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Catch a Falling Star

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"Take me to your house of shame
Easy on your body when you got no name
Hold me like you know me I'm a falling star
Catch me if you can
Show me the way inside."
The Bee Gees, "House of Shame"

There's a funny thing about heights in Action-Adventure stories: the range of heights which are fatal to fall from is surprisingly narrow. If you fall from too low, you naturally won't strike the ground with enough force to injure yourself; if you fall from too high, you're more likely to be rescued than to actually hit the ground.

Most often, the rescue comes from some sort of aircraft: The pilot dives sharply in pursuit of their falling friend, and either positions the craft underneath to catch them, in which case they land uninjured regardless of how fast they were falling, or else flies parallel to them, and someone pulls them back in by the wrist. (In the latter case, the diving craft will just barely pull out of the dive before smacking into the ground.) This can be accomplished even if you fell from that aircraft.

Alternatively, an individual with the superpower of Flight, or some kind of giant robot, or just a mean Building Swing may swoop in to catch you, possibly with the aid of Variable Terminal Velocity.

Physics says that this really shouldn't work, but you'll probably be too thankful that you're alive to care.

Compare Improbable Falling Save, where the catcher isn't moving and momentum seems to not transfer to them. Also compare with Take My Hand!. See also the Inevitable Waterfall and No OSHA Compliance for places to fall from. When what's being dramatically caught in mid-plummet isn't a person, it's a Desperate Object Catch. Sister trope to Saved by the Platform Below.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Appleseed Ex Machina, Deunan rams an enemy with her Humongous Mecha, disengaging from it... about 300 meters above the ocean. Luckily, she has two extremely reliable guys with jetpacks as her backup.
  • Haji pulls this in Blood+. When Saya falls off of a building, Haji drops from much higher up, grows a pair of wings (you know, as they do), flies down, and catches her. Made slightly more believable by the fact that he basically launched himself at her, but even then...
  • Kaitou Kid in Case Closed has to do this from time to time by virtue of having a cape that turns into a hang glider. In movie 8, Conan uses it against Kid.
  • Cowboy Bebop: In "Sympathy for the Devil", Spike catches Giraffe on the Swordfish after he falls out a window. A technique he'd had a chance to practice on Ein four episodes earlier, when the pooch threw himself off a bridge to escape a dognapper.
  • Renton and Eureka pull this off at least twice in Eureka Seven.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, Tabitha's dragon familiar Sylphid has done this at least once for Saito in the light novels and for Saito and Louise (a separate incident) in the anime — as well as in the opening credits for the anime's third season.
  • In the final episode of Gate Keepers 21, Miyu catches Yukino after the latter is struck down in a Blast Out and falls from the top of a Humongous Mecha. Yukino is mortally wounded, however, and dies in Miyu's arms.
  • A particularly over-the-top example occurs in the finale of Kill la Kill. Ryuko falls from orbit, initially slowed down by Senketsu as he slowly burns up. Afterwards, she falls head-first towards the ground. She's caught mid-air by Satsuki, who proceeds to skid backwards under the impact. Mako then joins in to help slow Ryuko down, followed by the Elite Four, Mako's family......and every single student. They all crash into the school building, where everyone ends up in a massive pile — naked. Because it's that kind of show, physics doesn't mean a thing and everyone is perfectly fine afterwards.
  • Macross:
    • Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Minmay falls from Hikaru's Valkyrie during the attack on South Ataria Island, and Hikaru not only does a power dive to save her, but manages to open the jet canopy, pull her in, close the canopy, and pull up in time.
      • This was referenced in a similar scene in Macross Frontier. Said homage is slightly modified in that Ranka wasn't falling, but she was being pulled up into the vacuum of space due to a shattered dome, thus she was in danger of ending up Thrown Out the Airlock.
    • A different sort of catching occurred in Macross Plus. After Isamu (accidentally) caused Guld to lose control of his YF-21, Guld's neural link to the Valkyrie was severed, the thrusters flamed out, and he fell from the sky. Isamu cheerfully commented on this until called out by his superiors, at which point he reluctantly dove beneath the YF-21 and caught it with his own Valkyrie at the last possible second. Of course, he matched speeds with it first so neither Valkyrie was damaged from the impact.
    • In Macross Delta, Mirage pulls this off to save Freyja and Hayate. By catching the Valkyrie they're in.
      • Mirage manages to do this twice more in episode 13 - the first time by grabbing Hayate and taking him to safety after he ejects, and the second time by stopping Freyja's freefall.
  • Near the end of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, just as Vita exhausts her magical energy and falls from a great height, Hayate reaches the room where Vita is and catches her badly battered body.
  • Played with in Magic Knight Rayearth: every time the girls are summoned to Cephiro, they pop into existence several kilometers above ground. They scream all the way down, until they're caught by Fyula, Clef's giant, summoned flying fish. They actually bounce on impact with Fyula's back before settling down, none the worse for wear.
  • Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms: At the end of the film, a deeply traumatized Leillia throws herself from the top of the Mezarte castle while declaring she can fly. Maquia, riding the last renato, catches Leillia mid-fall and swoops past the onlookers atop the castle. The situation can be read as a Suicidal "Gotcha!" because it's unclear if Leillia knew about the renato or was genuinely suicidal.
  • In My-Otome, Akane manages to do this with Arika, Nina, and Mashiro after their aircraft is knocked out of the air by a Slave.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Negi and Chao run out of magic power and start plummeting from their High-Altitude Battle. They are saved by Satsuki, piloting a tramway car that Chao had converted into a flying restaurant.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Pokémon 3: Ash is knocked off the mansion by Entei, but is caught by his Charizard in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
    • Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl: In the episode Fighting Fear with Fear!, Ash slipped off Team Rocket's Gliscor Bot, causing him to fall into a canyon, but is caught by his newly-evolved Gliscor (which can only glide, rather than fly). Uniquely, Gliscor also doesn't have enough time or distance to pull out of the dive once it catches Ash either, rather, it uses it's tail like a spring to safely absorb the impact, (a skill that it had been working on earlier in the episode.)
  • The finale of Sailor Moon SuperS has Moon and an unconscious Chibimoon falling to their deaths. After catching Chibimoon, Moon spends the rest of the fall trying to get her to wake up so that they can use the Golden Crystal to save them. When she finally does, the Golden Crystal gives them wings, which they use to land safely. It's a touching scene, as long as you ignore how long they spend falling.
    • There is some attempt at physics in this scene. Chibimoon is flung, unconscious and limp, off a huge floating platform; Moon jumps after her using her weight and the velocity of her dive to make up the distance between them. Chibimoon is a little girl no older than 7, so she's also light enough to be blown by the wind. By the time Moon catches her, they have matched velocity. But don't ask me how transforming into Princess Serenity, flowing gown and all, helped here.
      • The transformation to her more powerful form may have enabled her to speed up even further to catch up with Chibi Moon. And then once she caught Chibi Moon, the flowing dress helped slow down their fall so that she would have more time to get Chibi Moon to wake up before they both went splat.
  • Kanbei rescues Kirara in Samurai 7 by leaping after her as she falls.
    • But they at least try to avoid the Not the Fall That Kills You… by having him grind his blade against the gears on a falling elevator to slow them down. How his sword is still in one piece after that? Given that swords in that series can cut through giant robots and deflect energy beams, using them as elevator brakes is just par for the course.
  • Simoun: When Kaimu falls from the flying base ship, Neviril and Alti use their Simoun to create a special Ri Maajon effect that stops her in midair, which lets them calmly pull her back aboard.
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair Obi manages to just barely catch his former occasional partner the assassin Torou when she slips while fighting on the roof of a three story building. He was able to get high enough in a tree to make the fall non-fatal in time because he was able to see what was about to happen before she went off the roof.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Happens often in Sonic X, except with Cosmo during her first appearance, where she hit the ground a good few moments before anyone found her...but her dress allowed her to land safely.
    • Also used in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, with Knuckles gliding over to catch Sara after she falls out of Robotnik's aircraft.
  • SPY×FAMILY: During a trip to the aquarium, Yor ends up kicking a terrorist who's "kidnapping" Anya (in truth, the girl actually grabbed onto his jacket purposefully, knowing her mother would come to rescue her without hesitation). She kicks him so hard that he ends up hanging from the ceiling, and after Anya lets go and Yor catches her, she can only say "Wow!" in response.
  • Yui Kamio Lets Loose: In Chapter 2, Kiito catches Yui in midair as she falls from the third floor of Teiyo Private Academy.
  • Vividred Operation: Akane saves Aoi in this manner in the first episode, activating her Magical Girl powers in the process.
  • In ZX Ignition, Sieger picks up Ayase this way a couple of times, and Asuka is saved by Fierte

    Comic Books 
  • In Batgirl: Year One, Barbara Gordon is roof-swinging for the first time when her rope gets cut. Fortunately, Robin swings into her freefall's way and catches Batgirl.
  • Mentioned in Marvel Team-Up #20, where Black Panther tries to catch a falling Spider-Man by hanging from the Avengers Quinjet and grabbing the hero as he passes by. He notes that if he misjudges Spider-Man's speed or mistimes the catch by even a second, both of them will be killed instantly.
  • Subverted with Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy in The Night Gwen Stacy Died. She is thrown from the George Washington Bridge by the Green Goblin and Spidey snags her with a strand of webbing to break her fall. She dies of a broken neck due to whiplash caused by the sudden stop.
  • Superman:
    • In The Attack of the Annihilator, Barbara Gordon alias Batgirl gets thrown off a building. Supergirl shows up out of nowhere, catches Barbara and transports her to safety.
    • In Action Comics (New 52) #6, a Superman doppelganger drops Jimmy Olsen off a building. However, Kara -who had come to Metropolis to talk with her cousin- catches Jimmy.
    • In Action Comics (New 52) #35, Superman gets shot down and knocked down while flying back to Earth and falls to the planet. Then Kara streaks up to him and carries him to the ground.
    • In Red Daughter of Krypton, Supergirl and Bleez are flying together. Suddenly Bleez falls down, and Kara quickly grabs her hand and carries her to the ground safely.
    • In Many Happy Returns, Linda saves an unconscious Kara who has just been dropped by a pterosaur.
    • In Supergirl (1972) #1, a serial killer manipulates a crane to lift a student and drop him onto a group of steel spikes, but Linda grabs the boy before he gets impaled.
    • In Supergirl (1982) #4, Linda grabs villain Bulldozer as he is falling.
    • Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade gives several examples:
      • Supergirl is flying for the first time when her flight power suddenly turns off. Fortunately Superman catches her when she falls.
      • Supergirl catches a student that is falling when his flight power stops working.
    • In Kurt Busiek's "Walking the Earth", Superman manages to stop a young girl from jumping in the first place. He still would've caught her if she had, but it seems especially sweet that he went up to talk to her instead of waiting for her to jump. (And the first thing she does is make him promise not to catch her if she jumps.)
    • He does the same thing in All-Star Superman #10, talking to a suicidal girl whose therapist got caught in traffic rather than waiting for her to jump.
    • In Superman: Brainiac, Clark and Lois joke about it. Lois suggests that Clark will need to catch their jerkass co-worker Lombard when, not if, someone throws him off the roof.
      Lois: Just try to be back before somebody throws Lombard off the roof. He'll need you to catch him.
      Clark: And you think I would?
      Lois: After you let him a fall a bit.
      Clark: How about a lot?
      Lois: Only if I can watch.
    • Parodied in 52 when Perry tells a (depowered) Clark Kent that he [Clark] is losing his edge and tells Clark he's fired unless he takes something out of his wife's playbook. Clark immediately jumps out of the high office window... and is caught by new hero Supernova, whom Clark immediately presses for a story.
    • In The Plague of the Antibiotic Man, Superman catches two persons who have just dropped off a ski-lift.
    • In Let My People Grow! Superman is reentering the Earth's atmosphere when he passes out due to be exposed to the energies of an exploding super-nove, and plummets down. Fortunately, Supergirl, who was looking out for him, flies upwards, catches him and takes him to safety.
      But even as Superman plummets Earthward, a second caped Kryptonian rockets into the sky... She is the Maid of Might, Supergirl— and to her, catching a falling figure in mid-air is as simple as catching a nap!
    • The Earthwar Saga: When Element Lad and Brainiac 5 are shot out of the sky by a blast bounced off a pirate ship, Sun Boy grabs both of them before they can crash into the ground.
    • "The Super-Steed of Steel": When Supergirl is weakened and shot down by a spaceship's Kryptonite beam, Comet catches her before she crashes into land.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Sensation Comics: Diana leaps to save a baby that fell out an upper story window, without changing out of her Diana Prince outfit which causes her some concern that her secret identity may be ruined.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): When WW uses the effects of the Saturninans anti gravity ray to try to float from the villain's craft up to her invisible plane (she did not yet have the power of flight) Steve Trevor climbs down her plane's hanging lander to try to catch her, which turns out to be a good thing as the ray's power fades out and she starts falling with him catching her at just the end of his reach.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): When a policewoman is knocked out an upper story window during a fight Diana lassos her from above before she can hit the ground.
    • In Judgment In Infinity, Wonder Girl leaps from a flyover, catches a woman thrown off the edge by the Horseman of Death, and flies her down to safety.
  • In an issue of X-Men Wolverine is falling from a height that he (at the time) wouldn't have survived. Cyclops saves him, painfully, by staggering his optic blasts to cushion his fall. Keep in mind that Cyclops' beams are a concussive force, so he basically slowed Wolverine's fall by firing full body slugs at him, hence Wolverine yelling out in pain the way down.
  • Red Robin: When Tim unravels Ra's al Ghul's plan and the unhinged immortal kicks him out the top floor of Wayne Tower Dick swings in and catches him. As Tim was unconsious there was no way he'd have been able to save himself using a grapple line.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Bridge, one occurs from the high atmosphere at the end of the Grand King Ghidorah arc. However it's justified given the rescuers struggle with it, and have to horizontally divert and gradually slow down the falling heroes to save them.
  • No stars in sight: At the end of the third chapter, Ikharos is clinging on the outside hull of a spaceship as it enters a planet's atmosphere. The sudden pull of gravity causes him to lose his grip and slip off the ship as they both plummet to the ocean below. His Ghost Xiān was piloting a jumpship when this happened and dove in after him, managing to catch him mid-air by gently sloping the jumpship underneath him as they fell.
  • Nuzlocke Comics: In Goddamn Critical Hits, when Chomp evolves into a Vibrava, the disorientation caused by his newly-acquired sense of sight combines with his unfamiliarity with his newly-acquired set of wings to send him careening off a cliff. Dusty unhelpfully advises that he use his wings to save himself, then catches him with telekinesis anyway just before he hits the ground.
  • Three Days: Lightning's life is saved by Holley Shiftwell this way when she catches him after he jumps out of the kidnappers' copter.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel, Supergirl rescues Buffy when she is thrown from the Sears Tower.

    Films — Animated 
  • Coco: Dante attempts this, but he's not strong enough to rescue Miguel as he's falling. Pepita actually ends up rescuing him, though Dante's efforts likely slowed him down enough to give Pepita time to get there.
  • Howl's Moving Castle has a very literal example: Calcifer was a falling star and caught by a young Howl.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Near the end, Esmeralda loses her grip on Quasimodo and he falls off the bell tower—but Phoebus manages to catch him and haul him inside. It's an especially egregious example of snatching someone out of midair since he'd gotten shot through the shoulder the day before.
  • The Incredibles:
    • At the end, Helen catches a falling Jack-Jack. Justified more than most examples because Helen used her elastic powers to slow down Jack-Jack's fall for several feet before actually stopping it.
    • This is deconstructed in the beginning. A guy jumps off a building, Mr. Incredible catches him at an 90-degree angle, smashing through a glass window in the process. It turns out the guy was trying to commit suicide, and Mr. Incredible is sued for the resulting injuries.
  • Incredibles 2:
    • Bob and Edna dive to catch Jack-Jack at different points but when Edna attempts to catch him, he uses his power to elevate and stop his fall right before hitting the ground.
    • Helen does this to the Screenslaver twice, both to the decoy and then to the actual Screenslaver.
  • In The Rescuers Down Under, Cody is accidentally knocked off of a large cliff by the giant eagle Marahute. However, she rectifies this mistake by swooping down and catching him on her back (as a thank you for freeing her and presumably as an apology of sorts). She later saves him again as well as Bernard when they fall off a waterfall.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: As Luigi is about to fall into a pit of lava at Bowser's wedding, Mario (wearing a Tanooki Suit) flies down and snatches him right before he hits.
  • Wreck-It Ralph shows Vanellope catching Ralph by glitching her borrowed car under him after Ralph dislodges the masses of Mentos into the diet cola hot springs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Armour of God, Jackie escapes the cultists' Collapsing Lair by jumping off a cliff and landing on a balloon.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has Lex Luthor exploiting this to get Superman to him by pushing Lois Lane off the building they were on. Lane maxes the fall (as usual) but Luthor's goals were accomplished.
  • The Dark Knight:
    • Batman catches Rachel after The Joker shoves her out a window. They try to make it more reasonable by Batman unfolding his cape and gliding down with Rachel, but there's not nearly enough time with the way the film is edited for them not to have at least some kind of injury when they land.
    • This is inverted later on when a mobster says that he's too close to the ground to die, if dropped. Batman agrees and lets go, and both of the mobster's legs are broken when he hits the ground.
  • Happens by accident in The Fifth Element. Leeloo dives off of a ledge to escape from the police and crashes through the top of Korben's cab.
  • GoldenEye: Mr. Bond rides a motorcycle off a cliff, skydives without a parachute to the open door of the airplane in a powered dive to oblivion, pulls himself inside, and pulls up.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry is saved by Dumbledore after falling off his broom. Justified, as A Wizard Did It. In the book at least it's mentioned that Dumbledore used a spell to slow Harry's descent, and presumably cast it right after Harry fell. Said spell was Arresto Momentum, which presumably does Exactly What It Says on the Tin and slowed him down.
  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Kate Houghton is hurled off the top of the Eiffel Tower, and D.J. Drake leaps after her, busting out a grappling hook after successfully grabbing her. The movie goes in a different direction from the rather obvious Spider-Man element by having them swing right through some road stalls, getting stuck with a bunch of flowers, and landing comfortably at a roadside cafe, looking like they're really on a date...
  • Gandalf's escape from Isengard via Gwaihir Air Service in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Also counts as a Suicidal "Gotcha!".
  • In Magic in the Water, Ashley is trying to climb a rope ladder to a tree house when two of the rungs break, leaving her hanging on by her fingertips. Orky briefly possesses her father and uses him to run to where she is to catch her. He hits his head on a rock and suffers a mild concussion, but she is completely unharmed.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Subverted in Iron Man, where instead of catching the falling jet pilot, Iron Man just activates his jammed parachute.
    • Subverted in Iron Man 3. A plane is hijacked and as a result of fighting, a hole is punched in the side of the plane and the flight crew is sucked out. Even with his suit, Iron Man is only capable of carrying four of the thirteen crew members to safety in the time they have before impact. So instead of trying to catch each crew member, he uses a Chain of People to get them all to safety.
      Iron Man: Remember that game called "Barrel of Monkeys"? That's what we're going to do. Come on, people. Everybody, grab your monkey.
    • Towards the end of The Avengers, Iron Man is falling through the dimensional portal, unconscious and with no power in his suit. The Hulk leaps by, catches him, drags his hand down a nearby building to slow both of them to a Stark-safe velocity, ultimately cushioning Tony with his own body for the final 20 feet or so to the pavement.
    • As the Helicarrier is crashing into the Triskelion in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson, who has been fighting Agent Rumlow sees what is about to happen and takes off running towards the windows at the other end of the building. As he calls to Director Fury, piloting the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter for pick up, he jumps through the window.
      Romanov: Sam, where are you?
      Wilson: 41st floor, northwest corner.
      Romanov: We're on it; stay where you are.
      Wilson: NOT AN OPTION!!!
      • After crashing through, Wilson falls about thirty feet, almost out the other side of the 'copter.
      Wilson: 41st floor! 41st!"
      Fury: It's not like they put the floor numbers on the outside!!
    • Averted in Captain America: Civil War. After Rhodey's suit is shorted by a blast from The Vision's mind stone beam he plummets towards the ground so quickly that it causes him to black out. Both Iron Man and The Falcon scramble to catch him and it looks like they'll be able to catch him, only to have him slam into the ground seconds before they can reach him. Although such a crash in real life would likely result in death, Rhodey somewhat realistically is left paralyzed from the waist down.
    • Pointedly Averted in Spiderman No Way Home: After losing Gwen Stacy in a similar manner to his comic counterpart, the Amazing Spider-Man shows he's learned his lesson when his younger counterpart's girlfriend Michelle takes a fall; He jumps after MJ and grabs hold of her before using his webs to swing them both to safety
  • Played painfully straight in The Matrix Reloaded. Trinity decides that a fall from the 65th floor of a building is less lethal than dealing with an Agent, so she jumps out a window. Moments before she hits the ground, Neo swoops in (at a speed so fast that he has a tornado of cars in his wake) and catches Trinity in his arms, thus letting her only fall 64 1/2 stories instead of 65. Of course, Neo's status as "The One" basically gives him the power of Fuck You Physics while in the Matrix. Which, of course, raises more questions...
  • Star Trek:
  • Star Wars:
    • Luke Skywalker being caught by the Millennium Falcon at the climax of The Empire Strikes Back, though he didn't have more than several feet to fall anyways once the Falcon was hovering beneath him. (The fall he just took getting to that point is another story...)
    • The Coruscant Chase Scene in Attack of the Clones. Although it's shown that Anakin flies under Obi-Wan with his Flying Car and starts dropping at a rate just slower than Obi-Wan, allowing Obi-Wan to fall in at a relatively small speed.
    • The Ewoks diving from far above in a hang glider to make a midair catch.
  • Superman does this in virtually every movie in some form or another. In Superman Returns, his catch of an entire powerless airplane somewhat inverts the usual trope in that it is the man who catches the vehicle.
  • Terminator Salvation. Marcus Wright drives a truck onto a bridge over a high canyon, but they're attacked by a flying Hunter Killer and the truck slams through the guardrail, knocking Kyle Reese and another child out the door. As they plunge into the canyon to their deaths, they're caught in mid-air by the giant robot they'd been fleeing earlier. So their lives have been saved...for the short term.

  • Star Wars Legends: Hand of Thrawn: There's a variation in Vision of the Future, when the Millennium Falcon is damaged, falling towards a planet's surface with the engines coming back online too slowly, and four TIE Interceptors carefully match velocities around it before each one hits the Falcon with grappling mags, slowing the descent to the point where the TIEs can fly it to a small hangar inside a cave.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Human Bomb", Superman swoops in to catch Jimmy Olsen after he falls off the Planet building's ledge. Jimmy is absolutely fine, despite having been falling very fast.
  • Auto Man had an episode where crooks take Automan (in disguise) and Walter into a plane to throw them out to their deaths. While they do that to Walter, they are stunned to see Automan do the same on his own accord. However, Automan is able to simply order his Robot Buddy, Cursor, to create an aircraft and it swiftly catches them both.
  • A first-season episode ("Soul Hunter") of Babylon 5 does this IN SPACE! with a ship-to-ship "catch". A mysterious small ship appears out of the jump gate on a collision course with the station. Sinclair launches in a StarFury to intercept. In an unusual use of real physics, he has to match the intruder's course, speed, and tumbling rate (so now both ships are set to collide with the station) in order to grapple it. It takes him two or three attempts to finally grab it, with Ivanova screaming in his ear to get out of there so that the station's defence grid can destroy the other ship before it hits, but once he does, the linked ships somehow lose both their velocity towards the station and their tumble. What makes the whole sequence crazy is the complex (and pretty accurate) manoeuvres needed to hook up the two ships, including the use of the 'Fury's 3-D thrusters, coupled with the sudden lurch back into this trope once they've linked up.
  • Cinderella Chef: Jin Xuan attempts suicide by jumping off a cliff, but one of her pursuers catches her in time.
  • Doctor Who. In "The Power of the Doctor", Ace parachutes off UNIT headquarters but a Cyberman sees her and shoots her chute full of holes. Just then the TARDIS materializes underneath, on its side with the doors open. Ace falls inside...and finds herself standing upright.
  • Goodbye My Princess: Xiao Feng attempts suicide by jumping off a wall. A Du catches her before she hits the ground.
  • Love and Redemption: Xuan Ji and Si Feng first meet when Xuan Ji falls from a height and Si Feng catches her.
  • Quantum Leap featured a literal example in the literally-titled episode "Catch a Falling Star". Sam leaps into an understudy to save an actor from falling off an elevated set piece and sustaining a serious injury.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978): Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and Zaphod Beeblebrox all land on giant sentient birds when they fall out of an enormous marble teacup. The birds lampshade this when landed upon, saying, "This is utterly ludicrous!"

    Video Games 
  • Adventure Island III ending. Higgins and Tina fall from the UFO, to be caught by Higgins' pet pterodactyl.
  • Appropriately enough, Batman: Vengeance actually had this as a recurring minigame, where the player would have to guide Batman as he dived to catch a falling character, switching between a diving-pose for speed, or a skydiving style spread-out pose for control, until you caught the target, whereupon Bats would automatically grapple to safety - 'twas pretty cool.
  • In the famous FPS Battlefield 1942, in a (staged?) gameplay clip, a pilot stalled his plane in a vertical climb and chose to bail out to activate his parachute. Fortunately for him, a two-seat dive bomber was conveniently flying passed a hundred feet below him, in perfect timing for him to hitch a ride.
  • Cave Story: Occurs in the normal ending to the game, where the player and a companion are both caught by a small flying dragon.
  • The first Digital Devil Saga has this at the end of Coordinate 136. Bat has just flown off with Sera in tow, when Cielo pulls a Big Damn Heroes, shoots Bat out of the sky, and catches Sera in midair.
  • In Drakengard 2, Nowe seems to be in the habit of jumping off of high places on purpose simply because he knows that Legna will catch him. He also gets to play hero by doing this: Manah falls off a cliff, Nowe jumps off after her, lands on Legna, and the pair of them race downwards until they're beneath Manah, where Nowe catches her safely in his arms.
  • Everything or Nothing, an original-story Bond game, has this as a basis for an entire level. Notable in that Bond, while freefalling in pursuit of the love interest, can navigate between rocky outcroppings. And aim and blast bad guys he is rocketing past.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VI, Terra's magic power vanishes, taking away her Esper half and its ability to fly. Setzer then dives his zeppelin-sized (and shaped) airship to catch her, flying fast enough to knock out everyone on board and apparently scooping her up on the bow of the "boat" part of the airship (which, aside from being a tenth of the size of the dirigible, hangs from the stern end of the ship.)
    • In Final Fantasy X, Yuna summons Valefor in midair to catch her as she falls off the tower in Bevelle. Sure, physics might not work that way, but hey, it's Final Fantasy.
    • Final Fantasy XIII has the beginning of Chapter 11, where Fang and Lightning summon Bahamut to save the party after their airship is crippled.
  • The Henry Stickmin Series pulls this off, in a realistic fashion to boot, in Triple Threat. After rerouting the space shuttle, Henry and Ellie plummet to the ground, meeting Charles with his helicopter in a full stop, before Charles re-engages the rotors and decelerates back into flight. This is an insanely difficult midair maneuver to pull without injuring anyone involved, not least of which because it involves having to match Henry and Ellie's descent and pull up slowly enough to avoid only mitigating the decelerative impact before hitting the ground. Needless to say, the seamless execution proves that Charles "Bold Action Man" Calvin is indeed the Government's Ace Pilot.
  • Illusion of Gaia parodies and subverts this one at the same time. After the second major dungeon, the hero Will falls from a floating continent, but luckily, his cousin Neil owns the only biplane in existence and flies up to catch him. Except he misses Will the first time! The second time he catches him, but in doing so plunges into the ocean runs out of fuel before they reach land, causing them to crash in the ocean near an island.
  • Done routinely in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Traveling is accomplished by either leaping off one of the Floating Continents of Skyloft or catching an updraft from the surface world, then whistling for Link's Loftwing, who will swoop in out of nowhere to catch him without fail.
    • This is done literally in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Sometimes when Link is falling down, a Star Fragments which is a rare upgrade material, will spawn near Link. You can catch it mid-air.
  • Luigi's Mansion 3: After the Final Battle when the Last Resort falls apart with Luigi standing on the roof of the tower, Polterpup quickly and successfully breaks his owner's fall a foot before Luigi hits the ground.
  • Played straight in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption during the first Ridley fight, which occurs as both combatants are free-falling down a fusion generator tunnel about sixteen thousand meters deep. Once Samus polishes off Ridley, Rundas, showing off his powers of ice flight, swoops down the tunnel, catching her a few thousand meters from the bottom, which also served as his Establishing Character Moment.
  • Happens in the last book of Odin Sphere when Gwendolyn tumbles off Leventhan's back and Oswald catches her just before she hits the ground. Not the Fall That Kills You… is, of course, in full effect.
  • After the introductory level of Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, Ratchet summons his ship to do it to him.
  • The ending of Resident Evil 4 has Ada Wong jump down from a ledge. A few seconds later, a helicopter rises into view with Ada sitting inside it, having apparently fallen through the roof and, yes, the rotors.
  • Happens in the second mission of Saints Row: The Third: You're falling from a crashing airplane heading for Shaundi while simultaneously avoiding falling cars and shooting Mooks, and after you reach her, you jump through the window of the plane (as it comes crashing back towards you) and do it all over again.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series likes this one. In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic & Knuckles, and Sonic Advance, Sonic/Tails manage atmospheric re-entry and survive by landing on the Tornado.
  • In Star Fox: Assault, Peppy catches the falling ship of General Pepper with his own arwing, slowing the fall enough to save his life. Wolf also saves Fox this way, since he wants to take him down personally.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
    • A variation occurs in the Subspace Emissary mode, where several of the heroes jump out of a bomb-filled room and land in Captain Falcon's Cool Car. They're falling at enough of a height that they ought to be at terminal velocity, but Smash never really bothered with falling damage, what with the Rule of Cool and all.
    • Meta Knight pulls this off with Lucas and the Pokémon Trainer, right before they hit the ground. Although at least in that case, it seemed like Lucas was trying to psychokinetically slow their fall. Also, the Trainer had already recovered his Charizard at that point and could have used it to save them. Too bad he was unconscious.

  • Gets used and lampshaded in this episode of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. The Doctor jumps off the Sky Pirates' ship, so they chase after him and catch him in their "lifeboat".
  • One of the many, many impossible things that Bina and Kendra have to do in All Night Laundry is save a woman from falling a few hundred feet to her death. The solution involves using three separate time machines to bleed off her momentum so she can hit a pile of mattresses without turning them - and her - into very unpleasant pancakes.
  • In a 2008 scene from Alpha Shade, a girl gets thrown off the deck of an airship during a firefight and a flier on a giant bird swoops down and tries to catch her. (Not sure if you can link directly to individual pages, but pages can be selected from a drop-down menu - this scene begins on Page 224.)
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: In "Broken Glass and Other Things", Antimony falls off a bridge into a canyon; the TicToc birds swoop in and grab her in mid-air. Rather than snatching her up, they simply slow her descent, then unceremoniously drop her once they get to a safe height above the water.
  • In Homestuck, as Rose is facing annihilation by meteor, her cruxite bottle falls into the river. She rushes to the waterfall and jumps to catch it in midair.
    • Immediately after grabbing the bottle, Rose herself is caught and saved by Jaspersprite, with scant seconds to spare.
  • Happens twice in rapid succession in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!. Hibachi catches Voluptua, then starts plummeting himself and Molly catches him... while making a joke about Gwen Stacy.
  • In the David Gonterman comic Sailor Moon USA, Gonterman's Author Avatar at the time does this to Sailor Moon herself. What's worse was that this was done after Queen Beryl launched her from Tokyo to St. Louis. And the worst Usagi suffered was passing out and a ravaged uniform. It's best not to think of it too much.
  • In Scarlet Lady, Chat Noir saves Marinette in this way, mirroring how Ladybug saved Chloé in the cartoon.
  • In Spacetrawler, both Emily and Growp get knocked out a window during a fight. Both of them snatch passing hoverbikes to stop their descent...and then crash their bikes into the ground.

    Web Original 
  • Happens frequently in The Clockwork Raven—due to its World in the Sky setting, "falling from a vast height" is the leading cause of near-death, beating out even "death by Dracolich".
  • This is done twice in the DSBT InsaniT episode 'Beach Brawl'. First is when Shawn catches Asia after Sand Snake knocks her into the air, second is when Bill 2 catches Whitney after Cell explodes.
    • In 'Carneelval', Killer does this to Amber after he breaks her free of a Spell Ball. He then immediately drops her and teleports away.
  • Sasha in Greek Ninja slips from holding on to a Pegasus and lands in the hands of satyrs.

    Western Animation 
  • Action Man (2000) does this pretty often. Alex is an expert at the Building Swing, what with his superpowered reflexes, his endless supply of extreme-sport-type grapnels, and his strong arms for snagging the rescuee one-handed. Nothing like a CGI cartoon for making physics look optional.
  • Subverted in the Adventure Time episode "It Came from the Nightosphere", where Finn falls after an assault on Marceline's dad and Marceline catches her trusty axe/guitar instead of Finn.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka falls from Appa in the episode "Avatar Roku", and Aang has Appa dive to catch him. It at least made sense in that he wasn't injured this time, and they went into a dive and slowed down slightly when they were just below him. In the following episode, Appa catches all three main characters as they plunge over the Inevitable Waterfall. Zuko is also caught in much the same way after falling from an airship during a battle with his sister Azula.
  • The Batman demonstrates that their version of Hawkman is not a wuss by having him do this with the Batmobile.
  • Batman: The Animated Series does it somewhat right in at least one instance. In "Old Wounds", Batgirl gets knocked off the tallest building in Gotham by the Joker just as Robin arrives. Robin hits the ejector on his cycle and is propelled up to her. He grabs her just after the apex of his flight (where his velocity is effectively near zero), and deploys his Grappling-Hook Pistol, swinging them in an arc to a nearby roof. Arcs are the safest way to dump kinetic energy without a lot of padding at the bottom.
  • In the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command pilot movie, Booster catches XR this way.
  • In the final arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Rex and Ahsoka attempt to escape a crashing Venator ship. Rex makes it to a Y-wing, but Ahsoka does not. Played more realistically than most, as Rex has to match the speed at which Ahsoka is falling in order to safely catch her. They make it.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Danny rescues Sam from falling to her doom from atop a train passing a tall bridge. She's also rescued in a similar manner by a cop hanging from a chopper in another episode, though we don't see it dive to catch her in time.
    • Danny also saved Sam from a tightrope-induced fall in the same episode as the train.
    • Danny also caught himself in 'Identity Crisis'.
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Scrooge's Pet", Scrooge accidentally sits on Lucky, who bites him, causing him to fall off the mast. Luckily, Launchpad is just in time to grab him before he falls into the ocean.
  • If you're talking about midair rescues from high places, look no further than Gargoyles. A gargoyle catches a human who's fallen off a building at least every other episode.
  • Justice League:
    • In an unusual case of the craft doing the falling part, the second season finale, "Starcrossed", has Batman piloting the Watchtower (the League's orbital base) on a kamikaze descent to destroy an alien engine. He's pulled out of the collapsing wreckage by Superman seconds before impact.
    • Superman (again) does it to Batman (again) after the Batplane is eaten by alien nanomachine dogs and Batman's ejection seat is destroyed. Fortunately, Batman is smart enough to know he's got time and calmly calls for help over the radio.
    • Dr. Light bails Batman out the second time he plummets in the same episode.
  • A rather realistic version in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Hunter's Moon", when Vixen has been dropped from thousands of feet above the ground. Vigilante flies an aircraft under her, and clearly matches her velocity - she actually has to reach down and grab onto the diving craft. Helping out is that Vixen has superhuman resilience and the vehicle is a spacecraft which almost certainly has Inertial Dampening.
  • In The Karate Kid episode "Homecoming", Miyagi grabs Taki after she falls off a lantern line (which she was using as a tightrope) trying to get the shrine.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Rainbow Dash pulls this off spectacularly in "Sonic Rainboom", not only catching Rarity inches off the ground but also scooping up the three Wonderbolts that had been knocked unconscious by Rarity's flailing limbs as they attempted to save her.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: In "The Treacherous Movie Lot Plot", Zippy catches the other mobsters in his plane as the mechanical ape destroys the other planes.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Stuck Up, Up and Away", Princess plummets down after the girls destroy her flying power armor, but Blossom catches her by her shirt just inches from the ground.
  • In the pilot of TaleSpin, Baloo dramatically rescues Kit this way after he's been thrown off a pirate airship. Mind, the airship was several hundred (if not a thousand) feet in the air, and not only did Baloo snag him by his sweater a couple dozen feet before hitting the water, he did so from the cockpit of a plane moving at the speed of sound —so not only was Kit's descent instantly arrested, he was horizontally accelerated to Mach 1 in a split second.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): In "Mission of Gravity", Karai and the turtles get dumped out of an airship by Hun. Three of them deploy glider packs to arrest their fall (showing Donatello to be Crazy-Prepared), while Leonardo dives to catch Karai, then deploys. It's slightly more realistic, as their fall ends with a curve from vertical to horizontal, which dumps their kinetic energy in a safer fashion.
    • This comes up no later than the second episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), where Don saves April from falling out of a helicopter. It doesn't make quite as much sense as the above example, but it certainly is cool.
  • In Teen Titans (2003):
    • Starfire has caught Robin this way more than once.
    • And vice-versa, with Robin catching Starfire.
    • Done realistically when Robin catches Raven in "Birthmark". Slade throws Raven off a roof, and Robin swings by with his grappling-hook, catches Raven (with one arm no less), and then continues to swing until he can gently let her down on a nearby roof.
    • Red X catches Robin this way, swinging in on a grappling hook to pull him out of a fatal fall and tossing him to safety on a catwalk.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011, a falling Cheetara, having lost a battle with a Feathered Fiend, is caught by teammate Tygra using his whip.
  • In the Trollhunters episode "Bittersweet Sixteen", when Jim electrocutes the Stalkling trying to carry him away, they both begin falling and Aaarrrgghh!!! is able to make it just in time to save him from hitting the rock-hard pavement by catching him in his arms.
  • Most Spider-Man cartoons have Spider-Man doing this. Because of his web-swinging, this is almost always portrayed realistically, as he has to catch up to the falling person in mid-air, then swing in an arc to either get them down safely or get them back to the building they fell off of.
  • This is how Muttley earns his medals—catching Dick Dastardly in mid-air after a botched mission to catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon.

    Real Life 
  • Arguable Truth in Television: Early reconnaissance satellites would take photos and then have the exposed film on board; they had to physically return the film to Earth so the imagery-analysis guys could have it to work with. They did this by ejecting it in a reentry-proof capsule. If it were equipped to land, though, it would be far too heavy, so they designed it for mid-air recovery; it would deploy a parachute and an aircraft, generally a modified transport, would snatch it in mid-air. This would also avoid damaging the film. They were recovered over water; sometimes, they'd be pulled out of the ocean, although they were designed to sink automatically after a while so as to not fall into the wrong hands. At least, that's what the US did. Later on, the same technique was used when some unmanned probes took physical samples from comets or from the space medium on various missions; for example, there was the widely-publicized Genesis mission, where there was a slight problem with the descent sensor being installed upside down, so the capsule with the samples (it was a mission to sample the solar wind) never deployed its parachute, so instead of being retrieved in mid-air by a modified helicopter, it slammed into the Utah desert floor.
  • The same parachute-and-helicopter method is being worked on by Rocket Labs to catch empty rocket stages.

"...and put it in your pocket. Never let it fade away..."


Superman catches Lois Lane

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