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- In a mid-1990s commercial for Snapple, a young man writes in to the Snapple Lady asking if Snapple has a mascot (and if not, could he be it)? Snapple sends him to mascot boot camp, and he discovers the hard way that once you fall over while wearing a fake giant glass jar over 70% of your body, its pretty near impossible to get back up again.
Anime and Manga
- Naruto: As a part of their preparations for the Fourth Shinobi World War, the Allied Shinobi Forces send Naruto and Killer Bee to hiding on an island in the Land of Lightning. In reality, this island is a gigantic turtle. When Kabuto attacks the island, he uses the fact that it's a living creature to his advantage by flipping the turtle upside down with the combined effort of Manda II (a genetically altered giant snake summon) and Deidara (who Kabuto brought Back from the Dead with his Impure World Reincarnation technique).
- Ash's Squirtle from Pokémon has frequently wound up helpless after landing on his back—until Ash taught him how to use Hydro Pump to both free himself and counterattack from that position.
- In the first Gamera film, the army attempted to invoke this to stop him. In their defense, no one could have anticipated the giant turtle would fire rocket boosters out of it's shell and fly away.
- In A Christmas Story, Ralphie's little brother is dressed up in so many layers for the Indiana winter, he can't get back up when he falls down. The narrator even mentions he looks like a turtle on his back.
"Randy lay there like a slug. It was his only defense."
- Blade Runner: In the Voight-Kampff test that Holden gives to Leon, one of the questions involves a flipped tortoise.
Holden: You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and you see a tortoise. It's crawling towards you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs, trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?
- RoboCop (1987): ED-209's Weaksauce Weakness to stairs also displays its total inability to right itself after tipping over. It's left helplessly flailing and squealing.
- In Jurassic World, the Indominus rex does this to an Ankylosaurus. She then kills it. Horribly.
Live Action TV
- In an episode of M*A*S*H, an ambulance-truck flipped on its back demonstrates to Colonel Potter the general unfitness of his camp: after everyone pushing together can't get it rightside up, a group of six Marines happens by and rights it all by themselves.
- My Name Is Earl: Crabman's pet turtle Mr. Turtle is scared of being flipped on his back, at least according to Crabman.
- It also describes Randy, according to Earl.
- Elementary: Sherlock brings home the pet turtle which used to be owned by the Victim of the Week, claiming he is going to make turtle soup out of it (after fattening it up first). At one point he uses it as a paperweight by putting it shellsidedown on a stack of papers. Joan is not pleased.
- This was a common weakness in the early seasons of Robot Wars, which made wedges a popular shape and hydraulic flippers their Weapon of Choice. However, eventually competitors started entering robots which were either able to work both ways up, rolled or (for maximum Rule of Cool) use a SRIMECHnote to flip themselves back over (after Cassius was able to do so with its flipper in the second season).
- The A-Team was very fond of flipping over the vehicles of the bad guys in rather spectacular fashion; no matter what the stimuli was, they would normally fly into the air, flip 180 degrees and land upside-down. It even had its own camera angle to show this happening.
- Mario Bros. arcade game: Mario and Luigi could flip turtles (Shellcreepers) over by jumping up from directly below and hitting the level the turtle was walking on. If neither Mario nor Luigi ran into the turtle and knocked it off, it would eventually jump out of its shell, kick the shell over, get back in and continue walking. This could be done with crabs (Sidesteppers) as well, but required two hits.
- Paper Mario series: Koopas can be flipped on their backs when Mario jumps on them, which also lowers their defense. Beware, though: This can happen to Koops in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
- This is how you defeat Hookbill the Koopa in Yoshi's Island and (adult) Bowser's first form in Yoshi's Island DS; Flip them over, then Ground Pound their underside to cause damage.
- Similar to the Yoshi's Island example but more infamous: the Giant Enemy Crab from Genji: Days of the Blade.
- The Spiked Beetle, Terrorpin, and Snapper are various enemies in The Legend of Zelda series that are based on turtles and thus have this weakness. Typically they can be flipped with the hammer or the shield, or in the latter case, by getting underneath them using a Deku flower.
- The boss of the fourth dungeon in Oracle of Ages, beaten by flipping it with the Switch Hook.
- Walking Skullatulas in Skyward Sword, unlike their more difficult to hit hanging cousins, are easily flipped to expose their soft under belly for a Finishing Strike.
- Armogohma from Twilight Princess lands this way when you shoot her in the eye with an arrow. This gives you an opportunity to control the nearest statue to her and deal a damaging blow. Also, the giant insect in twilit Lanayru lands this way once you've gotten it twice, allowing you to jump on it and use the area attack on its legs, thus dealing the finishing blow.
- In Shadow of the Colossus, this is the weakness of two bosses. The eighth Colossus is only vulnerable when it falls and lands on its back, while the ninth is flipped.
- In Mega Man X8, the Mascot Mook Mettaurs are flipped over when hit by an Armor-Piercing Attack.
- The Hobby Horse and, in a New Game+, the Teapot Cannon, are good for inflicting this on Cannon Crabs in Alice: Madness Returns.
- In Xenoblade, this is a status effect called "Topple" which can only be activated after triggering another status called "Break".
- The Simpsons: When Selma takes Bart & Lisa to Duff Gardens, Surly (one of the costumed mascots, dressed as a Duff Beer bottle) falls over and can't get back up again.
- On the Futurama episode "Crimes of the Hot", Bender rescues a turtle because he feels a kinship with it, because he too can't get up when laid on his back. (He claims that all those times he got up from his back he was actually slightly on his side.) At the climax, when all the robots have to vent their emissions upward to save themselves, Bender and the turtle are on their backs, unable to get up. Then the turtle manages to flip over, which gives Bender the incentive to do the same.
Bender: I'm even greater than I thought I was!
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang tries to invoke this trope by flipping over the Fire Nation's Tundra Tanks with his airbending powers. However, this doesn't end up working like he hoped for: for the sole purpose of averting this trope, the design of the Tundra Tank includes a rotating cabin.
- Inverted by Weebles, whose theme song brags about how easily the pear-shaped characters avoid this fate: "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down."
- Ironically, not Truth in Television when it comes to most species of actual turtles and tortoises, which can use their heads or tails to right themselves if they wind up on their backs.
- Occasionally played straight with pet turtles kept in shallow water. It's rare, but sometimes one will manage to have enough difficulty righting itself that it drowns before it can do so.
- Grounded horse shoe crabs.
- For obvious reasons, this trope applies to pretty much every single human-built ground vehicle ever. Whether it was a tank, a horse carriage or a motorcycle, if its wheels don't touch the ground, it ain't moving. To avoid this trope is why vehicles meant to travel on uneven terrain need to have a low center of mass.
- A porcupine's quills are on top, so it's quite vulnerable if flipped over. Fisher cats, which aren't cats at all but large weasels, are one of the few animals capable of rendering a porcupine Flipping Helpless.
- Shrews have learned this trick to prey on certain species of poisonous toads who only have poison on the skin of their heads and backs. Flip them over, and the shrew can tuck into it's tasty and non-poisonous belly and innards.
- Pillbugs probably suffer from this more than turtles. When flipped they'll struggle impotently trying to roll back over to their original position.
- Used as a Cool and Unusual Punishment in the military, dubbed 'The Dying Cockroach'. Watch it in action.