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Conveniently Empty Roads

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Good thing there's no one else around to witness this hijacking.

"It's really strange to me that during these heists, absolutely no one else drives on these roads."

Our hero is in a car chase, and the roads are conveniently light on traffic. After all, collateral damage is something that should be avoided, and what better way to avoid that than to simply have the chase occur on an empty road?

Truth in Television to an extent when it comes to rural country roads, which rarely see heavy traffic beyond vehicles driven by the locals. However, if a car chase happens in busy city streets with no traffic, especially on a freeway, then Willing Suspension of Disbelief applies. After all, cities and freeways tend to be epic setpieces for car chases per Rule of Cool. Acceptable Breaks from Reality also apply sometimes. Empty roads also mean chase scenes are less complex and expensive to stage.

This trope is not exclusive to car chases. It can also apply to street races, crashes, and any number of other significant events that occur on or around the road. Some examples feature a Vulnerable Convoy.

If the lack of traffic is somehow inconvenient, it counts as an inverted example.

Sometimes invoked when people deliberately try to ensure that roads are conveniently empty using methods such as taking control of traffic lights.

Sister trope to Rock Star Parking, where there is always an empty parking space in front of the building the hero is going to.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Kill la Kill episode 8, after Ryuko and Mako are forced to get a ride with Gamagoori (who has learned to drive), their ride is attacked by the 'auto-airsoft club', taking a chance at a potential promotion by taking down Gamagoori. The roads are surprisingly clear for the ensuing battle.
  • Resident Evil: Vendetta: Zig-Zagged. The streets of NYC are largely clear of traffic, but when Leon is chased by two Cerberus dogs, he takes them onto the freeway, where they encounter more realistic amounts of traffic.

    Films — Animated 
  • Big Hero 6: During the scene where Yokai chases the team through the streets of San Fransokyo, there are no other cars driving around in the urban setting.
  • Cars: When the three hot rods use soothing music to put Mac to sleep, there are no other vehicles around. Possibly justified, since this happens at night.
  • DC League Of Superpets: In one scene, the super pets are piloting Wonder Woman's invisible jet, when they get shot down. As the jet was over downtown when it happened, the streets are completely free of moving cars and civilians when the jet hits the ground. It DOES, however, wreck a car that was parked on the side (which presumably had nobody inside it).
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show: Since There Are No Adults is in full effect throughout the film and its parent show, and since all the kids in the cul-de-sac who aren't the Eds wholly want the Eds' heads at the movie's start, it's no surprise that there are no vehicles during the opening car chase that takes the Eds across the cul-de-sac and surrounding areas.
  • Rise of the Guardians: The streets of Burguess are always absolutely deserted at night, even during the first and the second battles against Pitch. Maybe because it is a small town and grown-ups can't hear the racket caused by Pitch and the guardians because they don't believe in them, but still, it's funny that nobody comes to check what Jamie and his equally noisy friends are doing outside late of the night.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Austin Powers: In the second movie, Austin and Felicity are chased down the countryside by one of Dr. Evil's assassins. Not only do they not pass a single other car during the chase, but no one drives by after they capture and interrogate the assassin.
  • Batman
    • Batman Forever: During a chase between Batman and some of Two-Face's goons, there are no other vehicles in that part of Gotham.
    • The Dark Knight Rises: When Gordon's group tries to figure out which truck is carrying the bomb and during the police attack on Bane's forces, the streets are otherwise virtually empty. Justified, since most people are afraid to even leave their homes due to Bane's occupation of Gotham.
    • Subverted in The Batman (2022). The Batmobile chase starts off on empty roads, but Bats and Penguin soon encounter heavy traffic that they must navigate.
  • Bullet Train: When the titular train crashes through a wall and tumbles through a neighborhood, nobody is seen on the streets.
  • Played With like there's no tomorrow in The Fast and the Furious franchise.
    • The Fast and the Furious (2001):
    • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: Zig-Zagged.
      • Justified in the first race, since it takes place in a neighborhood where no one lives because all of the houses are under construction.
      • Averted during the chase in which Han is killed, as there is a decent amount of traffic on the roads.
    • Fast & Furious: Played straight. When Brian and the crew break Dom out of the prison transport, there are no other vehicles around. The same is true during the opening gas truck heist.
    • Fast Five: Downplayed. During the final chase, there is some traffic, but not nearly as much as you'd expect.
    • Fast & Furious 6:
      • Downplayed and justified during the London chase, which takes place at night.
      • Refreshingly averted during the tank chase, as the cars of several innocent bystanders are destroyed in the chaos.
    • Zig-Zagged in Furious 7.
      • Averted when Dom chases Shaw after the funeral, as both are forced to maneuver through traffic.
      • Played straight when the crew rescues Ramsey but justified because the chase occurs on a remote mountain road.
      • Downplayed and justified during the final chase, which takes place at night.
    • The Fate of the Furious: Defied when Cypher hacks and remotely controls dozens of cars in order to prevent the Russian Defense minister from escaping.
    • Played straight in the climax of F9, where Dom manages to successfully steer an upside-down armored truck onto a cliffside road just outside Tbilisi. Upon re-righting it, he drives it along the highway. There are no other cars using this road, which is a good thing because Dom next jack-knifes the truck and spins it around in order to use it like a whip to bring down an attacking remote-control drone plane with a UAV.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011): When Lisbeth chases a fleeing Martin, there's no traffic whatsoever. Justified, since the chase takes place on a fairly remote forest road at night. The same is true of the Swedish film.
  • The Highwaymen: While chasing Bonnie and Clyde, Hamer and Gault encounter very little traffic. Justified, since it takes place in the 1930s.
  • James Bond: Played With to hell and back.
    • GoldenEye: Averted. The tank chase sees both sides (mostly Bond, though) causing collateral damage to civilian vehicles, among other things.
    • Justified in Casino Royale (2006). When Bond is chasing Vesper's abductors, the chase happens on a country road late at night.
    • Averted in the opening scene of Quantum of Solace, as Bond and his pursuers are forced to weave through traffic.
    • Spectre: Initially played straight and somewhat Justified, then amusingly Subverted. When Bond is fleeing Mr. Hinx, the roads are justifiably empty because it's nighttime. After a bit, Bond finds himself stuck on a narrow 1-lane road behind a slow driver, nearly allowing Mr. Hinx to catch up.
    • No Time to Die: Justified. The car chase doesn't stay on the road long, but when it does, it's a remote country road that wouldn't see much traffic.
  • The Kid Who Would Be King: Morgana's attempts to seize Excalibur result in a period during nighttime where everyone except the wielder of the sword and those knighted by it disappears. This results in the main characters having a car chase to escape the evil witch's monsters without fear of harming pedestrians.
  • Red Dawn (2012): During the initial invasion, Jed, Matt, and their friends drive past countless parked vehicles, but the only traffic they encounter is Jed and Matt's cop father.
  • Tango and Cash: The Action Prologue features Tango chasing down a drug-carrying tanker truck on a deserted stretch of highway, giving him plenty of time to pull ahead and use his marksman skills to force the driver to a stop; while the truck is being searched a short while later, the cops direct a LONG line of traffic around it that sprung up out of nowhere.
  • The Truman Show: When Truman Burbank suspects that his life isn't entirely real, one of the clues that further stokes his paranoia is how traffic seems to follow plot convenience rather than logic. Most notably, when Truman announces his intention to leave town by car, he finds the road to the only bridge off the island is blocked by completely standstill traffic. So he announces he's changed his mind, and he starts to drive home — then abruptly makes another U-turn and finds the same road is now completely clear.
    Truman: Look, Meryl! Same road, no cars. It's magic! Hahaha!
  • 28 Days Later: In the famous post-apocalyptic sequence where Jim wanders through the deserted London after having Slept Through the Apocalypse due to a coma, the roads (including the capital city's major roads such as Westminster Bridge) aren't just devoid of people, the number of vehicles that are crashed or otherwise aren't neatly parked somewhere can be counted on one hand. This is in contrast to the sequel's shots of a deserted London.
  • The Ugly Dachshund: When Mark and Fran rush to take Danke to the veterinarian at the beginning of the film, the streets are very conveniently empty, except for the policeman that fines Mark for speeding.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: Justified twice:
    • In "The Unicorn and the Wasp", Agatha Christie starts a high-speed chase with a giant wasp pursuing her, and the Doctor and Donna following in another car. Since the chase happens along a rural country road, in the 1920s, at night, it's no surprise at all that they're the only ones in sight.
    • In "Spyfall", the Doctor and Fam on motorcycles pursue the human villain's limousine through dirt roads in the middle of a crop, albeit one that's not far from a large social gathering.
  • Primeval:
    • In Episode 3x4, there are a couple car chases against a Giganotosaurus on an open airfield strip, with no air traffic in sight apart from a grounded and inhabited plane.
    • In 3x6, the team at one point have a high-speed car chase along an abandoned and isolated country road in the forest (in fact, the team are in this location because they're currently on the run from the authorities) while being chased by a Terror Bird. Naturally, it'd be surprising both In-Universe and out if any other vehicles did come along.
    • The Season 4 premiere has one of the series' most dubious cases. When a Spinosaurus unexpectedly bursts through an Anomaly in the middle of the city, the streets of London are suspiciously devoid of people and vehicles throughout the team's ensuing chase against the creature.
  • Primeval: New World: Justified in Episode 7, when Mac, Toby, and Toby's ex have a brief high-speed chase along a country road while trying to escape from an Ornitholestes. Since it's on a forested mountain in Canada, it's no surprise that they're literally the sole road traffic in the area.
  • Supernatural: In the infamous "Route 666", Dean takes the Impala on a road chase against the featured ghostly truck at night, with no other vehicles around.
  • Westworld: In Season 3's 6th episode, Dolores and Caleb are being pursued by Serac's men after kidnapping Dempsey Jr. They go into a high speed in the streets of Los Angeles which are very empty though it happens on night time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Changeling: The Lost, this trope is how a Contract to speed up driving works. The user's car is not actually faster, but probability alters so that it never gets stuck in traffic, has to wait at intersections, etc.

    Video Games 
  • Can be set up by the player in Burnout Paradise by disabling traffic in a multiplayer lobby you're hosting, or by exploiting a bug to carry the change over into single-player.
  • The Crew (2014): This being a game where you can drive all over the USA, the empty roads stand out quite a bit in larger cities, especially if you've been there before. The traffic is never heavy even in places where by all rights you should have trouble even squeezing a car in.
    Ross Scott: ...I realize this is the case in every major city, but in New York especially, the traffic density is amusing. I don't think there are ever this few cars on the road in New York without something involving the National Guard.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: The "The Beast In Me" questline is a series of races throughout Night City. The race course is a holographic visual shared to the racers only, but the streets are entirely empty whenever there's a race going on.
  • Used liberally throughout the Forza Horizon series. Even in the dedicated street races; you'll never encounter more than a few pedestrian cars during a race, nor will you find many as you cruise around the map.
  • Downplayed during certain missions in the Grand Theft Auto series. In order to allow scripted events to play out more smoothly, there is typically less traffic on the road during most missions than there is on those same roads during free roam. While helpful during the driving sequences, this can actually be a hindrance if the mission later calls for, for example, stealing a car to escape the authorities.
  • Resident Evil 6:
    • The car chase between Chris, Piers, and Ada takes place on a nearly empty freeway despite the city being mid-evacuation at the moment.
    • During Jake and Sherry's escape from The Family compound, the roads have very little of the Post-Apocalyptic Traffic Jam that would be expected for a large city (and is shown in other characters' campaigns).
  • Sideswiped: In any non-Destruction race, the roads will be completely devoid of traffic despite some courses taking place in cities like Las Vegas and New York. Averted and inverted in Destruction and Dynamite races, where roads will be densely populated with vehicles and debris as you would expect them to be... including mountain passages off the beaten path that traffic would never reasonably build up on.
  • Sonic Adventure 2: In several of the chase sequences, while there is a bit of traffic around, it's nowhere near the amount one would expect of major population centres or highways.
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed: One of the race tracks called Graffiti City (set in Tokyo-to from Jet Set Radio) plays this straight. Parts of the track are set on stretches of highway that contain no civilian traffic at all, despite looping around the busy heart of the city and the Rokkaku Police showing up in helicopters to interfere with the race by destroying parts of the highway in the final lap. Given the presence of steamroller vehicles on the highway as obstacles though, it's implied that it's under construction and not accessible to the public, effectively justifying the race.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In "The Check", the roads are empty throughout the Wattersons' invisible car chase over the titular check, with the exception of a sole encounter with Mr. Small's van.
    • Downplayed in "The Password", where other vehicles intervene in the chase between Richard and Nichole's cars every once in a while but the rest of the time the highway is clear to them.
    • In "The Bus", the titular school bus which most of the episode's main cast are on and the police cars in pursuit are pretty much the only vehicles on the road. This trope goes away almost entirely when the bus ends up driving onto an airfield.
  • Amphibia: In "Anne-sterminator", during the car chase to escape the Cloak-bot's hot pursuit, the neighborhood is deserted and the roads clear except for an oblivious dog-walking pedestrian. The trope goes away as soon as the chase takes the cast to the freeway.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: In "Re-Enter the Dragon", the roads are completely deserted during Jackie and jade's car chase through the streets of San Francisco at night to escape from a levitating Shendu. More egregious than a night chase through the city might otherwise be because there's pedestrians out and about in one shot, but no sign of vehicles in use.
  • The Transformers: In "B.O.T.", the Combaticons are shown driving down the street of a city side-by-side, with no sign of any traffic at all. This is especially notable since two of their members (Vortex and Blast-Off) transform into a helicopter and a space shuttle. It's also convenient that when the Combaticons encounter the Protectobots, they can freely combine into Bruticus and Defensor without risking anyone on the streets. This is especially notable because generally firefights between the Autobots and Decepticons take place away from metropolitan areas where there normally isn't any traffic anyway (e.g. military bases or temporary base camps). note 
  • Young Justice: Outsiders: In "Private Security", the coastal roads are clear throughout Dick and the Bowhunter Security trio's lengthy chase against the three trucks hijacked by Brick's crew.