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Running on the Spot

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In many cartoons, especially ones by Hanna-Barbera, whenever a character starts running, they usually run on the spot for a few seconds before running away. It doesn't matter what they're running from, or why, but they always do this. A Wheel o' Feet is usually applied to this. It's common for this animation to be accompanied by about four seconds of "wacky" percussive sound effects followed quickly by a "slingshot" zip (perhaps best onomatopoeized as "Whamma-lamma-bamma-ramma-zamma-whamma-lamma-bamma-ramma-zamma-zamma - ZING!").

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    Films — Live-Action 

  • Invoked in Terry Pratchett's The Unadulterated Cat, in the section on identifying what type of cat you own.
    If, when it starts to run, its legs pinwheel in the air for a humorous few seconds making binka-binka-binka noises, it is a Cartoon cat.
    • Also by the same author, in Hogfather the Sock Eater does this when the wizards surprise it, because its instinct to flee is being countermanded by its desire to keep eating the Lecturer's socks. Its mouth keeps chewing while its legs ineffectually scrabble around underneath it.

  • In the Commedia dell'Arte style of Renaissance street theater, the stock character Il Capitano, a boastful coward, traditionally attempted to flee at the first sign of danger by doing a live-action version of this trope.

  • The RC car "TireStorm" invoked this with its expanding wheels and foldable starting support: When properly set up, it would stay in place until its wheels were turning at full speed, at which point they would finally touch the ground and the car would take off at full speed.

    Video Games 
  • Sonic The Hedgehog:
    • Sonic and Amy do this during cutscenes in Sonic Adventure, with Amy getting caught because of it.
    • The "Super Peel-Out" move of Sonic the Hedgehog in Sonic CD is this, in video game form.
  • Appears in a few cutscenes of Super Mario RPG, such as Mario's first venture into Bowser's Keep. Amusingly, sometimes the character runs backwards during that charge-up.
  • Also the standard action when running from battle against minor Mooks in the later Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games.
  • Also happens whenever there's a dash button in a 3D Mario game. If you try to dash while standing still, Mario/Luigi/whoever will run in place, and then shoot off, identical to Sonic's Super Peel-Out mentioned above.
  • Happens in most Final Fantasy games whenever the party tries to flee a battle.

    Western Animation 
  • Minnie Mouse does this in The Gallopin' Gaucho and gets caught by Pete.
  • Scooby-Doo did this many times, with Shaggy and Scooby being the worst offenders. Often Fred or Velma would catch them and pull them back whilst they were running on the spot - but they still did it every time.
  • Happens once in a while in the Looney Tunes cartoons. It's especially prominent in the shorts Warner Bros. Animation produced in 1967-1969 under ownership of Warner Bros.- Seven Arts, due to the director of many of those shorts (Alex Lovy) coming from Hanna-Barbera, complete with the same "temple block riot" Stock Sound Effect. Even Daffy Duck would often do it in the cartoons of that era where he's paired up with Speedy Gonzales, but it was more common to see Cool Cat, Merlin the Magic Mouse and the other newer minor/one-shot characters of the era do so.
  • This trope is also deconstructed in the animated Super Mario World series. King Koopa, Hip and Hop do this when they are found by a giant Piranha Plant only for said plant to swallow them whole.
  • Monterey Jack from Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers often runs on the spot at the beginning of a cheese attack. If he doesn't float in the air, that is.
    • Sometimes even then. And it does propel him, yes.
    • All four Rescue Rangers do this near the end of the origins episode, and get caught because of it.
  • In the movie Animalympics, a sight gag compares the hundred-yard dash to drag racing; the racers suit up in auto-racing suits, the "Christmas tree" countdown lights replace the starting pistol and the racers morph into actual Top Fuel cars during the sprint, burning out during the countdown and even using Wheel o' Feet.
  • Fred Flintstone's car on The Flintstones was powered by this.
    • Parodied on an episode of Family Guy, where Fred is being chased by police. As he runs in place, the officers catch up to him and starts moving right when they're near him.
    • In "Old World Harm", Peter refers to this gag as "Flintstones legs", when he and Lois find themselves doing this. Lois worries about the fact they're not moving but Peter assures her this gag is intended for "gaining friction" so they'll run away even quicker.
  • Parodied in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Griffon the Brush-Off". Granny Smith does this when she's spooked by Gilda's prank, only to end up "running" away at a snail's pace.
    • Played straight in "The Ticket Master" with Twilight Sparkle, in "Boast Busters" by Trixie and Starlight Glimmer in "To Where and Back Again".
    • Exhibited by Pinkie Pie on multiple occasions.
  • In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode where the Eds "break" physics, Eddy uses this to get rid of Sarah by running in place, hopping out of the "foot wheel" and sticking her into it, which forces her to run away at high speeds.
  • In the intro for Arthur and the Square Knights of the Round Table, a dragon does this for so long that Arthur simply passes beneath him.
  • Played for Laughs in one episode of Freakazoid!, where the titular character starts running on the spot for a long, long time with the background music gradually building and swelling up - making the viewer think that he's about to take off extremely fast. He sort of just jogs away instead.

    Real Life 
  • Startled animals (cats in particular) on smooth surfaces that they can't dig claws into.
  • You may have done this yourself if you have ever been on an especially smooth or slippery surface before.


Video Example(s):


Running From the Snatcher

Everyone tries to run from the Soul Snatcher, but for some reason, they're stuck running in place like in Scooby Doo. Jackson reveals he just mopped the floor.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / RunningOnTheSpot

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