Trash Landing

"Ah, nice and soft garbage bags. Nothing hard or jagged is ever in one of those."

Someone's long fall is broken by an open dumpster or an open heaping trash can. The trash will usually be softer than anything else in the immediate vicinity - you'd think there was a chance of broken glass in there, but this is hardly ever a problem... maybe fictional people are better at wrapping it in cardboard.

Sometimes the trash just happens to be there, which is a lucky break if the person falling wanted to live. People Driven to Suicide who land in one of these will likely be unhappy about the Unwanted Rescue.

Sometimes, the person doing the falling aimed for the trash.

When the character picks themselves up, there is a good chance they will stop to remove debris or food from their clothing. More often than not includes a banana peel. For large trash piles, they might not need to stop — trash will fall off their clothes as they move. Bonus points if someone tries eating items from the trash.

Another common variation, limited solely to comic uses, generally to kids' shows and mostly to people who really deserve it, is the big-ol' pile of horsesh... er, manure.

May serve as a way for our heroes to end up Down in the Dumps.

Compare Dumpster Dive, where the character deliberately enters a garbage pile to retrieve something.

Note: This is a very risky stunt, and unless the only alternative is certain death, it would be best to think twice about doing this in real life. (The manure pile, while disgusting, is also less likely to kill you, assuming you don't land wrong — but still, don't try it unless there's no alternative.)


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    Anime And Manga 
  • Purposely arranged in Death Note so Matsuda can convincingly fake his death to escape from a cabal of Corrupt Corporate Executives.
  • Gunslinger Girl. Roberta Guellfi jumps out a window into a trash container in order to Ditch the Bodyguards in "Hartmann's Letter".
  • In Plastic Memories, Isla does this inadvertently in the first episode when she attempts to jump from one building to another. Unfortunately, she slips just before getting a good footing and she falls down on top of a trash container.

    Films — Animation 
  • The guards chasing Aladdin land on Crazy Hakim's Discount Fertilizer.
  • In the trailers for TMNT, three of the turtles land from a jump off a fire escape, and make badass poses, looking menacing and ninja-y... and then Michelangelo takes a header into a dumpster instead, prompting facepalms from the other Turtles.
  • During the chase at Tokyo Airport in Cars 2, both Mater and Finn McMissile escape from villains Grem and Acer by leading them through the fuselage of a Samairai plane, causing the two villains to fall into a waste disposal truck parked next to that plane. According to the novelization and comic, this happens to said villains again during the chase in London near the end, but such did not happen in the film (in the actual movie, both Grem and Acer meet their end when Holly Shiftwell knocks the two away from Mater and Lightning McQueen, then luring them both into a pub called "Ye Left Turn Inn", where the two are immediately beaten up by several trucks inside, including automobile versions of King Fergus, Lord Dingwall, Lord MacGuffin, and Lord Macintosh).

    Films — Live Action 
  • Done hilariously to Cady in Mean Girls after parading down the hall with "The Plastics".
  • Neo, while running from the three Agents in The Matrix, jumps from a window and conveniently lands on a pile of cardboards and bags of trash.
  • Foul Play with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase has a scene like this.
  • Steel falls into the garbage (where he belongs) after trying to leap buildings. But is able to get away because the dumpster is also where he stored his bike.
  • In a variation, Biff Tannen crash his car against a manure truck in each of the two first films of the Back to the Future trilogy. (In the third film, it is his ancestor and a manure wheelbarrow.)
  • Hot Fuzz: "Skip."
  • One of Lane's amusingly pathetic suicide attempts in Better Off Dead ends with him falling unharmed into a garbage truck. This result is witnessed in passing by a couple of black tree-trimmers:
    "Now that's a real shame when folks be throwin' away a perfectly good white boy like that!"
  • Star Wars: A New Hope: "Into the garbage chute, flyboy."
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: Ace falls and land on his back on a pile of garbage from a roof of a two story building when trying to catch the rare albino pigeon.
  • In Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Diesel 10 lands in a garbage barge after falling off the viaduct at the end of the chase scene. At which point he quips, "Oh well. Nice time of the year for a cruise."
  • Done rather painfully in Lethal Weapon 4, as the person falling landed feet first rather than back-first to distribute the force of landing.
  • Marv in Sin City escapes the hotel this way. The same sequence is also included in the original comic.
  • In Stuart Little 2, when Falcon drops Stuart from a tower to kill him, the mouse lands on a dumpster.
  • A Running Gag in The Fighter has Dickie constantly jumping out a second story window into a trash heap to avoid his family catching him in a crack house. They quickly learn to anticipate the move.
  • Notably averted in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. Russian cop Sidorov realises that Ethan Hunt has escaped from his hospital room, and looks out the window to find him standing on a ledge several stories above a garbage container. An amused Sidorov points out that it's not a good idea. Ethan agrees and starts edging back towards him.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) has a variant where Shredder falls into a garbage truck. His (unlikely) survival is immediately rendered moot when Casey Jones activates the compactor. But then he somehow did survive to appear in the sequel.
  • Valentine has Lily be shot by arrows until she falls off the balcony into a dumpster aka Death by Irony.
  • In Southland Tales, an open dumpster is padding Taverner's fall from the rooftop.
  • Hilariously subverted in We're the Millers. David attempts this when fleeing from three thugs chasing after him. He drops his backpack down first, but it hits the trash can lid, causing it to close. He then lands on the lid instead, and due to the pain, he's unable to move, allowing the three thugs to steal his stuff.
  • Jackie Chan film Armour Of God has a truckload of boxes conveniently placed for the car to land after a double highway overpass ramp jump.
  • Eddie, the lead kidnapper in Baby's Day Out, gets knocked semi-unconscious and dropped off a building and into a garbage bin at one point while he and his two co-crooks are chasing after the titular baby. He survives, presumably partly due to being only half conscious and having a bunch of objects to break his fall on the way down.

  • Spider Robinson's Callahan's Lady includes a short story with a villainess with some Applied Phlebotinum that forces the characters to do anything she asks them to. One of the orders she gives to the protagonist and another character is "don't go downstairs". They use Exact Words to turn that into "Do not descend a staircase" and the protagonist jumps into a dumpster from an upstairs window.
    Maureen: "If you are able to arrange your life to avoid dropping into whorehouse garbage from a height, I suggest you do so."
  • This is the fate of Veruca Salt and her parents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Nut Room's squirrels toss them down the bad nut chute, which is directly connected to the factory's rubbish pipe, and emerge from the building in the denouement completely covered in garbage. It could have been worse though — the rubbish pipe ends at an incinerator, and had luck not been with them, they would have been burned alive!

    Live Action TV 
  • Used extensively in The A-Team.
  • Scrubs: Ted accidentally falls off the hospital roof after being startled (while contemplating suicide). He is saved by landing on a pile of garbage bags that the Almighty Janitor and his sidekick had been hiding on a lower roof as part of a money-making scheme.
  • CSI has an episode where a liquor store robber jumped out a window and into a dumpster to escape the cops, but in a subversion of the Soft Glass trope the window glass cut into his neck and killed him.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit turned this into pure terror. While running from the police, a suspect jumps to safety in a garbage truck. Unfortunately at that moment the driver starts compacting the trash in the truck and could hear neither the screams of the victim nor the cops due to headphones he was wearing.
  • In the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Marlin", Sarah and a Fulcrom agent fight on a rooftop. Chuck arrives just in time to see them both go over the edge, but running to the edge he discovers that they landed safely in a dumpster.
  • Like in L&O SVU above, in The X-Files episode "Essence" a foe falls off a roof while fighting Mulder and Scully. He seems to land safely in a garbage truck... but then the compactor is activated.
  • Tested by the MythBusters — if you're certain there's nothing dangerous under that top layer of trash, it's doable. Their "best case" setup assumed a dumpster used by a mattress factory and thus full of foam scrap; it did a better job of cushioning Buster's (and later Adam's) fall than the regulation stunt airbag.
    • However, on the flip side (and the main factor working against this trope's practicality), if you're not absolutely sure that the dumpster's safe, it probably isn't. When the Mythbusters went to a waste disposal facility to look through dumpsters, they noted that the three that they selected at random to look at had items like medical waste, rebar and wood slats, which would likely severely injure anyone jumping into the dumpster. The expert they talked to backed up those findings, noting that dumpsters filled only with soft material, such as the mattress factory example above, make up a very, very small percentage of the total garbage received.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Survival", the Doctor is thrown from the explosion when neither he nor the guy he's playing motorcycle-chicken with swerves in time. He lands face first (and arse up) in a pile of rubbish someone was nice enough to leave lying in an abandoned field.
    • Much earlier, in "Inferno," the detached TARDIS console drops the Doctor into a rubbish tip at the story's conclusion.
  • In the opening chase of the first episode of The Last Detective, a young thief jumps off a balcony into a pile of rubbish bags and hurts his leg. DC "Dangerous" Davies stops to ask if he's OK before following him.
  • MacGyver: In "The Coltons", Frank and Jesse tackle a pair of bad guys out throw a second storey window and land in a dumpster which is miraculously full of bags of shredded paper.
  • Subverted in Malcolm in the Middle after Stevie goes flying through the air. The camera cuts to a man raking an extremely large pile of leaves, and Stevie smacks into a tree about 50 feet behind him.
  • An episode of NCIS: Los Angeles has Hetty, of all people, sneak out of a locked-down building this way. After landing in the dumpster, she lays still for a few seconds, having the wind knocked out of her, but seems fine otherwise. She does mention that she's getting old.
  • Roswell: In "The Morning After", this is the way Max and Michael get out of the Sheriff's office. Granted, it was a two stories fall and there was nowhere else to land but the dumpster.
  • Invoked in Jessica Jones: Kilgrave has told Will Simpson to jump off a building, so Jessica saves him by knocking him out, dragging him down to the alley beneath the building, and dropping him in a dumpster. When he wakes up, she tells him that he jumped off the building and landed in the dumpster. Since Simpson believes he fulfilled Kilgrave's command, the compulsion to jump goes away.
  • The Amazing Extraordinary Friends: In "Revenge of The Wraith", the Wraith jumps of the the top of the cathedral carrying Vicki, gliding with his cloak. Ben, who has lost the insignia and does not have his powers, jumps after him and grabs hold. All three of them crash land in a pile of trash bags in the alley.
  • Person of Interest had a more sensible version when a man does a Destination Defenestration into a crate of styrofoam packing pellets. Even then he's stunned for several minutes (and would probably have broken his neck smashing through the plate glass).
  • In an episode of ''The Nanny", Fran agrees to go out with a guy, whom she had rejected in High School. Then he asks her to marry him, or he will jump out of a window and kill himself. But when it seems like everything has turned out alright (Maxwell has read a play he has written and decided to produce it), he trips and falls down several floors by accident, only to have his life saved by landing in a garbage pile on the pavement below them.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This trope can occasionally be seen being played straight on wrestling whenever there's a backstage brawl. One example is when The Undertaker had Hulk Hogan tied to the back of his motorcycle and was dragging him around backstage only for Hogan to go crashing into a pile of empty cardboard boxes, while the announcers played up how painful that apparently would be.

    Video Games 
  • At the beginning of Perfect Dark Zero's Rooftops Escape mission, Jack conveniently lands in a trash bin after being knocked off the rooftops.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards, Larry leaves a brothel by jumping out of the window and landing in a large dumpster, in which he even finds a hammer which he needs later in the game.
  • In the video game adaptation of Men in Black, near the beginning, you're being fired upon while descending a building's fire escape. You can't descend all the way down because you'll die before the enemies get within the range of your weapons, so your only choice is to leap down into the dumpster.
  • During The Matrix: Path of Neo this is averted during the chase level, you either jump off the balcony and land a few feet away or run down the stairs.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures Buster Busts Loose, if Buster loses a life, he will sometimes fall into a dumpster.
  • Naegi in Danganronpa at the end of the fifth trial drops several stories (depending on how many levels down the trial room is) into the school's trash dump without any complication, despite falling headfirst next to a solidly-built desk and chair. Some hours later Kirigiri does the same thing, with a cup of ramen stuck to her head as the only consequence. Later on, the two of them make it back to the first floor on a ladder that takes them roughly half an hour to climb.
  • In Dying Light, hero Kyle Crane uses trash piles to break his fall. At one point he wonders if he'll ever land on one full of rusty knives.

    Web Original 
  • Although she didn't fall very far, Penny lands in the trash in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
    "Did you notice that he threw you in the garbage?"
  • The Bastard Operator from Hell has caused this to happen to annoying lusers a few times, although more realistically, often not without injury.

    Web Comic 
  • Parodied and subverted in Sluggy Freelance. Rammer doesn't just fall on a dumpster, he falls on a dumpster full of pillows. Unfortunately it was closed at the time, so he busted up his ribs. Torg later points out the irony.
  • Errant Story protagonist and Anti-Hero Jon has a model of the genre, as a roof collapses under him as he's prowling the rooftops to sneak into Saus. This leads to a slightly uncomfortable reunion.
  • In a Consolers strip, Sony throws Konami far away, and she lands headfirst into a trash can.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: In the "Treehouse of Horror" episode where Homer is sucked into the fourth third dimension, when he escapes he lands in a dumpster.
    • In "Marge on the Lam", Ruth with Marge brakes and stops in time before driving into the chasm, but Homer and Chief Wiggum fail to stop and fly over the cliff until they are saved by a landfill mountain.
    Wiggum: And to think, those stupid environmentalists were protesting this landfill.
    Homer: Solid waste. I could kiss you. [kisses it] Ewww... [kisses it] Ooh... [kisses it] Blech... [kisses it] Ooh, I think this was pizza...
  • In the Futurama episode "Luck of the Fryish", Fry falls headfirst into a garbage can after electrocuting himself on some power-lines. A fast-food clerk then comments "That is one unlucky guy!" as he dumps his bucketful of waste into the same can.
    • Played with in the episode "Roswell that ends well", when Fry pushes his young grandfather, Enos out of the way of a moving vehicle, on to a pile of rusty bayonets. The vehicle itself turned and did wasn't headed towards Enos.
  • In Batman Beyond, Terry gets thrown into a dumptster, and flies out of it just as it's being picked up by a couple of garbagemen. While one is shocked, his companion just shrugs it off with, "A guy's gotta eat."
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "Nemesis," Jonny and Hadji end up in a garbage dumpster while running away from some bad guys.
    Hadji: Jonny, this was—
  • In Darkwing Duck, the "Just Us Justice Ducks" episode sees Darkwing falling out of a skyscraper and into a garbage truck. At the end, it looks like Negaduck is about to get the same treatment, but Darkwing drives the truck out of the way at the last second, causing him to crash into the pavement instead.
  • Regularly on Hong Kong Phooey, the title hero changes into his kung fu get-up in a file cabinet and goes down a chute from an ironing board cabinet into a dumpster where his Phooeymobile is housed.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Batman punches the Joker through a window and across a street where he lands in a dumpster in "Joker: The Vile and The Villainous!".
  • Static from Static Shock seems to have an extra superpower laser guiding him to the nearest dumpster whenever tossed anywhere by a villain. The show even lampshades this several times.

    Real Life 
  • In the (Second) Defenestration of Prague on May 23, 1618, two Catholic regents and a secretary were thrown from a third-story window at Prague Castle by a mob of Protestants. The three men fell one hundred feet but survived by landing in a large pile of manure in a dry moat outside the window. The Catholic Church proclaimed a miracle; the Protestants rebutted by pointing out the men landed in a big pile of crap.
  • The traditional soft landing method for high stunt falls in film and TV was (very deeply stacked) piles of empty cardboard boxes, which progressively collapse and absorb the impact, allowing a landing without injury. Example. The boxes need to be unflattened, as it's the air inside them that provides most of the cushioning. Nowadays purpose-built airbags are usually used instead.
  • A man in New York attempted to end his life by jumping from his ninth story apartment. Due to an incredibly lucky combination of a blizzard with massive snow buildup, which caused a delay in trash collection, he survived the fall when he landed on the snow and trash bags.
  • The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook and spin-offs recommend that you always aim for a full dumpster - it's usually better than landing on concrete.
  • Skydiver Gary Connery used an enormous pile of cardboard boxes to land without a parachute after jumping out of a helicopter.

Alternative Title(s): Fall Into A Trash Can