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Our hero has to get to his destination yesterday, and he's on foot. Unfortunately, there's a huge crowd between him and his goal, and for whatever reason, shouting at them to get out of his way just isn't cutting it. His only option is to weave his way through the crowd Frogger-style; changing speeds, cutting left and right to avoid clumps of people, and sometimes even ducking under carried objects and jumping over the incidental obstacles like benches and garbage cans. Generally, if the person is being chased or is fleeing a scene, they'll not even bother dodging, preferring to just bull their way through a crowd as best they can. (Naturally, the hero has to be nicer about it than the villain.) Of course, if the person being chased does this right, they tend to be Lost in a Crowd. If the hero is holding onto a MacGuffin, odds are he'll lose it, and have to play a game of Crowd Hockey in order to get it back.

If one half of a couple is about to leave on a plane/boat/train/whatever, the odds that the other person will have to run the Mobstacle Course increase exponentially.

This can often be in a scary dream sequence: the character is doing their best to move forward in the crowd, only to find that said crowd is getting denser and denser, resulting in the character being swept away as if in a tidal wave. Happens quite a bit in Crime and Punishment Series with the "Cop(s) chasing Suspect(s)" version.

Often a case of Truth in Television. Occasionally Played for Laughs. Compare to Excuse Me, Coming Through, where the crowd parts just when the hero or villain needs it to. If the character chooses a more direct path through the masses, it's a Foe-Tossing Charge. See also Le Parkour.

Examples of Mobstacle Course include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Psycho Busters, one character is trapped in a illusion of a town full of zombies. He uses this trope to avoid the zombies.
  • Daily mobstacle course training was how the protagonist of Eyeshield 21 managed to (unintentionally) develop the skills needed to become a great runningback.
  • In One Piece, Nami went through one of these to get to the Going Merry at the end of the Arlong Arc, though this example is a bit different from the norm in that the crowd is an issue because they're trying to thank her. Being Nami, she not only gets through the crowd with ease, she steals all their money in the process.
  • In the Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple manga, while training for the fight with Pollux, Kenichi's Trickster Mentor Hayato Fuurinji made him use this as a training technique.


  • In Don Rosa's Donald Duck story "On Stolen Time", Donald and his nephews chase the Beagle Boys atop the heads of a crowd of people who have been frozen in time.


  • Subverted in Hackers, where the heroes are able to not only weave through the crowded conditions around Grand Central Station easily, they use the crowd (and the traffic) to keep the FBI at bay for a while.
  • Used Batman the Movie as they attempt to reach the United World building.
  • Deckard does this while pursuing Zhora through the crowd in Blade Runner.
  • Subverted in Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior in which Tony Jaa, confronted by a crowd, runs across people's heads. The Mooks chasing him are unable to duplicate the feat and must push through the Mobstacle Course.
  • Likewise in Crocodile Dundee, Mick Dundee "takes the high road" across people's shoulders when he can't make his way through a crowd to get to Sue Charlton.
  • In The Princess Bride movie, Inigo attempts this, but quickly becomes frustrated. Good thing he has Fezzik next to him to shout "Everybody move!"
  • In The Matrix, during the "Agent Training Program", Neo is continually bumping into people as he and Morpheus walk through a crowded New York City street. Conveniently, the crowd parts for Morpheus.
    • Later in The Matrix, Neo is forced to do this while running through crowds of people in the streets while escaping from the three Agents near the end of the movie. The Agents tend to just throw people out of their way. Or shoot them.
      • Or simply change places with them
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy does this for a bit while chasing the basket Marion is in, as soon as he realizes she's Lost in a Crowd.
  • In Broadcast News, Joan Cusack's character must cross a Mobstacle Course to get a badly needed newstape to the broadcast booth in order for the tape to be included in that night's news broadcast. She barely gets it there in time, but she gets it there.
  • Equilibrium: John Preston does this at least twice. He didn't have any place in particular to go one of the times, he was just running to blow off some steam or possibly to be alone and he floored random citizen onto his back!
  • Casino Royale: Mollaka, the bomb-making Le Parkour villain, gets chased by Bond in Madagascar through a construction site and an embassy. He practically goes out of his way to push and shove bystanders aside as well as kick one off a superstructure quite ruthlessly, even though he demonstrates several times that he can avoid obstacles with ease with his free running skill.
  • The Wind And The Lion: While the U.S. Marines are trotting through the streets of Tangier, they run into a crowd of people and push them out of the way, including throwing two people into market stalls along a wall.
  • Wanted. One of the various climactic scenes is this trope on fire. The main character runs through a huge loom hallway covered with explosive rats, shooting the hell out of everyone that gets in his way, never once reloading his weapons- instead, he catches the guns his enemies drop out of the air. And he doesn't stop moving.
  • The climax of 12 Monkeys takes place in such a scene at the airport.
  • Inception: After meeting Eames, Cobb is chased through the streets of Mombasa by Mooks sent by Cobal Engineering, and must shove his way past bystanders. Luckily, when the people chasing Cobb start shooting, their aim is all over the place
  • In the Hungarian film Kontroll Bulsco's gang chase a graffiti artist, which requires pushing past and through random people.


  • The main character of Cory Doctorow's Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom does this all the time, which leads directly to his employment at Disney World.
  • Done by Rincewind in The Last Continent, in a Shout-Out to the Crocodile Dundee example above.
  • In one of E. E. "Doc" Smith's books (an early Lensman one, if memory serves) our hero is undercover with some criminals on a very highly populated planet - the criminals are experts at running the crowds, and the hero has to barge people aside and generally rush to keep up, and hope that the villain doesn't turn back to check on him. The expectation was that a guy in the position he was claiming to hold would know how to run the crowds, and it was a sort of Secret Test of Character.
  • New Moon does this in the big Italy scene. You've got to get to the other side of the square before the clock stops tolling in order to save your beloved from a successful suicide they really don't want to do..... did I mention we're having a festival?

Live Action TV

  • Seinfeld does this with George while trying to get a Frogger arcade console across a busy New York City street. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In the Heroes episode, Turn and Face the Strange, the ordinarily calm and collected Mr. Bennet has to make a desperate on-foot escape through a city street, comically knocking over just about every pedestrian in his way.
  • In the Community episode "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" a Chase Scene occurs that includes examples of Excuse Me, Coming Through and Mobstacle Course in the form of a Latvian Independence Parade... all within the confines of a blanket fort.
  • Happens when The Amazing Race visits big cities, especially in India. Sometimes used as a task where teams have to find a specific person within the mob.

Video Games

  • Dead Rising lets you do this through crowds of zombies if you position your jumps right.
  • One of the highlighted features of Assassin's Creed was the protagonists capacity to make his way unnoticed through crowds, weaving in and out, and gently pushing people aside without breaking pace.
  • Ryo ends up having to do this a few times while chasing various people in Shenmue.
  • You do this automatically if someone's in your way in Prototype. If you're sprinting then the crowd is sent flying. In the former case they'll get annoyed and confront you if you stick around, in the later case they'll start running and screaming (or shooting if they're a soldier or policeman). This can be an annoyance though, when trying to do stealth.
  • The Nintendo Back to The Future game. And what's better, everyone wants Marty dead, including guys carrying windows and hula hoop girls.
  • Heavy Rain invokes a tragic version of this while you're trying to get to Jason.

Western Animation

  • In the Futurama episode "A Taste of Freedom", during Freedom Day (the day for doing whatever you want with no regard for consequences) Bender attaches a cowcatcher to himself for pushing through crowds.
  • In Aladdin, our introduction to the titular character occurs as he dashes with a stolen piece of bread through crowds, fakirs, and herds of sheep with ease while his pursuers take the "toss-everyone-aside" approach.
  • This is how Kronk loses the bag holding the unconscious Kuzco in The Emperors New Groove.

Real Life

  • Truth in Television, of course, especially in large cities.
  • There's an actual tag-like game involving this and Le Parkour: when on areas with very little people, you're allowed to move any way you like, even Roof Hopping, but when in a crowded area, your objective is to cause as little commotion as possible and still move as fast as you can. Usually, the one with the best "crowd intuition" wins.
  • The employees of theme parks (especially the larger ones, like the Disney parks) become World Champions at the art of navigating a Mobstacle Course. Having to get from Point A to Point B through a crowd of 80,000+ people gets them lots of practice.
  • The entire sport of roller derby could be summed up as a) making the most impassable Mobstacle Course possible for the opposition and b) helping your team pass through the opposition's Mobstacle Course as quickly as possible.
  • This is essentially what bicycle messengers in big cities do (the most famous are in New York.) They navigate between people on the sidewalk and cars on the street. Their entire selling point is being faster than on foot, and faster than a car since they can dodge in between them on the road.
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