Hanging by the Fingers

A character is holding onto a ledge or rope by his/her fingers. One by one, each finger loses its grip or someone or something peels them off manually.

The trope is often paired with a villain at the ledge stomping on their hands For the Evulz or peeling the finger off. When there isn't a villain around, another hero will try to grasp their hands. If Played For Comedy, the rescuer may themselves fall and have to be grabbed by an even stronger person.

See also Take My Hand, Chain of People, Literal Cliffhanger, Hand Stomp.


Anime and Manga
  • Deltora Quest anime has Dain first stomp on Leif's fingers while he's hanging over the edge, then help him back up, only so he can taunt him and fight him some more.

  • The losing grip variety happens in the movie version of A Little Princess.
  • The Lion King: Mufasa, and later Simba are in this position.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where Tweety talks about pigs going to the market.
  • In the 2005 King Kong, Kong hangs briefly by his fingers off a cliff before being dragged down by the V-rex that grabbed his leg.
  • Sully and Randall's battle in Monsters, Inc. climaxes with Sully hanging off the edge of a door over a chasm, while Randall prepares to stomp him off.
  • Star Trek: Kirk gets thrown off the edge of the drill during the fight but manages to grab the edge and hang on. A mook tries to stomp him off, but Sulu stabs him just in time.
  • Mel Brooks's High Anxiety parodies this. In a climactic scene the protagonist (played by Brooks) has a slipping hold on a ledge until he is improbably hanging on by a single fingertip. Once he gets a morale boost from another character he manages to regain his hold and climb up.
  • In Blade Runner, Deckard is hanging from a rain-slick girder thingy, hundreds of feet above street level, with only his fingers (two of which were broken earlier by Roy).

Live-Action TV
  • In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Human Bomb", Jimmy ends up hanging from the Planet building's ledge by his fingers. The Villain of the Week steps on his hand to speed up the process. Then a cop tries to grab him, but he falls and has to be caught by Superman.
  • Parker in Leverage does this on occasion. She also points this fact out when someone tries to overpower her.
  • Tested on Mythbusters, and was deemed plausible that you could support your weight by your fingertips for a short time, though if you wanted to be pulled up, help would need to come VERY quickly. It's notably one of the only times Tory had been hurt: he smashed his knee on a window ledge during the experiment and required stitches.
  • Castle: Beckett was hanging by a thread, only to get saved in the last minute by the other cops. She's very happy to be alive, as she later shows Castle with a rather passionate kiss scene.

  • Septimus Heap - Queste: Septimus is thrown over the edge into the Abyss surrounding the House of Foryx, but manages to grab a bridge stanchion. He is eventually pulled back up by Jenna.

Video Games
  • Resident Evil 4, in the battle against Krauser. He prefers stomping on the fingers.
    • Happens again in Resident Evil 6, Simmons enjoys stomping on fingers too.
  • Fiendish Freddy's Big Top 'O Fun, in the tight Rope Act. If you lose your balance, the acrobat grabs hold, and Freddy picks the fingers one by one. Although Freddy sometimes speeds up the trope by smashing the hand with a hammer.
  • Emergency! series: It's a relatively frequent occurrence, and just the occasion to deploy a turntable ladder truck or a jump pad.

Web Comics
  • Hitmen For Destiny has one character grabbing hold of a ledge inside the invisible castle, and calling for help. The drop isn't lethal.

Western Animation
  • In Danger Mouse, there's an episode where DM, hanging from a branch, has his fingers attacked by a nest of hungry baby birds who mistake them for worms.
  • Phineas and Ferb: at the end of the episode about a traffic cam, Phineas and the disc both hover on the edge of a split bridge. Candace has to make a choice to grab either Phineas or the disc.
  • In one of the climatic final episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph is barely holding on to Sokka's hand when Suki saves them by flying down with a stolen airship.
  • Family Guy: The Evil Monkey who lives in Chris's closet is thrown from the top of a skyscraper by an insane robot girl. He grabs onto a lege but his fingers lip off one by one. After the last one he falls, but is caught by Peter & Quagmire in a biplane just before hitting the ground.
  • The Looney Tunes short "China Jones" has Daffy hanging over crocodile pool after a trapdoor opened under him. The villain unhooks his fingers one by one.
  • The Animated Adaptation of Tintin in America has him lose his footing when moving from a window to another (to attack a bandit guarding his door). He manages to pull himself up. Note that in the comic, he just crossed the gap without incident.