Follow TV Tropes


Just for the Heli of It

Go To
Pearl: Eight! We'll come get you in the chopper, so just wait up there with Cap, OK?
Marina: The heli? You think we need it?!
Pearl: There are only so many chances to use it. We can't let it go to waste!
Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion

Sure, helicopters are their own special brand of Cool Plane, but sometimes taking one to get somewhere seems a bit much. Using helicopters when there are perfectly good roads available? Expending emergency resources on a non-emergency, or something less than urgent? Demonstrating you have more wealth and importance than someone in a mere limousine? Sheer publicity value? For some people, the use of the helicopter is preferable or even quite reasonable, for others, not so much.

When this trope is operating, expect someone in-universe to question, criticize or ridicule the use of the chopper. This person may be unaware of all the reasoning behind the choice to use the chopper, or they may simply find it unconvincing, if not outright ridiculous. In either case, they will draw attention to what they consider the absurdity of the thing.

Simply having a particularly spiffy chopper with weaponry/gadgetry (which would fall under Cool Plane) is not this trope. Contrast this with instances where helicopters are expected (media about modern wars) or even practical (say, T.C.'s helicopter charter service in the multi-island state of Hawaii). Autogyros (which are essentially semi-powered rotary wing gliders), despite not technically being helicopters, are this trope, especially since they almost never appear except for cool value. When the use of the helicopter goes horribly wrong, that's Hellish Copter.

Fun Fact: Technically, -copter as a suffix would be incorrect since helicopter should linguistically split into the morphemes "helico" = spiral and the suffix "-pter" = one with wings. This phenomenon of words changing where they are "bracketed" is called rebracketing.


    open/close all folders 

  • A commercial trading service has a customer bragging the service has their own helicopter. Why do they need a helicopter? He doesn't know, but it's a helicopter!
  • In an ad within an ad, we see Michael Bay is spoofing his Signature Style, including having seven helicopters. The people to whom he's pitching the ad have no idea why the copters are there.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, Isumi keeps trying to convince her friends to ride with her in her helicopter as a means of travel, despite the lack of need to use it. Considering this is her fifth helicopter in as many days it's no surprise her friends prepare more normal methods of travel.
  • In the one shot H-manga Lady Impact, a young man is being bullied when suddenly a helicopter lands nearby, and out comes a billionaire heiress accompanied by two heavily armed female companions. The heiress proclaims him to be her future husband, and asks that he accompany her into the helicopter, but when he hesitates, he's knocked unconscious and carried onboard. When he comes to, it's explained to him that he was chosen to be her groom because of his sizable member, and when he still hesitates on account that they barely met for the first time that day, she still doesn't let him weasel out of marrying her.

    Comic Books 
  • In book four of Superman The Man of Steel, Lex Luthor sends a helicopter to pick up Lois Lane and Clark Kent for his yacht party. Doing so isn't exactly legal, but this is Lex Luthor.
  • Superman & Batman: Generations: In the 1939 chapter, Bruce Wayne illegally lands his autogyro on the grounds of the World's fair to help cement his image as a wealthy fool.
  • The page image features the Thanoscopter (a yellow helicopter with Thanos's name written on the tail), which first appeared in Spidey Super Stories #39. Much like Lex Luthor and those 40 cakes he stole, the sheer goofiness of the idea has caught on with Marvel fans, and the Thanoscopter occasionally pops up in other Marvel works.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1934 film It Happened One Night, the groom arrives at the society wedding in an autogyro (technically not the same thing as a helicopter, but close enough in effect, making this Older Than They Think), apparently for the PR value. The bride and her father are not favorably impressed, though Ellie and her father aren't the only ones to find it a bit silly. The bride ends up leaving before the ceremony to run away with Peter, a newspaper reporter.
    Mr. Andrews: Everything's set. Creating quite a furore, too. *pause* Great stunt King is going to pull.
    Ellie: Stunt?
    Mr. Andrews: Yeah, he's landing on the lawn in an autogyro.
    Ellie: [flatly] Yes, I heard.
    Mr. Andrews: Personally, I think it's silly, too.
    Peter: I'd like to get a load of that three ring circus you're pulling. I wanna see what love looks like when it's triumphant. I haven't had a good laugh in a week.
  • In Brewster's Millions (1985), Brewster flies his minor-league baseball team in on helicopters for a press event before an exhibition game he has paid for between the team and the New York Yankees. The coach calls him on it, saying that the team will be tired after the trip which was completely unnecessary because they're just over in New Jersey and could've gotten there faster on the bus. Brewster counters that he did it to make an impression - he doesn't mention that he did it so he could spend more money (to fulfill the challenge to spend a large sum of money and have nothing tangible to show for it).
  • Annie (1982) throws in a helicopter rescue scene that's (for obvious reasons) not in the stage play.

  • Animorphs had a bizarre case: Tobias and Rachel (in bird morph) are following a woman by latching on to a taxi. Then Tobias, for some reason, gets it into his head that they'll lose her if they stay on the taxi, so he flies up to a nearby helicopter and grabs on to the skids, a dangerous act and, as it turns out, pointless, since the helicopter ends up landing at the airport where the woman (Visser Three in morph) was going.
  • The Aunt Dimity series:
    • In Aunt Dimity and the Duke, the Duke of Penford (in Cornwall) provided the local physician with a helicopter for his use. Emma Porter learns of it from the estate mechanic. When she expresses surprise at the idea, he tells her, "Yes, well, Dr. Singh had to have one, and since the village needed him, His Grace got him his chopper." The chopper later comes in handy when the duke's cousin, fashion model Susannah Ashley-Woods is found unconscious from a head injury and airlifted to hospital in Portsmouth.
    • In Aunt Dimity's Christmas, when a vagrant collapses unconscious in Lori and Bill's driveway, the couple bring him inside. Willis Sr. calls in an RAF rescue helicopter to transport the man to hospital in Oxford (in part because the roads were blocked after a blizzard). Various neighbours express astonishment when they repeatedly ask Lori, "Did you really call out the RAF to rescue a tramp?" Peggy Kitchen ("shopkeeper, postmistress, and undisputed mistress of Finch") roared, "In a helicopter! Seems the lap of luxury to me."
  • In one of Dave Barry's fan-mail columns where he asked his readers to name the worst commercial they'd ever seen, one alert reader nominated his local radio station running advertisements for the fact that they had a helicopter.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Downplayed in "The Chopper". When the detectives are working on a high profile case, they really do need to use the titular chopper to get to the suspect, who has a big head start. However, Jake mainly wants to use the chopper because he thinks it's cool.
  • In the Columbo episode "A Friend in Deed", Richard Kiley plays a deputy police commissioner who covers for his friend's accidental killing of his wife and then demands the friend's help to cover up his own wife's murder. Kiley's character tries to make it seem as if an unknown burglar-cum-killer is besetting his posh neighborhood, and at one point he rides along in a helicopter in hopes of catching this person. It turns out the chopper ride was part of the construction of his alibi, plus it made it seem the LAPD was putting a high priority on catching this non-existent crook, and the guy used it in part because he had the power to do so. Before the flight, Columbo actually asks the deputy commissioner if the helicopter was really necessary.
  • Discussed a few times in WKRP in Cincinnati, where newsman Les Nessman wants a traffic 'copter for the station in order to keep up with the better funded competition. In the first episode new program director Andy promises him one just to shut him up. Cut to the third season premiere; clearly Andy doesn't think a helicopter is a high priority.
    Les: You promised me a helicopter.
    Andy: Yes, but that was three years ago and I was lying.
  • Subverted in the Sao Paulo, Brazil episode of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain and his friend hop in a helicopter to fly across town rather than drive. It's set up as gratuitous until Bourdain mentions in a voiceover that people who stick to the street need armored cars and defensive driving courses because street crime and horrific traffic are such serious problems there.
  • On NewsRadio, Dave is looking for expenses to cut and finds that Mr. James, the station's owner, has been borrowing the station's traffic copter for his personal use on a daily basis. When confronted by this, Mr. James feels there's only one thing to do: raise the helicopter fuel budget.
  • In the Get Smart Reunion Show Get Smart! Again! the Cone of Silence has been replaced for top secret conversations by Hover Cover: The agents stand on the roof of a building while three helicopters hover overhead, making it impossible for anyone to listen in. It also makes it impossible for the agents involved to hear each other and they tend to get blown all around.
  • In Succession, the insanely wealthy Roy family habitually spend more money than most people could even dream of on everything — including, from the first episode on, using helicopters for quite short trips. The shot of a small fleet of helicopters flitting from the center of New York to the outskirts for a family outing sets the tone for the series.

    Video Games 
  • In Double Dragon I, at the start of the game, the player characters come out of a garage with a Ferrari in it, while an engine roar plays. In the sequel, they come out of a garage with a helicopter in it, to the sound of rotor blades whirring. Even though the heli is quite clearly motionless, and having it running in the garage makes even less sen— Sorry, Rule of Cool! Shutting up now!
  • For no apparent reason, Tutorial #4 in Everybody Edits starts with the player being urged to drop off a helicopter into the level.
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Your Online character(s) can own helicopters. They can summon said helicopters at will. There is nothing stopping you from using a multimillion-dollar helicopter to do a simple liquor store robbery. On the other hand, as time has gone on and military-grade vehicles have become more common, attack helicopters have become increasingly practical for attacking player-controlled armored columns.
  • Inverted in Left To Survive by B.V., the setting of the game is a Cozy Catastrophe of a Zombie Apocalypse. In one of the info blurbs, it mentions that with so much road infrastructure unmaintained but fuel being so abundant, the preferred travel vehicle for every faction is the helicopter (especially one that's packing autocannons and missiles).
  • As Agent 8 breaks out of a facility just off the coast of Inkopolis in Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion, Pearl suggests taking "the chopper" to rescue them. As if that wasn't over-the-top enough, she and Marina later show up with an entire fleet of helicopters.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in Family Guy where Peter declares "to the Peter-copter" and rides off in a helicopter that looks like his head... before he crashes it almost instantly into Joe's lawn as he doesn't know how to fly one.
  • Played for laughs in The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Jewel of the Aisle". A jewel thief loses a precious gem in a box of Lucky Captain Rabbit King cereal, which he then has to recover from the Powerpuff Girls. Among his attempts to get the jewel back are taking a helicopter up to the roof of their house, getting knocked off the roof by a squirrel attack, and then taking a second helicopter back up to the roof.
  • One episode of Metalocalypse had Nathan say; "Guys, I think we need to build a space helicopter!" He's immediately shot down with "That's impossible!" The band also frequently uses a helicopter the size of a good-sized house to travel with, when they're not using their longship car.
  • Goldie Gold and Action Jack will have an occasional chase scene in Goldie's Big Fancy House, which has hallways big enough to fit the helicopter.