"What shall we do, what shall we do!" [Bilbo] cried. "Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!" he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say "out of the frying-pan into the fire" in the same sort of uncomfortable situations....and into the fire. A trick for maintaining dramatic tension (and sometimes irony): place the heroes in great danger, and then have their escape land them squarely in even greater danger. Bob escapes from a sword-wielding maniac by hiding in a river—only to find out the river is full of hungry piranhas. Alice defeats a monster with fire—and now she has to escape from a burning building. The band of heroes scares away the opposing army by summoning a dragon—which turns around and begins attacking them. The permutations are endless. A subtrope of From Bad to Worse: this trope involves the solution of one problem causing a worse one, while From Bad To Worse doesn't even require any causal link between the initial problem and the getting worse. If you're in a pool of water with a bunch of jellyfish, and then someone releases sharks into the water, that's From Bad to Worse. If you're in a pool of water with a bunch of jellyfish, and in the act of climbing out you fall into a different pool with a bunch of sharks, that's Out Of The Frying Pan. Can overlap with Villainous Rescue, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!, or Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Film - Animated
- In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Fievel's best friend Tiger (a cat) is chased by a street dog and escapes it by jumping into a tunnel down a building. Then he finds out dozens of similar street dogs are sleeping inside. After outrunning them, he briefly hangs on an antenna before a big dog causes it to collapse. Tiger then falls into a dog pound full of dobermann-like dogs, and all cages open at the same time after he bounced on them like a pinball ball.
- Near the end in Toy Story 3, the toys wind up in a landfill and onto a conveyor leading towards a shredder. They escape by grabbing onto metal objects as an overhead magnetic strip separates them, only to discover that this conveyor leads to an incinerator.
Film - Live Action
- Deep Rising does this enough to justify giving the hero a Catch Phrase.
- Star Wars:
- A New Hope. First, the heroes escape from a shootout with stormtroopers by diving into a chute, realizing too late that it leads to the interior of a garbage compactor. Later, Luke shoots a control panel to lock a door between him and some stormtroopers, then realizes immediately afterwards that this same panel controlled the extendable bridge. Thus, he's traded death by stormtrooper for death by bottomless chasm.
- In The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo is pursued by the Imperial fleet, and flies into an Asteroid Thicket to lose them. He then realizes that the odds in the asteroid field aren't much better than his odds against the Imperials, so he hides in a cave on a larger asteroid—and ends up flying down the mouth of a giant space slug.
- In Hellboy, after Hellboy resists temptation and avoids triggering the apocalypse, he kills his tempter, Rasputin. A tentacle-y monster slithers out of Rasputin's body and rapidly grows to a massive size...
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has a similar scene to the original novel: the party escapes from the caverns of the Misty Mountains, only to be cornered by a worse band of warg-riding orcs. Thorin even says "Out of the frying pan", while Gandalf finishes with "and into the fire."
- Zara in Jurassic World manages to get free of the pteranodon carrying her...only to fall into the mosasaurus's pool.
- In Chaplin's The Circus, the Tramp tries to escape a lion cage only to find himself faced by a tiger in the next cage.
- A programmer parody of 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall runs thus:
99 little bugs in the code99 bugs in the codeFix one bug, compile it again101 little bugs in the code
- In The Hobbit, the adventure party escapes from the goblins of the Misty Mountains, only to find themselves surrounded by wolves as night falls: "'Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!' [Bilbo] said, and it became a proverb, though we now say ‘out of the frying-pan into the fire' in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.”
- It is lampshaded in the Alcatraz Series
Alcatraz: It seems that no matter what I did, I ended up in even more danger than I was before. One might even say I was "out of the frying pan and into the fire"... Personally I say "Out of the frying pan and into the the deadly pit filled with sharks who are wielding chainsaws with killer kittens stapled to them." However that one's having a rough time catching on.
- Very common in The Dresden Files. Harry Dresden tends to make enemies from a lot of different factions. Many of the books climax with Harry confronting the primary suspect, realizing he's in trouble, and running away—only to run into enemies from some other faction.
- In The Legacy of Heorot, colonists attempt to exterminate a local monster that usually eats fishlike things and lemurlike things but prefers people in its diet. It hits the fan when they find that: the fishlike things are baby monsters; their only predators — the adults — are gone; and they're all about to grow up at once.
- God invokes it in The Bible (so this is Older Than Feudalism): "It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear." (Amos 5:19)
Live Action TV
- As their producers were all too happy to point out, during Top Gear's Middle East Special, the hosts escaped from a country where there is no war (Iraq) to a country where there is one (Turkey).
- The Twilight Zone (1985) episode "Crazy as a Soup Sandwich". A loser sells his soul to a demon in exchange for winning at the horse races, only to get cheated, of course. He goes to the mobster he borrowed his betting money from, begging for protection and the mobster does—because he's an arch-demon in human form, and now the loser owes his soul to a worse demon.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "The Fall of Night", Sheridan has to jump out of the station's core tram to escape a bomb. Doing so takes Sheridan out of the blast radius of the bomb, but it's only a temporary reprieve, as he's now floating toward the station's outer wall, which is moving around 60 MPH for Centrifugal Gravity. So, he moves from one lethal situation straight into another. Kosh has to exit his suit and rescue him.
- Inverted (sort of) in The Young Ones where, as they are being chased by an axe-wielding homicidal maniac (who is also their landlord) Neil exclaims:
Neil: Oh well, out of the frying pan and into another frying pan...
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Summit", Jacob Carter complains to Jack O'Neill that Stargate Command's series of killings of major Goa'uld (at this time, Ra, Sokar, Heru'ur, Cronus, and finally Apophis) keeps creating power vacuums that even worse Goa'uld invariably step in to fill. This culminates in the rise of Anubis, a partially ascended Goa'uld who was banished by the others millennia before. Jack retorts that "at least we're doing something", pointing to the fact that Earth has made more progress in actually taking down the System Lords than the Tok'ra had in two thousand years.
- Blake's 7. In "Bounty", Blake does the usual Just in Time Teleportation Rescue, only to find that the Liberator has been captured by Space Pirates. In the Cliffhanger ending for "Aftermath", Avon and Dayna are rescued by the Liberator after the episode's adventures only to discover it's been captured by Federation troops.
- Dinosaurs has this in the finale, "Changing Nature". B.P. Richfield has the earth sprayed with poison to remove cider poppies, but this works too well- all plant life is killed as well, resulting in the global food chain being destroyed. So, he then has bombs thrown into volcanos to try and get it to rain- but that just causes the sun to be blotted out and the earth to enter an Ice Age.
- Taken literally in Afterlife, where one of Hell's punishments places the damned on a giant frying pan over a fire. They occasionally jump, in the desperate and vain hope that the fire will be less hot this time.
- Cave Story: You and Curly Brace get attacked by the Core. Since the Core is a Load-Bearing Boss, its defeat alerts the Doctor and Misery to your presence in that chamber. They teleport in, take the Core so it can be repaired, and then flood the chamber as they leave—leaving you to drown in a locked room.
- The Curse of Monkey Island: Midway through the second chapter, Guybrush gets swallowed by a snake, and has to collect a wide variety of items inside the snake's belly before finding one that'll help him escape... after which the snake vomits Guybrush into a quicksand pit.
- At the end of Half-Life, Gordon finally defeats the Nihilanth, thus closing the portal and stopping the alien invasion; and in Opposing Force Adrian witnesses the whole facility get nuked, putting an end to the horrific Black Mesa Incident once and for all. One can imagine the survivors' collective sigh of relief that it was finally over. Then in Half-Life 2, you find out that it was for naught — all the activity of the incident attracted the attention of the Combine Empire, who invaded, took over the world within 7 hours, and have been ruling Earth with an iron fist in the twenty years since then. Yay.
- In Star Fox 64, Immediately following Katina's dangerous melee with an alien mothership, Solar has the trope name as its tagline, since the planet is question is too hot for the arwing to withstand.
- Final Fantasy X: Tidus barely escapes being eaten by Geosgaeno the fish, but ends up being trapped in a freezing cold temple.
Tidus: *Narrating* I had gone out of the frying pan...and into the freezer.
- Zero Punctuation explored a Caffeine Bullet Time mechanic used for the stealth sections of Velvet Assassin, pointing out that the mechanic would backfire on Violet if there was more than one conveniently-alerted Nazi around, or if more were alerted.
Yahtzee: ...then the "f**kup remedy" has instead resulted in what we experts call "boomerang f**kup".
- Freeman's Mind did it once, with Gordon saying "Out of the frying pan, into another frying pan" while advancing under machine gun fire. Amusing because, indeed, the 'new' situation was exactly the same as the old one.