Pulling the Rug Out

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A classic piece of Slapstick, this trick consists of grabbing hold of the rug (or other floor covering) that someone is standing on and yanking it towards you. The target will find their feet being dragged along with the rug and out from under them, causing them to topple to the floor.

This is the origin of the idiom "[to] pull the rug from under them", meaning to put someone at a disadvantage by suddenly withdrawing support from them.

Super Trope to Super Rug-Pull.

Compare Tablecloth Yank, a related trope where a tablecloth is pulled out from under a vase of flowers on a table, leaving the flowers still standing.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • In the Scrooge McDuck story The Black Knight, the Ducks lay out a red carpet in front of Scrooge's money vault to celebrate an occasion. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun later on when the indestructible Black Knight Arpin Lusene breaks into Scrooge's money bin with the intent to dissolve his entire fortune. While looking down Scrooge gets the idea to pull the carpet out from under Lusene and send him falling straight the floor inside his dissolving suit, a pile of diamonds (the one mineral unaffected by it) breaking his fall.
  • In Marvel Team-Up #30, Spider-Man and The Falcon defeat Midas the Golden Man by pulling the rug out from under him and sending him out the window.
  • In his first appearance in Smash Comics #1, the Invisible Hood defeats a crook who is holding him at gunpoint by pulling the rug out from under him. The sheer unlikeliness of his being able to perform this act without getting shot is highlighted in this blog post.

    Films — Animation 
  • In 101 Dalmatians, Perdita takes out one of the Badduns by yanking the rug out from under him, causing him to fall into the fireplace.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played for Laughs in The Three Musketeers (1973). Near the end of the movie D'Artagnan confronts several guards inside the palace. He grabs the rug they're standing on and tries to pull it out from under them, but only succeeds in ripping off the edge of the rug.

    Literature 
  • In The Doomfarers of Coramonde by Brian Daley, this is how Springbuck kills Strongblade at the climax of the novel. Being driven back by Strongblade's magical flaming sword Flarecore, Springbuck retreats to the edge of the dais they are fighting on so he is off the carpet covering most of the dais but Strongblade is still standing on it. Springbuck parries an overhead blow and kneels and grabs the carpet and yanks it. Strongblade is only driven to one knee but Springbuck in desperation loops the carpet around Strongblade's sword and arm, entangling him in the carpet that instantly bursts into flame. Strongblade in panic entangles himself further in the carpet trying to extricate himself and burns to death.

    Live-Action TV 
  • MacGyver: In "Three for the Money", Mac tries to talk down a belligerent drunk who is spoiling for a fight. When it becomes obvious he cannot get away from the fight, Mac tales off his leather jacket and lays it on the ground; saying he doesn't want it to get damaged in the fight. Predictably, the drunk immediately stands on the jacket. Mac then yanks it out from under his feet, dropping the drunk and stopping the fight before it starts.
  • The Avengers: Used as a method of murder in "Look - (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers...". The two murderous clowns slide a length of red carpet under Lord Dessington's door. When the distracted Dessington steps on it, they yank it out from under his feet, and Dessington plummets to his doom out of an open window.

    Video Games 
  • In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, this is how you defeat the Tough Possessor. It possesses a suit of armor which you must lure onto a carpet so you can suck it up with the Poltergust, causing the armor to fall over.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In Porky's Romance, Porky Pig is attempting to propose to his girlfriend Petunia when her spoiled dog Fluffnums pulls a mean-spirited trick on Porky by pulling the rug out from under him and the fickle and selfish Petunia laughs at him, causing Porky to leave the house and walk off in shame.
    • Porky Pig's Feat, has Daffy Duck pulling the rug out from under the hotel manager, causing him to fall down several flights of stairs.
  • Tom and Jerry: In "Mouse Cleaning", Tom is trying desperately to keep the house tidy while Mammy is out. At one point, Jerry juggles lots of eggs, then throws them; Tom catches and juggles them himself, but Jerry has also started spinning a pie plate on a fork. Tom manages to take that over, too, but then Jerry pulls the rug out (literally). Tom catches the eggs in a carton, but the pie hits him.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?", Robin knocks a thug standing on a table off his feet by pulling out the tablecloth. "I love that trick, but I can never make it work."

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