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File:Hadthedarnthinginreverse 2895.jpg


A device or technique is used ... in reverse. Commonly, it is setting a car to reverse.

In comedies, or a comedic moment anyway, a new driver will pull forward, only it's in reverse. Conversely, they may put the car in gear as if it's in reverse, look behind themselves, and then drive forward.

Often a Sub-Trope of Driving Stick. Compare Backwards-Firing Gun. See Wiper Start for more comedic driver incompetence.

Examples of Had the Silly Thing In Reverse include:

Anime and Manga

Film - Animation

Film - Live Action

  • Independence Day: Will Smith's character at first, accidentally, when piloting the captured UFO.
  • Big Trouble in Little China: Jack Burton and the other protagonists are in his truck ready to escape from Lo Pan's warehouse. Burton throws the truck into gear, they all lean forward...and the truck zips backward, bursting out through a wall.

 Jack Burton: Sorry.

Gracie Law: Don't you know how to drive this thing?

  • Commando: Rae Dawn Chong's character tries to fire a missile launcher, but it's facing backwards and it blows up a structure behind her.
  • In Four Lions, one of the Jihads fires a missile launcher the wrong way, missing the American aircraft and demolishing the terror training camp he was staying at, killing many people. The video gets on the news as a comedy clip, much to the man's embarrassment.
  • In Some Like It Hot, Josephine (Tony Curtis) is trying to impress Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) by showing her 'his' yacht (it actually belongs to someone else). They get in the motorboat used as the tender for the yacht, but he can only get it to work in reverse.
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie had this when Millie is attempting to drive Grayson's car for an escape.

  Miss Dorothy: No, forward, dear, forward.

  • Justified in The Gods Must Be Crazy, since the driver was a Bushman utterly new to any technology more advanced than a bow, and it was a shit car at that.
  • In Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Nick lets Norah drive his Yugo, and after showing off her "awesome" driving skills, she parks by the curb. When Nick comments on how far away from the curb she is, she goes to reverse closer to the curb and ends up driving forward ... into a fire hydrant.
  • Justified in Critters, in which the alien bounty-hunters have no clue how a car works and only succeed in making it go in reverse. The driver naturally looks over his shoulder when he starts it a second time, only to have it move forward.
  • In Moving Violations, the bad cop's squad car suffers a mechanical fault after a collision, forcing him to drive backward during the concluding car chase. As he's losing his temper, he proceeds to deliberately back up into someone's garden and through a brick wall.
  • Talladega Nights: we see how far Ricky Bobby has fallen when he resorts to delivering pizzas, and accidentally takes off in reverse, smashing a woman's shopping cart.

Live Action TV

  • Top Gear did this in a season 15 episode with on of their Cheap Car segments. One of the cars, a Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth, had a slightly different gearbox setup than usual, and on the show, was always shown reversing at first in whatever tasks were set for it.
    • Even explained and lampshaded by the vehicle's driver, James May, that it had a dog-leg first gear (as opposed to left and forward, it was left and back).
  • In the Psych episode "You Can't Handle This Episode", Shawn picks up something and asks what it is. He's told that it's a rocket launcher, and he's pointing it at himself.
  • Similarly, in "Condemed", the inmates have plundered the team's grounded ship and are testing out the weapons. They fire the gun correctly, but when the rocket launcher is attempted, they have the thing backwards and end up destroying the building behind them instead of shooting the explosive into the pool in front of them.
  • Mayweather in Star Trek: Enterprise when trying to fly a Xindi-Insectoid shuttle.
  • Myth Busters: inverted and thankfully averted, as Jamie reminds Adam that since his excavator is facing backwards on the dump truck, he doesn't have to set it to reverse.

Newspaper Comics

  • Zits: "N for neutral, R for reverse... and D for disaster."


Web Comics

  • In Goblin Hollow, Ben actually counted on his teen sister-in-law Penny to make this mistake in order to explain the destruction of her gargoyles.

Web Original

  • Super Mario Bros Z had a scene where Professor E. Gadd drove his Poltergust 3000 backwards, in a direct homage to the Duck Dodgers scene.
  • It nearly happened to Caillou in a Plotagon video where he learns to drive.

Western Animation

  • Duck Dodgers in The Twenty Fourth And A Half Century: Duck Dodgers initially launches his rocket ship into the ground, citing he Had The Silly Thing In Reverse.
    • Witch Hazel had the same problem with her broom in A Witch's Tangled Hare.
  • In the DuckTales episode "Superdoo!", two inept alien criminals are scheming to recover their stolen power crystal. One of their plots involves destroying the summer camp with an alien bazooka; unfortunately, the one holding the bazooka is holding it backwards, and it ends up destroying the dam behind them instead.
  • In a Men in Black: The Animated Series episode, J finds an alien flamethrower and threatens the monster of the week with it. Then it turns out the weapon was really pointed at his own head, the thing he thought to be the scope really being where the flames came from. Leads you to wonder...why would a flamethrower have a scope?
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: in the flashback episode, Ilana and Hobbes, her bodyguard, are able to tank-jack, but since the bodyguard was too wounded, Ilana had to drive the tank. The first thing she does at the controls is drive the tank in reverse.
  • In the Pixar short Lifted, the alien novice who just failed his abduction test gets pity from his tester, who lets him fly the ship back. He crashes it downward first.