Automobiles are an important part of our society; most of us rely on our cars to take us to work, school, or to otherwise facilitate our daily lives to the point where we take our cars for granted. For many, owning and driving a car creates a sense of freedom as they are able to go where they please whenever they please. However, some people simply do not drive for any of various reasons. This reluctance, or inability to drive in many cases, may reveal something about the character, be it their attitudes or their culture.
This trope comes in several flavors:
- The character is too important to do such a menial thing. This person is usually very affluent or a member of royalty, so is often driven by a chauffeur.
- The character is too unimportant to be allowed to drive. They may be a grunt without the proper permission, a low-caste individual without the social standing to operate a motor vehicle or simply too poor to afford driving lessons.
- The character knows perfectly well how to drive but is not allowed, either through necessity or by choice. They may be fairly competent drivers but stay off the wheel for legal or cultural reasons, or may be totally inept and are kept off the streets for everyone else's safety.
- The character may simply prefer not to drive or is indifferent to driving and never bothered to learn. They may be environmentally minded or health conscious, opting to walk, bike, or use public transit whenever they can, or, may simply enjoy these experiences over driving.
- The character has no need to drive. They may live in a tight-knit podunk in the middle of nowhere or in a heavily urbanized area, where other forms of transportation, such as walking or public transit, are more viable.
- The character had no opportunity to learn to drive, from any of the above cultural reasons, or just not being developmentally mature enough to learn.
- The character may have been a victim (or remorseful victimizer) of a previous car accident and fear prevents them from taking the wheel.
This trope can result in Drives Like Crazy and Had the Silly Thing in Reverse when a character is asked to drive. Contrast Universal Driver's License, where anyone can drive a any sort of vehicle regardless of experience, and Cool Car or Drives Like Crazy, where a driving character can be judged by how they drive. A sister trope to Driving Stick and Are You Sure You Can Drive This Thing? Works with this trope in effect may feature The Driver, and a Driving Test signifies a change in character.
- Spider-Man: Peter Parker, growing up in Queens, doesn't need to drive between using mass transit and having spider powers. The few times Spidey has been put behind the wheel, Hilarity Ensues. Dangerous hilarity. Even in 2017 as a corporate magnate, he still doesn't drive. People fly and drive for him.
- Tintin: Destination Moon. During Calculus' insult-triggered rage, he drags Haddock and Tintin to the launch site on an official jeep. After narrowly avoiding death several times, he reveals that one of these days he's going to learn how to drive, as it's an essential skill in the modern age.
- I, Robot: Inverted. In a world of self-driving cars, Del Spooner prefers to drive manually.
- The Princess Diaries: Invoked by Queen Clarisse to her granddaughter Mia, especially because Mia's own car (an old Ford Mustang) is "not suitable for a princess", though in her defense, the car is a heap of junk. From now on, Mia rides a limo to school.
- In Quantum Apocalypse, Terry doesn't want to drive, even though he thinks he'd be good at it, because he's scared of other drivers.
- Duncan from The Odd Way Home doesn't know how to drive, which doesn't stop him from trying to drive off with the truck at one point. Maya has to hijack a car, chase after him, and yell instructions to get him to stop.
- Nick of Time Chasers prefers to ride a bicycle everywhere. He does know how to drive a car, but is either out of practice or really bad since the one time we see him try and make a getaway in one, he immediately crashes it.
- Assassination Vacation: Sarah Vowell mentions that she doesn't know how to drive, having lived in cities for most of her life, and thus depends on public transportation and rides from friends and family when visiting the historic sites she's writing about. This has the added literary/comedic benefit of giving her non-historian Watsons to play off of and interact with.
- The Cat Who... Series: book #26 (The Cat Who Talked Turkey) features Alicia "Lish" Carroll, who has her own driver because a heart condition makes it unsafe for her to drive. Naturally, when she steals a car and tries to drive it near the end of the book, she gets into a fatal traffic accident.
- If I Fall, If I Die: As Diane's anxiety grew worse, she passed more and more driving-related rules for herself - no driving on roads above a certain speed limit, no nighttime driving, no right-hand turns. Eventually she decided that driving was too dangerous, and she'd be safer relying on taxis. But soon she became too anxious to enter a vehicle at all, and then too anxious to leave the house. Now she relies on deliverymen.
- In InCryptid, neither Antimony nor Sarah drives. Antimony can drive, she just prefers public transportation or the passenger seat, and Sarah would get too distracted by other drivers' and pedestrians' thoughts.
- In The Last American Vampire, Alex (born Alexei Romanov) became a vampire at 13 years old. He finds it necessary to employ a driver, since he's tired of being pulled over for appearing too young to legally drive.
- October Daye:
- May Daye, having been a Fetch before she became a "regular" living fae, never learned to drive. She can still drive in theory, but is not allowed to except in the case of an emergency because she considers laws to be more like gentle suggestions and thinks even less of the speed limit. Any time she is permitted to drive, all of her passengers offer thanks to arrive alive.
- Tybalt, having been born in the 1600s, hates even riding in a car, though he will do so when necessary, like when he doesn't have the energy to travel on the shadow roads.
- The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: Nicholas, despite being over 600 years old, never learned to drive. He claims to have spent his time learning other useful skills, like riding a pteranodon.
- Sisterland: Violet Shramm claims she's stopped driving because it's greener, but the real reason is that she's developed a phobia.
- Clarice from Blue Iguana doesn't drive because she can't stand running over animals. Instead she rides her bike. She thinks she might be willing to drive on Grand Cayman Island because everyone drives slower there, making it easier to stop for animals.
- Things I Should Have Known:
- Ivy can't drive, although she plans to learn someday. Her mom works as her stepdad's receptionist, so she relies on her younger sister Chloe to drive her to and from school, since the short bus is too loud for her, as well as to other places.
- Ivy's classmate Diana once drove her father's car in a parking lot, but it was scary and he yelled at her a lot, and now she isn't sure she wants to drive even though Ivy thinks she'd be good at it.
- The Roosevelt:
- Emmet has been told that he will never be able to drive due to his autism. He isn't sure why, because his aunt Althea, who is also autistic, can drive.
- Jeremey has his driver's license, but driving makes him nervous, a problem that's gotten worse over time. He thinks he might be able to drive on a quiet street in a small town, but not in a city like Ames, Iowa.
- In Zenobia July, Phil tells Zen, "Me and cars, we don't get along real well." She doesn't explain exactly why she doesn't drive, though.
- Patrick from Rubbernecker is good at fixing cars, but can't drive. Instead he rides his bicycle or walks.
- Katherine Hastings from American Auto is the CEO of Payne Motors. Against all logic, she's never driven in her life until the season finale when she has to during an interview. She apparently enjoys the experience.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Cooper didn't learn to drive until well in the series, and usually got his friends to drive him everywhere. He feels that a man of his intellect shouldn't concern himself with mundane tasks like driving around. Plus, when his friends try to teach him to drive using a simulator he panics and Drives Like Crazy.
- Entourage: Vinnie Chase doesn't learn to drive until late in the show when he gets a part playing Enrico Ferrari.
- Henry of Forever hasn't driven for decades, relying on a bicycle, taxis, or rides from Abraham or colleagues. A reason is never given on-screen, but in "The Man In the Killer Suit" Abe says Henry hasn't driven in 37 years, putting his last time behind the wheel around 1978.
- Foyle's War: Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle has Sam transferred to the police to be his driver for this reason. "All Clear", the Series 5 finale, reveals that he doesn't drive as a matter of preference, not inability — and of having Sam, The Reliable One and an astute investigator in her own right, in a better position than her old job.
Sam: So — you never really needed me?Foyle: I wouldn't say that.
- Hawkeye (2021): Kate Bishop, who is from a wealthy family that lives in a Manhattan penthouse, never learned how to drive a car since she could easily afford to hire a chauffeur or use the numerous public transportation options.
- Jessica Jones: The titular character was so traumatized by the grisly car accident that killed her family when she was a teenager that she never learned to drive as an adult.
- Law & Order: The detectives occasionally encounter witnesses or suspects who don't have a driver's license for ID because they never learned to drive. One college student tells them he's a third-generation non-driver - his parents and his grandparents had lived their whole lives in the city, and none of them ever learned to drive. Truth in Television: New York City has so many small stores, bars, restaurants, and other small businesses decorating its streets, and so many other ways of getting around (walk, bike, bus, taxi, subway...) that it's entirely possible to live there and find everything you need without driving anywhere. Meanwhile, driving (not to mention parking) a car can be so difficult and expensive that it's not worth the bother.
- Midnight Caller: Jack Killian doesn't like to drive, preferring to rely on public transportation and rides from friends.
- Murder, She Wrote: Jessica Fletcher never learned to drive, so she always rides a bike, takes public transportation or catches rides from other people. In real life, Angela Lansbury liked this aspect, since it precluded a need for car chases in the series, which she felt were unnecessary for the type of stories they were doing.
- Riley Blue's husband died when their car crashed on the way to the hospital so she could deliver their baby. In the present day she claims that she doesn't drive "anymore", indicating she's still too traumatised to get behind the wheel.
- Nomi Marks genuinely doesn't know how to drive because she grew up in San Francisco and either walked or used public transport. When the only way to escape from BPO is by car she has to rely on her Psychic Link to Capheus, who's a Badass Driver, and let him take the wheel until they're safely away.
- Young Sheldon: Dr. Sturgis. He tries to learn to drive in "A Stunted Childhood and a Can of Fancy Mixed Nuts", but decides that it's too stressful. He later tries again in "A Lobster, an Armadillo and a Way Bigger Number", but hits an armadillo and feels very guilty about it.
- In the superhero storyline of Arthur, King of Time and Space, one strip had Kingman get mocked for never learning to drive since he either flew everywhere or took the bus in his secret identity.
- Red Panda Adventures: The Red Panda rarely drives for two main reasons. His secret identity as one of Toronto's wealthiest men means he has a driver, Kit Baxter, to do the driving for him. Also, he is an infamously bad driver on the few occasions he does drive, so Kit rarely lets him drive anyway. He is, however, a remarkably competent pilot, if only because there is nothing in the air to hit.
- The Legend of Korra: Avatar Korra grew up in an isolated compound in the Southern Water Tribe, and so sits in the backseat of Asami's Satomobile whenever Team Avatar is adventuring in Republic City. Otherwise, she gets around sufficiently by way of polar bear dog. Asami's offer to Korra in the third season provides the page quote. By Season 4, she at least has enough skill to stop a rogue laundry van from hitting the vines growing in Republic City after a chase.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants: SpongeBob at least learns to drive, but he always fails his boating test — disastrously — in the end.
- The Venture Bros.: Dr. Girlfriend claims to never drive when she's angry, and therefore even in an emergency situation insisted the unlicensed Hank or Dean drive instead. Her partner the Monarch used to drive but apparently avoids it now he has a girlfriend and henchmen who can drive him around instead. When he and Henchman 21 go steal a rocket ship, 21 objects:
"You don’t even drive. Don’t tell me you know how to fly one of these."
- Wacky Races (2017): I.Q. Ickly doesn't drive during the races, instead his Sentient Vehicle is the one that races while Ickly issues orders and activates the gadgets. The reason he doesn't drive is that, well, he's just a child.