Music up as every eye goes to the head of the stairs, the portières move and Mrs. Levi steps through, handsomely gowned, red hair done up magnificently on top of her head. She descends stairs as Waiters, etc. await her first words.
— Hello, Dolly!
, stage direction preceding title song
Maybe she's the Girl Next Door
who's just gotten a makeover, and it's time to show her family. Maybe she's the Cinderella Expy
making her grand entrance at the ball. Maybe she's just finally ready for her date. So how does she ensure her entrance 'wows' everyone there?
She'll appear at the top of a wide, sweeping staircase. (Bonus points for marble banisters, fancy new carpeting, or spotlights.) She pauses a moment, either at the top or a few steps down, so everyone has a chance to take in her beauty, how nice her face is, and her elegant hair and clothes (would even involve a Pimped-Out Dress
in older stories). Once noticed, she slowly and gracefully descends.
This is perhaps the only way to justify the camera starting at the feet and slowly panning up the figure. When wearing a dress with a long skirt, stepping down gives her a chance to show off her shoes
without being immodest.
Often, but not necessarily, combined with She Cleans Up Nicely
Film - Animated
Film - Live-Action
- Hermione's arrival at the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie.
- Gone with the Wind did this with Scarlett.
- Galadriel in the first The Lord of the Rings film.
- A tragic version in Sunset Boulevard, as she's breathtakingly attractive only in her own mind—"I'm ready for my closeup, Mister Director."
- It's also a inversion - it's a Grand Staircase Exit.
- Eliza's official debut at the big fancy ball in My Fair Lady.
- In Ever After she makes her entrance all right (though up the stairs, not down).
- Lainey Boggs shows off her new look after her makeover in She's All That, although this is done on the stairs in her suburban home.
- Daphne makes several of these in What a Girl Wants. They proceed from funny, to serious, to heartbreaking as her spirit is slowly broken down and she conforms to upper class British society.
- Jerry Lewis in Cinderfella shows up at the grand ball in a big entrance on a huge staircase.
- Loki in The Avengers shows up at a museum gala in Stuttgart, Germany, strolling down a huge marble suitcase in an impeccable suit to the soothing strains of a string quartet. Then, in time to the quartet, he whacks a guy with his staff and stabs another in the eye.
- Rose in Titanic. Slight subversion in that she is dressed like this every night and has come down those stairs several times- it's the onlooker who is a gentleman for the evening.
- Chris Cole in Rock Star: In the very beginning of the first song in his first concert with Steel Dragon, slips and falls down the stairs. Despite a nasty head wound and possible concussion, Chris rallies and finishes the song and the concert.
- The introduction of Mrs. Lewin Grayle in Farewell My Lovely. The scene is spoofed in the first The Naked Gun movie when Frank's future Love Interest Jane trips and falls down the staircase instead.
- Alanna and her companions do this in last Song of the Lioness, but it's Thayet who really steals the show—beautiful on a normal day, when she makes her grand entrance it's a sight to stun even the most jaded.
- Cat does this to Giogi in Finder's Stone, descending the staircase of his townhouse in a form-fitting dress whose neckline is described as "nowhere near the neck." Of course, she is actively trying to manipulate him and secretly working for the villain.
- Visually referenced in Supernatural... with a guy in a tux. Despite the guy in question being played by Jensen Ackles, he assumes he looks ridiculous. Bela, on the other hand, immediately suggests they have "angry sex" once the job is over.
- Inverted in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "After Life", where Buffy descends the stairs in her house and Spike is rendered dumbstruck. In this case, it's because she's been dead and buried for the past 147 days.
- Alternate Universe Jackie does this at her 39th birthday party in the Doctor Who episode "Rise of the Cybermen".
- Fran gets a lot of mileage out of this trope in The Nanny. She makes a Grand Staircase Entrance almost every time she's formally dressed.
- Maggie got one of her own, too.
- Game of Thrones. Manipulative Bastard Littlefinger is visibly stunned when Sansa Stark enters this way as a Woman in Black, marking her acceptance of her own manipulative persona. She smiles, fully aware of the effect she has on him.
- This is how the audience is introduced to the now teenaged Meggie in the miniseries The Thorn Birds.
- A political version was invoked by Harvey Milk when he was a councilor in San Francisco; when going through the lobby of City Hall, he always took the grand stairway instead of the elevator like the rest of city council so he would be noticed by the public and the press.