Sheet of Glass

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/GlassPane.png

Two extras are shown carefully carrying a large pane of glass across a street. Cut to a chase. Cut back to the sheet of glass.

Inevitably, a car is driven right through the glass, shattering it everywhere. The alternative is that a character walks into it, unaware that it's there. A standard gag is to have the extras see the first approaching car and scramble to get out of its way, only to have them relax and not notice the pursuer until he smashes through.

Alternately, anyone who gets shot is sure to have one of these placed handily behind them so they can be nonsensically blown through it, Intuitor's Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics refers to this as "The Attractive Force of Glass".

Nowadays the car chase version is a Dead Horse Trope. Often accompanied by a Fruit Cart or Cardboard Boxes. See also Window Pain. If it's a person going through a window, it's Destination Defenestration.

See also Subverted Trope, where this trope is used as an example to illustrate the variations of it and Playing With: Sheet of Glass.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • A commercial for Marvin Windows broadcast during March 2005 cleverly subverts this trope. In the commercial, there is a car chase which runs through carts, crates of chickens, crowds on sidewalks — only to come to a screeching halt so as not to damage a huge Marvin window being rolled slowly across the street.
  • Played dead straight in a 70s Public Service Announcement on British television, which showed somebody running down the street, oblivious to the two men carrying the sheet of glass. Ouch. Slogan: "You never know what's around the corner, so don't run!"
  • Similarly to the above: the Belgian travel company Eurostar ran an ad campaign to promote new rail service from Belgium to London in 2007, which featured two workmen carrying a sheet of glass about to collide with a John Cleese lookalike doing the famous Silly Walk from Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch. The tagline: "Watch out! London is just around the corner!"

    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Storks, Junior has to go through a maze of glass panes inside a warehouse while being chased by wolves. Since birds can't see glass, he ends up hitting each and every one until he finally makes it out, only to then run into the classic sheet being carried by two men.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of the few played straight examples was in the polizziottesco (Italian crime) film "Mark il poliziotto spara per primo" from the mid 1970s.
  • In Run, Lola, Run, a Sheet of Glass is used during all the three times the story repeats: the first and third time, an ambulance manages to brake before hitting the glass; the second time, though, the ambulance isn't so lucky and shatters it.
  • In Wayne's World 2, Wayne encounters a group of people whose sole purpose is to stack watermelons in the street, and a pair who walk back and forth with a huge pane of glass. When the inevitable Chase Scene ensues and the car drives through the fruit and glass, those involved congratulate themselves on a job well done.
  • Variation: In Ong Bak, Tony Jaa's character runs through two guys carrying a pair of sheets parallel to each other (and the sidewalk). Tony then smoothly jumps between them without breaking stride.
  • Averted then played straight immediately after in The Protector, another Tony Jaa film. Tony's character is being chased (on foot) through an Abandoned Warehouse by a mook on a four-wheeler. He runs down a hallway that ends in a big window, and instead of crashing through it, runs vertically up it. The four wheeler then crashes through underneath him.
  • In The Bourne Identity, during the Paris car chase, Jason Bourne drives through the glass door of a phone booth that just happened to be open at that moment.
  • Subverted in Taxi 3, where a bank robber on rollerblades hits a pane of glass being carried across the street in a heated chase scene. Except it's Plexiglas, and the man bounces off without scratching it.
  • Lampshaded in Loaded Weapon, during a fight in what appears to be a sheet glass warehouse. Naturally, mooks go flying through sheet glass left and right. In the middle of the fight, two guys walk by carrying a sheet of glass and the characters pause so they can get it in position before the mook gets sent through it.
  • It's a Bikini World: Semi-subverted in this '60s beach comedy: a group of skateboarders pass through what appears to be an empty frame. When one of the workmen sees this, he tries to run through it himself, and the glass shatters.
  • Subverted in King Kung Fu, where the car passes right through the glass without breaking it.
  • The trailers for The Sorcerer's Apprentice show Nick Cage's character drive through one, which reforms.
  • What's Up, Doc?: The Sheet Of Glass appears in Peter Bogdanovich's affectionate homage to the Screwball Comedy. note  Subverted in that none of the cars smash it; it's another worker swinging from a broken banner who breaks it.

    Literature 
  • Possibly the Ur-Example: a 1910 children's book called The Slant Book (it really is slanted in shape) is about a baby carriage gone runaway down a steep hill and the mayhem it causes to the delight of the child inside. At one point the cart goes through a sheet of glass, but as everything is Played for Laughs no one gets hurt. You can read the book here— oh, and we get a spilled cart and a Hydrant Geyser too!
  • Feet of Clay, the narrator of this Discworld novel speculates that the people who block every chase in the multiverse with sheets of glass, heavily laden carts and long racks of clothes may be agents of a secret society.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Smallville: Used extensively; characters would often be thrown through a glass window in slow motion. Culminated in one episode where a character is thrown across the street through a large pane of glass being held vertically on a passing truck.
  • Have Gun Will Travel: This classic 50s western series had an episode in which Paladin was hired by a shopkeeper to transport a large window pane across a county to his store, while a rival businessman hired someone else to destroy the glass and put his rival out of business. A memorable scene involved Paladin and a friend miming carrying the glass pane between them to throw off the rival, but in reality they were carrying nothing.
  • Te Caché note : Invoked in this Mexican comedy show, which had a spoof about two men pretending to carry one of these and put it in the way of random folks on the street.
  • Double Subverted in the Forever Knight Pilot Movie Nick Knight: A runaway car, barreling down the hill. Guys carrying pane of glass across the road. Drive yelling and trying to wave them off. Frightened face of car's helpless driver reflected in the glass. Guys make it out of the way in time, saving the glass...except they're so busy watching the car, they walk into a nearby tree, smashing the glass anyway.
  • On a Candid Camera Prank show (but not Candid Camera) a couple of workers walk across the sidewalk pretending to carry a sheet of glass. Hilarity Ensues as pedestrians try to avoid the "glass." In at least one case the pedestrian doesn't avoid the glass at all and simply walks forward, but the workers were quick enough to raise the imaginary glass overhead.
  • The Title Sequence of The Professionals opens with a car driving through a plate glass window.
  • A running gag during one chase scene of The Benny Hill Show features a sheet of glass carried by two workers, narrowly escaping destruction several times... then the chasers finally just run through it, as if the glass wasn't there... and the two carriers drop the sheet.
  • The Goodies: In "Daylight Robbery on the Orient Express", the mimes wreak havoc with a mimed sheet of glass that has exactly the same effect that real sheet of glass would have had.
  • Tested by the MythBusters. While it's obviously possible to drive through such a sheet of glass, both regular and tempered glass would produce high-speed flying shards that would cause injury to the people actually carrying it. Laminated glass would be safer, but it wouldn't look anything like the spectacular shattering depicted in films, leaving this trope shattered...er, Busted.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Since windows in Star Trek tend to be made of transparent aluminum (and lead into space), characters generally have to make do with being thrown through various pieces of glass furniture. A good example is "Conspiracy," where Riker takes a surprisingly long time to get thrown through a glass coffee table. (However, glass furniture seems a bit more prone to being intentionally smashed in fits of rage. As Deanna once enquired of Worf, "Did the table do something wrong?")
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Likewise, in "Tacking Into the Wind," in the absence of suitable windows, Worf simply has to be thrown through an objet d'art made out of a vertically positioned sheet of glass. Never mind what a large fragile sculpture is doing in a military installation during a war (or how it's even survived repeated attacks on the station unshattered until that moment).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "This Years Girl" Buffy and Faith are demolishing Joyce's house during their fight. Faith throws open a French door into Buffy's path so she runs right through it.
  • Played with in Mako Mermaids: An H2O Adventure. As Zac and Evie attempt to move Rita (stuck in her mermaid form, and using her magic to turn herself invisible) somewhere out-of-the-way, a random student walks toward the "empty" space between them, sees them, stops for a moment, and without a word, completely nonchalantly walks around them, as though expecting the sheet of glass.

    Other 
  • A cartoon referenced the 'pretend to carry glass' trick. The boss of a glass factory is suspiciously watching two of his employees. He tells the foreman to keep an eye on them. "I'm not sure they're carrying anything."

    Video Games 
  • Paperboy: This kind of scenario is an obstacle, with the workers shuffling back and forth in the player character's path.
  • Minion Rush: In the Residential and Downtown areas.
  • Back To The Future (1989): The videogame adaptation for the NES involved timed races from one checkpoint to another while dodging obstacles, with the Sheet of Glass as one of the more sensible enemies (why are ballerinas trying to kill us again?). Oddly, the pane itself is invisible until you crash into it.
  • A chance card in the medical career track in The Sims poses the question to a paramedic Sim: Avoid a traffic jam by driving your ambulance on the sidewalk, or lug your gear on foot for several blocks to the scene you've been called to? Although there is no mention of pedestrians on the sidewalk in the question card, if you choose to drive on the sidewalk and get a bad result... the ambulance has to dodge, among other things, two men carrying a sheet of glass! The incident ends in the Sim getting stopped by the police and losing their job.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Parodied more than once.
    • One time the two men successfully dodge the speeding cars and then they chuck the glass pane into a recycling bin.
    • Another time the glass hits the floor and remains intact, leaving one of the men to say, "Geez, tough glass!".
    • Reverend Lovejoy's train set isn't so lucky: being carried just like a Sheet of Glass, it gets shredded as Homer's car drives through it, prompting Lovejoy to look at the heavens and say "Why do you hate my trains?!"
    • The page picture shows that it even manages to happen during a boat chase.
    • In "Treehouse of Horror XX", a sheet of glass is being carried by zombies during a chase through zombie-infested Springfield. After the glass breaks, the zombies moan "We need windows too..."
  • Metalocalypse has an episode where Toki and Rockso are riding around Mordhaus courtyard and they crash through a stained glass window being carried by two Dethklok servants. They then proceed to the fruit stand.
  • Subverted in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, in which SpongeBob is chasing a frisbee and destroying everything on the beach, and when he nears two guys carrying a sheet of glass the frisbee turns around and continues in the other direction.
  • Played with in The Amazing World of Gumball. Gumball and Darwin are chasing a senior citizen on a mobility scooter, and the two "crash" into a sheet of glass carried by construction workers. However, because the scooter is so slow Gumball and Darwin just lightly press their faces against it. Gumball asks why the workers are carrying the glass around in a park, and they respond by asking him why they're chasing an octogenarian on a scooter.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends features two men carrying a mirror. It doubles as a Shout-Out, as the two men carrying it looked exactly like Mario and Luigi. It starts out as a subversion when Eduardo and his friends chasing him for his $100 bill run past them, then it's played straight with the Thief, who crashes through the mirror.
  • South Park (Cancelled) during the Dukes of Hazzard style chase.
  • Pink Panther features this in "Tickled Pink", with an out-of-control roller skates.
  • A disturbing variant in an episode of American Dad!. The moving men decide to hold the glass horizontally instead of vertically (because it always gets broken that way), and accidentally cut a running man in half as a result.
  • In Gravity Falls's second episode, Dipper, Mabel, and Soos are being chased by the Gobblewonker and crash through this. In the middle of a lake, creating an example not unlike the Simpsons image above.
  • In an episode of The Powerpuff Girls Bubble Boy, this trope had been taken Up to Eleven. The Rowdyruff Boys (plus Bubbles, minus Boomer) had played a game where they would spit at a plane and see who hits. Of course, they all missed. But when the first two boys did it, it was sent into space just as two astronauts were replacing the lens for their satellite. You know what happened next.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SheetOfGlass