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A series of Disney live-action films (the first in the series was one of the last movies personally overseen by Walt Disney) concerning the adventures of Sentient Vehicle Herbie, a '63 Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own.

The series consists of:

  • The Love Bug (1969) — Down-on-his-luck racing driver Jim Douglas gets more than he bargained for when he acquires a second-hand Beetle. The car is named "Herbie" by his mechanic, Tennessee Steinmetz, who is the first to realise that the car's odd behavior is more than just an idiosyncratic collection of mechanical faults.
  • Herbie Rides Again (1974) — Herbie is left with Tennessee's aunt while Jim and Tennessee are out of the country, and helps save her home from an evil property developer.
  • Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977) — Herbie and Jim reunite for a career comeback in a French car rally. To add to their troubles, jewel thieves hide a stolen diamond in Herbie.
  • Herbie Goes Bananas (1980) — Jim's nephew, Pete Stancheck, takes Herbie to South America for a big race. They encounter gold thieves, bull fights, a heartwarming orphan pickpocket, and some bananas.
  • Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) — Herbie is bought from a junkyard as a college graduation present for Maggie Peyton, the youngest member of a racing family, and maneuvers to become a racing car again.

Herbie also made two forays into television:

  • Herbie the Matchmaker (1982) — Only lasted six episodes. Jim Douglas runs a driving school and romances a divorcee.
  • The Love Bug (1997) — TV movie. Repeats the basic "Herbie helps out a down-on-his-luck driver" plot of the original (it's not a reboot, but more of an example of how events tend to repeat themselves). Bruce Campbell stars and Jim Douglas makes an extended cameo. An attempt is made to explain why Herbie is alive, but it's rather nonsensical.
Tropes used in The Love Bug include:
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: Paco in Herbie Goes Bananas.
  • The Alleged Car: Volkswagen Beetles seem almost universally hated in this series. It almost borders on Informed Attribute as whenever someone comments on what a junker Herbie is, he's surrounded by broken down wrecks that he looks showroom fresh next to.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Tennessee's conversation with Mr. Wu in the first film.
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: Herbie: Fully Loaded shows that this is how Herbie picks up new tricks.
  • Baguette Beatdown: In Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, there is a scene where Herbie is waiting at a stoplight at an intersection when a truck driver gets a French woman carrying some groceries angry at him. She proceeds to pound on the side of the truck with a baguette, causing no obvious damage to the bread or to the truck. It does result in the Love Bug getting dirty.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Essentially how Herbie picks his owners.
  • Beneath Notice: No one ever considers that Herbie's owners are good race car drivers. Justified in that, as is frequently pointed out, not even the best driver in the world could get that kind of performance out of a stock Volkswagen Beetle.
  • The Big Race: Often the climax or a pivotal plot point.
  • Biker Babe: Maggie in Fully Loaded.
  • Bilingual Backfire: In the first film, Tennessee speaks to Mr. Wu in Chinese (or an approximation of it), and Jim asks Tennessee to ask Mr. Wu if he would let him drive Herbie in the El Dorado race, with the condition that Mr. Wu will keep the winnings. This prompts Mr. Wu to say, in English, "Now you speak my language!".
  • Bully Hunter: Half of the films are kicked off by some smug, petty jerkass rubbing Herbie the wrong way and him striking back on behalf of the victimized.
  • Bungled Suicide/Interrupted Suicide: At one point a despondent Herbie attempts to leap off the Golden Gate Bridge, a feat made more difficult by the fact that his round wheels don't help him climb very well. His struggle lasts long enough for Jim to find him and talk him down.
  • Chekhov's Exhibit: The Etoile de Joie diamond in Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo is on display in a museum before it's stolen.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: At the end of the original Love Bug Jim and Carole marry and leave for their honeymoon. By the end of Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, however, Jim is dating fellow race car driver Diane Darcy with nary a mention of Carole, despite her being a major character in the first film, and, oh yeah, his wife.
    • Maybe they got divorced?
  • Cool Car: Herbie.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Evil property developer Alonzo Hawk in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Darker and Edgier: The 1997 film is easily the darkest entry in the franchise. The villains are much more serious, the Narm is all but gone, the emotional arcs are given more weight and Herbie gets an Evil Counterpart who briefly kills him.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Flash Back in the '97 film detailing how Herbie was built.
  • Depending on the Artist: Herbie's appearance is largely kept constant over the films. There are some In-Universe justifications, most notably in Monte Carlo where he needs to be fitted with GT racing tires, but it's largely due to 1963 Beetles becoming harder and harder to find so the art team keeps struggling to recreate his original look.
  • Depending on the Writer: Like the above, Herbie's personality is kept broadly the same. The 1997 film explains that Herbie takes after his current owner's personality and helps them get what they need.
    • Is Herbie the only Sentient Vehicle or not? The Love Bug, both of them, suggests that he is unique, before being cloned in the 1997 film, but Rides Again, Monte Carlo, and Fully Loaded show other sentient machines.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat:
    • In The Love Bug (the first one), when Thorndyke and his co-driver Havershaw stop to change a road sign, leading Herbie and the rest of the race cars to travel down an old mine. Another time is when Thorndyke rolls a tree in Herbie's path, and ends up stuffed into his trunk.
    • Trip from Herbie: Fully Loaded felt compelled to ram Herbie into the wall, even though he was in the lead, causing him to crash spectacularly and allowing Herbie to win the race.
  • Dirty Old Man: Technically Herbie in Fully Loaded. He's forty-two at that point and the New Beetle is, at the oldest, eight.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Everything Trip does in Herbie: Fully Loaded is out of petty spite for Herbie beating him in an impromptu race. A race that only happened because Trip needlessly insulted Herbie.
  • Dog Food Diet: The Love Bug (the first one) has Jim Douglas rooting through the cabinets looking for something to eat. He wonders why they have bird food when they don't even own a bird. He ends up eating pressed kelp.
  • Doomed New Clothes: In The Love Bug, the Irish Coffee-inebriated Herbie projectile-coughs whipped cream all over Thorndyke's freshly-pressed driving uniform. Mind you, it was Thorndyke who poured Irish Coffee into Herbie's system in the first place.
  • Epic Race:
    • The El Dorado race at the climax of The Love Bug.
    • The Paris-to-Monte Carlo race in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
    • The California Speedway battle for Herbie: Fully Loaded.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: In The Love Bug, as Thorndyke's car is stuck in mud and and Havershaw is pushing it out, a bear makes it way into the car, enticed by their food. Because his driving goggles are covered with mud, Thorndyke doesn't realize the bear is in the car until he strikes it and it growls, making him faint.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Almost all the villains in the films, with particular reference to Peter Thorndyke and Alonzo Hawk from the first two films.
  • Evil Knockoff: Herbie has one briefly in the form of Horace from the TV movie.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In Fully Loaded, Trip and Kevin frequently fail to notice that Herbie isn't in the same spot that he was before they turned their backs.
  • Fiery Redhead:
    • Diane in Monte Carlo.
    • Maggie in Fully Loaded.
  • Flash Back: Herbie's racing career is seen in a Flash Back Montage in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Fortune Teller: In Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Herbie rampages through a Gypsy camp. A Gypsy fortune teller tells a horrified client that "Darkness is about to fall on you." The next instant, Herbie hits the tent, collapsing it.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Herbie in The Love Bug (1968). More than justified considering he was the one winning all those races and Jim replaced him with a Lamborghini after one bad run that wasn't even Herbie's fault. Repeated in Fully Loaded where he deliberately throws a race so Maggie doesn't get the nascar she's gushing over.
    • Horace in The Love Bug (1997). He growls a lot at how much Simon covets Herbie over him.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: The climax of Fully Loaded takes place in NASCAR, where Herbie wouldn't have qualified as a pace car.
  • Hope Spot: In the opening of Fully Loaded, Herbie sees the exit for the junkyard and races towards it only to puncture his back tires on metallic debris.
  • Hypocritical Humor: All through the El Dorado race in The Love Bug, Thorndyke goes out of his way with cheating in order to make Jim lose. Towards the end, Herbie is leading but also literally falling apart, and is blocking Thorndyke's car, making him say "Rotten sportsmanship if you ask me!".
  • It Is Dehumanizing: Frequently used by the villains who just treat Herbie as an inanimate object. The only exception is Simon.
  • Implausible Boarding Skills: Herbie goes surfing in Herbie Rides Again and imitates skateboarding tricks in Fully Loaded
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: From Love Bug;

 Peter Thorndyke: What part of Ireland did you say your mother came from?

Tennessee Steinmetz: Coney Ireland. [starts laughing]

  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Herbie's only method of communication is honking/beeping. Understood by specific people: Tennessee in the first movie, Grandma Steinmetz and Nicole in the second, Jim in the third, Paco in the fourth.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The 1997 version was only released on VHS in the United States. Torrents exist and various video sites host it, though.
  • Land Poor: Mrs. Steinmetz in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Lost in Translation: Essentially what caused Herbie's creation. "Volkswagen" translates to "People's Car" but the Americans misunderstood it as referring to a Sentient Vehicle and they funded Stumpfel to create one for their side.
  • Love Imbues Life: Tennessee's theory as to Herbie's origins, made canon in the 1997 TV movie.
  • Made of Iron: Pun aside, Herbie takes a lot more damage than you'd think a Volkswagen Beetle should be able to.
  • Magic Bus: Herbie.
  • Mean Brit: Peter Thorndyke in The Love Bug and Simon Moore III in The Love Bug (1997).
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Herbie undergoes two rebuilds in Fully Loaded to race in a tuner competition and NASCAR.
  • Mole in Charge: The police detective leading the hunt for the missing diamond in Monte Carlo is also the boss of the crooks who stole it.
  • Motorcycle Jousting: The Knights in Herbie Rides Again, who joust in cars.
  • Multi-Track Drifting: Herbie in Herbie: Fully Loaded, most especially the final NASCAR racing sequence where the anthropomorphic Volkswagen was seen climbing onto the fence above the wall, trying to avoid being trade-painted.
  • My Car Hates Me: One of those cases where it's more than just a metaphor. Herbie refusing to start at a really inopportune moment because his feelings have been hurt happens at least once a movie.
    • Which begs the question of why he allowed himself to be stolen by Alonzo Hawk. Was he just curious?
  • Nightmare Sequence: Alonzo Hawk's crazy dreams in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Not Actually the Ultimate Question: In The Love Bug, when Jim and Carole find out that the VW Bug has a mind of its own, and it won't let either of them exit the car, Carole tries to call for help from some hippies in the van parked next to them:

 Carole: Help, I'm a prisoner! I can't get out!

Hippy: We all prisoners, chickee-baby. We all locked in.

  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now: The Love Bug features the villain's henchman telling him "You can't lose, sir! You can't possibly lo...", trailing off as he sees that Herbie (half of him anyway) is passing them right before the finish line. Later the villain tells him "Couldn't lose, I think you said."
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Averted. The Time Skip between 1997 and 2005 was an In-Universe Badass Decay for the Love Bug.
  • Oil Slick:
    • Herbie has a habit of "urinating" on the foot of the villains.
    • Thorndyke's first trick in the first film's final race is to unleash one.
  • Product Displacement: In the first film, there are no VW emblems anywhere on Herbie and the words "VW" and "Volkswagen" are never uttered.
  • Reality Ensues: In the '97 film and Fully Loaded, Herbie is introduced as beaten down and in need of repairs. That sort of thing happens to a 30+ year old car that's not made anymore. It's not exactly easy to find new parts to repair him with. When Maggie and Kevin upgrade him, they have to resort to aftermarket parts.
  • Road Sign Reversal:
    • Happens in The Love Bug as well, sending Herbie (and everyone behind him) into a mine instead of along a mountain road.
    • In Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, the misdirecting arrow sends our heroes onto a very narrow cliff edge and almost causes them to die via avalanche.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Everyone in Fully Loaded is shocked when "Maxx" takes off their helmet to reveal that they're really Maggie.
  • Scenery Porn: Paris in Monte Carlo.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl:
    • Tennessee Steinmetz from Love Bug, in the scene where he and Carole are trying to keep Herbie balanced after he (Herbie) lost a tire.
    • Thorndyke. Particularly when he encounters the bear in his car.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Havershaw in The Love Bug, Loostgarten in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Sentient Vehicle:
    • Herbie.
    • In Herbie Rides Again, every Volkswagen Beetle in the city comes to help out at the climax.
    • The Lancia later named Giselle Herbie falls in love with in Monte Carlo.
    • The TV movie introduces (and disposes of) Herbie's evil counterpart, Horace.
    • Sally's New Beetle
  • Spanner in the Works: Most of the villains are utterly ruthless, pragmatic, No-Nonsense Nemesis types. But it is hard to adjust your plans to compensate for a sentient VW that no one's quite sure how exists.
  • Suppressed Mammaries: Lindsay Lohan's bust was digitally reduced for Fully Loaded to avoid 'offending' audiences.
  • They Would Cut You Up: When Thorndyke captures Herbie in The Love Bug, he orders his wrecking crew to tear the Bug apart to find out "what makes it tick". In the remake, Simon just asks Herbie's builder.
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: The Hawk Plaza in Herbie Rides Again.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The 1997 TV movie had Herbie face-off against a "Hate Bug" in all-black which resembled a KdF-Wagen with wartime blackout lights.
  • Trickster Mentor: Essentially how Herbie behaves around his owners. He helps them get what they need but he never takes the direct route.
  • Twin Telepathy: Implied given that Horace reacted exactly when Herbie had been fixed.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Herbie does not have tinted windows and it's clear as day when he's driving without anyone behind the wheel. Only that French waiter in Monte Carlo ever noticed. Fully Loaded goes one step further by having Herbie's headlights and bumper be expressive. He clearly blinks, smiles and glares on multiple occasions and only Jeff Gordon notices.
    • After the Road Sign Reversal in The Love Bug, the miner doesn't have any kind of reaction to a grand prix being redirected into the mine.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Herbie has a knack for causing these.
  • What a Piece of Junk!: Herbie.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In The Love Bug, Carole gives one of these to Jim about his racing success, which was actually Herbie's doing.
    • In Fully Loaded, Kevin is appalled to learn that Maggie raced for pink slips in her final duel with Trip. He outright says that she stabbed Herbie in the back.
  • Wrote the Book: In Herbie Rides Again, Alonzo claims to have written the book on harassment.