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Ride the Lightning

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"Why don't you make someone else ride your lightning, for a change?"

Using lightning or electricity as a form of travel. It can vary from turning into electricity yourself to traveling along it, using it as some sort of conduit, or even just surfing on a bolt of lightning.

May be Fast as Lightning. A Sister Trope to Electric Slide. For riding lava, see Lava Surfing.

Compare Ride the Rainbow, Shock and Awe, Sky Surfing, Elemental Shapeshifter.

Not related to Electric Torture or the Metallica album (although the trope was named for the latter). Also not related to when a bipolar person decides No Medication for Me while in a manic phase, occasionally termed "riding the white lightning". Nor does this refer to execution via electrocution, although the trope title is a slang phrase for such an execution.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Enel in One Piece, who has the power to transform his body into lightning.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: When Negi masters Magia Erebea, a technique which allows him to fuse himself with offensive spells, his affinity for lightning, wind and light magic lends itself to this.
    • Jovis Tempestas Fulguriens ("Jovian Windstorm of Lightning") blasts a vortex of wind and lightning energy at opponents. When equipped, it creates the form Agilitas Fulminis ("With Lightning Speed"), which electrifies Negi's body and grants him great agility.
    • The Fantastic Nuke spell Khilipl Astrape ("Thousand Thunderbolts") can be absorbed to enter the state He Astrape Huper Ouranou Mega Dunamene, better known as Raiten Taisou ("Might of the Great Thunderclap"). Apart from fortifying Negi's body, this drastically improves his Flash Step skills, allowing him to transform into a bolt of lightning in short bursts. However, the technique has blind spots due to his human reaction time and his need to send out streamers of charged particles before the main bolt strikes. This leads to...
    • Tastrapa Huper Ouranou Mega Dunamena, or Raiten Taisou II ("Might of the Twin Thunderclaps"), activated by absorbing two Khilipl Astrape spells at the same time, which transforms Negi into a being of pure "heavenly fire", similar to a lightning genie. Not only does this allow him to maintain constant lightning-speed while retaining full awareness of his surroundings, it also makes him an Elemental Shapeshifter who can disperse parts of his body into lightning to avoid attacks.
  • A Certain Magical Index/A Certain Scientific Railgun: The titular Railgun, Mikoto, is capable of surfing along steel-framed concrete walls, Spiderman-style, thanks to her abilities to control electricity. When she does that, there is a visible lightning "leash" extending from her body. Taken to a more literal extreme in the OVA, where, in an alley with steel-framed concrete walls on both sides, she uses her abilities to fly through the air. The point of which was to ride the lightning fast enough to fit through a small section at the end and circle back around through the next alley to get behind whoever was following her the whole episode, who, in their inability to ride the lightning, would be forced to turn around to leave. Riding the Lightning, indeed. Then taken Up to Eleven in the SS novels where it shows that she can use her ability over large bodies of water to induce hydrolysis in water molecules to ride the lightning as well. And later taken to an even higher extreme when she is forcibly subjected to a Level 6 Shift, gaining the ability to effectively teleport to where a beam of electricity she created had struck in the process, apparently by travelling through the electric beam itself.
  • Laxus from Fairy Tail can turn himself into lightning for a time in order to dodge attacks and quickly close the distance on foes. It's also implied he can use this for high-speed travel, as shown with his Big Damn Heroes moment in the Sirius Island arc where he arrives and blasts his way into Grimoire Heart's airship in a bolt of lightning.
  • Rotom in one of the Decolora Islands Pokémon episodes does this to get into appliances and eat electricity.
  • Killua from Hunter × Hunter uses his electrified aura to move at high speed.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Raika is a thunder beast, and can turn himself into electricity and travel along any conductor at blinding speed. Ruby quickly realizes that Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress and punches him as he comes out.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man foe Electro is sometimes shown traveling by surfing a lightning bolt.
  • Superman Blue could travel as a lightning bolt.
  • Jenny Sparks does the "transform-into-electricity-via-power-lines" variant for cross-country travel.
  • Doctor Strange learned how to teleport via lightning when the Ancient One's nemesis Kaluu was his mentor, but he considered it a form of dark sorcery.
  • Captain Marvel in 52 exploits his transformation method (yelling "Shazam!" and getting struck by a bolt of lightning,) and then rides the bolt of lightning down to a rampaging Black Adam (who gets his power via the same method) to strike him with it instead to force him to transform back to normal.
  • Sparx from Superboy and the Ravers loses her human shape altogether when she flies fast enough since she is an Energy Being when not in human form.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): In the Silver Age Diana could lasso lightening and use it to swing herself along.

    Fan Fiction 


  • The Colour of Magic: This is what Twoflower thinks Rincewind is talking about when he expresses a desire to "harness the lightning".
  • Lightning Dust does the turn into lightning version, once winding up inside a streetlight on his first flight.
  • Journey to Chaos: When Kallen receives a blessing from Ligol, the lightning goddess, one of the abilities this grants her is teleporting via this method. Her body, and that of anyone touching her, transforms into lightning and then strikes where she wants to land. This means she can't use it to go anywhere lightning wouldn't be able to reach, such as a room deep underground.
  • In The Dreamers series by David Eddings, the Elder God Veltan has a pet lightning bolt that he rides for quick long-range transport. Disadvantages include having to avoid collateral damage, because gods are absolutely forbidden from taking life, and showing up with static-frizzed hair.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It's been...theorized...that all the supernatural entities in Twin Peaks travel this way. A few odd incidents (particularly in The Movie) are accompanied by shots of buzzing power lines. The same thing happens in Mulholland Dr. at one point, possibly for the same reason. Uhh, maybe.
  • The Psycho Rangers from Power Rangers in Space all seem to have this ability, as well as mechanical possession. One of them even uses it to take over a Megazord.
  • In the first episode of Tracker, Cole, in his natural energy form, travels through a power line to get to the ground.

  • The eponymous Tiger Rider from "Tiger Rider vs. the Time Sprinkler!" by The Aquabats! is implied to have this power.
    Grab a hold of the lightning bolt
    And you pull down the lightning
    (Ride the lightning!)

  • The Metallica album is the Trope Namer but not an example.

  • Luna from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues is capable not only of controlling lightning, but turning into lightning herself and moving through power lines while in that form.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Simbul of Forgotten Realms, after lots of experiments with polymorphing into inanimate objects (which sane mages avoid) and self-enspelling, acquired an ability she uses when even the most powerful magic-user in her world (and not quite in her right mind) must leave in haste: she turns herself into chain lightning, thunders through the area, then the last bolt turns into a meteor and flies away.
  • Palladium Books features this trope in a few of its works:
  • Ofanim of Lightning in In Nomine can become electricity in order to travel along wires between two electric devices. It's rather hard on the devices used though.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 has the spell Lightning Leap, which inflicts electricity damage in a straight line and transports the caster to the end of the line. There's also a fire-based version in the form of Firestride Exhalation, where the caster breathes a cone-shaped stream of fire and can transport themselves to any space within the cone.
  • Pathfinder has a supplement called Ultimate Magic, which features a spell called Ride the Lightning, where the user turns into a lightning bolt that blasts through enemies, ignites flammable objects and melts metal.
    • Non-casters can achieve the same effect with the magical Boots of Lightning Leaping.
    • Air kineticists from Occult Adventures can do this at 12th level. One can also ride the earth, aether, water, air or fire if lightning is not in their element.
  • An entire character focus of Numenera revolves around combining this trope in special as well as Shock and Awe in general. It is, appropriately, called "Rides the Lightning".
  • An odd example occurs in Changeling: The Dreaming with the Hsien. Fire Alchemy originally only allowed its Path Of The Elements to be used on burning buildings and Lava. But in modern times Hsien learned how use it to travel between lightning bolts, power lines and fiber optic cables.

    Video Games 
  • In an old hilarious DOS game Space Dude one of the environmental stages literally made you ride the lightning - that is, the Surfer Dude had to keep shocking himself, otherwise he would fall.
  • One of Ky Kiske's Overdrives in the Guilty Gear is named this because it, too, was named after the song "Ride the Lightning."
    • His son Sin uses the version called "R.T.L".
  • In Guild Wars, there is an Air Magic spell called Ride the Lightning that warps you next to a targeted enemy, dealing lightning damage to the enemy.
  • Cole of inFAMOUS and inFAMOUS 2 can travel extremely quickly by sliding along electrified wires - and they do have to be electrified. Amusingly, this works of something similar to the principle of a railgun. The sequel introduces the Lightning Tether, which is essentially a grappling hook made of lightning.
  • Pulseman's array of electricity-based powers includes the Volteccer, which turns him into a flying ball of electricity. This also allows Pulseman to travel along power lines. In addition, he can transform himself into an electrical signal to travel through Cyberspace.
    • In the Super Smash Bros. series of games, Pikachu inherits this ability as its Final Smash, Volt Tackle (which actually is called Volteccer in Japan). As of Ultimate, Pichu also has access to it.
  • The Electrical Melee powerset in City of Heroes has "Lightning Rod" as its final power. It works very similarly to the Guild Wars "Ride the Lightning" already mentioned. The user teleports to a targeted location, damaging any enemies near the landing point.
  • Raiden's I NEED MY MONEY teleport attack in Mortal Kombat.
  • Ghosts in Ghost Trick can travel through phone lines.
  • The protagonist of Teslagrad finds a pair of boots that allow him to do this over short distances early on.
  • The Mechanical Lifeforms of Wiral from Meteos can turn their bodies into electricity to travel across their planet via it's vast network of wires.
  • Mario can capture spark pylons in Super Mario Odyssey, turning him into an electric ball that can quickly move across electricity lines.

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Soya can skate across the ground at high speeds by channeling lightning through the soles of his feet.


    Western Animation 
  • Freakazoid! sometimes travels as a head on a zig-zag bolt of electricity/lightning.
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien gives Ben a new alien form, Ampfibian, an Electric Jellyfish that can, among many other things, transform into pure energy and travel through power lines and circuitry.
  • Dragons: Riders of Berk: The Skrill, the first electric dragon seen in the series, is able to call down a lightning strike and travel across it to get into the sky in the blink of an eye.
  • Transformers' pesky Kremzeek.
  • Superman villain Livewire used this trick.
  • In Static Shock, Static can rail-slide on power lines, but his typical mode of travel is surfing on a collapsible metal disc.
  • Juice, the member of the Ultimen, in Justice League Unlimited can do this.
  • Darkwing Duck's foe Megavolt can "skate" along power lines.
  • Xiaolin Showdown had the Shard of Lightning, a Shen Gong Wu that let its user travel at the speed of light for the brief seconds in which the lightning struck, as well as the Denshi Bunny, another Wu that turns the user into electricity so that they can travel through wires and other electrical circuitry.
  • SWAT Kats villain Hard Drive can travel through phone lines and electrical and computer systems and steal data from the latter while wearing his Surge Coat. The Kats actually take advantage of this by using a specially designed missile that cuts off the cable segment he was in, and forcibly sticks him in a containment unit.
  • Adventure Time: Jake's hybrid granddaughter, Bronwyn, can summon storm clouds to teleport as a lightning bolt.

    Real Life 
  • This is approximately how a railgun works - although it does require a metallic rail (or two) as a medium, it's the closest thing to this trope that exists in reality.