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Driving Test

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Cher: Well, how did I do?
Examiner: How'd you do? [laughs derisively] Well, let's see, shall we: You can't park, you can't switch lanes, you can't make right-hand turns, you've damaged private property, and you almost killed someone. Offhand, I'd say you failed.

When a character needs to pass a road test to earn a driving license. Usually they are a teenager who is obtaining a driver's license for the first time in their life as part of the process of advancing to adulthood. In most North American societies (particularly rural and suburban regions with less public transportation) it is a cultural norm to obtain a driver's license in the early years of adolescence, and the adult who doesn't hold one will be portrayed as a Manchild. More rarely, they might need to renew an existing license. In countries such as the UK which are more reliant on public transport, people tend to learn to drive primarily for work reasons and as such may leave it later.

Often, during the test, a danger occurs that forces the character to make emergency evasive maneuvers. This may impress the examiner enough to award bonus points in the evaluation for successfully dealing with a dangerous situation.

Alternately, the picky driving examiner will demerit the applicant for the most minor mistakes and fail them. Either the character will retake the test at a later date with additional encouragement and training from their friends, or they will invoke Rules Lawyer to pass.


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  • This commercial for the 1969 AMC Rebel bragged that the car was used more by driving schools than any other models by showing it being driven by a series of less-than-competent learning drivers: a woman who crunches the gears, a man who constantly stops and goes ("How am I doin'?" "A lot better than yesterday!"), a woman who turns on the median, a man frozen by nervousness, a Dumb Blonde oblivious to traffic ("Look out for the truck!" "What truck?" "Behind the bus!" "What bus?") and a man who crashes into a fire hydrant ("Should I turn the windshield wiper on?").

    Anime & Manga 
  • In season 2 of Aggretsuko Retsuko takes a driving class, as an adult, she's actually good at it but there she meets Tadano, who doesn't really care that much.
  • Parodied in Dragon Ball Z, where Goku and Piccolo try to get licenses. Their competitive personalities result in much mayhem. The fact that they can (and do) fly anywhere too far to walk means neither has even the slightest concept of how to drive in the first place. It also doesn't help that Piccolo's instructor was a woman who drove just as, if not more, insane than either of them.
  • The subplot to episode 7 of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou focuses on Misaki taking her test, inevitably scaring her driving instructor (whom she keeps calling Nancy) each time.
  • Early in the Tenchi Muyo! manga, Mihoshi ends up having to get a driver's license to help out the others get things. She performs extremely poorly, however when she witnesses a kidnapping, her Galaxy Police instincts kick into high gear, chasing down the kidnappers and saving the child. Mihoshi actually fails the test, but the kid's father is so grateful, he uses his connections to let Mihoshi get her license.
  • Subverted in the You're Under Arrest! manga. Natsumi (an utterly reckless driver) already has a motorcycle license, but not a car license. Upon deciding to obtain one she's eventually required to take a driving test. Her driving is so utterly reckless that the tester passes out almost immediately and doesn't wake up until Natsumi parks back in the lot. She passed. The Anime's take on the events gets her involved in a chase with a cargo truck after it performs a hit and run instead. Oh, and the tester hiring a team of mechanics to rig the car so as to make it harder to drive for her, unaware that she has Super-Strength after she removes the harness she was wearing.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man has to take a driving test in one issue. He does very well - the Spider-Sense apparently does wonders on the road - until a villain attacks, and he has to "panic" to get away so he can put on his suit and fight. Naturally, he fails. In a mild subversion, he doesn't retake and doesn't actually mind all that much (probably because he lives in New York City).
  • Robin (1993): Tim Drrake is surprised to learn his friend Ives had turned sixteen, taken his driver's test and gotten his license since he last saw him, (Tim is notoriously bad at keeping track of birthdays). Then once he gets in the car and he and Ives start driving over to Gotham's Chinatown to hang out he quickly becomes loudly incredulous that Ives actually passed his test since Ives is heavy on the brakes and refuses to go over 20mph.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: Anthony insists on taking his driving test on the day when everything is going wrong, because he wants to drive Celia to the prom that night. During the test, his driving examiner intentionally distracts him by convincing him to pick up his cell phone, causing him to destroy several parking meters and damage the family minivan, and ultimately fail.
  • Clueless: Cher bombs her driving test, more focused on her inner monologue than on the road.
    DMV Tester: You can't park, you can't switch lanes, you can't make right-hand turns, you've damaged private property, and you almost killed someone. Offhand, I'd say you failed.
  • Happy-Go-Lucky features plenty of driving lessons, but they never get to the test part for... plot-related reasons.
  • The 80's movie License to Drive in which Corey Haim has to get his driver's license in order to get into Heather Graham's pants. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Please Turn Over:
    • Janet takes driving lessons with Ian with the hope that she'll pass her test on her first try.
    • In Naked Revolt, Rita uses driving tests as an excuse to leave the house and have relations with "Uncle" Willie.
  • The second Taken movie starts off with Kim failing her second driving test. It takes nothing short of driving like mad through the streets of Istanbul to have her finally pass it at the end.

  • Terry Pratchett's Pyramids showed the Assassins' Guild School final exam - here "driving" is replaced with "killing someone for money and getting away with it". It is presented as a close pastiche of a driving test, though, with a verbal section that includes questions on "stopping distances" (of a thrown knife) and identifying signs (the hidden marks used by thieves and rogues to warn of noisy dogs and similar), and a practical section that includes the Emergency Dropnote . Though in a driving test it isn't rumoured to be an immediate pass to kill the examiner. If you try and fail, there will be a loss of privileges. Breathing to start with. Also unusual because when the protagonist decides to fail, he shoots his crossbow wildly, but hits the target anyway. He passes but the examiner criticises the "modern flashy techniques".
  • In Fire Season, Stephanie Harrington gets to take her driving test (in this case, in an Aircar). The test has two portions, one using an autopilot assist, and one using manual-only controls, analogous to a 20th century driver having the option to test while Driving Stick. The book's intro has Stephanie's friend Karl letting her surreptuously practice flying his car, and almost plowing into a tree when she gets distracted by something.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 2point4 Children: Part of the plot for "Dirty Bowling" revolves around Bill's belated attempts to pass her driving test. However, an unavoidable trip to the dentist has made her difficult to understand, a problem since some of the test involves her having to say out loud some of the road signs. Despite this, however, she is successful thanks to the assistance of her mysterious motorbike friend Angelo.
  • In an episode of Adam-12, Pete Malloy is forced to let his partner Jim Reed to drive the patrol car when he finds out his licence is expired.
  • The Big Bang Theory features an episode where Sheldon is forced to get his license because Leonard can't drive him around and no one else will. He manages to annoy the DMV clerk past the point of endurance by analyzing the learner's permit test so much that she gives him his permit without him actually taking the test. Later, he attempts to practice via a realistic simulator rigged up by Howard. It does not go well.
  • Just getting trained for her driving test proves challenging to Nicky from Blue Bloods, as nearly every adult in the Reagan family is a terrible driver. Her mother Erin honks and screams at other vehicles, her uncle Danny treats everything like a Car Chase, great-grandfather Henry's vision and reflexes have declined too much for safety, and grandpa Frank, as police commissioner, hasn't driven himself in years. Only her uncle Jamie proves calm and competent enough to give Nicky lessons.
  • In the inevitable boys-vs-girls driving test episode on The Brady Bunch, Greg and Marcia tie their scores on the combined written and road tests. They have a final drive bet to see who is the better driver. Marcia navigates the course and comes to within an inch and a quarter to a final cone holding a raw egg (as the final test). Greg also makes it through the course but over thinks the ending and guns the car engine at the last minute, breaking the egg. Peter later wants to challenge Jan to a similar contest, but backs out when he see Greg doing Marcia's chores.
  • What is Canada's Worst Driver if not an entire season of this trope? It's essentially a driving boot camp where Canada's worst drivers gain some practice and break their bad habits. The spirit of this trope is played arrow-straight in each season's final challenge, where remaining students have to take host Andrew out onto public roads for a driving test. Not surprisingly, since this places each driver in real-world conditions, it's what largely decides who is named Canada's Worst Driver.
  • In The Pilot of Doogie Howser, M.D., Doogie is taking his in the Cold Open and becomes first on the scene of a car accident with injuries he spotted several blocks from the test route.
  • The Drake & Josh episode "Driver's License" features this. Josh's instructor is a old grouchy woman who he manages to tick off at every point while Drake's instructor is a young bubbly woman who lets him detour the test to a fast food restaurant. Despite this, Josh is the one who ends up passing while Drake fails.
  • On The Dukes of Hazzard, Daisy was competing in the Miss Tri-County contest. One of the events was a car race - but her license had expired. To get a new license, Bo and Luke have to take her to the DMV in the next county. Since leaving Hazzard County is a violation of their probation, they have to drop Daisy and keep driving to stay away from the local sheriff who's chasing them, then pick her up AND get back to Hazzard in time for the race.
  • The Everybody Loves Raymond episode "Driving With Frank" has Frank renew his driver's license.
  • On The Facts of Life, there was an episode where Tootie was taking her road test. The hilarity comes from the fact that she's taking the test in a hearse (long story).
  • "Driving Miss DJ" from Full House has DJ wanting to practice for her road test. Danny is insanely over-protective, super critical and paranoid while teaching her to the point of hindrance, even demanding she secure the garbage tote before starting the car. He stops the test when he yells at her for not noticing the tree they were very slowly approaching, a tree that was on the complete opposite end of the parking lot where they were. DJ then asks Jesse to teach her which he accepts immediately, but he's in the opposite direction and gives her too little of advice and guidance. She takes a turn too sharply and scrapes the side of his car against the concrete of a pole. Afterwards both try to convince her to give up, which DJ calls them out on, particularly Danny, and they admit that they are simply worried about her. They both relent, accept that she has to learn to live her own life and decide to teach her together to balance each other out. Fridge Brilliance kicks in concerning Danny's severe reluctance to have DJ drive when it's revealed in a later episode that his wife and the girls' mother Pam was killed by a drunk driver (her death kicked off the premise of the show, but they never confirmed how she died until several seasons later.)
  • Played painfully straight in Hannah Montana where Miley messes up her test and uses her secret identity to retake it. Naturally she gets caught, spends a night in the slammer and gets humiliated by Robbie Ray to drive the point home.
  • In the Jessie episode "Driving Miss Crazy", Jessie takes Emma to take her driving test and is also forced to take the test herself since her liscence since her Texas license doesn't apply in New York.
  • Kamen Rider Drive had an episode that revealed that Chase, the Third Rider and a reformed Roidmude, didn't have a license for his Cool Bike; since he's affiliated with the Tokyo Police Department, that just won't do so he takes the test. Naturally a Roidmude attacks in the middle of it and Chase steps away from the learner car to fight it, though he does apologize to the instructor beforehand (and transforms right in front of the poor confused guy). He does eventually go back and pass the test, though. And when he dies in the final battle, his damaged license becomes a Tragic Keepsake for Gou (Kamen Rider Mach).
  • In an episode of Kenan & Kel, Kenan wants to get his drivers license, despite his parents not allowing him until he's 18. After working out a plan to take his driving test, Kenan ends up staying up all night to work on a science project and is too tired to take the test the next day that he ends up crashing the car.
  • Spoofed in Malcolm in the Middle when Reese, annoyed that his driving instructor did not give him any time to take his driving test, usurps the driving seat from the other girl so he could at least drive back to the DMV. Suddenly, a lady accidentally bumps into the car. Reese, panicking (thinking he messed up), drives off and eventually gets involved in a low speed chase with several police cars. You have to watch the whole episode just to know how hilarious it is. The chase ends when Reese returns to the driving school and completes the course PERFECTLY. He even parallel parks in his time behind the wheel, prompting a cop watching the chase at Malcolm's home to remark "That's impressive!"
  • Mama's Family: Mama has to get her driver's license in the season 2 episode "Mama Learns to Drive", since the other family members aren't always there to give her a ride (and as stated in a scene cut from the syndicated reruns, there's a bus driver's strike, so she can't take the bus either at that point). While there's some chaos, she succeeds.
  • Subverted in the Married... with Children episode "Driving Mr. Boondy". Al has to take a driving test and discovers that his son, Bud, will be administering the test. Al passes by threatening Bud. Same episode, airhead daughter Kelly has no problem passing her test.
  • Partially inverted in the episode "Wheelers and Dealers" of M*A*S*H. Potter is send to traffic school, conducted by Rizzo. Rizzo wants to pass Potter without Potter having to do anything, but Potter wants to play it by the book. After initially failing, he just passes the written test, but still needs to do a driving test. Again, Rizzo wants to pass Potter, but Potter insists doing the test. He gets an accident, but Rizzo passes Potter, because of how well he steered around the danger. Potter initially doesn't accept that, but reveals he's open to the rationalization. However, after all that trouble, at the end of the episode Potter is departing to attend a meeting riding his horse, Sophie, instead.
  • Sue's efforts to pass her road test and get her license are an ongoing arc in the fourth season of The Middle. Late in the season, in "Hallelujah Hoedown", we learn she's failed it six times and must wait a month before trying again.
  • Ms. Marvel (2022): As soon as Kamala begins her driver's test, she immediately hammers the gas in full reverse and crashes into the instructor's car. This is especially bad since she was banking on getting her license that day so she could attend AvengersCon, which her strict mother isn't going to drive her to.
  • The New Adventures of Beans Baxter: In "Beans Gets His Driver's License (and It Isn't Pretty)", UGLI agents Jack and Henry attempt to stop Beans from getting his driver's license.
  • Out of This World (1987): One episode revolves around Evie trying to get her driver's license; she cheats via her powers when it comes to parallel parking, and subsequently has an accident and knocks the bumper off the car when she tries to parallel park without using her powers.
  • Part of the pilot episode plot of $#!+ My Dad Says.
  • In the Touched by an Angel episode "Deconstructing Harry", Tess has to go to the DMV to take her driving test, even though she's an angel ("Render unto Caesar", etc). She gets a very aggressive driving instructor who keeps making up mistakes and telling Tess to do illegal or physically impossible maneuvers. The test ends with the instructor stealing an urn from a funeral-in-progress and forcing Tess to be her getaway driver... for a 14-hour journey!.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: In one episode, a magical creature turns Jake into an adult and he decides to take a driving test. His driving is so lousy the tester only passes him because he threatens to request the same tester for all next times he takes another driving test.
  • The Batman has Batgirl get kicked out of driving school after she sees Batman drive by in pursuit of the Supervillain of the Week and tries to join the chase.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Gwen takes her driving test, but who cares? Ben's getting a video game made about him!!
  • Big City Greens did this with Alice Green in one episode, given that she had to retake her road test after it expired decades ago. However, she admits she's afraid to take the test and is worried she won't do well, but regains her confidence thanks to Cricket and Tilly. In the end she passes and gets her license, though restricted.
  • In the DC Super Hero Girls 2019 episode "#CrashCourse," Diana takes a driving test. During that test, she decides to help stop a group of villains in a getaway chase.
  • Doug has him watch his sister Judy trying to pass her driving test by extensively practicing. While she's got almost everything right, parallel parking is a nightmare for her.note 
  • Parodied in Drawn Together. When Ling-Ling tries to get his license, his instructor pulls out a huge protective gear strong enough to protect a Formula 1 driver. Ling-Ling then turns the key, shifts to drive... and a big mountain of cars, airplanes, motorbikes, trains and ships suddenly lands on the car. This is later explained by Wooldoor Sockbat, claiming those who have Asian eyes see danger everywhere and can't speak English (which is why Ling-Ling speaks Japanese-sounding gibberish).
  • Kaeloo had an episode where Stumpy and Quack Quack try to get their driver's licences. Both of them fail. Stumpy fails not only because he Drives Like Crazy, but because Kaeloo didn't do a very good job of teaching him how to drive. Quack Quack, on the other hand, is able to do everything perfectly well, but his driving instructor is Mr. Cat, who not only gives him negative points for ridiculous reasons, but actively tries to make him fail by doing things like shining a flashlight in his eyes and ripping out the steering wheel, finally causing him to drive off a cliffnote .
  • Kim Possible (only without danger in the re-test, but there is some in the mission involving the car she used in the re-test)
  • In The Looney Tunes Show, one episode focuses entirely on three characters taking their driving tests. Porky's license expired, and Daffy and Lola were both so clueless, they didn't even know they needed licenses. Porky "fails", because his written test gets swapped with Daffy's (maliciously) and Lola (accidentally) both times he tries. Then, for different reasons, Daffy and Lola wind up grading themselves on the driving test (Sam was administering the test. He was too short to see out the window for Daffy's significant-but-slow errors, and while he got a booster seat for Lola's test, she Drives Like Crazy, and he was in shock at the end of it.)
  • In The Loud House episode "Driving Miss Hazy", Lincoln decides to help Leni get her driver license after getting tired of having to beg Lori for rides. Given that Leni has failed her driving test 13 times and can't even drive the lawnmower, Lincoln has to resort to "speaking Leni" in order to teach her. However, Lori ends up sabotoging Leni's 14th attempt on purpose, for the sake of worrying she won't be important for driving the kids anywhere anymore.
  • In Megas XLR Coop has to endure the trials of the DMV after his giant, bipedal war machine from the future gets towed. You did not misread that.
  • On the Mr. Magoo cartoon "Safety Spin", Magoo takes a driver's test to renew his driver's license, but accidentally gets on a fire engine instead of the tester's car and wreaks havoc all over town.
  • One of the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls digital shorts has Sunset Shimmer trying to earn her driver's license in "Driving Miss Shimmer". She's already failed her driving test once, and is told that her next try is her last one. Sunset learns about cars from either Applejack, Rarity, or Fluttershy, depending on which ending the viewer chooses, in an attempt to pass on the retest. Fluttershy annoys Sunset with a long lecture on safety, Applejack's old farm truck breaks before Sunset can drive it, and Rarity has Sunset try to drive a rented limo.
  • Phineas and Ferb has Dr. Doofenshmirtz taking his driving test in his home country of Drusselstein. The ensuing test can basically only be summarized as "hell on Earth", involving several dangerous jumps, repeated bouncing, the car flipping a few times, smashing through a wall, hitting kittens...
  • The Pixar short Lifted replaces "driving" with "Alien Abduction".
  • One episode of Rocko's Modern Life has Rocko re-taking his driving test after getting his license revoked. Throughout the episode, he's constantly warned about taking his test with "the fat guy". Rocko ends up with a fairly rotund elephant who gives him his driving test without any car. Rocko passes, and then finds out that wasn't even the fat guy.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series (one of the aunts), which humorously resulted in everyone getting a license. Even the Cat (Salem).
  • The Simpsons contributes two: Once when Homer takes his limo driver's test and a second when Otto needs to get his license. Otto has trouble initially.
    "Alcohol increases your ability to drive..." Pages through book to answers. "FALSE!?!"
  • A recurring plot in SpongeBob SquarePants revolves around SpongeBob's futile attempts to earn his driver's license at Mrs. Puff's Boating School, at which he is considered "unteachable." While he's good in class and can do oral exams perfectly, he Drives Like Crazy and regularly causes mass destruction when behind the wheel. Notable examples of his driving tests include "Boating School," in which he is given tips by Patrick on how to drive but later considers it cheating; "The Hot Shot," where SpongeBob is given lessons by the son of a race car driver; "Bumper to Bumper," in which Mrs. Puff teaches SpongeBob a surreal mantra and takes him to drive in a deserted area; and "Boating Buddies," in which Squidward is involved in SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff's* The Sym-Bionic Titan episode "Roar of the White Dragon" has Lance taking a driving test. And his driver instructor gets really strict that she threatens to fail him a few times. insane boat drive.

  • One episode of TaleSpin involves Baloo having to retake his piloting test. Unfortunately, he gets an instructor who has caused problems for him in the past, and whose teaching method (using the alphabet to illustrate his points) invariably puts Baloo in a panic. It gets worse when Baloo attempts to work other jobs, only for the instructor or his granddaughter to show up and try to instruct Baloo on the finer points of the job (which he seemed to do fine up to that point), only to cause Baloo to panic again.
  • One episode of Uncle Grandpa revolved around the title character helping a girl to get her license. One mishap with the car and an angry baby gets loose. Eventually Uncle Grandpa's RV gets stolen and the girl he's helping attempts to drive several different things instead, including Giant Realistic Flying Tiger and Uncle Grandpa himself. In the end she gets her license because of how well she parked.
  • One episode of X-Men: Evolution has Kitty get her learner's permit, and the other X-men trying to avoid having to supervise her because she Drives Like Crazy and makes liberal use of her Intangibility.


Video Example(s):


Shake's Driving Test

Shake takes a terribly executed driver's test to earn his license.

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Main / DrivingTest

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