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Tube Travel

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An unusual form of getting around, often found in video games. Hop in one end of the tube, get shuttled through in some manner, and come out the other end. Instead of taking a direct route, the tube may take a complicated snake-like path to the destination. Sometimes the hero must navigate an entire Pipe Maze. Such travel may involve a Traveling-Pipe Bulge.

Nothing to do with travelling on The London Underground (colloquially referred to as "the Tube").


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Star Blazers, the underground cities are equipped with "aircars" which zip along through a system of elevated transparent tubes.

    Comic Books 
  • The Boom Tubes in New Gods offer teleportation-like speeds - interstellar distances in a couple of minutes - but take the shape of, well, tubes.

    Fan Works 
  • All Mixed Up!: Played straight. Agents use the tubes to get above ground while agents with clients get to Headquarters a different way. However, it also deconstructs the trope with Otto, who is unable to breathe due to being squished into a ball with his internal organs getting mixed up during the ride, and likes to take a breath of fresh air once he emerges from the tubes and reaches his destination.
  • Alpha and Omega: The gym in Jumba's labs has an automated tube system that sends each experiment to their respective changing rooms.
  • Attack of the 50-Ft. Half-Klingon: While in the Captain Proton program, Tom Paris dives into a vacutube and emerges out the other end in a cloud of dust and household vermin.
  • Codex Equus: In one incident, Princess Melody, Princess Radiant Rapier, and Prince Crystal Clear witnessed a corrupt Canterlot noble they were chasing escape justice by entering a toilet magically modified to function like a 'Warp Pipe'. While an ingenious escape method, the Alicorns were quite flabbergasted and grossed out. Fortunately, said noble was eventually caught and arrested for their crimes.
    Princess Melody: Uhh...
    Princess Radiant Rapier: Well, that's... one way to escape the law.
    Prince Crystal Clear: I'm never lookin' at toilets the same way again.
  • Patterns of the Past: It's noted that back in the 1920s, the tube system was completely new, with cubes being used to transport agents instead of spherical balls, other Odd Squad precincts planning on putting in their own tube systems, and Big Red working as the sole tube operator at Precinct 13579 in particular (although he poses the idea of hiring more tube operators).
  • To the Stars: Larger human spaceships have FTT, Fast Travel Tubes, a transport network made possible thanks to the Artificial Gravity generators necessary for such ships, so that diverting a little of their power for transportation didn't cost much.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Meet the Robinsons, tube travel is often used to get around the Robinsons' house.
  • The Polar Express. In Santa’s workshop there’s a tube system that the elves use to get around the workshop. The three central characters use this to get to the wrapping room.
  • In Zootopia, the area of the city known as Little Rodentia has buildings connected by hamster tubes to allow its rodent-sized residents to travel between them.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The 1994 version of The Shadow displays a vast and complex network of disguised pneumatic tubes running through New York City. This is how the Shadow's cohorts relay messages to Burbank, who relays the messages to the Shadow himself. The novelization explains that Lamont Cranston himself organized their installation, at incredible personal expense.

  • In Alien in a Small Town, when Indira visits the city for the first time in many years, she recalls her daily commute to school in the tube-traveling aircars as something pleasant and restful that she has missed.
  • In Bounders, the space station consists of dozens of separate structures connected by metal suction tubes through which people travel.
  • In Doc Savage, Savage's skyscraper is linked directly to his hanger on the Hudson river by a tube transport system nicknamed the "Flea Run".
  • Joel Suzuki: Mono Realm's public transportation system is an elaborate network of suction tubes that can transport people between terminals in seconds, although some trips require more than a dozen transfers.
  • In Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, tubes are the primary method of transferring goods worldwide in the year 2000.
  • Jules Verne's Paris in the Twentieth Century describes submerged tubes which carry groups of people across the Atlantic.
  • In E. E. "Doc" Smith's Skylark Series, the largely-aquatic humanoids of Dasor use systems of pipes filled with rushing water as their mass transit system.
  • In Albert Robida's The Twentieth Century, pneumatic tubes are ubiquitous throughout the society of the 1950s. Tubes have replaced railways, the mail service, and even supermarkets - goods are distributed directly to your home, and companies compete on different prices for "on-tap" food, much like power and water.

     Live Action TV 
  • Come Back Mrs. Noah
    • When the Britannia Seven is about to accidentally launch into space, the crew tries to evacuate using the emergency suction tube; but because Mrs. Noah is sent first she just gets stuck in the tube preventing everyone else from leaving.
    • In a later episode they use the suction tubes to travel around the space station because the lift still isn't working. Unfortunately being in the tube when another item is shooting up behind you is a bad idea.
  • In Fantasy Island, visitors are sent from a travel agency to Mr. Roarke in a tube travel system.
  • In the Netflix revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 the Satellite of Love is tethered to Moon 13 by pneumatic tubes, which suck up Jonah once an episode so he can re-enact his abduction for the title sequence.
  • In Odd Squad, agents travel to the outside world by being "squishinated" into balls and then fired through a series of tubes to their destination.
  • In Season 4 of Person of Interest, criminal mastermind Elias restores an obsolete pneumatic tube delivery system and uses it for communication that can't be intercepted, and smuggling handguns inside government buildings.

     Multiple Media 
  • In BIONICLE, there's the chute system of Metru Nui.

  • "City Hall" by Tenacious D has this as one of the decrees of the "Two Kings":
    The second decree: no more pollution, no more car exhaust,
    or ocean dumpage. From now on, we will travel in tubes!
    Get the scientists working on the tube technology, immediately.
    (Tube technology.) Chop, chop, let's go!

  • The most prominent feature in Bally's Xenon is a transparent tube that moves pinballs across the playfield.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Transtoony Space, a Toon parody of Transhuman Space in Pyramid magazine, characters travel through The City via "glass tubes you can stand under and get sucked through to any desired destination in The City. These almost never malfunction. Mostly. Well, hardly ever."

     Theme Parks 

  • The LEGO Life on Mars Aero Tube Hanger set has this as its big gimmick: Martian minifigures can be placed into transport pods that can be loaded into a series of tubes, and a big hand-operated pump can either suck in or push them from one end of the playset to the other, with two possible outgoing destinations that can be switched between like a train track.
  • The Micronauts' Rocket Tubes playset worked like this.

     Video Games 
  • The Suction Tubes in Bounty Bob Strikes Back.
  • Cave Story has one, though it isn't important to the overall gameplay. It just there to help you get out of Plantation's water reservoir faster (possibly in case you fall in without the Jet Pack equipped).
  • Clyde's Revenge has this starting with the eighth level. It is possible to go through the tubes in both directions.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals features the Tunnel Network for the GLA, which involves building separate entrances that are somehow magically connected the instant the Tunnel entrance is completed no matter the distance or location on the map (essentially a teleporter in function). There is also a Dummied Out capturable version called the Cave, and many a Game Mod adds it back in.
  • Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure has these, though it's a bit odd since the pipes look too thin for Cosmo to fit.
  • The Crazy Castle games have small pipes which the player character can travel up and down through, with a Traveling-Pipe Bulge.
  • The Eldar in Dawn of War can move between Webway Gates; up to ten infantry units can occupy the Webway at any time. The Imperial Guard can do the same with most of their structures, although only one or three units at a time.
  • Distorted Travesty 3 unapologetically borrows warp pipes straight out of Super Mario Bros..
  • Drill Dozer has many threaded tunnels that require drilling one way or the other to enter and navigate. Defeating the boss of Area 5 involved being able to navigate tunnels within a time limit.
  • Earthworm Jim 2 had this in the ISO 9000 level, though it looked painful (the entrance was a grinder).
  • Ecco the Dolphin loves this, particularly in the later levels when Ecco is nearing the Final Boss.
  • Season 6 of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout introduces giant clear pipes as a round element, that vacuums up beans and zips them around to somewhere else. They are most prominent in the rounds Party Promenade and the maze-like Pipe Dream.
  • Season 9 of Fortnite Battle Royale introduced a network of wind tunnels, which moves players and objects around.
  • F-Zero X and GX have levels where you are in a tube, and on the outside of a tube.
  • Gimmick! (1992) has these.
  • Golden Force have tubes that leads from one stage to another, but they work strictly for one-way travel only.
  • In Jazz Jackrabbit, some levels feature tubes as a way of transport. They appear prominently in the Tubelectric stages (hence, the planet's name), but other stages such as Labrat from the second game have these as well.
  • Happens in Kirby's Epic Yarn, where Kirby unravels into a single, long piece of yarn and travels through tight spaces in a few levels. You can control moving forward and backwards, as well as move left or right when the path branches off.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past features long tubes that stretch over a pool of lava in the Turtle Rock dungeon.
  • Sackbots are transported this way in LittleBigPlanet 2.
  • Mass Effect 2 has one of your squadmates do this during The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Metal Morph has tubes in the platforming stages. You have to turn into liquid to pass through them.
  • Metroid
    • Many Morph Ball sections in the Metroid Prime series feature long winding tunnels and pipes, sometimes with fans, vents or cannons propelling Samus through.
    • This goes back to the original Metroid, where Samus can use the Morph Ball/Maru Mari to pass through horizontal tubes in the Chozo rooms. However, the game had no actual physics for these tubes, which were really just graphical tiles rendered on top of passageways that happened to be one block tall and thus otherwise inaccessible.
  • In Oxygen Not Included you can build a network of transit tubes to let you dupes move rapidly around the base.
  • The BBC Micro game Pipeline had this as the way to cross the Pipe Mazes, though you had no control while passing through the pipes.
  • Happens briefly at one point in Portal. It is built up on more in Portal 2: Tube travel is the main way everything in Aperture Science gets into test chambers, it is ridiculously inefficient and expensive, and there are so many props in the facility that no one even cares.
  • Quake has a map in the third episode named after its titular feature, The Wind Tunnels.
  • The Rainbow Arts game Rock N Roll has tubes for the player's ball to travel through.
  • In Satisfactory, the player can build a network of Hyper Tubes between important points of the territory, allowing them to move between places without risking angering the local wildlife.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, this is how you advance in the Bonus Dungeon complete with a Nifty Mini-Game
  • In Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, the technological advance of Monopole Magnets grants tube travel to your faction.
  • Very common in the 'Sonic the Hedgehog'' games:
    • The 16-bit version version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has it in the Chemical Plant and Metropolis Zones. The former is readapted in Sonic Mania, but now stops to decide where you want to go
    • The 8-bit version of Sonic 2 has it in in Aqua Lake Zone Act 2, Acts 1 & 3 of Gimmick Mountain Zone, the entirety of Scrambled Egg Zone, and the last act of the game, Crystal Egg Zone Act 3. For Scrambled Egg Zone, there are several "pipe puzzles" in Acts 1 & 2; only one puzzle in act 1 can dump you into spikes, but several puzzles in Act 2 have spikes under them, the last of which you cannot escape if you fail there. There are three pipes in the final stage; the first one takes you to the Final Boss, the second is needed to hide from Robotnik's attacks, and the third is behind Robotnik and can be entered after you destroy his machine, which takes you to the finish line and Tails.
    • Sonic Chaos has this in Electric Egg Zone and the third and fifth Special Stages.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles has it in Launch Base Zone Act 2.
    • Sonic Triple Trouble has this in the Tidal Plant and Atomic Destroyer Zones.
    • Sonic 3D Blast has this in the Gene Gadget and Panic Puppet Zones.
    • Sonic Blast has this in Blue Marine Zone. These pipes also provide oxygen, so Sonic and Knuckles can go inside them to refill their Oxygen Meter if they're running low.
    • Sonic Adventure 2 has this in Crazy Gadget.
    • Sonic Advance 1 has this in the Secret Base and Egg Rocket Zones.
  • A frequent method of travel in Strider for the NES.
  • StarCraft: The Zerg have the Nidus Canals, which act in the same way as the Tunnel Network as mentioned above.
  • Starship Titanic had the Succ-U-Bus, which allows items to be sent across the titular ship.That and one parrot.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Introduced in the first Super Mario Bros., the warp pipes in the series are iconic. However, in some cases (such as the warp zones) you appear to be teleporting instead of traveling a path. The latter was never clearly shown in the games until Super Mario Bros. 3, where some levels scroll up or down while Mario is inside the pipe.
    • Super Mario 3D World actually lets you control your pipe travel in the Clear Pipe segments by letting you choose your path, usually to dodge enemies. The Clear Pipes also appear in Super Mario Maker 2, exclusive to the 3D World game style.
  • The Terminator for the Sega CD has a few fast-travel suction tubes, though they only go straight up and down.
  • Tinhead has tubes to travel through in many levels.
  • In X-COM: Apocalypse, the People Tubes of Mega-Primus are the primary form of pedestrian travel. They happen to be quite fragile when the lasers start flying. The Tubes are owned by the Trastellar corporation, and pissing them off can cripple your ability to move personnel.

     Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius: After visiting the Paris underworld, Agatha and her coterie get returned to the surface via pneumatic tube, with all of them crammed into one large transfer pod. The system is normally used for inanimate cargo, but they're in a bit of a hurry.

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • An episode of American Dad! has Francine and Hayley working in an office building with a pneumatic tube mail transport system. At one point, a curious Francine sticks her hand in a tube and gets her whole body sucked in, gleefully traveling to its destination.
  • Futurama has the Tube Transport System which zips people around New New York. In one episode, it malfunctions and launches Fry into a wall.
  • The Jetsons featured tube travel that sucked you up and plopped you where you wanted to go, as part of its Retraux aesthetic.
  • Spoofed in "Rocket Squad", a Looney Tunes parody of Dragnet set in space, where the pneunatic tube system provides a bumpy ride for Daffy and Porky, with the latter remarking how people used to use elevators.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Perry the Platypus travels to the O.W.C.A. headquarters this way in several episodes.
  • The ZhuZhus has hamster tubes connecting rooms inside the Pamplemousse home and in some cases leading to different parts of the city.

     Real Life 
  • Some playground and water slides are like this.
  • Some hamster cages are set up like this, being a series of smaller cages linked by tubes.
  • Pneumatic Tube systems (AKA "the things in bank drive throughs", though some larger people movers have been made). Likely an inspiration for at least some of the above examples.
  • The Hyperloop, a proposed tube system for long-distance travel.


Video Example(s):



True to its name, Tubelectric is a place where you can use tubes as a mode of transportation.

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Main / TubeTravel

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