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 in Another. She falls down the 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. She gets better. (Note that this is due to the creator having 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 to 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.
- 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 Hataraku Maou-sama!, 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, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: How Marcie tried to kill Harmony in "Out of Mind, Out of Sight."
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- 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!!
- Van Von Hunter: a technoleech shows Asimov, a humanoid robot that can climb stairs, to the evil prince. The prince, offended, climbs the stair after yelling "I can do that!" but trips near the top and tumbles down the stairs, disproving himself once again.
- Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff: Come on, You already know how this one goes.
Sweet Bro: "FUCK IM FALLING DOWN ALL THESE STAIRS ..................."
Hella Jeff: "I WARNED YOU ABOUT STAIRS BRO!!!! I TOLD YOU DOG!"
Sweet Bro: "IT KEEPS HAPPENING"
Hella Jeff: "I TOLD YOU MAN"
Hella Jeff: "I TOLD YOU ABOUT STAIRS!"
- Since Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff is Homestuck's comic within a comic and in-universe source of Memetic Mutation, callbacks to it occur any time a character falls down a flight of stairs. When Dave gets flung down some stairs, Hella Jeff pops up to declare his legendary warning on the subject. Tavros is warned against traversing any stairs until he gets more practice with his robot legs, and when he does fall (which happens repeatedly... keeps happening, you could say), it's accompanied by the Unsound Effect "HAPPEN". Later on, when Karkat is dragging Sollux to escape a murderous sober Gamzee, they fall down stairs simply from him not looking where he's going, and it's accompanied by "HAPPEN 2x... COMBOB". And later still, Rose falls down stairs while drunk, accompanied by "DRUNK HAPPEN X ROSE...... COMBOBOB"
- Used in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja; he gets scared by some cobwebs, trips, and falls down the stairs.
- In Wapsi Square, both Monica and Tina have fallen victim to this.
- xkcd: "The stampede lasted two hours and reached the bottom three times."
- It should go without saying, but Don't Try This at Home. Especially not in an escalator, whose steps are made of metal and textured like a flanged mace. The death toll would be horrendous.
- Dave of College Roomies from Hell!!! tried to commit suicide by falling down the stairs. The end results were much more entertaining.