Just another New York commute.
Wolverine gets thrown into an oncoming tractor trailer
, which just keeps right on going after hitting a guy. You’d think this driver might stop, but he’s got lumber to deliver, dammit! Chris
take their lumber very seriously. That wood might get carved into a hockey stick that’ll be used by Gordie Howe, son!
and Matt Wilson on X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The phenomenon, mostly in action movies or cartoons, where the cars (the ones not being driven by a main character
, anyway) never seem to react to anything going on around them. Someone will be having a huge, epic battle on the roof (or sometimes even the HOOD) of the car, but the driver never seems to notice
, let alone stop and see what the heck is bouncing around up there. Often the audience never even sees the person driving the car.
Or if someone runs/falls/is pushed into traffic. The cars just wizz by without stopping or swerving. At most you'll get a "honk" sound effect put in. Even if they hit someone they just keep on driving.
There are a few variations of this trope:
For Comedic Effect
- Robo-Car - The cars on the road are totally unresponsive to any kind of action going on around them. People falling into traffic, having fights on roofs and jumping from car to car elicit no reaction from the drivers. In fact, you never even see into the cars. It's almost like the cars are robots driving themselves.
- Hit-and-Run - An even more egregious version than the one above. In this case one of the cars actually makes contact with the person in the road, but just keeps on going. No attempt to swerve or slam on the breaks. It can range from a sideswipe with a mirror to a full-on direct hit that sends the unlucky individual tumbling over the car. But does the driver get out and see if they are okay? No, they just keep driving like nothing happened. No attempt is ever made to track down this bad driver, and they are never seen, heard from or mentioned again.
- I Guess They're Dead - In a bit of a turn of events, now it is the main characters who are ignoring the cars. Their huge fight causes massive explosions and crashes. Deflecting semis with their Nigh Invulnerable bodies. Surely someone must have been killed in the resulting pileup. But we never find out. They aren't the main characters, so what happens to them isn't important.
- Unobservant Driver - Unlike Robo-Car, we actually get to see the driver of the unresponsive vehicle. They are usually distracted by some non-driving task like eating or talking on a cellphone and completely miss the amazing action going on right outside their window. However, this doesn't explain why none of the other cars around them seem to notice.
- Mommy! Look! - Similar to the one above, except the distracted person has a small child (or barking dog) in the back seat. The child notices the action and desperately tries to get the parents attention, but the busy parent just tells the child to "keep quiet." When Mom finally does look, it's too late and the action has passed them by, leaving her to scold her child for distracting her while she's on the phone.
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Anime and Manga
- In Darker Than Black season 2, Hei jumps on top of a car in order to escape an ambush. The driver, superstitious about contractors, decides the best plan is simply to ignore him, and she tells her daughter not to look. It is actually rather amusing.
- Somewhat later, circumstances conspire to force him to fight someone driving a car from outside of it. Nobody else on the road seems to notice except when the driver swerves.
- Spider-Man frequently hitches rides on the top of cars. Rarely does the driver notice the sudden extra weight of a fully grown man on their roof. Nor do any of the people driving around him seem to take much notice of that guy on top of the car next to them.
- Arguably, Spider-Man is such a well-known and respected hero that the people of New York just kind of take it in stride.
- Alternatively, it's New York (and Marvel New York to boot.) Possibly they figure if that's the weirdest thing they see all day, it's a good day.
- In the "Night of a Million Zillion Ninja" arc of The Tick, a ninja messenger crosses a road in the middle of the night and is promptly run over (Jaywalking at night in dark purple pajamas isn't very safe).
Driver: I think I just hit a ninja!
Driver's Wife: Well, keep going, we're late enough as it is. It's not like you hit a collie or anything.
- The Matrix: The second film has a lengthy chase/car fight scene on a highway, that no driver seems to notice. Definitely counts as a (quite literal) robo-car example.
- Hellboy - When Myers stumbles into traffic, the cars all ignore him. One even nicks him, but just keeps on driving.
- A few seconds later, another car is coming straight at him, but doesn't make any attempt to avoid hitting him. Hellboy quickly steps in and punches the car out of the way, making this an example of both Hit-and-Run and I Guess They're Dead. Though we do get a brief glimpse of the driver after the car lands, we are left to guess at his state of health.
- Bowfinger - Jiff Ramsey is forced to run across multiple lanes of traffic to get a shot for a movie. No one stops or slows down. This is an example of Robo-Car done for comedic effect.
- Back to the Future Part II - When Doc takes Marty to the future for the first time, no one seems to notice the Delorean that appeared out of nowhere in the middle of a busy "highway" during rush hour traffic. Though they do swerve, you'd think that a car that appears out of nowhere would create more of a stir.
- Shoot 'em Up - In an example of I Guess They're Dead, Clive Owen runs a car off the road for failing to use a blinker. Did the driver live? Were there kids in the car? Who cares!
- The Mommy! Mommy! variant was played to the letter by the 2008 Get Smart, when Smart is trailing behind a low-flying aircraft in traffic.
- Steve Carrell again gets this treatment in the finale of The 40-Year-Old Virgin when he crashes his bike and flies through a mobile billboard. Nobody but his love interest even gets out to help him, and the other drivers actually start to honk that he hasn't moved out of the road.
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra features an extreme instance of I Guess They're Dead, with dozens of cars destroyed during the Paris chase.
- The villain of Mission: Impossible III is pushed into a highway and promptly run over. You don't see it having any impact on the traffic.
- Egregious example in The Dark Knight: a school bus is backed through the bank doors during the bank robbery. To escape, the Joker gets into the school bus, and escapes the bank by simply slipping his bus into a pre-planned opening in a line of identical school buses driving past the bank as the police arrive.
- And the same in the armored van chase later. Even the Joker firing a machine gun into traffic doesn't seem to get the attention of those further down the road.
- Each of the first two Scary Movie have Played for Laughs examples of a combination of Hit-and-Run and Unobservant Driver caused by the driver receiving a blowjob.
- Done egregiously in the Eddie Murphy movie Holy Man. Murphy's character walks across several lanes of high-speed traffic without looking, and without getting hit. It's supposed to make it look like he's so in tune with the world that he doesn't need to worry (or has some kind of protection), but the fact that all the cars barely miss him and have no reaction at all just makes it look fake, regardless of how good the special effect is.
- Brutally deconstructed in Kick-Ass. After hitting the titular character, the driver does stop, but after seeing Kickass's unconscious body in his sideview mirror, he just drives away.
Live Action TV
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Runaway Bride", the TARDIS ends up chasing a car. It is an example of the Mommy, Mommy variant, as a couple kids in the car in front of the TARDIS notice, but not their parents.
- A truck pulls a Hit and Run on Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Being Glory, she's not really harmed.
- The Mario Kart tracks that involve dodging traffic (Toad's Turnpike, Mushroom Bridge/City, Moonview Highway). Sure, don't dodge the multitude of go karts speeding right through the centre of traffic, the various explosions, etc, but in the latter case, they do dodge the boost pads, regardless if someone else gets run over in the process. Possibly would have thought they'd noticed the bombs on wheels going down the road too...
- Also, in Super Smash Bros.. several of the courses involve racers completely oblivious to the fight taking place. To be fair, considering the obstacles they usually have to deal with, four fighters trapped on a 2D plane probably doesn't seem to threatening. Justified with the Runaway Five van in Melee's Onett stage, however: They are being chased and can't afford to slow down.
- Mega Man Legends - Careful when crossing the streets in town. Not even the police cars will stop for you.
- The traffic in Freedom Force actually swerves and brakes to avoid crashing into obstacles such as rubble, dinosaurs or your heroes. However, it just makes the way the stronger heroes/villains use them as thrown weapons that explode on impact even more horrifying.
- Civilian Robo-car traffic never stops to ogle your crashes in the Burnout series.
- It's well known, and frequently lampshaded by NPCs, that the player character in any Grand Theft Auto game Drives Like Crazy - even the name of the series practically insists on it. But if out of interest you try to stick even vaguely to the rules of the road, you'll soon realise everyone does. They might obey traffic lights, and get out after fender benders to exchange insurance details, but they don't make the slightest effort to stop for crossing pedestrians and their usual response to danger is to take off at top speed.
- Of course, some cars do pay attention to civilian traffic, be it you or others. For every few cars that obey the rules, though, there's always one that drives like you do.
- Not to mention that the early games, the other cars barely if ever reacted to high speed police chases, gang shoot outs, etc unless you physically collided with them. One egregious example is after stealing a cop car and turning on the siren, no one moves out of the way for you, and you can't pull anyone over. The latter games adjusted this, but its inconsistent.
- This can ultimately be to your advantage, since the predictable behavior is, well, predictable. In many Grand Theft Auto games or clones, turning on a police siren will make you more likely to be hit by cars trying to get out of your way.
- Likewise, the Saints Row series is filled with idiotic drivers who either fail to notice danger or overreact to it and plow through anything that gets in front of their bumper. Gat Out of Hell goes one further by featuring demonic ambulances driving around the streets of Hell whose sole preoccupation is flattening as many pedestrians as they can.
- Averted and played straight in Sonic Adventure: In Station Square, traffic will stop for the player character, and they will stop for as long as the player character stands in the way. The roads can get backed up if it takes long enough. (The motorists never honk or display any anger, however.) However, in Speed Highway (both the original one and in Sonic Generations), traffic will NOT stop, swerve, or slow down for the player character, and contact with a moving vehicle will cause damage.