Trope Workshop:Ram by Braking

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If I am escaping in a large truck and the hero is pursuing me in a small Italian sports car, I will not wait for the hero to pull up along side of me and try to force him off the road as he attempts to climb aboard. Instead I will slam on the brakes when he's directly behind me. (A rudimentary knowledge of physics can prove quite useful.)

When you have a scene in the middle of a heated chase where one character is trying to escape another, and their pursuer's car is just feet behind them, there's a tried-and-true tactic that sits near the top of the list of chase-breaking manuevers: the party (or parties) being pursued suddenly slams on the brakes, causing the pursuer to run into him. This is called a "Ram by Braking." Ideally this is done so that the pursuer has little to no time to change their course; the purpose of the resulting crash is to give whoever's being pursued time to escape, as being rear-ended isn't nearly as hazardous to their momentum as ramming into the back of the car is to the pursuer.

A variation on this exists where the pursued driver doesn't let the other car slam into them; he just brakes and lets the other vehicle speed by. The pursued then does a full 180 and heads in the other direction, hopefully having put some space between them and the pursuer.

Don't try this if your vehicle is an exploding Pinto.

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Examples of Ram by Braking include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Case Closed, a variant is used to disable a car full of bad guys holding a man hostage: they box him in, and then the car in the front slams on the breaks, causing the bad guys inside to lose their grip on the hostage and allowing the police to move in and arrest them all without causing too much harm on said hostage.

Comics[edit | hide]

  • Tintin:
    • Tintin is on a motorcycle and chasing a carful of baddies. The baddies slam on the brakes, Tintin gets knocked off his bike, baddies zoom off.
    • Tintin and some others are riding in a car. Unknown to them, the car in front of them is full of bad guys. As they're passing by a lake, the car in front brakes, and Tintin's car gets knocked into the lake.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Terminator 2. While driving the SWAT van, the T-800 slams on the brakes to make the pursuing helicopter (piloted by the T-1000) crash into the van.
  • Speed uses a variation: in order to jump from the car he's driving (which he's in via Flashed Badge Hijack) into the bus, Keanu Reeves opens the door, slams on the brakes, and lets the bus take the door off.
  • Hot Shots! does the "brake and let the pursuers pass" variant... with fighter jets.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Spelljammer has a few ships (starting from Neogi Mindspider) with aft ram. Of course, circumstances when it can be used are rather limited, and even then it's more of an extra edge than common tactics. While ramming in pursuit is useful, it's somewhat underwhelming: ram damage is proportional to the difference in speed. When one can change speed suddenly, it works better than ramming a ship that runs away, but a missing ram attack still exposes one both to possible counter-ramming and to risk of shearing (losing one's rigging). Thus a more common way to deter pursuers is more versatile and repeatable one: use of aft jettisons to deploy debris clouds (overloaded shot instead of the usual anti-personnel scatter shot).

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Storm Hawks:
    • In the pilot, the Condor, The Storm Hawks' carrier ship, is tailed by the Raptors. Stork does this to them.

Stork: I hate tailgaters.

    • In episode 31, Aerrow is chased by Hoerk at one point. He brakes, clipping Hoerk's skimmer with his own and sending him spinning out of control.
    • In episode 49, when Finn is on Marge's ship and they're being attacked by Talons, Marge pulls on the brake once the Talons are behind them, causing their skimmers to collide with the much larger airship.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The "swoop and squat" is a common car accident scam that involves one or more cars baiting the victim into crashing into them this way. The additional cars may act as the swoop vehicles that "force" the squatter to slam the brakes, or else box in the victim so they have no means of avoiding the squat vehicle when it brakes.
    • A variant includes "cutting the other driver off" – pulling directly in front of them from the adjacent lane with too little distance for them to panic-stop, then abruptly decelerating or locking the brakes on all wheels. This does occur in Insurance Fraud schemes as a way to stage a collision, usually as a prelude to a spurious injury claim.