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Dangerously Loaded Cargo

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When a load is improperly secured in the vehicle carrying it and subsequently endangers or kills when it comes loose. In a workplace, this is a form of No OSHA Compliance and likely to result in an argument when one character refuses to follow protocol out of laziness or because they're in a rush, foreshadowing the danger. While the danger is usually caused by incompetence or laziness, a worn-out tie-down or unknown broken anchor point can be just as dangerous.

See No Seatbelts for when it's the characters themselves who aren't able to be properly secured. Fell Off the Back of a Truck is something entirely different, though debris actually falling off the back of a truck and becoming an obstacle do fit here. Compare Nitro Express, when the contents of the cargo are explosively dangerous.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun: In flashbacks depicting Iruma's ability to sense and avoid danger, he's shown aboard a cargo ship when some of the cargo comes loose, forcing him to dodge this way and that to avoid being crushed.

    Fan Works 
  • Ghost of Privet Drive begins when the protagonist is sent to the Harry Potter universe by a truck — not hitting him, but rather dropping hundreds of kilos of rolled steel joists through his windscreen and into his chest. Due to heavy rain, he never actually sees whatever caused them to come loose.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aliens: Lt. Gorman, the (very green) commanding officer of the Marines for the mission, gets knocked out by some falling cargo aboard the APC while Ripley is driving it recklessly to rescue the surviving Marines after their first foray into the hive. With Sgt. Apone falling in the hive, Cpl. Hicks is left in charge. He gladly defers to Ripley, thanks to her prior experience with the titular creatures. She orders the site to be nuked from orbit, much to Burke's dismay, setting off the second act plot of Burke attempting to smuggle aliens back inside of Ripley and Newt. Quite the chain of events thanks to one unsecured container.
  • Used as a throwaway gag at the very end of Clockwise. After Brian says "Right!", and a police officer takes this to mean "turn right", Brian then yells "no, LEFT, LEFT, LEFT!" An open-backed lorry does so violently, shedding its load.
  • Dracula: Dead and Loving It: Count Dracula's coffin is loaded onto a ship bound for England. During a storm, the coffin slides back and forth across the cargo bay with the Count yelping inside as it slams into the walls. Renfield tries weighing it down with his own body and eats a couple slams for his effort.
  • Final Destination:
    • Final Destination 2: The pileup on Route 23 is caused by a chain on a logging truck failing, sending massive logs flying into the cars behind it.
    • Final Destination 5: During the bridge collapse premonition, both Sam and Peter are killed after being impaled by unsecured metal cargo from a construction vehicle.
  • Jennings' death by decapitation in The Omen (1976) was the result of a sheet of glass coming loose from the truck it was in, with more than a little bit of supernatural influence going on because this is a movie about The Antichrist.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: Subverted and enforced. When Jack figures out how to escape Davy Jone's locker, he starts running from one side of the Black Pearl to the other with the crew accompanying him to get it to capsize. Barbossa heads below deck and orders the rest of the crew to unstow the heavy cargo and cut the gun deck's cannons loose since everything being properly stored and tied down was preventing the ship from capsizing. With the additional shifting weight from the loose cargo and cannons, the Black Pearl is able to fully capsize, although two crew members are killed in the process; one of whom is crushed by one of the main deck's cannons as it careens across the ship.

  • Invoked in Moonraker, where during a car chase, Drax has his henchman climb onto a lorry and cut its load free, sending it into the path of Bond's car.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die: One story features a pair of rogue African militiamen who steal and hoard supplies from relief containers meant for refugees dropped from planes. Both of them end up getting crushed to death by one of said containers after its chute fails to open and they're too drunk to notice it falling right on top of their heads.
  • Andor: Nemik is killed when Cassian takes off with the heavy stolen load loose in the cargo area, with one of the racks slamming into Nemik and crushing his torso.
  • Deadliest Catch: Due to the extreme conditions the crab boats have to operate in, the crab pods must be meticulously stacked and thoroughly tied down, partly to keep the boat balanced in the water and partly to ensure that a large swell or wave doesn't send poorly stacked/secured pods falling overboard or onto the crew, which would likely be fatal as they are very heavy. Every boat takes this very seriously since it's such an important safety issue, and multiple episodes have shown crew (especially greenhorns) getting reamed by the captain and/or other crewmates for not doing it properly.
  • Mayday has covered several plane crashes caused by or impacted by loose cargo, and it's been brought up as a possibility in several more.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Ethics" focuses around Worf finding himself paralyzed after a loose container falls on top of him in the Cargo Bay.

    Video Games 
  • Boogie Wings has a stage where you infiltrate a Cool Airship by blowing a hole through the cargo hold, causing the entire vehicle to depressurize and sending everything — you, enemy mooks, and various cargo including crates and parked vehicles—flung about.
  • Desert Breaker: One of the stages sees you infiltrating an enemy bomber plane by blowing up a hatch, and the interiors subjected to Continuous Decompression, where the poorly-secured cargo starts sliding out. You spend most of the stage avoiding falling crates, containers, and occasionally falling mooks and hamachidoris while making your way to the plane's front.
  • Return Of The Obra Dinn: Chapter 1 involves an accident with loose cargo which results in the death of Samuel Peters.
  • Time Crisis 3: The first stage is a shootout that leads to the interiors of a container ship, where an explosion causes the entire ship to tilt, at which point the camera goes Dutch Angle with several mooks getting crushed by sliding crates, containers, and assorted junk.

  • Tiger, Tiger: Jamis refuses to properly tie down a heavy load and Remy gives in and lets him get away with it. When the Gallant subsequently gets caught in a storm, the ship nearly capsizes and dooms the entire crew due to the heavy cargo breaking free and tumbling about in the ship's hold.

    Western Animation 
  • The educational Disney short "Goofy's Freeway Troubles" has Goofy as a neglectful driver to warn the audience about freeway safety. One of the dangerous things he does is overloading a trailer and tying it down improperly. Stuff on the trailer keeps falling out, creating a hazard for the other drivers, then when Goofy has to slam on the brakes all the remaining stuff comes flying forward to fall on him.
  • Theodore Tugboat: In "Theodore and the Unsafe Ship", Theodore is tasked with docking Cabot, a scruffy and rough cargo ship who is very careless with his cargo. When Theodore inspects Cabot's deck, Cabot's cargo looks as if it's about to fall off. Theodore's job is to make sure that ships are safe before bringing them in, and the closer Theodore looked, the less safe Cabot seemed. Cabot's cargo falls off his deck and Theodore has to collect it to prevent any possible collision with other boats.
  • Thomas & Friends: During "A Bad Day for Harold the Helicopter", Percy is stuck at a broken signal and Harold is called in to take the mail. His pilots suggested taking each piece of mail one at a time but Harold insisted upon taking all the mail at once because he'd have to take multiple trips. However, this ends up causing him to crash because the giant bundle of mail ended up being too heavy for him to carry.

    Real Life 
  • National Airlines Flight 102 crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 7 crew members on board. A military vehicle in the cargo hold came loose and smashed into vital control components in the plane's tail section, causing the crash.
  • A Soviet plane carrying several top officers was improperly loaded (at the insistence of said officers), resulting in the plane crashing on takeoff with no survivors when a roll of printing paper moved around in the hold. The crash killed more officers in a single day than they'd lost in WWII.