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Climactic Elevator Ride

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It's time for Bob to face his final destiny. The Evil Overlord is on the roof, preparing to launch his sinister master plan, and the only thing to do is go up there and face him for the showdown. So, Bob gets in the lift, maybe saying a last few words to Alice. Bob and his team check their weapons, make their peace, and watch as the indicator lights show the elevator rising. The team waits tensely for the door to open at the top...

The elevator ride serves as a good pause point in the action to resolve some loose ends, or just prepare for the final battle. The Leader may give some final advice to the squad to give them courage. The quiet ascent —or descent— is the calm before the storm and really builds up what is about to unfold.

It needn't be before the actual climax. A good semi-climax will do, so long as it's dramatic and looks like it might be the real thing. If the ride is after the climax or the climax itself, see Ending by Ascending.

Sister trope to Climbing Climax. See also Roof Top Confrontation, which often follows. Not to be confused with Elevator Action Sequence, since the action doesn't actually happen on the elevator.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Just before the final battle of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Spike takes an elevator up to the top of the tower to fight Vincent Volaju where he is initiating his terrorist attack on the Halloween parade.
  • Before their final fight with the gone-insane General Ulube, the Shuffle Alliance from Mobile Fighter G Gundam ride a huge freight elevator in their Gundams and discuss how they will defeat the Dark/Devil Gundam merged with the Japan Colony.

    Comic Books 
  • An interesting variation from New Avengers: Luke Cage once fell off the top of a building while the team was fighting hand ninjas. He simply got up, took the elevator back to the roof, and got back into the fight.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Aliens, Ripley rides down an elevator deep into the soon-to-be-exploding colony to rescue a little girl. She takes this time to ready all her weapons.
  • In The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood calmly ride the elevator up to the Tax Assessor's office, to finally accomplish their Mission from God. The film intercuts their calm almost bored ride (complete with elevator music) with the aggressive rushing of the police and SWAT Team up the stairwell who are chasing them.
  • The movie The Brave, written and directed by Johnny Depp, ends with him taking an elevator ride up to meet the Snuff Film makers with whom he has a debt.
  • In The Departed, where Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon's characters ride the elevator down after Leo has taken Matt's character hostage, and is shot in the head by one of Matt's allies as soon as the door opens.
  • The Punisher (1989). Mafia boss Franco and the Punisher are going up into a skyscraper to confront the Yakuza. Franco stops the elevator with the lift key for a moment to ask why he's driven to kill so many people. "Revenge has its limits." The Punisher just replies, "Maybe I haven't reached it yet."
  • RoboCop (1987): RoboCop takes one just before he confronts Dick Jones about his complicity with the crimes of Clarence Boddicker, but this isn't anywhere close to his final confrontation with either.
  • Runaway: The police officer protagonist has to take a robots-only elevator with No OSHA Compliance up a building site to confront the villain for a Hostage for MacGuffin trade, despite his fear of heights.
  • The 2014 version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has one where the turtles are singing and beatboxing on their way to face shredder. Then the elevator pings and they all run out with a roar.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: In the elevator on their way up to steal the Grandmaster's ship, Thor and Loki have a quiet moment to talk. Loki suggests it would be best if he remained behind on Sakaar and Thor wholeheartedly agrees, but expresses his regret as he had always thought they'd fight side by side forever but now realizes that their paths diverged a long time ago. This moment of honest expression clearly touches Loki but undergoes a tonal shift as Thor then suggests they do "Get help" to which Loki declares "We are not doing 'Get Help'". The ride ends with a Gilligan Cut as the elevator's doors open.
    Thor: Get Help! Please! My brother, he's dying....
  • Total Recall (1990). Quaid takes an elevator ride up to his final showdown with Cohaagen over the fate of Mars.
  • Happens in Vanilla Sky as well. Tom Cruise's character meets with "Tech Support", who proceeds to explain what exactly has been happening to him throughout the film. To drive it home, the elevator ride is impossibly long, making it clear that Cruise is in a dreamworld.
  • The final scene of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory takes place in the Great Glass Wonkavator: so called because it can go not only up and down, but sideways and backways and slantways and squareways and frontways and any other way that you can think of.

    Live Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: the episode "The Real Deal" has a variant, as we don't know the elevator ride is a big deal until after everyone gets off. Coulson and Fitz chat briefly in the elevator, before Coulson points out that Fitz looks nervous, and that the elevator stopped a minute ago. They exit the elevator, entering a forest, where the rest of the team are waiting for them, and Simmons is wearing a white dress and holding a small bouquet, leading to Fitz and Simmons getting married.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Jack rides up the elevator to the top of city hall to face the final boss in BioShock.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has one halfway through the last level, when Price and Yuri ride an elevator to the final battle with Makarov and his goons.
  • The Danganronpa games have a tense elevator ride after each investigation, taking the class to the courtroom where they will find out which one of them is the culprit for this chapter's murder.
  • Happens a few times in Undertale:
    • You get an elevator from the Core to New Home that takes longer than the other elevators in the game. There's even a track on the OST called "Long Elevator" that consists of the elevator sound effect used in the game. There is another elevator in New Home, but it acts as more of a shortcut so you don't have to walk all the way back should you want to backtrack.
    • In the Pacifist ending, Alphys leaves a note in her lab revealing that her "Bathroom" is actually an elevator that leads to a truth she's been hiding but is now ready to reveal. Unlike most examples, the elevator actually goes down, but it's still a tense moment, especially when it malfunctions and crashes due to a sudden power outage, leaving you trapped down there until you find all the necessary items to restore power.
    • After the above event, you go into another elevator and get a call from an unknown person, who ends their dialogue with "See you soon." Immediately after, the doors close and the elevator rapidly ascends to New Home, and is then blocked as soon as you get out, leaving you with no choice but to face the final boss.
    • Deltarune also has one, though not right before the final boss. It takes place when the main characters are escaping from the castle's basement after Susie's fight with Lancer, which results in her finally deciding to follow Kris' instructions instead of attacking every enemy she encounters.
  • Elite Beat Agents: In the "Just A Peanut Matter" (song: "Survivor" by Destiny's Child) stage, the main character takes the freight elevator to the top of the peanut warehouse where the evil alien queen is.
  • There is one final elevator at the end of The Evil Within when you get back to the asylum.
    Sebastian: If I get out of this alive, I'm never riding in an elevator again.
  • At the end of Flashback, Conrad takes an elevator down for the final battle with the Master Brain.
  • Black Mesa: In contrast to the original Half-Life, Gordon has to ascend one long elevator ride to reach the top of the Nihilanth's Tower before he can face the Nihilanth himself; constantly harassed by Alien Controllers and forced to stop multiple times to get moving again. During which time, his Gluon Gun and Tau Cannon are supercharged by the Xenian Crystals; meaning that Gordon has free reign to wreck the enemies that invaded Earth and have been dogging him the entire time, all set to the epic Black Mesa OST "Ascension".
  • Half-Life 2:
    • Gordon and Alyx ride up an elevator before the final battle. Alyx takes this time to say a few things.
    • Lets not forget Gordon's Epic and Long (Long!) ride up the tower in the prison unit. That should count as an elevator ride.
  • Left 4 Dead: In the No Mercy campaign, the end of the penultimate stage involves traveling 25 floors up an elevator where some conversation takes place.
  • Left 4 Dead 2: In the first campaign, the survivors take an elevator down to the ground floor of the mall where Jimmy Gibbs Jr.'s car (and their best chance of escape) is parked, just before hordes of zombies attack them for the rest of the game, either until they escape or get overwhelmed.
  • Max Payne sets its final battle on top of the Aesir Corporation tower, which has Max riding in a number of elevators. The final ride (which transitions from "Nothing to Lose" to the final level "Pain and Suffering") has Max readying all his weapons one final time, intercut with pictures of the family he's about to take vengeance for.
    Max Payne: Valkyr had been meant to be a white-winged maiden that would lift you to a warrior's heaven. But it turned out to be a one-way demon ride to Hell. The Devil was in the drug. I knew. I had met him.
    [Max locks and loads his weapon]
    Max Payne: And now I was going to kill her — the queen of the underworld who had tried to lift herself a bit closer to heaven with her drug money. No begging, no bribes — she knew better. Honor among killers, "we who are about to die." Both of us knew how this would end: in pain and suffering.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has two at the climax: An elevator ride, and a long series of catwalks, both containing quotes by various characters echoing in Snake's head as he moves ever closer to a likely death and the end of his mission.
  • Mirror's Edge: Reaching the final levels objective an elevator ride shows how the player raises beyond all the rest of the city's rooftops where the player has been running all game long.
  • Subverted several times in Mother 3. The final elevator keeps saying it's going to arrive at the 100th floor, but it keeps ending up at extra dungeons, at the end of each of which is another elevator. Eventually, it is played straight.
  • Throughout Persona 3, the Velvet Room has manifested as an elevator continuously going up. The last time the protagonist visits, right before the final battle, it arrives at its destination. It's more effective than it sounds.
  • Saints Row has this in the final mission of the Vice Kings storyline, where the Protagonist, Johnny Gat, and Benjamin King have to ride an elevator to get to the penthouse where Tanya is. It's notable for being one of the four times in the game that the normally Silent Protagonist speaks.
  • Spec Ops: The Line: After battling through Dubai to reach Colonel Konrad, Captain Walker takes the elevator of the tallest building in the city to confront him.
  • Time Crisis - Right before the final boss battle, Wild Dog takes Rachel hostage in an elevator. Richard has to take the other elevator to catch up.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


I Have Not Come This Far...

After a narrow escape into an elevator, the Survivors regroup before facing a massive horde.

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Main / ClimacticElevatorRide

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