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Moving Buildings

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Baba Yaga: Redefining Chicken Walker since the 1700s.

Basically, a building suddenly starts to inexplicably move, but it's just Rule of Cool. Bonus points if it shows anything happening inside during the move, such as rooms shaking, swerving or tilting and objects or even people being displaced.

See also Everything Dances. If it's a fortress designed specifically to move, see Base on Wheels. If it's a statue that starts to move, then it may be a Living Statue. For this trope's much bigger cousin, see Mobile City.


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  • This Halifax advert shows a building being launched into the sea like a ship.
  • This T-Mobile advert shows a guy dragging his house. Another guy is dragging a shop, and we even see a lady inside a moving office building.
  • This trailer for Tony Hawk: SHRED has someone playing the game on the skateboard peripheral... and the whole house starts moving and jumping off of ramps as he plays, ending it with the house crushing Tony Hawk's car.
  • In a UK advert for McDonald's' Great Tastes of America advertising the Tennessee Stack, Chuck is in a kitchen of a house presenting it in the style of a cooking show. Suddenly, the room starts to bounce and shake, disrupting his balance and displacing the objects in front of him. It turns out the house he's in is riding on the back of a pick-up truck being driven across a bumpy road.
    Chuck: What's going on?
    Driver: Sorry, Chuck. There's some kind of bumpy things in the road.
    Chuck: Easy! This is a cooking show, not an action movie!

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, the titular castle walks around on giant mechanical legs, powered by some combination of magic and steampunk.
  • In FLCL episode 1 "Fooly Cooly", when Haruko attacks Naota insde the hospital, the building starts moving around and finally jumps into the air and falls back to the ground.
  • Ohtori Academy is this in Adolescence of Utena.
  • Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl: In the episode "A Staravia is Born!", Team Rocket has a wooden house base that sits on a top of a giant mecha buried underneath. They use this mecha to recaptured the escaped Flying-type Pokémon and because it's made of wood, Pikachu's Thunderbolt can't harm it. Too bad they didn't account for the fact that wood is a lot more frail than metal, which proves to be the mecha's downfall when the ground underneath it gives way.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. The buildings of New Tokyo-3 can retract underground into the GeoFront in the event of an attack by the Angels.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: In Asterix in Spain, as a parody of modern day tourists with caravans, the various tourists waiting for the Spanish border all have houses on wheels, pulled by horses.
  • A classic Fantastic Four issue has the Baxter Building get launched into space like a rocket as part of a scheme by Doctor Doom.
  • An "aftersmash" issue of World War Hulk starring Damage Control has the Empire State Building come to life because it was rebuilt with psychoreactive shadowstone from the Sakaaran invaders. Failing to prevent it from getting up to explore the world, they affix it with a giant hover platform so it can leave on yearly vacation.
  • A classic Strange Adventures cover has skyscrapers sprouting mechanical legs and going on a rampage.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Eastern European folklore and legend, the witch Baba Yaga has a house that can walk around on giant chicken legs. This house has shown up in a number of adaptations.

    Films — Animated 
  • The titular Monster House at the climax uses trees as makeshift legs to uproot itself and chase the protagonists through the neighborhood.
  • Secret Magic Control Agency: Baba Yaga's hut, of course, has a pair of chicken legs on which it can walk around. When Gretel sets it afire during their escape, the hut begins to panic and run about the swamp wildly, before tossing itself upside down into the water.
  • In Up, Carl turns his home into a makeshift airship by tying thousands of ballons to it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Monty Python short film "The Crimson Permanent Assurance", the building remains a building, but it's mobile enough to be used as a pirate ship.
  • Top Secret! Nick Rivers is aboard a train. It appears to pull away from the station, but as we look out the train's window we see that the station has pulled away from the train.
  • In The Jerk, Navin attempts to prevent a car full of thieves from escaping before he can call the cops by tying a rope between their car and the side of a building. When they drive off anyway, they end up dragging half the building away with them. And it's a church. With a wedding being celebrated, and the groom and bride trapped in different parts.
  • Krull: The Beast's Black Fortress flies, floats and teleports at his command. It never stays for too long nor in the same place twice when put down, necessitating the good guys finding a seer who can tell them it's next location.

  • In the novel Bad Magic one character's house has an emergency escape feature where it sprouts wings and flies away. This causes significant problems when the owner is forced to use it, since The Masquerade is in full effect and his house ends up having to land in the Pacific Ocean.
  • The evil wizard's cottage from Book of Brownies can move on its own once the doors are closed. The brownies who get imprisoned in the cottage eventually managed to trap the evil wizard and prepares to leave, only to find out the cottage has moved from the edge of a forest to the beach.
  • James Blish's Cities in Flight novels take this to its (il)logical conclusion by having entire cities fitted with antigravity and faster than light propulsion. The idea of flying cities was later used in a British Airways commercial depicting Manhattan in flight.
  • One of Tanith Lee's Claidi novels has a building with moving rooms.
  • Spellbreaker: The Baba Yaga's hut can be explored by adventurers in order to find a magical clue ), although whomever attempting an entry will need to fight and defeat the crow's foot first.
  • Mortal Engines: In the prequel series, which documents the rise of Municipal Darwinism and the setting's Mobile Cities, various smaller-scale variations on the theme can be seen. In A Web of Air we see the funicular houses of Mayda, which rise and fall on diagonal tracks up and down the valley the city is set in. In the same book, the previously static city of London lumbers gradually to its, uh, wheels and tracks.
  • In Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End, the library at the University of California in San Diego is designed to move under computer control in case of earthquake. At one point, hackers take over the building's computers during a public demonstration, to make the building dance along to the music. It doesn't work quite as planned.
  • In the Discworld book, Witches Abroad, Mrs. Gogol's home in the swamp grows four legs and walks around as needed. It's a reference to Baba Yaga's house on chicken legs, but because it's in a swamp Mrs. Gogol's house has duck legs instead.
  • Maul: Lockdown: This is Cog Hive Seven's specialty as the warden can shift the prisoner cells around till they connect with that of another prisoner. Then the deathmatch begins.
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, Howl's castle glides across the ground with no visible means of propulsion. (Not like a hovercraft — more like an unseen hand was trying to hold it a bit above the ground while pulling it in the desired direction, causing it to smash into rocks or tree stumps, bounce off the ground at times and generally behave as if its motive force didn't especially care either about damage to the castle's exterior or the effects of the ride on the castle's inhabitants. This is actually several clues as to the nature of the castle rolled into one.)
  • Seveneves:
    • The habitats on the Great Chain keep rotating to simulate gravity.
    • The Eye itself constantly moves around the Ring Habitat, acting as a form of transport.
    • The Cradle, being a counterweight attached to the Eye, is essentially a floating town that moves above the surface of Earth. It gets parked in sockets from time to time.
  • Xanth: The brass city has a pedestal with a button on top of it that when pressed, causes the buildings to move about.
  • Life, the Universe and Everything: On one planet, a party was going so well that the party-goers wished it would never end. As it turned out, several of them were rocket engineers. The next morning, the building the party took place in was airborne. It's still going generations later, though the people at the party have gotten steadily more inbred due to a limited gene pool; the rockets are seemingly kept intact by an engineering Cargo Cult, and the party sustains itself by raiding farms it passes over.

    Live Action TV 
  • The World Space Headquarters complex in Fireball XL5 incorporates a control tower that rotates for no very obvious reason except Rule of Cool.
  • And then in Stingray (1964) all of the buildings in Marineville can be lowered underground on hydraulic jacks in case of an attack.
  • CSI had an episode where someone literally stole a house and dumped it in the desert.
  • Norwegein duo Ylvis's show I kveld med Ylvis translation  had two segments Dagens Spørsmål translation  and Tid for Hobby translation  apparently set in one of these.note  They show mundane tasks being preformed (such as setting up a tent and hammock, or replacing a light in a chandelier) whilst constantly losing balance and being tossed about as the room they're in swerves and shifts about, and not acknowledging the inexplicable motion at any point. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Goodies. In "The Race", our heroes enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans but don't have a car, so Graham Garden turns their office into one, after an early attempt to build a car from scratch is sabotaged by an evil competitor.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978):
    • In the scene where Arthur and Ford are first exposed to the Infinite Improbability Drive, they briefly see an apparition the holiday resort of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, where the sea remains steady as a rock but all the buildings on the seafront roll up and down, like waves.
    • The h2g2 building in which Zaphod and Marvin have taken refuge is bodily uplifted by the dread Frogstar Fighters and transported through space to the world of the Total Perspective Vortex.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Widening Gyre, a steampunk setting for HeroSystem, has several Walking Towns. If danger approaches, the entire town can unfold legs and leave the area.
  • Chess: Rooks, represented as towers, are able to zip around the board as they please.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons' Stronghold Builder's Guidebook has locomotion as a feature for a fortress as an option. how fast and what kind of movement depends on what your willing to pay.
  • BattleTech has Mobile Structures, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin: massive buildings built on enormous tank treads. The technology to make them originated in the Star League, and like so much else was largely lost during the Succession Wars. However, Comstar, and therefore the Word of Blake, retained this knowledge. It's largely Awesome, but Impractical since Mobile Structures are slow, impossible to take off-planet, and so expensive that you could easily build and garrison multiple standard bases.
  • Magic: The Gathering has several examples.
    • A commonly revisited mechanic are, "man-lands," Land cards that have abilities that let them become a creature (usually temporarily, though Stalking Stones does so permanently). Art typically depicts a landscape assembling into ambulatory form.
    • Many spells will turn lands into 0/0 creatures with some number of stat-fortifying counters on them (Battle for Zendikar even used this as a named mechanic, Awaken). Some of these cards, like Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi (the guild hall of Ravnica's Selesnya Conclave), depict a building getting up.
    • Eldritch Moon featured the Meld mechanic, where two specific double-faced cards could merge into a single, double-sized permanent. One of these is Hanweir, the Writhing Township, depicting the village of Hanweir crawling across an open field, courtesy of an intruding Eldritch Abomination.

    Video Games 
  • BattleForge: Constructs, a Tier 4 Frost unit, are essentially temples on legs whose tower at the top has been converted into high-caliber magical artillery. They're as slow as a building on legs would be, but their blasts hit hard and will floor even the biggest giants in the game. According to the lore, Constructs were once just rubble scattered by a siege, reanimated in the same way a Necromancer would reanimate the undead from corpses.
  • Double Dragon Neon: Skullmaggedon's dojo turns out to be a rocket dojo and takes off into space shortly after you enter it. This may be your first clue this Double Dragon game isn't to be taken as seriously as the previous ones.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI: Early in, it's shown that Figaro Castle is capable of submerging. It's also capable of moving while submerged, which is how the party gets to the town of South Figaro. After the Wham Episode, it gets stuck underground while trying to avoid Kefka destroying the world, and you have to go into its engine room and kill the Combat Tentacles that have seized the engines.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, Balamb Garden and Galbadia Garden are buildings that can fly.
  • In the Half-Life series, outer walls of combine architecture have a tendency to “walk” and stretch out in a matter that pulverizes and erases whatever was there before, while securing the now flat land for further development.
  • LEGO City Undercover: Blackwell Tower, which turns out to function like a space rocket.
  • In the Baba Yaga DLC in Rise of the Tomb Raider, the Baba Yaga's house is a boss fight. It turns out to be a house with makeshift bird legs on a pulley system, which looks real to you because of the hallucinogen you get dosed with upon entering the area.
  • Most of the major Terran buildings in Starcraft can just pick up and move on whenever they wanted to. In the sequel, the command center can carry SCVs with it as it flies.
  • The final boss of Sunset Overdrive is the FizzCo HQ Building as a mech piloted by an evil AI.
  • The Boomsday Machine from Super Mario Galaxy 2.
  • In Super Mario World, after clearing Ludwig Von Koopa's castle, Mario's pulls the plunger to destroy it, but instead the whole thing lifts off into the sky like a rocket, only for it to crash into the hill in the background afterwards.
  • Warcraft III: Night Elf buildings (which are actually giant, sentient trees known as Ancients) can get up and walk around, very, very slowly. Doing so reduces their armor, but it can be useful (and one level is based on exploiting this gimmick by giving you very scant resources spread around the map).
  • Although they don't move from place to place, the military and prison forts on Gahreesen in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst constantly rotate on an axis, to foil any unauthorized attempts to link in or out of specific rooms.

  • In Girl Genius the buildings in the city of Mechanicsburg shift and slide to new positions, such as two houses sliding together to close and alley full of invading troops or even be launched at invaders.

    Web Original 
  • In the Thrilling Adventure Hour's episode "The Piano Has Been Thinking", the Barkeep's Saloon is taken over the the AI of its doors and proceeds to get up and leave after being jilted in love by Croach, and having its second attempt stopped when the player piano is destroyed. It briefly spends some time afterward as a bounty hunter.
  • Orion's Arm has scrub slugs, buildings (or collections of buildings) which crawl around using a "foot" made of utility fog.

    Western Animation 
  • An instance of this happens in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien where sentient buildings (which later grow teeth) attack Kevin. These were somehow created by Elena Validus using the nanochips first seen in Ben 10: Alien Swarm.
  • Professor Nimnul from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers once invented flying carpets and used them to steal what was placed on them. The Rangers had the brilliant idea to nail these carpets down to prevent this. So, Nimnul turns up the power resulting in an entire mansion lifting off.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "House Call" has a doctor of sound use Magic Music to draw the Bagge household to him because he's desperate for neighbors. It does this by making the entire house rise up on legs built from its foundation and walk over to his house.
  • In the Classic Disney Short "The New Neighbor", after Donald Duck and Pete's climatic neighborhood battle, Pete is seen sitting on the front porch of his house defeated as it is being towed out of town.
  • In Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs, there's an apartment block where the apartments rise and fall, like elevators.
  • Mike, the evil living building in The Fairly OddParents!.
  • The Looney Tunes film "Design for Leaving" has Daffy Duck outfit Elmer Fudd's home with modern gadgets. One of these is an elevator that lowers the second story... which crushes everything in the first story. Also, the Big Red Button that Elmer is warned not to push lifts the entire house hundreds of feet up in the air, in case of tidal waves. And, Daffy has yet to install the little blue button to bring it back down... which he will, with some additional payment.
  • The Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) episode "Campus Commandos" climaxed with Dr. Wily using an anti-gravity ray to steal a government building and carry it off. Mega Man eventually took back the ray to return the building.
    Dr. Wily: Mega Man! That's my building! Give it back!
  • In The Owl House, Hooty is a sentient house that can grow chicken legs to move around, similar to the Baba Yaga's home.
  • Prof. Frink on The Simpsons once invented a burglar-proof house that would sprout mechanical legs and run to a "safer location" if it detected it was being robbed. The demonstration model he built took two steps, and exploded in flames. The same thing later happened to a real house.
    Prof. Frink: [As a 'family' of to-scale dummies falls out of the house, also on fire] Well, obviously the real people won't, won't burn... quite so quickly.
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • One episode has Squidward installing an advanced security system. When Squidward accidentally sets it off, the whole building grows arms and feet and starts attacking Bikini Bottom.
    • In the episode "Secret Box", Patrick says that no one must know what's in the box, "not even... Squidward's house!" And sure enough, the house is leaning in to listen.

    Real Life 
  • Motorhomes. They are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Additionally, the rest of the RV set, including travel trailers, 5th wheels, and the most fitting and aptly named version: Tiny Homes on Wheels
    • Motorhomes don't completely qualify for this trope, being essentially trucks fitted out like houses rather than buildings. Trailer homes, on the other hand, fully qualify. They are small (usually one-story) houses that can easily be jacked up and towed from location to location behind a truck.


Video Example(s):


Flying Mansion

Using his electronic carpets, Professor Nimnul attempted to rob a mansion party. Unfortunately, the Rescue Rangers had nailed the carpets to the floor, so Nimnul decided to increase the power. This inadvertently caused the carpets to raise the entire mansion, which then began chasing Nimnul's van.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / StealTheSurroundings

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