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It's All Upstairs From Here

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The whole dungeon is a massive set of staircases.

Dr. Raymond Stantz: Hey. Where do these stairs go?
Dr. Peter Venkman: They go up.

A trope found in most fantasy setting Role Playing Games. No matter what all you will have to accomplish between the beginning and the end—whatever continents you must cross, whatever oceans you must ford, whatever planets you must visit—you will always have to climb a Tower.

True, towers make for great defenses in times of war. However, one can easily see that the reason it exists is solely to make the player traverse not only far, but up in order to accomplish the goal. More often than not, the tower will either be three-quarters of the way through the game or will consist of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon itself. If the tower is not the final dungeon, then you can guarantee that when you finally do reach the top and fight the boss you're in for some pretty dialogue-heavy plot sections usually involving some kind of twist that changes the direction of the protagonist's mission.

This trope is not just limited solely to Role Playing Games; very often games will utilize this type of level design as a way to show off their environments, particularly open-world games where it is one of the few times you can see said world from such altitudes. Games with climbing mechanics will typically have you spiraling around the outside of the tower.

See also Climbing Climax, Ending by Ascending.

Clock Tower is a closely related trope, especially in a Bell Tower or Cathedral. Oddly, you rarely see residents having to climb a Mage Tower, perhaps because it would highlight how impractical it is for old men. In case the tower or building is high enough to take the characters to the high skies (thus being a literal skyscrapper), they'll transition into Journey to the Sky.


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  • Dislyte:
    • The Infinite Miracle game mode is based around climbing a tower and fighting enemies on their floors to obtain awards. There are two versions of Infinite Miracle: Spatial Tower and Temporal Tower.
    • Spatial Tower has you climbing 100 floors with the last and most prestigious reward being a free Legendary Esper, Lucas.
    • Temporal Tower consists of 50 floors, with every 5th floor going through a Temporal Disturbance that grants glamorous rewards. At the beginning of the month, a new phase will begin, resetting you on the first floor with the possibility of the rewards and enemy formations changing.
  • The Final Fantasy series is littered with examples of this.
    • Final Fantasy has you climbing the Tower of Illusion to obtain the fourth crystal.
    • Final Fantasy II has the fake final dungeon, Castle Palamecia, which you actually fall several stories down to just so you can climb up it. The Mysidian Tower and Castle Pandaemonium each have ten floors, with the latter also coming after the five-floor descent down Jade Passage. The Unknown Palace in the Soul of Rebirth story also has ten floors, being a mirrored version of Pandaemonium.
    • Final Fantasy III has the Tower of Owen and the Crystal Tower.
    • Final Fantasy IV has at least two towers that serve as dungeons: The Tower of Bab-il and the Tower of Zot, where Golbez runs his operations. You also have to enter the Tower of Bab-il no less than three times and traverse different floors each time.
    • Final Fantasy V has the Barrier Tower, the Phoenix Tower (30 stories tall), the Fork Tower (in which you have to divide your party in order to knock down both sides at the same time), and Walse Tower (home to the water crystal).
    • Final Fantasy VI has the Tower of Fanatics. Kefka's tower is an inversion for the most part, as you're descending into the depths to fight Kefka (except for a few bits) and then climbing back up to escape it.
    • Final Fantasy VII has Shinra Headquarters. While it is not a literal tower in the castle sense, the skyscraper feel to it certainly would classify it as a tower. Especially if you have to take the stairs... A more classical example would be the Pagoda in Wutai, which, while only five levels tall, is 100% tower and has a guardian on each floor. At least one Second Life FFVII RP sim's players have taken to calling it "ShinRa Tower" and during the Junon sim's existence, put a fanmade one inside the support structure for the canon.
    • Final Fantasy VIII has the optional Centra Ruins, the Dollet Radio Tower, the Desert Prison at the beginning of disc 2, and Lunatic Pandora.
    • Final Fantasy IX has Memoria. However, the fact that the laws of physics aren't strictly followed here makes it more difficult to say "upstairs".
    • Final Fantasy X-2 has the Via Infinito, which goes down.
    • Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission consists entirely of climbing the 80-floor Iutycyr Tower.
    • Final Fantasy XI:
      • Delkfutt's Tower, the top of which plays an important part in the Rise of the Zilart expansion, and offers a few special fights... for anyone who had the time and money to go to the Fan Festivals.
      • The Nyzul Isle remnants. It is 100 floors and was originally planned to go further up and descend. However, it is not clear what exactly is going on since the layout of the non-boss floors are random and all of the Alzadaal Ruins is Alexander's body.
    • Final Fantasy XII had the 100-story Pharos. You skip maybe 27 stories by teleporting, but the rest have to be climbed. It also has three basement floors, solely for Optional Boss sidequests. However, it should be noted that the definition of "story" is stretched to its limit. Most of those stories are better defined as "landings between sets of stairs".
    • Final Fantasy XIII has Taejin's Tower, which has individual floors connected by stairs, though you need to use the elevator to get between sections. The sections themselves all need to be rotated into place so that the elevator can reach the top. The tower was once much taller, but has long since collapsed, leaving only the first seven floors that form the playable area. Another elevator that once would have gone further up the tower now rolls up to the outskirts of Oerba instead.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has the Syrcus Tower raid, an homage to FFIII's Crystal Tower.
    • Final Fantasy XV has several inversions, as the mandatory Steyliff Grove, optional Costlemark Tower, and several post-game Bonus Dungeons are all downstairs from the entrance.
    • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest had Focus Tower, which was literally (and outright stated to be) the center of the world. It is the final dungeon, although the player gets to pass through parts of it at several earlier points in the game. In fact, at one point you get a glimpse of said final dungeon while retrieving a hidden item.
    • The Final Fantasy Legend is all about this, literally. Many adventurers have tried climbing the tower, and your party is only the latest in a long line. Each "world" involves a long quest to get the key to unlock the next floors of the tower, which lead to the next world. Once all the keys have been obtained, you have to climb ludicriously high up the tower (fighting powerful monsters all the way) before finally facing off against the final boss.
  • This was almost the entirety of Magic Sword: Heroic Fantasy: After the heroes go through the village and defeat the first boss, the rest of the game is a 50-story tower.
  • Several instances in Phantasy Star:
    • The first game has the tower of Baya Malay, in which the player must climb to the top floor, then descend into the basement, then ascend again via a separate route to reach the roof.
    • Phantasy Star II has just one tower, Nido (aka Tower of Nido), but in this case one is more than enough. Nido is the only dungeon in the game to contain the infamous enemy Blaster, a biomonster with an attack capable of wiping out the entire party in a single shot. Blaster's appearances and use of the attack have been nerfed in ports, but it still appears enough and Nido is still challenging enough to make beating it an achievement on the Xbox.
    • Phantasy Star III, like its predecessors before it, has exactly one tower: the Control Tower of Aridia, where the first generation goes to meet Lyle and fix the Weather and Satellite control systems. Unlike Nido from PSII, it's far from a difficult dungeon, and in fact is pretty forgettable seeing as how it's visually no different than any other dungeon thanks to the game's liberal use of Cut and Paste Environments.
    • Phantasy Star IV has towers galore, including Ladea Tower, Garuberk Tower, Strength Tower, Courage Tower, Anger Tower, and even an enemy called "Tower"! Of these towers, Ladea and Garuberk are the most important from a story perspective, while the three later towers are end-of-game Secret Test of Character sites (two are mandatory, one is optional). The enemy Tower, amusingly enough, is not actually encountered in a tower (it's a robot sentry on the space satellite Kuran).
  • SaGa (RPG):
    • The first two games in the series both revolve around climbing up worlds-spanning towers. In The Final Fantasy Legend, whatever the protagonists' initial motivation for scaling the tower was, the ultimate purpose ends up being to punch the local deity in the face when you get there. Take that, Almighty! In Final Fantasy Legend II, after reaching the top of the tower, you must descend inside of it for the final battle.
    • Final Fantasy Legend III has two tower dungeons, but without a God to punch at the top. Though if you replace Master with Old Ones, you'll feel better and understand the game a whole lot more.
  • The Tower of Druaga. Essentially the entire game is climbing up a 60-floor tower. In the Animated Adaptation, the original NES game is available as an arcade game on one of the floors, which are divided in multiple groupings of floors filled with monsters and traps. And then there's another tower on top of this one where the true Big Bad resides.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne had a few, including one incredibly tall tower you had to clear once, which was then crushed by an even bigger tower. Thankfully, it skipped a lot of floors going up, so although the game said you were on floor 600, you didn't trek up those many floors.
    • Persona 3, a spin-off of the above series, had the 260+ floor Tartarus, which exemplifies this trope. Tartarus wasn't just the final dungeon, it was the only dungeon. The game divides into about 45% climbing Tartarus, 45% Social Links, 10% Full Moon Operations.
    • Inverted in Persona 5, which features Mementos, a huge, multi-level dungeon, where instead of starting at the bottom and climbing to the top, you start at the top and progress further downward. New sections unlock as you progress through the game, with the very bottom serving as the final dungeon.
    • Persona 5 Royal: The Very Definite Final Dungeon (Dr. Maruki's Palace) takes the form of a massive glass-and-golden tower. The final boss is met at the highest point of the structure.
    • This is a big part of Catherine. Vincent's Nightmare Sequences involve him attempting to climb a series of hazardous towers to escape to "freedom". Falling or dying by any other means will kill him in the real world. The story making it a spin-off of Persona, doesn't make it much of a surprise.
    • Digital Devil Saga includes a massive tower in each game, one of which is located on or in the sun.
    • Shin Megami Tensei I is stuffed to the gills with them, but the most notable is the final dungeon, a gigantic, multi-storied cathedral built to summon God into it. This is subverted however if you choose to take the Law path. You go down through the underground part of the cathedral instead. On Neutral, you go both down and up, in either order.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey includes a tower at the very center of Sector Eridanus, atop which the dimensional distortion between Earth and the Schwarzwelt is found. Much less ominous but a lot more terrifying is Mithra's Palace of Pleasure in Sector Bootes, a nightmarish construction where Mithra and his demonic cronies imprison and experiment upon the human crew of the Elve and even fellow demons.
  • The Tales Series:
    • Tales of Phantasia had two towers: the Tower of Luna, where you get... er, Luna, and the Odin Fire Tower, where you get Lloyd's old Flamberge and the Explode spell.
    • Tales of Destiny incorporated a remake of The Tower of Druaga as its Bonus Dungeon.
    • Tales of Eternia had the optional Glimmering Spire, a tower of puzzles on each floor. At the top awaited the boss battle with Valkyrie and a ton of chests.
    • Tales of Symphonia:
      • The Tower of Mana, which you have to climb twice. The second time includes a bit of No Fourth Wall Lampshade Hanging on the tediousness of this sort of thing... the characters mention how annoying it is that they have to go through the area again, and Lloyd asks why there couldn't be a "quick jump" option, confusing Regal. note 
      • Subverted with the actual villain Evil Tower of Ominousness, which is not climbable — it only has one real floor of interest, which you access by teleporter. But you do have to descend it at one point (no, twice actually — the basement portion soon after the first descent).
      • The OVA version of it has a giant spiral staircase leading to the room with the teleporter.
    • The final stage in Tales of Innocence is the Tower of Dawn. It happens to be divided into three parts, with three boss rooms at the end of each segment and a save point just before each boss.
    • Tales of Vesperia ends the first third of the game with the "Tower of Gears, Ghasfarost." There is also the Evil Tower of Ominousness via Tarqaron.
    • The Inevitable Tournament in Tales of Hearts mostly takes place in a huge tower called the "Tower of Heroes, King's Cross".
    • Tales of the Abyss has the Tower of Rem.
  • The ending of the first Max Payne, which has the title character storming the Aesir Corporation tower to take on the Big Bad behind the murder of his family.
  • Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen and all of its remakes do this, with nearly half the game consisting of climbing Darm Tower in pursuit of Dark Fact. Ys Origin took it to its logical conclusion: the entire game is a tower climb.
  • The Spring of the Sky and Tower of the Goddess areas in La-Mulana.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The Endless Staircase from Super Mario 64 (which is only endless so long as you don't have enough stars to engage Bowser in the final battle). Or doing a tool-assisted speedrun.
    • The Towers and Mid-Castles/Fortresses in New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, respectively.
    • Mario Party 8: The minigame Rotation Station takes place inside a tall, ominous tower where two dueling characters have to jump across platforms (some of which are moving) to see who reaches the top first. Whoever does so first wins, but the minigame ends in a tie if neither character makes it to the top in five minutes.
    • Mario Party: Island Tour: In Bowser's Tower, as the player's chosen character and their companion Green Toad defeat the bubble clones created by Bowser in his evil tower, they run upstairs in a spiral pattern to move bwteen floors and reach the top. However, because of how tall the tower is, this will require clearing multiple floors.
  • The Kirby series is a big fan of this trope, usually either for The Very Definitely Final Dungeon or the Disc-One Final Dungeon.
    • The third area in Kirby's Adventure, the Butter Building, uses a tower as a Hub Level. As you clear each stage, another floor of the tower is revealed; in two of the levels, there's a sequence where you must run up a revolving staircase on the outside of the tower while enemies pursue you. At the tower's top, you fight the area bosses, Mr. Shine and Mr. Bright, who look like the sun and a crescent moon respectively. There's also a level in Rainbow Resort where you must get to the top of a tower; you must fight a miniboss in each floor, with a hidden level which is similar but the minibosses are different. This type of level is referenced in other Kirby games such as Kirby's Return to Dream Land where the final stage of Nutty Noon does the same thing.
    • The Great Cave Offensive has the Old Tower area, which usually (but not always) required Kirby to go up. It's also skippable.
    • Stage 7 of Dark Castle in Kirby's Dream Land 2 require Kirby to go up a tower, with the boss fight with Dedede afterwards taking place at the top. The Rainbow Drop for Dark Castle also requires Kirby to enter specific doors based on a sign hidden in the castle (requiring Kine's spark ability). Notably, it's the only stage in Dark Castle that doesn't have a harder counterpart.
    • Iceberg in Kirby's Dream Land 3 takes inspiration from the Rainbow Resort example above with a mini-boss rush and has puzzles to solve to clear the objective (retrieving an angel's wings).
    • The fourth stage of Ripple Star in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards repeats the Dream Land 3 example with Ripple Star's Castle.
  • Terranigma begins with the misleadingly cliché quest of conquering five towers...which you discover control the resurrection of the very continents of the world above (ours). There's two more towers in the game as well (one is the last proper dungeon), but both are unrelated to these five.
  • Illusion of Gaia ends with a climb up the Tower of Babel. The climb fairly short for as tall as the tower is shown to be, with the only real substance being a series of boss battles on the way up.
  • The laboratory stage of Iron Meat is a lengthy climbing sequence where you repeatedly leap up a series of platforms, one level at a time, each infested with mutant monsters or hazards, while trying to reach the tip to battle the stage's boss.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is particularly guilty of this. The Bonus Dungeon, Sphere Company floors 101-211, is 110 near-identical floors of hell.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story has one at the end of each disk.
  • The Playstation RPG Azure Dreams is a good example of this- all of the action in the game takes place in a giant tower, with the town below, the only other accessible location, consisting of shops and dating-sim style character interactions.
  • The Pokémon RPGs tend to have quite a few towers.
    • The Kanto series games has two that can (and must) be climbed, both of which were taken over by Team Rocket. The first of which is the Pokémon Tower in Lavender Town, where you need to calm the ghost of the mother Marowak and obtain the PokéFlute from Mr. Fuji. The second is the Silph Co. Building in Saffron City, where Giovanni planned to get his hands on the Master Ball to catch Mewtwo, and defeating him clears out the Team Rocket grunts in the city.
    • Johto games have Olivine's lighthouse, Goldenrod's radio tower, the Tin/Bell Tower in Ecruteak City (atop of which is Ho-oh), and a tower in Violet City that was supposedly a giant Bellsprout at one point.
    • The Sky Pillar, in the middle of Hoenn's ocean. There's Rayquaza in the summit.
    • The final main storyline dungeon of each Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game is a tower that must be ascended. In the first set of games it's the Sky Tower (atop of which is Rayquaza), and in the second set of games it's Temporal Tower with Dialga as the boss.
    • Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia has the last mission in a tower.
    • Pokémon Black and White:
      • Celestial Tower and Dragonspiral Tower.
      • Team Plasma's Castle at the end of the game. You actually start off more or less on one of the middle floors and make your way up to the top floor.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, there's an incredibly long ladder which the player is required to climb. The ladder is so long, in fact, that there's enough time to play a sizable chunk of the game's theme song. However, the bottom of the ladder is in a jungle, while the top is on a mountain.
    • The almost unbearably long Comms Tower stairs, on which Snake must fight a running gun battle against an infinite supply of Mooks, in the first Metal Gear Solid (and in the MSX game Metal Gear 2, for that matter.) Fortunately, the other Comms Tower has a (mostly) functional elevator.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden: Celica's final destination in Act 4 is Duma Tower, a spiraling monument full of monsters and deranged cultists.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: The Tower of Valni is an optional dungeon where inexperienced units can train without difficulty. The Tower once housed Frelia's Sacred Stone but, during the war, Grado stormed the Tower and destroyed it. Since then, it has become a hive of monsters.
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn: The endgame takes place in the Tower of Guidance, with floors large enough to hold appropriately epic battles.
  • Professor Layton:
    • In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, there's a creepy slapped-together-looking tower overlooking the village, noticed soon after the start of the game and mentioned by multiple characters. Guess what you have to do in the climax.
    • Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney has the great archives, and more importantly, the Storyteller's tower. And if that wasn't enough, there are smaller towers at the top of the main tower.
  • NetHack is a game where you descend 50-odd levels into the underworld. Even so, there are a couple of sublevels where, yes, you climb a tower. And in the end, you have to climb all those 50-odd levels back up.
  • Dungeon Crawl: The primary branches are 27+5 levels, which you then climb back up once you have what you came for. Starting from 0.5, Stone Soup also has Ziggurats. Pay to enter, 27 levels, traversed from top to bottom. You can leave them any time you make it to the exit of a level, but going back a level - or reentering a Ziggurat you've exited - is impossible. Each individual level is a small room, filled with a bunch of monsters that guard a pile of treasure and the exit. Room sizes, numbers of monsters per level, average monster nastiness and amount of loot per level go up as you delve deeper into the Ziggurat. Monster generation follows themes; each time you enter a new level the game randomly selects a theme, which determines what monsters get generated. Some themes are notably much more nasty than others, leading to a large variance in difficulty. On average Ziggurats are probably the most dangerous crawl branch, beating out such nice places as the Hells (finite demon-filled wastes) and Pandemonium (infinite demon-filled wastes). They are an effective source of both loot and experience - but in general, if you can reliably survive them, you don't really need any more of either.
  • The Sunspire in Unreal is a rock spire with the inside carved into a building, and so tall you can clearly see it on the skyboxes of other levels. The entrance is a good 300m above the lava lake it sits in, you navigate eight or so floors of "regular" size, then get a 10-second ride on a lift that is so fast its engine sound is subject to the Doppler effect, then there are two more floors before you reach the tippy top. You get a good sense of scale when you get there, when you look down and the bridge to enter the building and can measure it in milimeters on the screen. Unusually for the trope, it's an area visited around mid-game, nowhere near the ending - and its purpose is to get you even higher up via the Space Elevator that you can call at the top.
  • The Tower of the Naughty Sorceress in Kingdom of Loathing, with a different guardian to defeat on each level.
  • One part of Blood II: The Chosen involves climbing the CabalCo tower, but you get to ride an elevator most of the way.
  • Pork City in The World Ends with You. During Another Day, you must make your way to the top by using only one of the game's 13 brands of pins on each level if you want to fight the game's toughest enemy on the highest floor.
  • Sonic Mania has Act 1 of Titanic Monarch Zone, where you must scale a massive Eggman-shaped robot with the help of magnetic spheres, bumpers, hydraulic lifts, and other devices. The Act 1 miniboss fight occurs in an elevator that eventually takes you to the entrance of the robot.
  • Half-Life 2 also lets you use an elevator when you go up the Citadel during the last part of the game, and the last battle of the game takes place at the very top of the tower.
  • Parasite Eve has a tower as the bonus dungeon. Of course, just for shits and giggles, it's the Chrysler Building. With Chaos Architecture for even more fun!
  • Averted in Ultima II. While the game has plenty of towers, they (along with dungeons) are completely irrelevant to the plot. While there was supposed to be one necessary item that you could only acquire in them, due to a bug in the first releases that item could be found on the surface world, and even in later, fixed versions, you can use dungeons as easily as towers.
  • In Ultima Underworld II, the first alternate world you visit is a tower ruled by goblins. Since it's early on, it's not the final dungeon, but you do learn some important things about your quest at the top.
  • The "final" battle with Fritz in Brain Dead 13 takes place on a giant set of stairs... which Fritz first takes several minutes falling down.
  • The Infinity Engine games mostly avoid this. In fact, while there were towers that could be plundered in Baldur's Gate, the most conventional of them - Ragefast's tower - was in no way necessary to the plot. The largest dungeon in the game, Durlag's Tower, only has two towers aboveground, and they're only barely necessary to explore the meat of the dungeon, which is of course underground. The Iron Throne headquarters is mostly a tower, and it's important enough to be visited twice and to nearly count as a Disc-One Final Dungeon. The final battle, however, takes place beneath the sewers, in a forgotten temple underneath the eponymous city. It helps that it is based on Dungeons & Dragons, which, as the title implies, takes place underground a lot.
    • Icewind Dale averts this right up to the end, where you have to climb a tower of ice to fight the bad guy.
    • Baldur's Gate II:
      • It gets all metaphysical. The last battle takes place in a place that's half inside your mind and half in hell. It's awesome.
      • One boss battle in Throne of Bhaal, however, comes at the end of climbing to the top level of his fortress.
      • The bonus dungeon added by Throne of Bhaal is a 5 story tower, however, you start at the top.
    • Planescape: Torment has no towers, though it does have a vast fortress at the end.
    • Icewind Dale II has no towers until the final chapter which consists entirely of a large tower with four more towers coming off of it.
  • Shiren the Wanderer has the dungeon split into two halves: the first goes down, while the second (Table Rock) goes up, with the final boss at the top level.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Morrowind offers a Subversion in the form of Telvanni Towers. Telvanni Towers are massive mushroom towers grown using magic, and serve as Mage Towers for high-ranking Great House Telvanni mage-lords. The Towers are both tall and expansive, yet stairs are rare within. Instead, you need to use Levitation magic within in order to go between floors. Given that Telvanni councilors tend toward being ancient, somewhat insane, amoral wizards who believe Might Makes Right and actively practice Klingon Promotion, it can be inferred that anyone who can't cast such a simple spell simply isn't worth their time.
    • Oblivion:
      • The Sigil Stone needed to close an Oblivion Gate is always at the top of a tower located inside the gate in question.
      • The White-Gold Tower, which serves as the Imperial Palace, is a giant spire-like tower at the center of the Imperial City. However, it cannot actually be climbed. If you use cheats or glitches to get to the top, you'll find that the roof isn't even solid.
    • In Skyrim, you have to ascend the Seven Thousand Steps, the path circling around the Throat of the World, tallest mountain in all of Tamriel, that can be seen in the distance from almost any point in Skyrim. Somewhat unusual as you have to climb the mountain near the beginning of the game to get your powers as The Chosen One. You'll have to return to the peak later in the story, but that time you can simply skip most of the ascend by fast traveling to the monastery just below the top.
    • The series' spin-off Dungeon Crawler game, An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire, takes place within the titular Imperial Battlespire. It is a giant tower-like structure that serves as a training ground for the Imperial Battlemages. It exists in the "Slipstream", an area of time/space that separates Mundus (the mortal plane) from Oblivion (the "infinite void" surrounding Mundus). It has been taken over by the forces of Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, who hope to use it as a waystation for their invasion of Mundus.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines most of the endings have your character fighting his/her way up a skyscraper. You've been to the top several times earlier in the game, but the elevator is no longer an option.
  • The Lufia series absolutely loves these. In Lufia 2, half the dungeon crawls actually take place in towers, and this includes just about all the ones that are actually plot-relevant instead of hunts to fix a Broken Bridge (Which tended toward caves instead). There's nearly as many random towers littering the landscape as there are villages. Specifically, Lufia & The Fortress of Doom has eleven towers total, three of which you have to go through twice, while its sequel Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals has at least ten, three of which must be completed in a row.
  • The Golden Sun series is based around the lighting (or stopping the lighting) of magical beacons on four lighthouses, making for at least two by-the-book uses of this trope in each game, though there's usually even more. A few of the optional dungeons, in a reversal of form but a similar usage, have you traveling downstairs through suspiciously inverted-tower-like underground cave systems. There's also Mount Aleph, the enormous tree in Kolima, Babi's Lighthouse, The Temple of the Sea God, Tundaria Tower, and Ankohl. You could argue that the Great Gabomba is one, too, since you do have to do a bit of climbing. There are also some actual mountain climbing sections.
  • The insane asylum in Psychonauts. You climb up, working under the assumption that you'll be facing a hard boss fight against the evil Doctor Loboto. Instead, the only thing you actually do up there is solve a few puzzles and watch cutscenes. The actual boss battle doesn't come until much later, after the whole place has blown up.
  • Serious Sam inverts this. In the second encounter, You start the Babylonian section at the top of a Ziggeraut and must descend to continue on a ground level. At the end of the section, you reach the Tower of Babel, but instead of climbing, you circle around it to open the door and then go into the basement to fight a boss.
  • The old Ghostbusters game on the NES (and several other systems): To reach the end boss, players would have to climb a tower 22 stories tall. Then again, the film did the same thing.
  • The roguelike ADOM has the tower of elemental flames, which is not only mandatory but also very hard because the hot atmosphere burns both the hero and his items (without appropriate protections)
  • The appropriately named Tower of Maya in Threads of Fate.
  • Infinite Undiscovery features Vesplume Tower (among many other multilevel areas). Vesplume is interesting that there are 3 entrances and routes to the top and although you have to split your party to make your way through, you only have direct control over the main group, though you do interact with or see the other groups at different times.
  • The Spiral of Dreams in Dark Cloud 2 is a massive, crystal staircase that stretches up from the Moonflower Palace and high into the sky (with the implication that it leads into another dimension.) The Dark Element awaits at the top.
  • Non-RPG and zig-zagged example: Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening revolves around Dante ascending then descending then re-ascending the Temen-ni-gru; a giant demon tower.
  • Breath of Fire III had several locations called 'towers' but due to the odd technical limitations the game had (seemingly no floors or even bridges/overpasses allowed) they were all actually ziggurats and pyramids. Why they didn't just call them that is the question.
  • Castlevania:
    • Castlevania: Curse of Darkness has two such towers, the Tower of Eternity and the Tower of Evermore. Both are optional bonus areas, the latter accessible only through the former (and a properly upgraded pet) and starts from the top, but contain uber-XP enemies with extremely rare crafting components. Knowing what to do with those components is another matter entirely.
    • Nearly every Castlevania features a Clock Tower, most famous for the Medusa Heads that mess up your jumps so you land on very sharp spikes.
    • It is a rare Castlevania game that does not have a long staircase leading to the topmost tower of the castle where Dracula (or a wannabe) resides. The castle keeps in general are often designed with going upwards in mind.
    • Castlevania: Bloodlines has the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow features the Condemned Tower, with a boss at the top. The boss shatters half of the floors, making you both plummet right to the bottom, and you have to climb it again to save and get the Tower Key that opens up the staple Clock Tower.
    • Castlevania: Circle of the Moon actually lacks the staircase up to the throne room, but it has the staple machine tower, as well as a particularly tall chapel tower.
  • The Crown of Wu has the Heaven Pagoda near the end that Sun Wukong (stripped of most of his powers, including the ability to summon clouds to fly on) must climb to the top. Traversing every floor requires Wukong to either jump around (teleporting) platforms, solve puzzles (like hitting a circular row of bells in the correct order) to reveal passages, avoid detection from robots, and trigger hidden switches to activate exits before he can reach the pagoda's tip.
  • Mirror's Edge:
    • The game has many towers: given the fact that there's a lot of Le Parkour going on, you have to be on top of very tall buildings in order for failure to have the appropriate road pizza end. There's an inversion and a subversion, however: in the second last chapter, you're trying to run down a spiral staircase to get to the street as quickly as possible, and the last chapter requires you to get to the top of the highest building in the city...but there's elevators! Yay!
    • Mirror's Edge Catalyst continues having two of these; the first is climbing an in-construction tower about halfway into the game. The second mirrors the original game where you have to climb up The Shard as part of the final level.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts:
      • The penultimate dungeon, Hollow Bastion, is a massive tower that used to belong to your allies and is now occupied by Maleficient. It's a long way up, involving several magic-powered lifts.
      • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, "End of the World", inverts this trope. You spend the entirety of that world descending downward, with the scenery getting more and more twisted as you approach the core of the darkness where Ansem awaits.
    • All of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is spent going up a castle. In the PS2 remake, the floors are actually used to subdivide the cutscene in the Theater Mode. And there are thirteen floors. Get it? Organization XIII, thirteen floors? Yeah. Although you just face 6 of them anyway.
    • Kingdom Hearts II has the Organization's fortress, The Castle That Never Was. Yes, you climb to the top of that.
  • Xenogears: You need to get to Shevat. Naturally, he's on top of Babel Tower.
  • You spend much of Xenoblade Chronicles 1 climbing upwards, first to reach the top of the Bionis for the sake of unlocking the Monado's true power, then later ascending the Mechonis for the sake of stopping the Mechon invasion.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Karazhan is the haunted Tower of one of the settings most powerful mages. While the lower parts are more elaborate and include a cellar and stables, the progression boils down to getting to the top of the tower. The raid dungeon Icecrown Citadel is also just a three-tiered tower, and in most wings, you have to go upstairs to fight the final boss of each wing. The Big Bad is at the peak.
    • The second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, also has Icecrown Citadel as a raid. The second half of the raid consists of climbing the citadel's central tower, fighting bosses on each floor. It is somewhat subverted though as the bosses are actually located in rooms off of the main floor, except for Lord Marrowgar and the Lich King himself.
    • The most recent expansion has Torghast, Tower of the Damned. It is, more or less, this trope played completely straight. Lorewise, the tower is the fortress of the Jailor and it contains thousands of imprisoned and tortured souls as well as uber-powerful guardian creatures. However, it's more interesting than your standard dungeon-crawl tower. It functions as a rogue-lite minigame; with the player able to choose different power-ups as they climb. There are also side objectives given by NPCs you can find in the tower, like rescuing certain souls or finding particular objects. Finally, you can also find recipes and ingredients for crafting legendary items inside Torghast and the forge where the legendary items are created is on the bottom level.
  • MapleStory has two in Ludibrium, both 100 floors and if you're not smart, no way to get back up once you've gone down. This only applies to Eos (western) Tower, which has about 60-odd floors since you climb down the outside in several sections. The eastern tower (Helios Tower) has about five floors and a lift for the resulting 95, presumably because they couldn't be bothered to make another 70 maps. There's also the 30-floored Orbis tower, which takes you from a flying fairy kingdom, through a frozen village and ends underwater.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King has a secret dungeon called the Infinity Spire. While King Leo never actually visits it, he can send adventurers to explore it, and it can be seen from the town.
  • EXA_PICO - The entire habitable gameworld for the first two Ar tonelico games is a single tower, and the floating continent/scaffolding surrounding it. The first one (Elemia) throws a mild twist to it by having the Big Bad actually sleeping very close to where you started the game, near the middle of the tower, but the second game (Metafalica) puts the Big Bad right at the very top, which happens to be an orbital satellite that you have to extend the tower up to reach.
  • The penultimate area of Mother 3 was the Pig Mask headquarters, which was literally a 100-story skyscraper with the Pig King himself at the top floor. Fortunately there are elevators so you don't go through each of the 100 floors.
  • Left 4 Dead:
    Coach: Who the hell... puts an evac station...up 30 flights of goddamn stairs?
    • "No Mercy" has the hospital climb as the penultimate stage of the first campaign (the final one is your arrival on the roof and then, like every other campaign, having to Hold the Line for evac). In contrast, Left 4 Dead 2's first episode "Dead Center" starts with your team on the roof of a blazing hotel, having to fight your way down; like before, the climb is only in the first level of the campaign, with the rest concerning your team arriving at, fighting through, and escaping from a nearby shopping mall.
  • Parodied in Conker's Bad Fur Day: 'Oh no! Where did the windmill go? I was sure that was the final level!'
  • In Crackdown, the last gang leader is on the top of one of the tallest buildings in the city. You end up running through the inside of the building, climbing the levels as the horde of Mooks ineffectually try to put you down.
  • Baroque. You're in town, or climbing the tower. The best parts are that you somehow start on the top floor of the tower and go down (despite the town obviously being at the tower's bottom), and you don't know why you're climbing the tower, other than because a creepy angel told you to.
  • The final section of Prey (2006) involves climbing up the kilometres-tall tower connecting the surface of a spherical, planetoid-sized spaceship to its centre. A good portion of the climbing is done via shuttlecraft, but the game still ‘cheats’ by using teleportation portals to make the climb manageable.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant has the Man Festival, which consists of multiple tiers of combat that Joachim engages in. He climbs the tower by jumping. Though there are a hundred floors, you skip from the twenty-sixth to the mid-eighties... at which points Anastasia immediately asks where the other floors went.
  • World of Mana loves towers:
  • The last stage in Sigma Star Saga was a big tower/palace climb.
  • Wild ARMs has Ka Dingel, a tower closely associated with demons . It was the penultimate dungeon in Wild ARMs and a Disc-One Final Dungeon in Wild ARMs 3 that came at the end of the first chapter.
  • The first level of Perfect Dark inverts this trope, having you descend a skyscraper from the rooftop helipad in order to access a laboratory in the basement. The game plays it straight two levels later, though, as you now need to escape the tower by ascending it back to the helipad for evac. And this time, the guards are ready for you.
  • Etrian Odyssey: In Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard (including its remake The Fafnir Knight) and Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth, the Yggdrasil Labyrinth is explored this way, as the explorers have to climb it steadily upward to conquer it. By constrast, the first and third games (the latter subtitled The Drowned City) have you making your way down, while the fourth and sixth (Legends of the Titan and Nexus) revolve around simply going towards them.
  • Shadow of the Colossus has a nice twist: the final boss is a living tower.
  • The Dragon Quest series love having tower dungeons. They can be a pain when these dungeons are long. Your healing items and magic depletes and it's a long way back to the inn.
    • Dragon Quest II has the Tower of Wind, the Tower of the Moon, and the Lighthouse.
    • One of the first dungeons in Dragon Quest III is a tower where the Thief's key is found. A few more towers are found in the Main world and the Rubiss Tower in the Dark world.
    • Dragon Quest IV has a tower leading to the floating castle of Zenethia. (The fifth game still has the tower but the castle fell into the lake.)
    • Dragon Quest V has Knightmare Towers located north of Gotha.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has three - the first real dungeon of the game is a tower at Ostagar that is home to the game's Wake-Up Call Boss, while later the party must fight through the ruined tower of the Circle of Magi. The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of the game is also a tower, but despite its height, it only actually consists of an outdoor section, two floors, and the top.
  • In Demon's Souls, you not only climb one tower, but several ones on the same level. Home to Gargoyles and annoying Octopus guards.
  • In Dark Souls you spend a good bit of the early game unlocking and then have to climb Sens Fortress in order to reach Anor Londo at the top of the mountain. It's full of traps, guards and death drops, deliberately designed to keep all but the most worthy from reaching the city of the gods.
  • Dark Souls 2 has Earthen Peak, a large windmill/tower you need to reach the top of in order to proceed onwards. Inverted with Brume Tower in the DLC, where you start at the top of a tower and have to work your way down to the boss at the very bottom.
  • Indie game Tower of Heaven. Guess what you're supposed to climb?
  • There are two vertical areas in Cave Story, the first room of Labyrinth, where you have to climb to the switch, and Outer Wall, from where you reach Plantation.
  • Sector 9 from Jumper Two takes place in a tower of a lab in which Jumper One took place. Sector 10 of Two is basically Sector 9 on fire!
  • The Dust Men's tower from Infamous.
  • The last level of Battletoads before the Final Boss is about climbing the Dark Queen's rotating tower. An earlier level, "Intruder Excluder," is one long climb. You die if you fall off the bottom of the screen, which adds Fake Difficulty to the Nintendo Hard jumping puzzles.
  • Wario Land 3 features the Tower of Revival.
  • The Haunted Tower in Bonk's Revenge. Bonk's Adventure had a similar level near the end.
  • Guild Wars subverts this. The game is full of towers, some of which look incredibly inviting: from the mysterious floating castle in Kessex Peak, to Kaineng City's many sardine-can flats, to the beautiful architecture of Vabbi... but you can't enter a single one of them.
  • The VVVVVV level "The Tower" isn't just a tower, it's a scrolling tower. With Advancing AND RETRACTING Walls of Doom. The rooms "Panic Room" and "The Final Challenge" are similar, but Panic Room is an It's All Downstairs From Here.
  • Shippu Mahou Daisakusen has a rare shmup example: In one of the three possible final stages, you fly into a tower and fly out through the top, into space.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Donkey Kong '94 for the Game Boy has the Tower as the ninth and final world.
    • K. Rool's Keep from Donkey Kong Country 2 (and Donkey Kong Land 2) has K. Rool's Keep, the sixth (or fifth) world. It's home to Toxic Tower, a level where you must outrun toxic waste that's dangerous to the touch.
  • In Twilight Heroes, it's not so much a "tower" as a "skyscraper", of course, but the principle is the same; your character has to do some climbing to get to the final boss.
  • The iOS game 100 Floors is an entire game devoted to this trope. You have to solve puzzles on each floor in order to advance to the next.
  • The entire setting of Rainbow Islands is effectively a series of (poorly constructed) towers which you have to climb up.
  • Stage 7 of Monster Party.
  • Dokapon Kingdom has the Tower of Rabble, which the players have to climb to defeat Overlord Rico.
  • Metro 2033: Said tower is also falling apart and has various nasties trying kill you,
  • In Robopon, this happens a lot, in the second game especially; the Pyramids of the Pharo Ruins, the Galileo Windmills, the Waffle and Box Towers, My Tower... the list goes on.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has this in a level, along with For Doom the Bell Tolls as you're climbing up abandoned church staircases.
  • Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi:
    • Inside the Garrison, you climb up...and up...and up...The East Tower also features this, but it's much shorter, and you take a lift up half the way. The West Wing only has you visit one floor at a time, but since you're going to be going back and forth from it a lot, climbing up and down all those stairs can be tedious.
    • Subverted with the Main Castle, since you're only required to climb about halfway up it.
  • The final issue of the first story arc in The Secret World has you entering, and fighting through, the Orochi Tower, with a major fight on the top floor.
  • In Undertale, the Hotlands is an upward climb to the final level in the game, New Home. Justified, as the (primary) goal of the game is to escape the Underground.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm:
    • The Partnership Towers skyscraper in YouTube. You have the option of scaling it ten floors at a time by elevator, fighting guards along the way. Or you can bypass the guards by taking the stairs… all seventy flights of them.
    • The Spire, the imposing Marathon Level dungeon of Chapter 7. When your guide says the climb up to the aerie will take all day, he isn’t joking.
  • The Talos Principle: The "Free Will" ending. The "Messenger" ending starts out like this, but the elevator's sixth and final level is actually a basement.
  • The ZX Spectrum era game Nebulus is roughly a circular scrolling platformer involving you playing as what appears to be a frog climbing up the outside of several towers.
  • Is practically a calling card of the inFamous series:
    • In the first game you have to climb up Alden's Tower, at the top of which you fight Alden, Zeke betrays you and Kessler convinces him to join his side.
    • Infamous 2 has the climb up to a gasworks tower in order to retrieve a Blast Core.
    • inFamous: Second Son's finale has Delsin and co. climbing up the Channel 7 (replacing the real life Columbia Center) building to get to Augustine, who has taken over the tower as her base of operations.
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has Nate climbing up Hotel Shangri-La to get a good view, freeing Chloe from the elevator along the way. Overall Uncharted features a lot of towers to climb, but this is one of the only instances it takes up an entire level.
  • The Prince of Persia games are quite fond of it:
  • Dynamite Headdy has a few:
    • The Hangman tutorial stage, where you learn how to use Hangman to pull yourself up to higher platforms.
    • Act 5, a tall tower similar to the last level of Battletoads.
    • Act 9 Scene 1, where a rising platform takes you through a shaft full of dangerous hazards while the Recurring Boss safely attacks from below.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel:
    • The Legend Of Heroes Trails Of Cold Steel II has the Infernal Castle where the heroes must climb to reach the top to rescue the crown prince and settle things with Crow.
    • Trails of Cold Steel III has an inversion where the characters have to climb down at Gral of Erebos to rescue Altina and stop the Evil Chancellor from killing the corrupted Divine Beast to prevent spreading the curse of Erebonia.
  • The final story mission in Dying Light has Kyle Crane climbing the unfinished skyscraper Rais' gang took over to try and reach Rais before he escapes on a helicopter with the zombie cure. Technically there are two towers, and at one point Crane has to go up the other tower because Rais' men lined several floors of the first tower with bombs, before jumping back to the first tower.
  • Haunt the House: Inverted with the Bell Tower in Terrortown. You actually start your journey at the top of it, and since you can fly and phase through walls, climbing or descending it is nothing.
  • Chapter 19 of Kid Icarus: Uprising becomes this once the air battle is over. Pit has to climb the Chariot Master's tower, which, as Viridi puts it, is "really, really tall". As the level drags on, Pit keeps asking "Are We There Yet?", even lampshading the loading screen that breaks the level into two sections.
  • In the Yakuza series, the climax of the games often involve fighting your way up a massive building (typically the Millennium Tower) for a confrontation with the antagonists in either the upper floors of the building or on top of the building itself.
  • The final segment of each chapter of Deltarune has the party traverse up the Arc Villain's base in order to reach and seal the Dark Fountain, though it's the lowest floors that hold the greatest threats.
  • Rengoku: Both games involve going from the 0th to the 8th floor and defeating the floor masters along the way.
  • Kero Blaster:
    • The lead-up to the final boss of Normal mode involves ascending to the roof of the C&F building.
    • The final section of the final level of Zangyou mode consists of a tower leading to a boss, then a ladder of office furniture leading to the final boss, after which a platform lifts you to the boss's second phase, and then further into the clouds for its final form.
  • Demon Hunter: The Return of the Wings: The last level, the Tower of Sin, is mostly vertical, and the Final Boss is confronted on the wide-open top floor.

    Non-Video Game examples 

Anime & Manga

  • Cowboy Bebop ends with an Executive Suite Fight between Vicious and Spike. To get to the fight, Spike has to fight his way up a skyscraper full of syndicate goons.
  • Dragon Ball's Muscle Tower.
    • Inverted in the Buu Saga, where they had to defeat enemies on floors of Babidi's spaceship as they proceeded downwards
  • Inversion: in Hunter × Hunter, one of the trials Gon and his friend have to accomplish is to descend a tower, starting at the top and going downstairs from there.
  • While not a tower, the Sanctuary arc is Saint Seiya can be seen as this. Climb stairs, fight boss, repeat twelve times.
  • Saint Seiya has been described as "A bunch of guys running up some stairs for about a hundred episodes". To be fair, there's also a lot of fighting going on. And the stairs during the Hades saga actually lead down. The series's version of this trope was actually parodied in one of the Ranma ˝ movies, when Ranma and his companions (Ryoga, Shampoo, Mousse, etc) have to go through a similar settlement to rescue Akane from a prince who wanted to marry her.
  • Slayers has the heroes climbing down into the sub-sub-sub-(whatever) basement of Rezo the red priest. Lina got increasingly irritated as each door they opened lead to yet another set of stairs. They'd later do the reverse in Slayers NEXT. Subverted near the end of the first story arc where, when faced with a giant spiral staircase, they just flew up.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! R, Yugi and his friends have to make their way up the Kaiba Corp skyscraper, battling the Card Professors along the way, in order to rescue a kidnapped Anzu at the top floor. Jounouchi and Honda have it even worse, since they fell through a trap door early on and ended up in the basement. Subverted for Kaiba and Mokuba, who came in through the roof.

Comic Books

  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In one story Magica DeSpell steals Scrooge's #1 Dime but he finds and stops her before she can complete her ritual. This results in them being sucked into a giant maze-like challenge, where Scrooge has to scale a mountain filled with all sorts of bizarre Alice in Wonderland-type sceneries before moonlight hits the top or Magica wins.

Fan Works

  • The Bolt Chronicles: In "The Party," Mittens discovers the elevator is out of order, which necessitates her climbing several flights of stairs to try and find the title event.

Films — Animated

  • Kung Fu Panda makes a Running Gag of Po being too overweight to climb the stairs to the Jade Palace without getting winded. Even after all his training, the only improvement he gets in stair climbing is that he gets less winded, and is at least able to stand up after getting to the top. The gag is extended in the sequel, where he regards the stairs to Lord Shen's throne room as "my old enemy". In this case, he has to get carried half of the way up.
  • Thanks to the fairy tale book he read at the beginning, Shrek realizes that the tallest tower is where his objective most likely is. Fortunately for him, the dragon guarding said tower saves him the effort of having to climb the stairs.

Films — Live-Action

  • In Ghostbusters (1984), the team has to climb the stairs to the top floor of a New York apartment building, while wearing their proton packs.
    Peter: [Exhausted] Where are we?
    Ray: [Also exhausted] Looks like we're in the teens, somewhere.
    Peter: Alright, when we get to twenty, tell me. I'm gonna throw up.
  • J.G. Ballard's camera man protagonist in High-Rise fought his way to the top of a luxurious but degenerating tower block in order to meet the building's architect.
  • Film example: Bruce Lee's unfinished last film Game of Death has him fighting kung fu masters on each floor of a multi-story Buddhist temple.
    • This got parodied in a chapter of the Slayers manga where Gourry was held on top of a tower with a defense setup like this. Lina finds it easier to levitate up the outside of the building and enter through a window.
    • The Game of Death example above was actually inspired by a much earlier film, the Shaw Brothers wuxia Have Sword, Will Travel, which climaxes with it's two main protagonists scaling a pagoda filled with enemies, to confront the Big Bad waiting for them on it's top floor. Of the two heroes, only one made it to the top for the penultimate final battle.
  • The Taiwanese kung fu film, Duel With The Devils, have its climax set in a pagoda, where the protagonist have to scale one level after another, battling, in order, an English fencer, a Dual Boss Mongolian wrestlers, an Indian Yoga expert, a Japanese karate fighter, and the Big Bad.
  • A significant portion of the plot of MirrorMask involves the characters trying to get as high as they can, to the point that the phrase "Get higher" becomes a set of Arc Words.
  • In Monty Python's Life of Brian, Brian gets chased by the Romans up a long winding staircase that leads into a tower. He finally gets to the top and escapes from the Romans by being kidnapped by some passing space aliens.
  • Ultraman Ginga S The Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors!: The final confrontation between the ten Ultra Brothers and the Space Dimensional Demon Etelgar in Etelgar's airborne fortress, where each level will create a duplicate of every Ultra's greatest fear which they will have to stay behind and do battle. By the time the Ultras reach the tower's tip, only Ultraman Ginga-Victory and Ultraman Cosmos are available to battle Etelgar.


  • The plot of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series is all about finding a tower in order to climb to the top.
  • In The First Law, characters have to climb the Tower of the Maker at one point. This example is unusual in that while they do climb to the top, there are no literal stairs, or even other visible means of ascending. They just keep going through it and end up at the top. The first to notice there were no stairs is Glokta, who spent significant time prior to the Tower scene complaining about stairs. He actually finds it extremely disconcerting that they aren't there.
  • In The Hero and the Crown, Aerin spends so longing climbing (and falling from) the tower to defeat the Big Bad, that several centuries have passed by the time she reaches the ground.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Sam has to ascend up Cirith Ungol in order to rescue Frodo after he's captured by Orcs shortly after encountering Shelob. It's helped that the Orcs and Uruks were infighting and thus took most of each other out.
    • In a non-battle example, the Stairs of Cirith Ungol leading up to Shelob's lair are a set of near-vertical stairs climbing up a sheer cliff right next to Minas Morgul, the lair of the Witch King. No battles ensue here but the sheer terror and difficulty in climbing it more than justifies it!

Live-Action TV

  • On the second season finale of The Mindy Project, Mindy races to meet her boyfriend at the top of the Empire State Building, only to be told that the elevators are being repaired, forcing her to take the stairs... just as the elevators start working again. By the time the boyfriend arrives, he finds an exhausted Mindy sprawled on the observation deck floor.

Tabletop Games

  • The final three areas of the Tabletop Game themed "Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep" DLC campaign in Borderlands 2 have you walking up a mountain, and then up (and up, and up) a castle... and then you fall down a trap door and have to get back up top all over again, before finally getting to the tippy-top of the tower at Dragon Keep, where the final boss awaits.


  • Parodied in Adventurers! with the Wooden Tower of Sideways ("Uh, Karn? That's a giant log.") and the Tower of Underground. Played straight in the end, just before the Final Boss battle. After ascending to the top of the Khrimalith, all three of the split-up parties open ominous doors to find...
    Karn: Stairs. And Outer Space.
  • Everybody in Tower of God wants to reach the Tower's top, since whatever it is you want, it will be at the there.

Web Original

  • In Noob the Fictional Video Game in which the story is set has the ten-story high Galamadriabuyak tower as a central gameplay element. Avatars start with a Cap at 10 and need to complete the first floor to raise the cap to 20, the second floor to raise the cap to 30 and so on until the cap reached 100. The tenth floor houses the game's Final Boss (that later gets demoted to Disk-One Final Boss), and beating it is necessary for those who want to unlock the game's equivalent to a Prestige Class.
  • In Tribe Twelve, Noah sees The Observer at the top of the observation tower, and runs after him. After walking up the stairs for five minutes, he realizes that they go on forever in an impossible loop. A few steps down, and he is at the bottom again.
    • And when he finally makes it to the top, The Observer is at the bottom of the tower running by, and now Noah is unable to get down.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Fushimi Inari Taisha, the largest Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari, is built on and around a small mountain. It's so well known for having a ridiculous amount of stairs that even the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon makes note of how exhausting it can be to climb.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tower Dungeon


Dusty Dune Galaxy tower

A sandy tower with tornadoes that send Mario up and a star at the top.

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Example of:

Main / ItsAllUpstairsFromHere

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