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Bedsheet Ladder

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We lose most of our princesses that way...

Hobbes: We're going out the window?
Calvin: We're going out the window.
Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, "Camp Blues"

A character is stuck in a room for any reason. The room has a bed and a window. The prisoner makes a rope using the sheets off the bed and climbs out the window.

Realistically speaking, there should be three snags to this plan. The first snag is that, unless said room also has a linen closet filled with several other sheets, the character shouldn't be able to make a long enough rope. This never happens, whether they're in a second-story bedroom or in a cell in the 30-stories tall Evil Tower of Ominousness.

The second snag that never occurs should be getting the window open. Has no one ever heard of glass, locks, or bars? (Of course, if they have, the solution may be for someone to send them a cake with a file in.)

The third snag is doing it without being seen. Good thing The Guards Must Be Crazy.

There is also the question of whether there is something in the room close to the window (or which can be moved close to the window) to hitch the rope to that is sturdy enough to hold your weight.

A princess, especially a Rebellious Princess, will frequently do this. That goes double if she's a Girl in the Tower. Some cases may involve the character sacrificing pieces of their own clothing to make the ladder.

Contrast I Need No Ladders. See also Great Escape.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Beauty and the Beast of Paradise Lost: Belle makes one to escape from the window of her room in the attic, because her father keeps the doors and the other windows shut with chains and locks.
  • In Black Butler, Elizabeth Midford escapes from her bedroom to go back to the music hall this way.
  • Euphemia uses one in her debut episode of Code Geass. It's about two stories too short, so of course she falls into the arms of her future romantic interest.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Three Visionary Swordsmen: Rebellious Princess Shizukaria escapes from her Gilded Cage bedroom in the palace using lavish rugs, ornate robes and bedsheets.
  • In Ippatsu Kikimusume, Kunyan is stuck in the restroom. To get out, she braids a rope out of toilet paper. It works, but about halfway down, rain dissolves the paper...
  • In Junjou Romantica, Usami's brother Haruhiko locks Misaki in a storeroom where bedsheets are kept (alongside a desk full of notebooks that Usami wrote stories in as a kid). Misaki soon sees his way out, though the sheets rip, causing him to fall and sprain his ankle.
  • In The Love and Creed of Sae Maki, Ran and Misao make one after Sae falls asleep at her villa. They sneak out the window to avoid her butler Jin and explore the manor looking for her secrets.
  • In the 12th episode of Macross Frontier, Alto uses a bedsheet ladder to escape the custody of a rogue Zentradi group. It looks somewhat realistic because they're kept on a second floor only, in a very makeshift cell, guarded by not terribly determined guards, and all that on a military base full of 20-meter-tall soldiers armed to the teeth.
  • Played with in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Mokuba attempts to escape from Pegasus's castle by climbing down a bedsheet rope. Reality ensues when he runs out of sheets long before he can reach the bottom. As he panics, two of the sheet's knots slip, and he plummets. However, in a bit of standard cartoon magic, not to mention Improbable Infant Survival, he survives. This despite the fact that he clearly falls from above the height of the trees.

    Comic Books 
  • During The Mask comic series, Walter escapes from his hospital room this way, although the actual escape is never shown, only the aftermath. The two detectives viewing the scene snark that he must watch too many movies — and eat way too much popcorn, as the bedsheets tore.
  • In the final issue of the original Runaways run, Karolina mentions doing this to sneak away from her foster family for the team's reunion.
    Karolina: [waiting] Hello? Guys? Come on, I didn't tie my bedsheets together for nothing, did I?
  • In the Devil's Due Sheena, Queen of the Jungle series, Sheena fakes an escape from a hospital by dropping a bedsheet ladder out of a window and hiding behind the door. While the guards are looking at the ladder and wondering how she got away, she sneaks out the door.
  • In The Smurfs comic book story "The Smurf Threat", Papa Smurf, Hefty, and Jokey escape their imprisonment inside the Grey Smurf prison camp by making a ladder using torn pieces of Smurf pants.
  • In Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris #35, Tala escapes from the palace in Greater Helium by knotting the bedsheets together and climbing down the outside of the wall. However, the ladder is too short and she ends up having to drop the last dozen feet or so.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Gell Osey climbs out of the room she's being kept in as part of her initiation into the Holliday Girl's sorority — which is harsher than most because she acts like a spoiled jealous brat and verbally harasses just about everyone — using the linens she found in the room, but they tear and she falls the last few feet.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • An early strip has Calvin use one of these to sneak out of the house and find a payphone to tell his dad that "It is now three in the morning. Do you know where I am?"
    • In a much later story, he tried the same tactic to escape from his dreaded babysitter, Rosalyn.
  • Crabgrass: Miles uses one of these made out of his clothes to escape from his room after being grounded. His parents wonder why he would resort to this as his room is on the ground floor.
  • Played for Laughs in The Far Side when a pair of birds use this to escape from a nest fire. The caption is simply "Stupid birds".
  • FoxTrot: Jason places a ladder constructed of tied-together handkerchiefs in Quincy's cage, along with a book on lock picking and a few paperclips and hair clips, in an attempt to create plausible deniability when he turns the iguana loose in Paige's sleepover.
  • Subverted by Modesty Blaise; she carefully keeps track of the guard rotations and uses equipment specially smuggled in her bra to saw through the bar. When the guard sees the Bedsheet Ladder and rushes into the cell, she brains him from behind with the cut-out bar. Now she has the run of the place to recon the real escape before hiding in the neighboring cell.
  • The escape-obsessed crayfish in Swamp escapes from his tank in one strip by tying all of the diner's dishcloths together into a rope.
  • Nasty uses one to escape from Hunter Yurk's compound in Terry and the Pirates.
  • The Wizard of Id: The Spook is said to have attempted to escape by creating a ladder from his own hair. The problem was that by the time he was finished, "there was nothing left to escape" (a joke on the Spook's excessive Godiva Hair).

    Fairy Tales 
  • "The Canary Prince" is a tale recorded by Italo Calvino in his book of Italian folktales. The princess uses bedsheets to sneak out of her tower and from there embarks on her quest to find and rescue her prince.
  • "Rapunzel": "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!" Slightly unusual in that the braid is also the only way up the tower, and it was intended for other people to access said tower. The main illustrations that show her wrapping it about some kind of hook are wise. The hair could probably take the weight; it's keeping the weight from unrooting your hair that's the problem, and a hook would do it. The Brothers Grimm have the Prince bringing her silk to make a replacement ladder so she can escape, but the plan is ruined when she gives the game away.

    Fan Works 
  • In Consequences Harry makes one and hangs it out the window, but is rescued by Snape before he can use it.
  • In Ever After Ginny uses one to escape the castle after her parents mention that she and Ron are facing an Arranged Marriage.
  • In Harry Potter and the Daft Morons Neville uses one to escape from his bedroom after his grandmother seals the door magically.
  • In Harry Potter and the Vault of Time Harry and Neville use their dorm bedsheets to get them and Hermione down the trapdoor in Fluffy's room.
  • Harry attempts this in In Betweens: Book 5 What-Ifs when his uncle has men from St. Brutus' Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys come to pick him up, but doesn't get very far down it before they drag him out kicking and screaming.
  • In Long Live the Queen, Wakko uses one his siblings made him to escape from the tower his grandmother imprisoned him in.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Duo: After Nikora declares that the Mermaid Princesses are forbidden to leave the Pearl Piari for any reason, the girls use one to escape through Lucia's bedroom.
  • In Somnio Salvus, Harry and Draco use one to escape from a locked room where no magic can be used.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, when Toad develops a nasty case of motor mania as his latest passion, his friends Rat and Mole have him locked in his room to keep him from getting into trouble. However, they forget to lock the window, and Toad escapes by this trope.
  • Done in An American Tail to escape from a sweatshop.
  • In Brave, the men escape from a tower by tying together their kilts. And since they are true Scotsmen, this means we're treated to unsightly glimpses of their bare butts.
  • In Corpse Bride, Victoria does this with a quilt, though she does nearly get caught by her father.
  • Tom and Jerry: The Movie shows Robyn escaping from a locked room on the third floor of her home by tying bedsheets together. Robyn herself clambers down with no problem; Tom and Jerry, however, can't resist goofing with each other, and end up tumbling to the ground.
  • In Up, Carl tries to lower down Russell with one of these. Then he drops it, being about seventy. Fortunately, it was a Daydream Surprise.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played with in 3 Ninjas Kick Back. After being captured by the Big Bad, the heroes trick their guard into thinking they escaped this way, then when he comes to investigate they escape and lock him in the room.
  • In Adrift (2006), the protagonists take off their swimsuits to make a ladder to get back onto their boat. It doesn't work.
  • In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the Baron and his companions descend from the Moon to the Earth by tying a lock of the Queen of the Moon's hair to a horn of the crescent Moon. It's not quite long enough, so the Baron cuts off the top end and tells the guy at the bottom to tie it on. This works, somehow.
  • In Batman & Robin, Barbara Wilson uses one to escape her bedroom in the Wayne Manor so that she can go out on one of her nightly motorcycle races with the local Gotham City gangs.
  • In Beauty and the Beast (2017), on Belle's first night in the castle, she tries to escape by making a ladder out of the huge, gaudy dress Mme. de Garderobe made for her.
  • At the start of Bottle Rocket, Anthony exits a mental hospital via a bedsheet tied to his bed and thrown out the window. He was actually free to leave, but Dignan was so keen on the idea of him escaping that Anthony didn't want to disappoint him.
  • Charlie's Angels (2000):
    • Subverted. Bosley tries this one, but the Thin Man happens to be stationed below the window. Like it mattered though — the gap in the bars is too small to escape through anyway and his cell is far too high up.
    • Similar to the Octopussy example below, Drew Barrymore is wearing a Modesty Bedsheet when she is pushed out a window. The bedsheet snags on something, and is long enough for her to survive.
  • Linda escapes her apparently unpleasant boarding school this way in Days of Heaven.
  • Deranged (2012): When the killer starts to bash down the door to Mary's bedroom with an axe, Silvia and the stripper make a rope out of bed sheets and throw it out the window. Silvia climbs down while the stripper stays behind to slow down the killer.
  • After confronting the burgomaster who took his house, Baron Frankenstein in The Evil of Frankenstein escapes the constables arriving on the scene by locking himself behind the bedroom doors, and using the bedsheets to climb down from the higher floor.
  • In God Help the Girl, Cassie is by the window on the top floor of her house when her friends James and Eve come by and call out for her to join them, so she starts to make a bedsheet ladder. She's not trapped in the room or anything, she's just enough of a Cloud Cuckoolander that it was the first thing she thought of doing. Subverted in that James and Eve manage to point out how unnecessary it is through gestures and she just takes the stairs and walks out the front door.
  • In The Great Race, Natalie Wood's character makes one of these out of her clothes when she is imprisoned. It doesn't work, but we do get to enjoy several subsequent scenes of her in period lingerie, so it's all good.
  • Done with a rope in the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers. Chico and Harpo are locked into an upstairs room by the rival football team, but Harpo luckily has a large piece of rope in his coat. Chico tells him "Tie on-a the bed, throw out the window!" Harpo takes off his tie, drops it on the bed, and throws the rope out the window.
  • In Irma la Douce Nestor Patou is put in jail for "murdering" his alter ego "Lord X" after being caught throwing the Lord's clothing into the Seine when he tires of the pretense. The local bartender Moustache brings him a bunch of Irma's trademark green silk stockings. When he asks why Moustache says that if he doesn't want them then he should throw them out the window. He finally gets the hint and makes his escape later that day.
  • James Bond:
    • In Octopussy, Magda uses a variation of this to escape from Bond: She ties one end of the sari she's wearing to a balustrade and jumps off the balcony, "riding" the garment down to safety as it unravels.
    • When Bond tries something similar in The World Is Not Enough, he dislocates his arm from the sudden stop at the bottom.
  • In Lizzie Borden's Revenge, Amanda and Cindy use a bedsheet to lower Dee from the upper floor of the sorority house to the ground.
  • In Long John Silver, Silver asks Jim to use a bedsheet to lower him Jim's room at government House to the ground. Jim ties the sheet around a pillar, but gets into an argument with Silver and pushes him off the balcony before he can climb down.
  • In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Aurora uses one to trick the guards into thinking she's escaped, then leaves through the door while locking them inside. However, later on, she has to actually use it to escape another set of guards onto the next balcony below.
  • Subverted in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Prince Herbert puts together a bedsheet ladder to escape from the tower but is stalled by Lancelot's hesitance until his father cuts the rope and sends him plummeting to his doom. Of course, as we all know, he's Not Quite Dead.
  • Nosferatu: Hutter makes his escape from Orlok's castle this way. It's not quite long enough, but one can pardon him for not going back for more sheets.
  • In Sullivan's Travels, this is how Sullivan escapes from the home of a horny widow.
  • In Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, a young Jables manages to escape his room this way.
  • Woman in the Dunes: The man being held prisoner in the bottom of the sandpit makes a rope out of fishnets and rags, fashions a grappling hook out of a pair of scissors and a piece of wood, and uses them to escape.
  • In a Bob Hope movie, he's being held hostage in a hotel room in NYC. He tries this but when he looks out the window, where he's got a four-sheet rope, it looks like he's on the 1,000th floor. The street is so far down the buildings seem to meet. His analysis: "I need more sheets."

  • In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Jim, a fugitive slave, makes one — on the urging of Tom Sawyer. As he's held in a shed, it makes no practical sense — except as a part of Tom Sawyer's prolonged exercise in Escape Tropes.
  • In Baby-Sitting Is a Dangerous Job, Darcy and her babysitting charges have been kidnapped and are being held captive in a room with a mattress and blanket. She tries to make a rope from the blanket, but it turns out that the blanket is too strong to be torn by hand.
  • In Avi's Beyond the Western Sea, Laurence uses a bedsheet to escape from a fourth-story hotel room.
  • This is how the heroine of Georgette Heyer's The Corinthian meets the hero: He notices her climbing out of her window using a bedsheet ladder (she's also dressed as a boy), and, when the makeshift rope turns out to be too short, agrees to catch her when she jumps. Cue "You're not a boy!"
  • In Deader Homes And Gardens, Claire tries to do this to escape from an upstairs bedroom. Unfortunately, she's not yet recovered from being drugged by her captor, and forgets to anchor one end of her improvised rope before throwing it out the window. Luckily, Jordan spots the coils of fallen sheet/rope on the ground and comes to sneak her out of the house.
  • "The Case of the Missing Statue" from Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues revolves around this trope — a starlet says that a big, masked intruder broke into the room, knocked out her bodyguard, grabbed a diamond-encrusted statue, and climbed out the window from a bedsheet ladder tied to one of the bedposts. However, Chief Brown and his son proves them to be lying by asking Bugs Meany (who happened to be around at the time) to climb up the bedsheets so he can meet the starlet — when he does so, his (significantly less than the alleged intruder) weight pulls the bed from the wall and released a fountain pen trapped in between.
  • In Eric, or Little by Little, Eric ties two sheets together to climb out the dormitory window when he runs away to sea to escape the shame of being an accused thief.
  • In Stephen King's The Eyes of The Dragon, a prince attempts this with individual threads of the napkins. Guess whether he succeeded or not. This being Stephen King, he has to jump the last 50 feet or so.
  • In the Discworld novel The Fifth Elephant, Sybil Vimes escapes a room via this method; it was one of the more useful things she learned while attending her all-girls boarding school.
  • Graceling Realm: Queen Ashen and princess Bitterblue start their escape from king Leck by knotting together a lot of bedsheets and climbing out of the window.
  • James Bond:
    • Bond fakes one in Moonraker to cover the fact that he and Gala are still in the rocket base.
    • In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond, who is currently situated on a cruise ship, comes to the conclusion that trying to save Tiffany by charging through Wint's and Kidd's cabin door would only get her killed, so he rips his bedsheets to form a ladder to get into their cabin below his through their window.
  • The Marvellous Land of Snergs: Joe, Sylvia, and Baldry escape from a witch's cottage by tearing and knotting the bedsheets and then lowering Sylvia to the ground. Afterwards, Joe and the buffoon climb down the vines clinging to the wall.
  • In Malory's Le Morte D Arthur, Sir Lancelot uses this trope when he is sleeping in a room in the tower of a castle and sees some knights being attacked below him. "(A)nd therewith he took his harness, and went out at a window by a sheet down to the four knights", thus demonstrating that this trope goes back at least as far as the fifteenth century. (Volume I, book VI chapter XI).
  • Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls: Abigail uses this a couple of times, such as sneaking out of her first-floor bedroom window.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Mare creates something similar, a ladder made of ropes and old horse halters, which lets her climb into Dennaleia's bedchamber.
  • In the lesser-known Dr. Seuss book The Seven Lady Godivas, seven nudist sisters decide not to marry their suitors the Peeping Brothers until they've each discovered useful information about horses after their father gets killed trying to ride one. When Gussie and Hedwig are the only ones who have yet to find a Horse Truth and marry a Peeping brother, Gussie tries to climb a ladder of bedsheets so she can sneak off and marry Peeping Sylvester without finding a Horse Truth first. Hedwig catches her and reprimands her for attempting to abdicate her goal.
  • In The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H. P. Lovecraft, the protagonist escapes from an upper story of the local Hell Hotel by using the drapes as a ladder.
  • The Shield of Stars: Referenced. In actuality, the main character escapes through a trapdoor. However, he thoughtfully makes a blanket rope and tosses it out the window anyway as a decoy, just in case the guards thought he really was stupid enough to try that death-defying drop onto jagged rocks. (And lucky enough to survive, too!)
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Historical Fantasy novel The Spirit Ring, Lord Pia (who has a rather eccentric fondness for bats, and is also possibly quite mad) makes a dramatic escape from his own cell and reaches the cell on the floor below where the protagonist is about to be killed. At the end of the book, it turns out Lord Pia did not actually fly out the window like a giant bat after all, but simply used an improvised rope (of the clothing variety; two "stretched-out silk hose legs" tied together). He has befriended the local kobolds, who have the ability to draw iron bars into stone "like sinking a spoon into porrige", which undoubtedly helped the non-bat-sized Pia fit through the window of his cell.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Slithering Shadow", Conan the Barbarian uses a tapestry instead of sheets.
  • In Edith Pargeter's historical novel Sunrise In The West, the Welsh prince Griffith ap Llewellyn is held hostage in London, and attempts to escape out a window using a rope smuggled to him by his family. Finding the rope too short, he extends it with the bedclothes and wall hangings in his apartment. He is a large man, and the wall hangings are old and somewhat fragile; the rope gives way and he is killed in the fall.
  • The Sword Of Saint Ferdinand: When Elvira is locked up in Melgarejo Castle, she makes one rope by knotting her room's bedsheets and curtains together, ties one end to the window's supporting column and climbs down the wall.
  • Two For Tanner: Evan leaves a prostitute's room this way to avoid the men tailing him.
  • Uprooted has a variant when Agnieszka uses all the dresses from Dragon's Gorgeous Garment Generation spell to climb down from a tower (which is unoccupied apart from herself and the absent Dragon) and answer the distress beacon from her hometown. It's rather harrowing because it's night, so she doesn't know if the ladder is actually long enough, and the tower has such smooth sides that her shoulders end up very sore at the end of the climb.
  • In The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder, Lewis uses one to successfully escape his room at Barnavelt Manor, tying the blanket and two sheets together (with the blanket end tied to the bedpost).
  • In The Wind in the Willows, this is how Toad escapes when the other animals confine him to try to cure him of his obsession with motor cars.
  • In World War Z, one of the anecdotes is an Otaku telling the chronicler that he escaped from his high rise in Japan by making a Bedsheet Ladder. It was slow going and extremely dangerous given that he was weaponless, the high rise was full of zombies, and he had to break into a new apartment every couple of floors to get more sheets.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in The Avengers (1960s) episode "The Danger Makers":
    Steed: How did you get out?
    Mrs. Peel: I knotted some sheets and climbed out the window.
    Steed: Oh, that old thing.
    Mrs. Peel: Well, originality didn't seem important at the time.
  • Black Books: In "Manny Come Home", Manny is ordered to cut his hair by his new boss at Goliath Books. Locking himself in the bathroom, he leaves the clippers running so it sounds like he is still in there and climbs out the bathroom window using the continuous hand towel like a bedsheet ladder.
  • Burn Notice: In "Better Halves", Fi gets angry with Michael when he rips the skirt of her expensive new gown and uses it (along with his tuxedo jacket) to create a ladder to get them off a hotel balcony.
  • Doctor Who: Turlough uses one to escape from the school sickbay in "Mawdryn Undead".
  • Horrible Histories: The Stupid Death of Griffith Ap Llewelyn, who didn't use enough sheets.
  • In one episode of I Love Lucy, Lucy attempts to escape from an alleged apartment fire via a ladder made of bedsheets. While they unloop while she's climbing down, her fall is broken by the apartment building canopy. There are other reasons for hijinks, though, which do ensue.
  • A rare subversion occurs on Jeeves and Wooster when Gussie wants to use Bertie's sheet to escape. Bertie refuses to let him, as much because it wouldn't work as because he doesn't want his sheets dirty and knotted. To be fair, Bertie's been known to use his sheets for the same purpose. At least in the books.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "Nightmares", Mac lowers a fire hose through a window in order to fool the bad guys into thinking he has escaped down it. He's actually hiding under an old turned-over couch.
  • Parodied on Married... with Children as Al tries to escape from his greedy family by climbing down a rope made of toilet paper. It works, even though there's no way it could have supported his weight, but Peg and the kids catch him trying to sneak out anyway.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: In "Unnatural Habits", a bedsheet ladder is planted to make it look like the murdered girl had escaped from the confinement cell through the window. Phryne sees through it because the knots used would not have held the girl's weight.
  • Subverted in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Mike decides to make one from all the loose clothing he can find around the Satellite of Love, including Crow's Underoos. The 'Bots remind him that he's trying this in a geosynchronous orbit and that would be unwise. And besides, Crow wants his Underoos back. Later Mike does make it down with a steel chain ladder, only to be prodded back up by Pearl and Brain Guy.
  • Mythbusters: Tested and confirmed — Grant is able to climb down a 14-story building using a rope made from prison bedsheets. Kari does it with human hair plaited into a rope, while Tory does the same thing with toilet paper.
  • Sister Boniface Mysteries: In "My Brother's Keeper", Sister Reginald's incorrigible brother Alfie Lynch uses a bedsheet ladder to climb out of Mrs Clam's boarding house after curfew.
  • Three's Company's trio tries to do this when trapped in Jack's bedroom by diamond thieves, but they end up throwing the whole sheet out the window.
  • One of the "Boy vs. Boredom" sketches on You're Skitting Me has Jeremy attempting to escape from going clothes shopping with his mother by tearing shirts into strips, fashioning them into a rope, and using a wire hanger as a crude grappling hook to climb out of a changing room. It doesn't work.

  • Referenced in Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie. Officer Obie takes the toilet paper out of Arlo's cell so that he can't "bend the bars, roll the paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape."
  • Bobby Pinson's "Don't Ask Me How I Know" advises against doing this, but "don't ask me how I know".

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Bible, Michal helps her beloved David escape her father King Saul's wrath with this trick. She also sticks a human-sized idol in his bed so she can tell her father's messengers that he's sick and still asleep.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Cloris Leachman episode of The Muppet Show, the pigs take over the show and throw Kermit and Fozzie into the boiler room. Fozzie suggests they escape by tying sheets together and going out the window. Kermit then points out a flaw in Fozzie's plan: What window?

    Video Games 
  • In Cadenza 3: Havana Nights the main character uses a bunch of scarves to escape from a balcony.
  • In an illustration for a story told in Dark Realm: Queen of Flames, the older of two twin princesses uses one to escape from a palace balcony when she runs away after their father's death.
  • Variant in Die Hard: Vendetta, but one area in the Chinese Theatre requires John McClane to reach a tall balcony, with all the doors locked. The solution is to shoot one side of the banner underneath, making it fall and allowing John to climb up. If players are clueless on what to do, John will let out this quote:
    Hmm, I wonder how secure that banner is?
  • One of the craftable items in the prison-break game The Escapists, called the "Sheet Rope". It's used to descend from rooftops.
  • In Grim Facade 7: Monster in Disguise the detective uses one to chase after the killer.
  • Grim Fandango: Manny climbs a rope made entirely out of tacky neckties, tied to a gargoyle, near the top of a skyscraper, going all the way to the ground. This was all set up before he got there, presumably by his boss as part of a scheme to blow off work.
  • In Groove Billygoat three young children in the bad part of town climb out a second-story window this way, then pull the bedsheets out after them, which leads to the question of how they were able to climb down it if it wasn't connected properly to anything.
  • In Mystery Case Files 16: The Revenant's Hunt the detective leaves Eliza's room this way to get past the Revenant waiting downstairs.
  • Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It: Towards the end of "Shake a Tower", you come across a giant at the top of a beanstalk. He has a shed full of beets. You can turn his shed beets into bed sheets, tie them together, and use them to climb down the beanstalk.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has this occur in the first Nonary Game, where Seven uses one to save the children from the incinerator.
  • In Project Zomboid, the Sheet Rope is one of the most useful items in the game; it is crafted with either sheets or certain types of clothing. They are mainly used to further fortify forts and secure safehouses, allowing either for a quick getaway or an entrance that no zombie will be able to follow or destroy.
  • One made out of laundry is used to escape from a suspended cage in Sable Maze 3: Forbidden Garden.
  • In Witches' Legacy 6: The Dark Throne Edward uses one to leave Morgana's castle.

    Web Animation 
  • Referred to in the Red vs. Blue episode "You're The Bomb, Yo", when Church and Grif are trapped in a cell and left to die.
    Church: We gotta find a way to escape, Grif.
    Grif: If only we had bedsheets.
    Church: There's no window. What good is tying together bedsheets gonna do us?
    Grif: Who said anything about tying them together? I wanna take a nap. If I have to die of hunger, I wanna do it in my sleep.
  • RWBY Chibi: During "Fugitive", when Sun and Neptune in their Junior Detective personas corner Jaune — or rather, Felipe — in his dorm, he makes a daring escape out the window via this trope. But there's one itty-bitty problem.
    Ren: Was I supposed to tie that to something?
    [Jaune can be heard screaming as he falls to the ground.]

  • In Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, an injured Bruce Wayne escapes through his bedroom window with a rope of linens tied together, but Tim Drake is there to greet him at the bottom.
  • Proposed in Luci Phurr's Imps, where the other demons point out that he got the sheets from outside the bedroom, and they could just go that way.

    Web Original 
  • In We're Alive, one of these is used to escape the hospital in Chapter 23. Unfortunately it breaks, leaving Angel and Burt trapped.

    Western Animation 
  • The Big Knights use them to escape from the castle of the princesses' aunties. Sir Morris neglects to tie his on to anything.
  • Princess Flame does this in Blazing Dragons, completely forgetting about her ability to fly.
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Bed and Breakfast", Linda turns the Belcher home into a bed-and-breakfast and manically insists their guests participate in her "fun" activities — when she locks the guests in their rooms, a couple try a bedsheet ladder escape, but need to ask for help when the ladder is too short.
  • In The Boondocks episode "Home Alone", Riley attempts this to try and escape from his room after being grounded by Huey. This literally backfires, as Huey lights the rope on fire, so Riley immediately retreats into his room.
  • The Bump in the Night episode "Baby Jail" features a variant where part of the escape plan used by a de-aged Mr. Bumpy and the other infants in the crib they're held in is that they create a ladder to climb over using the babies' cloth diapers.
  • Jeff from Clarence uses one to escape from his room in "Jeff Wins".
  • In the C.O.P.S. (1988) episode "The Case of the Baby Bad Guy", Small Guy and his henchmen sneak out of the Lopsided Orphanage by climbing out the window using a ladder made of bedsheets.
  • In Disenchantment, Bean says that she once attempted this, which is why she is no longer allowed to have curtains in her bedroom.
  • In the Darkwing Duck episode "The Quiverwing Quack", Gosalyn sneaks out of her room after getting grounded by climbing out of the window with a ladder made of bedsheets.
  • The Flip the Frog short "Room Runners" has Flip attempt to escape his angry landlady by making a ladder out of bedsheets.
  • Bloo tries it in an episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, but forgets to tie the other end down.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Inhuman Torch", Fry is dangling one-handed from the widow's walk of the burning Planet Express building, holding an ineffectually short rope made from his clothes. It's quickly revealed that he was already making the clothing rope when the fire started.
  • In Home Movies, Melissa is inducted against her will into the Fairy Princess Club, which exists solely to make its young conscripts sell their merchandise at the mall. She escapes the live-in headquarters at night by setting a fire (including an Unflinching Walk from the explosion she set) and using a rope made from merchandise cloth... to exit a first-story window.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Daffy Duck does it to escape from gangsters in the short Golden Yeggs, but the bottom half of the ladder turns out the be the gangsters themselves.
    • In Porky Pig's Feat, Daffy and Porky use one to try and escape a hotel without paying. The hotel manager catches them at the bottom and gives Porky a hotfoot that sends them flying back up the Bedsheet Ladder to their room. Daffy stops along the way to ogle in a window at a cheesecake picture and wolf whistle — going down and again going back up.
    • In Baby Buggy Bunny, "Babyface" Finster does this while under the care of Bugs Bunny to escape from his burrow with his stolen money.
  • In the Mickey Mouse cartoon Ye Olden Days, when rescuing Princess Minnie, Mickey is surprised to find that there is no prearranged rope in the tower she's locked away in, so he constructs one out of lady-in-waiting Clarabelle Cow's many articles of clothing. The couple is caught on their way down while passing the King's window.
  • In Puff the Magic Dragon and the Incredible Mr. Nobody, Terry, after being told by his parents that his eponymous imaginary friend isn't real, and unable to find him after that talk, runs away to find his friend by making a bedsheet rope and climbing out the window. But since his friend wasn't there to help him tie the knots, the rope comes apart, and he lands in Puff's waiting arms. They go on a journey and eventually find Mr. Nobody, and Terry resolves his issues. Then it's revealed that he actually landed in the lilac bush outside his window and had been knocked out the whole time.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "Clean Lovin'", Spunky falls in love with Rocko's mop, and when Rocko finds out, he locks the mop in his closet. The following night, Spunky attempts to elope with the mop by making a bedsheet ladder to climb out of Rocko's bedroom window while he's asleep, but makes the mistake of not tying the other end to something, which wakes Rocko up.
  • In the Rugrats episode "Real or Robots?", Tommy makes one to get out of his crib after Stu tapes it shut to prevent him from getting out of it and into his bedroom.
  • In Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf, Scooby and Shaggy use a bedsheet ladder in an attempt to escape Dracula's castle. However, as their room overlooks the moat, they don't actually manage to go anywhere.
  • Used by the couch to escape from the Taj Mahal in a Couch Gag on The Simpsons.
  • TaleSpin:
    • In the episode "A Bad Reflection on You, Part Two", Shere Khan's pilots make one for Kit to help him escape from their prison cell on the Iron Vulture. When a knot in one of the bedsheets comes undone, Kit nearly falls into the water but manages to climb into the window of Don Karnage's dressing room.
    • In "Citizen Khan", Clementine, a friend of Baloo and the others, was locked in a room, leading her to use this to get out, saying it always works in the movies. Unfortunately, the knot at the end came loose, causing her to fall to the ground while saying "So much for the movies!".

    Real Life 
  • Estonian thief Martin Vaiksaar used knotted bedsheets to scale three 23-foot walls to escape from a jail near Finland's capital city of Helsinki. Despite the facility being brand new with a (presumably) recent staff, it took them an entire day to notice that he had escaped. The tale gets weirder in that he managed to get back to Estonia to find that the police were not interested in the fact that Finnish and Estonian authorities were both meant to be after him.
  • In May 2008, a thief named Aaron Stephen Forden escaped a New Zealand prison. Bonus points for referencing this wiki.
  • Two Polish POWs almost escaped this way from Colditz Castle in Saxony in 1941. They were in solitary, the bedsheet rope was supplied by accomplices on a higher story, and the escape route took them through the attic of a guardroom. They were caught only because they made too much noise trying to get down the outer walls.
  • Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fawr, son of one of the last ruling princes of independent Wales, was imprisoned by the King of England in the Tower of London. He attempted to escape in the night using a rope of knotted clothes and bedsheets, but the rope broke and he fell almost a hundred feet to his death. He was found the following morning with his head rammed into his neck cavity.
  • Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots and the father of James VI and I, escaped a bomb planted in his house via a chair tied to a line of bedsheets. Unfortunately (for Henry, at least) while he made his escape he ran right into the people who planted the bomb and they promptly strangled him, turning a death that would have looked like an accident into something much more suspicious. A few years later, the English worried about his ex-wife using this trope to escape Bolton Castle. She didn't.
  • Joshua Duane Barnes, a Texas burglar, pulled off the same feat from a secure medical facility.
  • In August 2009, two men broke out of a German prison using this method.
  • This does not always work out so well, as the Darwin Awards people will attest. One Pennsylvania man fell to his death when his rope was cut by broken glass on the window frame he lowered the bedsheets from.
  • On a more hilarious note, in August 2015, two convicts attempted this in Spokane County Jail. Unfortunately for them, they failed to consider the fact that the window they intended to escape out of was less than five inches wide.
  • During a particular MacGyver-ish escape attempt from Dannemora prison, an inmate carved the keys he needed from observing the guard's keyring, built a dummy, then tried to climb over the wall with a rope made from bedsheets and clothes. He wasn't, however, bulletproof.
  • Jack Sheppard did this twice, the first two times he broke out of prison. The first time, it was less than three hours after he was locked up. The fourth time he escaped imprisonment (in one year), he didn't climb down with his bedsheets, but he did use his blanket to get to an adjacent building, which he escaped through.
  • In Beirut, Lebanon, five prisoners pulled off this trick, escaping from a maximum security prison.
  • In December 2012, two inmates apparently used one of these to escape from a high-rise federal prison in Chicago.
  • A sad example: the 2017 Grenfell Tower Fire in London, UK, where a 24-storey block of flats caught fire and survivor testimonies stated that some trapped residences in the higher floors were trying to escape out the windows with ropes made from linens and bedding.
  • Benvenuto Cellini, an Italian goldsmith and sculptor who lived in the 16th century, claims to have used one of these to escape from the Castel Sant'Angelo, where he had been imprisoned by Pope Paul III.


Video Example(s):


Spinning Deflector Array

The interior of the deflector dish spins as power is diverted to augment the ship's navigational deflector. Unfortunately, this also creates a centrifugal force that pins Boimler to the wall. Mariner and Tendi have to use their clothes as a rope in order to save him.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhenThingsSpinScienceHappens

Media sources: