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Offscreen Crash

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"He's fine."
Coleman: I don't think they see that bus.
Serge: Which bus?
Coleman: The big one with the ad on the side for the children's hospital…Ooo! God!
Serge Storms, Tiger Shrimp Tango

Ah, you're taking a Wiki Jog through TV Tropes? That's ni- Oh, Crap!! WATCH OUT FOR THE — *BANG* *CRASH* *RATTLE* *MREEEOW* — spambot junkpile.

In film comedy, most major collisions/accidents are expressed through a loud crashing noise offscreen, usually accompanied by a cringing reaction shot. These crashes are Stock Sound Effects which tend to sound like a mixture of breaking glass, breaking crockery, and rattling metal objects — although in a lot of animated shows, particularly Hanna-Barbera cartoons, it sounds more like a bass drum/cymbal crash. In animated shows, the collision is often emphasised by having the screen shake rapidly up and down or back and forth. And whatever else happens, That Poor Cat always seems to get the worst of it.

Frequently preceded by the words "Look out for the" or "Be careful with the", e.g., "Look out for the—" CRASH! "...china hutch." Frequently followed by a piece of debris wandering onscreen, such as a hubcap rolling into frame and spinning to a stop.

Used because it's funny, sound effects are cheap, and no writer could come up with a more chaotic scene than your imagination can. May involve a Sound-Only Death or an "I Can't Look!" Gesture or a quip of "That's Gotta Hurt".


    open/close all folders 

  • A Nickelodeon Double Dare commercial outro ends in one.
  • A commercial for GEICO has a driver swerve to avoid a squirrel only to skid off screen and be heard crashing.
  • A commercial for Nick Jr. interprets Gil from Bubble Guppies doing this in the episode "Call a Clambulance!" after swimming away screaming from two skeletons: Molly's skeleton and a model skeleton. However, this didn't actually happen in the episode.
  • Nipper & Gramophone's Christmas Tales: Happens to Gramophone after a sledding accident in "Cool Runnings". All we see is his vinyl disc flying off and landing in the snow and Nipper wincing.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Strips 
  • In a few Calvin and Hobbes strips, all we see of Calvin's sled trips is Hobbes' reaction as he watches from the top of the hill. What makes these strips hilarious isn't necessarily the reaction shots, or the implied carnage, but that inevitably, for some reason, Hobbes always looks up into the sky at the end, just before Calvin shows up again. Implying that Calvin managed to catch some serious air.
    • Not to mention that one strip has a sled ride through Hobbes's point of view, where there are only flashes of the ride. They end up in a tree, though Hobbes has no idea how because he kept closing his eyes.
    • The second panel of this strip.
  • Funky Winkerbean: In the story where a drunken Wally Winkerbean crashes his car, resulting in near-fatal injuries to his girlfriend, Becky Blackburn (who was also drunk). The scene cuts away just as the car begins to go airborne, surrounded by clips of the two in other pictures and kissing just as the car is going off the road. The next series of strips involved the major characters learning there had been an accident with serious injuries.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Barbie And Chelsea The Lost Birthday, when Barbie calls Stacie to go to another place, Stacie gets bounced off in the air by a boy in the trampoline and goes into the basketball hoop off-screen with the camera shaking back and forth and a low-pitched boing cartoon sound effect and it shows Stacie in the basketball hoop and someone throws a basketball in her head as a result. Thankfully, Stacie's fine in the next scene.
  • Hoodwinked!!:
    • The scene where Red Puckett is in the treehouse:
      Woodpecker: Watchya readin', Red? [sees the magazine's cover] "Far Away Places"? Are you going somewhere far away?
      Red Puckett: No. The world is too dangerous for me! [throws her arms up in the air in exasperation, also throwing the magazine away. It falls and lands on the windshield of a passing car]
      Driver: [swerves recklessly and revs his engine] Ahh! Can't see! Danger! Turn into the skid!
      [cuts back to Red; the sound of screeching tires is heard, followed by a loud crash; Red tenses up, and shoots an Aside Glance to the camera that says "Oops."]
      Driver: I'm okay! I'll walk it off! [Red relaxes her shoulders]
      Woodpecker: You can't go away! Who's gonna ride the goody bike?
      Red Puckett: If I had wings like you, I'd fly all the way past that mountain [gestures towards a snowcapped peak in the distance] and the next one and the next one... but I can't. I'm just a kid.
      Woodpecker: I'm just a woodpecker. [cue sound of a window being broken] Uh-oh.
      [Red rappels down a rope to the ground, runs over to Granny's store, and finds that someone has attempted to break-in]
    • Due to The Rashomon being used as the film's narrative style, Red's story plays this trope straight when she tricks the Wolf into falling into a river. After spraying the Wolf, she runs and comes upon a swarm of hummingbirds, whom she bribes into carrying her red cloak away by tickling one of them. She then hides inside a tree trunk and watches as the Wolf takes the bait and he runs past her hiding place, chasing the cloak. As soon as he passes Red's hiding place and goes off-camera, we hear a yell and a loud splash. We then see Red walk over to the edge of the cliff as the Wolf floats downstream. What we don't see in Red's version of the story is shown in the Wolf's viewpoint: when he grabs Red's cloak, the camera pulls back to reveal that he is frozen in mid-air past the edge of the cliff. He says to the audience, "OK. Not cool.," then drops straight down into the frigid waters below.
  • In Mickey's Christmas Carol when Goofy (as Marley) visits Scrooge, as he leaves he gets told to watch out for the step. Before he can finish his sentence we hear the sound of crashing coming from behind the door.
  • In the Monsters, Inc. short film Mike's New Car, Mike orders Sully to get out of the car. The camera stays focused on Sully while Mike begins to drive away, but immediately loses control. A large crash is heard, followed by six hubcaps (six-wheel drive) and Sulley catching Mike when the force of the delayed airbag sends him flying.
  • Ratatouille: One of Rémy's attempts to puppeteer Linguini into flipping an omelette sends it flying through Linguini's apartment window. The camera stays focused on the broken window, and Rémy and Linguini's reactions, instead of following the further sounds of chaos.
  • In Turning Red, as Mei haphazardly makes her way to her room as a giant red panda, she crashes through the gate leading to her house and knocks over all of the furniture in her path which can be heard as the camera lingers on the doorway of the Lee family temple. The destruction is later seen when Ming catches up with Mei.
  • The film Yellow Submarine crashes Ringo's car this way immediately after the wrong person drives.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Addams Family: Pugsley causes one after stealing a stop sign.
  • Used at the end of Airplane!, as the Littlest Cancer Patient is being rushed off in an ambulance. It drives away, cue loud crash, a woman wailing in agony, and a hubcap rolling past. Nobody else seems to notice. There's also an earlier example with the stewardess.
    Ted Striker: Randy, why don't you go strap yourself in; it could get dangerous up here.
    [Randy leaves the cockpit, followed by a scream and a loud crash]
  • And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird! uses this as a lighthearted way to end a scene. Matt warns his son to watch out for the... box.
  • The Cannonball Run: When the Sheik flings the telephone handset back inside the car, there is a loud crash that sounds like metal plates being dropped.
  • Use of this trope in non-comedic way has confused many viewers to take the Dying Dream ending of Christmas Evil as a real deal.
  • The actual car crash at the end of Contempt, taking both the lives of Camille and Jack, is only heard while the camera pans over a close-up of Camille's fare-well letter to Paul. The camera returns to the crash scene right after, showing both characters lying motionless in their convertible.
  • Duck Soup:
    Chicolini: I think we should have a standing army.
    Firefly: Oh? Why's that?
    Chicolini: We save money on chairs.
    [Firefly thunders into him, pushes him out the door, and CRASH!]
  • In The Hazing, one of the items the pledges have to obtain is a detour sign. They steal one from some roadworks. As they drive off, a car drives the road they have just removed the sign form, followed by an off-screen crash.
  • In High School Musical, a guy tries to dance across the stage. We then see Kelsi wince as he crashes into the equipment just offstage.
  • Iron Man: Tony's assistant, Pepper Potts, is conversing with Tony while he's testing one of the repulsor beams in the suit's gloves. The recoil throws Tony off screen and you hear him hit the far wall a couple seconds later. Pepper's reaction, mainly her complete lack of concern for his safety, is what really sells it.
  • It's a Wonderful Life: The crash heard offscreen before George leaves Harry's wedding reception was a stack of props that accidentally fell at just the right minute to make it sound as if a drunken Uncle Billy had crashed into something. After Thomas Mitchell (the actor playing Billy) ad-libbed the line "I'm alright! I'm aaallllllright!", the director decided to Throw It In! and gave the stage hand responsible a bonus.
  • Kill Bill. The Bride turns up in a sushi shop in Okinawa and tells the owner she's looking for Hattori Hanzo. Cue Stunned Silence from the owner (Hanzo himself) broken only by a faint crash out back, as his waiter drops a sake bottle in shock.
  • The Mask: During the "Cuban Pete" musical number, the Mask hurls a pair of maracas offscreen, accompanied by the sound of breaking glass. Given that the Mask generally runs on cartoon logic in the movie, this is not necessarily proof that anything made of glass was present in the first place.
  • The principal in Max Keeble's Big Move crashes his car into... something noisy offscreen after he sees Max in the animal shelter.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space: The grieving old man walks off screen, his shadow freeze-frames and we hear a screech of brakes and a yell. "Confused by his great loss, the old man left that home... never to return!" Only a funny example because of narm. At B-Fest, someone will occasionally roll a single tire in front of the screen at this point. Note that during this supposed offscreen car accident, the man's shadow is clearly visible on the ground.
  • In the Nickelodeon TV movie, Santa Hunters, when Santa goes too fast, he makes the Christmas tree fall and crashes off-screen making the camera shake and the ornaments rolling on the floor.
  • Happens in the last scene of Woody Allen's Scoop. Woody's car swings off the road but the camera stays on the road and all we hear is the shattering.
  • Blackly funny example in Theatre of Blood— a cop hiding in the trunk of a car in an attempt to follow vengeful killer actor Edward Lionheart ends up with it parked on train tracks. We hear him over the walkie-talkie to the other cops:
    "I can hear a train whistle... (rumbling sound) I can definitely identify it as a train... (sound grows louder) T-R-A... KERRRR-UNNCH.
  • Both locomotive crashes in The Titfield Thunderbolt happen offscreen. This is due in no small part to the locos in question being actual operating engines that were borrowed for the production, so no risk of actual damage could be permitted.
  • Used as a cheap excuse to avoid the cost of extra CGI: The scene in 2006 movie of The War of the Worlds where the son goes off to join the soldiers and then a few moments later some Humvees doused with gasoline and set ablaze are rolled back into the scene to show the disaster that presumably occurred offscreen.

  • Serge Storms: In Tiger Shrimp Tango, Serge's scheming leads to a pair of con artists (who stole money that was intended for a child with cancer) being chased by a lynch mob. Eventually, the desperate scammers risk darting across an intersection to try to lose their pursuers.
    Coleman: I don't think they see that bus.
    Serge: Which bus?
    Coleman: The big one with the ad on the side for the children's hospital…Ooo! God!
    Serge: That's ironic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Angel proudly struts into the Hyperion brandishing the head of a Durslar beast he killed, declaring that he wants it mounted, only to realize Fred's parents are there, so Angel claims it's a prop head from a movie.
      Angel: You know, a little glue, paper-mache...
      [Angel tosses the head aside, then winces at the sound of breaking glass]
      Angel: Possibly some lead.
    • Wesley is winning a game of darts, with a comely blonde lady looking on admiringly. Wesley casts a smiles in her direction, throws one last dart at the board without looking, and hits somebody offscreen.
  • Beakman's World full on loved this, to the point where everything (and everyone, especially rats) that fell to the ground was given a crash, complete with shake.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Leonard suggests that Sheldon start over on his equations instead of fretting over what he already has, since Sheldon was up all night. Sheldon then casually strolls to the window and drops a whiteboard with the equations on it out the window.
      Sheldon: You're right Leonard, thank you. [glass breaks and car crashes are heard. Sheldon is unfazed]
    • Sheldon has tripped on the hallway stairs and crashed out of view on at least two occasions. Once when jogging with Penny (and implicitly falling on top of her), another when rushing to get his old Apple I to show Steve Wozniak.
    • In another episode, Sheldon walks out of the apartment while playing bongos:
      Sheldon: [off-screen, chanting rhythmically] I play bongos, walking down the stairs! Oh! [thumping sounds, yelp] Never play bongos, walking down the stairs!
  • In one episode of Breaking Bad, Jesse is bored while waiting for Walt. Among other attempts at entertaining himself, he rolls around on a computer chair, and at one point rolls past the camera and offscreen, where there is a crash, an "ouch", and something small rolling back in the other direction.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy takes a pistol from a security guard who's shooting at a demon, saying "These things? Never work." She tosses it aside, then cringes at the subsequent discharge.
    • Buffy is throwing knives at a dartboard in the library, completely missing the bullseye. Giles suggests Buffy take a break from patrolling if she's off her game. Buffy says she just needs to train harder, and throws another knife. Cue glass-breaking sound.
      Buffy: I'm gone! [turns and leaves]
      Giles: [without looking at the damage] Thank you.
  • Daredevil. Played for drama in "Semper Fidelis" when Matt Murdock and his best friend Foggy Nelson get into a furious argument in a men's room. Foggy storms out and curtly brushes off Karen Page when she wants to know what happened; she's then startled by the sound of glass breaking, implying that Matt has just vented his rage on a bathroom mirror.
  • Dawson's Creek: The death of Dawson's father is shown this way, with only a reaction shot.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Lazarus Experiment", the Doctor, Martha, and Martha's family see the presumably killed Lazarus being loaded into an ambulance, which drives away. After this, the Doctor is slapped by Martha's mom. Suddenly, there is a loud crash. The Doctor, Martha and Tish run over and find the ambulance has run off the road into a lamppost. They also discover that not-dead-Lazarus has killed the paramedics by draining their life force.
  • Drake & Josh: This happened in episode 2 "Dune Buggy" when Drake (and his friend Trevor) drove a renovated dune buggy out of his parents' garage and into a tree as the result of avoiding a squirrel.
  • Eureka: Australian tracker Taggart blindfolds himself to try to find his way through a building with pure intuition. As soon as he walks out of frame, we hear the sound of flesh meeting wall and a "Crikey!"
  • Get Smart. In "Pheasant Under Glass", Maxwell Smart is trying to break a Kidnapped Scientist out of an indestructible Glassy Prison. After his silenced submachine gun and laser pistol fail to work, Max decides to resort to an ordinary brick. Sure enough there's a loud crash...and then a Reveal Shot showing that Max has only broken a nearby window.
  • iCarly: In "iGiveAwayACar", Nevel attempts to set up the gang by sabotaging their car give-away contest to get them busted for fraud. When they come up with a working prop vehicle Spencer got his hands on, Nevel gets behind the wheel to see if it can hit the minimum speed of 25 miles per hour to legally count as a new car. It does not go well.
    Government Supervisor: You can't do that kind of damage to a flower shop unless you're doing at least 25.
  • Kingdom Adventure: When Dagger crashes while landing in his vulture-form, he typically does so offscreen. It's easy on the (low) budget of a Religious Edutainment program to do this with reused cartoon footage, and it adds both comic relief and [[Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey
  • LazyTown: "Defeeted": We hear crashing noises as Sportacus is forced to glide off-screen, implying at the very least that Robbie directed him somewhere very unsafe.
  • In the M*A*S*H episode "Chief Surgeon Who?", a visiting general storms out of the Swamp after an argument with Hawkeye:
    Ugly John: Watch out for the...(*crash*)...trash cans.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: All of Mr. Pither's many bike crashes in "The Cycling Tour" occur when his bike passes behind a hedge or fence. On at least one occasion you hear the sound of a crash even though his shadow is still moving.
  • From Moonlight's "12:04 AM":
    [a man has just broken into Audrey's apartment]
    Audrey: Shouldn't we call the police?
    [a thud and a moan are heard from offscreen]
    Beth: I... think Mick wanted to talk to him alone.
  • The premiere episode of Mr. Bean has the title character get in one of these with his car.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Brooks' New Car", Mr. Conklin buys a car and goes roaring into his driveway. Unfortunately, Miss Brooks had left a small wagon in the driveway. Miss Brooks and Mrs. Conklin wince as they hear a terrible crashing sound. Following the car crash, Mr. Conklin is himself crashed through the wall of his house, riding the hand wagon gripping the cars' steering wheel. According to Mr. Conklin, the rest of the car had flown over the garage.
  • Happens twice in the Police Squad! episode "Revenge and Remorse (The Guilty Alibi)":
    • In the first instance, a security guard hears a strange noise down a hallway. He investigates and finds a janitor cleaning the floor with an electric polisher. The guard and the janitor greet each other and after the guard leaves, the janitor is yanked off-screen whereupon a crash is heard.
    • In the second, Ed Hocken shouts at a group of bystanders to leave the area because a bomb is going to explode. Once they're off-screen, a car can be heard screeching and crashing... followed by people screaming and groceries flying in the air.
  • In the pilot of Red Dwarf, Rimmer tries to attack Cat, passes right through him (because he's a hologram), and ends up doing one of these (despite being a hologram).
    • The sound effects are only there in the remastered version (one of the many questionable changes made). The original version of the episode is silent.
  • Sesame Street used this a LOT in their Muppet sketches.
  • Who's the Boss?, episode "Daddy's Little Montague Girl": Character shoves shopping cart out of a house in rage. House happens to be in hilly San Francisco (as opposed to the usual Connecticut locale of the show). Cart heard rolling for about 30 seconds.


    Video Games 
  • Happens in a cutscene in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. As President Dugan makes a speech from an "undisclosed location", a soldier accidentally reveals a Canadian flag. Trying to grab the flag, he stumbles off-camera and a crash is heard.
  • The possible death scene of Mad Jack in Donkey Kong 64 is like this, a Looney Tunes-style Wile E Coyote falling of a cliff type scene and an extremely loud crash into what sounds like off screen metal objects to end the boss battle.
  • During the female protagonist's Moon Social Link in Persona 3 Portable, she and Shinjiro talk in the dorm's lounge while Fuuka tries to make dinner. Eventually, it comes to...
    Shinjiro: I'd better go check on [crash... wincing] too late.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island has two sequences of this when you break into the governor's mansion looking for the Idol of Many Hands.
  • In The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare, when Bart loses his skateboard, he skids on his butt clear off the screen, crashes into something, and then runs back to the center of the screen looking as though nothing had happened.
  • In the original CD-ROM remake of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego Deluxe, it happens when the player finally catches up with the suspect.

    Web Animation 


    Web Videos 
  • During the cartoon chase scene at the end of Return of the Cartoon Man, Roy runs into Simon's trampoline, and goes flying backwards through the air before crashing offscreen.

    Western Animation 
  • It sometimes happened in Action League NOW!, where all we would see would be flying plastic body parts as a result of whatever happened. Though normally on this show, they would show the crash. Averted in an episode where they actually showed a real car fall off a cliff and land at the bottom exploding in flames.
  • Batman: The Animated Series had some (plot-crucial) moments that were too intense for the censors. Rather than show these explicitly, this technique was employed — and often, was done well enough that it was more disturbing than seeing it outright.
  • On the Camp Lazlo episode "Handy Helper", after the first few times Lumpus gets run over, the camera cuts to Slinkman watching and cringing as Lumpus' screams increase in volume. Not sure whether it counts, though, because we get to see Lumpus get run over a few times before and afterwards.
  • A Chip 'n Dale short "Toy Tinkers" employed this technique when Donald "trips" a passing toy car and sends it crashing offscreen, which he watches with glee, only to cut to the wreckage afterwards. Despite its resemblance to a Hanna-Barbera gag it came out back in 1949, though ironically it was directed by one Jack Hannah (no relation).
  • In the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Trial By Fire", this happens when Ben jumps off a building to go stand in for the rest of the team. There is a sound of screeching tires, honking horns, and Ben yelling, "Hey, I'm landing here!"
  • There was the old "Watch out for that—" CRASH! "...tree!" joke from George of the Jungle, except we just as often got to see George hit the tree.
  • Invader Zim: Usually played as a Running Gag.
    • The episode with the slow-motion explosion. Zim and GIR are carrying the explosion while the screen stays focused on the doorway. They move past the doorway, muttering helpful maneuvering hints to one another. They leave the screen. A moment later you can hear them screaming as they rush into the doorway, the bouncing explosion-ball in pursuit.
  • Happens often in Milo Murphy's Law thanks to Murphy's Law when ever Milo is around. In the episode "Rooting For the Enemy" there were three seperate occasions of an offscreen crash with (in order) a cat yelling, a truck honking it's horn then crashing and some chickens clucking.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • A variant occurs in "The Ticket Master". In Rainbow Dash's Imagine Spot for how she plans on impressing the Wonderbolts at the Grand Galloping Gala, she performs a technique she calls the "Buccaneer Blaze", where she flies offscreen. We then see a massive explosion barely enter our field of view, and as one, all three Wonderbolts' jaws fall open. DEATH BATTLE! would later use this as her move to defeat Starscream.
    • Similarly, we never see Rainbow Dash's crash once her stunts go out of control in "Read It and Weep", but judging from her friends' reactions, this was not your run-of-the-mill faceplant.
  • In the first The Powerpuff Girls short, Ms. Keane excuses the girls, but shouts, "Not through the—" CRASH! "...roof."
  • In one Tex Avery Screwy Squirrel cartoon, a dog chases Screwy into a dark cave, and the screen goes black. We hear a loud crash and other odd noises, until Screwy lights a match and says "Sure was a funny gag! Too bad you couldn't see it."
  • In a The Simpsons episode, after Homer and Marge got a Kama Sutra book from Apu and Manjula during a fight between the two (long story short, Apu never told her that Americans weren't required to work on weekends until Homer and Marge brought it up, which left her upset at Apu as it made it seem as though he didn't wish to see her). Marge ended up taking over driving when it became apparent that Homer was far too distracted with the Kama Sutra book to pay attention to driving, and eventually Homer points out that the book stole one of their ideas in the book, beckoning to Marge to see it, causing Marge to get distracted enough to have an implied rear ender.
  • Subverted in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, when a noise that we are led to believe is a car accident is in fact produced by a marching band.
    • In "Nature Pants", Patrick causes this when he throws aside the pile of SpongeBob's old phone books.
  • Thomas & Friends:
    • A later episode does this by cutting to Emily and shaking the camera for when Toby crashes into Percy. This was to avoid "traumatizing" the little kiddies. Though, of course, they failed on that count.
    • And, of course, it was usually averted in older episodes, allowing the kiddies to see all the Family-Unfriendly Violence in extreme close ups and slow motion....
  • Work It Out Wombats!: At one point in "Racecar Wombats," the wombats try to have the race indoors. When they try to move their racecar inside the house, they end up wrecking the kitchen. We don't get to see it on screen, but we do get to see the other characters wincing.

Hey, we're scrolling past the end of page! CRASH! BANG! MEOW!


Cherry's driving test

She nailed it! ...By which we mean, she nailed one car into another.

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