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Ludicrous Speed

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"My brains... are going into my feet...!"
"No, no, no, light speed is too slow! We're gonna have to go right to... Ludicrous Speed!"
Dark Helmet, Spaceballs

There's driving a car, then there's Super-Speed, then there's lightspeed, then there's Faster-Than-Light Travel.

Then there's Ludicrous Speed. This is speed so fast that it breaks your brain, curves your spine, divides by zero, and is in every way inconceivable. After traveling at such velocities, a person is just never the same. It's the Brown Note of movement.

Ludicrous Speed is where during the story, a person will travel at such high speeds that it has a physical and/or psychological effect on the person, usually mutation or insanity.

Named after "Ludicrous Speed!" in Spaceballs (which is so fast it causes a ship traveling at that rate to Motion Parallax to plaid), though the effect there is basically limited to a Non Sequitur, *Thud*.

A cousin of Space Madness, FTL Travel Sickness, and Hyperspace Is a Scary Place. Taking Driven to Madness to its literal extreme. Can overlap with Go Mad from the Revelation if the person discovers something mindbreaking about the universe.

Compare to an Eldritch Abomination which breaks your mind with the mere sight of it.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: When Goku chased General Blue in his jet, they eventually go so fast they end up in Penguin Village; in other words, an entirely different series.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, Enrico Pucci's Stand Stairway to Heaven/Made in Heaven can accelerate the entire universe, giving him the illusion that he is moving insanely fast — so fast that it's eventually stated that only the Stand's user and God Himself can keep up with him.
  • REDLINE is built on this trope. The plot involves a futuristic and illegal auto race across a militaristic Death World, and the racers' vehicles reach supersonic speeds without even trying. Using speed boosters is depicted by having time slow down and the cars/drivers stretching to impossible lengths before launching away.
  • In the Speed Racer two-parter "The Fastest Car in the World", the legendary GRX engine was dug up from its maker's grave. At top speed, a car propelled by it could only be driven safely if the driver had inhaled "V-gas". Speed tried to drive it without V-gas, went insane — or had a nearly-orgasmic moment of fahrvergnügen, we can't tell — and almost crashed. And of course, V-gas has the downside of making the inhaler extremely thirsty — and if they drink water, they'll become terrified of even the slowest speeds (which Pops had to condition him out of, and which killed another test pilot).

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • One of the threats The Flash faces is going so fast that he gets absorbed into the Speed Force, the cosmic force that gives him his power. Ludicrous Speed was also the way Barry was able to visit Earth-Two and link the Silver Age to the Golden Age, as him vibrating incredibly fast in certain places on Earth-One gave him the ability to cross over into Earth-Two.
    • Superman (at least during The Silver Age) can easily reach Ludicrous Speed, which allows him to warp space-time and time-travel.
    • In War World, Supergirl rams through Warworld at such a high speed that she passes into higher planes of existence — while still unconscious from the impact!
  • Marvel Universe:
    • In Avengers: No Surrender, Quicksilver has Wanda and Synapse temporarily give him a boost to his powers so he can un-freeze everyone from technologically enforced freezing. The result causes him to disappear, not unlike Flashes going into the Speed Force. Once everything's over, Wanda and Synapse figure he's out there, somewhere, and go looking for him.
    • Makkari from The Eternals once overloads on energy and becomes so fast that he goes out of sync with space and time, and is unable to slow down at all.

    Films — Animation 
  • A segment of The Animatrix centers on a sprinter who ran so fast he was on the verge of breaching the Matrix and waking up into the real world.
  • Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe: When on a spaceship that accelerates to twice the speed of light, reality is unmade for Phineas and the others. This takes the form of being reduced to storyboards, temp dialogue being inserted for Buford, and ultimately, Dan and Swampy pitching the whole sequence.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Stargate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Granted, it's not the trip itself that changes Dave, but it certainly seemed to affect him deeply. Of course, only the book really makes it clear that ludicrous speeds are even involved, while the film is a better example of the trope...
  • Airplane II: The Sequel. After the shuttle goes to 0.5 Worp, the passengers are told that some metabolic changes may occur due to the rate of travel. Specifically, they all morph into Richard Nixon.
  • Clockstoppers features Hypertime, which allows the user to travel at faster than the eye can see speeds. Prolonged Hypertime exposure can lead a character to age 10 years in a matter of months in continuous Hyper Time. Double Hyper Time (using a Hypertime device in a room that's already in hypertime) is extremely unstable. So unstable that a person is able to pass through solid objects.
  • Conquest of Space: When the spaceship accelerates towards Mars, the entire crew pull Narmish facial expressions due to the tremendous velocity. This was an obligatory trope for any space exploration movie of the time (though it goes back to the silent movie Frau im Mond) to show the crushing pressures of liftoff from the Earth's gravity.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 uses hyperspace "jumps" in this way. A mammal is only supposed to be able to handle 50 jumps at a time. This crew, being what it is, goes for 700, and the Quadrant's already committed to the trip by the time Yondu's able to alert Rocket to his mistake. We see their faces getting cartoonishly warped as they're screaming. Groot, not being a mammal, seems largely unaffected... until after they arrive, he pukes candidly and suddenly, like a baby would.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as Indy is fighting off his Russian captors, within Hangar 51, one particularly large and strong mook chases him into a testing area for a rocket sled. As the two men fight on top of the sled, the launch controls are accidentally activated, and the rocket is sent blasting down the launch track, with Dr. Jones and the bad guy, smooshed back against the front of the sled, the g-force stretching their features comically. After the rocket comes to a halt, both Indy and the Russian momentarily black out and are visibly ill and dizzy from shooting down the track at several hundred miles per hour.
  • In Inspector Gadget (1999), the Gadgetmobile states that he has only two speeds: "'Fast' and 'Whoo! What was that?'"
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Family patriarch Clark Griswold takes his and his cousin in law Eddie's children sledding one evening, and decides to try coating the bottom of his sled with a new frictionless cooking oil that the food preservative company he works for has been developing. When Clark gently pushes off the hill, however, instead of simply gliding down, the oil causes the sled to blast off like a rocket: shooting down the hill, through the woods, and speeding across the freeway into a Walmart parking lot, where Clark crashes head first into a Salvation Army donation bin. Later in the film, as Cousin Eddie is looking through the family's garbage, he finds the sled, with the bottom of it blackened and melted through.
  • In The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter, the Emptiness can travel at the speed of darkness, which is said to be faster than the speed of light.
  • In Queen of Outer Space, expressions vary from "happily constipated" as they're taking off, to "strapped-to-an-operating-table-and-anal-probed" as their rocket ship hurtles (well, wobbles, actually) towards Venus at over a hundred miles a second.
  • Rat Race: Two of the racers for the $2,000,000, Vera Baker and her daughter Merrill Jennings, end up losing their car in the desert and stumble across a press gathering where a team of scientists are attempting to break the land speed record with a newly designed type of Rocket Car. Vera and Merrill manage to steal the vehicle and activate it, blasting off through the desert fast enough to keep up with a visibly speeding bullet next to them. When the car runs out of jet fuel and begins to slow down, the women shakily get out of the vehicle, dazed and disturbed enough to be mistaken for residents of an insane asylum out on a field trip.
  • Spaceballs is the Trope Namer, but is actually a subversion: the only harm that really comes out of it is Spaceball One overshooting Lone Starr by a minimum of several hours in non-Ludicrous Speed travel time (which, while a serious setback for the Spaceballs, isn't physical harm), Dark Helmet taking some Amusing Injuries from crashing into a bridge console when Spaceball One decelerates, and everyone being granted a few minutes to gather themselves after the experience.
  • Near the end of Superman: The Movie, Superman flies around the world backwards so quickly — presumably, faster than light — that time runs backwards, allowing him to save Lois Lane.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Peter uses his mutant super speed to zip Magneto down a hallway. He holds the back of his head to prevent whiplash, but he's visibly ill and dizzy for a bit after it's over.

  • In the Chalice Cycle by Howard L. Myers, the speed limit of Warp depends on environment and ship size. As explained to an alien in Heavy Thinker, atoms in normal space create turbulences in objects moving through them in warp state. Denser matter and bigger warp ships mean stronger turbulences. And those turbulences slow down travelers' souls, separating them from bodies. Long separation leads to insanity, 2-3-second one is considered incurable. Humans with implanted warp units can safely exceed the speed of light in interstellar gas, but manned ships have to move slower to keep the crew sane. The alien Monte is too big to painlessly go supralight. Later, two characters deliberately leave warp in a planet's upper atmosphere to make themselves insane, therefore unpredictable to the enemies.
  • The prototype Haertel Overdrive in James Blish's Common Time has strange effects on the pilot's perception of time — sufficiently severe that it killed the first two test pilots.
  • In Danse Macabre, Stephen King relates an apocryphal story about Harlan Ellison, which he heard at various fantasy/sci-fi conventions:
    It was told that Paramount Pictures had a pre-production conference of Big Name Science Fiction Writers prior to shooting on Star Trek: The Movie. The purpose of the conference was to toss around ideas for a mission that would be big enough to fly the Starship Enterprise from the cathode tube to the Silver Screen... and BIG was the word that the exec in charge of the conference kept emphasizing. One writer suggested that the Enterprise might be sucked into a black hole (the Disney people scoffed that idea up about three months later). The Paramount exec didn't think that was big enough. Another suggested that Kirk, Spock, and company might discover a pulsar that was in fact a living organism. Still not big enough, the writer was admonished; the writers were again reminded that they should think BIG. According to the tale, Ellison sat silent, doing a slow burn... only with Harlan, a slow burn lasts only about five seconds. Finally, he spoke up. "The Enterprise," he said, "goes through an interstellar warp, the great-granddaddy of all interstellar warps. It's transported over a googol of light-years in the space of seconds and comes out at a huge gray wall. The wall marks the edge of the entire universe. Scotty rigs full-charge ion blasters which breach the wall so they can see what's beyond the edge of everything. Peering through at them, bathed in an incredible white light, is the face of God Himself."
    A brief period of silence followed this. Then the exec said, "It's not big enough. Didn't I just tell you guys to think really BIG?"
    In response, Ellison is supposed to have flipped the guy the bird (the
    Cordwainer Bird, one assumes) and walked out.
  • In "Escape!", the robot Brains working on hyperspace travel discover that hyperspace travel causes humans to die (they get better, though), which causes their Three Laws-Compliant brains to go haywire (Consolidated Robots' Brain renders itself into junk, while the US Robotics' one has more personality and develops a mischievous sense of humor). The two characters we see taking the hyperspace jump actually go to Heaven and Hell respectively (somewhat Gilbert and Sullivan-influenced places, due to Author Appeal).
  • Flying to Valhalla, a rather nasty science fiction book by Charles R Pellegrino, features a light-speed trip that causes the characters to become disconnected from reality, reliving their life over and over again, for years!
  • In The Gulf Between by Tom Godwin, a spy steals a prototype spacecraft, but gives the wrong order to the robot pilot and is immediately pressed into the pilot's couch by the acceleration, unable to move or speak to issue the command to slow down while the robot obediently carries out his last order, including helping the pilot stay alive with drugs and artificial implants.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    • The first book mentions something called the R factor, which is a measure of how fast somebody is traveling based on their psychological perception of speed. Anything going at a speed higher than 1 R is going "too fast", by definition, although the actual value of 1 R varies by individual and species. The crew of the starship Bistromath end up traveling at 10^17,000 R, i.e., 10-with-seventeen-thousand-zeroes times faster than an appropriate speed would actually be.
    • And, of course, there's the Infinite Improbability Drive, which has unusual effects on its ship's passengers ("Ford, you're turning into a penguin. Stop it."). Though it might be more accurate to call it pure ludicrousness that gives you Ludicrous Speed as a side effect.
  • In Known Space, looking out of a spacecraft in hyperspace has adverse mental effects on humans. It's described as developing a mental "blind spot" and distorting perception nearby to eliminate any view of hyperspace itself. In one story two people are exposed to raw hyperspace (the hull of their ship is vaporized); they become nearly catatonic, since their blind spot expands to cover the entire universe with the exception of the few objects remaining in their field of vision.
  • The Priscilla Hutchins novel Chindi has an alien spacecraft that — instead of jumping through hyperspace like human spaceships — uses constant acceleration to up to a quarter light speed to take The Slow Path across interstellar distances. Unfortunately, someone gets stuck on the spacecraft when it takes off, and while his colleagues can easily get ahead of him, the problem is matching the spacecraft's velocity once they come out of hyperspace.
  • The gloss on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner says "The Mariner hath been cast into a trance; for the angelic power causeth the vessel to drive northward faster than human life could endure." At this tremendous speed, the mariner went from Antarctica to England in a couple of days.
  • In the Skeleton Crew short story "The Jaunt" which has a future humanity easily colonizing other worlds thanks to a mass-produced teleportation mechanism. The only catch is that any living thing that goes through the transport while conscious either dies or comes through a gibbering lunatic. Ironically, the story implies that this is because the brain experiences everything in the "warp" as going so slow that it takes an eternity to finally arrive.
  • In Sky Lift by Robert A. Heinlein, two torchship pilots must deliver urgently needed transfusion blood to a colony on Pluto, at three-and-a-half gravities of constant acceleration. It kills one pilot, and the other is so crippled he has to spend the rest of his life in a geriatric institution on the Moon.
  • The operation of the Tubes permitting faster-than-light travel in Star Bridge is a closely guarded secret of the Eron Corporation (for which they represent a very lucrative monopoly) and passengers travelling by tubeship are rendered unconscious for the duration. One character goes through a tube conscious, in a space suit. He does not enjoy it, and speculates that in addition to the expressly stated justification of protecting the secret of the tubes, passengers are made unconscious to keep them from going insane.
  • In Star Wars Legends, the sight of hyperspace is said to cause some people to go insane. Oddly, Lord Vader finds it calming. Nil Spaar, the Big Bad of the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy, is ejected in an escape pod while still in hyperspace.
  • A humorously downplayed example occurs in Thud!, when Sam Vimes is so desperate to reach Koom Valley quickly that he bends his rule about not using magic and allows the wizards to soup up a coach. When the magic is activated, Vimes' mind reels as the vehicle reaches such stupendous speeds as 60 miles per hour. In fact, due to the decreased speed of light on the Disc because of the Background Magic Field, he starts to experience visible blueshift at the highest speeds.
  • The Witches of Karres makes occasional reference to the "Egger Route", which can apparently be used to transport individuals across interstellar distances very quickly - far, far more quickly than starships can go. The downside being that it's a very bad trip: the effects we've seen in the series include catatonia for a couple of minutes on the other side (hopefully giving enough time for whoever's there to apply restraints), convulsions for another couple of minutes, and an unwillingness to talk about or remember what was along the route.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of the Discovery Channel's Biker Build-Off had two teams making street-legal drag bikes. One had such forceful acceleration that it dislocated the rider's shoulder.
  • Blake's 7: Our heroes are trying to work out how to pilot the Liberator, an alien vessel of unknown technology, and ask What Does This Button Do? Cue them being hurled to the deck as the Liberator accelerates to incredible speed, shown by planets rushing past and closeups of our heroes with the G-force buffeting their faces. With great effort Jenna is able to get them to stop, and there's some speculation about having traveled in negative hyperspace. Jenna hits another button, and everyone grabs for a handhold... then laugh as nothing happens.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Mark of the Rani", due to tampering, the Rani's TARDIS loses the ability to regulate its speed, causing it to continually accelerate. The force flattens both the Rani and the Master against the wall, and the ship begins to experience "time spillage", causing one of the fallen specimens to begin to grow up.
  • The Expanse: In "Home", the Rocinante has to travel at 15 Gs of constant acceleration to catch up with Eros which is threatening to Colony Drop on Earth. Though they have special drugs that can be injected via their acceleration seats to enable them to survive, it's still a high-risk maneuver that could easily cause death or serious injury from a burst blood vessel.
  • During the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Prince of Space", a time warp has the characters changing realities.
  • MythBusters: Adam Savage's reaction to the rocket sled test for the compact compact myth. "Wow. Holy crap... We've seen plenty of rocket launches, but when the second stage kicked in, I was thinking I've never seen anything go that fast. And then I realised that's correct, I have never seen anything go that fast."
  • After 3 million years of constant acceleration, Red Dwarf finally breaks the light barrier. The shipboard computer Holly, who has an IQ of 6000 (though he has gone a bit senile over the years), finds this situation simply impossible to navigate. As he puts it, by the time he sees an obstacle in their path "we've already gone through it!".
  • In the quietly forgotten Star Trek: Voyager episode "Threshold", Tom Paris travelling at warp factor 10 (established to be "infinite speed") causes him to "evolve" into a lizard man. He then goes mad and kidnaps Captain Janeway in order to subject her to the same experience, which causes the two of them to further evolve into non-sapient salamanders and have babies together. Somehow, the Doctor is able to restore them to normal by the end of the episode.

  • Ninja Sex Party's "6969" contains the line, "The speed of light's for pussies, we're going at the speed of Brian!". For reference, Ninja Brian has shown to be capable of Offscreen Teleportation at his slowest.

  • Bleak Expectations states that in Victorian England's poor understanding of science, it's impossible to travel faster than 30 MPH. Doing so would cause your head to implode. Harry Biscuit decides that he will disprove this by using a team of 150 horses that will, by his logic, be able to travel at 150 times the speed of horse, and he invents a cone shaped helmet that will "cut through the air" to prevent his head from imploding.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Transit Disorientation Syndrome, which affects a high percentage of people travelling by Kearney-Fuchida FTL drive. Most people experience only mild feelings of nausea and dizziness or vertigo that wear off within a few minutes, but about 10% of the populations suffer much more severe symptoms that last for hours, or days if they have to endure multiple jumps in quick succession. A much smaller percentage can also suffer from hallucinations or psychotic delusions. There is medication that can keep the symptoms manageable, but a confirmed diagnosis of acute TDS is an instant career breaker for anyone wanting to serve in the space forces.

    Video Games 
  • In a meta sense, GRIN's overlooked PC racing game Ballistics was often compared to the aforementioned 2001 stargate sequence by critics, as its whole gimmick was being designed for players to go incredibly fast-supersonic fast-all the time. In a strictly in-game sense, the speed of the first speed class in a barely modified machine can be incredibly disorienting to the uninitiated. The fastest speed class in a fully modified racer is almost impossible to follow, best described as a montage of sonic booms, motion blur and primary colors zipping by. Even more amusing is that you can go so fast, the game tends to break — letting you phase right through obstacles that you otherwise would whack into.
  • Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing: Want to drive a big rig at relativistic speeds? You can do that. Just hold down the reverse key for 10 minutes or so. And then release it to watch the rig come to a stop that causes Newton's First Law to blow its brains out with a shotgun. And if you keep doing it long enough, you will reach a speed where the game will register your vehicle as being everywhere at once, causing the level to end since that includes the finish line.
  • CTGP-7:
  • Inverted in Grim Fandango; at the beginning of year four, the lack of speed is slowly killing Glottis. Glottis is a spirit who was created expressly for the purpose of driving cars. This is both his purpose and sole desire in life, but he was created too big to fit into any of the Department's cars, so when you meet him, he's kinda-sorta eking out survival by working as a mechanic instead.
  • Kerbal Space Program:
    • Because the game uses a purely Newtonian physics model, it is possible to achieve faster-than-light speeds using the infinite fuel cheat. However, traveling at such speeds (at least, without using mods that add warp drives) tends to summon the Deep Space Kraken.
    • Similar to the Ballistics example, it's possible to go right through the Space Centre buildings by crashing into them at orbital velocities. Scott Manley demonstrates.
  • This is bound to happen in Lethal League in regard to the ball. Every time it's hit, it goes faster. Hitting it with a Charged Attack will make it go even faster. Combine that with other players smacking the ball as well as you, and pretty soon the ball will go at speeds of 1,000,000 MPH (yep, that's six zeroes you just saw there), making it so fast that no one will have time to react to it and get eliminated. It also causes some really freaky things to happen on the stage (for instance, the empty pool stage will start raining heavily).
  • X Pilot is normally played on a Wrap Around playing area. It is possible to accelerate your spaceship to such a speed that it makes a complete circuit of the playing area in one frame; to other players, it appears to be stationary, but has tremendous kinetic energy. One might say that the ship has attained wrap speed.

    Web Animation 
  • The Zero Punctuation review of Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. mentions that the selection of military aircrafts mainly boils down to the exact design of the expensive, military ass you'll have to stare at all day, and possibly a slight promotion from 'ludicrously fast' to 'there is a mosquito-shaped hole in my teeth'.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: S.A.T.U.R.N." after one of Numbuh Three's Rainbow Monkeys is grabbed by an unseen cosmic being and the team pursues in their Cool Starship:
    Numbuh Three: GET MY RAINBOW MONKEY!!
    Numbuh Five: I don't think I can catch it, it's moving at Warp Factor Fast!
  • In I Am Weasel, right after Weasel and Baboon break the speed of light with their "motorbikini", they break the speed of heavy, and eventually arrive in another dimension.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Divided We Fall", the Flash purges Brainiac from Lex Luthor's body by hitting him so fast that he laps the entire planet with each blow. He nearly has the same problem listed above in Comic Books, as he nearly dissolves into another dimension.
    Flash: I can never go that fast again. If I do... I don't think I'm coming back.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • A Running Gag is that when a plane is plummeting, the airspeed meter usually starts spinning up ever faster, before displaying a message like "incredible, ain't it?"
    • In Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner shorts, with a burst of speed, the Road Runner can vanish over the horizon in a fraction of a second, cause paved roadways to ripple like water, uproot utility poles with his slipstream, and basically defy the laws of physics. Of course, he never studied law.)
    • Taz-Mania has the Kiwi, a tiny, yellow, wingless bird that makes the Road Runner look motionless, it has often been shown to warp space-time itself when running, essentially crossing wormholes when accelerating enough, and at least once it's slipstream dragged reality itself, making for one of the craziest blackout gags one could imagine.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Members Only", Bubbles competes in a global foot race against League of Supermen member E-Male. They're travelling at unheard of speeds and are neck and neck when Bubbles turns on the after-burners and easily wins the race.
  • Merely going to sub-light speed in the Space Opera sketches on The Ren & Stimpy Show can do this.
  • At the end of the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Crusin'", the captain makes the cruiseship travel at its top speed setting that reads, "Wow! Dat's fast!".
  • In Star Trek: Prodigy, we learn that this is the big secret of the U.S.S. Protostar: the ship is outfitted with a Proto-Drive Engine, which uses a literal protostar to power warp drives to speeds and distances most warp engines can't. Its first usage had the Protostar warp 4,000 light years in only a few minutes.
  • In the episode of The Tick featuring space-faring aliens called The Whats, the level of fear produced by Arthur is so great that the Whats' fear-fueled spaceship surpasses the speed of light... into the speed of lint.

    Real Life 
  • Time Dilation alone almost certainly makes the speed of light an example of this trope.
    • Time dilation isn't the only wackiness: The faster you travel, the shorter you becomenote ; at the speed of light, you become infinitely short. If you were somehow able to continue increasing your speed such that you were traveling faster than the speed of light, you would start becoming longer again — while traveling perpendicular to time.note 
  • In the past, people used to believe all sorts of yet-to-be-reached speeds would have dangerous and potentially fatal effects, including people two centuries ago thinking that travel by high-speed locomotive would leave the passengers unable to breathe. By high-speed, we mean 40 KPH (25 MPH), at which speed the pressures would suck all the air out. At 48 KPH (30 MPH) they believed people would be sucked bodily out of the windows. The fear was apparently based less on the speed itself than the belief that air pressure would drop because of it.
    • Which is pretty funny, because by the 1910s, First World War aviators were flying at speeds in excess of 150 kph (90 mph) in open cockpits, and quickly discovered they didn't need any breathing protection beyond a scarf.
    • In the early days of rail travel, some psychologists proposed building tall fences along railway lines — because they thought train passengers looking out of windows could go mad from watching the countryside rush by at unnatural speeds.
  • A less egregious example is the sound barrier, which was believed to cause G-forces high enough to prevent any plane from breaking it intact. Note that high accelerations, or even high changes in acceleration, are indeed dangerous, capable of causing whiplash, concussions, and tearing of the tissues holding the organs in place. As they say, it's not the high speed of a fall that kills you, it's the very sudden stop at the end.
    • Reportedly, pilots who have claimed to have broken the sound barrier in early jet planes said that the jolt of the bang knocked some of the rivets out of their holes. This may be partially because some of those planes went supersonic by accident (steep dives at full throttle in planes that wouldn't ordinarily reach supersonic speeds by flying straight), and the laws of aerodynamics change dramatically when going above the speed of sound. Hence, the planes began to handle very strangely and may have indeed begun to break apart before they slowed back to a speed they were meant to operate at.
    • Compressibility (which even affected some prop-driven WWII fighters, the P-38 most notably) was notable at higher altitudes and high speeds (high altitude = speed of sound is slower). The plane wouldn't be trans-sonic, but some of the airflow would be. The usual result, the controls didn't work and if you were REALLY unlucky the plane shook itself apart (this is what killed Geoffry De Havilland). Changing the tail control surface design finally allowed control through the barrier (where the issue went away).
    • However, even today, supersonic flight is discouraged for general aviation. The planes themselves are built to take the air pressure now, but the sheer physics of an aircraft flying faster than sound results in air pressure being compressed into a pressure spike at the nose, which in turn creates a pressure trough at the craft's tail. Together they're known as the N-wave and are the principal source of the infamous sonic boom. Depending on the air conditions and the aircraft involved, the shockwave of the sonic boom can be intense enough to cause property damage (most frequently broken windows). This was one of the big strikes against the Concorde supersonic liner; it had a nasty sonic boom that raised public ire, so could only fly trans-Atlantic flights with minimal overland time.
  • There is a rumor that anyone who drives a Bugatti Veyron or comparable super-super-car to its top speed will achieve a form of Buddhist enlightenment. There is an episode of Top Gear where James May does just this - you can see it in his eyes. If you want a version of the trope played straight, there was Jeremy Clarkson's experience driving a Formula One-equivalent car. The car was basically so much faster than anything he'd driven up to that point, not just in straight-line speed but in cornering response, acceleration and braking, that his mind couldn't keep up. However, that wasn't his real problem: his real problem was when he realized that in order to make the car behave at all, he had to drive it faster: faster than his mind was telling him was even safe. Think about that for a moment: in order to make sure the car didn't crash, he had to drive it at a speed that would make him think he would. Instant Zen in a car. How many other cars do you know of that behave like that?
  • On a similar note, the Porsche 918 Spyder supercar isn't the fastest in terms of top speed, with a Vmax of "only" 339 KPH (211 MPH), but it has crushed several other records, most notably the production car lap record at the Nürburgring (6:57, with orders to take it easy- to go faster, you have to use a specially prepared race car), and the shortest 0-60 time recorded by Car and Driver magazine (only 2.2 seconds!). Motor Trend magazine also recorded a sub-1:30 lap at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, another record.
    • The 0-60 time has since been beaten by the aptly-named Tesla Model S Plaid.
  • During the high speed run of the TGV (high speed train), whose current land speed record is 574.8 KPH (357 MPH), some people on-board the train felt slightly nauseous.
  • Though "spooky action at a distance" is likely instantaneous regardless of distance, and hence of infinite speed (though the terminology of "speed" is largely irrelevant), should it not be, it's still at least 10,000 times the speed of light.
  • The car company Tesla calls an update to its battery-electric sedan "Ludicrous Mode." Future vehicles will, according to the CEO, hit "maximum plaid."

Barf: ...What the hell was that?!
Lone Starr: Spaceball One...
Barf: They've gone to plaid!


Video Example(s):



[Trope Namer] Dark Helmet orders Spaceball One to go into Ludicrous Speed, rather than lightspeed, in order to catch up to Lone Starr and Barf. Needless to say, it worked too well for Spaceball One.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (59 votes)

Example of:

Main / LudicrousSpeed

Media sources: