People (usually those afflicted by Small Town Boredom) will sneak out at night and try to tip a cow over, because as you all know cows sleep upright and are too dumb or weak to do anything about people pushing them over. When they finally fall they will just lie on the ground helpless until someone gets them back on their feet. Right?
Actually no. In Real Life this is downright impossible, because:
- Cows don't sleep standing up.
- Cows are very heavy and you need a lot of strength and force to be able to get the animal into motion. It will likely reorient its footing while you are wasting energy pushing against it.
- Unless injured, cows are perfectly able to lie down and regain their footing whenever they want.
- You will probably make the cow angry, and it will try to defend itself, possibly killing anyone who attempts this.
A subtrope of Artistic License Biology and a popular Urban Legend (you see, there's a reason why it is called an urban legend and not a rural one). See also Constantly Lactating Cow for another trope about cattle being portrayed inaccurately.
- Among the life-sized decorated cow statues from the CowParade international public art exhibition is one piece, "Tipped Kansas Cow", which was modified to balance on its front legs and snout rather than on all fours. It's also painted all over with sunflowers (the Kansas state flower).
- Barnyard. After a boy tries cowtipping some cows along with his friends, the cows respond with boytipping him.
- Parodied in Cars. Mater invites Lightning to go "tractor tipping" (tractors being the car world's analog of cows). He honks his horn, startling the tractor into driving forward and rearing back, which ends with it aiming straight up until it's fully awake enough to right itself. Lightning, who doesn't have a horn, gives it a try... by revving his engine, which is loud enough to startle the entire pasture.
- Heathers has a scene where two Dumb Jocks try to impress Veronica and a Heather by cow tipping despite the girl's obvious displeasure at being there. When the boys succeed in pushing the beast over, it lands in a puddle and splatters the girls with mud.
- I Love You, Beth Cooper: Rich, Cammy, and Treece come across a field of cows while drunk and decide to tip one of them. All three of them pushing together on the cow does not do anything other than starting a stampede that chases them out of the field.
Treece: Let's tip one.
Rich: What, isn't that like an urban legend?
- The 2005 Made-for-TV Movie, Larva starts with four teenagers going cow tipping in a Missouri field and after they push one of them over, they find out that it was already dead on its feet. As the teens are running away, laughing at what they had done, the parasites start chewing their way out of carcass.
- Tommy Boy: The title character takes his soon-to-be-stepbrother out cow tipping. However, when he attempts to knock the cow over, he slips in the mud, the cow moos, the farmer comes out and chases them off with a shotgun.
- Referenced in Season of Miracles. Donnie asks Zack, "Swimming in summer, or cow tipping in winter?" Zack replies, "Swimming in the summer, I guess."
- Animorphs: As they're acquiring cows at night, a bunch of drunken fratboys show up to try tipping cows. Problem is, they run unto Ax first, and though he does his best to look like a cow by hiding his tail and twisting his stalk eyes like horns. It doesn't work, and he just knocks them out (Rachel suggests decapitation, as they won't be missed).
- The Big Bang Theory: At the start of "The Thanksgiving Decoupling", Sheldon and Leonard try to mathematically prove to Penny that cow tipping is impossible despite her memories of it. Leonard suggests that she was drunk enough that she was the one that fell over.
Penny: That would explain why the sky was also on its side.
- The blink-182 song, "Degenerate" from the Dude Ranch album has the lyrics:
Went to a farm to tip some cows
Forgot that I left my pants down
Bent over to pick them up
Felt a twelve gauge next to my hum-diddy-dum
- Carrie Underwood's song "I Ain't in Checotah Anymore" contains the lines:
I'd rather be tipping cows in Tulsa
Than hailing cabs here in New York
But I ain't in Checotah anymore
- Alluded to in Vampire: The Masquerade, where "cow tipping" is a slang term for feeding on farm animals.
- Day of the Tentacle. Purple Tentacle indulges in some cow tipping as the beginning of his crime wave. He even makes the headlines for this.
Rash of Cow Tipping Baffles Police - Triangular Man Spotted at Scene.
- All games Fallout series (bar 4) allow the player to indulge in Brahmin-tipping (Brahmin being two-headed cows that were mutated by exposure to radiation following the nuclear war).
- In Fallout 4, one of the random dialogs from Brotherhood of Steel Vertibird pilots is that they occasionally use their aircraft to do this when they're bored.
- The Bard's Tale. There are a number of cows in Houton that the Bard can push over and if you tip enough of them, a very angry cow will attack him.
- Sims can tip cows in the Nintendo DS version of The Sims 2 or if they have the "Milkin' It Dairy Corral" from the "Farm Fresh Folk Set" Downloadable Content for The Sims 3. There is a good chance that the sim will end up on his/her backside instead but if the sim is successful, they can milk the cow to produce a milkshake!
- Asheron's Call has the "Cow Tipping" quest that requires tipping 300 cows for a guy who is rather paranoid about cattle.
Dwennon: You've seen them lingering around town, haven't you? They've been here all along, you know that, don't you? They have spies all over the place. They see and hear everything. They must be stopped, and stopped the only way we know how. Simply killing them isn't good enough, we need to tip them and tip them often. Go, go tip the cows, they must be stopped!
- Repeatedly clicking on a cow in Ultima Online causes it to tip over.
- Everquest II: The "Brell's Everlasting Brew" quest for Brew Day requires tipping over Farmer Prew Drowers' cow, Betsy and stealing some of Prew's hops while he is helping her get back up.
- The seventh Die-O-Rama from Crash Tag Team Racing has Crash notice a sign warning not to tip cows and immediately decides to tip one. The cow is not amused and chokes Crash with his tail.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Phoenix is insulted when Damon Gant suggests that he would not have the guts to break into his office to plant evidence and retorts by claiming that he was adventurous enough to tip cows.
Phoenix: What!? I'll have you know, back in the day, I once broke into a cattle ranch and tipped—
Judge: M-Mr Wright! What are you saying?!
- Minecraft has an achievement in console versions and older PC versions called "Cow Tipping", which involves picking up leather, preferably from a dead cow (but getting one from fishing or a loot chest also works). The death animation of mobs, including cows, is them simply tipping over sideways, making it look like deadly cow tipping.
- As a subtle in-joke in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft said when the Friendly Bartender card is played.
Friendly Bartender: Don't forget to tip your tauren!"
- Recorder, a funny modded follower for Skyrim, brings up a very valid point in regards to the livestock of the land.
Surprising there is no milk option on the menu. What are all those cows for? Tipping?
- Gaia Online: The Halloween event in 2006, The Zurg, added cows that could be tipped and rewarded the player a cowbell for tipping 30 of them. There are also cows in zOMG!, residing on Rancher Bill's ranch that can be tipped.
- Beavis and Butt-Head. A 1994 episode of the show has Beavis and Butthead try to do this. They succeed in the end, but Beavis gets crushed underneath the cow's weight.
- Camp Lakebottom: The campers try to do this in the "Bloody Marty" episode while staying up past their bedtime and playing with Marty.
Squirt: Cows sleep standing up, if you sneak up on them, you can tip them over.
Bloody Marty: What are you doing man? (Puts a dollar on the on the cow's horn) I already tipped him!
- Dragons: Riders of Berk "How to Pick Your Dragon". While flying over the island on the back of Toothless, Stoick spots a field filled with fallen yaks. He quickly catches Tuffnut and Ruffnut as the culprits behind the yak-tipping.
- Ben 10: Three boys sneak onto a farm to tip cows at the start of the "Under Wraps" episode. Todd's attempt on a bull fails to move it even an inch and instead manages to greatly enrage it.
- Robot Chicken: A brief section of the "The Deep End" episode has a rather dopey Bill Clinton cow tipping.
Bill: I'm Bill Clinton. I'm going to push over that cow.
- In the Sonic Boom episode, "Cow Bot", in order to defeat the titular robot, Sonic has to distract it while his friends tip it over. Once it's on its side, then Tails can reprogram it.
- Variant in Ed, Edd n Eddy: while the Eds are chasing a balloon, they bump into a cow, which then falls on Rolf.
Rolf: Never again will Rolf store his keys in his trouser pockets.
- In one special of All Grown Up! where the kids go to a farm, Susie tries to do this, but the cow keeps laying down before she can. Eventually, the boy on the farm tells her cowtipping is just a myth, to which Susie says it's like Sewer Gators, much to the boy's disappointment.
- Despite its overall nigh-impossibility to do as mentioned above, Cow Tipping is a criminal offense in the state of Wisconsin. It counts as defiling the official state animal.
- The documentary Atomic Journeys: Welcome to Ground Zero includes a scene where an underground nuclear test is conducted near a cowfield. The ground shock forces one rather surprised looking cow to its knees, although admittedly it doesn't actually fall over.