A character is falling from a great height and has no conventional parachute. What to do? Improvise with something else! Usually it's an article of clothing, though a Rubber Man can make himself/herself the parachute.
Please Don't Try This at Home unless you are, yourself, falling from a great height and have no parachute.
- Lupin III: Zenigata once makes a parachute from ramen bowls, and Lupin has made use of extra boxers this way.
- Aria the Scarlet Ammo has Riko Mine, whose clothes turn into a parachute. Leaving her flying across the sky in her underwear.
- In the Planetes heroes escaped burning building using parachute made of tied bedsheets. Even while it was on the Moon (and thus gravity was only a fraction of Earth's) they ended badly injured.
- Spider-Man on at least one occasion created a parachute using his web shooters.
- In some Silver Age Batman stories, Batman's cape doubles as a parachute. In the Modern Age, it's sometimes used as glider to slow his fall, with the added bonus of allowing him to reach the safety of rooftops, all while looking really cool. Same basic principle.
- Indiana Jones used a blanket once.
- In the comic-only sequel to The Great Mouse Detective, it is revealed that Ratigan survived his fall from Big Ben by using his cape as an improvised parachute.
- Donald Duck and his nephews who were disguised as Indians while trailing after Scrooge McDuck in a comic book story use their blankets as parachutes after Scrooge bails out of a commercial airplane owned by his company with a parachute.
- In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Lt. Surge's Joltik is lodged to the ceiling and attacks Ash's Charmander with Hidden Power, who deflects it back with Metal Claw. The attack causes Joltik to fall off, but Surge orders it to use Spider Web as a parachute to slow down the fall.
- Disney's Aladdin: Aladdin and Abu use a rug as one when they jump out a window during the song "One Jump Ahead".
- The Incredibles:
- Elastigirl uses herself as an improvised parachute after Syndrome blows her plane out of the sky. Using her kids as ballast.
- She does this again during the climax when she has to save Jack-Jack after he falls out of the arms of Syndrome.
- Alice's dress in Disney's animated version of Alice in Wonderland.
- It also happened in the 1988 Burbank Films Australia version.
- In Sherlock Gnomes, the gnomes use Chinese lanterns as parachutes when they jump from Curly Fu's to the roof of the bus.
- Indiana Jones used an inflatable liferaft when the plane he was on was about to crash into a mountain in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This also doubles as Special Effects Failure as you can clearly see the dummies in the raft as it flips over several times in the air.
- The Baroness' long skirt in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang also acts as a parachute when she is shot into the air by Grandpa.
- In The Da Vinci Code, Robert Langdon saves himself with a piece of plastic this way. Probably the least expected object to become a Chekhov's Gun.
- In Peewees Big Adventure, Pee-Wee and Mickey drive off a cliff, and the convertible top of their car serves as a parachute.
- The Smurfs in the self-titled live-action movie and its sequel use their own hats as parachutes.
- The Dark Knight. When the Joker throws Rachel Dawes out the window of Bruce Wayne's penthouse, Batman leaps after her in a desperate attempt to save her. He grabs hold of Rachel but can't get his batwings deployed properly as he's falling vertically instead of gliding, while also bearing Rachel's weight. Fortunately they still slow them enough to absorb the impact with the help of a Car Cushion.
- For Your Eyes Only: James Bond uses a poolside umbrella to slow his fall when jumping off a wall. It's also useful as a momentary visual shield to avoid bullets.
- In Angels & Demons, Langdon used a tarp to slow down the fall from an exploding helicopter.
- In Super Folks, the Lois Lane expy's skirt acts as a parachute when she is thrown off a skyscraper. It turns out she is not wearing underwear which gives quite a show to the rescue workers below.
- In Rendezvous with Rama, a character uses his shirt as a parachute. Justified since the main purpose of the 'chute is to ensure he hits water feet-first. Plus Rama's centrifugally-generated gravity isn't as strong as Earth's, so he isn't falling as fast.
- Attempted in the French novel Windows on the World, as one of the characters tries to escape from the burning North Tower of the World Trade Center by using a large curtain as a parachute. It works... for the first few seconds, before Reality Ensues and he ends up killing himself and two people on the ground.
- Alex Rider: In Scorpia, Alex uses a slowly deflating hot air balloon as an improvised parachute to reach the ground.
- Using various items as parachutes was part of an experiment on Brainiac: Science Abuse.
- They tested an inflatable raft as a parachute. It technically worked, but was not reliable.
- They also tried the plywood parachute (based off an urban legend of a worker being blown off a building while carrying a sheet of plywood). It didn't work... at all.
- Also tested was a news story about a man who tried building a parachute in his hotel room (from available materials) to escape the cops. Luckily for him, he was captured before he had a chance to use it, because three tries = three failures.
- An odd example: In one episode of the 2010 Human Target TV adaptation, Christopher Chance and his client use one to stop from great speed, rather than fall safely.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: While The Skydivers doesn't use this trope at any point, Tom Servo quips that one character's enormous, sculpted hairdo could be used in this way.
Tom Servo: I predict that in the final scene, she jumps without a parachute and then her hair opens up.
- In the song "The Ginger Cat" on the album Captain Beaky and His Band, the eponymous cat does this when the bed he is resting on falls off a cliff.
I grabbed four corners of a sheet,
And held on with my hands and feet.
And as the cliff was out of reach,
I parachuted to the beach.
- In Chinese Mythology, Shun is often considered to be the first parachutist. According to legend, Shun was repairing the roof of a granary when his father and step-brother set it on fire. Shun escaped by using two big straw hats as an improvised parachute.
- In the SNES version of Aladdin, if Aladdin collects the bedsheet in the first level, he can use it as a parachute for the rest of the game.
- American McGee's Alice: Alice's dress slows down her fall (and also helps her float over air vents).
- In The Jungle Book, if Mowgli falls from a great enough height, his loincloth will fold into a parachute, slowing him down but exposing his buttocks.
- Kurt Hectic's coil suit in MDK has long streaks that, when held like a hood, lets Kurt either glide or float downwards softly, or get carried to great heights if he's in an updraft.
- Psychonauts: Raz can use his psychic powers to create an improvised parachute - he creates a literal Thought Bubble and grabs onto the dotted bit.
- In Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, Risky's Hat is used by Shantae in this manner, letting her glide over large chasms or float around with the help of some updrafts.
- In The Simpsons: Virtual Bart, during the Baby Bart level, Baby Bart can use his diaper as a parachute when he is airborne.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Princess Peach uses her dress as a parachute in Super Mario Bros. 2 and several other Mario games.
- Mario's Cape in Super Mario World can be used like this to glide.
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Luigi uses Peach's spare dress to parachute out of the rebuilt Koopa Cruiser with the Beanstar in order to escape Bowletta and Fawful. At least until a passing bird cuts the rope.
- Subverted in Schlock Mercenary, when the amorphous Schlock plans to jump off the top of a skyscraper with a big canister of valuables, using himself as a parachute... but it doesn't work, and he winds up having to improvise on the way down, turning the parachuting into a bungee-jump...
- In Casey and Andy, Quantum Crook saved himself from falling into lava by making a parachute out of his trenchcoat and boot laces.
- The Herculoids:
- In "Defeat of Ogron", Gloop takes the shape of a parachute to lower Zandor to safety.
- In "Mekkor" Gleep provides this for Dorno.
- Samurai Jack: Jack uses his own clothes as a parachute in order to reach greater heights using blasts of air from the ground.
- In one Tom and Jerry cartoon, Jerry uses a bra as a parachute.
- Jackie Chan Adventures:
- After a fight against the Dark Hand off a snowy cliff, Jackie grabs the shirt off Tohru and uses it as a parachute.
- Happens again in a later episode when he jumps out the window of a castle to escape the Shadowkahn and uses the curtain as a parachute to get down the side of the cliff safely.
- The Magician often used his cape this way.
- On the Dungeons & Dragons episode "Day of the Dungeon Master", Presto's magic hat acts as a parachute when the gang fall off the back of a roc — for all of them but Eric, who misses his grip and has to be saved by Hank.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Pizza Delivery", the pizza SpongeBob is delivering becomes a parachute, held to the box by strings of cheese.
- Early in the "Jungle Jeopardy" episode of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Penelope uses her scarf as a parachute after her airplane falls apart in flight.
- One episode of the 1960s The Inspector cartoon had him and Sgt. Deux-Deux falling from the cliff. Deux-Deux grabbed the tent he was carrying, saving both him and Inspector. Unfortunately they landed next to a hungry tiger.
- Hammerman's parachute pants.
- Animaniacs: In "Operation: Lollipop", Buttons uses a mailbag as a parachute.
- Grossology: In "Hirsute Yourself", Abby uses her giant beard (It Makes Sense in Context) as a parachute.
- The Smurfs escape being captured by Lord Balthazar by using a sack as a parachute in the cartoon show episode "Flighty's Plight".
- In the first act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Battle Action Bogus", Bogus is falling down a cliff until he pulls out a T-shirt, which he uses as a parachute to slow his fall. Unfortunately for him, a pair of buzzards are flying by, with one of the buzzards snatching up the T-shirt and Bogus falls once again.
- In the Title Sequence, Stripperella is seen using her hair as a parachute.
- Camp Lakebottom: In "Frankenfixer", McGee uses Sawyer's handkerchief as a parachute.
- In The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol , Grouchy's new hat that he receives as a Christmas present can be used as a glider.
- This was futilely attempted by those trying to escape the inferno that was the World Trade Center on 9/11. Witnesses reported seeing numerous jumpers holding tablecloths that they clearly thought would allow them to drift to the ground safely, only to have the wind rip it away and leave them to fall to their deaths (which tragically would have happened anyway, as the tablecloth material was nowhere near thick enough to provide any kind of substantial resistance).