"Well, it always works for that creepy cartoon rabbit when he's running from that nice man with the speech impediment."Basically, a piano which is being lifted via pulley to be moved into or out of someone's high-rise apartment will always fall, almost always on someone/something, often with a resounding "BONG". Hilarity usually ensues. A common gag more often seen in cartoons includes the character rising up from within the wreckage with a mouthful of piano keys like teeth. Bonus points if they start playing by themselves. Anvil on Head is a similar gag using an anvil. Not to be confused with Colony Drop. Closely related to Precision Crash.
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- In a commercial for Glad garbage bags, a piano breaks loose from the rope used to pull it up to a third story window. Two workers use a Glad bag to make a fireman's trampoline. The piano completely misses, breaks into a hundred pieces, and the workers use the trash bag to deliver the pieces to the piano's owner. "Where do you want the piano?"
- More advertising, this time featuring a piano being pushed upstairs. Part of the PG Tips "Chimps" campaign, and possibly the most famous ad in Britain.
- That Nespresso advertisment with George Clooney uses this premise.
- Mocked in this German counter-ad.
- There's a wonderful commercial for Clarica investment company (now merged with Sun Life) in which a woman is sitting at a bus stop. Suddenly, a man at the bus stop across the street looks hectically up at the sky, then madly starts gesticulating, pointing, and yelling, but she can't hear him. Finally someone else comes along, sees what the man's so freaked out about, pulls out a piece of cardboard and a marker, draws a big up arrow, and shows it to the woman. She looks up, then dives out of the way an instant before a falling piano crushes the bus stop. The tagline: "There's a lot to be said for clarity."
- A 1970s print campaign for New England Life Insurance featured a series of cartoons in which one character, unaware that he was about so suffer some spectacularly calamitous injury, would tell another, "My insurance company? New England Life, of course. Why?" One of these featured a falling piano,◊ naturally. Other variants included falling trees, rocks, coconuts, etc.
- In a running gag in Gorsky and Butch someone is trying to kill the protagonists with a piano. At one point the attack is shown from the killer's perspective, with a crosshair on the heroes and the number of remaining pianos displayed on the killer's HUD.
- Weaponised in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic The Twilight Child, when the main character and Trixie get into a duel, which very quickly ends Justice League style. For Trixie.
- Happens again much, much later on in the fic when a bored Discord makes it start raining pianos all over Canterlot.
- In Harry Crow Hermione recalls once wishing that this would happen to Dudley Dursley and his gang. (She was six and a big fan of Tom and Jerry at the time.)
- The Pixar Short "Presto" features a piano dropping from the upper recesses of the stage.
- Averted in Oliver & Company during the "Why Should I Worry" sequence in which a piano is being lifted seven stories into the air and does not fall, yet Dodger somehow manages to jump off.
- In A Goofy Movie Goofy and Max meet a mime who is pretending to haul on a rope; Goofy joins in, miming a pair of shears with which he cuts the rope. A rope-bedecked piano immediately falls onto the mime.
Film: Live Action
- The classic Laurel and Hardy short The Music Box - except that a pulley is only used briefly, and most of the business revolves around an incredibly long flight of stairs. It is also the Trope Codifier of this trope.
- In Zombieland, the "Zombie Kill of the Week" goes to a Badass little old lady who sets up a Piano with a pulley on purpose to fall on a zombie.
- A deleted scene from Undercover Brother shows a black man trying to hail a cab. The Man (through The Dragon Mr. Feather) prevents this by having an agent shoot out the cab's tire, sending it careening into a storefront. Then for added measure a piano drops on the cab.
- Scary Movie has a variant, the piano push (which Ghostface evades, but not the poor grandma down the stairs).
- Iron Man 3 has not so much a piano drop, as a repulsor-backed piano throw.
- In Zathura, a Zorgon is crouched on the stairs about to kill Walter and Danny, and then Lisa sends the piano sliding down the stairs to crush it.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant's brother and partner was murdered by a rogue Toon who dropped a piano on his head. One of the movie's many "barely inconvenient for Toons, lethal for humans" reminders. Unlike most examples this is not remotely played for laughs. The killer turns out to be none other than Judge Doom.
- Actually done to save the series' main character in Pirate King, a 2011 Mary Russell novel by Laurie R. King. Another character pushes a piano (that had been brought to a rooftop to keep up morale for some kidnapped women) from a somewhat higher roof to a lower one, killing a character who is either the titular Pirate King or his brother. (It's rather unclear which was really in charge.)
- This is part of the villain's backstory in the first Alex Rider. Impoverished Lebanese boy Herod Sayle saved two wealthy men from being crushed under a piano. Out of gratitude, they paid for him to be educated in Britain - too bad Kids Are Cruel.
- In "The Coincidence Engine" by Sam Leith it's not a piano from a crane, but a snooker table from a transport heli. (Not much of a difference for the poor sod it landed on.)
Live Action TV
- Whenever a Morris Marina shows up on Top Gear, it will have a piano dropped on it. Even if they've already attached a piano to the roof to try and avert this fate.
- The exception being the first one they destroyed, in the "Did the Communists ever make a good car?" segment. That one got set on fire and used as a brazier.
- The pilot for Dead Like Me. Witnessing a Graveling commit one of these acts even lets George correctly predict a later fatal accident with a Banana Peel.
George: I saw them drop a piano on some chick's head. I don't think they're looking to score points on originality.
- Bam Margera and his crew used a crane to drop a piano that needed disposing on an episode of Viva La Bam once. Pretty much for the heck of it.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Human Nature", one of the signs that there's still some of the Doctor in John Smith is when he sees a piano about to fall on a Baby Carriage. He grabs a kid's cricket ball and sets off a chain reaction that stops the mother seconds before the piano falls. "Lucky."
- Ironically, the conversation Smith was having with Joan Redfern at the time was about how ordinary people in ordinary situations might act with honor and valor.
- Done to Dean in Supernatural in the course of the "Groundhog Day" Loop episode. Considering the nature and tone of the series, the piano killing Dean was... unexpected. But still hilarious.
- A piano is dropped on Clifford in the Gary Cahuenga episode of Muppets Tonight. He comes back up wearing pieces of the broken grand piano.
- In The Muppet Show, in the Jaye P. Morgan episode, the nameless Newsman reports that a charter flight carrying the London Symphony Orchestra was forced to jettison some of the musical instruments — including, apparently, a piano that falls down on his desk immediately thereafter. Most of his other news reports had similar results.
- It's more of a piano toss, but the final episode of Misfits has Finn throw one across the room at an enemy via telekinesis.
- An episode of MythBusters tested whether a piano dropped in this manner would crash through a roof. A normal piano would breach the roof but would not fall through the supports holding it up (i.e. Busted). The hosts had to fill an upright piano with sand before it would punch all the way through.
- The Grand Finale of Two and a Half Men ends with two in succession, killing off both the main character and the show's creator.
- In an episode of Brainiac: Science Abuse, a piano was dropped from a crane, and the sound of the impact was measured at 111dB, comparable to a baby crying. "Rather more satisfying to watch, though," observed presenter Richard Hammond.
- Happened offscreen on Night Court and killed Dan's assistant Phil. Oddly, his life insurance was set to pay more if he died in this manner.
- Inverted in the song "Right, Said Fred", where Fred and his mates can't shift a piano. Fred tries to remove the ceiling to lift it out, and ends up buried in rubble.
- In the Sesame Street song "Danger's No Stranger" (the video for which parodies the Music Video trend of The '80s of a rock band playing in a dark alley), someone is dropped like this to go with the lyrics, "And don't walk under a fallin' piano."
- An earlier song about danger, performed by Little Jerry and the Monotones, also features the band just dodging a falling piano.
- In one story of the Dutch audio series "Ome Henk", taking place on April Fool's, Koos Korswagen thinks dropping a piano from his balcony on the titular character's head is the height of hilarity. Henk disagrees.
- The Lovin' Spoonful song "Pow!" (featured prominently in What's Up, Tiger Lily?) includes the line, "When they're droppin' a piano from the forty-seventh floor, I'm the guy underneath 'em lookin' up..."
- "Can't Complain" (from his solo album "Mosquitoes") by Stan Ridgway. The protagonist complains all the time over relative trifles. Until a Steinway flattens him.
- Happens in the video for Green Day's "Walking Contradiction". One of the guys walks past a mover hoisting a piano with a winch and pulley and finds a mirror. He picks it up, uses it to check his face, and shines a beam of sunlight into the mover's eyes. The mover lets go of the rope and the piano crashes to the sidewalk, narrowly missing one of the other band members.
- Alluded to in The Lonely Island's "YOLO" the lyrics don't mention a piano, but one is dropped on an unfortunate victim:
- A The Far Side comic (captioned "God's computer") showed God watching some poor schmoe walking under a suspended piano, while His finger hovered over the "Smite" button on the keyboard. Another had an in-flight vulture clutching a piano in his claws, about to drop it on a crawling desert wayfarer to keep the guy from reaching a waterhole.
- In The Goon Show episode "The Case of the Missing CD Plates" Neddie is struck down by a falling piano. Its owners then try to trick him into screwing a Corps Diplomatique plate onto the piano, in order to give it diplomatic immunity against prosecution.
- From The Burkiss Way:
"At last! Relief for Muggeridge sufferers, with new Burkiss Grand Pianos! Simply haul it up to a fourth story window, wait for Malcolm Muggeridge to come along..."
- One of the more notable objects in Crazy Climber that the player has to dodge is a falling piano.
- In the TRS-80 Text Adventure game Asylum, if you ever look up, a piano immediately falls on your head and kills you.
- In a kart-style racing game 'Looney Tunes Space Race', one of the objects you can inflict on your fellow racers is a piano. It's one of the worst, as not only are you hit by it, you're also stuck under it when a bust of a generic classical music composer falls on it too.
- Peacock in Skullgirls can drop a piano on you, and roughly 20 other items of varying sizes as well.
- Works as a Kaizo Trap near the very end of Brain Dead 13, but it can be avoided if you wait until the last possible moment... which is the right moment to press any button and escape.
- One of the heavier weapons in Crash Tag Team Racing involves throwing a piano on the track, causing an explosion of wood, ebony and ivory that obliterates all who cross it.
- Hedgewars has it as one of the top tier weapons, sacrificing a hog to play it as it falls, bouncing several times and carving a hole into the landscape by way of several explosions.
- Sine Mora has the ??? "powerup", which drops a piano on your ship for an instant game over.
- This is one possible assassination method in the Hitman: Blood Money mission "The Murder of Crows", as demonstrated here.
- In Sid & Al's Incredible Toons, a piano will smash if it falls from even a very small height.
- In The Cartoon Chronicles Of Conroy Cat, having a piano dropped on your head and playing the keys right, is part of his training to become a toon star.
- Ozy and Millie: When Stephan trys to ask Stephanie on a date, her answer causes him to have an Imagine Spot-ish thing in which he is crushed by a piano bearing the words "I just want to be friends."
- Seen in asdfmovie4. "Whose idea was this?!"
- Flippy of Happy Tree Friends does this to himself thanks to his Superpowered Evil Side Split Personality.
- The final sketch of The Lazer Collection 7 has three of these happen within seconds of each other.
Dr. Octogonapus: I'm sorry! I'm new and I don't have hands!
- In Justice League, Zatanna telekinetically batters Circe with the entire contents of a fancy restaurant, finishing with the grand piano.
- The Critic: When Jay decides to audition to be Siskel's and Ebert's replacement (they had split up), he sings "Nothing's gonna stop me now!" So an anvil falls on his head. Then a piano. Then a whale.
- One of these is set up by Dr. Doofenshmirtz to catch Perry the Platypus in Phineas and Ferb, revealed with dramatic music - played by someone sitting at the piano. Perry walks in the back door and avoids the trap entirely.
- There's a Rube Goldberg device to drop a piano on Charlotte in Making Fiends, but it fails to Vendetta's dismay.
- In the Family Guy episode "Untitled Griffin Family History," there's a montage of silent Slapstick shorts starring Peter's ancestor, Black-Eye Griffin, all of which involve him getting a black eye from various objects, including a falling piano.
- This happens to Peter himself in "Tales of a Third Grade Nothing", as predicted by a fortune cookie he got.
- Rocko's Modern Life episode "Teed Off" featured various things that launched grand pianos, up to and including a Kill Sat.
- Before that episode, this also happens in "Rocko's Happy Vermin" where Flecko causes a piano to fall directly onto Ed Bighead during a chase.
- In one episode of Gerry Anderson's stop-motion animated show Dick Spanner, a mobster offers the titular PI "a grand" to drop his current case. The grand in question is a grand piano, which misses Spanner by an inch or so. The piano player who was dropped first is not so lucky.
- Kenny from South Park has died in pretty much every way imaginable, so naturally this was one of them.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Twilight Sparkle failing to heed Pinkie Pie's Pinkie Sense about falling things in "Feeling Pinkie Keen". Cue a flower pot falling on her head, followed by an anvil, followed by a hay wagon, and finally, a piano. Pan up to reveal that they fell out of a moving van crewed by pegasi, including (thanks to a last-minute edit) Derpy Hooves.
- The Esther episode of VeggieTales involved a piano drop as part of a plot to assassinate the king.
- A piano is among the many, many, many things dropped on the abusive bulldog in the Tex Avery cartoon "Bad Luck Blackie."
- Wile E. Coyote tried dropping one of these on the Road Runner once, with predictable results.
- In "Hare Trimmed" Bugs in old lady drag playfully leads suitor Sam on a chase through the house, up the steps...where he playfully shoves a piano down into Sam's path.
- In the Tom and Jerry short "Heavenly Puss", Tom is pulling on a stair rug to try to catch Jerry. He ends up pulling an upright piano down the stairs, which flattens him against the wall. Notably, this actually kills him.
- Tiny Toon Adventures:
- During the Expository Theme Tune Furball is minding his own business sniffing a flower and gets hit with a piano from nowhere, to the lyric of "Furball's unlucky."
- While not exactly a drop, in the cartoon, "Rear Window Pain" from the episode, "Psychic Fun-omenon Day", Granny is teaching Elmyra how to play the piano, and tosses it at Plucky when she and Elmyra find out he is spying on them.
- The cartoon, "C Flat or B Sharp?" from the episode, "Son of Looniversity Daze" involves Buster, Plucky, and Hamton delivering a piano from the Acme Looniversity clock tower to the music hall. The piano falls on Yosemite Sam at the end of the cartoon.
- In "Hero Hamton", a piano falls on Hamton during Porky's Prop Class.
- Garfield and Friends episode 73: "Rainy Day Robot", a robot, advertised as being able to bring about any weather on command, never actually causes rain to fall from the sky (unless it's on the salesman's command), although a number of other things do... including 27 pianos.
- In the episode "Monday Misery" this happens to Garfield, just when he was convinced that he was wrong and Monday wasn't out to get him. In "Curse of Klopman" a man who buys the cursed Klopman Diamond from Garfield has this happen to him.
- The Pink Panther short where the Panther makes several attempts to cross a busy street ends with him succeeding by dressing up as a mother cat with kittens, only to end up being crushed by a piano on the other side.
- Another Panther cartoon has Big Nose (as a bank robber) getting hit by a player piano after numerous attempts to get rid of a horseshoe which is bringing him bad luck instead of good.
- In the TaleSpin episode "In Search of Ancient Blunders", Adventurer Archaeologist Myra does this to Dumptruck of the Air Pirates to stop him from clobbering Baloo. Since Dumptruck is Made of Iron, he's just stunned.
- This is the only sure way to kill a Sintillian in MIB: The Series.
- Played to hilarious effect in the Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "Don't Rain on My Ed". On his way to the candy store to get free jawbreakers (which has already been a massive Humiliation Conga for the Eds), Eddy miraculously escapes Jimmy's hanging garden falling on him without so much as a scratch... only for a piano to drop onto him out of freaking nowhere, in a hilarious bit of Disproportionate Retribution courtesy of Kevin.
Kevin: That's for gobbing all over my bike!
- The sheriff in the Looney Tunes cartoon "Bunny And Claude (We Rob Carrot Patches)" runs for it to avoid getting hit by a falling piano. He runs all the way out into the desert and still gets hit by the piano.
- In the short cartoon Jinxy Jenkins & Lucky Lou, the eponymous couple goes careening down the streets of San Francisco in an out-of-control ice cream cart, and pass under a bunch of pianos that are dangling from ropes for no apparent reason. Thanks to Jenkins' extreme bad luck, the pianos immediately start falling. Thanks to Lou's extreme good luck, they not only avoid getting squashed, but briefly use the falling pianos as Stepping Stones in the Sky.
- Every spring since 1972, students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology drop an old, irreparable piano from the roof of a dormitory six stories high to celebrate Drop Date, the last date one can drop classes at MIT. The resulting noise has spawned a unit of sound volume, known as the Bruno.
- A photo of the inaugural piano drop at MIT in 1972 appears on the cover of ambient musician Tim Hecker's 2011 album Ravedeath, 1972.
- Arne Nordheim, honored contemporary composer of the experimental variety, was assigned an "honorary compartment" by the state of Norway for his achievement. This meant he had to move his costly Steinway grand piano from his flat on the fifth floor - out of the window with a cable and a lift. The cable broke, and the grand piano crashed to the ground. The man behind the wheel was baffled when the composer showed up in the window with this comment: "Did you hear that sound?"