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Cameron: We're not leaving the car here.
Ferris: Why not?
Cameron: Because we're not. I want the car back home where it belongs. C'mon, let's go.
Sloane: What could happen to it? It's in a garage.
Cameron: It could get wrecked, stolen, scratched, breathed on wrong... a pigeon could shit on it! Who knows?

Somebody has a car. Maybe they own it. Maybe they've just bought it, probably blowing a fortune on it. Maybe it was "borrowed" from their parent. Maybe it belonged to their employer. Maybe it's been surreptitiously stolen and needs to be transported somewhere in one piece. Maybe they are a car. In any case, there is one important rule to remember: the rarer the car is, the more expensive and exotic and classic it is, and especially the more a character fawns over it as though it is one of the most important things in the world to them, the less likely it is to make it through the movie or TV episode in one piece, much less intact. In fact, it's not terribly uncommon for the car to get utterly demolished during the course of the story, either through sheer bad luck, Wacky Fratboy Hijinx, or through the mistake of lending it to (or having it stolen by) someone who Drives Like Crazy.

Compare Broken Treasure, which this trope can turn into if the car is demolished. When this happens with what you're wearing, you've got yourself some Doomed New Clothes. When the car does not belong to one of the main characters, it's The Precious, Precious Car. Closely related to Action Insurance Gag.

See also Captain Crash and Chronically Crashed Car. Contrast The Alleged Car, a vehicle whose defining quality is being terrible/hated instead of pretty/loved. Not to be confused with watching the paint dry.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Britain's beloved tank in Dominion Tank Police, totaled in the very first episode (although there were only four episodes).
    • If anything, Leona is actually more fixated on Bonaparte, which she made from the pieces of Britain's tank after she wrecked it. If you damage it, she'll go ballistic.
  • Gunsmith Cats:
    • Vol. 4 features a nice little arc in which Misty Brown jacks Bean Bandit's pride and joy. It got worse.
    • Rally seems to have a reputation for this sort of thing. Over and over in the manga Rally's classic '67 GT500 Mustang is being scraped, shot at, battered and beaten to within an inch of its life. At one point in the manga Rally mentions she can't get a rental car because nobody will insure her.
    • And then the second story arc of "Burst" came, and bad guys stole her car while she was doing business in Texas, held it for ransom (and rigged it with a bomb to be doubly evil), and it ended up totaled beyond any repair on the ensuing confrontation (on the flip-side, Rally bought a new car (a highly modified Mustang II) on the next arc).
  • Tiger & Bunny has Fire Emblem's Cool Car get progressively trashed by a mecha in episode 6. He is unimpressed, and attempts to blow the robot up in return.
  • Bikes belonging to female main characters in Pokémon: The Series have a tendency to be destroyed by Pikachu's Thunderbolt. Small wonder why female leads post-Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl simply travel on foot than rather ride bikes.
  • Durarara!!'s Togusa may not look like it, but just one scratch on his van means that he'll drive like crazy down the stairs for you.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: The only thing Vice Principal Uchiyamada cherishes besides himself and his daughter is his Toyota Cresta (not a luxury car by any means but probably the best he can afford on his salary), but it gets destroyed pretty much once per story arc. "MY CRESTA!" pretty much becomes Uchiyamada's Big "NO!".

    Comic Books 
  • Robin: Jerk Jock Karl Ranck has a nice sports car from his father he's quite proud of, so of course it gets stolen and damaged during a school dance.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, at one point when Spacemen Spiff's ship is blasted yet again, he comments "It never fails. I just washed and waxed this thing."
  • An old Bill Mauldin comic showed an American GI getting ready to put his mighty steed out of commission.... A Willys Jeep.
    • Truth in Television here. The Jeep was so simple and durable that it could do just about anything. Many GIs loved the thing so much they bought their own from surplus, or bought one when a civilian model became available. When a Jeep finally did give out though, many a soldier would put it out of its misery.note  This is even seen in an episode of M*A*S*H where Col. Potter shoots his jeep after Frank ran it over with an M4 Sherman.
  • A Running Gag in Mortadelo y Filemón. When the Súper boasts about his brand-new expensive car, you can bet the latter will not last more than a couple of panels at best.

  • In Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami, Soichiro panics when his car's paint gets scratched... by a nuclear bomb going off in the street.
  • In the AU ''Elfangor's Folly'', Al still loves his Mustang. The Yeerks, however, are not about to let him get any satisfaction.
  • Emergency! fic writers love to show how protective Mike Stoker is of "Big Red", his fire engine. An example is "Run". Big Red is shot while the crew searches for a kidnapped Gage, and Mike isn't happy.
    Mike: I can't believe he shot my engine!
    Cap: Aw, Mike, she'll live!
  • Code Prime: Like in Transformers: Prime, Knock Out is obsessed with keeping his paint job untouched safe. Even the tiniest scratch is enough to enrage him. It's also a flaw the Lelouch has Chiba exploit during a fight, allowing her to overpower him.

    Films — Animated 
  • Frozen has Kristoff, who is very protective of his reindeer-drawn sleigh and chides Anna when she plants her feet on its front ("This is fresh lacquer. Seriously, were you raised in a barn?"). A few scenes later, and said sleigh falls off a cliff and bursts into flames. Kristoff had just paid it off too.
  • In the animated version of 101 Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil epically trashes and eventually wrecks her own Cool Car in her increasingly desperate pursuit of the puppies.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Maybe the most famous example, the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. ("Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion." = "this car will be horrifically damaged beyond repair for comedy/pathos purposes.") Of course, in a mild subversion, the car is not totaled by Wacky Fratboy Hijinx. All that did was suspiciously increase the odometer. What actually caused it was Cameron deliberately kicking it in anger, causing it to crash right out of the showroom and off a ledge.
  • The Hunter (1980). Bounty Hunter Papa Thorson rents a brand new Trans Am, only 78 miles. Sadly, thanks to the dynamite-wielding Branch brothers, the car is returned to the rental agency in pieces after it got blown up.
  • In License to Drive, Les (Corey Haim) borrows his grandfather's prized 1972 Cadillac without permission, and during the course of a very wild night, it sustains major damage. Inverted when the grandfather laughs off the damage because he had also destroyed the BMW he had borrowed from Les' father.
  • Richard Hayden's Plymouth GTX convertible in Tommy Boy, which he brags about copiously near the beginning of the film, is gradually reduced to a complete wreck missing most of its bodywork. By the end of the film, the thing is barely holding together, and when they are told that they can't park it where they just did, Richard's reaction is a moment's pause, and then a flat "Keep it!"
  • Charlie Croker's Aston-Martin DB4 in the original The Italian Job is established early on in the film as a prized possession which Croker maintains meticulously. Needless to say, once the Mafia ambush Croker and his gang on an Alpine pass, the DB4 is destroyed in short order by being pushed off the edge of a cliff - though not before one mobster remarks what a "pretty car" it is.
  • In both versions of Gone In 60 Seconds, "Eleanor" is a Mustang (a '71 Mach 1 in the original; a '67 Shelby GT 500 in the remake) that winds up being the very last car that needs to be stolen and transported in mint condition to the buyer. Naturally, this is the car that winds up being the one Maindrian Pace/Memphis Raines can't get away with easily, so the inevitable police chase ensues. In the original, this results in the car being battered beyond recognition during the chase (and eventually replaced with an identical yellow '71 Mach 1 found at a car wash in a ridiculous but funny Deus Ex Machina), while the remake has Eleanor damaged in the midst of the chase (one rearview mirror gets knocked off) and, once it's delivered, destroyed by the villain because Memphis was late to the deadline, and thus the car was incriminating evidence of the villain's involvement in the heist.
  • Most installments in The Fast and the Furious franchise have some example of this, though Dominic's Dodge Charger in the first film (which was built by his late father and is revealed midway through the movie to be some sort of intimidating uber-car) getting completely pulverized by a semi truck in the movie's last drag race is the most remembered instance of this. The funniest example would be Sean from Tokyo Drift wrecking Han's S15 Silvia with a Skyline engine because he just can't drift.
  • The Bluesmobile from The Blues Brothers. It receives a brief but moving moment of silence from Jake and Elwood shortly after its (hilarious) demise.
  • More than one James Bond car has met an untimely demise - the most famous being the DB5, which winds up smashing into a brick wall at the end of its gadget-deploying, smoke-screening, seat-ejecting oil-slicking chase in Goldfinger. The BMW 750iL from Tomorrow Never Dies and the Lotus Esprit Turbo from For Your Eyes Only also meet bad ends. In The World Is Not Enough, the car is sawn in two (BMW actually paid for this). Bond cars usually fit the "fawned over/talked up = doomed" prerequisite of this category since they're typically unveiled by Q Division as an incredible gadget-filled marvel of technology. James Bond has long since gotten to the point of Lampshade Hanging this, as Q will, after lovingly describing the car's features, reproach Bond to bring it back in pristine order this time.
    • Other scenes to make car fans wince include a brand-new Lincoln Continental put in a trash compactor in Goldfinger and Bond crushing Volkswagen Beetles with a piledriver in Skyfall.
    • In Die Another Day Zhao's entire rare car collection ends up raining out of the sky and into the rice paddies of North Korea.
    • Bond's Aston Martin is totaled in Casino Royale (2006) after it flips 7 times, which earned a Guinness world record for most rotations in a continuous car flip. Might have gotten something for 'highest-cost damage in a single vehicle accident' if Bugatti Veyron owners didn't tend to total their supercars.
    • In A View to a Kill, a police captain bawls out some hapless officers for having wrecked their squad cars during a chase, and says the cost of the cruisers will come out of their salary, unaware that behind him his own cruiser is being crushed by the counterweight of a drawbridge.
    • Averted, however, in GoldenEye; the BMW gets the usual rundown in Q's laboratory, but never once gets used in a chase scene (as the vehicle used in the film was the only prototype available, and BMW wasn't about to go trashing it before it went out to the market). Instead, we got a tank.
    • The demise of the DB5 was also slightly averted as well. While it did remain out of commission for the second half of the Goldfinger movie. The car did ride again briefly for the next film, Thunderball. Some damage occurred offscreen in GoldenEye (while shooting the scene where Bond in a DB5 chases Xenia's Ferrari, the cars crashed into each other, leading the producers to rush after a mechanic). Finally Bond drives again a fully-equipped DB5 in the 50th anniversary, Skyfall... and the car is shot until it explodes. Bond's reaction just screams "Now It's Personal!"
    • And in Spectre, we have the DB10 prototype, which Bond "borrows" from Q and which, after a high-speed chase in the streets of Rome, ends up in the river Tiber. On a meta level, Aston Martin designed the DB10 specifically for the movie. Only ten models were produced and seven of them got wrecked during the shooting. Q also follows in his predecessor's footsteps by chiding him over the loss of the previous film's DB5.
      Q: I believe I said, "Bring it back in one piece," not "Bring back one piece."
    • No Time to Die has the DB5 not being totaled, but still suffering massive damage, as an enraged Bond lets it suffer a hail of bullets until his lover Madeleine convinces him to stop standing still and fight back.
  • The revered white Dodge Challenger R/T in Death Proof, which Zoe and her friends go well out of their way just to get a chance to drive, winds up in pretty bad shape when all is said and done.
  • Han Solo is terrified that something is going to happen to the Millennium Falcon in Return of the Jedi. The radar dish is knocked off, but the ship comes back mostly intact. (Lucas actually did want to have the Falcon be destroyed, but common sense prevailed.) His fears may not be so far off—in the Expanded Universe, he was hired as a tutor for Lando, who is still not exactly the world's greatest pilot.
    • Fortunately, at the Battle of Endor, Lando had a Sullustan piloting for him.
    • In the Expanded Universe the ship qualifies more literally. The Falcon as we know it is not what it was at the start of its life, as it was rebuilt from the ground up with entirely new parts, effectively making it another ship. Why? Because the original owners, who cherished it very much and hoped to eventually make it theirs, got it shot to hell and eventually sideswiped a bulk freighter.
  • The '79 Camaro Z-28 in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, owned by the school's star football player and crashed by a stoned/drunk Spicoli, who attempts to shrug off the whole thing: "Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools. I can fix it." ("Fixing it" in this case means smashing it up even more and spray-painting it to appear as though a rival high school's football team has vandalized it, which sparks the enraged star player into leading a Curb-Stomp Battle when the two teams meet on the gridiron.)
  • The drive (pun not intended) behind the plot of Risky Business is that Joel needs to raise money to fix his father's Porsche 928, which he should not have been driving, after it falls into Lake Michigan. Of course, that is just the start of his problems...
  • In the movie Wise Guys, Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo's characters swipe a classic '59 Cadillac belonging to a Mafia assassin, paint it pink, then eventually proceed to batter the hell out of it as part of a death wish/act of revenge.
  • AZZKIKR, the 1967 Corvette Stingray from Con Air.
  • Detective Trupo's Shelby Mustang in American Gangster, blown up as an act of revenge by order of Frank Lucas. A maybe-maybe not Truth in Television, since Lucas' official answer to whether or not the car bombing actually happened was "no comment".
  • Dirk Diggler's treasured Corvette in Boogie Nights shows up near the end of the movie with unexplained collision damage to its front end. This is explained in a deleted scene, where he smashes it into a telephone pole while racing to save Becky Barnett from being beaten by her husband.
  • Officer Carl Bentley (David Alan Grier)'s brand new police car in Jumanji gets increasingly damaged until it is finally swallowed whole by a Man-Eating Plant.
    "FINE! TAKE IT!"
  • In Animal House, Flounder learns that trusting Delta House with his brother's car is not a good idea. Of course, one could also question the brother's judgement on allowing Flounder to take his car anywhere near Delta House, since said brother had himself been a Delta. This is subtly lampshaded earlier in the film, when Otter and Boon remark that Fred Dorfman's mental state wasn't the best by the time he graduated.
  • The Jerk Jock's obsession with keeping his car safe from his 'girlfriend' in the Transformers movie more or less directly lead to Mikaela meeting Sam properly.
  • Used in Sex Drive with the Jerk Jock brother's '69 Pontiac GTO Judge, though thankfully it survives.
  • Near the beginning of Star Trek (2009), Kirk drives his stepdad's Corvette off a cliff after being warned that if he gets one scratch on the antique, he'll be in a whole load of trouble.
  • Iron Man - Garage full of gorgeous cars from a Porsche to a Classic Mustang. Tony miscalculates the weight of his suit and kills power on the roof of his villa. He ends up crashing through several floors and on top of the nicest car in the lot.
    • Later on, Tony for some reason wants to fly out of the hole he created when he crashed. He unceremoniously punts the car out of the way with a blast from his repulsor-thingies. More tears were shed.
  • The Mercedes from Doug's father-in-law in The Hangover. Although in such a comedy, you'd expect the car would get totaled - and it still manages to run from Vegas to LA in the finale (albeit with a broken hood and windows, a crashed door that doesn't open, and the interior severely damaged by an angry tiger).
  • The Dude's car in The Big Lebowski, a 1973 Ford Torino, is already showing its age at the beginning of the film. Over the course of events that follow, the car has its taillights shot out by Walter's wayward Uzi fire, crashes into a telephone pole, is stolen and taken for a joyride by a local youth and used as a temporary home (and bathroom) by some vagrants after it is abandoned, crashes into a dumpster, has all of its windows broken by the irate owner of a car which Walter was smashing due to a misunderstanding over the car theft, and is finally torched by the Nihilists who claimed to have kidnapped the title character's young wife.
    Dude: Well, they finally did it. They killed my fucking car.
  • The Mummy Returns: Rick O'Connell's 1937 Packard is flattened like a pancake by rampaging mummies.
    Rick: No, no, not my CAR! Oh, I hate mummies.
  • Steve Bolander's '58 Impala from American Graffiti. At the beginning of the movie, Steve goes into excruciating detail explaining to Toad how to take care of it while he's away at college, including the brand and viscosity of motor oil to use and the notepad in the glove box with all the relevant info recorded. Halfway through that night, Toad goes and gets the car stolen by leaving the keys in it. It's soon recovered, though...
  • There is one scene which makes the Jackass movie worth watching: the boys rent a nearly-new car and enter it in a demolition derby. They return it on a flatbed truck with the explanation "we hit a dog." (They also forget to remove the blow-up sex dolls they had in the back seat.)
  • In The A-Team film, very early on B.A.'s GMC gets crushed by a falling object.
  • Archie's dad's Pontiac Firebird in High School U.S.A.. When Beau finds out that J.J. is planning to use the car in the drag race, he sends a couple of girls round to seduce Archie and Chuckie into taking them for a ride in it, and then causing them to crash the car by distracting them.
  • In Entrapment, the characters played by Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones get in a car owned by the character played by Ving Rhames while trying to escape from other people. Later, they arrive at their destination, and the car is wrecked. The wreck is explained in a deleted scene showing a Car Chase, where we see what caused the damage. Without it, it just makes Connery's character look like a horrible driver.
  • The Other Guys has Allen's Prius suffering all kinds of damage: crashing, door removing, hobo orgy, heavy gunfire...
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, the Red Skull give Zola the "Not a scratch." line in regards to his extremely cool Hydramobile. The car shows up again in the film, in pristine condition and with Red Skull driving it. Phillips then steals it to catch Skull's flying wing in the finale, causing it to get mildly chewed up by the propellers. Skull looks more than a little annoyed, but he isn't in a position to complain.
  • Cannonball has a beautiful black Lincoln Continental owned by an elderly couple who wants it transferred from Los Angeles to New York. The driver is told to be careful, but he takes it on the cross-country race. Add to this that the driver is the movie's Butt-Monkey, and that black people were fair game in The '70s. Of course, there isn't much left of the car when he arrives in New York. Other cars, especially the green Mustang with which Cannonball Buckman continues the race, can crash as much as they want and keep healing themselves unless the plot requires otherwise.
  • In The Gumball Rally, one driver enters the race by getting a job delivering a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. Hilarity Ensues as the car gets keyed by outlaw bikers, caught in a sandstorm, etc.
  • Pulp Fiction. Vincent's Malibu. Possibly the one thing he's proudest of in all the world, and "some dickless piece of shit" ( heavily implied to be Butch) goes and keys it. Then, when Mia overdoses and Vincent rushes her to Lance (to whom he was complaining about the keying earlier), he ends his trip by crashing it into Lance's house (by then his car's condition is the last of his concerns anyway).
    Winston: I get my car back any different than I gave it, Monster Joe's gonna be disposin' of two bodies.
  • Dean Higgins in The Strongest Man in the World becomes worried when Dexter asks him to borrow the keys for his car, in order for Dexter to retrieve the strength formula from the school, and he becomes shocked when he sees that Dexter destroyed the car after he gave it some of his strength formula to return to the weight-lifting competition in the climax.
  • Exaggerated in Need for Speed, which features nine rare supercars. Only two of those don't get totaled at some point, and one of the remaining cars still has some plot-important scuffs and dings.
  • In Thank God It's Friday, Tony Di Marco, owner of The Zoo disco and a Casanova par excellence, has a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera that he carefully covers with a tarp before he heads into the club for the evening. Over the next few hours various other cars accidentally knock it about in passing, and in his final scene — as he tries one last time to woo a housewife away from her husband — he smacks the car in frustration, whereupon it virtually implodes from the accumulated damage, much to the amusement of the couple.
  • Louden Trott's car in Who's That Girl, a Rolls Royce that was borrowed from the Worthingtons (the people he was employed to), which unfortunately gets damaged during the course of the film and eventually falls apart at the Worthington estate at the wedding.
  • In the 1926 silent comedy For Heaven's Sake, Harold Lloyd plays an Eccentric Millionaire who, for his Establishing Character Moment, buys and then wrecks two new cars in succession and doesn't even care because he's that rich.

  • In Danny, the Champion of the World, Victor Hazell's car ends up ruined by the pheasants. This is especially satisfying as his barking rudely at Danny to take care of the car what was established him as an antagonist in the first place.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden's car, the Blue Beetle — a Volkswagen Beetle that started off as powder blue all over — has pretty much every body panel replaced at least once due to things like Harry's being shot at, attacked by werewolves and using it to run over/into a Chlorofiend (plant monster) and being on the receiving end of the attentions of some mold demons, and is only kept alive because his mechanic, Mike is "the automotive equivalent of Jesus Christ. Or Frankenstein."
  • Crowley of Good Omens takes almost every opportunity, both in the narrative and out loud, to talk about his vintage 1926 Bentley. It's his full-body glove, his prized possession. Then, it's time for what he thinks is his final journey, and he couldn't make it in anything other than the Bentley, which ends up traveling in its own ball of flame while Crowley holds it together through sheer force of will, until it's carried him to his destination and finally falls apart, unrecognizable.
  • The Bangsian Fantasy Legions of Hell by C. J. Cherryh has a scene in which Kleopatra and female Pharaoh Hatshepsut borrow Marcus Antonius' red Ferrari — and then run into a hostile situation which gets the car pretty badly damaged. When they meet Marcus again, with a Praetorian legion behind him and the need to take serious action quickly, he still takes a moment for, "Gods, Klea, what have you done to my car?"
  • Gabe's Camaro in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. He specifically tells Percy and his mom "Not a scratch". It later gets destroyed by Zeus and the Minotaur.
  • Mara Jade Skywalker is this way in Star Wars Legends with her ships. It is NOT a good idea to mess with them. And true to the trope, the Jade's Fire is sacrificed on the mission to Niruan and the Jade Sabre, Luke's wedding gift to her, has to be abandoned during a crisis situation. Luke did manage to hang onto the third one,the Jade Shadow, even after her demise though.
  • In The Temp, the one thing that serial woman-beater Mark Henley cares about is his brand-new BMW, which he calls a pussy magnet. When the title character and her friends plot revenge on him for date-raping Donna, they lure him away from his desk by smashing his car, which is parked outside his office.
  • In The Walker Papers, Joanne Walker's car, Petite, continues to get destroyed whenever she's dealing with mystical stuff. By the fourth book, her insurance agent is getting suspicious.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Annika (2021);
    • Annika's Saab. She gets carjacked by the suspect in 1.6, who blows himself up with a grenade while still inside.
    • DCI Oban loans her VW Touareg to Annika while she looks for another car. It promptly gets its taillight knocked out while parked when a suspect fleeing Annika and Michael backs a delivery van into it.
  • The A-Team
    • In the episode "Hot Styles", the others somehow talked B.A. into letting Murdock drive his precious van while he's getting there and a Running Gag through the episode is the worry that something will happen to it. Strangely, except for a few moments early in the episode, Murdock takes this charge very seriously, worrying about odd sounds and keeping the heat on high to keep the carpet fluffy. Of course, all this is ruined when Murdock accidentally drives the van off a dock at the end of the episode.
    • In the episode "The Little Town With an Accent", Murdock still has the truck he won off Wheel of Fortune and he is very protective of it. He is unhappy when it gets scratched during the course of the episode. This eventually backfires on him when he refuses to let Kelvin bring it down after he and B.A. have fixed it up; he doesn't do it properly and the truck tumbles to the ground.
  • In one episode of That '70s Show, Eric borrows his dad's prized 1950's Corvette despite his father's orders to not touch the car while he and his mother were out of town. Eric takes a girl he likes on a date with the car and ends up driving it off the road. The car isn't damaged but it is incredibly dirty and Eric has limited time to clean the car. He manages to clean and reposition the car to make it look like it was never driven since his parents left (the odometer was broken beforehand). He gets caught at the end of the episode because his dad starts the car when he gets home and notices the radio was set to a different station.
  • One episode of Father Ted featured a car (in Craggy Island terms practically a Ferrari) that was supposed to be given away as a raffle-prize. In attempting to "even out" a small dent, Ted reduced the vehicle to a crumpled pile of rubble.
  • In an episode of Freaks and Geeks, Lindsey's friends convince her to "borrow" her parents' station wagon to help transport their band's equipment to a gig, against her better judgement. Naturally, she is distracted by her friends and crashes into another car that was pulling out of a driveway, causing Lindsey to get grounded.
  • In the second season premiere of Burn Notice, this happens with the car Sam lent Michael. Since Sam's girlfriend is the one who bought it for him, and it's a really nice car, this is more than a little awkward.
    • In the half-season premiere Sam is forced to scrape the car to save Mike. They have to abandon it because it's distinctive, and Sam requests a moment to mourn.
    • And again, this time Michael needing to save Fi. Apparently, Michael isn't the type of guy you want to loan your car to.
    • In "Square One", Michael gives Jesse's car to a criminal as part of a scheme to convince him that they are not cops. The car, naturally, ends up getting trashed.
  • In season 10 of Top Gear Richard Hammond used a 1964 Opel Kadett to drive across Africa. He described it as "the happiest car in the world", christened it Oliver, spent an inordinate amount of time fixing it and at one point almost drowned in a river to save the car. During season 11 he revealed he had bought Oliver and shipped "him" back to the UK at his own expense saying, "It's real. He loves me and he's coming home." Season 12 opened with his co-presenters conspiring to make Richard crush Oliver (now fitted with a Vanity License Plate reading OL1V3R) under a lorry. Hammond forfeited the challenge to save his beloved car.
  • In one episode of The Pretender, Mr. Lyle discovers that his car has been stolen. Turns out Jarod took the car to use as target practice for a series of missile launchers he was pretending to sell, then he mailed the license plate back to Mr. Lyle.
  • The early 80s Australian sitcom Kingswood Country has main character Ted Bullpit doting on his beloved Kingswood - he would never lend it out to anyone, giving the excuse that he had just hung Venetian blinds in the back window or Glad-wrapped the bullbar, or some other such excuse. Usually in the format "The Kingswood!? You're not taking the Kingswood! I just X'd the Y!"
    "The Kingswood!? You're not taking the Kingswood! I just shampood the brake pedal!"
  • In Hawkeye (2021), Clint states he's not hijacking the Dodge Challenger that Kate liked because he doesn't want to break into such a Cool Car. The bad guys use it to pursue them, and indeed it gets wrecked in the process!
  • One episode of Warehouse 13 begins with the agents needing to borrow Artie's car. He lets them, very reluctantly, and gives them a list of rules for keeping it nice, because "when a guy gets to be a certain age he just likes to have a nice car." At the end of the episode, they awkwardly ease into telling him that his car was blown up. They saved the cassette player... Subverted because they were actually joking.
  • On Chuck, John Casey had a much beloved Crown Victoria for most of one episode before Chuck blew it up.
  • And on Psych, Lassiter has a similar love for his government-issue Crown Vic. Although it has yet to be completely trashed, it has been (lightly) abused.
  • Robert Petrie of The Dick Van Dyke Show bought a brand new car and he loved it. Unfortunately, he had to loan it to his wife...
  • In the Home Improvement episode "Don't Tell Mamma," Tim insists that Jill has to have a scratch on her beautiful 1955 Chevy Nomad repaired or it will rust. When she tells him that it's not important enough to worry about, and that she likes the car just fine the way it is, he sneaks the car out to get it fixed without her knowing... and of course drops a tremendous I-beam weighing several tons on it at the set of Tool Time.
  • In several Supernatural episodes, Dean says this to Sam about the Impala. In the pilot, Sam crashes into a building and Dean says "If you screwed up my car, I'll kill you."
    • And in the Freaky Friday episode, the idiot that switched with Sam asks Dean if he can drive. He ends up backing it into a brick wall. The jerkass switched with Sam, and crashed the Impala? And got away with it?! (Only because he was a minor. They said themselves that they would have killed him if he wasn't.)
    • The Impala takes a lot of damage over the course of the show. In the Season 1 finale, it gets T-boned by a freaking semi-trailer and the driver's side door ripped clean off its hinges. Bobby literally says that the car is a pretzel and essentially totaled. A few episodes later Dean has it back on the road. Virtually the same thing happens at the end of Season 6.
  • As of the finale of Ashes to Ashes (2008), Gene Hunt won't be firing up the Quattro anymore.
  • On the second season premiere of The Dukes of Hazzard, Bo and Luke ask Daisy to trade cars with them to throw Roscoe and Enos off their trail. Daisy complains that she just waxed the car and warns them what will happen if they get one speck of dust on it. The car winds up totaled after the brakes failed and they jump out just before it goes over a cliff.
    • The episode ends on a positive note, as Daisy is given the Jeep she drove for the rest of the series.
  • Whenever Howie Munson of The Fall Guy manages to buy a car of his own, you can be sure that it will end first with Colt Seavers behind the wheel and then in a big explosion. In one episode, Colt even manages to total his own car, Howie's, Jodie's, and Big Jack's, causing everybody else to be unwilling to lend him their vehicle.
  • In the first episode of the third season of Scrubs, Elliot, in an effort to cheer herself up and turn things around, maxes out her credit for a new car that she's really proud of. Needless to say, it doesn't make it through the episode — the passenger door gets taken out by a passing truck just seconds after she gets the keys (FRICK!) and then the driver's side door gets taken out by a van a scene or so later after she tries to deal with some smoothies she left on the car (DOUBLE FRICK!).
  • In an episode of NCIS, Tony's car (an extremely expensive sports car, as though you needed to be told given that it's Tony's) gets stolen and he spends the entire episode fretting about its fate, even at one point commenting that he's not even sure he wants it back, comparing the compromised sanctity to a girlfriend who's been raped. At the end of the episode they finally find it, on a news channel, involved in a high-speed police chase a couple of states away. The thief is more-or-less unharmed, but the car is utterly totaled (cue Tony's sadface).
    • He had another really nice and expensive classic car blown up while he was undercover (he wasn't driving it).
  • Malcolm in the Middle: In one episode's B plot, Hal spends the entire episode deciding whether or not to blow a great deal of money on the most gorgeous car he has ever seen (in the end, he does). The A plot culminates at the end with the boys rolling something heavy off the roof - falling at exactly the moment that Hal pulls into the driveway.
  • The cars on Canada's Worst Driver regularly get scratched, dented, and worse (which is to be expected when competitors get behind the wheel).
  • Starting in the fourth episode of series 1, Father Peter Clifford of Ballykissangel drives a black Jowett Javelin willed to him by a dying parishioner. The first time he lets somebody else drive it (during a rescue operation in "As Happy As a Turkey On Boxing Day"), the driver forgets to set the parking brake and it rolls over a cliff.
  • They trashed enough cars to get its own wiki page in Smallville.
  • Ray Vecchio's Buick Riviera on Due South. And it eventually got blown to bits with a bomb that was meant for Ray, but killed another officer instead.
    • Ray K was more fortunate with his Goat. It never did get into an accident.
  • In Monk: In "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies", Captain Stottlemeyer gets a new midnight onnyx Dodge Charger in place of his previous Ford Crown Victoria police unit. He is so obsessed with it that he and Monk share the same opinion about blemishes on the paint. It looks like a nice ride, at least until Natalie basically "borrows" it, after which the shotgun mirror is dangling by a few wires and the hood is smashed in.
  • In Hunter, detective sgt. Hunter has a (deserved) reputation for getting into car chases and wrecking his cars. Although they don't own the cars in question, the people in charge of the LAPD car pool fear the moment Hunter appears to requsition a new car, and tend to give him the worst clunker available. The times Hunter manages (by audacity, oversight or sheer luck) to get a new, or newly serviced, car there is a lot of angst over in which shape he'll return it. Of course, the car is totalled or at least severely damaged during the episode. This leads to another show of angst and fury when the car is returned in pieces.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Future's End" the crew of Voyager have traveled back in time to contemporary Earth. Tuvok and Tom Paris need some transportation and so take a truck out on a test-drive, leading to Tuvok arguing about the ethics of hanging onto the truck for longer than they told the dealer they would. The discussion ends up being rendered somewhat irrelevant when it's disintegrated during a phaser battle.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Daisy borrows the Ghost Rider's car to chase down a friend. When she drives into an alley and gets a massive scrape up the side, she assures herself that it's a magic, self-healing car. The Ghost Rider, Robbie, is sitting invisibly in the passenger seat at the time, and practically cries as he says that it only works when he's the one driving.
  • Motive: In "Frampton Comes Alive", Angie's beloved car is torched with a Molotov Cocktail.
  • This happens twice in Cobra Kai with Johnny's somewhat dilapidated but still rather nice 1991 Pontiac Firebird. It goes without saying it's not a good idea to mess with the car of a guy who has a black belt in a particularly vicious form of karate either, as both times the people responsible end up taking the ass-kicking of their lives when they decide to stand their ground against Johnny.
    "Yes, oh my god. I got to sit in the front seat of it. I remember getting into the car, first of all the doors are a little swingy — the handles, they’re a little wobbly. It’s not like getting into a brand new car, and I’ve never got into a legitimate vintage car. So I got in and closed the door and it didn’t close all the way and Ralph was like, “Oh you got to like pull it when you close it,” so I went to go and do it again and it went bang [takes an inward breath] and I had this moment where I’m like, “I’m about to get fired, I’m about to get sent home. I just slammed the yellow door, I don’t know what to do with myself. I saw Ralph’s face just go, [face drops] “Don’t mess with me, kid.”

    Video Games 
  • The Grand Theft Auto games often have missions where you must deliver a car in mint condition... within a really short time. The most notorious one is the "Grand Theft Auto" mission from the third game, where you must deliver three sports cars within 6 minutes, unscratched. Most of the traffic in the GTA games goes really, really slow, not unlike in real life. You, on the other hand, have to drive really fast, and avoid everyone else while not even taking a tiny ping. This proves all but impossible.
    • Most civilians, if you take a baseball bat to their wing mirror, will either put their foot down, or get out and run like hell, but the odd Badass Bystander will refuse to take the insult lying down. The NPCs most likely to react this way are cops (understandably, as you've just earned a wanted level for property damage) and taxi drivers, who will invariably come at you with Good Old Fisticuffs even if you have an assault rifle trained on them. This isn't limited to the player's actions, though, giving an excellent opportunity for Set a Mook to Kill a Mook.
  • The Warriors allows you to earn bonus points for smashing up any car you come across on the street (and stealing the radio, of course!). On some missions, you actually must destroy a car (such as in Mission 5, where you avenge yourself on a small-time gang leader by smashing up his car just outside the local body shop, or Mission 7, where you must trash a car in Spanish Harlem to goad the Hurricanes into attacking you and setting that particular subplot in motion).
  • Likewise, the first Mercenaries has a side mission for the Mafia where you deliver a sports car to a buyer who's 1/3 of the way across the map. In addition to time, the car's condition affects your final reward, so every scratch and ding results in a counter on the side of the screen dropping. And of course, the quickest route to the buyer is covered over with warring soldiers and tanks who will gladly add a few bullet holes for free.
    • Saints Row has the Chop Shop diversion, which works very similarly. The instant you get into a wanted vehicle in Saints Row 2 or approach the right island in Saints Row: The Third, you suddenly get a minimum police notoriety level, often three or even five stars. On top of that, the AI Drives Like Crazy at times. Good luck getting the vehicle to the chop shop in one piece, let alone getting any significant reward for it. The only good news is that there's no time limit, but given that the cops are actively hunting you down while you're taking it to the chop shop, it's in your best interest to get to the end ASAP.
  • In Need for Speed: Most Wanted, you have a racing-built BMW right off the bat, but you quickly loses it to the Big Bad. The whole plot deals with you making your way through street racing to get your car back. Then it's crashed and destroyed anyway in the sequel.
  • In Brütal Legend, this is how the Keeper of Metal feels about the Deuce. It's not even his car, but he gives Riggs shit for managing to put a scratch in its beautiful paint job, what with the war going on topside and all.
  • Butt-Monkey Enzo of Bayonetta, among his other sufferings, frequently has his car completely wrecked by angels and/or Bayonetta's efforts to put said angels down.
  • Driver is an infamous example because of its hard to complete tutorial level. You have to perform several stunt maneuvers in your car without banging it up. Every time you bump into something, you're told "Hey, man! Watch the paint!" Crash into something three times and you have to do the tutorial all over again.

    Visual Novels 
  • The title character of Melody has a habit of taking Arnold’s car out for rides without his knowledge or consent. Once, she drag races in the car, denting the rear bumper, and Arnold catches her before she can do anything about it. He’s so angry that he kicks her out of the house.

  • In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Jared borrows the Commander's car (with his permission, mind), and when he goes to park it after returning it, backs into the wall and dents the car. Unlike most examples though, the Commander is okay with it, saying that it was an easy fix and that finishing project cars make them less fun anyway, so you might as well hand it to a teenager to bust up and keep the work going. (Besides, his bigger concern was making sure his kids made it home in one piece.)

    Web Original 
  • In Cobra Kai, this is the catalyst for Johnny's intervention on Miguel's behalf. He effectively wipes the pavement with his aggressors (who had also hit on the bright idea of doing some funny stuff with his car) and takes him in as his first student.

    Western Animation 
  • Seeing as many Transformers (mostly Autobots) are cars, the more narcissistic soldiers will obsess with their paint jobs:
    • Sunstreaker and Tracks from Transformers: Generation 1 are notable examples. For Sunstreaker, damaging his paint is a Berserk Button that will set him on a relentless quest for revenge against the individual responsible. Tracks, on the other hand, falls into depression at the thought that his appearance is anything less than perfection.
    • There's a few Decepticons like this, too. Knock Out from Transformers: Prime takes this particularly far; he took a car alternate form purely for aesthetics (a decision derided by Starscream), and becomes enormously upset when his paint job is messed with (to the point where Starscream once punished him for disobedience by scratching his finish). As of "Tunnel Vision", he gets hit by Vogel's train—twice!—and as a result has his paint job utterly wrecked. He doesn't take it well.
  • One episode of Ben 10 features the RV getting stolen. The Tennysons hitch a ride in another man's RV that he bought with his life savings. They end up stealing it from him and using it to track down the baddies. In the end, it gets totaled, and the episode somehow tries to imply that the man deserved it.
    • Ben 10: Alien Force has Kevin being particularly protective of his car's paint job; concerned enough that he comments on this despite having commented only seconds ago that he'd follow Gwen anywhere — until she leads him into the location that made him complain about the paint job. Naturally, there's a Running Gag around it being constantly destroyed.
  • Carl's "2 Wycked" car on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Its destruction has more or less turned into a running gag, starting from the very first episode. Even before the title sequence ran.
    • And his house. And his pool. And Carl.
    • "Using a key to gouge expletives on another's vehicle is a sign of trust and friendship."
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, after their latest failure to defeat the KND, the Delightful Children from Down the Lane ask to borrow "the really destructive machine" from Father. He treats it like they're asking to drive the family car, grumbling as he relents and warning them that he doesn't want to see so much as a scratch on it while tossing them the keys.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "It's Not Easy Being Green", it's revealed that back in their high school days Hank, Bill and Dale borrowed Boomhauer's treasured Ford Mustang and took it for a joyride. Dale's attempt to drive the car backfires when his ineptitude with the car's manual transmission sends the car careening out of control ("the left brake won't work!") and he bails out, sending the car over a cliff where it sinks to the bottom of a flooded quarry. The rest of the episode hinges on Hank's efforts to keep the quarry from being drained so Boomhauer won't find out what really happened to the car.
  • The My Life as a Teenage Robot episode "The Great Unwashed" features a mix of this and Doomed New Clothes for Jenny when she gets a new paint job/outfit for Don Prima's party, only for the Crust Cousins to hire the Mudslinger, a guy who specializes in both literal and figurative mud-slinging to attack her for the sole purpose of ruining it. The Crust Cousins succeed and when the Mudslinger confesses their scheme as an angry Jenny prepares to pulverize him, she quickly warms up and gives him her party invitation so he can do the same to them!
  • Extra laughs if the car isn't actually that valuable, and is fairly average looking. A good example is the superintendent's Honda in The Simpsons (though it only had its H stolen).
  • Played with in an episode of Rocko's Modern Life. Mr. Wolff (Heffer's adopted dad) buys a new car and forbids the rest of the family from driving it. Mrs Wolff, who is taking driving lessons from Rocko, borrows it and ends up at a demolition derby. Amazingly enough, not only does she win the derby, but she makes it without so much as a scratch on the car. Mr. Wolff puts the car back in the garage and closes the door - wherein the shelves give way and dump everything on top of the car.
  • The Venture Brothers:
    • In the episode "ORB," Brock Samson accidentally provokes his Cool Car (a '69 Charger) to attempt to kill him after he digs a bit too deeply into the details of his bodyguard assignment. Though he escapes, the car shows up again at the cliffhanger ending of the episode, and it's revealed at the beginning of the next episode that he's somehow survived by dismantling the entire front end of the car piece by piece.
    • The later episodes of the fourth season reveals that Billy and Pete spent most of the limited funds of Conjectural Technologies on a pretty sweet motorcycle that can split into two while driving to seat them both. Naturally, the finale has Brock steal the conjoined motorcycle; one of the two halves falls off a cliff, and the other doesn't end up in much better shape.
  • Mission Hill: Andy's boss Ron is arrested for tax evasion, and chooses to sign the title of his sports car over to Kevin so the IRS can't seize it. Predictably, it gets destroyed at the end of the episode, nailed by a semi truck just as Kevin is giving an ill-timed speech about responsibility.
  • Cyborg's car in Teen Titans (2003), in the first episode it was shown and built, was stolen by hoodlums, then stolen from them by his Evil Counterpart Gizmo from the H.I.V.E., and then possessed by the living circuitboard Overload. When Overload mocked Cyborg by claiming that he couldn't stop Overload without hurting his precious car, Cyborg calmly stated that "It's not my car anymore" and blasted it.
  • One sketch on Robot Chicken features the parking attendants from Ferris Bueller's Day Off taking KITT out drinking and eventually wreck it.
  • In Fanboy and Chum Chum, Lenny and Boog, as part of their plot to steal Fanboy's drinking cup, decide to pick up Fanboy and Chum Chum in Boog's car in the hopes that Fanboy will put his cup in the drink holder. Unfortunately, it turns out that Fanboy and Chum Chum have just been having a competition to see which of them can step in the most gum. And now they want to pick up everybody they know for the ride. (Including a seagull.)
  • In ReBoot, Bob decides in one episode to replace his problematic car with a beautiful red V3 bike. It gets destroyed before he has a chance to use it.
  • Inverted in Daria during the Establishing Character Moment of Daria's cool Aunt Amy, who pulls up outside the reception hall for her niece's weddingnote  in her '77 Triumph Spitfire convertible and hands the keys to a parking valet. Notable as Jake had just warned the valet who had taken his car that it was an expensive vehicle and had been brushed off with a muttered "Yeah, right."

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


New Car

Rampaging Gir controlling Zim's home base meets a man's brand new car.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / WatchThePaintJob

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