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Electric Slide

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Cool guys don't look at explosions.

"Induction Grind ability unlocked. Jump onto wires to slide across them. You can also grind on train tracks."

Surprisingly common in anime, shonen especially, is the tendency to run on power lines when racing to get somewhere. While at first doing this seems perfectly reasonable - after all, why run along the ground where you would have to follow the roads when you can just use the power lines and go straight there - there is a slight problem. Power lines are designed strong enough to support their weight, plus survive reasonably strong wind, plus maybe some snow and ice for colder areas. Making them stronger would be wasteful. Low-voltage low-power lines may well support crows, but almost certainly not human beings doing acrobatics. Higher voltage adds the danger of electrocution when you touch two wires at once or a wire and a grounded object, like a tangent tower. Things are even worse with high tension power lines; according to the History Channel, even the crews who maintain the things, with all their training and protective gear, occasionally die working on these. For multi-kilovolt lines you don't even need to touch two wires: touching one and being a few centimetres from another could be enough to short them through air and your body. Though some high-tension lines have on top a lightning guard wire, which is safe to touch, it again isn't expected to hold human weight. Needless to say, Rule of Cool reigns supreme.

Many a character with electric powers does this, both because their presumable Required Secondary Powers of electro-proofing keep their survival grounded in plausibility, and because it's conductive to their nature.

A more realistic variation may involve any other kind of overhead wires and ropes, from suspension bridge cables to clotheslines.

A close cousin of Roof Hopping and typically takes Le Parkour up a notch. Not to be confused with the country line-dance of the same name...or the decidedly non-country "Electric Boogie" that inspired it.

Also known as Power Line Rider, after the Line Rider game.

People who can do this tend to also engage in Roof Hopping and Dramatic High Perching.

A Sister Trope to Ride the Lightning. Compare Tightrope Walking.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used in Air Gear. It actually lends power to ATs.
  • In Bleach Ichigo does this while running to Orihime's apartment to stop the hollow attacking her from killing her. But then, he's in shinigami form at the time (essentially, a ghost), so it makes at least a little sense that the power lines don't break. Ichigo isn't seen doing anything similar afterward, as he learns to walk on air instead.
  • Fate/stay night: Saber does this during her first fight with Berserker and is only explainable through Rule of Cool. Not only is she wearing a long skirt but she's wearing a suit of metal armor and carrying a sword. But do note that as a Servant, she's considered a spirit, and so cannot be hurt by something as mundane as electricity.
  • In Golden Boy, Kintaro wins a race, on bicycle, against a motorcycle, in part by using a power-line shortcut. It's a combination of Rule of Cool and Artistic License Physics.
  • Hayato does this in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple to get Kenichi back to town in a hurry.
  • Ranma has most of the characters do this at one point. Still doesn't explain how a power line is able to support their weight though.
  • Tsukihime: Ciel can do this. Again, Rule of Cool is king. Sensing a pattern here?

    Comic Books 
  • Golden Age hero Air Wave used specially insulated rollerskates to skate along power lines. It's not entirely clear what advantages this has over simply using the skates normally.
  • One of Diabolik's escapes from the police involved using a wheeled slide to run through a high tension power line, with a cop being surprised he was surviving and another explaining how he wasn't touching a grounded object (and did in fact jump before touching the tower). He did it only once, however, as the next time the cops would be ready to twart this escape.
  • Barbara Shelley does this in her first appearance as Promethea to save Sophie from falling to her death.
  • Spider-Man: Electro does this as a Fast as Lightning way of getting around. As he is a walking power plant, he doesn't have to worry about being electrocuted. Occasionally, he'll be the electricity in the wires.
  • Not to be outdone, Superman does this in his first appearance in Action Comics until he learns how to fly. However, he did this stunt while carrying a man he was trying to scare into talking with the threat that they both would be electrocuted he steps on a support pole, which would ground them and allow the electricity to flow through them. Sure enough, he has a near miss with a pole which scares his prisoner witless. After some additional leaping, all Superman has to do upon landing is "Wasn't that fun? Let's do it again!"
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Wonder Woman has, on a couple of occasions, run along short stretches of the power lines outside the window of WAC officer Diana Prince's office, once even directing her Radio Plane to drop its ladder above them for pick up.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Pearls Before Swine Sunday strip had the Crocs attempt to use the power lines to get into Zebra's house, under the impression they were zip lines. The result was predictable:
    Croc: Whoa. Zip line got lot of zip.

    Fan Works 
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon attempted it with great success. Justified, because he had access to alien technology. His personal assistant remarked that it was interesting, but inferior compared to teleportation.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Tango and Cash, the two title protagonists use the "hanging-down-from-the-wire" variation of this method to escape from prison.

  • Artemis Fowl does this in The Time Paradox to catch a lemur that has run onto the power lines. Played realistically (for Artemis Fowl, anyway) in that the lines in question are a set of truly massive power conduits across a large valley, he uses the cable trolley system and protective suit that line maintenance crews use, he's an accomplished physicist who has watched a documentary on this very set of electrical towers, and he's still terrified.

    Video Games 
  • Amped 2 lets snowboarders grind on cable car wires.
  • It's possible to do this in City of Heroes (though there's very little actual reason to), since power lines are treated as simply another solid surface.
  • The Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX games have various points where you're able to grind on electric lines. Some challenges actually require this.
  • In a possible example mixed with Gunship Rescue and Big Damn Heroes, the protagonists of Final Fantasy X slide down cables launched from their gunship to "rescue" Yuna from a wedding. We clearly see the clamps at the ends of the wires moving clamping down mechanically, implying the cables may also be transferring power to the clamps.
  • Cole from inFAMOUS is the king of this trope. There's even a trophy you get by grinding along a power cable and taking down an enemy while sniping in precision mode, and another for grinding on 4 separate lines in sequence. Partially justified by an experiment Gone Horribly Right, giving Cole the ability to control electricity (he can even learn to suck the electricity out of the line while grinding to recharge his powers). Cole can also use his electrical powers to "glide" through thin air. His weight is likely a non-issue.
    • On the other hand, it can still support his weight even before he learns to grind his way electrically, or in areas without electricity. In either situation, he just walks normally on the lines.
  • Jet Set Radio Future requires this to get around several areas like Kibogaoka Hill and Highway Zero.
  • In the Xbox reboot of Ninja Gaiden, Ryu rides a high-voltage power line after jumping from a burning zeppelin.
  • Raz grinds on telephone lines in Psychonauts' Milkman Conspiracy. It's the most sensible event on the level. A psychic did it?
  • Ratchet & Clank: Ratchet does this from time to time on his Grind Boots. Notably on Planet Boldan (Silver City) in Going Commando.
  • Most of the gameplay in Scaler.
  • Many of the rails Sonic The Hedgehog grinds on are actually electric cables, especially in stages set in cities or Dr. Eggman's mechanical lairs.
  • Grinding on powerlines in Sunset Overdrive is the preferred method of traversal in Sunset City, given that the streets are overrun with enemies that can overwhelm the player.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater lets you grind power lines with your skateboard. Please Don't Try This at Home? Most skateboarding games allow this, in fact.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Darkwing Duck, the villain Megavolt does this, probably as a parody of Spider-Man.
  • In the first episode of The Legend of Korra, the Metalbending Police Force chase after Korra in this way. Justified, as the cables were likely reinforced specifically for this purpose.
  • The Looney Tunes "Bee-Deviled Bruin" has Pop doing a tightrope walk along a shutoff power line to get to a beehive. He shouldn't have left his halfwit son sitting at the switch, getting bored and fiddling with it...
  • The opening sequence for the Mr. Magoo cartoons showed him driving his car along the power lines.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: In "The Boardwalk Booby Trap," Zippy does more than travel on the lines to trace where Penelope's phone call came from. He travels inside the lines.
  • Soul Power from Static Shock surfs across power lines with his electric powers, his version of Static's flying disc. Static tries it out himself, and finds it pretty fun.
  • Tom and Jerry uses this a few times, each time with Tom balancing on the telephone wires to get to Jerry, who always either tries to shake Tom off or cut the wires.

    Real Life 
  • Amazingly, someone did this to cross the Berlin Wall. It actually isn't as dangerous as the article makes it out, under a few assumptions. For the purposes of exposition, consider a bird standing on a power line. A power line has a certain amount of intrinsic resistance per unit of length. The interface between the bird's feet and the power line will also have its own intrinsic amount of resistance. In short, there are two paths for electricity to travel through, in parallel, so that this is a parallel circuit. As long as the power line's intrinsic resistance is very very low compared to the resistance the bird offers, very little electricity will actually flow through the bird. So what are the assumptions? You are never even close to touching a grounded circuit element and the power line at the same time (since power lines are engineered so that the electric field coming from the lines won't cause an arc to the grounded element, but might arc to a grounded element closer than allowed for — this is what causes power outtages during storms). You are not wet, and are hopefully wearing thick rubber shoes.
  • Unlike residential distribution lines, high tension transmission lines (read: 100+KV power lines) actually ARE big enough to hold a person's weight, and the power companies can't always afford to shut them off for maintenance, so the power company will drop workers onto the live lines via helicopter as shown in this video.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Electric Slide, Power Line Rider


Cole MacGrath

Cole is able to slide on electric cables with his electric powers.

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Main / ElectricSlide

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