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By Wall That Is Holey

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Safety windows don't all have glass.

"I genuinely hope that was an idea Shaq brought to the set. “Guys, I’d really like my performance to be inspired by Harold Lloyd.”
Chris Sims and David Uzumeri on Steel

A piece of masonry, architecture, or another very large object falls onto a character. Fortunately, they survive because they're standing exactly where the window or some other opening will be located when the building front drops.

Compare with Illogical Safe, and contrast Impact Silhouette.


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  • One of Syfy's bumps has this happen to two different characters from Warehouse 13 simultaneously. Artie is standing directly in front of the door, which doesn't fall with the house, and Claudia is lined up with the window.
  • There is an anti-drug commercial that seems to be the same as the Brain Wall example below. "Where do you fit in?" is the theme, and it shows the kid playing sports, etc, then the last one is taking a joint from someone, and he decides not to fit in there.
  • In a ad, a musician plays drums at the beach beside a lifeguard tower; when the tower is knocked down by a stumbling surfer, it topples all around the drummer without striking him.
  • A Jimmy John's ad features a family pretending they live in a house so that Jimmy John's will deliver to them, because Jimmy John's only delivers to places within five minutes' travel from their stores for maximum freshness. As the delivery woman walks away, the heavy wood facade of a house's front falls down around her and the paper window breaks over her head.

    Anime and Manga 
  • A running gag in Lupin III: Operation: Return the Treasure has this happen to Zenigata every time Lupin was locked up and subsequently freed by blowing up the prison cell. Subverted in that the final time this happens, the wall does hit Zenigata. (But misses Lupin)
  • A variant occurs in Claymore, when the giant Dauf tries to bring down his hands on Galatea, but fortunately for her and unfortunately for him she's standing right where his hands are cupped. It's explained she used her yoki bending powers to open his fingers, but the expression on Dauf's face is still pretty priceless.
  • An early chapter of Gunsmith Cats serves up this trope with some Car Fu seasoning: when the crook she's chasing manages a sudden, unexpected turn, Rally tries to do the same, but only ends up sending her car skidding sideways... through a back alley playground, with a young girl caught right in their path. So her partner opens the passenger side door, yanks the girl inside and passes her across the front seat to Rally, who deposits her out the other end, right where she was standing before.
  • The G8 Arc in One Piece has the door of a giant safe come off and nearly crush Usopp and Luffy (who found the whole thing to be hilarious).
  • In Change 123, there is a scene where a bad guys pushes a loosened emergency staircase towards the Non-Action Guy Kosukegawa and his (sort of) Action Girlfriend Fujiko. Kosukegawa, who is always willing to be a hero despite him not being an athletic type, instinctively tries to grab Fujiko and run away. However Fujiko, being a good strategist, knows that they don't have enough time for this, so she forcibly holds Kousukegawa near her and then manipulates both of them to the spot where she calculates that a hollow part of the staircase will fall down.
  • In GUNNM after a ruined skyscraper falls on tuned Gally (Alita) and company:

    Comic Books 
  • The Catwoman villain Film Freak once set this up to happen, in a deliberate homage to the trope, carefully positioning himself to be standing in the window. The policemen who were trying to arrest him at the time were not so lucky.
  • Blue Beetle uses the second Jurassic Park version: To rescue a firefighter from a burning building, Blue Beetle hovers his flying "bug" over a hole in the building's roof, and lowers himself down on the cable. He grabs the fireman and starts to retract back up, but the building starts to crumble, so they hold tight to the cable. The building collapses but they're fine because they were under the hole in the roof.
  • A variation in Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk: The big green guy picks up a car and throws it sideways at Batman. Having no space to dodge to the side, Batman dives towards the car in mid-air, into the open driver-side window, and out the passenger side.
  • A variant happens in The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #32. A Classy Cat-Burglar cuts loose a huge Mayan calendar stone that is hanging from the museum ceiling so it falls on Indy. Indy avoids being crushed by standing still so he passes through the hole in the centre of the stone.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Disney's Aladdin, after the eponymous hero is banished to a frozen wasteland by Jafar, his attempts to dig up the magic carpet causes one of the palace's cylindrical towers (which Jafar had sent with him) to begin rolling toward him. He thinks quickly enough to see the tower's tiny window, and slides right to the exact point where it would make contact with the ground. As Abu makes clear, this is a very close shave!
  • Occurs in Antz (except with a flyswatter... and one of the characters isn't so lucky). Justified Trope in this case. Ever try to kill an itty bitty ant with a flyswatter? It's not easy.
  • Occurs at the beginning of Shrek the Third, to Prince Charming with a cardboard wall. Subverted in the ending, however, where Charming isn't as lucky.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, this trope ends up subverting Falling Chandelier of Doom when Kronk drops the chandelier on (the extremely skinny) Yzma. Once the dust clears, it is revealed that Yzma is unscathed, in the middle of the fixture, with a candle in her mouth.
    Kronk: Strange. That usually works.
    Yzma: And so does this! (pulls a lever and a Trap Door opens under Kronk)
    Kronk: Ah. Should've seen that comin'. [falls] WHOOOA!
  • One of the Pixar Shorts, Lifted, does this with a flying saucer that accidentally slams down and crushes the house of a man it'd failed to abduct due to the pilot's clumsiness. The man and his bed survive, as the saucer had an opening in the center of its underside.
  • In Surf's Up, the main character, Cody, accidentally knocks over a cardboard cutout. It lands on a young penguin who happens to be standing where its face was before it was cut out. The penguin appears not to notice and continues walking.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs manages to pull this off several times, keeping it fresh with very different causes—in the same scene, a wave of water with an airspace misses the one guy who's in a raincoat in the one-seat "splash zone" no less, and a rolling giant goldfish bowl misses the protagonist due to the huge space below the lip of the bowl. And that's just from one scene.
  • In the third Swan Princess movie, the back wall of the festival stage falls over, nearly landing on Rogers, who escapes unscathed because of a window in the wall. He even remarks afterwards, "Well-placed window!"
  • Played straight in the opening scene of Dinosaur. The Carnotaur stops on a nest of Iguanodon eggs. Aladar's egg survives by being between its toes. The other eggs aren't so lucky.
  • In Home, Oh appears to be crushed by the Gorg mothership, but is spared because that particular portion was hollow.
  • Seen in one of the bloopers for The LEGO Movie, when a section of scenery falls over and narrowly misses several characters. A LEGO version of Phil Lord isn't so lucky and gets squashed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Trope Codifier: Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill, Jr. Keaton's stunt was noted for being done without any trickery (and for being botched by the crew at one point — they measured it wrong and missed flattening Keaton's skull by mere inches). It's reported that both the cameraman and director were too scared to watch when the stunt was preformed. It's worth noting that Keaton decided a prop wall would not look realistic enough so the wall used is a real wall built to code and would have easily crushed him. An earlier example can be found in Keaton's short One Week, in which the wall first pivots around a horizontal beam, thereby acting as a vertical Bookcase Passage.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • Jurassic Park: A car is falling upside-down onto Dr. Grant and Tim, but luckily, they are only covered by the cabin portion of the vehicle, the top of which had previously been removed by a T. rex.
      Tim Murphy: Well. We are back. In the car again.
      Dr. Alan Grant: At least we're out of the tree.
    • The Lost World: Jurassic Park does this in reverse, with the protagonists hanging onto a rope that keeps them suspended while the section-bus they're in plunges into the sea around them.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
  • Done at the end of Jackass Number Two. After the wall falls, though, he gets hit by a wrecking ball. Also attempted during the outtakes in the credits. Someone yelled "cut" at a bad moment, so Knoxville thought the scene was over and moved...
  • Turned up to eleven in Project A Part II by Jackie Chan, where he started on top of a multi-storey wall and ran all the way down the side of it as it toppled over, with someone else on the ground standing where the window is located. Chan is a big fan of Buster Keaton and silent comedy in general, and it's just one of several classic stunts that he's worked into his films.
  • Subverted with Hook. The giant stuffed crocodile falls on Captain Hook, and the clock had fallen out of it mouth allowing its jaws to fall perfectly to either side of him. It somehow eats him anyway.
  • The Animated Credits Opening for The Pink Panther Strikes Again features a straight homage of Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. gag.
  • Reversed in The Dirty Dozen in a shot when the inmates, while building a barracks cabin, raise a wall around Major Reisman.
  • The 1998 American version of Godzilla includes a scene where a cameraman films as the eponymous monster charges in his direction... and the immense toes come down on either side of him. Unlike many other examples, said cameraman is suitably shaken up by the event.
  • In the first live-action Garfield film, Garfield knocks down everything in Jon's living room. The last thing that falls is a large shelf but it misses Garfield when he winds up going through one of the holes.

  • In Inheritance, a fortress wall falls over with Roran standing right under it. He survives by standing under a door. The other soldiers are not so lucky.

    Live Action TV 
  • Arrested Development pays homage to the Buster Keaton version. In "The One Where They Build a House", the character to whom the house wall falls upon is even named Buster.
  • Done in The Goodies episode "The Movies" in a homage to the silent movies, except with three people and one window. Graeme Garden has said it was the most dangerous stunt they ever performed and probably wouldn't be passed by Health and Safety nowadays, as the prop wall had to be very heavy in order to guarantee it falling straight. In case the reference wasn't obvious enough, after they leave Buster Keaton arrives (he also takes out a notebook and writes something down).
  • Happens with a saloon door on an episode of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
  • Done on purpose in MacGyver (1985), when Mac and the old movie guy he was with use a prop wall to take out some armed assailants, in conjunction with a fake surrender.
  • There is a Japanese game show (named Brain Wall, but colloquially called Human Tetris and calle "Hole In The Wall" in other countries) based on this trope, in which contestants must make themselves into the shape of a hole in an approaching wall. Failure to do so results in the wall pushing the contestant into a pool of freezing cold water (or plastic colored balls in some versions). A celebrity version of the show was made for The BBC and the show was also brought to the US; both of these versions were called Hole in the Wall.
    • The regulars on Brain Wall are all professional comedians; in many cases where the hole is patently impossible to get through, they usually choose to fail in the most humorous way possible.
  • Invoked in Power Rangers Jungle Fury. When a sign is about to fall on Fran, Dominic saves her by carving a hole in it with his Rhino Spirit power.
  • Happens in the first episode of The Betty White Show.
  • Happens in Psych to Gus and Shawn at a Wild West theme park. They invoke it by squeezing as close together as possible. This later became part of the opening credits.
  • Also in the first episode of She Spies.
  • On an episode of The Middle, Axl is helping out at a Habitat for Humanity house. When asked if he needs help with the bracing, he scoffs and says he knows what he's doing, only to have the wall fall while he stands in the doorway.
  • While still in transition between comedy and full-fledged news report show, Salvados had an intro where this happened to host Jordi Évole.
  • The Tripods. The protagonists escape being squished by a Tripod because they're hiding in a cleft of rocks that absorb the impact.

    Music Videos 

  • The Ur-Example is the Pima story of creation, a tribe that lived in Arizona. In it, Juhwertamahkai twice destroys the world he created because he's displeased that the people in it have become wicked cannibals. He does so by letting the sky fall to crush everyone, but breaks a hole with his staff for himself to stand in and survive.

    New Media 
  • An exhibition in the Centre Pompidou consists of a series of films of this happening from lots of different camera angles, many of which evoke classic scene transitions.

  • When the entire set collapses in The Play That Goes Wrong, the back flat falls around Annie, leaving her standing in the window.

    Video Games 
  • The Mario Party 4 minigame "Booksquirm" is where you are standing on a giant book and must continually run for the shape cutouts in the next page to avoid being squashed. The holes get smaller, fewer, and the pages turn faster as the game progresses, until only the winner remains. The designers clearly thought this was so much fun they even included a challenge mode of this mini-game that lasts until all are crushed and keeps a high score on the pages.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and the checkerboard room in the Forest Temple. Inconveniently, giant Skulltulas guard most of these safe spots note .
  • In the X-Men Origins: Wolverine video game, there is a scene in which Wolverine pushes a stone wall onto a group of baddies. One survives because he's standing right where a hole in the wall is. As he begins to rejoice in his good fortune, Wolverine leaps down and kills him.
  • Name a game that has a descending ceiling (Spikes of Doom optional), and there's always a conveniently player character-sized hole in which they can stand (or duck, in a pinch) to stay alive (some levels add forced scrolling for extra annoyance):
    • The maze in the stomach of the Zone Eater in Final Fantasy VI.
    • The Temple of Doom from Final Fantasy VII has a related case with U-shaped rolling boulders. This one is only a minor example, as it's really a timing puzzle. If you mess up the timing and get squished by the boulders, you just get sent back to the beginning of the trap, without even any loss of health.
    • A suitable subversion occurs in I Wanna Be the Guy. At the descending spiked ceiling trap with a conveniently placed hole, the spike extends to kill you anyway if you try to hide there.
    • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards: The robot factory in Shiver Star features a conveyor belt and crushers.
    • Metal Shark Player's stage in Mega Man X6—the ground is a conveyor belt, there are instant-death spikes in addition to the crushing danger, and various Nightmare effects can add super-slippery or nigh-invulnerable crates or metal blocks that are in the way.
    • Featured in several of the castle stages in Super Mario World, and at least one level (Valley of Bowser 2) where the ground is constantly rising and falling.
    • One room in Xenogears has a spiked ceiling trap, but the trick is that the player-shaped hole is exactly above the platform where the party is standing anyway, and the top of the "ceiling" is in fact a perfectly safe elevator. The spikes only look threatening because you're seeing them from a third-person perspective.
  • This happens in a cutscene of the video game Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where Ron is nearly crushed by a falling tower.
  • The final planet encountered in the "Clockwork Ruins Galaxy" from Super Mario Galaxy 2 has giant stone cog wheels crashing down at either Mario or Luigi. However, you can duck under the teeth holes when the cogs roll toward you.
  • In TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, Captain Ash is nearly crushed by a collapsing wall after a stray artillery shell strikes it. "I'll say!"
  • This is actually the basis for an entire Mook type in Super Mario 3D World. You have to maneuver into its safe zone and then Attack Its Weak Point by Goomba Stomping its exposed back.


    Western Animation 
  • The Men in Black animated series has the intentional version as well: Agent Jay tries to outrun the falling wall, but Agent Kay grabs him and keeps him in the right spot.
    Jay: Wow, dumb luck?
    Kay: Luck had nothing to do with it.
  • This is done in an episode of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, with a wall the Bully Brothers push toward Penelope. The Hooded Claw's reaction: "Blast! They would forget to close the window!"
  • Happens once in The Real Ghostbusters with a whole building section thrown at them by haunted girders.
  • It happens as a Shout-Out to old films such as Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. on an episode of Sheep in the Big City. However, after the wall fell on Sheep like pictured above, it is followed by a train running over him.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this is how snippy Padawan Learner Ahsoka Tano saves Anakin Skywalker from a bunch of what look like giant walking beer kegs with guns.
  • Coop knocks over a bookshelf that lands around Jamie during a flashback in Megas XLR.
  • In Teen Titans a giant illuminated "A" perched atop a Wayne Industries building falls over amid much dust and explosions. When the dust clears, Cyborg is standing in the middle of the space made by the cross-stroke.
  • In the feature film Hey There, It's Yogi Bear, a ladder falls towards a group of cops, who then line up so that each one fits neatly through the rungs.
  • A particularly suspenseful example appears in the Classic Disney Short "The Old Mill". A bird has her nest in one of the spokeholes of the millstone of the decrepit mill when a storm hits. The rope holding the cogwheel in place breaks and the millstone starts to move. The bird, in a desperate attempt to save her eggs, covers them with her body as the nest approaches the cog. She is saved when it turns out the spoke that goes in that particular hole is missing.
  • In one episode of Celebrity Deathmatch, a sitcom set is erected for a bout between the three actresses from Friends. The set eventually collapses on all the combatants but not the referee Mills Lane, who survives because of this trope.
  • In Tales From The Cryptkeeper two girls who are old movie buffs are investigating a possible vampire. On their way up a ladder, they break a rung. While running from the vampire, they knock the ladder loose and it falls toward them. They freeze and end up standing exactly where the missing rung would have been. They look at each other and squeal, "Buster Keaton!"
  • This is a Couch Gag in The Simpsons episode "American History X-Cellent".
  • This almost saves Cuddles in an episode of Happy Tree Friends. The show being what it is, he winds up getting killed by the windowframe. However, it saves Mime.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Earth Kingdom is known for hurling massive rock projectiles shaped like Chinese coins, with square holes in the middle so they can be lifted up while standing above. Guess how Aang manages to dodge one of them.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Spa Day", Candace and Stacy are helping build homes for the homeless. Candace lets go of the wall they are holding in position so she can ogle Jeremy. She passes harmlessly through the hole for the window. Stacy is not so lucky.
  • In the Popeye short "For Better or Nurse", Bluto knocks out a wood plank holding up a dilapidated wall with intent to get crushed so he'll be admitted to the hospital where Olive is a nurse. He's actually disappointed when the trope occurs.
  • A variation on Jimmy Two-Shoes, with a tree with a hole in the middle.
  • Jackie Chan survives this way in one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures where the Monkey King rolls a gigantic store donut at him, but he survives by the fact that the donut has a fake "bite" in it.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Happens to Mystery Inc. in "Battle of the Humongonauts" when the Humungonauts demolish the boatyard.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Too Many Pinkie Pies", the Pinkie Pie clones cause a barn to collapse; they all scatter, except for one who continues dancing obliviously as the wall crashes down around her.
    • In "Non-Compete Clause", when the front wall of an apple shed under construction collapses, Sandbar ends up standing in the outline of a door that hasn't been installed yet.
  • Chop Socky Chooks: Happens to Chucky and Joe when they are trapped in Wasabi's Dream World and the giant mechanical duck Mr Quackers knocks a building over on top of them.
  • Happens in a fantasy sequence on an episode of Arthur where Binky imagines that he gets so strong he makes the entire school collapse by slamming a door. After the whole building falls only the door he slammed, minus the glass in a small window at the top, remains standing, and it promptly falls onto him with him going right through the window hole.
  • Rick and Morty: In "Ricksy Business", as Beth and Jerry leave for a Titanic-themed romantic cruise, the synthetic laser eels that Rick tried to warn Beth about (while she was lecturing him about his responsibility) leave through a hole that they oxidized into the garage door, which then falls off, leaving Rick, Morty and Summer in the middle of the hole.
  • In Robinson Sucroe episode 1, a bookshelf falls over and Robinson just happens to be in the empty crack.

    Real Life 
  • It's a car and not a wall, and the guy did not escape without injury, but there's an amazing video of a pedestrian in Dayton, OH who narrowly escaped being crushed by a car because the dent in its side from a prior impact matched up with his body. (Another link in case Snopes video doesn't work.)
  • The "Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Spectacular" stunt show at Universal Studios (both Hollywood and Orlando) ended the show with the bumbling protagonist sitting on a Plunger Detonator and causing a building facade behind him to explode and fall forward, with him sitting right in the front window. When the stunt show was changed to "Fear Factor Live" at both parks, the trick was retained with the final stunt involving the winning contestant detonating explosives that drop the very same facade over the host, who has been patiently sitting on a stool.
  • Oddly enough, using a lightweight wall to do this stunt makes it more dangerous, as it's more likely to drift as it falls.

Video Example(s):


Steamboat Bill, Jr.

This particular stunt was noted for being done without any trickery (and for being botched by the crew at one point; they measured it wrong and missed flattening Buster Keaton's skull by mere inches). It's reported that both the cameraman and director were too scared to watch when the stunt was performed. It's worth noting that Keaton decided a prop wall would not look realistic enough so the wall used in this scene is a real wall built to code and would have easily crushed him.

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