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Roofhopping

"I can jump roof-to-roof and get my friends free cable! It's badass."
Sifl And Olly, "Ninja of the Night"

Rapid transit through an urban or suburban area by means of extraordinary leaps from housetop to housetop. Can be found in martial arts and Sentai series. Sometimes it's in live action movies.

Helps someone get across town quickly without running into obstacles on the ground and keep their destination in sight. Also a lot easier to draw than a busy street. For a reality check, the world record for running long jump is just under 30' (9m), while a typical two-lane street in America is 22' (6.5m). And that's not including sidewalks or setbacks between the street and the building's footprint, which may be required in some places. So while this trope would be easier in some countries and neighborhoods than in others, doing it in New York City would require a Charles Atlas Superpower at the very least.

A related trope common from American Super Hero stories is the Building Swing. Real-life roofhopping is an element of Le Parkour. When performed on moving vehicles, it's Hood Hopping.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Roofhopping is the favorite mode of travel for many martial artists in Ranma ½.
  • And from the same author, InuYasha.
  • Nuku-Nuku and Eimi both do a lot of roofhopping in All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku.
  • The ninjas in Naruto also make use of roofhopping whenever they're in a city, and treehopping whenever they're not.
  • The first season of Sailor Moon had several instances of implied roofhopping, in that the girls leapt off into the sky and vanished into the distance. As well, Zoisite also engaged in roofhopping in one anime episode, while he was disguised as Sailor Moon.
  • Meimi, as Kaitou Saint Tail, does quite a bit of roofhopping to get around.
  • Kurumi does a fair amount of roofhopping in Steel Angel Kurumi 2.
  • Lupin the Third and Jigen, escaping the bad guys who attack their room at the inn in The Castle of Cagliostro. And Lupin continues this trick as he breaks into the castle to speak with the Princess again.
  • The few creatures who can't fly in Blood+ — like the Cif — move around this way.
  • Shinigami who have mastered flash steps roof hop in place of flight in Bleach
  • Most everyone with any power in Kekkaishi can do this. The Kekkaishi themselves, however, go Kekkai-hopping (leaping on magic airborne boxes).
  • Major Motoko Kusanagi is fond of roof-hopping, even roof-diving off skyscrapers without a parachute, in the Japanese anime TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. 2nd GIG (aka. Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex) (2002-2005). Well, every main character with a full cyberbody does it, and the Tachikoma robots as well. The tachikoma who resemble mechanical spiders can climb up and down walls or shoot sticky ropes, Spiderman-style, to lasso opponents and swing themselves around buildings, too. There's considerable less roof-hopping in the Ghost in the Shell movie versions (1995, 2004, 2006) though.
  • All the Seven Angels and the Seven Seals in X/1999. The series loves this one.
    • Not to mention hopping off and standing on lampposts and such.
  • Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 has the Knight Sabers using their Powered Armor to do this
  • Lime, Cherry, and all of the marionettes in Saber Marionette J. Lime is also shown roofhopping while on her job as a delivery person in Saber Marionette J To X.
  • Renamon from Digimon Tamers does this a fair bit in the first part of the series, before they go to the Digital World.
    • Impmon's shown to travel this way a few times as well. Usually with Calumon following him.
  • Kei Kurono enjoys a bit of Sky Scraper hopping in Gantz.
  • Belldandy — yes, Belldandy — did it once in the manga.
  • Given the size of Mahora Academy, this is standard for the magically-informed in Mahou Sensei Negima!. Since a mages are obligated to keep the Masquerade, an explanation about a spell in place to prevent the Muggles from seeing was once given - we later find out that environmental damage is still in effect, so dented lampposts and torn shingles aren't uncommon. Poor Muggles...
  • Panther does this recreationally and for exercise in Eyeshield 21 since the racist coach wouldn't let him train with the rest of the team and Panther isn't too well off, hopping off the roof of apartment buildings was just convenient.
  • Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne and her rival Sinbad Roof Hop frequently. They are art thieves, after all, divine mission or no, and what better way to escape from the apparently almost completely incapable police and Maron's mildly obsessed best friend?
  • Train from Black Cat. Most notably when he was trying to rescue kidnapped Sven.
  • Occurs in Noir, in the midst of a battle, no less. Portrayed somewhat more realistically, in that the characters actually look before they leap and don't seem to be magically capable at it.
  • Occurs in a flashback in Kiddy Grade, wherein Lumière piggybacks on Éclair while Éclair hops from rooftop to rooftop gracefully.
  • The street kids' primary method of transportation in Tekkon Kinkreet. They are often seen covering impossible distances and jumping up entire buildings.
  • Fushigi Yuugi features Tamahome and Tasuki chasing Amiboshi, who posed as Chiriko from roof to roof.
  • Somewhat lampshaded in the One Piece Water 7 arc, everyone (including the Straw Hat crew) is impressed by shipwright Kaku's ability to jump great distances to the point of nearly flying (part byproduct of having undergone special martial arts training like the rest of CP9). Later, Chopper and Nami must awkwardly run across rooftops to free Luffy, who is stuck between two buildings, and Zoro, stuck in a chimney.
    • In the Dressrosa arc, Robin, Rebecca and Bartolomeo use the "Tontatta airlines jumping service" to jump from roof to roof and get to the King's Plateau in time to meet up with Luffy's group there.
  • Louis from the beginning of Darker Than Black.
  • Arf does this in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha after Bardiche and Raising Heart are damaged while clashing over a Jewel Seed.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has the two mask duelists who constantly jump across buildings.
  • Bulga in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo once hops between telephone poles. Otherwise, the girls usually to fly.

    Comic Books 
  • Inverted in an issue of Catwoman. During an adventure in Miami, she notes that the trick doesn't work so well in other cities when she runs out of rooftops.
  • The Tick oh ho ho ho, The Tick. Due to being Nigh Invulnerable, Super Strong and being built like a linebacker on steroids, he tends to leave footprints on the roofs during jumps. When he visits Europe for a superhero exchange program, he's forced to go pedestrian because his roof-hopping antics damaged historical buildings.
  • In 1963, the Fury is a Badass Normal lacking any superpowers but possessing incredible agility. His standard form of transportation? Rapidly running and jumping across the roofs of buildings, leading to the nickname "Roofrunner".
  • In Astro City, this is occasionally shown as transportation for the more acrobatic street-level heroes. At one point, Jack-in-the-Box is followed across the roofs by a hooting gang called The Rowdy Boys who chase him across roofs to build up their Le Parkour skills.
  • Sin City does this with Marv in the first comic (also in the movie version). Miho is often shown doing this from time to time. In one story, she did it while wearing rollerblades.
  • Done by Glenn and Rick in The Walking Dead. Rick almost misses the first time, due to being weighed down by a bag of guns.
  • In Kick-Ass, Dave decides against doing this, because the roofs are too far apart. Hit Girl and Big Daddy, on the other hand, do it with ease.

     Commercials 
  • Subverted in a DirectTV ad, in which a guy trying to be a Real Life Superhero attempts this feat and falls through a skylight into a dinner party.

    Fanfiction 

    Film 
  • In musical comedy Le Million, petty thief Grandpa Tulip is introduced doing this as he flees from police.
  • A very silly Fatty Arbuckle film called The Knockout has this as part of a long Chase Scene, after Fatty's character, an amateur boxer, pulls a gun on his opponent and chases him out of the ring.
  • Films set in Brazil will likely have at least one of these scenes, since the homes are tightly packed. Examples include The Incredible Hulk and Fast Five.
  • In the film of Hellboy, this is Hellboy's preferred method of tracking what Liz Sherman and John Myers are doing on their 'going out for coffee' walk. Here Del Toro shows the risky chance of encountering civilians on rooftops - milk-and-cookie-distributing-civilians, but still. Hellboy, even with his superman abilities, still nearly misses one of the jumps.
  • A live-action version can be seen in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
  • The Matrix had a Chase Scene that involved Agents Roof Hopping after Trinity. Part way through, the whole thing is Lampshaded when a cop, seeing an agent jump an unbelievable distance following Trinity, says, "That's impossible!" This is also the first hint we get that the action is not, in fact, taking place in the real world.
    • There's also the infamous "Whoa" scene, where Morpheus shows Neo how to do it. Neo fails the first time.
  • Disney's Aladdin has roof-pole-vaulting.
  • The movie version of Spider-Man goes roofhopping before he learns how to use his web-shooters. The sequel also contain a memorable scene in which he attempts (and fails) roofhopping in order to revive his lost powers.
  • Eric Draven of The Crow uses this to get around Detroit and get the drop on Tin Tin, and to escape from the cops after the big shootout with Top Dollar's men.
  • Dirty Harry in The Enforcer is chasing a suspect all over the roofs of half of San Francisco, while his partner, Inspector Moore, is trying to figure out where he is going by following along from the street, until she finds the church that they burst into and she does the same.
    • Years later, Clint Eastwood chases John Malkovich over rooftops in In the Line of Fire, though not as successfully.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum: One of the most impressive sequences, where the near superhuman Jason Bourne was leaping from rooftops to catch up to his ally Nicky and protect her from an assassin. Made believable in that it took place in Tangier, where the buildings are very crowded, and the fact that Nicky tries the same thing and barely makes it herself. (The only question is how Bourne and the assassin were able to follow her in the near labyrinth-like buildings)
    • A similar chase occurs in The Bourne Legacy.
  • Vertigo: Subverted. The main character tries going rooftop hopping to catch a criminal... but his policeman colleague falls to his death, causing the protagonist to develop the titular vertigo.
    • Adrian Monk's many phobias include vertigo, of course, and the scene in the pilot where Monk grips a ladder a few steps off the ground, unable to go Roofhopping after a criminal are similar to Vertigo's.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie introduces Hyde in this way, in Paris.
  • Batman does this in his Cool Car in Batman Begins. It's quite amusing listening to a pursuing cop trying to explain that the mystery car they are chasing is on the roofs.
    • He also tries it on foot, before developing his Batman persona. He learns it's not easy at all. Ouch!
  • Catwoman used this trope, but with noticeably unnatural movement in the CGI.
  • 30 Days of Night's vampires are also big fans, though they mainly do it in the background of shots.
  • Casino Royale uses this in the opening scenes, with James Bond performing jumps that would have resulted in agony and likely broken legs for anyone else.
  • The Living Daylights has Bond in a rooftop escape from the police in Tangier.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens has Ginormica roofhopping to escape the alien robot. (Don't ask how the roofs don't crumble under her feet.) She jumps to one tilted roof that's too far for her, scrambles to hold on as she slips down, loses her grip... and safely lands on the ground, since she's almost as tall as the building.
  • Rumble in the Bronx, where Jackie Chan jumped from a parking garage to a fire escape, breaking his ankle.
    • The ankle breaking actually happened in a much "easier" jump. Onto a moving hovercraft!
  • Watchmen: Rorschach does this early on, while breaking into Dr. Manhattan's facility. He leaps from one roof to another, a distance that looks about 17 feet long going by the 5'5" Jackie Earle Haley.
  • Subverted in Kickass; the titular character initially tries to train himself to roof hop as a means of getting around the city, but quickly realises how unfeasable it is. He eventually settles for walking around at street level. Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are able to do this casually.
  • Blade Runner: Rick Deckard tries to do this and just barely manages to catch onto a beam sticking out of the building on the other side, Roy Batty on the other hand (owing to his genetically engineered strength), does manage, and proceeds to rescue Deckard from his predicament.
  • The chimney sweep scene in Mary Poppins is a song and dance number on rooftops.
  • Dark City has a few roof hopping scenes, in fact one of the sets used in The Matrix's roof hopping scenes was a left over from Dark City.
  • Averted in Die Hard with a Vengeance. A police officer and a couple of schoolkids climb up onto the roof of the locked building with the intent of jumping to an adjacent building to escape from the bomb, but when they get there, they realize the distance is too far.
  • Optimus Prime in the first live-action Transformers film.
  • Safety Last! leads up to Harold Lloyd selling a publicity stunt where he'll climb up the side of the multistory department store he works at, arranging with a professional climber friend to surreptitiously switch places at the second floor. His friend gets pursued by a policeman he's in bad with, though, and keeps having to head further up in the building, forcing Harold to keep climbing. The film ends with Harold successfully getting to the top, while his friend is several rooftops away, still being chased.
  • Done werewolf style in The Wolfman (2010)!
  • Kung Fu Panda 2. As he's about to be blasted by Lord Shen's cannons, Po avoids this by the simple method of jumping from one rooftop to another, as the cannons are too heavy and cumbersome to move quickly. It helps that he's on a Chinese multi-inclined roof, so all Po has to do is go down.

    Literature 
  • In God Stalk, book one of P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, the Cloudies of Tai-tastigon live their entire lives on the roofs of the city, which is their Cloud Kingdom, and refuse to allow ground-dwellers to climb up there. Many of them have never set foot on the ground. Jame, the books' protagonist, saves a prince of the Cloud Kingdom and is given the freedom of the skies; after that, she prefers the rooftops to the streets.
  • Doorways in the Sand by Roger Zelazny: The main character is a roof hopping building climber among other things.
  • The whole setting for Christopher Fowler's Roofworld. There's a whole subculture way above the streets of London, hopping over the roofs and ziplining on the telephone cables.
  • Un Lun Dun by China Miéville: A roof-hopping subculture features, which makes it a point of pride never to leave the roofs. But all is not as it seems.
  • In Felix Gilman's Thunderer, Jack and his gang often use this to get around within Ararat.
  • Jimmie Dale, the Gray Seal, did some roofhopping at least once. (Possibly the Burrage Spring-Heeled Jack did, too.)
  • Discworld: Assassins are expected to be able to do this. Pyramids in particular features the main character doing quite a bit of roof hopping.
  • One of the characters in The Alienist demonstrates remarkable abilities traveling roofs and other urban structures.
  • This is a very common way of getting around for the titular extraordinarily empowered individuals of Mistborn, since they can telekinetically push and pull on metals.
  • The climax of Changes is a roof-hopping race between Mags and two assassins.

    Live Action TV 
  • The live action version of Sailor Moon, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, made one attempt at showing roofhopping. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't anything to show to the Emmy committee, either.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy does some roof hopping chasing after the last bus out of Sunnydale in the final episode.
  • Seinfeld: Kramer does roof hopping while being chased by his cable guy.
  • Criminal Minds: An unsub tries (and fails) to do this in an attempt to escape arrest in the episode "Tabula Rasa". Morgan follows, with considerably greater success.
  • Jim on No Ordinary Family uses this method to get around when he's patrolling the city. However he leaves small craters on the rooftops.
  • In the Southland season 3 finale, a suspect tries to do this with Officer Sherman pursuing. The suspect succeeds the first time, but he's not so lucky on the second.
  • The one generally admired part of BBC One's much-derided 2002 presentation revamp was Rush Hour, a 90-second short film of roofhopping that would be used either as a straight promo or sometimes as an extended ident into programmes. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAMAr8y-Vtw]
  • Historical Korean Series are good for this, among them Sungkyunkwan Scandal and Iljimae.
  • In the pilot of the short-lived sci-fi series Something Is Out There, the first clue the cop protagonist has that the woman he's chasing is not of this Earth is when she leaps across to the next building.
  • Done in several cop shows, with the kicker being that the person attempting this (usually the criminal being pursued), is unable to make it across.
  • Randall, from The Walking Dead attempts this, and fails spectacularly.

    Manhwa 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Prodigious Leap fu schtick from Feng Shui lends itself quite nicely to this and other uses.

    Video Games 
  • The Matrix Online enables characters to accomplish similar feats by means of the Hyper-Jump ability.
  • City of Heroes allows players who take the "Super Jump" ability to duplicate this feat with ease, and those who take "Acrobatics" to a slightly lesser extent.
  • Altaïr of Assassin's Creed I can use this to go pretty much anywhere he pleases.
    • As can Ezio in the sequels.
    • This also includes thieves, guards (except those in heavy armor), mercenaries, and witnesses.
      • In fact, running on roofs is the standard and quickest means of getting anywhere in the whole franchise.
    • Slightly averted in Assassins Creed III, where buildings tend to be lower and farther apart from each other in colonial Boston and New York. You can still do it, but you'd have a hard time crossing the entire town without touching the ground.
  • The second Prince of Persia trilogy (Sands of Time, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones), inspired by Parkour just like Assassin's Creed (and from the same development team), have some instances of this.
    • The first level of Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow And The Flame has the Prince running over the palace roof.
  • One of the most impressive abilities of high-level Agents in Crackdown.
  • If you play your skills just right, you can do this in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It's VERY entertaining.
    • In Morrowind, you can attain this ability by exploiting certain glitches.
      • Or just level your acrobatics up to 100 or so. Never had to touch the ground in some towns.
      • And the Jump spell effect helps at any Acrobatics level. Roofhopping was also possible in Daggerfall.
  • Mirror's Edge is often all about this trope done with Le Parkour on top of skyscrapers.
  • The preferred method of travel for living humans in Urban Dead is roof-hopping. Preferred because the alternative involves running through the zombie-infested streets till you are lucky enough to find a building that ISN'T barricaded.
  • One level in The Warriors had you jumping across rooftops to flee from enemies chasing you.
  • An effective way to avoid, or just sneak up on the general mook population in some of the Tenchu villages.
  • Exercised extensively in the Sly Cooper series to avoid mook patrols.
  • Cole does this all the time in Infamous. Sucker Punch likes this trope.
  • Suzu, in the opening of Tales of Phantasia.
  • Alex Mercer from Prototype can both use Le Parkour and In a Single Bound. This is the natural extension.
  • Canabalt plays it straight.
  • The green boy teaches this to you in But That Was Yesterday.
  • Beyond Good & Evil: The chase sequence.
  • The Agent in Crackdown. Build your Agility Skill high enough, and you can make some truly vertigo-inducing leaps. This is arguably the better way to get around, as opposed to running or driving the streets.
  • Recurring in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto IV, when the player pursues targets on foot.
  • One level of Dark Messiah requires you to chase a ghoul across the rooftops of Stonehelm.
  • BIT.TRIP Runner has this in the last few levels. There was intended to be much more of this, but this game was still in development when Canabalt came out, so the roof emphasis was removed.
  • Hudson, Clarke, and Weaver found themselves doing this in Kowloon in Call of Duty: Black Ops, leading to Hudson's reaction of "You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me!" The difficulty of this is Lampshaded as the only reason the characters survive is because Clarke has pre-rigged their landing with a pile of mattresses.
  • In Team Fortress 2, this can be done as strategy for most of the classes, but the Scout is especially adept in hopping around high places as shortcuts other classes can't reach and can only rake with withering sniper fire, rockets, nades, etc.
  • The Saboteur lets you do this in the unique rooftops of Paris.
  • This was possible in The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and Morrowind. Oblivion drastically nerfed jump height, leaving very few places where a rooftop could be reached at all, let alone from another.
  • The ninja Oboromaru could do this during his introductory chapter in Live A Live.
  • As the name suggests, a large part of the level "Rooftop Run" from Sonic Unleashed involves this.
  • The main theme of the Graffiti City racetrack from Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed utilizes this trope.
  • The protagonist of Need For Speed The Run is forced to do this to escape from his pursuers. Rather predictably, it goes poorly when he misses a jump and falls painfully to the street below. He then beats up a cop and steals his police car.

    Web Original 
  • The web fiction serial Dimension Heroes is rife with instances of this, usually committed by Rob and Wyn.
  • Hilariously averted in the IMP/IMP XS/VVV crossover Christmas special "An IMP Crossmas"; when Talking Cactus and the former LSU girls engage in a "rooftop chase", it really consists of them driving buildings around like cars from the rooftop.
  • In Chapter 9.2 of Worm, Flechette mentions that Brockton Bay isn't as well suited to this as her native New York because of the varying building heights. That doesn't stop both Shadow Stalker and the Undersiders from traveling this way on occasion, however, as both of them have the ability to perform superhuman jumps — Shadow Stalker in her shadow form, and the Undersiders when riding Bitch's dogs.

    Western Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Real Life 
  • In crowded parts of the world like parts of Europe and India, roof hopping is made much easier because the roofs may only be a metre apart. However, roof construction in some of these older buildings is mainly just light timber structure, roof tiles and... well, nothing else. You can also very easily go through the roof. Don't try this at a series of someone else's homes.
  • Tony Hawk once cleared the gap between two buildings on a skateboard.

Rooftop ConfrontationBuilding TropesSecret Path
Rollercoaster MineChase SceneRope Bridge
Rise to the ChallengeDangerous HeightsRooftop Confrontation
Recognition FailureImageSource/PhotographyScrew the Rules, I'm Beautiful!

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