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Grand Staircase Entrance

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Music up as every eye goes to the head of the stairs, the portières move and Mrs. Levi steps through, handsomely gowned, red hair done up magnificently on top of her head. She descends stairs as Waiters, etc. await her first words.
Hello, Dolly!, stage direction preceding title song

Maybe she's the Girl Next Door who's just gotten a makeover, and it's time to show her family. Maybe she's the Cinderella Expy making her grand entrance at the ball. Maybe she's just finally ready for her date. So how does she ensure her entrance 'wows' everyone there?

She'll appear at the top of a wide, sweeping staircase. (Bonus points for marble banisters, fancy new carpeting, or spotlights.) She pauses a moment, either at the top or a few steps down, so everyone has a chance to take in her beauty, how nice her face is, and her elegant hair and clothes (would even involve a Pimped-Out Dress in older stories). Once noticed, she slowly and gracefully descends.

Often this will be shown visually with the camera starting at the feet and slowly panning up the figure. When wearing a dress with a long skirt, stepping down gives her a chance to show off her shoes and legs without being immodest.

Often, but not necessarily, combined with She Cleans Up Nicely.

Compare Ending by Ascending, when a character goes up a staircase dramatically.

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    Comic Books 
  • In issue 12 of Runaways (Rainbow Rowell), Nico gets a moment like this before she and Karolina head out to a charity function together.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 8 Women: The dowdy Augustine gives herself a major makeover and introduces her improved self by glamorously coming down the stairs to the living room where the other women are.
  • Loki in The Avengers shows up at a museum gala in Stuttgart, Germany, strolling down a huge marble suitcase in an impeccable suit to the soothing strains of a string quartet. Then, in time to the quartet, he whacks a guy with his staff and stabs another in the eye.
  • In Cinderella, when Ella enters the ball, everyone there is stunned and can't stop looking at her. At the end of the film, she gets another, less grand but no less important staircase entrance as she finally appears to the Prince as she normally is (rather than in an enchanted dress).
  • Jerry Lewis in Cinderfella shows up at the grand ball in a big entrance on a huge staircase.
  • In the British comedy Curtain Up (1952) a playwright has written such a scene into her play "Tarnished Gold", only for the producer to bluntly inform her they're not building such a staircase as it wouldn't fit on stage.
  • Eliza's official debut at the big fancy ball in My Fair Lady.
  • Ocean's Eleven: Tess is introduced walking down a staircase in one of the casinos on her way to meet Terry Benedict for dinner. Linus, who's been tailing Benedict to establish his daily routine, claims that watching her do this every day is the best part of his assignment.
  • Chris Cole in Rock Star: In the very beginning of the first song in his first concert with Steel Dragon, slips and falls down the stairs. Despite a nasty head wound and possible concussion, Chris rallies and finishes the song and the concert.
  • Lainey Boggs shows off her new look after her makeover in She's All That, although this is done on the stairs in her suburban home.
  • A tragic version in Sunset Boulevard, as she's breathtakingly attractive only in her own mind—"Alright, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup."
    • It's also a inversion - it's a Grand Staircase Exit.
  • Rose in Titanic (1997). Slight subversion in that she is dressed like this every night and has come down those stairs several times- it's the onlooker who is a gentleman for the evening.
  • Daphne makes several of these in What a Girl Wants. They proceed from funny, to serious, to heartbreaking as her spirit is slowly broken down and she conforms to upper class British society.
  • Played with in Death Race 2000 where the Propaganda Machine pans up a long golden staircase, atop of which is Mr President, portrayed as a loving evangelical figure.
  • Tara from Angel, Angel, Down We Go makes her debut by descending a staircase in a white dress.

  • Towards the end of Song of the Lioness, Alanna and her companions are dressed in rich clothing, showing off how good they look after their years of training, but it's Thayet who really steals the show—beautiful on a normal day, when she makes her grand entrance it's a sight to stun even the most jaded.
  • In Finder's Stone, Cat is awe-struck as Giogi descends the staircase of his townhouse in a form-fitting dress whose neckline is described as "nowhere near the neck." Of course, she is actively trying to manipulate him and secretly working for the villain.
  • In Petals on the Wind, Cathy enters her mother's Christmas party by walking down the stairs, intent on humiliating mother for her actions in the previous book—locking her four children away in an attic room.
  • The cover of the Persian translation Tales of the Black Widowers has a man in a suit walking down a wide fancy staircase.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Visually referenced in Supernatural... with a guy in a tux. Despite the guy in question being played by Jensen Ackles, he assumes he looks ridiculous. Bela, on the other hand, immediately suggests they have "angry sex" once the job is over.
  • Bridgerton: In season 1 episode 3, Daphne walks downstairs elegantly upon meeting Prince Friedrich again, drawing not only the prince's eyes and every attendants, but also Simon.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Inverted in the episode "After Life", where Buffy descends the stairs in her house and Spike is rendered dumbstruck. In this case, it's because she's been dead and buried for the past 147 days.
    • In "Halloween", Buffy convinces Shrinking Violet Willow to do the "coming down the staircase thing" to impress Xander, whom she has a crush on. Willow does...dressed as a Bedsheet Ghost, so the glamorous effect is lost.
  • Alternate Universe Jackie does this at her 39th birthday party in the Doctor Who episode "Rise of the Cybermen".
  • Fran gets a lot of mileage out of this trope in The Nanny. She makes a Grand Staircase Entrance almost every time she's formally dressed.
    • Maggie got one of her own, too.
  • Game of Thrones. Manipulative Bastard Littlefinger is visibly stunned when Sansa Stark enters this way after her Evil Costume Switch, marking her acceptance of her own manipulative persona. She smiles, fully aware of the effect she has on him.
  • This is how the audience is introduced to the now teenaged Meggie in the miniseries The Thorn Birds.
  • This was sent up by comic act Morecambe and Wise, who did a big Hollywood-style entrance with their guest, Grande Dame Penelope Keith. Only to discover the staircase set had not been completed and ended abruptly ten feet up. The orchestra stopped playing and, in full top hat and tails, they had to scramble down the supporting framework underneath the staircase, the bits TV viewers are not normally intended to see. The sight of the six-foot tall Miss Keith struggling down the scaffolding in a tight evening dress, aided by the two comics in top hat and tails, was hugely entertaining.
  • Blake's 7. In "Weapon", a Clonemaster enters the foyer this way as part of the pseudo-religious trappings they've surrounded themselves with. The effect is ruined by the actress having to look down at her feet as she does so, thanks to her Impractically Fancy Outfit.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • In season 2 episode 5, when Matt goes to Elektra's penthouse, Elektra makes her entrance into the scene coming downstairs from the penthouse's upper level wearing a red silk nightgown, which she swiftly strips off so she can slip on her vigilante gear to take down some ninjas who are after her.
    • In season 3 episode 8, Karen decides to visit Wilson Fisk in his penthouse and try to provoke him into attacking her. While she waits in Fisk's refurnished living room, the effect of coming face to face with the man responsible for all of her pain and suffering is heightened by Fisk making his entrance by descending downstairs from the upper floor of the penthouse (likely having been in the secret command center accessible via his bedroom closet).
  • Done in The Carol Burnett Show's famous skit spoofing Gone with the Wind.
  • Arrow. In the pilot episode, Oliver Queen sees his kid sister Thea for the first time in five years coming down the stairs of their Big Fancy House.
  • The Brittas Empire: In the 1994 Christmas Special set in the year 2019, a butler introduces Sir Gordon and Lady Brittas as they majestically walk arm-in-arm down a massive staircase in a Scottish castle.
  • Played with in Keeping Up Appearances. On entering their home, Hyacinth drawls "What an entrance! I can just picture their faces when they see this staircase." The staircase happens to be in a mansion, but she and Richard are going up to their tiny apartment on the attic floor, up several staircases.

  • In My Fair Lady, Eliza makes her She Cleans Up Nicely entrance on the balcony at the top of the staircase in Higgins's study.
  • Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!!, during the title song.
  • "Beautiful Girls" in Follies is used to introduce a parade of White Dwarf Starlets this way.
  • In the first act of The Addams Family, Wednesday appears at the top of the stairs just after her "normal" fiance and his parents have arrived. Not exactly grand, but the "everyone stares" bit is played straight- because she's wearing a yellow dress (identical to her normal outfit in all but color). The general reaction is one of horror rather than admiration, from everyone except her future in-laws; in a cut line from the Chicago preview, said fiance even tells her to "take that dress and burn it."
  • Lampshaded in "Dear Abby" from The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!:
    Spoken Stage Direction: Abby appears at the top of a staircase. The audience applauds wildly, even though she hasn't done anything yet.
  • In the Takarazuka Revue productions of Elisabeth, the titular character descends a staircase, wearing her famous Sternkleid/Star Dress, for the act 1 finale. The reveal of the dress usually gets applause.
  • While we're at it: Not part of shows themselves, but during Takarazuka finales (just prior to the duet dance), the top star note  would exit in the middle of the previous otokoyaku dance, have a quick change in the wings, re-enter unobtrusively by descending the Grand Staircase note , and then reappear, to audience applause, under a spotlight, wearing a gloriously sparkly costume. The entire company also do this (with the spotlight and camera focus on the étoile note ) at the very end of the show, which is called the "parade".
  • Ich/Mrs. de Winter from Rebecca descends a staircase to the ballroom at Manderley, decked out in finery as Lady Caroline de Winter... only for the clapping to die down as horrified guests (and the host) realize that it was the same costume the late Rebecca wore.

    Video Games 
  • In the DLC for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, one character makes their entrance this way, doubly impressive because there was no staircase, they were stepping on the air.
  • In BioShock this is how Sander Cohen meets you in person after you place the last photograph of his former disciples needed for his masterpiece.
  • Hitman (2016) has this on the first mission with one of your first targets: Viktor Novikov, who introduces himself during a mansion-based fashion show by descending down the stairs to an adoring crowd. This generally presents itself as an Establishing Series Moment for new Hitman players: your target is perfectly visible and right out in the open, but everyone is watching. Figure out how to take him out from there.

    Visual Novels 
  • After the protagonist of Double Homework wakes up, having been spirited off Barbarossa, and realizes that he is in the palace, he sees Amy coming down a staircase in a royal gown and a tiara.


    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • A political version was invoked by Harvey Milk when he was a councilor in San Francisco; when going through the lobby of City Hall, he always took the grand stairway instead of the elevator like the rest of city council so he would be noticed by the public and the press.
  • The Fontainebleu Resort in Miami has a curving staircase in the lobby that only goes to a small coat room. It was designed for women dressed in couture to descend down it wearing their finest evening attire, on full display for everyone to watch. Best illustrated by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which filmed a sequence of Midge descending the staircase in season 3.


Video Example(s):


Cinderella at the Ball

Cinderella descends down the staircase and stuns the attendees, including the prince.

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Main / GrandStaircaseEntrance

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