Grand Staircase Entrance

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 and legs without being immodest.

Often, but not necessarily, combined with She Cleans Up Nicely.


    open/close all folders 

     Film - Animated  

  • Beauty and the Beast, as shown above.
  • Cinderella did it first... three times! First when Cinderella surprises her stepmother and stepsisters in her new pink dress (although this is cruelly subverted just moments later, then when she meets the Prince at the ball (though this slightly differs from the traditional entrance by having her walk up the stairs rather than down the stairs), and, finally, at the end when she comes down the stairs of her home to prove the slipper is hers.
  • Anastasia, at the very end.
  • The Kim Possible feature film So The Drama had a version with Kim on her staircase at home when she's all dressed up for prom.
  • In Frozen, Elsa does this when Anna finds her in her Ice Palace. Anna even has the traditional "Whoa, Elsa, you look... different! It's a good different!" reaction in regards to Elsa's Snow Queen outfit.
  • Igor—Eva makes her entrance just before the Evil Science Fair, complete with Shout-Out to the Sunset Boulevard scene.

     Film - Live-Action  

  • 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.
  • In Cinderella (2015), when Ella enters the ball, everyone there is stunned and can't stop looking at her. At the end of the film, she gets another, less grand but no less important staircase entrance as she finally appears to the Prince as she normally is (rather than in an enchanted dress).
  • Jerry Lewis in Cinderfella shows up at the grand ball in a big entrance on a huge staircase.
  • In the British comedy Curtain Up (1952) a playwright has written such a scene into her play "Tarnished Gold", only for the producer to bluntly inform her they're not building such a staircase as it wouldn't fit on stage.
  • In Ever After she makes her entrance all right (though up the stairs, not down).
  • 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.
  • Gone with the Wind did this with Scarlett.
  • Hermione's arrival at the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie.
  • Galadriel in the first The Lord of the Rings film.
  • Eliza's official debut at the big fancy ball in My Fair Lady.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rose in Titanic (1997). 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • In Petals on the Wind, Cathy does this at her mother's Christmas party, intent on humiliating her for her actions in the previous book—locking her four children away in an attic room.

     Live Action TV  

  • 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.
    • In "Halloween", Buffy convinces Shrinking Violet Willow to do the "coming down the staircase thing" to impress Xander, whom she has a crush on. Willow does...dressed as a Bedsheet Ghost, so the glamorous effect is lost.
  • 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 after her Evil Costume Switch, 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.
  • This was sent up by comic act Morecambe and Wise, who did a big Hollywood-style entrance with their guest, Grande Dame Penelope Keith. Only to discover the staircase set had not been completed and ended abruptly ten feet up. The orchestra stopped playing and, in full top hat and tails, they had to scramble down the supporting framework underneath the staircase, the bits TV viewers are not normally intended to see. The sight of the six-foot tall Miss Keith struggling down the scaffolding in a tight evening dress, aided by the two comics in top hat and tails, was hugely entertaining.


  • In My Fair Lady, Eliza makes her She Cleans Up Nicely entrance on the balcony at the top of the staircase in Higgins's study.
  • Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!!, during the title song.
  • "Beautiful Girls" in Follies is used to introduce a parade of White Dwarf Starlets this way.
  • In the first act of The Addams Family, Wednesday appears at the top of the stairs just after her "normal" fiance and his parents have arrived. Not exactly grand, but the "everyone stares" bit is played straight- because she's wearing a yellow dress (identical to her normal outfit in all but color). The general reaction is one of horror rather than admiration, from everyone except her future in-laws; in a cut line from the Chicago preview, said fiance even tells her to "take that dress and burn it."
  • Lampshaded in "Dear Abby" from The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!:
    Spoken Stage Direction: Abby appears at the top of a staircase. The audience applauds wildly, even though she hasn't done anything yet.


     Real Life  

  • 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.