[[quoteright:350:[[Film/KingKong http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/KONGempirestate_3593.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350: LET'S DO THIS.]]

->''Gene Siskel was fond of a movie cliche he called "The Climbing Killer Syndrome." This described the mysterious compulsion that forces killers to flee upwards instead of sideways. If you climb to the top of a building, scaffold, tower, mountain, etc., your escape options relentlessly narrow. In movies like this, you should avoid the roof at all costs, because the plot will inevitably have you clinging by your fingertips to a vertiginous perch above the street far below.''
-->-- '''RogerEbert'''

Included by Roger Ebert in his ''Book of Hollywood Clichés '' under the name ''Fallacy of the Climbing Villain''.

A villain pursued by the good guys comes to a [[ClockTower tall tower]], steeple, [[StairwellChase stairwell]], or building. He starts to climb. This would clearly lead to his getting trapped at the top, like a cat tree'd by a dog. An ordinary person in a state of panic may have done this on instinct, but for a criminal mastermind, it is unlikely. To do this after one sees what happens to climbing villains is also a clear case of GenreBlindness.

Ebert could just as easily have called this one ''The Fallacy of the Following Hero'', as when a villain trees himself at the top of a building or other high place, instead of just staking out the bottom and waiting for him to come down, the hero has to go up after him. If it's a dangerous climb, the hero will probably [[PlummetPerspective drop his gun on the way up]] and have to fight the villain with his bare hands. Even if that doesn't happen, it will be a long, scary showdown, probably with a LiteralCliffhanger moment or two (see also TakeMyHand). May involve ClimbingTheCliffsOfInsanity. Generally, [[DisneyVillainDeath the villain falls to his death]], but occasionally, the hero takes him alive or even [[SaveTheVillain saves his life]], and the villain agrees to come quietly.

A common subversion (that makes more [[TheChessmaster practical sense]]) is for the villain to have a BlackHelicopter revved up and ready to leave on top of whatever he is climbing. Alternatively, said helicopter can arrive JustInTime in a true BigDamnGunship fashion and [[WeWillMeetAgain sweep him away]].

During the 1980s, this trope was largely replaced by the DarkenedBuildingShootout and ExecutiveSuiteFight.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Appears at the climax of Ghibli's ''TalesFromEarthsea'', but note that in this case, the villain is a wizard who waits until the hero is at the very top of the building before collapsing the whole thing.
* The climax of the ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'' [[TheMovie movie]] ''Big Trouble In Nekonron China''. Not only does the cast have to fight its way up a mountain, [[YouShallNotPass fighting Kirin's henchmen along the way]], but he has taken Akane to the top of his tower at the summit. The [[FanNickname Nerima Wrecking Crew]] (minus Ranma) arrives to rescue her, but [[CurbStompBattle are easily knocked out in a single attack]], so Ranma has to take it upon himself to fight Kirin. In the end, since the tower was built on top of a hot spring, Ranma's [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique Hiryuu Shoten Ha]] attack makes the entire thing ''explode'' in a gigantic waterspout.
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', Fate route: Saber versus Rider.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comicbooks]]
* One of the many villains to usurp the throne of ''TheTriganEmpire'' was confronted by the Emperor Trigo and actually attempted to escape by climbing his own Lady-Liberty-sized statue. Trigo followed, and only when standing on the upraised hand did the baddie think to pull a gun on him. The baddie then slipped, but Trigo caught him and brought him down to "use his genius for the good of the Empire." What a guy!
* In ''{{Bookhunter}}'', when library police swarm the apartment of their book thief, they find it's empty. Agent Bay realizes the apartment was only vacated a few minutes ago, and that the thief must have taken the window fire escape. Sure enough, the thief climbs up, rather than down; Bay follows, and a rooftop confrontation ensues.
* In Batman #1 from the spring of 1940, Dr. Hugo Strange creates "monsters" out of people from the psych ward by giving them growth hormones to make them huge. The last one Batman fights climbs to the top of a building in order to take a swing at Batman, who is in his Batplane. Knowing Bob Kane's propensity for such {{Shout Out}}s (or just outright ripping plot points off), this is almost certainly a reference to ''Film/KingKong''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* OlderThanTelevision: ''Film/KingKong'' did this way back in 1933, treeing himself at the top of the Empire State Building. {{Justified|Trope}} in that Kong was not exactly a mastermind and was likely operating more on jungle/mountain/island instinct than anything else.
* Used at the climax of Tim Burton's ''Film/{{Batman}}'', when the Joker flees up the steps of (the surprisingly tall) Gotham Cathedral, taking Kim Basinger's DistressedDamsel (surprisingly so for a movie made in the last months of 1989 - it's like she was paid per scream) with him. {{Justified|Trope}} on the Joker's side, since he radios ahead for a helicopter pickup and thus knows ''he'' won't be trapped, and takes repeated measures to stop anyone from following. Batman's inevitable pursuit is also somewhat justified by his concern for the Joker's hostage (plus his professional familiarity with {{Building Swing}}s).
* Inverted in ''Film/BladeRunner'', where the hero (Deckard) flees to the roof of a building while being pursued by the replicant Roy Batty.
* In ''PsychoBeachParty'', [[spoiler:Chicklet]] flees from the murderer by climbing up a movie billboard, because they were in the middle of nowhere at night.
* Angus in ''Film/SeachdTheInaccessiblePinnacle''.
* Although it's not specifically preceded by a climb because the characters are already inside a skyscraper, Alan Rickman's character performs a rather memorable example (in slow motion no less) of this trope at the end of the ''Film/DieHard''.
* Used by a hero this time in [[TransformersFilmSeries the 2007 Transformers movie]] during the climactic battle at the end of the movie. Sam runs up a tall building (using an inside staircase) while carrying the [[MacGuffin Allspark]], during which [[BigBad Megatron]] follows him by just bashing through the different floors. Justified because an Army Ranger radioed for a helicopter to meet him on the roof of said building. [[spoiler:Said helicopter was then shot down by another bad guy seconds before it grabbed the Allspark from Sam.]]
* Creator/AlfredHitchcock liked this trope:
** ''Film/{{Blackmail}}'' - On top of the British Museum
** ''Film/NorthByNorthwest'' - On top of Mount Rushmore.
*** Parodied by ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''.
*** Also parodied by the live-action ''Film/RichieRich'' movie.
** ''Film/{{Saboteur}}'' - In the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
*** Parodied (and subverted) by ''Film/TheWrongGuy'' - it was a miniature.
** ''Film/{{Vertigo}}'' - At the top of the same clock tower where the first pseudo climax occurs; justified in that the protagonist was attempting a PullTheThread.
* In the climax of ''Film/TrueLies'', Eliza Dushku steals the key needed to set off the bad guy's bomb, and then runs ''up'' the stairway, trapping herself in the building, rather than down it, which would have given her a chance of escaping.
** Cut her some slack. She's frightened and disoriented and probably not thinking clearly.
*** If she'd gone downstairs, the terrorists could have caught her and recovered the key as they had men downstairs, not up. By going up, it's true she's risking her life, but she's got a better chance of keeping the key away from them by dropping it over the side if necessary.
* Justified in ''Film/{{Darkman}}'', where the agile villain explains that his father had made him do construction work on skyscrapers early in his career. Luring Westlake to the top of a half-finished building, where he's more comfortable with the terrain than the hero, is an intentional ploy to cancel out Darkman's enraged strength and pain-resistance.
* In ''Film/WhiteHeat'', Cody Jarrett climbs to the top of a gas storage tower to escape from the police. Rather than follow him, the police just shoot him, whereupon he shoots into the tower shouting, "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" right before it explodes.
* Used in the ''Film/JamesBond'' film ''Film/ForYourEyesOnly'', in which Bond prepares to scale a mountain to reach the monastery located at its summit (there's no other way to reach it without being detected by the bad guys). Unfortunately, the bad guys ARE guarding the cliff, and one of them nearly sends Bond plummeting to his death.
** Also done in ''Film/GoldenEye'', where the climax takes place atop [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_Observatory the giant satellite dish]] the villain is using to control the titular superweapon. Unlike most examples, though, it's the villain that's chasing Bond (who's trying to disable the dish) rather than the other way around.
** In ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough'', [[spoiler: Electra King]] runs to the top floor of the castle while fleeing Bond. Zigg-zagged with the Cigar Girl, who flees to a hot air balloon, but blows it up instead of using it to escape.
** Subverted in ''Film/CasinoRoyale'', when Bond chases the courier, who is a [[LeParkour Parkour]] expert. Yes, at one point, he flees to the top of a crane, but he has the skills to get back down safely.
* In ''ScotlandPA'', the final confrontation happens on top of the local fast-food restaurant.
* Beautifully subverted, and possibly parodied considering what happened right after, in "The Other Guys" where Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne "Rock" Johnson chase a bunch of bank robbers upstairs to the roof of a building, [[spoiler: who proceed to ride a zip line down to the street. They cut the zip line and make their getaway. This has got to be one of the funniest scenes in a movie because Samuel and The Rock are so caught up in their celebrity that they attempt to jump off the building to catch the bank robbers. Hilariously the camera follows them as they leap and fall all the way to go splat on the pavement.]]
* The climax of the Robert Powell version of ''Film/The39Steps'' takes place in the ClockTower of Big Ben, where the villains have integrated a bomb into the mechanism of the clock. While Hannay hangs onto the minute hand in a desperate attempt to stop the clock, the police engage in a fire-fight with the villains who are trying to set the bomb off by hand. And the 39 steps refers to [[spoiler: the number of steps the police and Hannay have to climb to get up to the clock tower]].
* ''Film/TheatreOfBlood'' climaxes with Edward Lionheart [[spoiler:scaling his abandoned theater hideout, late daughter/accomplice in arms, in order to give some knowingly FamousLastWords (quoting [[ShoutOutToShakespeare Shakespeare]] one last time) to the crowd below before falling to his death.]]
* ''The Triumph of Franchise/SherlockHolmes'', a film otherwise remarkably faithful to ''Valley of Fear'', ends with ''Moriarty'', of all people, doing this.
* A ShoutOut occurs in the final scenes of RockyHorrorPictureShow.
* A {{Justified|Trope}} example in ''TheNakedCity'': at the climax, the exhausted and panicking murderer finds himself trapped on a bridge and starts climbing the supports in desperation. The police, wisely, don't bother following, but instead try to talk him down and then, when that doesn't work, shoot him from the ground.
* Al Capone's trial in ''Film/TheUntouchables'' is interrupted when henchman Frank Nitti flees to the roof of the courthouse after shooting a bailiff.
* Possibly echoing the King Kong example ''Film/{{Ghostbusters}}'' climaxes with a showdown atop another building in New York. Lampshaded (as with everything in the film) in that the actual climb is extremely anticlimactic. The climb is justified within the plot in that the villain seems to be doing perfectly well at ending the world from where they are and the trope is played straight again with the giant Mr Staypuft scaling the building in proper King Kong fashion to get at the Ghostbusters.
* A the end of Film/KingKongEscapes, King Kong and Mechani-Kong fight atop Tokyo Tower.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Referenced in RobertRankin novels; one of the four sets PrivateDetective Lazlo Woodbine uses is a rooftop, for climatic battles.
* In ''MemorySorrowAndThorn'', everyone and their grandmother (seemingly) climbing up the massive staircase to the top of [[EvilTowerOfOminousness Green Angel Tower]] is the buildup to the big climax at the top. It even starts below ground for several characters, as the tower descends at least as far beneath the surface as it does above.
* In ''Literature/AShadowGirlsSummerOfLoveAndMadness'', this trope is invoked twice by the villain.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In the ''Series/InspectorMorse'' episode "Service of All the Dead", Morse pursues the murderer up a church tower. This is [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in the original book; it mentions that, later, Sergeant Lewis asked Morse why he didn't just lock the murderer in and call in reinforcements.
* While the final episode of ''Series/MaddigansQuest'' sets this trope in motion as a trap for the heroes rather than the villains, it's largely played straight from there on in. The children make it to the top of Solis tower with the solar converter, where they are greeted by the Duke of Solis and [[spoiler:betrayed by Timon. Maddie, Boomer, and Yves arrive, and in the resulting chaos, Ozul and Maska fall to their deaths, Timon reverted back to his usual self, and Solis is saved.]]
* Used in the GrandFinale of ''Series/TheFugitive'' in the prelude to [[spoiler:Kimble's showdown with the One-Armed Man at the top of the tower. You would think that, after being kicked in the head three times after as many unsuccessful attempts to follow him, he'd start to get the hint...]]
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[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* ProfessionalWrestling abuses this trope in the "Hell in a Cell" gimmick match. For the uninitiated, it's a match in which the ring is entirely enclosed by a huge cage (with a roof). Ever since Mick Foley took a bump off the thing in a match with The Undertaker in 1998 (and, actually, [[AvertedTrope they]] ''[[AvertedTrope started]]'' [[AvertedTrope on the roof that time...]]), a significant percentage of matches have involved the heel "escaping" by climbing the cage, and terrible, terrible things happening as a result. It's been toned down in recent years, but WWE video games still keep the trope alive by having breakable panels on the roof and specific animations for being thrown off.
** The thing that makes the Mankind-Undertaker match a CMOA is that after 'Taker tossed Foley off, Foley managed to get back up, climb the cage, and get chokeslammed ''through the cage''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Role-Playing Games]]
* At the end of ''Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG'''s FinalBattle, Dr. Rex climbed to the top of Dino Attack Headquarters and battled against Dino Attack's T-1 Typhoon fleet.
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[[folder:Videogames]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Bully}}'', fer sure.
* A variation of this happens in ''VideoGame/{{Half-Life 2}}'': Dr. Breen [[VillainExitStageLeft runs]] from his office near the top of [[EvilTowerOfOminousness The Citadel]] to the nearby Combine Portal, which he intends to use to leave Earth while simultaneously killing Freeman. Said machine slowly lifts him up to the portal via a shielded platform, and you basically have to reach the apex before him and shut the gateway before he escapes. By that point, you're very high above City 17.
* The opening video of ''BaldursGate'' is build around this trope, only that it's (apparently) a hero who is chased to the top of the tower by a villain, only to be promptly thrown all the way back down. Is Sarevok BadAss or is he BadAss?
* The video game ''VideoGame/MirrorsEdge'' features [[spoiler: the final level, the Shard, the tallest building in the city. In a bit of a variation, protagonist Faith isn't necessarily chasing the villain to the top of the tower - at this point, she still doesn't know who the real villain is - but when she inevitably gets to the top of the tower, the Bad Guy jumps into a helicopter to fly away.]]
* In the climax of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'', Princess Ashe is first tasked by the [[JerkassGods Occuria]] to cut [[MacGuffin a shard]] of [[CosmicKeystone the Sun-Cryst]] to destroy TheEmpire and take back her kingdom. To reach it, she must climb the hundred-floor [[EvilTowerOfOminousness Pharos Lighthouse]], atop which the Sun-Cryst--and many revelations of herself, the Occuria, and her enemies--reside.
** Furthermore, at the end of the story, the party infiltrates [[OminousFloatingCastle Sky Fortress]] [[EvilTowerOfOminousness Bahamut]] and pursues Vayne to the topmost balconies, confronting him in a FinalBattle.
* The lighthouses in both ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' games.
* VideoGame/DonkeyKong?
* The original ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'' subverted it with the last level, where Max ascends to the roof of a skyscraper, only for the BigBad to board a helicopter. [[BigDamnGunship Armed helicoper.]] The sequel plays it straight, however.
* {{Justified|Trope}} in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', where the BigBad is a giant, flying, demon-possessed dragon god, who's decision to retreat to the top of Fort Drakon to confront the party comes after [[spoiler: Riordan had performed a BladeBrake that crippled one of it's wings, thereby forcing it to land]].
* In the ''VideoGame/TombRaider2013'' reboot, Lara has to [[spoiler: scale a mountain that's being torn to pieces by a storm born of Himiko's rage, avoid lightning strikes and debris ripped off the mountain by gale force winds, and outrun a horde of undead samurai below her.]] Unlike with most examples, the climb itself is the climax, rather than used to build up tension for the final confrontation. [[spoiler: Though it's used for that, too, the climb itself is climactic enough to count. The finale just makes it even cooler.]]
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', due to the lifts to the Council Chamber getting halted via the lockdown, Shepard and squad are forced to EVA and "climb" up the outside of the Citadel Tower in order to reach Sovereign.
* "Dramatic fight scene while climbing" is the bread and butter of gameplay in ShadowOfTheColossus, but this trope still comes into effect with the final boss, who is ''[[UpToEleven a mile tall]]''.
* ''VideoGame/SuperMario3DWorld'' has a climax in which [[spoiler: after Bowser uses a Cat Bell power up, you have to climb his tower, which stands right in front of you.]] The only question is who's being chased, Bowser or you? In any case, you have to climb the said tower to the top.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* In the movie-within-a-comic "Man on the Border" in NipAndTuck, the villain and the hero (played by Nip) end up in a desperate struggle on the catwalks in the roof of the Astrodome. Justified by the fact that the villain, thwarted in releasing a biotoxin through the fire sprinkler systems, was taking a distant second alternative by tossing the vials from the catwalk onto the crowds below...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The DisneyAnimatedCanon is fond of these:
** ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' - The dwarves and animals chase the transformed queen to the top of a cliff
** ''Disney/RobinHood'' - Robin tries to escape Prince John's burning castle until he jumps into the moat below.
** ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'' - Gaston and the Beast fight atop the castle
** ''Disney/TheLionKing'' - Simba and Scar on the summit of Pride Rock
** ''Disney/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame'' - Taking place, surprisingly enough, on Notre Dame cathedral
** ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'' - The final part of the Mulan/Shan Yu fight takes place on the roof of the Emperor's palace.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}}'' episode "Omens Part One", this is {{Inverted|Trope}} when a ChaseFight GladiatorGames ends with protagonist Lion-O knocked off a giant treetop arena and into the surrounding water, soundly trounced and publicly humiliated by his brother Tygra as he [[ForDoomTheBellTolls rings a bell]] in triumph and the audience in TheThunderdome goes wild.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThePrincessAndThePea'', Laird and Hildegard take Daria to the top of the castle, and Rollo follows them up there to rescue her.
[[/folder]]

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