Created By: SonicLover on June 25, 2012 Last Edited By: SonicLover on July 9, 2012

Pulling Your Weight

Literally carrying yourself around.

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Do We Have This One?? I looked for it but couldn't find it. Probably Up for Grabs since I seldom come here anymore.

Many people can lift more than their own weight. You're probably one of them. So do you suppose you could levitate by grabbing yourself by the pants and lifting yourself up? Go on, try it. I'll wait.

Alright, now that you've made a fool out of yourself with that oh-so-hilarious faceplant, let me explain why it didn't work. Due to Newton's third law, if you want to move yourself in any direction, you have to exert a force in the opposite direction against something that's not coming along for the ride. Lifting yourself doesn't get you anywhere because there's no force exerted against anything external.

A subtrope of Artistic License Physics. May or may not be related to Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress.


  • In the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax, this is how the titular character makes his final departure.

  • This fallacy is one of the most common exploited in troll science.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • June 25, 2012
    • Bugs Bunny has often lifted himself by the ears, usually while doing the old Rabbit In The Hat trick.
    • In the Tex Avery cartoon "The Cat Who Hated People", the cat launches himself out of the moon and back to Earth by lifting his own butt, placing it on a golf tee, and hitting it with a golf club.
  • June 25, 2012
    • In Eight Bit Theatre, Black Belt is somehow able to do this by holding up a rope he was letting the others cross and then crossing it himself (this is the same man who's become so lost in a corridor with only one direction to move in he ended up with temporal clones). Black Mage is suitably annoyed.
  • June 29, 2012
  • July 2, 2012
    Good, good. Examples seem to be cropping up.
  • July 2, 2012
    • In one episode of Chip N Dale, the chipmunks are both half-buried in a ball of snow -- Chip's torso is visible, as is a pair of feet that presumably belong to Dale. However, when Chip pulls the ankles up, it turns out his own body pops free so he's just lifted himself up, whilst Dale is nowhere to be seen.

    (This example may not be completely accurate; it's been a while since I watched those cartoons. I can check it at some point later.)

    Edit: Wait, we don't have a page for them yet? Wow. Well, they're Disney if that's of use.
  • July 2, 2012
    • Averted in the Wheel Of Time series; you cannot use the One Power to fly any more than you could pick yourself up off the ground. That's the actual explanation given in an early book.
  • July 2, 2012
  • July 2, 2012
  • July 3, 2012
    ^ ...what?
  • July 3, 2012
    A common mime/breakdancing move is to be down on your knees, then reach over your head to the back of your collar and pull yourself up to standing.
  • July 4, 2012
    Needs a better name, current makes me think of the metaphor rather than lifting oneself... how about something to do with bootstraps?
  • July 9, 2012
    "By Your Own Bootstraps."