Surprisingly common in anime, shonen especially, is the tendency to run on power lines when racing to get somewhere. While at first doing this seems perfectly reasonable - after all, why run along the ground where you would have to follow the roads when you can just use the power lines and go straight there - there is a slight problem. Power lines are designed strong enough to support their weight plus to survive reasonably strong wind, plus maybe some snow and ice for colder areas. Making them stronger would be wasteful. Low-voltage low-power lines may well support crows, but almost certainly not human beings doing acrobatics. Higher voltage adds the danger of electrocution when you touch two wires at once or a wire and a grounded object, like a tangent tower. Things are even worse with high tension power lines
; according to the History Channel, even the crews who maintain the things, with all their training and protective gear, occasionally die working on these. For multi-kilovolt lines you don't even need to touch two wires: touching one and being a few centimetres from another could be enough to short them through air and your body. Though some high-tension lines have on top a lightning guard wire, which is safe to touch, it is again isn't expected to hold human weight. Needless to say, Rule of Cool
Many a character with electric powers
does this, both because their power keeps their not being killed something grounded
in (semi-)reality, and because it's conductive
to their nature.
A more realistic variation may involve any other kind of overhead wires and ropes, from suspension bridge cables to clotheslines.
A close cousin of Roof Hopping
and typically takes Le Parkour Up to Eleven
. Not to be confused with the country line-dance of the same name...or the decidedly non
-country "Electric Boogie" that inspired it.
Also known as Power Line Rider
, after the Line Rider
People who can do this tend to also engage in Roof Hopping
and I Have the High Ground
A Sister Trope
to Ride The Lightning
. Compare Tightrope Walking
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Anime & Manga
- In Bleach Ichigo does this while running to Orihime's apartment to stop the hollow attacking her from killing her. But then, he's in shinigami form at the time (essentially, a ghost), so it makes at least a little sense that the power lines don't break. Ichigo isn't seen doing anything similar afterward, as he learns to walk on air instead.
- Fate/stay night: Saber does this during her first fight with Berserker and is only explainable through Rule of Cool. Not only is she wearing a long skirt but she's wearing a suit of metal armor and carrying a sword. But do note that as a Servant, she's considered a spirit, and so cannot be hurt by something as mundane as electricity.
- Tsukihime: Ciel can do this. Again, Rule of Cool is king. Sensing a pattern here?
- Ranma ½ has most of the characters do this at one point. Still doesn't explain how a power line is able to support their weight though.
- In Golden Boy, Kintaro wins a race, on bicycle, against a motorcycle, in part by using a power-line shortcut. It's a combination of Rule of Cool and Artistic License - Physics.
- Hayato does this in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple to get Kenichi back to town in a hurry.
- Used in Air Gear. It actually lends power to ATs.
- Not to be outdone, Superman does this in his first appearance in Action Comics until he learns how to fly. However, he did this stunt while carrying a man he was trying to scare into talking with the threat that they both will be electrocuted he steps on a support pole, which would ground them and allow the electricity to flow through them. Sure enough, he has a near miss with a pole which scares his prisoner witless. After some additional leaping, all Superman has to do upon landing is "Wasn't that fun? Let's do it again!"
- Golden Age hero Air Wave used specially insulated rollerskates to skate along power lines. It's not entirely clear what advantages this has over simply using the skates normally.
- Spider-Man villain Electro does this as a fast way of getting around. As he is a walking power plant, he doesn't have to worry about being electrocuted. Occasionally, he'll be the electricity in the wires...
- Barbara Shelley does this in her first appearance as Promethea to save Sophie from falling to her death.
- In Kyon Big Damn Hero, Kyon attempted it with great success. Justified, because he had access to alien technology. His personal assistant remarked that it was interesting, but inferior compared to teleportation.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- In Tango & Cash, the two title protagonists use the "hanging-down-from-the-wire" variation of this method to escape from prison.
- Artemis Fowl does this in The Time Paradox to catch a lemur that has run onto the power lines. Played realistically (for Artemis Fowl, anyway) in that the lines in question are a set of truly massive power conduits across a large valley, he uses the cable trolley system and protective suit that line maintenance crews use, he's an accomplished physicist who has watched a documentary on this very set of electrical towers, and he's still terrified.
- Cole from inFAMOUS is the king of this trope. There's even a trophy you get by grinding along a power cable and taking down an enemy while sniping in precision mode, and another for grinding on 4 separate lines in sequence. Partially justified by an experiment Gone Horribly Right, giving Cole the ability to control electricity (he can even learn to suck the electricity out of the line while grinding to recharge his powers). Cole can also use his electrical powers to "glide" through thin air. His weight is likely a non-issue.
- On the other hand, it can still support his weight even before he learns to grind his way electrically, instead he just walks normally on the lines.
- Tony Hawk lets you grind power lines with your skateboard. Please Don't Try This at Home? Most skateboarding games allow this, in fact.
- Raz grinds on telephone lines in Psychonauts' Milkman Conspiracy. It's the most sensible event on the level. A psychic did it?
- It's possible to do this in City of Heroes (though there's very little actual reason to), since power lines are treated as simply another solid surface.
- Ratchet & Clank: Ratchet does this from time to time on his Grind Boots. Notably on Planet Boldan (Silver City) in Going Commando.
- Amped 2 lets snowboarders grind on cable car wires.
- Jet Set Radio Future requires this to get around several areas like Kibogaoka Hill and Highway Zero.
- Most of the gameplay in Scaler.
- In the Xbox reboot of Ninja Gaiden, Ryu rides a high-voltage power line after jumping from a burning zeppelin.
- Many of the rails Sonic the Hedgehog grinds on are actually electric cables, especially in stages set in cities or Dr. Eggman's mechanical lairs.
- In a possible example mixed with Gunship Rescue and Big Damn Heroes, the protagonists of Final Fantasy X slide down cables launched from their gunship to "rescue" Yuna from a wedding. We clearly see the clamps at the ends of the wires moving clamping down mechanically, implying the cables may also be transferring power to the clamps.
- Soul Power from Static Shock surfs across power lines with his electric powers, his version of Static's flying disc.
- Tom and Jerry uses this a few times, each time with Tom balancing on the telephone wires to get to Jerry, who always either tries to shake Tom off or cut the wires.
- In one episode of Darkwing Duck, the villain Megavolt does this, probably as a parody of Spider-Man.
- The opening sequence for the Mr. Magoo cartoons showed him driving his car along the power lines.
- The Looney Tunes Bee-Deviled Bruin has Pop doing a tightrope walk along a shutoff power line to get to a beehive. He shouldn't have left his halfwit son sitting at the switch, getting bored and fiddling with it...
- Amazingly, someone did this to cross the Berlin Wall. It actually isn't as dangerous as the article makes it out, under a few assumptions. For the purposes of exposition, consider a bird standing on a power line. A power line has a certain amount of intrinsic resistance per unit of length. The interface between the bird's feet and the power line will also have its own intrinsic amount of resistance. In short, there are two paths for electricity to travel through, in parallel, so that this is a parallel circuit. As long as the power line's intrinsic resistance is very very low compared to the resistance the bird offers, very little electricity will actually flow through the bird. So what are the assumptions? You are never even close to touching a grounded circuit element and the power line at the same time (since power lines are engineered so that the electric field coming from the lines won't cause an arc to the grounded element, but might arc to a grounded element closer than allowed for — this is what causes power outtages during storms). You are not wet, and are hopefully wearing thick rubber shoes.
- In real life, as long as the person contacting a live line does not complete a circuit, they become energized at the line potential and may possibly avoid death. If the circuit does not have a ground connection, the person can contact both the line and a ground at the same time, and all they do is bring that side of the circuit to ground potential. Not much will help them if anything brings the other side of the circuit into connection with the ground, though.
- Unlike residential distribution lines, high tension transmission lines (read: 100+KV power lines actually ARE big enough to hold a person's weight, and te power companies can't always afford to shut them off for maintenance, so the power company will drop workers onto the live lines via helicopter as shown in this video.