Two characters/groups, where the second is in pursuit of the first, tend to encounter several obstacles that heighten the drama of the chase. These obstacles tend to be superficial (they obscure vision), solid (they prevent progress), and some that mix the two types (act to block progress for one character, but only obscures the vision of the other).
Trash cans, cardboard boxes, newspaper stalls, and clothes hanging from the drying line are all popular ideas for both footraces and car chases. Getting drenched by a bucket of paint is more popular with car chases, as the driver is blinded for longer. Drywall tends to be used when the chase is on foot, the pursued going around and the pursuer going through. The explosion as one character plows through an obstacle is fun and flashy, and is the reason food carts and boxes of fruit are popular: after the crash, pieces of red and yellow are flying everywhere.
Some obstacles prevent progress, but do not act to obscure vision, such as a fence at the end of an alley. Characters who scale the fence before their pursuer arrives tend to escape, but this is more likely the scene for a climatic confrontation as the pursued is cornered.
If this shows up in video games, expect to Press X to Not Die.
Super-Trope to the following:
- Baby Carriage
- Chain-Link Fence
- Elevator Snare
- Excuse Me, Coming Through!
- Fruit Cart
- Road Block
- Sheet of Glass
- A commercial for Marvin Windows broadcast during March 2005 hit all the chase-scene obstacles, with cars running through carts, crates of chickens, crowds on sidewalks — only to come to a screeching halt so as not to damage a huge Marvin window being rolled slowly across the street.
- The 2004 Appleseed film: Robot ninja ladies are driving a van in pursuit of Deunan and Hitomi, crashing into a watermelon stand.
- Batou pursues an optic-camo user through a market in Ghost in the Shell. His invisible quarry shoves customers aside and plows through a pile of melons, which Batou then shoots to disrupt his camo.
- In the Speed Racer episode "Race For Revenge, Part I", Melange drives clean through a fruit stand while being pursued by the police and the Mach 5.
- The Gypsy mother seen in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame is fleeing from the vicious Judge Frollo down a Parisian street. She's running on foot and carrying an infant, while Frollo is riding his fearsome black stallion. The only reason Frollo can't overtake this Gypsy is that various shop signs hanging from overhead brackets impede his progress, at times nearly knocking him off his horse.
- The Blues Brothers: One of the most iconic scenes in the film starts as a simple parking lot chase outside an indoor mall. The eponymous brothers then crash through a toy store, and the police follow suit. They swerve around (and sometimes go through) booths, clip and sometimes go through corner stores, and finally fly out the window of one of the anchor stores.
- In The Empire Strikes Back, the Millennium Falcon is pursued by three Imperial cruisers and four TIE fighters. The Imperials steer the Falcon toward an Asteroid Thicket, aiming to limit their quarry's escape routes. Solo daringly steers into the asteroids, and the fighters give chase. Two fighters are lost to the asteroids, while the other two collide in a right-of-way bottleneck.
- Hot Shots! Part Deux: (Parodied) When Michelle is exposed as The Mole, she tries to run away, which leads to Ramada giving chase to start the Designated Girl Fight. The chase quickly devolves into several American Gladiators-themed obstacles that the girls have to pass, complete with the theme song playing in the background.
- The Master Touch: There's a car chase with such obstacles as garbage on the sidewalk, falling dirt in a construction site, a parked car's open doors, a set of stairs, and a giant stack of cardboard boxes all of which are driven through or over.
- Tomorrow Never Dies: One of the land rovers chasing James Bond and Wai Lin drives into a truckload of boxes... containing fireworks, which (of course) proceed to go off from the impact.
- Quick: During the chase through the marketplace, the bike slams through a pile of empty cardboard boxes.
- In Tuff Turf, Nick's car driven by Jimmy chases after Morgan, who runs into an alley, knocking trash cans and boxes in front of it.
- Top Gear: Parodied in the second-hand police cars challenge; the hosts drive their cars around the track to show off how fast their cars would be in a chase. Hammond is awarded points for flamboyant driving by crashing through a pile of gratuitous cardboard boxes slightly off the edge of the track.
- Spoofed in Garth Marenghis Darkplace when a chase scene ends with the Monster of the Week crashing into a huge mountain of cardboard boxes sitting in the middle of a forest for no apparent reason.
- In Bill Bailey's "Starsky & Hutch" segment, the duo are looking to make a getaway while pursued by the mob.
"How about that alley?"
"No, there's no boxes down that one. No, go down that one."
[they go down another alley, no boxes; what are they going to do?]
"Right, stop the car, get some boxes out of the boot, set them up, drive around the block..."
- The Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide has mechanics for impromptu chase scenes: The GM lays down a row of cards representing obstacles (each obstacle has a choice of skill checks to overcome them) and controls a fleeing NPC. The Player Characters and NPC then attempt skill checks to progress through the obstacle course until the pursuers catch up, or the pursued reaches a point that marks a safe escape.
- Crash Bandicoot:
- First game has Crash chased by a rolling ball of death in some levels. During this, you have to run towards the camera while avoiding obstacles coming your way that may either slow you down or outright kill you.
- In the second game, The Final Boss fight has you trying to chase the boss with a jetpack while he's flying through a space tube with lots of asteroids abound. Crashing into an asteroid will slow you down, so try avoid them as much as possible.
- Crash Team Racing: Players can drop trap-type obstacles that obstruct/slow down other racers.
- In Detroit: Become Human, expect any chase scene involving Connor to have obstacles both thrown and inconveniently placed in his way. A notable example involves a chase with a deviant where he has to run through several farms and dodge people, heavy machinery, as well as crops among other things.
- In Heavy Rain, Jayden has to pursue a suspect through a supermarket. Said suspect will try to slow Jayden down by throwing things like ice, fruit, and live chickens behind himself.
- Pepsiman: Act 3 of each level involves Pepsiman being chased by something and Pepsiman has to navigate through obstacles to survive.
- In Poptropica, a chase scene on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Island has you trying to protect Charlie from a mob of people running for his golden ticket. You have to knock over boxes of fruit and dump piles of snow to slow them down.
- The Angry Beavers parodied Starsky & Hutch by having the beavers (as cops) chasing their suspects down a "city". Every obstacle they have to overcome is nothing more than a cardboard box.
"Quick, they're headed for the cardboard box district!"
- The Simpsons: The cops are taking Bart for a day on the job. While they are explaining that it's not the action-oriented job Hollywood makes it out to be, they are interrupted by a heist and immediately start a high-speed chase through an alley full of cardboard boxes.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
- "The Gungan General": During their second escape attempt, Dooku is seen knocking over stacks of boxes behind the trio as they flee the pirates in order to impede their pursuers.
- "Dangerous Debt": Once they get outside, Ahsoka and the Martez sisters knock crates and barrels over to impede the pursuing Pyke guards.