The villain speeds off in a car. The hero, close behind, flags down the nearest taxi, gets in and, pointing at the car, says "Follow that car!". And thus, the Chase Scene begins. This is an alternative to Flashed-Badge Hijack, available to civilians as well as the police.
A common subversion is for the speaker to make the mistake of saying this before they get in, and the cab taking off without them.
See The Taxi.
- A Polish ad for Canal+ showed several roughnecks forcing themselves into a car and yelling at the driver to follow another car in front of them ... but both cars were stuck in a traffic jam. The punchline: TV has more action than Real Life.
- A European ad from the nineties had a movie-like "Follow That Car" scene, subverted when the driver gets off the taxi and chases the getaway car on foot.
- Discussed in chapter 83 of Bakuman。. Mashiro and Takagi are secretly following their editor, hoping they get to do this, and are immensely happy when they do. The taxi driver even says "It's been 5 years since anyone's said that to me."
- Subverted in Darker Than Black. April spots Amber, who the SIS has been looking for, getting into a car with a little boy. April runs over to where they were, flags down a cab, and tells the driver to follow the car — then the cab explodes. Said little boy was Maki, a Contractor with the power to blow up anything he's marked with handprints, which in this case meant the street where the cab pulled in.
- Used in the Very Special Episode of Digimon Savers. There was, however, no chase scene.
- Mai tells the taxi driver to "follow that bus" in Mai-HiME.
- Subverted in Mezzo DSA, where one of the characters tells a cab to follow that car, which he says he's been waiting his whole life to hear. He rides off without the passengers. Poor guy is later found with a bullet in his head.
- Used sans chase scene in Monster.
- Comedian George Carlin once suggested this scheme for having fun on a day in the city; "Hail a cab. Give the driver $50 and tell him to drive to the airport and wait for you there. As soon as he pulls away, hail the very next cab. Jump in and tell the driver, 'Follow that cab, and no matter what, make sure it DOESN'T get to the airport!'"
- In The Gallimaufry there is no other cab, but when Buck Godot tells Spug to go to the spaceport, Spug zooms off without him. Fortunately, Buck has the presence of mind to grab his hat, forcing him to come back for it.
Spug: You grabbed my hat!
Buck: Spug, I want to go to the spaceport in your cab.
Spug: Oh. A paying job.
- Gaston Lagaffe: Fantasio's coat is thrown by Gaston out of a top floor window, and a gust of wind sends it flying away. Fantasio gets in a cab and says "Follow that coat!" The cab driver replies, "You should get yourself a helicopter."
- Happens in the first issue of Jon Sable, Freelance. The cabbie is so amused by Jon asking him to do this for the first time in his career he doesn't even charge for the ride.
- In Luke Cage: Hero for Hire, sleazy journalist Phil Fox says this when trying to talk to Rackham, the former prison captain who had attacked Cage. The driver has been wanting to hear the line for years.
- This was played for laughs in a Spider-Man story from 1985, where Spidey was trying to nab the Commuter, a theef named Ron who commuted to crimes from Scarsdale. Unable to use his favored mode of transportation to follow Ron, given the lack of web-accessible buildings, the hero flagged a cab down, but the cabbie barely spoke English, making the chase difficult. (He eventually did manage to nab Ron, and resolved to stay in the city from then on.)
- Double-Lampshaded and Double-Subverted in the Alan Moore comic Terra Obscura; after being told to "follow that car", a cabbie comments that "You're probably expecting me to say 'I always wanted to do that'. Actually, it happens to me once a week."
- The Calculus Affair: Fortunately, the car Tintin happened to pick was being driven by a Hot-Blooded Italian Badass Driver who easily catches up, though not before being stopped by the police and getting out of being having a ticket written by giving the policeman an Overly Long Name.
- Happens a second time in The Crab with the Golden Claws. Tintin and another man both get into the cab, each insisting it's his. Tintin eventually gets the other man out by saying that he had to go to the hospital after being bitten by Snowy (who he called a 'mad dog' admittedly Snowy was a bit mad at the moment), but when he said "Follow that car!" to the driver, they found the car had long since disappeared.
- In the Spider-Man newspaper strip, Mary Jane jumps into a cab and tells the driver to follow Spider-Man, who is web-swinging across the city with Black Widow. The cabbie says that he has been waiting for someone to tell him to do this. It turns out he has experience with superheroes and starts talking about some of the heroes he has had in his cab.
- A non-car example in 102 Dalmatians is when the main characters needed to follow the dogs in the cab when they found the kidnappers' trace.
- Alan does this in American Dreamer, and can't believe he just did so.
- In Arabesque, after David Pollock (Gregory Peck) says this, the taxi driver immediately answers: "All my life I have waited for somebody to say that!"
- In Carry On Loving, Sidney Bliss flags a cab and tells it to go to a certain address. When it takes off without him, he flags down another cab and tells it to "follow that cab", and this cab also drives off without him, leaving Sidney incredibly annoyed.
- In Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Steve Martin thinks he's being followed and decides to dash away in a taxi. There are two cabs in line. He gives a wad of cash to the first driver and tells him a destination; the driver speeds off without him. Momentarily nonplussed, he then hops into the second taxi and tells the driver to "Follow that cab!" He settles back into the seat with a smirk on his face, congratulating himself on taking both cabs so the man following him would be stranded.
- While tailing the suspects from the toy store in Dressed to Kill (1946), Sgt. Thompson hails a cab and says "Follow that cab" to the driver, who gives him a dubious look and starts to object until Thompson shows him his warrant card, at which point the cabbie complies.
- Parodied in the Marx Brothers film Duck Soup: twice Groucho hops into the sidecar of a motorcycle driven by Harpo, saying some form of "Follow That Car!" and twice it drives off without him. The third time, he promises not to have that happen, puts Harpo in the sidecar and gets on the motorcycle— and Harpo drives the sidecar off without the motorcycle.
Groucho: It's the only way to travel.
- Fantômas Unleashed is probably the only film so far where a character orders the pilot of a plane to "follow that car". The car in question has just sprouted wings and flown off.
- During the Escalating Chase scene in A Hard Day's Night, one of the policemen jumps into a random car for this purpose. Hilariously, the guy in the driver's seat was actually in the process of stealing the car.
- In the film Lifechanger, the protagonist gets in a cab and asks the driver to follow the woman he's attracted to, hoping to figure out her address. The cabbie, also a woman, rightly assumes him to be a stalker and refuses his demand, calling it creepy.
- Shows up in The Muppet Movie, with Doc Hopper and his right-hand man Max.
Doc Hopper: Follow that frog!
[Max drives off]
Doc Hopper: MAX!!!!!
[Max backs up]
Doc Hopper: Follow that frog with me in the car!
- In Mustang, the five girls asks a truck to follow a coach bringing the fans to a football match.
- In The Naked Gun, Frank Drebin does this but discovers that the car he has flagged down is part of a driving lesson.
- Played dead straight in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. "Follow that van!"
- James Bond
I'll use Fangio next time, idiot!
- Subverted in Live and Let Die when Bond gets a taxi driver to follow the Big Bad into Harlem. As they drive along, however, various people on their route warn the Big Bad via radio that he's being followed. When they finally arrive and Bond enters the building, the taxi driver then uses his radio to tip off the Big Bad that Bond has arrived.
- In Octopussy, a Soviet military driver is rather disconcerted to be told to follow Bond's car along a railway line.
- Peter Sellers in Casino Royale (1967) uses the same joke as Get Smart below, with race car driver Stirling Moss in a cameo as the running chauffeur.
- Subverted in The Pelican Brief where Denzel Washington's character as he is unable to get a taxi to stop for him as he is dressed for surveillance he was doing on a potential source. It's also flipped around later in the film as he gets into a cab, only to realize he's the one being followed.
- The Philadelphia Story has James Stewart's character Mike, drunk on champagne, wake up a waiting cabbie with this line, admitting immediately after that there never was any cab to follow ("Some joke, huh?").
- Subverted in The Professional - a 12-year-old girl sees a car containing the people who murdered her family drive off. She flags a cab:
Mathilda: Follow the blue car.
Driver: You want me to blast the music and go through the lights?
Mathilda: No, drive slowly. [hands over large wad of cash] Take the hundred bucks, and shut the fuck up.
- Parodied in The Return of the Pink Panther: the cabbie responds to Inspector Clouseau's command by climbing out of the cab and chasing the car on foot. Another spoof occurs in A Shot in the Dark: Clouseau instructs the police car that brought him here to go back to town. He should have remembered to get in the car first.
- Played with in Running Scared (1986); Danny, pretending to be a passenger, tells Ray, who's driving an undercover police vehicle disguised as a taxi, to follow the cab containing their nemesis, Julio Gonzalez, which they were planning to do anyway even before real passengers showed up.
- Played with in Rush Hour 2, when detective Carter is in Hong Kong and orders a taxi driver to follow a car. The driver doesn't move and keeps speaking Chinese to him (with no subtitles for non-Chinese-speaking viewers). After a few back-and-forth exchanges, Carter slips him some money, whereupon the driver says (in English) "Now you're speaking my language" and steps on the gas. As a Bilingual Bonus, the Chinese phrase that the driver repeated to Carter translates to "Money first."
- In Shakespeare in Love, Will Shakespeare gets to say, "Follow that boat!" while climbing into another Thames ferry boat. The guy rowing his boat then starts acting like a stereotypical cab driver.
- Parodied in the second Stuart Little movie, where Mr. Little tells the cab driver to "Follow that flying mouse!" as Stuart is in an airplane being chased by Falcon.
- In Taxi, a Cowboy Cop says this to the cab driver... who happens to be an aspiring stock car racer with a Cool Car, and has, of course, been waiting for someone to say that.
- The Thin Man series:
- In Shadow of the Thin Man, Nora, with Molly, says, "Follow that car, Quick!" The taxi driver drives off without them.
- This gag is played with and lampshaded in Song Of The Thin Man when Nick stops the cab driver from taking himself and an exhausted Nora back to their hotel. The cabbie sees that Nick is looking very pointedly at a young lady getting into a car and turns to ask, "Follow that car?" Nora replies with "Movie fan..."
- In Pedro Almodóvar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Pepa gets into a cab and says (in Spanish), "Follow that cab." The driver replies, "I thought this only happened in the movies."
- Commando. Sully is one of the mercenaries holding his daughter hostage, so Matrix is willing to go to great lengths to follow him, including abducting Cindy because he needs her car. They end up being stuck together for the rest of the movie (minus the final battle).
Matrix: Follow him.
Cindy: Oh, I knew you were going to say that...
- Lampshaded in one of Those Meddling Kids novels (think it was The Case of the Silver Egg by Desmond Skirrow) when a kid muses that jumping into a cab and saying in his best Basil Rathbone imitation, "Follow that car, and it's double the fare!" won't work.
- after the quake. All god's children can dance. Yoshiyo tells a taxi driver to tail the car the man he believes his father is in. His excuse is that he's from a company that's scrambling after him.
- In his book Against All Enemies, Richard A. Clarke says that when the Predator UAV was first being used to surveil al-Queda camps, a Land Rover was seen leaving one of them. The man in charge of the operation immediately shouted to the 'pilot' of the UAV, "Follow that car!", adding the inevitable "I've always wanted to say that."
- In Anonymous Rex, the protagonist detective refuses to use this line and instead gives detailed step-by-step instructions, such as "Turn there, where that other cab went." Eventually, the cabbie tires of it and just asks "You want me to follow that cab?"
- Kathleen Ann Goonan's The Bones of Time trades off the chase order with self-imposedeness. Jehu takes it upon himself to overtake the bus that inadvertently leaves Lynn and Akamu behind on their rush to cross the Nepalese border. Actually it's a matter of honour to him not to have a bus before his operating-like-a-taxi car. The overtaking is as dramatic as it can be predictably imagined. Can this get a Drive like Jehu please!
- In Doc Sidhe by Aaron Allston, the central character does this. He's quite aware of what a cliche it is, but in the Pulp action elfland he's in, it works. The way the driver and passengers cheered when he said it startled him so much he nearly fell off the car.
- The children's book Follow that Bus! by Pat Hutchins involves the police commandeering a bus full of school kids on a trip to a farm to chase some bank robbers. The kids have the time of their lives. Their rather timid teacher, less so.
- Lampshade Hanging in Hugh Laurie's novel The Gun Seller, in which the driver is quite used to this sort of thing, and does it quite well, asking "Is he sleeping with your wife, or are you sleeping with his?"
- Discussed in Jennings Follows a Clue:
"Suppose he's got a car waiting for him at the end of the drive. What do we do then?"
"We stop the very next car that comes along and say to the driver: 'Quick, follow that car!' That's what secret agents do anyway, and it always works."
"Well, supposing he catches a bus?"
"Then we stop the next one, and tell the conductor to follow the one in front."
This did not satisfy Darbishire. He pointed out that the bus service was limited to one bus every hour, and they all went to the same place anyway.
- In a low-reading-level Spanish book called La Momia Despierta ("The Missing Mummy") which gets read in high-school Spanish classes, at one point the main character (a detective) dashes into a taxi and asks the taxi driver to follow another car. The taxi driver is amused and asks him if he thinks he's James Bond.
- In the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Murder Must Advertise, Lord Peter gets followed by a co-worker. The chase ends "in the most tame manner possible" (quoting from memory) when both cabs arrive at the restaurant where Lord Peter plans to have lunch.
- In Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, Charis tries this line on a Toronto cabbie, who is less than impressed.
- Parodied in Douglas Adams's unfinished book, The Salmon of Doubt: Dirk Gently meets a cabbie who has never had anyone tell him to "follow that cab". Thus, he infers, his must be the cab that everyone else is following.
- In The Specialist by Gayle Rivers, he mentions that French cab drivers love to follow people, and gives the "standard line about the guy having it off with my wife" to explain why he's following a man who's actually a terrorist he's planning to assassinate.
- Wasp has a variant. Mowry doesn't outright tell the taxi driver to "follow that car" to avoid drawing suspicion to himself. Instead, he claims that he's unable to exactly name where he's heading, but he remembers how to get there, so if the driver would just please follow the directions that Mowry will give during the journey...
- Inverted in the pilot of Acapulco HEAT; the cab driver tells the good guys to get in so they can follow the bad guys. It develops that he's an undercover government agent.
- In the final episode of season 2 of The Amazing Race, each pair had to board an airplane to a target designated by their clue card. One of the pairs lost their clue, prompting them to tell the pilot to "follow that plane!" In fact, just about every episode of the show has some variant of this trope.
- The joke version is taken Up to Eleven in an episode of Benson. The governor gives the order to a taxi, and as you might expect, it takes off without him. Then he quickly flags down another taxi and tells the driver to "Follow that car!" point to the first taxi. (He manages to get in this one first. To make the joke even funnier, when both taxis follow the original car to its destination, he pays both drivers.
- In the Norwegian Brødrene Dal og Legenden om Atlant-is, the not-too-bright protagonists try to follow the villain's car... By jumping into a trolley and telling its driver to follow that car. The trolley driver actually tries his best but predictably loses the villains rather quickly.
- In the Code Name: Eternity episode "Making Love", when Laura pursues the mind-controlled Ethaniel, she gets in the cab and says "I can't believe I'm saying this, but follow that car."
- CSI: In "Cockroaches", Warwick arrives back at the strip club in a cab (after having been ordered away). Seeing the woman he wants to talk to getting in another cab, he immediately tells his driver "Follow that girl".
- In the Decoy episode "The Sound of Tears," Casey sees the suspect she's following drive away. She runs over to a taxi, shows the driver her badge, and gets in, and the taxi drives after the suspect.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Unquiet Dead": After Rose is abducted in a hearse, the Doctor leaps into a nearby carriage and instructs the driver to follow that hearse. However, the carriage turns out to be a privately-owned vehicle, and the driver refuses to go anywhere without the say-so of his employer. (Charles Dickens, if you were wondering.)
- "Planet of the Dead": DI MacMillan tells his men to "Follow that bus!"... then the bus disappears into a Negative Space Wedgie.
- "The Time of Angels": At the beginning, River Song orders the Doctor to "Follow that ship!"
- Played straight in the Ellery Queen episode "The Adventure of Colonel Nivin's Memoirs".
- On Get Smart, Larabee was once disguised as a chauffeur, standing by his car. As a KAOS agent escaped in his own vehicle, Max yelled, "Larabee! Follow that car!" Larabee promptly ran after the KAOS agent's car, revealing for the first time that Larabee was a massive ditz.
- Detective DeeDee McCall did this in an episode of the 80's cop show Hunter, with the grizzled cab driver replying "I've been waiting twenty years for someone to say that!"
- An early M*A*S*H episode has a variant of the common subversion: Col. Blake instructs Radar to drive their jeep back to camp. Radar does so before Blake can climb aboard, leaving him stranded. The gag is repeated later in the episode.
- In the Midnight Caller episode "City of Lost Souls", Jack tries this with two police officers. Unfortunately, he's dressed as a homeless man at the time, so he only succeeds in getting himself arrested.
- Mr. Bean shouts out the line in one of his sketches, trying to catch a baby he placed into a bumper car at a funfair, leaping onto the back of another dodgem and shouts at the driver to follow the baby.
- Deconstructed in one episode of Perfect Strangers. Larry relates to Balki that he tried to use this method to follow Dolly Parton, but, "in case you ever wondered, they don't do that."
- Sex and the City parodies this in one episode:
Samantha: Follow that cab!
Cab Driver: You gotta be kidding, lady.
Samantha: Oh, just drive.
- Shoestring: Eddie does this in "The Partnership". The driver says, "Where do you think you are, The Streets of San Francisco?" He goes along with it, although he complains the whole time.
- This is used once on the second day of shopping on What Not to Wear. It was immediately followed by the "I Always Wanted to Say That" line.
- Inverted in Adventures in Odyssey, "Plan B" — after getting into a cab, Jack Allen realizes that they're being followed, and...
Driver: [starting to sound excited] They're followin' us? D'you want me to lose 'em?
Jack: [shakily] Uh-h-h, y-yes! Yes! Put the pedal to the metal!
Driver: I've waited my entire life for someone to say that!
- Over the Edge: On Al Amarja, an expensive cab service called Total Taxi caters specifically to spies. For the right price, they'll foil pursuit by pulling into a garage and changing cabs, their cabs are completely bulletproof, they can go anywhere there's only one thing they won't ever do. A Total Taxi will never follow another Total Taxi.
- This happens in the example of play in Classic Traveller Book 0.
- Arthur's Reading Race had one scene where one could click on a taxi to play a mini-cutscene featuring a gag based on this. A car passed by, then a harried-looking man ran up to the taxi, said the line - and then the taxi driver obeyed, driving off without the passenger.
- In one of the game paths in SPY Fox in Dry Cereal, you have to track down Russian Blue's car in your Asti-Spumoni, by following the radar trail your literal "tracking bug" Walter Wireless left whilst in her car.
- Test Drive Unlimited 2 has a variation of this in one of its challenges, where the player has to follow a target car not too close or too far for long enough.
- Amusingly, the target car on said challenge often crashes at an intersection and gets stuck, occasionally leading to it falling off the map and the player losing the challenge.
- Cinderella combines this with Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat! when Cinderella was fleeing from the ball:
Grand Duke: Stop that coach! Close the gates!(Cinderella's coach gets through before the doors close)
Grand Duke: (To the guards) FOLLOW THAT COACH! Open the gates!
- A standard device on episodes of The Dick Tracy Show, but taken a step further in "The Venetian Bind" as Joe Jitsu and an Italian policeman chase Sketch Paree and the Mole through Venice's Grand Canal in gondolas.
- In one episode of Extreme Ghostbusters, Janine hops into a cab and shouts, "Follow that car!" The cab driver responds "Lady, I've always wanted someone to say that!" before doing so.
- Played with in one episode of Family Guy. Stewie and Brian get into the taxi with a cry to "follow the truck." After a pause, "Didn't you hear me? I said follow that truck!" Adam West responds, "Oh I heard you. What I didn't hear was please." Please follow the truck."
- In the first Futurama movie, Bender's Big Score, Bender, in the past, hails a cab (driven by Al Gore). He tells Gore to "Follow that guy. There's an extra hundred in it for you if you follow him so close that you run him over." After failing to do so, Gore comments "Dang. That hundred dollars could have bought me one gallon of gas." Complete with dramatic music and zooming in on Al's face as he says it.
- Brilliantly subverted in Gravity Falls in the episode "Not What He Seems" When Grunkle Stan is being pursued by government agents he gives a wallet to a cab driver and tells them to drive as far away from the Mystery Shack (the place he needed to go) as possible and then hides behind a nearby car while the government agents run after the cab.
Agent Powers: Obviously follow that cab!
- Hey Arnold! does one with Arnold and Gerald boarding a bus to tail a mysterious resident of the Boarding House.
Bus Driver: Stand behind the yellow line and get your box out of my face.
- Pictured above is Goofy in his cartoon "How to Be a Detective", hailing a cab to chase a crime suspect. Two more characters follow suit, leading to a four-car chase.
- In the "Adventure in China" episode of Jem, Jerrica says, "Follow that rickshaw!"
- Done in Jimmy Two-Shoes when Jimmy needs to follow Beezy and Heloise. The cab proceeds to back out over a cliff.
- In The Jetsons episode "A Date With Jet Screamer", while tailing Judy on her date, George followed the pair to a rocket ride at the amusement park. After their rocket went up, George jumped into another shouting "Follow that rocket!". Unfortunately for him, the rocket he chose was out of order.
- Looney Tunes:
- In one Daffy Duck cartoon, "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery", Daffy runs up to a cab and says, "Follow that car!" The cab zooms off by itself, and Daffy remarks to the audience, "Keeps 'em on their toes."
- Another old short, "Baseball Bugs", has Bugs call a cab and shout "Follow that ball!" to chase down a long hit.
- In one cartoon, Bugs tells a taxi driver "follow that cab!" But the cab speeds off before he can get in, so he gets in a different taxi and tells the driver "follow that cab!"
- Daffy as Boston Quackie says this in another short where he was chasing The Man in the Green Hat. After the cab drives without him, Daffy screams at him to come back.
- Milo Murphy's Law:
- Referenced in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Last Roundup" when Pinkie Pie calls to "Follow that stagecoach!" as she and the rest of the fleeing Applejack's friends are already in pursuit on a pony-powered vehicle of their own.
- The New Adventures of Superman episode "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?" When Lex Luthor hops into a cab, Jimmy Olson (who's following him) gets into another cab and tells the driver "Follow that cab!"
- Pinky and the Brain: In "Brain Noir", Brain flags down a cab to follow Snowball. The cab stops directly on top of him. Pinky then tells the cabbie to "Follow that car!" and the cab takes off without either of them.
- Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood has the classic subversion:
Wolf: Follow that cab!
Driver: Yes, sir! (speeds off without Wolf)
- In Rocko's Modern Life, "The Big Question".
Filburt: Follow that motor-scooter-bike thing!
- Done at least once in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.