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Railroad Tracks of Doom

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"Plot cliche #372: If your characters are walking on train tracks, you can bet your ass there's gonna be a train passing by to endanger their lives."

Any time you see railroad tracks on television, a train will appear, usually while central characters are walking across it or, even better, when for some reason or another they're stuck on the tracks. The train itself will always show up whenever it's least convenient, no matter how long the wait or what the schedule says, it's always running on-time to nearly kill you. Of course, the key word back there is "nearly"- while this kind of thing would seem to be a high risk endeavor, usually, one way or another, they manage to get off the tracks in time.

Bear in mind that it is very, very rare for someone's life to be saved because the train actually stops. This is Truth in Television, depending on setting, and also speed, as braking distance is proportional to the square of the speed. A bullet train can take up to 4 km to come to a full stop, while slow subway or light rail might be able to stop in 50 meters, but don't count on it.

May be inversely linked to the prevalence of rail as a viable mode of transportation in a given country; in Japan, for example, train tracks are only rarely portrayed as something people would be stupid enough to dally upon, unless they are deliberately Tempting Fate, or else trying to save someone else who has fallen onto the tracks.

See Chained to a Railway for when this is done deliberately as opposed to being the result of wrong place, wrong time. May involve 1-Dimensional Thinking on part of the escaping individuals. Also see Track Trouble, where the tracks are dangerous because they are damaged.

Compare Train Stopping and Look Both Ways (for instances involving non-rail land vehicles).


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  • A series of television advertisements, presented by Operation: Lifesaver,a non-profit group aimed at raising safety awareness around railroad crossings, often present graphic commercials urging safety and caution.
    • One of Operation: Lifesaver's most memorable campaigns was the "These are the next 60 seconds of your life ... " series. Those commercials featured a central character disobeying or disregarding a basic rule, such as driving around lowered gates or driving over a set of double tracks immediately after one train passes (only to be hit by a second oncoming train) and the deadly consequences played out. A clock, on the lower part of the screen, quickly ticks away the seconds from the beginning to the grisly outcome. As such, the commercials were formulatic and predictable (someone's going to die) ... but definitely effective.
      An example: A babelicious college-aged girl, wearing a plain white T-shirt and jeans, is driving her sports car at 55 mph and texting a friend as she nears a railroad crossing with a train coming. The ominously toned announcer reminds audiences of the warning (in this case, "You chose to text on your cell phone while driving") before stating, "These are the next 60 seconds of your life.") The scene will shift back and forth between the train and the driver — in this case, the engineer frantically sounds the horn and the young woman just presses the "send" button on her mobile device as her car enters the crossing ... and is struck by the train. The deadly consequence shown (the dead woman, horribly bloodied and entangled in the twisted frame of the car) before the announcer finishes with "America's roads can be highways or dieways ... the choice is yours!"
    • While most scenarios involve driving into the path of a train, other scenarios involving dangers around railroads — such as young teen-agers playing on the tracks — are presented. In that commercial, two of the three boys walking along the tracks are killed (one after he got his leg stuck after falling through a ledge on a railroad overpass, the other as he was running on the bridge), while the third just escapes and can only watch.
    • Then there is a Tear Jerker one that mostly people would consider a very hard and cold reminder of the dangers of Tempting Fate at a railroad crossing: A young family heads out to have a picnic, leaving their family dog behind to wait for them to come back on the front porch, unaware that this would be the last time their dog would see them, as the father approaches a railroad crossing that has no red warning lights, bells, or crossing gates, and a train is coming. He tries to beat it, and we all know what happens next. Cut back to the dog, still on the porch, waiting for his owners, unaware they are never coming home, all while "O Where, O Where, Has My Little Dog Gone?" plays in the background.
  • The last three Dumb Ways to Die.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The very first chapter of Gantz has a subway train coming just as the main characters are attempting to help a drunk who has fallen off the platform.
  • Done repeatedly in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It's the same train every time, thanks to Time Travel, and the main character trying to prevent anyone from dying there is a major part of the plot.
  • The final episode of Haibane Renmei has a scene where Reki stands in front of an imaginary train track waiting for it to run her over. It goes away when she gives in and finally asks for help from Rakka.
  • Happens in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders during the fight against Mariah, whose Stand has made Joseph and Avdol magnetic. When they try to cross a railway track in order to get to her, they get stuck on it.
  • The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service once came across a train crossing where a number of local sounds (the train crossing chime, a passing truck...) combined to give people suicidal feelings. A suggestion to record the sounds to sell them to suicidal people who couldn't quite take the final step was quickly shot down.
    • One character lost her mother to a train when she was a kid. The colossal asshole driving gave her her mother's head in a bag as he had to get the train going again.
  • In the first Naruto film, the title character is traversing a tunnel when rails appear out of the ground. The train follows soon after.
  • In the Pokémon Journeys: The Series episode, "Mind-Boggling Dynamax!", Scorbunny through a train tunnel to find Ash and Goh. Cut to the other end of the tunnel with Scorbunny frantically running away from a train. Luckily, he jumps to the side in time.
  • Inverted in Trigun: The bad guys are attempting to send the sand steamer (essentially, a giant track-less train) over a cliff.

    Comic Books 
  • The Cow and Chicken comic story "Bus Fuss" had Chicken taking the school bus on a joyride after accidentally knocking the driver off the vehicle with a large spitball. But the bus ends up stalling on a railroad crossing just as a speeding train is approaching, driven by the Red Guy with No Pants (in the role of Casey Clearbottom) and hauling freight cars loaded with Chemical X. Fortunately, Cow changes into her Super Cow alter-ego and saves everyone from the bus, right before the train hits it, causing the bus to violently explode and the entire train to derail, much to the Red Guy's amusement.
  • In The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #4, Indy and his companion are being chased through London by Nazi agents. Running into a station on The London Underground, they attempt to escape by leaping on to the tracks and running along the tunnel. Inevitably they find themselves trapped between the pursuing Nazis and an oncoming train.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • The Aristocats: The cats are crossing a railroad trestle. A train approaches from the front, they jump underneath for safety. One of them falls into the river below.
  • Cars:
    • Early on in Cars: Lightning McQueen is nearly hit by a freight train after accidentally being knocked out of his trailer thanks the Delinquent Road Hazards' antics and is left behind, before mistaking a grouchy semitruck for his own truck and then arriving at Radiator Springs and destroying their main road in the process.
    • At the very beginning of Cars 2, Lightning McQueen and Mater can be seen exploring an abandoned railroad tunnel, only to be chased out by... ...a Galloping Goose.
    • In Planes, Dusty Crophopper is nearly hit by a train while flying in and out of a tunnel located in the Himalayas.
  • In Disney's The Fox and the Hound, Chief chases Tod the fox onto a set of nearby railroad tracks, and then they begin to cross a trestle. As their luck would have it, a high-speed train comes barreling towards them. Tod is able to duck underneath the rails and let the train harmlessly pass over him, but the locomotive knocks Chief off the trestle, causing him to fall to the rocky river below with a broken leg. Chief was actually supposed to die this way, making Copper's revenge against Tod more extreme, but Disney thought this would've been too over-the-top and intense.
  • In Gay Purr-ee, Jaune Tom and Robespierre are nearly killed while crossing a train trestle. They survive only by dropping down and hanging between the ties.
  • Brad Bird likes inverting this trope. In The Incredibles, Bomb Voyage's grenade destroys the El Train tracks right as a train is rounding the corner.
  • Happens to Sykes at the end of Oliver & Company. Done literally with his pet dobermans, however (they're electrified subway rails due to the third rail, so when Oliver and Dodger threw them off Sykes' car, the two are both immediately electrocuted upon hitting those tracks, and because of the third rail's voltage, the electrocution was fatal).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Angels with Dirty Faces, teenage Jerry and Rocky try to steal from a railroad park, so of course they end up nearly getting hit by a moving train.
  • Played with in Ant-Man. While miniaturized Yellowjacket ends up on the tracks of a toy railroad and stands there as a Thomas & Friends toy train barrels straight at him. However, when the train hits, it is a complete No-Sell since the miniaturization process preserves the subjects density. The effect is the same as if a toy train hit a full sized human and the train just bounces off.
  • At the end of Back to the Future Part III, Marty returns to 1985 in the DeLorean on train tracks (since without gasoline in 1885, it was necessary to use a train to boost the car up to the needed 88 MPH) and notices a nearby crossing signal is blinking red. At first he thinks it's just because of him—but quickly discovers that he coincidentally landed on the tracks at the exact same time as a freight train shows up. Marty gets out in the nick of time. The DeLorean winds up getting totaled, somehow following Doc Brown's request.
  • Deliberately invoked in Bank Shot. Ballentine and Stosh park the stolen bank on a railway crossing. When the signals go off and the guards hear what sounds like a train approaching, they abandon the bank rather than get smashed.
  • In the Blackhawk movie serial, one of the cliffhangers featured Blackhawk's car being forced on to railroad tracks in front of an oncoming train.
  • The climax of Dick Tracy vs. Cueball is a running shootout between Tracy and Cueball in the rail yard. While attempting to escape, Cueball gets his foot wedged in the railroad tracks and is run down by a train as he tries desperately to free it.
  • Ryan's father in The Dust Factory was killed when the car he and his mother was in stalled on the tracks—his father had been following behind in another car, and rammed his car into theirs to push them off the tracks just as the train was coming.
  • At the end of Eraser, Arnold Schwarzenegger uses a train to "erase" the bad guys, by having an accomplice park their limo in the path of a freight train, which might be a case of figurative Chained to a Railway.
  • The Escapist: As the escapees are fleeing along The London Underground tunnel—trying to reach Charing Cross station before the tracks go live—Batista gets caught when the points switch and trap his foot. Lenny tries desperately to free him as a train bears down on them.
  • In Final Destination, Carter deliberately stops on the train tracks in an attempt to prove that he "controls his own destiny". Having made his point he discovers that his car won't start and his seat belt is jammed as the train bears down on him. Although he escapes, a piece of the resulting shrapnel means that Billy isn't so lucky.
  • Fireproof has this when a wrecked car (with people inside) is stuck on the railroad tracks. The main character (a firefighter) dispatches a message to stop all trains in the area, but guess what comes whistling around the corner?
  • A similar car-on-tracks moment is in The Flim Flam Man, using the tracks as a getaway route until the train appears.
  • The beginning of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes uses this trope. Idgie's close relationship with her charming older brother, Buddy, is cut short when he is hit by a train after his shoe gets stuck in the tracks, leading to his death.
  • The big-screen version of The Fugitive has the bus transporting Kimble and company to death row rolling off the road and onto a railroad track after the driver is shot by a convict attempting to escape. Kimble just has time to pull an injured guard from the bus before the inevitable highballing freight hits.
  • In Godzilla (2014), when the female Muto attacks the USM train carrying nukes, it is set on fire and nearly crushes Ford.
  • Played for Laughs in The Great Race when Professor Fate and Max decide to use train tracks as a shortcut. A train quickly comes along and objects.
  • In Groundhog Day, the night Phil realizes that being stuck in the loop made him unaccountable for his actions, one of his crazy stunts includes driving on the train tracks...towards an oncoming train. He's able to get off before the train smashes him.
  • In the first act of Hancock, the titular character saves Ray's life after his car got trapped on the railway tracks being blocked from the front and back by a traffic jam (which leads one to think: wouldn't an area with the risk of that happening have crossing gates at the very least, if not complete grade separation of the tracks and roadway?) But then Hancock remains on the track and ends up wrecking the train.
  • In film version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ron flies the Weasleys' car over the train tracks in an attempt to locate the Hogwarts Express. Naturally, the train is right behind them, causing hijinks to ensue.
  • In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, the railway is literally the last thing they cross- and it's at exactly this point that their injuries catch up with them.
  • Inception: You're waiting for a train... The first time Mal and Dom lay down on railroad tracks intentionally, so they can kill themselves and get out of Limbo. Presumably, since they're creating the dreamworld, the tracks and train are there because they want them there. The second time... well, who even needs tracks?
  • Iron Will: A few kids lead Will to a shortcut across a railroad bridge in order to finish a race. A train approaches from behind and one of the dogs was stuck.
  • In the 1991 version of A Kiss Before Dying, the villain Jonathan is shown as a little boy watching the Carlsson trains going past his house, fueling his obsession with marrying into the family. At the end, in his desperate attempt to kill his wife Ellen after she learns his secret—he's a murderous sociopath who killed her sister in order to get to her—he chases her onto the train tracks. She's able to get out of the way, while he isn't.
  • Last Clear Chance: A 1959 driver's education film, financed by Union Pacific Railroad, depicting the dangers posed by railroad tracks and what happens if drivers fail to pay attention or heed basic safety rules near tracks. The movie's grim ending – a young man being killed and his fiancé (presumably) mortally injured but initially surviving, after waving back at the young man's younger brother and unaware the car the young couple is in is about to be struck by a train – and two rail workers observing, "Why don't they pay attention?" would become much maligned by critics and would be ridiculed in the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. However, the film itself was praised by many other critics who lauded the film's sobering message about driver safety, especially around railroad crossings.
  • In Lethal Weapon 4, a hitman is shown taking out a target's car by ramming them into the path of an oncoming train with his larger SUV. Later, he tries the same trick on Riggs who pushes back using reverse in his similarly sized car, and then suddenly releases shifts back into forward gear in time for the hitman to be the one hit by the train.
  • Union Pacific – and other railroad companies and, much later, Operation Lifesaver – came out with several other driver's education films stressing railroad safety and depicting the deadly consequences of car-train collisions. For example, Look Listen Live, produced by UP in the mid-1940s (circa 1948-1949). One of the dramatizations is of a family of five who, en route to a park for a picnic, are killed when their car collides with a train after the father (who was driving) neglected to look for trains before driving across the tracks, insisting "there are no trains this time of the day" - the moral, of course, being that a train can be expected at any crossing at any time of the day. The story of the ill-fated picnic trip famously also shows a terrier waiting for his masters to return home – set to the tune of "Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone" – unaware that the wait will be in vain. Film clips of three other crossings where deadly collisions had taken place are also shown, as is a re-enactment of a young, high-strung driver who barely avoids his own car-train collision, and is visibly shaken after managing to stop his car a short distance away from the tracks... wondering what might have been... and lucky.
  • Played with in Moving Violations. The nearly-blind old lady's car stalls on the tracks, and she refuses to get out. The other characters hastily push her car out of the way just in time. Finally aware of the danger, the old lady joins the others on the roadside to gape at the passing train, only to have her car, now empty on the street, run down by an 18-wheeler.
  • Subverted in the movie October Sky: The boys rip up the tracks of a supposedly-abandoned spur line to sell the iron for scrap. One of the boys lampshades this trope, asking if the the tracks really are unused. Sure enough, the moment they've got the heavy rail fully out of alignment, they hear a whistle... Frantically, they try to get the rail back in place, seemingly to no avail as the locomotive bears down on them... Then at the last moment, the train turns away down the main line; and the camera pulls back to reveal that the line they tore up was inactive. As the train passes, the engineer gives them a wave and a confused look. For just this reason, it is illegal for US scrapyards to accept railroad ties, spikes, rails or any other part of the track. Probably wasn't the case back then though as the film takes place in the late 1950s.
  • James Bond in Octopussy is chasing the baddie escaping by train when all the tyres of his Mercedes get shot off. He's in luck since the car's wheels are the exact same gauge of the track the train he is chasing is on; so he proceeds to move the car on to the track and drive on the set of rails next to the escaping train's. Some skidding later, he's making good progress when another train is rushing right at him, so he wisely hops off whilst the Merc gets ploughed right through by the train.
  • Buster Keaton loved this trope. An especially fine example is the ending of his short One Week, in which the DIY house is demolished by an oncoming train.
  • Double subverted in Parlor Bedroom And Bath where Buster Keaton's car gets stuck on the train tracks, and he and his love interest desperately scramble to get out of the car as a train approaches... except it's a double track, and the train passes harmlessly. Beat as they stand around looking embarrassed... and then another train comes in the other direction and smashes the car.
  • The Reluctant Dragon: During the "Making Of Foley" segment with Casey Junior from Dumbo, the little train is puffing his way along down the track with a small passenger train when he suddenly hears a horn blaring in the other direction. Cue a nasty-looking streamliner barring down on him, and Casey quickly hunkers up near a telephone pole waiting for the inevitable collision as he begs for a sleeping switch to wake up. The switch sees the danger and quickly changes tracks.
  • Lampshaded in the German comedy movie Der Schuh des Manitu with the mule "Apollo 13", who refuses to cross train tracks in the middle of a huge empty desert, because all of his twelve brothers were killed on train crossings. He then suddenly steps right on the track when a train approaches in the far distance and refuses to move in any way.
  • Theatre of Blood: Played for Laughs of a very dark kind, combined with Death by Transceiver: a cop hiding in the trunk of a car in an attempt to follow Lionheart ends up parked on train tracks. We hear him over the walkie-talkie to the other cops:
    Cop: I can hear a train whistle... (rumbling sound) I can definitely identify it as a train... (sound grows louder) T-R-A... KERRRR-UNNCH.
  • At the end of Train, Vlad has been badly wounded and Left for Dead lying on the railroad tracks by Alex. After she has walked off, his eyes snap open to show that he is Not Quite Dead. However, he then hears the sound of a train approaching at high speed and, unable to move, he can only lie there as the train runs over him.
  • Another humorous example occurs in the Western comedy The Villain, where the eponymous Cactus Jack Slade ends up caught in his own glue trap on a railroad crossing and gets hit by a train. Because he's Made of Iron, he survives this. (The film is essentially a live-action Roadrunner cartoon.)
  • In The Walking Dead (1936), Blackwood arrives at the railroad station, intending to skip town. When he finds Ellman waiting for him, he panics and tries to get away by running across the tracks, and directly into the path of an oncoming train.
  • The two female leads from Women on the Run are trying to escape from hitmen after their lives, while handcuffed together. They end up jumping off a railroad track suspended over a bay, while two pursuing mafia goons reaches the tracks, gets squashed by an incoming train.
  • Played with in Wrongfully Accused. In parodying The Fugitive, the bus holding Leslie Nelson's character goes off the road due to a banana peel (yeah, it's of those movies) and crashes on the train tracks. He comes to to find the train heading his way. After launching each and every inmate out the window, he hops out and starts to run away from the train... which chases him off the rails, through a forest and right back onto the rails where it's stopped... by a rail switch, putting it on another track.

  • The second Alex Rider book, Point Blanc, has an incident where the annoying Fiona falls off a horse and breaks her ankle in the middle of a kilometre-long train tunnel. Alex and her make it out of the tunnel (on Alex's horse), and manage to jump off the tracks seconds before they are hit by a train.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle, Valancy is crossing the tracks when one of her shoes — previously referred to as foolish — catches. Barney manages to wrest her free.
  • The Stephen King novella The Body, later adapted into the film Stand by Me, has the boys discovering that part of the way to get to their destination is to cross over a rail bridge. The wimpy kid, Vern, tempts fate by wondering would happen if a train comes while they're on the tracks. Of course, Vern is such a pain in the group's side that he has to cross the track, plank by plank, out of fear of falling off the bridge. A train inevitably starts coming down the bridge, causing both Vern and Ralphie to panic. They sprint across the boards and make it to the other side with a grand leap of faith, just barely dodging the train in time.
  • Will Tweedy, the main character in Cold Sassy Tree, very nearly gets run over by a train while fooling around on a trestle. Unable to run off in time, he survives—albeit with some burns and hearing damage—by lying down between the rails and letting the train pass over him.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: Idgie's brother sure picked the wrong moment to show off trying to use the railroad tracks as an impromptu balance-beam: he gets stuck and is fatally run over by a train. Idgie and Ruth's son also loses an arm this way.
  • Mouseheart: This is how Felina meets her end when Ace chases her onto the subway tracks.
  • The Railway Children, as you can guess from the title, has a couple of moments, including an incident where a paper-chaser injures himself inside a tunnel he was running through, and the moment where the three children only just manage to get a train to stop before it crashes on the landslide-blocked track ahead, using flags made from their underclothes. The younger two get off the tracks, but Bobbie, the eldest, keeps standing until the train has stopped - just inches from her. She very understandably faints after it's all over.
  • Raising Steam includes a heart-stopping moment when Moist suddenly sees two kids listening to the funny noise the rails make and realises the train is coming straight towards them. He manages to save them, by dragging them completely under it.
  • The children's book Sam and the Firefly by P.D. Eastman has a scene where a hot dog man is driving the titular firefly, Gus, out of town in his pickup truck for the mean pranks he has pulled with his ability to spell words out of light (he spelled "COLD" above the "HOT DOGS" sign.) The truck stalls on a set of railroad tracks just as a train is coming. Sam the Owl frees Gus from captivity, and Gus manages to stop the train in time by spelling "STOP" in big letters.
  • Shortcut by Donald Crews. It's getting late following a day of play, So seven children decide to take the shortcut home to Bigmama's, even though that means walking along the train tracks when they know they should always take the road. The coast seems clear...
  • There's a science-fictiony variation in the Robert A. Heinlein juvenile Starman Jones in which the title character takes a shortcut through a railroad tunnel. The danger is not that the train will actually hit him—it's a magnetically levitated supersonic "ring train"—the danger is that if he's still in the tunnel when a train comes through, the shockwave in the confined space will pulverize his insides and kill him. He makes it through, but a few minutes later is suddenly knocked unconscious and temporarily deafened by a train going overhead that he never heard coming.
  • In Seven Up, one of the Stephanie Plum novels, it looks like this is how Eddie DeChooch met his fate when the remains of his car are found scattered around the track after a collision. As it turns out, he tried to go through with it, but had a Potty Emergency while waiting and didn't get back to the track in time.
  • In the Walt Disney Alphabet A-Z book, the page for the letter T depicts a turtle crawling slowly across some train tracks as a train approaches it. Fortunately for the turtle, Tramp finds the turtle and carries it away just before the train can run them over.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Tigerheart's Shadow, trains make their first appearance in the series. Tigerheart and his family are staying close to the tracks to find their way home, when one day the kits are playing on the tracks and an unusually fast train comes. Spire saves Lightkit by dragging her out of the way just in time, and warns Tigerheart that they need to leave the tracks or death will come - "Death too quickly. Death without meaning."
  • In Watership Down, a group of rabbits with no experience of trains hear about an 'iron road'. Later, fleeing from enemy rabbits by night, they run across the tracks and watch in terror as a train cuts down their pursuers, which they take for an act of divine intervention.
  • Whispers Underground opens with Snooping Little Kid Abigail getting Peter and Lesley to investigate a ghost on the train tracks under her school (which she saw while waiting to see if the steam locomotive that passes occasionally was the one from the Harry Potter films). It turns out to be a kid from the late 80s, who picked exactly the wrong time to spraypaint "Be Excellent to Each Other" on the sidings. Seeing him re-enact what happened next convinces Abigail to stop looking for the Hogwarts Express down there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: In "The Tale of the Dream Girl", the Dead All Along protagonist and his love interest met their end this way, when their car stalled on a railroad and he tried to go back to fetch their engagement ring.
  • CSI:
    • In an episode, the team solves a case involving a woman whose car was forced onto the track and run over.
    • In another, a group of teenagers stop on a track and serenely wait for the oncoming train while two of the other kids in the car find out that their doors have been locked and the locking bolts disabled. The driver and his girlfriend were part of a suicide pact engineered by the chief villain who needed to eliminate the second couple because they knew too much.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Season 7 brought "Danger on the Hazzard Express," where Boss schemes with two robbers plan to steal the General Lee and, after placing a remote-control device in the engine and steering gear, use it to crash into a train carrying $2 million to the state's reserve. The trope kicks into effect when the robbers – realizing that Bo and Luke will come after them – plans to kidnap the Duke boys, restrain them inside the car and then crash the car into the train. (Boss, knowing what this means, immediately turns against his associates when they refuse to back down. And of course, the Duke boys do manage to regain control of the car and eventually defeat the bad guys.)
  • In the 1st of November 2010 episode of EastEnders, Janine's car stalls as she is going over a level crossing. Of course, the train shows up at that moment, resulting in a very tense, panicky scene.
  • ER used this several times. A surgical intern leaped to his death on the elevated train tracks, while its landmark 150th episode featured the mass casualty caused by a train derailment, which was itself caused by a suicidal young woman parking her car on the tracks.
  • Fringe: Third season episode "The Box" features a version in a subway. Peter goes into the tunnel to retrieve the titular box which emits a Brown Note that kills anyone who hears it. Peter is temporarily deafened by having Olivia (actually her doppelganger from an Alternate Universe, long story) fire her gun close to his ears to protect him from the sound. He's able to silence the box but is unable to hear the approaching subway train, forcing Olivia to run into the tunnel and pull him to safety.
  • Happy Days: Combined with Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts in the episode "The Spirit Is Willing," which aired toward the end of the last season. Fonzie, who is restoring a 1954 Chevrolet convertible, is test-driving the newly-refurbished wheels with his ghostly friend, Nancy, when the car stalls in the middle of a railroad crossing. When the signal lights come on, Fonzie tries to escape the car but finds himself locked in with Nancy holding him back until the train strikes the car ... but at the last instant, Fonzie awakens and realizes he was having a nightmare.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Death in a Chocolate Box", the murderer attempts to escape from Barnaby by hitting him while the car is stopped at a set of boom gates waiting for a train to pass. The murderer leaps out of the car and attempts to dash across the tracks ahead of the oncoming train. They don't make it.
  • The TV show Most Shocking shows a few Real Life instances (see also below) of people getting their vehicles stuck on the tracks. At least twice, car drivers take a wrong turn onto the tracks and get stuck, and they are desperate to try to get the car off, so police have to intervene to keep them away. Other time, a crossing with a high rise snags trailers by the height. In all these instances, they were freight train tracks and the doom doesn't befall the people (because the police restrains the car drivers and the truckers are smart enough to bail) but the vehicles.
  • Rescue 911:
    • In the segment appropriately named "Runaway Boxcars", an elderly couple are swept away without warning by a pair of Runaway Train cars at a crossing, and a nearby police officer risks his life to stop the train before it pushes their car off a bridge or crushes it.
    • In "Conrail Train", brothers Todd and Scott are playing with their toy cars and trucks alongside an active railway, when a train approaches. Despite the blaring of its horn and application of emergency brakes, Scott is struck in the head by the train's snowplow and thought to have been killed, but miraculously survives.
  • Played with in Sh15uya, where the only way out of Shibuya is to cross the train tracks... except if you do attempt to cross them, a train immediately speeds past and blocks your way.
  • The woman in "The Hitchhiker", an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), stalls out her car on the tracks just as a train is coming. She'd actually stopped to wait when she saw the lights flashing, but got scared and tried to drive on when she saw the hitcher.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: Season 9's "Golden Boy" began this way with a group of kids getting high on a new ecstasy drug known as Angel's Kiss. They were so high, three of the kids got hit by an approaching train, but only one got out of the way in time, all while Walker is busy training Juan during a boxing match.

  • Mark Dinning's 1959 hit "Teen Angel" involves a teenaged couple's car stalling at a railroad crossing with a train approaching. They actually make it out in time, but the girl is killed when she runs back to fetch the guy's class ring.
  • Bob Hilliard's 1956 novelty tune "The Middle of the House", which became a hit for such artists as Rusty Draper and Vaughn Monroe, has the singer/narrator detailing how no one lives in that part of his family's house because it has a railroad track running through it, "since the company bought the land". They send annoying visitors to sit in that part of the structure to get rid of them, but then...
    Singer: I'm singin' this song in the middle of the house—
    [train sound fx]
  • The Mills Brothers' "Across the Alley From the Alamo":
    One day, they went a-walkin'
    Along the railroad track
    They were swishin' not a-lookin'
    Toot, toot, they never came back

  • In The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, one of the animated sequences shows Snidley Whiplash tying Nell to a pair of train tracks, only to get hit himself when the train ends up going on another set of tracks that he happens to step onto.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • A controversial storyline in TNA in 2015 involved Mickie James, when Revolution leader James Storm — upset that she declined his offer to join the heel faction Revolution — intentionally shoved her onto a set of railroad tracks. Although no sounds of an approaching train were heard, Storm does take Mickie's phone to call Magnus (with whom James was involved) and tells him, "Mickie won't be home for dinner." As James was set to leave TNA following this angle, the implication was that Storm had killed her, which did not set well with fans. TNA had to invite James to return, creating a storyline where she wanted revenge ... and got it when she pinned Storm's valet, Serena, in an intergender match.

  • Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror, a 1962 spoken-word album by former Lights Out writer/host Arch Oboler, includes a brief audio vignette called "Taking Papa Home", in which a woman is driving her very drunken husband home from his retirement party. They stall on the tracks at a crossing just as a train is approaching, and she can neither get the car started again, push it out of the way, or get her husband (who's passed out) safely out in time. The last thing we hear is the sound of the train crashing into the car.

    Theme Parks 
  • At the Disney Theme Parks:
    • Before it was retooled, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at the Disney theme parks ended by having the car turn onto train tracks and stare down a train in the tunnel. Kind of Dark Humor as it's the last thing before the ride ends, and this is followed by a trip through Hades.
    • Four Words: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
  • At Universal Studios:
    • Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls at Universal's Islands of Adventure features this briefly — at one point, the log ride goes through a dark tunnel. Dudley comments that he's "lost his train of thought," only for a train light to appear at the end of the tunnel. Then the ride rockets down the first drop.
    • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon includes a scene where the riders end up inside the New York subway tunnels, in which they briefly collide with an oncoming train.
    • Grindor in Transformers: The Ride ends up losing one of his arms after he attempts to attack the riders in a subway station. Naturally, you can imagine what took his arm off.

    Video Games 
  • In Agent Under Fire there is a multiplayer map with a subway you must watch out for.
  • APB (1987), an Atari game about a rookie police officer: The player, who controls the protagonist officer's police car, must avoid – among other things – a train. Getting struck by the train simply takes time off the clock.
  • At the end of the level "Wrong Side of the Tracks" in Blood, curious players can follow the tracks outbound and into a tunnel. No points for guessing what happens, and no, you can't outrun or dodge it.
  • The Tundra Express and Lynchwood maps of Borderlands 2 have frequent high-speed trains passing through several areas. Make sure you're nowhere near the rails for more than a few seconds, or whack. The ones in Lynchwood in particular are prone to splattering unwary bandits as well.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops II in the multiplayer map express, there's a bullet train that can kill players.
  • In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, one of the portrait stages (13th Street) begins in an Expy of the London Underground. At first one wouldn't think much of the railroad tracks, thinking it's just part of the flavor (it's a repurposed segment that appeared earlier and was used for a minecart ride)...then the locomotive suddenly appears.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals: Some levels feature trains that run around the map, sometimes for plot reasons like dropping off troops. Any infantry unit will obviously get crushed if they stand in front of it, but so does any vehicle regardless of its size... even buildings can't stop the train from going about its rounds.
    • Hell in some mod's maps the main engine is invincible!
  • In Crash Team Racing, there is a mine cart track in Komodo Joe's boss race. If you time it right and have a turbo, you can cut about 30 seconds off the course (more if you stay on the tracks past the first tunnel... and avoid the oncoming carts.)
  • In the opening scene of Dark Fall Lost Souls, the Inspector wakes up in a debris-filled train tunnel. He only has a minute or so to explore before the sound of an oncoming train is heard, getting louder and louder as he searches in vain for a way through the blockage. Subverted in that it's just sound: the tunnel is haunted by the noise of trains long gone, and the Inspector revives unhurt after the "collision".
  • Def Jam: Fight for New York has a stage set on a subway platform. Every few minutes, a train comes by. It is possible to win by knocking your opponent onto the tracks at the right time.
  • In Déjà Vu (1985) 2, trying to cross the tracks at the railroad station will unerringly summon a train to run you over.
  • The fourth level of Descent 3 has you fly the Pyro through the subway tunnels of Seoul, South Korea. Considered as That One Level by many players.
  • Die Hard: Vendetta has a stage where the player infiltrates a subway, and must avoid passing trains along the way. The game gives a hint on what would happen when hit, with an area containing a dead mook on the tracks in two pieces.
  • Driver 2 has the "Beat The Train" level in Vegas, where you must rescue a guy trapped in a car parked on a railroad trestle.
  • A good way to get to many places in EarthBound Beginnings is by following the train tracks. Thankfully trains will not come by and hit you but the enemies are much, much stronger especially in the tunnel areas.
    • After the time skip in Mother 3 there is a train that goes from the center of Tasmily to a newly build factory. The first few times you attempt to walk along the tracks a NPC looking strongly like Mr. T stops you warning you that it is a stupid idea and not to throw you life away when he walks away the dialog box then comments your life was saved. Once you seem to frustrate him to point he doesn't bother anymore you can pass through, but unlike EarthBound Beginnings there is a train and it will hit (but not kill) you. When you wake up the Mr. T look alike will be there to tell you I told ya so.
  • Grand Theft Auto often features trains that the player must be wary of.
  • F-Zero GX: Captain Falcon's special movie involves him trying to save Mrs. Arrow's baby trapped in the middle of a railroad crossing. She stares in shock, but Falcon arrives and grabs the baby and jumps out of the crossing to avoid the oncoming train. He gives Mrs. Arrow her child, only to have the back of his pants ripped in the process.
  • Freedom Fighters (2003) has a couple levels with trains that can't be destroyed and can kill the player.
  • Tyro Station, One multiplayer level, in Gears of War is set in a train station. It is possible to cross the tracks as long as the train isn't passing through. If the train is passing through, insta-kill.
  • Half-Life 2 features a scene in which Gordon Freeman has to drive across a train bridge. Halfway across, of course, a train comes rushing out at him. Unless the player knows this is coming and plans accordingly, the only option is to drive towards the train at top speed or perform a skid turn and drive the other way at top speed in hopes of making it off the bridge in time.
    • Gordon also has two near encounters with trains in the first two chapters of the game while being pursued by Combine troops. There's a third (not long after the second, at the beginning of "Route Kanal") that will always miss the player, but serves to sweep away the remaining Lemming Cops who might be in pursuit.
  • The multiplayer map Terminal from Halo 2 has a pair of trains that travel at high speeds and will kill you if you are in their path. You will die even if driving a vehicle of any kind, including the tank.
  • In Infamous as powerful as Cole McGrath is, the player still must be wary of the Empire City subway that can really knock Cole far if hit as well as take some damage.
  • The Journeyman Project has an automated tram car in the Morimoto Mars Colony. When an enemy robot takes it back to the surface level, it can't be called again. If Agent 5 actually steps onto the tracks, however, the tram comes careening right at him. The death screen in the original Turbo version even shows Agent 5's head rammed through the windshield.
  • In L.A. Noire there's is a an active railyard that Cole Phelps must be wary of if he happens to chase criminals over there.
  • Episode 2 of Life Is Strange includes a scene where Chloe is lounging on some railroad tracks and gets her foot caught in the switch. It's up to Max to figure out how to get her loose before she gets splattered by a train.
  • Mario Kart 64 features a desert track with a train which spins you out of control if you try to cross the tracks at the wrong time. However, if you time it correctly and very carefully, you can also drive on the tracks through the tunnel in a valuable shortcut.
  • Middens: While exploring a seemingly abandoned subway, the Nomad enters a particularly dark tunnel when suddenly a locomotive appears out of nowhere and he's tossed into a boss fight against the Train of the Dead.
  • Mirror's Edge has a level that takes place (partially) in a subway and another that starts near some train tracks. Both levels require you to run down these tracks, and one actually requires you to jump on top of a train. The train is lethal if it hits you, but if you time it right, you can actually get clear of the trains without one coming along.
  • Propagation have you battling the spider-zombie-hybrid monster, which you shoot repeatedly until it falls into the subway's tracks. Then your train arrives and runs the monster over, only for it to climb back up - sans an arm and with most of its body squashed to a pulp - and continue attacking you.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus has a train on planet Silox that you can get run over by when fighting Neftin Prog, Ratchet saved Clank from this the first time the train came by now it's up to the player to keep dodging since the train can change tracks.
  • This can happen in Red Dead Redemption's single-player mode, as there is always a train in operation; NPCs that get hit by it explode.
  • In Saints Row you can get killed by the subway but you can destroy it with explosives.
  • Silent Hill 3 has a subway car that will ONLY roar in the moment you step on the tracks, resulting in your gruesome death if you don't immediately scramble back onto the platform. Made even nastier by a ghost haunting the area, with a habit of pushing people onto said tracks... Later, there's the Rollercoaster of Doom in the Amusement Park of Doom.
  • Sly 2: Band of Thieves has trains in Canada you must regular be aware of.
  • At one point in the first level of Soldier of Fortune, a train threatens to run you down and you must duck into an alcove to avoid it. Later, there's a set of rails with no apparent active trains, but they are electrified, causing instant death if you touch them.
  • Streets of Rage 3 has you walk through a subway station, dodging mine carts while fighting thugs and ninja. At least the thugs take an absurd amount of damage from getting run over...
  • In Subway Surfers you have to constantly change tracks to avoid the subways.
  • Syphon Filter has a Corridor Cubbyhole Run in an active subway.
  • In Team Fortress 2, you can hear the train coming on the Well maps, but that doesn't stop it from claiming victims who step on the tracks at the most inopportune time.
  • TimeSplitters Future Perfect features an interesting variation of this in the Subway arcade level. The difference being that the trains only come when someone pulls a lever in a booth overlooking the tracks. In theory you can kill an enemy with it, but the chances of it happening are slim and it doesn't count as a kill anyway (just a death for the victim).
  • The Aldwych subway in Tomb Raider III. The trains only appear when you venture onto the tracks, and you must dodge one to access a particular door.
  • Yukari of the Touhou Project games is well known for her control over borders and boundries. One of her specials is to open portals on either side of the intended victim... at which point a subway train barrels through them.
  • In Vanquish's train level, after the enemy train shows up, you have a limited time to kill all the baddies on board, or else the trains collide at the intersection and you die.
  • In World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, one of the bosses in the Blackrock Foundry is Operator Thogar, head of the Iron Horde's rail network. Logically enough his arena is an active railway terminal that includes four tracks; players have to learn the pattern of incoming trains and dodge them, since being hit is instant death on most difficulty levels (Thogar himself is Friendly Fireproof). To make matters worse, some of them are troop or artillery trains with reinforcements.

    Visual Novels 
  • The PS2 release of School Days includes a set of endings where Makoto and Kotonoha are in the subway and Sekai attempts to Murder the Hypotenuse by shoving her rival into the oncoming train's path. This has four different outcomes: she fails and falls onto the tracks herself, she fails, Makoto saves her and is hit instead, BOTH girls fall in front of the train and get splattered in front of a helpless Makoto, and in the HD version, she can actually succeed.
    • Also, in one ending of RapeLay, the protagonist is pushed onto the subway tracks.
  • The confrontation against Kubitarou in Spirit Hunter: NG happens at the Kintoki railroad crossing. Depending on the player's actions, they can lure Kubitarou in front of the train and destroy her, though this leads to a Bad End where Akira's companion is murdered.

    Web Original 
  • Nyx Crossing prominently features a set of railroad tracks. Though there's no train, the monster seems to be attracted to them.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In the "Sonic Says" segment for "High Stakes Sonic", Scratch challenges Grounder to a race across a railway bridge, but Grounder finds out that a train is about to cross it. Scratch ignores him and the two robots race across the bridge. They only get halfway across the bridge as the train approaches it, but jump off before the train can run them over. Sonic advises the viewers against taking dares like these.
    • In "Full Tilt Tails", the deuteragonist Tails wants to race a train, but he gets his foot caught in the train tracks as the train is barreling towards him! Luckily, Sonic quickly builds a new set of train tracks over Tails so the train avoids him altogether.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In "The Underdwellers", Batman is pursuing the Sewer King, a Fagin-esque slave driver who's forced Gotham's young runaways to work for him, when the subway train comes along. In spite of the fact Batman is thoroughly disgusted with what the Sewer King did, he saves him—but then makes it abundantly clear he was sorely tempted to kill the man.
    • In "It's Never Too Late", the brother of a boy who grew up to be one of Gotham's top mob bosses lost his leg when his foot got caught in the rails of a train track at the wrong time. Said brother grew up to become a priest and convinced his mob brother in the present day to finally turn himself into the police so he could begin the atoning for the crimes and guilt he'd built up over the years.
    • In "Appointment in Crime Alley", a trolley loses its brakes as Batman is trying to rush to Crime Alley to stop a section of it from being demolished by Roland Daggett, especially since his friend Dr. Leslie Thompkins is trapped in that area. Batman has to use The Batmobile to stop the trolley before it can careen into a crowded intersection, forcing him to run on foot the rest of the way.
    • In "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy", Josiah Wormwood is hired to steal Batman's cape and cowl. His first act is to lure Batman to an old railroad museum, where an active locomotive is set to run over an innocent woman unless Batman hands over his cape and cowl. Batman manages to get out of the engine and narrowly grab the woman before the train hits her... except she's a hologram! Wormwood apparently wouldn't dare resort to such tactics, but the locomotive isn't so lucky when it hits the end of track bumper and derails.
    • In "What Is Reality?", Batman is forced to enter a Virtual Reality machine set up by The Riddler in order to rescue Commissioner Gordon. When attacked by the forces guarding Gordon's location, Batman finds a door marked "Crazy Intention", which Robin warns not to open because it also means "Loco Motive". Cue the train barreling down the virtual goons, which, knowing Batman, he intended to let happen.
  • In one episode of Budgie the Little Helicopter, Budgie is following a railway to find his destination. He decides to go through a tunnel... just as a train is coming through. Luckily he manages to dodge the train by backing out of the tunnel.
  • At the end of the Color Classics short "Play Safe! Play Safe!", two trains collide with each other. Fortunately, it was All Justa Dream.
  • The Davey and Goliath episode "The Caretakers" features a scene with Davey and Goliath hiking on train tracks. But then Davey decides to pretend he's Chained to a Railway and starts making "clackety-clack" train noises, and thus cannot hear an actual freight train speeding towards him. Luckily Goliath pulls Davey off the tracks just in time.
  • In the Dennis the Menace episode, "Wheeling and Double Dealing", Winston's lackeys sabotage Dennis and PeeBee's road map by drawing a line on it, leading the two to drive onto a set of railroad tracks. A train approaches them, but fortunately, they get out of the way before it can hit them.
  • Family Guy: In the episode "Three Kings," there is a parody of the train scene in Stand by Me, with Joe's legs taking the impact of the train.
    • Which is immediately followed by another train.
    Joe: (as he's being run over by the second train) What an odd clustered train schedule!
  • Hell Bent For Election: Inverted, as the Defeatist Limited’s railroad line’s track is switched to Roosevelt’s, causing the former to crash.
  • Justice League Unlimited: Green Arrow and Black Canary are chasing the Question and the Huntress through a train tunnel. And wouldn't ya know it, a train comes in at just the right time:
    Huntress Train.
    Question I see it.
    Huntress Train!
    ' I see it! *turns into an empty tunnel at the last second*
    • Green Arrow and Black Canary are not so lucky...they are teleported out, leaving Canary's motorbike to get crushed.
  • King of the Hill: Hank's old pickup was destroyed when it stalled out at a grade crossing and was eventually run down by a train. Played with; Hank attempts to push the truck off the tracks (to no avail) and then spends a considerable amount of time attempting to fix the truck before the train arrives.
  • A common gag in the Road Runner shorts in the Looney Tunes is for Wile E. Coyote to paint a tunnel complete with railroad tracks in it. The Road Runner goes in unscathed - but Wile E. Coyote is promptly run over by an impromptu train. Of course, this use of the trope is so amusingly illogical that it goes straight through Fridge Logic and into Rule of Funny.
    • One variation is Wile E. building a fake railroad crossing to stop the Road Runner. Unfortunately, no one told the train.
    • Wile E. fell victim to another train in his pairing with Bugs Bunny in "Operation: Rabbit." The coyote has taken refuge in an explosives shack where he was filling carrots with nitroglycerin, when Bugs chains the building to a tractor and pulls it onto a railroad crossing. Just as Wile E. is admiring himself ("Wile E. Coyote, super genius! I like the way that rolls out: Wile E. Coyote. Suuuppper geeennnius"), he hears a train whistle and looks out the window...
    • In Bosko and Bruno, Bruno gets his foot caught in a railroad track and apparently is run over, but survives by ducking into a convenient trap door.
    • In The Duxorcist, at one point, Daffy tries to get a glass out of a cupboard. Since the apartment he's visiting is haunted, the cupboard can't supply him, but instead, provides him with live action footage of a train coming towards the camera. He closes the cupboard in time before the train bursts out.
    • In "Bugs and Thugs", Bugs is held captive by Rocky and Mugsy. When they approach a railroad track with a sign flashing, Rocky makes Bugs get out of the car and check to see of the tracks are clear. Bugs lies and says it's ok to go. When they try the cross the tracks, a train comes and hits them. Rocky and Mugsy get the last laugh, however. They make Bugs repair the car, and then substitute for a missing tire.
  • In Mickey's Trailer, as the trailer, with Mickey and Donald inside, detaches from its car and careens down a steep mountain road, it approaches a crossing with an oncoming train. It just beats the train across, and the two barely have time to sigh in relief when the trailer approaches the train again further downhill, this time just missing the back end.
  • During the title card for each Over the Garden Wall episode, the sound of a distant train whistle can be heard and the silhouette of a train is seen. Once episode nine, "Into the Unknown" starts the audience learns this is because when Wirt and Greg went over the cemetery wall, they landed on train tracks where an oncoming train fast approaches. The brothers narrowly avoid getting hit, but fall down a hill and into a lake when jumping off the tracks, where they lose consciousness and almost drown. For even more emphasis, an updated cover of a Woody Guthrie song called "Old Black Train", which has many metaphors and allusions to death, plays as the boys tumble down the hill.
  • Popeye and Bluto are trying to injure themselves in "Nurse To Meet You" so they can get near nurse Olive at the hospital. The climax has them fighting for a spot on a railroad track so they can get run over by a train. They punch each other off the track as the train passes.
  • Rocko's Modern Life:
    • In "Scrubbin' Down Under", Rocko is forced to watch a movie about hygiene, where the unhygenic bad example kid Jimmy nearly gets run over by a train because he can't hear it coming thanks to his waxy ears.
      Narrator: With hygiene, you'll have more friends and be less offensive to those around you... and you could live longer.
    • "Driving Mrs. Wolfe" featured this when Rocko was teaching Heffer's mother, Virginia Wolfe, how to drive. She manages to park the car right onto a railway crossing just as the gates go down. Luckily they were wearing their seat belts. What made this even worse is that Virginia refused to move because Rocko was yelling at her... because the train was coming.
  • A couple of examples from the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!...
    • In "Mine Your Own Business," Fred comes up with a plan to catch and trap the ghostly Miner '49er haunting the Abandoned Mine. We then fade to the Miner suddenly seeing and hearing what seems like a train approaching, only it turns out to actually be Shaggy making train noises into a speaker as Scooby runs down the track with a flashlight.
    • In "Decoy for a Dognapper," Scooby is sent on an old handcar down railroad tracks by the dognappers, but the gang arrives in time to save him. After Shaggy jumps onto the handcar, the train goes onto a trestle, and the two have to outrun an approaching speeding train (resembling an older Santa Fe passenger train). Fortunately, Fred comes to the rescue by throwing a switch track.
    • In "Foul Play in Funland", when a bumper car driven by Velma and Scooby goes out of control when they are chased by Charlie the robot, especially when she loses her glasses, they end up driving towards a train crossing, with a train approaching. Velma and Scooby make it through the crossing in time, but the train hits Charlie, but no harm is done to him because he is a robot, and he just lands in one of the cars.
  • Sly Fox And Birdie plays this straight, but this is mostly due to it being a childrens' railway safety video from 1992. Almost any time railroad tracks are present (and Sly Fox is trespassing on them in some way), a freight train always shows up. Sly Fox even gets run over by the train at one point, to which he comments "If I weren't a cartoon character, I'd be dead as a doornail!"
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Solar Power", Luminus, aka Edward Lytener, hijack's Lex Luthor's communication satellites and has them filter the sun's rays to make them red, thus weakening Superman as part of his revenge plot for foiling his earlier assassination attempt on Lois Lane. In his weakened state, Superman is put into a hard-light hologram of a train yard during his rescue attempt of Lois and Jimmy Olsen, at which point a fake train comes barreling down toward him. Since he's been weakened, he can't afford to take the hit, and narrowly dodges out of the way.
  • Happens in the Teen Titans episode "Mask" when Red X knocks Beast Boy onto a subway track.
  • This has been used in Thomas & Friends, to other trains:
    • In "Percy Runs Away", Percy fails to warn a signalman that he is on the main line, and so finds Gordon bearing down on him with the Express.
    • In "Emily's New Coaches", Emily saves Oliver from a similar fate when he stalls on a diamond crossing.
  • Transformers: Animated: While attempting to catch the bad guy, Bumblebee ends up spinning out of control and getting stuck on a railroad crossing, right as an inbound train is approaching him. Luckily, Bulkhead is able to grab the train and stop it before he gets smashed.
  • Wacky Races: In "Ballpoint, Penn. or Bust!", Dick Dastardly sets up a fake train crossing, but the train comes out of the screen and runs over him.

    Real Life 
  • Sadly, this trope is Truth in Television, particularly at locations where highways and railroads meet at grade or at busy passenger stations. For some reason, an alarming number of people don't seem to realize a train can come at any time, or that on a double-track railroad (or in some cases even a single-track one), another train can come as soon as the first one clears.
    • Train engineers have support groups for this. If you've been driving a train for more than two years, you likely have killed at least one person.
    • A recent Today report discussed the growing trend of people taking pictures on railroad tracks. Nearly 600 people have been struck, more than half of whom have died. All because they have wrongly assumed that will see and hear a train with plenty of time to get off the track before it hits them. As it turns out, trains are surprisingly quiet, often not audible until they are right next to you (at which point it is far too late to jump to safety), and they move incredibly fast, covering the length of a football field in three seconds. This is hauntingly demonstrated in one of the pictures shown, in which three teenage girls are posing. Visible in the background are the headlights of an oncoming train, which the girls are clearly blissfully unaware of, given their happy expressions. Within seconds of the photo taken, they were struck and killed.
    • It's not just hazardous to the driver of the car, either. The Selby and Ufton Nervet crashes in Britain saw express passenger trains derailed and several passengers killed or badly injured in the ensuing wrecks.
  • The New York City Subway kills about one person a week (58 in 2014, 50 in 2016), and the statistics are printed on the back of Metro Cards and in train cars. A good portion are suicides, followed by clueless passengers hopping over the platform to retrieve something they dropped. It's possible to dodge an oncoming train by simply rolling under the gap beneath the platform, but nobody ever thinks to do this (at least not on purpose). Occasionally, some of these track fatalities occur by touching the electrified third rail and getting zapped to death. Another problem posed by track fatalities is that they in turn disrupt service, frustrating riders even more.
  • Railroad tracks aren't even safe if there's no train nearby. If there isn't a manual handle next to them, the track switches are controlled in a nerve center miles away... if you happen to be walking along the tracks and you happen to be stepping between the rails at a junction when the track switches over, you are going to be stuck there, screaming in pain until the train arrives passes and runs you over, possibly derailing itself. It will also hurt your foot. So.... if you're trespassing on railroad tracks, stay away from the junctions. You may as well go step on a Bear Trap.
  • However, if for some reason your car is stopped on a railroad track and a train is coming, it is at this point that one should remember that cars come standard with inventions known as "doors". Furthermore, when you are running away, run towards the train (a safe distance away from the tracks, obviously), as in that direction you are least likely to get hit by the flying wreck of the car.
  • "Touching wires causes instant death. $200 fine."(sign on Newcastle Tramway)
  • In West Seattle, there's a crosswalk leading right into a railroad track with no legal crossing. Epic Fail, indeed.
  • In addition, if there's an emergency (be it a broken down vehicle or even finding that someone/thing has actually been Chained to a Railway) and you need an oncoming train to stop as fast as it can, there is a method anyone on the ground can use to signal it to do so: Take a fairly large cloth, a jacket, or something similar (preferably red, but any good and bright color will do), and wave it rapidly in front of the tracks (think bullfighter, with the train as your bull). But remember that this is for emergency situations only, and should be considered the equivalent to calling 911, pulling a building's fire alarm, or pulling a train's own on-board emergency brake.
  • In the town of Grenada, Mississippi, at a particularly dangerous railroad crossing with high-speed trains that had seen one too many crossing accidents, in 1940 inventor Allonzo Billups invented a new type of crossing signal that utilized a very different type of warning, involving the words "STOP - DEATH - STOP" flashing in red neon accompanied by an illuminated skull and crossbones and a small air raid siren as the audible warning. Apparently, scaring people into stopping for trains was the most effective way at the time to reduce crossing accidents. Over the decades the signal began to deteriorate (sometimes the siren would keep wailing after the signal deactivated and not stop until a railroad worker came to fix it) and the way it was designed to work was considered a case of Awesome, but Impractical, and in 1970 the "death crossing" signal was removed and replaced with typical crossing flashers and bells that are still there to this day. (It also helps that speeding passenger trains don't use the railroad line anymore, which is now mainly used by freight trains.)
  • The electrified third rails used to power subway trains are a literal example of the trope, touching (by falling off the platform and onto the tracks) or even peeing on the third rail would usually result in fatal electrocution.
  • Street-running trains, railroads that go through roads and have tracks embedded into the roads.
  • Bangkok, Thailand has an outdoor street market with a railroad track going through it.
  • Hanoi, Vietnam's "Train Street" is a narrow alleyway with a railroad track going through it.


Cheasel T. Weasel

The first of Cheasel's many comeuppances in the film.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / RailroadTracksOfDoom

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