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Elevator Snare

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The Chase inevitably leads into a multi-story building. The chase-ee ducks into an elevator, and the chaser arrives Just in Time for the doors to close in on his or her face. As their quarry rides up to the top in relative comfort, the pursuer is forced to wait for the next elevator or, more likely, take the stairs. Regardless of which route they take, it's still somehow possible for the chaser to arrive at the same floor just seconds after their quarry (It isn't that hard to climb stairs faster than the typical elevator ascends, though if the building is tall enough, stamina will become an issue eventually - elevators don't tire). This can also be used in a race against time.


Can lead to an Empty Elevator moment when the pursuer sets up an ambush at the assumed exit point... and then the doors open to an empty carriage.

Compare to Elevator Escape which draws all its suspense potential from the moment the pursuer heads for the closing elevator door and is eventually blocked off. If he actually manages to get in, expect an Elevator Action Sequence to unfold.


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  • In Phantom Quest Corp., Karino manages to keep up with the hospital's elevator by running up the stairs for at least four floors.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In Adventures in Babysitting a girl is being chased by two car thieves because she has information that they needed for their next job, she ducks into the elevator, and the door closes on the thieves, forcing them to wait for the elevator to come back down, later the babysitter and her friends take the elevator and retrieve her...
  • Justified in Schwarzenegger's film Commando when he jumps on top of the elevator car the chase-ee is taking.
  • In Entrapment, when Gin and Mac are fleeing from their theft on the 86th floor, they descend in the elevator. When the security chief realises this, he orders the elevator to be shut down. However, they escape by forcing the doors open.
    Security chief: All right Mr Kruz, your friends are rats in a trap.
  • In The Grudge, Susan flees Kayako into an elevator and appears to be safe. That is until Toshio is seen on the passing floor, and the next, and the next, and so on and so forth... getting closer with each passing floor.
  • In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), Victoria and the agents race back to the plaza hotel to preserve their cover stories, Solo and Kuryakin run up a lengthy flight of stairs. Victoria simply takes the elevator.
  • Happens twice at the end of Midnight Madness:
    • Adam gets into one express elevator and it closes just before Harold can get there, forcing harold to take the other one...
    • Again, Adam gets to the elevator to the guest rooms before Harold can get there, and Harold takes the stairs, but not before he shuts off all the elevators.
  • Played straight in The Rock. Sean Connery takes a lift down six or seven storeys, Nicholas Cage takes the stairs. Resulting increase in lead = 0.
  • The Second Elevator variant is used in True Lies.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Intervention", Spike forces open the doors to the elevator shaft and drops onto a descending elevator to escape Glory's minions. However they're able to get to the ground floor to cut him off by the time the slow-moving elevator gets there, as they're going down the stairs.
  • In an episode of Due South, a man Fraser and Ray Kowalski are chasing who is Ray Vecchio, still undercoverdodges into an elevator. Ray tosses Fraser his cell phone, and while Fraser races up the stairs, Ray calls from a payphone to tell him which floor the elevator stops on.

    Video Games 
  • In Mirror's Edge, this happens while you're chasing Jacknife, resulting in you having to take the other elevator.
    • Happens to your opponents a couple of times, too, with Faith getting the elevator closed just as a hail of bullets strike the doors.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • In William Shatner's Get a Life, he mentions one time Nimoy got recognized entering a hotel where a con was. He and the organizers barely made it to the elevator in time, but they heard their pursuers running up the stairs in the adjacent shaft. They made it most of the way to the stage before the fans arrived.