Follow TV Tropes


Handcar Pursuit

Go To

In old comedy films and some classic cartoons, when a scene involves a railroad, there is a chance of a handcar pursuit where one of the character chases another character, also in a handcar usually, by operating a handcar. Usually gets ridiculous with the characters pumping frantically when the handcar is able to catch up with a locomotive or is being chased by one.

In Real Life, the handcar has long been replaced for rail crews with special wheel frame attachments on ordinary cars or trucks which are designed to allow such automobiles to travel on the rails to get to a particular location.

Compare Racing the Train.


    open/close all folders 

  • Saber Marionette J to X: At one point during the episode where the main characters are traveling via train to Xian, two of them marionettes miss out the train and have to furiously pump a handcar to quickly reach it.
  • Pok√©mon: The Series:
    • In the Johto episode "A Goldenrod Opportunity" the new maglev train isn't open yet so Team Rocket escapes on a very slow handcar which is so slow, Pikachu keeps up by just walking casually on his hind legs.
    • The Pikachu short "Camp Pikachu" has the Pokémon chasing after a departing locomotive in a handcar (with some additional boost from Cyndaquil's Flamethrower) so that the Pichu Brothers could continue on their way.
    • Black & White has Ash and co. use one in a subway while chasing down Team Rocket. Justified that they were able to keep pace, however, because instead of operating it by hand they were using Electric-type Pokémon to power the cars.

    Comic Books 
  • Little Lotta has this happen. However, given that the handcar is powered by Lotta, the engineer's concern that they will "knock it off the tracks" is justified.
  • Tintin does this in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. The handcar breaks just as he is about to catch up. He then spots a junk pile and motorizes the car by MacGyvering, but the villains succeed at literally derailing him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Italian comedy Le Comiche ("The Comic Actors") starts with a silent film with two fat men in a handcar desperately trying to get out of the way of a steam locomotive. They escape by jumping off the screen into the cinema.
  • The Crown of the Russian Empire (a Soviet action movie) has the heroine chasing a train on a handcar. She catches up. However, later the villain they've been chasing unhooks the last train car (yes, while the train is moving) with an oil tank on it, and shoots it, causing it to explode. The heroine passes through the resulting fire on the same handcar (and, apparently, through the wreckage of the car itself, although it could've been blaste off the railway).
  • Buster Keaton in The General has about any railborne vehicle chasing any other. (First the hero chases his stolen locomotive by foot, then by handcar and then by another locomotive.)
  • Handcars form part of the chase scene in The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery.
  • Tonto and a bound and blindfolded Lone Ranger attempt to escape from a train on a handcar at the silver mine in The Lone Ranger.
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Max and the tribe of desert children are racing away from Bartertown on a stolen train. One of them looks back to see a horde of Desert Punk vehicles led by Aunty Entity chasing them as well as her chief of guards Ironbar frantically working a handcar and keeping up with everyone. Having been knocked into pool of pig shit last time we saw him, he's so pissed he clearly doesn't need a methane-powered vehicle.
  • Olsen-banden: One of the films with the Olsen Gang wreaks havoc to the Danish railway system. While technically not using a handcar, the scene with the unexpected Intercity (luckily on the neighbor rails, unluckily not from the direction expected) clearly is a nod to this trope.
  • Downplayed in The Professionals when Farden's team escape Raza's base by jumping into a mine cart and letting it roll downhill. They are briefly chased by a couple of banditos in another cart, but throw a stick of dynamite to derail it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dad's Army: The climax of "The Royal Train" involves Hodges on a handcar chasing a runaway train with the platoon aboard, so he can throw them the widget they need to stop the train. Then they throw the train into reverse, and it becomes Hodges on a handcar fleeing a runaway train instead.
  • On an early episode of Grimm, Monroe gets an old drasinine running to get him and Nick up an abandoned spur to the monster-of-the-week's lair.
  • In the Loretta Lynn episode of The Muppet Show, a mix-up leaves Kermit and Gonzo stranded miles from the train station where the show is temporarily set, and they travel back by handcar. At one point they get chased by a locomotive, and unfortunately, they ended up getting hit because they weren't quick enough to evade it.
  • Shining Time Station: In "Queen For a Day", a pair of thieves named Biff and Bull uncouple the Queen's coach from the train pulling it as part of their plan to steal the Queen's jewels, which results in the coach ending up lost in Indian Valley. The next morning, Biff and Bull travel to Indian Valley on a handcar to find the coach. Mr. Conductor sees them and becomes suspicious of their plan.

    Video Games 
  • Arc Angle: The miniboss of the second stage is a weaponized train called the Highwayman that the Arc Angle pursues. When it takes enough damage, its outer armor breaks off and leaves behind an unmanned handcar-looking vehicle, which is still just as capable of outputting Bullet Hell.
  • In Banjo-Tooie, in Glitter Gulch Mine, once you rescue Canary Mary, she repairs a broken handcar and you can race against her on it. Pressing the A button repeatedly causes Banjo to pump the handcar. Winning these races will earn you a Jiggy and a Cheato page.
  • Magical Truck Adventure is all about this; two plucky kids try to get a magic stone that can transport people between dimensions away from a pair of crooks, and the two groups end up chasing each other in handcars through various other dimensions(all of which inexplicably have train tracks) as they try to get their hands on the stone. The game even comes with custom handcar pump controls.
  • A recurring two-player team mini-game in Mario Party is a race between two handcars, where you have to coordinate with your partner to speed up, slow down, and bank around sharp corners.
  • In Sly 2: Band of Thieves, the Cooper Gang must steal a disused cart (with the help of local bears) in order to catch up with a train during "He Who Tames The Iron Horse". It's slightly deconstructed as trying to keep the cart behind the train wears Murray down, especially when a Rival Turned Evil shows up in a helicopter.
  • The climax of the Wild West world in Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! has Max and Buster escaping from an oncoming train on a handcar ... which reaches 88 MPH.
  • WarioWare:
    • WarioWare: Twisted!: Basic Training is the boss game for the Dribble & Spitz stage, and revolves around two characters pumping a handcar cross a railway while jumping over obstacles and fleeing from a huge boulder that is rolling at them.
    • WarioWare: Touched!: One of the microgames consists of pumping a handcar while being chased by another handcar, Wario in his car and a train respectively for the different difficulty levels.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Brain POP toon "Industrial Revolution", Tim and Moby were using a handcar while discussing about the topic. They later tried to get away from a upcoming train when they're inside a tunnel at the end, though it turns out the train is on another line.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Action League NOW! episode, "I've Been Workin' On Derailroad", Meltman, who is riding an electric train set, screams when he accidentally loses his original nose. The Flesh and Stinky Diver, thinking that Meltman is in trouble, chase after him on a handcar, but The Mayor sets the switch to a dead end, causing them to land in a washing machine.
  • The Alvin Show has a bit of deconstruction thrown in. Of course the handcar has to flee from a train sooner or later, but in the end everything, train, handcar, railway, keels over as it was just cardboard backdrop.
  • Around the World with Willy Fog: During their journey across America, Fog and his companions attempt to travel to Omaha by handcar after Fog's decision to look for Rigodon and Tico (who were captured by Sioux Indians in the previous episode) rather than continue on to New York leaves them stranded at an isolated station. note  But, when a train approaching from the opposite direction forces Rigodon to reroute the handcar, they crash and the handcar is damaged beyond repair. Luckily, Fog and his party are picked up by a stagecoach whose driver takes them the rest of the way. note 
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: In "Last Train to Cashville", Fat Cat's henchmen steal a toy train and use it to bring materials to Fat Cat for his bank heist. Gadget builds a handcar so that she and the rest of the Rescue Rangers can track down Fat Cat's henchmen.
  • Count Duckula: In "A Mountie Always Gets His Duck", Duckula and Geoffrey the Mountie travel across the rails on a handcar in an attempt to rescue Anne-Marie, who has been tied to the tracks by Marcel, a French villain on the run, before an approaching train can run her over. Nanny ends up inadvertently smashing the train to pieces when she comes to Marcel with his tea and chocolate biscuits.
  • Curious George: In "The Great Train Birthday", George and Hundley ride a train for George's birthday. When the two accidentally get left behind at a train station, George spots a handcar, which he and Hundley use to catch up to the train.
  • The Dick Tracy Show: Sketch Paree and the Mole use a handcar to pursue the Casbah Express train where a special car filled with gold is in transport. Their efforts are met with diminishing returns after Joe Jitsu (the episode's police officer) gets through with them.
  • The climax of the Donald Duck short Timber involves a handcar chase with Donald and Pete. Things get crazy when Donald's handcar starts falling apart and he has to keep rolling along the track lest Pete catches up to him.
  • In the Animated Adaptation of Green Eggs and Ham from Dr. Seuss on the Loose, the nameless guy used a handcar to get away from Sam-I-Am when the train was inside the tunnel.
  • G.I. Joe have a variant with Snake-Eyes and Shipwreck on a handcar, being chased by Cobra, but they are occasionally able to get its automatic motor to let it pump by itself for some lengths.
  • Laff-A-Lympics had a competition with handcars pitting Blue Falcon and Dynomutt for the Scoobies, Grape Ape and Doggie Daddy for the Yogis and the Daltons for the Rottens. The judges ruled that Blue Falcon and Dynomutt could use their gadgets in the race because the Rottens (a) soldered their handcar wheels, (b) planted a huge boulder in their way (which got pulverized by Grape Ape anyway as the heroes allowed the Yogis to go ahead of them), and (c) were using jet propulsion on their handcar. The Scoobies won, but only by virtue that Grape Ape used too much force propelling the Yogis' handcar that it grounded in the Grape Ape-created hole. The Rottens? Dynomutt extended his arms to retrieve their handcar and redirect them back to the start.
  • Looney Tunes: "Rushing Roulette," with the Road Runner countering the Coyote with a handcar of his own. (This breaks an unwritten rule that the Road Runner should only stay on the road.)
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "Ridiculous Journey", Blacque Jacque Shellacque uses a handcar to chase the pets after they hop aboard a freight train.
  • In The Mr. Men Show episode "Trains and Planes", Mr. Bump and Miss Helpful were using one to repair the damage tracks in their segment. Mr. Grumpy later hitched a ride with them towards the end of the episode after being stranded in the lone passenger car was uncoupled by Miss Whoops, but they get chased after her train and ends up crashing into them. They ended up alright, albeit a bit mangled.
  • At the end of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Last Roundup", Pinkie Pie and Rarity, who were left behind at Dodge Junction, make it back to Ponyville on a handcar, with Pinkie annoying Rarity with her indecisiveness of whether to call it a "chimicherry" or "cherrychunga".
    Rarity: When I get home, you're so gonna get it, Rainbow Dash!
  • In the The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "The Good, the Bad and the Tigger", Sheriff Piglet, Rabbit and Eeyore were using one to catch the train Pooh and Tigger stole, but unfortunately didn't know how to slow it down. They ended up hitting Gopher who ends up riding with them and then finally collides with the upcoming train Pooh was in. Pooh and Tigger ended up using parts of it to repair the train later on.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode Sidetracked Perry and his human partner Lyla chase after a hijacked train using a Handcar.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: Scooby and the gang retrace their path on a handcar in finding the trail of dognappers in "Decoy for a Dognapper." This is after Shaggy and Scooby use the handcar to outpace an oncoming train.
    Velma: (after Shaggy imitates a train horn) We can get along...without...the sound effects...thank you.
  • In the TaleSpin episode, "Louie's Last Stand", Douglas "Dougie" Benson attempts to evict Louie from his island by sending the Khan Pilot Force after him with the help of a document with Shere Khan's forged signature. At one point, Baloo, Kit and Louie run across the tracks on their way to a trap that Louie set up years ago, and the Khan pilot force chases after them on a handcar. Just when it looks like Baloo, Kit, and Louie are cornered, the Khan Pilot Force crash their handcar into a wall, since Louie had yet to build a tunnel.
  • Thomas & Friends:
    • Towards the end of the episode "Haunted Henry", Old Bailey chases after Henry on a handcar to try to warn him about an unsafe viaduct.
    • A few other handcars were seen during the CGI era, such as when Sir Topham Hatt was in Misty Island in the episode "Stop that Bus!"
    • In "Heart of Gold", a pair of thieves steal King Godred's crown from Ulfstead Castle and attempt to escape on a handcar, but Toby chases after them.
  • Tiny Planets: In "Tools, Glorious Tools", Bing and Bong hitch a ride on a handcar, and inevitably spend the next few minutes pumping furiously to stay ahead of an oncoming locomotive.
  • Towards the end of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Sawdust and Toonsil", Buster, Babs, and Plucky manage to escape from Silas Wonder's Wonderful Circus of Wonderment with Gogo Dodo and his friends on a handcar, however, they get chased by Silas' engine when he finds out they've escaped. Just before Silas' engine crashes through the handcar, they all jump off, carrying Gogo and each of his friends.

    Real Life 
  • A variation during the "Great Locomotive Chase" during the The American Civil War (which inspired the aforementioned use of this trope in The General). When a band of Union would-be saboteurs stole a Confederate train, the train's conductor and a shop foreman gave chase, first on foot, then after encountering a rail repair crew, they borrowed their handcar for a while before switching to a series of locomotives for the remainder of the chase.


Video Example(s):


Rushing Roulette

Wile E. Coyote pursues the Road Runner on a handcar, but the bird then gets his own handcar and pedals so that the Coyote's handcar is at the edge of a cliff, giving him a chance to let out a "Beep beep!" that sends his hapless foe plunging down the canyon.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / HandcarPursuit

Media sources: