Pivotal Wake-up

Dracula knows how to "Rise from your grave!" in style.

The Pivotal Wake-up is a classic move in the repertoire of most old-school vampires. Once the sun dips below the horizon, the vampire's eyes will open, the coffin lid will fly open on its own, and the occupant will levitate into a standing position while pivoting on their feet, as if they were a fulcrum.

Needless to say, this move is so old school it may be a Dead Horse Trope. However, it still occasionally sees use even outside the vampire community. Comedies seem to like to use it to demonstrate just how strange or freaky some characters are by, say, rising this way on the mention of their favorite food or after being punched in the face.

Compare Catapult Nightmare, the Muggle equivalent.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z - during the "warm-up" phase of Goku and Cell's fight, Goku knocks Cell over the edge of the arena. The (in-series) audience hopes for a ring-out, only for Cell to remind them all that he can fly by freezing and performing this trope in midair.

    Comic Books 
  • Galactus rose like this during the events of Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars. Doctor Doom was impressed.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington emerges from a coffin like this while dressed as Santa Claus. (Of note, he does it while facing down, which is unusual.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Fright Night. The vampire Jerry Dandridge rises up out of his coffin this way after a stake is pounded into his chest. Watch it in this trailer, starting at 1:40.
  • Played straight in Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la BÍte when the Beast is transformed into a handsome Prince. Done by having the actor fall backwards and reversing the film, of course.
  • The Ur Example and Trope Maker is almost certainly Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922).
  • Parodied in Dracula: Dead and Loving It , the Count (Leslie Nielsen) does the wakeup... and ends up hitting his forehead on a metal chandelier.
  • The New Zealand Comedy/Horror flick Undead (nothing to do with the other movie named The Undead) has the zombies who aren't head-shotted rise up this way with a cheerful "springy" sound effect.
  • Van Helsing. Dracula first melt the ice that fills his coffin, and then does this. In fact, he has an action figure that works like the one used as the page picture!
  • Smith gets up like this once after Neo knocks him down in The Matrix. Intentional reference?
  • Interestingly, the 1920 movie The Golem has the Golem wake up in this manner when he is uncautiously revived by the Rabbi's apprentice — two years before Nosferatu.
  • Dracula's first scene in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires has him doing this.
  • After Jessica Jones in Invitation to Hell is accidentally run over by a driver who was distracted by two hot chicks walking by, she gets back up like this and fries the guy with her powers.
  • Margaret in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering is shown doing this in her bed when she and other children suffer from the mysterious fever. Later, she does this in reverse when she is being used to bring Josiah into the physical realm for good.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Only Fools and Horses: Inverted by that time Del Boy fell through the bar.
  • In a Shout-Out to Nosferatu, Dracula rises like this in Young Dracula.
  • Angelus pulled this trick on Angel. Seeing as it's a spinoff of Buffy, which debuted six years earlier, it's remarkable that they resisted this trope for as long as they did. (The weirdness of this trope is actually invoked to remind the viewer that this is a weird, dream-walky place, right before Faith and Angelus start interacting with the memory-dream-projection-Angel.)
  • Doctor Who, "Image of the Fendahl": After Thea Ransome is possessed by the Fendahl, her body rises to its feet like this.
  • An episode of Young Indiana Jones has a vampire knocked down during a fight, then instantly do this and pop right back up again.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the first time Tommy returned, he used his temporary powers to get back the other Rangers' Power Coins (their power source) and was near death from the strain on his body (and having the tar beaten out of him while only at partial power.) Later, Power Coin energy surrounds him as he rises into the air and pivots to a standing position, and only once standing does he awaken. Turns out he'd absorbed enough power from the force field around the coins to rejoin the team for good (with plenty of scares that the temporary powers may yet give out.)
  • Supernatural. In "Monster Movie" a shapeshifting demon with a liking for monster movies does this when rising from a coffin as a Mummy.

    Music Videos 
  • The dancing interns of the Avicii song Levels

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The way WWE's The Undertaker sits bolt-upright after recovering from a knock down is similar to this trope.
  • The Undertaker's Brother Kane, also performs a similar bolt-upright sit up but his is more of an zombie-like sit up.

  • The trope illustration is a Burger King tie-in toy with Universal Studios; curiously, the Wolf Man toy did the same thing (emerging from a kind of crate or cellar with pivoting doors instead of a coffin with a pop-off lid).

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Vincent Valentine does this when you wake him up in Final Fantasy VII.
  • How vampires awaken in The Sims 2.
  • In Darkstalkers, Morrigan gets up this way. Although she cheats. Her wings turn into bats that push her up.
  • A zombie example: a similar animation is played in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim when a reanimate zombie spell is cast on someone's corpse. The body doesn't act rigid and realistically bends, but otherwise the effect is the same.
  • Rare heroic, non-vampiric example: when a party member is revived with a Zing or Kazing spell in Dragon Quest VIII, they levitate to a standing position in this manner, head and limbs hanging limp until they are almost completely upright, before opening their eyes and assuming their normal battle posture.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: In a non-vampire example, Sheen is laid out by the martial arts bad guy until Libby calls herself his girlfriend. This gives him the will to fight, and he suddenly just becomes vertical again and beats his opponent with The Power of Dance.
  • The Secret Saturdays: Argost does this in "The Thousand Eyes of Ahuizotl".

    Real Life 
  • With sufficient lower body and abdominal strength, one can stand up from a lying on the back position in a way similar to a pivotal wake-up.