In a nutshell, this is when a hostile force attacks a target by using a much larger vehicle with a large door to chase down and then "swallow" the target vehicle. The attackers have just performed the Mega Maw Maneuver. The reasons for using this tactic are usually as a form of piracy. Once inside the large vehicle, the target is at the mercy of its captors, and can be easily boarded, plundered, or seized without risking damage in a firefight.
While certainly an interesting
maneuver, it does pose several problems in Real Life
. For one, its success hinges upon the maw ship being much larger and much faster than its victims. For another, the very real possibility of the target performing some desperate evasive action trying to get away would pose considerable danger. Sometimes Tractor Beams
are used to speed up the chase and/or explain away
why the target isn't performing any evasive actions.
In other words, if there was any real potential to this tactic, it probably would have been tried by now
Compare: Swallowed Whole
, which is this trope but with monsters.
Compare: Driving Into A Truck
, which is the opposite of this trope.
- James Bond:
- The Spy Who Loved Me: The Big Bad Karl Stromberg has a device that can cause submarines to lose power and surface. He also has an oil tanker with a bow that can open and swallow up the helpless submarines. He uses them to capture three nuclear missile submarines (one Soviet, one American and one British) during the movie.
- You Only Live Twice: Ernst Stavro Blofeld has one of these, which he uses in False Flag Operations to kidnap US and Soviet space capsules to start WW 3 between them.
- The pirate spaceship from Space Truckers- again, a huge maw that swallowed smaller ships.
- Star Trek The Motion Picture: The enormous Mechanical Lifeform V'Ger had a giant maw like this, which the Enterprise flew through in order to reach V'Ger's main processing center. It then closed, trapping the Enterprise inside.
- A hilarious variation could be the scene in Mars Attacks! where the US launches nukes, and the Martians deploy a tiny probe that sucks up the nukes into a balloon-like compartment, in which they explode harmlessly, the balloon probe containing everything. Then the Martians smoke the radioactive remains in some kind of space-bong.
- The opening scene of A New Hope features the Tantive IV's engines and weapons being disabled by a Star Destroyer, leaving it helpless as Darth Vader's ship tractors the corvette into its massive carrier bay.
- Spaceball One eats Princess Vespa's spaceship in Spaceballs.
- Done by the good guys at the beginning of Serenity, when most of the crew is on the Mule running away from the Reavers. Wash warns Zoe that they're going to try a "barn swallow". Zoe turns the Mule around and heads straight for the Reaver ship, only for Wash to bring the Serenity in and pull off this trope.
- In the Mortal Engines quadrilogy, most towns and cities (except those in Anti-Tractionist territories) have been converted into enormous tracked vehicles. In accordance with the philosophy of 'Municipal Darwinism', these settlements are fitted with 'jaws' that allow them to catch and dismantle other settlements and claim their resources; cities prey on towns, towns prey on suburbs, and "statics", non-mobile settlements, are the bottom rung of the food-chain and fair game for everyone else.
- Used by a ship pirate masquerading as a trader in House of Suns to trap the protagonist's starship inside a enormous world-ship.
- The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You. The Special Corps investigates the mysterious disappearance of a navy space station whose last message was: "THE TEETH!" He uses time travel to go back to the event and sees it swallowed by a planetoid sent by alien invaders, who carry the station back to their homeworld.
- Submarines are often equipped with these in the Russalka Chronicles. They allow for a ship to recover equipment, buoys or debris without stopping. It's explicitly mention it's never used to recover people due to the risk of people slipping in between the "jaws" and being cut in two when it closes. The heroine is naturally saved in this fashion at one point (they didn't think there were any survivors).
- In Babylon 5, Shadow Battlecrabs can absorb other ships into themselves, allowing them to abduct their pilots. Meanwhile, Commander Sinclair's unexplained (and temporary) disappearance at the Battle of the Line is revealed to be partly due to this, with a Minbari warcruiser using tractor beams to disable and pull in his ship.
- The Lexx, a giant bioengineered insect/planet-destroyer could literally eat ships, provided they were roughly the size of a space shuttle.
- Star Trek
- The "Wisp" spaceship from Star Trek: Enterprise had a huge maw that swallowed Enterprise.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: the Planet Killer, a giant ship that destroyed planets. In an inversion, they deliberately flew a starship into its maw to destroy it from the inside out.
- Happened a couple times in Star Trek: Voyager. One race had a starship so large that they simply beamed Voyager inside to capture them. This seems to be the primary assimilation tactic of the Borg Sphere, which tries to do it to Voyager twice (it succeeds in the finale, though it didn't stick).
- The Seeker's semi-invisible spaceship does this to the Space Shuttle Odyssey in Odyssey 5.
- A seaQuest DSV episode had a large sub pulling this to capture UEO transport subs.
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Collective", a Borg cube draws one of Voyager's shuttles inside itself with a tractor beam. When the crew wake up, they're inside a vast chamber full of small spacecraft.
- The first episode of TaleSpin has the air pirates harassing a Khan cargo plane. As the plane ducks into a cloud bank to try and hide, they fly right into the Iron Vulture, the pirates' ship. It even has a mouth for such purposes.
- The rest of the series plays straight, subverts and explains why this trope isn't generally practical, especially if your target knows you're around.
- One one the story arcs on Rocky and Bullwinkle has them looking for the giant whale Maybe Dick, which turns out to be a ship Boris Badanov uses to swallow ocean lines so he can plunder them.
- The Pirates of Dark Water featured the Maelstrom, a massive pirate ship fashioned from the bones of a colossal sea monster. The jaws formed the ship's prow, resulting in a much more literal version of this trope than is usually seen whenever they opened to swallow a smaller ship.
- In an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, a villain named "Lock Up" used a robotic truck to kidnap someone: the back opened up and two claws came out, snatched her car and dragged it inside.
- One level of Crimson Skies: Highroad to Revenge has a giant zeppelin designed to eat other zeppelins.
- Happens in the intro of Battle Toads when the small spaceship of one of the Battle Toads gets captured by the large starship of their foe.
- In Full Throttle, the biker gang The Vultures drive a Jumbo Cargo Transport, a heavily modified cargo plane converted into a kind of truck capable of driving on highway-sized roads. While main character Ben battles the villain Ripburger on a semi, The Vultures assist by pulling up behind and swallowing the truck with their transport.
- Occurs at least once in the Homeworld series. In level nine of Homeworld2, Captain Soban's frigate is swallowed up into the hanger bay of a Vaygr carrier.
- The Gemini Augmented Target Docking Adapter, also known as the "Angry Alligator"◊ looks like this trope, but in fact the presence of the aerodynamic shroud that was normally jettisoned after launch prevented Gemini 9 from physically docking with it after matching orbit with it.