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Are You Sure You Can Drive This Thing?

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Loki: I thought you said you knew how to fly this thing.
Thor: I said, "How hard could it be?"

This is when someone who is inexperienced in driving cars must, for reasons of the plot, drive a car or boat or plane or... flying alien tank. Often Played for Laughs, and/or with someone in the backseat yelling "Slow down!" or "Eyes on the road!" Someone might also ask the character "Are you sure you can drive this thing?". The ride may or may not end with a car crash (which certainly answers that question).

A subtrope of Drives Like Crazy, this differs in that erratic driving is not a habit (or, usually, enjoyable) for the character. Commonly occurs with Kids Driving Cars.

Contrast: Universal Driver's License


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Robot Kingdom have Nobita's attempts at controlling a giant robot statue brought to life by the Anything Controller, which he uses to combat Dester's mecha in the final battle. But it's a new, never-before used machine, controlled by Nobita, whose attempts at piloting it causes the robot statue to tapdance, perform aerobics, ballet and comically spin around in circles. Nobita still saves the day anyway when his machine accidentally knocks into the legs of Dester's mecha and collapses it.
  • In Trinity Blood, Sister Esther tries to drive, and almost gives Abel a heart attack. It results in Radu finding them.
  • In Re:CREATORS, Sota asks Selesia if she can drive during a chase, and she states that compared to other stuff she drove, the car was really easy to drive.

    Comic Books 
  • In the comic-book adaptation of The Hair Bear Bunch (Gold Key issue #2, May 1972), Hair asks Bubi if he had any experience driving:
    Bubi: Lots of it! I flunked kiddie-car driving training three times!

    Fan Works 
  • The Second Try: Chapter 2 "Survive" narrates how Shinji and Asuka prepare themselves to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. At one point Asuka insists on driving a car. Shinji points out they don't even know how to drive and asks if she is really sure she wants to drive that car. Asuka replies that it can't be harder than driving a giant robot. Cue hilarious moments: The engine stalls, they drive slowly because Asuka often forgets to change the gears or steps too hard on one of the pedals, and they almost crash into a broken-down car.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Milo is asked if he knows how to drive a truck. "Sure I can drive a truck. You have the brake and the clutch and this lever... thing... All right, it was the bumper cars at Coney Island, but it's the same basic principle." Turns out it's not, and he has to be towed behind the rest of the way.
  • In Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Marty has to drive a van while the Penguins are occupied. Alex is adamant he can't because "Only people and penguins can drive!" Marty does so anyway with hooves, and he doesn't really do any worse than the penguins, although that's not saying much.
  • During the climax of Over the Hedge, when the porcupine pups take over driving the exterminator's van, Verne asks if they know how to operate it; the pups reply, "Sure, it's like Auto Homicide III."
  • Tintin: In The Adventures of Tintin (2011), on commandeering a plane:
    Haddock: You know what you're doing, eh?
    Tintin: Relax, I interviewed a pilot once!
  • Jimmy asks Lois this question in Superman: Doomsday as they get into a helicopter to catch Superman fighting Doomsday. Lois just replies that she's an Air Force brat, and was flying helicopters while he was still in training pants.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The climax of The Accidental Spy has Buck (Jackie Chan) in control of an out-of-control oil tanker, poised to crash and explode, speeding through the streets of Istanbul. Buck needs to read from the instruction manual while steering the vehicle, and eventually jettisons it into the Bosphorus.
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle:
    • Two college students give Rocky and Bullwinkle their car, leading to the following exchange:
      College Student: You do know how to drive, right?
      Bullwinkle: Please. What moose can't drive an automobile?
      [Bullwinkle starts the car and promptly crashes it into a brick wall]
      Bullwinkle: Never said I could drive it well.
    • An almost-identical exchange takes place later in the film with regards to flying an airplane.
  • Cruella: To escape from the Baroness' Black and white Ball, Cruella hot-wires a sports car and pulls Horace and Jasper in before speeding off. Alarmed by her dangerously erratic driving, Jasper comments:
    Jasper: I didn't know you knew how to drive.
    Cruella: I don't.
  • An alternative version in Independence Day with David Asking Steven about flying the Alien Craft.
    David: You really think you can fly that thing?
    Steven: You really think you can do all that bullshit you just said?
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dr. Jones Sr. and Jr. find themselves trying to escape from Nazis in a plane Indiana is piloting. Indiana has never successfully landed a plane in his life.
    Jones Sr: I didn't know you could fly a plane!
    Indiana Jones: Fly, yes! Land, no!
  • In the film Legal Eagles attorney Laura Kelly (Debra Winger), a New Yorker who has never had to learn to drive, takes the wheel for an urgent rescue.
  • In the Magnum Force, Harry Callahan pretends to be an airline pilot in order to thwart a hijacking. After seeing his incompetence as a pilot, the co-pilot says to Harry, "Excuse me, Captain, but can you fly?" Harry then says, "Nope. Never had a lesson." and disables the first hijacker who was in the cockpit.
  • Jerry Reed (Snowman) asks Burt Reynolds (The Bandit) in Smokey and the Bandit if he can drive a forklift. "I can drive any forkin' thing around." Played for Laughs as we see that he can't.
  • Sneakers has a scene where Whistler has to drive a truck. Whistler is blind, and has to receive instructions via walkie-talkie. Played for Laughs.
  • In Star Trek Beyond, when the crew has to fly the Franklin, a really old ship:
    Kirk: Mr. Sulu... you can... fly this thing, right?
    Sulu: [looks almost insulted] You kidding me, sir?
  • In Sunset, Earp, Mix and Michael flee the Candy Store in a car to avoid the police raid, with Wyatt Earp behind the wheel. Noting Earp's very erratic driving, Tom Mix asks a few questions and discovers that Wyatt has never driven before.
  • In Rocky II Rocky, living in Philadelphia, has never learned to drive. After his success against Apollo Creed in the first film, he buys a hot car, assuring Aidrian he can drive it, despite her misgivings. Cue Gilligan Cut of car lurching down the street before being parked on the sidewalk.
  • In True Lies, while Tasker has flown a Harrier before, it has been 10 years since he was last in a cockpit when he decides to take one to rescue his daughter. His teammate is quick to point this out — and he proves him right by crushing a car on takeoff...
  • In TRON, Flynn is flying a Recognizer
    Flynn: Pretty good driving, huh?
    Bit: [turns spiky and red] No!
    Flynn: Who asked you?

  • Averted in Artemis Fowl, where Doodah Day affirms that he can drive anything, be it built by humans, fairies or Martians.
  • Deeplight: Quest asks Hark if he knows how to operate the Screaming Sea Butterfly. Hark tells him he watched Dr Vyne pilot it. Although it does take Hark a while to get the hang of it.
  • Discworld: Twoflower and Rincewind on a Flying Broomstick in The Light Fantastic
    Twoflower: You said you could fly one of these things!
    Rincewind: No, I didn't! I just said you couldn't!
  • This happens in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Harry and Ron do a fair job, but they have added complications: the car in question flies and they must avoid suspicion.
  • In The Day of the Triffids a group of survivors decide they need to use a helicopter to search for others. One, known only as "the radio man" declares "Oh, I can make one of them things go all right", despite never having flown one. Surprisingly, he turns out to be correct.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy wants to drive, even though she failed her driving test. When the adults start behaving like teenagers Joyce lets her drive, and Buffy is far more interested in this than the fact the adults are acting wonky. We quickly find out that there was a good reason she wasn't allowed to drive before, as Snyder lampshades.
    Snyder: Woooh, Summers, you drive like a SPAZZ!!!!!!
    • Anya neglects to mention that she never actually learned how to drive until she's behind the wheel chasing down a rampaging troll. Willow is less than happy to learn this while sitting in the passenger seat.
      Willow: Why didn't you say you don't know how to drive?!
      Anya: Well I couldn't know if I could until I tried, could I?
  • Doctor Who: Though he's not exactly inexperienced with cars, Rory has this exchange with Amy in "Let's Kill Hitler" when he hijacks a motorcycle:
    Amy: Can you even drive a motorcycle?
    Rory: I expect so. It's been that sort of day...
  • In the pilot for Galactica 1980, Lt Dillon takes over for the scientist driving during the get-away, despite the fact he never tried it before. Of course, he is an ace pilot, but Lt Dillon Boxey, grown-up chastises him about it.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action", 23rd-century Captain Kirk drives a 1920s-era car on the gangster planet, guided only by fuzzy memories of the history of automobiles. He always successfully arrives at his destination, but Spock expresses strong displeasure with his driving skills.
    Spock: Captain, you are an excellent starship commander, but as a taxi driver you leave much to be desired.
  • When Jim applies for a job as a cabbie in Taxi, Louie genuinely doubts that he could drive a cab taking in mind the drugged-up hippie he is.
  • In an episode of The Walking Dead, Daryl, of all people, has trouble driving a manual shift pick-up truck.

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 2, Tatsuya is perfectly capable of driving Mini-Mecha, Zeppelins, and submarines, thanks to the power of rumours granting him a Universal Driver's License. However, his brother is not aware of this fact, so when Tatsuya pilots the Mini-Mecha in question, he starts yelling that he only has a "learner's permit" and is not even (officially) qualified to drive a car.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Averted in Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction: Agent Washington asks Caboose if he knows how to drive. Much to Wash's confusion, Caboose answers "Yes, but not an automatic, only stick." He manages okay, though.
    • In Red vs. Blue Wall, Simmons steals and attempts to pilot the blue team's Falcon, this ends as disastrously as expected with the resulting crash accidentally destroying the wall Sarge had been attempting to destroy throughout the miniseries.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In "Skumm Lord", Skumm's scheme of the week involves a potion that can transform humans into rat mutants under his commmand. While escaping with the infected Wheeler, Linka and Gi in order to bring them to the shaman, Ma-Ti is steering the geo-cruiser. Kwame has doubts from almost the very start and for a good reason.
    Kwame: Have you ever done this before?!
    Ma-Ti: Yes, of course! Well, not really... once on Hope Island... on the flight simulator...
    Kwame starts sweating and hyperventilating
  • At the beginning of the made-for-TV Codename: Kids Next Door movie "Operation: Z.E.R.O.", Numbuh One describes to Numbuh Two the details of the maneuver they have to use in the battle and asks if he's sure he can pull it off. "Nope!" says Numbuh Two. (Fortunately, he does manage to pull it off.) This joke is repeated at the climax when he has to try something even harder.
  • Delilah uses this phrase when Julius tries to drive a subway train in Delilah & Julius. When the tunnel starts to get flooded, she Verbal Backspaces and asks "Are you sure you can surf this thing?"
  • Bubi Bear of The Hair Bear Bunch seems to think he can drive a taxi in "No Space Like Home." He can't, so Hair Bear yanks him in the backseat, leaving the taxi the bears are in moving with no driver (Square Bear: "How 'bout that...relax and leave the driving to nobody!")
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In "The Mime", Cat Noir expresses doubts when Ladybug tries to stop the car created by the Enemy Mime Monster of the Week. Beyond the fact she's too young to have a driving license, there's the little detail that said car is entirely invisible.
  • Subverted in The Simpsons episode "Brawl in the Family", where Homer is dangling in a gorge and Marge asks Bart to drive the car, to pull Homer up using a rope attached to the bumper; Bart at first acts nervous about it, but then reveals he has his own set of keys.
  • In Total Drama World Tour, Heather asks if Chef Hatchet knows how to fly a plane. He answers with an apathetic "I'll try".


Video Example(s):


Kirk Drives a Car

Captain Kirk has to drive a car on a gangster-themed planet.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / AreYouSureYouCanDriveThisThing

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