In the working world, there are people who want to do something more exciting to make ends meet. They don't want the fast food jobs, retail jobs or business jobs. They want something more exciting and adventurous. They want the opportunity to be their own bosses. They crave the life of the open road. These are the people who go get their Commercial Drivers License (CDL for short) and get behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler truck and trailer to transport goods around the country. These are the people that become truckers. The life of a trucker can be quite exhilarating. Going from city to city, state to state, seeing all the sights around the city, as well as meeting new and interesting people. And all in their own Big Badass Rig. While the job is a great way to see the country as well as the freedom of the open road, it too has its own drawbacks like any other career.
Like any other job, there are still deadlines to be met; to have the cargo get to its proper destination on time, so the driver can't really stop for too long to dilly-dally. On top of this, a trucking career is definitely a test of endurance, both within the driver and the vehicle. Driving in any type of vehicle requires sharp awareness of surroundings, and as one can imagine, being behind a vehicle for long periods of time can become mentally wearing. There's something called "white line fever", where drivers fall in the pattern of focusing on the lines of the road and following the trail as they need to go. Something that can be dangerous, as it causes the driver to lose focus of their surroundings. And being up for long periods of time put drivers at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel, more often than not having them trying to stay awake with coffee or caffeine pills, something that's quite ineffective as while the brain may still be awake, the awareness doesn't get any better as the one antidote for that is getting a good night's sleep. And driving in a big vehicle especially requires great care, as it can easily cause great damage if not careful. Drivers need to be gentle when making tight turns and leaving spaces for other vehicles. And that's not going into the dangers that ice road truckers go into.
On top of this, it can especially be a strain on drivers that have families. Being gone for days, weeks and sometimes months at a time can be hard on those who have spouses or children. While the drivers are out on the road, life goes on. They can miss important developments in their lives as they all grow up. The relationships can even deteriorate due to not being there in their lives. And in worse cases, the families can even grow apart and split up. On top of this, unless they have someone riding with them, such as a family member, friend or even a fellow trucker, it is often a job that can leave one very lonely. All of this is Truth in Television, as many a real life trucker can attest to. Additionally, for a long time truck driving was physically very demanding, before the introduction of power steering and semi-automatic or automatic gearboxes.
A Sister Trope to Road Trip Plot. Can definitely fall into New Job Episode plots. Unrelated to Truck Driver's Gear Change, although songs about trucking can certainly have it. Compare Space Trucker, which is Hard Truckin'... IN SPACE!!!
- Ginrai of Transformers: Super-God Masterforce left Japan and moved to the US to become one of these. Amusingly, his transtector body matches that of Optimus Prime, so he can turn into a truck as well.
- A Chick tract from 1978 (coinciding with the popularity of trucker culture) titled "The Sissy" in which the main characters are truckersnote
- InSecurity: Sedine used to be a trucker back before she got married to Roy. One arc revolved around her taking it up again with Charlene to provide Ellie some financial support.
- Black Dog centers around Jack, a former truck driver who was recently released from prison after a manslaughter charge, which ended up costing him his CDL. He gets another chance at trucking when he's tasked to run a load. But unknown to him, he's illegally running guns.
- Breaker! Breaker! features Chuck Norris as J.D., a truck who sets out to investigate the disappearance of his younger brother by a corrupt lawman and he sets off to rescue him.
- Convoy is a film that's based on the novelty song "Convoy" by C.W. McCall. The story features a trucker who goes by the name "Rubber Duck" who gets fed up with a corrupt sheriff who often extorts money out of truckers after he threatens to arrest one of the truckers who simply wants to go home to his pregnant wife. The truckers try to escape the sheriff and on the run, as news spreads throughout, other truckers align themselves with Rubber Duck's trio, forming a "convoy".
- The Great Smokey Roadblock has Henry Fonda as an aging and ill trucker who gets his rig repossessed and intended to make one last perfect cross-country run, steals back his truck and with the help of various people, is intent on making that trip.
- Hell Drivers is a British film noir about tough truck drivers. The distances aren't as long as in the US, but the schedules are punishing, made worse by violent feuding among the drivers and corruption in the haulage company.
- Netflix original The Ice Road covers a convoy of truckers transporting the equipment to rescue a group of trapped miners in Canada, taking an extremely dangerous route over a frozen lake to make it before they suffocate. And complicated by a corrupt VP who wants the miners to die.
- Over the Top is a movie with Sylvester Stallone as a trucker who also dabbles in arm wrestling as a way to make extra money. After his estranged wife falls ill, he goes and finds his son and go out on the road, where they eventually bond. But complications arise when the boy's grandfather, who hates his father's guts, try to take the grandson back for himself.
- Perhaps one of the most-well known trucking movies to come out at the peak of trucking culture in the 1970s is Smokey and the Bandit, which happens to be the second-highest grossing film the year it was released, right behind a certain sci-fi movie. In it, Bo "Bandit" Darville and Cledus "Snowman" Snow are bootleggers who attempt to illegally transport 400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana to Atlanta. The titular Bandit drives a Pontiac Trans Am to distract law enforcement. The film would spawn several sequels.
- Trucker is a 2008 film about a woman trucker who gets her son left on her doorstep, whom she abandoned and his father years ago so she can pursue trucking, but now with the father ill with cancer, he has no choice but to leave the son with her. And the film explores their relationship as she learns to be a mother for him.
- White Line Fever is a 1975 movie about a trucker named Carrol Jo Hummer, who's returned from Vietnam, who becomes a trucker and hopes to start a family. But Carrol finds himself dealing with corruption in the business, which is run by racketeers who threaten his and his wife's lives.
- B.J. and the Bear has Billie Joe (B.J.) McCay, a trucker who goes on several adventures with his pet chimpanzee, Bear, who's named after Paul "Bear" Bryant, former football coach for the Alamaba Crimson Tide.
- Movin' On was a series airing on NBC in the 1970s (again during the time of the 1970s trucking culture) that centers around truckers Sonny Pruitt and Will Chandler and their adventures on the road.
- The reality series Ice Road Truckers features the risks that ice road truckers face when driving on frozen lakes that double as roads in Canada and Alaska. Taken Up to Eleven in the spin-off series IRT: Deadliest Roads, with drivers braving more narrow and treacherous roads and elements in the Himalayas and in South America.
- Parodied in Not the Nine O'Clock News with the song "I Like Trucking".
- Played for laughs in several episodes of Roseanne when Jackie becomes a trucker for a brief time. One episode has her letting Roseanne tag along on a run, forcing them to share a VERY small sleeping space together. In another she's having trouble dealing with the loneliness:
Jackie: First time hauling livestock. Stunk like Hell, but at least there was someone to talk to.
- The reality show Shipping Wars follows a handful of truck drivers who ship unusual cargo. Many things can and do go wrong for the drivers, such as the trucks being too big to fit under bridges, the trucks breaking down, the cargo breaking during the drive or during loading/unloading, and more. These setbacks are usually Played for Laughs a little, but it's still clear that they can be genuinely frustrating to the drivers.
- Superstore: In "District Manager," Glenn allows Myrtle to do anything she wants before he's forced to fire her. She eventually admits she always wanted to drive a delivery truck. When the very small and very old woman gets in the drivers' seat, as excited as she is, all she can manage to do is drive around in circles, at one point crushing the truck into Glenn's car. The truck eventually falls on its side in the parking lot (she comes out unscathed though).
Myrtle: Yep. Breaker 1-9. This is Myrtle the Turtle saying, keep it groovy.Radio Voice: Get off this channel.
- The Garth Brooks song "Papa Loved Mama" showcased the side of the trucker's life that strains the familial life. Told from the perspective of a trucker's son, his trucker father discovered his wife having an affair with another man, leading him to ram his trucker into the hotel the wife was sleeping in, killing her and sending the father to prison.
- Australian group Cold Chisel had a song called "Shipping Steel" about the life of a truck driver; after going solo, lead singer Jimmy Barnes released the song "Driving Wheels", which was also about the life of a truck driver.
- A popular novelty song released during the 1970s (where trucking culture was popular) was the song "Convoy" by C.W. McCall, which was about a truck who drives non-stop from the West Coast to the East Coast, while protesting some of the legal requirements truckers face (such as tearing up logs that truckers are required to fill out as they can drive so many hours a day). It even has CB Radio chatter, as done by McCall.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic has "Truck Drivin' Song" where he sings with a low, deep voice about his job as a truck driver...and wearing women's clothing.
- Spoofed by Frank Zappa with his song "Truck Driver Divorce", about how their wives are often screwing around on them while they're busy hauling a load of string beans to Utah.
- Ronnie Milsap's "Prisoner of the Highway" portrays its truck driving protagonist as being "imprisoned by the freedom of the road", pulling all-nighters to get his job done.
- David Lynn Jones' "Bonnie Jean (Little Sister)" is about his actual sister, a female truck driver, and the added pressure she has as a woman in a job largely perceived as a man's.
- "Six Days on the Road", which has been recorded by Dave Dudley, Steve Earle, and Sawyer Brown, is about a trucker who can't wait to finish his current run in order to get home to his family.
- Big Mutha Truckers takes place in Hick State County, with Ma Jackson retiring from the family business. She has her children (Cletus, Earl, Rawkus, and Bobbie-Sue) compete by running loads, causing destruction and competing in races to earn money. After 60 days, the sibling with the most money will inherit the family business. Would later receive a sequel, Big Mutha Truckers 2: Truck Me Harder, with the kids having to free Ma after being sent to jail.
- Eighteen Wheeler American Pro Trucker is an arcade game that challenges a player to carry cargo across various stages depicting cities between New York and San Francisco. Players have to account for the physics of the trailer they're carrying and avoid damaging it too much to affect their score. Besides the usual Western six-wheeled trucks, the game also had the unlockable Nippon Maru, a Japanese Dekatora.
- Euro Truck Simulator (and its sequel European Truck Simulator 2) and its sister game American Truck Simulator from SCS Software has players taking control of a truck and taking loads to their destinations. The player upgrades their abilities and trucks and can even buy out garages and purchase more trucks and hire drivers to take loads, also making it a business simulator game.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Downplayed in how trucking is not the main focus of the game, but there are Trucking side-missions where CJ takes control of a semi and hauls loads to various destinations, within a time limit and/or making sure the load is in good condition. Later missions have CJ hauling illegal goods, where he starts off with a Wanted Level and having to deal with law enforcement pursuing him.
- The Hard Truck series started off as a truck-racing game, which would add running cargo in the sequel. Later on, the series would receive a spin-off series, 18 Wheels of Steel, made by the aforementioned SCS Software, that completely shifted focus on cargo transportation, as well as business simulation. The series would see releases of several installments. Hard Truck would have another spin-off, Hard Truck Apocalypse, which took the series in a different direction; taking place in a world after the apolcalypse, with the driver trading goods as well as participating in vehicular combat.
- Rig 'N' Roll was a PC game released in 2010 focusing on trucking and business simulation, taking on loads and delivering them to their destinations within a time limit as well as players being able to interact with NPCs and doing side-quests.
- Travis Grady of the Silent Hill series is a trucker by profession. In 0rigins, taking a shortcut while on a job is what brings him back to Silent Hill, and by the events of the fifth game, set several decades later, he's still truckin'.
- SnowRunner relies on big trucks for most of the deliveries. (A Scout truck might be sufficient. Might.) While a large number of deliveries can be made using just a frame add-on, trailers are absolutely required in some cases. In other cases, the trailer itself is the delivery.
- The game Truck Driver, which was released on the PS4, X-Box One and Steam, has players taking control of a trucker that works for various bosses and hauls several loads for them, with the options to buy and upgrade trucks.
- The Critic: A New Job Episode where Jay quits Coming Attractions and becomes a trucker, where he makes difficult runs that earn the respect of other truckers and only quits the job at the urging of the other truckers as they need a film critic to tell them what movies to watch or skip.
- King of the Hill: "Livin' On Reds, Vitamin C And Propane" is a Christmas Episode where Hank's mother inherits furniture from a deceased friend. But she can't take it with her as she lives in Arizona. Hank rents out a truck-and-trailer, as he and Bobby deliver the furniture to his mother. Unknown to them, Bill, Dale and Boomhauer stow away with them.
- Phineas and Ferb: "Delivery of Destiny" is about a delivery trucker named Paul delivering tools to the main characters around the Tri-State Area and learning the responsibility of being a delivery guy (or a "mobile logistics technician" as he calls it). He saves the day by delivering tools to Perry so he can escape a trap, riding along Phineas and Ferb's newly-built track along the way.
- Also the episode "Suddenly Suzy" has the song, "Mobile Mammal" that incorporates this trope with Perry driving a semi-truck.
- The Simpsons: In "Maximum Homerdrive", Homer competes in a steak-eating contest with a trucker named Red Barclay. Red wins the contest but dies from beef poisoning. Homer and Bart takes over Red's route, where they find out a trucker's secret: boxes that actually drive the trucks themselves, something the lazy truckers take advantage of here.