The realistic animation of running characters on a budget is just too hard. Instead, a vertical upper body is perched on a rotating wheel of blur linesnote
and (occasionally) visible feet, which is animated in a loop. Add a Wraparound Background
and some dustclouds, and voila, the character is running! And really fast, too! An alternate title for this trope could be Unicycle Legs, since if the character builds up enough speed they tend to look like they're on a unicycle.
The preferred sound effect is fast bongos, followed by a whistle. Sometimes, just to draw out this sound effect (for Rule of Funny
, of course), the character will literally run in place for about four seconds before actually taking off
. They'll usually manage to get away just before the person chasing them can catch them, but sometimes the trope will be subverted by having their pursuer grab them just before they can dart away. Or take their pursuer with them on a not-so-merry chase.
See also No Knees
, Running on the Spot
, and Motion Blur
(of which it is a Sub-Trope
). Big Ball of Violence
is the same principle applied to a fight scene.
Anime and Manga
- Used in Fushigiboshi No Futagohime. Turns out Wheel o' Feet + Pimped-Out Dress = Floating Limbs. Those artists were really lazy...
- Also utilized in Real Bout High School, combined with the Thundering Herd effect, on Ryoko and Azumi in a mad race to be the first to give Tatsuya their bento during a Cooking Duel.
- The Rose of Versailles manga.
- Seen twice in the FLCL episode "Marquis de Carabas":
- The mayor's secretary does this while running away from a horde of paparazzi surrounding Ninamori's house.
- Haruko briefly goes into this mode when running away from the Monster of the Week. Of course, since the animation is very good in this show, it was instead done for comedic effect.
- This and Human Hummingbird are defining traits of Sana from Kodomo no Omocha. It even features prominently in the theme songs.
- Used in the most ridiculous way possible for a straight usage in Naruto by Pain in the anime.
- Hanaukyō Maid Tai La Verite
- Episode 5.
- After Konoe Tsurugi is taken away by Comiket security, Yashima Sanae does this while following after her.
- After Taro is forced to dress as a maid and sell Ikuyo Suzuki's manga, he loses it and runs away.
- Taro's personal maids (Lemon, Marron and Melon) do it while carrying Ryuuka to Taro.
- Used on occasion in Ojamajo Doremi. Given the more or less limited animation it has...
- The Evas do this in Rebuild of Evangelion when racing to catch Sahaquiel before he Colony Drops himself on Tokyo 3. Considering that the animation style is usually pretty realistic (giant monsters notwithstanding), this comes of not so much as cartoonish as eldritch, demonstrating that these things are so immensely powerful that they can bend the very laws of physics.
- In Jack to Mame no Ki, when Jack enrages Tulip near the end and starts chasing him, he briefly morphs into a freight train complete with his feet morphing into the wheels and a smoke stack protruding from his head.
- Dragon Ball:
- Occasionally happens during some of the more comedic chase scenes.
- One fighter in the Other World Tournament Arc from the west galaxy named Tapkar has running around like this as his entire gimmick. He quickly tires out before even throwing a punch.
- Billy Whizz of The Beano usually had his legs shown as a wheel when he was running fast, which was most of the time.
- Common in Astérix. However, in the Asterix at the Olympic Games book, a Roman athlete runs in a stylish pose, in contrast with Asterix and Obelix.
- Kung Fu Hustle, namely the chase scene with the landlady running after the hero. To reinforce how absurd this is, the hero uses two knives buried in his shoulders as rear-view mirrors, and at the end the landlady goes flying and ends up flattened against a billboard (somehow losing her panties, hair rollers and bra midair).
- Wrongfully Accused, where Leslie Nielsen tries to outrun a carnivorous train.
- Maruti as Hanuman does this before he starts to attack in The Return of Hanuman.
- Inverted with Sideswipe from the live-action Transformers films: he has wheels for feet!
- The Mask. While in his The Mask form, Stanley Ipkiss's legs spin like wheels while running from the police in Landfill Park. Justified, as the Mask is a Reality Warper Trickster Archetype and Stanley himself - whose desires are given form by the Mask - is a cartoon lover.
- In an episode of The Muppet Show, a character has three legs in a wheel arrangement, wildly spinning as a background scrolls behind him and he sings "Windmills of Your Mind." Amusingly, he later appears in another sketch, and he's still equipped with the leg-wheel, no longer spinning.
- Hilariously used in a police identification sketch of the titular character in My Name Is Earl.
Video Games, Visual Novels
- Invoked in one strip of FoxTrot where Jason Fox runs around a soccer field holding a pair of spiral wheels so that he appears to be running fast during gym class. To complete the illusion he straps dry ice to his shoes to leave a steam trail behind him.
Jason: Play smarter, not harder, I say.
Eileen: What lunatic sold you dry ice?
- Psychonauts in the actor stage has the knight's horse have spinning feet on cut-out paper.
- Road Runner on the NES and SNES depict a wheel of feet.
- Until he made the jump to 3D games, Sonic the Hedgehog's running animation was always done like this, in both the games and the TV series that was based on them.
- Sonic Adventure had a strange case with this. In the initial Japanese release, Sonic has a very noticeable wheel-o'-feet effect consisting of distorting his legs/shoes and blurring the motion (similar to how the game handles Tails' tails while running). But the International version reduced it to just the distortion, eliminating the blur, and the DX remake removed the effect altogether.
- The first Sonic Advance did this with Sonic only, but other characters and games averted it.
- Even though Sonic's feet actually run in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the animation also has blur effects that evoke the classic wheel as an homage. One of his taunts also has him performing the perplexingly figure-8-shaped Super Peelout from Sonic CD.
- Several of the 3D games worked similar to Brawl in using blur effects in the animation of his normal running as an homage. Usually you wouldn't see this unless he was running the fastest he could possibly go, which generally meant Super Sneakers on a straightaway. The games are usually viewed from behind Sonic, making the effect largely impossible to detect most of the time. However, in Sonic Lost World, it's not only a lot more noticable, even when you look behind him, the blur now appears as part of Sonic's run animation (in the form of the returning Super Peel-Out, now acting as the running animation in addition to the technique he can perform).
- The blur effect's applied to Classic Sonic in Sonic Generations when he runs as a throwback, since he plays similarly to the Genesis games.note
- A similar effect is also used in both installments of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 on Sonic's legs to evoke the Genesis era animations.
- An issue of the American comic had Sonic answering a fan letter about how he did it. He proceeded to demonstrate, only to hit a tree in the middle of it.
- Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Generations after it achieved a similar effect by adding a motion blur effect of all Sonic's motions above a certain speed. While Sonic's entire body is still visible, once he gets up to full speed, his legs will become so blurred from the constant motions that it'll evoke the same effect. Especially noticable in 2D sections where you can see the full range of motion.
- Sonic re-achieves this effect in his appearance in LEGO Dimensions.
- Simply walking in Wario Land II had this kind of animation where his feet would appear near his front, cycle to his back and sort of roll behind him looking very much like his body is in front of a wheel with feet stuck on them.
- In Wario Land: Shake It!, you can use a Max Fastosity Dasherator for a speed boost, which would give Wario a wheel of feet.
- Chloe in Touch Detective does this, usually when put in a tight place by her own words.
- Used in, of all things, Higurashi: When They Cry. Although it was during the silly, pre-killing part.
- In Yoshi's Island, the eponymous Yoshi has this when running fast. Yoshi's Woolly World takes it to its logical extreme, as Yoshi's feet actually turn into wheels when he runs.
- Shy Guys from the Super Mario Bros. series have a unique half-arc running animation.
- In Spyro the Dragon 2, Spyro's feet do this when he's using a Supercharge.
- Being a walking reference to anything involving old cartoons, Peacock from Skullgirls invokes this trope.
- Starfy and Starly do this in the Starfy series whenever they run.
- In the Japanese Game Boy Advance game Tomato Adventure, during one of Demiru and Sofubii's Awesome attacks, Demiru pulls out a piece of chocolate for Sofubii, resulting in a chase between them. while Sofubii's running takes the form of a spinning spiral, Demiru's is more of a circular gradiant animation.
- In Persona 5, Morgana runs this way. This is done for stylistic reasons, likely to showcase the contrast between his cartoonish appearance and the other, completely-human party members.
- Any Hanna-Barbera production, most notably The Flintstones and their broadcast kids' cartoons.
- A series of breakfast cereal toys was even released (if decades later) that follow this trope.
- 1973/74 Super Friends episodes:
- "Too Hot To Handle". Wonder Dog does it after he sees the villain and runs off to get the rest of the team.
- "The Mysterious Moles". Wonder Dog does it to run away after the Moles' underground machine drills out of a wall and scares him.
- "The Shamon U". Dr. Shamon and his two underlings do this before running away from a giant Wonder Dog.
- "The Ultra Beam". Marvin and Wonder Dog do this before running after Ben, the villain with springs on his shoes.
- The Road Runner, in his Looney Tunes shorts. Even the Coyote is seen this way sometimes.
- The butterfly catcher runs like this when he's trying to run after the butterflies in "Molly Moo Cow and the Butterflies".
- Toot Braunstein tried this in an episode of Drawn Together, complete with the Road Runner's "Beep-beep!" sound effect - only to collapse from exhaustion mere seconds later due to being so out of shape.
- Nickelodeon's animated anthology Kablam! had hosts Henry & June demonstrate this, and referred to this as "the bongo run", from the odd drum-like sound effects that often accompany the Wheel o' Feet (in this case, literally provided by another character from the linking segments playing the bongos).
- The Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "1+1=Ed" had a surreal exploration of many different animated tropes. At one point, Eddy makes a Wheel o' Feet, then jumps out and sticks Sarah in it, forcing her to run off.
- Played straight in "Homecooked Eds" when Eddy attempts, and fails, to move the Kankers' trailer.
- Animated series of Horrible Histories.
- Done often in the animated segments of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, with a sped-up version of the "vine climbing" sound effect.
- Usen on Jimmy Two-Shoes after Jimmy and Beezy are infected with the racing bugs. However, only Jimmy has a wheel of feet. Beezy's legs are too short to pull that off.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses this mostly when resident biped Spike runs, though he isn't the only one.◊
- In Clutch Cargo, the dog Paddlefoot got a wheel o' feet whenever he ran.
- In Animalympics, this is parodied with the 100-metre dash: the runners take on the characteristics of drag racers.
- Often done in the TMS animated episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.
- Done quite literally in the British TV cut-out animation series Captain Pugwash
- Snoopy has been known to do this in the Peanuts television specials, like for instance during the imaginary hockey game in A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
- Happened occasionally in Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats.
- Donald Duck's feet get like this if gets moving fast enough. A perfect example is the movie The Three Caballeros.
- Done occasionally in The 7D during chase scenes.
- Used in Hercules when Hercules charges up before head butting the centaur Nessus in the stomach to free Megara.
- Used in the Jetlag Productions version of Little Red Riding Hood when the wolf charges up to try and grab Little Red while she's swinging on her swing.
- Done in the "Legend Of Sleepy Hollow" segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad when Ichabod grabs Katrina's hanky and leaps over the fence and chases after Brom Bones to take Katrina from him.
- This bicycle appears to have been made to mimic this trope.
- If you make a bicycle lizard run, it will eventually move fast enough to create this effect.note
- The Wile E. Coyote-esque mascot of Italian motorcycle tuning company NCR has a wheel of feet in their logo.