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Stationary Wings
"Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right?"
Soldier with keen interest in birds, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Wings themselves have a particular pattern during flight, and once you give them to creatures who really aren't built for them, the motions just don't jibe. It can also be visually distracting, meaning simply being able to hover requires an intrusion to the viewing angle. This is also hard to do mechanically in live-action without looking fake, as well as added motion in animation.

So there's a fair amount of characters with wings who don't even actually seem to move them, aside from the initial 'takeoff' that seems more like someone opening an umbrella.

This can even apply to fairies, who really seem to float about despite it being somewhat easier to draw the insect-like blur of wings. In fact, 'energy wings' are done much in the same vein, as wings that don't physically exist naturally don't have to move anyway.

If you do see a character who does flap their wings, rest assured it's someone cute, as motionless soaring is always seen as cooler.

See also Wings Do Nothing.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Sailor Moon falls slightly into this trope. In her final Senshi form she gains a back bow in the form of two pairs of wings shaped like one. While they never move she has flown in a few episodes while in this form.
  • Reinforce and Hayate's black wings and Nanoha's Flier Fins in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha rarely ever move even in flight. Considering how every other mage flies without wings, these seem to be purely decorative.
  • Inexplicably averted with the movie version of Wing Zero, which actually does flap it wings, which just makes it even sillier, since not only is it a giant robot, but most of the time it's in space.
    • The larger wings are shown to be lined with thrusters, hence "flapping" is a form of thrust vectoring. The sub-wings on the middle of the back stay stationary and provide the main thrust, however.
  • In the Digimon series, most Digimon with wings don't flap them in order to fly. The primary exceptions to this are Digimon like Lilymon and Flymon, who are of the "Nature Spirits" type of Digimon. This trope is most obvious on the angel-based digimon, some of which are bristling with wings (e.g. Angemon has six, Angewomon has eight and Lucemon has twelve).
    • Digimon Tamers justifies this troupe in continuity, possibly for the entire franchise; Basically, in a close up of Grani taking off we are shown air being accelerated along the surface, which explains why digimon without wings can fly; whatever their shape may be, and provided the have enough power they can simply create thrust by using their skin (of sorts) to accelerate the air around them! This not only justifies why some digimon have many wings (more wings = more surface area = better thrust = quicker and better flying ability), it enter Fridge Brilliance considering that in this series the titular mons live in a digital world with gravity; the simplest way to instruct movement in something is to have it literally move the world around it, with or without direct physical contact.
  • A lot of the flying creatures in the Pokémon anime don't flap their wings while flying. Charizard is a main offender. Most Flying-type Pokemon are shown to flap their wings in the 3D games, though.
    • Togetic's Silver and Crystal Version dex entries specifically states that Togetic floats without flapping its wings, even in the games' canon.
      • This makes Togetic an odd inversion of the trope, since it doesn't have to flap its wings to fly but it does in the Black and White sprites.
    • Many flying pokemon in the newly-3D X and Y versions float, including physics-bending ones such as the 111 pound Skarmory.
  • Sometimes occurs in Blood+. Haji and Solomon flap their wings when flying vividly. Otherwise, they're just stationary.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, neither Yue or Kero move their wings while in flight. They will sometimes flap to take off from the ground, but the wings remain stationary once they are in the air.
  • Sugar and her fairy pals in A Little Snow Fairy Sugar rarely ever flap their wings. They seem to fly because they want to, their wings are decorative.
  • All of Amu's character transformations in Shugo Chara! seem capable of limited flight but her character transformation with Diamond gives her what appear to be wings as part of her dress. Both she and Utau fly without flapping much at all when Utau is transformed with El.
  • Shin Getter Robo, one of the few Humongous Mecha with wings, is guilty of doing this. It'll flap its wings at least to lift off, but after that, no flapping.
  • Flying Knightmares in Code Geass have energy wings that don't flap. The Lancelot's wings also double as laser guns.

     Comic Books 
  • Hawkgirl in Justice League Unlimited never needed to flap her wings, and she was frequently seen hovering in the air with her wings just lazily swaying back and forth. This is despite the fact that she's just supposed to be a winged alien with no supernatural powers.
    • In the comics, the various Hawkmen never flap their wings. They're rudders used to steer them and the flight is actually propelled by antigravity devices.
      • Very much depends on the writer. Hawkman and co. have been many RetCons and changes in the past and across the DCU multiverse regarding the organic-ness or otherwise of their wings

    Film 
  • This is a common problem in giant monster movies, notably those featuring Mothra. When the wings flap at all, it is generally very slow. It is generally the result of the difficulty of making wings on such a large puppet move quickly, as well as the method of filming, whereby the footage is slowed down to aid in the illusion of size. The most notorious example of this is likely found in 1992's Godzilla And Mothra The Battle For Earth.
  • Likewise, Rodan almost never moves his wings at all in flight, especially when going at top-speed.

    Literature 
  • In the Discworld book Guards! Guards!, a dragon is able to fly gracefully with the barest flap of its wings despite being a house-sized behemoth. It turns out that copious amounts of magic are required to make this work, and even the ability of flight itself is magic-based, as it is explained in some detail that simply making things bigger without altering the proportions wouldn't work.
  • Similarly in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, although gryphons' wings are large and powerful, they aren't *quite* powerful enough to allow such a large animal to fly; fortunately, gryphons all—even those who aren't really mages—have enough magic to help. Gryphons who blunder into areas where there is little or no magical energy, however, will crash.

     Live Action Television 
  • Angels in Wizards of Waverly Place have wings that don't move.
  • Power Rangers: Pretty much any time a winged Zord is used as a Mecha Expansion Pack, due to the limitations of the props/suit. The Falcon Zord flaps its wings (waaaay too slowly that they'd keep its massive weight aloft. And when it hovers while firing its wingtip missiles, all bets are off.) but not when it attaches to the Ninja Megazord, allowing it to fly.

     Video Games 
  • While most characters with wings in Tales of Symphonia do flap, Yuan, Kratos and Zelos all have wings that don't.
  • In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Sephiroth has no trouble staying aloft with one stationary wing. The mind boggles.
    • In the fight before that, he flew around without a wing.
    • Similarly with Genesis and Angeal in Crisis Core.
      • The three of them are capable of unaided flight. the Wings are purely decorative. So more a case of Wings Do Nothing.
  • In World of Warcraft a flying mount chooses when to flap its wings seemingly at random. You can go up, do loops, turns or anything without the wings so much as twitching, and then you pitch down and suddenly the wings go FLAP FLAP. Oh, and the wings only go up and down. They don't actually appear to pull you along. Acceptable break there, wing animations are never really done accurately.
  • Battle for Wesnoth is a mixed bag; units such as the Winged Humanoid Elvish Shyde and Sylph have more stationary, insectoid wings. Justified in those cases by them mainly flying using magic.
  • Ōkamiden uses this trope. Kurow's pink feather wings don't move at all when he's flying, although they very rarely beat once or twice if he's hovering near the ground.
  • The energy wings of the Winglies in The Legend of Dragoon are completely stationary.
  • Touhou. Given that absolutely everyone can fly anyway, this isn't that much of a problem.
  • In an amusing inversion, you can give your characters wings in DC Universe Online. They'll flap when flying or hovering, but they'll also flap when gliding, when one'd expect them to be outstretched and still.
  • Baten Kaitos plays this straight all the way through. At some points in Origins, you can see people take off without ever flapping their wings.
  • Flying Pokémon are often subject to this, some not moving their wings at all while in flight, while practically all of them stop moving their wings when performing attacks in the games that animate them.

    Webcomics 
  • Fenton in Kevin & Kell is always shown with his wings at full extension in flight. Somehow, Lindesfarne can hitch a ride by holding the edge of a wing without interfering with his flying.

     Western Animation 
  • Avoided in Gargoyles, where the titular characters mention not a few times that don't fly so much as glide on wind currents. This has the added bonus of including an element of danger, since they can get in trouble if they can't escape to higher ground for a takeoff. Now and again they do beat their wings, and when Goliath is briefly changed by Odin's eye he hovers in place, wings flapping slowly.
    • Justified by the eye of Odin being an extremely powerful magical artifact since it bears the lion's share of Odin's power. Unfortunately, due to it's property of turning anyone who uses it into an absolute expression of themselves, it's dangerous for anyone except Odin to wield. Though, the Arch-Mage was able to use it balancing it against the Grinorum Arcanorum.
  • Iago in the Aladdin series. So much that he can gesticulate with his wings while "flying."
  • Averted in the Winx Club series. The fairies' wings flutter like a hummingbird's wings do. And yes, it can be distracting.
    • Played straight, however, in the CG movies, where the girls' wings occasionally flap (not flutter), but it's only for visual appeal and clearly has nothing to do with their ability to fly.
  • Same case with the W.I.T.C.H. girls, though one might argue that the Guardians' wings don't lend well to a fluttering animation, and so they're drawn as blurs.

Razor WingsWinged TropesWind From Beneath My Wings
Remembered I Could FlyFlying TropesSpace Whale

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