A tandem bicycle is that type of two-seat bikes with two sets of pedals that aging liberal couples and teenagers in Public Service Announcements ride everywhere. It works on the principle "2>1", according to which, it's easier to ride if there are two people doing the pedalling.
But, not all is good, because, as always, evil rears its ugly head in the form of a Tandem Parasite. This is someone who's supposed to be part of a team effort, but ends up being a detriment to it instead because they end up shirking teamwork. In the case of someone in the back of a tandem bicycle, this is the one in the back seat, whose parasitism is not visible to the hard-working front-seater. The rear-seater doesn't pedal at all, but rather crosses his leg and smiles as the poor soul in front of him does twice the work he should be doing - the idea here is that the rear-seater is mockingly taking advantage of the rider.
Sometimes, however, the parasite has some reason not to work with the rest of the team, like being distracted, or having been hurt, if you buy those cheap excuses.
- An Australian ad for KitKat has a woman taking a break and eating a KitKat on the back of a tandem bike while her boyfriend continues to pedal.
- Tested in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun when Nozaki and Sakura are trying to find ways to make tandem-bike rides more romantic as shoujo manga material (because Nozaki's not allowed to show the protagonist giving the heroine a ride on his one-seat bike as it's illegal, and he wants to avoid the "walking with your bike to accompany your beloved home" cliche). Thinking having both of them pedalling isn't romantic enough, Nozaki suggests being the only one to pedal while Sakura just sits in her seat. After a few seconds of trying this out, Sakura demands she pedals again, as she feels guilty for not doing anything.
- Team Rocket on Pokémon: The Series uses a lot of pedal-powered vehicles. About half the times they use one, Jessie sits back and lets James and Meowth do all the work, which occasionally leads to disaster.
- An unintentional example in Spy X Family. When the Forgers have fun on a resort island following a cruise, one of the things they do is ride on a tandem bike. Yor, who has been established as having borderline Super-Strength, pedals extremely fast, while Loid (who is trying to pedal but does so much slower than Yor) and Anya (whose feet can't reach the pedals at all) look back in shock at what she's doing.
- Beerfest: After the "strikeout" scene, only three of five passengers on a tandem bike are pedaling. That Todd is wearing a wedding gown while sitting in the rear seat just adds to the hilarity.
- Variation in the Laurel and Hardy short The Music Box - as Ollie huffs and puffs pushing a piano crate, Stanley stands on the edge of the crate in front, hurriedly stepping off as Ollie stops and looks at him suspiciously.
- The World Is Big And Salvation Lurks Around The Corner: Sashko, who is sitting in the back of the tandem bike, notices that his grandfather Bai Dan isn't pedaling nearly as hard as he is. Bai Dan insists that he has to concentrate on the more important task of steering.
- Two men on a tandem are going up a hill. Once they reach the top, the first guy wheezes out "Man, that hill was a lot steeper than it looked from down there!". The second responds "Yeah, no kidding. Imagine what would have happened if I hadn't been braking the whole time!"
- Old Master Q has a variation where Master Q, Chin and Big Potato carries a long log, respectively in front, middle and back. Potato, being the shortest, decide to be the parasite by sitting at the back, and when Master Q and Chin finds out they decide they'll carry the front while letting Potato carry the rest behind.
- Robert Fulghum wrote a piece on this. A New Age couple riding a tandem bicycle. The guy in front thinks he's in control 'cause he decides where they're going. The gal in back knows she's in control 'cause she can stop pedaling and look around every so often. A nice essay on gender roles.
- Occurs in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. The children have a creature, called Mike, who sits on the back of their bike and doesn't pedal. Subverted, however, in that, while Mike never pedals, he gets off the bike and pushes it up steep hills while the children relax on the seats.
- Happens in Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men on the Bummel (aka Three Men on Wheels), the sequel to Three Men in a Boat.
- Variation with the Chucklemobile from ChuckleVision, where the two brothers supposedly pedal side by side but Paul never bothers, even though Barry can see him not doing it. (Presumably he's just used to it at this point.) On some versions of the Chucklemobile prop it doesn't look like there even are pedals on Paul's side!
- The Goodies Trandem is a three-man variation. The original version was an ordinary (sic) tandem with an extra seat at the back. Tim and Graeme pedalled, Bill being shortest was at the back in the non-pedalling seat. Later on the BBC prop department actually built a version with three sets of pedals.
- This happens quite easily in Wii Sports Resort's Cycling game if one of the riders doesn't know what they're doing or refuses to keep rhythm.
- American Dad!:
- While captive aboard the alien spaceship in "Lost In Space", Jeff undergoes a trial about wether or not he truly loves Haley and deserves to return to her. Unfortunatly, the trial is rigged and only reveals the bad times. One of the images shown about how selfishly he's acted toward her is Haley being forced to pedal a tandem bike by herself... because Jeff is making her lug his van around with the bike!
- One piece of promotional art sees the family hard at work at a tandem bike, except Jeff's hat hits Hayley in the face, Steve isn't pedaling and instead enjoying the wind between his legs, and Roger is relaxing in the rearmost seat.
- Archer: Non-bike example; in one episode, Krieger's van breaks down on the way to bowling night, and Pam is forced to pull the van up a hill while strapped into a harness. Not only are the others not helping, sitting around in the back of the van and drinking beer instead of pushing, Krieger forgot to release the handbrake, making Pam's job a hundred times harder.
- Mr Herriman does it to Bloo in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Let Your Hare Down" when Bloo is attempting to teach him how to have fun and Herriman isn't having a bar of it.
- In the episode "Three Hundred Big Boys", Kif does most of the work on the flying bicycle (the pedals power the wings). In this case, Amy is just easily distracted (waving to some friends on the ground below) and wasn't trying to be rude.
- Bender and his two clones take a three-person bicycle in "Benderama", only all three are leaning back. The bike promptly falls over.
- In Littlest Pet Shop (2012), Roger escorts the Biskit Twins on a tandem bicycle ride through a park in an attempt to get through to be nicer, and of course, they made no attempt to cycle along with him.◊ Surprisingly, it works, to where they eventually pull a rickshaw for Roger in gratitude.
- In the Looney Tunes short "The Dover Boys", Tom Dover is riding a tandem bike all by himself, with Dora Standpipe leaning on the front, which is left up in the air due to Tom being The Big Guy.
- The Loud House: Invoked in the episode "Cheater By The Dozen". When following Bobby around town on the McBrides old tandem, Clyde actually asks Lincoln not to pedal because he wants to exercise.
- Burns and Smithers on The Simpsons. It gets worse when Smithers gets stung by a bee and begs Burns to get him to a hospital. How does Monty do it? By ordering Smithers to do it, of course.
- In Tex Avery's "The Bear's Tale", Papa and Mama Bear relax in the first and second seats of a tandem bike, leaving poor Baby Bear to do all the pedaling in the back.