Over-the-shoulder carrying (abbreviated OTS) is a method to transport another person. The person is laid face down over one's shoulder with their upper body to the rear. The person's legs are held at the hollow of the knees to secure them. This position allows for relatively easy transportation, even if they are the same weight as oneself. It can be a humiliating pose for the person being carried, since they're turned into a passive object, with their face down and buttocks pointing up and to the front.
When this happens in fiction, usually (but not always), it involves an antagonist carrying a Distressed Damsel or other captive that he/she has caught or subdued. Contrast Bridal Carry, which is more romanticized and typically involves The Hero saving someone instead of capturing them. Compare Neck Lift and Hoist Hero Over Head, which are other ways a villain shows of their strength by lifting up a victim.
Sometimes called the Fireman's carry, although this is actually the name for another position where weight is supported on both shoulders and the carried person is held by both legs and whichever arm is draped over the carrier's shoulder.
Note that this position (as well as the Fireman's Carry) is often recommended against - it tends to worsen any spinal injuries sustained, and can asphyxiate people in a burning building.
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A woman is carried like this in the 2012 Bacardi commerical.
Ichigo carriesOrihime like this after battling Grimmjow. Orihime is embarrassed by this, but only because she thinks she is heavy.
During Don Kanonji's visit to the hospital, Ichigo and Rukia try to stop him from exorcising a spirit and are held back by the police. Kisuke helps Ichigo turn into a soul reaper and distracts the police. Tessai carries Ichigo's body over his shoulder while they escape.
When Ichigo, Orihime, Chad and Uryś enter the Soul Society through the restrictive current, Uryś's cape gets stuck. Chad frees Uryś, then carries himover his shoulder the rest of the way.
When Hiyori first appears, she makes fun of Chad and Orihime and tries to kill them. Shinji stops her and runs off with her over his shoulder◊. Hiyori protests and gooses Shinji to make him put her down, but he gooses her instead to shut her up.
In Fruits Basket Volume 18, Haru carries Rin like this◊ after finding her passed out on the sidewalk. Rin insists she can walk, but Haru assures her he's strong enough to carry her.
When Tasuki first appears in the manga, he kidnaps Miaka from the bandit leader. After throwing her over his shoulder, he uses his spell cards to make wovles attack Hotohori, Nuriko and the bandit leader, then carries Miaka off.
A slaver briefly carries Yui like this when she and Miaka first enter the book.
In the first episode of Ranma ½, Genma (in panda form) knocks out Ranma (in female form) with a street sign and carries her over his shoulder to the Tendo's house as seen here (at around 1:32 and 4:45).
In Brave 10, Saizou carries Isanami this way after saving her from assassins.
Happens frequently in Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts when a student's avatar goes down to 0 HP. A teacher named Ironman would sometimes carry the student away to remedial classes in this manner.
Happens in the Dragon Ball series when injured characters are carried away from the battlefield. One of the few times it happened to a female character was when Bulma tried to stop Trunks from training to fight Majin Buu and Krillin carries her away like this◊.
Black Butler: Sebastian (wearing a deer head disguise) carries Prince Soma likethis when he's saving him from Agni's attacks.
When Kiba is too injured to run in Wolf's Rain, Tsume slings him over his shoulder, much to Kiba's protest. How exactly this would work in their wolf forms is a mystery.
In the Touhou manga, Wild and Horned Hermit, Marisa tests out the Super Strength she temporarily gained from drinking out of the Ibaraki Medicine Box by easily carrying Reimu around in this manner. Reimu responds by kicking her in the face.
D.Gray-Man: In Book 2, Allen carries an injured Toma like this when he and Kanda are looking for Lala and Guzol.
In an old Little Lulu comic, Lulu babysits Tubby and Tubby tries various methods to get her out of the house. When they all fail, he simply throws Lulu over his shoulder and carries her out. Then he gets scared of being alone in the house and carries her back inside.
In more "cheesecakey" comics, its not uncommon for a hero to have a woman slung over his shoulder to put her shapely rear on display. Here◊ its done by Frank Frazetta.
In a Power Girl comic, Power Girl knocks out her brainwashed friend Terra, then carries her like this (page 2) to the villian's hideout to find her real brain.
Hefty or some Smurf carry Smurfette in this undignified position when they first meet her in the forest in The Smurfs story "The Smurfette" when she was expecting the Bridal Carry.
Films — Animation
Prince Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke does this to two women at once, having just knocked both of them out with a hard hit to the abdomen. In this case, used for drama, though considering that one woman is a supernatural wolf princess and the other is a gun-toting aristocrat it's still undignified.
While in Paris, one of the villain thugs kidnaps the female costar Kate and somehow manages to bound and gag her inside a sack. He proceeds to carry her away in this fashion all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
In a deleted scene, when the thug and Kate are at the top of the tower, the thug takes her out of the bag and tries to carry her over his shoulder into the helicopter.
The poster for the film of Arsenic and Old Lace shows Mortimer carrying his love interest this way◊. Has a double meaning- on one hand, it calls to mind the sexual version that's like a Bridal Carry, but it also references how the corpses in the film are carried before being taken to be buried.
In the movie Pillow Talk, Rock Hudson grabs Doris Day in her PJ's, wraps her in a blanket, and carries her back to his apartment just this way. She even asks a doorman they pass on the street for help, but he, in typical 50's fashion, is on Rock's side on this one.
In the film adaption of The Phantom, Sala carries Diana Palmer over her shoulder in one scene, as seen here.
In the opening scene of Machete the title character rescues a beautiful naked kidnap victim who is eager to offer Rescue Sex. As Machete is still married at this stage, he simply throws her over his shoulder and walks out the door, not that she minds.
Enchanted: Narissa, disguised as the old hag, has the unconscious Giselle over her shoulder after poisoning her with the apple and carries her into an elevator to try and escape.
Peter Pan (2003): The pirates capture Wendy, John, Michael and the Lost Boys by tying them up, gagging them and carrying them to the ship over their shoulders.
Hook: When Peter is fighting the pirates on Captain Hook's ship, he carries one pirate over his shoulder and spins him around while fighting other pirates at once.
In the film adaptation of Amadeus, an ill Mozart collapses during the premiere of The Magic Flute and is carried out slung over someone's shoulder, as seen here.
Grease: During the famous hand jive scene at the school dance, one of the boys can be seen dancing with a girl slung over his shoulder twice.
Posters◊ for Ruby Sparks shows Ruby slung over her novelist's shoulder, as does the trailer (around 1:03 in.)
In The Mangler Reborn, Hadley kidnaps a girl to give to the Mangler by placing her in a bag and carrying her over his shoulder first into his van, then into his house. He carries another girl too after knocking her out with a hammer. All of these can be seen here
The Goonies: After Mikey sees Sloth in the Fratelli's restaurant and runs upstairs, an angry Brandon picks him up and carries him outside over his shoulder.
In It Happened One Night, Peter walks across a shallow stream carrying Ellie over his shoulder to prevent her from falling in. However, Ellie thinks he is carrying her piggy-back and Peter slaps her on the butt for being foolish.
Edward Scissorhands: During the burglary scene, everyone except Edward runs out the door when the alarm goes off. Kim tries to go back and help Edward, but her boyfriend Jim throws her over his shoulder and carries her to the van.
In The Artist, Clifton finds George passed out drunk in a bar and carries him home like this.
Magic Mike: During Tarzan's segment in one show, a woman is brought onstage by two "hunters" and tied to fake trees. Tarzan saves the woman and carries her backstage over his shoulder.
In the movie Ever After Danielle and the prince are robbed by gypsies. When Danielle demands her things back, the ringleader tells her she can have "anything she can carry." She proceeds to deftly lift the prince over her shoulder and walk away with him, much to the gypsies' amusement.
In John C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos, Glum carries off Amelia like this. Giving her a few clues, because in spite of his having hit her in the solar plexus just before it, she is not nauseated by the jolts of his shoulder.
The protagonist of Clifford Simak's The Goblin Reservation carries a girl from the gassed room in such a fashion. She comes to her senses and starts complaining about this being an absurd way to carry a woman. He puts her on the floor and sarcastically suggests he should just leave her there.
In Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Wide Window, Count Olaf's Associate That Looks Like Neither a Man or a Woman grabs Violet by the hair and slings her over his/her shoulder, then picks up Klaus and Sunny to carry all of them away. Luckily, the children escape when the Associate slips and drops them.
On the cover◊ of Barbara Park's Dump The Chump, Oscar's little brother Robert is carried like this.
In Where's Waldo Now, one of the scenes Waldo visits takes place in the Viking Age. Three vikings are shown running away from houses they've robbed, each with a screaming woman slung over their shoulders. In a comic reversal, two large ugly women are shown carrying vikings they've captured over their shoulders.
Butler has carried Holly like this three times, and he's also carried Juliet and Artemis.
Holly was also carried like this by Julius Root.
In "The Arctic Incident", Artemis Sr. is carried like this by one of the members of the Russian Mafiya.
In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Greg is carried over a security guard's shoulder after getting trapped in the ladies restroom in Leisure Towers.
In Happy Endings, when Jane and Alex are about to get into a violent fight in "The Incident" they're separated by Max, carrying Alex, and Brad, carrying Jane with the sisters still screaming at each other as they're carried away.
Jane You were adopted!
Alex You were born a man!
Dan Schneider seems to be a fan of this trope and uses it a lot in his shows:
In "Andre's Horrible Girl," Trina annoys a music producer and the producer's muscular bodyguard carries her out over his shoulder◊ twice.
Sikowitz carries his sick grandmother out of the classroom like this◊ in "Prom Wrecker"
In "How Trina Got In", Tori and Robbie are trapped in a sushi restaurant because they can't pay the bill. Tori tries to escape, but is quickly tossed over the shoulder of the cook Kwakoo and carried back inside◊.
In "The Bad Roommate", Andre carries Tori out of the room like this◊ after she plays his song for Kojeezy.
Freight Train has slung Kendall over his shoulder twice and taken him to the studio. He had Logan slung over the other shoulder one of those times◊.
In "Big Time Mansion", Carlos has Logan over his shoulder when he passes out during all of the chaos at Gustavo's mansion and James and Kendall help carry him◊.
In "Green Time Rush", the school bully throws Logan over his shoulder◊ and carries him out of the room to work on their school project.
James briefly carries Camille like this◊ in "Big Time Beach Party" to have a private talk with her.
Kendall has carried Katie over his shoulder in "Big Time Reality" and "Bel Air Rush."
In the "South of the Border Part Uno" episode of My Name Is Earl, Randy tries to get Earl to go on a bus with him to find Catalina; Earl would rather buy a taco. Afraid of missing the bus, Randy throws Earl over his shoulder and heads for the bus. Earl retaliates by giving Randy a wedgie until he puts him down.
In an episode of Hannah Montana, while sleep walking, Hannah stumbles into her brother's room and is quickly tossed over his shoulder and carried back to her bed.
During Season 6, second place winner Jason Taylor carried winner Kristi Yamaguchi and his partner Edyta like this once or twice.
Edyta: This week we're doing the Viennese Waltz, so I need you to treat me like a proper lady.
[Jason throws her over his shoulder and carries her out of the frame]
During Season 9, Mark Ballas carried Melissa Joan Hart over the shoulder at the end of their Charleston.
During Season 10, Derek Hough jokingly carried Nicole Scherzinger over his shoulder after their fox trot, as seen here.
During Season 16, Mark Ballas carried Alexandra Raisman over his shoulder in some of their routines, although she was on her back and facing upwards. Some examples include their contemporary routine, their argentine tango and their freestyle.
Varieties of over the shoulder lifts are usually used in the contemporary routines.
During Season 17, Bill Engvall carried his partner Emma Slater like this towards the end of their Charleston. Val Chmerkovskiy also carried Elizabeth Berkley Lauren like this in their jazz routine.
During one game of "Party Quirks", Greg Proops is the host of a party and Wayne Brady is a fireman trying to rescue everyone from a burning building. Wayne slings Greg over his shoulder and briefly carries him to safety.
On one episode, a man fakes a heart attack in order to murder a pair of ambulance attendants. One of the attendants carries him like this while he is faking his symptoms, which proves to be his undoing. While he is being carried, he leaves his fingerprints on the attendant's belt.
Brenda gets carried by the Det. Sanchez when her crime scene turns out to be a bombing site. She gets carried out twice, the second time remarking that she can walk.
Sanchez has carried away a few women when they started trouble.
In Merlin, Morgana fakes a sprained ankle and Arthur throws her over his shoulder in this position. It's played for maximum embarrassment (to Morgana) as she squeals and complains about what he's doing while Merlin smirks. Interestingly, two episodes earlier Arthur gave her the Bridal Carry when she was seriously injured after a fall.
Jason carries a disoriented Spinelli over his shoulder to the passenger seat of his car in one episode.
In another episode, Jason carries Sam over the shoulder after she twists her ankle.
In one episode of Alphas, Cameron carries a brainwashed Rachel over his shoulder.
In the Out of This World episode "Baby Talk", Evie gets a babysitting job and her mom helps her prepare. One of the things she does is carry Evie over her shoulder to demonstrate the fireman's carry, as seen here (at 3:36)
In the Castle episode "Knockout", Castle carries a struggling Beckett over his shoulder to save her life.
In the Frasier episode "The Proposal", Niles plans a perfect evening to propose to Daphne, but she comes over sick. Niles changes plans, leaving Frasier the job of getting everyone involved with the proposal out of the house without Daphne seeing them. At one point he quietly runs to the door with the chef bound and gagged over his shoulder.
Doug carried Tony in this fashion in an episode of The Time Tunnel called "Attack of the Barbarians".
Modern Family: In the Valentine's Day episode "Bixby's Back," Jay carries a protesting Gloria into their house over his shoulder to show her the elaborate dinner he planned for her, which Gloria found out about and moved to the garage to surprise Jay.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Is Data unconscious or otherwise non-functioning? And is Worf there? Yes to both? Then congratulations, you're going to see Michael Dorn gripping Brent Spiner by the knees and flinging him over his shoulder.
In Cyndi Lauper's video for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", Cyndi watches TV during the "Some boys take a beautiful girl..." line. A black and white movie clip of an apeman kidnapping a woman in this fashion is shown.
In Tom Cochrane's video for "Life is a Highway", a couple take a break from driving their car. At around 0.56, the boyfriend playfully tosses his girlfriend over his shoulder and spins her around.
During the dance between the ex-boyfriend and his victims in Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts" video, one of the girls takes a running leap at him. He catches her, drapes her over his shoulder and spins her around.
While most spine busters simply involve grabbing the legs and slamming someone to the mat, the bionic spine buster is a no hands over the shoulder carry, for wrestlers who want to showoff.
The Schwein starts this way but ends with only holding the leg before planting their head into the canvas. A popular variation, Mariko Yoshida's air raid crash, is instead a fireman's carry which makes the head planting easier, if less painful looking.
One of Black Rose's signatures, since she show off how strong she is by dumping wrestlers significantly larger than herself into turnbuckles this way.
Super Mario Sunshine has Shadow Mario, who snatches Peach at the beginning of the game and tries to make a get away by running amok through the entire city while carrying the princess◊ the entire time. Either Shadow Mario has strength or she has no weight.
Duke Nukem Forever has a "Capture the Babe" mode, in which the player moves said babes around in this manner while fending off opponents. The babe will periodically try to sabotage the player by waving her hand in the player's face; she has to be slapped on the butt to make her stop.
In Professor Layton and the Last Specter, "Third Eye" Jakes does this to Arianna when he "arrests" her for supposedly masterminding the Specter's rampages throughout the town, which makes it even more obvious that this is essentially a kidnapping, not a sincere effort at upholding the law.
In the new app Subway Surfers, if your character is caught by the guard, he will sometimes carry them away over his shoulder.
The opening sequence of Double Dragon has Marian being carried over by a mook after being knocked unconscious, complete with a panty shot (at least in the original arcade version).
Pauline gets carried away in such a matter in most Donkey Kong games.
Valkyria Chronicles III has a non-villainous version in Felix's chapter when he rescues Giulio from enemy reinforcements. Naturally, the screen gives the player a nice view of the latter's butt.
In Resident Evil 4 poor Damsel in Distress Ashley Graham gets carried in this fasion a lot. This is how mooks take her away from you. Also in her own chapter she gets put in this position after an exclusive necksnap death. She is also shown like this for a small part in one chapter.
The one Fred pulls off in Namesake is impressive for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that he does it at a dead sprint. Also, given that Elaine was running in the same direction several paces ahead of him, he apparently had to speed up, spin her around and then hoist her over his shoulder without breaking stride - all of which is so fast we don't even see it happening between panels. Coming from anyone else, this would be unbelievable, but...
Happens quite frequently on Scooby-Doo, no surprise who gets this treatment.
Betty Boop was carried like this by the villains in some of her cartoons. In "Chess-Nuts," the black king throws her over his shoulder and heads for the bedroom; fortunately Bimbo comes to her rescue. In "No! No! A Thousand Times No!," the villian ties up her other boyfriend Freddie and carries her like this into a hot air balloon to escape with her. Again, she is rescued.
Daisy-Head Mayzie: Like in the book, Miss Sneetcher picks up Mayzie and carries her to the principal's office over her shoulder as Mayzie's classmates tease her with a song. A repetitive and annoying song, that is.
In the Bugs Bunny cartoon Hot Cross Bunny, Bugs tries to run away from a scientist set on switching his brain with a chicken's. The scientist gives Bugs laughing gas to make him cooperate and carries him to the operating room over his shoulder, as seen here (at 6:22).
In this clip of the episode "Homer the Heretic" when Ned carries Homer over his shoulder when he rescues him from his burning house.
In this clip of the Treehouse of Horror V segment "The Shinning," a crazed Homer falls down a flight of stairs and passes out. Marge manages to carry him like this into the pantry and locks him in there. Not that he minds.
Barney rescues two and carries them over his both shoulders from Moe's burning tavern. It's two barrels of beer. He also returns for Moe and another barrel.
T.U.F.F. Puppy: In the episode "The Doom-mates," Dudley carries Kitty like this a few times because she loses her sense of balance when she loses her whiskers.
In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Cowboy Courage," Courage dreams that he, Muriel and Eustace are in the Wild West. The outlaw Eustace throws Muriel over his shoulder and tries to carry her off, but Courage stops him.
In the pilot episode of Ren and Stimpy, Ren is carried like this◊ by a little girl who wants to adopt him from the pound, thinking he's a poodle.
In "Abra-Catastrophe," one of the apes carries Timmy over his shoulder to their lab to do experiments on him.
In the episode "Take and Fake," Timmy's parents accidentally insult Trixie's costume during her party and are carried out over the shoulders of her guards.
In the episode "Hero Hound," Sparky carries Timmy in this fashion when he's rescuing him from a well.
Often called the fireman's carry because it allows firemen to carry out fire victims while maintaining a free hand. That said, as noted above, it's fallen out of favor except in the most absolutely dire situations where the risk of death or worse injury is worse than that of further spinal injury or those where it's obvious the only injury is from things like burns or smoke inhalation, exhaustion, wounds to the lower legs and feet - if there's a risk that someone's neck or back is injured (as in a vehicle accident or building collapse) or has bullets/impaling objects/shrapnel in/near it (as in the aftermath of an attack/explosion or a building collapse), most firefighters and paramedics are strictly warned not to do this.
Unfortunately, along with the Bridal Carry, common among people with little to no medical experience trying to "help" fainted/injured people. Combining this trope with pulling people from a wrecked vehicle or a collapsed building, for example, has led to severe injuries.
How many kidnappers successfully capture their victims.
There's a popular sport in Finland, Asia and some parts of the U.S. called wife carrying, where men compete in an obstacle race carrying their wives. The wives can be carried piggyback, over the shoulder or Estonian style.
It is arguable that Yoshiki Hayashi's neck injuries were exacerbated by the tendency of roadies/staff to carry him off the stage either like this or in a modified Bridal Carry. Road crews and venue staff tend to make the mistake, in general, of carrying injured performers offstage when it is generally a far better idea (especially if the injury has been sufficiently bad to stop the show anyway) to simply remove anything that could further injure someone so badly hurt they can't walk offstage under their own power (e.g. their instruments or gear or accessories, nearby pyro, etcetera) and leave him or her in place until properly equipped paramedics arrive.