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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
The song never actually specifies what they're trying to move- it's generally assumed to be a piano, but it's left deliberately ambiguous. The Claymationmusic video explicitly shows a piano.
In the Sesame Street song "Danger's No Stranger" (the video for which parodies the Music Video trend of The Eighties 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."
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..."
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.
One of the more notable objects in Crazy Climber that the player has to dodge is a falling piano.
In the TRS-80Text 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Don't Rain on My Ed" has the Eds trying to overcome various obstacles to get free jawbreakers, one of them being Kevin dropping a piano on Eddy (in retaliation for accidentally gobbling him and his 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.
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.