Follow TV Tropes


Dish Dash

Go To
Tiana could probably fit a few more dishes in her teeth.

"Blunt the knives, bend the forks
Smash the bottles and burn the corks
Chip the glasses and crack the plates
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!"

The animated and/or comedy trope wherein a character has to pretty much dash madly around a room catching stacks of falling breakable dishes/plates/cups/mugs/lightbulbs/vases before they hit the floor and smash into a million pieces.

Inevitably, the character ends up precariously balanced on one foot, with dishes in both hands, balanced on his head, in the crooks of his elbows, and/or tilting dangerously on the point of one knee. If it's a comedy, it's meant to elicit sympathy for the character's plight. If it's action, it's meant to display the dexterity, nimbleness and quick-handed, sure-footed prowess of the character. But either way, the outcome is meant to elicit a laugh.

The most common variations of "what happens next" involve someone or something disturbing the rescuer of dishes, knocking into or startling them, and:

  1. The most important dish falls and breaks, leaving the person still holding dozens of breakables
  2. The most important dish falls and breaks, which also happens to be the heaviest, and then since they are now off balance, everything goes in rapid succession
  3. Everything goes, leaving the character to stand in the middle of the destruction, having failed to save anything
  4. Everything goes except one piece, which the character hugs protectively
  5. Everything goes except one piece, which the character then throws over his shoulder with a sigh just to make the destruction complete
  6. Everything goes except one piece, which an antagonist then smashes just to be a Jerkass
  7. Everything goes except one plate, which rolls on out of the destruction, then slowly spins to a halt.
  8. They get scolded for breaking things and banished from the kitchen/room/house

There's also a Discredited Trope variation of this trope — when someone is showing off their skills at keeping dishes balanced atop spinning sticks. It used to be popular in Variety Show TV, but this is rarely seen in modern TV (anything after the 1970s).

This trope frequently is accompanied by the Standard Snippet "Sabre Dance" by Khachaturian, as a Mood Motif for how frantically the character is dashing around to save all the breakables.

Not to be confused with Diner Dash, its mobile game equivalent, or Dine and Dash.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Sanji and Robin perform this move in one of the One Piece opening songs.
    • Also from One Piece, when Luffy is chasing Chopper around Doctorine's castle, he surprises him and causes a bunch of test tubes, beakers, bottles, etc. to fall. Chopper catches all of them (with his hooves an antlers, which of course makes no sense), and ens up balanced precariously on one foot. Luffy then grins, chuckles evilly, and says "But what if I...?" before proceeding to tickle Chopper mercilessly. Apparently, none of the 'dishes' broke in the end.
  • A few examples come from Ranma ˝. In one, Kasumi drops the dinner pan in shock, and Ranma rushes in to catch the pan and then the pan's contents. In another, Ranma has to wait tables at the Cat Cafe and caught multiple ramen bowls tossed at himher by Cologne — and she actually does the dishes atop spinning sticks variant later.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Chachamaru is acting as waitress for Chao Bao Zi, and is carrying two stacks of dim sum bowls seven high ... and trips. Asuna, Setsuna, and Negi catch all the bowls.
    • Earlier on, during the Library Island arc, Kaede does this with books falling off of a bookshelf.
      • Nearly a hundred chapters later, having had enough of Fate bad-mouthing Asuna, Negi kneed the table they were hostily sipping tea/coffee (they had an argument over which was better) at and flew into a punch toward Fate's face, which he blocked simply. A Moment later when the table came falling down, Negi caught its' base leg on the tip of his finger, of which the beverages atop it remained completely unspilled.
  • In Black Butler, Sebastian frequently ends up catching multiple dishware, food, and other items due to the clumsiness of Maylene and the other household staff. He never drops anything — by accident, anyway — because he's just that good of a Battle Butler.
    • The triplet butlers of the Trancy staff do this in episode 5 of the second season after the Phantomhive staff makes a mess of things.
  • Pikachu does this in an episode of Pokémon: The Series. After Pachirisu, who's floating through a steamboat's kitchen after tying some balloons to its tail, knocks over a bunch of dishes, Pikachu catches them all with his front paws, back paws, and his own tail.
  • The epilogue of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Detonation has a scene where Levi trips while carrying a basket of vegetables. Not only does she get all of them back in the basket before they hit the ground, she takes a moment to pose for the camera before getting the last two.

  • In one Tintin album, Snowy chases the Marlinspike resident cat around and runs into Nestor, triggering an acrobatic sequence as the man attempts to save the palace of bottles and glasses that culminates with the cat toppling the entire thing.
  • In one of the first issues of Impulse, the title character's mentor who has Super-Speed is having a cup of coffee while in his civilian identity. He knocks the cup off the desk and instinctivly catches it, hot liquid and all. This is done in front of his Love Interest who at the time, had no idea of his superhero persona. He tries his best to play it off.
  • When Barry Allen made his first appearance in Showcase #4, he discovers his superspeed when a diner waitress trips, and he finds he can move fast enough to straighten the tray, catch all the plates and flying food and replace them. He does it so quickly that she doesn't even see him move and is left wondering what happened.

    Films — Animated 
  • Astroboy (2009): The title character does a scene like this, even though he realizes it could give away he's a robot.
  • Tiana in The Princess and the Frog dish-dashes as part of her work, as seen early in the movie during the number "Down in New Orleans".
  • There's a monster in the background on the floor in the penultimate scene of Monsters, Inc. spinning plates on sticks now that they've discovered laughter is 10 times more powerful than scream.
  • In a tie-in comic for Ratatouille, Linguini bumps into one of the other chefs who was carrying a lot of dishes, and thanks to Remy's quick manipulation, he catches them all, making the other chefs wonder about his crazy skills. Linguini then gives Remy a break, and when he comes back in, Skinner tries to create the situation a second time, only for Linguini to drop every single one of the dishes. The other chefs conclude that the earlier event was just a fluke.
  • A mother bird from Alice in Wonderland actually does this with her own eggs.
  • One scene of Bébé's Kids saw Robin find out that baby Pee-Wee had entered the "House of Glass" in Fun World. He had stacked literally hundreds of dishes and glasses into a massive single stack tower by the time Robin found him. On being interrupted, the whole pile fell over and Robin raced to catch and then put away every single dish and glass before catching Pee-Wee himself. Then as he was walking out one last dish he missed hit the floor. Robin ran for it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Mary Poppins, the Banks household must engage in this every time their neighbor Admiral Boom shoots off his cannon. (Luckily he has precise military timing; unluckily he does this every day. Mr. Banks actually sets his watch by it.) Nothing ever gets broken, although the piano requires tuning.
    • 25 years on, the Admiral's routine remains unchanged, with Michael and his children having to do the rushing.
  • A newly empowered Peter Parker rescues Mary Jane's upended lunch this way early in the first Spider-Man movie. Made all the more impressive by the fact that this wasn't a special effect; other than adhesive sticking his hand to the tray, that was all Tobey Macguire's natural reflexes.
  • A watered-down version happens in the Fantastic Four (2005) movie, when Reed reaches out to catch a glass Sue knocked over, and discovers his powers this way.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005):
    • Mrs. Smith catches a falling wine bottle in front of her husband, which confirms him that she was an undercover assassin, and her that she just screwed up in front of him.
    • Later on Mr. Smith is sneaking through the house when he knocks over a china vase. He catches it in mid-air, only for the lid to slide off and shatter on the floor, revealing his position to his shotgun-toting wife.
  • Commonplace in Jackie Chan movies.
  • While Frank Drebin is snooping in Ludwig's office, he winds up bumping a display of objets d'art and antiques and is forced to catch them as they fall. It soon becomes for naught as the fire he'd accidentally caused grabs his attention and he winds up knocking the whole display rack over.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Family Matters: Steve Urkel frequently does this. And sheepishly asks after the dust settles, "Did I do that?"
  • The Young Ones: Neil can't get the lentils out of the cupboard because if he opens the door all the plates will fall out and smash, so he enlists Vyvyan's help to knock a hole through the wall into the back of the cupboard. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" has a subversion. Quark has his employees dropping his glasses down on him from the second floor on purpose — so that he can improve his catching skills for the big game.
  • BBC2 once had an ident using the "discredited" version. Darren Meldrum has it here; scroll down to "Spinning Plates".
  • The first episode of The Flash (2014) recreated the Barry Allen stunt above when a waitress at Jitters coffeehouse drops her tray.

    Video Games 
  • Guilty Gear series: One of Jam Kuradoberi's victory poses involves this.
  • Olga Orly does this after every Big "NO!" in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Until the one time she can't... and the dishes land perfectly anyway. Angel Starr from the first game does the same with her box lunches.
  • In the videogame version of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life one level has you play by feeding Mr. Creosote from an impossibly large pile of plates carried by the waiter; you must feed Mr. Creosote in such a way that the trays don't become imbalanced making the waiter drop them.
  • Sun Xiaomei from the Richman series performed the discredited version when she worked at a circus.

  • In Jupiter-Men, Binny brings Nathan breakfast in bed. But Nathan is too used to living alone following his father's disappearance, instinctively throwing a palm strike in a bit of Wake Up Fighting before realizing what's happening. He then quickly catches the tray, the plate of pancakes, french toast, and the glass of orange juice without spilling a drop. He even manages to grab the falling knife with his teeth.
    Binny: [clapping in awe] Nice catch!

    Western Animation 
  • In the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "Out of Scale", the eponymous chipmunks are captured and presented to Ignatz "Ratso" Ratskiwatski to give to his daughter Buffy as playthings. She dresses them in a robe and dress, respectively, and places them into a dollhouse. Dale gets a little too much into the role, though, and when Buffy simulates an earthquake by shaking the house, he runs to save his "good china." He's too late for most of it, though, and is forced to drop the rest when Chip bonks him on the head
  • Dennis the Menace: In the opening titles sequence, Mrs. Mitchell finds herself in this situation after Dennis, riding on Ruff, sends her armload of clean dishes flying.
  • In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "Mom and Jerry", Dexter accidentally swaps bodies with a mouse and ends up getting chased by his mother. At one point he tries to distract her by dropping decorative plates off a shelf, forcing her to catch them.
  • Family Guy: Brian goes out to dinner with his ex-girlfriend Jillian and her new beau. A waiter walks by and trips, causing him to drop his full tray, but Jillian's boyfriend catches everything with no problems. Wanting to one-up him, Brian then trips the next waiter who walks by and tries to do the same thing. He winds up covered in food and hurting the waiter's wrist (which Jillian's boyfriend 'fixes' with some fancy handwork).
  • Hanna-Barbera is a popular supporter of this trope:
    • Tom and Jerry have had several variations, including the first film, "Puss Gets the Boot".
      • "Royal Cat-Nap" includes one with Jerry and Tuffy/Nibbles throwing dishes to force Tom into the Dish Dash
      • Done with a twist to Tom in "Quiet, Please!" (1945): Jerry throws lightbulbs onto the floor trying to wake Spike the Bulldog (who has threatened Tom with dire punishment if he gets wakened). Tom catches them all— and then Jerry plugs his tail into an electrical outlet, making Tom light up like an old movie sign.
    • The Pac-Man episode "Goo-Goo at the Zoo" did this with Pac-Man and the escaped zoo animals in a china shop.
    • The Christmas Special The Town Santa Forgot has a failed Dish Dash caused by Jeremy Creek throwing a temper tantrum so severe it knocks all the dishes from the cabinets to the floor before his mother can even attempt to catch any.
  • Kick Buttowski, "Stand and Delivery" - Kick insists he's fast. He gets the chance to prove it when Gunther loses his grip on a huge stack of dishes. Kick plucks them all out of the air.
  • Occurs in a museum of priceless artifacts on Kim Possible. Surprisingly, none of them ended up breaking.
  • The Loud House: In "Funny Business" and several other Luan-centric episodes, she does the plates-on-sticks version.
  • In an episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Jake has been hypnotizing his classmates with glass doorknobs taken from Adam's house. They're all antiques and precious to Adam's mom, so when they get launched into the air, he desperately dashes around to catch them all (in slow motion). Principle Pixiefrog startles Adam in the end, causing him to drop and break all of the doorknobs.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot uses both versions of the trope:
    • In the episode involving the school play, Tucker auditions for it with the spinning plates before somebody realizes he's in elementary school.
    • In the episode "Tradeshow Showdown", Jenny is forced to do a Dish Dash when a robotic teapot struggles to get away from her. She releases the teapot, and it crashes into the wall, knocking over the dishes. Nora Wakeman shouts, "XJ-9!" startling Jenny so she drops all the dishes to the ground.
  • This happened in the My Little Pony film A Charming Birthday, where Rainbow Dash had a bunch of teapots, until Minty bumped into her. At first Minty caught all the teapots on her head, but dropped them all when she took a bow, saving only the green one.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Apple Bloom can do it in the "spinning on a stick" manner, and the "sure-footed, quick hand—er hoofed" method.
    • In "The Best Night Ever", Rainbow Dash ends up saving the pie of one of her heroes this way at the Grand Galloping Gala.
  • A Popeye cartoon has him landing in Olive's arms, sending the dishes she was carrying flying. He catches the whole big pile as they fall, sees one more spinning down, and drops all the others with a crash to grab it. Olive snatches it from him and beans him on the noggin with it (and the last dish is apparently made of metal).
  • The "discredited version" of this trope was used on Recess, when Spinelli first tried her hand at plate spinning.
  • Tex Avery's short "Rock-a-Bye Bear".
  • Jadeybug does this with packages in the Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures episode "Berry Bitty World Record."
  • Three Delivery opened with an earthquake, and Sid used martial arts moves to rescue all the breakables. He even managed to save Mr. Wu's favourite mug; unfortunately, Mr. Wu came in and startled Sid, resulting in the mug falling to the ground and breaking.
  • In the short, "Awful Orphan" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Looking Out For the Little Guy", when Sneezer climbs up the refrigerator shelves to get some cheese, Elmyra races to catch all the food he knocks off. Unfortunately, she ends up getting eggs in her face followed by a pitcher falling on her head.
  • Total Drama: Jasmine, Scarlett, and Sky are launched upwards by a spring trap in "Three Zones and a Baby". They all lose the babies in their care, but while Jasmine and Scarlett land in a bush, Sky makes a flawless landing on her feet and proceeds to catch the babies that fall down next. She catches two with her hands and one with her head.
  • Subverted disturbingly in an episode of The Wild Thornberrys in which a troop of macaques play "Smash and Crash" and completely destroy anything breakable they can get their hands on.
  • In the Classic Disney Short "Crazy with the Heat", Goofy's misadventures at a ghostly soda fountain in the middle of a desert result in him being forced to pay his bill by washing dishes. Goofy's left carrying a precarious stack of dishes, taller than himself, across the sand dunes—and threatened with death if he drops any. Naturally, they all get dropped, but this time it's not Goofy's fault. Donald Duck, who's been chasing mirages this whole time, mistakes Goofy for an oasis and crashes into him.