One or more characters fall, usually into a dark hole. One of them calls out that they're OK, because something soft broke their fall. Cue another character answering that they were the "something soft" in question.
This may be invoked by more heroic characters, either by trying to catch the falling person or by positioning themselves under said person to take the brunt of the blow if both are falling.
- Both in the manga and in the Anime adaptation of D.N.Angel, Riku falls of a cliff with Daisuke Niwa, and Daisuke on the bottom when they hit the ground, cushioning the fall. In the English translation at least, the dialogue follows the model outlined in the trope description.
- In the Sands of Destruction manga, Draconic Humanoid Rhi'a makes her entrance by landing feet-first on Morte's face (apparently landing is the most difficult part of flying). Luckily for Morte, Rhi'a is wearing cute little flats instead of her Combat Stilettos in this adaptation.
- True to form (see Video Games below), Hyperdimension Neptunia the Animation has Neptune falling out of the sky and landing on a hapless Noire. The Animated Outtakes for that episode have Neptune missing everyone and hitting the ground. Upon which Noire, two steps further into the background than she should be, starts frantically denying that she missed her mark.
- Happens in Cattivik twice in the same story. The first time he lands on something "bouncy" revealed to be the breasts of a prostitute. Later he's sent flying again and this time lands on something soft and hairy, revealed to be the back of a polar bear in the zoo.
- DuckTales: Launchpad landing on Scrooge by accident (much to the older duck's irritation) happens more than once during the "Scrooge's Quest" arc.
- In Noob, a couple of occasions had other characters fall on Omega Zell. The first was his The Not-Love Interest, so he didn't really mind.
- In the Marvel "What The..." parody, the whole Mutie (X-Factor) crew landed on poor Nonentity (Cypher).
- Used dramatically in Copperhead when Boo baits one of his captors into beating him, then hits the hovercar's emergency escape hatch. Boo twists his opponent down to land on top of him and bounces off running.
- In Calamity Jack, Rapunzel does this for Jack during a runaway train episode.
Jack: Thanks for . . . er, breaking my fall.
Rapunzel: My pleasure. But next time, you get to break my fall. Deal?
- In Co-op Mode, Taylor becomes this for James on the very first chapter by catching his head from hitting the floor trying due to his attempts on escaping her locker - unknowingly saving his life by preventing his HP from reaching zero.
- Hobbes ends up landing on Calvin when jumping a fence in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series. The latter's ensuing rant provides the page quote.
- Touhou Galaxy: Happens to Lysithea twice in Odyssey, first after a Volbanian flicks her and Akame and Akame lands on Lysithea (causing the latter to say she's bleeding internally), and again after Akame lands on Lysithea after Mount Volbono erupts, causing Lysithea to be knocked out up until Akame does a Let Me Get This Straight... after hearing how the gang met and the various threats they've faced.
- Universe Falls: In "Catch and Release", Steven ends up breaking Mabel's fall when the two sneak into the temple to free Peridot from being bubbled.
- In Balto, we get this exchange.
Nikki: I hit my head on something.
Kaltag: Yeah. My head!
- In Back to the Outback, the group is terrified when they fall off of a cliff, but are relived when they land and realize they happened to do so on Pretty Boy.
Frank: Ooh! Sweet!Nigel: Like a tiny cloud filled with hate!
- In Johnny English, the title character falls on his flunky when investigating the hole in the floor of the crown jewel room.
- The Discworld series has multiple examples:
- In Wyrd Sisters, Magrat falls on "something soft" from a great height, which turns out to be the Fool.
- Vimes believes it doesn't really count as killing someone when you fall off a roof and it's even odds who ends up on bottom when you land.
- Hank the Cowdog: In The Secret Laundry Monster Files, Drover ends up on Hank after they jump a fence. Hank immediately tells him that landing on the head of one's leader hurts morale.
- In The Wheel of Time, with Born Lucky Mat Cauthon, it is far better than even odds that he will end up on top in such a fall. He once killed an attacker by intentionally throwing himself off the roof while grabbing with them. He landed on top and the other person died in the impact.
- In the Eureka episode "Invincible", this gets mixed with a healthy dose of Good Thing You Can Heal.
Carter: A hypothetical guy falls maybe fifty feet, lands flat on the ground, and then another guy weighing 180 falls, and lands on top of him. Okay, what is the chance of the hypothetical guy getting up and walking away? [...]
Henry: Look, this hypothetical guy: is that you?
Carter: No. I landed on the hypothetical guy, though.
- Played With in The X-Files
Agent Mulder: "It's ok - my ass broke the fall."
- Intentionally invoked by Parker from Leverage when she jumped out of a window and used Eliot to break her fall.
- In an episode of QI, discussing the persistent myth that if you're in an elevator that's crashing, you can negate the effects by jumping into the air right before it hits the ground, Stephen revealed the actual best survival method: "Basically, lie on a fat person." (As well as the information that elevators pretty much never break like that.)
- From The Basil Brush Show
Mr. Steven: "Why is it I land on my head and YOU land on my head too?
Basil Brush: "Do the words SOFT LANDING mean anything?
- Happens in an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody:
- Ugly Betty combines this with Crash-Into Hello when Daniel first meets Molly. She falls out of a tree onto him.
- Voyagers!, "Jack's Back": Bogg falls on top of Drake when he and Jeff omni in, although not for long as Drake uses him omni to time jump out.
- An episode of Family Matters has Waldo, in a hurry to see his girlfriend Maxine, race on his bicycle, only to trip over something, go flying off, and landing on a nun.
- In Fire Emblem Hector finds himself in the "something soft" position to both Florina AND her Pegasus! Which is ironic in that he wears so much armor, you'd hardly expect a soft landing.
- In Super Paper Mario, Bowser and O'Chunks were last seen holding up a Descending Ceiling. The camera cuts to Mario and his friends in another room, and we hear the ceiling come down, suggesting Bowser and O'Chunks were crushed. Later, we see Princess Peach and Mimi fall down a hole in the floor, into their apparent doom. Eventually, Bowser and Peach return unscathed during the battle with Count Bleck.
Tippi: You're all here... But how?
Bowser: I fell through the floor before I got flattened by the ceiling.
Peach: I fell through, too, and landed right on Bowser! It was a surprisingly soft landing...
- In Dwarf Fortress, a fall of any length can be broken if the faller lands on another creature, without damage to either party, even if falling through a hole that leads from as high in the sky as you can build down into a specially-prepared room in the magma sea.
- Devil Survivor 2's protagonist ended up cushioning the fall of two of his female teammates due to a teleportation accident involving the three of them. He can respond with delight or frustration.
- Marin can use Link as a crashpad in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and it can all be preserved in a photo, too.
- Defied in Logical Journey of the Zoombinis — if a Zoombini is loitering where another Zoombini is about to fall, the first Zoombini will scramble out of the way.
- A running gag in the entire Neptunia series. Whenever Neptune travels between dimensions, she always falls out of the sky, and always finds a way to land on top of someone - usually Noire.
- In Girl Genius, Jagers are polite about this.
- British spies on the other hand are a bit more snarky about being landed on.
- Outsider: Played with, as ensign Jardin mentions he just hit his head on something hard, rather than something soft.
- In Sequential Art, Art "landed on something soft"
- In The Order of the Stick, this becomes a Running Gag with the Flumphs, but is then subverted - and lampshaded - when it fails to happen at a truly critical moment.
- Another example involves Belkar getting cut from a noose, only to fall on Elan.
- Spinnerette features a variation - the superpowered title character gets defenestrated by an angry friend, but the friend's car breaks the fall.
- From 8-Bit Theater: "You're standing on my kidneys..."
- Back to the Future: In "Brothers", Verne, sulking, decides to fly his helicopter hat until it runs out of fuel, which happens immediately thereafter, sending him plummeting towards the ground. However, he lands unharmed by accidentally falling on top of Marty, who was practicing his guitar playing below.
- Bob's Burgers: In "The Belchies", Bob and Linda climb down an elevator shaft to rescue the kids from a candy factory that's about to be demolished, and when the broken elevator collapses completely Bob ends up breaking Linda's fall.
- In The Oz Kids, this happens to Scarecrow Jr. twice in the same episode.
- In My Gym Partner's a Monkey, after Jake Spidermonkey gains a huge amount of weight, he falls through the floor, but later calls up to Adam that "Principal Pixiefrog broke my fall!"
- In Futurama, Bender has done this to Fry several times.
- In one episode a falling Bender is heard yelling for "someone fat" to get in his way from off-screen while the camera focuses on an obese man and skinny blonde. Bender lands on the skinny blonde.
- Fat Albert serves as one of these in the Halloween episode, he was trying to catch the target regularly but it didn't go smoothly.
- Happens once in Fairly OddParents.
Timmy's Dad: Good thing I landed on this nice soft mom!
- In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snowmonster fall to their apparent doom; however, both show up safe and sound later because "Bumbles bounce!"
- Invoked, but not actually used in Phineas and Ferb when Meap and Doofenshmirtz are plummeting to Earth after falling out of the former's spaceship:
Meap: "Well, my little friend, it looks as if we are about to fall into our untimely demise."
Doofenshmirtz: "Yeah, speak for yourself! I'm gonna try to land on you so you'll break my fall!"
- The Batman:: The first time Batman fights Catwoman in "The Cat And The Bat", she tackles him and sends them both flying off the roof of the building they were fighting on. Catwoman stays on top of Batman as they fall, and when they crash into the roof of a lower building Batman takes the full force of the fall while softening Catwoman's own landing and allowing her to land on her feet.
- Total Drama World Tour: When the plane runs out of gas over Jamaica, Izzy abandons ship and jumps out with a parachute. Owen gets sucked out by the air pressure when Izzy opens the door, and somehow survives the fall. Izzy ditches her parachute over him and lands on his kiwis. Then the plane lands on them both.
- There is one known case of a man from England who saved himself and his little daughter from a burning building by hugging her to his belly and jumping backwards out of a window. He spent weeks in hospital with a shattered pelvis, but his daughter was completely unharmed.