Follow TV Tropes


Cable-Car Action Sequence

Go To
Is that action-packed enough for you?

A Cable-Car Action Sequence is a fight scene or other tense Action/Adventure moment that take place aboard the gondola of an aerial-lift cable car, preferably while it is moving along its cableway.

This has some similarities with the Elevator Action Sequence, in that it forces a fight within enclosed quarters, while moving to another place. Amongst the differences is that it relies on acrophobia (fear of heights) rather than claustrophobia, as it has much more of a scenery. It also tends to be much longer a sequence, a cable-car ride taking more time than any ordinary elevator ride. It can also involve more people, and of course adds the danger of someone falling from a great height.

More often than not, the fight will take place on the roof of the cable-car rather than the cabin, to increase the chances of a Literal Cliffhanger or Disney Villain Death. This variant is closer to a Traintop Battle, though not as speedy.

Any such sequence might involve the antagonist trying to sabotage the cable-car and making all occupants of the gondola fall to their deaths, adding more pressure to the protagonist trying to stop this. If two cable-cars going in opposite directions cross, a character may jump from one roof to the other.

A subtrope of Interesting Situation Duel. Compare Elevator Action Sequence, Traintop Battle. Contrast with the tamer Stuck on a Ski Lift.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, from Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, uses a special attack called "Gondola Tour". It involves him riding a cable-car to the ceiling and then dropping it on his opponent's head.
  • The fight against Rubber Soul in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders takes place in one.
  • Briefly in episode 4 of Kill la Kill. After being sent back to a point even further back than the beginning of the deadly obstacle course, Ryuko and Mako discover that they conveniently landed next to the cable-car lift that the super-elite students can take directly to school. They still need to kick it into overdrive and off the rails in order to make it to class on time.
  • The fourth Lupin series, Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, had Lupin trying to escape from Fujiko with his "treasure", riding an empty cable car with Jigen and the "treasure". Fujiko chases after them and they force one of the cars to drop, with her in it.
  • In Noein Haruka and Yuu try to escape Atori's assault on top of Mt. Hakodate by taking the ropeway down, only to have Atori attack the car they're in.
  • During the "Ruby & Sapphire" arc of Pok√©mon Adventures, Sapphire battles Team Aqua Admin Matt inside a stalled cable-car filled with water. N also forces White to battle him inside a Ferris wheel cabin during the "Black & White" arc.

    Films — Animation 
  • Bling features a futuristic city with a "Cloud Road", that is lines turning ordinary cars into cable cars by suspending them with electro-magnets. This proves as unsafe as it sounds when the protagonists start chasing and fighting the villain on Cloud Road, and he resorts to keeping them busy by endangering a Bus Full of Innocents, also suspended.
  • In Hoodwinked!, Red Puckett gets taken hostage and is put into a cable-car cabin that is loaded with dynamite and padlocked.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • James Bond:
    • A non-action but still nail-biting suspense scene involves Bond's escape in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Bond is locked up in the cable-car room, and the only way out is by crawling out over a sheer drop along the cable, and then dropping onto the roof of a cable-car just before his fingers are severed.
    • In Moonraker, a fight between Jaws and Bond happens aboard the gondola leading to Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro.
  • At the climax of Johnny English Reborn, Johnny jumps with a snowmobile unto the cable-car where Big Bad Simon Ambrose is trying to flee. Fistycuffs, Groin Attacks and explosion ensue.
  • The kung-fu film A Man Called Tiger has the protagonist (played by Jimmy Wang Yu) fighting two yakuza lackeys on the gondola of a cable car while the doors are opened. Jimmy and one of the mooks end up falling out of the gondola and clinging to the side rails, as the second mook tries a Hand Stomp on Jimmy, but Jimmy manages to make the first mook fall to his death before climbing back into the gondola to deal with the second.
  • The Soldier. The title character goes to meet his counterpart in the KGB in an Austrian ski resort, but he's been Lured into a Trap. The KGB guy locks the Soldier inside a cable car, then brakes the cable car so it's a sitting duck to be blown up by one of his men with a bazooka. The Soldier gets the door open just in time to dive out, leading to a ski Chase Scene.
  • Played with during the climax of Spider-Man, which starts with the Green Goblin breaking apart the Roosevelt Island tramway and attempting to drop one of the gondolas (that's filled with children) into the river below, resulting in the title hero having to save the gondola while fending off the green menace at the same time.
  • Where Eagles Dare has the most famous movie example. If one does not use a helicopter, then the castle of Werfen where the Nazi headquarters that the Allied commando must infiltrate is can only be accessed via its cable car.
    • Major John Smith (Richard Burton) and Lieutenant Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) hop on the roof of the cable car as it ascends so they will be able to infiltrate the castle undetected. Schaffer nearly falls from the frozen and slippery roof of the cable car station upon arrival. As he's holding onto his ice axe, Smith takes his hand just in time.
    • In the climax, there's a lengthy fight inside the cable car as the heroes escape, complete with jumps between two crossing gondolas. The movie's poster provides the action-packed page illustration.

  • The Nancy Drew Files book The Black Widow is set in Rio de Janeiro. Sure enough, we get an example with the gondola leading to Sugarloaf Mountain, where Nancy finds herself at the mercy of the villain, while Ned has to rescue her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The end of the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Fear of Death" has a fight aboard a gondola.
  • The climax of the episode "Sanctuary" of Human Target also has a gondola fight.
  • The MacGyver episode "Cease Fire" has MacGyver dispose of a bomb on a gondola.
  • Mission: Impossible: In "The Tram", the IMF must infiltrate a Syndicate financial meeting — held at a mountain resort only accessible by aerial tramway — to discover the group's Swiss bank account number. Naturally the eponymous tram features heavily in the action.
  • In an episode of White Collar, Neal Caffrey jumps from one Roosevelt Island tram car to another to avoid arrest.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • 007 Legends: An interactive example in the second On Her Majesty's Secret Service mission. Bond uses a piece of chain to ride down to a cable-car, blows up a helicopter with an RPG and jumps across to a second car before the first one falls off the track.
  • In Destiny, the first story mission of the Rise of Iron expansion sees you riding a gondola up a mountain while enemies snipe at you from the surrounding cliffs. Halfway up, you're forced to jump out and walk the rest of the way.
  • Duke Nukem Forever has one in a dumpster suspended from a crane.
  • Halo:
    • Twice in Halo 2, first with the two gondolas on the Lake of Regret, and the gondola ride to the Library in the Quarantine Zone.
    • This also happens with the gondolas in Halo 4's "Shutdown".
  • Haze has the player ride a cable-car at one point, but most of it consists of listening to a recording talking about the boring scenery. A few soldiers do show up halfway through, but half of them walk off the car and plunge to their death.
  • Hour of Victory has a cable-car-to-cable-car shootout in the Alps infiltration, where you swap lead with enemy Germans in adjacent gondolas. Expect mooks to fall from opposite cable cars into deep ravines when killed.
  • Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb features a cable-car complete with a mounted machine gun, and a bunch of Mooks to use it on.
  • Jurassic Park: The Game features a variation involving a rollercoaster ride, but which otherwise fits the trope to a tee. Now with added Herrerasaurus pack!
  • Subverted in Painkiller "Snowy Bridge" level. Despite having the main character, Daniel Garner, travel onto of a wobbly gondola there are no foes to harass him on his short trip. Which is great because this level is extremely long in a game where most levels take around 10 minutes max to complete and full of tough and quick foes.
  • In The Punisher video game, Grand Nixon Island has a gondola ride to a Boss Fight, while sniping bad guys along the way. Don't find all the snipers? They'll plug the machinery and you are going for a fall to the bottom of the valley.
  • Resident Evil:
  • In Snake's Revenge, one of the later stages forces the player to ride atop a series of cable-cars in order to get from one place to the next. The game switches to a side-view perspective, where the player must avoid being discovered by the guard inside the gondola.
  • Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow has one when infiltrating the submarine bay in Komodo.
  • Vanquish's Act 3-4 combines this with a Stealth-based Sniping Mission, where you ride a slow monorail car and have to snipe searchlights and turrets to avoid being detected.
  • Wolfenstein:

    Western Animation 
  • The first episode of Action Man has a battle between Alex Mann and his rival Brandon Caine atop a cable car leading up a mountain. Then the cable snaps and the car slides down the mountain.
  • The escape from the Boiling Rock in Avatar: The Last Airbender involves an epic fight over a steam-powered gondola lift.
  • Beware the Batman has a fight on a cable-car above Gotham City Bay between Batman (who jumps in there from a helicopter) and Deathstroke — with a hostage dangling from a cable, strapped to a bomb, under the gondola for added fun.
  • The Hey Arnold! TV movie "The Journal" has one during Arnold's parent's honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro.
  • The Simpsons: In "Blame It on Lisa", after Homer gets kidnapped in Brazil, the family and the kidnappers agree to do the hand-over on two cable-cars from Sugarloaf Mountain. Naturally, throwing the money over is a lot easier than Homer jumping over; when he does, the cable snaps. The kicker is that it turned out to be Homer's idea in the first place.
    Kidnapper #1: We should make our transfers in a safer place!
    Kidnapper #2: It was Homer's idea. You say no to that face.
  • Teen Titans: In "Hide and Seek", Raven battles Monsieur Mallah who pursues three child superheroes that Raven is tasked with bringing to the "drop-off point" only for Raven to be forced to fight Mallah when he arrives and stop running from him.
  • In the Wakfu episode "Ambush", the heroes ride on a Clock Punk cable-car and are attacked by flying pirates above a sea strait. The fight scene is a bit more extensive than usual, since the gondola is the size of a house and armed with a cannon, and the pirates have magical flying steeds.