Follow TV Tropes


Hellish Copter

Go To
Dang it, lost another one!
"Helicopters only exist in this comic to get exploded. They serve no other purpose."

Watch enough action movies, and you soon realize that the only thing more dangerous than being on a helicopter is wearing a V-neck Red Shirt or being the slutty girl in a Friday the 13th movie. They've been described as 50,000 parts flying in close formation.

Obviously, helicopters aren't quite that dangerous in Real Life, or else we wouldn't use them for anything for fear of them haphazardly spinning out of control and crashing into everything all the time. It just wouldn't be a productive way to get around. So why do they get knocked out of the air in seemingly every movie they ever appear in? Rule of Cool. Admit it, it's just cool to watch one of these things spin out of control trailing smoke, briefly becoming a Helicopter Blender for anybody unfortunate enough to be standing around on the ground in the general area.

It's particularly unfortunate if that helicopter was our heroes' ride home.

This trope is about that prevalent tendency of helicopters crashing in various media, as well as in situations where a helicopter crash wouldn't necessarily be expected. If a military chopper in a warzone gets hit by a rocket launcher and goes down, that's less of this and more of a Short-Lived Aerial Escape—but if half a dozen helicopters get shot down in the same movie, it's probably a textbook case of this trope. If a giant monster smacks the 'copter out of the sky, it's a Helicopter Flyswatter. If a military chopper collides with another aircraft or power lines or something due to remarkably bad luck, then it's this trope. If the chopper goes down because Danger Takes a Backseat, it's this trope regardless of it being a military chopper in a warzone or not. If it's a police or news chopper getting blown up by a rocket launcher over downtown Los Angeles, it's both this trope and Short-Lived Aerial Escapenote , as you'd never really expect that sort of thing to happen.

In unusual situations, such as military choppers in a straight-up fight with aliens being taken out in ways that we would consider decidedly unusual (such as the Combat Tentacles example in the Film section), just remember that Tropes Are Flexible.

The fuel for this trope comes from many sources, but the most prominent of which is likely Rule of Cool (combined with Spectacular Spinning). Iconic scenes of Blackhawk helicopters getting shot down (an actually rare event) in the famous movie Black Hawk Down are sure to have helped this trope's staying power. It also gives plenty of opportunities for various kinds of drama, badassery, and visceral action, making it as much a tool for creators as a source of entertainment for the audience, if not more so.

Applies to pretty much any helicopter or helicopter-analogue (such as tilt-jet military transports in sci-fi films). See also Short-Lived Aerial Escape. No relation to Hellish Horse. Subtrope of Anti-Air. For the armored vehicle version, see Tanks for Nothing.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bubblegum Crisis: Police helicopters more or less just exist to explode every second episode. Fast Karate For The Gentleman eventually proposed that "I'm going in for a closer look!" is in fact AD Police code for "Tell my family I love them."

    Comic Books 
  • Family: Talia commandeers a police helicopter to crash it on top of the Ax-Crazy Silver.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Incredibles 2, the Screenslaver hacks into the helicopter the Ambassador is travelling in. Elastigirl has to take control of the aircraft, and safely land it since the Ambassador cannot jump and swim in the pond below. Understandably, she faints after touching down.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aliens: Corporal Ferro is flying the dropship to pick up the surviving Space Marines to bring them back to the Sulaco. However, she has a hitchhiker, in the form of a Xenomorph which kills the pilot and causes the dropship to nearly crash into the Marines.
  • A nigh identical scene happens in the Direct-to-DVD Roger Corman movie Carnosaur 2. And again in another such film called Manticore.
  • In Arabesque, Prof. Pollock drops a steel ladder into the rotors of the Big Bad's helicopter, sending it crashing into a river.
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! has an unplanned example: A helicopter that was rented for the movie was supposed to land in the background of a scene, except that the tail rotor struck the ground, causing the chopper to spin out and crash. The pilot escaped relatively unharmed, so everybody on the set decided to Throw It In, as it was too good a shot to hope for otherwise thanks to the small budget. Thus, a helicopter that wasn't supposed to crash in a movie still crashed.
    "A flying tomato? Tomatoes don't fly!"
  • The final battle in Avatar wouldn't count (military choppers being taken down in combat) except for what they were being taken down by: what one would essentially consider dragons swarming and attacking them. Particularly for the gunship that gets grabbed by a dragon and flung into another gunship, one of the gunners seeing the other gunship flying at them just in time to scream horribly.
    • Played very straight in Avatar: The Way of Water - outside of brief shots of whale hunting no gunship manages to last more than a few seconds in battle before getting shot down.
  • In the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War, a helicopter is seen spinning out of control and careening into a building because Thanos' Badass Fingersnap has killed its pilot.
  • Fire Birds has this happen to Preston (in a flight simulator) colliding with a set of powerlines after he becomes disoriented due to his inability to adapt to the Apache's monocle display.
  • Not a literal example as it hadn't taken off yet, but in Jaws 2 the shark takes out a helicopter by biting one of its floats. The chopper tilts over and the rotor blades hitting the water disintegrate spectacularly.
  • Jaws rip-off Grizzly had the titular bruin attack and badly damage the protagonists' helicopter at the end.
  • Cliffhanger: Stallone's character takes down a chopper by throwing a bag of money into the rotors.
  • Cloverfield: Towards the very end of the movie the main characters are escaping in a helicopter which is knocked out of the air by the monster. They survive the crash, only to die either from being killed by the monster, or in the ensuing military air strike. Makes for a real Downer Ending.
  • Dante's Peak: Towards the end of the film, the helicopter pilot (along with many passengers paying him to take them away from the volcano) attempts to take off despite the huge amount of volcanic ash in the air. Just as he was warned, the volcanic ash was ingested into the helicopter's engines and choked them up, causing the chopper to crash back to the ground. As a trained pilot, he should have known better.
  • The Dark Knight: A police chopper gets clotheslined by some of The Joker's goons via some harpoon guns and some high-rises it was flying between. The helicopter gets tangled up, hits a building, and then crashes to the street below.
    • Some fun trivia: In Real Life, many helicopters are equipped with blade attachments on the top and bottom of the fuselage, designed to try and catch cables and cut them before they can actually snag on the skids or rotor hub.
    • Also, when's the last time you saw a real helicopter trying to fly between tall buildings? Reason for that too.
  • Deep Blue Sea has a rescue helicopter trying to take one of the characters to the hospital get towed into Aquatica's control tower by the giant mako, destroying both and setting off the action.
  • Happens numerous times in the Die Hard movies, with various helicopters meeting their ends due to bomb explosions, rocket launchers, power lines, and police cars.
    John McLane: I ran out of bullets.
  • Before Die Hard with a Vengeance, the Clint Eastwood thriller The Gauntlet has a mob sniper's helicopter explode quite spectacularly after its rotor blades become tangled in some power lines.
  • Happens many times in D-War due to the helicopters belonging to the Redshirt Army, though their exploding is mostly due to the pilots' incompetence tather than outside forces.
  • Godzilla 1985, Godzilla blasts a helicopter with his breath and sends it plummeting onto a crowded highway, setting off a massive chain reaction of car explosions.
  • I Am Legend: A series of flashbacks show Neville making sure his family gets to the evacuation point so they can be airlifted out of the city. They board a helicopter which safely takes off and begins to fly across the river when another chopper begins spinning wildly out of control due to being overloaded and imbalanced with the vampire-like darkseekers who tried to grab onto the skid as it took off. There is a quick cut out of the flashback just before we can see the two choppers collide.
  • Subject of a brief gag in the Cuban Zombie Apocalypse film Juan of the Dead: The heroes see a helicopter flying in, one of them voices out loud his hopes that it will rescue them, and the chopper immediately plows into the side of a building.
  • The helicopter in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; its poor maintenance is something of a Chekhov's Gun.
  • If Looks Could Kill has a particularly silly helicopter crash where the rotor section detaches and comes after the heroes like a gigantic buzzsaw.
  • Helicopters are taken down twice in the Edward Norton-starring The Incredible Hulk (2008), first when the Hulk throws a piece of debris at a military helicopter during the campus fight, and later when the Abomination brings down the helicopter carrying Betty and General Thunderbolt Ross.
  • James Bond is attacked by helicopters in several movies. Needless to say, they will (almost) always go down.
    • In From Russia with Love, Bond is chased by two SPECTRE henchmen in a helicopter after getting out of the Orient Express in the middle of the Balkans. They throw grenades at him, until he manages to use his Sniper Rifle to shoot the arm of the one dropping the grenades just as he unpinned one. It goes boom inside.
    • In You Only Live Twice, Bond is attacked by several SPECTRE helicopters while piloting the Little Nellie autogyro to do recon over Japanese volcanos where the Big Bad's base is. He uses the autogyro's awesome arsenal (flamethrower, aerial mines, rockets, homing missiles) to take them all down.
    • During the Final Battle of Diamonds Are Forever, Felix Leiter leads an assault of US Coast Guard helicopters armed with rockets on Blofeld's oil rig lair. One of them gets destroyed by an Anti-Air battery.
    • In The Spy Who Loved Me, Professor Markovitz and Dr. Bechmann leave Karl Stromberg's Atlantis base in a helicopter, which unbeknownst to them had a bomb onboard, which Stromberg blows up with a button push. Later Bond and Anya Amasova are chased and shot at by Karl Stromberg's gorgeous assistant Naomi in a helicopter. Bond drives his Lotus Esprit into the sea, activates its submarine mode and disposes of Naomi with an Anti-Air missile.
    • In the Action Prologue of For Your Eyes Only, Bond is Lured into a Trap in a remote-controlled helicopter by a wheelchair-bound villain who's Blofeld in anything but name. The helicopter almost crashes on several occasions but Bond manages to gain control of it and turns it against the villain.
    • In the Action Prologue of A View to a Kill it's a Soviet military helicopter armed with gatling-type cannon. Bond launches a flare into the cockpit causing it to fill with smoke; the blinded pilot then crashes it into an iceberg.
    • The Eurocopter Tiger in GoldenEye. Bond and Natalya Simonova are tied up in the cockpit with the missiles programmed to launch and then turn back and destroy the helicopter on the ground. Bond manages to save himself and Natalya by pushing the Ejection Seat button with his head just before the missiles hit.
    • In Tomorrow Never Dies, there's an extensive chase in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with Bond and Wai Lin (who are handcuffed) driving a BMW chopper motorbike and being pursued by Elliott carver's men in a helicopter (so it's a chopper going after a chopper). They get rid of it by using a street clothesline to entangle its tail rotor and have it crash into nearby buildings.
    • In The World Is Not Enough, helicopter-mounted circular saws, first seen trimming trees to make way for the King pipeline, are utilized in the attack on Zukovsky's caviar factory, and one of them saws Bond's BMW Z8 in half. Before that, Bond takes one heli down with a surface-to-air missile and the other by shooting a gas tank it hovers above.
    • In Skyfall, Raoul Silva attacks Bond's ancestral home in Skyfall with a machine gun-fitted helicopter Apocalypse Now-style, blaring out some rock. Bond then blows up the mansion (he's always hated it anyway) with gas tanks and the helicopter gets engulfed in the explosion and crashes in the mansion.
    • In Spectre, the pre-credits sequence involves Bond trying to kill a man in an out of control helicopter hurtling over the skies of Mexico City. The copter even does several barrel rolls. In the film's climax, Bond manages to plink a twin-engine helicopter a few times with a small handgun, which causes both engines to burst into flames, sending it crashing down.
    • Averted in No Time to Die. The entire pursuing force (motorbikes and SUVs) that goes after Bond and Madeleine in Norway gets demolished by Bond except the helicopter with the Big Bad in it, who then proceeds to kidnap Madeleine.
  • The Other Guys: A helicopter gets taken out by a volley of golf balls.
  • The Matrix: Shortly after their Gunship Rescue moment at the office building, the chopper that Trinity appropriated takes too much damage and ends up crashing into a building.
  • Zigzagged in The Meg. Genre Savvy viewers expect this to happen to the Coast Guard helicopter and then Morris' meg-hunting team, but they survive intact. Then in the climax of the film several Chinese news helicopters get too wrapped up in what's happening below and have a mid-air collision. One of the helicopters crashes onto the deck of the ship and explodes, forcing most of the cast into the water.
  • Mega Piranha. Yeah, let's just say killer animal and giant monster movies really hate helicopters.
  • Averted in Red Dawn (1984). Despite the film being notorious for its carnage, none of the helicopters seen are ever shot down. This includes a Soviet Hind hit by a Wolverine RPG - a gunner falls out, but aside from smoke temporarily pouring out of the cabin, the helicopter sustains no major damage.
  • In Sheena the bad guys' helicopter gunship falls prey to a flock of telepathically-controlled flamingos.
  • Skyline: A Blackhawk helicopter is taken down by a tanker alien using Combat Tentacles.
  • Suicide Squad (2016): First, there's the helicopter the titular squad enters the city in, which gets shot down and barrel-rolls spectacularly across the ground. Then, once they've retrieved Amanda Waller, the evacuation helicopter is hijacked by the Joker and eventually gets shot down by the military, crashing into a building and exploding. A second evacuation helicopter arrives shortly after, picks up Waller... and is yet again shot down, this time within seconds of taking off. None of these crashes are fatal.
  • Superman:
    • In Superman: The Movie, we see a helicopter for the sole reason of having it get into an accident and cause Lois Lane to fall off a building. That leads to a great line in the movie, though:
      Superman: Easy, miss. I've got you.
      Lois Lane: You — you've got me? Who's got you?
    • Superman II: During the army's battle with the three Kryptonian supervillains, Ursa blows a helicopter away with her super breath, causing it to crash.
  • In The Towering Inferno, a helicopter is attempting to evacuate people from the roof of the burning skyscraper. When two women run after it as it's attempting to land, the pilot swerves to avoid them, causing the craft to lose control in the updraft from the building, slam into the roof and explode.
  • Underworld: Evolution has Alexander Corvinus' men's helicopter crash into the area where the final battle is taking place. Towards the end the rotors start spinning again and Selene is able to force Marcus back into the rotors, making him go Ludicrous Gibs. This is a case of Hoist by His Own Petard, as he was the one who pulled the helicopter down by the line that Michael used to drop into the building. Obviously, some Required Secondary Powers had to be in play here for Marcus not to be lifted up by the helicopter when he pulled.
  • Edge of Tomorrow. Rita and Cage find a helicopter with fuel, but can't find the keys. Eventually Rita realises that Cage has the keys in his pocket, but is stalling because, thanks to the "Groundhog Day" Loop, he knows that Rita always dies when they take off in the helicopter. She forces the keys off him and takes off in the helicopter herself, only to die when a nearby alien attacks it. Being forced to watch this causes the hero to undergo a Heroic BSoD.
  • Tom Newcliffe's helicopter comes to a bad, bad end in The Beast Must Die.
  • Machete Kills. Machete is flying to safety when his helicopter is damaged by mooks in a powerboat. He leaps into the boat then, as the unmanned chopper spins wildly out of control overhead, fires a harpoon into it, attaching the other end to a mook who's pulled into the air and the rotor blades — the mook gets shredded, then blown up with the helicopter.
  • Jurassic World: An attempt is made to kill the Indominus rex using a helicopter with a door-mounted minigun. Indominus breaks open the aviary, letting hundreds of Pteranodons and other flying reptiles loose. They swarm the copter, causing it to fly out of control and veer into the aviary dome, smashing through the glass and crashing and exploding quite impressively.
  • Pretty much every chopper in Broken Arrow (1996) either crashes or gets blown up (or both).
  • At the end of the first act of Police Story 4: First Strike, Jackie grabs onto a helicopter, only for it to get blown up by an RPG.

  • A joke in aviation circles goes "If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter and therefore, unsafe."

    Live-Action TV 
  • ER: At the helipad on the hospital roof, Dr. Romano comes a little too close to the tail rotor and loses an arm. For months after that, he avoids the things by hiding out in the ambulance bay when they land, but in the season finale the same helicopter loses control, falls off the roof, and crushes him to death.
  • Dont't get into an air ambulance in Casualty (if you are given the choice). In real life they are common enough that people get to know where they are likely to land, but they've shown up twice in this show... and crashed both times, spectacularly in the last case.
  • Played with in the premier to Airwolf; Santini Air is providing the helicopters and pilot work for the set of an action movie. The star of the movie has an insanely inflated opinion of his own ability to pilot an aircraft and insists, because he anonymously leaked to a popular reporter that it would happen, that he be allowed to do his own stunt-flying. What follows is a hilarious sequence of near-crashes until Hawke, required to be in the helicopter "for insurance purposes," takes the controls at the last second.
    Reporter: [as the helicopter spins wildly but otherwise holds in place] What's that stunt called?
    Santini: Well, doesn't really have a name, generally you don't see that unless you've lost your tail rotor...
  • Subverted on Lost; the second episode of season 4 follows the survivors trying to locate the team of rescuers sent by helicopter to the Island after the helicopter hit turbulence and the passengers parachuted down. They finally track down the pilot and ask him where the helicopter crashed. He replies, "Crashed? What kind of pilot do you think I am? I landed it in that clearing." It does crash later, but only because it ran out of fuel due to a leak.
  • Midnight Sun (2016): One is used for an execution, no less. The first victim is tied onto a helicopter's blade and killed when it starts up.

  • Occurs in The Getaway: High Speed II if the player goes into the tunnel after getting the multiball jackpot; a police helicopter will try to follow you and crash, awarding the Helicopter Bonus.
    Car 504: Where'd he go?
    Pilot: He went in the tunnel—
    Car 504: HEY! LOOK OUT!!
  • The beginning of each ball in Last Action Hero features a helicopter firing on a skyscraper; making the Skill Shot will cause Jack Slater to shoot it and make it explode.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Under the original rules, VTOLs were horrifically fragile units that tended to die horribly the first time they got shot. Under the current rules, they're still horrifically fragile units but they tend to die after being shot two or three times.

    Video Games 
  • Arma has the option to damage vehicles and even destroy them, including helicopters. This includes multiplayer, where a mission can go completely pear-shaped if your helicopter eats a rocket-propelled grende. Shack Tactical features one infamous mission where Dslyecxi single-handedly ruins OPFOR Team's day by shooting down their sole evacuation vehicle, using OPFOR's own anti-aircraft gun.
  • Call of Duty
    • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare: Sergeant Jackson's helicopter, and several others, crashes due to being caught in the pressure wave of a nuclear explosion. Sergeant Jackson barely survives the crash, and lives just long enough to see the results of the nuke before succumbing to his injures.
      • In the mission "One Shot, One Kill", Price and Capt. McMillan snipe an enemy chopper, only for it to kamikaze towards them and cripple McMillan.
    • Taken to Serial Escalation levels in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, where The Squad survives a conventional helicopter shoot-down, only to find themselves fleeing for safety after an EMP blast causes the rest of the choppers to rain from the sky.
    • Actually, it seems to be noteworthy if a POV character climbs aboard a helicopter in the Modern Warfare games and the chopper doesn't get shot down somehow, though most times it's actually the Short-Lived Aerial Escape at work.
      • Subverted in the "Black Tuesday" level in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, where the player character's helicopter take a massive hit and almost crashes into a New York high-rise, but manages to level out and fly away to safety.
      • Although played straight with the Russian Hind the player's helicopter was fighting. After getting shot out of the sky by the player, the Hind spins into the player's helicopter (the aforementioned massive hit), before slamming into said high-rise.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops: One helicopter gets harpooned with the harpoon's cable secured to the side of a building. When the helicopter tried to pull away, it ended up whipping itself around into another building.
  • Chaos Heat have your team radio in an evac chopper right in the first level to provide you a lift, only for a bunch of infected monsters suddenly appearing forcing you to take an alternate path. You fought your way to a helipad outside, just in time to see that chopper of yours ambushed by other monsters and crashing.
  • UNSC Pelicans in Halo time and time again get shot down by the Covenant, usually killing everyone inside (except you).
    • Halo: Reach has a more literal example in the level Tip of The Spear. Towards the end, after taking out the second anti-air gun, a Falcon helicopter carries you and Jorge-052 to the Covenant spire. Upon passing through the domed energy shield that protects the spire, the aircraft loses power and crashes, with Jorge and the player being the only survivors. The crash is viewed in first person.
  • Resident Evil is quite infamous for this. The only safe helicopters are the ones at the end of the games.
    • In Resident Evil 2 a helicopter trying to rescue an officer from a rooftop ends up being shot down by that same officer when he's swarmed by zombies.
    • Resident Evil 3 uses this as a cruel Hope Spot prior to the first mandatory battle against Nemesis. The titular creature demonstrates his terrifying intelligence by shooting the helicopter down with a rocket launcher, prior to attacking Jill in the courtyard.
    • Resident Evil 4 does this not once, but twice! The first helicopter is shot down off-screen, stranding Leon and Ashley for the foreseeable future. Later in the game, The Cavalry arrives to provide aerial support through the next section of the game. Leon (and the player) have just long enough to become attached to Mike the helicopter pilot, when he's blown up with a rocket launcher by Saddler's goons.
    • Resident Evil 6 continues the terrible luck with helicopters. Jake and Sherry are attacked while leaving the combat zone via helicopter, forcing them into a brutal fight that ends with them bailing out over the mountains. And a helicopter is one of many modes of transportation that Leon crashes over the course of his campaign.
  • VTOLs got shot down so much in Crysis that the Warhead expansion had a marine Lampshading it.
  • SimCopter is all about this. Stock up on a LOT of choppers, because you'll burn your way through nearly all of them. A quick and dirty way to lose the game is to use the "RADIOACTIVITY" cheat. Fun stuff.
  • Left 4 Dead: At the end of the first campaign, "No Mercy", the survivors get on a helicopter to escape a hospital rooftop. All seems fine, until the pilot turns into a zombie, forcing Zoey to shoot him, whereupon it crash lands in the industrial county seen in "Crash Course". The exact same thing happens in the sequel at the end of "Dark Carnival": the helicopter pilot turns mid-flight, Nick shoots him dead, and the unmanned helicopter crashes at the entrance to the marshland where "Swamp Fever" takes place.
    • The game either has Alex shooting things at the helicopter to take it down (which includes people), or him flying to the chopper, ripping it up to remove the pilot (if not invading and devouring him), and hijacking the thing. Crashing it later is optional. Alternately, you can just jumpkick the chopper out of the air.
    • It's worth noting that helicopters are game breakers when the player is in one, and you can fly around destroying military bases and hives almost unchallenged in one. Apparently the military could easily kill Alex and wipe out the infected if only their pilots could learn to fly more than thirty feet above the ground.
  • This is actually lampshaded in Helloween 4545's Let's Play of Singularity. After his helicopter is brought down by an EMP, he hypothesizes that a helicopter in a video game has an 80% chance of going down and characters on it dying.
  • Many, many helicopters meet their demise in the Grand Theft Auto series.
    • In Grand Theft Auto III, Catalina meets her end when Claude shoots down her helicopter in the final mission.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has one mission where CJ attempts to take out some rival criminals from a helicopter, only for it to be almost immediately blown up by a rocket launcher and crash in the ocean. CJ gets out okay, but the pilot isn't as lucky.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV:
      • In the mission "Paper Trail", Niko and Little Jacob commandeer a a helicopter to pursue a target in another helicopter until they're far out enough in the ocean, at which point the latter uses a rocket launcher to shoot it down.
      • Downplayed in both possible final missions, where the helicopter(s) involved end up heavily damaged and inoperable but not destroyed.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony missions "High Dive" and "For the Man Who Has Everything" get a special mention, where multiple LCPD and NOOSE Helicopters are severely damaged or destroyed.
    • Grand Theft Auto V has the loud approach to the Big Score, where multiple Merryweather attack choppers are blown out of the sky.
  • In Alan Wake, helicopters get downed twice by birds being controlled by the Dark Presence, rendering them invulnerable to conventional weapons and enabling them to do horrendous damage.
  • Viewtiful Joe. The second mini boss you face in the 1st level is a Black Thunder Helicopter. Upon being killed flies out of control, crashes, and explodes in to large V points (this game's currency).
  • Heavy Weapon has the white non-combat support helicopters that dropped powerups for you. While these were immune to enemies, you could accidentally shoot them down via friendly fire, and if you did, you'd be docked a lot of points from your score. Trying not to shoot them is easier said than done, as they may appear during the worst possible moments when several Demonic Spiders are on the screen.
  • Whenever a helicopter appears in any of the F.E.A.R. games, it is almost certain to go down. It gets especially brutal by the third game in the series, where Alma's "contractions" are accompanied by massive red pulses of energy that swat helicopters out of sky, rip apart the earth, and knock over buildings. The only point in the entire series where a helicopter didn't get shot down or otherwise savaged by enemy fire was the intro to the first game's second level, and the ending to the Perseus Mandate expansion.
  • Lollipop Chainsaw features a rescue chopper in the first level, airlifting various classmates that Juliet saves from the Zombies. A pair of zombies climb up the rescue line and get inside the chopper, causing it to crash. Mood Whiplash occurs as Juliet gives out a particularly ditzy example of And That's Terrible in response.
  • In the opening of Quake IV, the player's dropship is shot down. Then after his Stroggification, the dropship sent to medevac him gets shot down as well.
  • At the beginning of Winback: Covert Operations, the SCAT team's insertion chopper loses control and explodes. Later revealed to be deliberate sabotage by your traitorous C.O. Dan, who was apparently still inside the chopper when it exploded.
  • Saints Row isn't especially kind to its helicopters. If it's on the enemy's side, odds are it's gonna go boom. Especially if the pilot is killed, where upon it lights on fire and goes up in a big fireball upon hitting a surface, killing everyone inside. Heck, one of the first missions of the third game has helicopters shot down en masse by you and and a fellow gang lieutenant.
  • In Double Dragon Neon, after defeating the Giant Tank, the Killacopter inexplicably explodes and crashes into the tank, completely destroying it.
  • In Broforce, you get picked up by helicopter at the end of every level. Certain bros (ones with special attacks that shoot up or do a lot of splash damage) can actually shoot it down, at which point an identical chopper will show up a few seconds later.
  • Zombies, Run! starts with your helicopter being shot down. There is another helicopter crash early in season 3 too, but that's due to mechanical failure.
  • Thunder Wolves is all about helicopters, so naturally this trope comes into play. You get shot down several times over the course of the campaign. Twice, you have to steer your spiraling chopper towards a specific area. You are able to use the wreck's guns and even rockets to defend the wreck.
  • Just Cause: You can literally daisy-chain helicopter hijackings with your Grappling-Hook Pistol, or shoot them down with assault rifles and revolvers, plus the game doesn't really encourage landing the aircraft you use — so if you as much as spot a helicopter, chances are it's going down through your effort.
  • In Fallout 4, Brotherhood of Steel Vertibirds seem to exist in only three states: crashed, in the process of crashing (which happens instantly if you snipe the pilot), and about to start crashing. For added "fun", when crashing they'll automatically home in on you regardless of how you move.
  • In the classic Choplifter!, the player's chopper crashes if it gets shot once, or even grazes the ground.
  • In Time Crisis 2, after defeating the second boss, his helicopter crashes and destroys a railroad bridge in front of the train the heroes are on.
  • Happens twice in Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain. First, while on the way to Belaya Vezha, you are forced to bail from the insertion chopper and recover your gear from the crash site. Then during the Lorelei Salvage Rig mission, Crusher's chopper is shot down by Meta Global gunships and crashes into the rig, destroying the upper deck and causing the structure to take on water.
  • Empire Earth II: Helicopters are extremely fragile and tend to go down in a single hit from dedicated Anti-Air and not much slower against heavy infantry (who use machine guns and assault rifles). However, it reaches Rock Beats Laser extremes in a prehistoric/future matchup, where the heavy infantry of the era (using maces, swords, and spears) are still able to attack a chopper's shadow and bring it down, while light infantry (archers, who later evolve into mortars) are unable to target them.
  • In Final Fantasy VII Remake, during the Shinra assault on the Sector 7 pillar, no fewer than three helicopters happen to crash in the slums and explode, blocking Aerith's path to the Seventh Heaven bar. Much later in the game, the Avalanche helicopter sent to rescue Cloud and company from the Shinra HQ gets suddenly shot down by Rufus's helicopter.
  • Metal Gear Solid V:
    • At the end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Snake's extraction helicopter Morpho ends up getting destroyed when an explosion from a bomb planted inside of Paz sends it spinning out of control, causing it to crash into a pursuing XOF chopper.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has two doomed helicopters in the prologue; one gets destroyed by the Man on Fire, while another gets eaten by the apparition of a flaming whale. Later on, Snake's extraction helicopter, now codenamed Peqoud, is brought down during "Metallic Archaea" by the titular organisms.
    • In both titles, you can end up invoking this during gameplay by calling your extraction helicopter to hover over enemy territory, which guarantees it'll get shot down by rockets or anti-aircraft fire unless (if you're playing The Phantom Pain) you've invested in upgrades to the helicopter's armor or weaponry.
  • Spec Ops: The Line begins In Medias Res with Walker and his squad pursued by a group of enemy choppers, which Walker shoots down one after another with a mounted minigun. One of them ends up colliding with Walker's helicopter, causing it to crash.

    Web Comics 
  • Concerned: Gordon Frohman takes down a Combine Gunship on accident by trying to dispose of a body by throwing it off a bridge. The body gets caught in the rotor blades of the gunship, which causes a hilarious case of Disaster Dominoes. Which is even funnier, because Frohman likes the Combine and wants to join them, being a sort of Too Dumb to Live Villain Protagonist.
  • The Alt Text for this The Adventures of Dr. McNinja comic lampshades the prevalence of this trope, especially in this comic with "Helicopters only exist in this comic to get exploded. They serve no other purpose."

    Web Original 
  • In Episode 539 of Stampy's Lovely World, "Helicopter", Stampy builds a personal helicopter. Two episodes later, he crashes it and is captured because he gets shot down with an Anti-Air cannon built by his Arch-Enemy.

    Web Video 
  • Half-Life but the AI is Self-Aware: Gordon and the science team eventually come across the Mechanical Abomination that is the Helicopter Heap, created by a freak map glitch and consisting of multiple helicopters blended together into something that can somehow fly. Oh, and each helicopter Plays its sound individually, to the point that the youtube highlights include an onscreen warning before we get to hear it.
    Bubby: I hear [God usually does have a plan.] I don't think regenerating helicopters was in it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Helicopter traffic reporter Arnie Pye has crashed at least twice; both times he came back uninjured, even though the first time it was implied he died. "Tell my wife I love..."
  • Futurama: A traffic reporter reports on his own helicopter crashing.
    Jim: I have just been informed that my last words were... "back to you, Linda". [BOOM!]
    Morbo: I HATED JIM! In other news...
  • The episode of The Batman which introduces Green Lantern features a helicopter crash, and Green Lantern using his ring to stop a severed rotor blade from causing any fatal damage.
  • In Batman: Under the Red Hood, Batman takes out a helicopter using an EMP-loaded rocket, and then prevents the thing from crashing using cables and with the help of Nightwing and a giant staple gun. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Seen in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "The Horrible Herd" where a helicopter blows up, probably because the producers seem to love explosions.
  • Family Guy:
    • Played for Laughs: Channel 5 News' Drunk Billy is exactly as good of a helicopter pilot as you'd expect.
      Diane Simmons: We now to go live to Drunk Billy, in the Channel 5 News copter.
      [clip of a helicopter crashing into highway overpass and exploding]
      Tom Tucker: This just in, Channel 5 News copter pilot passed away today. In a anticipation of this event, we've put together a clip package featuring some of Billy's work for Channel 5 News.
      [montage of a helicopter crashing into buildings, maiming pedestrians, and generally causing mayhem]
      Diane Simmons: Drunk Billy will be missed.
    • In another episode, Peter is revealed to have his own helicopter, but he appears not to be able to fly it. As soon as he tries to start it up, it goes sideways, and the blades tear up Joe's front yard.
  • SWAT Kats frequently had Enforcer choppers getting torn apart, exploded or otherwise damaged by whatever the villain was doing and/or the Monster of the Week. Commander Feral's catchphrase was "Bring me chopper backup!" That backup would either be late, or never get there.
  • In Batman: Assault on Arkham, the Joker and Deadshot end up fighting over a helicopter (which would have been perfectly adequate for all the villains if they'd been willing to share) while Harley Quinn (who has no idea what she's doing) pilots the thing. Naturally, they end up crashing into the side of a skyscraper. Though the chopper doesn't actually blow up until it (eventually) falls off the building with the Joker still inside and smashes into the street below. (And of course he doesn't die.)

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


The meditation space

Cheshire decides to pay a visit to Infinity Island by crashing a chopper she stole onto the island's zen garden. Someone is not pleased by all this.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / HellishCopter

Media sources: