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Low Clearance

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Bond: By the way, how tall are you?
Henchman: Six-two, why?
[Henchman is clipped from behind by a bar reading CLEARANCE 6']
James Bond "Licence to Thrill" Action Ride

In situations involving fast-moving vehicles or animals (such as a Traintop Battle), watch out for low bridges, tunnels, light fixtures, and branches. In cartoons and comedies, it's for laughs as characters get knocked off with some bruises; elsewhere, it can be rather gruesome to the point of decapitation.

Alternatively, characters will duck, jump off, or move to an awkward position to avoid getting hit. Bonus points if somebody says, "Low bridge!" during such.

This trope is not limited to vertical examples. Also included are situations where tall characters knock their heads while walking through a door frame.

In pursuit situations, especially with aircraft, skilled pilots can demonstrate their skills by maneuvering through a narrow area, such as during an Aerial Canyon Chase, and their opponents breaking their wings before crashing.

Instant Convertible is a Sub-Trope, where the character's car is the victim. Compare Watch Out for That Tree!, Toyota Tripwire, and Belly-Scraping Flight.


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  • A Pepsi commercial showed the (exaggerated) trials and tribulations suffered by Shaquille O'Neal due to his size. One scene had him breaking door frames on his head as he walked under them.

    Anime & Manga 
  • A horizontal variant occurs in Love Live!, alongside a Bust-Contrast Duo gag. Nico is running through the streets, from the rest of the group, who are chasing her. Nozomi is close, but flat chested Nico gets away sideways between two parked cars. The well-endowed Nozomi tries, but doesn't fit. When the other girls come and ask what happened, Nozomi looks toward one of them and sends her through.
  • This tends to happen a lot with Tionishia and other ogres in Monster Musume. Being so tall, having a horn, and tremendous strength, she accidentally plows through the top of door frames.
  • In Pokémon: Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice, Kyurem is about to experience this trope before wisely jumping off before plowing into the mountainside.
  • Happens twice on SD Gundam Force; Grappler Gouf is trying to hijack a train, but is focused on the train that he doesn't see the tunnel and hits the wall. Later on, when he and the Gundams are fighting their Traintop Battle, the same thing happens to Zero.
    Grappler: Hurts, doesn't it? At least I'm not the only idiot around here...
  • SSSS.GRIDMAN: A horizontal example; because Samurai Calibur carries multiple swords on his back horizontally, he has difficulty passing through doors.
  • Captain Gloval often hit his head while entering the bridge of the Super Dimension Fortress Macross.

  • Bill Engvall has a "here's your sign" joke wherein he was driving along and came across a tractor-trailer stuck under an overpass. He pulls over and starts talking to the driver as they wait for the police. Cop pulls up and asks the driver, "You get your truck stuck?"
    Bill: And God bless this trucker, without missing a beat he goes, "No, I was delivering this overpass and I ran out of gas."

    Comic Books 
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones:
    • During a Traintop Battle against a Nazi in #5, Indy sees the approaching tunnel and drops off the side of the train in time to avoid it. The Nazi is not so quick witted and the tunnel impacts fatally with him.
    • In #24, Indy battles a Giant Mook on top of a speeding tanker truck. The mook gets splatted by a low bridge as Indy ducks.
  • In Tintin, the eponymous character ducks to avoid getting knocked off of where he is standing, like the example pictured above.
  • In Wynonna Earp #8, a werewolf standing on the roof of the Black Badges' car gets knocked off when Dolls drives under a low-hanging road sign.

    Comic Strips 
  • The gruesome version happens in Dick Tracy. Selford Depool is crushed to death when the parade float he has hijacked deliberately veers under a viaduct, smashing off the top part where he is hiding.
  • Played for Laughs in this strip in U.S. Acres, where Bo hits his head on a tree limb. Lanolin asks him how many times Bo has hit his head on that tree limb, and Bo goes to his room to count the tally marks on the wall, which add up to 132 in total. He goes back to Lanolin to report the statistics... where the tally goes up by one at that moment.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: As he is chased by the Headless Horseman, Ichabod hits a low hanging branch that swings him up in the air, landing alongside the Horseman. He continues on until he realizes whose horse he's riding, at which time the same branch knocks him back onto his own horse.
  • Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman: Bane is fighting Batman on top of a burning ocean liner in Gotham harbour, not realising the liner is about to run into a bridge. Batman uses his grappling hook to hoist him onto the bridge, which then smashes into the superstructure, toppling Bane into the fire. This raises the question of how the ocean liner would have gotten under the bridge normally, but as it grounds shortly after the liner had presumably drifted off the deep-water channel after the crew abandoned ship.
  • On Hercules, Phil is knocked off Pegasus by a tree branch.
  • In The Hobbit, Bilbo gets separated from the Dwarves when one of the Dwarves (who's carrying him) ducks his head to enter a low passage and Bilbo gets knocked off his back.
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, while he's chasing Quasimodo's mother through the streets of Paris on a literal high horse, Judge Frollo keeps having to dodge wooden shop signs.
  • In Incredibles 2, Elastigirl has to use all her skills to duck the first train tunnel while on her Elasticycle. The second tunnel is so low that she has to discard her motorbike altogether.
  • The Iron Giant: As Hogarth is chased by the Giant, he hits his head on a low-lying branch.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po is chasing villains in a rocket-powered cart, but then goes through a street with a lot of hanging signs and hits his head on every single one.
    Po: Why... [bonk] ...are... [bonk] [bonk] ...many... [bonk] ... [bonk] ...signs?!
  • In Peter Pan, as Hook and Smee begin to row away, Hook is standing on the boat, screaming, "Row for the ship! ROW FOR THE SHI—" and bonks into the wall, while Smee is earlier seen ducking down to avoid getting hit.
  • The Polar Express: Flat-Top Tunnel, into which the train only just fits. When riding on the train roof, the hobo and the Hero Boy manage to get out of the way just in time. The tunnel mouth is shaped like the mouth of a monster.
  • In The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie, Dennis is about to get SpongeBob while atop David Hasselhoff when they go under a buoy and Dennis is knocked off.
  • In Turning Red, Mei in her giant red panda form manages to enter the swinging door of the girls' bathroom despite being taller than it is by leaning forward as she runs in.
  • Wallace & Gromit:
    • In A Close Shave, the sheep are stacked up high on top of Wallace in his sidecar, and have to duck together to avoid a low bridge.
    • The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: Gromit is operating a lady were-rabbit puppet on top of Wallace's van when they go through a tunnel and the puppet is knocked off the roof, pulling poor Gromit along with it.
  • Zootopia: A horizontal example occurs when Jesse barely manages to evade a subway-car, though he has his belly fur torn away.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman:
    • The Dark Knight: Some of The Joker's goons use harpoon guns and cables to snag a police chopper during a high-speed chase.
    • The Batman: Batman jumps off a skyscraper and deploys a wingsuit to glide to safety, breaking himself with a parachute. Unfortunately he's gliding under a bridge at the time and the parachute gets caught on it, causing Batman to have a nasty fall.
  • Little John hoists a rope across the road to knock one of the outriders on the tax wagon off his horse in Beyond Sherwood Forest.
  • Casper: Amber is riding piggyback on Vic as they flee the house. Vic runs under a set of lights strung across the ballroom, and continues to drag Amber across the floor as he runs away.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: When the Mercs are riding the tunnel tram into Crematoria's prison complex to deliver Riddick, one of them is sitting on his legs telling Riddick how he's going to take his Cool Shades once they arrive. Riddick notices the light fixtures on the low ceiling and lifts his legs so that the guy gets his head smashed in. The other Mercs find this hilarious.
  • Darkman: Westlake manages to kill Durant while Durant has higher ground in a helicopter by attaching a hook to a truck and causing the occupied helicopter to crash into a bridge.
  • Evil Dead: In Army of Darkness, while Ash is fleeing on a horse from the camera... ahem... the Evil Force, he gets swept from the saddle by a low branch and falls into a puddle of mud.
  • Played for dark humor in The Hangover Part III, where a giraffe traveling in a trailer gets decapitated at a highway bridge.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: In a pursuit between a Nazi pilot in his plane and Indy and his father in a car, they reach a narrow tunnel which breaks the plane's wings off as it grinds on the road humorously by the car it was pursuing before exploding at the end.
    • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny: During their Traintop Battle, Indy, Basil and Colonel Wever have to drop to flat on top of the carriages several times to avoid being swept off by tunnels as the train speeds through the French Alps. When Dr. Voller climbs up to retrieve the Antikythera, he gets knocked off when a railway signal overhanging the track strikes him the face.
  • IT: In the teaser trailer, Georgie chases his paper boat down the street and runs headlong into a police roadblock. It's a brief moment of comic relief before he meets his horrific fate.
  • James Bond:
    • On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Blofeld encounters a low branch while fighting Bond on a bobsled.
    • Skyfall: While brawling atop a train, Bond and his assailant have to drop flat in when they reach a tunnel, before resuming their fight once they can stand again.
  • In The Kid Brother, Harold has the bad guy trussed up in the back of a cart and is racing back into town. The bad guy manages to get to his feet in the cart, and, unseen by Harold, is working himself free of the ropes, when a low-hanging tree branch clubs him back down to the bottom of the cart.
  • According to the movie, this is where Max Headroom's name came from — the last words seen by Edison Carter before getting clocked by the sign.
  • Played for laughs in Men in Black II when Jay is trying to subdue the giant worm alien in the subway tunnel. He's riding along on top of it and having to duck light fixtures and various other objects.
  • Mission: Impossible: During the climactic Traintop Battle the tunnel ends up nearly destroying the villains' helicopter after Ethan hooks it to the train with a cable. Ethan himself also has to struggle to get back atop the train to avoid being killed by being scraped off the side.
  • In the remake of Narrow Margin, Gene Hackman's character and the witness he's protecting are confronted on the train roof by a Professional Killer.
    Gene: You know what I like about you? You're tall. [train enters a tunnel]
  • In The Rebel, Hancock's sculpture masterpiece has the head knocked off by a low bridge, when it is being carried on a train.
    Hancock: What's happened to her head?
    Porter: 'Ead? I don't know nothing about no 'ead. "One piece of concrete" it says 'ere, and one piece of concrete you've got.
    Hancock: A piece of concrete, that's all it is to you!
  • In Rolli – Amazing Tales, the Big Rölli sneaks into the speeding jeep of Seesteinen and Lerkkanen. As he stands and enjoys the ride, he's knocked onto the road by a branch.
  • Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock barely prevents Watson from running into a pane of glass, or another kind of glass object, at throat-height. When asked how he could even see it, he replied that it was because he was looking for it.
  • In Silver Streak, one Traintop Battle is ended when one of the combatants is knocked off the top of the train by a signal light.
  • Space Jam: During the hospital scene when the doctor and the four NBA players walk through the hallway. The tall players Larry Johnson, Shawn Bradley, and Patrick Ewing smack their heads on top of the door frame and topple over while the doctor and Muggsy Bogues walk through just fine.
  • This is how the bad guy in Speed meets his end. As he and the protagonist are fighting on the top of a runaway subway train, he gets clocked by an overhead light, chopping off his head.
    Howard Payne: I'm smarter than you, Jack! I'm smarter! I'm smarter!
    [hanging light decapitates Payne]
    Jack Traven: Yeah? Well, I'm taller.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier:
    Scotty: I know this ship like the back of my hand. [bangs his head]
  • Star Wars:
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: Mikey accidentally breaks off mechanized nun-chuck arms on the Turtles' truck by raising them in the air in celebration before driving under an overpass.
  • In Top Secret!, two men are fighting atop a train. One of them sees a bridge, and ducks. The other doesn't, causing the bridge to be destroyed. The other man elects to escape rather than continue the fight.
  • The Wolverine features Logan and a few yakuza doing a Traintop Battle on a bullet train, with signs at varying heights that they need to either duck under or leap over; since they're facing each other, the guy with his back to the signs has to watch the other to know which. When Logan has the sighting, he tricks the yakuza into leaping into a sign the Wolverine ducks under.

  • Two truck drivers approach a bridge saying "MAX CLEARANCE 13 FT".
    "How high is our truck?"
    "14 feet."
    "You see any cops?"
    "Nope. Let's go."
  • A farmer has a donkey with long ears, but every time he leads it into or out of the stable, its ears hit the top of the door, spooking it and causing it to kick out. The farmer tries to raise the top of the door frame; a neighbour sees him struggling to cut the frame and suggests just digging a trench instead. "Don't be stupid," says the farmer. "It's his ears that are too long, not his legs!"

  • Generation Kill:
    • During the book's Action Prologue describing a vehicular assault through a hostile town, the Iraqi soldiers string cables between buildings, hoping to clothesline the roof gunners of the speeding humvees. Bravo 2-1's gunner takes a glancing blow from one of the cables, and quickly shouts to the driver that he's OK.
    • In the series, it was a downed power line in the second episode that snagged the gunner, nearly strangling him. Person realizes just in time and reverses the Humvee enough for the marine to free himself.
  • On Gor warriors use giant warbirds called tarns. In defense cities put up tarn wire, almost invisible wire stretched between buildings, which can slice a tarn's wings off. See Real Life below for the Truth in Television to this.
  • In the second Queens Thief book, The Queen of Attolia, Gen is fleeing the Attolian palace along a route he knows well until he encounters a solid plank of wood at forehead-height, which drops him like a stone. Things quickly go From Bad to Worse.
  • Subverted in Raising Steam; in the midst of a Traintop Battle, protagonist Moist von Lipwig is knocked down and his opponent raises his axe for an ending blow, but Moist notices an oncoming tunnel and smugly says goodbye. However, since the opponent is a dwarf, all that happens is that the roof of the tunnel draws some sparks off his axe...which distracts him long enough for Moist to deliver a Groin Attack.
  • Thomas & Friends: The arrogant double-decker bus Bulgy gets wedged under a low railway bridge, while trying to take a short cut.
  • Watership Down. The rabbits are trapped on a punt floating down a fast-flowing river. They near a bridge that doesn't have the usual archway, and Hazel has to quickly tell everyone to move to the water-logged bottom of the punt. One of the rabbits is knocked flying with only minor injuries, but another is struck across the back and dies later on.
  • One of the standard death-defying feats of flying in the X-Wing Series is weaving through obstacles that are just barely wide enough for the fighter to pass. It's mentioned that X-Wings, and to a lesser extent TIE Interceptors, have a big advantage over TIE Fighters thanks to their more slender profile. Some of the obstacles featured have included: Coruscant's pedestrian walkways (in Iron Fist), a forest full of trees (also Iron Fist), and the capital city of Cartaan's love affair with inter-building telecom wires (Starfighters of Adumar).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Annika (2021): Episode 2.1 involves a banker engaging the services of a hit man. After the sting that ends the episode, the banker goes running off, with the money for the payoff still in his hands—and crashes right into a beam over a doorway, knocking himself out. When Michael walks over to the unconscious banker he says "It wasn't even real money."
  • In one of Governor Gatling's stories on Benson, a logging truck from the family lumber mill once got stuck under a railroad trestle. Nobody could figure out how to get the truck unstuck until one lumber mill employee suggested letting the air out of the tires. It worked.
  • In "Amy and Amiability" from the third series of Blackadder, Blackadder mentions that one of Baldrick's cunning plans was to solve the problem of his mother's low ceiling by cutting off her head.
  • On The Borgias, news arrives that king Philip of France died from an injury he sustained after hitting his head on the top of a door frame. Philip was rather short so one of the cardinals jokes that he must have specifically searched for a door that was low enough.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: During an A Day in the Limelight episode focusing on Xander he is battling a zombie while in a speeding car. In the middle of getting instrucions on how to defuse a time bomb the zombie and his friends have set at the school, the zombie's head gets lopped off by a mailbox they zoom by.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: The Victim of the Week in "Against the Odds" is killed when a cable is strung across the racetrack to knock him off his horse.
  • JAG: After they first board the submarine in "Shadow", Harm manages to smack his head on low ceiling support twice within five minutes. He ruefully lampshades this.
  • Power Rangers Samurai: In the last episode, Skull and Spike are hit by a "Maximum Height" sign from behind as they say goodbye to Bulk.
  • During a Traintop Battle in Ressha Sentai Toqger, the Monster of the Week gets his swords broken from lifting them right as the train is passing under a bridge.
  • One clip on World's Dumbest... features a bridge that is so notorious for ruining trucks that try to squeeze under it that the locals call it a "guillotine".

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Some overpasses have signs displaying the clearance height, with an obvious dent in them where tall vehicles have hit them.
  • Not Dying Today have an Advancing Wall of Doom stage where you're in your own truck, and pursued by a massive thresher vehicle several times larger than you. You need to outrun the thresher, and as you flee through a tunnel the thresher, being too large to fit, will crash on the tunnel's upper and explode. Cue the next stage.
  • Railroad Rampage have these obstacles in every stage, given it's setting being on a speeding locomotive. Some of them even knocks you into ravines or carriages filled with burning coal, which kills you via Man on Fire instantly.
  • In Sonic Shuffle, a board-specific mini-game on Fire Bird is called "Sky Bridge". In this mini-game, Sonic and his friends are standing on top of the titular phoenix-turned-airship as it flies under low bridges. They can jump to collect the airborne rings, but must duck to pass under the low bridges. If they don't duck fast enough, then they get knocked off the ship and eliminated from the mini-game. If all four characters get knocked off the airship before the time limit runs out, then the mini-game is over. The airborne rings aren't worth dying for, so if you stay ducked the whole time, you'll be guaranteed to win 20 rings as a bonus.
  • Slaps and Beans have the final area of the first stage, set atop an old-timey locomotive. The game will regularly send low-hanging arches and signs that you'll need to jump to avoid getting hit.
  • Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers has the Industrial Zone stage; you're flying your plane less than a hundred meters off the ground, and occasionally need to descend to avoid hitting arches and bridges or lose a life.
  • Sunset Riders has railway signs on the train level that must be either jumped or ducked (depending on their height) to avoid being killed. They'll also kill any enemies that are standing on the train car when they pass by, too.
  • Uncharted 2 features a Traintop Battle with the occasional signal light and sign flying past. Don't get to a good position to avoid them? Bye bye, Nate.

    Web Animation 
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: Averted; in "Hellbent", Arthur thinks he manages to escape Lewis driving in his Big Badass Rig by going through a tunnel labelled that big rigs cannot pass through, but Lewis manages to bypass it through supernatural means.
  • RWBY: Volume 6 opens to a battle that's taking place on the roof of a speeding train between the protagonists and a pack of Manticore Grimm. When the Grimm suddenly back off from fighting, rising up into the air away from the train, the protagonists are momentarily confused until Oscar realises the train is speeding towards a tunnel. While most of the protagonists just barely make it back inside the train in time, Dudley doesn't quite make it, and his arm is crushed by the impact with the tunnel. Jaune is able to use his Aura to amplify Dudley's so that it can heal Dudley's injuries.

  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In Chapter 3, the arm of a large Body of Bodies monster gets inside a train. It eventually gets cut off from the monster's main body due to the train going into a tunnel.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Aladdin: The Series, characters riding a dragon which is flying just above a river have to duck twice, once for "Low bridge" and once for "Even-lower bridge".
  • Beware the Batman: Batman has a couple of near misses with fixtures attached to the ceiling while on top of a subway car in "Control".
  • A "Wing Dings" Segment of Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines has Dick Dastardly and Zilly sitting on top of a coach being pulled by a train, which Dastardly claims to be his private coach. When Zilly asks him "What about the bridge?", Dastardly says "That's my private... what bridge?" The train then goes under a low bridge, knocking Dastardly and Zilly off the coach, the former of whom says "Oh, that bridge."
  • Dexter's Laboratory: There's an episode where Dexter worries so much about his short height after he wasn't allowed into a rollercoaster ride that he creates some Applied Phlebotinum to make himself taller. His height continues to increase until he's way taller than the average adult. When he's finally on the ride, the screen cuts to black right before his head hits the first clearance.
  • Fillmore!: In "Next Stop: Armageddon", the perp of the week pulls a Train Escape by uncoupling the engine of a miniature train from the carriages, leaving Fillmore behind him. However, he stands up to gloat and takes himself out as the engine enters a tunnel.
  • Futurama: Bender and Hermes find themselves on top of a train while fleeing from Mom's killbots. When the inevitable tunnel is reached, they limbo their way into it, while the killbots aren't so lucky. The tunnel ends up being long enough for them to have to endure eight straight hours of limbo, which breaks Bender's legs (he has spares) and reminds Hermes of his honeymoon.
  • On the Hercules: The Animated Series crossover with Aladdin: The Series, Al invokes this on Herc by taking the chase through "the alley of a thousand sheets." Unlike Phil however, Herc just powers through in spite of Phil telling him to NOT muscle through and use his "noodle".
  • In the opening of Jackie Chan Adventures season two, a Talisman-powered Finn suffers from this during a fight on top of a truck. He lives through it thanks to the immortality talisman, but comes to regret swapping the healing one.
    Jade: Look out! [jetpacks to safety]
    Finn: Yeah, like I'm gonna fall for... [crash] ...Immortality hurts.
  • From the Josie and the Pussycats cartoons by Hanna-Barbera, specifically "A Nemo's a No-No Affair", the villain tumbles into a motorcycle sidecar occupied by Alexandra Cabot. Alexandra pulls on his nose, because girls fight funny. The villain rises to his standing height to menace Alexandra, but a low-hanging conduit fulfills this trope, and the villain is ejected from the sidecar.
  • Kim Possible: "Clean Slate": Drakken confronts Kim on top of the train, and ends up getting knocked off when the train heads into a tunnel.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In "Lighter Than Hare", as Sam pursues Bugs Bunny on a handcar on his UFO, he crashes into the mountain where the train tracks lead to a tunnel through it.
    • In "Boston Quackie", the Man in the Green Hat is interrupted in mocking Daffy when he hits his head on a wigwag and falls off the train.
    • In 1958's "A Pizza Tweety Pie", Sylvester is waterskiing behind a motorboat in pursuit of Tweety through the canals of Venice, Italy. Sylvester raises himself by the tail to avoid a mooring mast, but impacts hard against a pedestrian bridge that's marked "Duck-a you head / Lowla Bridge-ada" (a pun on Gina Lollobrigida, a popular Italian actress of that era).
    • In "Satan's Waitin'", Sylvester is in pursuit of Tweety on a roller coaster. As he raises his club over Tweety, he gets killed by a low clearance taking the eighth of his nine lives.
  • On the Roger Rabbit Short "Roller Coaster Rabbit", Roger narrowly avoids a sign on the coaster warning people "Don't Stand Up", but he doesn't miss the next one, which reads "We Warned You!"
  • The Simpsons:
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: A horizontal example in "Shanghaied"; SpongeBob is told to watch the sides of the Flying Dutchman's ship as it passes close to some rocks. For the entire duration of the gag, SpongeBob keeps calling out "Keep going, you're good... keep going" as chunks of wood fly past him. Once the ship is out, we see that the entire side is gone.
  • Mace Windu takes advantage of this in Star Wars: Clone Wars: He flies at a gap in the skyscrapers of Coruscant and closes his fighter's S-foils to let him fit through. The Vulture Droids following him can't fit, and wreck themselves on the side of the building trying.
  • An actual clothesline is used in the Tom and Jerry cartoon "The Flying Cat". While chasing Jerry Mouse outdoors, a canary pulls one clothesline of a set of four down to chin-high on the cat. Tom gets caught in this trap, and flips over to impact against the other three lines. At this point, the clotheslines behave like surgical wires, cutting Tom into four segments that fall to the ground.

    Real Life 
  • When The Brady Bunch was filming at an amusement park, the producers wanted a shot of the bunch riding a roller coaster, shot from the lead car looking back at them having a great time. Robert Reed, who didn't want to do it anyway, noticed a few places on the coaster where the camera rig would definitely not fit through, and insisted that they perform a dry run (with the camera but without the actors). The producers balked but he eventually talked them into it, and sure enough when the coaster got back to the gate the camera was nowhere to be seen.
  • If you've ever taken an open roof double-decker bus tour, take heed of the warnings not to stand up while the bus is moving — you will have the opportunity to inspect the underside of a hanging traffic light up close.
  • There's an old railroad bridge in Durham, North Carolina, built before minimum clearance requirements, that is just 12 feet 4 inches (3.76 m)note  above the road that runs under it. There are many trucks approaching that height. Hilarity Ensues. There is a website dedicated to the bridge which features videos of the collisions that occur an average of once per month. The bridge has been augmented with several features to protect it and vehicles. A metal bar beam has been installed in front of the bridge to take the blows, multiple signs warn of the height and the alternate path, and there is a sensor connected to a flashing sign to warn that the approaching vehicle specifically is too tall, which also triggers traffic signals mounted next to the sign to turn red. But there seems to be a steady supply of inexperienced movers and impatient box truck drivers who fail to heed the multiple warnings and end up "feeding the Can Opener".
  • Similar "can-opener" bridges with low heights have had their share of hilarious moments:
    • Every year in Boston, the days around September 1 see intense moving activity, as a disproportionately large share of residential leases start on that date (no doubt connected to the freakin' huge number of students in the area). Every year, the city and local universities warn movers not to take their moving trucks along Storrow Drive, a major thoroughfare in the area that often shows up on GPS as the quickest route from Point A to Point B... but also features an ungodly number of low overpasses that result in this very trope. Every year, several movers don't listen. And they get Storrowed.
    • Montague Street Bridge in Melbourne, Australia is famous for this, and has wrecked enough vehicles to qualify for Memetic Badass status despite being an inanimate structure.
    • The Bridge of Stupidity in Saint Petersburg, Russia can claim at least 180 destroyed trucks despite the big banner above it that literally says "Danger! Low bridge! GAZelle won't pass!" And yes, a lot of those 180 are GAZelles. One actually managed to pass, with a completely destroyed cargo area.
  • Low railway bridges are even more common in the UK and European countries. When railways were first built in the 19th century, they didn't need to worry about providing headroom for buses, trucks and lorries. This is less of a problem in the US, where it was more common to build railways at street level.
  • During World War II, Anti-Air defenses could be supplemented with cables either strung between poles or anchoring "Barrage Balloons". The balloons would be allowed to float at a height of a few thousand feet, and low-flying aircraft would run the risk of clipping a wing on the hard-to-see cables. While these obstacles could be easily avoided by simply flying higher, this made the plane far easier to intercept with aircraft or artillery.
  • Incidentally, this is also why pilots are advised to give a wide berth or fly well above radio towers. While the tower, covered in warning lights and painted red and white, is often easy to see, the support cables often aren't, and are easily capable of downing aircraft that fly into them.
  • This was inverted in the Cavalese cable car disaster of 1998, where an American EA-6B Prowler three very stupid Marines were joyriding in accidentally flew into a cable car's suspension cable. The multiple-inch-thick steel cable was severed, dropping the car and killing all passengers, whereas the plane, while damaged, made it home. Not unsurprisingly, the USMC shortly thereafter removed most of them from its ranks via dishonorable discharge and denied their pensions. The single Marine acquitted of the charges due to this incident remains a sore point between Italy and the US to this day.
  • Similarly, it is a very old defensive strategy to string ropes or cables in the path of enemies in vehicles or on horseback, hoping to snag the passengers or even stop the vehicle itself, either by tangling in the axles or simply catching the body of the vehicle itself. Note: Depending on the size of the cable and the vehicle, it may end up slicing through the front of the vehicle and passenger compartment before stopping it.
  • Sightseeing boat tours in many cities around the world will warn you to always watch your head due to boats that are just low enough to pass under them. When they say "please stay in your seat", stay in your seat or else you will be another accident statistic.
    • If you make a sightseeing tour by boat through Berlin, bridges are NOT your friend. If you stand on the upper deck, you stand higher than the boat. Please obey the animator and sit down.
    • Similarly, there is a boat tour you can take on the San Antonio Riverwalk. There are numerous bridges that the boat passes under, but of note is the one bridge that the tour guide has to look out for. His seat is elevated higher, so that he can both see over the tourists' heads to see where the boat is going, and also to make it easier for him to talk to the tourists.
    • Likewise, sightseeing boats in Gothenburg pass under one bridge so low that everyone in the open-topped boat have to crouch down. The bridge is popularly known as "the cheese slicer".
    • In Chicago, passengers on tour boats on the Chicago River are warned not to stand up when going under bridges. The boats are constructed so they will just fit under some of the drawbridges.
  • While a teenager, future actor Richard Harris was delivering a massive haulage truck to Dublin. Being somewhat drunk, he tried to drive under a low bridge in the belief that he could get through if he drove quickly enough. He then unsuccessfully tried to convince a policeman that the bridge was on the back of his truck because he was delivering it to Limerick.
  • One escapee from East Germany drove through Checkpoint Charlie by removing the windshield on his convertible and driving straight under the barrier pole. After the same stunt was repeated a couple of weeks later, the guards lowered the pole.
  • Some double-decker buses in London have been damaged by low trees. One such bus, bearing an advert for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone had the roof cleanly sliced off by a low branch outside the Houses of Parliament.



"Low Clearance" is a thing.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShoutOut

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