some bacterial life forms in Real Life really do move this way, it is impossible in more complex organisms, because such a structure requires at least two separate parts and there'd be no way for their nerves, veins, et cetera to make it from one to the other. It does tend to show up in fiction, though, largely due to the Rule of Cool and because everything is better with spinning. Often a subtrope of Bizarre Alien Locomotion, always a Sub-Trope of Instant Flight, Just Add Spinning. See also Helicopter Hair, Ear Wings.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In the Grand Finale of Samurai Pizza Cats, The Big Cheese is seen using his tail as a helicoptor propeller. Sonic the Hedgehog fans find it hillarious in hindsight, considering that he was a Fox in the Japanese version.
- Kinnikuman: Sneagator's frill-necked lizard form allows him to fly by spinning the neck frill like a propeller. He also uses it like a buzzsaw.
- Goku does this in Dragon Ball a few times by spinning his tail.
- Mocchi of DearS does this in omake with its ears.
- In Di Gi Charat, Rabi~en~Rose uses the ears of her bunny costume to fly.
- Funnily enough, at least one Buizel actually does copy Tails' flight method◊ in the Pokémon anime, complete with identical aerial posture and helicopter-tails.
- Franco-Belgian Comics example: Le Flagada, created by Charles Degotte. A weird yellow bird who flies not through wings but with his rotor-like tail.
- Flagada makes a couple of cameos in Gaston Lagaffe, as a disguise (which doesn't fly) or a fancy desk fan (which does fly, and wrecks De Mesmaeker's contracts).
- Snoopy from Peanuts is sometimes seen using his ears as a propeller.
Linus: That's the first time in my life I've seen a whirlydog!
Lucy: You mean whirlybird — not whirlydog!
(Snoopy zooms by; Lucy looks shocked)
Linus: I think if I had meant whirlybird, I would have said whirlybird!
- In the fanfic Tails of the Old Republic, a crossover/Fusion Fic between Sonic the Hedgehog and the videogame Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Tails the fox has two tails like in the games and other media he regularly features in, and he can fly with them, fight with them, and even shield himself with them. In here, he has two basic flight modes: a general-purpose 'helicopter mode' that has great versatility and a top speed of about 200 MPH, and a much faster and energy-intensive "turbofan mode" (similar to a jet engine) that can propel him up to 600 MPH or higher.
Films — Animation
- In Disney's Robin Hood, Sir Hiss floats by using a bag of air around his head and his tail as a propeller.
- In Hoodwinked, Japeth survives when the mine cart he and Red rode off the end of a broken track by using a set of his interchangeable horns to do this — one with rotors. Red's reaction to seeing this is a disbelieving, "What?"
Films — Live-Action
- The Billywig, a magic insect from Australia, as detailed in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a defictionalized textbook from Harry Potter.
- Karlsson on the Roof by Swedish author Astrid Lingren, about a male person of indeterminate age with a propeller on his back and a button on his stomach to turn it on.
- The biological impossibility of wheels is reconstructed in His Dark Materials, where the wheel are giant seed pods from tree that grow around the animals in question.
- One of Keith Laumer's Retief novels was all about a planet where basically every living creature had spinning parts as basic anatomy. Flying creatures all had propellers, swimming creatures all had turbines, and land-dwellers all had wheels.
- Two creatures are seen in Animorphs that use wheels. Actual, biological wheels, that are part of their body. They are owned by Visser Three, and each of them could split into two creatures, one wheeled, one flying. They were like organic '80s action figure accessories. The unlikeliness of such creatures does not pass without mention.
- In the Round the Twist episode "The Whirling Derfish", Bronson swallows a rare whirling derfish and discovers he now has the ability to swim incredibly fast by using his penis as a propeller.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- The Mario Bros themselves are also able to float slowly to the ground if they manage to get spinning fast enough. And in the Galaxy games, they actually manage to imitate helicopters with their arms as the blades, somehow spinning their bodies while their head remains stationary.
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 features a green parrot-like enemy that flies using four spinning blades around its neck. A plant enemy has a similar feature at its underside.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Miles "Tails" Prower, the young fox friend of Sonic, uses his two tails to fly and hover like a helicopter.
- While she usually flies by flapping them, in Sonic Chronicles, Cream the rabbit flies with her ears like the page image.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- One of the abilities Rayman gains in the first game and keeps (averting the Bag of Spilling) in the later ones.
- The Flying Fowl family of enemies in Shiren the Wanderer have these.
- Hoppip and Skiploom with leaves and a flower, respectively.
- An aquatic Pokémon named Buizel, partly based on Tails. It doesn't fly, however, but uses its tails as a propeller in water. Though it can create a stream of water to "fly" through when using Aqua Jet. This also applies to its evolved form, Floatzel.
- An unlicensed game for the SNES lets you play as a Chikorita who can fly using the leaf on its head.
- Donkey Kong:
- Conker the squirrel uses his tail this way in Conker's Bad Fur Day, in the move he dubbed "Helicoptery Tail Thingy".
- Possibly the trope namers are flying Critters from Cave Story which move that way.
- Some of the small ones can be seen in the background of Wii version in A Boy and His Blob on Blob's home planet.
- Earthworm Jim:
- Earthworm Jim is able to do this with his... upper body, or whatever would be roughly equivalent to that on a cartoon worm. In the sequel, the manual jokes that due to back strain, he can't do this anymore, and instead he uses Snot to glide.
- Evil the Cat can also do this with his tail in the second game to attack you from above.
- Light-blue slimes in Purple have propellers that pop-out when they leap.
- The snipes (small, spherical bird-like creatures) in Spiral Knights move by twirling their wings around their midsection.
- In New Super Marisa Land, Marisa using the Reisen suit gains limited flight from spinning her bunny ears. It's more of a double jump technique but because it can be used to reverse a fall it's technically flight.
- The Really Flying Mouse enemy from Mother 3, which is a Cyborg mouse that has had a propeller and a jetpack grafted onto it by the Pigmasks.
- Rocket Raccoon in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 can use his tail to hover for a short time.
- The rabbits in the Jazz Jackrabbit games would use their ears as a propeller to float.
- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate gives us Duramboros and its subspecies, who can launch themselves into the air simply though spinning using their heavy tails. If in rage mode they only need one swing to launch themselves into the air.
- Metal Slug 6 has a Venusian alien called the Smasher, it resembles a crab-like thing that spins its legs like a helicopter to fly before inflating itself to smash down on you.
- Muttley from Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines sometimes uses his tail as a propeller.
- Looney Tunes:
- The short Go Fly a Kit is about a kitten who was raised by an eagle and learns to fly by spinning its tail.
- Bugs Bunny sometimes uses his ears as a propeller.
- Classic Disney Shorts:
- The Simpsons: Ralph Wiggum's Imaginary Friend uses his tail (in some unspecified manner) to fly.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Cutie Pox", Apple Bloom gets herself airborne with her tail. It's a lesser example in that she doesn't do it just with her tail, but by spinning a hula hoop at high speed.
- Marlon the mynah bird from The Brady Kids would fly by spinning his tail feathers like a rotor.
- The title character of The Rabbit with the Checkered Ears can spin said checkered ears like a propeller to fly to the aid of the human cast, as they are longer than the rest of its body.
- Jargonaise from The Lingo Show spins the feathers on top of her head like a propeller as her method of flight.
- A couple of the spirits in The Legend of Korra have propellers.