Follow TV Tropes


Short Cuts Make Long Delays

Go To

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the words "I know a shortcut!"
Anonymous, ripping off Laozi

Typically An Aesop against cheating and a warning to stay on the safe, proven path in life. All the regular characters are on a road trip or some other quest. One character suggests they take a shortcut: sure, it may not be on the maps, and it uses some smaller, unmarked roads, but he knows the route "like the back of his hand". Besides, it will shave a few hours off the trip, and be all-around more interesting than the boring old Interstate highway! Persuaded, the other characters agree to take the shortcut.

If they're lucky, hilarity ensues, as they drive through a Quirky Town or two and see friendly locals. If they aren't, hilarity ensues: all manner of challenges beset them as soon as they leave the "beaten path". They get lost. The car breaks down. The shortcut takes them to the Town with a Dark Secret or the Wacky Wayside Tribe.

If the proposed shortcut is described beforehand as "the scenic route", it's pretty much doomed from the start.

A staple of Dom Coms (where it is usually instigated by the Bumbling Dad), and stories involving The Quest. Frequent use of a Long Delay turns the destination of a trip into the story's MacGuffin. The situation will often be exacerbated by a Directionless Driver.

See The Window or the Stairs, where the "easy" decision is generally the worst. See also Path of Most Resistance for a similar trope used in video games. For more travel wisdom, see Right Under Their Noses. Compare with Deadly Road Trip. Contrast Ridiculously Difficult Route. For similar situations not involving travel, see Laborious Laziness.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run:
    • A very straight (if particularly layered) example appears in the final stretch of the part, said by Gyro right before dying at the hands of Valentine (having realized he wouldn't win).
      "I always tried to take the fastest shortcut in this Steel Ball Run, but 'the shortest route was a detour'. 'It was the detour that was our shortest path.'"
    • Johnny ends up realizing the message's true meaning in a moment of desperation, having fallen off his horse: that even though the power of the Golden Rectangle was mainly drawn upon by running with the horse naturally, he could also get it by making it kick him by throwing Gyro's remaining steel ball at it (effectively skipping taking a painful shortcut).
  • Occurred in Spirited Away when the father suggest they take a shortcut through a forest, this results in the family getting Trapped in Another World.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, during the trials to become Genkai's apprentice, one of the trials is to make it through a demon-infested forest within a time-limit. The intent is for the contestants to use their spiritual awareness to find a path to avoid the most dangerous threats, but Yusuke instead just opts to just charge straight ahead, right into a vicious man-bat that even Genkai was worried about. Yusuke does win the resulting battle, but he ends up delayed enough that he arrives a few seconds over-time. However, Genkai makes an exception for Yusuke for triumphing over a deadly foe.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992), Epheremelda doesn't buy into the idea that Zelda has suddenly warped from Turtle Rock to the swamplands, and recommends that they go find the map first. Link, blinded by his devotion, forges ahead and mounts a successful rescue of...a Wizzrobe. Whoops.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: Every time Usagi Miyamoto takes "one of Gen's short cuts" he winds up stumbling into a dastardly plot.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Little Red Riding Hood" is probably the Ur-Example. She was told to stay on the path, but she just had to go and take a shortcut through the woods... and the rest is vaguely-Freudian history.

    Film - Animated 
  • Finding Nemo: On their way to Sydney, Marlin and Dory have to cross a trench. Dory has been told to swim through it, not over it, but Marlin insists that going over it is safer because the trench is full of bones. They go over it, and end up surrounded by jellyfish. Those bones sank.
  • Hoodwinked!:
    • After Red Puckett manages to escape from them, the Wolf and Twitchy contemplate their moves and decide they need to get to Granny's before Red gets there. Just by chance, Boingo appears, and having heard where they're going, says he knows of a shortcut that involves going "over the woods and through the river", then realizes how stupid this is, saying " don't want to go through the river, you'll get all wet." The scene cuts to the Wolf and Twitchy treading their way through a flooded cave populated with bats.
      The Wolf: We are in a pickle, I blame myself. That bunny was worthless, not to mention he wrote the directions on an Easter egg, which is very hard to read...
    • Likewise, Red is put onto a longer land route to get to Granny's not because of a decision to take a shortcut, but because she was pushed out of a cable car cabin and fell several hundred feet.
  • In Ice Age, the group takes a dangerous shortcut that isn't a shortcut at all, just so that Diego can hide the others from his clan.
  • Inside Out: Needing to reach the train of thought, Bing Bong takes Joy and Sadness to a shortcut passing through the abstract thought chamber, ignoring the "DANGER" sign and warnings by Sadness of what lies within. As the chamber seems to extend infinitely, Joy goes with Bing Bong's plan, only for the mind workers to trigger the chamber. By the time they get out, they have missed the train.
  • The LEGO Ninjago Movie: The path to the Ultimate, Ultimate Weapon splits into a fork, with a sign naming each road. One road is "The Right Path", which is "long, arduous, and enlightening"; the other is literally called "Short Cut", and leads through a "possible evil skeleton graveyard". Naturally the ninjas choose the short cut, which leads to Garmadon and Lloyd getting captured by an angry mob of Garmadon's ex-Number-Ones.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, the four main characters are walking to the suit store via what Brick claims to be a shortcut and have a run in a rival news team.
    Brian: Where the hell is the suit store? We've been walking for forty-five minutes!
    Champ: Brick, I thought you said this was a short cut.
    Brick: (laughing) Fantastic!
    Ron: Well, is it a short cut, or not?
    Brick: (laughing) OK!
  • In Big Driver, Tess's misfortunes start when she accepts directions for a shortcut from the organizer of the speaking event she is attending. This route takes her down an isolated country road where her car experiences a flat tyre, and she is brutally raped and Left for Dead in a drainage pipe by the 'good Samaritan' who stops to help.
  • In The Darwin Awards, Burrows refuses to take the interstate highway because he considers it "too dangerous". Instead, his route along backroads causes the car to crash through a broken cattle grid and get stuck: stranding them in the middle of nowhere.
  • Five Across the Eyes: Five girls on their way home from a football game get lost when they attempt to take a shortcut. Terrifying things happen to them as they try to find their way back.
  • In Headless Horseman, Seth, at Tiffany's urging, decides to take shortcut to Halloween party along a road that is not on the GPS, claiming it will knock two hours of their journey. Instead, it gets them stranded in Wormwood Ridge, a Town with a Dark Secret.
  • Holiday on the Buses: In order to get back to Pontins in time for Stan's date with Mavis, Jack has him take a shortcut. Jack's shortcut passes under a bridge that nearly takes the top off the bus and through the woods, where everyone sitting on the bus' exposed top deck gets buffeted by branches.
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was one Long Delay after another. For example, Phil Silvers' character takes a shortcut on a dirt road at the advice of a local kid, only to find that the road goes through a river. He attempts to drive through anyway and loses his car.
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: Who didn't see disaster coming when Steve took a shortcut through Unprotected Waters?
  • The Locals: Grant and Paul's troubles start when Paul decides to take a shortcut across a boarded up bridge.
  • In Midnight Madness, the Blue Team (the bad guys) get to one of the waypoints in The Great Race, a miniature golf course. There, the clue says that they have to play a round to get the next clue, and explicitly tells them not to go directly to the 18th hole. Of course, they do and a note pops up after sinking the ball. While reading it, they hear, "Dear Team, I told you not to cheat! Now you have to go back to the beginning and start again. P.S. you lost your ball!"
    • When they get back to the first hole, they have to wait behind a screaming bunch of kids who've already started.
  • From Road Trip wherein the shortcut leads over a Broken Bridge.
    Of course it's difficult, it's a short-cut. If it was easy it would just be "the way."
  • In The Ritual, a group of four friends opts to take a shortcut through a forest, due to one of the men hurting his knee, turning a three-day trip into a day-and-a-half trip. Thanks to some Alien Geometries involved with a local cult, they remain in the woods for more than four days. This is lampshaded beforehand, when one hiker comments that if a shortcut were any good, it would just what the road is.

  • Not so much a "long delay" as "getting involved in a secret Alien Invasion and being given powers by a dying alien," the Animorphs begin their adventure by taking a shortcut through a construction site one night. In one book Jake makes a Deal with the Devil (or an alien who works for a devil-esque Sufficiently Advanced Alien) to avoid taking the shortcut and they still get involved in the invasion, only without their morphing powers and most them are killed but Earth is saved in the end. This is restored to the main timeline with a Reset Button where the "devil" rescinds the offer before Jake can take it. This trope also comes into play, albeit unintentionally, in The Unexpected, one of the later ghostwritten books. Stowing aboard an airplane bound for Sydney to escape the Yeerks, hijinks ensue and Cassie finds herself in the outback. The only problem is, Sydney's on the east coast of Australia, meaning that plane departing from California had no business being over the outback. Explanations of this anomaly offered after the fact are curious and unsatisfying.
  • A children's storybook based upon The Berenstain Bears features a Bear Scout troop hiking up a mountain. While the group take the longer way according to their map, Father Bear takes a shortcut — admittedly, it's a shorter route, but it is beset with nigh-deadly hazards.
  • Downplayed in Dolphin Island. When Johnny tries to cut through the jungle, he quickly loses his way and flounders in the burrow-ridden soil. But the island is so small that all he has to do to find his way is walk in a random direction for a while, so he only loses fifteen minutes.
  • The Lord of the Rings is the Trope Namer (it's a Hobbit proverb quoted by Pippin). In The Fellowship of the Ring the hobbits attempted to shorten their walk by cutting across country and ended up miles off course.
    • Their short cut was longer than it needed to be in order to avoid going past a nearby village inn. Pippin is heard reminiscing about the quality of their beer, and Frodo is immediately convinced: "That settles it. Short cuts may make delays, but inns make longer ones."
    • This is later averted by Strider, who comments that "my cuts, short or long, don't go wrong." His shortcuts are faster...but they're not necessarily pleasant. Midgewater Marshes, anyone?
      • Aragorn later successfully takes the grandmother of all shortcuts through the Paths of the Dead, to intercept a force approaching from the south before it can reach Minas Tirith. He arrives at the city with reinforcements just in time.
  • In The Pilgrim's Progress, straying from the path results in either death or a deadly situation.
  • Sard Harker: Harker, desperate to get back to his ship before it sails, takes a short cut that leads him into a bog and several encounters with rats, stinging creatures, and other vicious wildlife and ultimately strands him miles from where he needs to be, with no chance of catching his ship, and facing a long trek through hostile terrain to get back on track. (Though when he does finally make it to his ship's next port of call, he learns that the ship was sabotaged by the villain and sank with all hands, so the long short cut almost certainly saved his life.)
  • In the second Warrior Cats story arc, a lone cat named Purdy offers to show the traveling Clan cats a way through the city rather than having the cats waste time traveling around it. He claims the whole time that he knows where he's going, but the Clan cats know it's not the quickest route (at one point they realize they've been traveling in the wrong direction all day; they're supposed to be heading toward the sunset). It also results in Feathertail nearly getting captured by a Twoleg and Tawnypelt being bitten badly by a rat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Appears and is lampshaded in The 10th Kingdom. There are two roads leading to Wendell's castle, and the pair of unlikely heroes are on foot: they must choose whether to take the long and pretty path or the short and scary path. "Virginia, don't you think there's a chance that it's going around something? But... but one path has trees, and the other... argh!" They take the scary path. The fact this detour turns out to be necessary in order for Virginia to obtain the poisoned comb so that she can deal out the suitably hoist by her own petard, Karmic Death for the Big Bad only makes this hew even closer to the trope. ("It's the journey that matters," and The Quest usually requires that something very important be found or learned while the heroes are caught up in a seemingly random delay or distraction.)
  • The A-Team, "It's a Desert Out There". Lila tells the victims about a "shortcut" that will take an hour off their travel time, and then calls the Scorpions to tell them that somebody's coming. Long story short, the passengers end up delayed, frightened, and minus any cash or other valuables they were carrying.
  • Metaphorical version: On Deadliest Catch the Time Bandit crew tried to de-ice their ship faster by blowing huge chunks off with a large firework. They did manage to get rid of a ton of ice — which landed on their coiling machine so now they have to resort to "Neanderthal fishing" and have a guy looping the rope by hand.
  • Inverted in the Doctor Who serial "Dragonfire"; when Ace boards the TARDIS at the end, she's miserable because she assumes the Doctor is going to take her straight home to Perivale on Earth, a place she loathes. The Doctor, however, has decided she'd make a good companion and offers to take her home via the 'scenic route' — which he outright promises is going to be much longer and more dangerous, but infinitely more interesting.
  • David Vincent saw The Invaders (1967) after getting lost "looking for a short cut that he never found".
  • Keeping Up Appearances: In "Sea Fever", Hyacinth and Richard get stuck in a traffic jam on the way to their cruise on the QE2. Hyacinth works out an alternative route, saying it is a short cut, taking them on increasing rural roads, until they end up in a field. Richard notices that she has the atlas open at the wrong page, and predictably, they miss the ship.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Reese thinks any different path one takes is a shortcut. Even if they're longer.
  • From the M*A*S*H episode "The Yalu Brick Road'':
    Hawkeye: I thought you said this was a shortcut!
    BJ: It is a shortcut! Look how fast we got lost!
  • One episode of The Mighty Boosh has Vince suggesting a shortcut to Howard that leads them both into the middle of nowhere. When Vince explains himself as having tried to follow the long red road on the map, Howard rightly points out that it's actually a raspberry bootlace.

  • In Our Miss Brooks, there's the Road Trip Plot episode "Game At Clay City". Mr. Conklin, appointing himself navigator of Miss Brooks' car, determines they should take a shortcut. After the car breaking down going up a steep hill, getting lost, giving a ride to a hitchhiker who misdirects them to a neighboring town, the gang finally arrive at Clay City . . . only to find that the football game is over and that the Madison High team had been clobbered.

    Video Games 
  • Racing games, especially ones that are not serious (Burnout, Need for Speed, Mario Kart) often include shortcuts that, if not executed properly, will cost the player even more time than the shortcut is intended to bypass.
    • In Mario Kart's case, sometimes the longer "shortcut" will have an item box to compensate people who decide to use the path. The paths are usually less traveled by most racers, making them safer from being hit by most items.
    • In case of Need For Speed, especially Underground and Most Wanted, some shortcuts typically force the driver to perform sharp turns, navigate narrow paths, or ram through the objects scattered around the path, in a game where a single crash could cost your chance to victory due to Rubberband AI and to win the race and progress the game you have to finish first.
    • In the Micro Machines series of racing games, some of the courses are wide open and shortcut opportunities appear to be plentiful. Go too far off course or stay off the course for too long, however, and the game will immediately abort your run and place you all the way back at the point where you first left the track.
    • Wip Eout calls its track bypasses "skillcuts" for this exact reason. Many of them shave off whole corners, but they require committing to a completely different racing line. Botch it and you'll scrape a barrier or plow into a wall and lose more time than just going the easy way. They can also be a tactical consideration, as many of them are narrow and/or have their own weapon pads, potentially making even a clean entry turn the racer into a sitting duck for anyone behind them.
  • In Baldur's Gate II you're asked to destroy a beholder cult called the Unseeing Eye, and are informed that the beholder is far too powerful and you have to retrieve an artifact to destroy it. This involves going to an underground city to get half of it, then through a town of undead, then through a lair of beholders, before you finally get the other half. Alternatively, you can just start killing its cultists and kill it when it shows up to stop you, because the point about the Unseeing Eye is that it's a blind beholder. Which makes it less formidable than the normal beholders you had to kill to get the artifact.
  • A case of Schmuck Bait involving this occurs in Might and Magic 6. In the small town in the west part of the Mire of the Damned, someone tells you about a path through the mountains that gets you to the east part (where there's the Circus, an Inn you need to get to, and a road to Freehaven) quicker. However, at one spot on this path, a very large flock of Harpy Hags (difficult monsters who can all cast Mass Curse) appears and ambushes you. (Unfortunately, even if you know about this, you have to come here and trigger the ambush to solve the Obelisk Puzzle and get the most powerful spells in the game.)
  • In NeoQuest II, one NPC in Act II remarks: "You know the saying: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? Well, the longest distance between two points is a shortcut." Luckily for you, the player characters are not required to take such shortcuts.
  • The Oregon Trail series features lots of these, many taken directly from real life.
  • Several shots in Pangya can get you a chance at an easy eagle or even an albatross putt if done correctly, but will lead to an OB or water hazard or a very difficult shot if you mess up. One prominent example is on Hole 15 of Blue Lagoon, Blue Water, and Blue Moon, a par 5 hole. The course is a crescent-shaped island with a smaller island in the middle. You can take the fairway and likely get par, shoot onto the island so you can get an eagle, or shoot straight from the tee to the green, either for an albatross or a hole-in-one...that is, if you have the drive, favorable winds, a Power Shot bar, and the very steady hands necessary to hit across the water accurately onto the green, because landing in the water here will trigger an OB, forcing you to re-shoot with a one-stroke penalty and likely finishing with par or worse.
  • Space Debris have a stage set in a decommissioned military outpost which is a restricted area, where the heroes decide to use as a "shortcut" to beat the alien invaders from reaching the outer rim. Said outpost's defenses, as it turns out, are still active despite being shut down years ago, and are malfunctioning releasing hordes and hordes of mechanical enemies, turrets, and a gigantic Killer Robot to assault the players.
  • Titanfall 2: Early in the campaign, BT-7472 finds what it believes to be a shortcut through tricky terrain. Naturally, this ends with BT getting captured and Cooper having to fight his way through a massive IMC facility against hundreds of soldiers and powerful autonomous mecha to get BT back. Near the end, BT's readout includes the phrase: "Re-evaluate definition of 'shortcut'", and later the Titan snarks that "I will avoid all shortcuts" when told not to get lost.

    Web Comics 
  • In this Gold Coin Comics strip, a "shortcut" is a mountain/large hill.
  • In Nip and Tuck, Gus takes a shortcut to win a race he's losing—and ends up right in the middle of a demolition derby which reduces his truck to so much scrap metal. A long delay indeed!

    Web Original 
  • In the Binder of Shame, this is how the Great Gamma World Death March went Off the Rails.
    "Let me say this again, you want to take a shortcut through the Desert of Certain Doom? You know the part of the map here with all the radiation and biohazard symbols on it?"
  • In an early Let's Play Minecraft, Geoff designed a massive water-based racetrack and installed a number of shortcuts to it. When he finally got to try it out, he found out it took way too long.

    Western Animation 
  • 2 Stupid Dogs: In one episode, Mr. Hollywood is a man, temporarily blind after a trip to the eye doctor, who buys the dogs to use them as guide dogs. Little Dog's "shortcuts" eventually lead him to the top of a building under construction.
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears: Invoked in an episode where Cavin is transformed into an ogre in order to infiltrate the ranks of Duke Igthorn's army. After accidentally "capturing" Cubbi, he ends up taking point on the Duke's next invasion, which he tries to sabotage by leading Igthorn and his ogres on a variety of wild goose chases in the guise of "shortcuts."
  • Arcane. Played for Laughs in "Everybody Wants to Be My Enemy". Caitlyn initially suggests that her and Vi take an elevator-like "Bathysphere" into Zaun, while helping an elderly yordle board it. Vi instead opts to go down Le Parkour, and Caitlyn reluctantly decides to follow her, with frequent cuts between Vi effortlessly leaping across the rooftops and poor Caitlyn fearfully stumbling after her. By the time an exhausted and nerve-wracked Caitlyn reaches Zaun's streets, the old yordle she had helped is walking past the alley she and Vi are standing in, meaning she could have just taken the Bathysphere to get there in the same time without the hassle.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: One episode has the two miss the bus back home; rather than walk home, Butthead suggests they take a shortcut. The duo end up in a different neighborhood and end up spending an entire day just to get back to their school.
  • Futurama: In "The Cyber House Rules", Bender is helping a robot fraternity win a boat race and claims to know a shortcut. He ends up zig-zagging the trope, as the route is more dangerous but does turn out to be slightly quicker (allowing them to just barely win the race).
    Gearshift: Hey, Bender, you sure this is a shortcut?
    Bender: Not as sure as I was an hour ago.
  • Hamster & Gretel: The titular duo has to enter through a pipe to get to a cat trapped down a well. Kevin tries to guide them to the well, but Gretel prefers to punch right through the wall. Kevin warns her that she could break a water main and flood the well, but Gretel doesn't listen and just goes through the wall. She gets there right after Hamster, who followed the pipe like Kevin wanted, and predictably, a water main breaks and floods the well. Fortunately, Hamster swallows all the water and everyone is safe... except for Kevin when Hamster spits out all the water on him and the van.
  • Looney Tunes: In "8 Ball Bunny", Bugs tries to get a small penguin to Antarctica where he belongs. While traveling through the Amazon, the scene shifts, showing that the pair has been Captured by Cannibals. Bugs turns to the penguin and grumbles, "You and your short cuts..."
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The Quest of the Princess Ponies, Part 1", Spike and the bushwoolies are introduced after a shortcut proposed by the latters (whose overly agreeable and very excitable natures make them very bad at giving directions) got them lost in the middle of the Jewel Desert.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "Road Rash", Heffer tells Rocko to take a shortcut on their motorcycle trip. They end up passing numerous landmarks including the Egyptian Pyramids, Stonehenge, a Venetian canal, Moai Statues on Easter Island, the Eiffel Tower, Rocko's house, and the Taj Mahal. Heffer says that must have saved them hours. While they were previously 500 miles from their destination, now they are only 499 miles away. Rocko asks him if he is reading the map right.
  • Rupert: A recurring plot element and running joke in Rupert Bear is that all of Bill's "shortcuts" invariably lead to some sort of strange adventure, but never where they wanted to go in the first place. In one episode, the two decided to split up and make a race out of it. Naturally, this time it's Rupert taking the proper route who finds himself in a land of adventure, which implies that it's not the shortcuts that lead to adventure, it's Rupert.
  • The Secret World of Benjamin Bear: In one episode, Ben and Howie are on their way to the teddy bear picnic. They decide to take a shortcut, which Edgar advises them against. Naturally, they don't listen and take the shortcut. They end up lost in the woods and discover they've been going around in circles (which they realize when they see the nose-shaped stone they passed), and by the time they finally get to the picnic, they're so exhausted they fall asleep soon after.
  • The Simpsons: This occurs several times, most often at Homer's instigation. In "Itchy And Scratchy Land", the family takes a shortcut on a trip. They reach their destination much later than expected with an overall destroyed car sporting a wagon wheel as a spare tire, infested with farm animals, and a US Military Missile embedded into the back.
    Homer: Alright, we're here. Let us never speak of the shortcut again.
  • The Smurfs (1981): In "The Trojan Smurf", the Smurfs must carry a big statue of Papa Smurf (which is really a Trojan Horse for Gargamel to infiltrate the Smurf Village) to the village, but cannot get it across the river because the bridge is too small. Brainy suggests a "short cut", which ends up taking the statue down a very steep slope, only to fall into a raging river that ends in a waterfall that Bigmouth is taking a bath at the bottom of, and said ogre mistakes the statue for a talking Papa Smurf doll.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Parodied in "Lost in Bikini Bottom" when SpongeBob decides to take a shortcut to Krusty Krab even though the regular road is a straight line to the Krusty Krab as Squidward points out. Naturally, he get lost and arrives later than Squidward.
  • Stōked: In "Reef, Broseph and Emma's Totally Stupid Adventure", Broseph, Reef and Emma go into town for beaver tails (a local pastry), but stay too long and realize they're late for work. They try to take a shortcut through the woods, but end up lost in the woods for the day.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): Gen's bad shortcuts are given a lampshading in "The Real World, Part 1", when Leonardo, Usagi, Gen, and Lord Noriyuki find themselves at a cliff, and then are soon attacked by Neko Ninja.
    Leo: This is the way to Edo?
    Gen: It's a shortcut.
    Usagi: Your shortcuts will be the end of us.
  • Thomas & Friends: In "Bulgy", the titular double-decker bus tries to prove that he can get the passengers home faster than Duck can. He attempts to take a shortcut by going under a bridge, but he only gets himself stuck under it as a result. The passengers are not pleased with this.
  • Wacky Races (1968): Dick Dastardly once took a short cut that was blatantly shorter than the road he should have taken and ended up falling victim of a booby trap at a place he trespassed and the Mean Machine had to be practically rebuilt part by part. By the time Muttley finished rebuilding it, the landowner (who turned out to be Lazy Luke’s cousin) learned Dastardly tricked him to stop the other shortcut users and started shooting him. By the time he reached the finish line, he was in last, as usual, the Mean Machine had holes all over its body and it fell apart as Dastardly was about to cross the finish line.

    Real Life 
  • The Donner Party was a group of settlers looking to settle in California in 1846. Their decision to take an obscure and untested shortcut to catch up with the rest of the group since they’d gotten a late start (instead of the longer, but more established route) landed them in the treacherous and scorching hot Salt Lake desert in August that made it impossible for them clear the Sierra Nevadas on the California/Nevada border before the first snow hit. note  It turned a journey that typically took four months into a desperate, horrific ordeal that lasted over a year. The winding 'shortcut' led to the Donner Party getting trapped in the mountains during the harsh winter months with grossly inadequate supplies. When their food ran out (which didn't take long), they were eventually forced to resort to cannibalism to survive. A local tribe took pity on them by first giving them some rabbit meat and root vegetables but when they came back with a deer carcass, the settlers shot at them. They had also heard rumors about the cannibalism so they never tried to make contact again. It took four separate rescue teams to get everyone out over the course of several months.
  • One of the more hilarious consequences of GPS navigation for cars. Most drivers will tend to stick to the routes they are familiar with, but when they get a GPS some will decide to take its routing instructions because it's supposedly shorter or faster. Murphy's Law will inevitably kick in and they'll find the shorter route will have construction, recent changes to streets (such as switches to 1-way) that aren't reflected in the GPS database and other comedic impediments. Also the number of delays they will face will be directly proportional to how urgently they have to get to their destination. If your GPS has choice systems, you might have cases where there is one route that is shorter in terms of miles traveled, but the travel time is longer (for instance, in the mountains, going on seasonal roads over mountain passes), while the other route, although longer in miles, turns out to be faster in time (because it uses Interstates and roads that are year-round). Your GPS also may or may not take into account the time of day and week - an Interstate might be faster if it's 3 AM and few people are on but a practical parking lot during rush hour.
  • If you are a heavy user of public transportation: how many times have you experimented that what in theory was a shortcut (ie, taking the subway instead of the bus) becomes the opposite courtesy of Murphy's Law?
  • Storrow Drive is the major parkway through Boston, making it the fastest and most direct route to most parts of the city, which makes it attractive for students driving moving trucks into the city each year and delivery drivers the rest of the year. To quote Wikipedia: "There are an abundance of signs giving road clearance height. Despite the signs, a truck or other large vehicle will periodically get wedged under a bridge, which causes traffic to back up for several miles. In one incident a truck full of scissors became stuck and spilled its cargo, causing over 30 cars to get flat tires. There is a 10-foot height limit for the entire parkway. Local media has taken to referring to these kinds of accidents as a truck being 'Storrowed.'"
  • Advice given to computer programmers: "When in doubt, use brute force." The advantage of devious tactics is often more than negated by the proliferation of bugs.
  • The dreaded "11 Foot 8 Bridge" in North Carolina, affectionately known as The Can Opener, for being such an unusually low bridge that vehicles collide with it roughly once a month. Countless drivers have decided to challenge it to take a shortcut, grossly underestimating how low it actually is, only for the bridge to deem them unworthy and shave the roof off of their truck instead. In October of 2019, the bridge was raised from 11'8" to 12'4" in an attempt to reduce collisions;note  after that, collisions became much rarer, but never completely stopped.
  • Played tragically straight with former Tech TV personality James Kim, who took a logging road in Oregon shown on a map as a shortcut during a family Thanksgiving vacation in 2006. The road was supposed to be closed for the winter, but a gate was left open. The family's car got stuck in the snow, and Kim left to seek help, but died of hypothermia.