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Ride the Lightning

"Why don't you make someone else ride your lightning, for a change?"

Using lightning or electricity as a form of travel. It can vary from turning into electricity yourself to traveling along it, using it as some sort of conduit, or even just surfing on a bolt of lightning.

A Sister Trope to Electric Slide. For riding lava, see Lava Surfing.

Compare Psycho Electro, Sky Surfing, Elemental Shapeshifter.

Not related to Electric Torture or the Metallica album (although the trope was named for the latter). Also not related to when a bipolar person decides No Medication for Me while in a manic phase, occasionally termed "riding the white lightning". Nor does this refer to execution via electrocution, although the trope title is a slang phrase for such an execution.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Enel in One Piece, who has the power to transform his body into lightning.
  • Negi Springfield devises a technique to absorb his own lightning-based spell and turn himself into lightning, making him considerably faster than most of his enemies.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun:
    • A character is capable of surfing along steel-framed concrete walls, Spiderman-style, thanks to her abilities to control electricity. When she does that, there is a visible lightning "leash" extending from her body.
    • Taken to a more literal extreme in the OVA, where, in an alley with steel-framed concrete walls on both sides, she uses her abilities to fly through the air. The point of which was to Ride the Lightning fast enough to fit through a small section at the end and circle back around through the next alley to get behind whoever was following her the whole episode, who, in their inability to Ride the Lightning would be forced to turn around to leave. Riding The Lightning, indeed.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the SS novels where it shows that she can use her ability over large bodies of water to induce hydrolysis in water molecules to Ride the Lightning as well.
  • Laxus from Fairy Tail can turn himself into lightning for a short time in order to dodge an attack.
  • Rotom in one of the Decolora Islands Pokémon episodes does this to get into appliances and eat electricity.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man foe Electro is sometimes shown traveling by surfing a lightning bolt.
  • Superman Blue could travel as a lightning bolt.
  • Jenny Sparks does the "transform-into-electricity-via-power-lines" variant for cross-country travel.
  • Doctor Strange learned how to teleport via lightning when the Ancient One's nemesis Kaluu was his mentor, but he considered it a form of dark sorcery.
  • Captain Marvel in 52 exploits his transformation method (yelling "Shazam!" and getting struck by a bolt of lightning,) and then rides the bolt of lightning down to a rampaging Black Adam (who gets his power via the same method) to strike him with it instead to force him to transform back to normal.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • The villain of Shocker has this power.
  • The 2005 remake of The War of the Worlds had the aliens using lightning to travel to their buried pods.
  • One of the gremlins in Gremlins 2: The New Batch gains this ability and starts traveling through the Clamp building's phone lines.
  • In And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird!, ghosts can manifest as electricity to possess technology.
  • At the climax of the 2003 Hulk, David Banner absorbs enough electricity to become a monster made of lightning. He grabs the Hulkified Bruce and they travel miles inland on his coattails, fighting in the clouds.

    Literature 
  • This is what Twoflower thinks Rincewind is talking about when he expresses a desire to "harness the lightning" in The Colour of Magic.
  • Lightning Dust Does the turn into lightning version, once winding up inside a streetlight on his first flight.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It's been...theorized...that all the supernatural entities in Twin Peaks travel this way. A few odd incidents (particularly in The Movie) are accompanied by shots of buzzing power lines. The same thing happens in Mulholland Drive at one point, possibly for the same reason. Uhh, maybe.
  • The Psycho Rangers from Power Rangers in Space all seem to have this ability, as well as mechanical possession. One of them even uses it to take over a Megazord.
  • In the first episode of Tracker, Cole, in his natural energy form, travels through a power line to get to the ground.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Simbul of Forgotten Realms after lots of experiments with polymorphing into inanimate objects (which sane mages avoid) and self-enspelling acquired an ability she uses when even the most powerful magic-user in her world (and not quite in right mind) must leave in haste: she turn herself into chain lightning, thunders through the area, then the last bolt turns into a meteor and flies away.
  • The Nightbane of Palladium's Nightbane RPG can purchase a Talent called "Lightning Rider", which lets them turn into living electricity.
  • Ofanim of Lightning in In Nomine can become electricity in order to travel along wires between two electric devices. It's rather hard on the devices used though.
  • Pathfinder has a supplement called Ultimate Magic, which features a spell called Ride the Lightning, where the user turns into a lightning bolt that blasts through enemies, ignites flammable objects and melts metal.

    Videogames 
  • In an old hilarious DOS game Space Dude one of the environmental stages literally made you ride the lightning - that is, the Surfer Dude had to keep shocking himself, otherwise he would fall.
  • One of Ky Kiske's Chaos Move in the Guilty Gear is named this because it, too, was named after the song "Ride the Lightning."
  • In Guild Wars, there is an Air Magic spell called Ride the Lightning that warps you next to a targeted enemy, dealing lightning damage to the enemy.
  • Cole of inFamous can travel extremely quickly by sliding along electrified wires - and they do have to be electrified. Amusingly, this works of something similar to the principle of a railgun. The sequel introduces the Lightning Tether, which is essentially a grappling hook made of lightning.
  • Pulseman's array of electricity-based powers includes the Volteccer, which turns him into a flying ball of electricity. This also allows Pulseman to travel along power lines. In addition, he can transform himself into an electrical signal to travel through Cyberspace.
  • The Electrical Melee powerset in City of Heroes has "Lightning Rod" as its final power. It works very similarly to the Guild Wars "Ride the Lightning" already mentioned. The user teleports to a targeted location, damaging any enemies near the landing point.
  • Raiden's I NEED MY MONEY teleport attack in Mortal Kombat.
  • Ghosts in Ghost Trick can travel through phone lines.
  • In Skylanders, Zap the water dragon says this as his Catch Phrase. He doesn't ride lightning per se, but he spits it from his mouth. He rides sea slime.
  • The protagonist of Teslagrad finds a pair of boots that allow him to do this over short distances early on.

    Webcomics 
  • Powerful electricity mage "the Maestro" does this in Dominic Deegan. As a side-effect, he's constantly undergoing mild electrocution, which leaves him stuttering.
  • George of Bob and George, among his other lightning-based powers, has this ability. He seems to be turning himself to lightning to do it.

    Western Animation 
  • Freakazoid! sometimes travels as a head on a zig-zag bolt of electricity/lightning.
  • Transformers' pesky Kremzeek.
  • Superman villain Livewire used this trick.
  • In Static Shock, Static can rail-slide on power lines, but his typical mode of travel is surfing on a collapsible metal disc.
  • Juice, the member of the Ultimen, in Justice League Unlimited can do this.
  • Darkwing Duck's foe Megavolt can "skate" along power lines.
  • Xiaolin Showdown had the Shard of Lightning, a Shen Gong Wu that let its user travel at the speed of light for the brief seconds in which the lightning struck, as well as the Denshi Bunny, another Wu that turns the user into electricity so that they can travel through wires and other electrical circuitry.
  • SWAT Kats villain Hard Drive can travel through phone lines and electrical and computer systems and steal data from the latter while wearing his Surge Coat.

    Real Life 
  • This is approximately how a railgun works - although it does require a metallic rail (or two) as a medium, it's the closest thing to this trope that exists in reality.


Psycho ElectroThunderbolts And LightningShock and Awe
Ball of Light TransformationShapeshiftingSuper Smoke
Rare VehiclesTravel CoolRocket Ride
FanboyImageSource/Western AnimationFuturama

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