Look Both Ways

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Don't cross the street in the middle, in the middle, in the middle, in the middle, in the middle of the block
Don't cross the street in the middle, in the middle, in the middle, in the middle, in the middle of the block
Use your eyes to look out, use your ears to hear
Walk up to the corner when the coast is clear
And wait, and wait, until you see the light turn green..."

They Might Be Giants"In the Middle, in the Middle, In the Middle"

A specific variant of Dropped a Bridge on Him. A character runs across the street without checking for oncoming vehicles, usually because of someone chasing him or something. Without warning, a bus or car wheels in from the side of the frame and slams into him, crushing his bones into the dust of death. Often it seems the vehicle was moving pretty fast for the road it's on. The guy who left his common sense behind in the heat of the moment is Killed Off for Real to provide Anyone Can Die shock value.

Plus, it's a kind of Karmic Death. Remember, folks, you were taught in elementary school to Look Both Ways before crossing the street!

Interestingly, the driver almost never slows down (if they try, they will brake so hard that their wheels lock up and they end up not slowing down anyway) and never swerves, even if the person was in the street long enough for them to react. If the victim is "lucky" they might just honk (might).

The reason why you never see people looking both ways, by the way, is because film crews generally have to close off streets on which shows are filming, so cars aren't going to go past unless the director or the writer wants them to.

Can invoke Diabolus Ex Machina and/or a Shocking Swerve if done particularly suddenly. Nearly always invokes Mood Whiplash. Can sometimes be averted by a Heroic Sacrificial Diving Save.

The incredibly dangerous roads in Fictionland might explain why Jaywalking is considered as serious as Murder and Arson...

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of Look Both Ways include:

Anime and Manga

  • In the very first episode of Excel Saga, Excel gets hit by a bus while prancing home from her high school graduation, and the Great Will of the Macrocosm has to resurrect her.
  • Akiko in Kanon is hit by an SUV near the end, but survives thanks to Ayu's miracle.
    • That totally wasn't her fault, though, since the driver that hit her was apparently an idiot who can't tell the difference between red light and green light.
      • Either that, or was driving too fast for the snowy/icy conditions and couldn't stop.
  • Magical Princess Minky Momo being run over by a truck (and her show not immediately ending) has become infamous among anime fans. In fact, it was the inspiration for the Excel Saga incident mentioned above.
  • An episode of Nurse Witch Komugi parodies this by having the title character hit by a car in the first scene and spending most of the episode as a ghost, then come Back from the Dead and get roadkilled again, revived and flatttened about half a dozen times back to back.
  • In Monster an incarceree's brother practices a Flopsy routine on a road while awaiting the prison van transporting Tenma and the aforementioned. While talking to his girlfriend he steps out backwards into the road only to be hit by said prison van in a manner far more real than he could have intended. Though Tenma does manage to save his life.
    • It later happens to Tenma, who was running from the police at the time. He escapes with little more than a twisted ankle and a head injury because the truck wasn't driving that fast and was able to brake.
  • The first episode of Weiss Kreuz opens with a girl named Michiru waving goodbye to her boyfriend, who gets on his bike and is suddenly run over by a van. And by "run over" I mean it fell on him from an overpass, on fire, covered in ninjas.
    • Averted in the case of Ran's sister Aya, since it turns out it was intentional.
  • Inexplicably, unfathomably, illogically and HILARIOUSLY, M.Bison tries to do this to Ryu at the very end of the Street Fighter II animated movie. Why an international crimelord with near-unlimited Psycho Power, an otherwise brilliant tactical mind, and martial arts expertise would try to run down someone with a truck will forever be a mystery.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho starts off with the protagonist dying from being hit by a car to save a boy who had chased his ball into the street.
    • This doesn't really count, though, since Yusuke saw the car coming and dove in front of it deliberately to save the kid.
  • In Death Note, a gangster was splattered by the truck. Then again, he was sentenced to death via Light's Death Note...
  • Hitomi from ICE gets run over by a car, which promptly transports her mind into the body of a woman living in the near future, where all males have gone extinct.
  • In Ef: A Tale Of Melodies, Yuuko gets hits by a car when she suddenly rushes onto the street without looking out for traffic. This is especially egregious, since she managed to survive some pretty bad stuff before that.
    • In the game however, she's hit NOT because of this, but because she was trying to save Miki, who was unaware of the approaching vehicle, from being run over
    • Not to mention you could count the number of moving cars in both series in all of Otowa on one hand.
  • In Kaze to Ki no Uta Gilbert is run over and killed by a horse carriage after running into the street while hallucinating.
  • The trope occurs hilariously - twice - in Baccano!. In the first instance, resident Cloudcuckoolanders Isaac and Miria are dancing about and enthusing about their plan to become rich when they are abruptly hit by a car driven by Ennis. Since it wasn't going very fast, they're not seriously hurt. Later on, Szilard leaps out of a window in pursuit of Maiza - and directly into the path of his own car, now driven by Isaac.
  • Very cruelly played with in The Twelve Kingdoms, where Seishuu dies this way when hit by a carriage. The twist comes because he had gone blind a short while ago, thus whether he looked both ways or not... it wouldn't have mattered.
  • Subverted in Fruits Basket, where Tohru's mom Kyouko was fatally hit by a car because the driver actually had a lethal heart attack while driving. Oh, and because Kyou panicked from trying a Diving Save in fear of triggering his curse - needless to say, Kyou couldn't forgive himself for it.
  • In an odd subversion, Rei Asaka from Oniisama e... pulls this with a train, since she fell on its path while trying to recover a bouquet of roses that she was carrying as a gift to her date, Nanako.

Comic Books

  • In the final issue of a recent story arc in The DCU's Justice Society of America, Wildcat and his new-found meta-human son are fighting a losing battle against Badass Diabolical Mastermind Vandal Savage, until Savage charges out into the street after the son, right into the path of a speeding fire truck responding to a blaze started earlier in the brawl. It's not near enough to kill him, but it does end the fight.
  • Underground Comics artist Gilbert Shelton penned a series of one-page comics on motoring tips - in a spotlight on Britain, he reminded us that they drive on the left, illustrated with him stepping off a curb looking to his left as a London cab barrels up behind him.


  • The Lives of Others: Christa-Maria is hit by a truck after she betrays Dreymann. Not played entirely straight - it's ambiguous whether the incident was a suicide or an accident.
  • Happens multiple times in the film The Air I Breathe, so much that it devolves into Narm.
  • Final Destination: All of the characters in the movie have cheated death, and he (it?) is currently mowing them down one by one, in very elaborate ways telegraphed for the audience. Arguing about their situation while walking down a sidewalk, one of the girls exclaims that all of the others can "Drop fucking dead!" and she steps off the sidewalk. BUS!
  • Parodied (and subverted) in Night of the Comet: After the elimination of the human race, one girl decides she no longer needs to look before crossing "against the light"—and is almost run over by another survivor.
  • Parodied in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, where the two main characters want to cross a street. The light is red, and Harold insists on waiting. They eventually decide to cross, but as soon as they so much as gesture that they're crossing, a police car appears out of nowhere and they get ticketed for jaywalking.
  • In Kick Ass the title character finishes off his first attempt at heroism by getting hitflipped by a car. To be fair, though, he had just been stabbed in the gut and probably wasn't thinking too clearly.
  • Mean Girls: Near the end of the movie, Regina gets hit by a bus while arguing with Cady. She sustains moderate damage; the main effect is that she spends the rest of the movie encased in some kind of spine-straightening braces. Cady's narrating voice fakes the viewer out for a second by claiming that Regina died, but immediately afterwards she says, "Just kidding."
    • And at the very end the 'treatment' for the new junior Plastics is being hit by a bus as well. This is also just a joke, the girls aren't really hit.
  • In the film Mimic, this happens to the main villain, a giant, man-eating cockroach, when he makes an ill-fated decision to step in front of a moving subway car.
  • In Hocus Pocus, when the heroes manage to escape from a sewer and seem to be in the clear, their talking cat Thachary is flattened by a passing vehicle out of the blue. After they mourn over his clearly very dead body and start to turn away, he suddenly reforms to his normal shape and comes back to life, running over to them and saying "Hate it when that happens".
  • Parodied in the Scary Movie series, where someone is unexpectedly hit by a car or bus at the end of every movie.
    • At the beginning of the second one, a couple of people are flattened by a bus. On the back it says "How's my driving? Call 1-800-KISS MY ASS. And yes, we know, that is too many digits for a phone number.
    • Double subverted in the third one. The main character's car barely stops in time to avoid hitting the kid. As he sighs in relief, another car comes out of nowhere at a 90 degree angle and runs him over. And no, there was no intersection, it was a perfectly straight road.
  • Happens to that one guy from The Devil's Advocate, although it's strongly implied that it was a hit.
  • El Orfanata made horror out of this trope.
  • Subverted in Constantine. A Mexican man finds a spear point and walks out into the street, where he's hit by a car. Not only is he not killed, he runs away completely unharmed. We later find out that he survived because the spear point he's carrying is from The Spear of Destiny.
  • Happens to Diana in Knowing. She doesn't get better.
  • In Superman II, Clark Kent carelessly walks out into a crowded New York Metropolis street and is hit by a cab. Of course, Clark is unhurt because he's really Superman.
  • The leader of the Martian ship in the comedy Spaced Invaders charges from his spaceship onto the highway as soon as they land on Earth, howling his contempt for Earthlings. He is instantly smashed into the grill of a passing truck. Further spoofed when the less combative Martians interact with a human little girl:

"Don't forget to look both ways before crossing the street!"
"So that's the secret. If only Captain Bipto had known."

  • Happens to Brad Pitt's character (his original one, before Death borrows his body) in Meet Joe Black. Although the moral lesson of the incident is not so much "look both ways before you cross the street; more like "Don't stand in the street for two minutes blankly staring back at the girl you just met."
    • It actually happens twice in sequence, with his body being flung back and forth between the vehicles in a gruesome sort of pinball.
  • Lampshaded in the 2008 movie Ghost Town. After Dr. Pincus is hit by a bus, just as Frank was, Frank comments to the effect that the Transit Authority buses are a menace. Neither bus so much as slows down, honks or screeches before striking.
  • Used with considerable effect in The Exorcism of Emily Rose with the Doctor who gets hit right after admitting that he believes in demons and is afraid.
  • Emily's fate in The Devil Wears Prada, allowing Andy to feel a little bit less guilty about going to Paris instead of her.
  • Played with in Local Hero: Every time the hero steps out into the street he is nearly hit by a guy on a dirt bike. Every time. And this in a town so small that it only has one street and no other traffic.
  • In Rob Zombie's film The Devil's Rejects, after being the only survivor of the Firefly family's escapades at a motel, a young woman, wearing the face of her husband, stops running from the motel room in the middle of a desert highway and is promptly hit by an 18 wheeler.
  • In Prey For Rock And Roll, Lori Petty's character runs after some kids who steel her guitar, and gets hit by a car. She doesn't survive the incident.
  • In what is possibly the Trope Maker, and one of the few humorous examples of this trope, the Buster Keaton short "One Week" has this happen to a house, via train. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Sliding Doors.
  • Practical Magic has a tragic Double Subversion.


  • In Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, Humbert's wife Charlotte finds his diary, detailing his disdain for her and lust for her titular daughter, while said daughter is away at camp. Humiliated, she confronts him with the evidence and tells him she intends to take Lolita from the camp to a strict year-round boarding school and away from his grasp forever. However, crossing the street to post letters setting this plan in motion, she is killed by a passing motorist, leaving Humbert as Lolita's sole guardian.
  • This starts off the plot of |Rewind, one of William Sleator's less famous novels—because the main character would have grown up to greatly influence the world, he's sent back in time instead of dying, but he'll get run over again and again no matter what he does differently unless he makes some very specific changes to the course of events that got him killed.
  • In Carnosaur, an adolescent megalosaur misses its chance to act out the T. rex's role from Jurassic Park 2 when it steps out onto a highway and is flattened by an 18-wheeler.
  • In The Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanan's mistress Myrtle darts out into the street after an argument with her husband, to be struck and horrifically killed by Tom's wife.
  • How Cilla dies in "I Miss You I Miss You".

Live Action TV

  • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Terminators show utterly no ability to Look Both Ways.
    • In the Pilot episode, Cromartie gets creamed in a parking lot by a truck driven by Cameron.
    • The next episode, Vick trips over a motorcycle doing a lay-down by Sarah, despite easily being able to see it coming from about fifty feet away.
    • No more than a minute later, Cameron, chasing Vick, gets stuck in the windshield of a car while chasing Vick across a street.
    • The first episode of second season, Catharine Weaver lampshades this a bit with a scary monologue about humans "crossing against the light" and getting run over, and that she's looking for a computer that can "cross against the light".
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus
  • Life On Mars, more than once.
  • Heroes On Claire's multiple suicide tape, one of the "deaths" she suffers is getting hit with a car.
    • Hiro also stops time and save a little girl who would've otherwise been run over.
  • Stargate SG-1 - happens to a bounty hunter who was holding Daniel at gunpoint. To be fair, most other planets don't have cars or buses, or elementary school, so she likely never learned to Look Both Ways.
    • Strangely, the bus apparently doesn't honk, swerve, or even slow down, despite said bounty hunter clearly standing in the middle of the road for several seconds before being hit. Hell, it even keeps going at full speed afterward.
    • Earlier, a reporter threatening to expose the Stargate program is hit by a car and killed. The audience and O'Neill are "assured" that it was a "legitimate accident".
  • Lost. Juliet tells Richard, facetiously, that she could accept his job offer if her ex-husband were hit by a bus. Guess what happens later in the episode...
    • Earlier in the series, Michael ended up in the hospital after a similar incident.
    • And John Locke crossing a parking lot.
    • This also happens to Nadia in the fifth-season finale.
  • Various Law and Order plots involve a would-be suspect running (they always run) from police. They run out into the street and splat.
    • This has also happened to crime victims fleeing their assailants.
    • One episode opened with a woman trying to escape a paparazzo who was following her, and getting hit by a car when running out into the middle of the street. Half the episode was spent figuring out whether or not the paparazzo was at fault.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, nearly unstoppable Big Bad Glory gets slowed down (though not killed - she is The Unstoppable Woman, after all) when she's hit by a truck... after standing in the road talking to Buffy for almost a full minute. That must be one hell of a bad driver.
  • Dead Like Me has a couple of deaths this way, one from a yuppie guy in the convertible.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "City on the Edge of Forever", Edith Keeler is hit by a car as she crosses the street, while Kirk prevents McCoy from saving her in order to restore the original timeline.
  • The Soup has been known to edit speeding bus attacks into clips that they feel need it.
  • In Supernatural Dean sallies forth straight into the path of an oncoming car. He flies through the air, makes several crunchy noises, and dies. But don't worry. He gets better. Heeeat of the moment...
  • Alan Bradley from Coronation Street was killed by a Blackpool tram this way, quite an achievement with it being hard to miss and not exactly fast.
  • Pete Tyler in the Doctor Who episode "Father's Day", although this was a deliberate act to put time back on track.
    • It wasn't deliberate the first time.
    • Donna also gets hit by a truck. Whether she gets better is open to interpretation.
    • In The End of Time Russell T Davies deliberately put in the scene with Luke because of this. He hated how in most TV shows people never look before crossing the road and there are no ill effects, teaching a bad lesson to kids.
      • Well, Luke didn't suffer any ill effects either, since the Doctor appeared out of nowhere to snatch him out of harm's way. Arguably a worse lesson, given that the likelihood of a time-traveling alien saving you from being hit by a car is rather slim.
  • Skins has this in the case of Tony, and it takes him half a season to recover from the accident. Given RTD's love of the show, this may be a precursor to the End of Time example that happened nearly three years later.
  • Desperate Housewives - Mike Delphino falls victim to this trope at the end of one of the earlier seasons, falling into a coma. The culprit? Orson Hodge.
    • Although in this case the driver was trying to hit him.
  • Reno 911!, multiple times. Once, twice in the same scene.
  • Happens in one of the early Got Milk commercials to a yuppie on a cell phone.
  • Used with odd hilarity in Crossing Jordan when the bastard of the week survives fugu poisoning and an almost-autopsy, and leaves the building threatening legal action....and promptly gets smooshed by a car.
  • The third season finale of How I Met Your Mother has Barney run to the hospital, look the correct way on a one way street, but neglects to look the other way and promptly gets hit by a bus, that was going the wrong way on the one way street. Luckily they were in front of the hospital.
  • In the first episode of My Name Is Earl, the title character realises he has a winning lottery ticket and, wildly celebrating, runs into the road and gets hit by a car, causing him to lose the ticket, though he gets it back after he leaves hospital and decides to be The Atoner. Becomes a running joke, usually when Laser-Guided Karma shows up.
  • Happens very satisfactorily in an episode of Criminal Minds. Laser-Guided Karma at work once again.
  • Happens in a Cold Opening to the title character of Monk. It's actually a lookalike, who happens to be an assassin.
    • A variation occurs in the series finale. Kazarinski is hit by a train while running from Stottlemeyer at the train station. Unfortunately, they needed him alive to tell them what he poisoned Monk with.
  • Dan for Mayor sure seems to like this trope. The first episode ended with Mayor Bud getting hit by a bus. In the third episode, Dan borrows Charlie's cat; it jumps out of his arms, then runs into traffic and gets hit by a bus.
  • In the beginning of episode 111 of The Hard Times of RJ Berger, Lily is nearly hit by a bus. The bus driver says that the school cannot replace the brakes because of budget cuts. At the end of the episode she walks into the street without looking and is hit by the same bus.
  • In an X Files episode with a genie, a man gets his wish of invisibility. He gleefully runs off, right into the path of a speeding semi truck.
  • Subverted at the end of Due South. Turnbull gets hit by a bus in just that fashion, but it's revealed he only had some badly broken bones.
  • After threatening to tell Sean McNamara's wife about their affair on "Nip Tuck", the crazy nanny stops running out of the practice to turn and throw a final verbal jab... and is promptly run over by a bus.

Video Games

  • In the Dating Sim Hourglass of Summer the heroine Kaho is set to die in a car accident, caused by a number of different factors beyond her control. The main character spends the whole game making sure these events don't occur, only for the universe to get snotty and hand the girl an Idiot Ball as she crosses the road.
  • Laura Bow II: The Dagger of Amon Ra. Look both ways before crossing the road or get run over. (Of course, if you look, there's never any car coming; there's a car coming only if you don't look.)
    • Sierra liked this trope. The first Leisure Suit Larry game would kill you if you walked out into the street, which meant the game could end mere seconds after you started.
    • And the largely-forgotter 1988 Sierra adventure Gold Rush had stagecoaches that can kill you if you don't keep out of their way. Fortunately these are actually avoidable, although heaven help you if you happen to be in one's path when changing screens.
    • Also in Police Quest II, when your character, Sonny Bonds, crosses the airport street without pressing the crossing button results getting hit by a speeding taxicab and also like LSL, walking out into the street will kill you off screen.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: in a random encounter, a man who Niko previously helped dispose of the body of his wife gets remarried, and irrationally suspecting her of cheating on him, asks Niko to kill her. When Niko refuses, he resolves to do it himself, crosses the road without looking and is run over.
  • Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2's "sad song" features an ice skater who is killed because she was focusing too much on her older sister, who yelled at her earlier for getting too much attention. The older sister decides to skate at a competition in her place to make up for it.
  • In the game Saints Row 2, two junkies steal boxes of Loa Dust and make a blind run for it, across a street. The first junkie isn't so lucky.
  • In the beginning of Heavy Rain, the protagonist's son runs into the street and is hit by a car and instantly killed.
  • Anyone else remember the original Frogger? Averting this trope was the whole point!
  • The subway trains and rollercoaster in Silent Hill 3 will run you over without fail if you set foot onto the tracks. The latter can be temporarily turned off, though.
  • In Yarudora series vol.2: Kisetsu o Dakishimete, this is how the Sexy Lady's fiancé died. He was so impatient to meet her, propose to her and give her a wedding ring, he got hit by a car as he carelessly tried to cross the road separating them, and died in her arms.

Web Comics

  • Kestrel from Queen of Wands, on first arriving in Something*Positive, called out to Davan and Peejee...and, true to form, was run down without the two of them even noticing. She did return with some scars some time later; Davan, as it turned out, had been the one to turn down her insurance claim. The driver was revealed to be Avagadro, who also hit a minor character standing in the street crying (and this one he did kill; he and Avagadro are neighbors in Hell).
  • Kevin gets struck by a car in Carpe Diem. Over the next few strips, we see his funeral, watch his friends and loved ones grieve, and notice as a few minor background events start getting creepier... Anyone who paid attention to the dates could probably see the Zombie Apocalypse story coming. After Halloween comes and goes, we snap back to moments before the accident, where Kevin just barely avoids getting hit.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The same thing happened to Kenny the South Park episode "Do the Handicapped Go To Hell?". In the next episode, "Probably", we find that Kenny somehow survived and wound up in Mexico.
    • In a similar situation in the parody film The Naked Gun OJ Simpson's character through a series of unfortunate events ends up stuck under a bus that winds up in... Detroit!
  • In Futurama, Fry is down in the abandoned ruins of Old New York and decides that he can cross the street without looking both ways. So he does... and is trampled by a giant lizard.
    • In a post-cancellation episode, Fry reassures himself that even though he's not book smart, he's at least street smart... and as he's saying this, he steps in front of a bus.
  • Tex Avery liked to have characters Look Both Ways and, seeing no cars coming for miles, take one step into the pavement, only to be ran over immediately. Fortunately, since it's just a cartoon, they just get neatly flattened.
  • Robot Chicken has a sketch involving someone who didn't believe in the afterlife step into a street, just to get run over, and sent to said afterlife:

Friend 1: Oh, wow what a uh...
Friend 2: Convenient plot device?
Friend 1: Yeah, plot device.

  • Phil Ken Sebben in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law was offed in this way. Or so we think until he comes back for the final episode. He actually just got lodged in the bus' grille. Then, he kills Birdman this way.
  • This has happened a few times on Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Master Shake, Major Shake and Meatwad).
  • Toot of the animated show Drawn Together falls victim to this, skipping happily and praising her newly purchased muumuu.
  • An episode of Mighty Max has an alien follow Max through the portals to Earth, where it continues chasing him up until the point where it chases him across the street and gets run over.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Road to the Multiverse", Stewie and Brian visit an alternate universe where humans are subservient to dogs. When they go beck home, Brian's alternate counterpart (a human kept as a pet) goes along with them. Excited about his new prospects in life, human Brian begins his optimistic adventure in a brand new universe but is promptly hit by a car.