Any second now...
In media when an out of control car runs over a fire hydrant the inevitable result is a geyser of water that instantly adds
both drama and excitement to the scene. In reality the most
likely result is a good deal of front end damage and a bill to repair the broken hydrant, but in a non-trivial amount of cases the car will
wind up as an aquarium. What determines if this trope is Artistic License
or Truth in Television
is the design of the hydrant
. Hydrants known as "wet barrel" bring highly pressurized water all the way up into the part that sticks above ground
. Hydrants known as "dry barrel" keep the vital valve equipment many feet underground, which are then opened via a long shaft.
Any location subject to cold temperatures must
employ dry barrel hydrants to avoid problems with burst pipes
. This combined with the protection against the very calamity that the Hydrant Geyser portrays is why dry barrel hydrants make up the overwhelming majority of installed units in North America. Of course with wet barrel units being acceptable in warm locations such as Southern California, that design makes up the majority seen in media
, hence the popularity of the trope.
This trope is constantly hovering on the border of becoming discredited
or even a dead horse
with spoofs and parodies making up a large number of examples, however it is frequently played straight both in media and Real Life
. Like the exploding car
, this trope maintains a strong grip on the popular psyche causing people to be genuinely surprised
when hydrants are knocked over with little fanfare.
The presence of a Hydrant Geyser can always be Hand Waved
away by saying that any given dry barrel unit was accidentally left pressurized via an open valve.
Often the geyser is preceded by a comical rumbling of the ground as if Hydrant acted as some sort of champagne cork or oil well. This is always wrong as a pressurized hydrant will instantly gush water, not take a few seconds to "get going".
Similar to Telepathic Sprinklers
. See also Water Geyser Volley
- In The Blues Brothers a geyser is seen to erupt after the police car collides with The Good Old Boys Winnebago after the Blues Brothers flee the Country Bunker.
- In Superman III the action opens with an out of control car knocking over a hydrant, which proceeds to fill the passenger compartment with water and threaten to drown the person trapped inside.
- In RoboCop (1987), when the Boddicker gang are playing around with their Cobra Assault Cannons, one blows the top off a fire hydrant causing a geyser.
- In Bruce Almighty, Bruce uses his God powers to knock a hydrant over, allowing some kids to play in the resulting geyser.
- Towards the end of Lethal Weapon, when the cops are shot in front of Murtaugh's house their car rolls into a hydrant that creates the geyser that then creates the mood for the ultimate fight scene.
- In an Episode of CSI: Miami' a hydrant geyser threatens to wash away critical evidence after a motorist was shot (thus causing the geyser).
- The former Kongfrontation attraction at Universal Studios had a broken fire hydrant shooting off water down in the streets, to show off the damage King Kong had done there.
- A fire hydrant also gets broken and shoots water during the Hey Arnold! sequence in Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, a water effect would then be used to make the riders feel as if they're getting sprinkled by it.
- Parodied in The Simpsons episode 22 Short Films About Springfield Chief Wiggum, on foot, recognizes Snake at the wheel of his car at a light and in the ensuing attempt to flee Snake crashes into a mailbox which results in a geyser of letters spewing forth from the ground.
- This was a Running Gag in the Rocko's Modern Life episode in which Rocko teaches Mrs. Wolff how to drive; she would keep running into hydrants, which fill the car with water.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, Mr. Freeze kicks open a fire hydrant and fires his Freeze Ray at the geyser to create a rapidly rising column of ice that he rides up a skyscraper. The animators admit it's unrealistic, but it looks really cool.