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Walking Tank
Be shot or be stomped.

The "mech" is a giant bipedal mechanical robot armed with a variety of missiles, Gatling gun arms, laser-beam eyes and a deadly kung-fu punch. Although not currently found on the modern battlefield, no doubt across the world governments and evil corporations are secretly developing these metal behemoths even as we speak.
—Civilopedia of Civilization V regarding the Giant Death Robot unit.

A common feature of military stories set in Steampunk settings, and also Twenty Minutes into the Future and beyond, a Walking Tank is just that; a tank with legs instead of treads. If it has arms (they don't always), they're usually decidedly non-humanoid in appearance (elbow-joints optional), and more likely to end in Arm Cannons instead of hands.

While slightly more reasonable than the humanoid Humongous Mecha more common to Japanese media, these still mostly fall into the Awesome, but Impractical category, and thus this trope owes its existence primarily to the Rule of Cool. Pretty much the only reasonable justification is the ability of legs to more easily handle rough terrain, but that's generally pretty flimsy.

Given that they're used almost exclusively by military forces, it should be no surprise that Walking Tanks are always treated as Real Robots. The physics are also generally handled pretty realistically. Don't expect these guys to be dodging missiles at high speed at any point; they're never nimble. Taking advantage of this fact is usually the best way to take them out; wrap some high-tension cable tight around the legs and then stand back to watch the show. If you're lucky, Every One Of These Is A Pinto. If you're not, the design includes all-round machinegun coverage.

This is a supertrope of Chicken Walker and Spider Tank, and subtrope of Real Robot and Tank Goodness. Not related to people who are described as walking tanks. The 1993 Amiga game Walker where you pilot one of these through time is desribed here.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 

     Film 
  • Star Wars
    • The Empire's AT-AT and AT-ST walkers from the original trilogy are probably the best-known examples of this. The prequels introduced the clone army's AT-TE, a low-slung six-legged version of this trope that probably wouldn't be susceptible to the old tripwire trick, and apparently the predecessor to the AT-AT.
    • Parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe mention that there are legless versions which fly slowly on repulsorlifts, which would seem more practical, but it's also mentioned that there is technology to disrupt repulsors and make those versions crash. The Star Wars Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels posits that such disruption technology made the legged version more reliable in a setting where repulsorlift technology is otherwise ubiquitous.
    • The AT-TE was more stable, but it was also more vulnerable to mines, hence, raising it high above the ground.
    • The Expanded Universe also has the AT-XT, a Super Prototype for the AT-ST. It's got better armament, slightly stockier legs, and Deflector Shields. Which would tend to defeat the tripwire trick (not to mention rocks and logs).
  • The ED-209 from Robocop.
  • In Battle: Los Angeles, the aliens have a 7ft-tall walking gun that fires homing missiles. A lot of them. It is worth noting that the alien walker seems to be manufacturing them before firing, giving them effectively unlimited ammo.
  • The 2011 movie Super Shark features a bizarre battle between a shark and a walking tank with anachronistic World War II markings. Additional hilarity comes from CGI enthusiasts recognising the tank as a 'freebie model of the week' from a 3D content company. The tank's creator, Valandar posted:
    They used my Quad Tank for this... thing! So should I be happy, or outraged?

     Literature 
  • The "Clanker" powers from Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan use these, both in two-legged variations like the Cyklop Stormwalker and Spider Tank versions like the SMS Herkules. Note that the last one is less of a Walking Tank, and more of a walking battleship.
  • The Step-Walkers of Orson Scott Card's Empire appear to be this, but they're more of a role in anti-personnel - they're only armed with heavy machine guns and a few were disabled by a fleet of police cars ramming the legs.
  • The serv-machines in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy are between this and Humongous Mecha, depending on the novel. In the 'verse, serv-machines are considered to be the epitome of planetary warfare, refined over the centuries since they were introduced during the First Galactic War. The original walkers were designed as terraforming tools by the colonists who have settled Dabog, a hostile world with treacherous swamps and large, dinosaur-like lizards, which eat standard planetary vehicles (e.g. tanks, troop transports) for breakfast (sometimes literally). The colonists studied the lizards' locomotor system and designed new types of vehicles using this method. The walkers proved extremely effective at clearing away hostile flore and fauna and, during the invasion of the Earth Alliance, showed them to be superior combat vehicles to traditional tanks and troop transports. Since then, the latter were relegated to support roles, leaving most of the fighting to serv-machines.
    • Unlike your typical Walking Tank, serv-machines (later models, especially) are partially automated using an onboard AI module. Most are equipped with short-range jump jets, allowing them to either quickly change location or pop out from a cover.
    • Some are also equipped with a system of indirect fire, allowing it to precisely calculate the trajectory of a Gauss round bouncing off objects with known properties to hit the target. In one book, this is used to perform an assassination with a 30-mm round. A seemingly wild shot bounces off several ruined structures, as well as the remains of a skyscraper, and hits a man living in an enclosed compound on top of a large hill. Only a machine can pull this off.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Most "walker" vehicles in Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperial Guard has the Sentinel, a one-man light scout walker used because of its ability to quickly traverse rough terrain.
    • The Eldar have a walker unit similar to the Guard's.
    • The Space Marines' Dreadnoughts are essentially this. They're big metal boxes with mortally wounded marines inside controlling them and guns and legs bolted to the outside.
    • And of course there are the Titan Legions, who's smallest scout walkers are 14 metres tall and weigh in at 410 tonnes. Yeah, let's not even mention the main line battle titans...
  • About 50-60% of Battlemechs in the BattleTech series are this type. The rest are either traditional "Armored Soldier" types, Spider Tanks, or something in between. This number goes up to 80-90% for the Clans. While some may look humanoid, they all behave like walking tanks - fairly large and slow. You could attempt to dodge in any mech, but doing so is largely pointless because of how fast projectiles are (it's largely used to screw up an enemy's aim), and you'll probably just faceplant your 'Mech into the ground because it's still a 20+ ton tank that happens to have legs.
  • Most of the Panzerkamfers in Gear Krieg fall into this category.
  • Most of the AFV's in AT-43 are walking vehicles, the Therians AFV's are Spider Tank's. "Combat Striders" seem to have all but completely replaced treaded tanks in the setting — only one army, ONI, has an armor division made up of "regular" tanks.

     Video Games 
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 features them in the form of the C.L.A.W. (Cognitive Land Assault Weapon), an unmanned four-legged mech based on the real-life Boston Dynamics Big Dog— it possesses armour strong enough to resist multiple RPG strikes and is armed with a powerful minigun and grenade launchers, but is susceptible to hacking.
  • The BattleWalkers from Battlefield 2142 are textbook examples of this trope; the EU's L5 Riesig provides the page image.
    • Notably, after many months of playing this game and being butchered by the hypothetically-evil PAC walkers, one can get an almost Pavlovian fear response from the characteristic "WHUD...WHUD...WHUD" of a walker on a Sunday stroll, or the gut-wrenching rhythm of the PAC walker's main gun. It's safe to say that the Battlewalkers stole the show.
  • The Command & Conquer games have several examples, all hailing from the GDI, including the four-legged Mammoth Mk. II walker (an AT-AT clone, only more stable and with much bigger guns), the Titan walkers (Battlemech expies) and the Juggernaut artillery platforms from Tiberian Sun. The latter two are reused by a GDI subfaction in Kane's Wrath.
  • The giant mecha in the Front Mission series are called Wanzers and definitely fall under the category of Walking Tank. Even their name is a contraction of the German "wanderung panzer", literally "walker tank."
  • Most versions of Metal Gear are bipedal walking tanks. RAXA had four legs but didn't really walk. The Shagohod was a cross between walking tank and hovercraft.
    • Also from Metal Gear Solid 4: the GEKKO.
      • Moreso than the Gekko, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance have Grads, that use conventional weapons like machine guns and rockets (as opposed to Gekkos, which will kick and stomp its targets) and can switch between using wheels on its legs and walking.
  • The Terran Goliaths from StarCraft.
    • And the sequel brings us the gigantic Thor, and the transforming Viking.
  • G-Police 2 had the Raptor, a bipedal, walking, gliding tank. It was awesome.
  • Some enemies in the Star Fox games take the form of Walking Tanks.
    • The Arwings themselves would qualify in the unreleased Star Fox 2, with a quick press of the Select button.
  • The Shredders from World of Warcraft.
  • The Next War mod for Civilization talks about the problems walkers would face in the Civopedia. After mentioning said problems, the civopedia justifies all of them by saying that walkers are cool, making them worthwhile.
    • They make a comeback in Civilization V in the form of Giant Death Robots. Said Giant Death Robots require 2 units of uranium to be built. For reference, a nuke only requires one.
      • Then the Brave New World DLC introduces the XCOM Squad unit that gets a bonus against Giant Death Robots, likely from their experience fighting Sectopods, making the robots even less practical.
  • The Malta Group's Titan walkers from City of Heroes.
  • Warmech and several lesser enemies from Final Fantasy I.
  • Most AFWs in Ring Of Red. Those that aren't (the 4-legged AFWs) are Spider Tanks.
    • Just to emphasize how much they fit this trope, most of the AFWs are blatantly based off of actual World War II tank designs.
  • Fallout Tactics got four-legged Pacification Robot and bigger six-legged Behemoth.
  • Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor went from the original Humongous Mecha designs to this.
  • Waku Waku 7 has Politank-Z.
  • The Slug Gunner from Metal Slug 5 is a walking tank with great firepower but a painfully slow turning animation.
  • While many designs from BattleTech are already examples of walking tanks, the various MechWarrior games have been much more true to the spirit of the trope—some humanoid 'Mechs that are normally possessed of features like hands or vague face shapes have had much of that anthropomorphism stripped from them and replaced with guns. Lots and lots of guns. This is also true of the fan-made Mektek Expansion Pack for Mechwarrior 4, though in that case it is purposefully invoked; the lead modeler for the project stated that he disliked 'Mechs possessing overly humanoid features like hands and faces, and went on to remove said visual features from many of the new models added to the game.
    • That this also makes it easier to handwave not having to implement physical attacks such as punches and kicks (for which rules do exist in the board game, just in case two MechWarriors really do get that close and feel the urge to go mano-a-mano with each other's machines) has not gone wholly unnoticed.
  • The mecha in Trenched are World War I-era trenches with mecha legs.
  • Ground Control II: Operation Exodus has the Terran Empire use walkers alongside their hoverdynes. The missile-armed variant is very effective against air units, even your Drop Ship.
  • Several of these can be found in Sengoku Basara as mini-bosses, particularly in Chosokabe Motochika's stages.
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has the Warhound, a man-tall quadruped combat drone with a mortar and missile launcher.
  • The Robodyne 7000 from the 1993 Amiga game Hired Guns.
  • Your player characters in Gatling Gears are these.
  • From Mass Effect 3, the "smaller" Reapers, Destroyers, become this whenever they come onto the ground and are one of the most powerful examples you can find. Anything less than continuous orbital bombardment at its weak point or a giant Sand Worm, might as well be nothing more than rocks being thrown at it.

     Web Comics 
  • In S.S.D.D the Texans used what looked like literal tanks on chicken legs, while most other factions use robots. It's mentioned that many of the Anarchist volunteer forces have been tried tripping them with tow-cables and gotten killed.
  • The second volume of Girl Genius features a brief appearance by a "walking gunboat," a two-legged machine with lots of heavy weapons, but no anthropomorphism. One of many apparently designed expressly to work in rough terrain. Unfortunately, it was incredibly vulnerable to air power.

     Western Animation 
  • The VileDriver of Chaotic subverts the usual speed limitations; it can keep up with a monowheel motorcycle at top speed, and apparently has such a powerful engine that it can jump from a hill and land in front of a fleeing target (or on top of said target).
  • ReBoot gives us a tank that replaced the head of a Tyrannosaurus rex when two games merged. Same basic principal as this trope.
  • The Meap army of Phineas and Ferb employs skipping tanks. The reason being that their military, like their entire society, is based on cuteness.

     Real Life 
  • Not quite a tank but ruggedized nonetheless, Boston Dynamics' Legged Squad Support System (LS3) is a walking quadruped robotic "pack horse" designed to carry supplies for US Army soldiers. The robot can find its own way around obstacles and moves with a surprising grace and smoothness, though some may find this graceful walking a bit creepy. It can walk at up to 3 MPH over rough terrain and run at up to 7 MPH over flat surfaces. This video shows various demonstrations of the LS3. This one, interestingly enough, solves a very real problem—in rugged environments, troops are often reliant on pack horses to carry their supplies. A mechanical horse is easier to armor, doesn't tire, doesn't get scared, and (we hope, eventually) can run on solar power.

Vertical Mecha FinsMecha Tropes    
Transforming MechaVehicle IndexSpider Tank

alternative title(s): Walker
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