Rope Bridge

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"Oh right, what daring do adventure would be complete without the precarious rope bridge?"

Any foot-based Chase Scene in the outdoors inevitably comes to a broad and incredibly deep chasm spanned only by a rickety rope-and-plank bridge. Naturally, the ropes on one end must be cut (or break due to their age) when the hero(es) are half-way across, so that they must hold on for dear life as the bridge swings down and slams into the side of a cliff. Never mind the predictable results of slamming into the cliff that fast.

Then, they have to climb back up...

A related trope is when the heroes make it across safely, but have to cut the ropes themselves to prevent their pursuers following them.

In other cases the rope bridge is an obstacle in itself. Many a band of brave adventurers find themselves walking one by one across the rickety bridge. Often a single plank will fall out from under the hero (or a Red Shirt) leaving them either hanging from the ropes or plummeting to their doom.

It's interesting in the field of Bamboo Technology that they can build elaborate death traps that work for a thousand years, but can't build a rope bridge that will last for ten. Who knows, maybe it's the water or the sea air.

In ice-bound regions, a snow bridge works on the same principle.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Futari wa Pretty Cure, episode 6, offers a subversion: The bad guy chases the girls onto the bridge, but he is too heavy for it; his first step snaps the ropes and breaks the planks, plunging him into the river below just as the girls reach the other end.
  • Subverted in Sailor Moon, episode 171. Sailor Venus and Pluto are being chased by Mooks across a Rope Bridge, which (predictably) fails before they reach the other end, causing the mooks to plummet down. Sailor Venus conjures a magical chain to support the two of them, and it seems that all they have to do is to climb up... but a Reveal Shot follows, showing that the other end of the chain is being held by the Big Bad, who happily releases it, causing the heroes to fall to certain doom. (They ironically survive because of the Big Bad's unwillingness to just let them die like that.)
  • Detective Conan
  • This occurred in Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy when Goku Jr. and Puck attempt to cross it.
  • Pokémon:
    • The first example occurred in the episode, "Bulbasaur and the Hidden Village", the protagonists attempt to cross a rope bridge, but the wind rips the bridge apart. Brock loses his grip and falls into the river while Ash manage to keep his grip and pulls himself to safety with Misty and Pikachu clinging on him.
    • Later episodes feature rope bridges and none or very few of them end without the bridge being destroyed.
    • Magical Pokémon Journey has a non-breaking rope bridge... that some Hoppips manage to fall off anyway (being so light that wind blows them around, they all wind up back on the bridge at the next breeze).
  • Variant in Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin purposely destroys the wooden bridge he and Misao are trapped on in order to avoid a fight and make the quickest getaway.
  • InuYasha: Jaken and Rin are confronted by a villain in the middle of a rope bridge. In a subversion, the bridge breaks because Jaken's attempt to defend himself and Rin relies on fire which burns the ropes and breaks the bridge causing all three of them to plunge into the gorge below.
  • Subverted in Fairy Tail. Confronted with a rope bridge, the group lets a clueless Natsu go across first. To their surprise, the bridge is perfectly safe. Only when they comment on this does Natsu realize what they did.
  • In Brave10, Kamanosuke, Disguised in Drag in attempt to execute a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, lures Saizo and Isanami onto a rope bridge, intending to attack them there as he would have the advantage. It doesn't go exactly as planned as Kakei was too frightened to cross and is able to use his gun at a distance from Kamanosuke's wind powers, but ultimately the bridge still gets severed with Kamanosuke holding Isanami hostage while Saizo falls down into the ravine.

    Films — Animation 
  • The climax of the first short of Saludos Amigos takes place on a collapsing rope bridge.
  • Subverted in Shrek. It does collapse, but only after being set on fire by a dragon (never mind that it was suspended over a lava pit). Previously it held up just fine despite a several-hundred pound ogre rocking back and forth on it to prove a point.
  • In the film version of Horton Hears a Who!, Horton has to cross a bridge to Mt. Nool with the entire Who planet dangling on a speck of dust on his trunk!
    Horton: Well, no need to worry. Obviously, when they build a bridge like this, they take into account that elephants will be crossing here.
  • Kung Fu Panda: A truly epic fight takes place on a rope bridge. The bridge is perfectly safe until the combatants start damaging it....
  • In the climax of The King and I animated movie.
  • A rope bridge over a river of lava serves as the entrance to Atlantis in Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire. It gets blown up by an explosives charge in the climax. Earlier, a rock bridge collapses as the expedition tries to escape an attack on their camp, sending everyone to the bottom, though unharmed and with their equipment intact and putting them much closer to Atlantis.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco only truly begins to become a better person after he and Pacha have to work together to survive the collapse of a rope bridge. (Something of a subversion in that they actually do fall off the bridge into the chasm, and are just lucky enough to get stuck in a choke-point before hitting the crocodile-infested river.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1943 The Phantom film serial, there's a rope bridge over a deep gorge that a gang of gun-runners need to transport their cargo across. The Phantom attempts to stop them by cutting the support ropes, but is caught in the act; a fight ensues that spills out onto the bridge, with bad guys tackling the Phantom left and right while the support ropes creak ominously and begin to part...
  • The 1993 The Phantom movie had a rope bridge the bad guys have to drive a truck over. Unsure if it will support the truck's weight, they force a native child to drive it over for them. It collapses while the bad guys are fleeing, allowing them to escape as the Phantom is forced to save the boy.
  • Lampshaded in The Librarian. While crossing a large wooden bridge, he expresses surprise that it would hold the weight, and bounces on the board. He falls through, and is rescued. Cue the bridge collapsing.
  • Bully cuts down one while being chased by the natives in Nate and Hayes.
  • Pandorum has a sci-fi take on this trope, with the old and damaged platform leading to the reactor. But instead of a Star Wars-type abyss the platform passes low over a horde of sleeping carnivorous mutants.
  • In the film Bushwacked, Daniel Stern and a group of kids have to cross a long rope bridge. Aside from one plank falling, the group make it across pretty quick - although one has to have a bit more encouragement from Daniel when he stops in the middle of the bridge. After the kids are across, Stern cuts the bridge to stop Jon Polito and Brad Sullivan from pursuing him.
  • In the 1992 film Godzilla Vs Mothra, three characters exploring an island have to cross a rope bridge, which begins to break while they're on it. Instead of holding onto it, the characters jump off (or rather one character pushes the other two off before jumping) into the river below — which is much closer to the bridge than usual.
  • In Just Before Dawn, one character encounters the killer at the end of one, who cuts his hand with his machete, and then the ropes holding the bridge. In the original draft of the film, the reveal of the killer having a twin brother was also supposed to happen in this scene.
  • The Colony has a bridge made of concrete and steel girders, but falling apart after years of harsh weather and neglect. The expedition leader does a Heroic Sacrifice blowing up the bridge to stop the cannibal tribe following them. However the remaining cannibals take the long way, and follow the Sole Survivor back to his colony.

    Literature 
  • Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) tells the story of a group of people who die when an Incan rope bridge in Peru collapses. The novel follows a priest, who had witnessed the accident, who goes around learning about the people who died and why the were on the bridge.
  • Subverted in Carpe Jugulum, when the rickety old rope bridge over a bottomless chasm is on a piece of magical ground, and to Perdita (who lacks any self-doubt) is simply a large stone across a ditch. There's also a description of the bridge as having a "negative quality", in that it looks less safe than jumping off the edge and hoping a gust of wind will carry you.
  • In Kushiel's Chosen, island prison La Dolorosa is connected to the mainland only by a rope bridge, which has two guards on the island side armed with axes, who can cut the bridge long before anybody gets across. Joscelin's solution? Climb along the underside of the bridge.
  • One of the first signs that something's up in Temple is the existing, already cut rope bridge. Several characters note that it's new, but Incan rope bridges rarely lasted more than three years. Not only is there a native tribe in the area, but they want to keep something on the tower of rock the temple is on.
  • The Commissar by Sven Hassel. The Squad have to winch their tanks across an icy platform-suspension bridge. A couple of ropes snap and the platform is left hanging on an angle, but no-one gets killed.
  • There used to a rope bridge spanning the great gorge in the Redwall series, but Slagar the Cruel burns it once he's finished crossing. The heroes then cross the gorge with a makeshift zipline, and later in the series a gigantic tree trunk is used as the bridge.
  • Ketrin: The entire (non-erotic) second half of Part Seven involves Ketrin's friend Sherinel having to cross a bridge with four lupinoid companions to get to the side of the river where he thinks Ketrin is. Subverted to the extent that it's not a rope bridge but a huge decaying wooden structure, but that just means that a) it takes a lot longer to get across, and b) it's slowly falling to bits while they're crossing it. And yes, it's hundreds of feet above a raging river.
  • In The Lord of the Rings parody Bored of the Rings, Goodgulf the wizard performs his You Shall Not Pass scene on a rope bridge which the Fellowship chop down with him on it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lost features a rope bridge that doesn't collapse when (very large) Hurley crosses it, but does when the much smaller Charlie follows him. It is possible that Hurley strained the bridge enough to weaken it so that it could break when Charlie tries to cross it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • A rope bridge shows up in the serial "The Keys of Marinus" in the very first season and is used to trap the protagonists on the wrong side of a chasm inside a spacious ice-cave. They put it back together with the help of stalactites (or were they stalagmites?) even though they clearly could have just jumped over the chasm.
    • In "Voyage of the Damned", they have to cross a sort of rickety-bridge. It's not made of rope, but one of the people shocks us by falling off before he gets on the bridge, and one jumps off voluntarily, taking the host with her, so it seems to fit the trope, or at least subverting it.
  • The Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode "Hero's Heart" starts with Iolaus having a crisis of confidence after failing to save a woman from falling from one of these.
  • MythBusters:
    • They demonstrated that you can build a 100 ft rope bridge, using nothing but duct tape. (It only took 196 rolls.)
    • In a 2012 episode, they took on the Cliffhanger rope bridge cut (well, severed with explosives) by the bad guys. Sorry, Stallone, but it's busted — you can't jump off a falling rope bridge. They also tested the common movie "solution" of hanging on to the bridge as it's falling, then trying to climb; they found that while it's surprisingly difficult (perhaps too difficult for most people, as Jamie failed to climb a relatively short distance), in many situations it's still a person's best chance of survival.

    Pinballs 

    Video Games 
  • Original Adventure (Colossal Cave Adventure) from the 1970s has you crossing a bridge where there is an angry bear on the other side which is guarding a valuable chain. You calm the bear down by feeding it, and then you have to make sure the bear isn't following you, because if you and the bear cross the bridge, it will collapse and you're killed.
  • The cast of Eternal Sonata make quite a scene about going across a fairly sturdy bridge that comes to nothing until a boss a little later in the game destroys it in a final blow.
  • Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and The Flame had a fight with an invincible skeleton on a rope bridge. The ropes hold, but the planks don't.
  • King's Quest II: Romancing The Throne has a notorious rope bridge you can only cross seven times before it breaks. Just traveling it once when you don't need to and then saving results in an Unwinnable situation. The fan remake has a stronger bridge — only the plot can break it.
  • There's a rope bridge near the start of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Surprisingly, it remains intact. but a traitor does throw Snake off it.note 
    • It's also possible to cut the rope bridge yourself. Here's a hint: don't cut the rope bridge yourself, or wait until you're off the bridge and shoot the ropes. Makes a good ambush tactic because when the bridge falls or wobbles it'll send the enemies on it flying to their deaths.
  • Final Fantasy VII has a rope bridge incident in Cloud's past; however, it isn't part of a chase scene; some adventurous kids just fall afoul of a rickety old bridge.
  • Used for dramatic effect in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in the very-first level. The bridge is pretty rickety in the first place, missing a long line of boards in the middle, and after you jump across there (killing half a dozen mooks in the process), other enemies cut the ropes behind you... of course, Wolverine is far too awesome to just fall down, so instead, he sticks his claws into the planks, and crawls up the bridge as it hangs vertical along the cliffside... killing half a dozen mooks along the way.
  • Blockland: This is true of virtually every rope bridge. Ever. It actually got to the point where a rope bridge was built and advertised simply because it didn't collapse.
  • Heart of Darkness: During the attack on the Amigos' village by the Master's winged minions, Andy has to cross one of these, and, unsurprisingly, it comes crashing down thanks to a stray fireball.
  • The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang has a rope bridge on Fighter Island that automatically breaks when Spike reaches its middle, plunging him into a brief Roaring Rapids sequence.
  • Dark Souls 2: The Dragon Aerie has numerous rope bridges, though most of them are safe and sturdy. The final, very long rope bridge, however, can be broken by the drakes flying around the area, and they will do so while you're on it if you broke any of their eggs on the way through.
  • Dark Souls 3 has a couple of rope bridges. Though they creak as you cross them, they won't actually break unless someone cuts the rope with a weapon (which turns one end of the bridge into a makeshift ladder to a hidden area). Players simply love trolling enemies or other players in PvP by luring them onto the bridge and then collapsing it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dusky Bridge in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations. Which, unlike most examples of the trope, actually stood up despite having large gaps... until it was struck by lightning and caught on fire. Phoenix actually tried to cross it at this point, but it (of course) failed.

    Web Original 
  • Survival of the Fittest version three has a rope bridge over a ravine, but subverts the collapsing part by having it be about as durable as you'd expect from a bridge on a military base. Gabe McCallum lampshades this while crossing it and wondering if it'll fall, reminding himself that the military wouldn't risk men and equipment by making a bridge that wasn't sturdy.

    Western Animation 
  • Samurai Jack: On one of his journeys, Jack encounters massive rope bindings and wooden posts the size of buildings in no small amount, all leading up this trope. It quickly becomes clear that all the support was justified when it's shown that the bridge is literally several days long.
  • South Park: Chef is killed by falling off a collapsing rope bridge, into a chasm, where he is impaled on jagged rocks. He is then attacked and pulled apart by pumas and grizzly bears. After all that, he is revived (and turned into Darth Vader) by the "Super Adventurers Club."
  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied and subverted in the episode "Mr. Plow," where Homer has to drive over one of these in a truck - at least, so it seems until he gets halfway across, whereupon he looks over only to see a perfectly sturdy-looking iron suspension bridge just a few hundred metres down the road that he could have used instead.
    • In the episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much," Bart crosses then tears down a rope bridge while playing hookie, in a futile attempt to evade Principal Skinner.
    • Played around in "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" when the Simpsons went on a Japanese game show to win plane tickets back to Springfield. After humiliating and painful tasks, they family must grab the tickets off a rope bridge suspended over a volcano. The bridge snapped and the family fell into the lava, which turns out to be orange juice loaded with wasabi.
  • For no apparent reason, one episode of Dungeons & Dragons starts with the kids crossing one of these in a thunderstorm; naturally it fulfills the trope by collapsing halfway through. (Heaven only knows how they got Eric onto the thing in the first place.)
  • On Beavis and Butt-Head, an angel comes to Butt-Head on a stormy night and tries to kill him by goading him into walking over one of these. In an inversion of the Stock Parody of "It's a Wonderful Life." he shows Butt-Head how much better the world would be without him, which bores Butt-Head so much he ignores the bridge and goes home.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Devil's Tower". While making their escape from the title place, our heroes have to cross a rope bridge while an insane World War I German war criminal is throwing grenades at them from a biplane. One of the grenades hits the bridge and breaks it while Dr. Quest is crossing it, requiring him to be pulled to safety.
  • An episode of Gummi Bears centered around replacing an old rope bridge. The replacement is too durable, and leaves the Gummis open to an invasion.
  • An episode of Captain N: The Game Master had a scene with a deteriorating rope bridge. Fortunately there was a stalactite hanging just above the unstable post on the far end, which, when blasted loose by Kevin, impaled the rope and pinned it safely to the cliff.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode Tyger, Tyger, Batman fights Tygrus, a giant half-human cat man, on a decaying rope bridge. The bridge snaps with Tygrus deflects one of Batman's batarangs, cutting the rope.
  • My Little Pony: Shows up in the pilot. Part of the first route the focal ponies and their human ally Megan attempt to take to Midnight Castle involves a rope bridge that collapses with Megan and Applejack on it, dropping them into the river mouth below. They are rescued (and treated to a Busby Berkeley Number) by the Sea Ponies.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In homage to the above, in the second part of the pilot to Generation 4, the Mane Six must cross a rope bridge to reach the castle where the Elements of Harmony lay. Twilight Sparkle goes first but the ropes are severed as she starts to cross. The others pull her up and Rainbow Dash retrieves the bridge, allowing them to retie the ropes and continue on their way.
    • Lampshaded in "Stranger Than Fan Fiction". At the sight of one, Quibble Pants asks "Oh right, what Daring Do adventure would be complete without the precarious rope bridge?" and sees it as further proof that he's in a LARP. When the bridge crumples under his hooves, he concludes... that it is a LARP of dubious safety.
  • George of the Jungle: George has cross one of these but Ape doesn't think it's sturdy enough to hold Shep, George's pet elephant who he thinks is a dog — so George carries Shep over instead.
  • In the episode "Zuko Alone" of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko encounters one of these, a plank falling out from under his ostrich-horse. He and his animal make it.
  • Rope bridges appear at least twice in Care Bears.
    • In "Caring for Spring", Beastly uses a Paper-Thin Disguise to lure Hugs and Tugs to the wrong side of a bridge. They cross, and Beastly starts cutting the rope. They cross just before the bridge collapses, but now they are stuck on the wrong side.
    • In "The Fountain of Youth", the characters want to cross a bridge. Chief Brave Heart wants to proceed with caution, but Champ Bear rushes forward and falls through a loose plank. Brave Heart rescues Champ. Also, Beastly and Shreeky want to cut the rope but don't do so in time.
  • In Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun, no sooner does the narrator tell us that an expedition "faced every possible danger imaginable" that they are shown crossing this rickety trope.

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