Staircase Tumble

Alas, even with extensive warning about the staircase...

"I WARNED YOU ABOUT STAIRS BRO!!!! I TOLD YOU DOG!"
Hella Jeff, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff [sic]

Stairs can be dangerous if you misstep and fall down, even worse depending on how long it is. Still, it can be funny, especially in cartoons. Obviously Truth in Television (and unfortunately not nearly as funny).

This is one of the common ways a Fright Deathtrap is used to kill someone. It can be caused by a case of Mind Your Step, but there are plenty of ways to misstep and fall without the stairs containing a trap or problem.

See also Death by Falling Over (a possible result of this) and Mind Your Step (a possible cause). Creatures or devices that can expect this every time they attempt to use stairs, fittingly enough, Can't Use Stairs.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Nobita from Doraemon has fallen down the stairs many times with comedic results.
  • Played with horribly with Yukari Sakuragi in Another. She falls down the school stairs which is bad enough, but what kills her is getting Impaled with Extreme Prejudice through the neck... on the metal tip of her umbrella.
  • Zoro's rival Kuina died by falling down a flight of stairs in One Piece.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam, Amuro's father Tem Ray falls down a flight of stairs in his exuberance at seeing the Gundam that he designed and his son pilots defeating Zeon forces in a battle near Side 6. Although his fate is left ambiguous in the TV series, the Compilation Movie later confirmed he did indeed die from falling down the stairs.
  • Kouichi Kimura from Digimon Frontier was mortally injured after falling down a flight of stairs in the subway, while chasing after his missing twin brother Kouji as he was about to take his spot in the "road trip" to the Digital World. There's also a subversion: after the last battle against Lucemon, Kouji and his True Companions find themselves back home few minutes after Kouichi's fatal fall and manage to find him — as he lays dying on the operation table. With The Power of Friendship, they save him.
  • In the Bleach pilot, Orihime died by falling down the stairs of her house. We even get to see her spirit nudging her own lifeless body and asking "it" to stand up. ( it turns out it wasn't an accident: her father's ghost pushed her down in an attempt to keep her by his side forever.) She gets better, because the creator had to scrap the pilot and settle for a different version of events due to Executive Meddling.)
  • In a Detective Conan filler case, the Office Lady Sanae Kouda tried to ask a rich man named Watanuki to not withdraw his economic support to the company she worked on, and he accidentally killed her like this when attempting to push her away from him when they were both standing on his house's stairs; as Sanae was shoe-less at the moment, she slipped up and broke her neck upon stumbling down and hitting the wall. Watanuki buried poor Sanae's body in a space in between a construction site and his backyard to try hiding his crime, but he didn't count on both the Detective Boys (who snuck in to play and saw odd things) nor on the girl's Knight Templar Big Brother Masao (who became a thief, robbed a nearby bank and hid his loot in Watanuki's yard to force the police dig in and find his beloved little sister's corpse).
    • In another filler case, a man trained his dog to do this to a specific victim (a kid who drove his son to suicide via bullying) and in very rigid circumstances (when a clock struck a determiend hour and after listening to his owner's voice through a cellphone). He almost got away with it, but didn't count that Kogoro would be called to resolve the case — and Conan, the kid behind Kogoro's success, not only was a very smart sleuth but he also knew John for years, so he took an It's Personal approach to save the poor doggie from being put to sleep.
    • Also, the death that kicked off the "Dissonance of the Stradivarius" (non-filler) case was like this. Years ago, a man named Danjirou Shutara was in a heated discussion with his older brother Chuuichirou over the titular Stradivarius when both were atop of the first's home's stairs. In the middle of the fight, Danjirou fell down the stairs and was seriously wounded. Chuuichirou not only let his own younger brother die of the injuries he sustained, but then he made the family cover it up — to the extreme of also killing Danjirou's Ill Girl wife Chinami so she wouldn't spill it out. "Too bad" he and the others didn't count on Danjirou and Chinami's son Kyousuke coming back for revenge...
  • Subverted in Sakura Gari. The boarding student Terashima is pushed down a flight of stairs by Souma's half-sister Sakurako for being one of Souma's lovers, but that's not what kills him. Catching fire, however...
  • Averted in Mawaru-Penguindrum. Asami Kuho gets pushed down some elevator stairs by Kanba's Clingy Jealous Girl Masako, but aside of minor injuries she lives to tell.
  • This trope became a plot point in the anime-only Senbatsu are of The Prince of Tennis. Akaya Kirihara from Rikkaidai was at some point found lying injured next to a flight of stairs, and it's believed that someone pushed him down because of his bad in-court behavior and reputation; it's thought that the culprit is Akira Kamio from Fudomine, who has a huge and rather understandable beef with the victim since he severely injured the Fudomine captain, Kippei Tachibana, during a match. Meanwhile the rumors come and go, Kamio is about to be kicked out, and Kirihara refuses to talk about the incident... The culprit? It wasn't Kamio... but Captain Tachibana's sister An, who's working there as a Cute Sports Club Manager. She didn't intentionally push Kirihara, but they were arguing over what he did to the older Tachibana and Kirihara plummeted down the stairs when she lost it in the middle of their fight and tried to slap him, which caused him to lose his balance. The deal is cleared when Ryoma finds one of An's hairpins next to the stairs and confronts the three people involved.
  • Played for horribly creepy effects in Kodomo no Jikan, when 9-year-old Rin seriously considers pulling this on Houin-sensei out of romantic jealousy over Aoki-sensei. Thankfully, she decides against it at the last moment.
  • A Running Gag in The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, where its characters (especially the heroine Emi) exhibit the unfortunate tendency of falling over the staircase leading to Maou's Fortress (actually a small apartment).
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: in the manga, Shinji is washing the stairs note  when Toji starts demonstrating how to secretly perve on the girls only to find himself staring up the skirt of the furious Class Representative Hikari. He turns to flee from her wrath only to knock Shinji downstairs with him. Hikari then bundles Shinji off to get patched up while grilling him on Toji's feelings for her.
  • In Candy Candy's Boarding School arc, Candy has a panic attack upon having traumatic flashbacks of her First Love Anthony's death and, while in her unstable state, she falls down a flight of stairs outside the school. Terry Granchester finds her passed out at the stair end and takes her in his arms to the infirmary, where the nuns take care of her.
  • A fall down a flight of stairs is what starts the plot in Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. Well, technically it's an accidental kiss between Yamada and Shiraishi that starts the plot, but if Yamada hadn't tripped on a step and fallen over Shiraishi, that kiss would never have happened.
  • Played for Laughs in the Act 1 Cold Open of Sailor Moon Crystal, as Usagi, frantic at being Late for School, loses her footing halfway down and performs an extended pratfall the rest of the way, finishing with an Offscreen Crash.
  • Played for Laughs in the ending of one Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL episode, where Umimi encourages Anna to ask out Yuma and shoves her into him, only for the two to fall down the stairs.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Shun Kurosaki and Sora Shiun'in's rematch ends when Sora's final attack depletes Kurosaki's life points to zero and knocks him down a temple's stone steps. He suffers broken ribs from the impacts. On the other hand, this gave him enough distance to escape with Serena's help before Sora could imprison him in a card for losing.

    Comic Books 
  • In what could be the most evil and mean-spirited example of this trope, in Ultimate X-Men, Mr. Sinister introduces Professor Xavier to "his one enemy... stairs". (If you're not an X-Men fan, Xavier is wheelchair-bound.) The image of this quickly became meme-worthy.
  • In the Tintin book The Black Island, Tintin is pursued by the villains and hides at the top of a castle tower. He turns the tables by throwing a large castle stone down the tower stairs, sending the villains tumbling back down.

    Fan Works 
  • This happens to Chris is a running gag in Sonic Movie Madness.

    Film 
  • Used (in)famously in RoboCop (1987), where the ED-209 falls down the stairs, unable to pursue Murphy. That's right, the lethal, dangerous, high-caliber robot that can damage Robocop's armor, fire missiles, and is easily the most dangerous opponent in the movie is stopped by a flight of stairs.
  • In the movie Surf Ninjas, during the final epic battle, an enemy mook gets knocked down a flight of stairs that runs up the entire mountainside. He manages to climb back up before the battle ends but gets knocked down a second time. By the time he gets back up again the battle's ended and when told "It's over. Your side lost." He shrugs and willingly throws himself down the stairs again.
  • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka: as a Running Gag, each time Mr. Big's two mooks Leonard and Willie get captured by the good guys or screw up a mission they're given the option of going out The Window or the Stairs. They almost always choose the stairs, after which the camera cuts to a scene of them being thrown down them.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Master Shifu is putting Po through Training from Hell to encourage him to leave. When Po declares he'll never give up, an infuriated Shifu throws him down the temple steps. And there are a lot of steps (a Running Gag involves the out-of-shape Po having to climb them). Po survives injury thanks to his excessive padding, which comes in handy during his battle with Tai Lung; when they both fall down the temple steps, Tai Lung gets the worst of the encounter.
  • A non-malicious example: in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Sam pushes Flint down the bouncy stairs in the Jell-O Castle.
  • Pinocchio did this on stage at the start of his number "I've Got No Strings." Not really injurious, but humiliating.
  • In the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Knight Templar Frollo forcefully takes a bundle from a Gypsy woman thinking it's stolen property (it's actually the infant Quasimodo, and the woman is his mother), kicking her away, and she falls and hits her head (and likely broke her neck as well) on the steps of Notre Dame, which kills her.
  • In the climax of The Terminator, Kyle Reese dies as a result of falling down a metal staircase following a pipebomb explosion.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy and his dad escape through Castle Brunwald only to find themselves at a dead end. Indy tries looking for a secret exit; his dad ends up finding it when he sits down and leans back in a chair, revealing a hidden staircase. Unfortunately, Indy was standing right on top of it at the time...
    Indy: *falling down stairs* DAAAAAAD!
    Henry Jones, Sr.: ...a solution presents itself!
  • In Death Becomes Her, Madeleine is pushed down a very long flight of marble stairs, ending in a battered heap at the bottom with her head twisted around backwards.
  • This is the way Nomi claws her way to the top in Showgirls.
  • Happens at the end of Hitchcock's remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much.
  • Done offscreen (but still hilariously) by Priscilla Presley in The Naked Gun in a spoof of the Grand Staircase Entrance in Farewell My Lovely.
  • In Repossessed, the vengeful voice of Satan shocks Father Majaii into falling down an incredibly long staircase.
  • Punch Clock Villain Kronk survives doing this at one point in The Emperor's New Groove: "Back! Elbow! Shoulder!"
  • In The Smurfs 2, Papa Smurf, Clumsy, Grouchy, and Vanity take one after they enter Gargamel's dressing room, leading to the discovery of the underground lair with the Smurfalator.
  • In Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when Theoden is healed and Wormtongue is revealed to be an Evil Chancellor, Theoden proceeds to throw Wormtongue out of the palace and down the stairs.
  • The Blues Brothers: Angry over the wayward ways of Jake and Elwood Blues, Sister Mary Stigmata starts whacking them with a cane, causing them to flee. Jake is unable to escape the schooldesk he's crammed into and ends up tumbling down the stairs in it.
  • This is how Giselle dies in The Haunting Of Whaley House.
  • In The Housemaid, said housemaid, who has been knocked up by the man of the house, is pressured by the woman of the house into tumbling down a flight of stairs and inducing a miscarriage. She later gets revenge by luring their son into falling down the stairs to his death.
  • Unbreakable. Elijah Price (suffering from a condition that makes his bones brittle) is so determined to speak to a man he risks pursuing him down a flight of stairs. He trip and falls, putting himself in a wheelchair and inflicting damage that will require months of physiotherapy.
  • In The Skeptic, this is how Beckett's mother died, as revealed in the ending.

    Literature 
  • The Book Of Margery Kempe has the husband of the titular character fall down the stairs and getting heavily wounded by it, and potentially mentally challenged. He dies.
  • Used in several Agatha Christie books. Discussed by Hercule Poirot as a typical way of murdering rich, elderly relatives.
  • In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett miscarries her fourth pregnancy (ironically, the only one she was actually pleased by) after falling down the stairs.
  • In Dragondrums, Piemur takes a nasty spill while running up stone stairs, "courtesy" of some of his fellow apprentices "thinking" it would be funny to grease some of the steps (this bunch had earlier shown a taste for nasty pranks against him, such as "anointing" his belongings with bodily wastes while he was away).
  • Reserved for the Cat: Thomas describes how he killed the Elemental Master who trapped him in a cat's body by tripping her at the top of a steep marble staircase.
  • This happens to Katie's grandmother, Mrs. Welker, in The Girl with the Silver Eyes, by Willo Davis Roberts. At one point, Katie thinks that she's suspected of pushing her, which she did not do.
  • It happens to Laura Carpenter in Adele de Leeuw's novel Clay Fingers. Laura's backing up to look at herself in a mirror in an upstairs hallway.
  • The first death in The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs."
  • Before the book, Fancy Apartments, actually starts, Mrs. Fyfield is hexed to tumble down a staircase, spraining her leg. Stan the ogre also falls down one, but being rather tougher, just gets banged a bit.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: How Marcie tried to kill Harmony in "Out of Mind, Out of Sight." Dawn does this to a rival in "Him". Buffy apparently kills her mother's boyfriend this way in "Ted", but he turns out to be Not Quite Dead.
  • Angel: while interrogating Corrupt Corporate Executive Linwood, Angel ties him to a chair and drags him up the stairs, then lets him go.
  • A Running Gag in My Wife and Kids is Claire falling down the steps.
  • The Twilight Zone episode Uncle Simon contains a fatal staircase push. Repeating it on a robot only triggers An Aesop.
    • In the episode "Living Doll" the Step-dad trips over the Talky Tina doll while going down the stairs and dies. We are left to assume the doll killed him.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: The Victim of the Week in "Throwing Down the Gauntlet" is killed when she is shoved down a flight of stairs.
  • A Kids in the Hall sketch has a couple going on a trip and leaving their teenage son at home - mom tells him "If you get drunk, do it in the basement so you don't fall down the stairs!"
  • In one episode of GLEE, Sue Sylvester pushed a man down a flight of stairs, and when he revealed he was perfectly fine, she walked down to him and pushed him down another flight of stairs.

    Music 

    Nursery Rhymes 
  • "Goosey Goosey Gander":
    There I met an old man
    Who wouldn't say his prayers,
    So I took him by his left leg
    And threw him down the stairs.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Real Life 
  • This is how the seiyuu Kaneto Shiozawa died. More exactly he was at home, tripped and fell down the stairs there, and died hours later of a severe concussion.
  • Bill Bryson ponders the death toll from falls on stairs in his history of domesticity At Home:
    The most dangerous part of the house in fact, one of the most hazardous environments anywhere is the stairs. No one knows exactly how dangerous the stairs are because records are curiously deficient. In Britain, fairly scrupulous stair-fall figures were kept until 2002, but then the Department for Trade and Industry decided that keeping track of these things was an extravagance it could no longer afford. The last set of figures indicated that a rather whopping 306,166 Britons were injured seriously enough in stair falls to require medical attention, so it is clearly more than a trifling matter. Even on the most conservative calculations stairs rank as the second most common cause of accidental death, well behind car accidents but far ahead of drownings, burns and other similarly grim misfortunes.
  • English folk singer Sandy Denny died of a brain haemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs.
  • In 1946, British actor David Niven and his wife Primula Rollo were attending a party at actor Tyrone Power's house in Beverly Hills. During a game of hide and seek, Rollo opened what she believed was a closet door and ducked inside; unfortunately, the door led to Power's basement down a steep stone staircase, and Rollo died of a fractured skull and brain lacerations.
  • British actor Michael Wilding (whose claims to fame include being Elizabeth Taylor's second husband) died from head injuries sustained after falling down a flight of stairs in his home while suffering an epileptic seizure.
  • Izumi Sakai female vocalist from the Japanese band Zard died on 27 May 2007 when she fell from the landing of an emergency-exit slope at Keio University Hospital. She was undergoing treatment for a lung cancer that had spread from a previously treated cervical cancer.
  • British stage and television actor Robin Nedwell (best known for playing Dr. Duncan Waring in the Doctor series of LWT sitcoms in the 1970s) died of a heart attack several days after falling five feet off a ladder onto concrete; the heart attack was probably brought on by the injuries he sustained in the fall.
  • British character actor Derek Nimmo was checking an external alarm at his house when he fell down a stone staircase into the basement; the resulting head injuries put him into a coma, in which he remained until his death two months later.
  • H.R. Giger.

     Theatre 
  • In The Cherry Orchard, Trofimov falls down the state's stairs after a fight with Madame Ranyevskhaya. He's mostly fine later, though.

    Video Games 
  • In some Roguelikes attempting to use the stairs while confused or carrying to much weight can cause you to trip and fall down the stairs, causing you damage (and hence possibly killing you). A particularly infamous form of staircase related death in Nethack occurs when one falls down the stairs when wielding a cockatrice corpse, which will result in being stoned. Only slightly less infamous is going too close to the stairs while wearing a ball and chain; if the ball and chain touch the stairs, they yank you down them.
    • Probably as a tribute to its Roguelike ancestors, earlier versions of Dwarf Fortress had a small possibility of this happening to your dwarves, leading to spiral staircases being depreciated; once one of them started falling, they'd carry on 'til they reached the bottom, picking up speed all the way, and Ludicrous Gibs on impact were not unheard of. This feature seems to have been removed at some point, however.
  • This was a common way to die in old adventure games, especially Sierra games, which mocked the player for the various ways in which you could get yourself killed by performing ordinary tasks. The King's Quest series is a particularly bad offender.
  • In the Borderlands 2 DLC, Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt, Professor Nakayama falls down a digistructed staircase and breaks his neck right before he is about to face the Vault Hunters in combat. Most challenging boss fight ever.
  • The sole and entire point of Porrasturvat, racking up as much damage as possible.
  • This happens to Noel and Meru in Super Heroine Chronicle after Claude, dragged by J, bumps into them in the middle of watching a tennis match between several of the girls underneath the bushes, which ends up switching their bodies around too (which is followed by Noel and Meru groping each others boobs afterwards).

    Visual Novels 

     Urban Legend 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Used in Rejected as a Black Comedy.
  • Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk third episode has successive tumbles on the same slippery staircase by various party members (eventually, all of them).
  • In Doom House, the terrorist falls down a basement staircase when attacked by the Creepy Doll.
  • One of the tracks in Strong Bad's sound effects CD (which the Cheat uses to simulate the weapons when they play spaceman) is "Body Falling Down Stairs".

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons episode "My Sister, My Sitter," a major plot point is that Lisa accidentally causes Bart to tumble down the stairs in his house. The rest of the episode is about her trying to find medical help for Bart while everyone gets the wrong impression that she had beaten Bart.
    • In an early episode, Homer fell down the stairs tripping on Bart's skateboard angering at his son's hallway mess. He spent the first act laying on the couch due to his back pain.
    • A Running Gag in "Bart the Mother" is Homer falling down the basement stairs due to Bart's actions.
  • A variation occurs in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) episode "Karai's Vendetta," in which April, after being on the receiving end of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Karai, takes advantage of her momentary distraction to throw her down a set of subway stairs and get away.
  • A major subplot in Family Guy episode "Brian Griffin's House of Payne" when Chris and Meg's misbehavior pushed Stewie down the stairs causing a severe head wound.
    • One cutaway gag shows Bobby McFerrin falling down the stairs, to Stewie's delight..
    • It happens to Peter a lot too, particularly in the B plot of "The Blind Side" after the Griffins get a new staircase installed.
  • In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "SDRAWKCAB", Dexter gets manipulated into running up and down a flight of stairs, causing his father standing next to him to get dizzy and come tumbling down.
  • The episode "Girlfriendklok" in Metalocalypse has Nathan's girlfriend falling down several flights of stairs, placing her in a coma.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: in episode "Dear Ed"
    Johnny: Wow, Ed, you go down the stairs just like Plank!
  • According to TF Wiki, Skywarp's favorite pastime is pushing people down the stairs.
  • In Drawn Together, Princess Clara thinks she's pregnant and submits to a tumble or two down the stairs of the "M. C. Escher Room" in an attempt to force a Convenient Miscarriage.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    Pinkie Pie: Take the stairs, silly!
  • Looney Tunes is sure to have this for laughs, but three instances really stand out:
    • In From Hare to Heir, just before the final scene, Bugs Bunny just reached the top of a long flight of stairs, clearly exhausted, and Yosemite Sam, in a suit of armor disguised as a statue, tries to take the former's head off with an axe. Bugs dodges, and the swing only throws Sam off balance, sending him falling down the said stairs, cussing along the way.
    • In Porky Pig's Feat, Daffy Duck sends the hotel manager tumbling down the stairs (all the way to the bottom floor!) by yanking away the rug he was standing on.
    • In Knight-mare Hare, Bugs and a knight are in a duel. While the knight on horseback charges Bugs, lance extended, Bugs somehow trips the horse, which falls over, causing the knight to pole-vault (thanks to the lance) up into a tower, and ends up falling down in what must be the tower's stairway given how much noise is coming from the tower, which lasts about ten seconds (the actual fall is unseen since the view is from outside the tower, and the only window is the top one where the knight flew into).
  • The Walt Disney animated special Ducking Disasters with Donald and his Friends has a segment where Donald Duck is shown to have frequent problems at home with the staircase, demonstrating just how he falls down on them (each way of falling is even given a name).
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Rocko in the episode "Camera Shy" when he sees himself "NAAAKEEED" on TV.
  • Wakfu: Evangelyne gets an epic one in the castle of the Cursed Princesses, after losing her footing (again) from wearing high heels.