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"You're looking at 2,000 horsepower of nitro-boosted war machine."
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When Testosterone Poisoning hits the road.

A Sister Trope to Cool Car, this is the kind where even four wheels isn't enough, you need the diesel fumes and huge smoking pipes and plenty of axles and... well, you have the big rig truck that tends to be a mainstay in action movies and the like. And driving in one of these things is quite ideal for Hard Truckin'.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Daimos in his Tranzer form.
  • The Mammoth Car from Speed Racer, essentially a train on the road. Bonus points for being made of solid gold.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Jim Cook has the Fusion Monster Fossil Machine Skullconvoy, which is a Badass Rig made of stone. (It Makes Sense in Context, really it does.)
  • Transformers: Robots in Disguise has a few of these. Scourge is a tanker trailer truck. Optimus Prime, though usually a trailer truck himself, is now a large fire truck whose rear section becomes his battle armor. Mega-Octane, a huge artillery flatbed, is basically a redecoed Onslaught. And Ultra Magnus is a car carrier truck just like the original G1 Ultra Magnus.
  • In one episode of New Dominion Tank Police the titular Tank Police have to deal with a Dai Nippon Giken truck carrying a hazardous compound which is hurtling towards a populated city.
  • Lupin and Co. are chased by a massive one in The Mystery of Mamo. It manages to crush several police cars on its rampage and barely manages to turn a sharp corner. Lupin's Mini is easily able to drive underneath it!
  • Rebuild World:
    • The unscrupulous Arms Dealer and Intrepid Merchant Katsuragi trades out of a hulking armed and armored wilderness truck with a heavy machinegun mount at the top he fires, to make the high risk journeys between cities separated by Death World wilderness.
    • As part of a Fictional Holiday called The Great Distribution, the government of the setting provides free transport between cities in convoys of these for economic reasons, since it’s often impossible otherwise. Akira gets assigned on an Escort Mission for one. The rigs have strong Deflector Shields as well as a huge Wave-Motion Gun to help with large monsters.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man once fought a trucker who fancied himself a crime fighter named Razorback (who was rather incompetent and had a pretty dumb-looking cowl that looked like a boar's head; the story was written back when CB radios were becoming a fad for motorists other than truckers). Having said that, the modified rig he drove - which he named "The Big Pig" — was kind of cool; he could even drive it using a remote control.
  • The U.S. 1 rig from the shortlived Marvel Comics title U.S. 1. Its cameo appearance many years later was pretty cool if only because of the fact that the thing had obtained the capacity to operate in deep space.
  • In 1991, there was a single-issue comic from Timothy Truman called Dragon Chiang. Dragon Chiang was a spin-off set in the Scout post-apocalyptic world. Dragon Chiang was a Communist Chinese trucker who drove an 18-wheeled, nuclear-powered rig that was more like a train - to trade with denizens of the China/Soviet/USA economic bloc.
  • Image Comics had Joe Casey's Super Soldier Antihero Butcher Baker: The Righteous Maker drive a rig that was capable of being remotely driven and had an adamantium-vibranium alloy grille for ramming through things.
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    Film — Animated 
  • Mack from Cars is a rare benign version. The only thing fearful about him is when he nods off to sleep while in motion.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The eponymous Battletruck (from the New Zealand sci-fi film also called Warlords Of The 21st Century).
  • Billy from Beverly Hills Cop II steals a truck in pursuit of a suspect.
  • Jack Burton's truck in Big Trouble in Little China.
  • In Cold Pursuit, Nels uses his heavy-duty snowplow as weapon during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Buttoned up inside it, he is able to cut a swathe through two heavily armed gangs who are shooting and him and each other.
  • The Joker's semitruck from The Dark Knight.
  • The LandMasters from Damnation Alley.
  • The Dreadnought from Death Race The third movie has the hilariously huge trucks driven by Joker and Nero, which, respectively, have a tank turret and an anti-air cannon for weapons.
  • The truck from Duel is a humongous (compared to the Plymouth Valiant it's chasing) 1955 "Needlenose" Peterbilt 281, Covered in Gunge, with license plates hanging from its front grill.
  • The big rig from Land of the Dead is also a Weaponised Vehicle.
  • Mad Max film series:
    • The tanker truck Max and the tribesmen use in the climatic chase scene in The Road Warrior.
    • The War Rigs from Mad Max: Fury Road. The one used by our heroes has two massive supercharged V8s up front, the back half of a vintage sedan stuck on the back of the cab for passengers and two defensive nests made from other cars on top of the tanker trailer. The Gas Town rig has an entire 70s Mercedes limo as its cab, and a functioning mini-refinery on the back to allow it to refuel other cars on the road. Several other equally huge and equally awesome vehicles are present but either not technically big trucks (The Gigahorse is more a monster truck, the Doof Wagon's truck portion is much smaller) or quite prominent enough to count (the car carrier occasionally panned across but never seen doing anything significant).
  • Maximum Overdrive, king among them being the big black toy company rig that had a hood modified with the face of the Green Goblin. Weren't these from before Stephen King's car accident, though?
  • Road Train has a two-trailer road train which runs the kids off the road, renders them insane and encourages them to kill each other, and has a mechanism in the lead trailer to shred bodies and render them down into gore, which it appears to use as a fuel with lubricant.
  • Doctor Robotnik's self-described "Evil Lair" in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): an enormous, matte-black truck and trailer that contains own highly-sophisticated laboratory, launching and recharging points for his numerous Badnik drones, and even its own self-contained hangar for his hoverjet.
  • Terminator
    • The finale for The Terminator has the Terminator chasing down the protagonists (on foot) in an 18 wheeler oil tank truck. Reese utilizes a well-timed grenade to blow up the truck, causing the Terminator to burn and reveal his terrifying metal endoskeleton.
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day has the T-1000 chasing John Connor off the road and into a canal, and only a direct collision against solid concrete stops it. Later on in the film, the T-1000 acquires a tank truck containing liquid nitrogen, which eventually leads into a huge crash and the now iconic T-1000 freezing/melting scene.
  • Transformers Film Series
    • In the first three films, Optimus Prime has a Peterbilt 379 vehicle mode. Unlike most of his animated appearances, his vehicle mode is a conventional truck (with the engine ahead of the driver), and doesn't have a trailer for most movies. In Age of Extinction, because he's on the run from his former human allies he has adopted a rusted old Marmon 97 cab-over design more reminiscent of his classic look. When he decides to stop hiding and get dangerous he scans a Western Star 4900 Phantom Custom and applies his red-on-blue Hot Paint Job to it.
    • For Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Megatron adopts a new alternate mode in order to hide in the African savannah that certainly fits this trope. A heavily modified Mack tanker truck littered with spikes and chains, it would fit right in on the set of Mad Max.
    • In Age of Extinction, the KSI corporation is attempting to replace Optimus with a superior man-made drone called Galvatron. About the only aspect of Optimus that KSI successfully copies for Galvatron is his alt mode, a sleek gray cab-over semi that contrasts nicely with the boxy, rusted-out cab-over that Optimus starts the movie disguised as. And it probably only happened because Megatron was willing to let them copy that much.
  • In the Joy Ride film series, the villain has a big scary Peterbilt 379 rig which he almost never leaves.

    Literature 
  • Demon Road: American Monsters has Amber and Milo running from a Peterbilt, also a demonic symbiote like the Charger. Demoriel, the Whispering Demon, makes deals with those who have conveyances, such as cars in the modern age; Milo is wanted by Demoriel because he welched on his deal, and the Peterbilt's driver is another one of his. He even picks up a young girl they met earlier and breaks her mind, trying to use her to kill Amber.
  • In The Pushcart War, three truck companies are the villains. The biggest and baddest of their truck models are the Mighty Mammoth, Ten-Ton Tiger and Leaping Lema.
  • Near the end of Fighting Fantasy gamebook Freeway Fighter, your protagonist has to give up his combat supercar to an allied refinery, but in return he gets a tanker truck with a machine gun turret mounted on it and enough gasoline to supply a city's entire line of farming machines.
  • In Rain of Doom Able Team have to infiltrate Syria in the middle of a civil war. They use a semi-truck and trailer that their contact has been using to regularly smuggle contraband into Damascus, but modified with steel plate armor, solid inner core tires and concealed firing slits.

    Live Action TV 

    Pinball 
  • "Ramp Warrior," the original version of Truck Stop, featured a flame-belching longnose tractor ramming its way past various barricades.
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    Tabletop Games 
  • Car Wars: It's quite possible to create one of these. One of the game's factions, the Brotherhood of Truckers, drives nothing but these... and you really don't want to piss them off enough to have them gang up on you.
  • Gaslands has these in the form of the War Rigs, which can really be just about anything you want, though normally based on a semi-trailer; after the release of one expansion for first ed, you could happily build it in the shape of a pirate ship, due to a new pirate-themed sponsor. Also monster trucks.
  • Nuclear Renaissance has these by definition, due to the massive, chunky nature of every vehicle, making them largely into small trucks, carries over into the massive truck minis; even more so the no-longer-produced Truckapillar, a colossus with four of the manufacturer's biggest track units (also no longer in production).
  • Warhammer 40,000: Ork wartrukks. Each one is unique to its maker, has guns everywhere they can be strapped on (when not using less conventional but entirely Orky weaponry like a wrecking ball the size of its engine), is loaded down with external platforms for fitting extra boyz, bristles with exhaust vents, is lavishly decorated with clan totems, grinning skull symbols and the like, and of course, go faster if painted red. This goes for the typical Ork trukk — the warbosses' and meks' personal rides are invariably even more elaborate and baroque. This trope if often deliberately invoked, as Orks make a point of building their trukks for maximum noise, fearsomeness and smoke production, entirely because they like the look.

    Toys 
  • Tyco released a range of slot trucks. Not racing or otherwise trucks, like monsters or technicals, but Heavy Combination class semi-trailers with a load of some commodity in their trailers. You know, like you'd see on the highway. OK but not something you think of usually racing, or playing with on a race track. It was the need to make such a thing interesting that led to the US-1 comics mentioned above, which are surprisingly fun to read, stupid as they are.

    Video Games 
  • American Truck (one of Telenet Japan's earliest games). Driving an 18-wheeler makes it easy to run other cars off the road.
  • Ostensibly the premise behind the game Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.
  • Dawn of War II: Retribution has a bossfight against an ork monstrosity of a battlewagon, a combination troop transport truck/road roller/tank that's so tough it can't even be brought down by normal weapons but needs to be dodged so it rams into Explosive Barrels. In the ork campaign, they actually fix it up and loot it for themselves. Oh, and this avatar of destruction and noise is named "Daisy".
  • Also the premise of Sega arcades 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker and King Of Route 66.
  • Euro Truck Simulator features a realistic take on driving these. Real-life cab-over models from Volvo, Renault, and other manufacturers are available, as well as several Bland-Name Product trucks. Game Mods can add bigger and more badass trucks, such as American-style 18-wheelers. These American trucks are the focus of the obviously titled American Truck Simulator.
  • In Freedom Planet, Mayor Zao of Shang Mu transports his ENTIRE ARMY in one of these things. It's essentially a train, an absolutely massive truck pulling probably upwards of twenty cars all packed to the brim with troops.
  • The Vehicular Combat trucks from Gear Grinder.
  • In a similar vein to the Mythbusters example above, Grand Theft Auto V has the "Phantom Wedge". Basically an in-game Phantom tractor with the same wedge installed to fling other cars aside. The Gunrunning update also includes a heavily-armored and triple-turreted Mobile Operations Center which also serves as an upgrade shop for the update's weaponized vehicles.
  • Hard Truck Apocalypse: This lesser known PC Vehicular Combat/Role-Playing Game (known as Ex Machina in Russia) and it's expansion. You start off with a rather plain truck with a machine gun but as you go along you can buy new trucks and upgrades. Heavily modified trucks tend to end up as pint-sized land battleships. Like this one.
  • PlanetSide and the sequel have the Sunderer APC. The original Sunderer is absolutely huge, being almost two stories tall, with half a dozen manned turrets and the ability to carry around two MAX suits. A patch later gave it a cattle-catcher to the front. The sequel's is slightly smaller than the original, and takes a hit to adaptability (it only carries two turrets, though they are much more dangerous on their own) in exchange for being able to deploy to activate a mobile spawnpoint, breach forcefield gates, and crush smaller vehicles by ramming them. The Sunderer doesn't look too truck-y by default, but players can buy developer and player-designed cosmetics such as smoke stacks, custom wheels, cattle catchers, and alternate front and rear ends.
  • The GUN Truck from Sonic Adventure 2. It's big enough to fill a whole street, agile enough to make sharp turns at said size, and fast enough to keep up with Sonic. In Sonic Generations, it has rockets for added mobility (including driving along walls), it's constantly dispensing GUN robot troops, and it has three gigantic buzzsaws that it tries to puree you with.
  • Darkside in it's many iterations from Twisted Metal.
    • The reboot gave us Juggernaut. With the game's momentum-based collision damage, driving fast, then braking and whipping the trailer would swing it hard enough to obliterate the smaller vehicles. The trailer can also be opened to let an ally drive into it, and take control of an anti-aircraft gun mounted to the roof. The sides also open up to reveal two rows of large round spiked explosives, which are launched forward as its special weapon.
  • Convoy from Vigilante 8 drives a large yellow Mack truck. The sequel gives him the ability to attach a trailer to the back of it, turn the wheels into jet engines or skis.
  • In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, the Final Boss has Kirby use Mouthful Mode on a big rig to slam the Big Bad and prevent it from performing a Colony Drop using Planet Popstar.
  • Fortnite added working vehicles in chapter 2, which naturally included these. They've the slowest land vehicles out there, but their horsepower means you could scale steeper slopes and run through multiple walls with them until your speed is sufficiently reduced. Then chapter 3 lets you add cowcatchers to them, making them nearly unstoppable.

    Web Animation 
  • Lewis steals Rooster's rig and uses his ghostly powers to transform the breakfast foods transport into a dekotora inspired ghost possessed vengeance-mobile to chase down Arthur and Vivi in Mystery Skulls Animated.

    Web Original 
  • The roads into Ravensblight are haunted by two rigs; the Phantom Semi runs people off the road, honks and disappears, less like a villain than a child playing who thinks he's not hurting anyone but is too immature to see that that isn't true, and an old truck which looks suspiciously like the one from Duel, but is driven by a helpful person named Chester Floyd, whose face cannot be seen. When you mention who gave you a lift at the gas station he drops you at, you suddenly expect the clerk to say "worst accident I ever did..." but, no, it's "Chester, Yeah he was just in here. Came in for some Cheesy Yums." Double subverted when you mention your apprehension and he responds "Dead? Oh, yeah, he's dead all right, worst accident I ever did see... Still, he comes in here every so often for some Cheesy Yums. He loves those things. Don't see how he eats 'em, though; not havin' a head and all..."
  • Parodied in a The Angry Video Game Nerd episode on Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing, which features a commercial where spokesman Rex Viper Rigs treats the aforementioned game and its big rigs as testosterone incarnate.

    Western Animation 
  • King of the Hill — Hank is going to transport a single piece of furniture long distance for his mother, and rents a full-size semi rig for the job. As he justifies his choice to his awestruck friends, Bill sighs "You don't have to explain to us, Hank!"
  • Rhino, Outlaw, Goliath and Bulldog from M.A.S.K..
  • Transformers:
    • Optimus Prime, plain and simple. Tractor trailers would become a mainstay after that, and Optimus would appear as other kinds of vehicles (and animals!), but there's a very good reason he's most associated with a truck.
    • The Decepticons had an equivalent in Generation 1 who also turned into a rig, Motor Master, the leader of the Stunticons and the core component of the Decepticon gestalt, Menasor. He was incredibly tough, but in one episode he dared try to face Optimus Prime in a head-on-head collision; it was a Curb-Stomp Battle with the villain on the curb.
    • There was also Ultra Magnus, who was somewhat bigger than Optimus because he incorporated his trailer into his robot mode (the Japanese toy he was based on was a super-mode version of the one Optimus was based on).
    • Finally, there was Octane, a Decepticon triple-changer who could transform into either a fuel truck or a fuel aircraft.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has an in-universe unintentional example in "Operation: P.I.A.N.O.," in which a truck taking up the entire width of the highway is barreling down the road, knocking off any other vehicles it overtakes. The driver is a jolly old man who treats this destruction on the road as just another day at work and, until toward the end of the episode, doesn't even realize the Kids Next Door operatives are trying to stop him from completing his delivery of pianos. His truck is just that fast, well-armored, and maneuverable.
  • ReBoot has an episode affectionately parodying Mad Max in which the series villain Megabyte gets transformed into a massive semi complete with his face on the front.

    Real Life 
  • "Road trains" in Australia, essentially one truck pulling up to eight trailers at once.
  • Off-road trucks designed for heavy hauling in the post-World War II years, made to become artillery tractors or tank tractors if a major war happened again. All were very similar in basic layout, built around a very large and slow-turning Diesel or gasoline engine, all wheel drive, large tires with strong grip and weight distribution made for towing. While they did saw military use, their fame comes from civilian jobs, towing extra-large loads over rough ground and carrying oil drilling machinery in the wilderness:
    • Soviet KrAZ-214/255 series and MAZ-535/543
      • As the years wore on, the oil prices rose, and the KrAZ' fuel-guzzling gasoline engine became a liability, so in The '80s it was replaced in Russia by the diesel Ural-4320, still in production. This huge 6×6 is still a mainstay of the offroad heavy trucking in Russia and environments,note  even though its replacement is finally getting released.
    • Czechoslovak Tatra 813 series
    • German Kaelble KDV series
    • French Berliet GBO 15 series and the absolutely gigantic Berliet T 100
    • British Thornycroft Antar.
    • Most any gun truck, but the Deuce-and-a-half with the "meat chopper" gets special mention.
  • The ultimate movers, the haul trucks, which are basically self-propelled hoppers designed to efficiently move hundreds of tons of dirt/ore/coal/etc. in the open-pit mines that are still too small to lay a railway in. It's hard to be more badass than a dump truck the size of a large house, carrying 200 tons of coal under the power of two locomotive engines. These aren't to post any speed records, though.
  • In Alaska, rural interstate snowplows are based on big Peterbilt and Mack trucks, with the (obvious) addition of snow-clearing equipment and an Enemy-Detecting Radar; the drivers have a heads-up-display which shows a radar display to detect where the truck is on the road for driving in zero-visibility conditions, and will it shake either side of the driver's chair if they start to veer off of the road.
  • While gun artillery has moved on to tank-like armored vehicles, rocket and missile artillery is still very clearly truck-like. Take, for example, the M270 MLRS, which looks for all the world like an weaponized, tracked dump truck.


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