly" - and lampshaded with the soundtrack title.
- Later, both he and Wei Lin are handcuffed together and must jointly ride a motorcycle, complete with bickering.
- In Star Trek Beyond, Spock and McCoy hijack one of Krall's drone ships. McCoy, who has some experience piloting one, grabs the controls that are slightly above the main compartment, while Spock is busy with the communications equipment in the forward area. As Spock continues to give McCoy advice, the Doctor exclaims, "Damn backseat driver!", causing Spock to shut up about the piloting.
- Averted in The Silkworm. Protagonist Cormoran Strike lets his pretty assistant drive on the Motorway because of his prosthetic lower leg; when they encounter a dangerous collision close up, he tries to emergency-coach her. It turns out that Robin has taken advanced driving classes and handles the danger far better than he ever could have.
- Very prevalent and always Deconstructed in Canada's Worst Driver. At times, the nominator needs more rehab than the driver does.
- Perhaps the epitome of a Henpecked Husband, Richard Bucket (pronounced "Bouquet") suffers this from his wife in Keeping Up Appearances.
Hyacinth: "Mind the pedestrian, Richard."
Richard, panicked and braking: "Where?!"
Hyacinth: "On the pavement, Richard."
- As this is a British show, "the pavement" means the sidewalk.
- Hyacinth has also been known to reach over and honk the horn. At a policeman.
- Happens all the time on The Amazing Race when teams are tasked with driving themselves. As a bonus, because of the way the camera crew positions themselves in the car, the non-driving teammate is always positioned directly behind the driver.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "Game At Clay City", Mr. Conklin appoints himself navigator and gives a steady stream of orders to Miss Brooks.
- A sketch on the British radio show Week Ending featured the car itself as this. The Austin Maestro featured a voice synthesiser to issue warnings to the driver - a supposedly amazingly futuristic innovation which was universally derided by the public. The sketch portrayed the synthesiser as a Backseat Driver which continually nagged and hassled the driver, annoying and distracting him so much that he ended up wrecking the car.
- The Warhammer 40,000 Gaiden Game Gorkamorka had a skill called Backseat Driver. When a character with the skill was in a vehicle the driver could use their stats instead of his own for some driving checks.
- DuckTales, "Super DuckTales": When Launchpad is attempting to start the U.S.S. Jumpstart, both Scrooge and GizmoDuck yell instructions at him from their chairs. Launchpad dismissively calls them "backseat astronauts."
- Master Splinter in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show.
- The Tex Avery cartoon "Cars of Tomorrow" features a car (currently the page image) specifically built for Backseat Drivers... with the steering wheel and controls literally in the backseat!
- An early episode of Kim Possible, Mr Barkin is driving several students in the school's Driver's Ed car, who keep commenting on his driving.
Don't distract the driver!
- The Fairly OddParents! (episode "Spaced Out") proves this trope applies to spaceships as well.
- Lisa Simpson of The Simpsons sometimes acts like this. For example, from "Homer the Heretic"...
Lisa: Give it a little more gas. No, no, that's too much. You know what I think would help?
Marge: WHAT!? WHAT WOULD HELP!?
- Implied — some vehicles, notably the Toyota Yaris, have the instrument cluster mounted in the center of the dashboard, between the driver and front passenger. While there's no proof that any manufacturer's implementation of this design is to explicitly support backseat drivers (though it does simplify manufacturing left and right hand drive models), there's no proof that it isn't either.
- The valid case of the trope is a driving instructor to assist new drivers. Their vehicles are equipped with passenger-side controls in case the inexperienced driver is about to make a collision. Similarly, many airplanes are designed with this trope in mind, with two sets of pilot controls so that the crew can divide the work of flying the aircraft between them, or to aid in instruction of newer pilots. In the case of tandem-seat aircraft, the Guy in Back can literally be a Back Seat Driver if he takes the controls from the guy in front.
- And some types of attack helicopters, such as the AH-64 Apache, are designed so the pilot sits in the back seat (elevated so he can see over the top of his Guy In Front), leaving the Gunner up front with an unobstructed view of his targets.
- A tank is typically arranged with the commander in the turret, and the driver in the hull in front of the turret. The commander, of course, determines where the tank should be driven to. And before intercoms, communication was maintained by kicking the driver's shoulders.
- In a very literal form of this trope, cars like the page image did exist early on in automotive history. One such vehicle was the Woods Spider.
- A twist on this idea is "backseat gaming", which tends to crop up in livestreams and Let's Play videos, and involves giving unsolicited advice or directions to the player (or more severely, ordering them around). While everyone has their own thresholds, the general rule of thumb is that you should only offer help if the player specifically asks for it; otherwise you're just going to piss off the player, and more than likely incur the wrath of the moderators.