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Floorboard Failure
No idiot has ever fallen through the floor before!
"It's amazing such shaky buildings can stand up well enough for the characters to walk upstairs in the first place."
Roger Ebert, Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary

When the floor suddenly gives way underneath someone, usually due to the boards having been weakened by rot or something heavy falling on them.

Often leads to the floor below that collapsing, and then the floor below that in a cascade of disintegrating floors.

See also Bullethole Door, where a floorboard (or wall) failure is invoked via More Dakka to create a passageway that wasn't there before.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    The Abridged Series 
  • In the first episode of None Piece, this happens to the pirate captain.
    "Alright boys, my fat ass fell through the floorboards again."

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Seitokai Yakuindomo, the main characters visit Shichijou Aria's house and are taken to an old storeroom. The floor breaks under Shino and Hata asks if there's a way to get under the floor to take photos.
  • Happens twice in the second episode of Code Geass: the rebels destroy a group of enemy mechas by shooting the floor out from under them, and Lelouch's own mech falls through several floors of a concrete building (it survives undamaged).

    Comic Strips 
  • In Little Nemo in Slumberland, Nemo and Flip are served a new kind of breakfast food that gives them a Balloon Belly. The chairs start to collapse underneath their weight, and then the floors, leading to the entire house being demolished.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Up, young Carl has to cross the one remaining floorboard of the attic of an abandoned house (later his and Ellie's home) to get his balloon. He takes one step and falls through.
  • Happens to Po on Kung Fu Panda as he tries to sneak down a hallway late at night.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit has this. In this case, the hole was already there with a large rug thrown over it, and poor Walter gets stuck in it for several hours.
  • Another Tom Hanks movie, The Burbs, also uses this — although it is the creepy neighbor's porch in this case.
  • The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie has this occur in the middle of a fight between the Turtles and the Foot clan on the second floor of April's apartment. Given that the floor had been hacked at with ninja axes and the number of people in the room at the time, this was inevitable. Donatello even tries to warn the Foot.
    Donatello: Uh, guys, I'm not so sure if this is, structurally speaking... such a good time for your buddies to drop in.
    (Foot soldiers drop in through the skylight; seconds later epic floorboard failure occurs)
  • A central part of the plot in Duplex, a Drew Barrymore black comedy.
  • Iron Man: Tony's first flight test ends with him crashing though his ceiling and the floor during an attempted landing. Further casualties are a piano and a car. Followed shortly thereafter by what little remains of Tony's dignity when his Robot Buddy Dummy blasts him in the face with a fire extinguisher. Again.
  • A justified variant in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, when Clark is trapped in the attic. He deliberately steps between the rafters rather than on them, so his weight is supported only by sheetrock, which, unsurprisingly, eventually gives in.
  • The climax of The Ninth Gate (1999) where the floorboards in a ruined castle partially collapse, trapping Dean Corso (Johnny Depp). He is forced to watch Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) triumph.
  • Damaged, rather than totally collapsed, floorboards play a key role in the climax of Pacific Heights (1990)

    Literature 
  • In the Animorphs book The Reaction, Rachel involuntarily morphs an elephant on the second floor of her house, causing the floor to collapse. Later books feature the house being repaired and discussions of a lawsuit levelled against the builders. Rachel feels guilty, since the house was never meant to support an elephant, but she cannot explain what happened without revealing the truth.
  • In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson tells the amusing story of the time her daughter's entire high-school madrigal choir crashed through the boards of the stage in the middle of rehearsal.
  • In one of the Ramona Quimby books, Ramona falls halfway through the unfinished floor of a friend's attic. She's very annoyed when she tries to tell the story at the dinner table with what she feels is an appropriate amount of drama, and her older sister interrupts, saying how easy it is to step onto the plaster and that she knows someone who fell all the way through.
  • In Septimus Heap, when the Port Witch Coven is hunting after the protagonists, they are thwarted when the floor of the Coven collapses due to a long-standing giant woodworm attack.
  • During a Galaxy of Fear book the protagonists, taking cover in a shack, notice that the ceiling is starting to creak and bow as the weight on the roof gets heavier and heavier...
  • In the Discworld novel The Last Continent, the wizards and Mrs Whitlow are on a ship-fruit which is breaking up once within sight of land in order to shed its seeds. The Senior Wrangler heroically attempts to save Mrs Whitlow by lifting her up, thereby transferring her weight to his feet, with predictable results.
  • "The Termite" by Ogden Nash:
    Some primal termite knocked on wood
    And tasted it, and found it good
    And that is why your cousin May
    Fell through the parlor floor today

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Desperate Housewives, Susan managed to suspend herself between two floors when it happened to her in her house.
  • In The Equalizer, Edward Woodward's character was being menaced by the villain on a building site. Woodward warned the villain not to come any closer because there were broken boards between them. Of course the bad guy didn't think the warning was for his benefit, so he stepped onto the broken boards and fell to his death.
  • In How I Met Your Mother this happens to the building inspector checking out Ted's house.
  • An episode of Growing Pains has Carol fall through the floor while doing aerobics. They have termites. Harsher in Hindsight given Tracy Gold's later battle with an eating disorder.
  • In the final episode of the series, Dr. House goes through the floor of a burning building.

    Music 

    Puppet Shows 
  • On The Muppet Show, the Porcelino Bros form a human pyramid. But because they're pigs, their pyramid causes the stage to collapse beneath them.
  • In Muppets Tonight, both Martin Short and Clifford, after eating too much of Mama Fiama's pasta sauce, cause this.
    Martin Short: Uh oh... creaking floor... not good...

    Video Games 
  • In Fallout 3, a couple of buildings have this as a scripted event. The Calvert Mansion in the Point lookout expansion has you falling though several floors and into the basement.
  • Splinter Cell has this when the player character moves too fast in a burning building.
  • Happens quite often in the Half-Life games. Also happens in ducts as well (once into a room full of laser tripwire explosives).
  • In BioShock 2, Subject Delta is shot at, nearly set on fire and falls though several floors into water.
  • In Barrow Hill, entering the barn's loft for the first time causes the floor to collapse, trapping you in the lower part of the building until you find the means to escape.
  • In Mortal Kombat 3, the stage fatality of Shao Kahn Tower has the winner uppercutting the loser, after which the defeated opponent falls through the floor (which stayed intact for the entire duration of the fight), and keeps falling through several stories of floorboards, before landing on a bed of spikes.
  • Portal 2 when reaching for the pedestal the portal gun was supposed to be on.
  • In the The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings trailer for the Xbox-release, the assassin throws an ice grenade at a kings ship, freezing the ship and almost everyone on it. When one of the survivors makes a few steps forward to see where the blast of cold came from, a breaking deck plank sets off the Tranquil Fury sequence while the entire ship starts to shatter around them.
  • A popular trope in Survival Horror games, to advance the player, and usually provide a Point of No Return.
    • Ghost Hunter has this happen when playing as the giant mech. When no other way forward can be found, it falls through the floor to advance.
    • Resident Evil 2 game has the player fall through the floor to advance, upstairs by the shelves in the library.
    • This happens in Resident Evil: Code: Veronica. Claire and Steve cause a walkway to collapse, leaving Claire's ankle trapped just long enough for Steve to have to kill his undead father.
    • In Silent Hill 1 game the player must fall through the floor to advance at the Alternate Shopping Mall upstairs court. It's also a Point of No Return and drops the player into a boss fight with the giant digging centipede.
    • The original Alone In The Dark 1992 contains an immediately fatal example in the upstairs hallway, requiring you to cut through the bedrooms to avoid it.
    • Subverted in Alan Wake. On the way to meet the kidnapper, the roof of an abandoned building caves in, dropping Alan into a roomful of enemies. However, after defeating the enemies, Alan can climb back up to the roof and take another route across.
  • Collapsing floor tiles are a staple in the Tomb Raider series.
  • Due to its Obvious Beta status, this accidentally happens sometimes in Superman64, usually at complete random. Still, it can give some truly spectacular graphical glitches, as seen here
  • In Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti, after you beat the haunted kitchen, the house quakes and five floors collapse underneath you, leading you to "be garbage of cesspool."

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons
    Number One: All Stonecutters must take the Leap of Faith. If you survive this five-story plunge, your character will be proven.
    (Homer whimpers)
    Moe: Happy landings! (pushes him)
    (Homer falls two feet onto the floor; everyone laughs)
    (the floor collapses and Homer falls through with a yell and a crash — five times consecutively)
    Homer: (from the bottom) I think I have to do it again. My blindfold came off.
    • Another episode has Homer & Marge talking about the terrible shape their house is in, and just then Bart falls halfway into the kitchen from the 2nd floor. "Little help?" Marge pushes him back up the newly created hole with a broom handle.
    • And in the episode "Lisa's Wedding", Lisa's fiance Hugh falls through the floor of the addition Homer built onto the house. Thankfully, the compost heap cushioned his fall.
  • The Family Guy episode "To Live and Die in Dixie" has several.
  • Happens in an episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, where Piglet's floor collapsed, leading Tigger to joke about how he has a basement now.
  • King of the Hill: Hank falls through his kitchen floor to find a Secret Underground Passage built by Dale, Bill and Boomhauer.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Last Roundup", the disaster-prone Derpy manages to break a hole in the town hall's floor simply by sitting down.
  • The floors in Architect Smurf's smurfominium are prone to weakness in The Smurfs episode "Skyscraper Smurfs".
  • In the American Dad! James Bond spoof "Tearjerker", Stan and Francine's characters fall through the floorboards of the titular vilain (Roger)'s lair when they try to escape. This was another blunder of the contractor who built the place as Roger comments "Never hire a contractor just because he's gorgeous."
    Real Life 
  • Old mine workings. What looks like a solid rock floor may be only a layer of stone debris covering a structure of ancient timbers which have spent the last two hundred years or so gradually rotting away to the point where the only reason they are still up is that they haven't fallen down yet. Add the weight of an incautious mine explorer for an instant revelation of just how large the great big hole underneath them is. This is why one should never enter such workings without the knowledge to identify such hazards in a non-destructive manner.

Back to the computer, to link to the next tr— *kee-RACK* WHOOA *whump* oww... damn termites...

Flaunting Your FleetsSpectacleFrank's 2000 Inch TV
Fight Scene FailureIndex FailureGeneral Failure
Flash ForwardAdded Alliterative AppealFluffy Fashion Feathers

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