"We are droppin' into hell, troopers! Time to grow a pair!"
Simply put, people falling from the sky, or at least a great height, then landing safely, at least for them. This is accomplished in Real Life
via parachutes or gliders, but in Speculative Fiction
it can be done through Powered Armor
, Jet Packs
, special pods
, or Applied Phlebotinum
. Usually an airplane is involved, but balloons, cliffs, a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet
, a tall building, or even a magic castle
This trope is only very marginally related to the song from which it takes its name. (In the music video, several guys are shown parachuting in on the two singers... using umbrellas
A Super Trope
to Drop Pod
Compare Fast Roping
, Drop Ship
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Anime and Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: The titular Evangelions (including the ones mass-produced by SEELE) do hard drops once in a while.
- The Forwards in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS frequently perform this without the aid of parachutes. Air Mages have Flight capabilities. Ground Mages have to settle for hard drops, with their Barrier Jackets likely cushioning the impact.
- Gundam: The 08th MS Team does this in one episode.
- In Hellsing: the Dawn, Walter jumps out of a plane without a parachute while carrying Alucard and his coffin. He lands perfectly unharmed.
- The opening of the Spring OVA of Mahou Sensei Negima! had Negi's entire class skydiving from Ayaka's private plane to reach the beach resort. Why? Why not? Although in this case it's less "raining men" and more "raining girls and a Welsh shota".
- In the Escaflowne movie, the soldiers of the Black Dragon Clan are dropped to a city about to be occupied from airships in capsules that have the aerodynamic properites of a brick, and absolutely no padding inside. This doesn't prevent them from walking out in perfect formations.
- In the unlockable OVA included in Mega Man X: Maverick Hunter X, "The Day of Sigma," X is deployed in trying to stop a maverick outbreak by being airdropped at the area the attack is going to occur at, eventually when at close range he fires an immense charge shot at the maverick, knocking it down temporarily.
- At the conclusion of the Ragnarok arc of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, the Elder airdrops Kenichi into the final battle.
- One scene in Final Fantasy The Spirits Within involves soldiers jumping from a plane, but instead of using parachutes, they deploy "High Density Gas", a slug of gel-like compressed gas that starts rapidly evaporating upon impact, forming a cushion into which the soldier falls as if into water. Within a couple of seconds, the entire slug dissipates into the atmosphere without a trace.
- Used by the Sky Clan in episode 8 of To Aru Hikuushi E No Koiuta. Fortunately for the main characters, they ultimately repel the landing attempts, although not before suffering some extensive damage to their island.
- René Magritte's painting "Golconda" depicts dozens of his trademark bowler-hatted men in a geometrical formation above rows of houses. They might be falling, but the general Mind Screw nature of Magritte's work means they might just as easily be rising, or moving sideways, or just hanging there.
- Aeon Natum Engel has a example of dropping on already mid-air Migou swarm ships from even higher altitude with Marines in Power Armor and EVA 02. It works.
- And If That Dont Work uses hard drops regularly, far more than canon. Such as the Ramiel battle. Unlike the canon this time the pilots regularly sing paratrooper songs. It's that kind of fic.
- The films Drop Zone and Terminal Velocity, were about skydiving along with an Extreme Sport Excuse Plot.
- A scene in Point Break, which the Mythbusters proved was impossible, save for one part.
- A similar scene in Moonraker, where Bond catches up with the guy with the parachute and steals it.
- The another guy who falls from a place in the movie? He's called Jaws, he's Made of Iron, and he survives the fall without a chute!
- This was parodied in an episode of the TV show Red Dwarf, where Ace Rimmer goes one step further and rides a crocodile down through the air and then steals the parachute. What a guy!
- It was also parodied in the Get Smart movie, where 99 has to save max as he falls without a parachute.
- Another Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, has it rain snowmobile paragliders (aka parahawks).
- Another Bond example in The Spy Who Loved Me, where James Bond skis off the edge of a cliff to avoid Soviet troops and pops a parachute with the British flag on it.
- The opening of the GIJoe movie has Cobra attacking the Statue of Liberty with paratroopers.
- At the climax of Honeymoon In Vegas, Nicholas Cage parachutes onto the Vegas strip dressed as Elvis.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit
[Eddie is falling; Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, both wearing parachutes, join him]
Bugs Bunny: Eh, what's up, Doc? Jumping without a parachute? Kinda dangerous, ain't it?
Mickey Mouse: Yeah. You could get killed. Heh, heh.
- Battle of the Bulge (1965) depicted Operation Greif, with English-speaking Germans parachuting behind Allied lines to perform sabotage and disinformation missions.
- In a scene cut from Star Trek: Generations, Kirk is shown freefall space-diving.
- The latest film had Kirk, Sulu, and a Red Shirt (who opened his chute too late so he could show off) skydiving from the stratosphere.
- In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith clone troopers come down on ziplines, guns blazing.
- Once again, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ups the ante for all of us, with Optimus Prime being dropped into battle! Repeated near the end of the film with his corpse.
- The Decepticon protoforms at the end of RotF don't so much fall, as crash into the desert. The commonly held belief is that Soundwave is slinging them.
- Dark of the Moon a squad of NEST soldiers do this in wing-suits, similar in design to a flying-squirrel.
- Red Dawn (1984) opens with Soviet paratroopers landing on the school oval. The teacher naturally assumes they're US military on exercise who've landed in the wrong area, and when he goes out to talk to them gets shot by the Dirty Communists in a Kick the Dog moment.
- Likewise the 2012 Remake Red Dawn (2012) takes this trope very literal.
- Played for laughs in Shoot 'em Up.
- In Spies Like Us, Austin Milbarge and Emmett Fitz-Hume are forced to make a parachute jump without any training as part of a test of their abilities.
- Operation: Dumbo Drop, a Very Loosely Based on a True Story movie that ends with an elephant being parachuted into the drop zone.
- The Longest Day, about the D-Day invasion of Nazi-held Europe, prominently features paratroopers, including showing what happened when paratroopers were dropped right on the heavily defended town they were supposed to take, namely getting slaughtered by the Germans defenders.
- Saving Private Ryan: The titular Ryan.
- A Bridge Too Far most likely has the record for the most real paratroopers dropped for a fictional film, as the producers managed to get 11 Douglas C-47 Skytrain (or Dakota) WWII aircraft along with a number of more modern planes which were not shown on film, but all had NATO troops with the old fashioned parachutes jumping out of them for the film.
- A practice jump is the first scene of Act of Valor, and a HALO drop is later used.
- Godzilla (2014): The trailers and film rather impressively shows a group of soldiers HALO jumping into San Francisco in order to find the nuclear warhead that the MUTOs have taken in order to disarm it. The scene features them jumping through the clouds into the unknown of the destroyed city to the tune of György Ligeti's Requiem, better known as the Stargate music from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Ernest Goes to Camp used this with turtles to attack the miners.
- Cordwainer Smith's short story, "When the People Fell". The first step in the Chinese colonisation of Venus is a parachute landing by several million people.
- The Mobile Infantry in Starship Troopers drops from orbit and used parachutes and/or jets during part of the reentry. They also refurbished an old paratrooper joke about Napoleon's tomb.
- The SF novel Footfall had a mass paratroop drop by invading aliens who looked like small two-trunked elephants.
- The Shadow of Saganami makes a big plot point out of a massed drop of power-armored Royal Manticoran Marine Corps heavy company on a suspected terrorist hideout. They've dropped from the shuttle, though, not from the orbit, and used tethered countergravs, so it was actually very close to Real Life paradrop.
- In the Dragonlance Chronicles Draconians would drop off of the Flying Citadels and would glide down to land wherever they were supposed to attack.
- John Ringo's Ghost had a SEAL team dropped in to rescue the titular (anti)hero from a specially configured B-2 "Spirit".
- John Scalzi's Old Man's War has the elite "Ghost Brigades" landing on an occupied planet through an orbital skydive. Scalzi described how their nanotech works to keep the heat from re-entry from reaching the cocooned trooper.
- The Yuuzhan Vong drop troops on Coruscant in this manner in the middle of the New Jedi Order series. A couple of books later, some commandoes, including Luke Skywalker, infiltrate Coruscant from orbit using special pods that appear to be re-entering debris from the battle.
- Several occasions in Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium series:
- The protagonist bodyguard and his charge are dropped to a planet in an outdated emergency landing pod. Said pod is described as "useful to deliver some non-fragile goods or passengers suffering from excessive optimism". They land safely and actually manage to leave the planet with the still intact pod in the next book.
- As the books are set in the Master of Orion universe, various operations from space are mentioned or described, including orbital drop raids on Alkari planets (the bird-like Alkari are superior in space combat, but their planetside settlements are vulnerable) and never landing on Bulrathi worlds (the bear-like Bulrathi are feared close combat fighters, but their ships aren't particularly remarkable in space combat).
- On the Gral' world the protagonists witness 9 rings of shooting stars and one single shooting star in the middle, until one remarks the "fireworks" are the Empire's regular orbital drop procedure - 9 groups of 111 men each and the commander of the unit dropped last. The actual rings are due to the part of the planet being "Evil Ground", where only some chosen humans and those bound to the chosen by friendship or insane hate may walk. The marines are dropped around "Evil Ground", their commander is the first of the chosen and lands spot-on to confront the protagonists.
- In the Warrior Cats series, one battle tactic that SkyClan developed and later ThunderClan used involves the attackers hiding in trees above the battlefield, and then dropping down all at once onto the enemy. This often works, seeing as it has quite the element of surprise, and of course it can't feel nice to have someone land on you from many times above your head height, but if the opponent is expecting it and dodges, this can result in nasty injuries for the falling cats.
- Band of Brothers follows a company in the 101st Airborne Infantry, and shows the airborne landings during operations Overlord and Market Garden.
- As stated in the description, the music video for It's Raining Men has the singers and a bunch of men parachuting in via umbrella.
- In Zen Studios' The Avengers Digital Pinball Table, starting "Quinjet Multiball" will cause the Quinjet to fly over the playfield and drop pinballs into the action.
- At various times in Gottlieb's Gladiators, the player must drop off a swaying "crane" with proper timing to land in the Abyss saucer below.
- The main toy in Rescue 911 is a helicopter that flies over the playfield and can be used to airdrop the pinball on strategic targets.
- In Ruiner Pinball, hitting certain targets will cause paratroopers to fall from the sky onto the playfield.
- Various races in Warhammer 40,000 have troops equipped with jump packs dropped off by aircraft to descend on a battlefield, as well as drop pods—armored pods fired straight at a planet from orbit—used for extremely rapid troop deployment. There's even a special term for it: "Deep Strike".
- The Space Marines in particular love using this, likely to enforce their imagery of elite troops, as rapid and precise deployment is a common characteristic of elite troops in Real Life. Another reason is because it enforces their imagery of the "Emperor's Angels descending in a ball of righteous fury". The Codex Astartes names this manoeuvre Stehl Rehn.
- How endemic is this? One of the Soul Drinkers novels gave us a drop assault Zombie Apocalypse.
- Blood Angels like fast tanks so much that they air drop their Land Raiders since it's the only way they can keep up with the faster tanks.
- Imperial Guard regiments use grav-chutes (essentially less powerful jump packs that work like parachutes) whenever they deploy troops or light vehicles from the air. Specialist regiments like the Harakoni Warhawks and Elysian Drop Troops employ this trope in a very literal sense by being able to drop entire formations consisting of thousands of men from the skies.
- Although all troops who enter battle via It's Raining Men are Deep Strikers, not all Deep Strikers rain down into the battlefield—some of them teleport or burrow instead.
- One of the Space Ork special characters actually had his feet replaced with Power Klaws so that he could be more effective when dropped straight into close combat.
- Eldar Swooping Hawks and Dark Eldar Scourges do this by use of actual wings (mechanical in the former, bio-engineered in the latter).
- Eldar Autarchs, many of whom having mastered the Swooping Hawk Aspect, use the same mechanical wings to enter battle, even using them to leave battle for a short while and return after dropping a number of grenades.
- Similarly, BattleTech occasionally makes use of paradropped-from-orbit Humongous Mecha. The preferred method is still to let the DropShip touch down properly or at least get down far enough to let jump-capable 'Mechs make a low altitude drop onto the battlefield, but special reentry cocoons that break away at the proper altitude and free them to ride down the rest of the way using jump jets or packs make orbital drops feasible, if risky.
- The Airborne Elites in the tabletop war game Hero Scape are paratroopers who have a habit of dropping out of nowhere and throwing grenades all over the place. Flavor text on the Heroscape website states that they are dropped in by Valkyries.
- Classic Traveller. The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #19 article "Parachutes" has complete rules for using parachutes in the game, including the results of failure.
- Skippys List has examples:
35. Not allowed to sing "High Speed Dirt" by Megadeth
during airborne operations. ("See the earth below/Soon to make a crater/Blue sky, black death, I’m off to meet my maker")
- Justice League used this in the Grand Finale "Starcrossed" with the Thanagar army descending from the sky. Considering they are all Winged Humanoids, it produces a surprisingly biblical image.
- And inverted in JLU with Cadmus sending missiles at the watchtower filled with clone Tyke Bombs.
- The theme song for Total Drama World Tour features the castmates falling off the Jet, parachuting to the ground and landing safely. ...Except Ezekiel.
- X-Men: Evolution had one episode where Captain America and Wolverine performed this in World War 2. Since their mission required quickness, they did it without parachutes. Justified in that both have a healing factor and the plane nearly landed to accomplish this.
- One episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show had them joining the army to become full fledged tank paratroopers. (That is, they were put into tanks that had parachutes strapped to them that were then dropped from planes. Seeing as how the tanks were on fire and falling like stones in spite of the parachutes, one can only assume they were on a suicide mission.)
- Jonny Quest episode "The Fraudulent Volcano". Dr. Quest and Race Bannon must bail out and parachute down when the plane they're in is shot down by an invisible beam.
- In a rare example of a bad guy pulling this on a hero, in Curious George: Follow That Monkey, security jerk Danna Wolf leaps out of an airplane to chase George and the Man in the Yellow Hat. Seeing that they had a parachute and he did not, he caught up with them and saved himself by hanging on the Man's boots.
- An early episode of Exo Squad had members of Able Company doing an orbital insertion on occupied Earth in pyramid-shaped entry capsules.
- The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. In "Jungle Jeopardy" Penelope used her scarf as a parachute after jumping from a plane.
- Played with in the Futurama episode "Tip of the Zoidberg" during a flashback sequence where a young Zoidberg and (relatively) young Farnsworth scream in terror as they are tossed out of a plane until their parachutes open, where they immediately switch to a casual conversation. Their landing, along with the rest of their peers, isn't quite so casual.
Zoidberg: We'll be safe as long as we stay out of the methane swamps! *lands in swamp, sniffs* What smells like methane?
- Parodied in the South Park episode "Grey Dawn" with senior citizens attacking the town. Their parachutes even have the AARP logo boldly printed on them.
- Planes Fire And Rescue features ground based vehicle characters jumping out of a cargo plane character as smoke jumpers.
"We're not (jumping out of perfectly good airplanes) We're jumping out of you!"
- Pretty much any paratrooper formation, from the famous and badass United States Army Airborne divisions, likewise famous and badass Russian VDVs to the less famous but no less badass 2e Régiment Étranger de Parachutistes of the French Foreign Legion. Although largely supplanted by helicopters since World War II, paratroops are still maintained and occasionally employed by the few militaries with the resources and skills to support their use.
- America is in love with this trope. Rangers, Green Berets, and by proxy Delta Force all require you to have gone through Airborne school. The Air Force's equivalent to the Rangers, Green Berets and Delta Force? USAF Pararescue. And Marines are training to do this.◊
- Not just that. Skippy of Skippys List fame was in a PSYOP unit. His job was to make propaganda illustrations. Those units also require soldiers to have completed Airborne School for some reason. US Navy SWCC's are boat operators who are required to go to Airborne School. One of the requirements for US Army parachute riggers (the guys who pack parachutes) is that they not only go to Airborne School, but regularly jump with a parachute that they packed (giving some motivation to pack properly, one supposes). The Air Force even has special operations weather forecasters who do this.
- Used many times during World War II.
- The first time paratroopers were used was during the German invasion of Denmark on April 9, 1940, where they captured the Storstrřmsbroen bridge. Whilst certainly critical to the invasion, more conventional methods may have worked just as well, since the fortress guarding the northern end of the bridge was manned by only three Danish soldiers.
- Operation Market Garden (September 17, 1944-September 25, 1944) was an Allied military operation in World War II in the Netherlands and Germany. It was the largest airborne operation in history, delivering over 34,600 men of the American 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, the British 1st Airborne Division, and the Polish Brigade. 14,589 troops were landed by glider and 20,011 by parachute. Gliders also brought in 1,736 vehicles and 263 artillery pieces. 3,342 tons of ammunition and other supplies were brought in by glider and parachute drop.
- And it was a failure. The troops were scattered, and the 1st Airborne were dropped far away from their target (the critical bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem, the whole reason for the operation). There were more German troops nearby than expected, namely two Panzer Divisions resting up (intelligence from local resistance forces on German troop concentrations was received by the Allies, but was ignored). The 1st Airborne managed to take the bridge anyway, but they were eventually overwhelmed and forced to surrender before the Allied relief forces could arrive. Despite the taking of several other bridges leading to Arnhem by the rest of the Allied airborne units, the primary objective of the operation, capturing a bridge over the Rhine in order to bring an end to the war in Europe in 1944, was not achieved. Estimated Allied losses are between 15,000 and 17,000 people.
- One of the largest air drops in history was on the eve of D-Day, where Allied airborne units landed to take strategic locations in preparation for the amphibious landing. Due to mistakes in recon, some paratroopers ended up being dropped in waterlogged fields with some of them ending up drowning in water that was maybe 1-2 feet deep, due to their heavy equipment. This drop is covered in various media, such as the The Longest Day, Band of Brothers and Medal of Honor Airborne.
- Operation Varsity, an airborne drop intended to aid the crossing of the Rhine towards the end of WWII, is the largest single-day drop at 16,000 men.
- German Fallschirmjäger were used in the invasions of Norway, France, Crete and Greece, and in Operation Stösser during the Battle of the Bulge.
- Operation Greif during the Battle of the Bulge had English-speaking German soldiers paradropping behind Allied lines to perform sabotage missions. (It failed).
- The upshot of all these paratroop drops is that paratroopers can be useful when sent to accomplish small, targeted objectives, but large-scale paratroop drops were generally not very effective. The troopers tended to get pretty wildly scattered, like at D-day, where there was no such thing as unit cohesion. Even if a unit did manage to stay together after a drop, paratroopers faced an obvious problem in that they could not carry heavy weaponry. The bravest of men carrying nothing but rifles and grenades will struggle against an enemy with artillery and tanks, as the British paratroopers at Arnhem discovered. The German paratroop drops at Crete helped take the island, but at such a high casualty rate that the Nazis never tried an airborne drop again.note
- There's also plenty of this in modern warfare, of course. For example, High Altitude Low Opening deployments, which are designed to get recon troops inside enemy territory undetected.
- Old Joke: The commander went to the assembled men and laid out the mission: "We need to precisely insert a team of commandos deep behind enemy lines. To avoid German radar we'll have to fly low and fast, no more than 200 feet off the deck. It will be dangerous and some of you may not survive the jump, so we need 20 men. Anyone who wishes to volunteer, take one step forward." A slim handful stepped forward, all Green Berets. The commander was disheartened until a grizzled sergeant whispered to him. "Parachutes will be provided!" he announced, and the rest stepped forward.
- Variation on the above: Commanding officer in the Gurkha regiment is called in to see the top brass. TB say "Now look here, we need to insert your squad behind enemy lines. In order to do so, you'll be deployed from aircraft flying at 200 feet to avoid radar. Can you do it?". Gurkha CO shakes his head. "The planes must fly at 100 feet." Top brass look baffled. "If they fly at 100 feet your parachutes won't have time to open." Gurkha officer perks up. "Oh, we get parachutes?"
- Non-military example: Smoke Jumpers, the most Badass firefighters of all.
- PJs. Quite possibly the most badass medical professionals in real life.
- And in an awesome example of compensating, they come from the Air Force.
- This is great compensation because the Air Force is viewed as a sort of cushy Wesley in the armed forces. Its status as The Scrappy is second only to the Coast Guard.
- While the Americans, British and Germans had the most famous paratrooper forces during the Second World War, the Japanese had their own. The Rikusentai and the Teishin Shudan were the paratoopers of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Army respectively. They participated in numerous campaigns during the early parts of the Pacific theater.
- The Red Army's paratroops probably had the worst time of it and the lowest survival rate of any airborne troops during WW2. Prior to the war Russia had raised paratroop divisions and they were a proud part of pre-war propaganda movies - thousands of parachutes raining men is always impressive in any propaganda movie. However, in the confusion and chaos surrounding the initial German invasion in 1941, hundreds of transport planes were destroyed on the ground. Paratroop units were caught a long way away from the stores that held their parachutes. In desperation, the Red Army command brought together the men and as many planes as were still left. The paratroops were ordered to climb onto the wings, lie flat and hold on tight. From slow-moving transport planes flying low, they were ordered to let go over the drop zone and try to land in deep snowdrifts, so as to cushion their fall. The results of dropping men without parachutes, even from suicidally low altitudes, was predictable. Incredibly, some men survived a flight on the outside of a plane in sub-zero temperatures, and dropping from fifty to a hundred feet, and did what they could. An unintended consequence of wasting their paratroops this way was that surviving men who had not only lived but evaded German capture became the trained nucleus of partisan units operating behind German lines, bringing hope, expertise and weapons to the resistance movement. The Russians learnt from this and future paratroop drops were largely better organised and small-scale, used to insert trained men to raise partisan units.But partisan survival chances were notoriously low...