"Do a Barrel Roll!"
— Peppy Hare, Star Fox 64
So, you have this Cool Ship, Cool Plane, Cool Whatever. So what to do with it? Sure, you can show it off and see how everyone turns green with envy, but the kind of stories frequented by Cool Means Of Travel usually requests you to use it a bit more actively. Like, engage in fighting and the stuff. At times, it's awesome enough when you open fire, at others... Not so much. So what should you do to meet the expectations of the audience? Do a Cool Maneuver. Compare Everything's Better with Spinning. When it includes tricking the opponent by use of terrain or rapid braking, it's Wronski Feint or Dodge by Braking. If involves missiles, often High-Speed Missile Dodge. Finally, if you're into suicidal attacks, then remember Ramming Always Works. You may also be looking for Spin to Deflect Stuff, or Sphere Factor for when you are on the barrel.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Code Geass has an amusing (to some, hilarious) example of this; Lelouch's arch-rival and also his friend, Suzaku, has a signature move, the "Spinzaku" Kick. After leaping into the air, he spins his legs out to hit his opponents. Not only does he does this to disarm Zero after shooting Zero in the head and revealing Lelouch's identity, he also pulls a Spinzaku in his Knightmare Frame, Lancelot on its first launch. It's also become subject of some insane Memetic Mutation and is well enough known that it's actually how the Lancelot enters the scene in the opening cinematic for Another Century's Episode R.
- The Cutback Dropturn from Eureka Seven. It's apparently like the Holy Grail of Sky Surfing techniques in the show's universe.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Murrue Ramius orders the Archangel to Do a Barrel Roll in order to destroy a battleship beneath them with their top-mounted beam cannons.
- Claus Valca, protagonist of Last Exile, earns both the audience and other characters' accolades by performing the Immelman Turn in his steampunk Vanship. Too bad for him, it also impressed the heir of the antagonist force, Dio Eraclea... who instantly becomes Claus' biggest fan and takes great pleasure in calling him "Immelman!" every chance he gets.
- Naturally happens a lot in Macross. Macross Zero has especially over the top maneuvers like Shin intentionally stalling his fighter to slow down and transform, plus the generally insane maneuvering enabled by the VF-0's vernier thrusters and the OVA's high budget, hence the meme THRUST VECTORING RULES THE SKIES.
- Super Atragon: The ocean-going Ra pulls one of these in her first engagement. Ra 's main guns cannot elevate high enough to shoot the enemy target. In order to elevate them to a high enough angle, they flood the the port side ballast tanks, tilting the entire ship another 45 degrees off-keel and bringing the guns to the desired elevation.
- Magic: The Gathering's main story arc involved Cool Ship and its crew, thus there are several cards depicting airborne badassery. One involved using the ship's mirrored hull to deflect one baddie's beam onto other baddie.
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game has various space maneuvering interrupts including Tallon Roll and Darklighter Spin.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: It's a support card for the Mecha Phantom Beasts, which makes sense, as they are all planes.
- Calvin and Hobbes:
- Calvin does a barrel roll in an airline pilot fantasy sequence.
- He also carves a giant sign into his lawn urging real airline pilots to do the same. (Presumably, none comply)
Hobbes: Any luck?
Calvin: I'm so disappointed.
- Bait and Switch:
- Eleya's USS Bajor and an Orion battleship are both shown rolling ship to present undamaged shields to the enemy. Eleya also once has her conn officer do a Crazy Ivan, with a note in the narration that her 4.5 megaton Galaxy-class starship doesn't turn on a dime: it requires firing the side thrusters and reversing one impulse engine, and the ship is still described as slewing hard in one direction as she rotates.
- "The Universe Doesn't Cheat" has Eleya attempt to flip a virtual Constitution-class end-for-end while taking the Kobayashi Maru, referring to it as a "Sulu Flip" (in reference to the novel My Enemy, My Ally).
- A Voice in the Wilderness reuses rolling ship, and also shows USS Bajor pitching relative down in order to show its upper surface to a Borg cube, allowing it to bring all five upper phasersnote to bear on a single target at once.
Films — Animation
- In Porco Rosso, Boss tells Fio that the loop (barrel roll in the original Japanese) "...is what made Porco the Ace of the Adriatic!"
Films — Live-Action
- Kirk's 3D maneuver from Wrath of Khan.
- Also from Star Trek, the Picard Maneuver, in which Picard used short-range warp jumps to take advantage of the ship moving faster than the light reflecting off it (creating an illusion of two ships being in the area at once).
- Roy Scheider's helicopter loop in Blue Thunder.
- Any number of scenes in Mad Max II (a.k.a. The Road Warrior).
- Star Wars:
- While this is a general rule for anything piloted by Anakin Skywalker, there are specific examples in Star Wars Episode II (hovercar) and III (fighter and broken-in-half cruiser).
- Episode I:
- In the theatrical version, during the podrace, Anakin gets launched into the air by an off ramp, he taps the thrusters, opens the flaps, and swoops down (with the sound dropping out) to land in front of Sebulba, with the triumphant sounds of the twin engines roaring.
- In the extended version of the podrace, there's the moment when Anakin finds himself caught between a racer and a cliffside, so he repulsor-climbs sideways up the cliff, rolls right over the other racer, and zooms off once he's in the clear.
- ( The space battle, where Anakin actually shouts out "Let's try spinning! That's a good trick!" This makes more sense if you've read the book, in which the escape from Naboo is completed by spinning the ship, which disrupts the "pulsar tracking" the Trade Federation uses for its weapons.
- In the original Star Wars film, our hero has a Tie Fighter on his tail. Rather than perform some extraordinary maneuver himself, he is saved when Wedge dives in at him head-on, getting between him and the TIE to blast the bad guy point-blank. Which is an excellent example of a Real Life combat maneuver known as the Thach Weave.
- Parodied (along with lots of other things) in Hot Shots!, where the plane stops in mid-air, together with the sound of brakes screeching.
- Serenity gives us the "Barn Swallow", which is the space craft version of KITT from Knight Rider driving into the tractor trailer. With KITT facing backwards.
- Seaborne example: anchor turn in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
- "Club hauling" — a legitimate term of the manoeuvre of turning the ship when you don't have steerage way by dropping an anchor and pivoting around it. Normally done MUCH more slowly than in the film, but the name at least is one of the rare accurate moments in the series.
- In Battle of Britain, one of the squadron leaders chews out two separate pilots for doing victory rolls on the not unreasonable justification that a low-altitude barrel roll in a potentially combat damaged aircraft is a good way to get yourself killed.
- Combined with Dodge by Braking in the World War I film Flyboys when an American pilot uses an actual barrel roll to get alongside his German opponent so he can shoot him with a pistol.
- In The A-Team, Murdock does a barrel roll in a civilian medic helicopter, then in a C-130. Just to be clear, very few helicopters can be barrel rolled, and rolling a C-130 is a job for a professional stunt pilot.
- And just to make his passengers' lives even scarier, halfway through the roll he says, "I've never tried this before!" Face's expression of sheer terror is a thing of beauty, not to speak of B.A....
- Just to be clear, before the helicopter barrel roll, BA was a fully jump qualified US Ranger (ie regularly jumped out of planes). After Murdock's stunt he is deadly afraid to even be in any machine capable of flight.
- And just to make his passengers' lives even scarier, halfway through the roll he says, "I've never tried this before!" Face's expression of sheer terror is a thing of beauty, not to speak of B.A....
- The political drama State of the Union has a wholly gratuitous sequence devoted to airplane stunts.
- In The Man with the Golden Gun, James Bond makes a 360º corkscrew jump with a car (which he precedes with "Ever heard of Evel Knievel?"). And it was real! Too bad it is somewhat ruined by a Narmy sound effect...
- Possibly referenced in Spectre, where Bond is in a helicopter that does several of these, though he isn't the pilot.
- In The Great Waldo Pepper Waldo's best friend is killed attempting to perform the world's first outside loop, triggering the psychotic episode that costs Waldo his pilot's license.
- Lone Wolf: In Shadow on the Sand, when the flying ship Skyrider is boarded by Drakkarim, wizard captain Banedon calls out a maneuver code name for his Dwarven crew, and warns Lone Wolf to hang on something. Then he starts capsizing the ship to end up flying upside-down, sending the evil warriors plummeting to their death while the dwarves are hanging on to nets, gleefully shouting "Blood for Blood!" at their falling foes.
- Honor Harrington example: Captain Terekhov's maneuver at the Battle of Hyacinth in the novel "The Shadow Of Saganami". Bonus points for the maneuver leading to a puny light cruiser beating a heavy cruiser three times its size.
- The "Crazy Ivan" maneuver and the term describing it was obscure U.S Navy slang until Tom Clancy popularized it in his debut novel The Hunt for Red October.
- During a dogfight in Specter of the Past, Han and Leia put the Millennium Falcon into a modified "smuggler's reverse", a bootlegger's turn in space. Specifically, the ship cuts thrusters, turns 180 degrees, and then kicks in the engines again to turn in a much narrower space than normal. Han's modification is a fake-out: cut engines, turn a full 360, and then continue in the direction you were already going while the enemy hares off in the other direction, having anticipated the regular reverse, and then do it again for real this time. It partially works: Han shoots down one of the attacking fighters, but the other fighter is tricked a little too well and hits the Falcon, crippling her.
- Diane Duane's Star Trek novel My Enemy, My Ally has a scene where Hikaru Sulu makes the Enterprise do a 180-degree backflip while traveling at high warp, in order to bring the ship's stronger forward phasers to bear on a Romulan warbird.
- In Thud!, Vimes takes a Flashed-Badge Hijack of a passing coach, and the coachman, without any prompting from Vimes, proceeds to use a number of cool maneuvers that he doesn't normally get to do, ending with Vimes himself performing a "smuggler's turn" (actually a handbrake turn). (Exactly how useful this is for smugglers is another question, since it leaves the coach facing in the opposite direction from the horses. But it looks cool.)
- Babylon 5 example: Delenn and a small force of Whitestars are trying to escape from a Drakh mothership and its large force of parasite fighters. Delenn asks Lennier if he has ever seen the Warrior Caste training demonstration flights, specifically their trick of "skin dancing". Lennier nervously admits that he has, and when she asks if he can do it, he replies, "Not without several years of training...but I can program the parameters into the ship's autopilot." Delenn asks him what he needs to do then. "Push this button, and pray...very, very fast."
- Battlestar Galactica is replete with examples, from Apollo and Zac doing the "tap the brakes, he'll fly right by" stock maneuver in the pilot movie of the classic series, to Starbuck rescuing Apollo's damaged fighter at the last possible second in the pilot miniseries of the re-imagined series.
- The Adama Maneuver. For sheer ballsy things you can do with several megatons of militarized metal, there is no substitute.
- The Buck Rogers TV series also uses the "tap the brakes" maneuver in its pilot movie.
- Sub/Averted in an episode of Black Sheep Squadron: their planes were in such terrible shape (because they never got adequate repair parts) that after takeoff one of the pilots had to barrel roll in order to be able to retract his landing gear. A guest squadron with brand-new planes thought he was showing off.
- The pilot for Firefly showed us a 180-degree reversed-thrust Crazy Ivan. Then they went to "hard burn" — which according to the literature consists of setting off a small thermonuclear explosion behind your ship — while still atmospheric. It was a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Wash, Kaylee, and Serenity herself.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Pterodactyl Dinozord performed the occasional barrel roll. The Crane Ninjazord was fond of a loop-the-loop that finished out with some shooting.
- In Street Hawk, the motorcycle rider could jam on the thrusters while simultaneously deploying emergency stopping wings which had the net effect of flipping the bike up in the air doing a loop-de-loop.
- Several examples in Star Trek, most notably the Picard Manoeuvre: the USS Stargazer faced a Ferengi ship at the Battle of Maxia. Exploiting that the Ferengi ship at the only had lightspeed sensors, the Stargazer jumped forward at warp speed, overtaking its own light, meaning that to the Ferengi it seemed as though there were two Stargazers. The Ferengi fired at the afterimage rather than the real ship, giving Picard time to destroy them.
- A part of Star Fox since the very first game. Peppy Hare's command to "do a barrel roll!" to get yourself out of trouble became a big Internet meme, and gave this trope its name. For some unfathomable reason, doing a barrel roll gives your ship 95% immunity to any attack an enemy might throw at you. Put simply, Spin to Deflect Stuff. The Player's Guide for Star Fox 64 handwaves it by saying the roll amplifies the effect from the Arwing's G-diffuser, using it to boost the ship's shields.
- Ironically, only Assault lets you do an actual barrel roll. In every other game, it's an aileron roll.
- You can also do this with the tank mission in Star Fox 64. Tapping Z or R twice causes the tank to fire its jump jets to roll your tank over in the direction you specified.
- Also, there's the Loop, where you do a sharp climb, flip upside down, and then do a sharp dive so you're going exactly the same direction you were, in order to shake off tailing enemies. And then there's the U-Turn, where you boost ahead, flip upside-down and backwards, then do another roll to face up again. That one's to rapidly switch directions in all-range mode.
- When actually used in the memetic sense, though, "Do a barrel roll" means nothing. It's essentially the most extreme form of completely useless advice.
- Google has jumped on the bandwagon as of late. Typing in "do a barrel roll" for a search query makes the resulting page do a barrel roll. However, this only works on browsers with HTML 5 support.
- Typing in "z or r twice" achieves the same result.
- This continues into Star Fox Zero, where one section in particular has you playing as Peppy, who yells out "Barrel roll!" whenever he does one.
- One of the weirdest examples of this trope comes from BattleTanx: Global Assault, in the form of the FLP-E ("Flippy") tank. Built with a gryo-stabilized cockpit, specially-designed tracks, and side-mounted jet boosters, the FLP-E is capable of tumbling sideways with ease, baffling its enemies.
- Also, if you tap the opposing flip buttons repeatedly, in rapid-fire, you can squeeze between two larger tanks.
- In the Star Trek: Starfleet Command series, you can't do a barrel roll, but you can "Starcastle": sit in one spot and spin your starship in a circle, firing off your weapons as the enemy enters their firing arcs. Pairing this with the tractor beam (which has a rotate function to spin the captured ship around yours while you spin in the opposite direction) and a starship with good all-around weapon coverage (Federation ships, Borg ships), and you can do near-constant damage to your target.
- Fresh from Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier - Daxter: "Do a barrel roll, try a somersault, ANYTHING!!!~!!!"
- At least in the arcade console version of After Burner, one could barrel roll around incoming missile salvoes by bringing the stick all the way over to one side for a regular turn, then quickly snapping over to the other side. This is, if done by sufficiently hamfisted players, somewhat hard on the cabinet controls, but almost always effective.
- Sword of the Stars allows you to barrel roll ships. It can help in anti-planetary actions if your race's Point Defense coverage is lacking against munitions coming in from "above" or "below" the horizontal plane.
- Possibly alluded to in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, where Link's Loftwing learns a new method of acceleration that is far more accurate than your previous attack/acceleration. How does it do it? By rapidly barrel rolling.
- Most fighters in Xenonauts, both human and alien, can safely avoid missiles by rolling at the right moment.
- Saints Row IV: Upon boarding a spaceship in an early level, one of the first things the main character does is command the player to "do a barrel roll."
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic: Galactic Starfighter, you can perform a barrel roll in the eponymous starfighter combat if you have the proper engines equipped (other engine setups allow for different maneuvers, such as snap turns, power dives, Immelmann turns, and so on). In addition to hopefully distracting the enemy, it breaks any missile locks that might be on your craft.
- MechWarrior Living Legends's aerospace fighters utilize fusion rockets for thrust and therefore cannot engine stall, allowing them to perform some truly ridiculous acrobatic maneuvers to dodge incoming fire or get on an enemy's tail, the most common technique being to jam up on the elevators, cut the throttle to sling the tail of the plane around, and then blast down on the afterburners partway through the turn, allowing the plane to flip 180 degrees and fly away. The hilarious Sparrowhawk scout plane can use this to fly inside buildings due to it having an aerodynamic stall speed of ~30 kilometers per hour.
- In Star Trek Online, the Pilot specialization includes a barrel roll maneuver that inexplicably makes your ship completely invulnerable to all damage for the duration.
- Ironically, in War Thunder, doing a true barrel roll has... varying results. If you're up against a rookie pilot, it's a good way to keep his stupid but behind you while an ally (hopefully) will get him off of you. If you're up against a player that actually knows what he's doing, he'll counter your barrel roll either by using a series of diving attacks, or predict where you'll end up, and blow you out of the sky. It's even worse for you if he has a friend playing with him. Regardless, those that study the art of the dogfight, will excel at the game.
- In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, Hydreigon does this when he pulls the second Big Damn Heroes moment while flying away from Salamence.
- In NERF WAR! directed by SiDN64, the Pink Pants rocket gunner told his ally to barrel-roll away from the sniper word-by-word, but the latter failed to do so.
- My Little Pony:
- The Double Inside-Out Loop in the first movie. Sort of a flying pony trick that the boldest character tries (unsuccessfully) at the beginning and then manages to complete at the moment of dramatic climax.
- And in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, pulling off awesome aerial stunts (including her famous Sonic Rainboom) is of course part of what Rainbow Dash lives for.
- Parodied in the Family Guy Star Wars special "Blue Harvest", with Peter escaping in the Millennium Falcon by... changing direction.
First Mook: He's listing lazily to the left!
Second Mook: Man, this guy knows some moves!
- The Pelican Dive from TaleSpin. It failed the first time Baloo tried it, but he pulls it off once his life (and his pilot's license) was on the line.
- DuckTales: Launchpad has to pull off the "Tree-Top Be-Bop Tuck And Roll" in order to stop the Beagle Boys from robbing Scrooge's money bin.
- Barrel roll is one of the "clean" aerobatic maneuvres, i.e. it can be performed with the turn and bank indicator, "the ball", centered. An ordinary roll or snap roll cannot.
- One of the basics of aerial dogfighting is to strike "out of the Sun".
- Pugachev's Cobra: making the plane stand on its tail. You don't just have to be a masterful pilot to be able to do it, as most planes just aren't maneuverable enough to pull this trick (the ones that can do this are 4th or 5th generation fighters).
- Pugachev's Cobra however is not a combat maneuver, and is generally reserved for wowing audiences at air-shows. Coming to what essentially amounts to a dead stop in an environment where a common mantra is "speed is life" is a good way to get your dumb-ass blown out of the sky, whether your opponent is The Ace, or simply a rookie willing to take advantage of the target that was inexplicably nice enough to hold still for him.
- Crazy Ivan: a sudden radical turn to a) see if anyone's behind you, and b) intimidate them if they are, a specialty of Soviet submarines before they got towed sonar arrays.
- The Immelmann turn, a must-have for WWI dogfights.
- There are people doing this for a living.
- Doing a barrel roll in a fighter, where maneuverability is an essential component of design, is not very exceptional in and of itself. Barrel-rolling a prototype four-engine commercial jet is something else entirely. While it was actually quite safe for the pilot and plane,note it was not something one sees on a regular basis. See here, on The Other Wiki, for details of pilot Tex Johnston's antics. Boeing President Bill Allen wasn't very happy about it—but he wasn't in a position to complain, as the maneuver totally sold the plane and cemented Boeing as undisputed the market leader in jet airliners for the next 20 years.note This was a tremendous coup at a time Boeing had become practically a nonentity in the commercial piston-engine airliner market thanks to its previous focus on military contractsnote .
- It left a lasting impression. As late as 1994, a test pilot for the Boeing 777 said the last instructions he received before takeoff were "No rolls."
- WWII U.S. fighter pilots found that the Thunderbolt, Wildcat and Corsair's superior high-speed roll rates often allowed them to gain the upper hand over otherwise more maneuverable enemy fighters like the Zero (and gave them a good way to escape when they couldn't.) They also developed defensive tactics that exploited this advantage like the Thach weave and the horizontal scissors.
- An extreme version of the barrel roll, called the corkscrew, was a heroic remedy for British heavy bombers trying to break out of searchlight coning or else to shake of a pursuing night fighter. This took a toll on pilot strength and could actually be dangerous for a four-engined bomber with a full load, but at night it tended to succeed in shaking off pursuit or breaking out of a revealing searchlight beam.
- Technically speaking, the corkscrew is NOT a barrel roll. It is the scissors maneuvre in three dimensions instead of two.