The two cars are chasing through a run down light industrial area. There is a large pile of empty cardboard boxes, usually at a corner. Either the first car misses them and the second careens into them, scattering the boxes over the set, or the first strikes a glancing blow, sufficient to scatter the boxes into the path of the second car.
In a foot chase, a variation of the latter case happens often; the one in front will deliberately knock down such a pile as he passes, in order to delay his pursuers.
Sometimes, the boxes are strictly for show; the first car will send half of them tumbling every which way, and the second car will take care of the rest.
In rare cases, can be used to hide from pursuers
Unrelated to Kids Prefer Boxes
. See also Sheet of Glass
and Fruit Cart
. Judging by the ratio of parodies to straight examples on this page, this appears to be a Dead Unicorn Trope
- Deconstructively parodied in an issue of Spawn, in which a cop car blasts through a pile of boxes...which had a homeless man sleeping under them.
- Subverted in an episode of Ashes to Ashes. Gene and Alex are on their way to a crime scene and come across an archway filled with stacked cardboard boxes. Alex quips "I know how this goes" and fully expects Gene to drive through them...and Gene simply sets the car in reverse and grumbles that he's gonna have to go around them.
- Parodied in Father Ted. Dougal is forced to drive a milk float that will explode if it drops below 4 miles per hour and panics when he sees a stack of boxes at the end of the road. As he trundles slowly towards them, Ted re-stacks them on the opposite side of the road. After Dougal passes the boxes, Ted drives his car straight through the stack.
- Spoofed in Funky Squad, an Australian parody of 70's cop shows.
- In Power Rangers, going through boxes can touch off minor explosions that send sparks everywhere. The whole world is Made of Explodium.
- Starsky & Hutch itself was infamous enough for this to spawn the above examples.
- Levels in the Starsky and Hutch Video Game would give you a secondary objective of destroying X cardboard boxes.
- In Bill Bailey's "Starsky And Hutch" segment, the duo are looking to make a getaway while pursued by the mob.
"How about that alley?"
"No, there's no boxes down that one. No, go down that one."
They go down another alley, no boxes. What are they going to do?
"Right, stop the car, get some boxes out of the boot, set them up, drive around the block..."
- Used in the Top Gear second hand police cars challenge, where Hammond is awarded points for flamboyant driving by crashing through a pile of gratuitous cardboard boxes slightly off the edge of the track.
- An earlier newspaper article by Jeremy Clarkson codified the trope:
A car crashing through an explosion is great cinema. A car crashing through some cardboard boxes is great television. A car coasting to a stop for no reason means they've run out of budget on The Bill
- Including as part of the title sequence created by Top Gear for The Intercepters, a non-existent Seventies cop show.
- Spoofed in Garth Marenghis Darkplace when a chase scene ends with the Monster of the Week crashing into a huge mountain of cardboard boxes sitting in the middle of a forest for no apparent reason.
- The Professionals of course, and parodied in The Comic Strip Presents Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown where 'Bonehead and Foyle' make a point of looking out for cardboard boxes to drive through during a chase scene so as to look more dramatic.
- This trope can occasionally be seen being played straight on wrestling whenever there's a backstage brawl. One example is when The Undertaker had Hulk Hogan tied to the back of his motorcycle and was dragging him around backstage only for Hogan to go crashing into a pile of empty cardboard boxes, while the announcers played up how painful that apparently would be.
- From an Angry Beavers episode which parodied Starsky & Hutch: "Quick, they're headed for the cardboard box district!". In fact, cardboard boxes were a running gag in the episode.
- Played straight in the Dexter's Laboratory episode "Backfire". Also played straight with the Fruit Cart, as the car that Dexter has accidentally started driving crashes through them both one after the other.
- Lampshaded in The Simpsons, when the cops are taking Bart for a day on the job. While they are explaining that it's not the action-oriented job Hollywood makes it out to be, they are interrupted by a heist and immediately start a high-speed chase through an alley full of cardboard boxes. As their car sends them scattering everywhere, one of the cops nonchalantly exclaims, "Damn boxes!"
- The Adventure Time episode "Box Prince" features a kingdom of cute kittens living in cardboard boxes.