Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb

Whenever a fictional character has to climb without a rope or the likes he is bound to slip or grab a ledge that breaks off so he will be hanging on one hand. The character will then inevitably look down, take a deep breath and resume climbing. Bonus points if the climber is under attack or has to hurry.

If this occurs in visual media, the camera will follow the falling rocks on their downward path, showing just how far the character would fall.

Related to Plummet Perspective. Contrast Literal Cliffhanger, which is about the hanging in general, while this is about the slipping.


  • One Marine commercial shows a man climbing the side of a mountain, as symbolism of conquering challenges to be the best of the best, and at one point, one of his hands slips, and he hangs for a second before regaining his grip and finishing the climb.

Anime and Manga

  • In an example of Tropes Are Not Cliches, this was used as a central metaphor in the classic Elektra story from Daredevil, where the monastery of the heroic ninjas is atop a forbidding cliff that only the spiritually pure can climb. Unsurprisingly, Elektra can't quite climb it due to her serious anger issues, and her literal fall foreshadows her later metaphorical fall.
    • Also inverted after Daredevil manages to spiritually purify her, and she's shown having reached the top without any apparent trouble in the final panels of the story.
  • Ordinarily this never happens to Spider-Man for obvious reasons, but it does turn up in stories where he loses one or more of his powers and has to fake it.

Film — Animated

Film — Live Action

  • In Dragons of Autumn Twilight, this happens to Goldmoon, who's terribly afraid of heights, when she needs to climb down a vine-encrusted cliff.
  • A Clash of Kings, the second book of A Song of Ice And Fire, has this happening to Jon, in one of his chapters.

Live-Action TV
  • Sheppard does this in the Stargate Atlantis episode "Quarantine", while he's climbing the exterior of one of Atlantis's towers, trying to get to the control center to lift the quarantine.
  • Used in the Dollhouse episode "The Target."
  • Happens to Gao Black in episode 4 of Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger.

Video Games
  • The beginning of the level "Cliffhanger" in Modern Warfare 2.
  • An integral part of Catherine's gameplay.
  • Chris's introduction in Resident Evil: Code: Veronica has him climbing up a cliff on Rockfort Island, with him slipping and losing his pack.
  • This happens so often to Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series it could be a Drinking Game.
  • This happens in the N-Gon Mountains level in Geometry Blaster each time you get a problem wrong.
  • In Far Cry 3, this happens nearly every time Jason has to jump to continue exploring, such as when jumping in the radio towers.
  • During the Mulan world in Kingdom Hearts II, the party climbs one of the nearby columns to enter the Emperor's palace. Mulan then slips down, but regains her hold and continues to climb.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: Homer does it as he climbs to the top of what he hopes to be the worlds tallest human pyramid.
  • Repeatedly happens in various episodes of Inspector Gadget, most notably in the opening sequence of "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper."
  • The Ellipse-Nelvana animated version of Tintin in America added this to a scene that had averted it in the book.