When in high-class surroundings, the standard way to create chaos or kill people is inevitably to drop the enormous chandelier hanging from the ceiling. This is usually intentional on the part of the character (and strongly indicative of Badassitude), but occasionally it happens by accident. A frequent comedic subversion is for the hero to accidentally drop the chandelier on his own allies.
This is most common in film and theater, since it exists mostly as a way to create a visually spectacular effect.
Generally it's a subtrope of Death by Looking Up. Might overlap with Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. Compare Chandelier Swing.
Noir does this straight, with Kirika machine-gunning a chandelier to down some mooks.
Played with in Digimon V-Tamer, where Taichi has his partner Zeromaru make a chandelier fall not for death and destruction, but so that the noise of it breaking breaks through a sonic attack in action.
Happens to Ash and Pikachu in the Pokémon episode "The Tower of Terror". They die... sort of.
Well, since their souls were literally pulled out by a Haunter, it was probably a case of Only Mostly Dead.
Subverted in episode 12 of Another: a chandelier falls, trapping Kawahori, Tsujii, Watanabe and Kakinuma. However, Kawahori is the only character to die, and this is because he freed himself, ran off without the others, and gets crushed by a falling pillar. Everybody else survives.
In Lupin III Pilot Film, Jigen shoots down the chandelier to knock out the policemen hiding behind a table.
In Jonah Hex #68 (original series), Jonah stops a rowdy who was busting up a saloon by shooting out out the chain holding up the chandelier so it fall on him. Said chandelier was made out of a wagon wheel. Ouch!
Yzma: And so does this! (drops Kronk down a Trap Door)
In the first Futurama movie, Bender's Big Score,Hermes' time clone body is destroyed by a falling chandelier. This leads Lars (actually an aged time clone Fry) to realize that he is just as doomed as Hermes' body.
Anastasia: Rasputin sends a chandelier crashing to the ballroom floor in the party scene at the beginning of the movie, but everyone steps out of the way.
Subverted, as the "victims" in question are sitting astride the chandelier before it falls. Both survive, though it is implied that it hurt. A lot.
In The Princess and the Pea, Laird has his pet falcon cut a chandelier to fall on Rollo, but Heath pushes him out of the way in time to take the blow instead. It doesn't kill him.
In Frozen, one of the Duke of Weselton's men cuts the suspension on the chandelier in Elsa's ice palace. Elsa barely avoids it and gets knocked unconscious.
Film — Live Action
In Die Another Day, James Bond casually shoots down a chandelier made of ice which lands on The Dragon after a long battle through a melting ice palace in cars, armed with stinger missiles and mounted machine guns. The water turns red almost immediately.
In Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Hamlet, Hamlet (Branagh) drops a chandelier on Claudius (Derek Jacobi) during the final battle, in addition to poisoning and stabbing him. Uh...Yeah
Clue has an accidentally-dropped chandelier—the maid accidentally shoots the rope holding it up while trying to shoot the lock on a door. One of the three endings drops the other chandelier in the hall in a similar, but even funnier, manner.
In The Wizard of Oz (1939), the Scarecrow drops one onto the Wicked Witch of the West's Winkie soldiers.
In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Robin tries to drop a chandelier on the Sheriff's men, cuts the wrong rope, and drops a different chandelier on himself instead.
In the movie of Stardust, Tristran goes through several different chandeliers before finding the one that will knock Zombie-Septimus out the window; he then uses the momentum from the cut rope as a way to quickly get up the stairs and knock down the witch Lamia.
The Scorpion King features a dropped chandelier which its target slips through, but then Mathayus uses the rope to dispose of a new opponent, which raises the chandelier again, catching the first guy astride. Ouch.
Lampshaded and subverted in the Disney film A Kid in King Arthur's Court. The title character cuts the rope attached to a chandelier, but it doesn't fall, causing him to comment that "this always works in the movies". How the chandelier isn't falling even though its support is cut is never explained.
Subverted in The War of the Roses: Barbara (Kathleen Turner) prepares to drop a chandelier onto her husband, Oliver, but he moves out of the way before she can drop it. It ends up killing them both when, during a later fight, they both get on top of it and the supporting cables snap. But since they're on top, this may not count.
In Godzilla (1998) the heroes clear a path through a host of baby Zillas by shooting down a succession of chandeliers.
Marsha: The Nancy Reagan chandelier! Woooooooh! *crash*
The International. The museum shootout is brought to an end by dropping a chandelier-like construction that suspends several projection screens on a couple of mooks.
Non-fatal version in Demolition Man. Phoenix is hiding behind an information terminal with a very large, cone shaped ceiling light overhead and a glass floor beneath (it was an underground exhibit). Spartan shoots the line holding the fixture up, causing it to land near Phoenix and drop him into the exhibit.
From Dusk Till Dawn: when the lead hooker vampire gets the upper hand on George Clooney's character, Seth, and gloats turning him into her personal lap-dog, Seth's response? "No thanks, I already had a wife.", and shoots the rope holding the wooden chandelier, which impales her.
The Fall Of The House Of Usher - The curse brought on the House of Usher in the form of tremors for the family's devil worship practices ends up in the death of the main character's sister by a falling chandelier.
In Killers, Spencer shoots the rope for an antler decoration, causing it to swing and impale the hitwoman strangling him.
[after dropping a group of the Cardinal's guards with a chandelier]
Porthos: Did I miss anyone?
Aramis: Congratulations, Porthos. You brought down the house.
Porthos: Oh, drat. I was trying to hit Rochefort.
As in the book, Dobby drops a chandelier on Bellatrix (or tries to) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Being a house-elf, he doesn't mean to kill Bellatrix, only to maim...or seriously injure.
In What a Girl Wants, the chandelier at Peach and Pear's coming out party crashes down from the thumping of the rock music and dancing after Daphne livens up the party.
Made a little funnier when, earlier, Henry tells Daphne not to mention the chandelier within earshot of Peach & Pear's father, as he could tell you the whole story revolving around it. It seems to be a priceless artifact.
Gaston Leroux reportedly based this scene on an actual incident where one of the counterweights of the Palais Garnier's chandelier (not the chandelier itself) fell into the auditorium and killed a woman.
In a Saturday Night Live parody of Broadway, the Phantom loses patience with his fellow Broadway characters, and uses his light fixture collapsing power on them. However since they are in a diner, the results are unimpressive.
In The Fifth Elephant, a chandelier is sent falling onto the Low-King-to-be. Detritus catches it.
In Reaper Man, the extra life force caused by Death's downsizing results in the giant chandelier in Unseen University's Great Hall unscrewing itself. Luckily, it does so one screw at a time, giving the wizards ample warning to get away.
And in book 5, Peeves is trying to drop one at Hogwarts. Professor McGonagall quietly gives him some advice when he's not getting it:
McGonagall: It unscrews the other way.
One gets pulled down intentionally during the Legacy of the Force novels (Exiles by Aaron Allston, page 285). Of course, nobody dies, since there are two telekinetics in the room, but it was a good diversion.
Much of the Dean Koontz novel Forever Odd takes place in the ruins of the Panamint Resort and Spa, which was severely damaged by an earthquake. Several people were killed in the ballroom when a massive chandelier fell on them during the quake; although this was an accident, it happened because the builders cut corners and suspended the chandelier from a wooden beam rather than a steel beam.
The second World of Tiers book ends with the villain accidentally cutting down a giant chandelier and being crushed with it. She, however, is still alive and manages to struggle free and attack the protagonists who's trying to help her, only to be finished with her own weapon.
This was based on a real-life incident, where a real team of workmen made the same mistake. The episode was written backwards to get there.
In one episode of The Avengers, "Death's Door", a potentially world-changing conference is put on hold when a key delegate pulls out, having had a bizarre recurring dream in which a chandelier falls on his head. He interprets this (with good reason) as a warning not to attend the conference, lest he meet his demise in this manner. The heroes inspect it and find nothing wrong, but the villain still ends up crushed by it.
In The Two Ronnies serial The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town, the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Commonwealth are meeting to discuss the threat of the Phantom. Who drops in uninvited, and blows a raspberry at them that's powerful enough to make the Queen's portrait blush and bring the chandelier down.
An episode of The Dingo Principle featured a parody of The Phantom of the Opera where someone was killing members of the Liberal Party by dropping chandeliers on them, regardless of where they were at the time.
One of Peter Schickele's P.D.Q Bach performances was supposedly in a (fictitious) castle in an advanced state of disrepair.
"Unfortunately, due to the lack of funds for maintenance, there aren't as many chandeliers now as there used to be." CRASH!
A scene in the Meat Loaf video "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" has a chandelier fall on the cops searching the castle. The Literal Video version has Teen Girl Squad type commentary "CHANDELIER'D!" "Ow! My only scene!"
In the board game 13 Dead End Drive, one of the traps used to kill off the other heirs is a falling chandelier.
In Hitman: Blood Money, setting a bomb on the rope of a chandelier is one of the ways you can make a 'hit' look like an accident. Several missions practically invite you to drop chandeliers on people like this. In one mission, you actually got the chance to murder both a father and his son, by two separate chandeliers.
In Luigi's Mansion, when the mansion is first entered, walking straight ahead (directly under the chandelier) results in it falling. However, the game gives you time to move, and only happens once.
Super Mario RPG inverts it with the first fight against Bowser: You fight him on the chandeliers. You win by severing the chain on his.
In the following cutscene, Bowser cuts down Mario's chandelier, and they fall together long enough for Bowser to rant at you before Mario shows off his incredible jumping skills yet again.
In Paper Mario, opening a particular treasure chest in the Boo's Mansion will cause a chandelier to fall down on Mario, but stop just before crushing him. The opened chest resets itself upon leaving the room, allowing the player to revisit the near-death experience at their leisure.
These randomly appear in Sweet Home as a hazard of walking through certain halls/rooms.
In Resident Evil:The Umbrella Chronicles Wesker while escaping the Arkay mansion before it explodes is being stalked by the invincible Lisa Trevor. As he makes it to the front door she attacks him starting a boss fight which is unwinnable resulting in Wesker having to shoot down the chandelier pinning her under it, escaping seconds before the mansion explodes.
During the course of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, the player encounters one of these in the Ocean House Hotel quest, though it can be pretty easily avoided. And when compared to the elevator...
Why is that doing that? I do not like when that does that! Okay, I'm choosing to believe that this whole house is like that house from Beauty and the Beast and all furniture is going to start singing at me. Here, watch this - Be our guest, be our guest - (CRASH) - Oh my god, Lumiere tried to kill me!
In one stage of Ghost Trick, you have to drop a chandelier on Emma, the bossy red-haired lady who lives next door to Lynne, so that she gets stuck and can't stop her daughter Amelia from calling her father. If you mistime the drop, Emma does a rather impressive dodge move.
During the first visit to Beast's Castle in Kingdom Hearts II, both the Shadow Stalker and Dark Thorn Heartless use the chandelier in the ballroom as a part of their attacks. Sora too can use it during the Dark Thorn fight in order to make him visible. Unlike most other chandeliers associated with this trope, this one has an extendable chain and returns to the ceiling once the attack is complete.
In Quest for Glory I, the hero neutralizes three brigands with a single falling chandelier.
In Diablo III's Cathedral, you can drop these on your enemies. The chandeliers project a shadow on the ground and are supported by a nearby chain. You even get an achievement if your characters kill 666 enemies with these.
Fallout 3 has grenade cluster traps that drop from the ceiling when activated by a tripwire or pressure plate. In Tranquility Lane, one of the options when assassinating Mabel Henderson is to loosen the chandelier chain so it falls on her.
In Dead Connection, the first stage has a chandelier at the top of the screen that inevitably falls.
One of the traps found in Be Trapped. In rooms without a chandelier (and even in rooms with one), it can be a flower pot, broken glass, a Mills bomb, dynamite, or even an anchor. Yes, an anchor.
In Rune Factory 4, one room in Obsidian Mansion has a chandelier that falls when you pass under it, damaging you.
In The Perils of Penelope Pitstop episode "The Treacherous Movie Lot Plot", the Bully Brothers cut the chandelier rope with a saw, hoping to drop it on Penelope.
The climax of The Simpsons episode "Homer of Seville" takes place in an opera house with, as they say in France, freaking huuuuuuuge chandeliers and an assassin on the loose. To lessen the possibility for danger, the police decide to "pre-crash" them. However, they miss one and the assassin does get slightly smashed ultimately.
Not quite a chandelier, but in an episode of South Park, Butters ends up accidentally killing about 16 people by kicking down a fixture of stage lights.
Kim Possible's brothers try to drop the chandelier on the escaping villain, only to have the wrong chandelier drop on the stolen Wave Motion Gun. They get it right the second time.
The castle in Count Duckula come equipped with one. Too bad Igor relies on Nanny to trigger it.
Happens to Mr. Botsford in the WordGirl episode where Nocan the Contrarian makes his first appearance.
Invoked in the American Dad! episode "Family Affair" by Steve, who pulls it down in anger. Stan chides him as it was his grandmother's.
At the Theatre-Lyrique in Paris (an opera house), some portions of the glass chandelier fell on the audience, but no one was killed. (Novello, 'The Musical World'). Then in October 1888, according to 'The Times', one of the chandeliers fell and did kill a man.
On February 2, 1795, Joseph Haydn was conducting the premiere of his newest symphony at the King's Theatre, London. At one point, several patrons left their seats to get a better view of Haydn. Not long thereafter, a chandelier crashed to the floor where they had just been sitting. Very cinematic! There were no injuries, earning the piece the nickname "The Miracle Symphony."
Norwegian author Jens Bjørneboe is supposed to have tried to kill his parents this way when he was 8 years old.
In the former Soviet Union factories were assessed on how much material they used, which led to elaborate overweight chandeliers constantly on the verge of crashing onto everyone's heads.
There's an urban legend about a visitor to the Soviet Union who became paranoid that his room was being bugged. Looking under his bed he found a suspicious-looking metal box fixed to the floor so he unscrewed it, but didn't find a microphone. The next morning when he went down to the lobby he was told that a chandelier had fallen from the ballroom ceiling the previous night (just how much damage it caused depends on the version), and he realized to his horror that the box he dismantled had been the chandelier support.