A gag in comedies involving driving has the driver removing the steering wheel (or handlebars) by accidentally or intentionally letting someone Take the Wheel
. Often this means the vehicle will go out of control or become inoperable, though there are instances where reinserting the wheel (whether in its original place or otherwise) will allow regained control.
Often happens with The Alleged Car
Anime & Manga
- The Ghost Rider had an incident when he was fighting a thug attacking a circus with a massive earthmover vehicle and he manages to get into the control compartment. As they fight for the controls, the thug sees the vehicle moving towards some place undesirable and pleads with the demon superhero to give him the wheel. The Rider obliges him by ripping out the entire steering column, but the fainting thug doesn't notice that the Rider was also hitting the brake pedal at the same time to bring the vehicle to a stop.
- Watchmen: Nite Owl II's transport has a removable steering column; he uses it on the roof of the transport when he & Laurie rescue a bunch of people from a burning building and they run out of room on the inside.
- A variation happens in Cattivik, with the main character stealing the steering wheel of a space shuttle (?) and causing it to crash on Mars.
- BIONICLE: in Legends of Metru Nui, Matau accidentally breaks the handlebars off the moto-sled he was riding in the Test Track, resulting in crashing.
- The Yawning Heights by Alexander Zinoviev had one cadet telling the story about another in his academy. The guy was a decent pilot, but afraid to land, and his instructor planned a sneaky move — to remove his stick in flight, so that the student would have to land their plane on his own. But the cadet heard about that and took a spare. And when the instructor shown him his disconnected stick and threw it out, the student also shown him a stick and threw it out.
- Mr. Bean does this on purpose whenever he parks, so his car won't get stolen. It works: In one episode, we see an actual car thief going so far as to jump-start the car only to realize that the wheel is missing.
- Has happened a number of times on Top Gear, usually when they are messing around with very cheap cars they have acquired for their projects.
- In one "Handyman Corner" segment of The Red Green Show, Red customized a car to have (among other things) an intentionally removable steering wheel (really a collapsible strainer) to be used as part of an anti-theft device. After all, who would steal a car that has no steering wheel?
- Doug once included a fantasy in which Doug and Skeeter were truck drivers. Skeeter's request to take the wheel ends up with Doug giving it to him.
- Wallace & Gromit's van in A Matter of Loaf and Death has a steering wheel that can be removed, and plugged into the passenger's dashboard and used.
- In one of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, a dim Globetrotter, when told to 'turn the wheel around' on a ship, takes the helm off its spot and puts it on the other side.
- In the "Carnival Calamity" episode of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, when the heroes are on a roller coaster descending toward the ocean, Dum Dum pulls this gag when Clyde says, "Give me the steering wheel. … On second thought, you can have it back!"
- Sonic purposely does this to Scratch and Grounder before giving them the car as a game show prize in an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Happens in the Mickey Mouse short Plane Crazy.
- Most modern racing cars have quick-release removable steering wheels to save space and to aid safety - it's much easier to quickly jump out of, or extricate an injured driver from a cramped racing car without a steering wheel in the way. The racers attach the steering wheel after they get in the car and remove it before they get out.
- These are available for use in older collectable cars (before locking steering mechanisms became standard) as an anti-theft device.