Sometimes, saving an Innocent Bystander
from Doctor Demonica
just won't cut it: you need more impact to showcase just how dire the threat is and make the scene exciting. Enter the Bus Full Of Innocents.
Despite the name, it doesn't have to be a bus. Any vehicle or enclosure full of Innocent Bystanders will do, and likewise any kind of person can be put at risk, though usually it will be people who are stunningly innocent, defenseless, and respectable to most viewers.
Common set ups are for the bus to be teetering perilously on a broken bridge or cliff, and a villain to use it in a Sadistic Choice
along with the Love Interest
Major hero points for the super dude who saves it. It's the hero publicity equivalent of a politician kissing babies.
Not to be confused with "Bus Full Of Nuns", the old name for Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
. Buses full of nuns are
popular for this trope, though. Also has nothing to do with Passing Judgment
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Anime and Manga
- In one of the funnier Filler episodes of Dragon Ball Z, Goku and Piccolo save a schoolbus of children from falling off a cliff during their driving tests. Of course, they still fail the test.
- Another when Videl saves bus of senior citizens from a hijacking before "Great Saiyaman" arrives.
- An early episode of Sailor Moon turns this Up to Eleven by requiring the Senshi to save half a dozen busloads of victims from a Pocket Dimension.
- Digimon Adventure 02: During the first scuffle with the Daemon Corps, SkullSatamon lifts a bus full of schoolchildren and threatens to throw it. At this point he's pretty much already routed the heroes, so he's doing it for no reason other than shits and giggles.
- Miracleman throws one at Johnny Bates during the infamous destruction of London. His narration notes that some apologists of his have said that the bus was empty when he threw it, but he himself admits it isn't true.
- In an early issue of Young Justice, Robin found himself riding an out of control superbike towards "Nuns driving a station wagon full of high explosives!" Next to the Great Wall of China.
- Kingdom Come. A tram full of innocents is in the crossfire of a brawl between AntiHeroes.
- In Shadowpact Doctor Gotham's introduction has him levitating a bus full of school children as insurance against the heroes doing anything stupid.
- The Strangers from Malibu Comics. A tram car full of every day people gets zapped by alien energy and crashes into a sports car. Everyone gets super-powers, even the sports car driver (Night Man). Cue start to various series.
- During Knightfall, the Jean-Paul Valley Batman has to let Abattoir free so he can save a bus full of children he hijacked. Az-Bats is not happy about it.
- One issue of Marvel's G.I. Joe had Major Bludd take one of these hostage. The timely intervention of Stalker and Grand Slam resolved the situation.
Films — Animated
- In The Incredibles, several items on Bob's wall of memorabilia are notes from innocents he personally saved. A bus is involved. (Earlier in the film, we see him save a train full of commuters about to speed off a broken elevated track destroyed indirectly by Bomb Voyage.)
- During a chase sequence in the Show Within a Show in Bolt, one of the Mooks placing a Ticking Time Bomb on a fuel truck which is right alongside a school bus.
- Parodied in the opening sequence of Toy Story 3, in which Mr Potato Head gives Woody a choice between catching him and saving a trainful of 'orphans' (Troll dolls with their heads sticking out the train windows).
- In Superman: Doomsday, the Toyman hijacks a school bus full of children and holds it over the edge of a building with his mechanical spider, threatening to dump it if the police don't back off. Lois Lane manages to sneak on board and get most of the children out, but ends up falling with the last child on the bus when the Toyman drops it, only to soon be rescued by Superman (who turns out to be a clone under Lex Luthor's control).
Films — Live-Action
- One of Graham Masterton's Manitou series books has a yellow school bus being taken over by a Native American spirit of evil. The hostage situation does not end well either for the kids, the police trying to rescue them, and certainly not for the grade-school teacher who meets a particularly horrible death trying to defend her pupils.
- Country singer/storyteller Red Sovine likes this trope. 'Phantom 309' had a hitchhiker picked up by a trucker who turned out to be a ghost-he'd given his life by swerving off the road to save a camper full of kids in a snowstorm. Another one, 'Little Joe', had the driver swerve to miss the bus full of kids and end up blinded after falling down the mountain.
- One of the random street crimes in True Crime: New York City involves rescuing a hijacked bus. Interestingly, the bus is one of the few vehicles in the game you can't drive.
- Played quite literally in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, during a fight between the Supreme Six (a team of heroes generally considered second-tier) and the Fatal Four (a team of villains generally considered not second-tier at all), when Urania of the Fatal Four used her gravity control powers to hold a literal bus full of innocent bystanders hostage.
- In Warp Zone Project, a Card-Carrying Villain that is being held up by a super-hero that supposed to let him go sooner or later asks if the emprisonment will last any longer because he's late to take a school bus hostage.
- Justice League: In the episode "Legends," a literal bus full of nuns is on a collision course with a truck full of dynamite. Rescuing the nuns distracts the Flash enough to get him captured by
Icicle Dr. Blizzard.
- Danny Phantom saved one of these in the episode "Forever Phantom."
- SWAT Kats did this twice.
- In "The Giant Bacteria", the titular monster actually eats the subway car full of passengers.
- In "The Deadly Pyramid", a giant mummy threatens a bus full of tourists.
- On one episode of Clone High, Abe is so sleep-deprived that he almost crashes his car into a bus full of pandas.
- In a Ben 10 episode, Kevin (as Upgrade) cuts the brakes of a cable car with people and sends it to fall into the ocean. Ben saves them.
- In X-Men: Evolution episode "Growing Pains", a car hanging over the side of a bridge is about to fall on a school bus full of kids. Scott, Kitty and Kurt start arguing over whether or not to help, because they're afraid of revealing themselves. In the end they decide to help after seeing the car beginning to go over the edge. They end up saving the kids and the man in the car.
- In The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror IX, one of Snake's three strikes is for blowing up a bus full of nuns (but he insists it was self-defense).
- Family Guy parodied this. Peter has to take over as Death while he recovered from an injury, and does such a bad job of it, Death decides he has to do something big to be taken seriously. He decides Peter needs to kill the cast of Dawson's Creek. He gets on the plane, but when he sees the other passengers, he has second thoughts, and finally says he can't do it when he sees a group of Girl Scouts singing "We like being alive. Oh, we like being alive..."
- The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Wisp of Wickedness", the possessed hat causes a crane driver to attempt to drop a school bus into a metal crusher.