You know how car accidents are a serious matter? And crashing into a building would be a big deal? Not so in TV Land.
A trope often seen in sitcoms, usually played for for a tiny bit of drama, a lot of laughs and shock value all at the same time. You have a new driver... or maybe an old driver... or a drunk driver...Maybe even somebody who isn't even old enough to drive in the first place. Doesn't matter the situation, for some reason their vehicle is magnetically drawn to the house, and comes bursting through the front door, just as any character normally would. The shot usually ends with some witty one-liner from the front passenger, along the lines of "that went well", while the horrified occupants of the house stare in well... horror.
A few notable thing about this trope is the fact that no one is ever harmed, the car always stops right after it enters the house, and of course, the house is usually fixed by the next episode. No one is ever killed by standing near or against the wall that just got crashed into. The car never continues on into the the rest of the house (leading us to believe that hitting a house will suddenly trigger the braking reflex in said poor driver). And the family will rarely have to stay in a hotel, while they wait for a contractor to fix the gaping hole in the front of their home. By the next episode, everything's fine. Exceptions to this would be a subversion.
Obviously this differs from Real Life, where a car plowing through your front living room might cause a few headaches.
And it's not always a house. Sometimes it's an office, a hotel, a bar or another public place. But the same rules apply; no lasting damage or repercussions. The rarer incarnation of this trope is when a character with perfectly decent driving skills purposefully drives into the house. Usually still played for laughs though.
Sitcoms of The Eighties and The Ninetiesdrove this trope into the ground, but due to the constant recycling of Sitcom plots, the trope still pervades. See also Drives Like Crazy and Standardized Sitcom Housing, which contributes to this trope's appearance.
If it's done intentionally in order to make a spectacular entrance, see also There Was a Door.
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A 2012-ish State Farm commercial features a former customer who has "just combined" his auto and home.
Anime and Manga
Word of God says that Germany of Axis Powers Hetalia once did this because he is so confident in technology that he insisted on following the GPS instructions exactly.
In The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Phineas builds a full-size remote-control racing car and is running it through the city streets from the roof. Fat Freddy wants to play, but crashes it straight through a bank. After Disney's Beagle Boys take the opportunity to ransack the place, the Freaks hide the car and leave town.
In Tintin Land Of Black Gold, Thomson and Thompson fall asleep while driving and their jeep goes through the wall of a mosque.
In The Cannonball Run, Mad Dog and Batman end up parking their truck in the hotel lobby, in the first instance of their 'no brakes' Running Gag..
In the sequel, an old woman driving a car waves at the chimpanzee driving the limo. When the chimp flips her in response, she does an insult gesture with her arms, which causes her to lose control of her car as she takes both hands off the wheel and it crashes into the shop of a gas station.
Played with in When in Rome. In one key scene, several men are driving in a tiny car and drive into a museum, without damaging anything (they go through the door), and even go up in the elevator. A definite example of the Rule of Funny.
Taxi: This is the reason why Emilien keeps failing his driving test. Again and again.
Subverted in 28 Days, where a drunk Gwen does this and almost kills a child, leading to her being forced into rehab.
A car crashes through a (paper) wall intentionally as part of a comedy skit being done on a '50s comedy show in My Favorite Year.
In The Terminator, The Terminator starts his epic rampage through the police station by crashing a car through the front desk.
It seems to be a Running Gag that Once an Episode, whoever says "I'll be back" will come back by driving a vehicle into the relevant building. Crashing through the structure is optional. This also happens in Terminator 2 when, after telling Sarah and John Connor, "Stay here; I'll be back", he proceeds to walk past a SWAT team, procure a van, and drive right to where he had left the Connors, before telling them to get in.
A famous scene in 2012 has the protagonists drive a limo through a collapsing office building.
In the first of the Lethal Weapon movies, Joshua drives a car through Murtaugh's front window in an attempt on his life. The repairs are going on for the rest of the movie and later movies reference how much work had to be done.
Twister featured the two main characters driving their truck through a house during the climactic storm-chase. They had little choice, though, what with the tornado dragging the house out onto the road right in front of them.
One of the tornadoes also picks up a station wagon and slams it into the side of a service garage the protagonists are taking cover inside of.
In Pulp Fiction, Vincent drives straight into Lance's house, as a result of his panic over Mia being about to die.
Sahara: Well, it's not actually a car as such, but... Well, it has to be seen to be believed.
On Full House, a grade-school-age Stephanie drove Joey's car into the kitchen after deducing that the 'R' on the gearshift must mean 'Radio'.
Michelle: There's a car in the kitchen!
Another episode has a cement truck backing up, again into the kitchen, spilling the wet cement all over.
Helen does this deliberately to Joe's office - twice - in Wings.
On Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson lost control of a car he was pushing and sent it into a small shed. No lasting harm was done, though Richard Hammond may have sprained something laughing.
A Happy Days episode has Marion forgetting to set her car's parking brake, causing it to roll down a hill and crash into Arnold's diner.
Happens in an episode of Chuck, complete with Chuck comprehensively mocking Casey's one liner.
On the The Good Guys Dan drives a car through a wall in two episodes. Both times it was not going very fast and the first time he placed a weight on the gas pedal so he would not be behind the wheel. He also only did it because Jack was about to get killed inside and he needed a big distraction fast.
NCIS: Los Angeles featured a serious subversion of this as a car is driven into a night club as a murder weapon. The driver and a soldier inside the club are killed.
Rory: *explaining how bad a driver Amy is* I let her drive my car once.
Amy: Yeah, to the end of the road.
Rory: Where, according to Amy, there was an unexpected house.
The Season 7 finale of House has the titular character driving his car into his ex-girlfriend/boss's house. Because of a bad breakup. Very definitely Played for Drama, and leads to Cuddy's permanent departure from the show and House going to prison. The fallout from this stunt has a massive negative impact on House for the rest of the series.
On DIY Network's Disaster House a show where they do horrible damage to a house, then show how to repair it, the last thing they do to the house to see if they can irreparably damage it is to try putting a garbage truck, which weighs about 20 tons, on the roof of the house. Slowly lowering the garbage truck onto the roof with a crane, it still falls through. An insurance agent who is on site to watch says the damage is so severe it would be cheaper to bulldoze the house and build a new one than to repair the damage and make the house structurally sound. This basically was the end of the series.
The season 1 finale has Michael crash his brother's truck through a warehouse wall in order to rescue Fiona from drug smugglers.
The season 3 finale has Fiona drive her car through a small-time arms dealer's wall into his living room with the express intent of scaring the shit out of him.
Sam: You know, you never really know a car until you've driven it through a wall. This little baby did good!
Happens on 2 Broke Girls to Max and Caroline's cupcake shop, right after they sold it.
A car goes through Jules' office in one episode of Cougar Town.
In an episode of London's Burning, Vaseline is more interested in the couple kissing on his back seat, and promptly crashes the car into someone's lounge.
Vaseline: Did the earth move for you too?!
The Magnetic Fields song "Irma" ends with the title character's father driving his Jeep through the wall.
Happens in the Slugbug song Australia (Land of Magnets)
When I tried to drive my car to get some food I backed into my living room, I'm in Australia!
In P!nk's "There You Go," the climax features her jumping off her motorcycle as it crashes into her ex-boyfriend's window, then she flips him off and rides away with her new man. It was her debut and successfully got the point across that she was not your older sister's pop star.
In one Zits strip, Jeremy manages to hydroplane the car while pulling it ten feet forward into the garage and puts it through the back wall of the garage.
At least one Garfield strip involved Odie driving Jon's car through his living room. Jon's chair(with Jon in it) ends up overturned.
An old Sesame Street Muppet skit has Cookie Monster as a contestant on the game show "Beat the Time", where he has to find three things that rhyme with "rain" to win the prize of a cookie, culminating in his plowing a train right into the studio.
Graeme and Bill drive into Tim's house when they set out to recruit him for the 25th anniversary episode of I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again (in a spot intended to make fun of Tim Brooke-Taylor's Sitcom career).
Another episode has Homer accidentally crashing his car into Burns' office.
One episode has a plane crashing into the Simpsons' house.
In "To Surveil With Love", as Lisa preaches that no one should give in to stereotypes like "old people can't drive", Grampa crashes into the school.
Grampa: This building got in my way!
When all the citizens of Bikini Bottom mysteriously disappear, Sponge Bob Square Pants takes advantage of the situation by making his own driver's license and driving a mobile boat. More than once does he crash his boat into his own house, and doesn't think of it despite the glaring holes.
At one point he feels the need to flee the house on foot and makes another hole in the wall instead of using the one the car made.
Just about any SpongeBob episode in which SpongeBob drives a boat outside the confines of the boating school will feature this trope.
Chowder: In "Gazpacho!", Lemon drives a snail bus through the wall of an arboretum.
Brock Sampson from The Venture Bros. has done this intentionally on more than one occasion. Hank did it once on accident while driving Brock's car.
Older Than Radio: The very first recorded automobile accident occurred in 1771, when the prototype of an new steam-driven car invented by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot crashed through a French military building, badly damaging a wall. This fiasco perhaps damaged Cugnot's reputation more than the Arsenal. Big, unwieldy, and able to move at a whopping two miles an hour, the prototype was not commissioned by the French army. Cugnot eventually died broke and in exile.
Not a Truth in Television - In Real Life cars crashing into houses is a serious matter and sometimes a deadly one. Very rarely does it happen without any consequences.
One prominent example occured in Saxony, Germany, when a car that crashed into a church roof seven meters above the ground. After flying for 37 meters.
Subverted however. In Missoula, Montana, a 44-tonne lorry crashed into a house, but no-one was hurt.
The clip was shown on Police Stop! 7 in the United Kingdom.
The Pennsylvania Railroad managed to run a GG1 locomotive into the main concourse of the Washington D.C. Union Station in 1953.
The Silver Streak example in the above Film category is likely an homage to this event.
A similar incident to the above happened with a steam locomotive in 1895 France.
The September 11 terrorist attacks did this deliberately with aircraft, with extremely deadly results.
The Jordan's Furniture store in Natick, Massachusetts has a large animatronic Mardi Gras attraction complete with a car that pops through a wall, referencing this trope's appearance in The Blues Brothers. Yes, this is a furniture store. (Their Reading location can be stated with certainty to be at least as bizarre.)
In 2009, a driver in Nevada got drunk and decided that he was going to kill his ex girlfriend and her new beau by plowing his car through their house. Unfortunately, he got the wrong house, and managed to land the car on top of a couple who were sleeping in bed. Fortunately, the mattress of the bed provided just the right amount of cushioning and support to keep the car from crushing them, and the worst injuries they suffered were some burns from being in contact with the undercarriage.
After yet another bitter fight with estranged husband Dan—he'd sold their home without her knowledge or consent—LA socialite Betty Broderick drove her car through the front door of the new home that he now shared with his mistress. They were uninjured. . .this time.
Ram raiding. Basically, some thieves drive a car through the windows or door of a store, grab what they can, and escape in a getaway car parked outside. Ever wonder what those short concrete poles in front of stores are for? Deterring people from doing this.