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Improvised Zipline

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When a character is stuck in a high place of some sort and has nowhere to go but down, he uses anything wire-like to fly down. Gripping onto a wire hanger is a common variation to the trope; however, this is a decidedly horrible idea, as the MythBusters have busted this one's plausibility.

Real ziplines require specific, strong materials for both the line and the thing being held, so that neither one breaks, and so that the friction doesn't stop the slider halfway down the rope.

Not to be confused with Fast-Roping. A supertrope of Bedsheet Ladder.



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  • In the commercials for Push Pop, the cartoon character uses the Push Pop itself to slide across a rope between buildings.
  • In a MasterCard commercial, MacGyver escapes from a room with a bomb in it using a tube sock. Tube sock: $4. Refuge in Audacity: Priceless
  • This Levi's jeans ad has the hero use his jeans to rescue a babe from a high-rise fire.

    Anime And Manga 
  • Pokémon Adventures:
    • Ruby uses his Pokeblock case as a zipline on the thread his Marshtomp is holding up to escape the flames Courtney is trying to kill him with.
    • Earlier, Janine uses her Ariadosnote  as a zipline, with it retracting silk from one end and shooting it out from another.
  • In an Anpanman theatrical short, Uncle Negi, having left his basket full of green onions (which also contains his Naganegiman costume and sword) at the bottom of Princess Doremi's castle grounds, uses his scarf as a zipline...and promptly crashes face first into a tree at the bottom.

    Films — Animated 
  • Chicken Run did it with coat hangers.
  • Disney likes this one a lot in their Animated Fare or otherwise:
    • In Mulan, the heroine uses a string of lanterns to zip down from the roof.
    • In The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco and Pacha, who are trying to beat Yzma and Kronk to the palace, cross a ravine by firing an arrow with a rope attached into a tree on the other side, tying the rope to the tree on their side, and then zipping down on it.
  • In Shrek 2, Prince Charming shoots an arrow with a rope tied to it and then uses his bow to zip across the fiery moat of lava.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: Po uses the same lantern string variation as the page image.
  • Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! has Shaggy and Scooby sliding down a mast rope with a mop handle.
  • In Toy Story 3 Buzz slides on the yarn holding up kid's pictures in the nursery to escape out the window.
  • In Up, Carl does a short zip-line with a garden hose and his own cane.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Dark Knight, the opening bank robbery has Happy and Dopey land on the roof of the bank by firing a cable launcher from an office building across the street, then ziplining over the street on the new cable.
  • Tango & Cash. While escaping prison, Stallone and Russell's characters use their belts and the prison's electric lines in this manner to get over the brick wall surrounding the prison.
  • Home Alone has Kevin using a sawn-off bike handlebar to slide from his window to his treehouse.
    • This same variation happens in Sleepover, but with a wire hanger.
  • In Back to the Future, the Mad Scientist Doc Brown uses the wire to slide down from a clock tower, rushing to connect a loose cable in time for the lightning strike.
  • Rush Hour 2 to escape an explosion.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl did this with the chain on his handcuffs. It is worth noting that it is topologically impossible to hook handcuffs secured between your hands over a wire attached at both ends and then jump off again at the bottom. Close observation reveals that Jack actually forms a short noose from the chain and throws that over the wire, which makes the feat possible - and even cooler.
  • In Enchanted, Pip the Chipmunk did it on a wire with a clothes hanger.
  • Chris pulls one off in Eight Legged Freaks. The Giant Spider that tries to follow falls off.
  • James Bond
    • Never Say Never Again. While infiltrating a terrorist hideout at the beginning of the movie, Bond climbs up a pole and slides down a telephone (?) wire onto the roof.
    • Moonraker. Bond and Holly Goodhead use a chain to slide down a cable car cable in order to escape from Jaws.
    • A deleted scene in The Living Daylights had Bond improvise a 'flying carpet' by throwing a carpet over some telephone wires and sliding down them to escape the police in Tangier. Stills of this scene were seen in a lot of publicity material for the film, but it was ultinately decided that this silly scene did not sit well with Timothy Dalton's Darker And Grittier Bond.
  • The Social Network. Mark and friends make a zipline from the roof (tied to the chimney) to the pool. After just two jumps the chimney breaks and the zipline falls.
  • Santa uses a candy cane to zip down a string of Christmas lights in the animated opening of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
  • The Return of the Pink Panther. The thief escapes from the museum with the diamond by firing a zip line from a crossbow to an adjacent building, then sliding down the line into an apartment in the other building.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Judge Doom uses his cane to slide down a wire and attack Eddie Valiant on top of the Dip wagon.
  • Batman (1966). During the battle on the submarine, the Penguin uses his umbrella to slide down a wire and knock down Batman with a kick.
  • In The Adventures of Tintin, The eponymous character is seen using the handle of a motorbike to slide down a cable during his pursuit of a falcon in Bagghar.
  • Hudson Hawk. While robbing the Vatican, Eddie throws a rope (with a grappling hook on the end) from the top of a building across a street. He then slides down the rope to escape.
  • Spoofed in Water (1985). A communist rebel played by Billy Connolly is attacking the local radio station by sliding down a telephone cable (even though he could have walked up to the door, as it's totally undefended). He misjudges his distance and goes crashing through the roof instead.
  • One film adaptation of Jason and the Argonauts has the Argonauts pursued by an army and come across a ravine. One produces a rope with which to climb down, but Jason has a better idea, tying the rope to a shield and asking Hercules if he's any good at the discus. Once the shield is thrown, the Argonauts cross on the Improvised Zipline, only waiting for the enemy to start crossing to cut the rope.
  • Chazz Michael Michaels performs one of these with his jock strap in Blades of Glory.
  • In Like Flint. While on a mission in Moscow, Flint is pursued by Soviet agents. He jumps onto the top of a tower and fires a line to the top of another building using his multi-function lighter. He then slides down the line to the top of the building and safety.
  • Robin Hood (2018): At the mines, Robin jumps off an elevated walkway and hooks his bow over a conveniently placed rope; sliding down it to land in the back of John's wagon.

  • This happens in the Scott Westerfeld novel Leviathan: Deryn is up in a scouting balloon and sees Alek's "family" coming to the shipwreck looking for him in their Stormwalker. The message lizard won't get down the cable in time, so she slings a leather strap over the tether and zips down to camp. The book also goes into detail about how and why this sort of action is dangerous and shows the sort of things Deryn has to do to prevent snapping her wrists/neck.
  • In False Mirrors, the heroes use their uniform belts to slide down vertical kilometer-long high-tension cables. They, however, are in Unreal-based Virtual Reality game, so it's justified. And still, Gengis's belt snaps at the last second, and he barely survives a 20-story drop with a measly couple of HP.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Chuck season 3 when he was training to be a "real" spy, Chuck had to do a zipline using a power line and his belt as the pulley, but failed. Then at the end of the ep he was forced to use a power line as a zip line with his belt as the pulley. This time he succeeded.
  • Busted by the MythBusters in the case of using your pants to zip down a ski lift: There's too much friction, the angle of the lift isn't steep enough, and either the pants or your grip will fail first.
  • Speaking of Busters, on episode of Arrested Development has Buster attempt this and fail miserably.
  • Both JD and Turk do this in an episode of Scrubs.
  • 1960's Batman series
    • Episode "The Penguin's A Jinx". The Penguin and his henchmen fire a rope line from the top of one building to another and slide across using umbrellas with special devices attached to the end.
    • Episode "Batman Sets The Pace". Batman and Robin crawl up the inside of a chimney to escape the Joker's poison gas trap. After they exit the top of the building, they use their gloved hands to slide down a wire to the ground.
  • In an early episode of The City Hunter, Yun Sung uses his backpack to slide down a line.
  • On Agents Of Shield, when Agents Coulson and May need to escape after stealing an entire filing cabinet of physical (paper) files, May uses a handle of a equipment cart while Coulson uses his belt to follow the cabinet out the window they tossed it through.
  • In the White Collar episode "Borrowed Time", the pulley Neal intends to use to zipline onto the Kessmann Building breaks, so he improvises using his belt.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Five Doctors", the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane use a cable stolen from the Raston Warrior Robot to zipline on to the roof of the Tower of Rassilon.
    • In "Remembrance Of The Daleks", the Seventh Doctor uses his umbrella and a rope to reach the top of a landed Dalek spacecraft from an upper-floor window.
  • The Magician: In "Illusion of Black Gold", Tony uses a pair of handcuffs he had earlier taken from the prisoner he was rescuing to slide down a guywire to the ground, carrying the prisoner on his back.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "The Prodigal", Mac and another guy have barricaded themselves in an attic by piling up furniture against the door as bad guys with guns try to catch them. Using cleaning fluid, a telescope, moth balls, rope, some handle bars and a pulley that all happen to be lying around the attic, Mac creates a spear gun that fires a rope to a tree outside. Then he and his sidekick zipline over vicious dogs and a tall fence to safety.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy X, the ship fires massive anchor cables into the building the characters need to get to, but since it's under fire, it can't stay long, so the party surfs down the cables onto the building.
  • Uncharted: Drake uses several wires and his pistol to zipline down quickly.
  • Monkey Island did it with a rubber chicken. With a pulley in the middle.
  • Alpha Protocol features this a lot.
  • Mirror's Edge features Faith doing this WITH HER HANDS. Careful observation will note that her gloved hand always is in direct contact with the wire, thereby Handwaving the damage one would normally receive from such a stunt, but it far from excuses it.
  • Jack from MadWorld can do this with certain steel wires, but only because it's a steel hand with a Chainsaw in it.
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations gives its characters a "hookblade," which will allow them to use wires as ziplines.
  • In Gears of War 3, Cole's squad uses what look to be meat hooks to slide down a cable car line. One-handed.
  • In Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, Logan uses a modified Grappling-Hook Pistol called the RTL to latch onto and zip along wires.
  • In certain levels of Perfect Dark Zero, Joanna can use conveniently placed wires for this.
  • While it is not improvised on the spot, the Player Character of Sunset Overdrive uses a crowbar to "undergrind" around the city on telephone wires and the like.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure, Buster can use his rabbit ears to slide down ziplines.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Carpe Museum" Bob, Louise, and Regular-Sized Rudy are stranded on the scaffolding of an unfinished exhibit while Rudy is suffering an asthma attack. Bob manages to get to the ground and help the kids down by using his chaperone safety vest as a zipline.
    Louise: Wait, what are you doing?
    Bob: Maybe the bravest and dumbest thing I've ever done.
  • The Simpsons: Parodied in "The Springfield Connection"; Herman, the one-armed weapon seller, takes a pair of bootleg designer jeans and tries to get away using them to zipline out of Bart's treehouse. However, the jeans rip partway down as Herman laments "Foiled by my own shoddy merchandise!"
  • In the Super Friends episode "The Shamon U", Batman and Robin use their Batarangs to slide down cable car cables to escape a giant rabbit.
  • In Total Drama World Tour this is used by every member of Team Chris Is Really Really Really Really Hot in order to cross a river filled with piranhas.
    • Alejandro uses his belt.
    • Owen uses his hands, and gets rope burn.
    • Tyler uses his pants, but they end up catching fire.
    • Izzy places Noah in a backpack, wears it, and then slides across using the straps.
  • The Secret Saturdays: In "Curse of the Stolen Tiger", the entire family (plus Wadi) use their belts to slide down a hoist rope from the warlord's mountain fortress.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils": The Cutie Mark Crusaders use a clothesline as a zipline to get into Sapphire Shores' studio so Sweetie Belle can confess to sabotaging her big sister Rarity's latest project before it's too late.
  • Final Space: In episode 5, when the elevator is destroyed while the protagonists are only halfway between the Infinity Guard base and the planet’s surface, Gary uses his robot arm to let himself and Quinn glide down the elevator cable. Unfortunately for Gary, the hand is capable of feeling pain and he screams in agony the entire way. Also ,the cable doesn’t extend all the way to the surface, so the two end up plummeting to the ground one they reach the end of the cable.

    Real Life 
  • Two men once created a zipline with a crossbow and abseiled over the Berlin Wall.
  • One Darwin Award winner decided to use a karabiner clip to slide down the cable of a disused chairlift. Too late he discovered that he had no way to arrest his acceleration and no to disengage himself from the karabiner. He collided fatally with a pylon. Prefaced by the Famous Last Words "Hey, watch this!"


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