Pinball Gag

Most frequently seen in Looney Tunes cartoons, this is a visual gag which reproduces the look and action of a Pinball game. A ball or other spherical object (sometimes a character forced to curl into a ball) caroms wildly about, rebounding off of numerous objects and/or persons, producing glowing "scores" over each one. The gag ends when either it leaves the "playing field" (often by dropping into a hole) or one specific target lights up with a "TILT!" indicator.

"TILT!" — the indication that an attempt to cheat at pinball by lifting or shaking the machine has been detected — is a subtrope in its own right. Tilted machines shut down immediately, ignoring player input and ending the current game, sort of an early-to-mid-20th century BSOD, with the added element of "you brought this on yourself, cheater!" In a similar manner, a character subject to "TILT!" is usually stunned or unconscious, although whether this is because of or simply indicated by the "TILT!" varies from instance to instance.

Also see Be the Ball and Bouncing Battler.


Examples

Fan Works
  • This happens in Double Rainboom when Rainbow Dash drinks the potion that allows her to fly faster. There is even a scoreboard adding up points.

Film
  • This animated trope actually showed up in the live-action film Freddy vs. Jason. When Freddy and Jason are in the dream world, Freddy causes Jason's body to fly through the air around his boiler room, bouncing off of various pipes and tanks with pinball-machine sound effects accompanying every carom. Eventually, the action stops, causing Jason to drop straight back down to the floor and Freddy to say "Aw. Tilt."
  • The Man With Two Brains. They specifically set up the whole Mad Scientist lab just so Steve Martin can do the pinball routine near the end of the movie.
  • During the car chase scenes in THX 1138, where the titular character is pursued by the robotic police officers on motorcycles. In the scene immediately following the wipe-out of the first officer, "TILT//" can be seen flashing on a mainframe panel.
  • Done for laughs in the climax of Kung Fu Hustle, complete with electro-mechaniccal pinball sounds and chimes.

Live-Action Television

Pinball

Western Animation
  • A variation of this is found in Family Guy, in one of their random referential gags: In "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz", Stewie has been forced to live in a bubble for a while, and at one point complains about the morning he's had: Somehow getting caught in Sesame Streets Funky classic "Pinball Number Count" short (123 4 5 678 9 10 11 12!).
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender chibi shorts Bending Battle has Toph demonstrating Earthbending by turning a cliff face into a pinball machine, complete with Sokka as the ball.
  • Happens on Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Jimmy and Beezy are knocking themselves around.
  • Several Looney Tunes shorts have some variation of it, including "Baseball Bugs" when Bugs hits a line drive that bounces off of all the outfielders.
  • In the elephant race event of Laff-A-Lympics from India, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy's elephant bounces off city pillars with accompanying pinball noises after getting a trunk full of curry (thanks to the Really Rottens).
  • Literal: The opening titles of Inch High, Private Eye has the title character on the surface of a pinball machine chased around by a pinball.