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Ramp Jump
Evel Knievel demonstrating the trope in Real Life.

This is when somebody dramatically jumps over a ravine, river, pit, or other gap by driving a vehicle very fast up a ramp (or something vaguely ramp-like). Often, it's part of a car chase of some sort, with the jumpers either trying to escape somebody, or trying to pursue somebody who took an easier route that's now blocked somehow. People just love to scream "you/we are not going to make it" when that happens. Bonus points if somebody else (especially Lemming Cops) then tries the same jump but fails. If there isn't a ramp handy, you may need to use Ramprovisation.

Unfortunately (as proven by MythBusters), a Ramp Jump is nowhere near as easy to execute as it looks in fiction: The car should ideally land with all four wheels hitting the ground simultaneously, but in Real Life, the vehicle will tend to pitch downwards in flight, causing it to hit the ground nose first (instead of on all fours) with an impact force similar to any other head-on impact: Severe damage to the car's engine and frame (doubly so for sports cars, whose frames are specifically designed to crumple on impactnote ), which leaves the car in a more or less inoperable state.

Motorcycles have it a bit easier in this department, as the bike's relatively lighter weight means the rider can shift their center of gravity enough to help avoid the bike tipping over in midair, to ensure a clean two-wheel landing. The professional practice of "loading" helps too — compressing the front springs before takeoff helps keep the bike from tipping over to begin with. However, the risk of landing unbalanced is still very real: Keep in mind just how often professional motocross racers crash, even when they specifically train to make jumps off specifically designed ramps (definitely Don't Try This at Home).

So how do they accomplish such scenes in action movies? With the vehicular equivalent of a Stunt Double, of course! Launch a sacrificial car (even just an empty hull) off the ramp, then quickly cut to a different scene that depicts the heroes (having been launched from a much smaller, safer ramp) making their landing. Nevermind what happens to the stunt car after the cut. If a long shot of the vehicle flying triumphantly through the air is desired, that can also be filmed separately using a third vehicle (launched from a separate ramp under specific conditions). Hollywood movie magic at its finest!

In any case, it's technically possible to set up ramps in such a way that the vehicle can take off and land without tipping over in the process, but this requires some specially contrived setups that you're not likely to see in action-movie scenes involving explosions and high-speed improvisation. But at least it looks undeniably cool, right? Expect to see Slo-Mo Big Air added in for all it's worth.

A Sister Trope to Jump Physics. It can also be tried with horses, as they presumably don't need ramps.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Straight Cougar's alter car in s-CRY-ed has special spring jumpers for this too, though I can't remember it jumping over anything extremely impressive at the moment.
  • Speed Racer about Once an Episode, with the assistance of his built-in jacks (which for the record weren't intended to make the car jump, they were there to...jack up the car).
  • In an episode of the TV series of Future GPX Cyber Formula, Hayato and his navigator Elena participated in a no-rules race called "Fireball", and during the race, they were chased by a racer with a huge truck-like car and the driver bumped his car, the Asurada GSX. Then Hayato saw a car with a ramp and used Asurada's effect fans to jump on the rail and escaped from the racer in the truck.
  • Black Lagoon: What do you do when you're a bottom-rung Japanese salaryman on a boat piloted by a bunch of pirates who kidnapped you at gunpoint and are now being pursued by an attack helicopter? You tell them to turn around, launch the boat off a wrecked ship, and fire a torpedo at the chopper. And that's how Rock joined the Lagoon Trading Company.

    Comic Books 
  • Another example (or rather two) with cars is from one of the short English-made comics with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The turtles in their van are hunting a foot soldier in a cab. The cab first flees though a busy intersection, but lucky enough for the turtles, there wis a ramp at hand, so they can jump over the traffic. Shortly afterwards, the cab escapes over a bridge, which is opening right after. But that of course doesn't stop the turtles, who again jump over with the van.
  • Sin City cars ramp off cliffs, hills, and apparently jump just by going down the street. This is obviously Rule of Cool.

    Film 
  • The Blues Brothers jumped the gap between two halves of a raised drawbridge in a police car.
    • Since the car landed on a slope, this one is at least plausible (if still incredibly dangerous).
  • James Bond does this a fair bit:
    • In The Man with the Golden Gun, there was a visually impressive corkscrew jump across a river, although for some reason they decided that it just had to be accompanied by a stupid cartoon-style slide whistle sound effect.
      • Perhaps on purpose, because the originator of the Jump, who refused to ever reveal how it's done, never wanted anyone else to try it. Thus the addition of the slide-whistle would make it seem simply impossible to do.
    • In A View to a Kill, Bond managed a drawbridge jump in a fire truck while being chased by the cops.
    • In The Living Daylights, there's a car jump to escape some pursuing Czech guards, some of whom try and fail to emulate the jump in order to follow him.
    • In Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond jumps from one building to another on a motorcycle... over a helicopter full of bad guys with guns which is hovering in the street... while he's handcuffed to a Chinese secret agent. There is a nod towards reality when Bond asks said agent to move further back to balance the bike. Not much, but...
  • In Speed, the bus ends up on an unfinished elevated freeway and has to jump across a missing section of it.
  • The Batmobile they introduce in Batman Begins is an example. Or maybe a subversion. Or exaggeration... it's hard to say. Anyway, its entrance into the Batcave is by jumping across a small chasm through a waterfall, and it has several scenes where it jumps and drives across rooftops. When they first show it, it's explained that it was designed to make a no-ramp jump for crossing rivers with a cable in order to build temporary bridges.
  • Smokey and the Bandit was the source of the "Reynolds Ramp" phrase. The Bandit jumped over a lake in that movie.
  • Two cases of ramp jumps demonstrating how badly it screws up cars include Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) (where the car just barely limps in) and Road Trip, where the car doesn't survive the landing. IIRC, the shocks go through the hood of the car.
  • The "Little Mule" in Romancing the Stone.
  • The movie Spice World has a bus jump across Tower Bridge as it opens.
  • As does the movie Brannigan.
  • Im Juli scores extra points for having the jump attempted by a physics teacher who was previously seen putting this exact problem on the blackboard as an exercise. He still fails, because he has only an estimate of the width of the river to go on.
  • Van Helsing does this with a freaking CARRIAGE. And without even a ramp. But then, it's that sort of film...
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World begins with Jimmy Durante careening along a mountain highway in a '57 Ford and then just...sailing out there. Didn't land well.
  • The good guys in Der Clown Payday pull a Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974)-style Ramp Jump over a Road Block of police cars. In slow motion, of course. In contrast to most other movies, including Gone in 60 Seconds, their car does a corkscrew in mid-air. In contrast to most cars flying corkscrews, it still runs afterwards! The ramp, by the way, is a piece of helicopter scrap that doesn't budge when a minivan races over it.
  • In True Lies, the Big Bad motorcycle jumped across from a taller building to a swimming pool of a shorter building to escape from Arnold's character on a horse.
  • In a variant, the Lamborgini in Cannonball Run III does a Ramp Jump onto a lake and skips across the surface. Ironically, MythBusters tested this stunt, and discovered that it could work ... but only if you dispense with the ramp, ensuring that the car strikes the water at a very low angle.
  • The climax of The Soldier (1982) has Ken Wahl leaping the Berlin Wall via a ramp set up by the Israeli Secret Service in a Time for Plan B (he was originally just supposed to drive through Checkpoint Charlie, but got spotted by a soldier who knew him).
  • The courageous motorbike jump in The Cabin in the Woods fails with fatal consequences when the bike rider hits a Beehive Barrier forcefield sealing off the cabin from the outside world.
  • Plays a big part in the 1971 Biopic and drive-in classic starring George Hamilton, Evel Knievel, for obvious reasons.

    Literature 
  • The car chase in Matthew Reilly's Scarecrow ends with Knight jumping over a rising drawbridge in a truck, to escape from mercenaries. Unfortunately, he got stuck on the other side.
  • Subverted in The Wish List; Belch tries to do this near the climax on a motorcycle but just ends up getting himself tangled up in a fence he could easily have plowed straight through had he any actual experience using a motorbike.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Thud!, a "boy racer" Ankh-Morpork coach driver gets a rush of blood to the head and attempts to pull off this feat - in a horse-drawn coach. He is dissuaded by Sam Vimes.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Dukes of Hazzard. It seemed to happen almost every episode, in fact. Cue the General Lee making the jump. Cue Roscoe not making it.
    • Happens in the opening credits, in fact. On YouTube at 0:12.
    • In a lot of these examples, the 'leap' is possible..... just not the landing. They went through a lot of General Lees as I recall.
  • Knight Rider did this more than once. Usually, the "turbo boost" button was involved.
    • In fact, with the Turbo Boost KITT could jump without a ramp.
  • Top Gear Stuntman has attempted a few of these, with mixed results. And the original Stig (of sainted memory) met his end when he did one of these off an aircraft carrier. He used nitrous.
    • One particularly awesome example was a Ramp Jump off a ski ramp... in a snowmobile.
    • Another awesome ski jump was done with a (unmanned) rocket-powered Austin Mini.
  • Standard occurrence in The Fall Guy. And probably the reason why Colt's GMC truck has a bodylift so extreme that it makes cornering tricky.
  • Seen in The Benny Hill Show at least once, involving a red Ford Gran Torino during a Stock Visual Metaphor.
  • In an episode of Happy Days Fonzie sets a new world record by jumping over 14 garbage cans on his motorcycle. He makes it, but crashes after landing.

    Pinball 
  • Occurs in Premier's Hollywood Heat, which features a "Hot Shot" ramp that catapults pinballs from the bottom of the playfield to an enclosed area in the center.
  • In RoboCop, there is an Entry Ramp that stretches along the back of the playfield and requires the player to clear the gap to complete.
  • Lost in Space has a jump ramp very similar to the one above.
  • The Lord of the Rings has the Ring Ramp, located in the center of the playfield.
  • Data East's Batman pinball has a ramp for players to launch pinballs into the Joker's face.
  • The Cliff Jump from Banzai Run, a vertical ramp in the backbox.
  • A pop-up ramp is used in Sega Pinball's GoldenEye to allow the player to shoot pinballs into the GoldenEye satellite dish.
  • Comet has the Cycle Jump, which launches the ball into one of three saucers. Making the farthest one is required to collect the One Million shot.
  • The backglass for the Evel Knievel pinball uses animated lights to depict Knievel's Real Life 1975 jump over fourteen busses.
  • Transformers has a chute in front of Optimus Prime that rises at certain times, allowing players to use a Ramp Jump to launch the pinball and hit him.
  • Tee'd Off has the "Pitch 'n Putt" ramp, where the player tries to shoot the ball into the Mean Green Hole.
  • No Fear: Dangerous Sports has one in the jump loop, with the magnetic accelerator giving it a speed boost.
  • Stern Pinball's Star Trek has the Warp ramp, which launches balls clockwise back to the upper-rght flipper.

    Radio 
  • One Afternoon Play by the name of Hudson and Pepperdine Save the Planet had a bus attempting to jump over Tower Bridge, but it fails and lands across the gap.
    "We're fine. Just everyone get off the bus."
    * SPLASH*
    "Not the middle doors!"
    • Based on the Real Life "Oh!" incident from 1953, below.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons has Homer trying to jump over Springfield Gorge on a skateboard. His descent into the pit (and the hijinks that ensue when medical help tries to get him out) is one of the show's most famous moments.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine has the titular character jump over a missing piece of track over a cliff in the special The Great Discovery. The scene has been lampooned for its lack of realism (though the show has been lacking this for a long time).
  • Transformers Cybertron has Hot Shot do this in one episode to cross a canyon after Ransack and Crumplezone destroy the bridge. The ramp in question? Optimus Prime's ladder/cannons.

    Video Games 
  • A lot of the Grand Theft Auto games designate a number of Unique Stunt Jumps, which are particularly impressive jumps of this kind, for players to find and complete.
  • San Francisco Rush. Jumps, flips, spins, rolls! I miss that series.
  • Burnout Paradise. Jumps, flips, spins, rolls! One of the Collection Sidequests is to land every "super jump" in the city.
  • In Harry The Handsome Executive, you perform ramp jumps in a Swivel Chair.
  • 50 Cent Blood On The Sand. "Yo Fiddy! Hit that big-ass ramp!"
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the Goron Roll ability allows you to do this automatically any time you're going fast enough (with remaining MP) that spikes pop out. It also painfully subverts the trope any time you lack either the spikes or the ramp.
  • In Driver 2, you have to jump your car onto a boat on at least two occasions. In the "Caine's Compound" mission, you jump a drawbridge at the end.
    • Driver: San Francisco has car transporters that can be used as a mobile ramp. One early mission has Tanner doing just that.
  • In Last Scenario, this was used to launch an amphibious boat over an airship so the heroes could jump onto said airship. Yes, it was awesome.
  • Fatal Racing had what were known as Twister Jumps, because they also caused your car to barrel roll in flight, thus requiring driving at the right speed, and some luck, to land on your wheels.
  • In Mercenaries, a bridge over a river in the final Ace Contract mission is destroyed by the North Koreans. When destroyed, a section of the bridge tilts 45 degrees upwards. Considering the mercenary can't swim, well...
  • The Midtown Madness series has rising bridges that the player can jump over.
  • In Stuntman, this is one of the stunts you pull off (including one film that's the Dukes Of Hazzard in all but name), and at some point you even have to ramp jump onto another moving vehicle.
  • The Modern Warfare 2 mission "Cliffhanger" has you jump a snowmobile across a 100+ foot crevasse at the end.

    Real Life 
  • Famed daredevil Evel Knievel was reknown for this in The Seventies. In his career, he attempted over seventy-five ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps over cars and buses, including a failed jump across Idaho's Snake River Canyon in a steam-powered rocket.note 
  • Double-Decker bus jumps the Tower Bridge in London.
  • While ordinary cars usually can't handle this stunt, as described in the intro, some vehicles can: "monster" trucks are more likely to land on four wheels and have shocks that can take the impact. Dirt rally cars are also made for stuff like this.


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