Alas, even with extensive warning about the staircase...
"I WARNED YOU ABOUT STAIRS BRO!!!! I TOLD YOU DOG!"
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
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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.
- 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.
- This happens to Chris is a running gag in Sonic Movie Madness.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- In The Cherry Orchard, Trofimov falls down the state's stairs after a fight with Madame Ranyevskhaya. He's mostly fine later, though.
- 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).
- In the Otome Game, (P)lanets, the main character gains her telepathic powers after tripping down a flight of stairs at her school.
- In Deardrops, Shinichi pushed his fellow violinist Johan down a flight of stairs on impulse, injuring him, due to stress.
- In Suika, Sayo almost dies when her twin sister Itsuki pushes her down the stairs, but falls in a coma. Their dad snaps on Itsuki and beats her to death. The Itsuki you see? She was Dead All Along. And Sayo is still comatose.
- Kazuaki Nanaki, the narcoleptic quail teacher in Hatoful Boyfriend, sometimes comes to the infirmary in the manga with head wounds from falling asleep on stairs. Quails having round bodies, "I rolled, and rolled, and rolled..."
- Played for Laughs in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies when this happens to Athena in case 1.
- Yusuke in Girl Chan In Paradise, as a consequence of ATTACKING HEAD ON!!
- 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".