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Failed Dramatic Exit

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The meeting ended with Trotsky being ordered to make a public statement admitting and apologizing for crimes against the workers' state. Trotsky jumped from his seat and tried to slam the door of the throne room at the Kremlin. The hall door is massive, Trotsky pulled it with all his strength, but it was dead slow to open. In his fury, he did not notice and made repeated attempts to bang it shut. Thus instead of witnessing a dramatic gesture indicating a historic breach, we watched a sorry figure struggling with a door.
Boris Bajanov, personal secretary to Josef Stalin and witness to Leon Trotsky's expulsion from the Soviet Central Committee.

Bob and Alice are arguing, screaming at each other at the top of their lungs. Finally, Bob says something that really ticks Alice off. "I'm outta here!" She yells. She leaves, slamming the door shut behind her. Two seconds later she returns...because she forgot her coat. She leaves again, slamming the door behind her again. She returns again... She forgot her keys...

Generally a comedy trope, Failed Dramatic Exit is when a character's dramatic exit is foiled by them returning for whatever reason. Subtrope of Failed Attempt at Drama. Supertrope of House Amnesia, as when the character leaves dramatically but returns when they realize that they're at their own house. Compare also to The Exit Is That Way in which a character storms off but is then told that they are going in the wrong direction.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In an early chapter of Fairy Tail, Loke talks to Lucy but freaks out when he finds out that she is a Celestial Spirit mage. He runs off in fear, but soon, he comes running back with an equally fearful expression because Erza has returned.

  • In an early episode of Pokémon, a gym leader asks Ash for help attacking a rival gym. Ash refuses, tells the guy off, turns around and slips on some ketchup and falls on his face. The two gyms were more interested in money than anything else, so Ash wanted to break the stalemate and shut them both down after said ketchup trip.
    Ash: (in his head) That was dramatic... (slips on ketchup, falls face-down; out loud) That was pathetic!
  • Food Wars! doesn't like to let its characters take themselves too seriously, so whenever someone tries acting too dramatic it tends to backfire immediately.
    • During the training camp, Alice wanders over to Souma's area to check out what he's doing before taunting him and then exiting with flair. She promptly walks right into her assistant standing behind her, ruining the moment completely.
    • Earlier in the arc Souma is competing against Takumi, a student with the same work experience as himself. After their match ends in a draw, Takumi acts like a shounen manga rival and walks away saying they'll meet again one day to conclude their match. Five minutes later they're seated together on the bus while Takumi looks absolutely mortified.
    • Even Soma gets into it, after doing a dramatic Takumi-esque rivalry speech to Akira, his attempt to leave is stopped by Jun throwing the door open and jabbing him in the stomach.
  • In an episode of Hayate the Combat Butler: Can't Take My Eyes Off You Nagi follows Hayate along on a shopping trip, stomps off in a huff after he refuses to buy her the item she wanted, then has to immediately come back when she realizes she doesn't know how to get back home.
  • In KonoSuba, after Kazuma gets a katana he tries to act cool and exit the store dramatically, only to botch it, because he bumps it into a nearby sword rack and causes a mess. After apologizing, he opens the door dramatically, only for the sword to get stuck in the doorway because it's too long.
  • Yakitate!! Japan: During the semi-final round of the Monaco Cup arc, the Japan team decided to go off for a special training. As Kuroyanagi dramatically narrates their departure, the three returned to ask where they can find some special ingredients. After telling them that such ingredients can be obtained in the palace, Kuroyanagi tried to restart his narration, only for the team to come back again to ask where the palace is.

  • Demetri Martin quipped in a special that it is quite difficult to be manly or punctuate a conversation if when you're struggling to open or close particularly heavy doors.
  • Mitch Hedberg joked about getting in an argument with his girlfriend on a camping trip and it is difficult to zip the tent behind you angrily.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Peanuts comic strip, it shows Lucy threatening to make a dramatic exit, saying she's going to run away, and join a roller derby. But as Linus points out, she'll find that rather difficult to do... with ICE skates.

    Fan Works 
  • When Grunkle Stan tries to warn Sam and Dean away from getting involved in Belial, he concludes with dramatically leaving the diner. The effect is promptly ruined because in doing so, he left behind Ford and Mabel, who have to follow him out in a far less dramatic (and more lampshady) way.
  • In Bird in a Storm, Laurel and Helena get into a brief fight. Oliver later chastises Laurel for it, worried over what could have happened. Laurel snaps "There's no point to wondering what could have been, Ollie! Believe me, I've tried!" and marches away from him. Except she hurt her leg, so she can only limp away.
  • In the second book of Child of the Storm, Harry Dresden is strangling Lukin with a magic energy whip. He kicks him away and, with a parting shot of "He's all yours, boys!" strides off through a portal. That's the idea, anyway. Since Lukin is wearing a rip-off Iron Man armor, reality ensued and he ends up limping off instead, having stubbed his toe.

    Films — Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Forgotten Friendship, Trixie tries yet another Smoke Out by calling "Behold! The Magician's Exit!" ... Only to be foiled by the yearbook office's door and its Plot-Sensitive Latch, which had managed to close behind Trixie and lock itself while she was talking. Sunset Shimmer has to open the door for her, and Trixie leaves in a huff.
  • In Pinocchio, after he and Lampwick argue in the pool hall, Jiminy angrily tries to stomp away but falls into one of the holes on the table instead. When he finally leaves the room proper, his clothes are disheveled and twisted up from his previous fall.
  • In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, after being told to go wash, Grumpy crossly storms out on the Princess... and walks straight into a door.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Campaign, after Marty announces he will run against Cam, he makes a dramatic exit out of the room, the music swells,... and he can't get the door open. This becomes a bit of a Running Gag.
  • Here's what happens to Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady trying to end an argument by delivering a dramatic speech and then storming out of the room:
    Henry Higgins: Damn Mrs. Pearce; and damn the coffee; and damn you; and damn my own folly in having lavished MY hard-earned knowledge and the treasure of my regard and intimacy on a heartless guttersnipe! (in exiting, he crashes into a phonograph, which starts emitting silly bleating vowel sounds he had recorded earlier).
  • In The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, After telling off Ollie in the diner, Luther heatedly heads for the door and tells the cashier, "Put it (his lunch) on my tab." The cashier replies, "You don't have a tab.", so Luther has to stop and pay his bill before storming out.
  • In Into the Woods, after sharing a passionate kiss with Rapunzel, the Prince attempts to heroically leap out her window and swing away using her hair. Unfortunately, he ends up swinging into the wall.
    Rapunzel's Prince: Bad idea!
  • In It's a Wonderful Life, this happens when George Bailey grumps out of the room, then returns muttering "I forgot my hat."
  • Joker (2019): Arthur is approached by two police detectives while he waits outside a hospital, and they question him about some suspicious reports given by his former employer. Arthur casually tells them off and flicks his cigarette away before trying to walk inside, but slams into the glass door. As it's an exit door, he stands there waving his hands for a moment trying to get the motion sensor to activate, but has to wait for another person to walk through as one of the detectives tells him it's exit only.
  • In Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, one enemy ninja attempts a Smoke Out by throwing a smoke bomb in an open field, but the smoke quickly blows away, causing him to stare down at it dejectedly for a Beat. It does, however, revive some Mooks for The Chosen One to beat up again.
  • During the climax of Mirror, Mirror, a monster begins to hunt Snow White. She turns to the Prince and the dwarves.
    Snow: "Gentlemen, I can think of no greater group of warriors to lead into battle than those who stand before me right now."
    • She then adds, "But this is my fight," and locks them in their own house. The Dwarves manage to find a spare key, and the Prince announces that it's been a long time coming, but he's finally found something worth fighting for. The Dwarves cheer, and the Prince... locks the door behind him and rushes off, leaving the Dwarves trapped in their own house. For the second time.
  • Set It Up:
    • Harper tearfully tries to walk out on Charlie in a jewelry store, only for the alarm to go off because she's still wearing a ring.
    • Charlie breaks up with his girlfriend in a restaurant and slams a bill down on the table telling her to order whatever she wants, only to go back the next second and retrieve the money.
  • In Spider-Man 3, there's a running gag of Peter's crummy apartment and its broken door that won't open properly; in one instance it foils Mary Jane's dramatic exit after she and Peter have a fight.
  • In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor gives a stirring speech to Valkyrie and tosses an exercise ball at a window so he can break it and dramatically leap out. The ball instead bounces back and knocks Thor right on his ass, forcing him to just jump through the cracked window.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Dick: Fine! We can tell when we're not wanted!
    (he storms out of the room, but the rest of the family doesn't move; after a beat, Dick runs back in)
    Dick: We're not wanted.
    Harry: Oh!
    (the rest of the family follows Dick out of the room)
  • On 30 Rock, Josh attempts to overturn the table and storm out angrily. Unfortunately, he can't lift the table, leaving the others staring at him.
    Liz: Well, help him, nerds! And lift with your legs!
  • During one season of American Idol, one of the doors in the double-door exit from the audition room was locked. There was a hilarious montage of auditioners, jubilant after being accepted or angrily stomping away from rejection, trying to burst through the wrong door and Simon having to correct them. (One auditioner actually managed to shove his way through the locked door, to the amazement of the judges.)
  • Angel. Our hero saves Damsel in Distress Fred from being executed by demons, but then has to leave to help his friends who have been captured. Fred, who's become quite smitten with Angel, sadly watches him depart, then sits in her Corner of Woe until Angel pops back in.
    Angel: I... don't actually know how to get there.
    Fred: Oh. (gets up eagerly) I can show you.
  • Batwoman (2019). In the pilot episode, Kate Kane does a dramatic rescue of her former love interest, goes to exit in a swirl of a batcape only to find the door is locked. She releases the latch with an abashed smile.
  • Occurs in Black Books when Fran yells at Bernard about how his grumpy, misanthropic behaviour drove Manny off, says she doesn't want to see him for a while, and storms out of the shop. She immediately returns, having forgotten her purse, and storms off again.
  • In Boy Meets World Cory attempts the dramatic exit but ends up going through the wrong door and into a closet. He saves it by saying "And I'm taking back my sweater!"
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Jake angrily interrogates a suspect until he gets all the information he needs, including a computer password ("dougandkateforever") for an incriminating website.
    Jake: See, was that so hard? You did the right thing. Now get this piece of trash out of my sight!
    (Jake starts to stomp out, then has to turn around.)
    Jake: Oh, is 'forever' spelled out, or is the number four?
    Suspect: It's spelled out.
    Jake: Okay, thank you so much. Now get this piece of trash out of my sight!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • A variation in Doppelgangland: Willow storms off after an argument with Buffy and Xander; but Buffy goes after her.
      Willow: [gently] Buff, I'm storming off. It doesn't really work if you come with me.
    • In the episode "Gone", the Trio attempt to make a dramatic escape from Buffy under the cover of a smoke bomb, but they can't get the door open in time, and the smoke clears to reveal them still fiddling with it before they finally manage to get out. It happens again in "Seeing Red" — after Buffy has defeated Warren and Andrew, the former escapes using a Jet Pack. Andrew reveals that he has a jet pack as well and tells Buffy that it's not over, and they will meet again...before jetting into an overhanging roof and knocking himself unconscious.
  • Community has a few examples.
    • In the Bottle Episode, Britta tries to leave the study room, but quickly returns after being insulted. Later in the episode, Shirley gets a straighter example. She tells everyone to burn in hell and tries to leave, but no one allows her to until they find Annie's pen.
    • In a later episode the group is arguing in the study room all night. Finally, Jeff basically says "Screw you guys, I'm going home!" and then leaves the room. A second later he swivels around and heads back into the room because they now have class in fifteen minutes.
  • Drake & Josh:
    • When they have an argument and Josh trips on his way out of the room. "I may have tripped, but that does not diminish the impact of this exit!"
    • The scene is referenced again in a later episode when a crappy TV show is made about Drake and Josh Expies Drew and Jerry. Drake and Josh watch a scene of the Drew and Jerry Show, and in it, the Jerry character says "I may have stumbled, but that does not lessen the significance of this departure!" This prompts Josh to wonder why they made Jerry such a dork, only to realise the reason and hang his head in shame.
  • Happens twice in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where Ray accidentally humiliated one of kids' friend's dad to his child. Ray tries to correct his mistake, but the guy says to just forget it. They leave Ray's house but have to return because the child forgot his retainer. Ray's attempts to apologize then snowball into a situation in which the whole Barone family describes times they have said and done incredibly dumb and/or said offensive things to people. Things just grow more and more awkward before the man and his kid leave again. Ray then notes that the man forgot his keys...
    • The episode tag has Amy entering the room saying that the man asked for her to get the keys he's left.
  • Fawlty Towers: In Waldorf Salad, Basil storms out of the hotel after a lengthy The Reason You Suck rant at the guests. Outside it is pouring with rain, and he very soon comes back in, smiling genially.
  • Frasier: Almost to the point of being a Running Gag.
    • When Frasier tells Roz that Bulldog only wants her to produce his show to get her into bed. Her sprained ankle and crutches cause her dramatic exit to be painfully slow, and it only gets worse when she reaches the door, tells him that she is out of his life for good, and realizes she has to turn back and get her purse.
    • Also when Frasier made a big dramatic speech to his building's board about how they're all a bunch of petty tyrants, and as he leaves, his briefcase opens and spills his papers onto the floor, forcing him to pick them up and ruining his dramatic exit.
    • Also after Daphne has an argument with Martin and Frasier about something. She tells them off and storms off to her room, but as Frasier points out to Martin, "That would have been a very dramatic exit — if only her room was down that hall." Followed by a still-angry Daphne marching back across the apartment to her room, refusing to make eye contact with them.
    • Another that occurs off-screen with Niles storming out of Maris' mansion after an argument, and his failed attempt to close the massive front doors. was that fourteenth-century Bavarian cathedral door, so I had to get two of the servants to help me slam it. But what it lacked in spontaneity, it made up for in resonance!'''!
    • Lilith tries to storm out in one episode, catching her purse in the door.
  • In the Friends episode "The One with the Jellyfish", Phoebe meets her real mother, and gets mad at her, because she never tried to contact her. She shouts "I don't ever want to see you again!", and storms out, then returns for her purse, covering her eyes with her hand.
  • The George Lopez Show:
    • In open episode, Benny gets arrested for helping with a robbery thirty years ago. Because George wouldn't say anything to exonerate her, she shouts "I never want to see you again!" as she's is carried away by police. George responds by saying "But how are you going to get bail?", so she comes back in (with the officer still holding on to her) and says "I'll see you one last time!"
    • In "George Goes to Disneyland", George calls Benny out for not taking him to Disneyland when he was a kid and sets out the door to join his family there, saying "I don't anything from you!". Seconds later, George comes in to ask her to drive him there, because Ernie's car is blocking his.
  • Rachel Berry's multiple attempts to storm out of the Glee club often fall into this, including when she was in a wheelchair and she tried to storm out, only to wheel herself into the doorframe.
  • On The Golden Girls, when Dorothy finds out her boyfriend is married, she tries to storm out of the hotel room, except...
    Dorothy: Oh God, I'm storming out into the bathroom!
  • Villainous version at the end of the Henry Danger episode "Love Muffin" happens when Gwen manages to make a deal with Captain Man and Kid Danger to let her go in exchange for not releasing their real identities. She goes into one of the tubes, but doesn't know how to make it work. The gang then troll her before she threatens once more to release their identity.
    Gwen: How do I get the tube suckage to work?
    Henry: Oh, just say 'Diamonds, Rubies, lift me tubies.'
    Gwen repeats what Henry said after which everyone laughs.
  • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, one of Barney's coworkers quits spectacularly while his boss is chewing him out during a meeting, shouts to everyone that he just made a load of money in the stock market and doesn't need this job anymore, and then gets up on the conference table yelling "Here's what I think of this stupid company!" and attempts to pee on it...but has a shy bladder and can't get the stream going. His meek "Could everyone turn away for a minute?" and everyone's polite acquiescence makes it even lamer.
  • In the iCarly episode "iSaw Him First", Carly and Sam get obsessed with Shane, a member of Freddie's A.V. club, and the obsession caused them to have an argument, but when Sam broke the straw on the camel's back by mentioning Carly wearing a support bra, Carly, fed up, leaves. Two seconds later, she comes back in because she remembers it's her apartment room, then shoves Sam out instead.
  • The King of Queens: averted and lampshaded in an episode when Carrie angrily storms out of her office and the elevator arrives as soon as she presses the button rather than leaving her standing around waiting.
    Carrie: Boy, am I glad that came fast.
    • Speaking of elevators, there's also a scene in the episode "Strike Too" where Doug and Carrie have an argument over whether or not Doug's union strike is having a negative effect on him. Doug angrily walks into the elevator behind them and press the button to go down; however, the elevator does not go down immediately. To make matters worse, when the elevator is finally about to close, another man presses the button to get in. Doug is left staring at Carrie, who is trying her best not to laugh.
  • Early in season 2 of Lucifer, Dr. Linda angrily chastises Amenadiel for pretending to be a therapist, and her friend, while trying to get information on Lucifer. The crowning moment of which is her angrily slamming the door on him, only for the door to get caught on the carpet. She still maintains the angry face while freeing the door and properly closing it.
  • In one episode of M*A*S*H, would-be superspy Col. Flagg makes a pompous speech about "moving like the wind" and tries to leave by crashing out through a window. Hawkeye saunters over, looks out the window, and reports "The wind just broke his leg."
  • One episode of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers features Baboo as the villain, and his Monster of the Week is Terror Toad. After Terror Toad is destroyed however, Baboo's makes his exit in this style.
  • Miranda (2009) is quite tall and awkward so she has a habit of tripping over or bumping into things, so when she's angry and tries to leave dramatically, she often ends up pratfalling.
  • On Seinfeld, after getting some bad customer service Elaine tells off the cashier, informs her that she'd just lost a customer, then tries to stomp out of the store, but unfortunately she tries to push the door instead of pull.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Jenice Manheim calls the trope out by name when she tries to sweep out of the holodeck and finds the door isn't there.
    Jenice: Well, so much for my dramatic exit.
    (The computer reacts to the keyword 'exit' and reveals the door.)
  • In the That '70s Show episode "The Third Wheel", Eric and Hyde both storm out of a bowling alley after a fight, then return to take off their bowling shoes.
  • An episode of Will & Grace has Jack storm out of their apartment only to have his suitcase caught on the door.
    Jack: Do you mind? I'm trying to be dramatic.

    Video Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble introduces the villain, Nack the Weasel as a special mini-boss that appears in all of the special stages. After you beat him, his usual response is to get out of there, but not without tripping over himself.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • When Arby 'n' the Chief introduces Greg the Spider, Chief's initial reaction is to slowly crawl away from him, and then get out of dodge, but not without fumbling in the process.
  • This CollegeHumor skit parodies the Stealth Hi/Bye employed by Batman. Bats tries to ninja-sneak off the roof of Gotham PD but just doesn't quite make it.
  • JonTron: As he points out during the A Talking Cat!? review, spiral staircases pretty much always cause these, because no matter how angrily you stomp off you still have to loop around in plain view of the camera before actually exiting.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!, where Stan shouts "I'm the one who made the decisions that kept this family on track for twenty years. I deserve a little respect!" and storms off into the pantry by mistake.
  • Family Guy, "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows": Brian runs into door lock problems after yelling at Pearl; after getting the door open with her help, he calmly calls back his earlier outburst: "Oh yeah, and drop dead."
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, when Bloo comes across a man in a cell phone costume, Bloo mistakes him for an imaginary friend and thus takes him with him back home to Foster's in hopes of rescuing him. All throughout the episode, the poor guy goes through a series of painful events due to Bloo's ignorance until Frankie and Mr. Herriman finally point out to Bloo of the truth, to which the man gets the hell out of dodge, and promptly fumbles over himself.
  • Gravity Falls: In "Soos and the Real Girl", Grunkle Stan dramatically leaves the Mystery Shack through the window, but is only halfway out when he slips and falls. Wendy just walks away, casually stating that she's going to get his orthopedic back pillow.
  • In the first episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Race Bannon proclaims to his partner Benton Quest that, as he looks after the boys the most, he has a better claim to the children. Dr. Quest tells Bannon to calm down, but Race pulls Benton's arm forcing him to the ground. He exclaims there's nothing that can be done to stop him and storms out. Dr. Quest is still lying on the ground when race steps back proclaiming that he forgot his keys.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, this happens in both of Trixie's appearances. In "Boast Busters", she tries to dramatically disappear in a cloud of smoke, but her smoke bomb dissipates too quickly and everyone sees her running away. At the end of "Magic Duel", she tries the same trick again, and she trips and falls on her face as she exits.
    • In "Rainbow Rocks", her human counterpart likewise fails at vanishing in a puff of smoke. Twice, in fact, and lampshaded by Pinkie both times. The second time, Trixie falls off the bleachers after being spotted. "Trixie's okay!"
  • In an episode of The Weekenders Tino and Carver have an argument which ends with Carver calling Tino a wimp. Tino replies with "Well this wimp is through being your best friend." He then goes to leave, only to trip on his own shoelace and falls into a photo booth that takes pictures of him falling. Tino then looks at the audience and claims that he is "not good at dramatic exits."

    Real Life 
  • The page quote is a statement by Boris Bazhanov, Stalin's former secretary. The Russian edition of his memoirs says it in somewhat different words, but the principle is the same - once Trotsky saw everyone was against him, he left, but his struggling attempts to slam a door too heavy to do that sort of deflated any dramatic tension he was aiming for.
  • During the filming of Chinatown, Jack Nicholson wanted to wrap filming for the day because there was a basketball game on, while Roman Polański wanted to get the scene perfect. Finally, when they got a completed take of the last scene, Nicholson intentionally messed up the set dressing that Polanski had spent half an hour arranging. Polanski responded by trying (and failing) to smash the TV in Nicholson's trailer. This sparked an argument that culminated in Nicholson tearing off his costume and storming off the set, then realizing that his trailer was attached to the set and having to slink back on in his underwear.


We're Not Wanted

The Solomons never overstay their welcome

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