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Whenever a fictional character has to climb without a rope or the likes he is bound to slip or grab a ledge that breaks off so he will be hanging on one hand. The character will then inevitably look down, take a deep breath, then resume climbing. Bonus points if the climber is under attack or has to hurry.

If this occurs in visual media, the camera will follow the falling rocks on their downward path, showing just how far the character would fall.

Related to Plummet Perspective. Contrast Literal Cliffhanger, which is about the hanging in general, while this is about the character almost falling to their death.


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  • One Marine commercial shows a man climbing the side of a mountain, as symbolism of conquering challenges to be the best of the best, and at one point, one of his hands slips, and he hangs for a second before regaining his grip and finishing the climb.

     Anime and Manga 

     Comic Books 
  • Daredevil: In an example of Tropes Are Tools, this was used as a central metaphor in the classic Elektra story, where the monastery of the heroic ninjas is atop a forbidding cliff that only the spiritually pure can climb. Unsurprisingly, Elektra can't quite climb it due to her serious anger issues, and her literal fall foreshadows her later metaphorical fall.
    • Also inverted after Daredevil manages to spiritually purify her, and she's shown having reached the top without any apparent trouble in the final panels of the story.
  • In the Johan and Peewit book "Le Sortilège de Maltrochu", Johan sneaks out of Maltrochu's castle by climbing down the wall from his window. His feet slip and he finds himself hanging by his fingers, conscious that he won't be able to hold for more than a few seconds, manages to find support for one foot in time.
  • Spider-Man: Ordinarily this never happens to Spider-Man for obvious reasons, but it does turn up in stories where he loses one or more of his powers and has to fake it.

     Film — Animated 
  • Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie: Seen near the end of the film, while Ryu is free climbing in the mountains of Cambodia. A foothold crumbles beneath his weight, but he saves himself by quickly grabbing onto a spur of rock overhead.
  • The Castle of Cagliostro: Lupin has a close call of his own, while scaling the rooftops of the Count's castle in order to reach Clarisse, who was being held captive in the castle's tower. He uses his zipline to secure himself and scale the remaining distance, once the angle becomes too steep.
  • Trying to reach a second story window, Francis from Felidae has to climb a tree. Since it's snowing in that scene, he slips on the bark and nearly falls, but he keeps climbing.
  • In Turning Red, Mei climbs a fire escape in her giant red panda form which detaches from the wall due to her weight which forces her to jump to a projecting sign. She hangs from the sign for a couple seconds before scrambling onto the roof right as the sign also detaches from the wall.
  • In The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland, Alice is disguised as the Princess and forced to undergo a trial that involves her climbing a mountain. After a POV Shot of how high she is, she attempts to continue climbing - only for the ledge she steps onto to crumble beneath her weight. Thankfully, she is able to grab onto the previous ledge and pull herself back up; carrying on climbing up the mountain after some advice from the Cheshire Cat.

     Film — Live Action 
  • This happens in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Kirk is rock climbing, and the trope happens as described. Spock shows up and casually chats Kirk up because Spock is wearing anti gravity boots.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Mission: Impossible II: Happens to Ethan Hunt whilst on holiday free soloing - rock climbing without ropes - in Utah.
    • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: While Ethan Hunt is climbing the Burj Khalifa with adhesive gloves, one of which fails, he slips and has to recover with only one glove and a bare hand holding the framework around the windows.
  • This happens in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King when Frodo and Sam are following Gollum to Shelob's lair.
  • This, one of the posters for the Sylvester Stallone film Cliffhanger.
  • At the climax of the Bond film For Your Eyes Only, though that version did involve a rope. In this case a guard has seen the rope and is hammering out the pitons so Bond will fall to his death. Despite falling as each piton goes, Bond climbs high enough to kill the guard Just in Time.
  • The Guns of Navarone. To infiltrate the German-occupied island of Navarone, the commandoes have to climb in the cliffs in the rain, at night. At one point the expedition leader Mallory slips and is caught by Andrea. The only problem is Andrea has a vendetta against Mallory and has stated he's going to kill him. The two exchange a long look...and Andrea pulls him to safety.
  • Jungle: Happens to Yossi when he is attempting to climb the wall of the canyon above the rapids after the raft is wrecked. A loose rock pulls out and he slides most of the way back down the wall before he manages to catch himself and start climbing back up.
  • Preservation: Happens when Wit is climbing the cliff to get out of the park without using any of the trails. She turns to look back into the valley, slips, and just manages to catch herself before she falls of the cliff.
  • In The Air Up There, this happens to Jimmy twice while he climbs a mountain as part of his Initiation Ceremony. First his foot slips on a rock, leaving him hanging on by his fingertips until he can get his footing again. Later he grabs onto a sapling, which tears loose, sending him plummeting a good ten feet until he manages to grab on again.

  • In Dragons of Autumn Twilight, this happens to Goldmoon, who's terribly afraid of heights, when she needs to climb down a vine-encrusted cliff.
  • The Mermaid Chronicles: In Quest for Atlantis, Wade sees a man on the rocks at Corona Del Mar, taking pictures of a mermaid in the ocean. Wade climbs after him to preserve The Masquerade. On the way up, he misses a handhold and hangs from his fingertips for five seconds before he gets his footing again.
  • Happens to Leia in Leia, Princess of Alderaan on a pathfinding class, when she gets too engrossed thinking about La Résistance to pay proper attention to the cliff she's climbing. In the manga, she starts to fall and is caught by Kier. Later in the book, she and Kier are cliff-climbing elsewhere and he slips disastrously but manages to hang on to a lower outcropping. Leia stops to help him and unwittingly calls on the Force to save them both.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In the Opening Monologue of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Galadriel and her small company of elves climb a dangerous slope of the Forodwaith. One of the Elves almost falls when the icicle he was clinging to starts to break.
  • Sheppard does this in the Stargate Atlantis episode "Quarantine", while he's climbing the exterior of one of Atlantis's towers, trying to get to the control center to lift the quarantine.

     Video Games 
  • An integral part of Catherine's gameplay. You'll inevitably pull blocks out to form staircases to advance, and in the process, Vincent will slip and hang on the next block below. Sometimes you may need to invoke the hang yourself to circumvent blockages or maneuver to out-of-the-way platforms. Plummet Perspective may also be invoked by tilting the camera down.
  • Chris's introduction in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica has him climbing up a cliff on Rockfort Island, with him slipping and losing his pack.
  • This happens in the N-Gon Mountains level in Geometry Blaster each time you get a problem wrong.
  • In Far Cry 3, this happens nearly every time Jason has to jump to continue exploring, such as when jumping in the radio towers.
  • During the Mulan world in Kingdom Hearts II, the party climbs one of the nearby columns to enter the Emperor's palace. Mulan then slips down, but regains her hold and continues to climb.
  • All climbing in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is freestyle, and if your Stamina Wheel runs out, Link will slip and fall; however, if the surface isn't too steep, you can keep pushing toward the rockface to break your fall and give the Wheel some time to refill before continuing. If you're climbing a wet surface (e.g. rock climbing during rainfall), you will always slip down the rock after climbing a little. You can keep trying, but that will only wear you out faster. The sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, introduces elixirs that can reduce the amount of slipping on wet surfaces and a Froggy Suit that can negate it entirely when upgraded.

     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Homer does it as he climbs to the top of what he hopes to be the world's tallest human pyramid.
  • Repeatedly happens in various episodes of Inspector Gadget, most notably in the opening sequence of "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper."
  • The Ellipse-Nelvana animated version of Tintin in America added this to a scene that had averted it in the book. Made more egregious by Tintin outright pulling himself up using only his arms to climb back on the platform.
  • During the Bravestarr episode Legend of a Pretty Lady, Judge J. B. McBride is moving along a cliff edge when part of the cliff breaks away and causes her to fall. She manages to hang on, however, and climbs back up.