You know the other guy is three or 30 floors down/up. The only way to here from there is the elevator. But LOOK! The elevator! It's MOVING! The other guy is headed right this way! Suspense builds. The elevator approaches. It stops here. There's a pause. Possibly a bell rings. Then... the doors open to reveal... nothing. There's nobody inside.
It's at this point it's revealed that the other guy is:\\
(a) on top of the elevator\\
(b) under the elevator\\
(c) doing a CeilingCling\\
(d) already on this floor by another route\\
(e) something even worse.
Depending on the context, the supposed occupant of the elevator may be the hero (in which case there'll be at least a platoon's worth of weaponry pointed at, or possibly already emptied into, the door when it opens), the villain or the monster.
[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex''. In the first episode of ''2nd Gig'', a terrorist has a look of surprise when the lift opens to reveal an empty elevator, only to be shot in the face by Batou who's wearing [[InvisibilityCloak thermoptic camouflage]]. Incidentally Batou isn't happy at being ordered to go up in the elevator; the only reason the Major told him to do so was because the terrorists were expecting the attack to come via the roof or stairs, and had the hostages there as a HumanShield, plus she used a ghost-hacked terrorist to kill most of the other terrorists waiting in ambush. The scene serves as BookEnds [[spoiler:when Batou and the Major use the empty elevator trope to assassinate the BigBad in the final episode, sniping him from an unexpected direction when he's surrounded by CIA bodyguards.]]
* ''Leon''/''Film/TheProfessional'' ("Someone's coming up. Someone ''serious''.") (The hero's not in it, but as in ''Film/DieHard'' he has placed one of the bad guys in there instead.)
* Very much averted in ''Film/XMenOriginsWolverine'' - they're ''in'' the elevator, right in the firing line of two dozen mooks with automatic weapons. So they send in the Merc with the Mouth to "clean up" first.
* In ''Film/TimeChasers'', Nick and Lisa evade the bad guys this way. The ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' crew are not particularly impressed: "They took the stairs! They're ''masters'' of evasion!"
* ''Film/MenInBlackII'': J, K and the worm guys arrive back at MIB Central, and the garbage can robot neatly peppers the elevator they arrive in with bullets... but they're all doing a CeilingCling.
* Played with in ''Film/TheSilenceOfTheLambs''.
* In ''Film/DeepRising'', the mercenaries are searching through the abandoned cruise ship looking for any passengers or crew members, but none can be found. Then the elevator activates, and they can see it moving to their floor. They keep their weapons aimed at the door, but it's empty. Except for the blood-covered walls inside the elevator, that is.
* ''Film/ResidentEvilAfterlife''. The Umbrella Corporation mooks are pointing their guns at the elevator while Alice slips out of a roof vent behind them. In ''Film/ResidentEvilRetribution'' as the elevator pad descends to the level of the waiting mooks, a round frizbee-like gadget is tossed out which fires bullets in all directions. The infiltrators turn out to be lying flat on the pad so the bullets don't kill them.
* ''Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome'', when Scotty beams the elevator's occupants out while the doors are closed.
* ''Film/BatmanForever'': Two-Face's men blast away at the elevator which arrives at their floor, perforating the door and riddling its interior with bullets. The doors open to reveal -- nothing. Three seconds later, Batman bursts out, starting the first fight scene. It's not explained how he avoided the gunfire, although he probably just hid above the car.
* ''Film/OutpostRiseOfTheSpetsnaz''. A corridor full of German guards wait nervously for [[BadAss Dolokhov]] to come up to their level, but the doors open to reveal a [[OhCrap huge Berserker zombie]] who immediately attacks them. Dolokhov had ducked into the roof hatch to escape the zombie, so he just drops back into the elevator when the shooting stops, and [[BoomHeadshot finishes off the zombie]] who's now crawling after having killed everyone in the corridor and soaked up all their bullets.
* ''Film/RawDeal''. After the mobsters use up all their ammo shooting up the EmptyElevator, Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger enters by sliding down the ventilation shaft.
* ''The Art of War'' (2000). The villain is in a hall of elevators, which start opening at random around him one by one. The hero then steps out from the end of the corridor, not having been in the elevator at all, so it was apparently just done for MindScrew.
[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In the second season finale of ''Series/BeingHuman'', Kemp and one of his men watch the elevator descend expecting Mitchell to be there for them to kill. The door opens to reveal a dead body while Mitchell reveals himself elsewhere in the compound.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': The Fourth Doctor does this to fool the guards in "The Deadly Assassin." Quoth Castellan Spandrell (basically a police commissioner):
--> "Well done, Hilred! [[TheGuardsMustBeCrazy You are trying to confuse him, I take it?]]"
* During the Asgard Manor section of ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'', there is a point when Max sees an elevator coming up, the doors open, and it's empty. And then a grenade flies out of it. [[spoiler:The enemy is actually on top of the elevator carriage, and jumps down through the trapdoor after the grenade explodes.]]
* The opening cut-scene in ''PerfectDark'''s second mission shows a soldier guarding an elevator. Suddenly the door opens... but the guard doesn't see Joanna hiding on the ceiling, and when he goes to investigate, she knocks him out.
* Near the end of ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'', Batman rides an elevator up to the observation deck of Wonder Tower. The BigBad's henchmen are waiting at the top with guns pointed at the doors. Fortunately, the access hatch is open, allowing Batman to climb out of the car and walk out onto the glass canopy above the armed henchmen and perform a takedown.
** This ''might'' be a MythologyGag to when Batman pulled off essentially the same stunt in ''Film/BatmanForever'' (see above).
* In ''VideoGame/PokemonXDGaleOfDarkness'', Michael has to thwart Cipher's raid on ONBS. During this, he gets on an elevator and rides it up a level - the elevator is completely empty when he boards, but when he leaves, ''[[ParanoiaFuel there's a Peon right behind him!]]''
* Hitman: Blood Money has a specific mechanic whereby you can climb onto the roof of any lift in the game to achieve this effect, in probable homage to Leon/The Professional.