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"Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop
Extreme data entry!

The commonly spoofed scene for which everyone remembers The Film of the Series of Mission: Impossible. Tom Cruise hacks a CIA computer while dangling horizontally from two cables in a heavily protected room. To get into the room, he has to bypass a laser grid in a ceiling ventilation duct..

It was an homage to a similar scene in the 1964 film Topkapi. Now a must whenever there's a spy episode in a show.

See also Fast Roping.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • The scene has been parodied countless times, and even continues to be, by advertisers, particularly for dandruff shampoo, deodorant or muscle relaxant.
  • In a PBS AD, it shows Cookie Monster dropping from a cable in that style, while solving a word puzzle under a time limit while Arty Smartypants from "Between the Lions" briefs him.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Pokémon Special, in order to test the museum's security, Janine uses her Weezing's smoke to reveal the lasers then lowers herself with her Ariados's thread to steal the museum display.
  • School Rumble.

    Film 
  • Wrongfully Accused spoofed this.
  • A variation in the first Charlie's Angels movie, where she had to do cartwheels across a pressure-sensitive floor and then handstand on a computer box.
  • The Inspector Gadget movie did it, too, with a sound-sensitive alarm.
  • This trope predates Mission: Impossible, the original Pink Panther movie uses a variant.
  • Topkapi, as stated above.
  • Inverted in 9 To 5, where rather than anyone hanging from wires to avoid triggering a trap, the rebellious secretaries rig up a remote-control cable harness for their kidnapped boss, which will reel him up to the ceiling as a trap if he tries to escape.
  • There's a variation of this in the Boondock Saints, with the protagonists falling though the ceiling accidentally, getting tangled in their rope... and killing everyone in the room as they spin about upside down.
  • In Spice World, Mel C is introduced doing a drop to a Subbuteo table and making a half-field shot.
  • Done by super-agent Finn McMissile in Cars 2.
  • Done without the cables in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Harry and company infiltrate the Ministry of Magic's prophecy holding room towards the climax of the movie. Rather than being lowered, they're falling down a chasm and using their magic to stop themselves harmlessly above the floor in this fashion.
  • Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol re-enacts the scene, but with magnets taking the place of the cable, and with a spinning fan blade in place of the lasers.
    • For that matter, it's been paid homage in every Mission Impossible sequel to date. It even gets lampshaded in the second movie, with the Big Bad predicting that Hunt will break into the building holding the MacGuffin they both want by some sort of 'acrobatic insanity'.

    Literature 
  • Darktan in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents hangs suspended in a harness to inspect and disarm a deadly trap. As Darktan is an intelligent rat and weighs very little, this is done with bits of string rather than fancy high-tech cables.

    Live Action TV 
  • Half-parody in the first promos for the TV show Chuck, in which Sarah would drop down successfully while Chuck would start spinning in place and get told to "Tense your abs!"
    • Also played (relatively) straight in "Chuck vs. The Mask"
  • It goes catastrophically wrong for one of The Lone Gunmen in the first episode.
    • However it's possible that they could actually have pulled it off, if left to their own. The only reason they didn't manage it was because Yves was after the same thing they were, and she had the technological know-how to royally mess it up for them.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide had Ned attempt one of these out of the ceiling. Notable in that it was a principal's office and there were still lasers aplenty; also in that instead of dropping stealthily, Ned plummeted like a rock and then swung back and forth helplessly for the rest of the episode.
  • Used in The Latest Buzz, of all places, with one of the teen reporters trying to retrieve a column from the editor's desk.
  • Doctor Who did it in the Easter special, "Planet Of The Dead" - with the bionic woman. It also did the Charlie's Angels version in "The Doctor's Daughter".
  • Parodied on the TV show The Soup in the segment "Clip of the Week".
  • Parodied in The Basil Brush Show, when the group finds a pool of Anil's chilli sauce between them and a safe containing the answers for the Quiz Night.
  • Used in episode six of the third season of Primeval when Danny Quinn is testing the security systems at the Anomaly Research Center.
  • Parodied in season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Andrew drops down to steal a diamond, only to have Warren and Jonathan stroll into the museum without issue. Played straight when the Scoobies break into the Mayor's office in season three. Buffy is the one lowered down on the harness to steal the MacGuffin. When the alarms go off however, the pulley jams and Angel has to jump in and save her; though Buffy uses the harness to do a flip so she can kick a henchvamp in the face.
  • In an episode of iCarly, Freddy drops into a room on cables and is mistaken for a spider.
  • Parker's trademark maneuver on Leverage is to jump off the side of buildings and lower down on a cable, instead of doing this on the inside. She then goes in through the window. No one but Parker is crazy enough to do it willingly, though they are often forced to anyway.
  • In the Father Ted Christmas Special, Father Todd Unctious uses one of these to attempt to steal Father Ted's Golden Cleric Award. It breaks partway through, leaving him hanging helplessly in full view of Father Dougal, who fails to notice him anyway...
    • And afterwards Mrs. Doyle uses it to clean the windows.
  • Parodied in the opening credits of The Chaser's War On Everything.
  • Done by Zoe in the MI High episode "Mission: Incredible".
  • In the Bones episode "El Carnicero en el Coche" Hodgins lowers himself like this into the burnt out husk of a car, to avoid the car falling apart at the slightest touch whilst hunting for evidence.
  • Actually done in the Mission: Impossible TV series. In "The Lions", Grant gets lowered into the temple and is suspended above the altar so he can tamper with the eponymous lions.

    Music 

    Video Games 
  • Parodied in, of all places, Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition. Duke is breaking into the CIA and has to drop into a room modeled on this scene. Since Duke is very unsubtle, you just drop right in and shoot the guards mutant aliens who respond.
    • Or use the jetpack to slowly lower yourself down. The room is worth taking a safe look at too, using this method, as they went to an impressive amount of detail for the reference - not only is there a knife stuck in the table, but there's a garbage can full of puke on the floor!
  • The second Thief had a medieval-tech version, with ropes that could be attached to the ceiling beams and shimmied down. In the penultimate mission, it's the easiestnote  way to retrieve the masks, which are guarded by a pressure-sensitive floor with Deadly Gas.
  • This exact trope—a spy dangling from a body rope to hack into computers—is used in the Totally Spies! Game Boy Advance game.
  • Occurs in the final mission of Metal Slug 4.

    Webcomics 
  • Cinema Bums features a strip where Mindy does this to break into David Yates's bedroom to discuss a potential Doctor Who movie.
  • In College Roomies from Hell!!!, Roger does this (through the floor of one of the upstairs apartments) to get to a videotape in the girls' apartment. When Margaret catches him, she points out that loudly humming the Mission Impossible theme isn't especially stealthy.
  • Torg tests this out as one of their plans to infiltrate Ayleeorgnet in Sluggy Freelance. Owing to miscalculating the length of the cables, he knocks himself out. Note that it was to be called "Operation Look I'm Tom Cruise!"
    • Given that the competition included "Operation Run Around Willy-Nilly"....
  • In one flashback scene of Girl Genius, Gil uses this to secretly modify the blueprints of Castle Wulfenbach.

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, it's done in "Ayla and the Networks", as the good guys of the the Intelligence Cadet Corps lower themselves down a cable into an air shaft, diasbling alarms as they go, in order to break into the secret lair being rented by The Masterminds and figure out their caper. Lampshaded by one of the team, who won't stop humming the theme song to Mission: Impossible.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Shrek 2, when Pinocchio does this with his puppet strings, complete with Mission: Impossible music. However, with all his turning and tumbling, Pinocchio gets wrapped up in his own strings and just hangs there.
  • Toy Story 3 gives a Shout-Out to this early in the film.
  • In Tangled, this is how Flynn steals the crown at the start of the film.
  • This also happened in an episode of Jimmy Neutron, where the kids were breaking into a museum and trying to steal an artifact.
  • Happened in Teen Titans where Gizmo is hacking into a museum's security system.
  • Naturally, Kim Possible gets to pull off this trope with the accompanying lampshade.
  • Played for laughs in South Park when the boys use the Mission Impossible: Breaking and Entering Spy Kit to steal baby cows from a cattle ranch before they're turned into veal.
  • Entrče does it in an episode of Spliced to steal Joe's hat, apparently attaching himself to the ceiling with bubblegum.
  • The Wallace & Gromit short The Wrong Trousers has a variant that predates the movie involving a robotic pair of trousers fitted with suction cups walking across a ceiling of a museum to steal a heavily protected diamond.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Lola does it to break into Bugs' house in the song "We Are In Love".
  • Julie does this in the "Off the Rack" episode of Motorcity before hacking into the KaneCo computer. There's even a Suspiciously Similar Song of the Mission Impossible theme.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television; a recent theft from a Best Buy store seems to have involved this trope.
  • In a non-criminal variant, makers of high-quality multi-ply sails for boats use harnesses to suspend themselves over the fabric and check it for flaws. Stepping on the sails while their layers are being laid out and fused could damage the material, so hanging over them is the safest option.

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