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Pedal to the Metal Shot

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To heighten tension and drama in a car chase, or other bit of vehicular business, a very common shot is to show the driver aggressively stomping on the gas pedal, often until it can pressed no further. May be accompanied by dramatically and/or aggressively shifting gears. It's common shorthand to tell the audience "this car will be going really fast now," or "the characters are really serious about catching/escaping from this guy." Often used when Over Drive is needed.

In Real Life, flooring your accelerator is a bad idea. Most cars have accelerations and top speeds that are just unsafe for the average city driver to attempt, and flooring the pedal can easily cause loss of traction, making you go slower or lose control of the vehicle completely. Smaller increments of acceleration are safer and more effective. But a foot moving a quarter-inch at a time doesn't translate well to camera.

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Sometimes a character will put the pedal to the metal several times in the same scene, when logically they're already at maximum acceleration (and, sooner or later, maximum speed), and there's just no more power to be had.

A Sub-Trope of Rule of Cool.

Contrast Brake Angrily.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • REDLINE features this prominently and often. Some of the most noteworthy include JP feverishly pressing on the gas pedal at the final stretch of Yellow Line, and then Sonoshee kicking her foot on his to give them the necessary speed to reach the outer lane in the titular Redline's last run.

    Films — Animation 
  • Done by Shank and Vanellope von Schweetz in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Shank likes to floor the throttle and snap-shift her vehicle, because she's the protagonist in her game: Slaughter Race. There, Shank drives fast for a living. Likewise for Vanellope, who competes in the racing game Sugar Rush. However, for Shank, Slaughter Race is her home turf, so she'll respawn if she crashes and dies. Not so for the visiting Vanellope, who won't respawn outside of Sugar Rush. Vanellope floors it anyway, because she's a Bratty Half-Pint haywire hellion.
  • Toy Story has this when the Pizza Planet truck moves.
  • In Zootopia, this trope comes as part of a two-shot sequence of Judy turning the key and then flooring it in order to rush away to the city after a Eureka Moment. Watch it here.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives: Cort slams the pedal down on Nikki's stepdad's RV. Impressed with how the RV drives, he fails to realize he's bouncing Nikki around in the back, or that Jason's in the RV ready to kill them both.
  • In The Gay Divorcee, Dogged Nice Guy Guy Holden pursues his love interest Mimi in what amounts to a vehicular chase. As soon as she leaves London traffic and enters a forested area, Mimi stomps the accelerator to get away from Guy.
  • Hot Fuzz uses it to demonstrate Nicholas' Character Development: He starts off as a By-the-Book Cop who always drives safely and avoids profanity, but towards the end of the film, he evolves into a mild case of a Cowboy Cop. In a particular scene, Nicholas jumps into a police car and yells "Punch. That. Shit!" to his partner Danny. The line is synced to a montage of Danny a) flipping on the blue lights, b) fastening the seat belt, c) flooring the gas pedal.
  • The Human Centipede II has one when a pregnant woman manages to escape from the centipede and is trying to get away from Martin, this film's antagonist. In the car, she gives birth... and in her desperation to escape, stomps on the pedal, which in this case also meant stomping on her newborn.
  • There is such a shot at the start of a Car Chase in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Short Round acts as a getaway driver for Indy. He is only a 13 year old kid so he has boxes tied around his feet to operate the pedals of the car.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Claire tromps the gas on the truck she, Owen, and Franklin are stealing to get aboard the mercs' ship before the erupting volcano kills them. What makes this notable is she floors it as soon as she gets the truck started, while Owen and Franklin are running behind it to hop in. Fortunately for all involved, Rule of Cool means the truck accelerates just enough to make Owen and Franklin climbing aboard dramatic.
  • Used in Pulp Fiction when Butch hits Marsellus with his car. What's interesting about this instance is that it was shot from behind the pedal rather than from somewhere in the driver's lap as usual.
  • Twister has one during the climactic chase. The antagonist, Jonas, and his driver are told by the hero storm chaser Bill that the tornado could shift and come at them. Jonas tells his driver to keep going and the driver hits the gas, which is where the shot is, continues onward, and both are killed by the twister a few moments later.
  • Also used in Underworld: Evolution right after Selene hijacks a truck during her and Michael's escape from Marcus. Extra points for her wearing heeled boots while she does it.
  • The Blues Brothers! While chasing the title brothers, there's a nice close-up of Tucker flooring it to get to Jake and Elwood before the entire "Illinois law enforcement community" can. A bad idea, first because he's driving the Good Old Boys Winnebago, and second because Elwood has coated the accelerator and the floor of the RV with glue.
  • Parodied in O Brother, Where Art Thou?: The boy who helps our heroes escape a burning barn in a Ford Model A has fruit crates strapped to his shoes. What's more, the car can't go very fast anyway, and then breaks down shortly after their escape.
  • Back to the Future does this in the "race-against-the-lightning" climax...primarily to demonstrate Marty's desperation when the car won't start right away. Also the "aggressively shifting gears" variant several times during the car chase with the Libyans, which actually plays a critical role in stranding Marty in 1955 in the first place (the "time circuits on" lever is close enough to the gear shift Marty accidentally bumps it).
  • Inspector Gadget: Not a pedal, but pulling hard on the Gadgetmobile's "jet thruster release" handle has the same effect. Later on, Brenda slams down hard on the brake when they catch up to Claw's limo.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Knight Rider: KITT is frequently seen pressing his own gas pedal. In a subversion, KITT rarely floors it, the pedal moving in reasonable increments. Later seasons add green lights on the sides to display a rough percentage, for no discernable reason.
  • Teen Wolf: Frequent shots of Stiles tromping the gas pedal and aggressively downshifting, as he tries to get away from (or more frequently, get to) dangerous supernatural entities. No wonder his Jeep is so temperamental, with all that abuse.
  • Any Super Sentai or Power Rangers series where Cool Cars are the theme will have this somewhere. Oftentimes the car-shaped mecha/Zords will use pedals to move the robots forwards and back once they've combined. The best example also combines this with Brake Angrily— the Carrangers/Turbo Rangers would complete the transformation of the RV Robo/Turbo Megazord by slamming on their brakes all at once. As the Power Vehicles/Turbo Zords would combine at high speeds, this caused the whole thing to rise into a standing position from sheer momentum. No random flight or jet engines, they simply let gravity do the work. They'd also step on the accelerator when they went to the finisher, the Gekisou-Giri/Spinout (where the robot would start spinning like crazy and slash their sword through the monster).

    Video Games 
  • This occurs in the opening cinematic of Need for Speed Underground. Apparently, it works.
  • The Movies has this as part of the Stunts & Effects expansion pack.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs by Rainbow Brite. After Murky Dismal discovers his accomplice has betrayed him, he and Lurky go to steal Rainbow Brite's color belt to undo their scheme. While they're escaping, Murky tells Lurky to step on it. So, we see him push the pedal to the floor...then through the floor.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Boating School", SpongeBob keeps losing his driving test because of his impulse to "floor it!" When Patrick is coaching him, he stops him from flooring it and use his big toe instead. The camera shows SpongeBob's foot screeching to a halt, then sticking his toe out of his shoe and gently pushing the accelerator with it.

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