No Escape but Down
"Looks like I'm gonna have to jump!"You're caught in a Chase Scene, when suddenly you hit a dead end—literally. You're at the edge of a cliff, or the roof of a skyscraper, or the lip of a sewer drain. Your pursuers are on your tail, and there is no escape. Well, No Escape But Down. This trope is about escapes that end with a long fall. Sometimes it's on purpose (the pursued decides to take his chances or he knows it's not as dangerous as it looks, and wants to dare the pursuers to Try And Follow) or by accident (he doesn't realize he's run out of turf). Slo-Mo Big Air is a given. Survival depends on Soft Water, Literal Cliffhanger, or other forms of Not the Fall That Kills You. Sometimes the pursued person jumps because it's Better to Die Than Be Killed. Sometimes he jumps because he knows he'll be caught somehow, and thus survive the fall. Super-trope of High Dive Escape, Suicidal Gotcha, Super Window Jump, Trash Landing. Often the outcome of a Climbing Climax. Compare The Precarious Ledge, and Hanging by the Fingers.
— Strong Bad as Dangeresque
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- One Piece in Impel Down.
- Arguably inverted with Sanji, who spontaneously comes up with a flying technique in order to escape up when surrounded.
- This happens twice in Aladdin— First in the Chase Scene song "One Jump Ahead", when Aladdin escapes from the guards by grabbing a carpet, and then again when he and Jasmine have to flee his home.
- In Ice Age, the human child's mother is cornered at a waterfall by Diego (who changes sides later). Clutching her only child to her chest, she jumps. Thanks to Manny and Sid, the baby makes it. She doesn't.
- Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket escape Pleasure Island by jumping into the water from a cliff.
- Inverted in Kung Fu Panda 2 where after being unable to escape through the bottom of a collapsing tower, the heroes are forced to climb back up it and jump from the roof.
- Harrison Ford in The Fugitive: Chased down a tunnel in a dam by Lt. Gerard, his choices are get arrested, or jump. Guess what he does?
- "Guy did a Peter Pan, right here, right off of this dam!"
- The alien Will Smith chases down in Men In Black chooses to jump rather than give himself up.
- The Dark Crystal: Jen and Kira are cornered by Garthim at the edge of a cliff and have no alternative but to jump. Fortunately Kira is able to fly them to safety. Because girl Gelflings, as we now discover, have wings.
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. When the title characters are trapped against the edge of a cliff by the posse pursuing them, they decide to take their chances and jump into the river below. Watch it here, 1:20-2:35.
- In Back To The Future Part II Biff corners Marty at the edge of a roof and Marty jumps - onto the the roof of the Delorean hidden from Biff's view, only a few feet below.
- In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond skis off a cliff, only to reveal he was wearing a parachute.
- How Thelma & Louise resolve their situation.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (the movie version), when the hobbits are chased by a farmer and his dogs.
- In Apocalypto Jaguar Paw attempts to evade pursuit by leaping over a waterfall. His pursuers do follow, although one of them is killed in the attempt.
- Jake Sully's avatar also leaps over a waterfall, to escape a Pandoran beastie.
- The Avengers (1998). Mrs. Peel and her clone are fighting on a rooftop. When Steed arrives, the clone (realizing she's outnumbered) jumps off the roof to escape. We don't see what happened to her, but she turns up later with no explanation.
- In The Matrix Reloaded Trinity jumps out of the window when cornered by two agents. Neo's dreams foretell that she dies.
- Near the beginning of Undercover Brother the title character is fleeing some mooks. He jumps off the top of a building and parachutes to safety.
- In Ravenous when Boyd jumps from cliff, without any landing spot. He survives, but his leg is badly broken.
- Happens early in Sin City when Marv is escaping the cops.
- Near the end of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is hanging on by one hand over a seemingly bottomless pit. Rather than take the opportunity Darth Vader offers him to rule the galaxy as father and son, Luke lets himself fall.
- In the second The Prophecy movie, the rogue Arch Angel Gabriel, (who has gone to war with God due to Him favoring humans over angels) has chased the protagonist, a woman pregnant with an angel's baby, to the edge of a multistory industrial complex. She suddenly cocks her head to the side while Gabriel is doing a tirade, and says that God is speaking to her. Gabriel, who still loves God and hasn't spoken to Him in a long time, asks what He's saying. The protagonist comes closer, takes Gabriel in her arms, and replies "Jump." She then takes both of them off the edge. Gabriel gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice while she is miraculously unharmed. (Well, relatively.)
- Star Trek Into Darkness:
- Kirk and Bones are involved in a chase scene which ends with them jumping off a cliff into the ocean below.
- Harrison escapes the wreckage of the Vengeance by jumping off it.
- A variant in the 1910 short film White Fawn's Devotion, in which the man being chased is driven to the edge of a cliff—whereupon he pulls out a rope, ties it to a rock, and tries to rappel down. One of his pursuers gets there soon after and starts hacking away at the rope with a knife while the man tries to get down.
- In TRON: Legacy, the hero is in this situation when being cornered by a security guard on the rooftop of the Encom building. He does a Suicidal Gotcha and escapes using his Hammerspace Parachute.
- In the Queen of Swords episode "Death to the Queen", the cornered Queen escapes by diving off the cliff into the ocean.
- Unsurprisingly, Doctor Who has done this one! They played with it in "Forest of the Dead", at a particularly tense moment where the Doctor was surrounded by possessed skeletons. Yes, really.
- Sticking with Doctor Who, "The Beast Below" features a more traditional one.
- Don't forget the one in "The Doctor Dances". Although in that case Rose "makes" the exit with Jack's squareness gun.
- River Song uses this a couple of times, trusting that the Doctor will show up in the TARDIS at the right time and place to catch her.
- A reverse of this was used by The Doctor in "Flesh and Stone." He flipped the gravity to fall up when escaping some Weeping Angels
- Invoked on 30 Rock when Jack tells Liz about the time he fell on a crevasse while ice climbing, and to save himself had to "climb down into the darkness". Both Jack and Liz then had to metaphorically "go into the crevasse" to solve their dilemmas that week by debasing themselves.
- Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "Bad Medicine". The Diablero is chased up to the top of the building by security guards, then jumps off and disappears. He used his magical powers to turn into a raven and fly away.
- Happens on Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Faith jumps off the roof of her apartment building to escape Buffy and lands on the top of a truck, but the landing knocks her unconscious. It probably happens other times on Buffy too but that's the one that jumps to mind (no pun intended). Having a gaping stomach wound doesn't help...
- At the end of the Babylon 5 episode "Za'ha'dum," John Sheridan is pursued by the Shadows and what's left of his wife and ends up trapped on a balcony high above a miles deep pit in the center of the Shadow City. Which makes him resort to remote activate his ship in orbit to aim at his position and arm the two fusion bombs he stole. Facing certain death, he receives a telepathic message imprinted in his mind by Kosh, before he died, urging him to jump. It all worked out, in the end.
- Burn Notice uses this a few times. One episode has Michael lampshade this through his narration by stating that the best way to escape a pursuit is to do something that the pursuers will not do, like jump off a building. He then jumps off the roof so the security guards chasing him won't follow (it's not very high but one can easily break bones if landing badly).
- In another episode Michael is in a helicopter with Management flying out to sea and is told that he really has not choice but work for the people who burned him since they are the only thing protecting him. He promptly jumps out and swims to shore.
- Chance, of Human Target, did this at least twice: one was a legitimate jump off a 12 story building into Soft Water; in another he pretended to jump off a tall building, actually grabbing a gargoyle adorning the roof.
- Yoon Sung leaps over the railing of a hi-rise building to escape being captured by the Secret Service in the Korean Series The City Hunter.
- On White Collar Neal has to get to the penthouse of a highrise building and swap a painting for a forgery before Peter shows up and catches him in the act. He simply takes the elevator up but does not have the time to escape the same way. Just as Peter is entering the apartment, Neal jumps off the top of the building and opens up a parachute.
- On Leverage, Parker uses this fairly often. Most notably is when she base jumps off one of the world's tallest buildings.
- On The Bionic Woman, Jaime jumped out a window to escape Fembots. It was too high a fall for her bionic legs to take, and she was injured seriously.
- In the video for Disturbed's "Asylum", the patient being pursued by the men in white coats chooses this option, jumping from the top of the building, one of them smirking at his corpse. This was just one of his "deaths" in the video, all of which lead to him being back in his padded cell.
- Used at the end of the Gorillaz video for Stylo- Murdoc drives the car into the ocean and it turns into a shark submarine!.
- Modesty Blaise: In "A Present for the Princess'', Willie escapes from a trio of bandits by dropping off a broken rope bridge into a river.
- The Undermontain complex in Forgotten Realms sometimes. The point is, there are even rings made by its owner Halaster the Mad that allow to teleport inside the labyrinth at will... but only randomly and down.
- In Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, Naked Snake falls from the top of a waterfall after he is cornered by Ocelot. Unlike most escape examples, the drop (temporarily) kills him.
- Mirrors Edge frequently requires you to escape from persuing cops and the occasional police helicopters with machine guns, by pulling off almost suicidal jumps off the roofs of skyscrapers. The final jump in Heat being exceptionally crazy.
Merc: "Did you just do what I think you did? Damn it, girl! I just dropped my jaw all over my keyboard."
- In the Toluca Lake section of the videogame Silent Hill 2 James must voluntarily jump down holes into dark, unguessable depths. Repeatedly. He starts out underground to begin with.
- In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves both Nate and Sully wind up leaping off a cliff into a river to escape pursuing Russian mercs... with a direct reference to the Butch & Sundance example mentioned above.
- At the beginning of Suikoden II, you and your best friend, Jowy, have to leap off a cliff into a waterfall to get away from a neverending stream of enemy soldiers. You can refuse to jump, triggering another fight, as many times as you want to... a good way to gain some easy levels early in the game AND a method for triggering a hidden Easter Egg, by fighting off a high number of soldiers there (108 encounters). But no matter what you do, the story won't progress until you jump into the river.
- In Heavy Rain, Ethan's final escape from the police takes him to the edge of a building's roof. It's up to you whether to surrender and go to prison (effectively taking Ethan out of the game), or simply fall backwards, hoping for the best. If you do, you'll apparently survive the fall with nothing but a few bruises, despite already having several cracked ribs and miscellaneous injuries at that point.
- One mission in Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad Of Gay Tony has Luis Lopez chase a bad guy up the
Empire State BuildingRotterdam Tower. Once you confront him at the top, your only way off is to use the bad guy's parachute to base jump off the building.
- Syphon Filter: Jumping through a glass ceiling, jumping off a cliff, jumping off a bridge onto a moving train, jumping down an airshaft with a giant fan at the bottom, etc.
- Medal of Honor (2010): "Bullets or broken bones? Bones heal."
- Near the beginning of Radiant Historia, Stocke has to jump from a bridge to escape a powerful enemy.
- The character Eslaf Errol of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's in-game books Beggar, Thief, Warrior, and King made escaping capture by jumping out of windows part and parcel of his trade.
- Final Fantasy X: At one point, Yuna's plan to Send Seymour was accidentally spoiled by the party's (admittedly badass) rescue attempt, the villains using them as leverage to make her go through with the marriage. After all is said and done, the bad guys decide to still kill her friends. Yuna's solution? Leap off the tower head first and summon Valefor mid-air to fly away on to distract the villains.
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Gates To Infinity has this at one point in the game after you are separated from your partner; before fighting Toxicroak and two other Pokemon, you end up on the edge of the cliff, and then, after deciding to slowly climb down, you are spotted. After a Dual Boss, you have trouble fighting the rest, and Salamence appears to take you out. Eventually, Hydreigon shows up and hits you with his tail, causing you to fall off the cliff before Hydreigon catches you and flies off to the cave, in which afterwards you come to in said cave.
- Strong Bad Emails: "Looks like I'm gonna have to juuuuump!" — Dangeresque's Catch Phrase.
- In Season 10 of Red vs. Blue, the Freelancers find themselves with two options in Episode 15: Jump off a 110-story building, or die horribly. They take option A.
Carolina: I guess this is karma for kicking Maine out the window.
- Koon and Anak subverted this in Tower of God when they made Quant think they had applied this trope to lure him to the lower exit of the Hide and Seek testing area while they headed for the upper one.
- The Looney Tunes Show: Daffy and Bugs escape from the prison guards by jumping off a cliff into the river in "Jailbird and Jailbunny". (Or rather Daffy jumps off the cliff and Bugs goes along because they are shackled together.)
- Grouchy and the Smurflings escape Gargamel in the early part of The Smurfs episode "Grouchy Makes A Splash" by jumping from a precipice into the river. Well, the Smurflings escape into the river, but Grouchy, who doesn't know how to swim, clings onto a root and causes Gargamel to fall into the river before he climbs to safety.
- A famous and tragic example from World War II occured in Nazi occupied Poland. A group of resistance fighters assassinated the head of the Warsaw Gestapo. As they were making their escape, two of them ended up trapped on a bridge with German soldiers closing in from both sides. They chose to jump into the river below rather than be captured. They were shot in the water and drowned.
- Even more tragic variant of this trope happened in World War II on Japanese remote islands, such as Saipan and Okinawa, invaded by US forces. Most times the civilians, fearing the assumed atrocities to be committed by the Americans, rather jumped off the shore cliffs into the sea than surrendered.