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Banana in the Tailpipe

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Axel Foley is awfully slippery.

Hey! Mind outta the gutter, please.

You've got someone on your tail. Could be a cop, the local bully, or a very persistent Loan Shark. You could try to slow them down by shoving a banana (or potato, or similar sized object) in the tailpipe or muffler of their car. That way, you could give yourself time to escape and have a good laugh at the victim's expense as their car sputters and churns and fails to go anywhere. If the script calls for it, the car might even explode.

If only it worked like that in real life. A banana or a single potato jammed into the tailpipe will probably be ejected at high speed. Completely blocking the tailpipe of a car with something that can't simply be blown out (which can be as simple as more bananas) will smother the engine, but will not set the car on fire.

A subtrope of Vehicular Sabotage. Contrast Weaponized Exhaust, which this sort of thing should theoretically prevent. Compare Finger in a Barrel, which applies the principle to firearms.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cross Ange: Hilda sabotages Ange's mecha by clogging the tailpipe with lingerie. This causes the mecha to under-perform and almost get Ange killed when the engine eventually quits, causing the mecha to crash.
  • There was an episode of the Little Lulu anime where Wilbur's butler was replaced by a stricter butler who anticipated all of the tricks that Lulu and the others were going to pull on him. Finally, they come up with a plan to work together to get rid of the mean butler. One of the tricks involved Tubby stuffing a handkerchief in the tailpipe of the limousine, and when the mean butler checked the tailpipe, the handkerchief came loose and he wound up with a face full of smoke and soot from the tailpipe.

    Comic Books 
  • SpyBoy: Messed with in one of the early issues of the comic, where Bombshell stops a (moving) car of bad guys by tossing what appears to be a lit cigarette into the tailpipe. The car blows up several blocks later. Considering that Bombshell is an explosives expert, however, it's not quite as far-fetched.

    Fan Works 
  • In the story "Overheated" of the Facing the Future Series, during the climactic battle with Burner who had used a mountain of junk to create a giant scrap lizard, Sam stops it by jamming a giant ecto-potato construct into its tailpipe smoke stack.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1996 live-action version of 101 Dalmatians, raccoons put a large nut in the tailpipe of the Jasper and Horace's truck. The pressure does shoot the nut out eventually — when Horace is examining the tailpipe, giving him an Ash Face.
  • The Trope Namer here is the film Beverly Hills Cop, where Eddie Murphy's character used this technique to foil a group of bumbling police officers. Famous for a notorious editing screw-up: the banana he holds is curved, but the one in the tailpipe is straight — they couldn't fit the bent one in the tailpipe. Filming mistakes aside, the movie does, surprisingly, play the trope more accurately than most: Axel uses multiple bananas to ensure an effective obstruction, and there is no fire or explosion.
  • In Soviet comedy Dog Paced A Piano, a high school girl and her preteen sister sabotage one of the engines of a crop-dusting Hoodlum helicopter with a beet because the older sister loves the pilot and doesn't want him to leave. The beet does not shoot from the pipe, but the exhaust goes to the cabin instead. The pilot lands the machine immediately after the takeoff and feels dizzy for a few minutes after. Then the girl's childhood friend with an unrequited crush surrenders himself to the police as the perpetrator to protect the girl, fearing that this accident may qualify as a murder attempt. The pilot pities him and insists that a helicopter cannot be harmed by a beet and nothing happened.note 
  • In the movie Hollywood Knights, the titular gang shoves a potato into the tailpipe of the squad car of two bumbling cops at the local drive-in diner...with hilariously loud results!
  • Terra does this to Cherry in Pep Squad, which leads to the funny image (seen in the trailer) of Cherry holding up a banana and angrily growling "Who did this to me?"

  • There is an interview with Terry Pratchett where he imagines the Discworld subversion of this: someone on stakeout on horseback, and someone else (the Librarian?) sneaking up behind them with a banana. Something similar actually happens in Night Watch. Except instead of a horse, it's an ox. And instead of a banana, it's a handful of fresh ginger. And instead of making the animal stop moving...
  • The normally law-abiding Frank of The Hardy Boys does this with a potato to the tailpipe of a police car in the Casefile book Brother Against Brother so he can steal another vehicle. Don't worry, he had a good reason...
  • The potato version is used in the Jungle Doctor story, "Jungle Doctor Pulls A Leg" to prevent a con-man/thief from escaping before the authorities can arrive to arrest him. It works perfectly, possibly because the ancient vehicle wasn't able to generate sufficient compression to push the vegetable out of the exhaust pipe.
  • Garrison Keillor wrote in Lake Wobegon Days that he disliked his sister's boyfriend who addressed him as "Sport" so he put a potato in his tailpipe.
  • In a Tom Clancy's Ops Center novel note , a high-tech electronic surveillance vehicle is disabled and the entire crew is captured and taken hostage thanks to a single rag being stuffed in the exhaust pipe.
  • Spud, a 2005 teen comedy novel by South African writer John van de Ruit, includes a moment where the headmaster's car is "sodomized" by a banana, and the engine explodes as a result. The boy accused of the crime, Guy Emberton, is named after a friend of the author's; he actually said in the acknowledgments that the real Emberton "isn't really a banana vandal," thus spoiling this scene slightly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Burn Noticenote , Fiona stuffs a folded woven belt (clearly shown as porous and not something that could cause a complete blockage) into the exhaust pipe of an SUV. It doesn't cause the car to blow up or even keep it from being driven but causes sufficient damage that the bad guys have to limp to the nearest service station...which was the point of the exercise, as the good guys needed to hide tools in the SUV for the next step of their plan.
  • Columbo: In "Death Lends a Hand", the murderer Brimmer's car fails at a crucial juncture. When Kennicut muses about how Brimmer’s car was out of action at such a crucial stage, Columbo spins him a merry yarn about how his misspent youth, putting cars out of action with a potato up the exhaust, must have played a part in him wanting to become a lawman, so he could make amends for these misdemeanours. The enigmatic Lieutenant then turns tail to leave the garage. A bemused Kennicut turns to look at the car exhaust, checks himself, then spins on his heel and follows Columbo’s lead as credits roll…
  • In the first episode of Dad's Army, while having a discussion of how to take on a tank with improvised weapons, Jones suggests plugging the exhaust with spuds (potatoes). Mainwarring points out that it wouldn't work because tanks have long, thin exhaust pipes. Jones asks why they can't use long, thin spuds.
  • Death in Paradise: In "Written in Murder", DI Mooney stops a suspect from escaping by stuffing a banana up the tailpipe of his motor scooter. He comments that a potato would have been better, but he made do with what he had to hand.
  • This trope also occurred in an episode of Diagnosis: Murder, this time with a wad of cash.
  • Happened in Eastenders, with a potato. A man put it in his enemy's car's tailpipe and sniggered as the car sputtered. He stopped laughing when the pressure ejected the potato into his shop window.
  • In one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will mentions that some students at his old school once keyed a teacher's car and stuck a potato in the tailpipe. His cousin Hilary hears this and is later caught rubbing a potato on her rival's car and leaving her keys in the tailpipe.
  • Realistically deconstructed in Glee, when Mercedes stuffs tater tots up the exhaust pipe of Sue Sylvester's Le Car and does several thousand dollars' worth of damage.
  • In The Golden Girls, there was an offscreen incident where Sophia did this to a cop. Blanche had to cover for her, which she later uses as blackmail material.
    Blanche: I need a chaperone, now do I need to call in all the favors you owe me?
    Sophia: I don't owe you any favors.
    Blanche: Really? "But, Officer, the little old lady was with me, she couldn't possibly have put that banana in your tailpipe."
  • The line from Beverly Hills Cop is referenced directly in Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger, where Commander Hilltop and Jim Carter put on costumes that reference various American films (including RoboCop (1987)), with Jim threatening a suspect of shoving a Banana in his "tailpipe".
  • MacGyver (1985): In "A Prisoner of Conscience", Mac stalls the car of the secret police who are tailing him by sticking a potato in the exhaust pipe.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: In "Blood at the Wheel", Phryne sabotages Jack's car by stuffing her stocking into the exhaust pipe. Of course, finding a silk stocking stuffed in his exhaust tells him who was responsible immediately.
  • Happened in Tee Off, Mr. Bean when the eponymous character hits a golf ball into a car's tailpipe, causing it to churn and sputter for several seconds before shooting the ball out at high speed.
  • Subverted in Minder, in which a potato was used in this manner to shoot out and smash the window of another car.
  • Referenced on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode where they watched Warrior of the Lost World; when the Warrior is hanging on underneath Megaweapon to sabotage it, Joel muses that he's putting a potato in Megaweapon's exhaust pipe.
  • When the MythBusters tried this, everything they stuffed up the tailpipe shot out immediately when Jamie started the engine.
  • Psych: At the climax of "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)," Shawn harnesses the power of tailpipe vegetables to stop a car thief from reaching 200 mph in a stolen car and thus getting away with murder.
    Gus: But we're still letting a murderer go free.
    Shawn: I got three zucchini and a gourd that says we're not.
  • A variation was used in Pushing Daisies: the murderer shoved a potato into the tailpipe of Ned's car to fill the car with exhaust and knock out Ned and Emerson during a stakeout. Such a thing could only happen if the exhaust system already had a leak up near the passenger compartment, which they would have noticed when the car suddenly became louder because the muffler was being bypassed.
  • In Season 19 Episode 2 of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson and James May did this to Richard Hammond's Dodge Viper before they raced to the Mexican border.note  Since the car had enormous tailpipes, and two of them at that, they were forced to add more and larger fruits to clog it down. Hammond removed the tailpipe fruit salad before attempting to set off, only to find they'd sabotaged the car in other ways as well.

  • In the fictional town of Lake Wobegon (as heard on A Prairie Home Companion), everyone buys either Fords or Chevys, depending on religion. This is mandatory. In one case, someone who bought foreign couldn't get his car started the next day 'cause someone had stuck a potato up the tailpipe.
  • In Tree From My Youth, Salsa is able to destroy a Pig Mask tank by shoving what is implied to be his own feces in the tailpipe.

    Video Games 
  • In the second case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
    • A car is disabled by — wait for it — a pair of panties. MAGICAL panties. To the relief of one and all, the person who they were stolen from (yes, stolen from) doesn't wear them; they're part of a Bag of Holding-type act. But that doesn't make the choice of prop any less disturbing...
    • During the course of that case, something similar happens to Klavier Gavin's motorcycle; his bike's tailpipe gets clogged due to him using the wrong oil.
  • A variant occurs in a Flash game based on the cartoon Catscratch. Because Gordon, Waffle, and Mr. Blik are in a monster truck with very large tailpipes, the tailpipes are stuffed with watermelons, pumpkins, or an entire bunch of bananas instead.
  • Not in the game itself, but in a Diddy Kong Racing promo video from Nintendo Power, at one point, the host mentions someone stuffed a bag of acorns into the tailpipe of Krunch's plane, with Conker being the primary suspect.
  • In Jet Fighters II on iPhone, there's an unlockable Taunt called Banana Plug. It depicts the exhaust of a jet filled with bananas.
  • In the [AUTOMOTIVE MECHANIC] job simulation in Job Simulator, one of the things you can do to mess with cars is stick bananas in the tailpipes.
  • In The Sims 4, you can attempt to "Stuff a Fruit in [the] Exhaust Pipe" of a rocket ship. Trying to fly a rocket ship this way will almost certainly cause your Sim to crash and burn to death.
  • In Space Quest 5: The Next Mutation, the hero, Roger Wilco, is being stalked by a gynoid that's out to kill him for alleged mail fraud. How does Roger Wilco save himself? By hiding in a log, then, when the gynoid lands on top of said log, sticking a banana-like fruit in the exhaust pipe of her jet pack, causing it to explode.
  • Spider-Man (2000): In the game for the PlayStation, you have to close several smokestacks with covers, to cause an effect "like a banana in a tailpipe". In the sillier What If? mode, the tops of the covers actually have giant bananas on them.


    Web Original 
  • This is the only reason DazzlingAddar can think of for the little car in Donkey Kong 64 to have a Golden Banana, though whether he thinks of the car doing this to other cars or to itself depends on the level.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, Hayley's attempts to stop industrialists from bulldozing a forest include shoving a banana in the exhaust pipe of a bulldozer, but she's interrupted by a group of eco-terrorists who ask her to join them.
  • In Arthur, the family car was disabled by a toy rattle in the tailpipe. The family only figured it out after Arthur called Car Talk.
  • At the end of the Bump in the Night episode "It Sang from Beyond the Stars", Mr. Bumpy puts a potato into the tailpipe of Sleemoth and Gloog's UFO after tricking them into leaving. This causes their spaceship to explode and the two aliens to drift off into space.
  • A clear Shout-Out in the super-short-lived Clerks: The Animated Series: one episode revolved around spoofing courtroom dramas and featured actor Judge Reinhold as...well, an actual judge: the Honorable Judge Reinhold. The episode became a crazy patchwork of dream sequences, usually ending in a Catapult Nightmare for the character having the dream. In Reinhold's dream, his final verdict is interrupted by Detective Axel Foley, the lead character of the Beverly Hills Cop series, bursting into the courtroom and telling "Billy" he needed his help. (Judge Reinhold played Detective William Rosewood in the 'Beverly Hills Cop'' films.) Reinhold eagerly drops his black robe and rushes to Axel's aid. The two spend many happy hours stuffing bananas in tailpipes and laughing as cars malfunction...until the fruit vendor runs out of bananas, at which point it's Reinhold's turn to catapult awake.
  • In a Code Lyoko comic, Odd tries to do this to a bunch of bulldozers pipes. It works as well as one would expect.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Viewer Mail No. 2 (Point of Stew)", Stewie attempts to stuff a Twinkie in Brian's tailpipe, only to have it shot back to his face and ends up on an unexpected ride with Brian.
  • Futurama
    • In the episode "The Honking", Leela plans to kill the were-car by shoving a silver potato in its tailpipe. Unfortunately, it doesn't have one, "thanks to Ed Begley Jr.'s electric motor, the most evil propulsion system ever conceived!"
    • In "Into the Wild Green Yonder", the Feministas sabotage a sweeper by pouring sugar in the fuel tank and shoving an organic potato (crawling with worms) in the tailpipe.
  • In an episode of Goof Troop, Max and PJ lie to their fathers about joining the baseball team, so they try various methods to keep them from going to the games and finding out the truth. One of those methods is filling Goofy and Pete's exhaust pipes with cement.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016): In "Man Up 2: Still Man-ing", Buttercup stops Manboy's weaponized lawnmower by clogging the exhaust pipe with a bottle cap, which makes the engine explode.
  • Rolling with the Ronks!: "The Ronk Race" has a scene where Flash resorts to cheating in the race by jamming a banana in one of the thrusters of Rob's ship.
  • In Transformers: Prime, Jack and Smokescreen return from a mission together laughing their heads off. Smokescreen asks what Jack put in his boss's exhaust pipe, and Jack responds with "Pizza". They specifically dump fast food on people's cars as a way of circumventing the fact that they shouldn't be violently hurting people for petty reasons. Arcee is less than impressed.
  • In Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, Zack disables Carmen's flying machine by shooting an arrow into the exhaust port.

    Real Life 

And stop snickering already! That's not what this trope means!!


Video Example(s):


200 mph

Shawn's three zucchini and a gourd in Tommy's tailpipe cause his car to break down at the police barricade.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / BananaInTheTailpipe

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