Two (or more) characters are in a car. Suddenly, we realize that they're being followed, or they pass by something or someone important, or there's a hostile tank right in front of them... something that needs taking care of, right now. So, without warning, the driver tells his passenger to "take the wheel" and does whatever needs doing, often leaping out of the car entirely while the hapless sidekick struggles to keep the vehicle under control. For extra humor value, have the passenger be in the back seat, or have them literally take the wheel.
May overlap with High-Speed Hijack.
- The commercial for Mario Kart: Double Dash!! shows two old ladies in a security cart, one driving and the other chucking baggage at the guards chasing after them (in another security cart). The one driving says she wants to throw things, so the other old lady, sitting in the back, reaches over to the steering wheel.
- In The Castle of Cagliostro, right after the car chase is over Lupin notices that Clarice fainted. He has Jigen take the Fiat's wheel so that he can cross over to Clarice's car and take control.
- Goku does the "literal give-me-the-wheel" bit in one of Dragonball Z's later filler episodes, while taking his driver's license test.
- In one episode of Excel Saga, a girl tells this to Menchi. Menchi is a dog (and a very good driver).
- The Ghost Rider had an incident when he was fighting a thug attacking a circus with a massive earthmover vehicle and he manages to get into the control compartment. As they fight for the controls, the thug sees the vehicle moving towards to some place undesirable and pleads with the demon superhero to give him the wheel. The Rider obliges him by ripping out the entire steering column, but the fainting thug doesn't notice that the Rider was also hitting the brake pedal at the same time to bring the vehicle to a stop.
- In A Goofy Movie, Goofy is reading a map while driving, the car drifts on the opposite lane and Max grabs the wheel and swerves back to the right lane to avoid an oncoming truck.
- Terminator franchise:
- The Terminator:
- While Reese and Sarah are being pursued by the Terminator driving a police car, Reese tells Sarah to "Drive!" and crawls out the window to shoot at the Terminator with his shotgun.
- When the Terminator pursues them on a motorcycle, Kyle orders Sarah to "Change places" so he can throw plastic explosive bombs at it.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day:
- As they're escaping from the T-1000 in the police car, the T-800 Model 101 tells Sarah Connor "Here, drive", then shoots the T-1000's metal arm off.
- While they're in the pick up truck escaping the T-1000 in the tanker truck, the T-800 tells John to "Drive a minute", then climbs out the back to fight the T-1000.
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines:
- The Terminator instructs John Connor to take the wheel so that he can perform improvised surgery on himself. John holds the wheel while the T-850 carves out his abdomen and removes one of his fusion reactors that was damaged by a plasma attack from the T-X. It explodes spectacularely after he throws it out the window.
- The Terminator:
- Done in The Film of the Book of The Return of the King with Éowyn's horse when she tells Merry to take the reins during the Mûmak battle. Which is interesting since prior scenes showed riders shooting bows and arrows while riding— while Merry would know nothing of handling a war-horse in battle, and be even less able to execute it.
- Happens with an extra twist in See No Evil, Hear No Evil - one main character is blind and the other is deaf, and the blind guy ends up having to take the wheel and navigate according to commands shouted by the deaf guy.
- Lampshaded in Smokey and the Bandit, where the Bandit wants to switch places with Sally Field's character (who's driving the car at the moment due to plot complications.) It's harder than it looks in the movies, as the Bandit remarks after trying (and failing) to execute the maneuver.
- In the film of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, while the protagonists are driving in Nemo's car in Venice, Sawyer and Quartermaine do this.
- The James Bond movies do this several times:
- In Moonraker, Jaws and some mooks are chasing James Bond in a speedboat when Jaws takes the wheel a little too literally.
- Happens with Bond and Wei Ling in Tomorrow Never Dies. Further complicated by the fact that they are on a motorcycle and handcuffed together.
- In Licence to Kill, in a diversion to let Bond sneak onto the Wavekrest yacht, Pam Bouvier poses as a harbor pilot and starts pulling the ship into the dock. When the captain anxiously observes how fast she's going, she snaps back "You want to do the driving? Take the wheel!", throws the throttle on full, and sneaks off the bridge in the confusion as it crashes into the pier.
- In Live and Let Die, Bond's taxi driver is shot by a passing mook, leaving him desperately trying to regain control of the car.
- Undercover Brother. The title character has Sistah Girl do this during the golf cart chase.
- In the Disney film version of The Three Musketeers, Athos orders D'Artagnan to take the reins of the carriage they're driving so that he can start drinking.
- In Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, when the gang is being chased by the pterodactyl monster, Freddy asks Shaggy to take the wheel of the Mystery Machine while he tries to shoot the monster down. A little while later, Shaggy gets called to the back of the van so he can help Velma, and he leaves the driving to Scooby. To Scooby. Granted, he's pretty intelligent as far as animals go, but he's still not that far up the scale
- Shows up word-for-word near the end of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, when Banzai gives John Parker (who failed flight school) control of the Red Lectroid thermopod so that he can manually aim the gun instead.
- Judge Dredd. Dredd says it to Fergie during the aerial Mark 4 Lawmaster chase as he's about to jump to another vehicle.
- In The Cat in the Hat live action movie, the cat and two kids are in the middle of a car chase when not only does the cat literally give one kid the wheel, but also fabricates a new one, so they're driving one car with two separate wheels. And when the second kid objects, he gives her a wheel as well. Needless to say, it doesn't end too well.
- In Sherlock, Jr., Sherlock briefly hands the wheel off to the girl so he can throw an exploding pool ball at the car that's chasing them.
- A very low-key example in Pee-wee's Big Adventure as Mickey has Pee-Wee hold the wheel while he lights a cigarette driving down the highway. It takes maybe five seconds, but Pee-Wee is on the verge of panic.
- One of the outtakes in Serenity involves Wash pulling this on Mal when he gets fed up with the latter's "back-spaceship driving" with the memorable line "you wanna fly? Fucking fly!". Nathan Fillion actually does it, too, staying in character the whole time.
- Demolition Man. While John Spartan and Lenina Huxley are driving after Simon Phoenix, Spartan tells Lenina "Huxley, drive!" He slips out the car's window as Lenina slides over behind the wheel.
- Jo asks Mario to take the wheel after he chokes on the coffee in The Wages of Fear. Nitro Express While driving a truck loaded with nitroglycerine.
- In O Brother, Where Art Thou? George Nelson casually picks up the main trio during a heist. After they introduce each other he asks Everett to "Grab the tiller, will ya buddy?" while climbing out of the suicide door and onto the running board of the fleeing car.
- In Xx X, Xander Cage, as he's following a watercraft carrying a bioweapon at high speeds, tells Yelena to drive the car (so he can engage in badassery), which is followed by a "WHAT!?", the awkward shuffle to switch seats, and the classic almost-collision with the oncoming truck.
- Happens in the Doctor Who story "Battlefield", with the added detail that the passenger is from an alternate universe where they don't have cars, and the driver takes the time to confirm that this is the case before telling him to take the wheel anyway.
- Almost the first moment of series 2 of Torchwood is Owen insisting that Gwen do this, so he can shoot at a blowfish in a sports car.
- Commander Taylor says this to Jim Shannon in the pilot episode of Terra Nova so that he and his BFG can take on a Carnotaurus.
- On The Dukes of Hazzard, Boss Hogg and Uncle Jesse were having a car race. As a nod to their old moonshine-running days, both cars were to have 10 jugs of water (in place of actual moonshine) in their trunks. Before the race, Boss had his mooks replace Jesse's water jugs with moonshine - and notified the authorities along the race route that Jesse was making a moonshine run. After the race began, Cooter and Daisy found out about the plot and found the water jugs, and they along with Bo and Luke chase after them. When they catch up to Jesse, Cooter has Daisy "take the wheel" of his tow truck while he climbs in the back, while Luke jumps over to Jesse's car, opens the trunk, dumps out the moonshine jugs, then replaces them with the water jugs Cooter passes to him. Once the switch is completed, Cooter climbs back into the cab of the truck and resumes driving.
- Tested on MythBusters. Simple cooperative driving (driver handling the pedals, passenger steering) went well, but adding in the common movie element of driver shooting someone while the passenger drives landed this in the Busted column — both the shooting and the driving were much worse than in the control.
On the other hand, a "take the wheel" where driver and passenger swap places while the car's moving was ruled Plausible, as neither Jamie nor Adam had any problems with the switch. note
- Happens in Modern Warfare 2, when Price and Soap escape the Shadow Company in a Jeep and their driver gets hit by a stray bullet. This can be a very Unexpected Gameplay Change, as you are thrust from Rail Shooter into Driving Game with no warning whatsoever.
- During the Citadel car chase in Mass Effect 3, when Kai Leng leaps onto the roof of the car Shepard doesn't even warn his/her squadmates that they're about to abandon the wheel to get a clear line of fire, leaving whoever's in the passenger seat frantically scrambling to grab the controls.
- As mentioned under Advertising, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! has you do this, changing between the person in the front steering and one at the back throwing items. At high speed as you're hurtling through various insane environments.
- In Sam And Max Save the World, Sam is usually loath to let Max drive, but will let him take the wheel during the driving mini-games when Sam needs to use his gun or another inventory item.
- Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death: Wallace hands the wheel off to his dog (quite literally) while he makes a death-defying leap to save a bread heiress.
- A Doug episode once included a fantasy in which Doug and Skeeter were truck drivers. Skeeter's request to take the wheel ends up with Doug literally giving it to him.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold, episode "Game Over for Owlman!": Batman and the Joker pursue Owlman in the Batmobile; Batman starts out driving, but hands over so that he's free to react to Owlman's attacks.
Batman: [pointing] Brake. Choke. Throttle. [climbs out window onto roof of Batmobile]
- The Simpsons does it at least once, with Homer leaving Lisa (an 8-year-old, to remind everyone playing at home) to take the wheel for trivial reasons. Note that Lisa was in the back seat.
"He's trying to make me look like a bad father! Maggie, you take the wheel!"
- And when a paparazzo was houdning Homer everywhere he goes.
Kim: "Ron, can you drive?"Ron: "Not well...."
- In another episode, Homer is driving his car while eating two ice cream cones (one in each hand). Bart is nervously trying to steer the car while sitting in the front passenger seat.
- During one episode, a car chase between Homer in a motor-home and the trio of Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, and Ron Howard in a jeep (It Makes Sense in Context), Alec pulls this trope on Kim so he can attempt to leap out of the jeep onto the motor-home. When he becomes incapacitated, Kim invokes the trope again with Ron so that she can pull a similar stunt.
- In an episode of The Mask animated series, Putty Thing tells Fish Guy to take the wheel and goes to attack The Mask—forgetting the fact that, having only fins instead of hands and feet, Fish Guy can't drive.
- In Regular Show, this is often said by Skips when the characters are being chased by the Monster of the Week, usually when they are driving a golf cart.
- Wacky Races: Dastardly occasionally turns the wheel of the Mean Machine to Muttley when need be.
- Teen Titans: In an episode where the Titans are participating in a race, Cybrog and Beast Boy are constantly hounded by a mobile garage whose gremlin mechanics keep tearing apart Cyborg's car. Beast Boy repeatedly begs Cyborg to let him drive, but is constantly rejected. Finally, Cyborg needs to start fighting and yells, "Take the wheel" and then hands Beast Boy the disconnected steering wheel.
- Danger Mouse: In "The Great Bone Idol," DM turns control of the Mk. III to Penfold while he battles with Count Duckula...even though Penfold has no idea how to operate it.
- The Defenders of the Earth episode "Terror in Time" contains a scene where Mandrake turns the controls of one of the Defenders' jet skis over to Lothar, then conjures up an illusion to slow down Ming's Ice Robots.