Two (or more) characters are in a car. Suddenly, we realize that they're being followed, or they pass by something or someone important, or there's a hostile tank right in front of them... something
that needs taking care of, right now. So, without warning, the driver tells his passenger to "take the wheel" and does whatever needs doing, often leaping out of the car entirely while the hapless sidekick struggles to keep the vehicle under control. For extra humor value, have the passenger be in the back seat, or have them literally take the wheel
Anime and Manga
- The commercial for Mario Kart: Double Dash!! shows two old ladies in a security cart, one driving and the other chucking baggage at the guards chasing after them (in another security cart). The one driving says she wants to throw things, so the other old lady, sitting in the back, reaches over to the steering wheel.
- 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 to 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.
- Terminator franchise:
- The Terminator:
- While Reese and Sarah are being pursued by the Terminator driving a police car, Reese tells Sarah to "Drive!" and crawls out the window to shoot at the Terminator with his shotgun.
- When the Terminator pursues them on a motorcycle, Kyle orders Sarah to "Change places" so he can throw plastic explosive bombs at it.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day:
- As they're escaping from the T-1000 in the police car, the T-800 Model 101 tells Sarah Connor "Here, drive", then shoots the T-1000's metal arm off.
- While they're in the pick up truck escaping the T-1000 in the tanker truck, the T-800 tells John to "Drive a minute", then climbs out the back to fight the T-1000.
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines:
- The Terminator instructs John Connor to take the wheel so that he can perform improvised surgery on himself. John holds the wheel while the T-850 carves out his abdomen and removes one of his fusion reactors that was damaged by a plasma attack from the T-X. It explodes spectacularely after he throws it out the window.
- Done in The Film of the Book of The Return of the King with Éowyn's horse when she tells Merry to take the reins during the Mûmak battle. Which is interesting since prior scenes showed riders shooting bows and arrows while riding— while Merry would know nothing of handling a war-horse in battle, and be even less able to execute it.
- Happens with an extra twist in See No Evil, Hear No Evil - one main character is blind and the other is deaf, and the blind guy ends up having to take the wheel and navigate according to commands shouted by the deaf guy.
- Lampshaded in Smokey and the Bandit, where the Bandit wants to switch places with Sally Field's character (who's driving the car at the moment due to plot complications.) It's harder than it looks in the movies, as the Bandit remarks after trying (and failing) to execute the maneuver.
- In the film of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, while the protagonists are driving in Nemo's car in Venice, Sawyer and Quartermaine do this.
- The James Bond movies do this several times:
- In Moonraker, Jaws and some mooks are chasing James Bond in a speedboat when Jaws takes the wheel a little too literally.
- Happens with Bond and Wei Ling in Tomorrow Never Dies. Further complicated by the fact that they are on a motorcycle and handcuffed together.
- In Licence to Kill, in a diversion to let Bond sneak onto the Wavekrest yacht, Pam Bouvier poses as a harbor pilot and starts pulling the ship into the dock. When the captain anxiously observes how fast she's going, she snaps back "You want to do the driving? Take the wheel!", throws the throttle on full, and sneaks off the bridge in the confusion as it crashes into the pier.
- In Live and Let Die, Bond's taxi driver is shot by a passing mook, leaving him desperately trying to regain control of the car.
- Undercover Brother. The title character has Sistah Girl do this during the golf cart chase.
- In the Disney film version of The Three Musketeers, Athos orders D'Artagnan to take the reins of the carriage they're driving so that he can start drinking.
- In Scooby Doo Monsters Unleashed, when the gang is being chased by the pterodactyl monster, Freddy asks Shaggy to take the wheel of the Mystery Machine while he tries to shoot the monster down. A little while later, Shaggy gets called to the back of the van so he can help Velma, and he leaves the driving to Scooby. To Scooby. Granted, he's pretty intelligent as far as animals go, but he's still not that far up the scale…
- Shows up word-for-word at the end of Buckaroo Banzai, when Banzai gives John Parker (who failed flight school) control of the Red Lectroid thermopod so that he can manually aim the gun instead.
- Judge Dredd. Dredd says it to Fergie during the aerial Mark 4 Lawmaster chase as he's about to jump to another vehicle.
- In The Cat in the Hat live action movie, the cat and two kids are in the middle of a car chase when not only does the cat literally give one kid the wheel, but also fabricates a new one, so they're driving one car with two separate wheels. And when the second kid objects, he gives her a wheel as well. Needless to say, it doesn't end too well.
- In Sherlock Jr, Sherlock briefly hands the wheel off to the girl so he can throw an exploding pool ball at the car that's chasing them.
- A very low-key example in Pee-wee's Big Adventure as Mickey has Pee-Wee hold the wheel while he lights a cigarette driving down the highway. It takes maybe five seconds, but Pee-Wee is on the verge of panic.
- In A Goofy Movie Goofy is reading a map while driving, the car drifts on the opposite lane and Max grabs the wheel and swerves back to the right lane to avoid an oncoming truck.
- One of the outtakes in Serenity involves Wash pulling this on Mal when he gets fed up with the latter's "back-spaceship driving" with the memorable line "you wanna fly? Fucking fly!". Nathan Fillion actually does it, too, staying in character the whole time.
- Demolition Man. While John Spartan and Lenina Huxley are driving after Simon Phoenix, Spartan tells Lenina "Huxley, drive!" He slips out the car's window as Lenina slides over behind the wheel.
- In Tuf Voyaging by George RR Martin, Haviland Tuf has Tolly Mune take the wheel while he concentrates on calming his favorite cat and keeping it from leaping into trouble.
- Happens in the Doctor Who story Battlefield, with the added detail that the passenger is from an alternate universe where they don't have cars, and the driver takes the time to confirm that this is the case before telling him to take the wheel anyway.
- Almost the first moment of series 2 of Torchwood is Owen insisting that Gwen do this, so he can shoot at a blowfish in a sports car.
- Commander Taylor says this to Jim Shannon in the pilot episode of Terra Nova so that he and his BFG can take on a Carnotaurus.