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Chaotic Car Ride

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And they haven't even left the garage yet.
Timmy and Tommy are rollin' in the back,
The dog jumps in Daddy's lap.
My mom is screaming; she's really mad.
Dad gonna have a heart attack.
My sister's crying, My mom is yelling,
My daddy stops the car.
They say they'll make us get out and walk,
Who do they think they are?
Barry Louis Polisar, "Its My Mother and my Father and My Sister and the Dog"

Many people have been on that one hectic family road trip, or have been a reluctant passenger in a vehicle full of difficult, noisy characters. The Chaotic Car Ride is when the characters are in this or a similar situation. May involve frequent utterances of Are We There Yet?.

Exactly What It Says on the Tin, the trope is generally Played for Laughs due to the chaos devolving into pure absurdity. Though it can be Played for Drama if it taps into an escalating conflict. Often seen in a Road Trip Plot. The trope is very character-driven, generally relying on conflict between differing personalities for both serious and petty reasons. A Dysfunctional Family can be quite prone to this trope.

Compare Drives Like Crazy (although a crazy driver can be a contributor to this), Plane Awful Flight, and Buses Are for Freaks. May lead to Running Over the Plot.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Zombie Land Saga: Kotaro and Franchouchou are stuck in traffic aboard their van, and everyone is acting like a Dysfunctional Family. Lily is fighting with Tae over a piece of squid while Ai is caught in the crossfire, Yugiri is trying to help a carsick Junko, and Kotaro is yelling at everyone to shut up.

    Comic Books 
  • "Road Trip," an unpublished two-page DC story with The Powerpuff Girls, has the Professor driving him and the girls to a scientists' convention out of town, but the girls' quarreling in the back is making things difficult. Pretty soon, the car is reduced to wreckage as the Professor angrily says "If you girls don't start behaving, I am turning this thing around!"

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beethoven: One of the sequels has a Bumbling Dad take his family in an RV across the country, trying to relive his memories of his own childhood road trip. Naturally, problems abound (and not just because of the Big Friendly Dog): the kids keep fighting, the roadside park the dad remembers has been bought out by a Japanese corporation, the RV loses a windshield (leading to the dad getting a faceful of bugs every time he drives), and a pair of Stupid Crooks keeps following them to get back a DVD with important files on it that was accidentally rented to the family (and Beethoven's efforts to thwart them keep causing property damage). At the end, the dad had a breakdown where he admits his own trip wasn't that happy either, including a carsick dog.
  • Little Miss Sunshine: A Dysfunctional Family reluctantly goes on a road trip to get their youngest member signed up for a beauty pageant. Predictably, a lot of arguments ensue during the car ride.
  • Shiva Baby ends with a nightmarish car ride where Danielle's parents finally listen to her about going home from the funeral. Danielle ends up crammed in an overfull car with her parents, her girlfriend Maya, her now-ex sugar daddy, his wife, and his hysterically screaming baby.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): During the scene where Sonic and Officer Tom Wachowski are being chased by Dr. Robotnik's machines, they come to a family whose kids are fighting over a tablet. The father threatens to take the tablet away if they don't stop fighting, and when Tom swerves to avoid the homing mine that Robotnik's machine fires at them, said mine attaches itself underneath the family's car, unleashing an electromagnetic pulse that causes it to swerve to a halt, with the family screaming the entire time. The boy then hands the father the tablet.
  • Wild Strawberries: The main characters give a ride to two people whose car has been totaled. They turn out to be an unhappily married couple and soon are bickering with each other with such venom that Marianne stops the car and demands that they leave.

  • Children of the Corn: Burt and Vicky are fighting endlessly about their marriage on a cross-country trip. In Nebraska, Vicky starts to annoy Burt by talking about her life in evangelical Christianity while he fantasizes about hurting her. Then they hit a child with a slashed throat.
  • Horrid Henry: Horrid Henry's Car Journey, where Henry's family head to see Prissy Polly and both Henry and Peter cause trouble along the way such as arguing to what they want to listen to, being sick all over Desiree and Simon, and the occasional Are We There Yet?.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Conan: In a guest episode with Sterling Archer, Archer drags Conan into a car chase, the two of them being tailed by a swarm of armed Russian mobsters. Even while in danger, the two get into absurd arguments, with Conan frustrating Archer because of his complete lack of spy knowledge and at the end blows up the rear end of the car with a grenade.
    Conan: What do I do with the gun?! [holds up a handgun Archer gave him]
    Archer: Oh, just point that end at the bad guys and shoot.
    Conan Which is the end where the bullets come out? [looks into the muzzle of the gun]
    Archer: [freaked out] T-that one that your fing— Don't shoot yourself!!
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, "I See You": The basis of the song "Trapped in a Car with Someone You Don't Want to Be Trapped in a Car With". The song contrasts the pleasant, summery Beastie Boys-esque sounds with lyrics about three unpleasant car trips where the other person in the car is annoying.
    And now this person's eating corn chips, where did those come from?
    From, from, where did those corn chips come from?
    It's hard to focus on a podcast because they've started to hum
    Hum, hum, I will rip off your mouth
    We pass a mini golf course and they go "ooooh"
    Just when you think it's getting better they take off their shoes
    Because you're trapped in a car with someone you don't want to be trapped in a car with
  • How I Met Your Mother: Ted has to deal with his friends all boarding his brand new car with various messy items like food and cigars. He eventually snaps once they all drop their things on the seats.

  • Barry Louis Polisar "It's My Mother and My Father and My Sister and the Dog" is about a family going on a trip to visit their relatives, but the narrator keeps on getting into fights with his rambunctious little brothers, the dog drools and barks and throws up, which drives the parents crazy.

    Puppet Shows 

    Video Games 
  • Spoofed in Twisted Metal 4. The game introduces a boorish and obnoxious suburban family known as the Joneses as playable characters. In their ending, they wish for Sweet Tooth to become their personal chauffeur. The family's shrill singing during car trips annoys Sweet Tooth so much that he deliberately drives their van off a cliff, presumably killing them all.

  • Batman: Wayne Family Adventures: In "Front Seat" Dick, Jason, Tim and Damian fight over who gets to sit in the front seat of the Batmobile. They all end up crammed in the backseat, with Jason forcing his brothers into a tangled mess as he shoves them all away from his side of the car.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: Anne and Hop Pop have to endure Sprig and Polly's incessant arguing while traveling to Newtopia aboard a wagon.
  • Animaniacs (1993): The premise of the song "I'm Mad," which features Dr. Scratchnsniff trying to take the Warners on a day trip in his car. Unfortunately Yakko and Dot are apparently at each other's throats while Wakko has a litany of complaints that combine to make Scratchy lose his mind. All set to a fun song that was probably the bane of parents from the 90s to the early 2000s.
  • The Loud House: There's a chance that, whenever the Loud siblings are riding in Vanzilla, are them acting rowdy enough to cause chaos (such as what's pictured above) . One particular example is "House Flip", where they haven't even left the garage before a fight over who controls the radio station causes Lori to crash it into garbage cans, prompting the parents Lynn Sr. and Rita to threaten to take their driving privileges away if just one more accident occurs.
  • The Oblongs has a bit where Milo and his friends miss the bus to camp, so they have to get there in a cab with Milo's hard drinking hard partying mother Pickles. We don't get to see the trip itself, but we get to see the aftermath: the car does a Tokyo drift into the camp, a ludicrous amount of empty beer cans poor out which Pickles rides like a wave, and all the children leap out and start desperately kissing solid ground.
    Pickles: WHOOOOO! What was some road trip huh kids?!
  • The Simpsons: In Bart on the Road, a family is driving parallel to Bart and his friends. The kids are in the back of the car causing absolute chaos for the father who eventually snaps.
    Father: If YOU KIDS can't keep your hands to yourself, I'm gonna turn this car around, and there will be no Cape Canaveral for ANYBODY!!
    [Nelson reaches over and slaps the back of his head]
  • Teen Titans Go!: The episode "Road Trip" sees Cyborg taking the rest of the Titans on a road trip. Cyborg recommends Car Ride Games to pass the time, but they result in Starfire punching Robin and Beast Boy whenever she sees a bug. Raven gets increasingly motion-sick from reading in the car, and a foreseen run-in with the H.I.V.E. Five also adds to the chaos.


Video Example(s):


"Saki jumped out of the van."

The gang is caught up in traffic. Saki decides to head out to help tie some loose ends.<br><br>(Source: English dub, Simulcast ver.)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (27 votes)

Example of:

Main / ChaoticCarRide

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