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Film / The Love Bug
aka: Herbie Fully Loaded

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A series of Disney live-action films (the first in the series was one of the last movies personally overseen by Walt Disney himself) concerning the adventures of Sentient Vehicle Herbie, a '63 Volkswagen Beetle with a mind and heart of its own.

The main series consists of:

  • The Love Bug (1968) — Down-on-his-luck racing driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) gets more than he bargained for when he acquires a second-hand Beetle. The car is named "Herbie" by his mechanic, Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett), who is the first to realize that the car's odd behavior is more than just an idiosyncratic collection of mechanical faults. Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson), the snooty car salesman and race car driver who sold Herbie to Jim, is driven crazy when Jim starts winning races with his new car. Thorndyke tries to find out the secret of "the little car" while also sabotaging it. Meanwhile, Jim falls in love with Carole (Michele Lee), Thorndyke's assistant.

  • Herbie Rides Again (1974) — Herbie is left with Tennessee's aunt Mrs. Steinmetz (Helen Hayes) while Jim and Tennessee are out of the country, and helps save her home from evil property developer Alonzo Hawk (Keenan Wynn, reprising his role from two earlier Disney films), all while helping tough airline stewardess Nicole Harris (Stefanie Powers) fall in love with timid lawyer Willoughby Whitfield (Ken Berry), who turns out to be Hawk's nephew. Features a Disney Acid Sequence not found in other films.

  • Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977) — Herbie and Jim reunite for a career comeback in a French car rally with goofy mechanic Wheely Applegate (Don Knotts). To add to their troubles, two bumbling jewel thieves hide a stolen diamond in Herbie and the Love Bug ends up falling in love with another sentient racecar owned by Diane Darcy (Julie Sommars), a tough woman racer. First Herbie film directed by Vincent McEveety and shot on location in Paris and Monte Carlo.

  • Herbie Goes Bananas (1980) — Jim's nephew, Pete Stancheck (Stephen W. Burns), ends up finding Herbie in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico after an unknown debacle in Baja California. Intent on taking Herbie to race in Brazil, Pete and his friend DJ (Charles Martin Smith) come to a pickpocket named Paco (Joaquin Garay III) that gets them embroiled with a group of gold smugglers. After Herbie causes trouble on the ship, Paco reunites with Herbie and, with help from the happy Aunt Louise (Cloris Leachman) and the blustering Captain Blythe (Harvey Korman), Herbie ends up fighting bulls, selling bananas, and munching on a plane. The last of the classic Herbie films.

  • Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) — Now long forgotten, Herbie winds up in a junkyard where he's bought as a college graduation present for Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan) by her overprotective father Ray Sr. (Michael Keaton)—yet he doesn't seem to have any issues with Ray Jr. (Breckin Meyer), despite him having several crashes and is clearly not cut out for his family's racing legacy. With Herbie's help, Maggie dons the disguise of "MAXX" and goes to a car show where Herbie beats arrogant, egotistical champion racer Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon). Murphy demands a rematch and vows to discover the secret behind the mysterious VW bug. It also got a tie-in video game for the Game Boy Advance.

Herbie also made two forays into television and got a video game:

  • Herbie, the Love Bug (1982) — A five-episode miniseries on CBS, directed by Vincent McEveety and starring Dean Jones. Semi-retired single man Jim Douglas runs the "Famous Driving School" with his mechanic Bo and of course semi-retired racecar Herbie. After foiling a bank robbery, Jim meets soon-to-be-married Susan MacLane (Patricia Harty) and her children Julie (Claudia Wells), Robbie (Douglas Emerson), and Matthew (Nicky Katt). After Herbie inadvertently interrupts Susan's wedding to jealous bank manager Randy Bigelow (Larry Linville), Jim and Susan spark a romance as Randy tries all he can to discredit or sabotage Douglas and his little car. All episodes are on Youtube and can be watched here.

  • The Love Bug (1997) — A Made-for-TV Movie on ABC, directed by Peyton Reed. Repeats the basic "Herbie helps out a down-on-his-luck driver" plot of the original (it's not a reboot, but more of an example of how events tend to repeat themselves). Bruce Campbell stars as former-driver-turned-mechanic Hank Cooper working at Chuck's Car Shop. After winning Herbie in a fix-it competition, Cooper tries to start a relationship with former flame and racing journalist Alex Woodward (Alexandra Wentworth) while evading Simon Moore III (John Hannah), a disgraced Formula One driver and Herbie's owner at the film's beginning. Introduces Herbie's evil twin Horace the "Hate Bug" as well as a nonsensical origin story for Herbie (in which he was developed as some sort of "special weapon" under false pretenses but only came alive when a photograph of his creator's wife falls into a vat of metal compound.) Dean Jones also makes a surprise cameo and references meeting Carole, so this film could be considered part of the official canon.

  • Herbie: Rescue Rally (2007) — A racing game for the Nintendo DS developed by Buena Vista Games. It involves the main character Louise Noble and Herbie having to compete in a cross-state race to win 1,000,000$ in order to prevent her family's animal sanctuary from being bought out by Edward Vile, owner of the E.Vile Corporation Chemical Factory. Louise has always wanted to work at the speedway and gets her chance due to the Cross State Grand Prix being on during the summer. Mentored by Jackson, he introduces Louise to Herbie. The Love Bug takes a shine to Louise and together, they set off to win the Grand Prix. Throughout the game Louise is involved in several races against Big Bob and his monster truck Rusty and also Edward himself whose cars are Chip and later H.E.R.M.A.N (Hydro Energetic Roto Magnetic Automated Nanocar).

This series provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-H 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Aunt Louise to Captain Blythe in Herbie Goes Bananas, constantly trying to romance him in their many encounters to no avail. She finally gets over him at the end.
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: Paco in Herbie Goes Bananas, who's seen not only picking money from Herbie's new owners, but also grabbing a piece of microfilm from the antagonists.
  • The Alleged Car: Jim had a tendency of picking these up at the start of The Love Bug. Herbie also responds negatively to be referred to as one.
    • Also featured in The Love Bug (1997), as Herbie and other junked up cars are entered into a fix-it contest.
    • Perhaps none more so than the Bus from Goes Bananas which actively dies on the drivers.
  • Anachronism Stew: The later films used Volkswagens past the '63 model Herbie is, which have minor changes, such as larger windows or a slightly differently shaped body, likely due to the difficulty in procuring multiple '63s further and further past their production year. This happened in the first film as well, with the Herbie that falls out of the tree after Thorndyke knocks him off the road near the climax being discovered to have been a 1957 oval window Beetle with the rear oval window being cut out to match the rectangle window of the 1963 model.
  • Angrish: When Whitfield becomes aware of Alonzo's corruption, he calls him and pretends to be leaving town on a Swedish freighter and begins to chastise him for pestering Ms. Steinmetz. Alonzo gets visibly angrier as the conversation goes on which culminates in him shouting incoherently over the phone before hollering loud enough to shatter the glass of the phone booth Wiloughby is in.
  • Alphabet Architecture: Alonzo Hawk's plans to build his new headquarters where Grandma Steinmetz's home is located in Herbie Rides Again show that the building would look like a giant "H".
  • Ambiguously Bi: Of the "unintentional goof" version. The plot of "Monte Carlo" has an important sub-plot of Herbie being in love with a Lancia, while the opening Spinning Newspaper montage of "Fully Loaded" includes a gossip newspaper that makes a mention of Herbie having been seen with K.I.T.T.... who is voiced by (and as far as it's known identifies with the gender of) a man.
  • Ancestral Name: Maggy Peyton's father is named Ray, and her brother is named Ray Jr.
  • And Starring: The cast roll for Herbie: Fully Loaded ends "with Matt Dillon and Michael Keaton".
  • Angrish: Alonzo Hawk is a master of it.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • Jim Douglas, when he first buys Herbie, believes purely that the little car's wheelies, self-driving, and other random wild acts are merely a fault in a design. Even when he starts racing Herbie, Jim thinks it's him winning races and not Herbie. This is soon averted, as Jim sees Herbie's a special car following the little car's attempt at suicide.
    • Notably averted for Grandma Steinmetz in Herbie Rides Again. She doesn't have the same teachings her nephew Tennessee does, but she's entirely accepting of the philosophy that mechanical and natural things still have life in them. It helps that Herbie's a pretty strong piece of evidence to the idea.
    • Diane Darcy in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo has quite a hard time believing that Herbie, and indeed her own Lancia, are sentient and capable of driving themselves, despite witnessing quite a bit of odd behavior involving both vehicles. It's only when she witnesses Herbie pulling her Lancia out of a river, and her Lancia making several actions on its own accord, that she finally starts believing.
    • Averted with Prindle in Herbie Goes Bananas who, while not fully aware of Herbie's true nature, definitely knows that Herbie is someone he needs to avoid. It also helps that he witnessed him fight in a bull ring and perform various acts that no car is capable of.
    • Hank Cooper, much like Jim beforehand, thought Herbie's actions were merely a mechanical fault in the car. It's not until after the art show that Herbie goes missing and Hank goes out desperately to find him.
  • Artistic License – Sports: Fully Loaded takes place in NASCAR. Assuming Team Peyton could get permission to race a Volkswagen (not likely, given the time frame), Herbie is clearly A) Too old, B) (to the naked eye) has no racing modifications, C) possesses NO safety gear (Restraint harness? Roll cage? Nope!). Herbie shouldn't have even been allowed to pass a cursory pre-race inspection. Lampshaded, as one of the race announcers, states that someone must have performed some kind of Loophole Abuse, but even then Herbie could have only qualified as an honorary pace car.
    • Also, despite the Beetle's engine being clearly shown in the rear of the car, in several CGI effects during the street race scene the camera zooms in on the front of the car and a graphic of the engine 'supercharging', implying it's in the front.
    • Benny Parsons (who worked for NBC at the time) and Allen Bestwick (who was an ESPN sportscaster at the time) are shown covering Ray Peyton Jr's qualifying session and the actual race, but later ESPN is shown as the network broadcasting the race. In actuality the actual Pop Secret 500 (the race displayed on the TV showing ESPN's broadcast) had its' qualifying covered by the Speed Channel while NBC covered the race.
    • Many of the cars seen during the final race have incorrect paint schemes for the race or are even seen with two different schemes. (one example would be Kurt Busch's #97 car which is seen with both Irwin Tools and Sharpie livery. In actuality he only ran his Irwin Tools livery at California that year)
    • Averted in The Love Bug (1968). A newspaper headline states that Herbie cannot participate in the Indianapolis 500 due to Herbie's intake being too small. The races we see Herbie in seem to have extremely relaxed rules that allow any vehicle (best seen in the race in Mexico) and the final race, The El Dorado, is stated by an official during the pre-race meeting to have no rules.
  • Asian Store-Owner: Mr. Wu in The Love Bug (1969), who takes ownership of Herbie when Herbie plows into his fruit stand and winds up helping the heroes beat Thorndyke.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • Averted with Tennessee's conversation with Mr. Wu in the first film. Though his pronunciation is stilted, that is Buddy Hackett speaking perfect Cantonese, and by his admission, he felt nervous about filming it with Benson Fong.
    • Notably averted in "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo", which had a French production staff and a thank you to the city of Paris, France and the principality of Monaco for their cooperation in making the film.
    • Averted as well in "Herbie Goes Bananas", which was shot on location in Panama, Puerto Vallarta, and parts of Central America.
  • The Atoner: Carole in the first film, who tires of Thorndyke's dirty tactics and even helps Tennessee to repair Herbie after Thorndyke's earlier sabotage.
    • Willoughby in Herbie Rides Again also counts, having been sent by his Uncle Alonzo to try to convince Grandma Steinmetz to leave her beloved home, until Nicole tells him how many have suffered for his actions and so he deserts his uncle and helps to foil his scheme.
  • Awaken the Sleeping Giant: Though Grandma Steinmetz is threatened and harassed by Alonzo Hawk, she was initially fine to just let them come and let Nicole send them off. That changes when Hawk decides to go even further and outright has his men steal every piece of furniture she has. Once every piece is taken right back, Grandma becomes a true force to be reckoned with, culminating in redirecting the wrecking ball he was going to have knock down her firehouse so it goes to his home instead.
  • Badass Adorable: Herbie has his moments throughout the movies.
  • Badass Biker: Maggie in Fully Loaded.
  • Badass Driver: Not only Jim Douglas, Diane Darcy, Bruno von Stickle, Claude Gilbert, Hank Cooper, Simon Moore III, and Trip Murphy onscreen, but also veteran stunt drivers Max Balchowsky and Carey Loftin.
  • Bad Boss: Most of the villains, Peter Thorndyke and especially Alonzo Hawk in particular.
  • Baguette Beatdown: In Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, there is a scene where Herbie is waiting at a stoplight at an intersection when a truck driver gets a French woman carrying some groceries angry at him. She proceeds to pound on the side of the truck with a baguette, causing no obvious damage to the bread or to the truck. It does result in the Love Bug getting dirty.
  • Bears Are Bad News: As Thorndyke's car gets stuck in a mudslide and Havershaw is pushing it out, a bear makes its way into the car, enticed by their food. Because his driving goggles are covered with mud, Thorndyke doesn't realize the bear is in the car until he strikes it and it growls, making him faint.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Averted somewhat to Carol in The Love Bug (1969). When she and Jim are taken by a misguided Herbie to a Make-Out Point, and Jim goes to find a taxi, Carol tries to do some maintenance work on Herbie to get him going. She's dismayed at what happens to her fingers in less than a few seconds, though fortunately Herbie starts up immediately after.
    • An unusual example happens in Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, in that it's not a person but a diamond that gets this treatment. Herbie is made the hiding spot for the Étoile de Joie, a baseball-sized diamond stolen by a pair of these... specifically, his gas tank is. The diamond spends over half the movie there, including several races and chase scenes, and noticeably rattles in it before it's discovered by Jim and Wheelie. In spite of that, the Étoile de Joie isn't chipped, scratched or even covered in gas once discovered.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: When speaking around a living car, one should watch their words;
    • In the first film, Carole finds herself at her wits end being driven around seemingly by Jim in Herbie’s misguided attempts to give them a date. When Herbie finally stops to let Carol drive, she finds herself having no more control than Jim did when Herbie drives them to a make-out point. She has the grace to admit her own embarrassment.
    • In Herbie Rides Again, Willoughby agreed to drive Herbie after disbelieving that Herbie was alive, instead believing any signs of life was a trick and that Nicole was a skilled driver. He immediately regrets it after one too many comments on Herbie’s appearance, and Nicole notes that Willoughby’s on his own by that point. This crosses over with My Car Hates Me territory, given Herbie did this after being insulted by Willoughby a few times even before Willoughby went behind the wheel.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Herbie chooses to be with Jim in the first film because, when being kicked by Thorndyke after being returned, Jim immediately told Thorndyke to leave Herbie alone. Considering that Herbie was being returned as a cheap, used car for a maid who returned him after a few issues, it’s not hard to see why that act of kindness was so significant.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Herbie has one across the films by being insulted for his looks or capability. His usual retaliation ranges from squirting oil across someone's foot to honking at them too, if they're inside him, suddenly racing down the street to prove just how wrong they are. The only people who avoid this are those Herbie has developed an attachment to, and even then usually only if they mean it in an affectionate way.
    • Peter Thorndyke seems to have his locked on, as everything enrages the arrogant Brit so easily, including the incompetence of his workers.
    • Nicole Harris from Herbie Rides Again has a particularly sensitive one towards Alonzo Hawk - she punches Willoughby when she thought he was harassing Grandma Steinmetz in the jaw, and socked him again with a freshly boiled lobster off the balcony of the seafood establishment into the water below when she learned Willoughby was Hawk's nephew. Willoughby does manage to slowly disengage that button with his genuine and gentle nature though, and Nicole herself recognizes she was in the wrong in both the aforementioned incidents soon after they happened.
    • Alonzo Hawk is generally an ill-tempered man, though he's able to hide it somewhat for publicity's sake. However, he does not take kindly to Willoughby pronouncing himself no longer in cahoots with him, if his yelling and screaming gibberish at him so loud it can shatter glass in a phone booth miles away is any indication.
    • Diane Darcy is deeply offended by the sexist treatment she has received from men and her family throughout her life for being a race car driver, and is quick to mistake Herbie's antics on the race track as being the work of Jim expressing similar sentiment against her as the only female driver participating. The ensuing misunderstanding becomes so heated that when a couple of thieves attempt to chase down Herbie, Jim accuses her of trying to sabotage them. This goes over about as well as you could imagine. Things are finally cleared up when Jim and Wheelie rescue Diane from an accident on the track, and when she sees that Herbie was for real and merely trying to win the affections of her Lancia.
    • In Bananas, Captain Blythe seems to be exasperated by everything around him that isn't related to his dear Sun Princess cruise liner.
    • For Simon Moore, III, Herbie himself, as the little car embarrassed the former Formula 1 racer after he was purchased.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Herbie and Grandma Steinmetz get this treatment and then some in Herbie Rides Again; Grandma visits Alonzo Hawk, the man trying to tear down her firehouse, in a window cleaner cart, and, when Hawk refuses to back down, douses him and his entire office in massive amounts of suds. When Hawk hits Herbie, Herbie gets mad, chasing Hawk down inside of his own office! Though Grandma has some fun with this at first, even she finds Herbie going a bit too far when he follows Hawk out on a ledge, outside of the building near the top floor. However, even her attempts to calm Herbie down required some prodding from Willoughby... which consisted of barely veiled threats to visit a used car lot. note 
  • The Big Race: Often the climax or a pivotal plot point. Notable aversions are Herbie Rides Again and Herbie Goes Bananas.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Tennessee shouts this in response to Jim agreeing to sell Herbie to Thorndyke:
    Jim: (talking on the phone with Thorndyke) Thorndyke, I don't like you, but I can use your money. You got yourself a deal, Thorndyke. Come and get it. (hangs up)
    Tennessee: What do you mean you got yourself a deal?
    Jim: I'm selling the little car.
    Tennessee: You're what?!
    Jim: Now, don't make a fuss, okay? I need the money.
    Tennessee: You crumb! You can't do that to Herbie!
  • Bilingual Backfire: In the first film, Tennessee speaks to Mr. Wu in Chinese, and Jim asks Tennessee to ask Mr. Wu if he would let him drive Herbie in the El Dorado race, with the condition that Mr. Wu will keep the winnings while he buys Herbie back for a dollar. This prompts Mr. Wu to say, in English, "Now you speak my language!".
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" is filled with French.
    • Same with Herbie Goes Bananas, which is ripe to the brim with Spanish.
  • Bland-Name Product: Downplayed. Its obvious to anyone that Herbie is a Volkswagen Beetle. But all VW badges were removed, and he is almost always referred to as "Herbie" or "The Little Car" - never as a "Volkswagen", "Beetle", or "Bug".
    • Averted in one line in Herbie Rides Again (in the Walk on Water scene mentioned below):
    Nicole: "Why would a shark be following a Volkswagen?"
    • The thieves in Monte Carlo also call it a Volkswagen.
    • "Fully" averted in "Fully Loaded", as the car is frequently identified as a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, has the VW emblem on the hood (albeit not easily seen in most shots), and is constantly called a Bug by the bad guy.
  • Blatant Lies/I Surrender, Suckers: After Grandma Steinmetz tricks a wrecking ball in knocking down Hawk's home, Hawk calls her and admits defeat. As soon as it ends, Hawk again plots to take her home.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: In the T.V. series, whenever Herbie is trying to communicate to Jim Douglas about Randy Bigelow's antics, Herbie makes a blowing raspberry sound and lifts his hood, and Jim immediately knows who Herbie is "talking" about. It's especially prominent in the fourth episode. When the two cops are interrogating the wrecking yard owner about the identity of the man who brought him Herbie and paid for a replica, the owner says he doesn't have a name, the guy just "kept giving me money." Herbie does the raspberry, letting Jim know exactly who was responsible, leading to some rather confused looks from the owner and the cops at Herbie's ability.
  • Bungled Suicide/Interrupted Suicide: At one point a despondent Herbie attempts to leap off the Golden Gate Bridge, a feat made more difficult by the fact that his round wheels don't help him climb very well. His struggles last long enough for Jim to find him and talk him down.
  • Captain Ersatz: Herbie spawned three, Hanna Barbera's animated Speed Buggy in 1973, Wheelie of Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch, and Sid & Marty Krofft's live-action Wonderbug in 1976. Wonderbug is actually an Ersatz once-removed, as it's basically live-action Speed Buggy. In both instances, the VW Bug became a dune buggy, but personality, the trademark eyes and fender, and goofy human companions were all the same.
    • And also "Dudu", in a series of four low-budget movies (1971-1975, and a short appearance in 1978 in another movie with a similar theme). Probably little known outside Austria, Germany and Switzerland. These movies were clearly inspired by The Love Bug, and in the first movie it's even mentioned that Dudu is none other than the film prop for Herbie, which broke in two parts at the end of The Love Bug. While the first Dudu movie still depicts Dudu as a "living Wonderbug" (with eyes and the ability to weep when sad), the later movies firmly establish Dudu as a computer-controlled car with artificial intelligence and numerous gadgets (and identify its driver as Jimmy Bondi, the "little James Bond"). "Dudu" means insect or bug in the Swahili language and, from the third movie on, the Volkswagen also carries the license plate DU-DU 926 (meaning that it is registered in the town of Duisburg).
      • Dudu allegedly also inspired a TV series, even though the use of a Pontiac Trans Am instead of a VW Bug probably doesn't really qualify it as a Captain Ersatz.
  • Car Fu: Herbie will often resort to this if he or his friends are antagonized.
    • The first film opens on a montage of demolition derbies.
  • The Cameo: Made a quick appearance in an episode of House of Mouse, with Susie (from the animated Disney short Susie the Little Blue Coupe), a couple light-cycles from TRON and a vehicle from the Disney theme-park attraction Autopia parked next to him, as well as Benny the Cab.
  • Canon Welding: The appearance of Alonzo Hawk in Herbie Rides Again puts this series in the same universe inhabited by other live-action Disney films — The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber (where Hawk was the Big Bad), the Dexter Riley trilogy of films (set at the same fictional college), and The Shaggy Dog (as the two cops from that film appeared in TAMP).
  • The Cavalry: At the climax of Herbie Rides Again, Alonzo Hawk comes by the firehouse to tear it down. Herbie runs off to get help, while Grandma Steinmetz and Mr. Judson try to fend off Hawk's men with a fire hose. But the hose bursts, and it looks like things are done for — when suddenly, Hawk's worst nightmare comes to life: not just Herbie, but every VW Bug in San Francisco storms in, scattering Hawk's men and running Hawk right into the arms of the law.
  • Character Action Title: Rides Again, Goes To Montecarlo and Goes Bananas.
  • Chekhov's Exhibit: The Etoile de Joie diamond in Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo is on display in a museum before it's stolen.
    • Also Roddy's arthouse exhibit in The Love Bug (1997), where main villain Simon Moore III finds Herbie's builder plate after being hood-slapped and goes to contact the car's builder.
  • Chewing the Scenery:
    • Peter Thorndyke, played by perennial Disney scenery-chewer David Tomlinson.
    • Alonzo Hawk, played by Disney's other large ham of the day, Keenan Wynne.
    • Captain Blythe in Herbie Goes Bananas. Then again, Harvey Korman seems to do that a lot.
    • Trip's assistant in Fully Loaded. For the most part he's pretty subdued and calm... then he's marking up Herbie for the Demolition Derby, and you'd think somewhere between scenes he just completely lost his mind.
  • Chew Toy: Havershaw, Hawk's lawyers, Rupert, basically almost any assistant to the main antagonist.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Both Michele Lee and Buddy Hackett do not appear in later films, as Buddy Hackett turned down the sequels (a move he regretted) and Michele Lee was busy filling in as a guest actress throughout the 70s.
    • That said, Herbie Rides Again does offer something of an explanation - in that film, Tennessee had to go take care of his guru while Jim went off racing in Europe, leaving his aunt to take care of the firehouse and Herbie.
    • This also happened to Dean Jones twice. After the first and third films, his character, Jim Douglas, is absent from the second and fourth films, when asked about it in an interview, Jones said he wasn't against returning, he simply wasn't asked to reprise his character. Both films absent his character also see a Genre Shift.
  • Clueless Boss: Captain Blythe is very enthusiastic about the exploits of captains and his ancestors' exploits upon the seas, enjoys regailing his passengers about them at dinner and gets in character even when not telling them. Unfortunately, said tales are akin more to those of bloodthirsty pirates, including flogging his opponents, his crew enjoying the wenches and then torturing his opponents with "the cat" until they are bloated corpses on the sea. More than once his first mate needs to butt in with an emphatic "Captain!" to bring him back to a more reasonable, personable state.
  • Cool Car: Herbie, so cool he's his own Badass Driver.
    • Many of the cars throughout the series, especially those of the first and third movies also qualify. Notable examples are Thorndyke's super-rare Apollo and Jaguar XK-E, and Bruno Von Stickle's Porsche 917 (which was actually a VW platform kit car).
    • Horace from The Love Bug (1997), possibly the only real evil-looking Volkswagen in film history (aside from the obvious).
    • H.E.R.M.A.N from Herbie: Rescue Rally (2007) is an evil version of Herbie with a purple body and a pink flame pattern.
  • Cool Old Lady: Grandma Steinmetz in Herbie Rides Again and Aunt Louise in Herbie Goes Bananas are both fine ladies.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Evil property developer Alonzo Hawk in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Randy in Herbie the Love Bug tries this while attempting to steal Herbie, dressing up as his secretary's "grandmother".
  • Cute Machines: Herbie, and Volkswagen Beetles in general.
  • Cult of Personality: Much of Alonzo Hawk's corporate empire clearly embodies this, if the unrealized, 130-story Hawk Plaza is any indication of this.
  • Dangerous Clifftop Road: The Road-Sign Reversal sends Herbie out onto one of these: a gravel road only as wide as one car (no passing), sheer cliff up, sheer cliff down and no barrier. See this here.
  • Darker and Edgier: The 1997 telefilm is considered to be this, due to the presence of the Herbie's Evil Knockoff and Knight of Cerebus Horace, an Origin Story for Herbie involving Ghostapo, of all things and featuring unpleasant living car deaths of Herbie (until he was rebuilt and and revived with the help from his original owner Jim Douglas) and Horace.
  • Declaration of Personal Independence: In Herbie: Fully Loaded, Maggie demands that she be allowed to race like the rest of her family.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Herbie may be what connects these movies together, but he is simply the matchmaker. The movie is more about the romantic couple Herb gets together in the end.
    • Pete and DJ in Goes Bananas, while the film initially follows them, the primary plot is the friendship between Herbie and Paco.
  • Determinator: Herbie. No matter how badly he gets beaten up, the little guy absolutely refuses to quit.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Melissa starts out very focused on her academia, is put out by her aunt Louise's attempts to get her a boyfriend, and bristles at both Pete and D.J. when they show interest in her. However, during Pete's dance with her on the cruise, his patience with her lacklustre dancing and his complements about her poise, attentiveness and good looks help her actually enjoy the moment. The two end up as an actual item during the film.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat:
    • Thorndyke first begins cheating against Jim by sabotaging Herbie when he pours Irish coffee into his tank shortly before racing at Riverside. While Thorndyke wins that race, he gets splattered with whipped cream shooting out of Herbie's tailpipe, and after Carol discovers what Thorndyke did, she leaves him and joins Jim's side. Later, Thorndyke and his co-driver Havershaw do this rigorously throughout the El Dorado race, such as using an oil slick to send Herbie off the road, stopping to change a road sign to send Herbie and the rest of the race cars to travel down an old mine, or rolling a tree onto the racetrack. Amusingly, these cheats had a tendency to backfire on him; the oil slick distracted Thorndyke enough he drove off the road as well, the mine actually allowed Herbie to pull ahead of Thorndyke, and Thorndyke ends up stuffed into Herbie's trunk when Herbie comes to the tree in the road.
    • Mr. Wu, the Chinese businessman Thorndyke made a rather hefty bet with, wasn't against this either; at Chinese Camp, a service owned by Mr. Wu where the racecars were refueled, Thorndyke's car was not just given an incredibly slow service by an old man but his car was chained down to prevent a premature departure. Herbie, meanwhile, was not only given an extremely rapid and thorough service by a dozen people, but was actually carried to the camp after having run out of gas from one of Thorndyke's own cheats.
    • Trip from Herbie: Fully Loaded felt compelled to ram Herbie into the wall even though he was in the lead, causing him to crash spectacularly and allowing Herbie to win the race.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: Thorndyke disposes of Tennessee's Irish coffees by pouring them into Herbie. It works, as Thorndyke wins the race the next day because Herbie is drunk.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After royally screwing himself and Havershaw over in his failed bet with Mr. Wu, Thorndyke mocks the latter when he points out the foolishness of his scheme; Havershaw finally tires of his old boss' abuse and sprays him from head to toe in oil.
    • Alonzo Hawk abuses practically every living being in sight who isn't his personal secretary. In his last effort to demolish the firehouse he finds himself turning tail to flee from Herbie and an onslaught of VW Beetles in tow. When he insults his workmen blocking his path, one has finally had it with him and dumps him out of his jeep with his front-end loader, leaving Hawk at Herbie's mercy.
  • Dog Food Diet: The Love Bug (1969) has Jim Douglas rooting through the cabinets looking for something to eat. He wonders why they have bird food when they don't even own a bird. He ends up eating pressed kelp.
  • Doomed New Clothes: In The Love Bug, the Irish Coffee-inebriated Herbie projectile-coughs whipped cream all over Thorndyke's freshly-pressed driving uniform. Mind you, it was Thorndyke who poured Irish Coffee into Herbie's system in the first place, so chalk this one up to Laser-Guided Karma.
  • The Driver: Herbie, ironically enough.
  • Driven to Suicide: A rather literal example, as Herbie tries to drive himself off the Golden Gate Bridge after feeling betrayed by Jim; a repentant Jim manages to talk him out of it, but it's still a pretty dark moment for an otherwise lighthearted movie.
  • Drives Like Crazy: What anyone's likely to think of someone popping a wheelie in a Volkswagen Bug, unaware that it's the car itself doing it.
  • Driving a Desk: Used in The Love Bug for all the races as well as for various San Francisco establishing shots.
  • Driving Up a Wall: At the climax of Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Herbie makes it to Monte Carlo and catches up with the leading race driver Bruno von Stickle. After a few failed attempts to pass him, he manages to get into first place by driving upside down along the roof in a tunnel.
  • Epic Race:
    • The El Dorado race at the climax of The Love Bug.
    • The Paris-to-Monte Carlo race in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
    • The Herbie vs Horace battle in The Love Bug (1997).
    • The California Speedway race as well as the many desert races in Herbie: Fully Loaded.
  • Easily Forgiven: Nicole's two points of assault against Willoughby in Herbie Rides Again are fairly quickly forgiven by him, though it helps that she apologizes for the first one after Willoughby proves willing to listen to her side of the story. Even the incident with the boiled lobster is overlooked by Willoughby before she apologizes for both assaults on the beach. It makes some sense though, given these are her only two violent acts onscreen.
    • Subverted in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. After Wheely lies to both the Lancia and Herbie in order to get both of them started in the race, once Herbie finds out what Wheely did, he refuses to let Wheely in the car until Wheely apologies profusely, even indicating that he wants Wheely to grovel on his knees before finally opening his passenger door for him. Once Wheely does, Herbie allows him to enter. Wheely even lampshades it by saying Herbie doesn't forgive easily.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Mrs. Steinmetz is known by most people as Grandma, which is fitting given how grandmotherly she is towards most people.
  • Evil Brit: Thorndyke is a snooty, arrogant Brit, who does not take kindly to being shown up by anyone, let alone a little VW Bug.
  • Evil Knockoff: Herbie has one briefly in the form of Horace from the TV movie.
    • H.E.R.M.A.N from Herbie: Rescue Rally (2007) is a car created by Edward Vile and developed after research by the Vile Corperation, replacing Chip as Edward's car of choice during the final set of races in the game. By the final race, his repeated upgrades to Herman end up causing him to become broke, forcing him to sell his Vile Corperation Chemical Factory to Louise's family for 1,000,000$.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: On quite a few occasions in the 80s TV series Herbie is in just the right place to use his antenna to hear an important conversation. One example is in episode 2, where he's able to listen in on LAPD radio communications to figure out where Susan's kids might have gone.
  • Expy: Detective Fontenoy from Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo is a klutzy French detective trying to solve the theft of a precious diamond and aggravates his superior to the point of villainy. Sounds a lot like Inspector Clouseau from The Pink Panther films.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Jim is introduced running a demolition derby after too many crashes on the legitimate racing circuit. When his agent asks what happened to his pride, Jim responds "I ran out of pride when I ran out of cars."
  • Faster Than They Look: Herbie in a nutshell, regularly proving that, despite his appearance, he can outrace most professional vehicles and their drivers.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Carole in The Love Bug is introduced putting up a sign at Thorndyke's car dealership, which covers up everything but her shapely legs, which attract Jim's attention. The top half of the sign reads "May we direct your attention to these...", with the lower half clarifying that it's talking about the "new arrivals from Europe".
  • Fire Hose Cannon: At the climax of Herbie Rides Again, Alonzo Hawk's attempt at bulldozing Grandma Steinmetz's firehouse with her in it is temporarily slowed down by Grandma and the man she's dating using the firehouse's hose to toss the operators off their construction equipment until the hose bursts from overuse. Hawk only has a few seconds to gloat that they can't stop him before Herbie (and all of the Beetles in San Francisco) attack.
  • Five-Finger Discount: Paco is very good at this in Herbie Goes Bananas, using it as a means for him to live away from the orphanage. Unlike most he simply takes a few funds and then puts the wallets into a mailbox, and once he has Herbie he plans to make a legitimate living as a taxi driver. Unfortunately for him, this ends up getting him in real trouble when he gets the misfortune of getting the contents of two wallets mixed up...
  • Flashback: Herbie's racing career is seen in a Flashback Montage in Herbie Rides Again and Herbie Fully Loaded.
  • Flowery Insult: In The Love Bug, when Jim and Carol are arguing:
    Carol: You couldn't win a game of marbles with a 12-toed, myopic rhinocerous!
  • Fortune Teller: In Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Herbie rampages through a Gypsy camp while escaping from Max and Quincy. During the chase, a Gypsy fortune teller tells a horrified client that "Darkness is about to fall upon you." The next instant, Max and Quincy's car hits the tent, collapsing it.
  • Friend to All Children: In Goes Bananas, Herbie instantly bonds to Paco and vows to protect him, and even once gets chased by some children in a musical sequence.
    • In Herbie the Love Bug, the little car also takes a shine to Susan's two sons, even going off to look for them when they try to run away from home and visit one of them in the hospital.
  • Friendly Rival: Diane Darcy in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo... eventually. She starts off frustrated with Jim at the start due to perceived sexism from her being a female race driver (which, to be fair, she could have gotten a fair amount of) and the repeated antics of Herbie with her Lancia and Jim's attempts to explain it only make her understandably more exacerbated towards him. Things hit a peak when Jim confronts her about supposedly hiring gunmen to take them out of the race, when in fact it was for an entirely unrelated incident, leading to her throwing items at Jim while asserting that she'd win the race legitimately. The morning after at the The Big Race, however, Diane finds Jim and they apologize for their respective behavior, and remain on good terms throughout the rest of the film.
  • Fruit Cart:
    • An erratically driving Herbie plows into a storefront market. Instead of a one-off gag, it turns out to be an important plot point, as the Asian Store-Owner whose display Herbie wrecks finds Herbie and winds up owning him.
    • The Pretzel cart in Herbie Rides Again is a more straight version of the trope... save for how Herbie vaults a line of cars with it.
  • Game of Chicken: In Herbie Rides Again, Herbie spitefully enters a Chicken tournament (complete with a medieval jousting theme) with Willoughby trapped inside, to convince him he is sentient and doesn't take kindly to insulting remarks about his appearance. Willoughby chickens out right away, but unluckily for him, Herbie most certainly does not and Willoughby is unable to steer. Luckily for Willoughby, Herbie wins.
  • Genre Shift:
    • Herbie Rides Again has virtually no racing in it, save for Herbie escaping Alonzo Hawk and his men at various points; it's instead about Tennessee's aunt watching over the firehouse and Herbie while also dealing with Alonzo Hawk.
    • Herbie Goes Bananas likewise has little racing in it, shifting very early on to having Herbie dropped off a ship by the overzealous captain for a public embarrassment to an ancient gold plot Herbie and a plucky Mexican boy named Paco have to stop.
    • Herbie the Love Bug, the CBS miniseries, also features only a couple races (a drag race and a small dirt track race), but for the most part focuses on a sitcom romance between Jim and Susan McClane while Herbie usually operates in the background, doing rather silly (and amazing for special effects) things.
  • Ghostapo: The 1997 movie has the Nazis coming up to the inventor of the "living vehicle" procedure that created Herbie (back then only a theory) and making him try to mass-produce sentient vehicles for their regime. Much to the inventor's joy (in more ways than one), the procedure required The Power of Love and he never could replicate the results... until he was forced to produce Horace, that was.
  • Giggling Villain: Thorndyke in The Love Bug has a high-pitched giggle that he breaks into when he's up to no good.
  • Gilligan Cut: Tennessee's comment about the "roar of the crowd" at Herbie's first race is followed by cuts of a prairie dog and a jackrabbit, part of the "crowd" at Jackrabbit Springs.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Alonzo Hawk shatters the glass of a phone booth with his Angrish over the phone in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Good-Times Montage: Jim and Herbie winning various races against Thorndyke during The Love Bug.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Peter Thorndyke, Alonzo Hawk, Simon Moore III... essentially, if you're already a Large Ham villain, this is an obvious feature.
  • Hastily Hidden MacGuffin: A pair of thieves steal a famous diamond and ends up hiding it in Herbie's gas tank. Cue hijinks as Herbie and its drivers get chased without knowing why.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Carol Bennett does this in The Love Bug, after finding out of Thorndyke's dirty tricks following the Riverside race.
    • In Herbie Rides Again, Willoughby does this, when he learns just what kind of person his uncle, Alonzo Hawk, really is.
    • Diane Darcy in Monte Carlo loses her hostility with Jim and Herbie near the end of the film, and it's gone completely after Herbie's seen rescuing her Lancia, and she realizes Jim Douglas really HASN'T been lying to her about Herbie and her Lancia's romance.
  • Hello Again, Officer: In Herbie Rides Again, Alonzo Hawk tries to actually steal Herbie to harass Mrs. Steinmetz. As he drives, he makes the foolish mistake of bad-mouthing the little car, which promptly stops and holds up traffic. This in turn causes a police car to show up and push Herbie, who pushes back. Another police car tries to tow Herbie, triggering a tug-of-war on the rope, rocketing the police car into a pile up. At the very end, as Hawk runs for his life from the horde of VW Beetles, he runs into the exact same policemen he had encountered earlier, who promptly arrest him when he tries to convince them that he has been terrorized by the cars.
    • In Episode 4 of the 80s TV series, Uncle Randy runs into two specific LAPD officers TWICE, both times when he's trying to steal Herbie. Later as Jim's driving the unknown-to-him fake Herbie, he scrapes the right front fender up against the car of those same two cops, which is how he discovers the Herbie he's been driving is a fake. After Jim explains the situation to the two officers they drive him to the junkyard, allowing Jim to save the real Herbie just before he would have been crushed.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Thorndyke makes a wager with Mr. Wu after the latter becomes Herbie's owner and sponsor, offering the man his own dealership if Herbie won and buying back Herbie if Douglas and his team lost the race. Unfortunately for Thorndyke, he and Havershaw are ultimately reduced to ordinary mechanics in their own shop when Herbie triumphs; Havershaw lampshades this foolish move, adding insult to injury.
  • Honor Before Reason: When faced with a hefty bill to replace the items Herbie destroyed when driving around the Sun Princess, D.J. conspires to get Aunt Louise to finance himself and Pete by having Pete woo Melissa. Though Pete does go along with it initially, he chafes at playing around with people, especially when it's clear that Melissa is taken with him. When anyone even remotely associated with Herbie is thrown off the Sun Princess, he comes clean to Aunt Louise. Fortunately for him, she saw right through from the start and hoped that Pete and Melissa would become a genuine couple.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Mr. Wu. Despite having every right to sue Jim after Herbie damaged his storefront, he changes his mind when he discovers what Herbie is, being a racing fanatic, and even offers Herbie back to Jim if he can win the prize money.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Mrs. Steinmetz threatens to sell Herbie to one of these in Rides Again if he doesn't behave himself.
    • Crazy Dave's junkyard in Herbie Fully Loaded is depicted as this, offering junk cars for junk prices.
  • Hooking the Keys: In Herbie Goes Bananas, Herbie must retrieve the keys hanging on the wall hook to give to Paco so he can free himself. Since Herbie must use his antenna as a "hand", there's a certain amount of implied strain involved to bend the thing enough to hook the keys. Watch here.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: The intro to Fully Loaded shows how Herbie rose to the top of the racing world, & indeed the world in general fame-wise, before then suffering loss after loss that left him where he is at the start of the movie: dirty & on a flatbed truck headed for a junkyard (thankfully though it gets better for him).
  • Humiliation Conga: The bad guys in Herbie Goes Bananas. In the final act of the film, the three try to escape with the gold. By the end of the chase, they are covered in banana bits, their plane has lost its wings, tail and motor, the landing gear has collapsed and they are surrounded by the police.
  • Hydrant Geyser: In the 80s TV series Herbie uses this trope to soak a used car salesman, as revenge for Jim & Susan buying a station wagon from him. He gets towed away for damaging city property.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • All through the El Dorado race in The Love Bug, Thorndyke goes out of his way with cheating in order to make Jim lose. But towards the end, Herbie is leading but also literally falling apart, and is blocking Thorndyke's car due to the rear half moving in front of Thorndyke every time he attempts to pass, making him say, "Rotten sportsmanship if you ask me!"
    • Earlier, there's this exchange as Thorndyke nervously keeps an eye out for Herbie:
      Thorndyke: Havershaw, I am not a cowardly man, but I have a suspicion that that thing is out to get me!
      Havershaw: Now, now, none of that, sir. We're not losing our nerve, are we?
    • Earlier in the picture, a police officer tells the protagonists to brake their parked car in the future... just before his own unbraked car slides into the water nearby.
    • The hippies who declare Jim and Carole "a couple of weirdos."

    Tropes I-Z 
  • I Choose to Stay: Diane's Lancia in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, refusing to leave without Herbie, requiring Wheelie to make up a story that Herbie was just playing her. Herbie in turn roams around the starting area looking for the Lancia, and has to be told a similar lie before he'll start racing. The lie nearly backfires horribly when, near the middle of the race, Diane skids into a river and nearly drowns in her own car, Herbie refusing to go back and help until Jim admits to the lie. Herbie and the Lancia rekindle this trope once he pulls her free, and thankfully he's convinced to win the race for her, though it takes some SERIOUS grovelling and apologies from Wheely Applegate as well, and Herbie is very clearly willing to take Jim and leave Wheely behind.
  • If I Wanted X, I Would Y: In The Love Bug Jim comes back to Thorndyke when Herbie starts doing his own thing and says this:
    Jim: If I wanted a trick car I would have bought one in a joke shop!
  • Implausible Boarding Skills: Herbie goes surfing in Herbie Rides Again and imitates skateboarding tricks in Fully Loaded
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: A French waiter in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo after witnessing two cars come to life and act like a couple.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Herbie's only method of communication is honking/beeping. Understood by specific people: Tennessee in the first movie, Grandma Steinmetz and Nicole in the second, Jim in the third, Paco in the fourth. This provides for a humorous scene in Herbie Goes Bananas, since nobody knows he's named Herbie. Paco asks for his name, and all Herbie can do is give two prolonged honks (Her...bie!, so to speak). Note that when we say Paco can "understand" him, we don't mean literal English translations.
  • Jerkass: Surprisingly for a Disney film, Jim Douglas starts out as one of these in the first film, The Love Bug (1969). Once he sees what Herbie can do, he uses Herbie's speed and agility to his advantage, and is quick to ride the wave of success which comes from winning race after race, after bottoming out for so long. However, the first time Herbie loses a race, he not only replaces him with an expensive Lamborghini, he decides to sell him to the rival Thorndyke to help him pay for it, even when he knows that Thorndyke was the reason he lost the race in the first place, due to his sabotage of Herbie. To say Tennessee and Carol are displeased with his decisions is an understatement. Herbie gets jealous and smashes the new car to pulp, and in his anger, Jim lashes out, causing Herbie to take off and almost successfully throw himself off the Golden Gate Bridge. Also, until that blow up, Jim really didn't understand that Herbie is actually a car with feelings, and has simply considered his abilities just something extra that came off the assembly line.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: From Herbie Goes Bananas (1980): Captain Blythe's decision to dump Herbie overboard may appear rash and petty, but the reason why he did so was because Herbie had posed a threat to the safety of the ship, crew and passengers whom he is responsible for. Herbie had been driving around inside the ship's hold twice, damaged cargo and endangered crew. The first time, he charged at Blythe, the second time he and Paco came up on an elevator and drove right into the ballroom, sending a chef and a cake flying across a table and into Blythe.
  • "King Kong" Climb: One of Alonzo's nightmares in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Horace from the TV movie.
  • Land Poor: Mrs. Steinmetz in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Large Ham: Almost all the villains in the Herbie films, with particular reference to Peter Thorndyke and Alonzo Hawk from the first two films, as well as Harvey Korman in Herbie Goes Bananas.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After going to extreme lengths to sabotage Jim and Herbie, Thorndyke is reduced to a lowly mechanic in his own showroom after having lost the bet he made with Mr. Wu, who threw his support behind Herbie. Alonzo Hawk is also hit with this bigtime when his many attempts to steal or antagonize Herbie only provoke Herbie into rallying every Volkswagen in the city to put a halt to his plans. By the time it's all over, Hawk is mad with fear and the police haul him away.
    • Randy Bigelow in the T.V. series. In the penultimate episode, Bigelow plans to steal Herbie, replace him with a knock off, break up Jim's wedding to Susan, have Herbie crushed by a car compactor, and leave Jim to discover the ruse when a stink bomb goes off. He's able to replace Herbie, and he does disrupt the wedding, but he doesn't stop it completely. As Jim and Susan leave in Herbie to have the wedding ceremony, in a rage, he attempts to chase the rest of the party in the dummy Herbie, and he makes it half a block before the stink bomb goes off on Bigelow himself, and he's forced to stop the car and get out, choking profusely, as the interior fills with a cloud of gas.
  • Late to the Realization: In Rides Again, Alonzo Hawk hires a one-man demolition team to knock down the firehouse. Whitby impersonates Alonzo over the phone and gives the demolitionist a new address. Upon calling Alonzo to confirm the new address of 343 Oleander Heights, Alonzo Hawk chastises him and confirms it's the right address before hanging up and muttering to himself that he knows Ms. Steinmetz's address as well as his own... before realizing that 343 Oleander Heights is his address right before a wrecking ball crashes through the wall, knocking down part of his house.
    Alonzo: Of course I'm sure, you idiot! I know it as well as my own address! *hangs up and flumps back in bed* ...wait a minute... *sits up* It is my own address!!! *CRRRAAAAAASSSSSHHHH!!!!!*
  • Logical Weakness: Grandma Steinmetz finds a way to get a Sentient Vehicle to behave when Herbie goes too far trying to attack Alonzo Hawk: threaten to send him to a used car lot.
  • Love Imbues Life: Tennessee's theory as to Herbie's origins, made "canon" in the 1997 TV movie.
  • Luminescent Blush: Herbie gets one at the climax of Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, after being kissed by the museum director for saving the diamond and stopping the crooks. Even the characters who observe it are confused, if not amused by it.
  • Made of Iron: Pun side, even compared to other cars in the movies, Herbie takes a beating and still manages to come away with, at most, superficial damage. Even when he was reduced to a rusted heap in Herbie Goes Bananas he still managed to find it in himself to start running to full power again. Most of the time anyways. The movie with Bruce Campbell has Herbie come on the other side of this, when Horace... takes umbrage with Herbie.
  • Magic Bus: Herbie, Giselle, and Horace (artificially). The little yellow New Beetle in Herbie Fully Loaded is a slight case. Also, the numerous Bugs in "Rides Again", as Herbie's horn seems to magically power them up to drive alongside of him against Hawk.
  • The Matchmaker: Herbie has elements of this in various films, though The Love Bug (1969) and Herbie Rides Again have the strongest of them. Herbie Rides Again also has Grandma Steinmetz, who works with Herbie to help bring Willoughby and Nicole together.
  • Mechanical Evolution: Tennessee believes machines are becoming sentient. Such as a giant claw machine in the Sutro Amusement Park that took pity on him when he was broke, giving him cameras and watches so he could hawk them for lunch. Contrariwise the traffic lights down the street which seems to hate him and he has no idea why. Making him wait 6 seconds longer than anyone else (he timed it). But he can't share his theories with anyone but Jim or people will think he's mad.
  • Meet Cute: The first time Carole and Jim see each other, she's hanging signs inside Thorndyke's dealership and drops one. Jim, outside, sees this, bends over to help, and bangs his head on the window. Carole then bends over to help Jim and bangs her head on the same window.
  • Mistaken for Misogynist: In Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Diane thinks Jim is one because he keeps trying to prevent her to race, when it's actually Herbie who has a crush on Diane's race car.
  • Motorcycle Jousting: The Knights in Herbie Rides Again, who joust in cars.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The movies aren't consistent with each other as to how Herbie's sentient and/or if there are other sentient cars.
    • The Love Bug: We are given every reason to expect that Herbie is the only sentient car in the world. However, Tennessee does mention a sentient claw machine that helped him when he was broke and a stop light that absolutely hates him, making him wait at a red light longer than anyone else. He does not know what inspired one machine to like him and another to hate him. Tennessee also mentions that the machines are coming to life because "humanity had a chance to make something of this world and we blew it" so a new life form is going to take over. Tennessee theorizes minutes later though that what with all the love and attention some people give their cars, once in a while sentience will be granted to it, a theory that Jim also begins to believe. Compare The Velveteen Rabbit.
    • Herbie Rides Again: All older-style Volkswagen Beetles are sentient. They can be summoned in a sequence similar to the "Twilight Bark" from The Hundred and One Dalmatians. Grandma Steinmetz also has an orchestrion and a retired cable car known as Old No. 22, both similarly sentient if immobile items that Herbie has either rescued or made friends with. Unusually, Old No. 22 seems to only be able to ring its bell - Willoughby needs to pull its brakes himself to get it to stop when it's rolling downhill.
    • Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo: Sentient cars are extremely rare, but Herbie isn't unique, nor do they have to be Volkswagen Beetles. He falls in love with Giselle, a Lancia Scorpion.
    • Herbie Goes Bananas: Once again Herbie is the only sentient car seen, but Giselle is referred to in the beginning, though not by name.
    • The Love Bug (1997 TV movie): Herbie is unique. He was specifically created to be sentient via The Power of Love. Horace the Hate Bug is created via The Power of Hate, but a "seed" from Herbie was required.
    • Herbie Fully Loaded: The topic is never brought up, though Herbie is seen going on a "date" at the end with a modern Beetle, which he had been given a part from as an emergency earlier in the film.
  • Multi-Track Drifting: Herbie in Herbie: Fully Loaded, most especially the final NASCAR racing sequence where the anthropomorphic Volkswagen was seen climbing onto the fence above the wall, trying to avoid being trade-painted.
  • My Car Hates Me: One of those cases where it's more than just a metaphor. Herbie refusing to start at a really inopportune moment because his feelings have been hurt happens at least once a movie. It's even more prevalent in the early third act of the first film, with Herbie actively staying away from Jim whenever he manages to catch up to him. It's so strong that he refuses to listen to Jim as he's trying to throw himself off the bridge, and he only finally stops when Jim falls and Herbie knows that if he successfully gets over the bridge railing, he's going to kill Jim as well.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jim Douglas has a major one when he finally realizes Herbie is truly alive in his own right, after having just witnessed the distressed vehicle taking his fury out on Douglas' new Lamborghini. Feeling betrayed by Jim who tried to sell him back to Thorndyke, Herbie flees the scene and Jim hurries to save his grief-stricken friend.
    • Tennessee also gets one for getting drunk and thus allowing Thorndyke to sabotage Herbie ahead of the Riverdale race. The regret on his face as he sees Herbie putter to a dead halt is unmistakable.
  • Nephewism: Pete Stanchek in Herbie Goes Bananas, stated as being Jim Douglas' nephew.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: A minor version, but Herbie keeps coming up with new, increasingly impossible tricks he can employ for the movies (though as the first film has him being chopped in half yet still able to Win AND Show in the same race, his limits are pretty high from the get-go). This ranges from driving up walls (or ceilings), vaulting long distances by using other cars as ramps, to outright bending his own body in ways cars were not meant to in Herbie Goes Bananas.
  • Nice Guy: Herbie is such a good-natured and romantic character its hard not to love him.
    • Willoughby Whitfield in Herbie Rides Again; it's what helps him get into a relationship with Nicole, despite his blood-ties to Alonzo Hawk.
    • Jim Douglas also, after he stops being a Jerkass in the first film. In "Monte Carlo", he and Herbie are best of friends, and in the brief T.V. series, he misses his own wedding when Herbie goes missing and he finds out he's been replaced by a made-up duplicate. Once he tracks down Herbie to a wrecking yard, about to be crushed, Douglas is completely hostile to the wrecking yard owner, (and for good reason, as he knew at the very least he was about to crush a stolen car) demanding Herbie be carefully lifted from the compactor and repeatedly barking, "Not a scratch on him!" After Herbie is on the ground, he starts shaking, honking his horn sadly, and "crying" with jets of windshield washer fluid due to almost being crushed, and Jim hugs him (to the best of his abilities) to comfort him and makes a vain attempt to dry Herbie's windshield with his pocket handkerchief.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: After the first half of the El Dorado race, Herbie has been badly damaged trying to make it in, and the heroes seriously think of quitting the race. Thorndyke then shows up to gloat about having won the bet he made with Mr. Wu (who hadn't told Jim et al about this) and threatens to turn Herbie into either "a birdbath" or "a nice doormat", kicking Herbie once again, which both enrages Jim and makes Herbie speed into action again, literally driving Thorndyke away. This gives them their Heroic Second Wind and they win the second half of the race.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Alonzo Hawk's crazy dreams in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Not Actually the Ultimate Question: In The Love Bug, when Jim and Carole find out that the VW Bug has a mind of its own, and it won't let either of them exit the car, Carole tries to call for help from some hippies in the van parked next to them:
    Carole: Help, I'm a prisoner! I can't get out!
    Hippie: We all prisoners, chickee-baby. We all locked in.
  • No Indoor Voice: Alonzo Hawk and Peter Thorndyke, in its grandest fashion.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!:
    • The Love Bug features the Thorndyke's henchman Havershaw telling him "You can't lose, sir! You can't possibly lo...", trailing off as he sees that Herbie (half of him anyway) is passing them right before the finish line. Later Thorndyke tells him "Couldn't lose, I think you said."
    • Alonzo Hawk in Herbie Rides Again makes a habit of employing this attitude, at least until he discovers just how much of an obstacle a certain little car can be.
    • Repeated in The Love Bug (1997), as Simon and Rupert prepare to celebrate after laser-cutting Herbie in half, but then notices one half of the little car already crossing the finish line.
  • Not So Above It All: After riding through a bull fight that Herbie ends up winning, Captain Blythe initially resists going out. Once he is pulled out, however, finds himself hamming it up for the crowd, even after Herbie knocks him on his front.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Any time Herbie takes a disliking to someone usually results in this.
    • It's brief, but The Love Bug (1969) Carole's reaction upon hearing that the number 53 car (Herbie) was having problems the day after her date with Jim is one. Considering the date was encouraged heavily by Thorndyke, and her next scene is when she has parted company with Thorndyke, it's clear she put two and two together and wasn't pleased She actually lampshades this by saying as much to Tennessee when she comes by to fix Herbie.
    • Alonzo Hawk in Herbie Rides Again when asked to confirm the false address of his next demolition:
    Hawk: Of course I'm sure you idiot! I know it as well as I know my own address! [hangs up] [Beat] Wait a IS my own address!
    [Entire building shakes as Loostgarten begins demolishing it]
    • Hawk has another one just as he is about to destroy the firehouse once and for all, only to discover his worst nightmare has come true: not one VW Bug, but every single one in town has come by to foil him once and for all.
    • Herbie himself can do this, such as when Thorndyke orders his men to destroy him.
    • Jim Douglas gets one of these in the brief T.V. series. After Randy Bigelow has stolen Herbie and replaced him with a replica, Jim, confused as to why Herbie isn't acting like his usual self, finds cigarette butts in the ashtray. He immediately realizes there's a problem, as he doesn't smoke. After the fender gets scraped, revealing green pain underneath, it confirms he was right, and he wasn't driving Herbie.
  • Oil Slick: Employed in "The Love Bug" against Herbie, to great effect.
  • Only the Chosen May Ride: An interesting take occurs in the first movie. Herbie, the titular vehicle is a living car that moves on its own, has emotions, and even speaks to some degree (albeit only through use of his horn). He decides for himself who he'll let drive him, and anyone he doesn't like could just as easily be thrown out of the seat. Also interestingly, Alonzo Hawk actually managed to break into Herbie and drive him around...only for Herbie to halt and cause several accidents when Hawk admits out loud he was trying to steal Herbie, absolutely refusing to move despite several police cars attempting to move him. One has to wonder if Herbie was simply curious enough to allow it before that point, given his refusal to be stolen by two similarly determined men in Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo.
    • For some reason, this was subverted in the short T.V. series, leading to a really large continuity problem with the Herbie seen in the other films. Randy Bigelow is not only able to get into a start Herbie, he's able to take him to a junkyard, where the owner is able to make an exact duplicate of him, and he's almost crushed in a car compactor before Jim manages to track him down and intervene. It makes for an exciting sequence, but based on everything we've seen in the films prior, Bigelow being able to drive Herbie AT ALL makes little sense.
  • Overzealous Underling: In Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Detective Fonetoy of the French police tries a bit too hard to be a Professional Butt-Kisser to his boss the Chief who is secretly the Big Bad to the point he gets in the way of the Chief's plans. To provide an example: at the end of the second act, the Chief takes Herbie under protective custody after his goons tried and failed repeatedly to get Herbie and the diamond in his fuel tank, which almost ruined his entry into the race and swears to Jim up and down that, on his honor, Herbie will be safe. The Chief's plan to exploit being alone with Herbie to just get his hand in the fuel tank and fish out the diamond is screwed over by Fonetoy loading Herbie inside of an armored truck while the Chief is talking to Jim and heading off to a super-secret location where Herbie will be safe for the night (the Chief asks Fonetoy to tell him where this super-secret location is. Fonetoy’s answers roughly is: "well, it would not be super-secret if I told someone else, would it? Don’t worry, Chief, you can rest assured I will make you proud!"). At the day of the race, the Chief hoped that Fonetoy would arrive on time and he would hopefully have enough time to get the diamond while Jim gets Herbie ready but Fonetoy arrives extremely late because of his measures to avoid being followed, so Jim has to take off immediately forcing the Chief to order his goons to get Herbie mid-race.
  • Parental Bonus: The one of the two police officers that see Herbie pull Jim up after a botched suicide attempt says that Herbie saved Jim's life. The other officer looks at him oddly and the first officer tries to play it off as how the fog can play trick with eyes. The second officer then says that the first officer has been on the Haight-Ashbury beat for too long.
  • Parents as People: Well, aunts as people, but the trope plays out the same. In spite of exasperating her niece with her eyes for the captain, Louise genuinely wants to help Melissa find a partner in life. Even when she saw right through D.J.'s attempt to milk her for her money, having too much experience in life to fall for it, she went along with it in the hopes that Melissa and Pete would genuinely fall for one another. She even tries begging for Captain Blythe to spare Herbie, even noting herself as a "desperate, single woman", to no avail. She finally kicks her attraction when he passes her by in lieu of the view.
  • Pet Gets the Keys: In Herbie Goes Bananas, Herbie retrieves the key to Paco's cell by bending his antenna enough to hook the keyring.
  • Plucky Girl: Nicole Harris is one, going from stopping an airplane hijacker with a bottle of wine to regularly deterring people sent by Alonzo Hawk from harassing Grandma Steinmetz. She's also a more reasonable one, regularly trying to deter Grandma Steinmetz's more drastic reactions.
    • Diane Darcy is also one, as she's a female racer trying to make it big in a male-dominated sport. Considering her luck in the Trans-France Race (up until getting bumped off the track), she seemed to do pretty well and isn't against putting up a fight to defend herself.
    • Maggie Peyton is much the same, wanting to be a racer again like her dad and brother was, but was discouraged by her dad following the death of her mother.
  • Police Are Useless: Especially apparent in Herbie Rides Again, as Alonzo Hawk has managed to get away with doing plenty of illegal things in expanding his enterprise. Only after he barely escapes Herbie's wrath and they see crazily ranting about a bunch of little cars chasing him do they finally cuff him.
    • Surprisingly averted in The Love Bug (1969) proper; the police are the reason that Mr. Wu comes into acquisition of Herbie, after the Volkswagen crashed through a Chinese corner store and the police were called.
    • Also in The Love Bug (1969), after Herbie escapes from Thorndyke's showroom and follows Jim home, the detective called in by Thorndyke to investigate Herbie's "theft" tracks him to Douglas' residence, and this leads to Jim buying Herbie on a payment plan to avoid prosecution, and kicks off the events of the rest of the film.
    • Played straight in the 80s TV series on a few occasions. The LAPD try their best at finding Susan's missing kids in episode 2 but it's Herbie who ultimately locates and tries to rescue them.
    • Also in the series, in episode 4, they help Jim track down Herbie after he's been stolen by Bigelow and left to be crushed in a compactor, and after Jim and Herbie are reunited, they also try to help Jim get to the church in time for his wedding by providing him a police escort.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: From Herbie Goes Bananas (1980). Having seen Herbie in action more than once, Prindle quickly shoots down his henchman's suggestion to run him off the road in their plane (he even lampshades Herbie's unpredictability) and instead wait for him to stop. This gives them a chance to separate Paco from Herbie and kidnap him. Of all the villains, Prindle is probably the only one to have any sense to avoid Herbie in the first place.
  • Product Displacement: In the first movie, there are no VW emblems anywhere on Herbie and the words "VW", "Beetle", and "Volkswagen" are never uttered; the characters call him "Herbie" or "the little car". According to The Other Wiki, VW allowed Disney to use its trademarks and logos beginning with Herbie Rides Again, as the Bug's sales were in decline.
    • In later films, Goodyear Tyres began appearing on Herbie to better promote the company image through film.
  • Pun: From The Love Bug (1969):
    Peter Thorndyke: What part of Ireland did you say your mother came from?
    Tennessee Steinmetz: Coney Ireland. [starts laughing]
  • Remember the New Guy?: Wheely in Monte Carlo and Pete Stanchek in Bananas.
  • Refuge in Audacity: After repeatedly escalating his efforts to get Grandma Steinmetz to sell, and being thwarted a fed-up Hawk decides to just show up with a demolition crew in the midle of the night and demolish the firehouse while she and her date, Mr. Judson, ARE STILL INSIDE OF IT. While in his slight defense, he does give them a chance to leave, and while they hold him off for a bit defensively, he eventually has had enough and is about to move in on them before Herbie and the VW army intervene. The film actually presents this as having a possibility of being successful, despite all the legal ramifications, including the potential murder of the two people still inside.
  • Replacement Flat Character: By the time of Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, Jim's accepted Herbie as a sentient being, so the movie introduces us to Diane Darcy as the aspiring driver who finds it hard to believe that their car is alive.
  • Road-Sign Reversal:
    • Happens in The Love Bug, sending Herbie (and everyone behind him) into a mine instead of along a mountain road.
    • In Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, the misdirecting arrow sends our heroes onto a very narrow cliff edge and almost causes them to die via rockslide.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After Alonzo Hawk attempted to steal Herbie in Herbie Rides Again, and stole Grandma Steinmetz's belongings, she makes a visit to Alonzo Hawk...with a window cleaner cart with Herbie inside. Hawk then makes the very poor choice of making Herbie angry, which involves chasing Hawk down in his own office while it's full of suds. Even Grandma Steinmetz has trouble calming Herbie down, having to resort to making barely veiled threats of visiting a used car lot, albeit with some prodding.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Keenan Wynn's Alonzo Hawk, the Big Bad of Herbie Rides Again, had previously been the main antagonist of The Absent-Minded Professor and sequel Son of Flubber.
  • Running Gag:
    • Thorndyke in The Love Bug getting splattered with various unpleasant things, like Herbie's oil and the Irish coffee that Herbie burps up.
    • Herbie peeing oil on someone's foot, which shows up in The Love Bug and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, as well as the TV series.
  • Scenery Gorn: The very first scene of the original film is a large series of demolition derbies Jim once partook in, and the number of cars wrecked beyond recognition rack up pretty quickly before the actual story even takes off.
  • Scenery Porn: The film series as a whole makes no ill attempt at showing the audience the beautiful sights of San Francisco, Paris, Monaco, and Central America.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Thorndyke and Alonzo Hawk live by this.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Carole in the first movie does this after realizing what Thorndyke had done to make Jim and Herbie lose the race, and immediately quits her job so she can make things right with the team, eventually helping them to settle the score with Thorndyke.
    • Willoughby after discovering his Uncle Alonzo's true nature, doing everything he can to make sure he never touches Mrs. Steinmetz's home. He even tells his mother he refuses to come back home to Missouri just to be her obedient all over again.
    • Hawk's entire demolition crew when they see Herbie and the army of Beetles he's leading.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl:
    • Tennessee Steinmetz from The Love Bug, in the scene where he and Carole are trying to keep Herbie balanced after he (Herbie) lost a tire.
    • Thorndyke. Particularly notable when his assistant Havershaw squirts oil down his coveralls' pocket. Though he does scream a little flamboyantly when he encounters the bear in his car during the first leg of the El Dorado race. Even the bear gets in on it when they are about to crash into a tree in the same scene.
  • Sentient Vehicle:
    • Herbie
    • In Herbie Rides Again, every Volkswagen Beetle in the city comes to help out at the climax. Also, Old No. 22, despite the aforementioned immobility.
    • The Lancia later named Giselle Herbie falls in love with in Monte Carlo.
    • The TV movie introduces and disposes of Herbie's evil counterpart, Horace.
    • Sally's New Beetle in Fully Loaded.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Of the original tetralogy, the first two films take place in the United States, while Monte Carlo takes place in Paris and Goes Bananas takes place in South America.
  • Serial Escalation:
    • Thorndyke's sabotage of Herbie (and the rest of the racers) gets more and more serious the longer the race goes on, ranging from an oil slick, knocking Herbie onto his roof, knocking Herbie off a cliff, and cutting Herbie's spare tire into pizza segments before the race. They also stop backfiring on him quite so badly as they go up.
    • In Herbie Rides Again, Alonzo Hawk's goons chase after Herbie and Mrs Steinmetz on a market run, and they end up chasing Herbie around San Francisco, through a parking garage, the Sheraton Palace hotel, and finally up the Golden Gate Bridge!
    • Alonzo Hawk also goes through several, increasingly illegal levels in Herbie Rides Again, all committed in the name of his monstrosity of an office building. Unusually for a comedy, Hawk's reasoning is actually elaborated somewhat - he's paying 80,000 dollars a day to a wrecking and building company, who constantly calls him asking when they can get to work, whether or not they actually have any building to do, and that's set before inflation. note 
  • Shout-Out: In Fully Loaded, Maggie, Kevin and Herbie watch Scary Movie 2 at a drive-in theatre.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: The down-on-his-luck driver Jim and his hippie friend Tennessee vs. the very snobby British businessman Peter Thorndyke.
  • Sore Loser: Thorndyke whenever he loses a race to Herbie in The Love Bug, von Stickle in Monte Carlo, Simon and Horace in The Love Bug (1997), and Trip Murphy at the end of Fully Loaded.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Herbie tends to be this to both friends and foes. To be fair, it is hard to predict the actions of a living car that can't speak, much less that one exists.
    • In Herbie Goes Bananas, had Shephard only waited until his cohorts were aboard before starting his plane's engine, they could've gotten away.
  • Spit Take: Thorndyke gags on his glass of champagne when he sees Herbie, Jim, Carole and Tennessee barreling down a hill after having directed them off-course earlier.
  • Stock Footage: In the first film, the demolition derby sequence is taken from the 1966 film Fireball 500 (starring Mousketeer Annette Funicello)
    • The second film, Herbie Rides Again, uses footage from the Love Bug's racing montages in Herbie's dream, as well as the overhead shot when Herbie's speeding towards the jousting tournament.
    • The 1982 television series uses stock footage from the first film in its first title sequence and in one scene in Jim Douglas' driving school.
    • The 1997 Love Bug TV movie features stock footage of Jim Douglas driving Herbie in the introduction.
    • The credits for Herbie: Fully Loaded are partly this, gleaned from all four theatrical films, plus photo-edited images and video.
  • Straw Feminist: Diane Darcy in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Multiple times by Thorndyke in The Love Bug:
    [after Jim has complained about Herbie doing his own thing]
    Thorndyke: Then get Mr Douglas and his acquisition out BEFORE I LOSE MY TEMPER!
    [as he and his assistant Havershaw are celebrating with glasses of champagne after knocking Herbie and his team off-course]
    Havershaw: You know something about champagne sir?
    Thorndyke: Havershaw, if you tell me that the bubbles tickle your nose, I SHALL PROBABLY KILL YOU!
  • Sycophantic Servant: Usually occurs once a movie.
    • Havershaw in The Love Bug.
    • Loostgarten in Herbie Rides Again.
    • Fontenoy in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, although subverted in that he ends up arresting his boss.
    • Rupert in The Love Bug (1997).
    • Crash in Herbie Fully Loaded.
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: The Hawk Plaza in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The 1997 TV movie had Herbie face-off against a "Hate Bug" in all-black which resembled a KdF-Wagen with wartime blackout lights.
  • Token Good Cop: Most of the cops in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo follow the lead of the impressive-looking but ineffective inspector, who only starts showing competence when he is revealed as the Big Bad and is working against the heroes, but his assistant Fontenoy has many keen insights and Reasonable Authority Figure moments that help the heroes. As a bonus, since Fontenoy hero-worships the inspector, he keeps beaming with pride every time he does something that is the correct decision but leaves the inspector in a fix due to his own failures.
  • Tsundere: Diane Darcy in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
  • Tyrannical Town Tycoon: Alonzo Hawk in Herbie Rides Again owns a huge chunk of San Francisco thanks to properties he bought and he seriously thinks it gives him the right to bully citizens to force them to sell and then has no problem sending bulldozers to wreck their homes while they are still in them. He bites a whole lot more than he can chew when he targets Mrs. Steinmetz, the current owner of Herbie, in his desire to make his new headquarters right where her house is.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Nobody seems to take interest when Herbie drives around without someone behind the wheel, despite having no tinted windows and often driving in broad daylight, unless they're part of the main cast. The only exception is a waiter in "Herbie Rides to Monte Carlo", who witnesses and is duly shocked by Herbie's attempts to woo the Lancia.
    • Likewise, the police are never involved if and when Herbie pulls a wheelie and races down a public road and through traffic - nobody is ever hurt in these incidents, but it's still a massive traffic violation.
    • In Herbie Rides Again, Herbie chases down Mr. Hawk inside his own office and eventually chases him out to the edge of his skyscraper, all while everyone is covered in soap suds. His secretary and lawyers only seem mildly perturbed by this, and in fact the former outright ignores Mr. Hawk's shouts for help inside his office as she refuses to disobey his order that he be left alone.
    • Nobody seems to realize how odd it is that Paco, a young boy, is driving a car, much less that he goes into a bull fight in a Volkswagen Beetle - in fact, it is implied that he is going to drive Herbie in the Grand Prêmio of Brazil. Likewise, Herbie's completely rusted up state doesn't seem to catch any eyes in spite of every other car on the road being in far better condition.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The "Hate Bug" Horace from the telefilm, who is an outright monstrous villain, filled with pure evil in comparison to the previous Laughably Evil villains in the past theatrical films.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer:
    • Herbie demonstrates this in the first movie, taking his anger and betrayal at Jim out on his new Lamborghini.
    • Nicole's general method to deterring those who'd harass Grandma Steinmetz in Herbie Rides Again. It also also helps convince Willoughby that his uncle's really not the generous man that his mother had led him to believe (although Hawk's aggressive angrish and shattering glass with his enraged yell over the phone sealed the deal there). That said, actual violence from her is rather limited, and she does prove to be a pretty nice person when Hawk isn't involved, her actions against airplane hijackers notwithstanding.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • Mr. Thorndyke, at least until his customers and employees find out firsthand what kind of man he is.
    • Alonzo Hawk, who spares no expense to elevate his image with the upper classes of society even as he is actively uprooting the citizens of San Francisco to add more to his self-styled empire. His own nephew awarded him a humanitarian award, having been raised to view his uncle as a giant among men before learning from an unbiased perspective what a monster he actually is.
    • Bruno Von Stickle's already an accomplished Porsche racing driver in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, and is a viable contender against Jim, Wheely, and Herbie. Meanwhile, main villain Inspector Bouchet is a noted French inspector whose ties to diamond smuggling only come up in the end.
    • Though a disgraced driver, Simon Moore III from the 1997 film still has a lot of authority and press surrounding him.
    • Trip Murphy in Herbie Fully Loaded is a competitive NASCAR driver with a full-service garage and a sponsorship from Cheetos. Probably comes off better than the other villains since he's dragged away in an ambulance rather than a police car.
  • Walk on Water:
    • Herbie drives on water in Herbie Rides Again, albeit while being partially submerged in it. This is Truth in Television as stock classic Beetles are able to float on water for a limited amount of time, as seen in this classic commercial.
    • The Love Bug features a variant on the trope, where Herbie instead skips across a pond like a rock. He still needs to actually drive out by the end though.
    • The same gag from The Love Bug is reused again in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, except Herbie quickly drops like a rock into a pond. Wheelie has to practically act as a periscope to drive out.
  • Wedding Bells... for Someone Else: The 1997 film ends with a photo shoot of bride and groom in Herbie who vaguely resemble the main couple. At least the main couple is about to leave on a date. They don't know where they're going; Herbie will decide, just like the honeymoon at the end of the original movie.
  • Wham Line: In Herbie Rides Again, when Willoughby and Nicole try to stop Herbie and the other Volkswagen Beetles from chasing Mr. Hawk.
    Willoughby: Herbie if you don't stop, you won't be invited to the wedding! (Herbie and the parade of cars come to a screeching halt)
  • What a Piece of Junk: Herbie is considered to be junk by many characters owing to being a Volkswagen Beetle; it's one of the fastest way to trigger a My Car Hates Me response. As per the trope, of course, there's much more to him than appearance suggests.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Loostgarten's one man wrecking crew in Herbie Rides Again is half hired, half blackmailed by Alonzo Hawk to knock down Grandma Steinmetz' firehouse without a permit. Grandma and Willoughby manage to redirect him to Alonzo Hawk's home instead, but the last we see of him is a newspaper article the event. Considering what Hawk is like, and how he already had enough sway on Loostgarten to get him to do an illegal wrecking after having fired the man from his own crew, it doesn't look good.
    • While the 1997 T.V. movie does feature an important and lengthy cameo from Dean Jones as Jim Douglas, it doesn't really offer much of an explanation as to why he was no longer Herbie's owner, which indirectly puts Jim in a negative light, as at the start of the film, Herbie is in disrepair and is only "saved" by Hank Cooper winning the fixit competition.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In The Love Bug, Carole gives one of these to Jim about his racing success, which was actually Herbie's doing.
    • Herbie's on the receiving end of this in Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, repeatedly berated by Jim and Wheely for focusing on courting a Lancia than seriously racing. It really doesn't help that Herbie's affections lose them the first qualifying round, and nearly get them kicked out.
    • Maggie and Herbie both receive this in Herbie: Fully Loaded, when Maggie's called out by her dad for getting back into street racing and when Maggie yells at Herbie for deliberately stopping before the final race.
    • The movies that don't star Dean Jones as Jim Douglas have a tendency to unwittingly make Douglas into a jerk. He leaves Herbie in "Rides Again" to race overseas, and again leaves him in Mexico for his nephew to collect in "Bananas". At the start of the 1997 T.V. film, Jones makes a lengthy cameo appearance, but again, Herbie starts the film not in Douglas' possession, and is in disrepair and a potential prize in a fix-it race. Based on how close Jim and Herbie are established as being in "Monte Carlo" and the brief T.V. series, the writers of the other films definitely seem to throw Jones' character under the bus to further the plots of their own films. While he's not officially in either the second or the fourth films, based on the canon of the series and Jim's importance, the actions of other writers on the other films cast Douglas' actions in a What the Hell, Hero? light.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Discussed at length throughout the series, especially in The Love Bug, as Tennessee is the only one who sees that Herbie is sentient and wants to be appreciated as a person.
  • What You Are in the Dark: In The Love Bug, Herbie suffers a massive breakdown upon finding Jim replacing him with another car, culminating in running off when Thorndyke appears to pay Jim to take Herbie away. Jim finds Herbie attempting suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. In attempting to pull Herbie back to safety, Jim slips on the railing and ends up dangling from Herbie's front bumper. The moment Jim asks Herbie for help, unable to hold on much longer, Herbie immediately kicks into reverse and pulls them back over onto the bridge.
  • Woman Scorned: Herbie Rides Again has Nicole Harris towards Alonzo Hawk, considering her caused her to be kicked out of her home and constantly hounds Grandma Steinmetz for her property (among other nasty business ventures). Grandma readily outstrips her, however, once Alonzo Hawk illegally steals all her belongings. After all, it was her idea to have a wrecking ball go through Hawk's own home to put him off her back.
  • Would Hurt a Child: From Herbies Goes Bananas (1980). After the bad guys kidnap Paco and find what they were looking for, they leave him stranded in the jungle.
  • Wrote the Book: In Herbie Rides Again, Alonzo claims to have written the book on harassment.

Alternative Title(s): Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, Herbie Goes Bananas, Herbie Fully Loaded