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Gravity Is a Harsh Seamstress

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A character falling, usually between two skyscrapers in a city, hits a clothesline on the way down, and ends up wearing something from the line. If the buildings are tall enough, they can hit several lines, acquiring one item from each, resulting in a hilariously mismatched costume by the time they land. Alternately, they can get a full outfit off a single line. These can be combined, too, resulting in a gag where the character ends up with several impromptu changes of clothes before the sudden stop at the end.

In theory, this is possible in real life, but you'd have to fall perfectly in line with the clothing, somehow pull it off the line with you without tearing it, and still have enough time to fit your arms through the holes of your shirt before you land.

Compare To The Bat Pole. May be a variant of Human Snowball. Can result in a Coincidental Accidental Disguise. The Trope Namer is a pun on Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress. Not to be confused with the Discworld Seamstresses, or with the slapstick convention of pants falling down.


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  • A Stella Artois ad on TV had a man hit on a woman at a hotel rooftop pool, only for her husband to show up. The guy hops over the wall, falls past several clotheslines and ends up in a smart three-piece suit... with ladies' high heels.
  • Inverted in a Bud Light ad that played during the Super Bowl one year. Guy's wife is trying to seduce him away from the TV. She finally tells him she's got cold Bud Light, and he goes tearing up the stairs ripping his clothes off, dives across the bed for the beer, and goes out the window, leaving his boxer shorts hanging in the tree.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Vash has this happen to him in Trigun.
    Vash: Mama, why does this keep on happening to me? I haven't done anything wrong but I'm always in trouble and everyone is always picking on me. What do I do, Maman?!...Why am I crying in French? *Notices he's been crying on boxers* AHH!!!

    Comic Books 
  • Don Martin's Captain Klutz acquired his costume this way (along with amnesia). His mask is actually a very tasteless hat.
  • Inverted (and used seriously) in Earth X. When Daredevil drops into the Realm of the Dead, he leaves his judge's cassock on a clothesline and lands in his old yellow-and-red costume.
  • This is how Forbush-Man got his costume in the Marvel Universe.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: In a more intentional version, Calvin fantasized about a machine that readied him for bed. To get him into his pajamas, it dropped him head-first into his shirt, then flip him so he would fall legs-first into his pants, all in one fluid arrangement. He apparently didn't think about that last part too hard...

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Adventures of Tintin (2011), Captain Haddock found himself wearing a pink dress after colliding with a clothesline.
  • Aladdin did a variation sliding down a single clothesline. He even had an anachronistic bra on during the slide.
  • In An American Tail, after being hurled out a window by a frightened woman, Fievel falls through a sock hanging on a clothesline that had a hole at the end, and then grabs onto a hanging head scarf, using it to parachute the rest of the way down.
  • Invoked in Ralph Breaks the Internet by the Disney Princesses, who save the falling Ralph by slowing him down with frozen water and catching him into a dress, which is then parachuted away to safety. Toon Physics is in full force.
  • An example without falling: When Wilbur is coming in for a landing in The Rescuers Down Under, Jake rigs up a bra as a drag line. Of course Wilbur ends up wearing the bra.
  • This happens to the Thief in The Thief and the Cobbler, after launching himself with a javelin (and missing his target) he falls onto various clotheslines donning, among other things, some cartoonish undergarments and three pairs of shirts.

    Western Animation 
  • The opening of American Dragon: Jake Long has this happening to Jake in dragon form, resulting in him in women's sleepwear.
  • Darkwing Duck has had trouble with this a few times, most notably when he was under a bad-luck curse.
  • While a possible clever reference to the movie, this trope was averted in a crossover episode between Hercules: The Animated Series and Aladdin: The Series. Hercules got tricked into flying Pegasus into Agrabah's "Alley of a Thousand Sheets", where it looked like the clothesline was going to send him flying. In spite of Phil's complaints, he managed to muscle through and break the clothesline.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • "A Hare Grows in Manhattan": As Hector falls off a building, he hits several clotheslines on the way down, ending up dressed in baby clothes and then a nightgown.
    • "The Hep Cat": Rosebud falls through some clotheslines and ends up dressed in a baby bonnet, booties and a diaper.
  • Numb Chucks: In "Fan Boy", Dilweed gets flung through the air and crashes through a clothesline. He emerges with a towel tied around his neck like a superhero.
  • Classic example in one of the Rocky and Bullwinkle episode intros. Rocky and Bullwinkle are in the air, and Rocky glides to the ground while Bullwinkle falls, ending up bouncing trapped in a suit of men's long johns hanging from a clothesline.
  • A variant occurs in the Wallace & Gromit short The Wrong Trousers. Wallace has various machines that automate routine daily operations, such as everything from waking up to getting in the van to go to work (this is a single continuous process that begins with Wallace still asleep when he leaves the bed). They rent out their spare bedroom (to a penguin, and even Wallace thinks that's a bit odd) at the same time Wallace buys automatic pants (that can walk around on their own, among other things) from NASA Surplus. The penguin substitutes the automatic pants for Wallace's regular ones in the morning routine machine as part of a fairly complex plot to perform a series of meticulously planned and executed burglaries.

Alternative Title(s): Fall Broken By Clothes