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Speedy Snail

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Whoa! That snail is fast!

Dexter: You realize that for a turtle, that's very fast.
Dee Dee: He's not a turtle. He's a birdie.
— Discussion on a turtle moving at nine miles per hour just before the turtle starts running at 60 mph, Dexter's Laboratory

Many animals have a reputation for being incredibly slow in terms of land-based or water-based locomotion. But what if they were able to move much faster? Either through some mechanical means, or because they just can, this animal is far faster than normal. Despite the trope name, it is not limited to snails; other animals noted for being slow, particularly turtles and sloths, are also often portrayed this way.

Subtrope to Faster Than They Look, limited to animals. A Subverted Trope of Animal Stereotypes, as it plays with the audience's expectation of the animal being slow.


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    Asian Animation 
  • Lamput: Invoked by the docs in "Zoom Oil"; a snail is the test subject for their speed potion, and it works, causing the snail to zoom into the distance and hit a radio tower.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: On rare occasions, Mr. Slowy is seen riding Granny Snail, a giant snail who is quite speedy for his species and makes for a very convenient form of transportation because of this. The plot of the first theatrical film, The Super Adventure, is started when Granny Snail develops toxins in his body that make him as slow as a real-life snail.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Rocket-Powered Turbo Slug, from the joke set Unhinged, depicts a slug rocketing through the card art by means of a rocket engine on its back and has the joke ability "Super Haste", which allows it to attack the turn before it's put into play.
  • Munchkin has the Snails on Speed (-2 to Run Away).

    Comic Books 
  • The Flash: In Vol. 1 #161, the story "The Case of the Curious Costume" begins with Barry heading for his wedding with Iris West, with Iris taking measures to ensure that he arrives on time. However, Barry witnesses the bizarre sight of a turtle outracing the speeding cars. He investigates, and discovers that the turtle comes from a dimension where everyone and everything is super fast. Unfortunately, the dimension is also an example of Year Inside, Hour Outside, and the time spent there meant Barry ends up being late for his wedding.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: To some extent. Despite being anthropomorphic turtles, their characterization has much more emphasis on the Teenage and Ninja aspects. They're so good at Stealth Hi/Bye they could give Batman a run for his money.
    • Lampshaded in the first movie when Michelangelo gets frustrated watching a tortoise and the hare cartoon on TV: "Ninja kick the damn rabbit!"
    • Lampshaded again in the 2003 series when Raph and Don complain that there are no professional sports teams named after turtles because people think they are "velocity challenged".
  • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! features, among the Superhero Funny Animals the turtle Fastback, who gained Super-Speed through a Mass Super-Empowering Event, and his uncle The Terrific Whatzit, a Legacy Character who's this universe's version of the original Flash.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: Parodied in this strip, with a turtle that zips around rapidly.
    Turtle: *zooms in* I'm a turtle. *zooms out*
    Garfield:' But not a very good one.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Swan Princess: The turtle character is named "Speed". And he is quick, but only when swimming in water.
  • Turbo: The titular character is a snail who becomes really fast after an accident with a race car.
  • Zootopia has sloths be as frustratingly slow as they are in real life, to the point that they're used to satirize state bureaucrats. One such sloth is ironically known as Flash. Come the movie's epilogue and we find out it's not so ironic: he's a speed demon when given a car.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bye Bye Birdie: The movie version has a subplot (nowhere to be found in the original show) involving a sped-up turtle.
  • The NeverEnding Story has a huge Racing Snail that can travel at high speeds, and serves as steed for a Tiny.
  • At the end of Song of the South, Br'er Terrapin (a turtle) starts running on two legs.

  • The Adventures of Pinocchio: The Blue Fairy has a snail-maid, who moves really slowly for most of the scenes she's in. But when she has to deliver Pinocchio's money to her sick mistress, she suddenly runs "like a lizard under the summer sun".
  • Rhyme Stew by Roald Dahl has a retelling of The Tortoise and The Hare, in which the tortoise plans to beat the hare in the race by having a car engine hidden inside his shell.
  • The Neverending Story: The Tiny messenger Gluckuk rides a racing snail.

  • Old Master Q: One comic strip has Master Q watching a guy taking his pet tortoise on a walk on a leash, and after Master Q made a snarky comment on how slow the tortoise is, the tortoise suddenly starts speeding. Master Q responds by taking his pet snail for a walk, who turns out to be much faster. (Nope, the manhwa doesn't really make any sense)

    Myths & Religion 
  • Many times, "Tortoise and Hare" folktale is parodied in many shows by making the Tortoise being really fast.
  • Xeno of Elea's parable of Achilles and the tortoise. Achilles, whom Homer described as "swift-footed", has a race against a tortoise, and grants the tortoise a 100 metre head start. However, in the time it takes Achilles to run that hundred metres, the tortoise has moved a tiny amount forward. And in the time it takes Achilles to run that tiny amount, the tortoise has moved an even tinier amount forward, and then an even tinier amount, and then an even tinier amount, and so on and so on and so on, so Achilles can never catch up with it.

    Video Games 
  • Bug: The snail enemies in the first world Insectia are pretty slow. The snail enemies in the third world Splot resemble those in Insectia, except that they are very fast, three times as durable, and sport machine-guns within their shells. Furthermore, the first boss battle is a snail who becomes faster as it takes damage, and also has a Helicopter Pack in its shell that allows it to fly with great speed while dropping bombs.
  • Kirby's Adventure: One of the mid-bosses is the Rolling Turtle. Contrary to all expectations, he's one of the fastest-moving and most difficult enemies in the entire game.
  • Mario Tennis: If the turtle-like regular Koopa Troopa is playable, they're usually a Speedy type.
  • Mega Man X2: Crystal Snail, being a snail, is listed with the lowest speed stat of all the Maverick bosses. This is a complete lie — not only does he rocket around with the boosters in his shell, if you knock his shell off (with Magnet Mine) he'll run around quickly and erratically, trying to get it back.
  • NanoBreaker has two robotic snails as a Dual Boss, and they're anything but slow, moving across the arena with rapid speed while trying to ram you over.
  • Pokémon:
    • A few Pokémon are incredibly fast despite being based on slow animals. Starmie, which is a starfish, can fly around like shuriken. Accelgor, the third-fastest Pokémon in the series, is based on a slug. The Horsea family is depicted as being very fast, even though seahorses are among the slowest of all fish.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield: As part of the Isle of Armor DLC, the player has to catch up to and fight three Slowpoke. True to their name, Slowpoke are among the slowest Pokémon in the game, except these ones have been trained up to be exceptionally fast. This translates into needing bike speeds if not an ambush to catch up to them in the overworld and always moving first in battle.
    • Pokemon based on turtles and snails are generally on the slow side. However, most of themnote  can use the move Shell Smash to sacrifice their defenses in exchange for a large boost to speed and attacking power.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: In real life, hedgehogs are not known for being particularly fast. Sonic practically made speed his one defining trait.
  • Terraria: Giant Shellies, Giant Tortoises and Ice Tortoises normally move slowly like snails/tortoises, but they attack by retracting into their shells, spinning, and then flying towards the player at very fast speeds, the latter two dealing massive amounts of damage if they connect.
  • The player character of Will You Snail?, Shelly, is a literal example — they still move as fast as an average platformer protagonist despite being a snail.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: In the world of Amphibia, snails are often used as land vehicles and can move pretty fast when they need to.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In one episode, Deedee finds a baby turtle which she thinks is a baby bird. After an accident, Dexter implements cybernetics into Birdy, granting it superspeed that makes it fast enough to fight a falcon.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: The Rabbit Talisman, which grants super speed, was originally found embedded in the shell of a tortoise.
  • The Kwicky Koala Show: The titular character is a koala, and normally moves rather slowly. Kwicky Koala, however, can move at eye-blink speed when attacked by Wilford Wolf.
  • Looney Tunes: Cecil Turtle boasts that his shell is very aerodynamic in races, and in one short he has an engine inside his shell.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Tank the Tortoise is normally as slow as most tortoises. However, in order to keep up with his owner, Rainbow Dash, he's given a magic-powered helicopter-like device, so he can fly around.
  • Total Drama: Gwen must capture a duck. When she approaches it, it zooms away at top speed like the Roadrunner. Gwen notes that "Last time I checked, ducks waddled.
  • Viva Pińata: After drinking a potion concocted by Professor Pester in "Shirley Shells Out", Shirley Shellybean gets transformed into a Sour Shellybean that leaves the other racers in the dust. Near the end though, Shirley changes back into a regular slow moving Shellybean a few inches from the finish line and lets somebody else cross upon seeing what she did.

    Real Life 
  • Moving at 35 mph, the fastest moving reptile is the leatherback sea turtle. In the water, of course.
  • While koalas are often known to be highly lethargic, they can run at up to 20 mph and/or climb at around 1.5 mph in very short bursts.