Follow TV Tropes


Dramatic High Perching

Go To
The three swords help too...

"At least the whole jumping on telephone poles thing is cool."

Supernatural, magical, or just plain awesome beings know there's no better place to be effortlessly standing on than tall objects, be they pine trees, lampposts or the nearest available tall building. This is flying for people who cannot fly. Or even the ones who can.

Less about true strategy and more about looking cool. Expect Dramatic Wind (actually, wind speed increases with altitude, so wind that seems dramatic to those on the ground is ''normal'' at high altitude). In anime and manga this has become a choice dramatic entrance for villains, introduced via a panning away of the camera from a completely every day scene, or the aftermath of a dramatic event, to reveal that said villain was watching all along, and provide a nice segue for the next part.

It also serves as a hint that the character doing it has some kind of supernatural or superhuman skills, given the obvious difficulty to climb up casually to the tall place without them.

This seems to have originated from training techniques that involved standing on bamboo; see, for example, the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Teen Titans examples. This is common in Wire Fu movies.

See also Sitting on the Roof.


    open/close all folders 

  • Mechamato: Ninjamera watches Bula and Bili walking away from Deep from his perch on the point of the playground roof, the strap on his head blowing in a breeze for good measure.

    Anime & Manga 
  • All gímik anime feature this at least once.
    • In Kiddy Grade there was Armbrust and his habit of smoking atop skyscrapers.
    • Uta∽Kata has Saya standing on clock towers, in trees, and on magic flying scythes.
    • The closing sequence of Gigantic Formula features Mana standing on a spire.
    • Kiddy GiRL-AND has Shade spending a week hanging around on a tower spying on dreams.
  • Ah! My Goddess:
    • In the original OAVs, Belldandy watched Keiichi go to work while improbably on top of a thin willowy tree. (However, Belldandy gets a pass because she's both literally and figuratively a Goddess and she can fly.)
    • Belldandy and Urd do this a couple of times in the manga too.
  • Parodied in Ayakashi Triangle: Sosuke broods about getting revenge on Matsuri while standing on a telephone pole, but is interrupted by a police officer shouting at him to get down.
  • In the Battle Royale manga, Kiriyama takes this to the extreme, standing on the edge of a splinter sticking up from a broken wooden pole. To make it more ludicrous, he stands as if he were standing on solid ground, both feet spread wide apart..despite under a square millimeter of one foot (if that) actually having support.
  • Bleach:
    • First shot of Rukia has her standing on top of a powerline pole. When the other two Shinigami first appear, they too are standing on lampposts. A preference for high places is even listed on Rukia's character sheet.
      • Rukia's zanpakutou, Sode no Shirayuki, does the same when she appears in the real world, standing on top of the tower of a nearby bridge when facing Ichigo at the beginning of the recent filler arc.
    • Vice-Captain Tetsuzaimon Iba seems to have an affinity for the high ground whenever he battles Ikkaku over who has to buy the next round of sake.
  • Happens occasionally in Buso Renkin. At one point, Papillon and and Moonface have a conversation while standing on electric posts.
  • The holy city guards that fight Claire in Claymore don't remark how incredible she is until she leaps onto a steeple.
  • Lelouch is seen in the first OP of Code Geass doing this. Given his utter lack of physical skills and his flair for the dramatic, what we didn't see was the 15 minutes he spent using his Mind-Control Eyes on an army of people to get him up there.
  • Light of Death Note visualizes himself and L doing this as imagery of their struggle against one another, using incredibly thin skyscrapers.
  • Dokkoida?! villain Edelweiss attempted this in her first appearance, but a combination of her frilly dress and high winds caused it to backfire.
  • Goku Black and Future Zamasu from Dragon Ball Super are extremely fond of doing this, as a way to literally and figuratively look down on everyone else.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Ling is shown in a number of scenes looking from a higher elevation on a city below, alluding to his grand ambitions. After Greed possess him, he also gets into the habit.
    • King Bradley also gets a brief shot standing atop Central Command in the first opening of Brotherhood, with a dramatic zoom-in to boot.
    • In addition, Kimblee does this in Ishval, standing on a high wall while blowing up Scar's entire village. Later, Scar lampshades the role reversal as he stands on top of a building before escaping from Kimblee.
  • Polylina in Galaxy Fraulein Yuna. May be a spoof of Tuxedo Kamen, since she wears a mask and holds a rose, and seems to be the main character's crush.
  • Volfogg from GaoGaiGar is a transforming Ninja giant robot who does this. And can become invisible (visually, and to most sensors), too.
  • Raitei and the Four Kings in Get Backers are often portrayed sitting or standing on large columns of rubble. Two in particular seem to enjoy it: when Ban and Shido get into a fight on a sloped rooftop, Kazuki makes sure to be standing higher along when he steps in, and honestly? Sitting on a(nother) rooftop and making cryptic remarks is really about all Masaki does until the final arc of the manga.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Togusa has a conversation with Major Kusanagi on the roof of a skyscraper. The Major is standing on the wrong side of the safety rail at the very edge of the building, at one point casually turning to face Togusa and crossing her feet, as if to show off her Nerves of Steel and the perfect balance enabled by her cyborg body. Ghost in the Shell (1995) opens with Kusanagi standing on top of a skyscraper while eavesdropping on the Net. Similar scenes in the various anime spin-offs are shown as a Call-Back.
  • Gintama:
    • Spoofed many times, though one memorable case is where an elderly lady appears on a rooftop to scold the people fighting below. Later, a character complains about how difficult it was to get her on top of the roof.
    • One of the few times it's used purely for dramatic effect is during The Movie, when Gintoki returns to the past to eliminate himself to save the future.
  • For a franchise about Humongous Mecha, Gundam has a few examples of this...
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam
      • Master Asia clearly one-upped almost everyone at this trope when he once performed it by standing on the tip of his own martial arts belt twisted into a pole shape while balancing on top of the wreckage of the Humongous Mecha that he'd just defeated with nothing but said cloth and his bare hands. He also tended to do it in the traditional manner, and at times even did so while in his Gundam, despite the fact that its weight should have caused the collapse of what he was balancing on.
      • The first opening also shows the Five-Man Band's Gundams standing on the satellites that make up the giant ringposts around the planet (though only The Hero's Shining Gundam is obvious, because naturally he's front and center).
    • Norris Packard perched his Gouf Custom on top of an already bombed out Vietnamese office block in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, to scare the protagonists and give him a psychological edge.
    • In Gundam 00 season 2, Graham Mister Bushido tops the aforementioned two, at least in altitude, by posing his Masurao on top of an asteroid.
  • Cyberdoll Sara leaps up onto a powerpole in Hand Maid May, to aid her search of the city for May. Kotaro Nanbara, being mortal and far less cool, is forced to scramble up with normal climbing.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Phantom Blood: Dio appears before Jonathan and the others on top of a large mountain peak.
    • Stone Ocean: Upon acquiring Made In Heaven, Enrico Pucci stands atop of a building as he prepares to unleash his power.
  • Kuroh Yatogami in K is fond of this. He does it twice in the first two episodes. He doesn't seem to realize it's not quite normal in modern Tokyo, though...
  • Kaitou Saint Tail does it at least Once per Episode, either when she reveals her presence or once she's secured the stolen goods.
  • Meta Knight was quite fond of this pose in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, although this is rather understandable given his short stature.
  • In Mob Psycho 100, Ritsu stands on an electrical pole and gloats to Dimple... after breaking into Kamuro's room just to humiliate him for his part in the crackdown on delinquents.
  • Elfriede in Moon Phase stands atop a cross on the roof of a church, with wind, and reflective glasses in the moonlight.
  • Lampshaded in My Bride is a Mermaid. Sarutobi is playing the role of a wise old sage, so Nagasumi wonders why he's standing on a telephone pole.
  • Used constantly by Nagi in My-HiME, with Lampshade Hanging. Nagi (who is fond of having the high ground, to say the least) appears on top of Fuuka Gakuen's clock tower in a very cool and dramatic manner and starts delivering an important message to the main characters, and Midori tells him to step down because standing that high is dangerous. Nagi also falls from his high ground a time or two.
  • Occurs constantly in Naruto, related to the ninja's ability to channel chakra into their feet. Also used in the Walk on Water combination with logs that balanced on the surface of a lake in a pivotal point during the climactic Naruto vs. Sasuke battle. Sasuke's first warning that his charming big bro Itachi has gone Ax Crazy is catching a glimpse of his blacked-out silhouette on a telephone pole, against a rising red moon, with only his crazy eyes visible. Shortly afterwards, Sasuke stumbles on the first of many, many bodies...
  • Evangeline of Negima! Magister Negi Magi perched on high objects when trying to look scary. It usually works.
  • Occurs in Nisemonogatari: Yozuru Kagenui is constantly standing atop some object or another. This includes sculptures, mailboxes, and even her humanoid familiar when nothing else is available. In fact, she refuses to stand on the ground at all. We eventually learn that the reason for this is because she and her colleague are subject to a curse, though the details are not explained. This devotion to keeping the high ground is made all the more impressive when you consider she's doing it in heels.
  • Jeanne of Phantom Thief Jeanne almost always begins her transformation sequence by jumping off a building, tower, etc. She enjoys attacking her adversaries this way as well.
  • Reiri the vampire girl stands on the steeple of a church in the opening of Princess Resurrection.
  • Tuxedo Kamen from Sailor Moon was a master of this. That was all he ever did. Haruka and Michiru were fond of standing on high pillars as well, and the Sailor Moon S opening credits put all the senshi up there.
    • The Stars anime actually parodies this: when Uranus and Neptune try the high ground trick by standing on the dining table in Usagi's house, Aluminium Siren actually remarks on how rude they are for doing so with shoes on, making them blush in embarrassment.
  • In Saint Beast, all the characters (but particularly Judas) spend time standing around on cliffs, trees, and other tall objects to add a sense of the dramatic. Zeus doesn't always have to even stand on anything when he can just float above everybody when he likes.
  • Parvati in 3×3 Eyes tend to do this a lot, usually helped by the flying familiar Fei E (Flying Maws) she can summon.
  • The heroine of Shamanic Princess and her rival can actually generate their own tall, thin objects to stand on whenever required. It's a handy backup for situations when a nice moon-silhouetted church steeple isn't available.
  • Various characters do this in Silent Möbius, including both Cheyenne sisters, Katsumi Liqueur, and Ganossa Maximillian.
  • Amelia is introduced in Slayers doing this as she confronts a bandit. She explains to Gourry later that as an "ally of justice", she is expected to make this sort of entrance. The problem is that she's still working on the dismount; every time she does a dramatic jump down to begin the battle, she crashes. One of the Slayers movies takes this even further, with two characters climbing stone precipices to hurl verbal abuse at each other (at a distance of less than fifty feet).
    • At the beginning of the third season (Try), the joke had run its course and fallen into disuse. So they brought it back and flipped it. Amelia jumps from a ridiculously tall tower and scares everybody, but this time she casts the levitate spell right before landing. The kicker? She risked her life and limb just to heal a small bump on an old woman's head.
  • Obi of Snow White with the Red Hair prefers to enter fights from the trees or buildings above his opponents. In this case part of the reason for his approach is because he'd prefer not to be seen straight away since he's usually on his own fighting multiple opponents. In at least one case he used his altitude and position in a tree above them to try and intimidate a couple of thieves into giving up since he saw they were just kids once he'd caught up.
  • Sonic does this a few times in Sonic X. There are also variations involving the nosecones of high-speed jets, and trees. He spends a lot of time very high up: balcony railings, trees and roofs are common sleeping places, tall poles and skyscrapers are vantage points, jets are a good place to dive in on the action and he also has a thing for mountains.
  • Spoofed in Soul Eater where Black*Star often does this; in one case he was so high up nobody could hear him, and the thing he was standing on broke.
  • Lunatic from Tiger & Bunny has a habit of mixing this trope with Dramatic Entrance.
  • Not supernatural, but Sumire Kanou is overly fond of this in Toradora!. In fact, in a flashback in episode 16, where she's standing on a roof speaking to Kitamura, there's a ladder present, implying she made a point of climbing up before even speaking.
  • Parodied in Urusei Yatsura with Tobimaro Mizunokuji. This Hot-Blooded youth will often try to make a dramatic entrance from a high place, except to usually have some kind of misshap happening, like him pathetically falling from his perch, or having the ladder he used to reach the high spot in the first place being removed and him staying stuck. Yet, despite all this, he doesn't learn and keeps doing it (because he's a moron).
  • The first time Himiko Se catches a glimpse of Miyu and Larva in Vampire Princess Miyu, they're sitting (Miyu) or standing up (Larva) on top of a torii gate.
  • A recurring trope in X/1999 in which almost every character gets to pose dramatically in an absurdly high place at one time or another. (Sorata even comments on this when he first meets Yuuto standing on the top of a rather tall tree.) They always seem to prefer leaping from telephone pole to telephone pole at perilously high speeds rather than take the public transportation, and they're also often seen leaping from building roof to building roof, among other tall things; it's implied that this is a power that all of the Dragons share.
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou combines this with Walking on Water. Achieved not for coolness but for a sense of serene surrealism (check out the main article on YKK for a picture)
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Flame Wingman does this after the Skyscraper card is activated, glaring down at Ancient Gear Golem from one of the taller 'scrapers, despite being quite visibly capable of flight. It does look cool, though. The same happens later in the series, just before Judai defeats another student who had stolen Yugi's deck and was imitating him. It happens again as a Call-Back when Flame Wingman faces Ancient Gear Golem again.
    • Also done in the manga of the same series, this time with young Judai's Flame Wingman attacking one of Kyou Hibiki's Elemental HEROes.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds:
      • The climax of the Dark Signer arc is a duel between Yusei, Jack and Crow against Rex Goodwin. But it's a Riding Duel, and Goodwin is the only one without a D-Wheel. He's standing on top of a temple and his three opponents are riding their D-Wheels are drive circles around him. While Goodwin's limited to using Speed Spells like his oppponents and also gets Speed Counters like his opponents, he still has no D-Wheel. When Jack and Crow crash, they don't get their turns because they aren't riding their D-Wheels (and the crashed becaused he sabotaged them with magic), yet he still is allowed to play.
      • The Three Emperors of Yliaster introduce themselves in that manner to the protagonists, looking down on them during the entire conversation.
  • Likewise various characters from YuYu Hakusho. At one point, Kurama is seen standing on the railing of a balcony in the manga. Why he just didn't stand on the balcony is a mystery; the anime corrected this, if memory serves.

    Comic Books 
  • Recent incarnations of Spider-Man have also got him doing doing this, which isn't too much of a stretch, due to his adhesive abilities and equilibrium. (His more usual trick is to hang from beneath a lamppost arch or flagpole.)
  • Used to the point where it is considered an explicit sign of otherworldly skills or powers in the now-physically published Webcomic Megatokyo. Many characters are observed walking on phone lines or on poles. It is even used by Miho (a possible Dark Magical Girl, and definitely one of the comic's most powerful beings) to convince Yuki that she is a Magical Girl by making her follow her up onto a power line without realizing it. Largo can also do it, but for Megatokyo, being good at games also counts as otherworldly skills.
  • The 10th Anniversary Edition cover for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
  • Robin (1993): If Tim Drake wants to intimidate his enemies he usually finds a high spot to glower or grin at them from before leaping to attack them, although there is the occasion where he just needs to toss some batarangs and/or gas grenades while hopping from one spot out of their reach to another.
  • Spawn likes to stand on the top of a church steeple, and sometimes on top of the cross on top of the steeple (especially in the comic).

    Fan Works 
  • A "manga-tized" Dee Dee from Dexter's Laboratory performs on top of a fence pole in this comic done by artist Tavisha Wolfgarth-Simons.
  • Seen in Dungeon Keeper Ami on a number of occasions. Once, Ami battled a horned reaper on top of a temple to the light. In another instance she appeared in a monestary to rescue one of her minions. This was accompanied by dramatic wind despite being indoors (due to her flooding the room with fog). She was even observing the altercation the whole time, via scrying (she isn't a villain, but don't tell the other heroes that). So this trope fits to a T.
  • The Sailor Moon fanfic Tacky Yellow No-Name has Kunzite try to become a good guy, and once it's clear that he can't be a Sailor Scout, he decides to try out for Tuxedo Kamen's role. Thus ensues a battle between the two, where each leaps onto higher and more improbable locations, spouting words of wisdom as they go. It quickly devolves into stuff like "Never run with scissors!" - and ends in pain when Kunzite impales his foot on a weathervane.
  • A lot of Wolfang's appearances in Kingdom Hearts New Epic The First have him on the high ground, such as perched on a tree, or standing on a table.
  • In Turning A New Leaf, the Musutafu Police Department has balconies on its rooftop specifically for heroes to make dramatic landings on.

    Films — Animation 
  • Twice in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children: first Cloud stands on a building ledge as Kadaj hangs by his fingertips, then Sephiroth poses at the top of the same building when he appears a couple minutes later.
  • Kung Fu Panda. The short Master Shifu makes sure to leap onto a suitably high rock when declaring "THEN I AM YOUR MASTER!", upon finally taking on the responsibility he'd been shirking to train Po.
  • Ghost in the Shell (1995) opens with Kusanagi standing on top of a skyscraper while eavesdropping on the Net. Similar scenes in the various anime spin-offs are shown as a Call-Back.
  • In Turning Red, when Mei is reminding her friends why they are fans of 4*Town there is a shot of her standing on a mountain top with the Boy Band members sitting below her.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • "Clockpunk and the Vitalizer" features The Vitalizer floating several stories above ground level when we first see him. Given Clockpunk's inability to do anything about it, all it really does is serve as a way for him to further taunt her.
  • In Larry Niven's short story "The Patchwork Girl", a Moon native leaps onto a spire of rock. Gil Hamilton, an Earth man, calls it "Graceful as all hell."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Dark Angel, Max frequently sits on top of the Seattle Space Needle, especially when she is brooding. Other characters, such as Ben and Logan, occasionally go up there as well.
  • Buffy first meets Angel by doing a handstand atop a streetlight, and then swinging down to ambush her stalker (slayers have superhuman strength and gymnastic skills).
  • The Mysterious Watcher in Misfits is fond of surveying things dramatically from rooftops.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Prior to losing the Green Ranger powers the first time, Tommy was fond of this, appearing atop a skyscraper to play the Dragon Dagger.


    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In the bad ending, after Amok is freed from her imprisonment and proceeds to unleash devastation on the world, she stands high above overseeing the destruction.
  • In the Sly Cooper games, one of Sly's many moves is the "Ninja Spire Jump", which allows him to stand atop tall, narrow objects. In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, Sly does battle with General Tsao, a crime boss who fancies himself a Chinese warlord, in a Boss Battle atop a bamboo grove, obviously inspired by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
  • The cover of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ shows all the major characters either sitting or standing on poles (or in the case of Goofy, clinging to one).
  • Altair of Assassin's Creed can climb most buildings, and on some of them, he can perch on a ledge to spot what is happening on the streets (thus revealing side missions). And then do an improbable somersault all the way to the ground into strategically placed hay carts. In the second game, you can then jump onto a guard (or two!) and stab them through the neck with your hidden blade(s). This is common in the entire Assassin's Creed series; the "Leap of Faith" is a signature move of the Assassins.
  • Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden fame likes doing this in the cutscenes of the Xbox remake series.
  • The Big Bad of Metal Wolf Chaos, Richard Hawk, does this on a helicopter in a Humongous Mecha at one point.
  • The Ninja from Sengoku Basara do this a lot, in particular Sasuke who can often be found standing one-legged on the top of a tree, pole, or on the roof.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo Neo does the building standing variety before doing a Ground-Shattering Landing to rescue Morpheus and Trinity during 'The Captains' rescue missions.
  • The opening movie of the Final Fantasy XIV expansion Heavensward has various Dragoons doing this as they battle dragons, perching on top of spires before or after attacking.
  • Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion: Agent 3 does this before their Boss Battle, standing atop one of the beams supporting a massive elevator platform, before jumping down on to the platform with a Ground-Shattering Landing and starting the fight. Later, the Optional Boss Inner Agent 3 appears atop an Octarian UFO before leaping onto the battlefield in a similar fashion.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: While it's used for dramatic effect a multitude of times throughout the series, it's mostly utilized by the protagonist's archrival, Shadow the Hedgehog. Particularly in his debut game Sonic Adventure 2, where his introduction in both the Hero and Dark stories has him placed physically above another character.
  • XenoGears: Grahf makes himself appear in front of Fei by standing on top of a peak at the desert.
  • Nasuverse:
    • Ciel from Tsukihime, above. Lampshaded and mocked frequently in the Oddly Named Sequel.
    • Arcueid in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover Battle Moon Wars was immensely fond of this, at one point revealing that she hadn't shown herself until then because there wasn't a cool lamppost that she could stand upon when making her entrance.
    • And in both Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, Gilgamesh makes his formal appearance in the war like this (the former on a wall, the latter on a lamppost), because even standing on the same ground as lesser heroes is an insult to him.
    • Assassin in Fate/stay night uses the stairs on Ryuudou Temple to give himself an advantage against other Servants attempting to enter.


    Web Videos 
  • Yuyu Hakusho Abridged takes Hiei's tendency to perch on tree tops, and Kuwabara's strength building exercise of punching down trees to its logical conclusion. The two then bicker over who's behavior was more ridiculous (and thus was at fault).
  • Code MENT makes fun of this trope more than once.
    Cornelia: This One character seems to be our most dangerous threat.
    Lelouch: HOW DID I GET UP HERE?!

    Western Animation 
  • In Arcane: League of Legends, Vi looks down from a utility pipe unto the Undercity below.
  • In one episode of Teen Titans, Robin fights atop a bamboo grove against an anthropomorphic monkey while journeying up a mountain to meet a martial arts master. He later perches on top of the bad guy's staff (really his, which was stolen), and then leaps off, causing the staff to smack the bad guy.

Alternative Title(s): Standing On High Ground