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"Dumb place to put a tree -- in the middle of a forest."
—Fiona Whittaker, Adventures in Odyssey
The primary hazard faced by jungle-swingers, Giant Flyers, and even people at a fast run are not the Mooks in hot pursuit, the thunderstorms brewing up above, or the cars moving at Mach 1 in the street. It's... trees.
Well, trees, poles, walls and other decidedly immobile hazards, anyway. If a character is flying, swinging or even simply running through an area, and he happens to get distracted, he will wrap himself around the nearest obstacle in fairly even time. His momentum generally sees to it that he either gets completely flattened, or ends up with his arms splayed at weird angles.
While trees and poles are common targets, windows are as well. If a character runs into a window, expect to see a shot of his smushed face from the other side. Also expect to hear the slow squeaks as he peels off and slides to the ground.
A subtrope of Amusing Injuries (when it's played for laughs).
Named for George of the Jungle, who did this so frequently, it's mentioned in his theme song.
- A popular Halloween decoration is a witch that appears to have done this while riding her Flying Broomstick, as seen here.
Anime & Manga
- It happens at least once in the Naruto Shippuden anime (to Might Guy, of course).
Might Guy: Me? My battery never runs down!
- Slayers: Lina barrels into a tree, eliciting a pained mutter of "koala".
- In Angel Beats, Yui misses her turn for a Heroic Sacrifice (in a series where Death Is Cheap) due to a beam jutting out from the slope the characters were sliding down. When they reach the bottom, they look back and conclude that their enemies must have gotten her.
- In one episode of Pokémon, Ash is swinging on a vine, and Misty says, "Ash, look out for that tree!" Then, Ash slams into the tree.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, Sonomi tells Sakura and Tomoyo that Sakura's Missing Mom Nadeshiko was a Cute Clumsy Girl. One of the flashbacks about it feature Nadeshiko and Sonomi skiing... and then Nadeshiko slams against a tree.
- An Archie Comics parody of Tarzan features Archie as Tarbland, who, like the story's apparent inspiration George, constantly managed to smack into trees or fall from vines. Betty co-starred as his smarter, long-suffering "Jane" counterpart.
Films -- Animation
- In Fern Gully, the decidedly absent-minded Batty Koda does this... several times. It's not so much that he's blind as it is that his wiring is on the fritz. Similarly, in Fern Gully 2, he crashes into several windows.
- Interestingly, this is Truth in Television -- fruit bats fly perfectly well, but they have a lot more trouble landing than most other bats. Although they rarely face-plant into the trunk the way Batty does.
- Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui: This is a running gag for Matau, as he flies into a pillar, the interior of a Force Sphere, and a telescreen.
- In The Iron Giant, Hogarth hits his head on a branch as he runs from the giant.
- On Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Benny the Cab crashes on a lamppost after slipping on Dip.
- In the Hundred-Mile Dash scene from The Incredibles, pretty much all of the hovercrafts are destroyed by crashing into trees or rocks.
- In Spirited Away, Chihiro's rapid barrelling down a flight of narrow steps reaches its inevitable conclusion when her momentum carries her into a nearby wall.
- In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack runs straight into a signpost at the end of the song "What's This?"
- Likewise, in Corpse Bride, Victor runs into a tree when running away from the eponymous bride. He then runs into the tree again.
Films -- Live-Action
- The speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi.
- Tim Burton's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory has a scene where Willy Wonka walks straight into the glass elevator. And later on, guess what, he does it again.
- Peter Parker has this problem during the How Do I Shot Web? sequence of the first Spider-Man movie.
- Intacto makes use of this. One of the games that play has its players wearing blindfolds and running full speed through a forest. The winner is the one who is able to avoid the trees longest.
- In Death to Smoochy, Rainbow Randolph's victory dance after framing Smoochy as a Nazi is cut short by a wall.
- Buster Keaton built an entire career on this trope.
- Sapphire in Almost Famous, while running alongside Stillwater's tour bus to give William a message, runs straight into a wall.
- Joke time! On one particular clear night, one particular bat comes flying into a cave with his face smeared with blood. Naturally this piques the interest of the other bats, who all flock round doing whatever the bat equivalent of licking one's lips is. So they say, "Well? Spill the beans. Where'd you find all that blood?"
"Don't wanna talk about it," he says, wiping his face.
"OK," he says, raising one batty wing in a pointy fashion. "See that village over there?"
"Yes?" they say.
"See that hill?"
"YES?" they say, nodding.
"See that tree?"
"YES?" they say frantically.
- This is how Yorick died in Firewing. To his credit, it was during a storm.
- In Equal Rites, Granny Weatherwax forcibly imposes this trope on a hungry bear, causing it to walk headfirst into a tree and knock itself out.
- In Moving Pictures, when the Librarian -- an orangutan for those unfamiliar with the series -- tries to do a Tarzan moment to stop an Eldritch Abomination that was in the form of a giant woman, he misses it and smashes into the Tower of Art. This then leads to a King Kong spoof with an ape being held hostage by a giant woman. Only Pratchett could do that many spoofs in that little time.
- In Harry Potter, the title character and his best friend Ron Weasley drive a flying car headlong into a tree on the grounds of Hogwarts. Of course, "Watch out for that tree!" becomes even more urgent when they find that the tree hits back. Harry actually says the trope name in the U.S. version of the book. In the original version and the movie, it's "Mind that tree!"
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles walks straight into a tree when Buffy reveals that she knows about one of his previous... misadventures. A beautiful case of Throw It In: Anthony Stewart Head wasn't paying attention to what's going on so he actually did hit the tree, but the timing was so serendipitous to the scene that they kept the take.
- News Reporter Chuck Storm, meet pole.
- On The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Secretariat has a bit of a mishap.
- Doctor Who: The Doctor walks straight into a tree in "The Eleventh Hour", mainly because he hadn't gotten used to his new body so soon after regenerating.
- In Power Rangers Time Force, the rangers are once scattered through different film genre parodies, Eric being in a Tarzan-like setting where he's chased by aborigins. Luck has the dimension vanish just as he swings from a rope, getting his yell cut short as abruptly as he's stamped flat against a conveniently placed brick wall prop.
- The Not the Nine O'Clock News skit "Rowan walks into a lamppost" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- In Touhou, Rumia likes flying around in a bubble of darkness she can't see through. This results.
- Spinnerette manages to flatten herself against a wall during her first web-swinging experiment.
- From Goblins, Klik smashes into a branch while trying to save Dies-Horribly's life.
- The Trope Namer is, of course, George of the Jungle. This was a key part of the series' theme song. "George, George, George of the Jungle -- WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE!"
- A running gag in most Warner Bros. cartoons. Becomes an Overly Long Gag in Robin Hood Daffy, that alternates between hilarious and painful to watch: "YOINKS... AND AWAAAY!" *WHAM*
- A popular variation on Tom and Jerry is for Tom to knock off the bit of tree (or pole) he hits, causing the rest to fall on top of his head, flattening him.
- The same gag appears in the Yogi Bear short The Buzzing Bear.
- In the Classic Disney Short Ben and Me, Amos Mouse tries to warn a distracted Benjamin Franklin:
Amos: Post, Ben, post.
- The Simpsons: Homer Simpson, singing while driving...
"[[The Flintstones Simpson, Homer Simpson, he's the greatest guy in his-to-ry!
- The Mighty Mightor episode "Cult of the Cavebearers". After L'il Rok is grabbed off his back by the Cavebearers, Ork continues flying right into a tree.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- The opening features Aang crashing into a statue while riding his air ball.
- Aang also crashes into Sokka's snow tower in the first episode, to Sokka's despair.
- Later, in season 3, he runs into a pole while chasing the Painted Lady.
- Armand conjure a tree right into Sadlygrove's path in episode 19.
- In episode 21, Yugo runs straight into rock walls a few times, as he's trying to master Aura Vision with his eyes sealed shut.
- Baby Grougal chasing after Az in season 2 episode 6.
- And then, Adamaï chasing after Baby Grougal in season 2 episode 9.
- In The Legend of Ogrest special, Ogrest's first attempt at flying leads to a crash against a stone pillar, and then a boat.
- In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Bubblevision", Bubbles needs glasses. When she doesn't wear them, she hits trees, a building, and a pole.
- In an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy, Ed tries to search through a field of tall grass for his little sister Sarah, and runs into a tree. "Ow... That wasn't you!"
- In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Griffon the Brush-Off", after Rainbow Dash flies away from a running and shouting Pinkie Pie:
Pinkie Pie: But...
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues episode "Humility" (1998): At the end, Socrates the bobcat slides down the snow hill on a snowboard and accidentally crashes into Aristotle the prairie dog, resulting in both of them rolling into an Animal Snowball, and finally, they (especially Sock) crash into a tree.
- American Dad had this happen in the episode where Stan finally learns to ride a bike, arriving at the courthouse in time for his father's probation hearing, he approaches the courthouse triumphantly, and then...
Stan: I don't know how to stop! Move that building out of my way!