A gag in comedies involving driving has the driver removing the steering wheel (or handlebars) by accidentally or intentionally letting someone Take the Wheel. Often this means the vehicle will go out of control or become inoperable, though there are instances where reinserting the wheel (whether in its original place or otherwise) will allow regained control.
Often happens with The Alleged Car.
Examples:Anime & Manga
- Goku does this in one of Dragonball Z's later filler episodes, while taking his driver's license test.
- A particularly funny gag in the Lupin III manga has a mook asking his boss if his car has a detachable steering wheel. After being informed there's no such thing, the mook replies "Then we've got a problem."
- The Lupin III (Red Jacket) series has an episode where Lupin detaches the wheel, turns his seat around, and inserts it in the rear. He calls it, "Switch-to-back".
- The Ghost Rider had an incident when he was fighting a thug attacking a circus with a massive earthmover vehicle and he manages to get into the control compartment. As they fight for the controls, the thug sees the vehicle moving towards some place undesirable and pleads with the demon superhero to give him the wheel. The Rider obliges him by ripping out the entire steering column, but the fainting thug doesn't notice that the Rider was also hitting the brake pedal at the same time to bring the vehicle to a stop.
- Watchmen: Nite Owl II's transport has a removable steering column; he uses it on the roof of the transport when he & Laurie rescue a bunch of people from a burning building and they run out of room on the inside.
- A variation happens in Cattivik, with the main character stealing the steering wheel of a space shuttle (?) and causing it to crash on Mars.
- Played seriously in issue 3 of All-New Wolverine. During a high-speed chase, Wolverine jumps into Mooney's HUMVEE, rips out the steering wheel, and jumps out again. The vehicle careens out of control and slams into a tree, allowing the Sisters to escape.
- Variation: in Go West, the Marx Brothers are on a runaway train. Chico yells to Harpo, "Brake! The brake!" So Harpo breaks the brake.
- The Three Stooges has several examples of this, including one where Curly grasps the wheel-less shaft and twists it with both hands in a lame attempt to steer the car.
- In the W.C. Fields film The Bank Dick (1940), when asked by the thug in the back seat to give him the wheel, Egbert Souse (Fields) matter-of-factly pulled it off the steering column and gave it to him. This sequence paid homage to the Mack Sennett/Keystone Cops and Hal Roach/Our Gang comedies of the 1920s and 1930s. Model T Fords were generally used for these comic chases.
Souse: We're gonna have an accident if we're not careful...
- Taxi (US Remake): Belle has one, but it's so she can change her taxi steering wheel for a professional steering wheel. This also happened in the original.
- In Moonraker, Jaws and some mooks are chasing James Bond in a speedboat when Jaws takes the wheel a little too literally.
- In Rush Hour, Jackie Chan's character removes the wheel from Chris Tucker's character's car after being handcuffed to it.
- In The Cat in the Hat , the cat and two kids are in the middle of a car chase when not only does the cat literally give one kid the wheel, but also fabricates a new one, so they're driving one car with two separate wheels.
- In the animated 101 Dalmatians, Horace and Jasper panic and tear the wheel off their truck when they're about to crash into Cruella.
- Happens in Jonah: a VeggieTales Movie: Mr. Asparagus gets his guitar neck caught in the van's steering wheel and wrenches it off trying to get unstuck. Bob is able to plug it back in just in time to swerve to avoid two accidents — but not before losing all four of their tires to an angry mother porcupine.
- In The Muppet Movie, Fozzie accidentally pulls the steering wheel off the car when trying to chase down Gonzo, who is floating on a bunch of balloons.
- BIONICLE: in Legends of Metru Nui, Matau accidentally breaks the handlebars off the moto-sled he was riding in the Test Track, resulting in crashing.
- The Yawning Heights by Alexander Zinoviev had one cadet telling the story about another in his academy. The guy was a decent pilot, but afraid to land, and his instructor planned a sneaky move — to remove his stick in flight, so that the student would have to land their plane on his own. But the cadet heard about that and took a spare. And when the instructor shown him his disconnected stick and threw it out, the student also shown him a stick and threw it out.
- Mr. Bean does this on purpose whenever he parks, so his car won't get stolen. It works: In one episode, we see an actual car thief getting as far as jump-starting the car only to realize that the wheel is missing.
- Has happened a number of times on Top Gear, usually when they are messing around with very cheap cars they have acquired for their projects.
- In one "Handyman Corner" segment of The Red Green Show, Red customized a car to have (among other things) an intentionally removable steering wheel (really a collapsible strainer) to be used as part of an anti-theft device. After all, who would steal a car that has no steering wheel?
- A go-cart version was enshrined in the opening credits of Eight Is Enough.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "The Oakhurst Music Festival", while giving driving lessons to Stretch Snodgrass, Miss Brooks asks him to give her the wheel. Snodgrass literally gives Miss Brooks the steering wheel.
- DuckTales: In "The Uncrashable Hindentanic", Glomgold tricks kooky captain Farley Foghorn into removing the steering wheel and taking it with him to the zeppelin's dining room.
- Doug once included a fantasy in which Doug and Skeeter were truck drivers. Skeeter's request to take the wheel ends up with Doug giving it to him.
- Wallace & Gromit's van in A Matter of Loaf and Death has a steering wheel that can be removed, and plugged into the passenger's dashboard and used.
- In one of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, a dim Globetrotter, when told to 'turn the wheel around' on a ship, takes the helm off its spot and puts it on the other side.
- In the "Carnival Calamity" episode of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, when the heroes are on a roller coaster descending toward the ocean, Dum Dum pulls this gag when Clyde says, "Give me the steering wheel. … On second thought, you can have it back!"
- Sonic purposely does this to Scratch and Grounder before giving them the car as a game show prize in an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Happens in the Mickey Mouse short Plane Crazy.
- Filmations Ghostbusters: In "Runaway Choo-Choo," Apparitia sabotages the train's brakes in this way when Jake says, "Bad break for you!"
- Kaeloo: In the episode "Let's Play Driver's License", Quack Quack takes a driving test with Mr. Cat as the driving instructor. After doing random things such as tickling Quack Quack and shining a flashlight in his eyes, Mr. Cat rips out the steering wheel and somehow escapes from the car. Quack Quack winds up driving off a cliff.
- Most modern racing cars have quick-release removable steering wheels to save space and to aid safety - it's much easier to quickly jump out of, or extricate an injured driver from a cramped racing car without a steering wheel in the way. The racers attach the steering wheel after they get in the car and remove it before they get out.
- These are available for use in older collectible cars (before locking steering mechanisms became standard) as an anti-theft device.
- Most modern cars require removing the air bag cover and undoing a large bolt underneath to remove the steering wheel itself. Ripping the wheel off otherwise requires a great deal of force.