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Take the Wheel

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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.


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  • 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.

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Films — Animated 
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Done in The Film of the Book of The Lord of the Rings: 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: 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.
  • A Justified Trope in Ad Astra when the driver is killed by a Boom, Headshot! during the Moon buggy chase and the protagonist has to throw his body off and keep driving as they're still being fired upon.
  • In Once Upon a Spy, Tannehill and Chenault are chasing the mooks who have just kidnapped Dr. Webster and his daughter. Flicking a switch Tannehill reveals a hidden, disassembled gun that she tells Non-Action Guy Chenault to put it together and Pop the Tires. As Chenault struggles to assemble the gun, Tannehill gets frustrated and tells him "Take the wheel!" and leans across in front of him to do it herself. Taken completely by surprise, Chenault struggles to keep control of the car (especially as Tannehill's very shapely ass is pressed into his face), and the car swerves wildly across the road.
  • Black Panther (2018) manages to have this, but with the driver half a world away from the guy standing on the roof. Black Panther is on a mission somewhere in east Asia, while Shuri is back at home in Wakanda. But she has a holographic car which she can jump into in order to hack the actual car.
  • In Speed, police officer Jack Traven commandeers a civilian car to catch up to a bus armed with a bomb, that will detonate if the bus drops below 50 miles per hour, unbeknownst to the occupants. After warning the bus driver about the bomb, Jack breaks off the door to the car and takes the phone of the owner, much to his annoyance, and then has the owner take the wheel so he can board the bus. As Jack jumps off, the driver loses control and crashes into a stack of water barrels.
  • Grand Slam: When they are being chased by the police, Weiss tells Jean-Paul to take the wheel so he can lean out of the window and throw Gregg's flask of nitroglycerine at them to discourage pursuit.

  • In Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin, Haviland Tuf has Tolly Mune take the wheel while he concentrates on calming his favorite cat and keeping it from leaping into trouble.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 Torchwood episode "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" has 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.
  • Kamen Rider Build: When driving away from the Guardians in the first episode, Sento tells Ryuga to drive the Machine Builder as he needs to protect them from the Guardians shooting at them.
  • 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 
  • Married... with Children. While stuck in a traffic jam, Al gets into an argument with another driver and tells Peg to do this as he gets out of the car to fight with the guy. (It's practically a parody of this trope, seeing as they're not moving).
  • Done in the Mini Series Bitter Blood as an Outlaw Couple flees from the police with her children (they have been murdering people who can testify on her ex-husband's behalf). He asks her to do this so that he can shoot at the cops chasing them.

  • A metaphorical example is Carrie Underwood's song "Jesus, Take the Wheel."
  • Mentioned, at least, in They Might Be Giants' "Road Movie To Berlin":
    Time won't find the lost / It'll sweep up our skeleton bones / So take the wheel and I will take the pedals

    Video Games 


  • Shortpacked!: Robin and Leslie are in a car with the Historical Jesus. When Robin (who is driving) tries to kiss Leslie, Leslie screams that they're about to crash. Robin yells "Jesus take the wheel!" and he does.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 the wheel so that he's free to react to Owlman's attacks.
    Batman: [pointing] Brake. Choke. Throttle. [climbs out window onto roof of Batmobile]
    the Joker: Reacting to the violent nature of those words: Ooh, my kind of fun!
  • 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.
    • And when a paparazzo was hounding Homer everywhere he goes.
    "He's trying to make me look like a bad father! Maggie, you take the wheel!"
    • 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.
    Kim: "Ron, can you drive?"
    Ron: "Not well...."
  • 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, Cyborg 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.