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Disaster Dominoes

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"So it was the mosquito
who annoyed the iguana,
who frightened the python,
who scared the rabbit,
who startled the crow,
who alarmed the monkey,
who killed the owlet,
and now Mother Owl won't wake the sun
so that the day can come."

Basically, instead of a single mess-up, the character manages to chain a lot of them into a bigger one. Slipping on the Banana Peel while holding a two-by-four, hitting someone behind him holding a lit cigarette who lands in a pool of gasoline... etc. Usually ends with the site of said mess-up being completely destroyed (and/or Stuff Blowing Up). When working backward from effect to cause, you usually have this trope when at some point you get to ask "Yes, but why was there a green motorcycle balanced on the balcony railing in the first place?"

To some extent, it's a For Want of a Nail setup when Played for Laughs. Cute Clumsy Girls/Guys, as well as young or especially ignorant characters who are Just Trying to Help, are especially prone to this phenomenon.

If someone sets off (or claims to have set off) Disaster Domino(e)s on purpose, it may be Exactly What I Aimed At.

If the end result is someone's death, it can double as a Necro Non Sequitur.

Note that in Real Life, most catastrophic disasters are caused by a combination of different failures, which ultimately manage to defeat normal safety measures (making this somewhat Truth in Television), though the various factors are usually only realized... post-mortem.

Note that Motorcycle Dominoes and Bookshelf Dominoes are not strictly related, as those involve literally knocking objects over in a domino-like fashion, the devastation of which is pretty much limited to the objects themselves.

Compare Rube Goldberg Device and Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts, where the chain of events is set up intentionally, and Humiliation Conga, where the chain of events lead into even bigger humiliation.

Often caused by a Sneeze of Doom. A specialty of the Lethal Klutz. Very commonly seen as part of an Epic Failure. Can be particularly problematic during a Damage Control scenario, where the escalating damage makes it even more difficult to contain the situation.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • A whole series of TV ads for Dutch insurance Centraal Beheer use this trope as well, ending in the phrase "Even Apeldoorn bellen" ("I should call Apeldoorn" — the place where Centraal Beheer is headquartered.)
  • A brand of disinfectant and detergent produced in Britain, named Dettol, features a prime example of Disaster Dominoes in this video. A giggling baby throws her cup at a blender, which throws its contents over the worktop. The spray from the blender hits a group of hanging pans, which fall off and take a shelf down with it. The cans on the shelf roll along the worktop as they fall, pushing a prepared chicken in a roasting tin right underneath a bag of flour, which falls on the edge of the tin and throws the chicken across the room.
  • A GE medical technology ad involved a guy, distracted by a pretty girl, running into a guy on a bicycle and then stumbles into a vegetable stall which collapses over onto something else, et cetera, et cetera... Eventually, the camera cuts away from the mayhem to show this huge dust cloud over the city. Then it cuts away to the doctor's office, where the guy that caused the mess is being treated for multiple broken bones; his doctor walks in... and it turns out to be the pretty girl. The rest of the merchants in the bazaar are also in the waiting room.
  • In one of The Discovery Channel's "Know More Than You Should" ads, a woman witnesses a squirrel run out into the street. She remarks to a coworker, "Great, now there'll be cats everywhere." Her coworker gives her a funny look, but as she predicted, a car swerves to avoid the squirrel, a truck swerves to avoid the car and tips over. Said truck was a tank-truck full of milk, and as milk pours out onto the street, hundreds of cats arrive to lap it up.
  • This ad campaign from DirecTV, where buying other cable services leads to people:
    • Waking up in a roadside ditch.
    • Attending their own funeral as a guy named Phil Shifley.
    • Reenacting scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen.
    • Having a grandson with a dog collar.
    • Selling their hair to a wig shop after going to Vegas and losing everything.
    • Having their house explode.
    • Having their father getting punched in the stomach over a can of soup.
    • Eating wild berries then chasing imaginary butterflies and doing something highly illegal.
    • Getting body slammed by a lowland gorilla.
  • This Smokey Bear ad.
  • Played for Laughs in a Toshiba commercial, where a man is buying a laptop and is told he can get it that day if he doesn't want an impact-protected hard drive. He considers the ramifications of not getting said drive, and immediately imagines a series of events that includes a nationwide power outage and culminates in a Zombie Apocalypse. He requests the protected drive.
  • In one commercial for a website called Homeaway that gives you discounts on hotel rooms, a test room's family fighting eventually causes the father to trip and land on a tray causing the fake 'test baby' to get launched all the way to the other side of the room and do a Glass Smack and Slide against the glass wall.
  • This ad for Starburst Squirts sweets, where a man biting into one causes enough juice to burst out that it squirts into the eyes of the guy barbecuing, who flings a hot coal into the air, which lands in a tennis-ball launching machine next door...
  • A commercial from the World Wildlife Federation shows a man callously throwing a glass bottle, setting off a chain of events that lead to that same man being hit by a truck. The tagline for the commercial is "It all comes back to you."

    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan, goes from a young slave girl releasing several pigs to a complete genocide 2000 years later. How this happens? The girl, whose name is Ymir, releases the pigs into the wild; as punishment, the king of the eldians hunts her down into the woods, where she accidentaly finds a tree reminescent of Yggdrasil, where a strange creature lives, which attaches itself to her spine, turning Ymir into the The Founding Titan. Then, the king forces Ymir to build his empire, bear his children and oppress other people, especially the Marleys. Then she dies, and the king forces their three daughters to eat her flesh, a tradition which would continue for the next centuries, until the Great Titan War, where the Marleyans rose up and subjugated all off the eldians. In the aftermath, many eldians are punished to live imprisoned in the Paradis Island; they get their memory wiped out by their own king, completely forgetting there is an outside world for the the next 80 years. And the rest is history.
  • Doraemon: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi: At the start, Doraemon and Nobita make their own DIY Amusement Park in the Antarctic using Doraemon's Ice Molding Tools. They have fun for a while, but later Nobita finds a mysterious gold bracelet frozen in the Antarctic ice and decides to dig it out. In the process, Nobita accidentally starts a crack in the ice which starts to widen across the floor, to a nearby wall, and then the ceiling as it spreads further and further... cue Nobita and gang fleeing from the entire collapsing amusement park.
  • In the fifth Fairy Tail OVA, Ichiya and Natsu trip in the local pool and Natsu slams into Erza. Erza sends him flying, and he crashes into Gray and Lyon, sending them down the lover's slide, then breaks down a heart-shaped ornament. Things escalate until the entire pool is laid to ruins.
  • Played seriously in a rapidly-escalating disaster in Macross Frontier Episode 20. A few Vajra hatch within Island 1 and attend Ranka's concert. Ranka finds Alto and Sheryl together on the roof and misunderstands, unwittingly sending her pain out to the Vajra, who become hostile and start attacking.
  • My Hero Academia: During the End of Term Exams arc, Principal Nezu invokes this against Denki Kaminari and Mina Ashido, sitting on a demolition crane rather far away from them. Thanks to his Quirk, High Specs, he's able to make complex calculations on the fly to set off chain reactions with the wrecking ball, blocking their escape routes.
  • In Nichijou, an attempt to make a donation turns a shrine into ruins within seconds.
  • Super Crooks (2021): In the first episode, Johnny accidentally electrocutes dozens of poolgoers. This is terrible by itself, but then the confused crowd runs out into the streets and causes a multi-car crash, including a truck that crashes into and collapses a church, killing the congregation inside. And then another confused trucker sees this and crashes into a gas station, his truck is thrown into the air by the explosion, and he lands right back at the public pool, causing even more damage as the pigs he was transporting land in the electrified pool, instantly killing them.

    Comic Books 
  • A rather less amusing example was Humpty Dumpty in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, whose attempts to take things apart and put them back together, with increasingly disastrous results, culminated in a rain of collapsing novelty signs on the Gotham skyline.
  • The DCU villain Major Disaster had this as an actual power after a deal with the demon Neron in the Underworld Unleashed event. In Flash #125, he throws a sandwich into the street, causing a dog to chase it, the dog's owner spills her bag of apples, a bicyclist falls off his bike from hitting the apples, the bike hits a man on the other side of the street and scatters the papers he's carrying, and the papers fly into the windshield of a bus, which swerves and kills the bus passenger who has been annoying Disaster for hours.
  • Etrigan: Jason Blood's demonic aspect allows him to see these in some cases. An example from Swamp Thing:
    "At 5:32 this evening you will be impaled by a swordfish. There is nothing to be done. It is written. Selena has already decided not to buy the lawn furniture."
  • Supergirl:
    • Kara Zor-El's post-Crisis introduction in The Supergirl from Krypton (2004) (adapted into Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) involved crashing the Batboat, having a dock worker come onto her, her breaking his fingers, one of his co-workers get smacked when he tried to defend to the man, Kara disrupting traffic, having the GCPD fire at her, and accidentally trashing a blimp.
    • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Linda dozes off during Science Class, gets caught and sentenced to write lines on a blackboard. She breaks the blackboard and the wall, and looks for tools to fix it. She falls out a box storing a collection of minerals -including a chunk of Kryptonite-, which scatter everywhere. Linda steps back, trips over and starts an overhead projector. The light projector combined with the Kryptonite radiation creates a Linda's duplicate. Or so Linda believes. She’s wrong.
    • In Escape from the Phantom Zone, Magog interrupts Tychotech's press conference by throwing his spear at Supergirl. Kara manages to grab the spear, but the bladed tip hits the Phantom Eidolon. The device is turned on, creating a dimensional vortex. Ben Rubel gets dragged into the dimensional portal, and Batgirl jumps into it to rescue Ben. Supergirl flies into the portal to rescue her, and the trio becomes trapped in the Zone.
    • Supergirl (1984): The events which lead to the battle between Supergirl and Selena are as follows: Zaltar steals a matter-replicating device called Omegahedron so that he can see lifelike vegetation. When he is nearly caught by Alura, he gives Kara his matterwand to keep her mother distracted as he subtly kicks the Omegahedron away. The ball-shaped device rolls near Kara when she is playing with the wand. Kara creates an insect, gets scared, and shoves it away. The insect then crashes into the city's barrier, and the Omegahedron is sucked through the crack. Kara blames herself, gets into Zaltar's space pod and pursues it until Earth, where it is found by Selena.
  • In an issue of The Superman Adventures titled "Seonimod", or "Dominoes" backwards, a kid's baseball rolling into the street leads to all of Metropolis being devastated by an errant missile. The twist is that we start with the city being destroyed, and then Mxyzptlk shows up to rewind time, allowing Superman to work out the chain of events and prevent it from happening.
  • Watchmen: Played straight when Jon's transformation into Dr. Manhattan is triggered by his date dropping her wristwatch at a carnival. Or, taken even further back, the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima could be the first domino. The news report on the bomb prompted his father, a watchmaker who had been training his son to follow in his footsteps, to instead push his son into a career in nuclear physics. Which results in Jon meeting said girlfriend at his first job after getting his PhD and in him volunteering to fix her watch when it is broken using the skills his father taught him as a young man.
  • X-Factor: Layla Miller seems to be able to set these up, although it's more a case of her being aware of what's going to happen.

    Fan Works 
  • Like the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic example below, Getting Back on Your Hooves has one when Trixie causes an accident in Carousel Boutique after seeing her sister's name on a dress. Rarity hangs a humorous lampshade on it by talking about how Sweetie Belle has made bigger messes than Trixie, and how she really needs to stop setting up her shop in such a way that one little thing toppling over somehow sets off a chain reaction that wrecks the entire room.
  • This trope is the main premise in the Worm fanfic It Gets Worse. Taylor gets an independently-acting power that sets up these for anyone who intends to hurt her, ranging from simple slips to barely-dodging falling anvils. One such event results in an group of E88 villains, including both Kaiser and Hookwolf, getting hammered by a 1-tonne block of blue ice.note  Taylor's power is practically weaponizing the trope, and as the power isn't under her conscious control, it doubles as Laser-Guided Karma. If the Empire had just let things be and accepted that their plan had failed, nothing would have happened. They decided to act as, well, the Empire. And the whole chain was set in motion, even before Taylor is kidnapped.
  • In Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness, one of these starts when Megas makes its accidental high-speed entrance into Gensokyo, ending with Marisa injured and trapped beneath her massive collection of trash. She doesn't hold it against Coop, thankfully.
  • The second Peace Conference in Lords Among the Ashes definitely qualifies. Ruby's denouncement of Sherwood (which would have given a bonus to her other actions) fails, as does her demand for disarmament, and a blockade. Since all of her proposals are aggressive in nature, the majority of the other players see her as a second Lily and refuse to ally with her when she declares war. Seeing that she didn't have the support she had been looking for, Ruby decides to ally with Alexandria. As Alexandria's stated goal is the conquest of the Central Continent, Varric immediately allies with Lily to prevent such a thing, prompting his ally, Neil, to do the same. Ruby almost irreparably damages her relationship with Cardin since she declares war at the peace conference that had taken years to establish and this official declaration prompts Lily to have her agents in Silversun ransack its academy and steal their advanced ship designs. Nice Job Breaking It, Ruby.
  • In The Geeky Zoologist's reimagining of Jurassic World, this trope is used several times:
    • The Indominus scares a mamenchisaur which, in its panic, heads towards the metriacanthosaurs' paddock and ends up destroying a section of its fence, allowing the pack of predators to escape. While the Indominus is attacking the safari truck in which the Mitchell brothers and other visitors are, the metriacanthosaurs attacks a herd and trigger a stampede. Hearing said stampede while she is facing off the mounted grey guards, the Indominus retreats and the riders and the truck are soon caught in the stampede.
    • Not only the quetzalcoatluses makes a tour helicopter crash into the Cartago Aviary but the helicopter breaks the cable of the Gondola Lift in its fall, making several cabins full of trapped visitors crash.
    • During the Battle of Burroughs, another of the tour helicopters crash, this time into the Mosasaur's lagoon. Curious, the mosasaur approaches it and seeing people inside, tries to reach them. To do so, she brings the helicopter to the nearest barrier reef but in the process, she scrapes the aircraft against one of the bay windows and ends up creating a breach. The tunnel is flooded and the emergency system isolate it with doors, trapping some unlucky visitors in it and those drowns.
  • In Consequences of a Fool, a reporter interviewing Yukari Takeba ask the latter about having a ring despite not being in a relationship, to which Yukari explains it was given to her by her lover Minato Arisato before his death. Takuti Maruki is watching the interview, and sympathizing with Yukari's grief he decides to bring back Minato in his new reality. Meanwhile, Amamiya Ren chooses to accept Maruki's reality since it not only grant his friend's wishes but also brought Akechi back to life. As a result, Maruki's new reality spreads and is able to grant Yukari's wish of seeing Minato again... by pulling him away from being Nyx's seal, allowing the Dark Hour to return in Tokyo.
  • Squad Goals: One chapter sees Plagg, bored while Adrien is working on an essay, toss a domino out of a window while teasing him. The domino hits a pigeon, setting off a chain of events that ends with a Big Red Devil being released from its prison and wrecking havoc across Paris. For bonus points, the essay Adrien was working on was about the domino effect.

    Films — Animated 
  • Chicken Little sets off a few of these — twice when he tries to sound the town alarm, and again when an attempt to stand up to Foxy Loxy ends with him thrown into a window and smacking the fire alarm.
  • Dumbo has to jump on top of a pyramid of elephants. He trips on his ears, which causes him to knock over the pyramid, which in turn topples the entire circus tent. They could probably have spotted the problem during rehearsal... if only they had any.
  • Happens in Flushed Away when Toad is showing Roddy around his shrine dedicated to British royalty. Roddy backs into a statue, knocking it over but just managing to stop it crashing on the ground. However, the impact from this leads to a domino effect with many of the other artifacts in the room ending up being broken.
  • Young Hercules goes to the market, and while catching a thrown discus, he ends up crashing into a stone pillar, causing the rest to topple over as well.
  • How to Train Your Dragon (2010) has Hiccup, who in the first scene does succeed in shooting a Night Fury (although nobody believes him), but then stumbles and causes a chain reaction that allows all the captured Dragons to escape and injures several Vikings.
  • A scene of this nature from Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers is initiated when Goofy bumps Mickey and causes him to drop shoe polish into the bucket of water Goofy was using to mop. Amazingly this leads to Pete's bathtub to fall through several floors. Later, a sequence where Goofy runs through a window from a high tower not only causes a chain reaction of painful events, but also proves to be a solution when Goofy gets the idea to use the perfectly duplicatable sequence to his advantage.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: Sunset Shimmer tackling Rainbow Dash to stop her from showing pony ears (long story) results in them bumping into Twilight, who lose her balance and grab Rarity's keytar by reflex, dragging her down in turn and making her involuntarily kick Applejack's guitar, which flies over and lands neck-first into one of Pinkie's drums. Then the lights come back, startling Fluttershy into fleeing.
  • The Prince of Egypt: Moses horsing about causes a set of disaster dominoes that ultimately causes the Sphinx to lose its nose.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler goes overboard with this. Starting at 2:50 here (and continuing into the whole of part 10), the last 15 minutes of the film are essentially one big game of Disaster Dominoes, causing the destruction of the Big Bad's death machine and his entire army due to Tack's Tack.
  • Toy Story: Woody tries to knock Buzz down the back of a dresser with a remote control car. The car causes a bulletin board to fall off and hit a globe, which rolls into a lamp, which then swings and knocks Buzz out the window, setting in motion the second part of the film.
  • Sing: The theater is in disrepair because Buster's shows don't turn a profit. For the latest show, a singing contest, Miss Crawley accidentally adds a couple of extra zeroes to the prize on the fliers, and then the fliers get blown out the window before anyone can spot the mistake. Because of the theater's bad condition, a light fixture falls during rehearsal and damages the stage. Buster wants a spectacular demo for a potential sponsor for the prize money, so he rebuilds the broken stage into an aquarium made of window glass. Meanwhile, Mike has scammed some bears, who come demanding the money from Buster. The combination of their weight plus smashing the prop prize chest causes the glass to break, which floods the theater, which brings the whole thing crashing down.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Beerfest, singing the wrong drinking song at first seems to work out (BOOBS!), but it's too much for one old German fellow's heart. His stumbling around eventually leads to the entire festival tent falling down.
  • In The Birds, a crowd in a cafe sees a gull swoop and knock down a gas station attendant. He drops the pump nozzle and a stream of gasoline flows down the street, puddling under a salesman leaning on his car while lighting a cigar. The crowd tries to warn him, but he drops the match and he and his car go up in flames. The crowd watches in horror as the flame travels up the stream of gas to the gas station, which erupts. In all this chaos the fire draws in a huge flock of gulls, who attack the already panicking throngs.
  • The whole of The Blues Brothers can be seen as a long, long sequence of these, especially after the mall chase. The number of policemen just keeps growing...
  • A Bridge Too Far offers a film-length example, showing how a combination of errors by Allied commanders caused the failure of Operation Market-Garden in WWII.
  • Maybe the best moment of The City of Lost Children. It starts with a teardrop hitting a cobweb, whose reflection awakens a parakeet, that awakens a dog causing it to bark at it. That in turn, awakens a drunkard, who shoos another bird, a gull, out with his empty bottle while scaring the dog, causing the bird to fly away and poop onto a passing car's windshield. Said poop obscures the driver's vision, causing him to crash into a fire hydrant, which floods some rats out of the sewer and into a cabaret, scaring the dancers, distracting a lineman doing maintenance on a power line, causing a city-wide blackout which just so happens to hit the lighthouse, and this whole spectacular chain of events ends with a big ship crashing into the pier and almost drowning the main characters.
  • Several of the freak accidents in the Final Destination franchise start out this way. A truly epic example is Mrs. Lewton's death in the first one, which starts with her making tea and ends with her house exploding. Examples in later additions to the series delve into the patently absurd.
  • The hilarious German short film Forklift Driver Klaus shows the disaster dominoes that happen from carelessness.
  • In Garfield: Garfield gets so infuriated by all the attention Odie's getting, that he accidentally causes a chain reaction that knocks over various things in Jon's house—ending with the shelf falling and nearly crushing him. When Jon arrives to see his office completely trashed, he shuts Garfield outside.
  • In Godzilla (2014), a crashing helicopter takes out no less than three passenger jets.
  • Home Alone:
    • The pizza scene in the first movie which leads to Kevin being left home alone. Kevin tackles Buzz for eating his cheese pizza, spilling milk all over the kitchen counter which has the family's passports. In their haste to clean up the mess, Peter spills soda over Uncle Frank's food. When Frank's clothes get wet, he pushes his chair against Fuller and traps him against a wall. Peter throws napkins in the garbage, accidentally disposing of Kevin's plane ticket in the process.
    • In the second movie, Buzz plays a prank on Kevin during his Christmas pageant solo. When Kevin discovers this, he hits Buzz with so much force that every other kid on the risers take a tumble on stage. To top it all off, one of the decorative trees on the wings comes crashing down on the piano-playing choir teacher, knocking her off the bench.
  • In the Vietnam War documentary In the Year of the Pig, John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State in the Eisenhower administration, introduces the so-called domino theory, whereby one country turning to communism would lead to another doing the same, and then another, and so on.
  • In Jabberwocky, the main character manages to destroy a knight-in-armour repair shop by moving a bowl of rivets.
  • King Ralph: When the title character is at a royal banquet with the King, Queen, and Princess of Finland, he tries to cut into a roasted miniature chicken, but the pressure from the knife causes the chicken to shoot off Ralph's plate, knocking over his drinking glass. The chicken and glass set off a chain reaction that topples all the other glasses from one end of the very long table to the other.
  • The usual setup for so many slapstick routines in The Marx Brothers and The Three Stooges era. Someone gets slapped in the face, they attempt to retaliate, the other person ducks resulting in someone else getting slapped who then smacks right back, knocking someone into the waiter who spills a tray of soup on someone who jumps up, pulling the tablecloth off ... next thing you know it's a full-on pie fight.
  • Meet the Parents: While on the roof trying to get Jinxy the cat, Greg tosses aside a lit cigarette that then ignites leaves in the gutter. While trying to put out that small fire, he inadvertently kicks the gutter, which swings down from the house, hitting and dislodging an electrical wire that falls to the ground and setting several things on fire, including a tree and newly built wedding gazebo.
  • Rat Race:
    • People are racing toward New Mexico to get a lot of money. The rival family decides to steal a Nazi car. The car's lighter burns his middle finger so he accidentally shows it to a biker. She calls her friends to attack the car. The father gets black lipstick smeared on his lip in the shape of a Hitler mustache. He burns his tongue, rendering his speech into incomprehensible German-sounding gibberish. This whole mess crashes into a reunion of World War II veterans. And while trying to explain what happened to him, he continues to be Flipping the Bird while showing the burnt finger is again. Hilarity Ensues. Oh, and the big irony? The family is Jewish.
    • Also happens to the contestant who dresses as a bus driver for a tour of Lucy-lookalikes. He asks one to put out her cigarette, which gets caught in another Lucy's hair, which ignites... and it just goes downhill from there.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark: While Indy is busy getting beat up by a giant mechanic, Marion's attempt to hijack the Flying Wing sets off a chain of events that ultimately lead to the plane exploding. First, she removes the chock from the plane's wheels and uses it to knock out the pilot. The pilot's body falls on the controls and causes the plane to start moving. The tip of the plane's wing scrapes against a nearby tanker truck, puncturing it and spilling fuel everywhere. The fuel then catches fire, which spreads across the entire yard and eventually destroys both the plane and the truck.
  • Referenced in The Replacements (2000): the coach asks the team to talk about things that scare them. Most give silly answers like snakes or spiders, and then Shane says "quicksand". The rest of the team is still thinking too literally, so he has to explain that he's talking about this trope. One thing goes wrong, then another and another, and pretty soon you're drowning in failure.
  • Happens in Wasabi: During a case, detective Hubert accidentally injured the son of a nightclub owner and went to visit him in the hospital to apologize. Hubert gives him flowers (putting them in the boy's glass of water) but when he leaves he slams the door, which causes all the shelves of flowers the boy had received to fall. The glass of water spills onto the son's hospital bed, frying the switch, which makes the bed collapse. He has to go back into surgery because of it.
  • Riders of Justice: The Central Theme, which is discussed by numerous characters. Events are caused by incidents that happened before, and no one can know what the consequences will be. In the film, the events can be traced back to the theft of Mathilde's bicycle, which caused her and her mother to take the train, which caused Otto give up his seat, which caused the mother to get killed in the explosion. Mathilde uses post-its to track the events back to their origin, though Otto points out that each post-it is part of its own causal chain. Otto believes his algorithm will be able to crunch this sort of data to predict the future. Along the same lines, Markus believes that life as a whole is just a meaningless series of random events. He tells his Mathilde that there is no supernatural force providing guidance to the universe, and when prompted to suggest a song for Emmenthaler to play, he says to play "something random."
  • The Irish Black Comedy A Film with Me in It is set in a the protagonist's badly dilapidated apartment building which begins to fall apart in this fashion one day, resulting in a chandelier dropping right on top of his wheelchair-bound brother... which in turn cascades into other problems and breakdowns which lead to pretty much everyone in his life being killed in ways that are entirely accidental but look like he murdered them.
  • Tromeo and Juliet: Tybalt has his arm ripped off while being dragged by a car, and then is decapitated landing on a moving truck's camp. The head lands on a family's car and causes it to crash spectacularly.

  • A few Urban Legends are about this:
    • There's always the bricklayer story, which inspired this song, and an episode of MythBusters.
    • Also the story of how the dog died from eating all that horse meat after your barn caught on fire due to the candles from your mother's funeral after she died of a heart attack after catching your wife cheating with the farm hand and the death of a family of four The mom died after slipping on the stairs that were wet because she left the bathtub running which drowned the children; the husband died after trying to open the door which became electrified due to the water soaking the floor.
    • And then there's the piece of sheet metal that came loose, decapitating a biker, and the motorcycle rides past the driver's window with the headless corpse on it, giving the driver a fatal heart attack, causing his truck to plow right into a bus stop full of people.

  • The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks: The titular event results from a series of these in March 2020. It starts with a South Korean civilian plane on route to Mongolia briefly losing power in the cockpit, leading to them unintentionally crossing the DMZ. With North Korea already on edge from a series of psychological warfare programs by the U.S., the flight is being mistaken for a stealth plane and shot down by a SAM. In response, South Korean President Moon Jae-In launches a retaliatory strike without authorization from the U.S., with six missies that cripple Pyongyang's communications infrastructure. Without a consistent feed, Kim Jong-Un misinterprets a series of tweets from Donald Trump, mistaking them as a sign that a decapitation strike is in progress, and so he gives the order to launch nuclear missiles at South Korea, Japan and the United States. Attempts to destroy the launch vehicles fail and the ground-based interceptors in Alaska, which had been mothballed, fail to intercept them in time, resulting in nuclear strikes on several major cities, including Seoul, Tokyo and New York. By 2023, all three countries are still facing major health crises, their economies are in ruins and the world is enduring a nuclear autumn that's causing a global famine.
  • In Avatar: The Rise of Kyoshi, this is what causes Big Bad Jianzhu's undoing. Jianzhu was Avatar Kuruk's earthbending teacher. Kuruk died at the very young age of 33 and left a power vacuum in his wake, exacerbated by the fact that the search for the Earth Kingdom Avatar dragged on and on for about fifteen years. Jianzhu and his friend Kelsang (Kuruk's airbending teacher) ultimately happen upon a kid named Yun hustling adults at pai sho using Kuruk's outside-the-box strategy and decide he's the Avatar. They train him for two years to no avail only to find out that Kyoshi is actually the Avatar. Kyoshi worked in the compound where they were training Yun, who became one of her best friends, and Kelsang was her Parental Substitute. As a test, Jianzhu offers them both up to a spirit to see which one it is and decides to save Kyoshi and leave Yun. He also kills Kelsang. Kyoshi sets off in the middle of the night before he can catch up to her to run off to join bandits to teach her bending so she can kill him in Revenge because Jianzhu is too well connected to learn by law abiding folk. This is where the trouble starts, as he's alienated an angry teenaged Physical God. It gets out that he picked the wrong person as the Avatar and then let the real one get away which gets the noble class of the Earth Kingdom on his back. In order to get them off his back, he concocts a poison that kills a bunch of people and almost kills his last true ally, Hei-ran (Kuruk's firebending teacher). The novel goes out of its way to point that while Jianzhu is guilty, his mistakes have piled up on him and are taking their toll on him. By the time he and Kyoshi have their final showdown, he's a complete wreck.
  • The Belgariad:
    • Lelldorin's escape from Arendia starts with him getting into a fight with his cousin and ends with him instigating a minor war and having a price on his head. All because he fell for a Mimbrate girl and was forced to elope. On the plus side, he did get the girl. This is implied to happen rather frequently in Arendia, always ending in war. Garion notes that this is tragically typical of Lelldorin.
    • In The Malloreon it's played very seriously when Garion learns he nearly caused a global environmental catastrophe after creating one little thunderstorm for special effects triggered off a series of natural disasters around the globe that were acting and reacting with each other trigger more and more that was eventually going to culminate in a full-blown globally-affecting ice age. It's only then that he learns not to tamper with the weather.
  • The Ten Plagues of Egypt are what happens when God decides to have a go with this trope. After He turns the Nile river into blood, frogs and flies swarm in abundance, disease runs rampant, the weather takes a turn for the worst, livestock rapidly die off and grain stores become contaminated, and thousands drop dead more or less overnight.
  • This story from the British naval communications magazine. The captain of an aircraft carrier sailing into Hong Kong harbor orders a midshipman to "let go" of a signal flag. The first officer overhears and "let's go" the starboard anchor. Through a comedy of errors, this inexorably leads to the loss of multiple ships, aircraft, seabirds, and the goodwill of the city of Hong Kong.
  • Anything written by Michael Crichton. The plot of a typical Crichton novel starts with a bad decision, which is then compounded by additional people making bad decisions and/or minor technological glitches that just happen to be the worst possible thing that could happen.
  • The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash: Jimmy took his boa constrictor along during a class trip to the farm and the snake ate the farmer's wife's washing, then crawled into the hen-house, which frightened the hens, which caused one to lay an egg, which broke on a student's head and lead to an all-out egg fight amongst the students, which then resulted in them using up all the eggs and running to use the pigs' corn instead, which then caused the pigs to raid the bus to eat the kids' lunches, which distracted the farmer who crashed his tractor into a hay bale and pushed it on top of a cow, which quite understandably burst into tears. Amusingly enough, the story is told Back to Front.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 9 The Long Haul, Frank has an important work call that he has to take while driving, and everyone else has to be quiet.
    • Rodrick gets a pack of gum and starts chewing five pieces at once, making noise.
    • Susan snaps her fingers to get Rodrick to stop chewing, but her snapping is louder.
    • Susan opens the sunroof so that Rodrick can dispose of his gum, but the rush of air only makes more noise. Susan starts to close the sunroof, but Rodrick throws his gum out, which boomerangs back and jams the sunroof open.
    • Susan frantically tries to close the sunroof, but a gust of wind carries Flat Stanley out of the roof.
    • Frank starts trying to close the sunroof, but he has one hand on his phone and the other on the center console, so he is steering with his knees. He drifts out of his lane and is honked at by a large tractor-trailer.
    • The horn causes Frank to drop his phone.
    • The horn also startles Manny, whose pacifier falls out. Greg tries to unbuckle his seat to put Manny's pacifier back in, but he accidentally unbuckles the cooler with the pig.
    • Frank jerks the car to the left, causing the cooler to tip over and the pig to fall out and start running around.
    • The pig picks up Manny's pacifier. Greg tries to get it out, but the pig bites him and then attempts to climb out the window.
    • Susan grabs the pig, but accidentally hits a button that causes the stereo to play at full volume.
    • Frank manages to pull over and turn off the stereo, and then yells at everyone for ruining his work call. Then he picks up the phone, and his client is still on the other end.
  • Dr. Seuss:

  • DOME has a long series of these, which is not at all comforting when dealing with a nuclear reactor whose core runs on several tons of weapons-grade plutonium. To make it worse, it's realized only at a very late stage that the warning systems have been corrupted by a power brown-out due to a short caused by a metal staple, and that's the point at which all hell starts to break loose.
  • Fire & Blood: During the Dance of the Dragons, things seem to be going pretty good for Rhaenyra, at first. Then comes the First Battle of Tumbleton. Two dragon-riders on her side go rogue. This convinces her all bastard-borns can't be trusted, so she demands her husband / uncle Daemon get rid of his goodness-knows-what Nettles. Daemon is so broken by this betrayal he commits suicide by nephew. In the meantime, the second of Rhaenyra's first three children is killed in battle, and her youngest son goes missing. At this point, her half-sister Heleana dies under extremely suspicious circumstances, and the people of King's Landing go completely apeshit. The ensuing riot loses her the city, a good chunk of her guard, the third of her first three children and all the dragons. Rhaenyra is forced to flee King's Landing, and finds all her allies suddenly can't or won't help her. She's forced to sell her own crown just to get back to the safety of Dragonstone, and when she gets there, she's betrayed and horribly killed.
  • The Hunt for Red October introduces a Soviet submarine, with an overworked technician failing to notice that one gauge is a bit too high. Ten pages later, a sphere of molten metal has destroyed the sub. Worse than that: he noticed the gauge was a bit too high, but he was prevented from fixing it by the urgency of their mission. The book then goes into detail about how, to save money, the Soviet Navy used steel instead of titanium for a small "flapper" valve which, when subjected to the hot radioactive water of the nuclear power plant cooling system, warped ever so slightly, causing small "waves" in the cooling pipe water. These waves grew larger and larger over time until eventually the system, not designed to deal with the pressure variation, sprung a leak. This then results in the reactor going critical, melting down, and every single person on the submarine dying from either drowning or asphyxiation. Because of a ten-cent savings in metal costs. As if that's not bad enough, the US then uses the sunken submarine to steal the Soviet Navy's highly advanced and extremely expensive new missile submarine. So really, because of a ten-cent savings in metal costs, the Soviet Navy loses the Red October.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: The Cthaeh is utterly malevolent, has perfect knowledge of the future, and loves creating these. The Fair Folk make a point of killing anything that's ever gotten near it, believing that anyone who's spoken to the Cthaeh is doomed to bring incredible misfortune and suffering. Discussed when Kvothe points out that the Cthaeh is hugely limited, since it can't create the worst possible future, only the worst future it can provoke with one short conversation.
  • Done with a series of mummified relics in Nation. The main characters flee the cloud of noxious dust that is quickly filling the cave, stopping halfway because there's a gap in the mummies and they think the chain will stop... until a flying rib manages to score a perfect hit.
  • In the Revelation Space Series, the Glitter Belt, a vast ring of thousands of space stations over the planet Yellowstone is hit by the Melding Plague, a technological Grey Goo virus that corrupts higher technology. The Plague initially only destroyed a few space stations, but the destruction of the stations spawned more debris which took out further stations, creating even more debris which took out more stations, recursively, creating Kessler Syndrome (see Real Life). When the Glitter Belt is shown ~10 years later in Chasm City, it has been reduced to a few dozen aging enclaves in the so-called "Rust Belt", with the lower orbits clogged with debris that the Banshees use as cover.
  • In David Eddings' The Sapphire Rose, Disaster Dominoes is taken to hilarious and literal levels when Talen decides on a good way to deal with undead soldiers who guard a single flagstone: push one onto the flagstone of another. It gets messy.
  • Played straight in Bernard Werber's "The Thanatonauts", in which the angels use a rat to engineer a series of events, eventually leading to a plane crashing into the main characters' apartment building, killing them all.
  • The West African folk tale "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears" (which the page quote is from) tells the tale of Mosquito, who tells a lie to an iguana and sets off a chain of events that results in one of Mother Owl's children being killed, and thus she refused to wake the sun so the day would come until she knew who was responsible.
  • Similarly, there's the Western "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly", which couples this with Serial Escalation (she ate a spider to catch the fly, a mouse to catch the spider, etc.), until finally dying from eating a horse.
  • The first part of World War Z is basically a big domino effect on how the world first reacted to the virus. From an isolated first case in China to sporadic attacks in hospitals to all-out chaos in South Africa, and so on.
  • In Worm, this is the Simurgh's most dangerous method of attacking humanity. As a Precog so powerful that she is effectively omniscient, and being the only telepath in the setting, she uses her powers to influence people that she knows will be in critical positions some time in the future, at which point they abruptly go insane and begin sabotaging whatever efforts to save humanity they are involved in. This is made even worse by the fact that she's a city-destroying monstrosity who broadcasts a psychic scream across geographic distances whenever she attacks, creating potentially hundreds of thousands of sleeper agents. People caught on after the first few attacks and began implementing countermeasures, but it's suggested that many of these countermeasures play directly into her hands.
  • Star Healer in the Sector General series spends nearly two pages on exposition to set up just how idiots managed to do something as megalomaniacally stupid as to crash two spacecraft together in deep space. A tug fleet moving a habitat of Asteroid Miners comes uncomfortably, but safely, close to a bulk cargo carrier hauling girders and sheet metal processed from asteroid-mined minerals. This being space, the carrier essentially has no exterior hull. The senior tug captain, intimidated by the mountain of hard pointy bits closing in with his live cargo, insists that the cargo carrier back off. The carrier captain tries to correctly point out that they'll pass with plenty of room and there's no danger, but the regs say to shut up and give the passenger hauler the safety measures it wants. The carrier begins a maneuver, agonizingly slow thanks to its massive bulk, which momentarily places it in the habitat's path. The habitat supervisor decides that, although there's no real danger, this would be a very good time to run an emergency drill. The senior tug captain, his live cargo now blazing with hazard lights and klaxons blaring over the radio, decides to act like a six-year-old and sends tugs to shove the carrier with pressor beams to assist it in its maneuver. The carrier fires its engines to carry it out of the habitat's path... and the engines fail to fire, possibly because some idiot just manhandled the ship's exposed components with pressor beams. The collision is slow as these things go, but tears the habitat's forward face apart and flings debris deep into its interior. *sigh*.

  • In Joe Diffie's Third Rock from the Sun a man in Smokey's Bar sees a beautiful woman walk into the bar and calls up his wife to tell her he is working late (so he can make time with the lady in question). The wife calls up her sister and asks her to come over to comfort her, which gives her boyfriend time to go out and get a beer from a nearby store. He leaves the keys in his car, allowing some teenagers to take a joyride in his car. The teenagers end up in the path of a semi truck, which crashes into them, goes across a bank parking lot, and hits a nearby clocktower. The clocktower falls over and takes out a power line, making the entire town go dark. A waitress calls the police in panic, claiming aliens are landing, and the police call the mayor, waking him up, because they can't find the sheriff. The mayor tells the police to use their heads — if he isn't in his car, he's probably hiding from his wife down at Smokey's Bar. So he is going to have to work late after all.
  • The music video for "Sabotage" by Daybroke centers around a downright absurd example. A broken off guitar knob hits an unstable makeshift table, which launches a box into the air. The box upsets a garbage can, which knocks over some metal pipes, one of which knocks over a gumball machine... you get the idea. This just keeps going throughout the entirety of the video, causing greater and greater destruction until the disaster reaches a UEC missile site, and suddenly nukes are flying everywhere. The final shot of the video, following a brief Apocalyptic Montage, is a distant view of the Earth, scorched black from all the fire and explosions, as the guitar knob that started it all floats out into space.
  • And from Flanders and Swann, we have "The Gas Man Cometh".
  • Featured in the music video for "Walking Contradiction" by Green Day. The band members unwittingly set off accident after accident as they just go about their day, unharmed by and largely unaware of the ensuing carnage.
  • "The Wreck of the Crash of the Easthill Mining Disaster" by Brooke Lundeville. But did she have to bring in the puppies?
  • The Pet Shop Boys song "One Thing Leads to Another" is all about a protracted disaster told backwards. In chronological order: the protagonist gets a job promotion, but his new responsibilities leave him with less time for his girlfriend, straining their relationship until she breaks up with him. The resulting depression hurts the protagonist's work performance, and he gets fired. Deciding he needs a new lover to get his life back together, he goes clubbing and hits it off with a nice woman. They go back to her place and attempt to make love— then the protagonist finds "she's a man, when you get down to it." Dazed, drunk, and confused, the protagonist tries to drive home, but gets in a car crash and dies in the hospital.
  • The French song "Tout va Très Bien, Madame la Marquise" has the Marquise calling home. Every member of staff tells her everything's just fine, except for a minor detail, starting with the death of her favorite horse who died in the stable, which burned down after the castle caught fire, caused by the candles falling over after the Marquis shot himself on learning he was bankrupt. But other than that, everything's fine.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In one episode of Between the Lions, Theo puts a pen on a stack of books. But by pulling a book out from the middle of the stack, he knocks the pen off, causing a chain reaction that practically destroys the library and sends Cleo flying through the air to land on Theo!
  • The Muppets (2015): Scooter adjusting the thermostat causes a chain of events that eventually ends with the entire studio's wiring blown out. That's within five minutes of being in charge.

  • The Men from the Ministry episode "A Sticky Business" features an epic one, where a series of misunderstandings and mishaps starting with a broken teacup end with the whole London Underground being filled with cold water.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Depending on the rules in play regarding exploding dice (If dice are a specific value, an extra one is added, and it can chain into other dice too provided each successive roll matches that value), this can happen.
  • In BattleTech, the Hollander BZK-F7 Humongous Mecha, a notorious Glass Cannon, has a small chance to instantly kill itself every time it fires through a combination of bad dice rolls. If it fires its BFG Heavy Gauss Rifle after moving, it must pass a piloting skill check to avoid falling over from recoil. If it fails the roll, then the roll directs it to fall towards its right-rear side, the impact damage has a chance to penetrate the very thin armor, cause a Critical Hit on the notoriously high-explosive Gauss rifle capacitors which detonate and blow up the entire mech.
  • Exalted: Exploited by the mice of the sun, whose actions are always minute — generally as much as a regular mouse would manage — but are always timed just so as to cause immense aftereffects. They may chew through a warrior's shield strap to make it break in the middle of battle and dramatically alter his fate or the entire war's, for instance, or bring a few plague-carrying insects into a city ruled by wickedness, and thus alter the course of history while passing beneath everybody's noses.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Most players will claim that any session (or encounter) which killed at least two characters invoked this trope.
  • Pandemic has outbreaks occur if a cube would have been put on a city with three disease cubes of the same color. This can set off a chain-reaction outbreak, which can rapidly deplete the maximum of 24 disease cubes or 8 outbreaks, especially if the infection cards cause two outbreaks to initiate in that infected area.
  • Paranoia: A staple, especially in the adventure Send in the Clones, where the Gamemaster is given instructions on how to make this happen even if the PCs are specifically guarding against it and still make them think it's their own fault.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: When taken as a whole, it appears the War of Rage in the backstory is one. Each group of Fera has its own theory as to how it happened (such as the Gurahl refusing to teach their most potent healing gifts, the Nagah assassinating the wrong Garou, or the Nuwisha playing a prank that went off the rails), and much like World War I, it seems that they all combined together to push all of them into an all-out war that weakened each group.


    Video Games 
  • This is what ultimately leads to former Osean President Harling's death and the arrest of the player character Trigger in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. While Trigger manages to slip in under the Erusean radar and knock out the air defenses protecting the ISEV where Harling is trapped, the Osean Marine detachment sent to recover Harling comes under unexpectedly heavy fire, pinning them down. And then Erusea begins launching combat drones from the mainland, forcing the rescue team's IUN-PKF air cover away from the ISEV as they engage the drones, leaving the Marines without air support getting them wiped out and their helicopter destroyed. Harling and his guard survives, and escape in an Erusean aircraft, but another squadron of drones attacks the aircraft, causing an aerial furball which is only exacerbated when one of the IUN squadrons commits to an abortive operation to destroy the ISEV without the knowledge of the other squadrons, which adds to the confusion. Amid all of this, Harling's aircraft is hit by a missile; while the aircraft is only lightly damaged, Harling's guard is killed, and Harling himself steers the aircraft back towards the ISEV for an unknown purpose, ignoring Osean requests for him to answer and turn away. Finally, it all comes apart when a missile thought to be fired by Trigger ( but actually fired by an Erusean drone spoofing Trigger's IFF) strikes Harling's aircraft, destroying it with no survivors, resulting in the operation's failure and Trigger being convicted of murder.
  • Alien: Isolation: Sevastopol Station might have been able to get a handle on the situation onboard the Anesidora (which is carrying a crew member who has an alien parasite within her). Unfortunately, due to the fact that the station had (a) most of its funding pulled by this point, (b) was in the process of being decommissioned, and (c) had extremely-lax quarantine protocols caused by a security force that was just counting the days until they were shipped back home, Marshal Waits ultimately gives the crew the clearance to come aboard instead of running a mandatory decontamination check. This functionally leads to the death of the entire crew of the station, the Anesidora and its occupants, and every character onboard the Torrens, save for Sole Survivor Amanda Ripley.
  • Unwittingly empowering an individual otherwise beneath his notice to start toppling the disaster dominoes is how the infinite hubris of BlazBlue's Yuuki Terumi ultimately caught up with him. What started with sending Makoto Nanaya to Ibukido to have her career die (if not her) led to Makoto enforcing, if not instigating, the events that locked him out of the Susano'o unit, and getting away with it thanks to Rachel's intervention. Those, in turn, led to Makoto saving Noel and Tsubaki's psyches enough that Terumi's brainwashing was left incomplete, providing the diversion and motivation for Jin to awaken to the power of order, and make allies in Sector Seven that helped save her own bacon and Rachel using her experience with Makoto to rethink her handling of Ragna after her warnings to him fell on deaf ears and made things worse for everyone. After all that, Makoto diverted Izanami's gaze through providing Tsubaki a legitimate anti-Imperator argument, got out alive thanks to Kagura's involvement, helped Jin and Noel break Tsubaki completely free of Izanami's control, and helped Bang wall Relius long enough for Ragna, Noel and Celica to escape and Valkenhayn to reinforce them, all while Rachel united most of the Six Heroes and directed them in a counteroffensive against Terumi, Relius and Izanami that ultimately ended with Terumi forced to self-observe to avoid death by Hakumen's Time Killer. Many of these falling dominoes ceased to have a direct impact on Terumi thanks to Izanami's Doomsday, allowing him to act unfettered and hijack the Susano'o unit to go on a merry rampage while Hazama acted to drive Ragna berserk via torturing Rachel, and yet he left Makoto completely unaccounted for, which led to her befriending Naoto after Ragna had taken her desire, and enabling him to flee to Noel and Tsubaki's side by making her last stand against Es; while she broke down, Naoto caught up to the now berserk Ragna and walled him until he got his Azure Grimoire back under control, and this act, Naoto's last dance, led to Ragna and his colleagues fighting off the Terumi-infested Susano'o unit long enough to rip the bastard out, sever his last links to divine power, and devour his soul completely. In summary, while Terumi manages a Near-Villain Victory in spite of everything, if he at any point took Makoto seriously enough to abandon sadism and personally hunt down and kill her, his ultimate goal of obliterating the Origin and the Master Unit would have been fulfilled; a berserk Ragna would have been infinitely preferable to the resulting end. His abject refusal to fully comprehend friendship and all that can be born of it left him smashed into paste under the last domino.
  • Cursed Treasure: The goal of the game is to protect the titular treasures, but it's all too easy for you to lose one or more of them to a slow "baton pass" of fresh waves rushing in just as your towers killed the unit carying gems, even after you buy the upgrades that cause the gems to drift back towards the nest where they are initially stored.
  • In Darkest Dungeon, in a vein similar to XCOM, if one of your party members experiences enough stress to get an Affliction, their erratic behaviour can spread Stress across the entire party, which in turn can push them to the breaking point and get an Affliction. With a full party of 4 Afflicted heroes, a single action — from friend or foe — can cause Stress to ripple through the party as everyone reacts with a Stress-inducing quip.
  • Extremely common in the Tower Defense game Defense Grid: The Awakening and its sequel. In Defense Grid enemies are aiming to steal power cores from your core housing and escape with them rather than destroying the object you're trying to protect like in most TD games. When you kill an enemy it drops the core it's carrying, which will slowly float back towards the housing again, unless another enemy picks it up again. The most common way to lose cores is for an enemy to grab some and head back out the way it came in, passing through another incoming wave of fresh enemies as it does so. Even if your towers pick off the core carrier (as they're programmed to do automatically), this will just result in the core being passed over to a new, fresh enemy, possibly an even tougher one than the one that initially grabbed it (particularly annoying when a Fragile Speedster like a Racer passes a core to a Mighty Glacier like a Crasher). And of course, the new carrier can pass the core on again to another wave, resulting in a core changing hands in a relay all the way back to the enemy entrance zone, where it's lost for good. If you let a core get taken far enough from the housing and your Grid isn't strong enough to eliminate the enemies as soon as they come onto the field, the core is as good as lost.note 
  • This is a common strategy in Doom; get one enemy to shoot another, often by strafing/streaking through, and next thing you know, they're fighting each other.
  • Your inevitable fate in Dwarf Fortress.
    • A "tantrum spiral" is what happens when one unhappy dwarf finally tips over the edge and ends up setting off other unhappy dwarves. Dwarf A doesn't get enough sleep one night, goes on a rampage, and cuts Dwarf B's wife in half. Dwarf B finds out his wife is dead, goes mad with grief, and smashes a statue Dwarf C rather liked. Dwarf C finds out about the statue, and you can see where this is going. For many players, this is part of the appeal of the game.
    • See the saga of Boatmurdered, an epic tale of mismanagement and bloody death which ends with legendary former leaders beating dwarves to death while on fire and the inferno causes the entire fortress to devolve into a massive flaming brawl while the flaming corpse of a monarch butterfly wedges open the front gates and keeps the Doomsday Device from being activated.
  • This can occur in Skyrim.
    • After you've killed your first dragon as part of the main quest, at any point you're wandering around Skyrim, another dragon might swoop down on you, even if you're currently fighting something else. Dragons are also smart enough to skirmish with you, then fly over and antagonize some other enemy, and try to lead that threat over to you. Each area in the game has a chance for a random encounter to trigger, such as a patrol of bandits, soldiers or Thalmor, while several areas feature bandit camps or army outposts, which might be hostile to you as well. And depending on a player's behavior, a Hold's guard force might get involved in one of these clusterfucks and then attempt to arrest you as soon as the fighting is over.
    • In Markarth, the Dragonborn gets involved in a conspiracy that could very well end with a prison riot and the Forsworn carving a bloody path across the city, killing an important nobleman in the process. Depending on the order in which the player completed the quests and visited cities, it all started with the Dragonborn getting into a drinking contest with a stranger in a tavern on the other side of the province. In fact, since Markarth is so far away from the player's start location, it's more likely, perhaps even expected, to get involved with the conspiracy that way.
  • Kessler Syndrome (see Real Life) appears in Endless Space as one of the most potent negative anomalies that can affect a planet. Many planets are host to the remains of long dead civilizations, and Kessler Syndrome is the result of a space-faring civilization dying back without taking their satellites with them, causing derelict satellites to smash into each other, generating debris which smashes into more satellite ad infinitum, turning the low and high orbits into rings of lethal debris, making space travel dangerous and expensive.
  • In the game, Eric the Unready, the titular protagonist manages to set off one of these during a banquet, burning down the entire building.
  • Fallout:
    • Can be a frequent occurrence in the series. A stray bullet can graze an innocent bystander who then returns fire, he misses and grazes another bystander. It's sometimes an option to avoid conflict by letting a town kill itself.
    • In Fallout 3 alone, the abandoned cars are nuclear powered, explode if damaged, and there may be strings of them on the ruined roads, ready to set each other off. It's a highly entertaining way to kill enemies, just be careful you're a good distance away from the fun.
    • One trap in Fallout 3 uses a row of boxes set up like dominoes to start a chain reaction. Battering ram hits domino boxes, last domino triggers pitching machine which knocks fire extinguisher into bear trap, setting off grenades and gas explosions that will kill the player if they're in the wrong place.
    • Antagonize a member of a faction (by petty theft, trespassing, pickpocketing) in Fallout: New Vegas, turning them hostile, kill them in self-defense, causing infamy to be gained and other nearby members to attack you, until your reputation hits bottom and they are permanently shot at on sight. Even if you are only "shunned" by the NCR or Legion, they will send hit squads after you, and killing these will completely destroy your standing with them.
    • In the Nellis generator facility, the ants explode when killed with certain weapons. If set off next to one of the stored howitzer shells, they may cause a chain reaction of detonations that blows you and your companions to smithereens.
  • The goal of many levels in The Incredible Machine is to place the last missing domino for this to happen.
  • Every event that takes place in the second Knights of the Old Republic game is sparked by the Exile's return to known space. The Sith come out of hiding to capture her, destroying Peragus in the process, the restoration efforts on Telos depends on the fuel from Peragus, and all other planets devastated by the Jedi Civil War depend on Telos to set the example that it can be done. If Telos fails, then the Republic will have bankrupted itself in the attempt with no result and will collapse. The ripple effect of the consequences of even a small act, in fact, is one of the themes of the game.
  • The climactic scene of the text adventure, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, features Trent (or Tiffany) deploying the Anti-Leather Goddesses Attack Machine, which works in this way.
  • Spectacular failures in Left 4 Dead can often be traced back to a single event, most likely a Boomer vomiting on all four survivors at once. On harder difficulties the AI director seems to play up the smallest mistakes into really, really big and tragic messes. One stray bullet hitting a car, alerting the horde, and wouldn't you know it, a Boomer spawns 15 seconds later, which is almost impossible to avoid since the players are already getting swarmed. Inevitably, one or two will be dead, the remainder near death, and no medpacks to be found... wait, what's that rumbling noise?
  • LEGO Star Wars. Vader gets a medal this time as he's won the sequel to Star Wars. An entire legion of Stormtroopers are lined up on the steps, so Vader gives on of them a hearty slap on the back, sending the lego figures toppling like dominoes.
  • Entirely possible in RimWorld, a colony-building simulator inspired by the likes of Dwarf Fortress. After successfully defending your base from pirates, Colonist A notices a cache of booze on a raider's corpse, and their Chemical Fascination trait compels them to run out and chug it all, getting blackout drunk. With your best cook unable to make dinner that night, Colonist B has to work the kitchen, which ends in three other colonists getting food poisoning. This means your colony is under-strength when a pack of manhunting alpacas attacks at dawn, and in the ensuing fight, Colonist C gets an infected wound and dies. Colonist D, who was married to Colonist C, has a mental breakdown and goes around on an insulting spree, which leads to a vicious fistfight with Colonist E. Both end up in the hospital with bites and bruises, while all the blood splattered in the colony rec room is the final straw for Colonist F, a Pyromaniac who decides to relieve stress by starting some fires. With so many colonists in the hospital, nobody can stop the flames from spreading to the ammo dump where the Antigrain Warhead you got as a quest reward is being stored.
  • Rome: Total War's Barbarian Invasion expansion has this as a core mechanic. "Horde" factions are distinct from normal factions in that losing their last city doesn't eliminate them from the game, instead they spawn several armies that can proceed to Rape, Pillage, and Burn other cities to their hearts' content, or conquer a territory and declare it their new homeland. The Huns and Vandals start out in horde form, right next to the Sarmatians, Roxolani, Goths, Burgundii, Lombardii, and Franks, all of whom are horde factions themselves. So just like the real-life Migration Period the game is set in, it's common for one barbarian faction to uproot another, who in turn goes looking for new lands at the expense of their neighbors.
  • Many of the deaths in Scorched Earth and other tank games can cause a cascading ladder of death from a single kill.
  • When Crowe comes back in Saisei-hen, the first thing that happens is that he gets a debt of a few thousand dollars because of a highway accident which then turned into a million dollars worth of debt. By the end of the game, he's not even close to paying off those debts.
  • In They Are Billions colonies can easily die to this. If a single zombie can reach and break into a building, every colonist inside is converted into a fast zombie which will then attack other buildings. As the game's design encourages tightly-packed bases, a single building's zombies can easily infect four or more buildings simultaneously, the zombies increasing in number exponentially until you're overrun. This is especially devastating in housing districts, as houses are lightly-armored, filled with colonists, and tend to be even more tightly packed.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Leeroy Jenkins Video. The Plan was fatally flawed to begin with, but then Leeroy Jenkins runs in before everyone's ready.
    • Some raid bosses such as Archimonde and Anub'Rekhan are based around this; something bad happens whenever a character dies, which may end up killing another, then another two, then... And in a more literal "dominoes" sense, there are a few raid bosses, such as Kel'thuzad in Naxxramas, who have attacks that can "jump" from player to player. One player makes the wrong move at the wrong time and everyone can quickly end up dead from the chain reaction.
    • The Lich King. One of his attacks, called Defile, targets a player to create a black puddle at his feet. Every tick of damage it does, it grows a bit larger in radius. If a player gets caught as it grows, it keeps growing. If another player who had cleared the danger radius stopped just short of the edge, it gets caught again, taking more damage, growing it a bit more. All it takes is two players doing this two step forward cha-cha a couple of times, and the puddle soon covers the entire playfield, wiping out the raid. Throughout all this, his valkyrs will pick three random players and drag them to the edge to drop them over, and they cannot do anything until the other players kill the valkyr (preferably before being their helpless ally is dropped over the edge). If one or more players get dropped, there will be fewer players for the next wave of valkyrs, who will more easily throw more off the edge, and so on, until the wipe is inevitable.
  • Due to the physics involved in Worms, a single shot can result in a chain reaction of explosions from mines, oil barrels, crates being torched by the aforementioned items, dying worms self-destructing, and so on. This can contain equal amounts of awesome, fail, and hilarity, as any veteran Worms player will attest to. Quite often entire island formations and reduced into gutted, swiss-cheese-like shells of their original forms during the process. For extra points, sometimes this involves the worm who pulled the trigger getting caught up in the carnage that ensues.
  • Any with any strategy game where morale is a major issue, X-COM is a good example. One of your soldiers dies, causing another to panic and drop his gun, leading to him dying as well, which causes a third guy to snap and start firing wildly, killing two of his allies, and next thing you know, your entire squad is wiped out without even engaging the enemy. Enemies with Psionics don't even need to raise their guns — a handful of Panic Attacks later, the squad that was assigned to fight them will end up killing itself for them through berserk firing of HE rounds and panicked dropping of primed explosives.
    • Can luckily and hilariously backfire when the panicked soldier fires at the alien, killing it, and if the alien explodes when dying (like a cyberdisk) then the blast area might take out other aliens, or some explosive crates that trigger a chain of death.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney Investigations 2 reveals that the IS-7 Incident is one stretching the entire series. Someone cheats to win a contest, ultimately leading to a fatality. Then, as a result, Gregory Edgeworth spoils Manfred von Karma's perfect record and is shot, leading his son Miles to become a prosecutor and eventually be framed by the vengeful other party. The same case caused Misty Fey to be disgraced and go into exile, leading her daughter Mia to become a defense attorney and get murdered, motivating her protege Phoenix, who has to eventually deal with the murder of Misty herself by her jealous sister and the ghost of a woman Mia put away for murder earlier, all in order to pin the blame on Phoenix's assistant Maya, Mia's little sister. And that's not even counting the many, many collateral deaths along the way...
    • It happens again for the second trilogy, as revealed in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice. Ga'ran sets fire to her sister's home, which kills Jove Justice, Apollo's biological father. As a result, Thalassa searches for Apollo to no avail, goes back to Troupe Gramarye, and marries Zak, eventually giving birth to Trucy. She is caught in an accident as a result, which makes her lose her memories and gets sent to Borginia, where she eventually becomes Lamiroir, meets Klavier Gavin, gives him a guitar which Daryan Crescend uses to smuggle a Borginian Cocoon, which leads to the murder of Romein LeTouse. Meanwhile, as a result of Thalassa's disappearance, Magnifi uses this to blackmail Zak and Valant, which eventually culminates in his asking one of them to shoot him. Zak is framed for his death, which leads to him choosing Phoenix over Kristoph, and causes his murder as well as the murder of Drew Misham and murder attempt of Vera Misham, as well as Phoenix losing his badge, which is one event that starts the Dark Age of the Law. Meanwhile, Dhurke Sahdmadhi has taken in the infant Apollo and raised him, inspiring him to become a lawyer, then sent him back to America, where he meets Clay Terran. Eventually, Apollo grows up to become a lawyer under Kristoph Gavin. It's really amazing how one crime can have such far reaching circumstances.
    • From case four of The Great Ace Attorney: Housewife Joan Garrideb finds that inside an old book that her husband has bought secondhand is a love note that's been acting as a bookmark. Despite the fact that the note is clearly not addressed to him, Joan accuses her husband John of seeing another woman and flies into an implacable rage; she slaps him across the face and begins throwing household objects at him. One of the objects knocks over a lit candle, which starts a fire and burns a section of the apartment, including several of John's books, but Joan continues attacking and even hurls flaming books at him. John, backed against the wall, opens the apartment's top-hinged casement window — meaning that only the bottom opens slightly outward, leaving a gap between the pane and the building's outer wall — to air out the smoke. Joan throws one of the flaming books at John and it hits the window pane before falling through the gap onto the sidewalk below. Walking along on that sidewalk is a young woman, and she stops when a book suddenly falls from out of nowhere. At the same time, Joan grabs one of their woodcarving knives and throws it at John; it knocks his pipe out of his hand, the tip breaking off inside the bowl, and the rest, like the book, hits the window and falls outside. The young woman bends over to pick up the book, her back facing the sky, as the knife is falling point-down; the falling knife (non-fatally) stabs her in the back and she collapses onto the ground. The thick London evening fog lowers visibility in the street, meaning that the defendant and the two witnesses nearby only see her suddenly yelp and fall down, leading the witnesses to assume that the defendant, who had been walking behind her, stabbed her, which isn't helped by the fact that he panics upon seeing a stranger seemingly die out of the blue, drops his things, and books it down the street.
  • Galaxy Angel has this happening to Milfeulle quite often, due to her luck that goes both ways to be extremely good or extremely bad. Early on, while at the Elsior's training room, she gets provoked by Ranpha into punching the sandbag, causing its chain to snap and fall onto some barbells, which in turn cause a chain reaction tipping over pretty much every piece of equipment.
  • Little Busters!: Haruka's imagined scenario of how cleaning could kill you involves this. First, she trips over while mopping. Then she bumps into a locker. The shock of this makes the club room collapse. This causes an earthquake. As the room happened to be the pivotal point of earth, the earth's crust starts moving and Japan sinks into the ocean, which causes the continents to drift apart. This makes the poles shift. As a result, all of mankind is wiped out. And that's why Haruka absolutely cannot clean. Except that Riki then points out that none of that could ever actually happen, which Haruka thinks is boring.
  • Zero Time Dilemma: It is eventually, slowly revealed that everything that went wrong in the entire Zero Escape series was caused by a snail. To elaborate, Eric's mother saw a snail on her usual jogging route one morning, causing her to take a different one to avoid it. On that different route, she was killed by Mira, which caused Eric's father to become an abusive alcoholic. Meanwhile, Akane's father was arrested for the murder, meaning he wasn't able to take the taxi he had called. The taxi picked up a surgeon instead, and got in an accident on the way to the hospital, killing the surgeon and driver. A young boy, Sean, died in the hospital as a result of not being able to get the life-saving surgery that the surgeon was on his way to give him. Sean shared a hospital room with, and befriended, Delta, who would later become Zero II and set up the Decision Game, which leads to the Radical-6 outbreak and Bad Future of Virtue's Last Reward in one timeline and an even worse future in all other timelines except the Golden Ending timeline. Akane's father was falsely convicted and executed for killing Eric's mother, leading to his wife committing suicide out of grief, leaving Akane and Aoi orphans, which allowed them to be snatched up and placed in the first Nonary Game, which led to the them orchestrating the second one to get revenge on the people who put them in the first, and so on, and so on. Is it any wonder that Zero II's catchphrase is "Life is simply unfair"?

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in the notorious flash cartoon The Demented Cartoon Movie, in which tiny accidents cause massive cascades of toppling city buildings, ultimately winding up with the earth falling into the sun.
  • Happens regularly in Happy Tree Friends. Someone will get hurt, the others will panic, leading to more severe, fatal mistakes being made, which then leads to a wider panic that tends to kill off those left standing.
    • The episode with the most notorious example of this is likely "Class Act". Nutty, who is obsessed with candy and will eat anything remotely resembling it, bites a chunk out of Sniffles, who was dressed like a massive candy cane, runs off screaming and somehow manages to get Giggles' face sliced off. The sliced-off face flies off and hits The Mole, who's controlling the spotlight, which he fumbles and directs straight into Lifty and Shifty's eyes, who were holding Flaky upside down and who, blinded, drop her, which causes her to get skinned falling down a chimney, before getting deposited on the stage floor with her muscles exposed. All this finally triggers a panic, leading to Toothy dropping a candle and creating a fire while Cuddles blocks the escape route with his costume, leading to him being pushed out of it in a cylindrical shape. Most of the characters get out safely, but are all killed when the school explodes at the end.
  • Happens in an episode of the Knights of the Dinner Table Flash cartoon when the GM, B.A., starts implementing his new chart of randomly-determined consequences for critical failures. A single roll of natural 1 on an attack leads to major injury for the whole party.
  • RWBY: This is basically what makes Remnant a Death World and the Grimm so dangerous. Grimm are drawn to negative emotions in high concentrations. A prolonged period of public dread and worry followed by a disaster, like a bandit attack or a famine or someone being maimed or even killed in a widely-respected and globally televised martial arts tournament will cause a spike in Grimm activity, and the approaching Grimm cause even more panic and fear, which draws even more in. Eventually even the mighty defences of the Kingdoms can be overwhelmed by the tidal wave of terrifying monsters bumrushing at the tasty humans.
  • There is an animation called Safety @ Work that reminds us the importance of workplace safety. One man fails to wear his hard hat, and, well...
  • The appropriately named "Smoke Kills" has a fit of anger from a nobody trying to quit smoking resulting in global nuclear war.
  • In The TV Show a sequence of events that starts with a man in a ski mask holding up a video game store ends with what appears to be a city in ruins. And it was awesome.
  • Yahtzee Croshaw has his own alliterative description for the trope; the "Cockup Cascade", which he opined about and explained at length the issues it causes in XCOM 2, Hitman (2016), Hitman 2 and Hitman 3, as well as Desperados III.
  • This fan video to the song You're the One That I Want. A couple enters a carnival funhouse which is already falling apart. Their obliviousness to surroundings and disregard for safety accelerate the process. By the end the carnival and a nearby building are destroyed and many visitors suffer Amusing Injuries.

  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl has an incentive arc named after this, wherein every bad turn the characters could have made is taken.
  • In the backstory of Drowtales, the collapse of a project known as the Skyhole caused a chain of these.
    • It effectively destroyed a great Clan, leaving a power gap that was eventually filled by the Jaal'darya.
    • The area around the collapse was rendered next to uninhabitable thanks to the dust and debris.
    • The collapse trapped many Sarghress troops on the surface and cut them off from the rest of Chel.
    • Taking advantage of this, Diva'ratrika had the Sharen led by Sarv'swati attack the weakened Sarghress.
    • This led directly to the battle where Sarv'swati fought Quain'tana and made her barren which has huge effects on the main story.
    • The Sarghress survived thanks to their cavalry making a forced march from the surface and coming to the rescue to their clanmates and Ill'haress just in time.
    • The collapse and its after effects ruined the good will that had been building among the clans, setting the stage for the distrust and indifference that would later show itself in the Nidraa'chal War.
    • The collapse also took many of Chel's most creative and progressive thinkers with it, and set back the colonization effort for many years.
  • The raccoon in Dubious Company has a tendency to cause these by scaring Elly with a glomp.
  • During the Hivebent arc of Homestuck, Equius makes an e%ample of a robot. It starts here, and goes from there for several pages.
  • Teh Gladiators features Vallant, master of the Pinball Projectile, the epitome of Accidental Aiming Skills. When he gets to Booty Bay and is asked to "commemorate" the launch of a new ship, well... see for yourself.
  • Lovely People: The social credit system has the scores of friends and family affect each other to encourage people to keep those around them from comitting score-lowering acts. In practice, it also means that people can have have their score lowered by someone whith who they have no official relationship via having a mutual connection. The story includes no less than three instances of a high-score person ending things with a friend because the friend has a family member with a tanked score that they chose to go down with rather than cut off. The mutual aspect of score also means that the low-score side of the friendship loses extra points from getting cut off buy the high-score side.
  • Roger from The Whiteboard is waiting while the drone combat software compiles, so he decides to register a car on the DMV website. He gets his notes mixed up and enters the drone activation code in the "VIN" field on the website. Now, that activation code isn't something you want out in public, so he decides it's faster to hack the DMV database than to change the drone codes. Mistakes continue to be made, and at various points he winds up sending coded gibberish on a secure line to the Pentagon, sending the car VIN to the FDA, and starting the drone arming sequence while covering up the DMV hacking. End result of the typo: the destruction of a platoon of combat drones and a large section of Doc's lab. Roger blames the whole thing on a Windows 10 update.

    Web Original 
  • Captain Disillusion manages one at the end of the episode "Miss Ping Debunk", where he bats a ping-pong ball off screen that sets off a largely-unseen chain of catastrophes that within a few seconds causes the entire set to collapse on top of him.
  • Dream SMP:
    • According to Quackity, George sleeping through the L'Manburgian Election caused Quackity to ally himself with Jschlatt, which then caused the train of events that led to the L'Manburg Civil War arc, and arguably every much more serious arc that has happened as a result.
    • In addition, Ponk pranking Sapnap and messing with his house early in the SMP caused Sapnap to burn down Ponk's lemon tree in retaliation, which then caused a Cycle of Revenge that dragged Tommy and Tubbo, who had just joined the server, into the mess, which ultimately cultivated into a series of skirmishes that led to Dream stealing Tommy's music discs Cat and Mellohi, kicking off the Disc Saga which spanned over six months overall and shaped Dream and Tommy's interactions and relationship with each other for the rest of the SMP.
  • It's not uncommon for something to go completely wrong that causes a lot of explosions in Achievement Hunter's Lets Play Grand Theft Auto Series and, nine times out of ten, it's usually Gavin's fault.
  • This fanmade sketch animation from Touhou Project starts out with Remilia throwing her Gungnir into the distance, triggering a chain of events that eventually wrecks, in order: Reimu's shrine; the Moriya shrine; the Human Village; and finally Byakuren's shrine, with some collateral casualties like Eirin's Clinic and Yuuka's garden; before Byakuren herself throws Hisoutensoku's arm back at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, right in Remilia's face.
  • Serina: Two young outcast bluetailed chatterravens, one an albino named Whitecrown and the other a sophont named Brighteye, flee a hostile takeover of their clan. One thing leads to another, eventually resulting in a mass extinction caused by runaway global warming, which in turn extends Serina's habitable period by tens of millions more years.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Invoked at the beginning of the episode "The Butterfly". Miss Simian tries to demonstrate the butterfly effect by throwing a piece of chalk in the air. It bounces against the ceiling fan, then it hits the chalkboard and bounces off again, then it sends the chalk eraser flying, then the eraser hits Miss Simian's cup, which sends coffee flying to Bobert, then he gets electrocuted. A piece of nut from Bobert is sent flying in the air and it hits the window, which falls on Tobias.
    • In the same episode, Gumball and Darwin set a butterfly free and it leads to a chain of events, causing lots of havoc in Elmore. At one point in the episode, the citizens of Elmore knock each other off like domino pieces - including Hector the giant. He falls over Sussie's father, who gets inside his nose.
    • Invoked again in the episode "The Downer": Gumball can't find anyone in his house and tries to see if he can get their attention by knocking a lamp over, causing it to knock over the TV, which then knocks over a bookshelf, but a rubber ball and a vase fall off the shelf, the vase bounces off the ball and back on the shelf, straightening it and the TV and knocking the lamp against his head.
  • Amphibia: In "A Caravan Named Desire", Anne recalls starring in a dental hygiene-themed play as a child, where she knocked over a toothbrush prop that somehow resulted in the stage lights falling and the stage catching fire.
    Anne: Four out of five dentists agree, I was traumatized.
  • Played seriously in an episode of The Batman, where the simple theft of a watch escalates into a tumult of destruction that lands the thief in prison for seventeen years.
  • A set of disaster dominoes creates the Clock King in Batman: The Animated Series. Fugate fears he'll be ruined if he loses his legal hearing. When he breaks his schedule and dares to relax, he gets hit by a ball some children were playing with, a Dramatic Wind blows up the papers he needs for his hearing, and a playful dog accidentally gets him to fall into a park fountain. While he's physically unscathed by it all, he still ends up late to court and loses.
    • This is the entire plot of Harley's Holiday in a nutshell. Having been released from Arkham as rehabilitised, Harley goes to a clothes shop to get some new threads. Unfortunately, being used to doing things the criminal way, although she pays for her new dress, she does so by whipping out enough cash for it, leaving it on the counter, and then taking off with the dress... which still has an anti-theft security tag attached. Naturally, it sets off an alarm at the door and Harley panics. A security guard approaches, intending to just remove the clip after having been told by the cashier what's happening, but Harley thinks he's refusing to accept that she paid and taking the dress back. She attacks him, runs off into the changing room, and redons her Villainous Harlequin costume. In her attempt to flee the shop, she accidentally kidnaps Veronica Vreeland. This gets her on the list of Harvey Bullock. She goes to see a mobster for help, but when he wants to ransom off Veronica, she picks a fight. Then Veronica's Papa Wolf Four-Star Badass father shows up, in a tank, and starts blasting her in the middle of the street. If Batman hadn't spent the whole day chasing her to try and stop things, she could have gotten killed.
  • In Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas, when George and the Man with the Yellow Hat are selecting a Christmas tree, George climbing atop one of the trees causes the whole yard to collapse. The assistant at the yard quickly realizes that wasn't the correct way to set it up.
  • The Dexter's Laboratory episode "Ice Cream Scream" had this happen to an ice cream man: Dexter paid him for a very expensive ice cream with a heavy jar of pennies, which he dropped when trying to put it in the safe, leading to him being unable to account with the daily income, causing him to lose his job, his car, his apartment, and his girlfriend, and live under a bridge. Plus he chipped a tooth. It's his Disproportionate Retribution to Dexter as he refuses to stop to give ice cream to him.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: This is how Ed manages to destroy the Eds' cardboard city in "Urban Ed".
    Ed: Dominoes! Let's do it again!
  • Fillmore!: the ruination of the train convention in "Next Stop: Armageddon".
  • Played with in a Time Travel-"Groundhog Day" Loop episode of Jacob Two-Two. Jacob broke his brother's priceless record and every attempt to save it makes the situation worse. He puts it down to keep it from falling out of its case and his brother sits on it, he doesn't put it down and it falls out, rolls away and his brother trips on a skateboard and suffers a broken arm, he warns his brother about the skateboard and gets him in a full body cast instead, one more reset and their entire house ends up completely demolished. And the record ends up broken in all cases.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Invoked by Stumpy when he tries to put himself in danger on the first season finale. He throws a pebble and says that with his luck, anything is dangerous. Sure enough, the pebble sets off a chain reaction resulting in a boulder almost falling on Stumpy's head.
    • Happens again in Episode 92, where Quack Quack drops a yogurt container which rolls into a tree, causing an apple to fall... this continues for about half the episode before it eventually launches a barrage of sharp weapons at Kaeloo, Stumpy and Mr. Cat, almost killing them.
  • A staple of Milo Murphy's Law. The first episode, in particular, revolves around a single, continuous, episode-long chain of one disaster causing another.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Mayura/Nathalie becomes fatally ill from using the Peacock Miraculous, which she did to save Hawk Moth/Gabriel in his fight with the heroes, which he's doing to get the power to save his wife Emilie, who also became fatally ill from using the Peacock Miraculous.
    • This is how the Bad Future in "Cat Blanc" happens. It starts when Marinette decides to deliver her gift to Adrien by sneaking into his bedroom as Ladybug. Adrien catches Ladybug leaving and after seeing who the gift is from, realizes that Marinette is Ladybug, so he starts dating her. But then Gabriel blackmails Marinette into breaking up with him, which leads to her almost getting akumatized (which is what Gabriel wanted), only for Adrien to transform into Cat Noir and save her, revealing his identity to her and Nathalie in the process. Nathalie then informs Gabriel, and eventually when confronted in his lair as Hawk Moth by the two heroes, he reveals his identity and motivation to save Emilie and asks Adrien/Cat Noir to join him. This makes Cat so conflicted over being a hero and wanting his mother back that it allows Hawk Moth to akumatize him, turning him into the titular antagonist whose power destroys everything and everyone around him.
  • Seen in a few episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "Winter Wrap-Up", Twilight Sparkle's attempt to use magic to help clear the snow from the farmlands literally snowballs out of control, causing a small avalanche that covers the fields again.
    • At the start of "Stare Master", Sweetie Belle's attempt to help Rarity by retrieving some ribbon leads to this, creating a huge mess in Rarity's shop.
    • The climax of "The Best Night Ever". Applejack makes a fancy layer cake to impress the upper-class ponies at the Grand Galloping Gala, and carts it into the ballroom. Pinkie, who's trying to liven things up, does a stage dive onto the dessert cart, sending the cake flying towards Rarity and Prince Blueblood. Blueblood hides behind Rarity, who decides that getting Covered in Gunge is the last straw and chews Blueblood out for being so self-centered all night, splattering cake on him in the process. Blueblood backs into a pedestal, causing a statue to fall towards the partygoers. Rainbow Dash decides this is her chance to save the day and impress the Wonderbolts, and manages to catch the statue, only to end up knocking over a row of columns. Just when Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle stumble upon the tableau produced and Twilight thinks things can't possibly get any worse, an angry Fluttershy chases a horde of panicked animals into the ballroom, causing complete pandemonium.
    • Near the beginning of "Princess Spike", Spike the dragon is put in charge of making sure Twilight's mid-day nap doesn't get interrupted. So he gets rid of several potential noise sources before they can wake Twilight: he asks some polo players to move their game elsewhere, then asks worker ponies to delay some crucial maintenance (first repairing a water main, then trimming some top-heavy dragon-sneeze trees). At the episode's climax, an errant ball from the relocated polo game hits one of the trees, making it fall onto the water main and burst the pipe. The water completely floods the Canterlot convention hall—and the dragon-sneeze flowers carried by the flood make Spike sneeze fire on an important statue, destroying it.
  • Nickelodeon Shorts and Interstitials: In "The Non-Adventures of Safety Queen", Safety Queen would try to warn off kids from doing some moderately risky activity (like pulling off a loose band-aid, jumping off the high dive at the public pool, or getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night) on the grounds that it could cause a chain of implausible disasters. While she was busy explaining, however, the kid would just go through with the act without any difficulty.
  • The stories of Pat and Mat have a tendency to go this way, usually as a result of causing disasters of ever-increasing magnitude to cover up their tracks. They often start from a minor everyday annoyance, like a stain on the wall
  • Happened once to Blossom in The Powerpuff Girls. The weird thing is that she could fly away when she tripped the first time, but she was carrying the Idiot Ball that day.
  • The Rainbow Magic Direct to Video movie, Return to Rainspell Island, has this happen to the villains in the movie's prologue. The goblins crash into Jack Frost several times, ruining his dramatic entrance and eventually getting themselves trapped in their own net.
  • Robot Chicken:
    • Mocked in a skit that's a Crossover between Final Destination and Archie. In a mirror of Mrs. Lewton's aforementioned death scene, Mrs. Grundy is killed after an overly elaborate series of gags practically ripped from the Mouse Trap board game (eventually) results in a somehow previously-unnoticed car suspended above her head dropping on her.
    • In a skit parodying If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, giving a mouse a cookie makes him want milk, which makes him develop a taste for human blood, which turns him into a vampire, which results in him turning an entire neighborhood into vampires, which causes the National Guard to be called out and get eaten by the vampires, prompting the President to call in a nuclear strike and reducing America to a blighted atomic wasteland, which causes all the other nations of the world to start shooting off nukes until the planet is destroyed in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Or at least that's what would have happened, if Mommy hadn't killed Daddy because she caught him giving a mouse a least that's what she tells her son.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Half-Decent Proposal", Homer and Lenny are working on an oil rig and decide to celebrate by raising their safety goggles to the sky. The sun's refraction shines through them and sets a nearby ant on fire, which then jumps into its mound and sets the rest of the colony on fire, then they decide to cool off by jumping into an oil puddle, igniting it.
    • In "How The Test Was Won", during Marge's book club meeting Helen Lovejoy's hair catches on fire for getting too close to some candles, which causes her to panic and run, slipping on Bart's skateboard in the process and causing her high heels to fly across the room and stab Cookie Kwan in the eyes, which causes Cookie to fall back into a statue holding an axe, which flies directly into Agnes Skinner's back, with the three women dying as a result. This causes Marge to freak out... and then she proceeds to make out with Lindsey Naegle. It is quickly revealed that it all took place in Homer's imagination.
    • In the "Treehouse Of Horror V" segment "Time And Punishment", Homer is traveling through time and already accidentally gone through two Butterfly of Doom crises which dramatically altered the present. On one trip to the past, he sneezes in the face of a T-rex, and this sets off the chain reaction of dinosaurs getting sick and dying en masse.
  • The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol : The Smurf of Christmas Present shows that, if Grouchy doesn't show up to do his part at decorating the Christmas tree, Clumsy will volunteer, leading into this.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Missing Identity", SpongeBob ends up experiencing a "horrific incident of terror", starting when he wakes up while simultaneously throwing the blanket over his head. The blanket falls down over his head, blinding him, causing him to fall off the bed and the alarm clock falls on his head. He blindly stumbles out the door and tumbles downstairs, where the alarm clock blasts him through the air, smacking into the window, sliding down and over to Gary, where he feeds him. It ends when he takes a small taste of Gary's SnailPo, which he finds extremely disgusting.
  • In the third and final season of Transformers: Prime, one bad decision Starscream makes ends up costing the Decepticons the war. Starscream has Knock Out inject CYLUS with a mix of Synthetic and Dark Energon, turning him into an Energon sucking Terrocon that proceeds to infect half of the crew and frees Airachnid, who proceeds to take control of the Insecticon legions, forcing Soundwave to send them to one of Cybertron's moons. Realizing that the Autobots have gained an enormous advantaged thanks to Starscream's stupidity, Megatron orders Project Predacon to be sped up. This gets scrapped when Predaking reveals his sentience, which in turn leads to Synthetic Energon and CNA combing to merge cybermatter, which leads to Megatron rebuilding the Omega Lock, Ratchet telling Predaking about Megatron's treachery, and the Autobots storming the Nemesis, killing Megatron, and restoring Cybertron.
  • The Venture Bros.: The Monarch needs to create a diversion at the Venture yard sale (so he can sneak inside and use the bathroom). The place is full of super-scientists and archvillains, so one well-placed flying projectile starts a fight that becomes an all-out riot in seconds.
  • Wander over Yonder: In "The Good Deed", Wander and Sylvia find that every one of their attempts to do good backfires somehow and causes trouble for someone else.
  • In the What A Cartoon! Show short "Larry and Steve", Larry's car gets cut in half, and the one with Steve in it crashes first through a house, then through a barn full of chickens, and when Steve sees the car headed towards a big pile of explosives lying (in)conveniently in the middle of the road, he briefly stops screaming to say, "Waaait a minute, isn't this a bit contrived?"
  • The Wild Thornberrys: The plot of the Season 1 episode "Eliza-cology" centers around this: While in the Galápagos Islands, Eliza sees a woodpecker finch using a cactus spine that turns out to be too short to effectively harvest food, so she gives him a sewing needle, which is longer; she believes she's doing the right thing to help an animal survive. However, other finches come flocking to her for needles, as well. She complies, and then sets off a bigger calamity. It's not until the Wham Line that she realizes that if the finches eat all the larvae, there will be no flies to feed the next animal up in the trophic scale, then the next animal's numbers plummet and negatively impact larger predators, so the food chain falls apart.

Ouch. Bad day all around.


Garfield (2004)

Garfield ends up destroying Jon's house after he hits his ball in a fit of rage.

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