- Trust Building Exercises: The catcher will not catch the faller, either because they're distracted or just don't like the person. Alternatively, there's such a massive size difference that the (large) faller presents a danger to the (small) catcher.
- Wilderness retreats: Hilarity Ensues when the Pointy-Haired Boss fails miserably at surviving, and everyone snarks between escaping bears and mountain lions. A popular excuse for a Paintball Episode or Macho Disaster Expedition.
- A Blindfolded Trip: the person leading the blindfolded walker will probably get distracted and walk the person into or off of something.
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- A Geico commercial has the CEO of Geico suggesting he do the "fall back and you catch me" exercise— with the Gecko. Naturally, the Gecko has deep misgivings.
- An insurance company had a radio commercial involving actors doing the falling trust exercise. Cue falling, thump, muffled cry of pain, and the catcher saying, "Wait... what's my motivation?" At which the slogan of the commercial came in, "Life's better with a partner you can trust".
- A comical online ad by Disney for a Samsung smartphone has film director Rich Moore blunder his way through his workplace, offending and endangering everyone in his path. In one scene Moore sets up the trust fall, only to be distracted by his phone before finishing the count to three.
- The blunder in But Who IS He? is that the workforce had to have training at all; once after Sherlock informed a woman that her husband was dead (most likely in his usual subtle manner), the police department was almost sued and had to undergo two days of sensitivity training, something which Lestrade looks back on with dread. John then realizes in horror that the only thing worse than going through a sensitivity workshop would be going through it with Sherlock.
- In this Naruto fanfic, Sai and Sakura are called upon to demonstrate a trust exercise to Academy students. Unfortunately, Sai has never done trust exercises before and thinks he's supposed to trust Sakura not to actually fall. Predictable results ensue.
Films — Animated
- Played with. Anna tries climbing a rock wall separating her from Elsa. After much effort, she manages to ascend about five feet. Then Olaf finds a staircase leading to Elsa's ice castle. Anna shouts, "Catch me!" as she drops into Kristoff's arms, and comments, "That was like some crazy trust exercise," and proceeds as though nothing had happened.
- Played straight near the end Kristoff is blindfolded and being led by the hand by Anna who fails to steer him well and promptly runs him into a pole.
Films — Live-Action
- The protagonists of the slasher movie Severance are a sales team out on a team building weekend in the Hungarian wilderness.
- Mean Girls had a high-school version of the falling-backwards exercise: Everyone was supposed to admit a flaw, then fall backwards. One of the members of the Alpha Bitch Girl Posse apologized for being so beautiful it made everyone jealous. After she turns around, everyone except for one girl (another member of the Girl Posse) walks away in disgust. You can probably guess the outcome. Played with when another girl falls and everyone catches her — and her very heavy electric wheelchair.
- In Birthday Girl, the bank branch managers are doing the falling backwards exercise. The catchers fail at their role because they are stunned at the sight of their model employee stuffing a couple of guitar cases full of money in the vault room across the hall.
- In Trust, one character jumps off a building so that another will catch her. Her love interest doesn't want to do the same since he is much larger than her.
- In Good Omens, Crowley and Aziraphale end up in the middle of a corporate team-building paintball exercise. For fun, Crowley decides to use his powers to turn all the paintball guns into AK-47s.
DeathHilarity Ensues. (Don't worry, they all have miraculous escapes.) Even before he made the switch, though, the narration mentions that most of the participants are trying to find a way to permanently injure and disable the other players (who are all naturally rivals for better jobs), such as trying to shoot their ears. He gave them all what they really, really wanted. All of them were wishing they had real guns. Be Careful What You Wish For.
- In Susan Cooper's King of Shadows, a Jerk Ass drops the hero in the falling-backward exercise... and is promptly bawled out by the director and kicked out of the group on the spot.
- One sci-fi story features a clumsy, accident-prone protagonist who miraculously gets accepted into the space exploration corps and shipped off to explore a new world. He eventually ends up learning that they pick the people most prone to accidents that can lead to these kind of things after his 'helper' robot causes a disastrous trust-building blunder with a new sentient race he discovers because the robot was programmed to intentionally cause such things to happen if he starts getting too competent.
Live Action TV
- In 3rd Rock from the Sun, the aliens teach a youth group a lesson on trust through one of these exercises, by not catching the faller, and delivering the Aesop "Don't trust anyone!", and then divide the group into two teams identified by different coloured bandanas, in a very Gangland fashion.
- The second episode of Hippies has Simon Pegg's character do this with the lead of a musical he's directing. The lead falls just as Pegg is turning to the others to explain the exercise.
- Psych: Shawn has to get Gus out of a weekend trust-building retreat to work a case.
- Both work- and family-related example; at one point in Frasier, after a week sharing a practice has completely frazzled their nerves to breaking point, Frasier and Niles are dragged into the office of a fellow psychiatrist for some impromptu couples counselling. He tries the standard 'fall into your partner's arms' exercise, but they're equally paranoid of each other and refuse to participate. Exasperated, the psychiatrist gets up on the box himself to show him how easy it is... but Niles and Frasier are too busy glowering at each other suspiciously to notice, and he falls flat on his ass.
- The Office (US)
- Ryan invites all the managers of the different Dunder Mifflin branches on a camping retreat type thing....except Michael. Hilarity Ensues when Michael decides to go off into the forest by himself, Bear Grylls style.
- Also the blind egg race from the Survivor style beach games Michael uses to pick his replacement. Dwight screams at Kelly so much she drops the egg out of frustration, Jim misleads Karen into the water as a prank and Stanley drops it right at the start so he can be disqualified and return to his crosswords.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 pre-movie sketch for Gamera, Tom Servo and Crow try the trust building exercise and Crow lets poor Servo fall.
- Daniel Tosh did "surprise trust falls" over a few episodes of Tosh0. Over numerous clips, only one person ever caught him...and it happened in the shower of a gym with a primarily gay clientele (the guy who caught him was indeed gay).
- The X-Files episode "Detour" has the protagonists en-route to a "teamwork conference." Of course, they run into some trouble on the way and end up having their own wilderness retreat from hell.
- In the Murphy Brown episode "Retreat", the crew go to a camp to compete against a group of bankers in a series of teamwork exercises and fail miserably. For instance, in a simulated river crossing, all the bankers make it across but only one reporter does by actively sacrificing the others.
- An episode of UK newsroom comedy Drop the Dead Donkey had the characters attend a weekend paintballing seminar. Naturally, given that they are all a bundle of collective neurosis and almost universally hate each other, it didn't turn out well.
- DCI Tom Barnaby's (predictable) contempt towards team building exercises is on display in the Midsomer Murders episode "Days of Misrule" when he is forced to go on one by the new chief superintendent. Hilarity Ensues.
- In the Bones episode "The Patriot In Purgatory", Brennan(inspired by watching a basketball game with Booth) gets several of the Squinterns together to identify various lost remains in a "team-building" exercise. Played for drama(and sudden Mood Whiplash) when Vasiri identifies the body of a homeless vet who was present at the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks. Emotions ran high throughout the investigation, and by the end even Brennan was in tears, reflecting on her stint identifying remains at the WTC wreckage, and realizing that Booth might have easily been at Ground Zero, meaning he could have died before they met.
- One episode of Tosh.0 has a web video that has a group of people try to catch a guy who is demonstrating a trust fall, and they end up dropping him.
- In the Wings episode "One Flew Over the Cooper's Nest", psychotic Sandy ambushes Joe in his psychiatrist's office for some emergency couples therapy. (She's under the impression she and Joe are married.) Sandy decides to do the trust game with Joe, but since she's completely delusional and Joe is sick of dealing with her, he simply lets her fall.
- In an episode of Lost Girl, Bo and Kenzi go undercover at a juvenile detention camp; Bo as a counselor, Kenzi as an inmate. Bo organizes a trust-falling exercise, choosing Kenzi as her partner. Kenzi deliberately lets Bo fall, figuring it will help her gain the trust of the other inmates. And also because it's funny.
- In the Made In Canada episode "Corporate Retreat", the staff at Pyramid Productions spend the day at Y.E.S., Canada's most irritating and least effective corporate teambuilding programme. Stuck for the day with a supremely annoying programme director, the staff are forced to take part in dressed up versions of school sports day events like egg-and-spoon races, and over the course of the day, production adviser Veronica gets covered in insect bites, film production head Victor gets severe burns on his forearms after dozing off by a campfire and falling into it, and CEO Alan gets so sick of the Y.E.S. director that he knocks him to the ground with one punch - and watches in disbelief as he springs back to his feet, none the worse for wear. Inevitably, the characters participate in the "fall backwards and your partner will catch you", and television production head Richard surprises Victor by actually catching him - only to immediately drop him after chiding him for his lack of trust.
- Played with in Angel. Angel Investigations are working on their We Help the Helpless advertising. "We'll catch you when you fall!" In the background, Fainting Seer Cordelia promptly keels over without them noticing.
- Dogbert was making one of his periodic appearances as a consultant, leading such an exercise. During the "fall backward and your colleague catches you" exercise, PHB fell forward instead. Dogbert's comment: "Okay, maybe trust isn't your biggest problem here."
- They probably did it more than once. There was one where they were on a wilderness retreat where they used the counselor as a bridge over muddy ground and, given the option to save a coworker from a bear or eat a pile of donuts, got as far as "forming a committee to explore the donut option" before the coworker was eaten.
- In another strip, Dogbert decided to teach everyone about trust by having them all make out blank checks to him.
Dilbert: What will this teach us about trust?
Dogbert: It will teach you that trust is an excellent quality for others to have.
- In yet another, they had a team building exercise involving walking barefoot over hot coals, insisting that they would learn something from and about one another as they did so. Wally went first.
Instructor: What we learn from Wally's example is "Don't wear alcohol-based aftershave".
- In still another one (which took two days to finish), Dogbert challenged the workers to build a sundial using a donut and a pencil. Pointy Haired Boss ate the donut, and when a janitor says they could have just put the pencil in the donut, they stab him... making him a sundial!
- In a new strip, Wally instructs Asok to fall into his hands in order to learn about trust, then deliberately misses Asok, explaining, "It wouldn't be trust if it worked every time." The larger point Wally is making is that messing with his co-workers like this makes them easier to tolerate.
- Friendship is Witchcraft: "Cherry Bomb".
Pinkie Pie: Ugh! You know how I get about abandonment! I'll have to do lots of trust exercises to get over this.
[Pinkie throws herself, backwards, off the moving wagon.]
Pinkie Pie: Rarity catch me!!
Rarity: What? Why me?
[Pinkie and Rarity both fall to the ground.]
- The Cooking Comically blog features this recipe for "Trust-Fall Chicken":
"It's time for some team building. See, this recipe is like a trust-fall. But instead of falling you'll be cooking. And instead of trusting me to catch you, you'll have to trust me to rock your face with slow-cooked chickeny deliciousness."
- In a crossover between NerdCubed and Emma Blackery in which they answer fan questions, Dan demonstrates his distrust of Emma by referencing these exercises and falling backwards, without her catching him. To be fair, he gave her no warning - but to be equally fair, she wasn't all that concerned even after he fell.
- The Simpsons:
- In "War of the Simpsons", the trust-fall exercise is part of a marriage retreat run by Rev. Lovejoy, but Homer is out fishing instead. Lovejoy tells Marge, "Even if he were here, I wouldn't recommend it."
- In the episode "You Only Move Twice", where Homer works for a goofy, friendly Bond villain, Hank Scorpio, he is subject to the trust-fall exercise:
Scorpio: The key to motivation is trust. Let me show you what I mean. I want you to close your eyes and fall backwards, and I'll catch you. That's gonna show you what trust is all about. Ready?
Scorpio: Three... Two... (phone rings) One second...
(Scorpio turns to answer the phone and Homer falls)
Scorpio: Oh, my God, the guy's on the floor. (goes to help Homer) Uh, that was a phone call; don't chalk that up to mistrust, now.
- Another episode has Mr. Burns organizing a country in the mountains, where people worked in pairs racing towards a cabin. Mr. Burns, ditching Smithers for being overly chatty lately or something, randomly pairs himself with Homer and of course cheats by using a snowmobile. Later, when the cabin has been buried by an avalanche and nobody can find the actual finish point:
Carl: Maybe the 'Cabin' was just a symbol for the special place in our hearts that we use when we work together?
Lenny: Eh... but he said there'd be sandwiches...
- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: Phil Ken Sebben, Harvey's boss, tries to get him to participate in a trust fall. A Running Gag for the series is Phil's inability to place objects properly in space, due to his eyepatch; so, he tells Harvey to stand a few feet to his side, in front of an open window. Harvey refuses, despite Phil's increasing insistence ("FALL, YOU BASTARD!")
- Played with in American Dragon: Jake Long's episode where Haley trains alongside Jake to be a dragon protector. While her Teacher performs with her the basic Trust exercise by the book, Jake's Grandfather lets him fall into a cauldron of disgusting potion, telling him the lesson was to "Trust no one but yourself".
- One episode of Justice League had the villains doing this to build trust before taking on The League. Grodd, the leader, also ramped it up, as the ones falling did so off a cliff about 30 feet up, and the "catcher" used his powers to bring them down; for example, Sinestro using his ring to let his partner fall slowly. When Giganta drops from the cliff toward a waiting Killer Frost, however, you just hear a loud offscreen thud, with Frost going "Ow." It was mostly done to avert the inevitable betrayal that ends most Villain Team Ups. Grodd was being savvy and because he did this, his villain team was one of the more successful, going so far as to cause a temporary disbanding of the Justice League.
- In a Robot Chicken skit, Dr. Phil does the "fall and I'll catch you" with a criminal. He catches him, says, "I won't hurt you, (beat) but they will," before throwing to a bunch of cops who proceed to beat the guy down.
- Happens in Beavis and Butt-Head. One episode features a substitute teacher who makes an effort to connect with the class. He assumes the titular duo are misguided youths who have never been given any encouragement. He tries to show that he trusts them by standing on his desk and falling backwards, but unfortunately, Beavis and Butt-head realize when it's already too late what they're supposed to do, and he ends up needing a substitute himself.
- El Tigre's Maria holds therapy sessions for his Rogues Gallery. One of the sessions is the fall-catch trust-builder, but it fails when the faller, El Oso, is MUCH bigger than the catcher, El Cucharone, and squashes him flat. ("Hey, I trusted you, man!)
- Dragons: Riders of Berk: "In Dragons We Trust" opens with Hiccup trying to coax the other riders into a trust-building exercise with their dragons: deliberately fall off their back in mid-flight and let them catch up. Snotlout is the only one who leaps at the chance. Unfortunately, Hookfang doesn't even realize his rider just jumped off...
- In a Futurama episode the Professor notices his crew having trouble trusting one another hires a guy to run the crew through a trust-building exercise. On their way he picks up a random hitchhiker to be his assistant, as they're demonstrating the falling exercise the hitchhiker turns out to be a shapeshifting alien monster and eats him. The crew run into the ship's panic room in alarm but some issues come up and the pairs who have the worst trust issues (Fry and Bender, Leela and Amy, Hermes and Zoidburg) are sent out to resolve them. They manage to succeed but then the monster gets into the panic room and starts assuming people's forms and eating others. The crew scrambles around in panic and all are eaten until only Bender and Fry are left, and they put one another through a series of tests to confirm one another's identities and resolve not to trust anyone but the two of them. And then the organizer shows up and tells them that his partner only pretended to eat their friends and that the two of them had won. They shoot him until he's dust and shoot some more, then the rest of the crew shows up.
- The Wimzie's House episode "Who Do You Trust?" features exactly this.
- In a Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist episode with Winona Ryder, Dr. Katz refers to this.