Potentially more dangerous than what's chasing you.
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
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- 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 survive, of course â€” ironically, because of the Big Bad's unwillingness to just let them die like that.)
- Lampshaded in episode 33 of Detective Conan: The kids get to the other side a rope bridge without a problem and Conan comments that this kind of bridge would always fall if it was in a movie... at which point, the old ropes suddenly come apart and the bridge completely collapses, leaving them with no way back.
- In the seventh movie, Hattori Heiji rides a motorbike over a collapsing rope bridge.
- This occurred in Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy when Goku Jr. and Puck attempt to cross it.
- The first Pokémon 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 Pokemon 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.
- How do the Mane 5, Spike, and Luna make their way to the moon in the second story-arc of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW)? By lassoing it and pulling it closer to the Earth and using the rope as a 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.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where Indiana Jones himself cuts the bridge when trapped in the middle by bad guys on both sides.
- Romancing the Stone
- Though that was really a trestle bridge. It was a hazard anyway.
- The Amazing Panda Adventure
- Averted in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, where the rope bridge does not sway dangerously, snap, or get cut. It's just a bridge.
- 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.
- 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!
"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 was perfectly safe before the combatants started damaging it....
- 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.
- In the climax of The King and I animated movie.
- Bully cuts down one while being chased by the natives in Nate and Hayes.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail: The Bridge of Death. Although old and rickety it's perfectly functional.
- 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.
- A rope bridge over a river of lava serves as the entrance to Atlantis in Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
- 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 the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, 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 but lampshaded in The Silver Chair. Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum come to a giant stone bridge spanning a canyon. Puddleglum, who sees a down side to everything, is reluctant to take it, theorizing it's just too convenient and will probably vanish into thin air or something when they're halfway across.
- 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.
- Northern Lights
- 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.
- In Tamora Pierce's last The Immortals book, Daine and Numair are attacked while crossing a rickety rope bridge (says Daine: "It could be worse. It could be raining!"), although it doesn't actually collapse.
- The Commissar by Sven Hassel. The Squad have to winch their tanks across a 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 featured a rope bridge that didn't collapse when (very large) Hurley crossed it, but did when the much smaller Charlie followed him.
- It is possible that Hurley strained the bridge enough to weaken it so that it could break when Charlie tried to cross it.
- In Doctor Who, a Rope Bridge showed up in the serial "The Keys of Marinus" in the very first season and was 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.
- The MythBusters 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.
- Dusky Bridge in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials And 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.
- Original Adventure (Colossal Caves 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. Surprisingly, it remains intact. but a traitor does throw Snake off it.
- 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.
- Super Mario Bros. features two giant rope bridges infested with jumping Cheep Cheeps.
- It's debatable whether they're meant to be rope bridges, since they're always parallel to the bottom of the screen and they never sag or sway, although this may be due to gameplay limitations. The graphics leave a lot of ambiguity as to what material they're made of. At any rate, definite rope bridges appear in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
- And Hightail Falls from Super Mario Galaxy 2 composes entirely of planets held together by a planet-sized rope bridge.
- Donkey Kong Country and its successors get lots of mileage out of this trope (although the bridges are usually sturdy).
- Unsurprisingly, the last levels of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and the "Temple of Doom" segment of Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures have Indy walking along a rope bridge.
- 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.
- Certain mountain passes in The Magic Candle have gaps that can't be crossed without a rope. Mercifully, the rope will stay there as a permanent bridge and never break. (And if that's not good enough, you can use the Flee command to skip right over the map square in question!)
- 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.
- Mercilessly parodied — and ultimately subverted — in South Park, in which 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."
- Parodied and subverted in The Simpsons 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.)
- 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.)
- On Beavis And Butthead, an angel comes to Butthead 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 Butthead how much better the world would be without him, which bores Butthead 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.
- Fred Flintstone RUNS across one of these - carrying his car - scaring his costars half to death in the process. (They were in the car.)
- In one episode of X-Men, a depowered Magneto and Professor X stumble across one of these in the Savage Land while fleeing a vertigo-inducing supervillainess; eventually they just grab on tightly and cut the thing, which gets them out of her area of influence.
- Subverted in Futurama, where a rickety rope bridge turns out to be a perfectly safe conveyor belt.
- 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.
- These popped up all the time on DuckTales.
- An episode of Captain N: The Game Master had a scene with a deteriorating rope bridge. Fortunately there was a stalactite handing 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.
- The Duckman episode "Short Plush and Deadly" manages to feature one of these and an Inevitable Waterfall
- 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.
- In homage to the above, in the second part of the pilot to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the Mane 6 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.
- George of the Jungle: George has to 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 Tin Tin: 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.
Truth In Television
- Obviously, these historically existed; else, where would the trope come from?
- The part where the bridge breaks is at least plausible; the only surviving Inca rope bridge has to have its grass-rope cables replaced every year.
- There is a reason why people who build these bridges prefer to use metal chains.
- Smaller versions of these exist over chasms in the mountains of Morocco (for those unaware, Morocco has tons of rivers, albeit not very big ones, running through high mountains). They are usually quite safe; that doesn't make them substantially less scary for those unused to it.
- Regularly used in expedition-style climbs like the 1953 Everest climb.