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'sInsultingly 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.
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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.
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.
Whats Up Doc: The Sheet Of Glass appears in Peter Bogdanovich's affectionate homage to the Screwball Comedy. note Nothing to do with Bugs Bunny.Subverted in that none of the cars smash it; it's another worker swinging from a broken banner who breaks it.
Parodied in the climax of a really weird movie, that involved a fight in a factory. Two people would periodically walk in carrying a large sheet of glass, just in time for someone to fly through it. The one time someone regains their balance before hitting the glass, runs through it on purpose.
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 Cachénote Spanish for Gotcha!: 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 KnightPilot MovieNick 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.
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.
Paperboy: This kind of scenario is an obstacle, with the workers shuffling back and forth in the player character's path.
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.
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.
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, and accidentally cut a running man in half as a result.
Occurs in Gravity Falls, in Episode 2 when Dipper, Mabel, and Soos were being chased by the Gobblewonker, they crash through a Sheet of Glass. In the middle of a lake, creating an example not unlike the Simpson's image above.