Created By: MadeOfAxes on July 6, 2011 Last Edited By: Jergling on August 3, 2011
Troped

Parachute In A Tree

A parachute gets caught in a tree or similar object.

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A character ejects or leaps from a plane overhead with a parachute. Before they hit the ground, they pull their parachute and fall slowly to the ground. All is well: soon they'll be safe and sound on the ground.

...If it weren't for that pesky breeze pushing them over towards that cluster of trees. Instead of landing on their feet, the character's parachute snags in the branches and he becomes stuck, dangling helplessly in the air.

If the fall isn't particularly high, the character may try to cut themselves down. Otherwise, they will probably need someone else's help to get down.

This trope covers any situation in which a parachute or similar object snags on something and leaves the owner dangling in the air. It doesn't have to be a tree, it can be a tower, lamppost, cables, or anything else that a parachute could snag on.

See also Improvised Parachute and Puny Parachute. Rarely used in conjunction with a Parasol Parachute or Parachute Petticoat.


Examples

Advertising
  • A coffee shop commercial includes an unlucky woman's parachute becoming entangled in the only tree in a large field.

Comic Books

Film

  • Blair Williams from Terminator Salvation is introduced dangling from a derelict pylon by her parachute. She tries to cut herself free, despite the large drop, but Marcus Wright grabs her before she can fall from her harness.
  • In The Crazies (The Remake) they find the long-dead skeletal remains of a pilot who had this problem after ejecting.
  • The Longest Day includes a scene where a paratrooper becomes snagged on a French church spire. This incident is based on one from the real world, see below for more information.
  • Jurassic Park 3, a character falls victimto this and is later found half-eaten and still dangling from the canopy.
  • In Force 10 From Navarone, this happens to Corporal Miller during a parachute drop over Yugoslavia. A german soldier nearly shoots him before he is saved by Sergeant Weaver.
  • This is how the other characters encounter Edwin, the doctor, in Predators.
  • This happens to a trainee spy in the opening sequence of The Living Daylights.
  • A fatal example of this occurs in The Bridge on the River Kwai.
  • In The Dirty Dozen, Jiminez breaks his neck this way during a drop in France.

Music
  • Brian Eno 's song 'Mother Whale Eyeless' includes the line "Parachutes caught on steeples".

Literature
  • The 'monster' in Lord of the Flies is actually a dead parachuter.
  • Flight Of The Intruder: Jake Grafton not only ends up hanging from a tree after ejecting, but has the further indignity to somehow end up hanging from his parachute upside down. Fortunately, he was hanging only a foot or so off the ground.

Live-Action TV
  • In The Drew Carey Show Tim Allen (As Himself) gets stuck in the tree in Drew's back yard after a failed parachute publicity stunt. Drew doesn't cut him down since the idea of having a celebrity stuck in your tree is funnier than letting him leave.
  • The Dad'sArmy episode 'Time On My Hands' centres on the characters efforts to pull down a german pilot whose parachute is caught on the town clock.
  • In one episode of The Young Ones, after moving into a new house, Mike discovers Buddy Holly, still alive and guitar in hand, hanging from a parachute in one of the rooms. He has apparently been there since 1959 (23 yeas at that point). Mike tries to capitalise on the songs Buddy has thought up since then only for the parachute to give way and Holly fall screaming through the floor.
  • Full House: When Jesse goes skydiving, his parachute gets stuck in a tree, causing him to be late to his own wedding.

Video Games
  • This happens in the first Call of Duty. Interesting to note that the very first battle of the game takes place in St.-Mere-Eglise, the town mentioned in the real life section below.
  • In Band of Brothers the men of Easy Company find a dead paratrooper caught in a tree.
  • This also occurs in one of the first levels of Medal Of Honour Frontline.
  • A parachute in a tree, sans passenger, is how Solid Snake can learn that Liquid is alive after his helicopter was blown up in Metal Gear Solid. Snake believes it was left there intentionally as a coded threat by Liquid.
  • This is how one first arrives in Sholazar Basin in Worldf Warcraft.
  • Corpses of paratroopers hanging from trees are frequently found in Left 4 Dead 2. Upgraded weapons can be found on their bodies.

Real Life
  • The above example from The Longest Day is based on something that really happened: during D-Day, a paratrooper named John Steele became snagged on the church spire at St.-Mere-Eglise and played dead for two hours before being cut down and taken prisoner by the germans. The church still has a monument to him and the other paratroopers, in the form of a statue of a paratrooper dangling from the spire.
  • This is Truth in Television, and the military have taken steps to prevent it. Pilots are equipped with hooked knives for slicing throught their parachute cords if this becomes a problem and some parachutes have releasable extended lines so that you can reach the ground if you ar too high up to get down or risk a fall.

Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • July 6, 2011
    JonnyB
    Jurassic Park 3, a character gets caught in a tree and is later found still hanging there, half-eaten.

    In The Longest Day, one of the paratroopers lands on top of a church and gets hung up on a steeple. This actually happened in Real Life.
  • July 6, 2011
    AMNK
    • The seventh level of Return To Castle Wolfenstein has three instances of the trope. One right in the place B.J. starts, the other after the lake, behind the first building B.J. faces. The third one is inside of the camp, just at the right of the main building once you pass the tunnel.

    Sorry, didn't read the description.
  • July 6, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • In The Crazies (The Remake) they find the long-dead skeletal remains of a pilot who had this problem after ejecting.
  • July 6, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of The Drew Carey Show Tim Allen (As Himself) gets stuck in Drew's backyard tree while attemping a parachute publicity stunt. Drew and co. don't get him down, since it's more fun to have a celebrity stuck in your tree than to help him leave.
  • July 7, 2011
    SpiderRider3
    Don't remember the details, but someone gets caught in a tree in the first mission of the first Call Of Duty.
  • July 7, 2011
    Arivne
    Film
    • Force 10 from Navarone. This happens to Corporal Miller during the parachute drop over Yugoslavia. A German soldier finds him and prepares to shoot him, but Sergeant Weaver saves the day. Watch it here.
  • July 7, 2011
    pinkdalek
    A parachute in a tree, sans passenger, is how Snake can learn Liquid is still alive after he blew up his helicopter in Metal Gear Solid. Justified in that Snake theorises it was deliberately left up there as a coded threat to him.
  • July 7, 2011
    AFP
  • July 26, 2011
    terrafox
    Real Life military/survival parachutes have releasable extension lines built in specifically to deal with this potential problem. Does anyone know if sky-diving parachutes have them or not?
  • July 26, 2011
    Bushranger
    I get a feeling this is a Seen It A Million Times example - I know it's what I expect whenever I see a parachute coming down!
  • July 26, 2011
    noblesix
    Happened to the doctor in Predators.
  • July 26, 2011
    foxley
    • In The Dirty Dozen, Jiminez breaks his neck when his parachute gets tangled in a tree during the drop into France.
    • The Dads Army episode "Time on My Hands" is centred around the platoon's attempts to rescue and capture a German pilot whose parachute is hooked on the town hall clock.
  • July 26, 2011
    Premonition45
    Happens to one of the spies in the training sequence during the opening sequence of The Living Daylights.
  • July 26, 2011
    LeeM
    • Film: There's a fatal example in The Bridge On The River Kwai.
    • Song: Brian Eno's song "Mother Whale Eyeless" includes the line "Parachutes caught on steeples".
  • July 26, 2011
    Speedball
    There's a coffee shop commercial (can't remember the brand) where a woman has caught her parachute in a tree; the only tree in the middle of a wide field, in fact. Just her luck.
  • July 26, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    I'm thinking this is Truth In Television, especially during the D-Day invasion of Normandy during WWII. I think I even recall seeing this happen in the film The Longest Day.
  • July 27, 2011
    BraveHoratio
    • A dead parachutist in a tree is the "monster" in Lord Of The Flies.
    • If I recall correctly, this is the fate of the original Henry Gale in Lost
  • July 28, 2011
    benjamminsam
    @69BookWorM69 Yes, this actually happened; a soldier got caught on a church spire and played dead for two hours before being taken prisoner by Germans in Ste.-Mere-Eglise, France. It was in The Longest Day, too. Truth In Television.
  • July 28, 2011
    pyrotorch246
    • At one point in Band of Brothers the men of Easy Company come across a dead parachutist who got caught on a tree.
  • July 28, 2011
    Bushranger
    Parachute Eating Tree sounds good to me.
  • July 28, 2011
    tnafan121
    This occurs in one of the first levels of Medal Of Honor Frontline.
  • July 28, 2011
    Meeble
    This could fit on This Index Is In The Way
  • July 28, 2011
    Taeraresh
    This happens when you first get sent to Sholazar Basin in World Of Warcraft.
  • July 30, 2011
    AFP
    • In Real Life, military pilots carry a special knife with a hooked blade that allows them to easily and quickly cut their parachute cords if they get snagged in a tree.
  • July 30, 2011
    AFP
    • Flight Of The Intruder: Jake Grafton not only ends up hanging from a tree after ejecting, but has the further indignity to somehow end up hanging from his parachute upside down. Fortunately, he was hanging only a foot or so off the ground.
  • July 30, 2011
    LeeM
    In an early episode of The Young Ones, after the boys move into a new house Mike discovers Buddy Holly hanging upside down from a parachute in one of the rooms, where he's apparently been trapped, guitar in hand, since 1959 (ie about 23 years at that point). Mike hopes to capitalise on this by recording some of the songs Buddy has been thinking up since then, but the parachute chooses that exact moment to give way and Buddy smashes through the floor.
  • July 30, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Another vote for Parachute Eating Tree, though your trope description should be expanded to explicitly list some of the other things that parachutes often get snagged on, such as buildings, poles, etc.

    For one rather famous example Real Life example, see: http://www.cpmac.com/spip/spip.php?article100107

    This was also shown in The Longest Day
  • July 31, 2011
    Chabal2
    Seen a few times in Buck Danny.
  • August 1, 2011
    AFP
    There's no "The" in Flight Of The Intruder :-D

    EDIT: Actually, it looks like that whole example got mangled somehow between when I commented it and when it got put into the examples list.
  • August 1, 2011
    OffendedShadows
    • Full House: When Jesse goes skydiving, his parachute gets stuck in a tree, causing him to be late to his own wedding.
  • August 3, 2011
    MadeOfAxes
    The Flight Of The Intruder example was indeed quite badly mangled. Sorry about that, my keyboard was acting up. It's fixed now.

    Unless anybody wants to add further input or change trope in any way, I'll be launching this in the next few days.
  • August 3, 2011
    AFP
    A possible example of the Trope Eating Keyboard? :-D
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=4rof7g7zne2w8wj93vl7k6jo