Desperate Object Catch

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Sometimes, it's not gunfire that sends a hero desperately dropping prone. Sometimes, they'll do it to intercept an object that absolutely must not strike the floor. Maybe a cornered villain just tossed a vial of The Plague in an attempted mass Taking You with Me. Maybe an explosive's detonator got dropped in the struggle to subdue a bomber, and contact with the ground could trip its trigger. Maybe it's a Macguffin that's needed to defeat the Big Bad, and one hero must throw it to another if it's to be activated in time. Or maybe it's just a Priceless Ming Vase that tips over and will shatter unless it's caught. Whatever the case, it's down to a quick-acting character's reflexes to intercept the item and save the day.

Sometimes Played for Laughs by having a character catch a non-essential falling object with just as much drama as if the situation were life and death, even if all that's at risk is a nice clean floor. Occasionally subverted when the thrown object turns out to be harmless, as when Drill Sergeant Nasty tosses a dud grenade at trainees to watch how they react.

Sister trope to Catch a Falling Star, when it's a falling character that has to be caught in mid-plummet. Sometimes the follow-up of a Dramatic Drop, and a potential finale for many Sports Stories. A common complication during a "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop. Dish Dash is a mass comedy version.

Likely to be shown in Slo Mo and to overlap with Diving Save. Failed attempts often lead to Dramatic Shattering.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea. While May and the Phantom are struggling over the container holding the Manaphy egg, its lid is pulled open and the egg flies into the air. May runs after it and dives to catch it, ending up face down on the ground.
  • Parodied in the first volume of Nichijou with a dropped wiener.

     Comic Books 
  • In Bookhunter, Library Police Detective Bay pursues the thief "Kettle Stitch" across rooftops as she tries to get away with a priceless (stolen) antique book. When Kettle Stitch misses a jump and falls, Bay improvises a Building Swing to save the book.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • During the climax of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, the villain attempts to throw the time-traveling scepter off a roof while he escapes, which would trap the turtles in feudal Japan if it breaks. Mikey grabs the scepter, but almost falls off the roof until the other three turtles manage to pull him back up.
  • In The Dark Crystal, Kira throws the Shard to Jen just before she's stabbed so he can heal the Crystal when the three suns align.
  • In I, Robot, Sonny throws the canister of nanites to Spooner, allowing the police detective to deactivate Big Bad V.I.K.I. while the robot saves Calvin.
  • One of the Beethoven sequels had this gag, with the titular dog ending up in a posh mansion. One of the servants sees a streamer of drool dropping from his mouth and does a diving save to keep it from hitting the floor. (As I recall, it lands on his face.)
  • An early demonstration of Peter's super-reflexes in Spider-Man has him catching a flung lunch tray, complete with all its scattering contents, in about one second. Not life or death, but it does spare Mary Jane from being spattered with food, which is pretty important to Peter.
  • Airplane II: The Sequel. One of the passengers aboard the Lunar Shuttle has brought a bomb on board. During a struggle the bomb is thrown up into the air and a dog jumps into the air to catch it before it hits the floor and detonates.
  • In Rush Hour, during a shootout at an exhibition of ancient Chinese art, one of the mooks tries to knock over a very large artifact. Detective Lee catches it, gets kicked several times while keeping it from falling, manages to get back up, set the piece back level... just in time for a stray gunshot to shatter it.
  • Symbologist Robert Langdon holds a cryptex while Sir Leigh Teabing points a revolver at him in The Da Vinci Code. Langdon simply flings the cryptex to one side. Teabing makes a desperate effort to catch it but, being lame, fails. Teabing is left in tears as vinegar runs through his fingers, certain that the cryptex's failsafe is dissolving the papyrus note inside, destroying a critical clue to the location of the Holy Grail.
  • The Harry Potter franchise has a situation in Order of the Phoenix, in which the baddies try to catch the object. The prophecy everyone is after is confined in a glass globe that's about to hit the floor. Lucius Malfoy makes a desperate grab for it but misses and it shatters.
  • In Casper, Cat lunges to catch the glass bottle of red substance that could bring Casper back to life. She catches it just in time, complete with slo-mo.
  • In the scifi war movie Final Encounter, Stoner is cornered by enemy troops on the opposite side of a corridor from Southerland. He makes a Heroic Sacrifice by throwing a critical MacGuffin to his companion, fatally exposing himself to enemy fire.
  • In Risky Business, Guido the pimp throws Joel's mom's crystal egg award at Joel, so Joel has to catch it so it doesn't break.
  • Return to Oz: Scarecrow saves a green vase in the Nome King's collapsing ornament room. Good thing too; the vase was Jack Pumpkinhead and Bilina.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Infinity Stone in Guardians of the Galaxy is a powerful gem that destroys everything it gets into contact with. The villain forged it into his warhammer but during the film's climax it gets blown out and threatens to destroy the planet on contact with the ground. Both the villain and the hero dive for the stone in dramatic Bullet Time fashion. Guess who saves the day.
    • In the opening battle of Captain America: Civil War, Crossbones' crew have stolen a bioweapon from an infectious-disease institute. Black Widow confronts two of the men, one of whom threatens to drop the vial in a crowded marketplace and kill hundreds. Natasha quickly takes down both of them, then catches the vial when it flies from the falling henchman's hands.
  • In the short film Countdown, the protagonist attempts suicide with a gun equipped with a timing mechanism: a wind-up toy attached to the trigger by a cord, that will roll off the table and yank it. When circumstances intervene, he must catch the toy to prevent the gun going off, which isn't easy as he'd handcuffed himself to a chair in case he lost his nerve.
  • In The Quick and the Dead, Cort is forced into public gunfights with a single bullet in his pistol. When his first shot injures but fails to stop Spotted Horse, he pleads with the audience for someone to find him a second bullet. The blind boy digs one from an ammo box by feel and tosses it to him, allowing him to finish off Spotted Horse before the wounded man's wild shots can connect.
  • In Fantastic Four (2005), Reed's stretching power first reveals itself when Sue knocks a bottle of wine off a table and he reflexively extends his forearm - by about three feet - to catch it before it can break.
  • In The Rock, Goodspeed has his hands full with one of the packages of spheres that contain the V-X nerve gas, when one of the balls that hold the deadly chemical agent falls off the end of its chain. Unable to grab for it, he cushions its fall with the springy laces on top of his shoe, then sets the other spheres down very carefully and dives to catch the runaway before it can roll off a ledge and shatter.

    Literature 
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Small Favor, Harry's gloved left hand snatches a slain Denarian's coin out of the air before it can touch his own skin, potentially subjecting him to demonic possession.
    • In Skin Game, Harry throws a blessed sword's hilt to Charity Carpenter, hoping that her faith will be sufficient to restore its power. It bounces off her open palm into the hands of another character, whose faith renews it.
  • In Unnatural Acts, a villain threatens to smash a jar containing a highly-volatile captive soul unless the heroes back off. When another character jumps the villain from behind, the jar falls and Dan dives to intercept it, letting it land safely on his own body rather than the concrete floor.
  • In Ken Follett's novel The Man from St. Petersburg, the bad guy, a Russian anarchist, is carrying a nitroglycerine bomb. Cornered by the authorities he chucks the bomb into the air and runs for it. The good guy dives and catches the device before it hits the ground, thus saving everyone's life.
  • The season three novel of Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk has Gluby the northern forest gnome catch a vial of alchemist fire dropped by the dying Big Bad.
  • Discworld:
    • In Mort, while Mort is dueling with Death, several lifetimers are knocked off the shelves and Ysabell and Cutwell rush to catch them before they break. Thanks to their quick reflexes, the five people to whom the lifetimers belong are miraculously saved from falling to their deaths.
    • In Guards! Guards!, Vimes dives to catch Errol the swamp dragon when the big dragon knocks the smaller one out of the air. It's only after he's got Errol in his arms, volatile multiple stomachs rumbling alarmingly, that Lady Sybil tells him that the swamp dragon would've exploded on impact.
    • In the fiction portion of The Science of Discworld I, a startled Rincewind reflexively hurls the glass globe containing Roundworld's universe into the air when the Bursar pops out of thin air near him. Lucky for us, his Diving Save safely intercepts it a few inches shy of the hard stone floor.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Harry's successful catching of one of Neville's keepsakes (during broomstick lessons) is what gets him the position of Seeker with the Quidditch team.
  • In Beyond Sanctuary, Niko offers Randal a glyph-marked orb from the Big Bad sorcerer's gear as battle-spoils, and tosses it to the young mage. It's unclear whether it would've simply smashed, or unleashed some terrible magical backlash, had Randal not dived to catch it.
  • Joe Pickett: In Force of Nature, Nate is got in a desperate gunfight with members of a black ops team when his Hand Cannon runs empty. Joe arrives at the crucial juncture, and is carrying a bullet Nate had left earlier so he would know a certain message actually came from him (Nate being the only person Joe knows who shoots .454 Casull ammunition). Joe tosses the bullet to Nate who has to make a desperate catch and reload.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Terror of the Autons", Three disarms an explosive trap set by the Master by yanking hard on its trigger-cord, so the impact-sensitive bomb flies into the air rather than tips over. He catches it gently enough to avoid detonation and takes it apart.
    • In "Four to Doomsday", Five saved his own life with this trope when he was adrift between two spaceships and nearly out of air. He tossed a cricket ball to bounce off one vessel, then caught it on the rebound, propelling himself towards the other with the cumulative acceleration of the throw and the catch. Had he missed, he'd likely have expired before reaching the airlock.
  • Subverted in the pilot of Helix: lecturing new CDC personnel, Alan tosses a vial of what he claims is cholera to Sarah, the better to scare the newbies with how very dangerous a single fumble can be. Then he admits it's just tea in the vial.
  • There's an episode of Kenny vs. Spenny where the guys compete to see who can go on the longest without the use of his arms. Kenny, who uses a midget strapped to his body, throws Spenny's guitar down the balcony. Spenny catches it, which makes him lose the competition.
  • On Flashpoint, the team must save a woman who's been equipped with a necklace bomb. When the one holding the detonator reveals himself, the team sniper shoots his wrist and he drops the device, which another team member dives to catch ... fortunately, right-side up, so the trigger button isn't depressed.
  • Another villain version in Blake's 7. Tavis has sent an android disguised as a female Rebel Leader with a tiny sphere of virus to Blake's ship. Our hero discovers the plot, and reprograms the android for a Hostage for MacGuffin trade so it will drop the sphere on a verbal command or (unstated) movement. After Blake beams out with the real rebel leader, Travis tries to edge close to the android...then makes a desperate lunge as she opens her hand, grabbing the sphere before it hits the ground.
  • An episode of Get Smart ends by toying with this trope, as Max breaks up a KAOS group that was planning to steal the British Crown Jewels. He bluffs the other side into surrendering by threatening to blow them all up with a vial of nitroglycerin, then scoffs when the KAOS agents give up, claiming it was empty and throwing it into the air derisively. 99 and Chief scream in terror, as it really wasn't empty. Thankfully, the Chief catches it.
  • In the season two finale of Agents Of Shield, a dying Gordon throws a contaminated Terrigen crystal in the air as a Taking You with Me gesture. Coulson catches the falling crystal before it can shatter and release a mist that would turn everyone else in the room to stone, but doing so causes his hand to start turning to stone. Coulson only lives because Mack cuts his hand off with an axe to stop the spread of the transformation.
  • On Scorpion, Walter has to toss some bags of a rare-type blood from the back of a moving transport truck to his associates, who are following the truck in a beat-up old RV. He's only got three bags, and two are needed to save the life of a little girl. Guess how many of his tosses miss...?
    • Happy dives to catch the beaker of acid that's about to drench captive Toby in "Toby Or Not Toby".

    Sports 
  • In American football, the purpose of a Hail Mary toss is to invoke this trope in hopes of scoring desperately needed points.
  • Baseball games sometimes come down to whether or not the final hitter's high fly is caught by an outfielder, who desperately leaps or dives to intercept it.
  • Often done horizontally by soccer goalies, although deflecting instead of catching the ball is also sufficient.
  • Volleyball is all about this trope. Ping-Pong is all about double subverting this trope, as the ball must be allowed to strike the tabletop once, but not a second time.

    Webcomics 
  • In Godslave, after colliding with Turner carrying a canopic jar, Edith dives desperately after it before it can hit the floor and break. She manages it, but it breaks in her hands anyway.

    Western Animation 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: In the episode "Dreamlighting", Simon hurls a bottle of explosive rocket fuel towards the earth from a hot air balloon, while Jeanette runs to catch it before it hits the ground.
  • Aladdin: The Series had an episode where the gang gets caught in a "Groundhog Day" Loop caused by a magic artifact when it falls on the ground during a fight with marauders. At the end, Iago makes a lunge for it when it falls, and actually manages to catch it, thus breaking the loop.
  • In the Animated Adaptation of Soul Music, Susan tosses the lifetimer of one of the Assassins towards him, sending him diving desperately to catch it because he'd die if it shattered.
  • In Futurama's "Less Than Hero", Leela and Fry have gained superpowers and are trying to stop the theft of a valuable jewel. The culprit drops the gemstone from a balcony to buy time to escape; Fry leaps after it, but can't fall any faster than it does. Leela uses her superspeed to race down the stairs in time to safely catch the stone, while Fry lands on top of Bender.

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