Our Kickstarter campaign has received $74,000 from over 2,000 backers! TV Tropes 2.0 is coming. There is no stopping it now. We have 4 days left. At $75K we can also develop an API and at $100K the tropes web series will be produced. View the project here and discuss here.
Sometimes, a character's theme goes beyond wearing his underwear on the outside. These are vehicles that follow a costumed character's theme; they may resemble the costume, or extend the idea behind the character. Regardless, these conveyances are recognizably a part of the individual's leitmotif (not to mention the show's merchandising campaign).
This trope doesn't necessarily include ''iconic'' vehicles. While the X-Men's Blackbird is identifiable by fans, it doesn't continue their visual theme, and it wouldn't be recognized by someone who wasn't familiar with it. A good determiner is to ask yourself, "If I saw this for the first time on the street, how likely would I be to identify it as belonging to <character>?".
Most of the time a Cool Car. For a specific type of Thememobile, see Faceship. Not to be confused with the Pope Mobile, although it is an example of this trope. May overlap with Signature Team Transport. Most of the live-action 1960s Trope Makers were customized by George Barris, the only leading Southern California-based customizer/showrod builder willing to work to Hollywood's hurry-up-and-wait production schedule more than once.
Due to The Problem with Pen Island, this trope can either be pronounced "theme-mobile" or "the me-mobile." Make of that what you will.
They don't call them ZeroFrames, but Zero has had three Knightmares whose colour schemes were made to fit his theme, and when Suzaku becomes the Knight Of Zero, siding with Lelouch, the Lancelot was promptly given a makeover.
Only the first Knightmare Frame Zero used was repainted from base colours, since it was a custom version of a generic model. Zero's Burai was given a dark purple, and fitted with a set of golden oni horns.
In a slightly closer example, the Shinkiro was in the correct colours, and it's model number was "Type-0". This is after the completion of Type-1 through to Type-5, so this is a clear attempt to reference this trope.
While the Lancelot was given a makeover, the Lancelot Albion was in the same colours as it always way. The rebuilt Lancelot, however, got a horrible pink colour scheme to go with it's new pilot, C.C. Just seeing it was enough to make viewers stare.
Zero's second Knightmare, the Gawain, fits him just about perfectly: it's painted his personal colors (black, maroon, and gold), has a sinister appearance, can be piloted by two people (allowing his partner C.C. to back up his weak piloting skills), and its flight pack and advanced computer system let it perform excellent recon. The thing is, it wasn't made for him at all, but was just a random Britannian test type. Contrived Coincidence at its finest.
Well, other than Zero being a random Britannian prince, but painting a Knightmare black and gold is pretty much a big sign that says "intended for the enemy".
In general, a lot of units are painted in a style fitting of their pilot. Kallen's Burai and Glasgow, for the short amount of time she had them, were painted in red. The only red units in the series, I should point out. C.C. went and painted an Akatsuki in pink, and went the extra mile in having a Lancelot painted in pink. Cornelia's Gloucester is painted the same colour as her hair, and has a cape to boot, and the Glaston Knight's wear visors that look like Gloucester masks. It wasn't quite a given, but any unusually painted unit could be narrowed down to one or two pilots.
"To the Mokubamobile!" "There isn't a Mokubamobile!"
Batman has many such vehicles that follow the bat theme. An interesting note about all of these is that Batman doesn't necessarily always call any of them by their "bat-names" in present-day comics, usually just saying "The Car", when he does call them by the Batnames, it's likely that the ridiculousness of this will be lampshaded by saying somebody like Robin, Alfred or a member of the Justice League came up with the name.
Catman has also acquired a Catmobile, as seen in Secret Six. He drives it while insisting any similarities between his name and costume and Batman are strictly coincidental. He also had a Catamaran in his Silver Age appearances.
The other half of the Dynamic Duo has had its own examples:
Dick Grayson's Robin had a motorbike which had his colours, and was emblazoned with Rs, but was never actually called the Robin-Cycle.
Tim Drake had a car in Robin colours (he had a provisional license because of his dad's disability) called the Redbird.
Ghost Rider's motorcycle, often with its own skull-shaped windshield.
Spider-Man's Spider-Mobile was introduced, both In-Universe and in Real Life, as part of a corporate deal (with a car company and a toy company, respectively.) In a lovely bit of Writer Revolt, Spidey, being like many lifelong New Yorkers an untrained driver, accidentally drives it into the East River almost as soon as he gets it. It's shown up once or twice since then and Spidey is still embarrassed about the whole ordeal.
Did manage to partilly redeem itself when Tinkerer modified it so it could drive up walls.
Green Arrow used to have an Arrow Car, an Arrow Plane, and versions of just about everything else that Batman had.
Batman: Good lord man, did you ever have an original idea back then?
Fantastic Four had the Fantasticar, in several variants. In early adventures, the FF had the original "flying bathtub" model, then a second, more streamlined and versatile one that can split into four separate planes, and the Pogo Plane (based on a real aircraft) for longer trips than the Fantasticar could take. All have the team's big 4 logo. The "flying bathtub" is so iconic that it's still associated with the name despite having been retired back in issue #12!
Moon Knight has a Mooncopter that resembles a crescent moon.
The "Jet Pack Pets" comics in Disney Adventures magazine once introduced a vehicle for them. Not only are they Talking Animals, but they have jetpacks. They manage to find a use for it, however... the drive-thru.
Although Captain America's comics vehicles aren't usually visually distinctive (but see Film, below), his also patriotic-themedfoe-turned-ally Battlestar has a red-white-and-blue Star Car. In the Ultimate Marvel continuity, he uses a Captain America Tank for about three panels before the Hulk tears it apart. It is also stated that he has his own toyline of similarly themed vehicles.
Sometimes when Cap is riding his motorcycle, he will place his shield at the front which slightly invokes this trope.
Wolverine used to have a Lotus Seven (aka Number Six's car) but it was never made to stick to a theme (besides "badass") and was quickly forgotten.
Brainiac has a starship shaped like his own head, with metal tentacles hanging underneath.
Unusually for a "cosmic" villain, Thanos once had a helicopter — with his name on it!'note Spidey Super Stories #39 (Granted, it was the "Easy Reader" kids' comic made in conjunction with The Electric Company and not in continuity, but still....)
The Quinjets were introduced as small, fast passenger jets that take the heroes where they need to be. The name is an Artifact Title; they were introduced when the team had only five members. The Quinjets not only have since gotten larger to account for the Avengers' expanded roster, they're no longer even jets and in fact are equipped for short-range space travel. For a while, their teammate Hawkeye had his own sky-cycle which was soon manufactured into multiple cycles for all non-flying members.
The Great Lakes Avengers, with a significantly lower budget, had "Quin-Jetta" — a Volkswagen Jetta with "GLA" painted on the doors. Later, after getting the benefits of government sanction, a garage was shown with all sorts of things, like Big Bertha's Bouncing Buggy and Flatman's Flatamaran. Squirrel Girl ends up in the Squirrel-a-Gig, an autogyro with a definite squirrel motif that's based on the Bat-Whirlygig.
Nemesis the Warlock has a spacecraft called a Blitzspear that looks just like his head... or rather, a head that looks like his vehicle. Yes, the artist had already designed the vehicle when he got down to thinking what the Warlock's face should look like. A later issue informs us that it's actually a Living Ship, a species of Giant Flyers that young males of his race must capture and forcibly domesticate as a Rite of Passage before they're given extensive Bio-Augmentation to make them spaceworthy. Nemesis is that sort of comic.
Iron Man has had a few of these over the years, despite having several suits of Powered Armour catering for any and all environments. Although spending ridiculous amounts of money on something that would be more use for showing off than actual crimefighting in practice would be wholly in-character for Tony Stark.
A unique variant of this trope is Superman's Supermobile. Unlike most of these entries, the Supermobile is usually powered by Superman's abilities, not an engine or other technology. He usually uses it when there is something in the environment (red sun rays, Kryptonite, or what have you) that he needs protection from.
Films — Live-Action
The original Batman movies had many of these, as expected.
Batman had the Batmobile and Bat-Wing, the latter being so bat-themed that its entire body is (when viewed from above or below) in the shape of Batman's insignia. This conveniently allowed for a Full Moon Silhouette that resembled the Bat Signal.
Batman Returns had a slightly different Batmobile and the unusual Bat Jetsleigh. The Penguin rode in a giant floating duck.
Batman Forever saw yet another Batmobile, the return of the Bat-Wing, and the new Batboat, which doubled as a submarine.
Batman & Robin had the most thus far: Batman had a more streamlined, single-seat Batmobile while Robin had his own cycle. Mr. Freeze, meanwhile, had his own tank complete with ice-canon. Batgirl also had her own bat-themed motorcycle. Oh, also, Batman has a Bat-Credit Card. No, really. With an expiration date of "Forever."
Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo has a "pimp boat" complete with hydraulics and spinnaz. Yes. You heard that right. A boat with hydraulics and spinnaz.
The TV Movie adaptation of Captain America gave him a stars-and-stripes motorcycle, with the clear shield forming the windscreen.
"Quick! To the Orgazmobile!" "What?" "My Buick Century!"
The Blues Brothers mention the former Bluesmobile, which was a Cadillac that Elwood traded in for a microphone (a fair trade, we're told). The replacement Bluesmobile seen in the movie was a former police car that at first appears to be The Alleged Car, but endures more abuse than any automobile reasonably should.
And also proves to be tire-shreddingly fast, in spite of it's appearance.
Blade had his own car that was decked out with a few tricks. It was affectionately referred to by the crew as "the Blademobile". The name was never actually used in the film.
In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 riff of This Island Earth, when Cal's wormy sidekick runs off to confront him after his strange rescue, Crow quips out "Into the Weeniemobile! Weenieman away!" when he takes off in an army jeep.
Super Sentai / Power Rangers and their Zords. As well as their motorcycles and the occasional car/flying transport/ATV/mack truck (most of these were added in the PR versions).
For specific examples: Turbo and SPD had relatively normal vehicles, but they visually matched their other equipment and had team logos on them. Ninja Storm's Tsunami Cycles had lightning bolt designs to go with the "storm" theme. Lost Galaxy's Jet Jammers and Time Force's Vector Cycles sported their teams' signature zigzag and arrowhead designs, respectively. Animal-themed teams (of which there are many) often get bikes with what look like heads of the relevant animals mounted on the front. And so on, and so forth.
Also under the Third Doctor's tenure, the... brace yourself... Whomobile.
Torchwood has cars with their logo on the side, especially notable as they're supposed to be a secret organisation. The organization itself is not secret, more or less the entire population of Cardiff knows they exist, but only the highest-ranking government officials actually know what they do.
Incidentally, Spike himself, as well as Giles, are other Buffyverse characters with highly distinctive vehicles that seem descriptive of their personalities. They follow the trope, although they don't get that much screentime.
Most notable is Gunn's truck, which has stakes and other vampire slaying weapons attached to it.
In their "Demolition Derby Special", they had the Mythbus. Which was destroyed when it tipped over at the end of testing a bus-related myth.
They had Earl the Cadillac for a while. Then they dropped it from a crane, because they had promised to destroy it when it was donated to them.
Knight Rider plays with this, as one of the main characters is a car, and is one of the most distinctive icons of the series. Unless you're in Germany, of course.
Automan had Cursor create all manner of Auto-whatever vehicles, covered with Tron Lines of the same blue-glowy effect as the man himself.
The Young Ones: Vyvyan's Ford Anglia with flames down the side and a leg stuck on the bonnet.
Played with on Frasier. Frasier wants to be Corkmaster at his wine club (basically the president). Roz pokes fun at this absurd title by treating it like a superhero alias, saying that "If you win, I'd love a ride in the Cork-mobile."
Kamen Riders, as the second part of their name implies, have some sort of mount, most often a motorcycle. The Heisei era went to greater lengths to make the bikes more visually similar to the Riders, with some even having various forms to correspond.
Taken to the extreme with Kamen Rider Accel, who actually turns into a motorcycle! Incidentally, he also owns a "normal" motorcycle that could easily serve as a Thememobile, but is disqualified due to the fact that he only uses it when he's in civilian form.
In Michael Moore's show, The Awful Truth, there was the SODOMobile, a bus decked out with dozens of signs alluding to its passengers: a group of gay activists who Moore was driving around to troll the protests being carried out by the notoriously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church.
The Monkees rode around in a radically customized Pontiac GTO called, naturally, the Monkeemobile.
Over time, many other WWE stars would have a trademark vehicle that they'd drive down to the arena. From Eddie Guerrero's low riders up until Alberto Del Rio coming out in a random extremely expensive car, not to mention the dozen or so wrestlers who had ridden a motorcycle down to the ring. The ones that were consistent each time included JBL's white limo, complete with Texas longhorns on the hood and a license plate that had JBL's logo on it, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's ATV that he rode around while as Sheriff of RAW, adorned with cute little "3:16" flags, and Chavo Guerrero Jr as Kerwin White had what was nicknamed by fans as "The Whitemobile", a plain white golf cart with his initials on the front.
Roland Rat's Ratmobile (also seen in his superhero identity of Ratman). Although it actually more fits the design ethos of his sidekick Kevin the Gerbil, being a bright pink Ford Anglia with "RATMOBILE" written across the sides.
The comic strip version of Roland's Ratman persona has a Ratmobile that better fits the trope, being a drag racer shaped like his own head.
Lady Penelope's Rolls Royce, FAB 1, in Thunderbirds - a bright pink limousine, heavily customised and upgraded, featuring bullet-proof armour, machine guns, smokescreen, oil slick and hydrofoils. For a secret agent, Penelope isn't exactly discreet in her choice of transport.
Any superhero action figure eventually acquires a vehicle of some sort, whether or not he has one in the source material. So, even though Spider-Man has trouble making his rent, he can still afford his own spider-themed VTOL fighter jet. What?
Rather infamously, a Justice League action figure of The Flash, who can run faster than light, came with a motorcycle.
There was also a Daredevil figure with a motorcycle at some point. Although he has been shown to be capable of driving in emergencies, Daredevil is blind.
Even sillier than than the above superhero examples, some of the Transformers action figures- a franchise whose main schtick was robots that turn into vehicles- came with a larger vehicle that they could ride in. Yeah, a robot that can turn into a car comes with a car that he can ride around in. This included Decepticon Roadgrabber, and, as an even more extreme example, the Autobot Skyhammer, who was a robot that could turn into a winged car that had a Pretender shell that was a robot that turned into a spaceship, that had another Pretender shell that was a bigger spaceship. Yeah.
Professor Layton's Laytonmobile is specifically designed to accommodate him and his hat. It also shares the color scheme of the Professor's hat.
One of the expansions for The Sims 3 introduces the Motive Mobile, a Lifetime Reward that lets your Sim commute to their job in a vehicle that keeps their needs from dropping on their way to and from work.
Saints Row: The Third brings us the GatMobile, which is a big purple van with a giant Johnny Gat head on the front. The cigar is also a functional flamethrower.
The Vespavenger from Questionable Content is a rare example of a character named for their mode of transportation, rather than the other way around.
Englishman has the Bentmobile (a Bentley whose name is purely Innocent Innuendo, as Englishman is unaware of the negative connotations) and in an earlier episode the "Helicoptermobile".
Stick Figures On Crack: To the Idiotmobile! *Batman theme* "Damn!"
The Batman briefly shows Green Arrow flying his Arrow Plane across Gotham. Good thing because he and Batman needed to split up to save the day.
Teen Titans: Cyborg and the T-Car, the giant T-shaped Titans Tower and the T-Sub which doubles as a spaceship. Also, in an episode there was a road race of all the villians plus Robin, where they all had theme vehicles, such as Mad Mod driving a car shaped like Big Ben's clocktower
Parodied in an episode where Peter shouts "To the Petercopter!" and rushes to his Peter-shaped helicopter, which crashes on Joe's lawn. He does the same thing later with his zeppelin, the Hinden-Peter.
In one episode of Phineas and Ferb, Dr. Doofenshmirtz had a monster truck shaped like his own head and regularly uses a Cool Airship with his name on the side.
Also appears by name in another episode. Professor Poofinplotz travels in a ten foot replica of her own head mounted on mechanical spider legs, aptly dubbed her "Me Mobile".
The episode "Bee Story" reveals that Poofinplotz has a similar vehicle, the "Myself-icopter". Now it's only a matter of time before she gets a third vehicle that starts with "I"...
Parodied in Freakazoid!! with the Freakmobile. Freakazoid stated outright that it only existed for merchandising, despite the fact that he had superspeed and clearly did not need it. One episode even had toy executives insisting that he use the Freakmobile for a car chase when he was keeping up just fine on foot.
Darkwing Duck has his plane, the Thunderquack, and his bike (with sidecar), the Ratcatcher, both very duck-themed and keeping with his overall color scheme. Note that the Thunderquack is in-universe Ascended Fanon; Launchpad built it for his favourite hero before even meeting him.
An episode has the team trying alternate identities, and Blossom becomes a Captain America wannabe with a patriotic themed car — which promptly gets stuck in a traffic jam on the way to a rescue.
Later episodes featored the Powerpuff Dynamo, a Humongous Mecha that looked like a giant Powerpuff Girl with aspects of all three. It was more trouble than it was worth.
Justice League features The Flashmobile, which is actually just a pimped-out van he bought with endorsement money he made appearing in commercials. As Green Lantern points out, it's completely ridiculous. Somewhat justified, though, considering its real purpose isn't getting around... at least not in that sense...
SWAT Kats: The Turbokat is at least as well known as the flight suits for the Swat Kats. The other bigger vehicles (the Turbomole, the Hoverkat, and the unnamed amphibious sub/tank used for a short time in one episode) all had the same basic paint scheme, as did the jet skis. The other smaller vehicles (The Cyclotron and Sandkat) had the same color scheme as their flight suits. All of them qualify.
Inspector Gadget has the Gadgetmobile, complete with Catch Phrase (and lever) activation of its own gadgets. Doctor Claw, naturally, drove/flew/sailed the Madmobile, liberally decked with the MAD logo.
Homer suggests the family get "to the Simpsonmobile!" to rescue Selma from Sideshow Bob.
There is also the episode where Homer salvaged the remains of a sugar truck and the massive pile of sugar attracts every bee in Springfield. When the beekeepers notice this, one proclaims, "To the beemobile!" to which his colleague asks, "You mean your Chevy?". After a beat, he responds "yes" in deadpan.
In Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf, all of the Halloween monsters hanging out with Dracula have a race car themed after themselves, with the weird exception of the Werewolf Wagon, which bears no similarity to anything werewolf-related (though one could argue that as a light yellow Beetle, it vaguely resembles a full moon).
"And here comes the Mummy, in his Mummy-Mobile!"
In one episode of Challenge of the Super Friends, Batman had a bat rocket. Which he flew to the moon. In under one minute.
In the debut episode of The Flintstones, Barney invents a flying device that catches Fred's attention. Barney wants to call it "the Barney-Copter," but Fred christens it the episode's title, "The Flintstone Flyer."
A special mention for the Duomobile, the vehicle of Ace and Gary from The Ambigously Gay Duo, as it is shaped like a... penis and scrotum. With a laser firing from the tip. It sure is "an extension of the concept behind the characters"....
It helps that it has "United States of America" written down the sides.
Similarly, Marine One and "Cadillac One" (The Presidential Limo).
Technically, Air Force One, Marine One etc are simply the radio callsigns for any vehicle that the President happens to be travelling in at the time. Air Force One can be any US Air-Force aircraft the president happens to be travelling in. Marine One is any US Marine Corps aircraft. Cadillac One is any ground vehicle, and so on. The ACTUAL vehicles with the real name (not callsign) of "Air Force One" or "Marine One" are also valid, and refer to the vehicles specially modified for the President, but are never called that over the radio unless the president is actually travelling in them. (Air traffic control takes this rule to ridiculous extremes: when Richard Nixon resigned, the call sign of his Boeing actually changed from "Air Force One" to "SAM 27000" in mid-flight, something that never happens ordinarily because it would be an administrative nightmare.)
Executive One is used for any civilian aircraft the President is flying in, which has happened once (Richard Nixon took a United flight to LA in 1973). Executive Two was used regularly during the Ford Administration, as Vice President Nelson Rockefeller owned a Gulfstream airplane that he preferred to the Mc Donnell Douglas C-9 Skytrain II airplanes the Air Force was using at the time.
Because the Boeing 747-based VC-25A commonly known as Air Force One is extremely expensive to run, the last three Presidents have more frequently flown in the less-expensive and smaller C-32, based on the twinjet Boeing 757-200 airframe.
Iron Maiden travels in a a modified Boeing 757-200 flown by the lead singer, named Ed Force One.
Cadillac One AKA "The Beast". Unlike the previous limo, it is not a stretched and armoured DTS, or even an production vehicle. It uses a Chevy Kodiac commercial truck chassis, engine and driveline, Cadillac Escalade body panels, headlights, door mirrors and door handles, and STS tail and reverse lights.
There's a New Beetle version of that, as well as a Lugia-themed PT Cruiser.
Red Bull uses special Red Bull cars (complete with giant imitation can on top/on the trunk) in numerous countries, including but not limited to the US, Australia, Slovakia, Hungary and the Netherlands. Their purpose is usually to hand out free samples.