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Failures on Ice

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We're slipping on the ice!
Just slipping on the ice!
For a fabulous pratfall
Just follow this advice!
Let your feet take a flip!
I've broken my hip!
We're slipping, and sliding, on the ice!
— "Slipping on the Ice", Animaniacs

Many works of fiction are set in the right place and right time for it to be cold enough to experience snow, and for lakes, ponds and the like to freeze over. There are also those stories set in and/or near ice-skating rinks. Naturally, either way, one character or another will want to try to ice-skate on such a frozen body—or not, but is peer-pressured into doing so.

Fairly straightforward, until the character takes their first step onto the ice.

Expect a lot of imbalance, flailing, failing, struggling, shaking, frustration, hilarity and inevitable crashing. It very often ends up with an Epic Fail. For more serious situations, falling on partially-frozen ice pools might lead to a Danger — Thin Ice moment.

Note that, despite the name, the character does not have to be ice skating. It happens just as often with roller-skates.

When two are involved, it can become a case of Literally Falling in Love.

Most likely averted if the story is set in snowy, ice-covered Canada, as kids there are virtually born with ice skates!

Compare Epic Fail, Jump Rope Blunders, and Frictionless Ice, as well as the Slippy-Slidey Ice World, where your Player Character is the one liable to have this trope. Contrast On Ice.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • An episode of the '90s anime adaptation of Sailor Moon centers the villain plot du jour around an ice skating rink. Perennially clumsy Usagi has a lot of difficulty skating, although she gets the hang of it very quickly when it comes time to actually doing battle on the ice (implied to be a case of Sailor Moon tapping into her past life's ice-skating abilities, which are said to have been remarkable).
  • Ranma ½: Ranma and Ryōga in the Martial Arts Figure Skating arc, prove to be almost completely incompetent as ice-skaters. So bad is Ranma that he turns himself into a girl so that he's less embarrassed... only to end up skidding into Pretty Boy Jerkass Mikado, who gives Ranma-chan her First Kiss.

  • Cardcaptor Sakura has an episode where she and her class go to a skating rink. While Sakura is good at rollerskating (she does this to school everyday) she is not good at skating on ice. The episode involves her learning how to do it, which comes in very handy given there's a Clow Card (the Freeze) on the loose in the rink...
  • A serious version of this forms a plot point for a major character in Death Parade. Onna/Chiyuki was a professional figure skater who suffered a career-ending injury when her knee shattered in a fall. The depression that ensued afterwards caused her to reevaluate her relationships and goals in life: thinking that she didn't have any other direction, she committed suicide and ended up in the purgatory-esque bar where the story takes place.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • There is a story where Jughead is trying to get his dog Hot Dog to skate with him because he refuses to skate with a girl. The instant Hot Dog gets on the ice, he starts slipping and wobbling around on the ice because he has weak ankles. It's subverted afterwards when Jughead fixes the problem by adding an extra ice skate to Hot Dog's tail, causing Hot Dog to become a skating ace, much to Jughead's chagrin.
    • In another story, Jughead is the one having trouble, and has a pillow tied to his backside for whenever he falls. Ironically, he's skating at the sight of a freestyle ice skating competition, and wins first prize when all of the other, better skaters crash into each other because they weren't paying attention.
    • One issue just showed Betty fallen on the ice as a pinup.
  • Katy Keene
  • Invoked in an issue of Spider-Man. Peter and Mary Jane are out ice skating with (whom he thought were) Peter's returned parents. Thanks to his powers, he can skate perfectly, but MJ warns him that he could accidentally tip people off to who he is, so he purposely falls over to throw them off.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot:
    • In one strip, Jason tries to rollerskate, but rolls down a hill and into a yard with a sign that says "Beware of Dog." Paige, naturally, enjoys this.
      Paige: I really need to write Gramma thanks for those roller-skates...
    • Jason is seen flailing and thrashing around on his ice skates before grabbing the wall for support. He then says that if he's that bad on the rubber mats, going on the actual ice should be interesting.
    • Jason gets hit with the short end of the stick again when Eileen invites him to go ice skating. He falls down twice.

    Fan Works 
  • The first chapter of Bring Me Back Home has a long sequence with Marinette trying ice skating and getting some instruction from Adrien, followed by Ladybug agreeing to try it at Chat Noir's suggestion (neither mention to the other that they were at the same rink earlier that day). Marinette isn't very good at it, thanks to her usual klutziness, but Ladybug at least manages a lap without falling over.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, ice-skating is used as a back-handed punishment by Quirmian Acerian teacher Mlle de Badin-Boucher. Given a gifted but misbehaving pupil to rein in, Antoinette thinks hard about what would be both exquisite punishment and a constructive learning experience for a Rimwards Howondalandian pupil. Her version of the Vimes Run for a difficult student Assassin is to take her to the local ice-skating venuenote  and to force her to learn to skate to an approved standard. The student in question, from a generally warm part of Howondaland, accepted this was meant to be Hell On Disc and admitted her native country would never be a force at the Hubland Winter Games.
  • Kedabory's Muppet Mania: One of the guest clips seen in "Muppets' Funniest Home Videos" is of Sophie Small and her uncles trying to slide on some ice without skates, and ends with them all falling down.

    Films — Animation 
  • Bambi, even though he wasn't wearing skates, had a hard time on the ice, despite the fact that other animals were skating around just fine.
  • Manny and Diego, as with the above example, weren't wearing skates in Ice Age, but struggled to stay standing whilst on a frozen lake. Meanwhile, Sid glided effortlessly around them in figure-eight shapes, all whilst carrying the baby.
  • Frozen:
    • In the teaser trailer, it seems that Sven has about as much luck on ice as Bambi. He even gets his tongue stuck to the ice at one point! Olaf the Snowlem isn't much better.
    • In the film itself, Olaf is actually pretty decent on the ice; it's Anna who proves to be the klutz, slipping constantly and having to hold on to her sister in the film's final scene.
      Anna: I don't got it! I don't got it!
  • In Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, Tigger sees Rabbit ice skating and decides to try it himself. He starts off pretty well, but soon gets into an uncontrollable spin which leads to him crashing into Rabbit. After this he decides Tiggers don't like ice skating.

    Films — Live-Action 


    Live-Action TV 
  • In the episode "Royal Command", The Goodies come up with the idea of having the Royal Family perform "Horse Riding on Ice!" for the next Royal Command Performance.
    "But they'll break every bone in their bodies!"
    Cut to Title Card: BUT THEY DID.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Swap Week", school board head Mr. Stone is forced to recuperate at his vacation cabin. Stone had injured his ankle using the pair of ice skates Mr. Conklin bought him.
  • On Happy Days the gang goes to a rollerskating rink, and Fonzie is very unsteady on his skates. He still tries to act cool though.
  • In the Sesame Street special Big Bird's Birthday, or Let Me Eat Cake BB's birthday party takes place at a roller rink. Snuffy is scared of falling down, but Big Bird coaxes him onto the rink. Oscar the Grouch is there as well - he likes watching people fall down.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Mac wins a chance to take a shot from center ice at a Flyers game, but he doesn't know how to skate. Despite that, he skates out perfectly and makes the shot. Actually, he fell as soon as he stepped onto the ice and imagined everything while unconscious.
  • A slight variation on How I Met Your Mother in which Ted stated he had taken skating lessons when Barney changes his and Robin's rehearsal dinner to a Canadian themed ice skating rink. He falls within his first loop around the rink.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: A practice session for a curling match in "Friday the 13th 1901" features this trope as George assesses his colleagues' skills. Higgins and Jackson have particular trouble on the ice.
  • In the Smallville episode "Unsafe", Clark Kent goes on a date with Alicia Baker and they go ice skating. Clark is clumsy on the ice and has to hold on to Alicia to avoid falling over. Alicia, who knows his secret, teases him about how even with all his powers he can't do this.
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch featured Chris Farley as a figure skater, repeatedly falling down, with Phil Hartman providing commentary.note 
  • In Parks and Recreation there's an episode in which Leslie's campaign crew miserably fails at putting on an event for her. April didn't pay attention when she was told that the basketball court they were renting had been used for an ice hockey game recently. Tom decided to buy super-expensive red carpet and didn't have enough money to buy all the carpet he needed. Ron neglected to get a permit for the trailer he was using to transport the materials needed to build the stage, so most of it was confiscated. Add to that only being able to get a brief snippet of their campaign song, a weird sign that only really shows one of Leslie's eyes, and a three-legged dog. It all mashes up beautifully in an iconic scene in which the whole crew slides and stumbles their way through the hockey rink, tries to literally push Leslie onto the stage, only for her to realize she lost most of her speech in the ordeal.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse: Little Richard had a lot of trouble on ice during the Christmas Episode. Pee-Wee came out and showed him how it's done but then revealed that the "Pee-Wee" he saw was, in fact, his stunt-double Hans.
  • In the Broad City episode "The Matrix," Abbi and Ilana try to rollerskate to the dog wedding, but Abbi loses control while going downhill, flies off the path, crashes into a pit, and injures her ankle so she can't climb out.

  • Happens in the song "Captain Beaky's Christmas''. Captain Beaky and his band decide to stage a pantomime on ice, only for Beaky to discover that he can't skate.

    Video Games 
  • While most video game characters can hold their own on their games' Slippy Slidey Ice Worlds, Ristar has trouble keeping on his feet.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, expect to hear a lot of yelps and shouts of distress as Link tries to keep his balance while moving across ice, especially when he's turning. And if you try going the exact opposite direction you're moving too quickly, he can fall on his face.
  • In the second SPY Fox game, the titular character needs to perform an ice skating move to get a rose for an NPC. He slides around in a weak series of movements when trying to skate on his own, and has to find a diagram of the winning move to insert into his ice skates to perform it.
  • Fallen London: Expect to raise your Wounds significantly merely moving from place to place if you've made it to the Hurlers without being prepared. Since icy temperatures are scarce in the Neath and near-impossible to find in London, you are likely to take many, many injurious tumbles if the frostbite doesn't get you first.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Bird Feeder #103, "Ice," Darryl tries unsuccessfully, all morning, to land on a branch covered in ice.
  • In Octopus Pie, Hannah prefers to slide around on her bucket. When she tries to skate normally, she manages to break her ass.

    Western Animation 
  • The Arthur episode "D.W. on Ice" has D.W. bragging that she's a great skater before an upcoming winter party; when she starts skating, she doesn't do very well. In "The Good Sport," Francine thinks figure skating is easy until Michelle Kwan pulls her into a TV and onto an ice rink, where she admits that skating is hard.
  • In the opening of A Charlie Brown Christmas all the kids are ice skating and doing fine, until Snoopy gets on the ice and grabs Linus' Security Blanket, tossing him into a billboard.
  • On the ClassicDisneyShort "On Ice", this happens to Minnie Mouse (when Mickey is teaching her to skate) and to Pluto (when Donald ties skates on his paws while he's asleep and pushes him into the ice).
  • In the opening of The Critic, Jay steps onto the skating rink at Rockefeller Center and the ice cracks, sending everyone else tumbling.
  • An episode of Dragon Tales dealt with Zak and Wheezie learning how to ice skate, so that the gang could attend the birthday party of a seal who lives in said icy area. The fact that they both share a body, and have conflicting personalities makes the learning process difficult.
  • The Ghost And Molly Mcgee: In "Ice Princess", Molly tries to pacify the ghost of disgraced figure skater Sonia Davis by offering to be her skating partner. Unfortunately, Molly has no experience with ice skating and can barely even stand up.
    Scratch: All the grace of a baby giraffe...
    Sonia: Dear, I don't know what that was, but I wouldn't call it skating.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Winter Wrap-Up", Twilight tries to help score the ice so it will melt, but is so terrible at it that she quickly loses control and crashes into Pinkie Pie and Spike, who all then end up as a pony snowman.
  • Inspector Gadget usually had as much trouble with his roller skates as he would with ice skates note .
  • Kaeloo: In Episode 105, near the beginning, Kaeloo tries to show Mr. Cat all the fun activities that one can engage in during winter. She tries to show him ice skating, but he can barely move without falling.
  • Let's Go Luna!: Leo slips on the ice rink in "You Froze My Shorts".
  • Molly of Denali: Anka ends up scrambling across a frozen pond in "Little Dog Lost."
  • This was slightly inverted in the second act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Waterboy Bogus", as while Bogus does do good in skating on the frozen pond, he suddenly loses his balance after a while and falls directly through the ice.
  • Postman Pat tries roller skates in "Pat takes a message", and ice skates in "Letters on Ice". He does well on the ice skates, but ends up diving over a fence on the roller skates.
  • Ready Jet Go!: A Running Gag on the show, usually involving Sean.
    • In "What's Up With Saturn's Rings?", Sean slips while trying to skate on Saturn's rings.
    • The kids also have trouble standing on Pluto in "From Pluto With Love".
    • Sean slips on the ice rink in "Mindy's Ice Rink".
    • In "Water, Water Everywhere", Sean has trouble skating on the South Pole, and Europa.
  • Hefty and Handy are both ice-skating failures in The Smurfs (1981) cartoon special "The Smurfic Games".
  • One episode of W.I.T.C.H.'s second season has Caleb attempt to ice skate in order to win back Cornelia's heart after events from the season's first two episodes, competing with Taranee's older brother. However, events in the episode conspire to get the two back together and the episode ends with Cornelia aiding Caleb in ice skating.


Pat and Jess

Pat isn't much of a skater, and Jess doesn't fare much better.

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