Mr. Parker: You'll find it so.
Out of all the cabs in all the city, the Hero, his significant other, or another important person will invariably get on the one that the villain is driving. If they're particularly alert, they might notice they aren't headed to the park before the villain reveals himself and uses Knockout Gas or locks all the doors from the front of the vehicle. (They never notice before they enter the car.)
As anyone who lives in a large metropolitan area can attest, cabbies and people looking for a taxi are aggressive and a dime a dozen; so the odds of a Villain or his Evil Minions catching their target without another cab swerving in ahead of them, or having a pushy fare cut in front of the victim, are particularly slim. This is also ignoring the possibility of the intended target biking, busing, taking the subway, metro, getting a friend to pick them up, or just plain walking.
This trope is named for the less common but more iconic scene where the target's personal driver is replaced by the villain, leading to a "You're Not My Driver" quickly followed by a one-liner from the impostor and some knockout gas or a gun to the face. It often comes with the added implication that the poor driver is lying face down in a ditch somewhere. This method is more believable than taxi-napping a victim, since the target invariably comes to the villain but still slightly odd because nobody ever notices this until after they're in the car.
This trope is not necessarily limited to taxis and limos either, but also planes, boats, and even zeppelins. A particularly nasty variation has an ambulance full of apparent paramedics turn up who are actually bad guys there to finish off the survivors.
- The heroine in Ten Yori Mo, Hoshi Yori Mo falls for one of these. Justified because she only just moved in with a rich family and wouldn't know all their drivers yet. What wasn't justified was why the driver didn't just pop her in the car right there before she caught on.
- In Death Note, Mello kidnaps Sayu and demands the Japanese task force hand over the notebook as ransom. The task force members travel to Los Angeles by separate planes, but at Narita Airport Soichiro Yagami is forced to board flight SE333, where The Mafia is waiting for him.
- A benign version occurs in Mobile Fighter G Gundam, when Domon inexplicably decides to replace the Russian driver after Argo's loss to Allenby, solely to chat about the match. Argo and Nastasha take it almost completely in stride after the initial moment of surprise.
- Heavy Object has a case where the victim was more evil than the driver. When the Gigant Hustler Event ended with one of his Objects destroyed, Acres Kiss-of-Rose(a.k.a. Azathoth) retreats to his car and planned a False Flag Operation in an attempt to regain respect, only to find out too late that his driver was Nyarlahotep, who wanted revenge on Acres for his family's death, in disguise.
- Huge Lampshade Hanging the Miracleman story "Spy Story" by Neil Gaiman, where a paranoid secret agent goes through the following tortuous logic. She then gives up and takes the first cab that comes along. It's driven by another spy, of course, but then so are all the cabs in the city.
You never take the first cab that comes along. A rookie knows that. And if a rookie knows that, then the opposition knows that too. Fine. So you never take the second cab that comes along. Which leaves the first cab or the third cab. But you never take the first cab that comes along. Which means it's the third cab. But they'll have thought of that, so you ignore the first three cabs. Which is just what they'll be expecting you to do, so they'll have their man in the fourth cab. Which means... Which means...
- In an issue of Suicide Squad, Black Orchid impersonated bad guy William Heller's chauffeur. She does it not to kidnap him, however, but so she can eavesdrop on conversations between him and his advisers. She let the real driver out of the trunk after completing her mission, and hypnotised him into keeping quiet about having been kidnapped and replaced.
- Tintin in America has our hero get into a cab driven by one of the gangsters he's after. He escapes and gets into a police car, but that one is smashed by accomplices in a muscle car. Later, he calls the police after another assassination attempt, but his phone line is hijacked and the police car turns out to also be driven by gangsters.
- Wolverine pulled this on a cocky young mob boss who threatened to kill a little girl and her father if Wolverine didn't kill a witness under federal protection for him (obviously, Wolverine didn't go through with it). When the mob boss went for the hidden gun in his limo Wolverine just told him not to embarrass himself. Fredo, realizing he has absolutely no chance of overpowering Wolverine, relents.
- Variant occurs in the Catwoman tie-in to No Man's Land. Selina hijacks a military helicopter after replacing one of the pilots, and her copilot doesn't realize this until she removes her helmet.
- Batman once impersonated the limo driver of a woman who nearly got away with two murders by playing on the Riddler's ego. She only noticed something was amiss when she realized the limo wasn't going to the airport. (Detective Comics #822). He does this again in Superman: Red Son.
- Earlier than both these instances, he (and Robin) pulled this with the Mad Hatter's prison transport - only it was the transport shipping a (supposedly) rehabilitated Hatter back to Gotham, so our heroes weren't up to anything more elaborate than warning him to stay on the straight and narrow.
- An issue of Green Arrow featured a scene where the female vigilante Thorn used a taxi cab in order to stalk a criminal she was planning to kidnap. The real driver is shown tied up in the back seat with his mouth taped shut, apparently having been knocked out by Thorn.
- The villain Whirlwind did this one time to The Wasp, who he had a long-standing Villainous Crush on (he'd once been her actual limo driver years earlier). Unfortunately, he decided to reveal himself immediately, while they were still parked in front of Avengers' Mansion, a building renowned for being full of superheroes. His fellow Masters of Evil coming to the rescue isn't enough to stop the asskicking that follows.
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In the Uncle Scrooge story "Zio Paperone e lo slogan invincibile", John D. Rockerduck and Scrooge are in a race to Scotland to obtain the MacGuffin. Rockerduck sets out in his private plane. However, Scrooge has foreseen that and had the entire airport crew replaced with disguised members of his own family. Rockerduck only realizes this when he wakes up in Scotland, alone and locked inside his own plane, with Uncle Scrooge and his relatives running away and laughing their heads off.
- Wanted: Professor Solomon Seltzer is killed off when his driver Fuckwit is impersonated by the shapeshifting right-hand man of a rival Fraternity, Shithead.
- Judge Dredd: PJ Maybe assassinates one of his former rivals in the city government by planting bombs in the studio where the election debate is taking place and then kidnapping the victim by impersonating his usual driver when he tries to escape.
- In Harley Quinn #22, Harley gets picked up from the airport in a limo. Unbeknownst to her, the driver is a henchman working for the villain Zena Bendemova, and Goatboy, her real driver, is Bound and Gagged in a closet somewhere.
- In Catwoman #50, Killer Croc pulls this on the Penguin to take revenge on him for having called a Carnival of Killers on Catwoman.
- In The Shadow #100, a wealthy gambler leaving his club with his poker winnings discovers that his driver is not really his driver when his car turns into a deserted alley. A few moments later, he is murdered and robbed.
- In the "It's a Wonderful Crisis" arc in Alex, Alex notices that his car isn't being driven by his usual driver. The driver turns out to be the Devil who has brought the car into the perfect place for Alex to be killed by Clive jumping off the roof of the bank.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Flutterspy, this is how Fluttershy discovers the spy plot against the Equestrian Fashion Forum. While she and Rarity are headed back to the hotel, their carriage is hijacked by evil ninja Red Adder, who explains the disruption by claiming that the original driver is taking a break after almost running over a cat. ("Union rules. Very strict.") When Fluttershy recognizes her as a model for Rarity's rival designer Miss Worthy, she attacks, forcing supermodel-cum-spy Fleur de Lis to come to Fluttershy's rescue.
- Discussed in "Third Wheel", part of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts series. When Bruce Wayne picks Lois Lane up for their interview/date, she comments on the fact that he's driving himself instead of being chauffeured, and he explains that because he's a big kidnap target he never lets himself get driven by anyone he doesn't know personally.
Bruce: I take limos in Gotham, where I know the limo service, and I know the chauffeur. If I start visiting Metropolis more often, I might vet a driver. For now, it's easier to drive. Even if it looks like I'm overcompensating.
- A slight variation from Anastasia, where Dmitri takes over for the Dowager Empress's driver, forcing her to see Anya. The variation here is that Dmitri is the hero, and simply trying to make amends for his earlier deception. The Stock Phrase is also inverted: Instead of the Dowager saying the phrase, Dmitri turns around and says "I'm not [your driver]!"
- In Spider-Man 3, Eddie Brock kidnaps Mary Jane this way.
- In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the plane Indy, Short Round, and Willie board to escape Shanghai mobster Lao Che is owned by Lao Che, so he promptly signals the pilots to parachute out and let the plane crash.
- James Bond:
- Subverted by Bond in Dr. No, where a villain claims the embassy sent him. Bond covertly phones the embassy to find out the truth, and properly deals with the villain.
- However, in the later Roger Moore Bond film Live and Let Die, Bond falls for this trick (in a taxi this time), though pretty much everyone in the city is in the pay of the Big Bad. Then he falls for it again, with the same driver.
- Moore's Bond also had Blofeld send a phony helicopter to pick him up at the opening of For Your Eyes Only. Blofeld then kills the pilot and takes radio control so he can finish 007 off personally. Well, try to, anyway.
- Bond pulls this trick on M in Skyfall when he abducts her for her own safety after the attack on Westminster.
- Variation in Goldfinger, one of the mobsters that opts out of participating in the climactic big heist thinks Goldfinger's chauffeur is taking him to the airport. He realizes too late that he's actually being taken to a "pressing engagement" with a scrapyard car crusher.
- Another variation in A View to a Kill. Bond is being chased on horseback through the woods by the Big Bad and his mooks, but then sees his car being driven along a nearby road. As the chauffeur is a fellow British agent, Bond rides desperately towards it, only to find the chauffeur has been murdered by The Dragon, who's now driving the car.
- Poked fun at in What's Up, Tiger Lily?, a Gag Dub of a Japanese spy movie. The main characters walk into a random cab and promptly tell the driver they want to be kidnapped. He of course, obliges, seeing as how this scene was a straight example of the trope in the original movie.
- 1998's Godzilla featured a taxi-napping of Matthew Broderick's character by Jean Reno's. Subverted in that he's actually the good guy.
- The first act of Requiem for a Dream ends with Marlon Wayans making a deal with some black drug kingpins. The partition slides down and Wayans marvels that they have a white driver, only for bullets to start flying; the driver was a hitman for an Italian cartel.
- In X-Men, Mystique and Toad kidnap Senator Kelly by piloting his helicopter to Magneto's island. Somewhat justified: as Mystique can shapeshift to look like anyone at all, she murders and impersonates the senator's real staff.
- Japanese tokusatsu example: in Kamen Rider: The First, the Shocker operative Spider poses as a cabdriver for the explicit purpose of finding his victims and, when necessary, taking them somewhere secluded to dispose of them.
- The classic British gangster film The Long Good Friday ends with the main character and his mistress entering a dummy vehicle and being 'taken for a ride' by his enemies.
- Played Straight in The Game, when Nicholas finds out that the cab he gets on the street is owned by CRS.
- An example of the hero (or should I say Villain Protagonist) using this technique occurs in Assassins (1995). Robert Rath, having lost track of rival contract killer Miguel Bain, steals a cab and, upon hearing a radio call about a priest in the area Bain was last seen asking to be taken to the airport, realizes that's his man. Rath intends to shoot Bain when he gets out of the car (as there's a sheet of bulletproof glass between them) but at the last minute Bain sees the driver's ID card is missing and realizes who Rath is, leading to Gunpoint Banter through the glass.
- Another heroic example occurs in Undercover Blues, where Jeff Blue stops a bank robbery in progress by booby-trapping their getaway minivan and replacing their getaway driver with himself. Lampshaded when he says, "No one ever looks at the driver."
- In Scrooged, the Ghost of Christmas Past is a taxi driver. He solves the "aggressive real taxi cutting in" problem by aggressively cutting in himself. Crunch.
- In One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing, Lord Southmere is kidnapped by the Chinese. He realizes what's happened, but can't do anything about it because they're being followed by another car full of the driver's colleagues.
- In Undercover Brother, Mr. Feather kidnaps James Brown using this technique. "James Brown" is actually Undercover Brother wearing a Latex Perfection mask.
- Parodically subverted in The Third Man. Holly thinks his cabby is abducting him and is working for the conspiracy because he Drives Like Crazy, obviously isn't taking him to his requested destination, and doesn't answer any of his questions. The guy's really just driving him to the lecture he was scheduled to do (and is extremely late for) and doesn't speak English.
- Done in Death to Smoochy. This time, the passenger does not realize who he is (not until much later in the film), even though the driver's dialogue is incredibly Subtext-filled.
- In Life Is Beautiful the protagonist does this to try to win the heart of the woman he loves.
- In The Art of War (2000), this happens at the end with the film's Big Bad, after the main character informs the Chinese that she had their ambassador assassinated. After smugly letting the hero know she's a Karma Houdini, she realizes they're not going to the U.N. building right before the "driver", a Triad, turns around and shoots her in the head.
- In The Whole Nine Yards, Oz plans to take Jimmy to a museum in order to ensure the latter doesn't try to kill him, while the women go to the bank. He hails a cab that is waiting across the street. On the way, Jimmy lets him know they're not going to the museum, at which point the driver window is opened, revealing Frankie Figgs.
- In Eraser, the Big Bads are leaving the courthouse in a limo, talking about the apparent deaths of the protagonists, only to realize that neither of them is responsible for the car bomb. They suddenly stop at train tracks, and the doors lock. The driver runs away, revealing him to be Johnny, a friend of Kruger's. They then get a call from Kruger, who faked his and the girl's deaths. After saying his catch-phrase ("You've just been erased."), he watches as they "catch a train".
- In Red, the Vice-President and his Secret Service guards get in a limo marked with the Presidential seal while under fire. Cooper tries to warn them, but they don't listen as they think he just wants to escape with them in the armoured limo. Then one guard is knocked out when the limo stops abruptly, and the other is tazered by the driver, who is Moses. The VP then gets the same treatment.
- In the first dream level of Inception the protagonists kidnap Fischer this way. Possibly justified in that they designed the place, so they could make sure theirs was the only cab available.
- As listed under Literature, this is how the bad guy in The Bone Collector catches his victims.
- The ambulance variant is used to kidnap Scully in The X-Files: Fight the Future.
- The assassination attempt on Colonel Kudasov in The Elusive Avengers: Crown of the Russian Empire combines this and Danger Takes a Backseat. First, Kudasov boards a taxi driven by an agent of Monsieur Duc, then the taxi stops briefly and two more agents board the backseat.
- Played for Laughs at the end of Bullshot, where the audience is shown a montage of photographs of The Hero getting married to his Love Interest. The final photograph reveals the villain is disguised as their chauffeur. But that is another tale...
- In Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, Tess gets into a taxi that's being driven by Cueball.
- In the 2000 movie of Hamlet (starring Ethan Hawke), the scene where Hamlet intends to kill his uncle Claudius is played this way—Hamlet replaces the chauffeur. Claudius gives his Ignored Epiphany soliloquy in the backseat of his limo.
- In Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon, Arkadian's thugs try to kidnap Laura Charles this way (the first time), before Leroy steps in and beats them to a pulp.
- A heroic version is Resident Evil: Apocalypse. When the heroes start winning, Major Cain runs into his helicopter and orders the pilot to take off. When the pilot doesn't respond, Cain angrily confronts him, only to find LJ at the controls instead. LJ then punches him out.
- In Body of Lies, this happens to the Big Bad at the end.
- Likewise in The Good Guys Wear Black (1978). Chuck Norris tries to blackmail the Sleazy Politician who's behind everything into resigning, but fails. As he's leaving the Big Fancy House though, he recognises the politician's chauffeur as a man who tried to murder him earlier. When the politician gets into his limousine, he fails to notice his driver is wearing a Porn Stache until shortly before Chuck drives the limo into the river so he'll drown. Legendary badass that he is, Chuck just swims out of the limo to safety.
- In The Karate Kid Part II, Chozen greets Mr. Miyagi and Daniel La Russo at the airport under the pretense of driving them to Miyagi Sr.'s village, only to meet Sato. After Sato confronts Miyagi, they're left stranded.
- Best Seller. A cab driver says he has to stop off for cigarettes. His behavior is nervous and when he vanishes from the store, the protagonists jump out of the cab which explodes moments later.
- In Jesse's first nightmare at the start of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge, Freddy replaces the bus driver just before the bus careers off into the desert. (The original driver is actually played by Robert Englund sans Freddy makeup.) The same thing happens at the end of the movie.
- The Circle: Teddy and Elizabeth are surprised to find that the man driving them away from the mansion is not the regular chauffeur, but Arnold, Elizabeth's husband.
- The fake taxi version is used twice in A Most Wanted Man (2014). In the second case it's easier, as the person calling for the taxi is one of their agents, so he just calls them directly instead of the taxi company. They've also suborned the person who was originally supposed to pick them up.
- In The Diamond Arm, this is how the smugglers try to trap Gorbunkov: they are aware that a taxi (driven in fact by a policeman) is going to pick him up, so one of them makes sure to arrive at the place earlier.
- In The Battle of Algiers the ambulance version of this trope is implied when one commandeered by the rebels drops off some dead French gendarme at a busy public area of the French quarter. The rebels in the ambulance go on to have a rampage across the district before being stopped. It is one of the signs that things in Algiers are going From Bad to Worse.
- Towards the end of The Gentlemen, Mickey leaves the fish market and gets into the Range Rover, only to receive a text from Ray telling him not to get into the car; a few seconds too late. He looks up and finds his driver Dave has been replaced by a couple of Russian thugs. At the very end of the film, Fletcher gets in a black cab to go to the airport only to find that Ray is sitting in the drivers seat. And the back doors won't open...
- Generally a common trope in spy novels. In Sky Masters by Dale Brown, the US Ambassador to ASEAN gets a message from a Filipino politician this way.
- Inverted in the first Able Team novel (a Mack Bolan/Executioner spin-off) when the team is tracking a suspect in New York City with the help of federal agents. When he jumps into a cab Lyons shouts for them to get the cab's number, only to be told not to worry — the suspect has accidentally flagged down a fed disguised as a cabbie.
- This occurs in Across a Jade Sea. Chunru isn't suspicious before getting into the car because it really is his driver, but it turns out he's dealing with an Inside Job.
- This happens at the end of Stormbreaker, the first Alex Rider book. Having stopped Herod Sayle and received exactly no reward from the people who blackmailed him into doing it, Alex walks out of MI6's secret HQ and into the first cab he sees. The driver? Herod Sayle. Alex only survives thanks to the guy's chief assassin turning on him.
- Played with in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident. In this case, it actually was the driver; he had simply been brainwashed, and Artemis saw through the whole trick right away. To no avail.
- In Book 2 of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, the chauffeur Bartimaeus had spent several pages mentioning as particularly stolid and a pillar of the British work ethic turns out to be covering the presence of a homicidal possessed skeleton, who promptly resumes wreaking havoc.
- In Jeffrey Deaver's The Bone Collector the killer catches exactly the two people he wants dead in his cab, where the doors in the back seat won't open from the inside.
- In Bulldog Drummond, the hero scrobbles and impersonates the villain's chauffeur/getaway driver, not to abduct him but as a way to get into the villain's lair when the villain returns to it.
- In the Agatha Christie novel Cat Among the Pigeons, Princess Shaista, a student at Meadowbank School, gets into a car to meet her uncle in London and never arrives. This is a subversion, though, because it actually was her driver. "Shaista" was an impostor, and the car had come to help her disappear before she met anyone who knew the real Princess, making it look like a kidnapping.
- Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt Adventures: Invoked in Vixen 03- an intelligence agent is told to catch a taxi to meet his contact, so he goes to hail the first one he sees when another taxi cuts in. He climbs in anyway, where it is revealed his contact is driving. The agent is then chewed out for bad fieldcraft (by trying to catch the first taxi he saw, which could have been a trap).
- In the Discworld novel Making Money, Loveable Rogue Moist von Lipwig, despite knowing he has powerful enemies, gets into the first hansom cab that comes along, only to jump out the opposite door running like hell when it turns out to be a Honey Trap. Colon and Nobby are nearby to comment on his uncharacteristic Genre Blindness. Similarly, earlier in the book, he got into an unmarked black coach, on the assumption it was the Patrician's. It wasn't.
- Dragaera: In Tiassa, Cawti and Norathar take elaborate precautions to avoid having this happen, randomly choosing to get in the seventh coach in line based on the exact time.
- A nasty example in Neil Gaiman's short story collection Fragile Things, featuring Smith and Mr Alice, to dispose of an academic who knows too much. A black cab came around the corner, its light on this time. I waved it down, and helped Professor Macleod into the back. It was one of our Particular Cabs. The kind you get into and you dont get out of.
- God's Debris: Justified in The Religion War, where the protagonist's extraordinary pattern spotting abilities enable him to deliberately choose the one cab driver who is actually a terrorist.
- In Charles Stross' Halting State, most of the cabs in 2017 are driven by remote control from call centres. The bad guys hack into the system to take control of the cab the main characters are in and crash it.
- In Little Green Men, John O. Banion is in Palm Springs to make a speech, and is on the way to his hotel when he suffers Alien Abduction for the second time. He doesn't suspect that the driver (whom he saw on the operating table beside him) was part of the conspiracy that stages the abductions, though he does get annoyed that the car was a luxury sedan rather than the stretch limo clearly specified in his contract. The reason for this is that a helicopter couldn't lift a stretch limo into the air.
- In The Menacers by Donald Hamilton, government assassin and protagonist Matt Helm and a Girl Who Knows Too Much get into a cab, only for the cab driver to reveal himself as a known KGB agent and the knockout gas jets to start hissing. And then massively subverted when Helm goes "My orders are to kill her rather than let the enemy get what she knows... but who the hell actually uses something as melodramatic and uncertain as knockout gas jets instead of just shooting me? They want me to have enough time to kill her before I pass out. Why?" It turns out that the KGB had set up the aforementioned girl as a patsy in the first place, and what they really wanted was an American agent caught red-handed murdering an apparently innocent woman in a foreign country. Unfortunately for them, Helm didn't fall for it.
- In Mr Standfast, this is pulled on the villain by the heroes near the end, with the spymaster von Schwabing's chauffeur being replaced by a British intelligence agent.
- The Parasol Protectorate: In Soulless, the villains attempt to kidnap Alexia by switching out her cab while she's visiting the Westminster Hive, and she gets in before realizing the difference. Fortunately, Lord Maccon followed her because he doesn't trust vampire hives...
- In The Pendragon Adventure, this happens so many times to the protagonists (in various forms), that at one point a character hails a cab, opens the driver door, grabs the cabbie, and says "Does this guy look familiar to anyone?"
- In The Puppet Masters, the protagonist spent a little time being controlled by one of the aliens. His old boss recaptured and freed him using this tactic. Although the boss is acting as a fellow passenger rather than the driver.
- In Quiller's Run by Adam Hall, Quiller gets picked up by a limo outside the embassy where he's just been briefed on his target (who has already disposed of two other agents sent to kill her) and barely escapes the subsequent ambush. He later lambasts himself for being so incredibly stupid as to fall for that trick.
- The Rebus novel Hyde and Seek, by Ian Rankin has a witness kidnapped by a fake ambulance.
- In the Rivers of London novel Lies Sleeping, Peter has just had a meeting with a suspect when an incident response vehicle pulls up and the driver says to get in since they're closing off the perimeter. He just has time to realise he never actually called it in before he gets hit with the knock-out drug.
- In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of Meng Huo's captures is a result of one of these, with a boat captain instead of a driver.
- In one of The Saint short stories, two robbers run out of the jewellery store they have just robbed and jump into the back seat of the waiting getaway car. Only after the car pulls away do they notice that the driver if not the man they had left in the car but actually Simon Templar. He sprays them in the face with an ammonia filled water pistol and steals their loot.
- In Orson Scott Card's Shadow series:
- In Shadow of the Hegemon, Petra is rescued from Achilles by a well-meaning bunch of men who don't believe her when she argues that it is probable that Achilles is driving their getaway car as they speak. As soon as she starts to convince them, Achilles, who was in fact driving just as Petra guessed, opens the division and kills all her rescuers.
- In Shadow Puppets, Bean and Petra, currently on the run from Achilles, are going to take separate cabs to the airport, to different locations. Bean is suspicious of the first two cabs in line, so he puts Petra into the third cab. He then gets into the first cab himself, and barely avoids being killed by the driver, one of Achilles' agents. After escaping, he learns that Petra's driver is an agent for one of their allies.
- Sherlock Holmes:
- This is the entire plan of the Sympathetic Murderer in "A Study In Scarlet". He became a cabby so he could subtly follow his Asshole Victims around London in hopes of getting one of them alone. It ultimately works, though it seems rather far-fetched for all the reasons listed above; the one time his targets split up, one of them gets drunk and manages to take the murderer's cab.
- A Genre Savvy Holmes ensures Watson does not fall victim to this trope in "The Final Problem". He even ensures that a driver (this one he arranged for) that Watson ultimately ended up with was Holmes's brother Mycroft.
In the morning you will send for a hansom, desiring your man to take neither the first nor the second which may present itself.
- Simon Darcourt was not the driver of a number of people throughout A Snowball in Hell.
- Star Wars Legends: Kirtan Loor is kidnapped by Fliry Vorru in exactly this manner in The Krytos Trap. An uncommon example of a villain doing this to another villain.
- Miles Vorkosigan is nearly kidnapped in this manner in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga series. He avoids it because he is a professional paranoid. (Then again, since paranoia is defined as the irrational fear that they're out to get you, perhaps 'paranoid' is the wrong word.)
- In 24 season one, Jack kidnaps Ted Cofell, by taking the place of his personal driver. He then does it again to "Alan York" (really Kevin Caroll), who gets in the car with Ted Cofell (who Jack had killed).
- In the first episode of Altered Carbon, Takeshi Kovacs is taken by a female chauffeur in a Flying Car to the estate of Laurens Bancroft. When she crashes the limousine trying to land it, it's revealed she's actually Detective Kristin Ortega, who had the driver arrested on a DUI charge so she could take his place in an attempt to find out what Bancroft wants with Kovacs.
- 1960's Batman (1966) episode "An Egg Grows in Gotham". When millionaire Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson take a limousine to the ceremony, they discover that the supervillain Egghead has taken the place of the driver. He triggers a gas release that renders them unconscious.
- Done in the original Battlestar Galactica to trick Baltar into releasing some hostages. Though, to be fair, they had to do this, as Baltar demanded his centurions who were already disassembled. They manage to rebuild them, but they're still a bit faulty. As soon as he releases the hostages, he orders the centurions to launch. The pilot says "By your command" and punches a hole in the control panel. The Colonials then surround Baltar and take him prisoner again.
- At the end of the audition tape that concluded Stephen Colbert's White House Correspondents Association speech, Colbert has successfully outrun Helen Thomas and fled Washington for New York. He steps off the plane, breathes a sigh of relief and gets into his car — to find Thomas in the driver's seat. His reaction is predictable.
- CSI: Cyber: The killer's M.O. is "Killer En Route". The killer hacks the Bland-Name Product version of Uber to intercept bookings, and then turns up claiming to be the ride that was ordered.
- The MO of the "Cabbie Killer" in CSI: NY.
- Daredevil (2015): After escaping a prison riot orchestrated by Wilson Fisk, Matt attempts to flee in the taxicab that brought him to the prison...only for the driver to turn out to have been replaced by one of Fisk's men while he was inside. He only realizes this when he regains consciousness from being drugged right before the riot, and the new driver suddenly bails out of the cab and leaves the driverless vehicle to fly straight into the Hudson, taking Matt with it.
- Doctor Who:
- "Terror of the Autons": The Doctor and Jo are about to be lynched by carnies when the police turn up. As there are only two constables to contend with the crowd of carnies, the sensible course is to rescue the Doctor and Jo by taking the pair into protective custody. The Doctor notes it is unusual that the Brigadier has used his head for once and the constables aren't very talkative, the pair turn out to be the killer shop window dummies of the title.
- Another old school case is the killer limousine driver who picks the Doctor up in "The Seeds of Doom".
- "The Runaway Bride": Donna gets kidnapped by one of the evil robot Santas this way while the Doctor is trying to get fare money from an ATM.
- Endeavour: In "Coda", a group of hostages are loaded on to a coach by a bank robber. When coach runs into a roadblock, the robber orders the driver to open the doors. The driver turns around and points a pistol in his face. It's Truelove.
- The Equalizer. In the Batman Cold Open of "No Conscience", Robert McCall is helping a cab driver being shaken down by hoodlums. McCall refuses payment as always, but asks for the cabbie's card as he might come in useful. Sure enough later on in the episode he's helping the Victim of the Week to a cab, apparently unaware she's planning on making a deal with the villains...until McCall exchanges a Meaningful Look with the cab driver, who's the same man he helped earlier.
- In one episode of Forever Knight, a man kidnaps a rich society lady and her daughter by killing their chauffeur and taking the driver's seat while the two women are out shopping.
- Foyle's War: In "High Castle", an assassin takes the place of a cab driver to kill his victim.
- Frontier Circus: In "Quick Shuffle", Tony takes the place of a stagecoach driver in order to hijack the only witness who can prove Ben innocent of murder and drag him back to town and testify.
- Non-villainous variation on The Golden Girls, although Dorothy kind of thinks he's kidnapping her at first. Her ex-husband Stan rented a limo and replaced the hired driver so he could take her to the church on her wedding day as his gift. She got annoyed for a while, then settled down for the most part.
- In the Grimm episode "Cry Havoc", since King Frederick's staff wear masks to work, he doesn't realize that the helicopter crew has been replaced until after they throw him out of the helicopter to his death.
- Inverted on Heroes. Mohinder Suresh, one of the protagonists, funds his research into finding super powered people by driving a cab. Bennet, The Dragon and the series' Magnificent Bastard, attempts to ambush Suresh by posing as a fare. Ironically, Suresh also taxis Peter without ever knowing he's one of the people he's looking for.
- Additionally, Sylar kills Mohinder's father, Chandra, in his own taxi.
- In the Season 3 Finale, neither the driver nor the car's owner were actually who they were supposed to be.
- The Suresh taxi seemed to have some sort of magical gravity: any time any main character ever needed to go anywhere in New York, they'd end up in Suresh's taxi.
- Additionally, Sylar kills Mohinder's father, Chandra, in his own taxi.
- Somewhat subverted in the House episode "Living the Dream", when House kidnaps his favorite soap star because he believes that he has a life-threatening illness (or is just bored, we're never 100% sure).
- Beautifully subverted in series 2 episode 9 of Life, where Charlie tries to kidnap one of the people involved in his imprisonment. "You misunderstand me, this isn't a kidnapping. This, detective, is a kidnapping."
- In the Lifetime Movie of the Week Nightmare in the Daylight, a woman is being stalked by a man who insists—due to their identical appearance—that she's his presumed dead wife. When she gets in a cab one day, she gets increasingly annoyed that the driver isn't listening to her directions, then notices that he's different from the picture that's on his license. Indeed, the crazy man has set the whole thing up in order to kidnap her. note
- The episode of Mission: Impossible "The Killer" (or at least, its remake) involved taking the villain to a bugged hotel. However, they didn't know in advance which hotel he would want to go to, so the first two cabs of the airport were crewed by IMF agents. The second cab slowlynote takes him to the the hotel that wasn't there yesterday while said hotel gets puts the name the baddie chose ("The Raeburn Hotel") on its front porch (and everything else).
- NCIS. In "Reveille" a motorcycle-riding Ari pulls up alongside Kate on the street, then zooms off, knowing she'll commandeer the first car she sees to chase him. Unfortunately it's full of Ari's mooks.
- Person of Interest:
- In one episode, John does this to save the POI of the week, a sailor on shore leave that has been jumped by a couple of corrupt Marine Force Recons. When they put him in the trunk of the car, John, having replaced the member who stole the car a few minutes earlier, drives off before the others can get in the car.
- Our introduction to Zoe Morgan has Reese replacing her regular driver in order to get close to her as this week's POI. Before she even gets into the car, Zoe rings the car service to check Reese's bona fides. Fortunately thanks to Finch's technical savvy he intercepts the call and provides enough details to allay her suspicion.
- The Pretender:
- In "The Paper Clock", Jarod employs someone to replace a corrupt lawyer's limo driver to get him out of the way so he can track down evidence to bring down a killer and free an innocent man who was framed for the killing.
- Jarod also does this himself, replacing one of the regular villains' (Mr. Lyle) limo driver so as to kidnap him and get information out of him regarding a mass murderer who had escaped justice and was trying to find asylum in the U.S.
- Quantico: In "Run", Miranda takes the place of the driver of the van Alex is being transported in to allow her to escape.
- Rizzoli & Isles: In "You're Going To Miss Me When I'm Gone", the Victim of the Week is murdered by a someone posing as their driver who stops the car on a deserted access road.
- In The Sandbaggers, this happens to Wellingham on a routine visit to Brussels; he's suspicious when his regular driver doesn't show, but gets in his limo when the new driver shows him a set of proper NATO-issued credentials. Since the kidnapping turns out to have been masterminded by the West German government as part of a Batman Gambit to arrest a terrorist cell outside their proper jurisdiction, the credentials are probably even real...
- Scorpion: Happy kidnaps a baseball star to serve as a ringer for their softball game. He briefly agrees to do it, but bolts after the opposing team intentionally walks him.
- This happens to the title character in the series two finale. After getting in the first cab he sees, he's treated to a video of Moriarty explaining his plan like something out of a kid's fairy-tale. He gets out of the cab, runs to the driver's window — and sees Moriarty, who quips "No charge" and drives off. Made especially glaring, because the series started with an adaptation of "A Study in Scarlet": Sherlock really had a good reason to pay specific attention to cabbies. Then again, Moriarty is portrayed as just that good at foiling Sherlock...
- A heroic variant, which could be called "Not My Executioner" at the end of "A Scandal in Belgravia", after Mycroft informs Watson that Irene Adler has been captured and beheaded by a terrorist cell in Pakistan. In order to spare Sherlock, Watson tells him that Irene is in witness protection in the US. Holmes then sees the last text message sent to him by Irene, and we see a flashback to her execution. She's on her knees in a burqa, typing out the message before her phone is taken away. An executioner walks up with a sword... and she hears the ringtone for herself that she has put on Sherlock's phone (a woman moaning). The next words from the executioner are "Run when I tell you".
- Sweet/Vicious: The villain in the fifth episode, Landon Mays, is a driver for an Uber-like rideshare company called GetIn who picks up women who've been out drinking after they've been drugged by his friend, parks in a back alley, locks the car doors, and rapes them while they're barely (if at all) conscious.
- In Torchwood: Children of Earth Gwen gets picked up after the Hub bombing by ambulance paramedics who turn out to be MI5 assassins out to finish her off.
- For an episode of Derren Brown's Trick Or Treat series, he began by having an eerily silent taxi driver take his victim past his destination to a dark alleyway where a bunch of actors in hoodies surrounded the cab. By this point the guy was on the phone to the police.
- Attempted in True Blood, where the imposter soon discovers why it's a dumb idea to try to deceive a telepath.
- The Victim of the Week in the Without a Trace episode "Life Rules" is abducted in this manner when he gets into what he thinks is a limo that's taking him to the airport. Not until another one shows up does his personal assistant realize what's happened.
- Inverted in Stan Ridgway's "Drive, She Said": a genuine taxi driver picks up a beautiful female fare, who promptly pulls a gun on him and turns out to have just robbed a bank.
- The Undertaker, in full satanic cult leader mode pulled this one on (then) Purity Sue Stephanie McMahon as part of his nefarious "marry the owner's daughter in a dark wedding so I can take over the company" scheme.
- Minor meme that simply must be invoked: "WHERE TO, STEPHANIE?"
- It was also done in 2001 to Triple H and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin when he hijacked an ambulance taking Austin to the hospital ("HELLO, BOYS!!!"). What is it with The Undertaker and this trope, anyway?
- Eddie Guerrero once pulled this on JBL during his Bugs Bunny phase.
JBL: Driver, take me back to New York City!
Eddie: [à la the Pace Chunky Salsa ads] New York City?!? (turns around for The Reveal) We aren't going to New York City... but we are going for a ride! And I promise you it'll be better than Disneyland!
- In the I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Mockumentary In Search Of Mornington Crescent, Barry gets abducted by sinister forces while taking a cab to Elephant and Castle in a game of "live" Mornington Crescent.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama "The Crimes of Thomas Brewster", the Doctor and Evelyn, having been questioned by the police in relation to a new London crime gang run by a man called "the Doctor", are then told MI-5 wants to speak to them and put into a police car. The driver of the car then tells them, in a very London Gangster voice, that they aren't going to MI-5 at all. It transpires that he works for a rival gang and has also mistaken the Doctor for the crime boss of the same name.
- In the Noir Episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme:
Finnemore: I hailed a cab. Take me to the Upper East North South Side and it's five bucks in it for you if you don't turn out to be the foreign guy with a chloroform bottle.
Peter Lorre pastiche: Ah, that's a pity, I could have used five bucks.
- Grand Theft Auto:
- The original does this at least once. In one of the missions, you use a stolen ambulance to kidnap the District Attorney from the hospital.
- In Grand Theft Auto III, you are tasked with following a taxi cab that your mark gets into. You can't get too close, or he freaks out. You can avoid this by stealing your own cab and pulling next to the mark ahead of time.
- A reversal happens in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City where a rival cab company you've been violently running out of business impersonates a fare to lure you (as driver) into an ambush.
- It is used again in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, where the main character has to imitate the chauffeur of a recording artist's manager, in order to kill him by driving into the sea.
- And twice more in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories: once with you pretending to be a union boss's chauffeur, and then an inversion of the series' norm when the Sindaccos kidnap Maria this way.
- Grand Theft Auto V has the player perform this with a bus. Gets subverted when the target decides the bus fare is too expensive and steals someone's bike instead. The expected player response is to run the guy down with the bus.
- Saints Row:
- One of the missions against the Vice Kings in Saints Row involves the player taking the place of their brothel mistress's limousine driver, and then driving her around town (and away from a Saints ambush) before she'll lead you to her home, where one of your friends is being held hostage.
- Done three times in the optional assassination missions in Saints Row: The Third. One of the targets is a Morningstar lieutenant who will only come out if you pull up in a limo and pretend to be his chauffeur. Then, after the contact who gave you that target betrays you, you get revenge through another anonymous contact putting a hit out on him, telling you to lure him out by landing on his roof with a helicopter to pick him up. Much later, you get a target who must be killed in a way that doesn't draw attention to the Saints, so you have to pick her up in a jet which apparently has explosives planted in it, fly it high enough above the city, and then jump out so it can explode and kill her.
- A trailer for Hitman: Contracts featured this. A rich businessman has discovered that he is about to be assassinated by 47 and promptly escapes the apartment building he's in, taking flight in a limo that's waiting outside. When the driver is told to start driving, he lowers the divider window to reveal the barcode tattoo.
Businessman: Oh, sh-*silenced gunshot*
- Girl Genius: Gil Wulfenbach, at one point, manages to fend off an army of deadly clanks, on his own, with the help of a weapon that may or may not have been useless junk and a very, very good poker face. Afterwards, he nearly collapses, mostly from relief, (and from multiple bullet wounds) and a few Jägermonsters arrive just in time to prop him up and steer him off the battlefield. They have a conversation that goes on for a good five minutes before Gil's powers of observation kick in.
Gil: Wait, you're... not Wulfenbach Jägers.
Gil: Ah. Are you kidnapping me?
- Turns out that the answer is, "kind of."
- Kevin & Kell:
- After some time in which Kell comes home too late to spend any time with Kevin, she gets in her car to be driven to work, but finds that Kevin has given her driver Wally the day off, enabling him to be with her.
- Years later, Dip finds himself in this situation. Fortunately, he has backup.
- And again, when Angelique orders Herd Thinners to specifically target rabbits, she finds her chauffeur has been replaced by Dorothy.
- Associated Space has Fatebane and David trying to escape a planet by hiring a space freighter captain to pick them up in mid-flight from a suborbital shuttle. They shouldn't have put the job of rescuing them out to bid online, since the guy who accepted their offer turned out to be the detective chasing them.
- The Onion reports that the Mysterious Congressman pulled this on Barack Obama.
- "Ecce Perago", a story in the SCP Foundation universe, has a high-ranking Foundation official enter her car only to find out that her driver has been sneakily replaced by Dr. Gerald. Who is a generally nice person... but every time he sits behind a wheel, he inevitably somehow causes a horrible accident and kills all passengers.
- Batman: The Animated Series:
- There's an episode where the Joker impersonates the helicopter pilot of Cameron Kaiser, a one-shot character, to try and kill him.
- Also happens to Bruce and Summer Gleason in "Night of the Ninja", where they wind up getting in a cab driven by Kyodai Ken, an old rival of Bruce's who wants revenge for Wayne exposing him as a thief back when they trained under the same master.
- Superman: The Animated Series: Lana gets into a car, thinking she is being driven by Luthor's usual assistant... "Sorry. No Mercy tonight."
- In the Batman: The Animated Series/Superman: The Animated Series crossover, Lex Luthor's usual driver (Mercy Graves) is waylaid and impersonated by Harley Quinn, so The Joker can meet with him. The comic adaptation adds in a bit of dialogue humorously implying that the real Mercy was taped up in the trunk the entire time.
- This also happens in Justice League Unlimited, with the hero of the episode, The Question, posing as a cabbie in order to interrogate a mid-level mook. In a nice touch, a shot from the back seat includes a small photo of the driver, so that eagle-eyed viewers can see that the guy up front really is not his driver.
- Batman: The Animated Series:
- In an episode of Detentionaire, Lee gets in a taxi that's supposed to take him to the airport which actually has a Hazmat for a driver. Luckily, he's perceptive enough to notice when the car takes a wrong turn and just barely manages to escape.
- Parodied in Family Guy, and lampshaded by a speech in which the real driver demonstrates how easily he gets knocked out.
- Looney Tunes:
- In the cartoon "Baseball Bugs", the dirty Gas House Gorillas need a home run to win the game. The batter knocks Bugs' first pitch clear out of the park. Bugs flags down a cab, telling the driver to "follow that ball!", but the cab screams off in the wrong direction. It's being driven by one of the Gorilla's players, and according to the posted driver credentials, it really IS his cab.
- In "Hare Do", Bugs tries to evade Elmer by thumbing a ride, but it turns out that Elmer is driving the car.
Bugs: You gotta get up early in the morning to outsmart this rabbit.
Elmer: I got up at quarter-to-five.
- In "The Unmentionables", special-agent Bugs is taxi-napped by Rocky's gang in this way as he leaves FBI headquarters.
- Filmation The New Adventures of Superman episode "Luthor Strikes Again". After Jimmy Olsen gets into a cab, steel plates slide up covering the windows, trapping him inside. It turns out to be a trap set by Lex Luthor.
- The Simpsons: Homer and Bart are specifically told not to go into unlicensed cabs in Brazil, advice which they of course ignore. They end up with not a normal cab driver, but a kidnapper.
Driver: My American friend, I'm afraid this is a kidnapping.
Homer: So that means I don't have to pay the fare?
Driver: Well, I suppose—
Driver: I'm afraid you don't appreciate the seriousness of the situation.
Homer: Fine, take me, but please let the boy go.
Driver: I'm afraid he's already gone.
Homer: [turns to see Bart walking off] D'oh!
- Used a good number of times by Nick Fury in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. The cab would then turn into a hovercraft and fly back to base.
- In SWAT Kats episode "The Metallikats", Mac Mange does this to kidnap Mayor Manx and Deputy Mayor Briggs. He gives himself away instantly due to his crummy driving.
- Parodied in The Venture Bros.. Not only does Dr. Venture not notice his driver is the 8-foot gray-skinned guy with a metal jaw he went to college with, but he doesn't even notice when Phantom Limb begins gloating about the kidnapping over television screen (he's too busy listening to his Walkman). Fortunately for Dr. Venture, they put the knockout gas in the front seat. Later in the same episode, Dr. Venture gets into the same cab with the same poorly disguised driver — and no, he still doesn't notice.
- A comedic variant was used in X-Men: Evolution: Kitty has just gotten her learner's permit and is eager to drive. Throughout the episode, Professor X obliges several different X-Men (Jean, Scott, Storm, and Wolverine) to take her driving — with near-disastrous results (she prefers to use her powers to drive straight through obstacles, rather than, you know, avoid them). At the end of the episode, Professor X asks "Logan" to drive back to the mansion, only to discover Kitty in the driver's seat. This is also a Brick Joke: Wolverine told Xavier that he would get back at him for making him to take Kitty driving.
- This tactic was used, unsuccessfully, by the Gambino crime family to do away with radio host, founder of the Guardian Angels and witness in a then-upcoming murder trial Curtis Sliwa. He was badly wounded, but managed to escape the specially-rigged taxi cab.
- This is a very real danger to hitchhikers in certain more crime-ridden regions of the world. You can be picked up by a robber, rapist, or kidnapper.
- This, mixed with What an Idiot!, caused one British soldier to become a POW during the African Campaign in WW2 — when the soldier's motorcycle got bogged down, he flagged down the first car he saw, assuming he was behind British lines. The first car he found was a German staff car. He got in, and didn't recognize the obvious German uniforms until it was too late.
- Averted by Uber and Lyft: when a car is assigned to you the app tells you the license plate number and a picture of the driver so you can verify that the driver pulling up is legitimate.
- One of the more infamous episodes of the Iraqi sectarian war of the 2000s involved militias using public service vehicles as covers. In one instance, a group of civilians in Baghdad were kidnapped and executed after militias commandeering an ambulance called for blood donations to help the victims of a nearby bombing.
- Similarly, the Speicher Massacre of 2014 happened after hundreds of cadets were given furlough and led to buses under the impression that they would be taken to Tikrit City. Once the buses were full, the drivers, actually ISIS members or collaborators, led the cadets straight to the militant lines.