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Roadside Wave

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Shame they didn't have the boards ready.

A character is walking along the road when a car drives past through a puddle, splashing them big-style with water. Usually used as a comedic device which adds insult to injury in the events of an already bad day, perhaps after the character wonders how it could get any worse. Often the number one cause of Doomed New Clothes, especially fancy, expensive clothes. May lead to a Wardrobe Wound.

As you might expect and as several unfortunate saps can attest to, this is Truth in Television. However, Do Not Try This at Home — in many jurisdictions, deliberately (or even accidentally if you could have avoided doing so) driving through puddles to soak pedestrians can get you cited under "driving without due care for other road users" statutes. There have also been cases where people have lost their jobs for doing this in the company vehicle.



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  • Parodied in an advertisement for beer, where a man waiting at a bus stop realizes to his horror that the driver of an approaching car is going to inflict this on him. The driver grins evilly and pushes the accelerator to the floor. The car reaches the puddle... and sinks.
  • Another advert for a car plays with this trope. Earlier an elderly gent was on a massive yacht with two attractive young ladies, he sails by two people windsurfing and the wake knocks them off balance. Later one of the guys windsurfing driving home sees the gent a pair or lovely, erm, ladies walking by a massive puddle. They recognise each other and the gent looks on with horror as the car speeds up only for the man to avoid the puddle.
  • A Brazilian Volkswagen advert also parodied the trope, because the model in question was an offroad. It started as an average off-roader ad, showing the car driving on all kinds of terrain. At the end, when the car gets to the city, covered in mud, another car drives by and splashed it with so much water, it washes off all the mud. The owner of the off-roader gets out... and weeps in despair.
  • In one of the Expedia ads where the guy is predicting everything that's going to happen while he's walking down the street on his trip, this is one of them. "Embarrassingly transparent."

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ed in Fullmetal Alchemist. He gets soaked, so he uses alchemy to dry off, and is immediately arrested.
  • Ranma ½:
    • A running gag involved Ryōga walking along and getting splashed by something. Can be a car going by, can be someone tossing used washwater out of a window, can be (and often is) an old woman watering her plants via ladle. Since cold water turns him into a pig, this is milked for all the humor value possible.
    • Ranma him, er, herself often gets this treatment too.
  • Mamimi in FLCL gets soaked by a passing motorbike in the final episode. She later gets revenge by having the terminal core eat the bike.
  • In the very first episode of Saber Marionette J, Lime walks out of a store happily wearing the new clothes Otaru bought for her. Then Hanagata passes by driving his car splashing her. Otaru demands that he apologizes but Hanagata refuses, and Lime chases him around the block and tosses him a four-story building at him.

    Comic Books 
  • One the "peeves" confronted by Ali Babble in the Golden Age Batman story "Ali Babble and the Fourteen Peeves". He hauls the driver out of his car and hurls him bodily into a puddle.

    Comic Strips 
  • A Scamp story has Scamp getting completely covered in mud by a car splash, which gets him confused for a puppy that looks exactly like him, but brown. After escaping, he promptly finds a water puddle and waits for another car to go by in order to wash off.
  • In Knights of the Dinner Table #200, Bob tries to persuade Shiela to give Brian a ride to Crutch's game. Shiela instead drives through a puddle, soaking Brian and leaving him standing on the side of the road.
  • Zits: Happens to Jeremy and Sara in one strip as they discover that walking in the rain is not nearly as romantic as the songs make it sound.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Robin Hood and Little John actually do this to Prince John at the very beginning of Robin Hood shortly after stealing his carriage and clothes, leaving him only in underwear.
  • Happens to Milo Thatch at the very beginning of Atlantis: The Lost Empire after Fenton Harcourt refuses his proposal and speeds away from the Smithsonian Institution in his car.
  • Skinner in Ratatouille gets hit by one right as his Humiliation Conga is nearing its peak.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Happens to Bobcat Goldthwait's character in Scrooged.
  • The Mask. Outside the Coco Bongo club, right after he's been thrown (literally "thrown") out of it.
  • Citizen Kane, when Kane meets Susan Alexander.
  • Done as a Meet Cute in the opening scene of That Touch of Mink, with Doris Day getting splashed by a limo carrying Cary Grant.
  • In Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle, a truck drives through a puddle, almost completely drenching a shopkeeper. However, the bottom of his pants are still dry... which changes when the main character, Hulot, rides by on his bicycle.
  • In the Drew Barrymore movie Irreconcilable Differences most of the film is set in flashback, illustrating testimony during a courtroom drama. The father of Drew's character (Casey) is retelling how he met Casey's mother, and a roadside wave is freeze-framed as he interrupts himself and the shot returns to the courtroom, with his protest about retelling this detail. The attorney asks "When did you say you met miss Van Patten Brodsky?" - SPLASH!!!
  • Happens to Zoolander after he loses the Male Model of the Year award to Hansel (So Hot Right Now).
  • And to Leslie Bibb's character in See Spot Run.
  • In Into the Woods, Jack's mother is splashed by Cinderella's step-mother's carriage running through a puddle as she bows.
  • In All I Want for Christmas Hallie goes to see a Mall Santa, and when she sees a car passing close by the sidewalk, she steps back, keeping her winter coat and fur muff pristine, while the people in front get splashed with wet snow.
  • In Wait Until Dark, Sam gets wet when the taxi cab outside the apartment gives him a puddle shower.
  • In On the Loose, Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts get splattered with mud thrown up by a passing car.
  • The Raven: When Poe exits Hamilton's carriage, he immediately splashed as the carriage passes through a puddle as it drives away.
  • The Idiot: A wave of snow, which splatters Kameda when a truck passes. Played for drama, as this, combined with the other petty annoyances of urban life—the noise of traffic, the jingling of bells on horses—push Kameda, who has a nervous condition, to the verge of a seizure.
  • In a 'blink and you'll miss it' moment in Darkman, Westlake gets soaked by a car driving through a puddle as he is trying to cross the road after escaping the hospital.
  • In Accident, several pedestrians get soaked when the Triad boss pulls over to the side of the road; driving through the water the water Brain's crew have spilled on the road as part of the plan.
  • In the opening scene of Rags, Charlie's street performance gets cut short when a speeding car sends water all over the people watching and dancing, causing them all to leave.

  • Happens to Arthur early in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. Repeatedly.
  • Bert the Small Railway engine ends up on the receiving end of one of these in The Railway Series.
  • In Longarm and the Man-Eaters, Longarm gets soaked by a wagon running through a puddle just after he has been cursed by a local brujo.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Knight Rider when an arrogant reporter at a dirt bike race dons some nice clothes to meet the winner at the finish line.
  • SCTV Had a skit called "Shower in a Briefcase", where you can clean yourself after this happens. Also available, "Blow Dryer in a Briefcase", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Scrubs: Dr. Kelso exacted his vengeance on Carla with this.
  • Opening credits of Sex and the City.
  • iCarly: Happens to Carly, Sam, and Freddie in iGo To Japan.
  • Happens to Judy and Sandy in As Time Goes By when they're already having a rough time because of romantic woes; Lionel's unsympathetic reaction helps kick off the episode's plot.
  • The Middle: Happens to Sue when she is walking home from a football game in the mascot costume in the episode where she breaks Axl's foot.
  • The opening credits to The Ted Knight Show were all about this trope. The main character, Roger Dennis (Knight), ran a classy escort service, and the whole opening credits sequence is about him dressing meticulously, getting manicured, finding the right boutonniere, and otherwise thoroughly dandifying himself—only to get get mudsplashed on a streetcurb by a passing New York City cab.
  • In the KYTV episode "Hot Crimes", Mike Channel repeatedly ends up on the receiving end of splashes thrown up by passing lorries. After a while he tries standing as far away from the road as possible, which doesn't help.
  • The Avengers (1960s): In "Death's Door", the diplomat Steed and Mrs Peel are assigned to protect has a seemingly prophetic dream that he will die if attends the peace conference. The dream is full oddly specific details, and when Steed and Emma ride his route to the conference, each of the details comes true; except for being splashed by a car driving through a puddle as he gets out of his limousine. Then Steed realises that made the run early, and Lord Melford would have been arriving at exactly 10:30. When they drive around the block and arrive at exactly 10:30, Mrs Peel is splashed by a car driving through a puddle as she gets out of the limo.

  • Mentioned in one verse of The Streets' "It Was Supposed to Be So Easy," as the singer waits in line for the ATM.

    Web Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Summertime Shorts: In the music video "Monday Blues", Twilight Sparkle thinks she can stay dry from the rain thanks to her umbrella, but gets splashed by a roadside wave from the school bus. And then she misses said school bus.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: In the episode "Wasted Talent", Lois gets splashed on by Alexis Radcliffe, her rival who constantly beats her for the award for best piano student. What's worse, the street next to Lois is puddle-free, so Alexis has to stop a few feet behind her, pull a bucket of water out of her car (which she apparently keeps just for these sorts of situations), and empty it into the gutter next to Lois, thereby producing a puddle through which she can drive.
  • In the Trapped in TV Land episode of Teen Titans, some old dude is standing all peacefully-like in the middle of a river, fishing in the wilderness, minding his own business when a pimping red sports car streaks past from out of nowhere, splashing him in the face and scaring away the fish, followed in hot pursuit by the Titans.
  • In Street Sharks, Slobster takes time out of delivering a squid to Dr. Paradigm to deliberately drive his motorcycle through a mud puddle when he spots the Street Sharks at an outdoor fast food restaurant, drenching them.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen," Pinkie Pie's "Pinkie Sense" tells her that Twilight Sparkle's going to need a bath. Twilight laughs at her, then is splattered with mud by Mr. Greenhooves's passing cart.
    • In "Hearts and Hooves Day", during the musical number where the Cutie Mark Crusaders look for a stallion to be Cheerilee's "very special somepony", Doctor Whooves is seen doing this to Applebloom and Scootaloo.
      He might do!
      (If he weren't so splashy!)
    • In "Games Ponies Play", this happens to Ms. Harshwhinny twice.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: Happens to Lance and Ilana when they are hitchhiking in the rain in "The Steel Foe".
  • Happens twice to Heloise on Jimmy Two-Shoes, when the same car that did it to her backs up and splashes her again.
  • This happens to Tom and Jerry (and Spike) in one cartoon. The often-Bowdlerised results show the three in blackface.
  • Generator Rex: Rex and Noah get splashed by the Drill Sergeant Nasty's jeep during the cross country run in "Basic".
  • The Simpsons: This happens to Moe as part of a Humiliation Conga in "Moe'N'a Lisa". Immediately afterwards, the sprinklers turn on, and then it starts to rain, but only on him.
  • Classic Disney Shorts
    • In the Mickey Mouse short "Mickey's Delayed Date", Mickey tries to hail a taxi, but the taxi passes him and hits a puddle. Luckily, Mickey stretches himself and hides behind a lamppost to avoid getting wet.
    • In the Goofy short "Motor Mania", Goofy, playing jerkass motorist Mr. Wheeler, intentionally does this to a pedestrian. As Mr. Wheeler laughs at his misfortune, another car passes him that causes water to splash right into his car.
  • SheZow: In "SheZow Happens", Guy is testing out his new Super Speed and runs through a puddle, soaking Kelly.
  • In the Thomas the Tank Engine episode, "Henry Spots Trouble", both Thomas and Gordon end up on the receiving end of one. Thomas gets splashed with mud from Butch when the latter pulls Farmer McColl's tractor out of it, and Gordon gets splashed with paint when Connor runs over the track covered in paint from a fallen paint can. These both lead Henry to believe that they have chicken pox.
  • Fangbone!: In "The Ballad of Meh", Fangbone attempts to defend his friends from a roadside wave with a sword, having mistaken it for an aquatic demon. His friends still end up getting soaked.

Alternative Title(s): Splashed By A Passing Car


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