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Follow That Car

"Taxi! Follow that car!" (cab drives off without him) "Keeps 'em on their toes!"

The villain speeds off in a car. The hero, close behind, flags down the nearest taxi, gets in and, pointing at the car, says "Follow that car!". And thus, the Chase Scene begins. This is an alternative to Flashed Badge Hijack, available to civilians as well as the police.

If the villain anticipates the hero trying this, expect the cabbie to be Not My Driver.

This is a Discredited Trope, or even a Dead Horse Trope. Sometimes it's a case of I Always Wanted to Say That. "Car" may be replaced with another vehicle: "Follow that space ship!"

A common subversion is for the speaker to make the mistake of saying this before they get in, and the cab taking off without them.

See The Taxi.

Examples

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     Advertisement  

  • A certain ad for cable TV showed several roughnecks forcing themselves into a car and yelling at the driver to follow another car in front of them ... but both cars were stuck in a traffic jam. The punchline: TV has more action than Real Life.
  • An European ad from the nineties had a movielike "Follow That Car" scene, subverted when the driver gets off the taxi and chases the getaway car on foot.

     Anime and Manga  

  • Discussed in chapter 83 of Bakuman。. Mashiro and Takagi are secretly following their editor, hoping they get to do this, and are immensely happy when they do. The taxi driver even says "It's been 5 years since anyone's said that to me."
  • Subverted in Darker Than Black. April spots Amber, who the SIS has been looking for, getting into a car with a little boy. April runs over to where they were, flags down a cab, and tells the driver to follow the car— then the cab explodes. Said little boy was Maki, a Contractor with the power to blow up anything he's marked with hand prints, which in this case meant the street where the cab pulled in.
  • Used in the Very Special Episode of Digimon Savers. There was, however, no chase scene.
  • Mai tells the taxi driver to "follow that bus" in Mai-HiME.
  • Subverted in Mezzo DSA, where one of the characters tells a cab to follow that car, which he says he's been waiting his whole life to hear. He rides off without the passengers. Poor guy is later found with a bullet in his head.
  • Used sans chase scene in Monster.

     Comic Books  

  • In The Gallimaufry there is no other cab, but when Buck Godot tells Spug to go to the spaceport, Spug zooms off without him. Fortunately Buck has the presence of mind to grab his hat, forcing him to come back for it.
    Spug: You grabbed my hat!
    Buck: Spug, I want to go to the spaceport in your cab.
    Spug: Oh. A paying job.
  • Gaston Lagaffe: Fantasio's coat is thrown by Gaston out of a top floor window, and a gust of wind sends it flying away. Fantasio gets in a cab and says "Follow that coat!" The cab driver replies, "You should get yourself a helicopter."
  • Subverted in the first issue of Jon Sable, Freelance. The cabbie is so amused by doing this for the first time in his career he doesn't even charge for the ride.
  • Double-Lampshaded and Double-Subverted in the Alan Moore comic Terra Obscura; after being told to "follow that car", a cabbie comments that "You're probably expecting me to say 'I always wanted to do that'. Actually, it happens to me once a week."
  • Tintin
    • In "The Calculus Affair": Fortunately, the car Tintin happened to pick was being driven by a Hot-Blooded Italian Badass Driver who easily catches up, though not before being stopped by the police and getting out of being having a ticket written by giving the policeman an Overly Long Name.
    • Happens a second time as well. Tintin and another man both get into the cab, each insisting its his. Tintin eventually gets the other man out by saying that he had to go to the hospital after being bitten by Snowy (who he called a 'mad dog' — admittedly Snowy was a bit mad at the moment), but when he said "Follow that car!" to the driver, they found the car had long since disappeared.

     Film  

  • A non-car example in 102 Dalmatians is when the main characters needed to follow the dogs in the cab when they found the kidnappers' trace.
  • During the Escalating Chase scene in A Hard Day's Night, one of the policemen jumps into a random car for this purpose. Hilariously, the guy in the driver's seat was actually in the process of stealing the car.
  • Alan does this in American Dreamer, and can't believe he just did so.
  • In Arabesque, after David Pollock (Gregory Peck) says this the taxidriver immediatly answers: "All my life I have waited for somebody to say that!".
  • In Carry On Loving, Sidney Bliss flags a cab and tells it to go to a certain address. When it takes off without him, he flags down another cab and tells it to "follow that cab", and this cab also drives off without him, leaving Sidney incredibly annoyed.
  • Peter Sellers in Casino Royale (1967) uses the same joke as Get Smart below, with race car driver Stirling Moss in a cameo as the running chauffeur.
    I'll use Fangio next time, idiot!
  • In Dead Men Dont Wear Plaid, Steve Martin thinks he's being followed, and decides to dash away in a taxi. There are two cabs in line. He gives a wad of cash to the first driver and tells him a destination; the driver speeds off without him. Momentarily nonplussed, he then hops into the second taxi and tells the driver to "Follow that cab!" He settles back into the seat with a smirk on his face, congratulating himself on taking both cabs so the man following him would be stranded.
  • Parodied in the Marx Brothers film Duck Soup: twice Groucho hops into the sidecar of a motorcycle driven by Harpo, saying some form of "Follow That Car!" and twice it drives off without him. The third time, he promises not to have that happen, puts Harpo in the sidecar and gets on the motorcycle— and Harpo drives the sidecar off without the motorcycle.
    Groucho: "It's the only way to travel."
  • Fant˘mas Unleashed is probably the only film so far where a character orders the pilot of a plane to "follow that car". The car in question has just sprouted wings and flown off.
  • Shows up in The Muppet Movie, with Doc Hopper and his right-hand man Max.
    Doc Hopper: Follow that frog!
    [Max drives off]
    Doc Hopper: MAX!!!!!
    [Max backs up]
    Doc Hopper: Follow that frog with me in the car!
  • In The Naked Gun, Frank Drebin does this, but discovers that the car he has flagged down is part of a driving lesson.
  • Played dead straight in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. "Follow that van!"
  • In Octopussy, a Soviet military driver is rather disconcerted to be told to follow Bond's car along a railway line.
  • Subverted in The Pelican Brief where Denzel Washington's character as he is unable to get a taxi to stop for him as he is dressed for surveillance he was doing on a potential source. It's also flipped around later in the film as he gets into a cab, only to realize he's the one being followed.
  • The Philadelphia Story has James Stewart's character Mike, drunk on champagne, wake up a waiting cabbie with this line, admitting immediately after that there never was any cab to follow ("Some joke, huh?").
  • Parodied in The Return of the Pink Panther: the cabbie responds to Inspector Clouseau's command by climbing out of the cab and chasing the car on foot. Another spoof occurs in A Shot in the Dark: Clouseau instructs the police car that brought him here to go back to town. He should have remembered to get in the car first.
  • Subverted in The Professional - a 12-year-old girl sees a car containing the people who murdered her family drive off. She flags a cab:
    Mathilda: Follow the blue car.
    Driver: You want me to blast the music and go through the lights?
    Mathilda: No, drive slowly. * hands over large wad of cash* Take the hundred bucks, and shut the fuck up.
  • Parodied in the second Stuart Little movie, where Mr. Little tells the cab driver to "Follow that flying mouse!" as Stuart is in an airplane being chased by Falcon.
  • In Shakespeare in Love, Will gets to say, "Follow that boat!"
  • In Taxi, a Cowboy Cop says this to the cabdriver... who happens to be an aspiring stock car racer with a Cool Car, and has, of course, been waiting for someone to say that.
  • In Shadow of the Thin Man, Nora, with Molly, says, "Follow that car, Quick!" The taxi driver drives off without them.
    • This gag is actually played with and lampshaded in Song of the Thin Man when Nick stops the cab driver from taking himself and an exhausted Nora back to their hotel. The cabbie sees that Nick is looking very pointedly at a young lady getting into a car and turns to ask, "Follow that car?" Nora replies with "Movie fan..."
  • In Pedro Almodovar's Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, Pepa gets into a cab and says (in Spanish), "Follow that cab." The driver replies, "I thought this only happened in the movies."

     Literature  

  • after the quake. All god's children can dance. Yoshiyo tells a taxi driver to tail the car the man he believes his father is in. His excuse is that he's from a company that's scrambling after him.
  • In his book Against All Enemies, Richard A. Clarke says that when the Predator UAV was first being used to surveil al-Queda camps, a Land Rover was seen leaving one of them. The man in charge of the operation immediately shouted to the 'pilot' of the UAV, "Follow that car!", adding the inevitable "I've always wanted to say that."
  • In Anonymous Rex, the protagonist detective refuses to use this line and instead gives detailed step-by-step instructions, such as "Turn there, where that other cab went." Eventually, the cabbie tires of it and just asks "You want me to follow that cab?"
  • In Doc Sidhe by Aaron Allston, the central character does this. He's quite aware of what a cliche it is, but in the Pulp action elfland he's in, it works. The way the driver and passengers cheered when he said it startled him so much he nearly fell off the car.
  • The children's book Follow that Bus! by Pat Hutchins involves the police commandeering a bus full of school kids on a trip to a farm to chase some bank robbers. The kids have the time of their lives. Their rather timid teacher, less so.
  • Lampshade Hanging in Hugh Laurie's novel The Gun Seller, in which the driver is quite used to this sort of thing, and does it quite well, asking "Is he sleeping with your wife, or are you sleeping with his?"
  • Discussed in Jennings Follows a Clue:
    "Suppose he's got a car waiting for him at the end of the drive. What do we do then?"
    "We stop the very next car that comes along and say to the driver: 'Quick, follow that car!' That's what secret agents do anyway, and it always works."
    "Well, supposing he catches a bus?"
    "Then we stop the next one, and tell the conductor to follow the one in front."
  • In a low-reading-level Spanish book called La Momia Despierta ("The Missing Mummy") which gets read in high-school Spanish classes, at one point the main character (a detective) dashes into a taxi and asks the taxi driver to follow another car. The taxi driver is amused and asks him if he thinks he's James Bond.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Murder Must Advertise, Lord Peter gets followed by a definitively Wrong Genre Savvy co-worker. The chase ends "in the most tame manner possible" (quoting from memory) when both cabs arrive at the restaurant where Lord Peter plans to have lunch.
  • In Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, Charis tries this line on a Toronto cabbie, who is less than impressed.
  • Parodied in Douglas Adams's unfinished book, The Salmon of Doubt: Dirk Gently meets a cabbie who has never had anyone tell him to "follow that cab". Thus, he infers, his must be the cab that everyone else is following.

     Live Action TV  

  • In the final episode of season 2 of The Amazing Race, each pair had to board an airplane to a target designated by their clue card. One of the pairs lost their clue, prompting them to tell the pilot to "follow that plane!" In fact, just about every episode of the show has some variant of this trope.
  • Comedian George Carlin once suggested this scheme for having fun on a day in the city; "Hail a cab. Give the driver $50 and tell him to drive to the airport and wait for you there. As soon as he pulls away, hail the very next cab. Jump in and tell the driver, 'Follow that cab, and no matter what, make sure it DOESN'T get to the airport!'"
  • Inverted in the pilot of Acapulco HEAT; the cab driver tells the good guys to get in so they can follow the bad guys. It develops that he's an undercover government agent.
  • Mr. Bean shouts out the line in one of his sketches, trying to catch a baby he placed into a bumper cat at a funfair, leaping onto the back of another dodgem and shouts at the driver to follow the baby.
  • The joke version is taken Up to Eleven in an episode of Benson. The governor gives the order to a taxi, and as you might expect, it takes off without him. Then he quickly flags down another taxi and tells the driver to "Follow that car!" point to the first taxi. (He manages to get in this one first. To make the joke even funnier, when both taxis follow the original car to its destination, he pays both drivers.
  • In the Norwegian Br°drene Dal og Legenden om Atlant-is, the not to bright protagonists tries to follow the villain's car... By jumping into a trolley and telling it's driver to follow that car. The trolley driver actually tries his best but predictably loses the villains rather quickly.
  • In the Code Name: Eternity episode "Making Love," when Laura pursues the mind-controlled Ethaniel, she gets in the cab and says "I can't believe I'm saying this, but follow that car."
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "The Unquiet Dead", after Rose is abducted in a hearse, the Doctor leaps into a nearby carriage and instructs the driver to follow that hearse. However, the carriage turns out to be a privately-owned vehicle, and the driver refuses to go anywhere without the say-so of his employer. (Charles Dickens, if you were wondering).
    • Furthermore, the police officer in "Planet of the Dead" tells his men to "Follow that bus!"... then the bus disappears into a Negative Space Wedgie.
    • And, at the beginning of the Eleventh Doctor episode "The Time of Angels", River Song orders the Doctor to "Follow that ship!"
  • Played straight in the Ellery Queen episode "The Adventure of Colonel Nivin's Memoirs".
  • On Get Smart, Larabee was once disguised as a chauffeur, standing by his car. As a KAOS agent escaped in his own vehicle, Max yelled, "Larabee! Follow that car!" Larabee promptly ran after the KAOS agent's car, revealing for the first time that Larabee was a massive ditz.
  • Detective DeeDee McCall did this in an episode of the 80's cop show Hunter, with the grizzled cab driver replying "I've been waiting twenty years for someone to say that!"
  • An early M*A*S*H episode has a variant of the common subversion: Col. Blake instructs Radar to drive their jeep back to camp. Radar does so before Blake can climb aboard, leaving him stranded. The gag is repeated later in the episode.
  • Sex and the City parodies this in one episode:
    Samantha: Follow that cab!
    Cab Driver: You gotta be kidding, lady.
    Samantha: Oh, just drive.
  • This is used once on the second day of shopping on What Not to Wear. It was immediately followed by the "I Always Wanted to Say That" line.

     Radio  

  • Inverted in Adventures in Odyssey, "Plan B" — after getting into a cab, Jack Allen realizes that they're being followed, and...
    Driver: (starting to sound excited) They're followin' us? D'you want me to lose 'em?
    Jack: (shakily) Uh-h-h, y-yes! Yes! Put the pedal to the metal!
    Driver: I've waited my entire life for someone to say that!

     Tabletop Games  

  • This happens in the example of play in Classic Traveller Book 0.

     Video Games  

  • Arthur's Reading Race had one scene where one could click on a taxi to play a mini-cutscene featuring a gag based on this. A car passed by, then a harried-looking man ran up to the taxi, said the line - and then the taxi driver obeyed, driving off without the passenger.
  • Test Drive Unlimited 2 has a variation of this in one of its challenges, where the player has to follow a target car not too close or too far for long enough.
    • Amusingly, the target car on said challenge often crashes at an intersection and gets stuck, occasionally leading to it falling off the map and the player losing the challenge.

     Western Animation  

  • In the "Adventure in China" episode of Jem, Jerrica says, "Follow that rickshaw!"
  • In one episode of Extreme Ghostbusters, a character hops into a cab and shouts, "Follow that car!" The cabdriver responds "I've always wanted someone to say that!" before doing so.
  • Played with in one episode of Family Guy. Stewie and Brian get into the taxi with a cry to "follow the truck." After a pause, "Didn't you hear me? I said follow that truck!" Adam West responds, "Oh I heard you. What I didn't hear was please." Please follow the truck."
  • In the first Futurama movie, Bender's Big Score, Bender, in the past, hails a cab (driven by Al Gore). He tells Gore to "Follow that guy. There's an extra hundred in it for you if you follow him so close that you run him over." After failing to do so, Gore comments "Dang. That hundred dollars could have bought me one gallon of gas." Complete with dramatic music and zooming in on Al's face as he says it.
  • Hey Arnold! does one with Arnold and Gerald boarding a bus to tail a mysterious resident of the Boarding House.
    Bus Driver: Stand behind the yellow line and get your box out of my face.
  • Done in Jimmy Two-Shoes when Jimmy needs to follow Beezy and Heloise. The cab proceeds to back out over a cliff.
  • In one Daffy Duck cartoon, The Great Piggy-Bank Robbery, Daffy runs up to a cab and says, "Follow that car!" The cab zooms off by itself, and Daffy remarks to the audience, "Keeps 'em on their toes."
    • Another old Looney Tunes short, "Baseball Bugs", has Bugs call a cab and shout 'Follow that ball!' to chase down a long hit.
  • Pictured above is Goofy in the Classic Disney Short How To Be A Detective hailing a cab to chase a crime suspect. Two more characters follow suit, leading to a four-car chase.
  • Referenced in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Last Roundup" when Pinkie Pie calls to "Follow that stagecoach!" as she and the rest of the fleeing Applejack's friends are already in pursuit on a pony-powered vehicle of their own.
  • The New Adventures of Superman episode "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?" When Lex Luthor hops into a cab, Jimmy Olson (who's following him) gets into another cab and tells the driver "Follow that cab!"
  • Pinky and the Brain: In "Brain Noir", Brain flags down a cab to follow Snowball. The cab stops directly on top of him. Pinky then tells the cabbie to "Follow that car!" and the cab takes off without either of them.
  • Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood has the classic subversion:
    Wolf: Follow that cab!
    Driver: Yes, sir! (* speeds off without Wolf* )
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, "The Big Question".
    Filburt: Follow that motor-scooter-bike thing!
  • Done at least once in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.


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alternative title(s): Follow That Cab; Follow That X
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