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Emergency Cargo Dump

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When you really need to drop a few pounds.

"Ohhh, I'll be gorrammed. That's where that cash went. I stole that money from Higgins just like the song says, lifted me one of his hovercraft. But I got tagged by anti-aircraft, started losing altitude. Had dump them strongboxes to stay airborne. Oh... 60,000, untraceable. And I drop it right square in the middle of mud-farmer central."
Jayne Cobb, Firefly, "Jaynestown"

Gravity Sucks, particularly when you are on an aircraft or balloon and face engine failure. What can you do to prevent or at least delay a crash landing? Right, you jettison your cargo.

Emergency Cargo Dump describes incidents where characters throw objects away to decrease weight or decrease ballast. This may be to prevent a faltering plane from crashing or a leaky boat from sinking. It may also be to gain speed, if the characters are in The Big Race, or trying to outrace an enemy that is in Hot Pursuit. This last example could even include persons on foot who jettison the things they are carrying.

This can lead to a dramatic situation as the characters have no choice but to get rid of some valuable MacGuffin they are transporting. Or perhaps they're forced to abandon their supplies and end up facing starvation later on.

An occasional variation has cargo dumped to prevent some other kind of trouble (perhaps you're carrying hazardous cargo that's threatening to explode, or you're carrying contraband and the authorities are closing in to search your vessel).

Cargo deliberately thrown from a moving vehicle is called "jetsam", and is legally distinct from "flotsam", which is floating wreckage from a crashed plane or sinking ship.

See Cold Equation, for similar situations where human sacrifice is required, and Jettison Jetpack Attack, for when fuel tanks are discarded to become an improvised weapon. See Disposable Vehicle Section for cases where part of the vehicle itself is ejected. Bring My Brown Pants is a biological response to stress designed to lighten a body's load/cause a distraction for a quick getaway. Completely unrelated to Dramatic Drop.


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  • Played for laughs in a Super Bowl Special commercial, where an airplane that has crashed on a Desert Island can take off but only if they lighten the load. They have to leave behind the cases and cases of tasty beer cargo. But they manage to Take a Third Option by removing the plane's fuselage, so now the beer can come with them.
  • In a commercial for Wilkins Coffee, Wilkins and Wontkins are in a hot air balloon that is falling. Wontkins tells Wilkins to throw the Wilkins instant coffee out, but Wilkins throws Wontkins out instead and says, "Just me and Wilkins instant for 80 whole days!".

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens in an episode of Amazing Nurse Nanako, where the protagonists empty everything they can out of a plane that has run out of fuel in mid-air... including Nanako's clothes.
  • At the conclusion of the "Abduction in Chinatown" arc of Crying Freeman, Om Thai Yeung jumps out of a helicopter to give the rescue team the best possible to escape. (The chopper is transporting Ivory Fan in a harness, and she is … rather large.) In the manga, Freeman dives into the ocean. In the animated series he simply leaps to the ground from nearly 40 feet in the air and lands on bare feet, ready to take out yet another luckless assassin.
  • Early in Last Exile, Claus and Lavie beat Dio in a race because Lavie carefully calculated how much of their fuel supply they needed to finish and dumped the rest, making their ship slightly lighter and therefore faster.
  • In one episode of Lupin III: Part II, Lupin et al. find themselves on a massive airplane suffering from catastrophic grenade-induced engine failure. The gang begins lightening the load by throwing off the cargo, the furniture, and eventually the plane's own armored shielding.
  • In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, an engine-less cargo glider gets detached from its tow-plane during an enemy attack and starts to tank towards the ground where dangerous monster insects are located. In order to stop the sinking, the crew starts dumping all cargo from the glider.
  • Some Vikings in Vinland Saga start throwing their cargo overboard to keep from sinking. Since they're a slave ship, this ends up including one slave who was sick. Not quite an example of Cold Equation, given they could have thrown something else out, but the captain determined she was less valuable.
  • Variation in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. Team 5D's is using their motorcycles to travel along a rainbow bridge that is rapidly disappearing. Yusei notices Aki's motorcycle is lagging behind and remembers her engine is not as powerful as his. So he tells her passenger Luca to jump onto his motorcycle. Luca makes it, and the reduced weight allows Aki to make it to the other side.

    Comic Books 
  • The Adventures of Tintin: In "Cigars of the Pharaoh", Allan orders his current contraband (three sarcophagi he assumes contain drugs, actually containing captives) thrown overboard due to approaching Coast Guard.
  • Played with and then averted in Dark Horse Comics' sequel to the immortal Aliens. Hicks has smuggled Newt on board the ship headed to the alien homeworld, and when she's discovered, his CO asks what drove him to bring extra mass on board a "carefully gravity-balanced ship". We see an "oh shit" moment on Newt's face before Hicks defuses at least that part of his problem by informing the CO that he dumped a compensating amount of nonessential supplies before they took off.
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones: In #16, Indy and his allies try to escape a Japanese cruiser by settling their hijacked submarine on the floor of the sea. Indy then tries to fool the cruiser into thinking they were sunk by the depth charges by releasing oil, and firing debris and the dead body of one of the Submarine Pirates through the torpedo tube.
  • The G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) issue that introduces Bazooka, Crankcase, and the BATS sees one of the Cobra androids in a Stinger pursuing the A.W.E. Striker. The gun on the roof of the A.W.E. Striker has been unloaded, so Crankcase suggests getting rid of it to reduce weight. Bazooka takes off the gun and throws it at the BAT. The move decapitates the android. (However, Bazooka was only aiming for the radiator.)
  • Not so "emergency" as in "to take off in the first place": In the Johan and Peewit book "Le Pays Maudit", the heroes have captured the Big Bad, got his treasure and are about to take off riding his dragon, but find out they're too heavy. Johan says they have to abandon the treasure, Peewit says they should abandon the criminal instead, but Johan insists he be brought home and judged.
  • In Jon Sable, Freelance #5, Sable and some fellow mercenaries are hired to rescue some stranded civilians caught up in the middle of the civil war in Rhodesia. They escape from the guerillas on a hot air balloon cut loose from its basket. The balloon has enough lift to carry the 6 people; however, the winds blow it over towards the guerillas. Sable orders everyone to dump everything, guns, cameras, boots...any weight they can.
  • Inverted in a Hanna-Barbera Snooper and Blabber comic. Snoop and Blabs have been captured by jewel thieves and forced to help them remove priceless jewels from an ancient sundial somewhere in South America. As the criminals start to escape by air, Blabber asks Snooper if he intends to try and stop them. He doesn't have to; once captured, he happily went along with the heist in order to overload the aircraft.
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra. In "Remastered", Triple Zero puts Dr Aphra in this position just to Kick the Dog. He hires one too many mercenaries for her mission so her spacecraft is too heavy to take off, then lets her choose who gets to stay behind and get killed by the Imperial stormtroopers he's tipped off about their presence.

    Film — Animated 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: After one of the balloons is punctured, Rourke tells Helga to lighten the load. She throws every loose item on the balloon overboard. When she runs out of things to toss overboard, Rourke pushes her off.
  • Played with in Up. Carl Fredricksen's vessel (a house with many balloons attached) is safely on the ground. Once he decides to take off in a hurry to rescue Russel, he throws out everything inside to make it buoyant enough, including several items of great sentimental value.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In An American Werewolf in London, one of the East Proctor pub crowd tells a joke about a plane full of U.N. representatives that was faced with this dilemma.
  • Apollo 13 inverts the problem during the re-powerup of the command module Odyssey as the crew is approaching Earth. Among the instructions Mission Control relays is an order to transfer as much random ballast from the lunar module Aquarius to Odyssey as they can before they jettison Aquarius because the mission's prior orbital adjustment calculations had assumed that the astronauts would have been carrying a couple hundred pounds of moon rocks. The missing weight was causing their trajectory to come in at a shallow angle which risked Odyssey bouncing off Earth's atmosphere entirely.
  • In Bad Boys II, the Haitians are chasing down Marcus' sister. One of the vehicles used by the Haitians is a stolen car-carrier, chock-full of cars - it doesn't take long for the obvious conclusion to happen.
    Marcus: Do you see that?!
    Mike: [Suddenly dodging obstacles] They're throwing cars, how do I not see that?
  • In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Vulgarian thieves steal Grandpa's hut (with Grandpa in it) by towing it away on a hot air balloon, but soon start losing altitude from the weight of the hut. They resort to throwing out cargo, and when that doesn't work throw out the two spies that caught Grandpa in the first place. Said spies are left to tread water in the middle of the ocean, and actually make it back to shore in the climax.
  • Cocaine Bear opens with Andrew C. Thornton II dumping the bags of cocaine out of a failing plane before attempting to jump out himself… and hitting his head on the door and falling out unconscious.
  • Dune (2021): Duke Leto Atreides has three vehicles trying to rescue a crew of 21 spice harvesters from an approaching Sand Worm, but all three vehicles only have room for six more people, so they calculate they would need to leave three behind. Fortunately, Leto's son Paul tells them to dump the vehicles' shield generators, which makes enough room to rescue them all.
  • A plot point at the start of Ekipazh (Flight Crew), where a military cargo plane is overloaded and the pilot is ordered to jettison the toys collected for orphans rather than the gift SUVs intended an elite. Inverted, though, at the climax, when the hero's plane must acquire cargo (of the human variety) during an extreme mid-air emergency.
  • Everest (2015): When a medivac chopper is called in to get Beck off the mountain (well above where helicopters are supposed to fly) and to a hospital, they throw out everything they can get away with, including leaving the copilot behind, then make themselves as light as they can.
  • Five Weeks in a Balloon. Near the end of the film, a sword stuck in the balloon rips open the bag and causes a loss of hot air, resulting in the balloon starting to fall. The crew drops every non-essential object they can find overboard to maintain lift.
  • In Hell's Angels, the zeppelin bombing London is attacked by RAF fighters as it's headed back to Germany. The crew dumps everything they can move out of the bomb gate in order to lighten the load and gain speed. When that isn't enough, the crewmembers themselves start jumping out the zeppelin to their deaths. A couple have to be pushed.
  • The Master of Laketown in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies escapes from Smaug's wrath on a boat full of treasure and a handful of servants. When they want to go faster, Alfrid suggests that they should throw out something or someone. The Master agrees and throws out Alfrid.
  • Parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux, where after the rescue mission, a couple of navy helicopters are used by soldiers and agents to escape from pursuit by Iraqi forces. When the pilot reports their chopper is carrying too much weight, there is an absurdist slapstick stunt as the heroes drop a grand piano on Saddam to lighten the chopper's load.
  • In Interstellar, the crew has to detach the robot TARS from the spaceship in order to escape gravity from the black hole. The protagonist detaches himself as well, so his fellow astronaut will escape.
  • The Island (2005) brings us Lincoln-Twelve, who finds himself riding on a flatbed trailer full of railroad axles while being pursued. Some undoing of the straps later, and the enemies pursuing him are suddenly playing high-speed Dodgeball.
  • The Island at the Top of the World: When the Hyperion hits a mountain while flying into the storm covering Astragard, Sir Anthony immediately climbs out onto the catwalk and starts jettisoning the extra barrels of fuel in order to lighten the airship.
  • A variant shows up at the climax of The Martian. In order to make the orbital rendezvous with the Hermes much higher than initially planned, Mark Watney needs to strip the next mission's Mars Ascent Vehicle of just everything up to and including the roof to lighten the load. He takes this revelation from Mission Control about how you'd expect.
  • Morning Departure: When the wrecked sub settles on the bottom of the sea, Lt. Com. Armstrong orders the remaining oil to be released so it will create a slick on the surface to allow the rescue ships to locate them.
  • Mysterious Island: As the balloon starts losing altitude, the soldiers throw overboard everything they can in an attempt to keep it aloft for as long as possible.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Jack Sparrow's crew is pursued by The Black Pearl and dumps their heaviest cargo overboard in order to outrun the Pearl. This backfires: the Pearl catches up to them anyway, forcing a fight, but some brilliant crewmember threw all the cannonballs overboard. They wind up stuffing whatever's on hand (like silverware) into the cannons and hoping for the best.
  • Pitch Black. As the spaceship Hunter-Gratzner is Coming in Hot, its pilot Carolyn Fry starts to purge the cargo compartments. She then decides to purge the passenger compartment as well, but her navigator jams the airlock door open between themselves and the final compartment to stop her. Much of her subsequent heroism is atoning for this action.
  • Saving Leningrad: A barge was grossly overloaded with 1500 people seeking to escape the Nazi siege on Leningrad. The barge, not terribly seaworthy to begin with, starts sinking in Lake Ladoga after it's bombed and strafed by German planes. As the hold fills with water the crew starts heaving freight overboard in an attempt to stay afloat. It doesn't work.
  • The Secret Land: Admiral Byrd's plane loses one of its two engines on the way back to from the South Pole. As a consequence, the plane starts rapidly losing altitude. Byrd and his men have to chuck out everything except for their exposed film, and they barely manage to keep the plane in the air until they get back.
  • Discussed / defied in Serenity. Zoe wonders why Mal refused to let a civilian tag along with them to escape a Reaver attack (Mal subsequently Mercy Killed him), and he says their hovercraft won't carry five. Zoe says they could've dumped the cargo, but Mal says they couldn't afford to fail this job.
  • Early on in Star Crash, Stella and Akton have to drop the cargo they're smuggling to escape the pull of a neutron star.
  • In Star Wars: A New Hope, this is the reason Han Solo is in trouble with Jabba the Hutt; he had jettisoned the spice he had been smuggling for Jabba when he saw an Imperial ship coming towards him.
    Han: Even I get boarded sometimes. You think I had a choice?

  • Puzzle: The frozen naked corpse of a man holding half a matchstick is found on top of a mountain. How did it get there?
    • Answer: The man was a crew member on a balloon that was sinking and about to run into the mountain. After throwing everything overboard to lighten the load, including their clothes, they realized one man would have to be jettisoned. Short match loses.
  • Three men are on a cargo plane: One from Country A, one from Country B, and one from Country C which sends a lot of immigrants to B. The plane suffers a mechanical failure and starts losing altitude. The pilot says that they need to lighten the plane's load to keep flying. A-man grabs a box of [stereotypical Country A food] and throws it out the window, saying "we have plenty of these back home". C-man grabs a box of [stereotypical Country C food] and throws it out the window, saying "we have plenty of these back home". B-man grabs C-man and throws him out the window, saying "we have plenty of these back home".
  • The inciting incident in Aniara is the ejection of the spaceship's reactor after a fire. The force of dumping all that equipment knocks the ship off course, turning a three-week trip to Mars into a years-long voyage into uncharted space. Many, many years.
  • In Around the World in Eighty Days. Phileas Fogg and the ship he has commandeered are racing across the Atlantic to Liverpool. Unfortunately, the coal on the ship runs out. So Fogg buys the ship from the captain outright and then has the crew burn the cargo for fuel. When that proved insufficient, they rip out just about everything on the vessel made of wood, and throw the wood in the furnace. By the time Fogg reaches England the ship is nothing but an iron hull above the waterline.
  • A couple of examples from The Bible:
    • In Acts of the Apostles, a ship on which St. Paul is traveling encounters an extremely rough storm, and one of the measures the crew takes to try to survive is to dump the cargo overboard.
    • In the Book of Jonah, when the titular prophet runs from God aboard a ship, and God sends a storm, this is one of the things the sailors do before figuring out that Jonah is to blame.
  • Children's book The Big Balloon Race involves a young girl unwittingly stowing away in her mother's balloon before the titular race starts. Later on, in an attempt to lighten the load and increase speed, they wind up dropping all the extra material they can (such as the odds and ends box and the anchor).
  • Brake by Poul Anderson. A saboteur has dumped most of the reaction mass from a spacecraft which is on a runaway course out of the solar system. The crew cut up the internal partitions and throw them out the airlock in the hope that the remaining reaction mass can slow them down, and when that's fired off they even dispose of the engine.
  • In The City Who Fought, refugees from a deliberately Lost Colony hastily retrofit their Colony Ship, which had been converted into an orbital station and eventually largely abandoned as the colony became Space Amish, to fly again, but they didn't have the time or resources to do it properly and couldn't outpace the Space Pirates. They're forced to vent the water tanks from life support to lose mass and confuse pursuers - unfortunately, that also means that life support is crippled and everyone has to go into cold sleep to try and avoid asphyxiation, despite all the cold sleep drugs being so long expired that Cryonics Failure is inevitable for many of them.
  • Played With in the short story "The Cold Equations". When a girl stows away on a spaceship with limited fuel, the pilot considers whether enough of the ship's equipment can be dropped to allow her to stay on board. Unfortunately, the ship was built so that every part is essential to its operations and none of it can be jettisoned.
  • Cry Wolf, by Wilbur Smith. The protagonists are using a slaver ship to smuggle several armored cars into Ethiopia to resist the Italian invasion, but they get spotted by a destroyer. The crew are about to hoist the cars overboard (explaining that they do the same with chained-up slaves) but are deterred when Jake Barton appears in the turret and fires a burst from a Vickers machine gun over their heads. A long chase ensues but they're eventually able to elude the destroyer in the night.
  • A Doctor Who story has the Doctor and Martha travel in a hot air balloon with another guy to the North Pole. On the way there, the balloon starts sinking out of the air so they have to ditch their supplies overboard. It turns out, however, that the balloon was not falling out of the air due to its weight, but rather there was an alien lurking at the North Pole manipulating the balloon.
  • Flashman at the Charge has Harry Flashman toss a Russian woman (who he's supposed to be escaping with) out of a fleeing sled to get away from pursuit.
  • The Great Balloon Race: After the Soaring Sylvia is shot while passing over Cyprus, the envelope is punctured and starts losing gas. Aristotle and Charles are forced to throw every nonessential item overboard in order to shed weight and stay aloft. Items jettisoned include their luggage, the cooking gear, and their sextant.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: Book 3 (Rebel Dawn) depicts Han having to dump a load of glitterstim near the Maw black hole cluster in order to avoid having it confiscated by the Imperial customs officials. Unable to recover it afterward, he ends up heavily in debt to Jabba the Hutt, setting up the situation he's in at the start of A New Hope.
  • In the early sci-fi novel Hector Servadac, the greedy merchant is forced to dump all of his coin money so that the balloon can rise high enough to escape into the Earth's atmosphere as the comet they are on brushes past the Earth. He'd earlier declared that all paper money was worthless while they were on the comet and insisted on being paid only in coins.
  • This trope sets in motion the Robert Conroy novel Himmler's War. A bomber that got separated from its formation while on a mission over Europe needs to dump its payload to lighten the plane enough that they can stretch their fuel to make it back to England. They choose the first thing they see that looks anything like a legitimate target, which turned out to be one of Hitler's secret bases for high-level conferences - while the Fuhrer was holding one of said conferences. This results in Hitler's demise and Himmler taking control of Nazi Germany.
  • In Honor Harrington, it is mentioned that Mesan slave ships would eject their slaves into space rather than have them aboard when stopped by the Manticoran authorities (and presumably also Havenite authorities and those of other slavery-banning states), as transporting slaves was legally an act of piracy; they stopped doing it because the ship design required was very distinctive and such ships were themselves soon deemed to be evidence of slave-trafficking.
  • In Jingo, Vimes orders his men to throw out the ship's cargo so they can reach Al Khali faster. Detritus complies, discarding every loose object he can get his hands on. Like the anchor. And the ship's barometer. And the lifeboats. The captain of the ship, still sore about being blackmailed into letting Vimes commandeer his boat, doesn't stop him.
  • In the Latin textbook Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata Pars I: Familia Romana, a merchant is quite distressed when his goods are thrown overboard during a storm. Later the merchant squabbles with the helmsman who gave the order, with the helmsman arguing that the lives of those aboard, including the merchant and his family, are more valuable than the merchandise, and the merchant feeling that, without his fortune, his life is no longer worth living.
  • The Mysterious Island begins with the heroes in a hot-air balloon tossing everything heavy overboard to stay in the air, culminating in tossing away the entire basket and holding onto the ropes. Strangely, they toss the tools out first before throwing their bag of money (in coins).
  • In Season For Slaughter by David Gerrold, the action takes place on an airship (massive blimp) over the Amazon Jungle, which is now infested with aliens which will delight in eating everyone aboard. They discover that the airship has been infested with tiny little bugs letting the gas out of the blimp, so they are going down unless they lighten the load. They do so, by throwing everything possible overboard: sinks, beds, dressers, the carpet from the floors, refrigeration units from the kitchens, dining tables and chairs, literally everything that they don't need to stay in the air. It's not enough...
  • Spaceship Medic by Harry Harrison. After being struck by a meteor, a spaceship has gone off course and doesn't have enough reaction mass (fuel) to correct this. However, a scientist on board realizes they're looking at the problem the wrong way — they just have to decrease the spaceship's overall mass until the fuel they have is enough. They can't dump the cargo because it's locked in cradles on the outside of the ship, so they strip everything inside and throw it out the airlock, including the passengers' luggage. That backfires later when the resentful passengers launch a mutiny.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Contestants on The Amazing Race will often drop their bags as they race to the Pit Stop or Finish Line, if they think that they are in a footrace to either be first (usually a prize of some sort on the line) or next-to-last (the last team may be Eliminated from the Race). Teams also don't usually carry their backpacks for the finale, they run with the clothes on their backs and their fanny packs. How exactly they ditch their bags varies. Jaymes & James from 21 just gave all their stuff to someone at the airport in Paris. Kelsey & Joey from 27 took advantage of an offer to check their bags at the gate and went back and got them. Kristi & Jen from 30 simply left their bags on the plane.
  • Blake's 7
    • Taken to an extreme in the episode Orbit when Avon has to strip a shuttle of all its excess weight to prevent it from crashing. Even after jettisoning the superweapon he has spent the whole episode acquiring, the craft is still 73 kilos overladen. Then he learns that his colleague, Vila, weighs 70 kilos...Luckily for Vila, Avon discovers a speck of neutronium hidden on the vessel by the villain and throws that overboard instead.
    • Inverted in "The Harvest Of Kairos". A Federation transporter with a cargo of valuable Green Rocks is too heavy to reach orbit from a Death World, so Servalan orders the captain to leave the workers who collected the rocks behind. There's a moment of Black Comedy when a guard is taunting the laborers as he locks them out, only to find the transporter taking off without him as well.
  • In the Firefly episode "Jaynestown", Jayne explains that he once pulled a heist on Higgins' Moon, but then had to dump the cargo to stay airborne after he got hit by anti-aircraft fire, and the strongbox inadvertently landed in the indentured workers' Company Town causing Jayne to become a local hero. He neglects to mention he pushed his partner Stitch Hessian out first, and Magistrate Higgins sends the vengeful Stitch after him.
  • Lost: In "There's No Place Like Home, Part 2", the helicopter ferrying people from The Island to the Freighter starts to lose fuel via a damaged fuel line. Lapidus tells the passengers to start throwing out anything that isn't bolted down to reduce their weight if they want to make it to safety. They toss as much as they can but Lapidus notes they could stand to lose another hundred pounds. Hurley is visibly distressed by this news but before he can do anything Sawyer decides to sacrifice himself by jumping out into the ocean.
  • Parodied in the Seinfeld episode, "The Bottle Deposit," where Kramer and Newman - driving a mail truck full of bags of empty soda cans and bottles to turn them in for refunds - find Tony the mechanic driving Jerry's stolen car. They tail him, but he seems to be slipping away, so to gain speed, Kramer decides to lighten the truck by dumping out all their bags of cans and bottles, much to Newman's horror. Finally, Kramer still feels they're too heavy, so he manages to kick Newman out of the truck and press on; then, he gains speed.

  • The Doors track Horse Latitudes was inspired by Jim Morrison reading about historical cases of cargo-dumping. specifically, Spanish ships caught in the windless Doldrums and becalmed for long periods. Unable to move and fast running out of drinkable water, if they were carrying live cargo this would be jettisoned. Morrison was moved at the horses so dumped, so as to ease pressure on limited resources.
    The first animal is jettisoned,
    Legs furiously pumping their stiff green gallop!

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show had a few comical examples:
    • In one Muppet News segment, The Newsman reports that an airplane was forced to throw out some sports equipment, which falls on The Newsman. In another, an airplane was forced to throw out some musical instruments, leading to a piano falling on The Newsman.
    • In a Pigs in Space segment, the Swinetrek is losing power and Dr. Strangepork tells Link that they need to dump something the weight of one pig. Link considers dumping Miss Piggy.
  • The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: In "The Road to Ka-Larry", Sue Snue, Fox in Socks, and Mr. Knox are on the way to the Kingdom of Ka-Larry to deliver an important package to Queen Regina. When they travel aboard a zeppelin piloted by Horton, they are in danger of crashing into a mountain and have to throw something overboard to make the zeppelin rise. At first, Sue, Fox, and Knox all turn their attention to Horton, since he's an elephant, but decide against tossing him overboard since he's the pilot. Horton instead tosses out the three 25-karat donuts in the box, much to Sue's dismay (he didn't find them very tasty). This results in the zeppelin flying over the mountain, but he unfortunately tosses out too much weight, causing the zeppelin to fly too high, and into thin air.

  • Earthsearch. The protagonists are in a shuttle when they find their starship has been hijacked and left without them. In a desperate effort to catch up before they are Almost Out of Oxygen, they throw everything out the airlock that isn't absolutely necessary and even fire the explosive bolts to detach the engine section once they run out of fuel. When they've finished Darv suggests they lie down to preserve oxygen, only to be reminded that they threw out the beds as well.
  • In The Space Gypsy Adventures, on at least two occasions Gemma and Damien had to dump their illicitly-acquired cargo to decrease the Rapscallions mass and distract the coppers chasing them.

    Video Games 
  • In one of the endings of Detroit: Become Human where Kara is smuggled across the border on a boat, the boat is sinking after being shot so she has to dump the boat's supplies and the malfunctioning engine so they can reach the shore before sinking.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: In the final bit of the mission "Robbing Uncle Sam", CJ and Ryder get chased by a Patriot full of National Guard soldiers. CJ says "hey, we're real heavy, toss some crates" to Ryder, and he'll do so every time you honk the horn. This has no bearing on the speed of the getaway lorry you're driving; rather, the crates are used to hit the National Guard Patriots and explode.
  • This is the entire premise of the Interactive Fiction game To Hell in a Hamper, where you need to toss away enough items to raise your balloon to a safe altitude — and the only things left to toss away are the numerous oddball mementos smuggled by your partner, which he just won't let you get rid of that easily.
  • In Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Clank suggests doing this when the bounty hunter the duo is catching a ride from is being pursued by the forces of Emperor Tachyon. The bounty hunter agrees and ejects Ratchet and Clank. Later in the same game, Clank almost suggests the same thing to the same guy, but Ratchet cuts Clank off before he can suggest it again.
  • At the start of the third game of The Spellcasting Series, the player character has to dump out all of his frat's luggage off the magic carpet to ensure that they reach their destination safely. His fratmates are not appreciative when they land.
  • In Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Drake fights terrorists on a cargo plane that he snuck aboard on from Elena's jeep. They become rather difficult to fight so Drake ends up opening the cargo hatch making everything and everybody fly out including him!
  • Wing Commander: Privateer offers the option of dumping cargo. For missions that aren't part of the main plot, dumping contraband cargo before a scan by militia forces will keep them from tagging the player as a smuggler and attacking. A tractor beam being equipped allows the player to recover the dumped cargo without penalty.
  • In Wolfenstein: The New Order, B.J. has to dump practically all the cargo from their transport plane during the introductory level.

  • Girl Genius
    • During the attack on Mechanicsburg an airship crew realizes that the city's anti-aircraft defenses are still operational. They begin frantically throwing everything they can overboard in an effort to gain altitude. This eventually includes their employer, who threatened to have them all killed for running away. Unfortunately for them, climbing only puts them in the sights of the approaching Castle Wulfenbach.
    • When a revenant saboteur blows up two of the gas chambers keeping the airship aloft while approaching Big Rat Island Bangladesh DuPree reminds the audience that before she spent several years as the Wulfenbach Empire's pet psychopath she was a very competent and successful Pirate Queen and immediately assumes command and begins taking measures to save the ship, starting with dumping all ballast, fuel, food, and munitions and begins to order throwing every gun overboard before quickly amending it to every other gun.
  • xkcd: During the battle between Ron Paul's blimp and Cory Doctorow's balloon, Ron Paul's pilot reports that they've taken damage and suggests dumping the cargo of gold, a proposal he emphatically rejects.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • In the episode, "Launchpad's First Crash", Launchpad informs Scrooge they'll have to jettison some of the cargo to take off. Scrooge tries to jettison anything but the diamonds, including Launchpad!
    • In the episode, "A Whale of a Bad Time", Donald destroys the steering mechanism of Dr. Bluebottle's killer whale-shaped submarine, causing it to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Scrooge manages to get the sub to float to the surface pulling the lever that ejects his fortune stored there.
  • Family Guy: In one episode, the Griffins compete in a boat race against Carter, racing in a small tub boat against Carter's bigger boat. In order to get ahead, they toss out all of their clothes (except for their underwear and bras), and when they need to go faster, they toss out Meg.
  • In Futurama's episode Godfellas, Bender tries to slow down his drifting through space by dumping excess weight. So he starts throwing off the swag he picked up from the Space Pirates.
  • Subverted in one episode of Goof Troop where Goofy and Pete end up going into space on a rocket. When they are informed by NASA that they don't have enough fuel to get back to Earth because of their weight, Pete tries to push Goofy out into space (despite himself weighing much more), only to be informed that jettisoning anything that wasn't bolted down still wouldn't give them enough fuel; the rocket had been designed for NASA's space chimp, who weighs considerably less than the two. Fortunately, they manage to get back home when Goofy's experimental cleaning solution gets into the fuel tank.
  • Parodied in the I Am Weasel episode, "I.M. Bush Pilot." After delivering hundreds of babies in midflight, the sudden additional passengers weigh the plane down, causing Weasel to lose altitude, so Baboon works to lighten the plane; he throws out Red Guy (who was the stewardess), various crates of cargo, a two-ton man named Tom, and even tries chopping the tail of the plane off. In the end, however, Weasel manages to make an emergency landing in the very lake he was flying his passengers to.
  • The Megas XLR episode "All I Wanted was a Smoothie" begins when Megas crashes into a cloaked ship that was supposed to dump R.E.G.I.S. Mk V into a black hole, forcing them to eject their cargo onto Earth.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Last Train To Bustville", Candace does as Phileas Fogg did in Around the World in Eighty Days, with a train on its last run that the engineer wanted to make go to the top of a hill.
  • In the Rocky and Bullwinkle story arc "The Treasure of Monte Zoom", when a flying Rocky chases after Boris and Natasha in a car, and gains on them, Boris orders Natasha to throw out everything that's loose. After throwing everything they're aware of and Rocky is still catching up, Natasha finds gold coins in the trunk, and Boris reluctantly orders her to toss them out, which marks an improvement in speeding up away from Rocky.
    • In "Mooselvania Saved", Boris and Natasha manage to steal several goods that were donated to Mooselavia, putting them all on a raft. They get to Fearless Leader's ship, and Fearless Leader rewards Boris with a small medal. Unfortunately, this one medal causes the raft to start sinking. Fearless Leader tells Boris that if he lets the goods sink, he'll get shot, and if he tosses the medal, he'll get shot ("at least I've got a choice!"). We never see which choice Boris makes, we only hear the sound effect of a shot.
    • In the Ruby Yacht arc, Rocky and Bullwinkle escape from their captors and hide in a lifeboat. Then the captain of the ship declares that they need to lose some weight, so they have to throw a lifeboat overboard. Guess which one gets picked.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Fish and Chumps", Rocko realizes that the fishing trip he's taking with his friends has Gone Horribly Wrong, and suggests that they leave quickly. He and Filburt throw everything they brought with them overboard...and Heffer gets carried away and throws out the boat's motor. Luckily, they are saved by the Giant Squid who had become obsessed with their cheese bait.
  • Parodied in Secret Squirrel where Secret has a car race with Hot Rodney. Secret's passenger Morocco Mole tries to speed them up by throwing everything out. Then he removes the chassis, then the seats, then the engine, which of course, causes them to lose.
  • The Simpsons: When Mr. Burns steals some paintings out from under Grandpa and flees in a motorboat, Grandpa and Bart chase after him in a boat of their own. Mr. Burns has Smithers toss stuff overboard to lighten the load so they can go faster. After everything has been tossed overboard (with the exception of the paintings) Burns gives Smithers a look. Smithers salutes Burns, saying "It has been an honor," and tosses himself overboard.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, an underwater Picnic service airplane is losing altitude, so they release the cargo. It lands perfectly arranged in the forest where SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward are lost.
  • This happened in quite a few episodes of TaleSpin. The characters were often in danger of crashing and unloading their cargo was sometimes the go-to response. This got them in trouble with their boss a few times.
  • Filmation Teen Titans episode "The Space Beast Round-Up". An alien ship in trouble enters the Earth's atmosphere. The captain orders that all non-essential equipment and cargo be jettisoned so they can lose weight and gain altitude. Unfortunately, the cargo includes three dangerous alien creatures, and it's the Teen Titans' job to retrieve them.
  • Towards the end of the Thomas & Friends special, "Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure", Sailor John steals the lost pirate treasure and he and his railboat, Skiff, sail away with it. When they take on water, the weight of the treasure causes Skiff to sink. Skiff tells Sailor John to throw it overboard, but being the Bad Boss he is, Sailor John refuses, and orders Skiff to keep sailing anyway. Skiff responds by knocking both Sailor John and the treasure into the sea.
  • Towards the end of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "No Toon Is an Island", Buster, Babs, Hamton, and Plucky leave an island with a hoard of treasure and a giant bird. Their boat soon starts overflowing with water, and Buster declares that they need to throw something overboard. Plucky is about to throw the bird off the deck of the ship, but the others instead throw the treasure out into the sea, despite Plucky's protest.
    Plucky: (Crying) And I was gonna be such a nice rich guy!
  • In the Wacky Races episode, "Free Wheeling to Wheeling", the Anthill Mob speeds their car, the Bullet-Proof Bomb, up by tossing their ill-gotten gains (stolen money, machine guns, etc) out of it. They win the race as a result.
  • Zig & Sharko: A number of episodes have the plot device of the week fall out of a passing cargo airplane. Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes the pilot screws up and hits the Big Red Button by mistake.

    Real Life 
  • Airplanes that have to make an emergency landing often dump fuel to lighten the load (the weight differential between full and empty tanks is a factor in landing) and/or reduce the risk of fire.
  • Common in Real Life in World War II.
    • Bombers over Germany, if hit or crippled, routinely threw out everything they could to lighten the load and make it easier for a plane under reduced power to return home. Surplus equipment, ripped-up internal fittings, anything that would make the load lighter. In one case, a damaged gun turret too shot-up to be used was hacked away and allowed to fall (the wounded gunner was carried home, though).
    • Australian night bombers routinely emptied their onboard chemical toilets over German targets, claiming they were reducing load for the return flight. Nazi Germany complained under the Hague Convention that the British were using illegal chemical weapons. The complaint was upheld!
    • Bomber crews were also usually advised/ordered to drop any unused bombs on enemy territory before flying home, as the armed bombs were designed to not be able to be rendered safe again in order to make it harder to disarm any that did not explode.
  • Ships typically carry a supply of weight known as a Ballast, used to help maintain the ship's balance and draft in the water with varying loads of cargo and fuel. For ocean-going ships, this is typically seawater (since it is plentifully available), for airships and balloons, sandbags and other solid weights might be used instead to help control altitude. In an emergency, an airship could release its ballast to lighten the weight and slow its descent.
    • A Submarine, meanwhile, uses ballast as its primary depth control, and can either release it or intake it slowly to gradually ascend and descend, or quickly in order to sprint to the surface (known as an "Emergency Blow") or to dive away from danger (known as a "Crash Dive"). These emergency maneuvers can themselves be dangerous due to A) Being about as stealthy as dropping a ship into the ocean, that is, not very, and B) the risk of the sub crashing into something unseen (as has happened in the past). Further, if the sub's hatches are not properly secured, a sudden crash dive could quickly turn into unplanned scuttling.note 
  • Some birds such as vultures will regurgitate the contents of their filled crops if the weight of a heavy meal would otherwise be too great for them to get airborne and escape an oncoming predator.
    • Vampire bats, although better at maneuvering on the ground than most bat species, still fare better if they can get airborne as soon as possible after a meal. They therefore have extremely fast-acting kidneys, which let them pee like crazy very soon after feeding, shedding the cumbersome weight of the watery component of blood.
  • The Lady Be Good, a USAAF B-24 Liberator, crashed in central Libya on a bombing run after overflying its base due to a sandstorm. Several pieces were recovered between 1960 and 1963 and used in USAF aircraft, such as the autosyn transmitters, put in a C-54 Skymaster which had to jettison cargo to land safely due to propellor difficulties.
  • During the Battle of Ocracoke Inlet, Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard ordered his crew to dump all non-essential items overboard in order to gain speed and cut off Blackbeard's escape, as well as prevent getting the ship stuck in the shallow waters.
  • A chilling version of this trope was the Zong Massacre, where a British slave ship that was running out of drinking water decided to throw 133 African slaves overboard. The slaves would have died anyway of thirst (however a rainstorm that occurred afterward replenished much of their supply), but a loophole in insurance law allowed the crew to be compensated in full for any 'cargo' that had to be dumped over the side to save the ship.
  • The first aerial crossing of the English Channel was achieved by two balloonists, French Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries. The offloading started in a fit of international rivalry when each participant "accidentally" dropped the other's flag overboard, but things turned serious when they realized they were at risk of crashing before they reached their destination in Calais, France. After losing all ballast they were forced to also throw away various equipment they had brought along, and Blanchard even threw away his own trousers. They barely made it.
  • During the Vietnam War light attack "bombers" such as the A-4 Skyhawk, A-6 Intruder, A-7 Corsair or F-105 "Thud" would often jettison all their bombs once enemy MiGs engaged them. This was because these aircraft were as maneuverable as fighters, when not laden with bombs, and except for the A-6, all other aircraft had a nose-mounted gun with which they could defend themselves in a dogfight.
    • A primary reason for the development of the "fire and forget" Beyond Visual Range AIM-120 AMRAAM missile and its imitators such as the Meteor, Mica and AA-12 "Adder/Amraamski" is so that multi-role fighters such as the F-15, F/A-18, Eurofighter or the Su-35 can engage and down enemy fighters from a stand-off distance without having to jettison their bombs.
  • Regarding the contraband version, South Florida used to be notorious for falling bales of cocaine (one of which famously crashed a backyard crime-watch meeting), and still frequently sees floating packages of drugs wash up on its shores.


Video Example(s):


Wind-up Shark

In a fantasy bath world, Garfield, Odie, and Nermal find Garfield's toy boat, unfortunately it came with a toy shark, fortunately, it's a wind-up.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThreateningShark

Media sources: