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Ferris Wheel of Doom

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BREAKING NEWS: Out of control Ferris Wheel crushes 23 cars, 57 fair goers, and one couple's marriage proposal.
Few rides are as prone to breakage in superhero movies and shows as the Ferris Wheel. When the hero shows up, the wheel typically begins to shudder and collapse, dropping children and sometimes falling completely over. A common variant is to have the Ferris Wheel rip loose from its hub and roll away.

A Ferris Wheel is the most useful ride for TV and movies because it is both big and tall (a hero saving people from a spinning teacup ride gone amok isn't impressive) and slow (If a rollercoaster doing a hundred miles an hour leaves the tracks, it's unlikely a superhero could respond in time to do anything more than help gather up the dead). Ferris Wheels are also large open structures with a lot of rods and beams that let athletic types show their stuff. Having a hero in the area thus generally causes any Ferris Wheel to suffer a sudden massive breakdown.

While a Ferris wheel separation would be devastatingly catastrophic in Real Life, it wouldn't roll very far. The wheel itself isn't very strong, and would collapse under its own weight. Fortunately, a breakage of this sort would be extraordinarily unlikely.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cardcaptor Sakura has a fight on a Ferris wheel.
  • Case Closed: In That One Case for Satou, her partner died rather than choose to disarm a bomb in a Ferris wheel so he can send her the directions to another bomb that the bomber had hidden, and the location would not be given in full unless the timer was allowed to run out.
  • In Sakura Wars (2000), Iris freaks out while on a Ferris wheel and ends up accidentally breaking the thing with her telekinetic powers.
  • In Strawberry 100%, the main character and his on-again off-again girlfriend are stuck in the Ferris wheel when it stops. Then their door opens up and they almost fall out. Go go Romance Comedy!
  • In one chapter of Yu-Gi-Oh!, a Mad Bomber rigs Ferris Wheel cars to explode... while Anzu is riding it. Yugi is forced to play a variant of solitaire in which if he stacks all four cards of a given number, the corresponding car explodes. He solves it by putting all the Kings together before Anzu's stack is complete and telling the police that the bomber is in Car 13, disguised as a hostage, because it didn't explode.

    Card Games 
  • Cards Against Humanity has a white card labeled "An unhinged Ferris wheel rolling toward the sea". There is a meme in the game's fandom that three cards should be used to form the sentence, "When you get right down to it, an unhinged Ferris wheel rolling toward the sea is just a windmill full of corpses".

    Comic Books 
  • In Ultimate X-Men, at the beginning of the Fenris arc, the team's hanging out at Coney Island. Naturally, bad guys sabotage the Ferris wheel, and the X-Men have to save the day.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Detective Conan Film 20: The Darkest Nightmare, Gin causes the giant Ferris wheel to roll by shooting the axis with his helicopter's minigun.
  • In Girls und Panzer der Film, Rabbit Team shoots a Ferris wheel off its supports, causing it to roll down towards the enemy team's encirclement as a distraction. They call this "Operation Mifune", after the scene in 1941 (1979), which they had watched the previous night. It works, and the Ooarai team is able to use the confusion to escape. As the wheel slows to a halt and topples over, the girls affectionately thank "Ferris-senpai"/"Ferry-chan" for its help.
  • Played with in The Great Mouse Detective, as our mouse heroes have to dodge a tambourine sent rolling at them by The Dragon, in a clear invocation of this trope.
  • One pops up in the film version of Paprika.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 1941 (1979), a Ferris wheel in a California seaside amusement park is shot loose by a Japanese sub and rolls into the ocean.
  • Beverly Hills Cop III: It's not a Ferris wheel exactly, but close enough. Our hero, Axel Foley, gets onto the ride to escape the bad guys, and is hoisted in the air. The bad guys try to get him down by overriding the controls of the ride, and end up breaking it. The ride is damaged, and one of the gondolas is about to fall. Foley then spends the next few minutes jumping from gondola to gondola, and climbing along the supporting beams, to reach the broken gondola before it falls. He, of course, succeeds — and he's not even a superhero.
  • Le Boulet: During an already intense Chase Scene, the protagonist, prison escapee Moltes, to avoid the cops pursuing him on the Place de la Concorde, runs his car up a ramp to jump through a large Ferris Wheel, damaging it in the process. Then it starts to crash down and roll into the Tuileries Garden, straight between Moltes and the Inspector Javert chasing him, until it ends up in a pond and topples to the side.
  • While not really an action flick, Carpool uses this trope as well. In the climax of the film, one of the main characters' kids must be saved from a runaway Ferris wheel. Of course, it gets worse and the kid's car breaks off and it turns into a whole big mess...
  • In Catwoman (2004), a Ferris wheel mysteriously breaks down while the leads are on it, allowing Tom to shut down the motor and stop it, and Patience to save a little boy who falls out of a seat that somehow suffers a structural failure at the same time.
  • City Warriors: One of the film's action set-pieces have the protagonist climbing up a Ferris Wheel to save a child who fell out from its carriage. Subverted that there is nothing wrong with the Ferris Wheel (no malfunctioning or whatsoever) — the boy snuck on board all by himself and opened the door for no reason just to have a better view of the amusement park.
  • In the Night Watch (Series) film Day Watch, tremors caused by The End of the World as We Know It cause a Ferris Wheel to break free and roll down the street. Since the heroes are too busy trying to stop the world from ending, plenty of people get crushed. Except they don't, thanks to the hero Rewriting Reality.
  • In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the London Eye breaks down and has to be rescued, although it had more to do with the Silver Surfer destroying the surrounding area than just a random failure. While the London Eye is not quite a Ferris Wheel but an observation wheel (its gondolas are motorized), it's similar enough to count.
  • The climax of Goosebumps (2015) have the main characters being stuck on a Ferris Wheel while surrounded by scores and scores of monsters right below, and trying to finish the manuscript before the monsters could get them by climbing along the wheel's sides. Things get worse when the giant praying mantis attacks the wheel's sides directly and predictably causes it to be dislodged and rolling away with the protagonists clinging on their seats.
  • This happens at the end of Mighty Joe Young, causing the titular gorilla to save a small child from it. The resulting good publicity sets up the Happy Ending.
  • The plot of the Hong Kong horror film The Park is kicked off by an accident when a 14-year-old girl fell to her death from a malfunctioning Ferris wheel, leading to the park being closed down and the owner subsequently hanging himself from said wheel. The girl returns as a ghost haunting said wheel years later.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the three-way battle for the key to the titular chest on Isla Cruces eventually ends up on top of a water wheel, which, while not a ferris wheel, still matches this trope when it breaks off its supports and proceeds to start rolling around the island. With the characters still fighting on top of it.
  • Featured in the climactic battle of SHAZAM! (2019) when Dr. Sivana proceeds to unleash the sins in an amusement park, a few of them who then attacks the Ferris Wheel making it fall over on its side. Thankfully, Billy had already transferred his powers to his siblings, at which point three of them — Freddy, Pedro and Darla — immediately helps out, Pedro using his super strength to hold the collapsing wheel in place while Darla and Freddy assist in evacuating civilians trapped on the wheel.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Bottom: In "Hole", Richie and Eddie find themselves stuck at the top of a rickety, illegal, death trap Ferris wheel just after the owners have closed it down pending its demolition? How will they ever escape? Well, they pray for salvation and God answers. Unfortunately, they then realise that they don't believe in God, so they fall anyway. They get better in time for the next episode.
  • Carniv├ále:
    • A dark version: a boy is killed in a Ferris wheel accident, and his injured mother prays for death to take her instead of her son. Ben resurrects him, and the mother dies as an Equivalent Exchange.
    • Not to mention its prominent role in the finale, when Samson Briar Patches Justin and Iris into riding it, Jonesy traps them at the top, then cuts the brakes and lets the thing go speeding around, and Ben uses Justin's life force to heal everyone at the show. Justin yells "BE STILL!", and the Ferris Wheel listens.
  • Furuhata Ninzaburou: A bomber plants a bomb under one of the seats of a Ferris Wheel.
  • One of London's Burning's big season finale setpieces involves a collapsing Ferris Wheel at a funfair.
  • Monk: In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival", Sharona goes up on a Ferris wheel (which also happens to have been the scene of the murder) to keep an eye out for the murderer, who is somewhere at the carnival. The murderer suddenly appears and begins to climb towards Sharona. After accidentally breaking the controls on the Ferris wheel, Monk has to climb up after the murderer. It's better than it sounds: remember that Monk has clinical phobias about heights, grime, etc. He has to climb a Ferris wheel whose structure is covered in dirt and grease. For a while, part of this scene appeared during the Theme Tune.
  • Scrubs: J.D., Cox, Jordan and Jordan's sister Dani get stuck at the top of a Ferris Wheel for an hour.
  • The Ultraman Tiga episode "The Closed Amusement Park" features the hibernating kaiju, Gagi, awakening in an amusement park and sealing the entire area with an impenetrable force-field. The situation starts becoming tense when Gagi targets the Ferris Wheel (which conveniently breaks down, just because), where Shinjoh's younger sister and a little girl is stranded on its top, at which point Shinjoh and a boy he befriended decides to hijack a couple of go-karts to draw Gagi's attention away, trying to buy some time until Ultraman Tiga arrives to deal with the monster.

    Video Games 
  • In the Batman: Arkham Knight expansion "A Matter of Family", Batgirl has to rescue some cops from this at one point. Considering it's an amusement park taken over by The Joker, it doesn't come as much of a surprise.
  • Boogie Wings has an Amusement Park of Doom level where the Ferris Wheel inevitably breaks off and rolls across the area, turning into an Advancing Wall of Doom you need to outrun.
  • Happens surprisingly in Bulletstorm, with a giant grindwheel taking the Ferris Wheel's role, stalking the player as he tries to outrun it in a minecart.
  • Happens in Brawl Stars in one of the Starr Park CCTV screens, courtesy of Spike.
  • Averted in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. While the iconic Ferris wheel of the abandoned Soviet-era radioactive Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat (located in the heavily guarded exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant) features prominently in the Scenery Gorn to set the overall spooky atmosphere of the missions "All Ghillied Up" and "One Shot, One Kill", it doesn't come loose from its moorings or collapse once the stealth mission "goes hot" and turns into a running firefight during "One Shot, One Kill" to escape an Mi-28 Havoc that comes to the aid of the Big Bad, Imran Zakhaev. This, despite all kinds of explosives going off in close proximity to the Ferris wheel, which actually serves as the centerpiece for the climatic battle as the British SAS commando protagonist and his wounded commanding officer must fight off Russian ultranationalists in an attempt to hold out until they can be extracted.
  • The first Cutscene in Hitman: Blood Money features a Ferris Wheel falling down and killing several people. (Your target in the tutorial level is the owner of the amusement park; you were hired to avenge the customer's son killed there.)
  • Katamari Damacy has a Ferris wheel in the last level (the moon). It doesn't roll away, but you can roll it up.
  • Monster Eye has an amusement park level where your characters are trapped atop a Ferris wheel, while the level's boss, a King Kong Copy giant gorilla, lunges at you. It's likely a Shout-Out at the Mighty Joe Young remake, though in this case, the gorilla is hostile and trying to destroy said wheel with your players on it.
  • In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Layton and Luke are chased by a remote-controlled version of this.
  • Surprisingly averted in RollerCoaster Tycoon. The Ferris Wheel is one ride that can be built, and rides can break down and fail, sometimes killing guests, but the Ferris Wheel is perfectly safe, and its breakdowns are mundane and harmless.
  • The Remake of Romancing Saga has this as one of axe techniques. The axe user creates a Ferris Wheel out of an axe and unleashes them on an enemy.
  • On one of the levels in Twisted Metal Black, you can send a Ferris wheel rolling. It does damage to anyone who gets hit by it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Havenfall Is for Lovers: At the end of JD season 2, Grace is imprisoned on a Ferris wheel at the abandoned amusement park, and her car is falling apart.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • A Ferris Wheel crashes out its supports in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, except it then is used as a spaceship.
  • Happens in the last episode of Clerks: The Animated Series as part of the storm of Take Our Word for It. At one point, the girl Dante likes starts making out with it.
  • In one of the "Chicken vs. Peter" fight scenes in Family Guy, the thing with the Ferris wheel tearing free happens and they fight on it while it's rolling away.
  • Subverted in an episode of Invader Zim which has Zim rigging a wheel with rockets in an attempt to launch the giant hamster Peepi into space. Peepi trashes the wheel in anger once it realizes what's happening.
  • In the KaBlam! one-shot short "A Girl Named Fuzzball", the title character mentions this happening at a previous carnival in town.
  • There is a mechanically failing Ferris wheel in the first episode of Legion of Super Heroes (2006), "Man of Tomorrow". It makes things pretty easy for the Legion when they need to figure out who Superman is.
  • An episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot has a Ferris wheel that does the break-loose-and-roll thing.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode "Bart's Inner Child", Otto's inattentiveness and Willie's laziness causes the Ferris wheel to break loose and run amok through Springfield's "Do What You Feel" festival.
  • Superman has to play tug-of-war using a Ferris wheel in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Monkey Fun" while fighting a giant monkey.
  • Teen Titans (2003) has a subversion in the second season. Beast Boy and Terra are on a date, riding on the Ferris Wheel, when Slade ambushes them. The ride never breaks down or suffers from structural failure during the entire fight... until earth-controlling Terra destroys it on her own at the end to escape from Slade.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Ferris wheel accidents do happen, although more often a single seat failing when the rider abuses it (they aren't typically fast enough to drop somebody who's just sitting) than the entire thing going haywire. Statistically you're still far more likely to die in the car ride to and from the amusement park/fair than from the Ferris wheel or any other ride there.
  • The Panjandrum. Justified, as it was designed to be a weapon.


Video Example(s):


Bart's Inner Child

Because Groundskeeper Willie failed to oil the Ferris wheel, the Ferris wheel falls off and breaks the city zoo door open, which leads to the animals in it escaping.

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Example of:

Main / EscapedAnimalRampage

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