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Captain Crash

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"If it's got wings, I can crash it!"

"A good landing is one you can walk away from. A great landing is one where they can use the plane again afterwards."
Common aviation proverb

Everyone's encountered or at least heard of this character. They're the Patrician of Demolition, the Czar of "Fubar", and the Master of Disaster.

They're supposedly an accomplished captain/pilot/driver, but whenever they get behind the controls of any vehicle, they crash it. Even if they're in the desert with nothing to crash into, they'll somehow find a way. To their credit, having a reputation for crashing repeatedly means their crashes are, at the very least, survivable, so they do have that going for them.

Sometimes the crashes are not their fault; they just seem to attract bad luck. Still, with all the crashes they've been in, it's a wonder anyone trusts them to drive or that their license hasn't been revoked. Their insurance rates are probably through the roof. Is often depicted as Innocently Insensitive or a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant, if not an out-and-out Cloudcuckoolander. "Crash course" puns are obligatory.

This trope can be convenient for characters hiring or having a pilot - no one else wanted Captain Crash, so they were available.

Can be somewhat justifiable for rookies crashing planes, because taking off and flying are much easier than landing. The landing is where the real skill shows itself.

Sister trope of the Disposable Pilot, who generally doesn't even survive his first crash. See also: Drives Like Crazy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Macross:
    • Hikaru Ichijo/Rick Hunter of Super Dimension Fortress Macross/Robotech gets his Valkyrie trashed a lot. It's so bad, that even his coma delirium mocks him for it repeatedly (and even has him crashing a bicycle!) in the episode "Phantasm".
    • Though not nearly as much as Alto in Macross Frontier, who trashes a new plane every other episode or so. In the epilogue, he managed to set his perfectly-undamaged Valkyrie on fire, after the battle was over, and scuttled it as it was breaking apart.
  • Seta in Love Hina usually enters a chapter by crashing his van, but emerging without major injury. His protégé Keitaro picks up the trait by the final chapters.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • It's generally of the "not actually their fault" variant, but there's an unspoken rule that if someone of the Joestar bloodline gets into a plane, it will crash. No exceptions. Cars, trains, boats and submarines have a similar tendency to crash somehow when a Joestar is near. Oh, and an helicopter, but that was highly intentional. Although it's more of a side effect of the family being a Weirdness Magnet than it is a problem they specifically have with vehicles.
    • Joseph, in particular, is the king of this to the point of it being lampshaded in-universe. He's crashed at least 4 planes, one ship, a submarine and a car during the course of his life. The fun part is that when he was a kid, he dreamed of being a Royal Air Force pilot like his father (he became a real estate mogul instead).
  • Sagara Sōsuke from Full Metal Panic! seems to be this. Of course, part of it might be explained by how most of the instances where he's driving have been dangerous car chase scenes (where it's only natural that he would be crashing through things and driving crazy). But then one starts to wonder when, during an instance where he isn't even being chased, he ends up running an obvious red light and crashes into another car. And then there's his crazy "driving" when he is riding on a bicycle... honestly, people should get the idea and just not let him drive. Kaname seems to agree.
    Kaname: How many times does this make? I swear, I'm never getting into a vehicle that you're driving again.
  • Area 88: While very much an Ace Pilot, Shin Kazama manages to get at least three or four planes shot out from under him, depending on the continuity. His luckier comrades also have tendencies in this directions. The rest, well, Anyone Can Die.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Heero Yuy. Utterly lethal in mobile suit combat, but the number of suits he's totalled or seriously damaged defies belief. He has had at least two Leos and the Mercurius shot out from under him, as well as wrecking Wing Zero in Endless Waltz (although that took some doing.) And then there is Wing Gundam. Poor, poor Wing Gundam. To date, Heero has crashed it into the ocean, attempted to self-detonate it, attempted to blow it up with torpedoes, actually self-detonated it, then finally had it shot out from under him before getting his Mid-Season Upgrade. One has to wonder what Trowa was thinking when he lent him Heavyarms... Ironically he actually got Heavyarms through that mission totally intact.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala have each had only one of their mobile suits survive the end of the series (one each across two series), every other suit they used was totaled, though Athrun went though far more suits, to the point if he touched it it was probably doomed and Kira's tended to be rebuilt and destroyed again. To be specific Athrun self destructs Aegis to fight Kira, self destructs Justice to stop the GENESIS laser, had his ZAKU totalled during re-entry, and gets Saviour damaged beyond repair by Kira. Kira meanwhile gets the Strike wrecked against said Aegis self-destructing (It's repaired and given to Mu, who gets it completely destroyed), gets Freedom wrecked against Rau in the final battle of SEED. In Destiny Freedom is repaired and Kira pilots it again, until Shinn also wrecks it, this time beyond repair. Only their final Strike Freedom and Infinite Justice units manage to remain unwrecked. Even then, Infinite Justice ended the war with its transformable backpack missing, having been used to ram the Requiem's muzzle near the end of the final battle.
    • And then there's Patrick Collasour from Gundam 00, whose habit of being shot down in every single mission he's assigned to, but always surviving for the next, became a Running Gag for the show.
  • In Gunsmith Cats, Rally Vincent wrecks her car on multiple occasions despite proving her worth in multiple street races. At one point it is even mentioned that she can't get insurance anymore.
  • Enryu from GaoGaiGar has a tendency towards this, despite being a transforming fire truck: any time he's launched out of the Mirror Catapult, it can be safely assumed that his return to the ground will be devoid of any grace whatsoever. And apparently his Chinese counterpart, Rairyu, shares the same problem, as do both of the French Dragons, Kouryu and Anryu. 2/3 of the Dragon Braves, it seems, are masters of the divine art of the faceplant.
  • Rosette Christopher of Chrono Crusade has gotten into so many car accidents that even the mangaka isn't sure whether or not she has a license.
  • In the manga adaption of Kingdom Hearts, Sora takes control of the Gummi Ship at one point... and rams it into a meteor near Traverse Town, causing Donald to furiously ban him from the controls.
    • Sora does not learn his lesson in Kingdom Hearts II, as he attempts to fly it again without permission. This time, however, the trope is averted, as he manages to barely avoid crashing the ship into another meteor.
    • Donald himself seems to show signs of this trope when he accidentally grabs onto a Magnum Loader and causes it to go wild all over the place while Sora and Goofy try to help him. Played for laughs, mostly, until he crashes into Tron, causing the latter to drop a required piece of data and destroy it.
  • Armored Trooper VOTOMS, The protagonist Chirico Cuvie gets his mecha destroyed in almost every battle.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern: Hal Jordan is a test pilot for the Air Force, and constantly crashes planes by taking them well beyond test parameters.
  • Killboy from Deff Skwadron. A deliberate example, since his entire flying style is founded on Ramming Always Works. His squadron mate Razguts alternates between crashing because something went wrong or he got too carried away to notice he was in a bad situation, and crashing because his teammates shot him down because they thought it'd be funny.
  • Almost everyone in Sin City crashes his or her car, often due to Car Fu.
  • In the Lucky Luke episode Going Up the Mississippi the machinist, "Bangs", is stated to have exploded fourteen river boats. Subverted in the end: This time the other boat explodes, much to his surprise.
  • Cyclops of the X-Men is this. Starting when he was orphaned during a plane crash (although aliens were involved), then there was that time with the first mission of the new X-Men, then once with Lee Forrester, then again with Storm and Xavier. Other characters have started calling him out on this.
  • According to Spider-Man, anyone who flies to the Savage Land. The Savage Lands have mystical properties that prevent anything from flying near or in them other than through manual means. Villains like Sauron can fly because he manually flaps his wings, but Mutants like Rogue and Magneto are left stranded, and technological means just don't work. Get close enough to the South Pole and you will crash. And if by some miracle you don't, the local wildlife will be only too happy to help with that.
  • From Mélusine, we have apprentice witch Cancrelune who have so many different ways of crashing her Flying Broomstick that we can probably write an entire encyclopedia about it.
  • Both Robo and Bernard in Atomic Robo have something of a reputation for this. Robo, for example, has spent a fair chunk of his military experience being shot down or crash-landing in interesting new action science crises, and Bernard is a geologist who has no business flying hypertech aircraft.
    Robo: Who's flying that thing?
    Robo: Hi, Bernard.
  • The Ultimates: Never let Captain America fly a plane, because he believes "parachutes are for girls". One of the first things he's seen doing is flying a plane straight into enemy fortifications. It even ends up being what kills him in Cataclysm, when he flies a plane into Galactus, to absolutely no effect.

    Comic Strips 
  • Whenever we meet Spaceman Spiff in the Calvin and Hobbes comics, he's crash landing on some planet. Often it's after being shot down by aliens, but one throwaway panel of a Sunday Strip has him wondering what the "E" on the fuel gauge means.
    • There's a Shout-Out to this in the card game Cosmic Encounter, with the "Spiff" race, who have the power to "crash-land" when they lose a battle.
    • Also, Calvin rarely pilots his sled or wagon without flying off a ravine or crashing into a tree.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series notes that Calvin makes it a point to crash his wagon at least twice a week.
  • Captains Crash: Launchpad, of course. Justified in that he's actually doing it deliberately, and the Wonderbolts theorize he has some kind of innate magical talent that assists him in always walking away from the crash unscathed. By the fic's end, he's been hired as an instructor at the Academy to teach its students how to crash safely, so they don't get hurt. A minor amount of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome deconstruction occur before that happens, though — Spitfire refuses to hire him as long as the deliberate crashing mentality is his standard, because whether or not he always comes out okay, that is just a very serious degree of reckless endangerment. After he trains it out of his system, then they are all okay with hiring him.
  • In Luna's Power and Rainbow's Love, Luna spends the first two chapters poking fun at Rainbow Dash's tendency to crash. It doesn't help that Rainbow pretty much starts the story by crashing into a tree.
  • Akira and Ann make an escape in The Evil Queen by holding onto Akira's Persona Arsene and fly out of a tall building. They soon discover, to their horror, that Arsene was never meant to fly while carrying passengers. The trio end up crashing into a police car on the way down.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the Ankh-Morpork City Air Watch are policewomen for most of the time. They are also in continual training for what Lord Vetinari wants them to be for the rest of the time - a fighting Air Force. When deployed to the skies over Lancre and the Chalk to fight Elves, they bring in new recruit pilots drawn from young Witches in training who have an aptitude for flying. One, Matilda Glossop, distinguishes herself in her first combat flight by shooting down an Elf and then crashing her broomstick in a spectacular power-dive. Matilda walks away, more or less unscathed; but soon gets a nickname in the Air Watch - "Death Of Broomsticks".
    • A tale in preparation has the senior ranks of the Air Watch assessing a batch of hopefuls drawn from the latest Lancre training coven. One girl, who desperately, keenly, wants to become an Air Witch, is also a pilot who is indifferent in the air and who has a distressing tendency to crash, as she hasn't quite got the hang of landing. Captain Olga Romanoff wonders how to break it to her gently that she simply isn't, and never will be, good enough. note 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Summer Break expands the Joestars' tendency towards crashing vehicles into a hereditary curse. Each Jojo has one form of transportation that will crash in some way if they're on it; Jonathan sinks ships, Joseph crashes planes, Jotaro crashes cars, and Giorno wrecks trains.
  • Despite being a natural flier in Harry Is a Dragon, and That's OK, and also having natural talent on a broomstick, Harry inevitably crashes when he tries to combine the two.

    Films — Animation 
  • Orville the albatross in The Rescuers, as well as his brother Wilbur in The Rescuers Down Under. Truth in Television, as real albatrosses are masters of the air, yet largely useless on land.
    • Orville's Establishing Character Moment is soaring down majestically for a landing... then skidding on his face in the runway. He gets up like nothing happened, calling it "one of my better landings".
    • In Wilbur's case, his problem is recklessness and stubbornness. When told the runway at Mugwomp Flats is too short for him, he insists that he can land of a dime and goes ahead. It's only through some quick thinking by the airport crew (Jake the kangaroo rat and a fly) that Wilbur and his passengers don't splatter on the ground.
  • Nigel from Finding Nemo keeps running into a closed window. Turns out some birds actually do this.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke crashes his Tauntaun, his snowspeeder, and his X-wing. This is all within an hour of the opening crawl.
    • It might have been In the Blood. Anakin crash-lands a Naboo N-1 starfighter into the hangar of a Trade Federation Droid Control Ship in The Phantom Menace, an Eta-2 interceptor into the hangar of the Invisible Hand's hangar bay in Revenge of the Sith, and finally the Invisible Hand into a spaceport on Coruscant. The latter two incidents happened within 20 minutes of each other during the film's prologue, mind you.
      Obi-Wan Kenobi: Another happy landing!
  • A running gag in Indiana Jones.
    • Quoth the third film:
      Henry Jones Sr.: I didn't know you could fly a plane!
      Indiana Jones: Fly, yes. Land, no.
    • At the conclusion of the flight (they have just crashed into a house):
      Henry Jones Sr.: Nice landing.
      Indiana Jones: Thanks.
    • Possibly a Call-Back to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, as Indy tried and failed to pilot a plane after its original pilots bailed out.
  • James Bond:
    • Q makes a point in some of the later movies of asking 007 to bring his gadgets back in one piece. They never do, especially not the cars.
      Natalya Simonova: Do you destroy every vehicle you get into?
      Bond: Standard operating procedure.
    • GoldenEye: Bond drives a motorcycle off a cliff into a nose-diving plane and barely straightens it in time; he barely manages to eject out of a helicopter before its own missiles destroy it; he wrecks a huge portion of St. Petersburg in a tank by ramming right through buildings; he derails an armoured train by firing a tank shell at it, and then uses the tank as a roadblock; he barely escapes the booby-trapped train before it blows up; then, in Cuba, the plane he's flying gets shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
    • Tomorrow Never Dies: Bond famously runs his BMW 750 off the top floor of a multi-storey car park and into the Avis rental office by remote.
    • Spectre: Shortly after snarkily informing Q that the latest Cool Car, a prototype worth three million quid, has been parked "at the bottom of the Tiber", he does some moderately insane stunt flying, featuring his small twin-engine plane up against a convoy of vehicles, ending with him trimming several feet off both wings, taking a very long skid, and crashing it through a house. Then he gets out and resumes kicking ass.
  • The absent-minded Admiral Benson in Hot Shots! gives us this line:
    Admiral Benson: You know, I've personally flown over 194 missions and I was shot down on every one. Come to think of it, I've never landed a plane in my life.
  • Trinity in The Matrix. She's a great fighter and one of the best characters, but make sure you aren't in a car, helicopter, or motorcycle with Trinity at the wheel! (Granted, most of her crashes are either deliberate, or happen because she didn't need the vehicle anymore and had no time to do anything but jump off and discard it while it was still running.)
  • Though using skates rather than a vehicle, Luis Mendoza in the Mighty Ducks trilogy is extremely fast on the ice but doesn't know how to stop without crashing either into the boards or another player. Except for that one time in the final game against Iceland in D2 where he blankets the goaltender in a snow shower and stuffs in a goal at the top of the crease to pull the Ducks to a 1 goal deficit.
  • Motorcycle cop (and resident Butt-Monkey) Myung-shik always ends up crashing any motorbike he gets on in Quick.
  • For a Badass Driver in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Max Rockatansky has terrible luck with his Pursuit Special. Counting the videogame, he's had it blown out from under him something like four times. In Mad Max: Fury Road he gets it blown out from under him, then the bad guys salvage it, then they get it blown out from under them, so it may just be cursed.
  • A joke/criticism of the Continuity Rebooted Star Trek series is that Kirk crashes the Enterprise every damn movie.
  • The Turnbottom Round constabulary as a whole, and Sgt. Dudfoot in particular in Ask a Policeman. Over the course of the film, they wreck the Chief Constable's car, a milkman's motorbike, a mobile coffee stall, and a double-decker bus.
  • In Bet Your Life, Sonny, a professional limo driver, destroys multiple vehicles (most of them not his) in his attempts to escape from Joseph and his goons, who are Hunting the Most Dangerous Game with him as the prey.

  • X-Wing Series:
    • It gives us Ascended Extra Derek 'Hobbie' Klivian and his much-lampshaded tendency toward spectacular crashes and long periods in a bacta tank. Despite this, he's unquestionably an Ace Pilot and even seems to make it work for him: no matter what violent fate befalls his vehicle, Hobbie will always eject, survive and be back kicking ass within the week.
    • The first-published comic arc in that series, The Rebel Opposition, makes it necessary to mention Hobbie's squadronmate Tycho. He put on Imperial guise and reported in saying that his TIE had crashed. They gave him a new one. He flew on a mission, was shot down by his own X-Wing (long story), ejected and survived, then returned to the Imperial base. They gave him a new one. Then he betrayed them. In fairness, TIE fighters are light, cheap, unshielded Fragile Speedsters mainly used for Zerg Rushing. Tycho's just lucky the TIE they gave him had an Ejection Seat, as many of them don't.
    • 'Face' Loran's backstory notes that he essentially bought his way into Starfighter Command, including buying his own starfighter... and on not one, but two occasions, a replacement fighter after being shot down.
    • Face's wingmate, Ton Phanan, is stated near the beginning of Wraith Squadron to have trouble landing. Furthermore, he loses no less than three fighters during the course of the series (though the first was just bad luck, and not really his fault). He's mortally wounded after the last one, though Face does at least manage to speak with him one last time.
    • Starfighters of Adumar includes the character of Tomer Darpen, nicknamed "Ejector" after a notorious crash landing in which his Ejection Seat fired after he managed to get his fighter stopped.
  • A romance novel where the hero, an airplane pilot, was called "Crash" ... because he crashed a car.
  • Marco from Animorphs apparently hates trash cans. To be fair, he was a teenage gorilla without a license.
  • Harry Potter is a natural flier, but people seem to love making him crash or fall. In Chamber of Secrets, he spends most of the Quidditch scene dodging a Bludger jinxed to go after him in particular. He catches the Snitch, only for the Bludger to break his arm and send him into the mud. In Prisoner, he blacks out and falls off the broom when Dementors invade the stadium. In Order of the Phoenix, Crabbe hits a Bludger at his back out of spite right after he catches the Snitch.
    • The Weasleys' elderly owl Errol has a tendency to crash-land when delivering mail, to the point of Running Gag.
  • In Royal Navy novel HMS Leviathan, set aboard an aircraft carrier, there is the hapless Sub-Lieutenant Stiggins, a pilot who manages to crash more than one multi-million pound jet aircraft, taking himself with it on his last crash. Stiggins also manages to wreck one of the ship's boats.
  • Catch-22's Orr practices crashing his plane so he can fake his death and get out of the (seemingly) endless war effort. Not that anyone could tell.
  • Richard Hannay (The Thirty-Nine Steps) ends up crashing almost every vehicle he gets into, although sometimes they pre-emptively break down instead.
  • Sinbad the Sailor had a bad habit of getting shipwrecked in his stories.
  • Callista Carmel of Tour of the Merrimack earned the nickname "Crash Carmel" for totaling a number of shuttles.
  • A variation afflicts Stephanie Plum - it's a Running Gag that any car she drives will eventually get set alight or blown up by her enemies.
  • Joe Pickett has this reputation. He has apparently trashed more official vehicles than any other Wyoming state employee. To be fair, most of the wrecks were caused by the criminals he was attempting to catch, but this does not make it any easier to explain to his superiors. His reputation even gets Lampshaded in the later novels.
  • Poor Captain Arsenio. Every time he tries to fly, Failure Is the Only Option.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An educational kids show called Amazing Planet about aliens learning about earth had the pilot's inability to land smoothly as a Running Gag. One of the few times that he did land smoothly, he had accidentally landed on the tip of a pyramid in Egypt without even realizing it, which led to the ship falling down the side of the pyramid when the ship became unbalanced. It makes sense since the ship's crew were janitors who launched themselves to earth by accident.
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    • Although being a competent pilot, Boomer is known for her terrible landing skills, causing a dent on her ship every time she lands.
    • Racetrack and her co-pilot Skulls fall into the bad-luck variety. There is nothing to show that Racetrack is a bad pilot. That doesn't change the fact she seems to attract errors, breakdowns, sabotages and attacks. Did the striking workers spike the fuel, casing a Raptor to spin out of control and crash into Colonial One? It'll be Racetrack's. Did chief mess up the repairs and caused a Raptor to crash on the landing deck? It's Racetrack's. Did a saboteur plant a bomb in a Raptor to kill Baltar's attorney? It's Racetrack's Raptor. Did the experimental jump drive cause a mis-jump? It was Racetrack and how she discovered New Caprica.
    • Lee "Apollo" Adama should also bear mentioning. He doesn't necessarily wreck a lot of stuff, but he has a penchant for wrecking important stuff. From the mini-series he manages to first disable his father's old fighter and then utterly trash it before the end. He goes on to wreck the only stealth fighter another character spend an entire episode fabricating. And then he wrecks The Pegasus, the more advanced of the pair of battlestars. It's a wonder that Daddy keeps giving him the keys.
  • There's usually at least one of these per season of Canada's Worst Driver.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor is noted for his terrible piloting skills, though he insists he's the best Gallifrey has to offer in that regard. Explanations for it have varied, from the Doctor's refusal to read the TARDIS instructions to the lack of a fully-manned console room to a faulty navigation circuit. His companions were no better.
    Doc Oho: Tegan stamps and kicks the TARDIS manual... a bad workwoman always blames his tools.
  • A Running Gag in The Fall Guy seems to be that Colt Seavers can't drive a car at speeds beyond what's legal within a city. He seems to get to work and back safely, but high-speed chases end up as wreckfests (although it's usually only the vehicle that Colt drives that's wrecked). There's one episode in which Colt totals his truck, then Howie's vehicle (whenever Howie has a car, you can count on Colt destroying it), Jody's car and then Big Jack's car, resulting in nobody else being willing to lend him a vehicle. His problem is probably that he usually only drives fast in a car when it's a stunt in which he has to crash it, so he got a bit too used to it.
  • Non-aircraft example: Ralph Hinkley on The Greatest American Hero was barely able to control the flying part of his costume-granted flight powers, so he rarely (if ever) pulled off a decent landing.
  • Hibiki from Kamen Rider Hibiki; especially ironic since Kamen Riders tend to be Badass Bikers.
  • Kingdom Adventure: Most of the time when he's in vulture-form, the shapeshifting, villainous spy named Dagger fails to land gracefully.
  • Mayday: Inevitable that it would show up from time to time, given how frequently pilot error factors into air crashes. But averted in other episodes where pilots are confronted with circumstances beyond their control; even in cases where the worst happens, the episodes sometimes make a point of noting that the pilots handled the situation as best they could, but there was nothing they could do to avert a crash.
    • On several occasions, the show covered a pilot who may have purposefully crashed the plane in a murder-suicide.
    • Captain Lutz of Crossair Flight 3597 was almost literally this before his fatal accident, and yet his airline continued to let him fly.
  • This was a running joke when referencing Uncle Albert in Only Fools and Horses.
  • Lt. Frank Drebin of Police Squad! (1982) would park by smashing his car into something (trash cans, bicycles, other cars) at least Once per Episode. The running gag is that in the first episode he hits one trash can, two in the second, three in the third, etc. The series was cancelled before this got truly ridiculous.
  • Saturday Night Live: The titular character of the Toonces the Driving Cat segments always ends up launching his car over a cliff.
  • Possibly "borrowed" by Sledge Hammer! four years later as a running visual gag for Sledge, whose car was a bright green disaster area on wheels driven by a man whose parking skills were as bad as Drebin's.
  • Space: 1999: Moonbase Alpha's Chief Pilot Alan Carter crashed his Eagle so frequently that if one is wrecked in an episode the fandom tongue-in-cheek refers to it as having been "Carter-ed". This is a little unfair as Commander Koenig crashes his just as often.
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • This is pretty much Chakotay's nickname. He ends the second part of the pilot episode crashing his original ship into a Kazon dreadnought, and nearly every shuttle he touches from then on is doomed.
      • All the characters have crashed a shuttle at least once at some point, which leads one to wonder where Voyager has been getting replacement shuttles from. Being stranded in the Delta Quadrant it's not like they can call up Starfleet Command for another six pack of shuttles. The trope is subverted in the episode "Year of Hell Part II", when Janeway's ramming the Voyager into the villain's ship solves the episode's problems.
      • Tuvok isn't much better than Chakotay - he is at least a passenger in at least half of the shuttle crashes on the series. Basically, if you're in a shuttle with Chakotay and Tuvok... Get to the escape pod before the shuttle launches. You'll live longer.
    • Lampshaded in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. DS9's shuttles are named after Earth Rivers, and one time when Sisko is asked to name a newly arrived replacement runabout shuttle, Major Kira quips that at the rate the station is going through runabouts that it was a good thing Earth had so many rivers.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Deanna Troi can't escape the fact that the two times she's taken the helm, she's crashed an Enterprise. Though to be fair, the first was a crash landing after half the ship blew up that miraculously had minimal casualties and the second time, she was ordered to ram the ship into the enemy. In addition, Deanna's role is so far removed from piloting that if she's being asked to take the helm, there's some serious shit going on already, so rather than her causing the crashes, it's more that her being in that seat is a result of the same catastrophe that causes the ship to crash.
    • "Trip" Tucker from Star Trek: Enterprise may be a Southern-Fried Genius as The Engineer, but that doesn't extend to his piloting skills. In the pilot episode alone, he bumps Enterprise with an inspection pod and a Suliban helix with a captured cell-ship. Two and a half seasons later, he scrapes Enterprise again with a commandeered Xindi-Insectoid shuttle.
      Captain Archer: scratched the paint.
    • Star Trek: Picard: The season three opener "The Next Generation" introduces viewers to Geordi LaForge's daughter Sidney LaForge, and also established her nickname during her academy days was Crash LaForge as she crashed two shuttlecraft during her time at the academy.
  • For Jake Cutter, of Tales of the Gold Monkey, crash landings were routine and accepted as such on Bora Gora.
  • Richard Hammond of Top Gear has a... not-undeserved reputation for being accident-prone.

  • The Fleet Air Arm squaddie song "The A.25 Song" which begins as: They say in the Air Force that landing's okay/if the pilot can get out and still walk away/but in the Fleet Air Arm the prospect is grim/if landing is poor and the pilot can't swim. Each of the twenty or so verses of the song describe the protagonist crashing his aircraft in various ways. The A.25 is the Fleet Air Arm damage report form, very detailed and notoriously time-consuming to fill.

  • The backglass for Vacation America shows the family wagon flying offroad and crashing through a "Road Closed" barricade.

    Puppet Shows 
  • If Batly from Eureeka's Castle is seen flying anywhere, he will almost inevitably crash. After which, he will usually say, "I Meant to Do That." Sometimes, even if he isn't flying, he'll crash into something or knock something over.

  • Captain Jet Morgan of the old BBC radio serial Journey into Space could fit this trope. He captains the spaceship Discovery, and when it's required that the ship lands, Jet is always the one who pilots her down. Unfortunately he tends to crash, or at least make hideously bumpy landings, more than he manages to bring her down smoothly. Of course, one of those times he had actually been knocked out before the ship was quite fully landed, but most other times it's just Jet. Nobody ever really comments on this.
    • It may also count that he does extensive damage to a Martian asteroid ship when he tries to slow it to a stop. Granted, it doesn't actually crash—they are in space, after all—but it does the next best thing.
  • A naval example in The Navy Lark, Mister Phillips's standard method of docking is this trope. He caused more damage to Naval property than both world wars.
    • Ironically, the one time he was asked to deliberately crash HMS Troutbridge into another ship (as part of a ploy to allow Captain Povey to escape his overbearing mother-in-law and join the rest of the crew at a pub) a fault in the steering mechanism ensured he couldn't hit anything... 42 times in a row!

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Spelljammer, landing procedure for tinker gnome-piloted ships involve abandoning the ship, letting it crash safely, then putting the pieces back together. It's not known if any tinker gnome has ever considered developing a safe landing method — although given what they are, if they did there's a good chance it'd be even more disastrous.
  • Orks in Warhammer 40,000. Their aircraft have speedometers reading "stop", "fast", and "WAAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!", going any slower than the last one (even when landing) is considered cowardice. They also have gears (any but the highest are unused even when "landing"note ) and brakes and a clutch (never used). Ork ground vehicle drivers tend to be less destructive only because they have to decide between being "crazed drivers" and "crazed gunmen" when crewing a tank. Factor in their starship pilots generally being crazed ram addicts, and Orks own this trope.
  • Played with in Spirit of the Century with the "Walk Away From It" Pilot stunt. It doesn't actually make crash landings any more likely per se, but it does make them considerably safer for both pilot and passengers when they do, given the limits on how many stunts even highly competent characters like Centurions can take, it's something that most players would only invest in if they intended to play this sort of character.
  • Magic: The Gathering has Captain Rex Nebula, from its spoof Unfinity set. He can pilot anything (except lands), but when he does, he has an extremely high chance of crashing it.

  • The Incredible Crash Dummies can't fly a plane or drive anything else without crashing it. note 

    Video Games 
  • While Lyner from Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia isn't really at fault for what happened at the start of the game, a special mention should be made about his OVA incarnation. To be more specific: He managed to crash the same ship three times, on the same day.
  • In Dead Space 2 Isaac Clarke climbs/gets thrown out of a train, a drilling machine and an escape pod. Outside influences causes the crash in those cases but still, guy climbs out of a lot of wreckage. Oh and you know that giant mining ship from the first game? That gets blown up as well.
  • This continues in Dead Space 3, where Isaac must fly a heavily damaged shuttle from the frigate Roanouke to the surface of Tau Volantis, dodging mines and debris all the way down. Needless to say, you crash, but only two Mauveshirts die. Strangely, Ellie, the actual pilot, doesn't do any piloting. Before that another ship you're on gets trashed by mines before you can enter orbit, a car get blown up before you can get in it and many, many autonomous transport vehicles crash when he attempts to cross a free way. Later on even 300-year-old wrecked vehicles arn't safe from him, with one falling off a cliff shortly after he climbs though it. Even ladders and lifts break down or are trashed around him. All this from an engineer/repair man who, you know, is supposed to 'fix' things.
  • Launchpad's reputation follows him again in DuckTales: Remastered. He crashes a helicopter off-screen in the Amazon level, and the Himalayas level starts with Scrooge and Launchpad climbing out of the tangled wreckage of their plane. Unsurprisingly, when he needs a pilot to get him to the Moon, Scrooge goes with Gyro instead.
  • Frogger's Journey: The Forgotten Relic: Griffith the pilot is introduced by crashing his plane into Frogger's yard, then subsequently compaining that the runway was too short.
  • The hero of Grandia III has designed, built and crashed over a dozen planes before the game even starts. After his personal hero builds him a new plane, he stops crashing. Maybe it was just that he couldn't design a plane that would stay in the air.
  • Most Grand Theft Auto players are bound to be this, some intentional and some not.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Woozie, a very bizarre ally, can drive magnificently. Walking into walls, however, is a frequent occurrence. Even more amazing is the fact that he can drive while being blind.
    • Even more amusing is that his gang acts like he isn't blind at all. It is rather confusing especially since you meet him during a high speed race. Through the countryside. He confesses to CJ that he is blind. No shit, homie.
    • Various characters suggest that protagonist CJ attend the in-game driving school, due to his propensity to wreck vehicles.
  • Halo has numerous scripted crashes. One of them, Cortana assumed the Master Chief did on purpose.
    • Excluding Foehammer and Hocus, it seems that the typical Pelican pilot doesn't know how to land without crashing.
    • Much like the case with Jojos Bizarre Adventure, despite not always being the captain, most of the ships that the Chief embarks on within the games end up crashing, exploding, being chopped in half by a collapsing portal, etc. About the only exception is the UNSC Infinity, which is the most powerful ship in the UNSC fleet. And come Halo Infinite, even that ship is not exempt from the rule.
  • In the Henry Stickmin Series, Charles is an excellent helicopter pilot... except for this idea he has that crashing his chopper into things is a great solution to any problem, generally resulting in Yet Another Stupid Death for Henry. It actually works once; during the Valiant Hero route of Completing the Mission. Unfortunately, this ends up causing a series of events that indirectly leads to Charles' death.
  • Captain Chuck Hull in the game "Joke Boat" from The Jackbox Party Pack has gotten to the point where his log entries comment on the ship sinking again as though he's used to it, and indicate that he hasn't gotten around to finishing the operating manual. To be fair, the Sea Minus comes off second best in a collision with a stationary rubber duck; it's probably an impressive display of seamanship that it managed to get out of the harbour.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has Captain Rast Brattigan in The Legend of Dead Kel. Frequently referred to as "the worst sailor alive", she has ended up crashing every ship she's commanded (usually into another ship).
    Rast: "I captained my first ship when I was no bigger than my papa's knee... and promptly crashed it into the dock, sinking three vessels with one wreck. It was then I knew, my destiny was to be a sailor."
  • Kirby uses his Warp Star to fly from place to place very quickly, but the flight always seems to end with him crashing into the ground and/or other objects. In Kirby: Planet Robobot, this extends to the Jet Mode of his Robobot Armor; the segment always ends with him crashing the armor into the ground. The Super Smash Bros. games actually weaponize this; anyone who uses the Warp Star immediately flies off into the sky and crashes back into the ground, obliterating anyone underneath.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • To his credit, Carth from the first game only crashes the Ebon Hawk once, despite how many times it was shot at. And his crash only occurs due to an interference field that stops any ship cold, even the capital ships of the Republic fleet would be vulnerable.
    • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Atton manages a total of four crash-landings — twice on Telos, once on Dxun, and once on Malachor V. The first three involved getting shot out of the sky, while in the last case there probably wasn't any way to make a smooth landing on the planet in question.
  • Mass Effect:
    • James Vega from Mass Effect 3 gets this reputation after he intentionally crashes his shuttle into another shuttle to prevent Dr. Eva from escaping with the plans for the Prothean device. Nobody will let him forget it. He can end up crashing again if he's the one to take over the skycar controls when Shepard abandons the control panel to shoot at Kai Leng during the Citadel coup—although that one is Shepard's fault.
    • Vega learned from the best. Shepard crashes the skycar no matter who is in the backseat with them. And when chasing Tela Vasir in the last game's DLC missions, Shepard used another skycar to sideswipe her into crashing. And let's not get into all those shenanigans with the Mako in the first game. One thing's for sure; if Shepard's driving, something is going to end up in a fiery wreck.
    • Although he's the best pilot in the Alliance, Joker also has a tendency to crash during the finales, although he manages to keep the Normandy salvageable. In Mass Effect 2 it opens with the first Normandy getting shot down with him at the controls. During the finale he also crashes the second Normandy getting you into the Collector Base, but he also gets it up and running again in time for the dramatic escape sequences. At the very end of the third game, the Normandy crashes again, but that's less to do with his piloting than the giant energy wave from the Crucible.
  • Appears in the form a Development Gag in MechWarrior Living Legends. When playtesting a new version of TC_Inferno that featured an odd Space Plane hangar that required one to taxi out to the runway and turn lest they plow into a wall opposite the hangar, the alpha testers would instead hop onto the plane, immediately mash the afterburners and scream into the unbreakable wall at 400kph — repeatedly. The testers would also try to land in lava or fly into battlemech hangars. The level designer then proceeded to replace the default hint signs in the spawn rooms with helpful hints like "LAVA IS HOT. DO NOT LAND IN LAVA." and "DO NOT TAXI INTO WALLS".
  • Maya Amano from Persona 2 crashes every vehicle she commandeers. Including a dirigible. It's something of a running gag.
  • Everyone in Pikmin It seems obligatory at this point that going towards PNF-404 (or any other planet with Pikmin on it) will result in your ship getting shot out of the sky. Expands to a frankly ridiculous extent in Pikmin 4. Not only does Olimar crash, for the fifth time in the series, and not only do the Rescue Corps crash in the process of trying to rescue him, but everyone who hears Olimar's distress signal and comes to the planet, for whatever reason, also seems to crash. At the same time, it's notably averted by the Pikmin 4 protagonist, the Rescue Corps Rookie, who is the only one to ever land their ship successfully on PNF-404 their first try.
  • Resident Evil: Leon Kennedy is this to the point of it being a Running Gag. If he gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, ten-to-one says he's gonna crash it or it'll end up destroyed pretty soon. This gets lampshaded by Ada in Resident Evil 4, where she immediately recognizes a busted bulldozer as "Leon's handiwork." This is justified to some extent, as typically when he's driving said vehicle there are monsters attacking and trying to eat him; anyone would have a hard time concentrating under such conditions, but one would expect he'd get enough practice to eventually learn how to drive safely in a crisis, or at least look in the back seat.
    • Resident Evil 6 takes this to a new extreme, as every single mode of transportation Leon takes over the course of the game crashes, even when he isn't the one driving it. He manages to be involved in a car, bus, plane, helicopter, and train crash over the course of the game and still walk away alive.
  • More of a player Captain Crash than anything else, but in Saints Row 2, if the Boss is driving in a car with Johnny Gat and s/he crashes into something, Johnny is liable to muse, "Just like old times." Also, the Boss behind the metaphorical wheel of a helicopter. We don't care what you say, those controls are impossible.
  • Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog series has been crashing planes in almost every Sonic game since his first appearance in Sonic 2. To be fair though, more often than not it's not his fault.
  • Ibis Douglas of Super Robot Wars is given the In-Series Nickname "Shooting Star" because, just like a shooting star, she inevitably falls to earth. Unfortunately, Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs in one Continuity where her tendency to crash actually kills someone, specifically her mentor and older brother to The Rival. Oh, and whatever confidence she had before goes straight down the tubes because of this.
  • Erritis from Torment: Tides of Numenera lack quantity, only crashing one vehicle. That vehicle, however, is a slow-moving, easily-controlled airship that even an entirely untrained pilot can at least basically operate. One would have to be vastly idiotic or completely insane in order to actually crash it. Erritis easily ticks off both boxes.
  • Nathan Drake often comes off as this in Uncharted, neatly complementing his status as a Walking Disaster Area, although he has specifically driven only a few. The vehicular victims of his escapades include two planes, a helicopter, two separate derailments of the same train, two boats (one of them a cruise ship!) and an untold amount of trucks and jeeps. It says a lot when the two most popular games in his franchise depict him in the wreckage of a vehicular accident he's involved in.
  • Clementine in the The Walking Dead series can develop a bit of a habit of doing this. If you go with Kenny at the end of Season 2, she crashes while Kenny was teaching her how to drive in Episode 1 of New Frontier. In Episode 1 of The Final Season, she crashes while fighting off walkers after Clem and AJ escaped an abandoned train station.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • At the end of the Alliance Questline to Twilight Highlands, Fargo Flintlocke says he ditched the landing gear among other things to make the plane lighter — he doesn't "land" usually anyway.
      [Player awakens on a ship and looks up to see the plane burning on top of the mast]
      Flintlocke: [his head popping into view, and looking down at the player] What? Like you could have done any better!
    • There's also a running gag about the Draenei, that any time they're piloting a vehicle they'll crash it. This is likely because their capital, the Exodar, is a magic interstellar space-ship that they note  crashed into Azeroth.
    • The Draenei arrived on Draenor in a similar fashion. Osha'Gun, the giant diamond mountain in the middle of Nagrand? It's the crashed wreck of their previous ship. note 
  • Adol Christin of the Ys series doesn't have the best luck with seagoing vessels. He doesn't get into a shipwreck every single time, but it's happened often enough to become something of a running gag.
  • Sigurd Harcourt in Xenogears is an Ace Pilot subversion - his piloting skills and intellect are top-notch, but his craft almost always end up crashed anyway due to surrounding combat, his passengers, or the need to use the ship as a last-ditch combat strategy.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: This is one of the fight instigators in "Ratchet & Clank vs. Jak and Daxter". Ratchet as per usual crashes his ship, this time into Jak's house which then blows up along with the house. The other instigator being Clank calling Daxter a weasel.
  • Red vs. Blue: When asked if he can land a plane, Grif answers: "That just means stop flying, right?" He is a little better with cars.
  • Dick Figures: The Movie introduces Captain Major Lieutenant Crookygrin, an alcoholic pilot with a perfect record of crashing all one thousand of his flights.
  • Epithet Erased: Car Crash of the Banzai Blasters, to the point where Giovanni expresses concern over the possibility that he might have astigmatism.
    Car Crash: You crash one car four times, and suddenly it's your name!!

    Web Original 
  • One of the "joke" articles of the SCP Foundation states that Dr. Gerald has this effect on any vehicle: "A research team hypothesized that rollerblades are, technically, vehicles. We tested their hypothesis by having Gerald skate into the IRG's headquarters in Tehran. They were right." (This description is a subtitle of a picture showing an exploding building.)
  • Agent Sergio Turbo from the Protectors of the Plot Continuum has been nicknamed "Crash-It Turbo" for his tendency to destroy or at least damage vehicles in some way during missions. To date, he crashed a fighter jet, nearly ran over the whole Department of Sufficiently Advanced Technology while landing another, squished several cars while taxiing an airliner and scraped the hull of a spaceship on the ground while trying to park it... and that's only what happens on-screen. Apparently, he somehow managed to crash a Zodiac inflatable boat too.
  • This is how Chuck Sonnenberg of SF Debris views Captain Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager, due to a habit of blindly ordering the ship into suicidal situations. One of the ways Sonnenberg views Janeway, at least. Specifically, one of the nicest.
  • In Achievement Hunter's Let's Play Grand Theft Auto IV and V series, Gavin has been proven to be the worst driver - car, airplane, Cargobob, you name it - of the AH group. Geoff has also proven to just as bad as his character Grif as one episode of "Things To Do It GTA V" had him dunk four Cargobobs into the ocean, even if one of them was because someone "bunced" him into the water.
    • Even worse than them is Lindsay. When piloting a helicopter, the crash is a matter of when, not if.
  • The Mighty Jingles:
    • He plays, among other things, War Thunder, including its aircraft combat mode. This mode requires pilots to land to rearm and restock their craft, especially between bombing runs. Jingles is, how shall we say, a bit less talented at landing a craft than he is at flying one. It's gotten to the point where any particularly rough landing that just barely comes short of destroying one's plane is known as a Jingles Landing by the War Thunder community.
    • In what is possibly one of the most ludicrous examples of this trope, Jingles manages to crash-land a submarine in Cold Waters after he doesn't realize he's taken on several hundred gallons of the North Atlantic Ocean after being hit by a torpedo. What's even more impressive is that he contrives a plan that's Crazy Enough to Work to get it sailing again.
  • Kreyg (a.k.a. Hot-Blooded Gaming) from JustinTV does this a lot when he plays GTA IV, he even made a company for it!
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd's inability to land the plane in the Top Gun NES game became a Running Gag after the original episode, except when he somehow manages to land it with the Power Glove without knowing how. In his re-review of the game, he believed he can actually pull it off this time, only for it to somehow fly off the screen, and PatTheNESPunk mocks him for being unable to do it. For those who played the game before, or simply paid attention to the screen, it becomes apparent that even though he initially blamed the game for it, he's unable to land it because he dismissed the Speed and Altitude readings as useless nonsense.
  • Of the FailRace crew, Narreths. If there's a helicopter in GTA V and it's not because of someone's wanted level, it's most likely piloted by Narreths. Multiple viewers consider that when Narreths pilots a helicopter, the crash is a matter of when, not if.

    Western Animation 
  • Launchpad McQuack.
    • Throughout DuckTales (1987), it's a marvel anyone gets in a plane he's piloting. He really is a very accomplished pilot, capable of taking off on any surface, flying through any storm, and weaving through any enemy air space, but he can't land without crashing ("Launchpad's First Crash" even had him celebrate his 100th crash). No doubt he's the only pilot Scrooge could hire for a penny a mile.
    • It's not just planes - in one episode (after he's crashed a submarine), he pulls out a bingo card from his insurance company with pictures of various land, sea and air vehicles and marks it off. Several other types of craft are already crossed out.
    • Lampshaded in DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, when Launchpad confesses that his flying lessons were a crash course. He later manages to crash a camel.
    • Hilariously subverted in "The Golden Goose" when Launchpad attempts to crash on purpose, only to land perfectly.
    • Interestingly, Launchpad may crash all the time, but he's so good at wrecking his planes that he's an expert at crashing safely. This is exploited to save the day in "The Uncrashable Hindentanic" where Scrooge orders Launchpad to pilot a sabotaged blimp that's about to crash on its own. With Launchpad at the control, they still crash, but everybody survives with minor injuries.
    • By the time of Darkwing Duck, he seemed to have improved (or forced himself to get better because they only had one plane, as opposed to DuckTales' neverending supply). He'd crash occasionally, but that is usually due to getting shot down. There are still a lot of jokes and Shout Outs to his poor landing skills, but on that show it has become more of an Informed Flaw.
    • It's brought back in full force in the 2017 reboot.
      • This incarnation of Launchpad can handle any vehicle, to a point, and mostly crashes them because he's distracted from the road. In fact, he's so used to crashing that he has trouble comprehending the idea of not crashing a vehicle. As noted in "Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System!", it is revealed he did not even have a driver's license (he gets one then), and he still has no pilot's license.
        Launchpad: Aw, family truly is the greatest adventure of— OH NO, THE GROUND!
      • Then played for drama in the first season finale where Launchpad is actually trying to crash the plane into the villain and keeps being thwarted. How does he get around it? Crash himself into the bad guy.
        Launchpad: Huh, never crashed a me before.
      • When planning the attack, when Donald asks if Launchpad could crash into the money bin, everyone starts laughing at the idea that he couldn't, including him.
      • Apparently Launchpad is so good at crashing, a flashback to when he was a child showed that when he crashed his tricycle, he set it on fire. Then, when he falls over while running out of a haunted house, he sets the ground on fire.
      • Launchpad actually uses "Captain Crash" as his wrestling persona at one point, though ironically its in an episode where he successfully achieves a smooth landing without any fanfare.
  • G.I. Joe:
    • Ace in the cartoon and comic. Lampshaded in one instance when he says over the radio, "I'm going in!", to which Duke replies, "Every time you say that it gets expensive!"
    • Cobra troops often joke about their own Air Devil pilots. "What's the last thing to go through an Air Devil's head when he hits the ground? His engine."
    • Also the notoriously clumsy and oafish Wildcard, who seems to break everything he comes in contact with by random chance except for his vehicle of choice. His filecard says that they put him in that thing because siccing him on the enemy personally is probably against the Geneva Convention.
  • Fillmore! can be pretty much guaranteed to wreck any ride he gets into, much to Vallejo's frustration.
  • Batman in the DC Animated Universe. The Batwing crashes in nearly every appearance it made in JL/JLU. It does have landing gear; it lands once in the very first JU episode, although Superman has to catch it and land it for Batman because a wing was shot off, and again in "Wild Cards," without incident.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • The pegasus Rainbow Dash exhibits the non-vehicle version of this trope. Dash is a superb flyer; her landings, however, are sometimes far from graceful, as Twilight's library can attest. A lot of crashing is indicated to come from constantly attempting impossibly difficult stunts in an effort to impress the Wonderbolts. She also has a tendency to lose concentration or get distracted at critical moments (if she starts talking to someone while flying, it's a safe bet she's going to hit something in the next few seconds). Then she's afflicted by Poison Joke, which inverts her wings, leaving her crashing into things every few seconds, thrust-vectoring into the floor, and other such mishaps.
    • Like owner like pet: Rainbow Dash's pet tortoise Tank, who flies by way of a magically-powered mini-helicopter, is shown constantly crashing into things and people, much to Rainbow Dash's chagrin.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • Anakin Skywalker proves the apple didn't fall far from the tree in some ways. He's the finest starfighter pilot in the galaxy... and the worst starfighter lander in the galaxy. He did successfully land (half) a ship in Revenge of the Sith, though.
    • In the tie-in novels, Obi-Wan develops some Captain Crash tendencies, which is lampshaded by Anakin. In three books, he's involved in three separate crashes, although he would (jokingly) protest that he was merely the common denominator rather than the pilot each time.
  • Transformers:
    • Due to being spread over Alternate Universes, it may not technically count, but nearly every incarnation begins with the Autobots and Decepticons (or Maximals and Predacons) crashing on Earth or recently having done so. Very rare is the Cybertronian ship that has actually landed. Apparently, robots who turn into vehicles are terrible drivers.
    • A more specific example is Cosmos, an Autobot scout who turns into a flying saucer. He really is a great pilot and is fantastic at spying on the Decepticons from orbit. Unfortunately, his job means that he spends the vast majority of his time in the zero-gravity of space and thus has little practice with landing, which isn't helped by his atrocious luck. In the original G1 cartoon, he crash lands in nearly every episode he appears in. One of the few times he didn't crash, Optimus seriously pushed his luck by sending the poor guy on three flight missions in a row, something that made even Cosmos himself nervous.
  • In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Shane Gooseman crashed at least three interceptors and a Ranger cruiser...and the show only ran one season. His driving is just as bad.
  • Whistler the heron in The Animals of Farthing Wood is bad at landing in later episodes and falls on someone before able to take cover.
  • The old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons featured the world's most incompetent sailor, Captain Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz.
  • Otto from The Simpsons frequently crashes the school bus.
    Otto: I stand on my record. Fifteen crashes and not a single fatality.
    • In "The Trouble With Trillions", really bad cataracts, lack of practice and a lot of senility makes Mr. Burns crash, rather than land, their plane in Cuba. Smithers and Homer actually share a This Is Gonna Suck moment when they figure this out one scene beforehand.
  • Dulcy the dragon in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) almost always messes up her landings. The only time she doesn't is when she's carrying another dragon's egg.
  • Invincibility and unlimited strength and power don't prevent Underdog from crashing mid-flight several times per episode. One episode where he drives an armored car shows he doesn't need to be flying to crash, either.
  • In 3-2-1 Penguins!, Midgel always ends up crashing the Rockhopper every time he attempts to land.
  • Long before Launchpad McQuack, there was the Vulture Squadron from Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. Just boarding their planes violates many FAA safety regulations.

    Real Life 
  • Edward Smith: First he was captain when a ship called the RMS Olympic nearly destroyed a tugboat that was guiding it into dock. Later on, it collided with a British warship. Then Olympic lost a propeller blade and she returned to her builder for emergency repairs. Then he was captain when a ship called the RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton to New York City. Perhaps you have heard about what happened during that voyage.
    • Not just that, but Olympic and Titanic actually were sister ships (the third sister of the trio is Britannic - originally Gigantic). All three ships experienced some kind of disaster upon their first launch, too (though Olympic managed to avoid getting sunk, and served for many years).
  • Christopher Columbus crashed his flagships on three of his four voyages to America. On his first voyage, the Santa Maria ran aground and sank off Hispaniola. Second, the Niña ran aground on a small island near Cuba and suffered badly, but remained afloat. On the fourth, two of Columbus's ships were intentionally grounded off Jamaica because of severe storm damage.
    • He has the excuse of no European In recorded history having been there least the first time. After that this trope was in full force.
    • He also had the excuse of the Caribbean during hurricane season likely resulting in weather far more violent than anything he, his crew, or the shipbuilders would have experience with, thus accounting for a lot of the losses due to storm damage.
  • Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III is a rare good pilot remembered for this. On January 15, 2009, after bird hits took out the engines of his Airbus A320, he calmly landed in the Hudson river - saving the lives of all 155 people on the aircraft. As air traffic controllers panicked and continued to offer him alternate landing places, Captain Sullenberger calmly told them "We'll be in the Hudson". Listen to him here. While this was his only crash, he fits the trope well in this instance and is honorably remembered for it. Especially for the fact that [Everybody Lives all passengers and crew survived]].
    • In general, pilots who were involved in famous accidents can find themselves the subjects of this trope even when, like Sully, their actions were heroic rather than reckless, because their names become associated with that single incident of a crash rather than the countless uneventful flights over the course of their career. However, in the case of heroic actions, the heroism usually supersedes the fact that there was a crash, so it ends up being a boost to their reputation rather than a detriment.
  • Cpt. Hans Ulrich Lutz, Swiss aviator with the Crossair airline, worked as a pilot-in-command and a training pilot, even though his competences were somewhat slim: flying a Saab 340, he failed an upgrade exam to MD-80 eight consecutive times; he crashed an aircraft while sitting on the tarmac (he tried to retract the gear to show the student that it is impossible on the ground due to pressure sensors in the landing gear, but on this particular aircraft, these sensors were temporarily disabled and he simply retracted the gear, resulting in a Saab 340 write-off); once, he almost landed in Italy instead of Switzerland due to navigational errors; and once, he almost flew his aircraft into a lake, confusing it with a runway. Sadly, on 24 November 2001, Crossair Flight 3597 crashed into a hill on final approach due to his major error (he descended well below the minimum safety altitude in heavy snowfall and borderline visibility), claiming the lives of 24 of 33 people on board, including himself.
  • Charles Hamilton, an American aviation pioneer and "frequently drunk" stunt pilot, was issued the 12th pilots' license ever...and survived over 60 crashes. Strangely enough, he walked away from most of the wreckage and died of tuberculosis.
  • John McCain had a longstanding reputation for being unable to stay airborne, pulling stunts like crashing into suburban power lines even though his flight plan was high altitude. It's rumored that his father being in charge of his branch of the armed forces was a factor in his keeping his wings. McCain came to be known mockingly as a "reverse ace", for having lost 5 of his own planes. In fairness, two weren't his fault; one plane was destroyed (while on a carrier deck, but with McCain in the cockpit) when another pilot somehow managed to accidentally fire off a rocket into it,note  and the last time he crashed was when he was shot down by the enemy on a bombing mission.
  • Harrison Ford has been involved in three crashes as a pilot, though to be fair, only one was his fault.
  • Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado gained this reputation. He was involved in so many crashes and incidents during his five years in the sport that he picked up the nickname "Crashtor", and there was even a (now defunct) site dedicated to whether or not he had crashed that day.
    • Before Pastor Maldonado, there was Andrea de Cesaris. Nicknamed "de Crasheris", he spent his entire career being hired by teams due to his lucrative sponsors and genuine speed, then sacked when they realised that his constant crashing made him a liability even with those sponsors. He once managed to crash 18 times in a 16-race season, and to this day he holds the record for the most DNFs in Formula One (albeit not all of them were crashes). The tragic icing on the cake: he died in a motorcycle accident.
  • Babe Ruth was basically a real life version of Launchpad McQuack. The man was infamous amongst his friends for constantly wrecking the vehicles he drove in outrageous manners, only to somehow walk away without a scratch.


Video Example(s):


Radli on his bike

Radli crashing into things on his flying bike is a common running gag in the series.

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Main / CaptainCrash

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