A character falling, usually between two skyscrapers in a city, hits a clothesline on the way down, and ends up wearing something from the line. If the buildings are tall enough, he can hit several lines, acquiring one item from each, resulting in a hilariously mismatched costume by the time he lands. Alternately, he can get a full outfit off a single line. These can be combined, too, resulting in a gag where the character ends up with several impromptu changes of clothes before the sudden stop at the end.
Compare To The Bat Pole
. May be a variant of Human Snowball
. Can result in a Coincidental Accidental Disguise
. Trope Namer
is a pun on Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress
. Not to be confused with the Discworld Seamstresses
, or with the slapstick convention of pants falling down
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- A Stella Artois ad on TV had a man hit on a woman at a hotel rooftop pool, only for her husband to show up. The guy hops over the wall, falls past several clotheslines and ends up in a smart three-piece suit... with ladies' high heels.
Anime and Manga
- Vash has this happen to him in Trigun.
Vash: Mama, why does this keep on happening to me? I haven't done anything wrong but I'm always in trouble and everyone is always picking on me. What do I do, Maman?!...Why am I crying in French? *Notices he's been crying on boxers* AHH!!!
- Inverted (and used seriously) in Earth X. When Daredevil drops into the Realm of the Dead, he leaves his judge's cassock on a clothesline and lands in his old yellow-and-red costume.
- Don Martin's Captain Klutz acquired his costume this way (along with amnesia). His mask is actually a very tasteless hat.
- This is how Forbush-Man got his costume in the Marvel Universe.
- Aladdin did a variation sliding down a single clothesline. He even had an anachronistic bra on during the slide.
- This happens to the Thief in The Thief and the Cobbler.
- In Tintin, Captain Haddock found himself wearing a pink dress after colliding with a clothesline.
- In a more intentional version, Calvin fantasized about a machine that readied him for bed. To get him into his pajamas, it dropped him head-first into his shirt, then flip him so he would fall legs-first into his pants, all in one fluid arrangement. He apparently didn't think about that last part too hard...
- Happens in Looney Tunes occasionally.
- Whenever it happens to the American Dragon Jake Long, he'll usually end up in women's sleepwear.
- Darkwing Duck has had trouble with this a few times, most notably when he was under a bad-luck curse.
- In An American Tail, after being hurled out a window by a frightened woman, Fievel falls through a sock hanging on a clothesline that had a hole at the end, and then grabs onto a hanging head scarf, using it to parachute the rest of the way down.
- An example without falling: When Wilbur is coming in for a landing in The Rescuers Down Under, Jake rigs up a bra as a drag line. Of course Wilbur ends up wearing the bra.
- A variant occurs in the Wallace & Gromit short The Wrong Trousers. Wallace has various machines that automate routine daily operations, such as everything from waking up to getting in the van to go to work (this is a single continuous process that begins with Wallace still asleep when he leaves the bed). They rent out their spare bedroom (to a penguin, and even Wallace thinks that's a bit odd) at the same time Wallace buys automatic pants (that can walk around on their own, among other things) from NASA Surplus. The penguin substitutes the automatic pants for Wallace's regular ones in the morning routine machine as part of a fairly complex plot to perform a series of meticulously planned and executed burglaries.
- Happens to the titular theif in The Thief and the Cobbler.