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A lot of times, a predator is trying desperately to catch his prey but the prey proves to be much too quick. How do you stop a creature that never stops moving? Have it run into a wall, of course! How do you do that? Simple, draw a tunnel over it.

So the villain takes his brush and creates a realistic looking tunnel in three seconds! The prey comes along and the villain hides behind a rock to see the creature stupidly run into the solid wall. The prey runs towards the tunnel and disappears into it. The villain may be baffled, but decides that he needs to go after his prey. He begins to run into the tunnel, and either crashes directly into the solid wall, or gets run over by a train or bus that has somehow come through the tunnel.

We usually never see where the prey ends up after entering the tunnel, nor is it ever made an issue.

Compare Portal Picture for when Applied Phlebotinum is involved and the characters are taken to Another Dimension. Also related to Art Initiates Life.



Anime and Manga

  • In Jack to Mame no Ki during the final fight against Tulip the giant, Jack's dog Crosby paints a picture of a train tunnel on a wall and runs through it, naturally Tulip crashes into it and temporarily knocks himself out.

Comic Books

  • Variation in an early Sonic the Comic strip, where Robotnik paints a tunnel on the wall in the hope Sonic will run into it and knock himself out. Sonic proceeds to run into the tunnel. A confused Robotnik attempts to follow and, of course, knocks himself out against the wall.
  • Dick Dastardly does it in one Wacky Races story. After the inevitable 'intended-victim-goes-through-tunnel-and-he-crashes-against-wall', he declares its a case of Your Mind Makes It Real, and tries to go through, telling Muttley to just keeping thinking that the painted tunnel is real. It still don't work.


  • In the 2005 film version of Bewitched, Michael Caine walks out of a series of stone arches to speak with Nicole Kidman; a moment later, as the camera pulls back, a pair of stagehands come by and pick up the large canvas flat on which the arches are painted.
  • In a couple of his movies ("The Playhouse", Steamboat Bill Jr..) Buster Keaton uses an old vaudeville gag in which a comedian performing against a backdrop painted to look like a body of water dives into it -- he actually jumps through a horizontal slit in the canvas.
  • Parodied and subverted in Looney Tunes Back in Action. Brendan Fraser's character is chasing Daffy Duck around Warner Bros studios. Daffy runs into a painted backdrop of a hallway, as if it were really there. Fraser follows, but because the picture is painted on canvas, he is able to tear right through instead of the traditional injuring himself. Daffy deems this cheating.
  • One of the rare times when it's live action and *not* necessarily a parody of cartoons, the film The Villain has this trope. While trying to trap Handsome Stranger and Charmin, the titular villain paints a rock formation with black paint. The heroes' carriage goes right into it, prompting the villain to try it himself, with predictable results.

Live Action TV

  • Farscape, a (relatively) serious live-action show, spends an episode inside the subconscious of the main character John Crichton, which is apparently highly influenced by old Looney Tunes cartoons. Crichton and an animated version of the angry alien warrior D'Argo engage in a series of Coyote-and-Road Runner–style chases, all of which center on Crichton painting wormholes onto the wall, which act as Artistic Expression tunnels.
  • Taken to a truly maniac extent in The Goodies episode "Movies": Characters jump in and out of the cinema screen, then in and out of the cinema screen which is on another cinema screen, then running off screen, appearing in the cinema screen inside the cinema screen, then jumping through all the cinema screens. The amazing thing is that they avoid Special Effect Failure despite the episode being from 1975, and live action television.
    • Done earlier in "Invasion Of The Moon Creatures", when Bill, dressed as a rabbit (It Makes Sense in Context, promise) runs next to a hole and jumps down the rabbit hole to get rid of Graeme, who is chasing him. Graeme attempts to jump in also, but hits the ground. Confused, he touches the hole, and manages to pick it up -- it's just a piece of round, black paper. Frustrated, he throws the hole away as he stomps off-screen. When the hole lands, Bill crawls out of it again.
  • In a sixth-season cast sketch on Sesame Street, Bob and Luis assemble a billboard picture of a railroad tunnel. No sooner do they assemble the picture properly than a train comes out.
  • Subverted in Community, when Abed attempts to convince Troy that he's found a way to cartoon land by adding a cartoon visage of himself at the end of a tunnel painted on a wall and throwing his voice from behind a nearby trash can to make Troy think it's real. Troy comes *this close* to running through the "tunnel," before Abed pops up and stops him. You have to believe!

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • King's Quest VI: One of the ways to sneak into the castle is to paint a door on the side with a magic paintbrush, then simply open it.
  • Cosmic Osmo has a White Void Room with a magic pencil, which can be used to draw other areas of the game around you. Naturally, you're then actually standing in the location that you drew.

Western Animation

  • A tunnel painted on the side of a cliff face may act as a real tunnel when the Road Runner escapes into it, but for Wile E. Coyote it remains solid rock (as in their first cartoon, "Fast and Furry-ous"). Or it may injure the Coyote when a very real truck or train exits it and runs him over as he stands in front of it. In one cartoon, Wile E. puts a painting of a broken bridge in the middle of the road to get the Road Runner to stop. When the Road Runner just rips through the canvas, Wile E. goes after him, enters the painting and falls off the cliff therein.
    • In an early Pac-Mania short, Pac-Man does the "painted cave entrance" trick to evade the pursuing Ghost Monsters.
  • The exact same thing happened in an episode of Johnny Test with a lot of Shout Outs to old Road Runner cartoons.
  • A U.S. Acres segment on Garfield and Friends did the tunnel version of this gag with Booker and the Worm. According to Orson, this gag is required in every chase scene.
  • Wacky Races: Dick Dastardly used a landscape painted on a piece of upright solid steel to try and wreck the other racers. Not only did they drive into it unharmed, but a bus drove out of it and flattened him.
    • Wacky Races also used a few of the original Road Runner gags almost unaltered, with Dastardly of course standing in for Wile E. Coyote.
  • One episode of I Am Weasel made fun of this.
  • Spoofed in a Tom and Jerry Kids short with a car race, where the villain McWolf takes advantage of Artistic Expression, by having Droopy drive into a sign and shoving said sign off a cliff (the wolf earlier crashed into a painted tunnel).
  • The Fairly Odd Parents takes it a step further: In "Back to the Norm", Crocker paints a cliff so it appears to be Trixie Tang holding two ice cream cones and standing in front of a tunnel. As a cherry on top, on top of the cliff is a rock which would fall when someone hits the cliff. Timmy rides into it, but instead of crashing, "Trixie" hands him an ice cream cone and jumps on his bike as they ride through the tunnel. Crocker starts to chase after them like one would expect, but he stops just before he is about to hit the cliff the tunnel is painted, because he is apparently Genre Savvy enough to realize that the cliff will be solid again when he tries to run through the tunnel.
    • But he then spazzes out and hits the cliff and the rock falls on him.
  • Clyde Crashcup from The Alvin Show "invents" by drawing things in midair.
  • In the 1930s, there was a whole slew of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts in which the pictures on book and magazine covers, food labels or billboards came to life.
    • The Animaniacs episode "Video Review" revives the concept, using the covers of VHS tapes in a video store.
  • In one Pink Panther short, Pink sees a picture of a sailboat hanging crooked, but when he straightens it, the water on the picture pours out of the frame.
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Scratch and Grounder try this trick on Sonic. Of course, they botch it.
    • Another episode inverts it, where Sonic finds the perfect place to paint a tunnel, only the tunnel's already there, so he simply paints over the tunnel, leaving Scratch and Grounder confused when they hear a train coming, but don't see where it could be coming from, until they're hit by it.
  • An episode of House of Mouse involving Donald Duck and the Aracuan Bird featured a scene where the Aracuan can be seen drawing a door on the wall, then opening it to reveal a stampede of wildebeest who then trample Donald.
  • On one Droopy cartoon, Spike paints a tennis court blue and installs a diving platform so that when Droopy tries to dive in he would drop to his death instead. Droopy dives, but instead of splattering on solid concrete he splashes into what is now real water. Spike then tries it himself... and shatters into a million pieces.
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