[[quoteright:273:[[WebAnimation/StrongBadEmail http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cliffhanger.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:273:Some cliffhangers awaiting resolution.]]

->''[[ExpositoryThemeTune Cliff Hanger! Hanging from a cliff!]]\\
[[ExpositoryThemeTune And that's why he's called Cliff Hanger!]]\\
Can't...hold...on...much...longer!''
-->-- ''Series/BetweenTheLions''

You're on a cliff and fall off. Unless you're a [[WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes wily coyote]], there will be a ledge or branch below that you can hang from. (Ignoring the fact that it's NotTheFallThatKillsYou). For some reason the standard cartoon canyon has dead trees growing out of the sheer rock face. It's what CliffHanger is named from.

Being a dead tree, it will break. Perfect timing for TakeMyHand, or falling to another branch. Another variation is to have another character join you, only to overload the branch. A third variation is having an irate eagle or vulture there guarding its nest. A fourth, scaled up variant, is for it to be a BusFullOfInnocents tilting precariously on said cliff.

This also includes the urban version: hanging from a flag pole. Another way to stop the fall is with a BladeBrake. When it's too much for writers to find a decent excuse, expect CliffhangerCopout. If the character's items or equipment fall while or before they fall, you're being given a PlummetPerspective. This is one of the building blocks of ClimbSlipHangClimb.
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''FruitsBasket''. At the end, [[spoiler: Akito corners Tohru on a cliff. The cliff collapses, Tohru falls.]]
* In a {{filler}} episode of ''RanmaOneHalf'', both Akane and Ranma jump over a cliff to retrieve a MacGuffin. Ranma catches the [=MacGuffin=], Akane catches Ranma's hand and a convenient branch on the side of the cliff.
* A CrowningMomentOfHeartWarming is delivered to a character in ''FutakoiAlternative'' as she is being held up by her arm by the male protagonist. She's dangling a few hundred feet above the ocean, he's trying to left her up onto a collapsing bridge.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* Happens to DonaldDuck in the DonRosa comic ''Incident at [=McDuck=] Tower''. After falling something like 50 meters from the top of a sky-scraper, he lands on a pole, which cracks under his weight. Just when he's about to reach a window, a bird settle on his head and the pole breaks.
* Jeff Smith's ''{{Bone}}'':
-->'''Fone Bone:''' Those rat creatures [[WhoWouldBeStupidEnough would have to be pretty stupid]] to follow me onto this small, frail branch.\\
''(next panel, both rat creatures are hanging off the branch)'' Stupid, STUPID rat creatures!!
* ''ElfQuest'', [[http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/OQ/OQ09/DisplayOQ09.html?page=39 here]]. Yes, there are dead trees growing from the sheer cliff face. This was originally meant to be Skywise's big death scene but Richard Pini vetoed Wendy killing him off, so he lives to this day.
* ''BeetleBailey'' uses this trope for laughs as a running gag, with the heavy Sgt. Snorkel hanging from a branch while other characters rescue him.
* In ''{{Tintin}} in America'', Snowy falls onto a tree that immediately bends, ''imparting so great a horizontal component to his motion that he falls at 45 degrees onto a ledge beneath''. Tintin is sitting on the ledge and is implied to have come down by the same route.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/OfMenAndMugic'', [[UpToEleven with a car]], to top it off. Adam, Wally, Seth, and [[spoiler:Blade]] are in a car at the end of one of the chapters teetering on the edge of a cliff.
* The german ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''-Parody radio drama "Allimania" has a scene at the end of one episode where the character Cliff was literally hanging on a cliff off the Hellfire Citadel. His comment? "Oh no... It's a goddamn CLIFFHANGER!"
* In the fanfic [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4191221/1/Stripped "Stripped"]], when BlueBeetle II and BoosterGold are [[TitleDrop stripped]] of their technological advantages, they get beaten and thrown to a cliff. Beetle's leg, broken, catches on a tree and Ted tries to bear the pain while he holds on to the dangling Booster for hours. TearJerker, [[SugarWiki/HeartwarmingMoments heartwarming]], and HoYay ensues. Most of the fic relies on the tension of wondering how long they can avoid dying.
* Examples of Fanfic/{{the Calvinverse}}:
** Calvin, Andy, and Hobbes end up in this situation in Chapter 6 of ''Fanfic/AttackOfTheTeacherCreature''.
** ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'':
*** Calvin's dad ends up in this situation in "Gasping for Air".
*** It happens to both of his parents again in "The Insane Road Trip".
*** Andy ends up like this in "The Five Calvins". Tracer Bullet saves him with a vine.
* ''FanFic/RosarioVampireBrightestDarkness Act III'': In chapter 8, Tsukune and Dark's brief fight leads to the cliff they were standing on giving way. Tsukune manages to catch hold of a rock and hold both himself and Dark up. Unfortunately, the rock can't support their combined weight and begins to give way, but Moka, Kokoa, Mizore, and Felucia work together to pull both boys up.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''Disney/TheLionKing'' plays this twice. The first time, Mufasa is thrown into the chasm by Scar. The second time, Simba jumps and attacks Scar.
* ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'': Eddie ends up hanging from a flagpole in Toon Town by one hand. Unfortunately, Tweety Bird is nesting there, and he wants to play "this widdle piddie".
* ''MonstersVsAliens'' has a character hanging on to the ledge of a six-story building. Fortunately, [[AttackOfThe50FootWhatever said character]] is ''five'' stories high.
* This occurs in ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'' during the avalanche scene.
* ''Franchise/{{Bionicle}} 3'' has a scene that [[ShoutOut purposely mirrors]] the famed scene from ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'', with Matau hanging on a ledge on the top of the Coliseum and Vakama, who's evil at the moment, trying to get him to fall. Thankfully by the time he does, Vakama's regained his mind and sense of duty, and lunges after him with a spiderweb-bungee rope.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheLastCrusade'': Tank goes off a cliff, Nazi dies, Dr. Jones mourns, Indy climbs up a vine behind him and sneaks up during his eulogy.
** Also in ''The Last Crusade,'' Elsa Schneider finds herself dangling from a cliff created by the earthquake she caused when trying to leave a temple with the Holy Grail. In a pure TakeMyHand scene, she attempts to recover the Grail resting underneath her arm's reach. Her persistence is her ultimate undoing and she falls to her death. Indiana then tumbles over and finds himself in the exact predicament, but his father is able to act as the voice of reason.
** The ending of ''Film/TempleOfDoom'' also has this, though they're hanging off a broken RopeBridge above a crocodile-filled lake.
* In ''TheGreatRace'', Professor Fate jumps out a window. When the horrified observers rush over and look down, they see him hanging from a pole below the window.
* The ''Film/KingKong'' films have this: during the "log shaking" sequence, the hero always manages to jump to the edge of the canyon and crawl into a hole, while the rest of them fall to their doom. (The 70s' film had a second guy who escaped in a similar fashion).
* ''Safety Last!'' is a 1923 comedy silent film starring HaroldLloyd. It includes one of the most famous images from the silent film era: Lloyd clutching the bending hands of a clock on the side of a building as he dangles from the outside of a skyscraper above moving traffic.
** The angle from which it's filmed hides the fact that Lloyd is actualy hanging above a rooftop rather than the street below. The fall could still have been fatal, though.
* ''TheItalianJob'' (the original). "Hang on lads, I've got a great idea..."
* ''Film/StarTrek''. Apparently, James T. Kirk practised for this trope when he was only a kid. Which is just as well given the amount of times it happens to him as an adult (twice in the 2009 movie alone).
* In ''Film/TheUntouchables'', Eliot Ness gets shot by Frank Nitti and falls off the roof. Nitti casually strolls over to the edge of the building to look, only to get shot by Ness who'd fallen onto scaffolding that had been set up to clean the windows.
* Norville Barnes hangs off the edge of a high building in ''TheHudsuckerProxy''.
* ''Film/TheGunsOfNavarone''. Captain Mallory while climbing the cliff.
* This happens in ''Film/{{Maverick}}'' when the title character falls over the edge of the cliff, but manages to hold on the edge. The Marshal offers Maverick to [[TakeMyHand take his hand]] but he refuses until he almost falls to his death and changes his mind.
* ''Film/{{Cliffhanger}}'', starring Sylvester Stallone as a professional mountain climber. The film's ColdOpen even features a literal cliffhanger, leading to a TakeMyHand moment that [[spoiler: fails]].
* ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'' has a few examples:
** In ''Film/TheFellowshipOfTheRing'', Gandalf clings to the broken edge of the Bridge of Khazad-Dm before falling to his [[spoiler: apparent]] death.
** ''Film/TheReturnOfTheKing'' features an example of this when Frodo and Gollum fight inside Mount Doom near the end of the movie.
* TheGoodSon ends with [[spoiler: a mother holding on to the hands of her ObviouslyEvil son and her CassandraTruth nephew while they both hang off a cliff. She isn't strong enough to pull them both up, so she drops the evil one.]]
* In the ClimbingClimax near the end of ''Film/BladeRunner'', the protagonist Deckard slips and nearly falls to his death off the side of a tall building. [[spoiler: [[TakeMyHand The film's villain, Roy Batty, saves him.]]]]
* In the ''Creator/AbbottandCostello'' film ''Buck Privates'', Lou falls over the edge of a cliff during an army training exercise. When Bud looks down and asks him what he's doing in the tree he's clinging to, Lou shouts back, "I sat on it when it was an acorn!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Arguably, the cliffhanger of ''the Carnivorous Carnival'', the ninth installment in ''ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents''.
* The end of ''The Colour of Magic'' by Creator/TerryPratchett. It's worth mentioning that the cliff in question is the ''edge of the Literature/{{Discworld}}.''
** An indoor version happens in ''Discworld/TheFifthElephant'', with Vimes climbing a spiral stairs made of logs hammered in a large stone column when the one he just stepped on breaking.
* In ''The Fires of Heaven'' ( ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' book 5), Asmodean describes an incident in which he saw a man dangling from a cliff with nothing to grab but a weakly-rooted tuft of grass; having no better hope of saving himself, the man grabbed it, and of course it pulled loose. Full circle in that Asmodean is using this real incident as a metaphor for his own situation. When asked whether or not he helped the man, he evades the question.
* TheActionHerosHandbook devotes a chapter to "How to Save Someone Who's Hanging From a Cliff".
* According to ''Literature/TheMeaningOfLiff'', the horizontally-growing bush characters cling onto is called a "grimmit".
* In ''Literature/WarriorCats'', Leafpool accidentally gets knocked off the edge of the cliff at the top of the quarry. She's only holding on by her ''claws'' hooking over the edge. Just as she slips, Crowfeather grabs her scruff and pulls her to safety.
* ''[[Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus The Mark of Athena]]'' ends on a cliff hanger with [[spoiler: Percy and Annabeth]] hanging from a cliff over Tartarus.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The ''Series/DoctorWho'' story "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS24E4Dragonfire Dragonfire]]" has the Doctor hanging from a cliff by his umbrella at the end of one episode. Unfortunately, bad editing makes it seem likes he's decided to dangle himself off there for a laugh. [[note]] Apparently this was originally going to be due to him discovering that his path was blocked by a rockfall and was trying to find another way round.[[/note]] Years later, the episode "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS33E13TheNameOfTheDoctor The Name of the Doctor]]" suggests that this may have been [[spoiler: due to the Great Intelligence mucking about with the Doctor's personal timeline.]]
** Another ''Series/DoctorWho'' example: "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS16E3TheStonesOfBlood The Stones of Blood]]" has this happen to Romana. Clearly a punishment for the Burberry hat and impractical shoes.
** Also, "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS2E3TheRescue The Rescue]]" ended with the TARDIS materializing at the edge of a cliff only to tumble over.
** "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS1E2TheDaleks The Daleks]]" episode 6 ends with a Thal missing a jump over a chasm, and Ian (to whom the other end of the rope is tied) struggling to keep his grip on the rock.
** "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS12E4GenesisOfTheDaleks Genesis of the Daleks]]" episode 2 ends with Sarah Jane Smith losing her balance on a high scaffold.
** Episode 2 of "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS14E3TheDeadlyAssassin The Deadly Assassin]]" was ''intended'' to end with a cliffhanger of a samurai with Goth's eyes cutting through the Doctor's scarf as he hung from it off a cliff face. However, the episode was underrunning and so a lot of SurrealHorror setpieces intended for Episode 3 got bumped forward to Episode 2, resulting in an eventual cliffhanger of the Doctor trapped with his foot on a train track as the train approaches.
* The first season finale of ''GreenWing'' was a literal cliffhanger, with three characters in an ambulance about to go off a cliff. The second season also ends in a literal cliffhanger with a stolen campervan which happened in an almost identical fashion. Martin was in both of these and had a major case of deja vu the second time.
* Towards the end of the ''PushingDaisies'' episode "The Norwegians".
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', with Hiro, a roof and a flagpole.
* ''Series/TheXFiles'', "Revelations". An insane businessman grabs a boy and jumps into a paper recycling shredder. When a horrified Scully rushes over, she finds the boy holding onto the railing above the bloody mess.
* In the season 2 finale of ''KnotsLanding'', we get a quite literal cliffhanger when Sid drives off a cliff when the brakes go out in his car.
* ''GreenWing''. Both series end with a number of major characters in an ambulance, literally teetering half-on and half-off the edge of a cliff. The first one is resolved in the second series, the second is (sort-of) dealt with in a one-off special episode.
* Occurs in "Eternity", an episode of ''LegendOfTheSeeker'', when Richard and Kahlan try to get over the cliffs of insanity. [[spoiler:Kahlan falls.]]
* ''Series/OneHundredDeedsForEddieMcdowd'' has the title bully putting Justin on a flag pole as revenge for spilling milk on him.
* Happens at the end of the first part of the ''Series/MacGyver'' two-parter "Good Knight, [=MacGyver=]", where Mac and Merlin are left dangling above a lava pit (in Scotland!).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII: AdventChildren'': [[spoiler:Cloud manages to make Kadaj hanging from a block, not cliff. It happens before Kadaj drops off the box containing Jenova's cells and the reunion starts.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* In ''WebAnimation/StrongBadEmail'', Strong Bad was asked in an email to "Please resolve all the cliffhangers." Strong Bad replies, "Okay," and cuts to the page picture.
-->'''[[CloudCuckoolander Homsar]]:''' This dinner party is top dollar!\\
'''Strong Bad:''' ''(while carrying the [[RunningGag Bigg Nife]])'' Okay, cliffhangers! Prepare to be resolved!
* Tucker invokes this trope in the finale of ''Machinima/RedVsBlue: Revelation'' when [[spoiler:[[BigBad the Meta]] drags Grif along with him to his untimely demise over a cliff]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* [[http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/narbonic/series.php?view=archive&chapter=10257 This]] week of ''{{Narbonic}}'' -- both [[ChekhovsGun shown in advance]] and only having to hold up a gerbil's weight, though.
* In ''{{Goblins}}'', a whole hut full of goblins and other monsters hangs on a cliff.
** And later, Fumbles clings to a jagged spire after Kore throws him toward the edge.
* ''WapsiSquare'' has Shelly hanging from the edge of a [[http://wapsisquare.com/comic/08202004/ billboard.]] [[spoiler:Luckily the long fall is only an illusion. She will land on a rooftop not visible due to the angle. Same illusion Harold Lloyd used, as it happens.]]
* One InfiniteCanvas strip of ''[[{{Webcomic/Supermegatopia}} By Way of Booty Bay]]'', simply called "Cliffhanger", featured a slew of ''[=WoW=]'' characters hanging unto each other, the top one clinging to the edge of a cliff.
* In ''Webcomic/RustyAndCo'', [[http://rustyandco.com/comic/level-6-60/ Cube is hanging on by his broken sword catching him, and Madeline is hanging on to Cube's get up.]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Endstone}}'', [[http://endstone.net/comic/9-23/ they're hanging off a bridge and Kyri is trying to reach for them]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko'': This happens close to OnceAnEpisode in the digital world, for about any of the heroes. Hanging from a ledge is most distressing for the Lyoko Warriors, since a fall in the Digital Sea would be fatal, unlike the usual devirtualizations. A few Literal Cliffhangers also occurs in the real world.
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'', Batman has done this repeatedly, using a flag pole or awning to slow his fall whenever he falls off a cliff and cannot BuildingSwing.
** At one point, Bruce Wayne is forced to fall back off a high rise tower to avoid getting shot. He falls several stories before [[CharlesAtlasSuperpower grabbing another floor]] and hangs there as the goons [[ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy continue firing upon him.]]
* Lampshaded in ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' episode "I See a Funny Cartoon in Your Future"
* The {{Edutainment}} show ''Series/BetweenTheLions'' has a segment called "Cliffhanger". Which was about a guy hanging from a cliff.
** [[EarWorm AND THAT'S WHY HE'S CALLED CLIFFHANGER!]]
** "[[CatchPhrase Can't ... hold ... on ... much]] [[RunningGag ...LONGERRRRR!!!]]"
* In the second episode of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', Twilight was hanging off a cliff of course Applejack reassured her that she going to be fine, Twilight falls and [[{{Pegasus}} Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy]] catch her.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Homer ends up wedged into a cliff-edge after coming out second-best in an argument with a trampoline. He remarks, "[[ThisIsReality If this were a cartoon]], the cliff would fall off now." It does, but only after a long wait and a complaint of thirst from Homer.
* ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'': Superboy and Alanna dangling from a cliff edge forms the cliffhanger to the InMediaRes opening of "Earthlings".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Sir Douglas Mawson was an explorer on several Antarctic expeditions. One day in 1908, he was working in a tent when another expedition member, Professor Edgeworth David, called to him, asking if he was busy. Mawson ''was'' busy and said so. A few minutes later, Professor David asked again, this time explaining, "[[CasualDangerDialog I am so sorry to disturb you, Mawson]], but I am [[ACrackInTheIce down a crevasse]] and I really don't think I can hold on much longer." Mawson himself fell into crevasses at least twice in the same expedition. During a trek in 1913, he fell into ''another'' crevasse, dangled for several minutes at the end of the rope he'd been using to tow his sledge, and finally climbed up the rope -- ''twice'', the edge of the crevasse broke just as he was pulling himself out the first time.
[[/folder]]
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