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High-Dive Escape

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"Gentlemen, I trust you will remember this as the day that you almost caught—" (Falls into Ocean)

It's a classic scene: after a prolonged battle the hero finally has the stylish villain cornered atop a high tower. The hero's reinforcements are at last arriving and the villain knows that even if he defeats the hero, his schemes are thwarted. Rather than surrender, the villain salutes the hero, says "You win this round, but We Will Meet Again" and then leaps out of a window into a convenient body of Soft Water and swims away, as the hero considers going after him but decides against it.

To qualify as a High Dive Escape, a Worthy Opponent (usually a stylish villain or rogueish hero) should be facing certain capture or death but instead escape by leaping from a high place into water, thus living to fight another day.

When a villain goes out with guns blazing rather than be apprehended, it's Better to Die than Be Killed.

A subtrope of No Escape but Down and sister trope of Suicidal "Gotcha!". See also Super Window Jump.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Anti-Villain example doing this against Villains in Fullmetal Alchemist (2003). Greed is cornered by Envy and Sloth, and declaring that he wouldn't be stupid enough to fight two homonculi at once, jumps to a convenient boat below carrying his minions.
  • Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders: When Jotaro and co. sniff an ambush in the room in which DIO supposedly sleeps, they all jump through the window to escape.
  • Zelda jumps out the cathedral window to parts unknown just as Ange and the others find her at the end of Princess Principal.
  • Samurai Champloo:
    • An early episode has an assassin dueling with Jin. After Mugen kills his employer, he tells Jin that there's now no need for him to kill, and gives a We Will Meet Again before calmly walking away.
    • Mugen possibly qualifies for this as well, in a flashback scene where he escaped a justifiable execution by leaping backward off the cliff to fall into the ocean below, complete with manic wide-eyed grin all the way down. However, this might have been more of an attempted suicide than escape - it was a high cliff - given the speech just before when he claimed he didn't accept help from anyone, least of all into his grave. That he survived was apparently just a lucky coincidence.
  • Shingetsutan Tsukihime: After knocking about most of the cast with ease, the Big Bad inexplicably declares "We Will Meet Again" and falls backwards off a bridge while laughing madly.
  • Sync in the Tales of the Abyss anime after his mask breaks.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman foe Michael Baffle (who was intended to be a recurring character but was never brought back) escapes Batman this way after a fencing duel in Detective Comics #63. He leaps off the roof a castle (transported stone by stone from Europe and reassembled in Gotham City) into a nearby lake.
  • In Danger Girl: Renegade #1, Abbey is cornered by Anastasia and her headhunter allies atop a cliff in the jungle. She escapes by diving off the cliff into the river below. However, the stretch of river she jumps into is infested with crocodiles.
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones:
    • In #15, Captain Katanga escapes from the Ruthless Modern Pirates who have taken his ship by kicking his guard and then diving off the side of the Bantu Wind under a fusillade of gunfire.
    • In #17, Indy and Marion and trapped in the middle of a bridge as Cult members close in from either end. Indy and Marion escape by jumping off the bridge into the river.
  • In IDW's G.I. Joe, Major Bludd does this this to escape the Baroness after his attempted coup is uncovered; plunging off a cliff into the ocean. The pursuing Cobra troops search for him but cannot find him.
  • Jon Sable does it Jon Sable, Freelance #49 in a story that was an homage to The Prisoner of Zenda. Jon claims the opportunity to make this kind of exit is irresistible, and chooses to leap from a tower window into the moat rather than stick around and explain to the authorities what was going on.
  • In Robyn Hood: I Love NY # 11, a wounded Robyn escapes from Alina Rose by jumping through the closed window of a warehouse into the river.
  • Armando does it to escape from Trebaldi's castle in The Scorpion. He dives from Trebaldi's clifftop castle into the river at the base of the cliff with an unconscious Mejai slung over his back.
  • One of the crew of the Alexandria does this in Steampunk Halloween 2012, escaping from the Doge's palace in Venice by leaping in a canal in the remains of her costume, which mostly consists of lingerie by this point.
  • Super Mario Adventures: When the Koopalings have her cornered, the Princess uses a cape Super Mario World style and soars harmlessly across the moat.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Witch of the Everfree, Sunset Shimmer pulls one to get away from the guards who have her cornered on the train to Ponyville, teleporting off the train as it crosses a high bridge.

    Films — Animation 
  • Finn McMissile jumps off an offshore oil rig in Cars 2.
  • Syndrome attempts a variation of this at the end of The Incredibles. It doesn't work, mostly because the hero isn't in the mood to just let him get away.
  • Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket escape Pleasure Island by jumping off a cliff into the sea below.
  • In Robin Hood (1973), Robin leaps from the roof of the burning castle into the moat.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • At the end of 12 Rounds, Danny and Molly jump from the damaged helicopter into a rooftop swimming pool: leaving Miles behind with the bomb he had just activated. BOOM!
  • In The Assignment (1997), Carlos dives from a balcony into the Spree River to escape the KGB. Annibal dives right after him.
  • The Bandit of Sherwood Forest: After their escape plan is exposed, Little John, Friar Tuck and the young king escape by jumping off the battlements and into the moat, but are forced to leave Robert, Catherine and Allan behind.
  • Bet Your Life: When trapped on the disabled lift bridge with Joseph, Sonny and Carmen escape by leaping off the bridge into the river.
  • Black Widow (2021): When attacked in Norway, Natasha uses the impetus of Taskmaster's punch to carry her (and the antidote) off the bridge and into the river.
  • In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch and Sundance leap off a cliff into a river to escape a posse. Sundance is reluctant because he cannot swim. Butch famously replies, “Hell. The fall’ll probably kill ya.”
  • In Cutthroat Island, Morgan and Shaw escape from Dawg's men by diving off a cliff into the ocean.
  • In Die Another Day, Jinx is cornered by the police at a cliff. She first strips to her bikini, stunning them, then jumps into the water near a waiting motorboat.
  • In The Fugitive, Dr. Richard Kimble jumps off a dam to escape Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard.
    Cosmo Renfro: What happened? Where'd he go?
    Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: The guy did a Peter Pan right off of this dam, right here.
  • Parodied in the film The Great Race, as part of an extended, almost scene-by-scene parody of The Prisoner of Zenda. The Great Leslie is dueling with Baron von Stuppe. When the Baron realizes that Leslie is the superior swordsman, he breaks off the fight and quips "He who fights and runs away may live to fight another day", adds a We Will Meet Again, mentions he has a boat waiting for him, and jumps out the window. Unfortunately the boat is right under the window, and the Baron smashes through the boat and sinks it.
  • Becomes a Failed Attempt at Drama in Johnny English Strikes Again when instead of diving off the boat, our hero fails to notice he's diving onto a lower deck.
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: At 'The Mighty Roar', the quartet escape from the bikers by jumping off the cliff into the pool below the waterfall.
  • In Les Misérables (2012), Valjean escapes from Javert at the hospital by leaping from a window into the river.
  • Parodied in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015). To escape the mooks charging towards them, Kuryakin jumps out of a three-story window, expecting to land in the water. Solo only hears a thud and a scream. He then does the same a few seconds later...and finds too late that the window was right above a wooden boat dock.
  • In Okja, the ALF jump off a bridge into the water below to escape during Okja's recapture.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Jack Sparrow's escape from his execution when he trips and falls from the fort into the ocean in The Curse of the Black Pearl. However, he was almost certainly planning to dive before he fell. Norrington even decides to give him a day's headstart before chasing him.
    • Subverted in Dead Man's Chest when he is hit by a tidal wave, interrupting his dramatic exit. And inverted in that case, because he was climbing out of the water, onto his ship.
    • Also done by Mercer in At World's End, while the pirates retake the Black Pearl.
  • Justine de Winter in the film The Return of the Musketeers. She dives out of the castle window into a lake and is last seen swimming away. Raoul starts to follow her but is stopped by D'Artagnan.
    D'Artagnan: Do you really want to go after her, boy? Because - by God - I don't!
  • Runaway Train: The conductor of the eastbound 12 train jumps clear of his caboose scarce moments before the runaway collides into it.
  • In Solomon Kane, Kane escapes from the Devil's Reaper by diving through a stained glass window into the ocean below.
  • Although not at the climax of the film, Prince Septimus escapes from Captain Shakespeare's ship this way in Stardust. The window isn't open at the time, which just screams of a missed chance to awesomely subvert the trope by having the guy bleeding horribly after - but no, Super Window Jump was in full effect.
  • Milady does this in The Three Musketeers (2011); preferring to leap from the airship into the English Channel rather than be shot.

  • Baldanders does it after the battle at Lake Diaturna in Book of the New Sun.
  • Confessions of a D-List Supervillain: One of Cal's preferred methods for evading pursuit after a crime is to seal up his suit and dive into a river to swim away unseen.
  • Elemental Assassin: In Spider's Bite, Gin is attempting to escape from the Ashland Opera House when she is cornered by Donovan Caine on the roof. She escapes by jumping off the roof into the Aneirin River.
  • Played straight in one of George MacDonald Fraser Flashman novels where Flashman catches his wife naked from the waist up with Lord Cardigan, who is naked from the waist down. Cardigan still manages a dignified exit by doing this, making Flashman think the latter at least deserves some credit for panache.
  • The originator was Rupert of Hentzau in the novel The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope, and its various film versions; Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. being the most stylish.
    • The original novel actually didn't play it quite straight: Rupert of Hentzau has his glorious 'this was the day you almost caught me' on the bridge, before diving into the moat, but the hero chases him, and thus his actual exit from the novel is with a cheek wound from the hero, having stolen a horse from a peasant girl, still dashing, but hardly the stylish exit of the nobleman. He rides off laughing like a maniac though, so props for that.
    • The revisit with time travellers version The Zenda Vendetta grants Rupert the chance to make this kind of exit at the end.
  • Parodied in another of George MacDonald Fraser's novel The Pyrates, where the Anti-Hero tries to escape from a husband he was cuckolding and that guys goons (he has also cheated them at cards) and he ends up tripping when trying to do this and gets beaten to a pulp by them.
  • Worlds of Power's novelization of Bionic Commando had Rad Spencer do this to escape an assassination attempt by Nazi ninjas (it was the 90s). He leaps out of a hotel room window and managed to land in the hotel's pool, where he was rescued. The cost is high, though—his arm, already badly injured by shurikens, is further traumatized by his rough landing in the pool from ten stories up, forcing doctors to amputate and give him a gadget-laden bionic arm as a replacement.
  • Big Bad Caiboche does this in the Young Bond short story "A Hard Man to Kill", leaping from the smoking deck of the ocean liner Colombie into the Atlantic Ocean. Everyone thinks he has leapt to his death but there was a submarine waiting to pick him up.

    Live Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In "The Asset", Skye escapes from Quinn's mansion by leaping off the balcony into the swimming pool.
  • Alias: In "A Missing Link", Sydney is at the top of a hotel, working undercover, when the police start banging on the door of the room she's in. She escapes by taking off her maid uniform and diving down from the balcony into the hotel pool and then casually comes out of the pool in her underwear where a waiter helpfully hands her a towel, apparently completely missing her diving feat.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • A darker variation at the end of "Graduation Day, Part 1", where a brutal fight between Buffy and Faith ends with Faith stabbed in the stomach and on the edge of a rooftop. Faith knows Buffy needs her blood to heal Angel and convinced her stab wound is fatal, she gets revenge by falling backwards off of the roof onto the back of a passing truck, which carries her now comatose body away before Buffy can catch up to it. When she's in the hospital later, the doctor explains that her stab wound to the stomach wasn't actually serious, but the head injury from the fall has put her in a coma with possible brain damage.
  • Chuck: Daniel Shaw has a particularly stylish one in "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II", grabbing onto a large American flag as he jumps out the window and using it to spin around and re-enter the building on a lower floor, from which he escapes before anyone can arrive.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Count Grendel in "The Androids of Tara" (a Zenda homage), leaping from the castle wall into the moat.
      Grendel: Next time, I shall not be so lenient!
    • In "Robot of Sherwood", Robin Hood escapes from the robot knights by grabbing Clara and leaping out of a window into the moat of Nottingham Castle.note 
    • In "Heaven Sent", the Doctor smashes the bedroom window with a table and leaps out, plunging down into the ocean. Of course, he doesn't know what his escape plan is until after he has leapt out the window.
  • Fraser does one of these on Due South “Mountie on the Bounty” to escape a ship.
  • In New Blood, Stefan and Arrash make one of these after the hotel attack as they are unsure if they are being pursued.
  • In the Queen of Swords episode "Death to the Queen", the injured and cornered Queen escapes from Captain Grisham by diving off a cliff into the ocean.
  • The Shannara Chronicles: In "Wraith", Wil and Mareth escape the Mord Wraiths by jumping off a cliff into a lake.
  • The X-Files. Agent Mulder is knocked off the Queen Anne after kissing a Scully look-alike (who promptly socks him in the jaw) in "Triangle", a Two-Fisted Tales pastiche.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: The Assassins' trademark leap of faith off of a tall building into a convenient pile of hay can easily be used as this. Altaïr does a particularly flashy version in Bloodlines (one of the spinoff handheld games) wherein he turns around toward his attackers, spreads out his arms, and just leans back over the edge.
  • Genesis after your first fight against him proper in Crisis Core.
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy X when Yuna throws herself off a balcony to escape her arranged marriage to Seymour, but there's no convenient body of water for her to land in. Then immediately double-subverted; as a Summoner, she can summon a flying Aeon to catch her in midair.
  • Subverted in Nehrim: Barateon, the Big Bad of the first section of the story, is chased by the hero up a tower and jumps after waving the player so long and taunting them only hit to hit a spike on the way down.
  • The resident Big Bad in the first Shadow Hearts attempts this, to hilarious effect.
    "Well, there's no sense in my lingering around here. I believe I shall return to London and have myself a spot of tea. Well then, ta-ta, everyone! If you survive, I hope you'll come and pay me a visit there someday! Bwahahahaha—(gets konked on the head with a piece of stray debris) D'oh!
  • Tomb Raider: Lara dives down a canyon to escape Natla and her henchmen.
  • Nate and Sully do this in Uncharted 2 while they are running from Flynn and his men.
    Sully: "See you in hell, kid. Woo hooooo!"
  • In Wonder Project J, Lynx and Pino elude Messala in the prison by leaping from a ledge. Rob and Ber catch them with their plane.

    Web Animation 
  • Dead Fantasy: When Ayane performs her "Art of the Raging Mountain God" to make the tower explode, Team Final Fantasy have no choice but to run to the edge of their platform and jump down to escape the blast, still pursued by Team Dead or Alive.

  • I'm the Grim Reaper: To escape from Brook, Scarlet tosses herself out of a window during their first fight.

    Western Animation 
  • A variant is used in Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King". The first time Batman confronts the titular villain on a rooftop, Batman attempts to corner him only for Clock King to leap off the roof and land on the top of a train that he knew would be passing by due to his superhuman sense of timing.
  • In the Big City Greens episode "Chipocalypse Now", Cricket Green pulls one to escape a Family-Unfriendly Death from Chip Whistler's helicopter.
    Cricket: Oh, boy... This had better WORRRRRRRRRK!!!!!!!!!
  • Fillmore!: Done literally in "The Nineteenth Hole is a Shallow Grave". Fillmore and Ingrid are cornered by a pair of thugs on top on a high diving board. They look at each other, and then turn and jump off the board into the pool.
  • Played straight (as straight as The Simpsons play any trope) in the action-packed spinoff "Wiggum, P.I.", when Big Daddy jumps out the window of the (stolen) Governor's Mansion into the bayou, and starts inexpertly thrashing through the water about 10 feet from where the protagonists are standing:
    Skinner: He's gradually getting away, Chief!
    Wiggum: Ah, let him go. I have the feeling we'll meet again, each and every week. Always in more sexy and exciting ways.
  • South Park: Of the many attractions Cartman talks about in "Casa Bonita", the cliff diver waterfall becomes of particular significance. When he finally makes it to Casa Bonita, Sheila Broflovski reports him to the police after discovering that he had manipulated Kyle into bringing him by hiding Butters inside a bomb shelter. The police chase him throughout Casa Bonita as he hurriedly samples every attraction in his path, finally being cornered at the top of the cliff diver waterfall. You can probably guess what happens next.
  • On Star Wars Rebels, Kanan and Ezra pull this kind of escape from a pair of Inquisitors. It helps that Ezra has already used the Force to summon some flying creatures to aid their escape.
  • Carmen Sandiego, Once an Episode in Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?. Sometimes more than once. In the theme song, she jumps off the Statue of Liberty to escape Zack and Ivy... then flies away using a jetpack.
  • Young Justice: Red Arrow does it to get away from Chesire and Sportsmaster while escaping from the League of Shadows headquarters in "Targets".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Prisoner Of Zenda Exit


High Dive Escape - Alias

Sydney escapes the coming guards by diving from the top of a hotel into the pool far below.

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