Follow TV Tropes


Tube Travel

Go To

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.

Please note that this does not include using The London Underground (colloquially referred to as "the Tube") to travel.



    open/close all folders 

  • 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.



     Films — 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.

     Films — Live-Action  


  • 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.
  • Jules Verne's Paris in the Twentieth Century describes submerged tubes which carry groups of people across the Atlantic.
    • Verne and his son Michel Verne would later write The Day of an American Journalist in 2889, which also describes trans-Atlantic tubes, and mentions them as going faster than "aero-trains".
  • 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.
  • In Edward Bellamy's Looking Backwards, tubes are the primary method of transferring goods worldwide in the year 2000.
  • 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".
  • 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.

     Live Action TV  

  • In Fantasy Island, visitors are sent from a travel agency to Mr. Roarke in a tube travel system.
  • 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 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 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 weapons 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 Micronauts' Rocket Tubes playset worked like this.

     Video Games  

  • Distorted Travesty 3 unapologetically borrows warp pipes straight out of Super Mario Bros..
  • In Jazz Jackrabbit, they appear appear mostly in the Tubelectric stages (hence, the planet's name), but other stages such as Labrat from the second game have these as well.
  • The warp pipes in the Super Mario Bros. 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 this in the Clear Pipe segments by letting you choose your path, usually to dodge enemies.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past features long tubes that stretch over a pool of lava in the Turtle Rock dungeon.
  • 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.
  • Clyde's Revenge has this starting with the eighth level. It is possible to go through the tubes in both directions.
  • A frequent method of travel in Strider for the NES.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Very common in the Sonic the Hedgehog games. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has it in the Chemical Plant and Metropolis Zones, and Aqua Lake, Gimmick Mountain, Crystal Egg especially Scrambled Egg Zones in 8-bit version of Sonic 2, Crazy Gadget in Sonic Adventure 2, Secret Base and Egg Rocket in Sonic Advance, and others.
  • 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 jetpack equipped).
  • Earthworm Jim 2 had this in the ISO 9000 level, though it looked painful (the entrance was a grinder).
  • Happens briefly at one point in Portal.
    • 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.
  • Mr. Gimmick has these.
  • 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.
  • StarCraft: The Zerg have the Nidus Canals, which act in the same way as the Tunnel Network as mentioned above.
  • Sackbots are transported this way in LittleBigPlanet 2.
  • Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure has these, though it's a bit odd since the pipes look too thin for Cosmo to fit.
  • F-Zero X and GX have levels where you are in a tube, and on the outside of a tube.
  • 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.
  • Ecco the Dolphin loves this, particularly in the later levels when Ecco is nearing the Final Boss.
  • Mass Effect 2 has one of your squadmates do this during The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Tinhead has tubes to travel through in many levels.
  • The Crazy Castle games have small pipes which the player character can travel up and down through, with a bulge.
  • The Suction Tubes in Bounty Bob Strikes Back.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Rainbow Arts game Rock 'n' Roll has tubes for the player's ball to travel through.
  • Metal Morph has tubes in the platforming stages. You have to turn into liquid to pass through them.
  • The Terminator for the Sega CD has a few fast-travel suction tubes, though they only go straight up and down.
  • Starship Titanic had the Succ-U-Bus, which allows items to be sent across the titular ship.That and one parrot.
  • Quake I has a map in the third episode named after its titular feature, The Wind Tunnels.
  • Season 9 of Fortnite Battle Royale introduced a network of wind tunnels, which moves players and objects around.
  • Portal and Portal 2 both feature sequences where the player travels through the Aperture Science complex in tubes intended for the Weighted Storage Cube.

     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  

  • Futurama has the Tube Transport System. In one episode, it malfunctioned and launched Fry into a wall.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Perry the Platypus travels to the O.W.C.A. headquarters this way in several episodes.
  • 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.
  • The Jetsons featured tube travel that sucked you up and plopped you where you wanted to go, as part of its Retraux aesthetic.
  • The ZhuZhus has hamster tubes connecting rooms inside the Pamplemousse home and in some cases leading to different parts of the city.
  • 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.

     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.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TubeTravel

Media sources:

Main / TubeTravel