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Few rides are as prone to breakage in superhero movies and shows as the Ferris Wheel. When the hero shows up, the wheel typically begins to shudder and collapse, dropping children and sometimes falling completely over. A common variant is to have the Ferris Wheel rip loose from its hub and roll away.
A Ferris Wheel is the most useful ride for TV and movies because it is both big and tall (a hero saving people from a spinning teacup ride gone amok isn't impressive) and slow (If a rollercoaster doing a hundred miles an hour leaves the tracks it boggles the mind that any hero but a Super Speedster could find a convenient phone booth, change, and return in time to do anything but help gather up the dead). Ferris Wheels are also large open structures with a lot of rods and beams that let athletic types show their stuff. Having a hero in the area thus generally causes any Ferris Wheel to suffer a sudden massive breakdown.
It should be noted that if a Ferris wheel did break off and roll away, it wouldn't get very far. The wheel itself isn't very structurally sound, and would collapse under its own weight.
- In one chapter of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, a mad bomber rigs Ferris Wheel cars to explode... while Anzu is riding it. Yugi is forced to play a variant of solitaire in which if he stacks all four cards of a given number, the corresponding car explodes. He solves it by putting all the Kings together before Anzu's stack is complete and telling the police that the bomber is in Car 13, disguised as a hostage, because it didn't explode.
- Cardcaptor Sakura had a fight on a Ferris wheel... one also popped up in the recent Satoshi Kon movie Paprika.
- In the Sakura Taisen TV series, Iris freaks out while on a Ferris wheel and I think ends up breaking the thing accidentally with her telekinetic powers.
- In 100%Strawberry the main character and his on again off again girlfriend are stuck in the Ferris wheel when it stops. Then their door opens up and they almost fall out. Go go Romance Comedy!
- Case Closed - In That One Case for Satou, her partner died rather than choose to disarm a bomb in a Ferris wheel so he can send her the directions to another bomb that the bomber had hidden, and the location would not be given in full unless the timer was allowed to run out.
- In Ultimate X-Men, at the beginning of the Fenris arc, the team's hanging out at Coney Island. Naturally, bad guys sabotage the Ferris wheel and the X-Men have to save the day.
- In Catwoman, a Ferris wheel mysteriously breaks down while the leads are on it, allowing Tom to shut down the motor and stop it, and Patience to save a little boy who falls out of a seat that somehow suffers a structural failure at the same time.
- In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the London Eye breaks down and has to be rescued, although it had more to do with the Silver Surfer destroying the surrounding area than just a random failure. While the London Eye is not quite a Ferris Wheel but an observation wheel (its gondolas are motorized), it's similar enough to count.
- In the film 1941, a Ferris wheel in a California seaside amusement park is shot loose by a Japanese sub and rolls into the ocean.
- Avoided in the Iron Man movie; there's a Ferris Wheel which fails to break or roll away at all.
- Happens at the end of Mighty Joe Young, causing the titular Gorilla to save a small child from it. The resulting good publicity sets up the Happy Ending.
- Beverly Hills Cop 3: It's not a Ferris wheel exactly, but close enough. Our hero, Axel Foley, gets onto the ride to escape the bad guys, and is hoisted in the air. The bad guys try to get him down by overriding the controls of the ride, and end up breaking it. The ride is damaged, and one of the gondolas is about to fall. Foley then spends the next few minutes jumping from gondola to gondola, and climbing along the supporting beams, to reach the broken gondola before it falls. He, of course, succeeds. And, he's not even a super hero.
- In the Russian film Day Watch, tremors caused by The End of the World as We Know It cause a Ferris Wheel to break free and roll down the street. Since the heroes are too busy trying to stop the world from ending, plenty of people get crushed. Except they don't, thanks to the hero Rewriting Reality
- While not really an action flick, the movie Carpool uses this trope as well. In the climax of the film, one of the main characters' kids must be saved from a runaway Ferris wheel. Of course it gets worse and the kid's car breaks off and it turns into a whole big mess...
- There's a dark version in Carnivale. A boy is killed in a Ferris wheel accident, and his injured mother prays for death to take her instead of her son. Ben resurrects him, and the mother dies as an Equivalent Exchange.
- Not to mention its prominent role in the finale, where Samson Briar Patches Justin and Iris into riding it, Jonesy traps them at the top, then cuts the brakes and lets the thing go speeding around, and Ben uses Justin's life force to heal everyone at the show. Crowning Moment of Awesome for Justin as he yells "BE STILL!" and the Ferris Wheel listens.
- Bottom: "Hole", in which Richie and Eddie find themselves stuck at the top of a rickety, illegal, death trap Ferris wheel just after the owners have closed it down pending its demolition? How will they ever escape? Well, they pray for salvation and God answers. Unfortunately, they then realise that they don't believe in God, so they fall anyway. They get better in time for the next episode.
- Scrubs: J.D., Cox, Jordan and Jordan's sister Dani get stuck at the top of a Ferris Wheel for an hour.
- In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival", Sharona goes up on a Ferris wheel (which also happens to have been the scene of the murder) to keep an eye out for the murderer, who is somewhere at the carnival. The murderer suddenly appears and begins to climb towards Sharona. After accidentally breaking the controls on the Ferris wheel, Monk has to climb up after the murderer. For a while, part of this scene appeared during the Theme Song.
- It's better than it sounds. Remember that Monk has clinical phobias about heights, grime, etc. He has to climb a Ferris wheel whose structure is covered in dirt and grease.
- Furuhata Ninzaburou - a bomber plants a bomb under one of the seats.
- Sputnik Sweetheart (by Haruki Murakami) has a woman trapped overnight in one, causing her Mind Screw and her hair going white
- Truth in Television: Ferris wheel accidents do happen, although more often a single seat failing when the rider abuses it (they aren't typically fast enough to drop somebody who's just sitting) than the entire thing going haywire.
- The first Cutscene in Hitman: Blood Money features a Ferris Wheel falling down and killing several people. (Your target in the tutorial level is the owner of the amusement park; you were hired to avenge the customer's son killed there.)
- On one of the levels in Twisted Metal Black, you can send a Ferris wheel rolling. If I remember correctly, it either uncovers a secret or does damage to anyone who gets hit by it. Or both...
- In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Layton and Luke are being chased by a remote-controlled version of this.
- Katamari Damacy has a Ferris wheel in the last level (the moon). It doesn't roll away, but you can roll it up.
- The Remake of Romancing SaGa as this as one of axe techniques. The axe user creates a ferris wheels out of an axe and unleashes them on an enemy.
- Happens surprisingly in Bulletstorm, with a giant grindwheel taking the Ferris Wheel's role, stalking the player as he tries to outrun it in a minecart.
- A Happy Tree Friends episode involved The Mole and a Ferris wheel. The wheel ended up slicing Lumpy in two (and grinding the left half)
- In one of the "Chicken vs. Peter" fight scenes in Family Guy, the thing with the Ferris wheel tearing free happens and they fight on it while it's rolling away.
- There was a mechanically failing Ferris wheel in the first episode of the Legion of Super Heroes cartoon, "Man of Tomorrow." It made things pretty easy for the Legion when they needed to figure out who Superman was.
- An episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot has a Ferris wheel that does the break-loose-and-roll thing.
- Teen Titans had a subversion in the second season. Beast Boy and Terra were on a date, riding on the Ferris Wheel when Slade ambushed them. The ride never broke down, or suffered from structural failure during the entire fight... until earth-controlling Terra destroyed it on her own at the end, to escape from Slade.
- In The Simpsons episode "Bart's Inner Child", Otto's inattentiveness and Willie's laziness causes the Ferris wheel to break loose and run amok through Springfield's "Do What You Feel" festival.
- Subverted in an episode of Invader Zim has Zim rigging a wheel with rockets in an attempt to launch the giant hamster Peepi into space. Peepi trashes the wheel in anger once it realizes what's happening.
- A Ferris Wheel crashes out its supports in Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, except it then is used as a spaceship
- In the Ka Blam! one-shot short, "A Girl Named Fuzzball", the title character mentions this happening at a previous carnival in town.
- Happens in the last episode of Clerks the Animated Series as part of the storm of Take Our Word for It. At one point the girl Dante likes starts making out with it.
- The Onion takes on this trope with an article entitled Report: 40,000 People Died On Ferris Wheels This Summer