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Human Ladder

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"Easy now... Steady... No one sneeze!"

Sometimes, you need elevation. You might need to reach something on the top shelf, or you might be trying to look over a wall, or maybe you're trying to escape out a very high window. But what do you do when there aren't any trees, hills, ladders, or stools around?

Simple: You stand on your friends.

A Human Ladder occurs any time someone climbs on someone else for added height. Generally, one stands on the other's shoulders, but other methods show up. Some Human Ladders consist of more than two people, although the more you add, the sillier it gets.

The person at the base is often The Big Guy, but a common enough gag is to have the person at the bottom be the smallest one in the group. Hilarity Ensues when they topple over.

Add a coat to become a Totem Pole Trench. Sometimes implied in a Scooby Stack. For an extreme version of this trope where the human ladder becomes a co-existing organism, see The Worm That Walks. Contrast I Need No Ladders, the other option where there are no nearby ladders. See also Chain of People. Other utilitarian uses of people include a Fastball Special (for an ally) or Grievous Harm with a Body (for either an ally with Super Toughness, or an enemy).


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  • This 2019 ad for LL Bean boots depicts a couple of teenage girls doing this to pick apples from a tall tree.
  • In a Lucky Charms commercial, some kids do this to look over a marshmallow barrier that Lucky made. He tells them that milk is the key ingredient to open a key hole in the wall.
  • A Payless Shoes ad from the 2000s has a group of cheerleaders form a pyramid so that one of them can peek through the window of a gym, presumably to check out the bodybuilders inside.
  • The Three Musketeers do this in a 2004 ad for the 3 Musketeers candy bar.
  • In this commercial for Toy Story 2 candy dispensers from McDonald's, Andy's toys travel to McDonald's on RC to get them. The commercial ends with the toys stacked on top of each other as Buzz, who is on top, places his order at the drive-thru. Mr. Potato Head, who is on the bottom, is not happy.
    Mr. Potato Head: I'm getting mashed here!

    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon: Agumon and Palmon are involved in a Digimon pyramid with other Digimon. In this case, they were forced to do it by Nanimon.
  • Hamtaro:
    • A bunch of the Ham-Hams stack up on one another to see if they can reach the stars thinking the stars are candy.
    • In another episode, the Ham-Hams all stack up to try to form a big shadow to see if they can chase away what they think is a monster.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: Made strangely epic despite being very silly when dozens of Waddle Dees form a literal ladder that many more dozens Waddle Dees use to get back inside Dedede's castle.
  • Monster Rancher: When they needed Suezo to see out over a field they form a pyramid; he can't get high enough, so in the end they just throw him in the air.
  • Naruto occasionally uses his clones to do this (as well as making a Chain of People).
  • One Piece makes use of this during the climax of the Alabasta Arc, when, in a pinch due to the ticking time bomb at the top of few hundred foot high clock tower, Vivi is literally catapulted up the side of the tower by her crewmates, starting with Usopp on the ground, Chopper on his shoulders in his deer form, and Vivi on his back. Nami uses her Clima-Tact to create energy to send Chopper and Vivi into the air, where Sanji and Zoro, both at various points on the tower, jump off the side and give the two a boost, until finally Chopper tosses her to the time bomb's location.
  • In the Pokémon episode "The Apple Corp", a whole swarm of Pichu stack on each other to reach and recharge a captive Pikachu. The whole group then overclock Team Rocket's battery.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Mighty Little Defenders episode 28, the goats are attacked by mud monsters taking the shape of Wolfram, and Tibbie uses her bow and arrow to create a big tree and carry herself as well as the other goats to one of its branches. The Wolfram doppelgangers stack on top of each other to reach the branch and bring the goats back down.

    Card Games 
  • There is a Mind Trap card that involves this. Two people are trying to reach something in a tree — one is five feet tall, one is six feet tall. The five-foot person stands on the shoulders of the six-foot person, but the object is just out of reach. Would it help for them to switch places? Yes, because the taller person will probably have longer arms.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman and the Outsiders: Force of July member Silent Majority's Mrs A Crowd ability was fined tuned enough that he could use his bodies to create human chains to span distances too long to jump or climb.
  • Lucky Luke: In "Tortillas for the Daltons", the Daltons escape by forming a ladder to scale a cliff. Unfortunately, Lucky Luke arrives just about then, and takes Averell prisoner at gunpoint. With Averell gone, Luke waits for the other three to drop "like horrible rotten fruit". Joe manages to scramble up over the cliff... only to discover he's on a rocky piton less than ten square feet across. Luke proposes that he come back for Joe in a year or so, and Joe surrenders.
  • In the comic MadroX: Multiple Choice by Peter David, Jamie Madrox (AKA Multiple Man) creates several duplicates of himself to create a ladder so he can get over a fence into someone's property.
  • Played for Fanservice in Papyrus. Papyrus and Theri-Cheri need to see over a wall at one point, and for practical reasons, she has to stand on his shoulders. Lucky bastard.
    Theti-Cheri: By Isis! What a horrible sight!
    Papyrus: Not from where I'm standing!
  • In chapter 2 of Simon Says: Nazi Hunter, Simon has Bruno stand on a garbage can, and then stands on Bruno's shoulders so he can see over a fence at who he suspects to be Nazis. Said plan works until a rat comes along.
  • Suske en Wiske: The main characters form a human tower on the back cover of every album. They even provide a shout-out to it in the album De Woeste Wespen, where Jerom has to transport everybody as quick as possible and therefore carries them off in the same pose.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • Brave: The triplets are fond of this trope because they are short and it's useful for pranking.
  • In Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, Grumpy Bear, Tenderheart and Brave Heart did it to try to steal a key from Dark Heart.
  • In Care Bears Nutcracker Suite, the Care Bears do it to reach a walnut containing a ring that's on top of a Christmas tree. Their order from top to bottom: Tender Heart, Brave Heart, Funshine, Grumpy, Lotsa Heart.
  • DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp had the nephews stand on each other to allow Webbie access the security room in the Money Bin.
  • In Frozen (2013), the Rock Trolls do this a lot during the "Fixer-Upper" number.
  • Happens in the climax of Inside Out with Joy standing on the shoulders of a chain of countless imaginary boyfriends deployed from Bing Bong's bag.
  • In The Jungle Book, the vultures perform one while they're performing "That's What Friends Are For".
  • The Lion King (1994): Being at the bottom of one of these is the fate of Zazu at the end of "I Just Can't Wait to be King" (although, it technically isn't a human ladder)
  • In the animated short Little Wolf, a group of wolves climb onto each other to help a little wolf get down from the moon.
  • Four of the main protagonists in The Land Before Time do this to try to get leaves down from a tree. Since Petrie couldn't fly, they formed a ladder. Spike was supporting Littlefoot, who was supporting Ducky, who was supporting Petrie. Cera was pointing and laughing.
  • Mulan: The soldiers pile on each other to better see where Mulan and Shang are. In this version, Chen Po, The Big Guy is on the bottom; Ling, the tall thin one is in the middle; Boisterous Bruiser Yao is on top.
  • In the My Little Pony: The Movie (1986), the Grundles do this to help Lickety Split and Spike find their home.
  • Sunny Starscout and Izzy Moonbow perform this twice in My Little Pony: A New Generation:
    • During the song, “I’m Looking Out For You”, Izzy stands on top of Sunny so she could reach an apple from a tree.
    • During Pipp Pedals’ performance at Zephyr Heights, Sunny stands on top of Izzy while she tries to switch Queen Haven’s crown with a fake one.
  • In Oliver & Company, during the "Perfect Isn't Easy" number, five dogs stack up on each others shoulders up against a tree to get a better view of Georgette. Ironically, this occurs at the part where she sings, "You're barking up the wrong tree."
  • In The Star, when Thaddeus and Rufus start barking at the camels, Cyrus and Felix pile up onto Deborah out of fear. She falls over almost immediately.
    • Later in the movie, the camels do this again while spying on King Herrod. This time, they were properly stacked with Felix (the smallest one) on top, Deborah in the middle, and Cyrus (The Big Guy) on the bottom.
  • Near the end of Toy Story 4, the toys (except for Buzz, Slinky, and Forky) stack up in order to reach the switch to activate the awning of the RV they are riding in, so Woody can use it as a bridge between the carousel he's on and the roof of the RV itself.
  • All four of the Beatles do this to take out the apple-boppers in Yellow Submarine with John at the top and George at the base.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The final scene of The African Queen shows Rose standing on Charlie's shoulders to fix the mast of the boat.
  • In Beverly Hills Cop, Taggart and Rosewood try this to scale a wall during the infiltration of Victor Maitland's mansion while Axel goes around. They struggle with it several times before they finally get over the wall, much to Axel's amusement.
  • One of the many rival martial artists in Buddha's Palm, the guardians, whose members consist of an adult and a teenager working in tandem. The teenage fighter spends much of the fight seated on the adult's back while lashing out, and from his vantage point can launch ranged acid attacks.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo: In prison, Edmond allows the priest to stand on his shoulders so he can see out the window.
  • In G-Force, Darwin, Blaster and Juarez form one of these to try to get out of a hamster cage with Juarez on top.
  • The Muppets do this upside down in The Great Muppet Caper to steal the baseball diamond before the bad guys.
  • In The Monkees movie Head, after Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter get sucked into the giant vacuum, they notice that Davy is missing. The other three do this to see if they can find Davy in the hole they came out of.
  • In The Man with the Golden Gun, James Bond stands on the shoulders of Lt. Hip, Bond's contact in Hong Kong, to get a view into Hai Fat's residence. Despite seeing loads of security, Bond hops the wall and lets himself in.
  • The loomeys combine this with ladder stacking when they are climbing up the side of Big Ben so Jack can reach the clock face in Mary Poppins Returns.
  • The Muppets perform an astounding Muppet Ladder at the climax to Muppets Most Wanted with Gonzo at the top and Sweetums at the base.
  • In The Nut Job, Buddy, Andie and a female mole do this to try to reach a latch that will open the trailer door to the truck they are trapped in.
  • In One Cut of the Dead the crew has to replace broken crane post-haste, since they are doing a live show that's entirely in one cut. They pile up all the crew members and actors on each other, then pass the camera as swiftly as they can to get the proper shot.
  • The Parent Trap: Sharon and Susan do this while they're in the lake to try to fool Vicky into thinking the water is shallow.
  • One of The Pink Panther films had a gag where Kato is standing on Clouseau's shoulders to see through a window, but can't. Clouseau orders them to switch positions "because I'm taller than you!"
  • The twin mercenaries in The Postman Fights Back, a pair of kung-fu fighters who works in tandem, one seated on another's shoulders. They give The Lancer a really tough fight before getting defeated.
  • In The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, the final climactic scene is where the American small town police force and milita are facing off against the deck guns of a Russian submarine, with the rest of the town watching. Two boys climb up the church tower to get a better look, one of them falls and is caught by a protruding nail and left dangling 30 feet in the air. The Americans and Russians both drop everything and work together in forming a human pyramid to rescue the boy, releasing the tension and allowing cooperation between the groups to help the submarine get away.
  • In Space Jam, during the montage of the Tune Squad taking advantage of the Monstars and gaining the lead in the game, Porky Pig, Sylvester and Foghorn Leghorn form one of these to make a slam dunk.
  • Though not actually performed, in Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams this idea is suggested by Donnagan Giggles to his henchmen when they were trying to get the MacGuffin out of a high tree. Considering that the spot they were trying to reach was nearly fifty feet high, it can be assumed that the plot would have quickly failed if actually attempted.
  • Tremors 2: Aftershocks: When most of the heroes hide on a roof from the Shriekers, the beasties eventually decide to get at them by stacking themselves on top of each other.
  • The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent has Javi form one when he and Nick, both tripping on LSD, must climb a wall in their attempted escape from some suspicious onlookers.
    Nick: Oh, shit! It's too high!
    Javi: (crouches down onto ground) Use me as a human stool! Do it!
  • A horrific verison in the film of World War Z with thousands of zombies clambering over each other to climb a wall.

  • Used in David Drake's Belisarius Series as part of standard assault tactics to get over the wall of a fort.
  • Dr. Seuss:
    • Yertle The Turtle: Yertle commanded all his subjects to stand on each other so he could see further.
    • Oh Say Can You Say has a story about the Fuddnuddler Brothers, who like to pile each on the heads on the others. 21 of them in an awkward egg-shape with all the pressure on poor little Lud - and if Lud ever sneezes, his name will be mud. Amusingly, the Beginner Book Video adaptation manages to depict this happening despite the limited animation, by panning left from Lud to a dog watching them, adding a sneeze sound effect and then shaking the camera to imply that they all fell down.
  • In one Encyclopedia Brown story, the mystery is who was picking apples from someone's tree. The suspects prove that, even one standing on the other's shoulders, they can't reach the apples. But if they switched places and the boy with longer arms was on top, then of course they could. And did.
  • Used in Pournelle's Falkenberg's Legion as part of standard assault tactics to get over the wall of a fort. It also goes one better. To quickly cross a (small) barb wire entanglement, an armored soldier lays on it, providing a makeshift path for his fellow soldiers. This duty is generally performed by the newest soldiers, being lowest on the totem pole, and being the least experienced.
  • Goosebumps: The Sadler children did this in R.L. Stine's book, "Ghost Beach" to get in and out of a cottage.
  • In one of the Olga Da Polga books, Olga tells a story about how ages ago, all the guinea pigs decided to go to the moon by standing on each others' shoulders. It doesn't end well.
  • In Pyramids, one of the early Discworld books, Teppic's 1300 ancestors form an undead ladder to get him to the top of the giant reality warping pyramid to destroy it, giving them the chance to properly die (and since some of them have essentially been staring at the lid of a coffin for about 5000 years, you can see why they'd want to), and taking out an entire bizarre pantheon of gods in the process.
  • Used several times in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, most notably in The Moment Of The Magician by a hunting party of anthropomorphic otters in an attempt to escape an oubliette. The attempt fails, not that it matters...
  • In The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks states that this is the inevitable consequence of a large enough horde of zombies trying to get past an impenetrable wall at once: eventually, they start climbing over each other and forming a human ramp over the wall.
    • The film adaptation of World War Z depicts this in vivid detail in the Jerusalem scene, where they not only cross over the wall this way, but submerge a bus under a literal wave of zombies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Time Rush episode "Big Time Concert" had Jo and Kendall do this to hang up a Big Time Rush poster. (She was sitting though, not standing.)
  • In The Carrie Diaries episode "Win Some, Lose Some", Carrie and Sam attempt this to get into Carrie's apartment. Unfortunately, they get noticed by police before it can work.
  • In Castle episode "Cuffed" Beckett and Castle are handcuffed together and Beckett climbs on Castle's shoulders to open a hatch in the ceiling. Complete with reference to Someone's Touching My Butt.
  • In the "Archeology Today" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, an interviewer (Michael Palin) pays more attention to a tall archeologist (John Cleese) than a short one (Terry Jones). Eventually jumping on top to become taller happens.
  • In the series finale of Robin Hood, Robin, Much, and Gisborn are caught in a trap that is rapidly filling with limestone. They realize that if one of them stands on the other's shoulders, he'll live. Robin is picked to stand on them.
  • Sesame Street:
    • In Episode 1911, Snuffy leaves his giant trash can near Oscar's regular-sized one, and when Oscar sees the giant trash can, he wants to move into it. When Telly comes to see Oscar, Oscar decides to stand on Telly so he can climb up to the giant trash can. Unfortunately, this plan doesn't work because the top of the giant trash can is just out of Oscar's reach, and Oscar is too heavy for Telly to carry.
    • In a "Smart Cookies" sketch, Miss Fortune, Figby, Chipowski and Cookie Monster form one to destroy The Crumb's Bearclaw pastry that is trying to steal the guests' costumes at a cookie-themed ball.
  • In Smallville, Jimmy let Chloe stand on him to try and get help as they are trapped in an elevator.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Patterns of Force''. An imprisoned Kirk and Spock do this so Spock can get close to a light bulb and use his crude laser to cut open the door lock. Watch it here, starting at 6:50.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Five Characters in Search of an Exit", the title characters form one in an attempt to escape from the large metal cylinder in which they are trapped. However, the ballet dancer is unable to reach the top as they are still several inches too short. The major then fashions a grappling hook from his sword and strips of clothing. He, the clown, the hobo and the bagpiper form another human ladder and he manages to reach the top. It is then revealed that the five of them are nothing more than dolls in a collection barrel.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): The trollocs' way of storming fortress walls, as seen in episode 8.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Taller wrestlers such as The Big Show or The Great Khali have let Rey Mysterio stand on their shoulders to give more elevation to his splashes.
  • While they were tag team champions in 1994, Shawn Michaels and Diesel's team finisher was for Shawn to do a splash from Diesel's shoulders. This was done to mock the team they were feuding with, the Headshrinkers, whose finisher was a splash from the top rope.
  • The British Bulldogs would often have Davey Boy Smith do his Running Power Slam on an opponent, the opponent's partner would try to interfere, Davey Boy would pick that man up in a fireman's carry, tag the Dynamite Kid in, who would climb to the top rope, hop on the back of the guy Davey Boy was holding and give the guy lying in the ring a diving headbutt.
  • In February 1983, Jimmy Snuka and André the Giant were in a tag team match, and the team won when Snuka delivered his Superfly Splash from atop Andre's shoulders.
  • On a September 2001 edition of Raw, Molly Holly gave a Molly-Go-Round to Lance Storm from The Big Show's shoulders.
  • At an LLF show Princess Sugey wanted to contest Nikki Roxx in a 'test of strength'. At first she seemed too short to force Roxx to comply but then made the referee get on his hands and knees so she could stand on him for leverage.
  • Prince Nana loved to flaunt his wealth and brag about all the lavish things he bought his Embassy with it. There was one exception to the rule in Jade Chung, who he mostly kept around to serve as Jimmy Rave's footstool.
  • Low Ki is agile and coordinated enough to leap onto the shoulders of another man. Though the intent in this case is to drive them down under his weight, some such as Montel Vontavious Porter are big enough to remain standing.
  • In her revancha match on May 5th 2015, Baby Puma attempted to use referee Panda as a launchpad at Tsunami.
  • Dalton Castle has two personal mooks in Ring of Honor known as "The Boys", whom he also has do the foot stool thing and sometimes even stretch out to act like a human couch!

  • In The Goon Show, Seagoon, Eccles and Bloodnok attempt to escape from prison by climbing on each other's shoulders to reach a high window. Even with all three of them, they still aren't high enough, so the person at the bottom climbs up onto the top person's shoulders. Three times.


    Video Games 
  • You can use this technique with Yakko, Wakko and Dot in the Animaniacs game on the Super NES.
  • The step jump in Army of Two is pretty much this.
  • One boss fight in Contra: Hard Corps involves this, probably to block you from jumping across them. Luckily, there are other ways to dodge their attacks.
  • Disgaea had an interesting game mechanic that allowed you to stack your WHOLE TEAM on each others' shoulders, allowing you to throw members across the map. Of course, the guy on bottom takes damage proportional to the weight of the team on top of him every turn, so it's a somewhat advanced tactic.

    Buffed up a bit from second game onwards with two improvements. First, you no longer take damage when carrying allies, and second, the tower itself can attack enemies within a short range (one hit for each person in the tower,) making the human ladder viable for more uses than simply quick transport across the map.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns has yellow versions of Itty Bitty Biters that stack up on top of each other and and lunge at the player.
  • Drawn to Life has stacking baki enemies with one large baki at the base and three small baki's on top.
  • In Friday Night Funkin', the rivals of Week 2 are Skid and Pump, the game's first crossover characters from a Newgrounds property. Skid is sitting on Pump's shoulders so they can easily pass the mic around as they sing, and Skid remains on Pump for each of their poses, with him even clambering onto Pump's head for the up pose.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts, there are certain parts of the game where Sora, Donald and Goofy need to stack up on each other's shoulders to reach certain things.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep there is a totem pole-like enemy that uses elemental magic.
  • Legend of Mana: During the end of the quest in Lake Kilma, the sailors make a ladder to get back to the top of the lake cliff.
  • In multiplayer The Legend of Zelda games such as The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords and Tri Force Heroes, one Link can pick up another in order to throw him over an obstacle or onto a high cliff.
  • In LittleBigPlanet 2 and onward, you can pull this off by using Grabinator to stack up Sackbots or other players wearing the gloves. It's also possible to build a Sackbot rope by having them grabbing each other and hanging them on a grabbable ceiling.
  • Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, the Paper Toads form a massive spiral staircase to help Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario get from the top of Mt. Brrr to Neo Bowser Castle.
    • The Luiginary Stack Combination Attack in Dream World battles of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team involves Mario guiding multiple compacted groups of the Luiginoids to jump on top of one another, creating something more akin to a Human Tower. The combined weight of this stack jumping on your opponent has the potential to deal a lot of damage if executed correctly.
  • In Mother 3, this is the Mr. Saturn race's favorite pastime. Only five can ladder, however; any more and they can't retain their balance.
  • In Paper Mario 64, the Koopa Bros. do this when they're battling Mario in their second form.
  • Goes a bit crazy in Time Crisis 4 where a lot of National Guards goes into this mode so that the main characters can climb them up to stop the Big Bad and the nuclear strike.
  • The Boy and The Girl in rain (2013) routinely use this to access places that would be too high for either of them to reach alone.
  • In Sonic Heroes, any of the four teams can assume this position at any time when the flight member is chosen as the leader. The flight member is always on top, the speed member is always in the middle, and the power member is always on the bottom. However, the flight member is actually carrying all the weight even though he/she is on top. This position is especially useful for grabbing and pulling out switches too high for the speed or power members to reach alone.
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory's co-op mode includes a nifty two-part move. One player can give the other a boost onto ledges they can't reach by jumping, allowing them to either climb up, or remain hanging there so the booster can use them as a ladder.
  • In the Sega Genesis game, World of Illusion, during the 2-player mode, there are some instances where Mickey and Donald have to pile up on each other to reach certain areas.

    Visual Novels 
  • The protagonist of Melody gives Becca a boost when she’s assisting him at the library, and he asks for a book on the top shelf.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In the toon "The Search for the Yello Dello", Homestar and Pom-Pom do this to boost Strong Sad up to the Yello Dello so that he could tell it a boring story that would put it to sleep so that they could catch it.
  • Red vs. Blue A human ladder is also used by Sarge and Caboose to see into a square window.


    Western Animation 
  • In order, Alvin, Theodore, Simon and Dave stand on each others shoulders in The Alvin Show so they can spy on their neighbor.
  • The Amazing Spiez!: In "Operation Spy-Sitter", three of the title heroes form one to reach a sprinkler control on a wall.
  • In Animaniacs, the Warners do this sometimes, but not very often. Yakko is usually on the bottom since he's the "big" brother.
  • The Three Musketeers (part of The Banana Splits show) episode "The Haunted Castle". After being trapped in a well, Athos, Porthos and Aramis form one to escape.
  • Bob's Burgers: In "The Belchies", after much infighting and dithering, Tina puts together a human ladder to rescue Louise from the old taffy factory.
  • In Captain Planet, Kwame and Wheeler do this to access an air vent after the gang is trapped in a mine shaft.
  • In the Clifford's Puppy Days episode, "Doggie Duds", Clifford, Jorge and Daffodil do this to try to get a patched pair of shorts down from a high shelf in a closet. Daffodil didn't really appreciate having Clifford and Jorge standing on her head, and she even dreaded they might do it again later in the episode.
  • Corn & Peg: In the episode, “Lost in the Frost”, Corn, Ferris and Clarissa stack up (in that order) while they’re setting up a lost and found booth.
  • In an episode of Cow and Chicken, Cow, Chicken and Flem do this to spy on the new school bully. Similar to The Pink Panther example above, Cow put herself on top because she was the tallest.
  • In the Dennis the Menace episode, "Meatball Mess", Dennis, Gina, and Joey form one to reach the cabinet on a high shelf and get the ingredients to make a new lunch of spaghetti and meatballs after Ruff ate the one they were going to have. Dennis is on the bottom, Gina is in the middle, and Joey is on top. They fall over when Dennis gets tired from all the weight he's holding, but fortunately, Joey gets the two boxes of spaghetti that he, Dennis, and Gina need.
  • In the Descendants: Wicked World episode "Pair of Sneakers", Mal stands on Freddie Facilier's shoulders so that she can search a mobile for a jewel that belonged to her mother. They fall before she can finish searching, but the jewel turns out to have been hidden somewhere else.
  • In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "D2", Dexter and Dee Dee do this throughout the episode taking Dexter's brains and Dee Dee's stature to their advantage.
    • In another episode "Gooey Aliens That Control Your Mind", said gooey aliens (which Dexter had wished for in order to study them) escape from his lab and infect his mother, father and Dee Dee. When Dexter learns what's going on, he has no choice but to don his Powered Armor and attack his family to remove the aliens. In response, under the aliens' control, his parents and sister sit on each other's shoulders so that the three of them can all attack him together as a group.
  • In an episode of Doug, Doug and Skeeter do this to try to achieve a frisbee while Porkchop distracts the bull dog guarding the yard.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends:
    • At the beginning of "Bloo's the Boss", Bloo finds an imaginary friend hanging for his life from a falling tree, so Eduardo, Coco, Frankie, and Wilt form one to rescue the friend. Eduardo is on the bottom, Coco stands on top of him, Frankie stands on top of her, and Wilt stands on top of Frankie. Their plan is compromised by Bloo climbing on top of them, wanting to take credit for the rescue, but fortunately, Madame Foster saves the friend by pole-vaulting up to him.
    • In "Fools and Regulations", Bloo accidentally sets a magazine on fire while trying to read it quietly. The smoke from the fire activates the smoke detector, and since Frankie told the imaginary friends to be quiet while she hosts a benefit party to raise funds for Foster's, the imaginary friends form one to try to turn off the smoke detector so as not to disturb her. Eduardo is on the bottom, Wilt stands on top of him, Coco stands on top of Wilt, and Bloo stands on top of Coco. Although they don't succeed in turning off the smoke detector, Frankie finds out about the fire and puts it out.
  • In one episode of Invader Zim, Zim persuades fellow prisoners to form a human pyramid so they could escape. Well, so Zim could escape.
  • The cheer squad in Kim Possible occasionally practices human pyramids, per the Real Life section below.
  • On an episode of Kipper, Kipper climbs onto Tiger's shoulders so he can return a baby bird to its nest.
  • In the series finale episode of The Land Before Time TV series, the episode opens with five of the main protagonists piled up on each other trying to reach for berries in a tree. From top to bottom, it was: Ducky, Chomper, Ruby, Cera and Littlefoot. They had no luck reaching it and decided they needed Spike to give them extra support, so they go get him and reform the totem with Spike at the bottom. They still failed. Though maybe they could have reached if Petrie would have helped instead of just flying around cheering them on!
  • In the Liberty's Kids episode "We the People", James and Sarah have been banned from reporting on the proceedings and attempt to do so covertly. At one point, James lifts Sarah onto his shoulders to look through a high window.
  • The Lion Guard: In "The Trail to Udugu", Kion has Kiara climb onto his shoulders so she could reach a high ledge.
  • In the Season 2 premiere Littlest Pet Shop (2012), the pets all pile up on each other to keep themselves out of view of a webcam so Blythe can't see them with Zoe on the bottom.
    • The pets have actually started to make this a standard technique of theirs starting in Season 2, usually so that one of them (usually Russell) could get at eye level with Blythe.
  • In the Martha Speaks episode, "The Big Knockover", Martha, Skits, and all their dog friends from the neighborhood form two pyramids to look inside a window. In the first one, Martha was one of the dogs in the middle, while Skits was one of the dogs on the bottom. In the second one, Martha and Skits were both on top.
  • In Mickey Mouse short "Fire Escape", Mickey thinks Minnie's apartment building is on fire, so he gets all the other people in the apartment out and has them all pile up so that he can climb up to the top and save Minnie from the top level. It turned out to be a false alarm because Minnie had just burned something she was cooking in her kitchen.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Hearts and Hooves Day," the Cutie Mark Crusaders do this to reach a cloud that they need for the love potion that they try to make. As only pegasus can manipulate clouds, Scootaloo is on top and as pegasi are generally assumed to be light, this follows the logical structure rather than comic.
    • In "Games Ponies Play", the main 6 form a pyramid when doing their cheer for the chairman of the Equestrian Games. Their formation is Apple Jack and Pinkie Pie on the bottom (Earth ponies, presumed heaviest and AJ definitely strongest), Twilight Sparkle and Rarity (unicorns) in the middle, and Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash (Pegasus, presumed lightest) on top. They attempt to do this while practicing their cheer but instantly fall due to their train coming to a screeching halt. When they perform it for real in front of who they think is the chairman, however, they had to do it without Rarity since she was busy fixing up Princess Cadence in the Salon.
    • The main 6 form another pyramid in "Magical Mystery Cure" with Twilight Sparkle on top.
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders do this again in "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Tolls" to try to break into Sapphire Shores' dance club because they couldn't get past the security at the front door. Scootaloo tried to fly up to the window using Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom for extra support. Unfortunately, her wings still failed her, and they all crashed.
    • In the Equestria Girls special "Mirror Magic", while most of the Humane 7 are trapped in the alternate dimension inside Juniper's mirror, Twilight Sparkle tries to reach the portal leading back into the real world with Applejack giving her a boost. The process gets interrupted when Sunset Shimmer comes crashing in through the portal.
    • At the beginning of the episode, “Marks for Effort”, the Cutie Mark Crusaders do this again to try to peek into the School of Friendship.
    • In the series finale episode, “The Ending of the End”, Applejack gets on Rarity’s shoulders so she could lasso Grogar’s Bell (with Spike and Fluttershy holding the lasso with her) while the rest of the Mane 6 distract the Legion of Doom. Unfortunately, they get caught.
  • PAW Patrol:
    • "Pups Save a Flying Frog": Rubble piles up onto Rocky and Zuma so that he can look into a periscope.
    • "Pups Save the Circus": Marshall, Rubble and Skye do this while they're pretending to do a series of circus act. Skye calls this move "The Triple-Decker Pups". However, Ryder calls the pups while they're doing this, and Marshall (at the bottom) forgets that he's still carrying the other two!
    • "Pups Bark with Dinosaurs": Marshall, Rocky, Zuma and Chase all pile up on each other to pretend to be a Tyrannosaurus rex with Marshall on top, though they disassemble quickly when Ryder called them.
    • In another episode, Marshall, Rubble and Chase are playing basketball, but Marshall feels bad that he can't make a single basket. Chase and Rubble try to cheer him up by helping him reach the basket by boosting him up to it with Chase on the bottom and Rubble in the middle.
    • In “Pups Save Daring Danny’s Hippo”, the pups form a pyramid as part of the circus act.
    • In “Pups Save a Cow”, the pups form a pyramid to try to get a kite down from a tree. Rocky was on top since he was already in his uniform so that he can use his claw to reach it.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998)
    • In "Silent Treatment", the girls do this to try to reach a phone. In this case, they had to since they were unable to fly.
    • In "Him Diddle Riddle", the girls do this again to try to reach a phone. In this case, they had to since one of the rules of the challenge as said by Him was "No flying."
  • The kids on Recess did this quite a few times. Once they did it to time a clock to get out of school.
  • The babies would often do this in Rugrats to reach heights that none of them could reach by themselves, usually to get cookies for Angelica from the kitchen. In addition, the order in which they climb on each other is surprisingly consistent— Chuckie's on the bottom, since he's the biggest. Phil is next, since he has a better chance of holding two babies' weights than Lil. Lil is next because Tommy is almost always at the top (being the leader of the group), and Tommy stands on Lil's shoulders/back at the very top.
  • In an episode of Sheep in the Big City, Sheep is shown standing on top of a human pyramid, but he is soon chased off by Lady Richington, who winds up taking his place at the top of the pyramid causing people witnessing this to cheer.
  • The Simpsons: Springfield did the "human pyramid" version, trying to get into the Duff Book of World Records. There's also a gag where a group of cheerleaders do this in a sandstorm, which leads to them getting buried, and looking like an actual pyramid.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • This is done a few times in the main series:
      • In "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler" when the Tattletale Strangler, posing as a bodyguard so he can strangle SpongeBob for turning him in for littering, can't reach SpongeBob's window to get into his house, he asks him to climb on his shoulders. Unfortunately, it's at that moment that SpongeBob reveals he was wearing spiky cleats and gets them stuck in the Strangler's eye sockets for six hours!
        SpongeBob: With these spiky cleats, anything is possible!
        Strangler: Cleats?! [SpongeBob jumps onto his eye sockets, and he screams in pain] Get your feet out of my eye sockets!
        SpongeBob: I'm trying, but my cleats are stuck in your corneas!
      • In "A Flea in Her Dome", when Sandy's treedome becomes infested with fleas after she ended up picking up one during her trip to Texas, she, SpongeBob and Patrick need to find a way to exterminate them. Near the end of the episode, Patrick's idea, as usual, turns out to be useless, as he wanted to form a human ladder into the tree so he could get an apple, with Sandy on the bottom and SpongeBob in the middle.
      • In "Say Awww!", when another one of Plankton's inventions in order to attack the Krusty Krab, namely Q.T.-π (Q.T.-Pi), goes haywire, it eats pretty much everyone in the Krusty Krab after they've said "Awww!", and their only means of escaping is through the emergency evacuation uvula. At first, after Mr. Krabs is eaten, there's not enough people to reach the uvula, so they need Q.T.-Pi to eat more people. Q.T.-Pi soon eats everyone in town, leaving SpongeBob the only one left. After SpongeBob is eaten, there's enough people to reach the uvula. Amazingly, it takes Plankton lifting the bottom for them to reach the exit.
  • Star Wars Resistance: In "The Disappeared", while locked inside a cargo container by the First Order, Aunt Z twice uses Hype Fazon as a somewhat unwilling footstool to see out of an air vent. Hype's not too thrilled about this because Aunt Z is much heavier than he is.
  • In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the turtles (excluding Donatello) stacked up to fix a light. The totem collapsed when Michaelangelo (at the base) got up to do something not realizing he was still supporting the totem.
  • In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Buster, Babs and Plucky did it to listen in on something Yosemite Sam was plotting. Only Buster heard what was going on since he was on top, while Plucky was in the middle, and Babs was on the bottom.
  • In the Top Cat episode "The Late T.C.", Top Cat tries to watch a ball game at Yankee Stadium by having his gang stand on top of each other so he can peek over the fence.
    Choo-Choo: I heard of supporting your team, but this is ridiculous.
  • Total Drama:
    • In "Masters of Disasters", Duncan, Leshawna, and Heather climb on top of each other to reach a hatch on the ceiling. They topple over when Heather's attempt to grab hold of the hatch causes Duncan to lose balance. They don't try again.
    • In "Bigger! Badder! Brutal-er!", six of the Toxic Rats are catapulted on top of each other by seventh member B in order to reach the rope holding up their totem pole and cut it down. Their order from the bottom up is: Sam, Staci, Scott, Lightning, Dawn, and Dakota.
  • Discussed in Toy Story of Terror. While most of the toys are locked up in a cabinet, Jessie makes it out but isn't tall enough to reach the lock. She decides to go rescue Woody so that she can climb onto his shoulders to reach the lock. When they both make it back, Woody fortunately had the same idea, but Jessie came up with a better idea at the last second.
  • In the Wacky Races episode, "Fast Track to Hackensack", the Anthill Mob are arrested for speeding thanks to Dick Dastardly painting an 8 on a 35 Miles-Per-Hour speed limit sign. While in jail, the Mob form a human ladder so Ring-A-Ding can use a nail file to file down the bars on the window. Clyde is on the bottom, Ring-a-Ding is on top, and the other five members are in between them. This plan unfortunately fails because the Mob get caught by the sheriff.
  • In the Wallace & Gromit short "A Close Shave", a ladder of sheep, with Wallace at the bottom, helps break Gromit from prison.

    Real Life 
  • Human towers and pyramids are a traditional athletic team formation. In Catelonia there is a tradition of competitive human tower building.
  • In the Ramones documentary, End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones, Joe Strummer told a story about the members of The Clash and the Sex Pistols doing this in order to get into a Ramones concert on their first UK tour.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Human Footstool, People Sit On People


Team Vanilla tries reaching

The plush bear that Party Hat wants is at the top of a tall shelving, so the team stacks itself to try reaching for it only for them to fall.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / HumanLadder

Media sources: