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No Escape but Down

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Come on, let go of that window.

"The elevator's broken in this building. So I'm gonna have to jump!"

You're caught in a Chase Scene, when suddenly you hit a dead end — literally. You're at the edge of a cliff, or the roof of a skyscraper, or the lip of a sewer drain. Your pursuers are on your tail, and there is no escape. Well, No Escape But Down.

This trope is about escapes that end with a long fall. Sometimes it's on purpose (the pursued decides to take his chances or he knows it's not as dangerous as it looks, and wants to dare the pursuers to Try and Follow) or by accident (he doesn't realize he's run out of turf). Slo-Mo Big Air is a given. Survival depends on Soft Water, Literal Cliffhanger, or other forms of Not the Fall That Kills You…. Sometimes the pursued person jumps because it's Better to Die than Be Killed. Sometimes he jumps because he knows he'll be caught somehow, and thus survive the fall. And sometimes they simply feel that whatever they're trying to escape from is more dangerous than the ground.

Super-trope of High-Dive Escape, Suicidal "Gotcha!", Super Window Jump, Trash Landing. Often the outcome of a Climbing Climax.

Sub-Trope of Arduous Descent to Terra Firma.

Compare The Precarious Ledge, and Hanging by the Fingers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Call of the Night: After Anko, in an effort to prevent Yamori from hanging out with vampires, reports him to the police for wandering the streets at night, he takes shelter in Hatsuka's apartment. When he learns that Nazuna and Niko got into an argument and runs to meet them, however, he finds himself cornered by a couple of cops as he's crossing a bridge. Yamori decides he doesn't have time for them and jumps off the bridge. While the manga has Hatsuka catch Yamori and fly him to Niko's place, the anime instead has Yamori stick a perfect landing before he runs off.
  • One Piece: Inverted with Sanji, who spontaneously comes up with a flying technique in order to escape up when surrounded by crossdressers.
  • In Saint Seiya, Seiya ends up in a tight spot when he's cornered at the edge of a cliff by Jamian and Shaina, with one arm broken and the other holding an unconscious Saori. After Saori wakes up, Seiya asks her if she's willing to take the risk with him, and then they jump off the cliff to escape.
  • An unwitting example, but in Zero's Journey, Lock, Shock, and Barrel evade an angry mob by falling down an open manhole.

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: At the end of the "Necropolis" storyline, the Dark Judges are apprehended one by one after the Sisters of Death have been banished to their own dimension. When Judge Death is cornered on an inter-block walkway, he jumps out the window to escape. Being undead, he easily survives the mile-high jump.
  • Robin: When Spoiler, Robin, and an unconscious Czonka (who lured them there in the first place) are trapped on the upper floor of a building that's about to be demolished their only option is to use Tim's single de-cel line and leap down the elevator shaft hoping the line won't break and will decelerate their decent enough to keep them alive. From the basement they land in they then have to run to an old steam tunnel and dive into that to completely escape the now blowing up and falling building.

    Comic Strips 
  • Modesty Blaise: In "A Present for the Princess'', Willie escapes from a trio of bandits by dropping off a broken rope bridge into a river.

    Fan Works 
  • An unintentional example in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. During his battle with J in her airship's hangar, Ash is completely outclassed by the Pokémon poacher. As a result, he's unable to reach any of the flying machines stored there. So how do he and his Pokémon get away? Well, Goomy was charging up a Bide attack for quite some time, and jumps in the way of the attacks J's Pokémon fired. The resulting explosion blasts a hole in J's airship, which Ash and co. get blown out through.

    Film — Animation 
  • Aladdin: This happens twice, first in the Chase Scene song "One Jump Ahead" when Aladdin escapes from the guards by grabbing a carpet, and then again when he and Jasmine have to flee his home.
  • BIONICLE 2: Legends of Metru Nui:
    • Lhikan escaped pursuit from Nidhiki and Krekka by jumping off the bridge.
    • Matau escapes the Vahki ambush by running the Transport off the bridge into the ocean.
  • Fire and Ice (1983): When Larn is cornered by the subhumans at the top of the jungle trees, he escapes by leaping into the cloud-shrouded chasm, despite not knowing how deep it is or what lies at the bottom.
  • Ice Age: The human child's mother is cornered at a waterfall by Diego (who changes sides later). Clutching her only child to her chest, she jumps. Thanks to Manny and Sid, the baby makes it. She doesn't.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: Inverted where, after being unable to escape through the bottom of a collapsing tower, the heroes are forced to climb back up it and jump from the roof.
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation: When Izzy arrives in Maretime Bay and causes the earth ponies to panic and run, one screams and jumps down a manhole cover. When she tries talking to an ice cream vendor, he jumps off a ledge into the bay.
  • Pinocchio: Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket escape Pleasure Island by jumping into the sea from a cliff.
  • Sing 2: When Jimmy's guards try to burst in the room to capture Buster and his friends, Buster tells them that they're gonna put on their show whether Jimmy likes it or not, but first...they're gonna jump out of the window to avoid getting caught.
    Buster: We're gonna put on this show whether Crystal likes it or not. But first...we're gonna jump out of that window.
    Everyone: WHAT?!
    Clay: I'm beginning to like this guy.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Antigang, Waked escapes from Niels by leaping over the edge of the bridge over the Seine. Niels thinks he has jumped into the river, but when he looks over the side, he discovers that Waked has landed on a lower walkway and is running back the opposite direction.
  • In Apocalypto Jaguar Paw attempts to evade pursuit by leaping over a waterfall. His pursuers do follow, although one of them is killed in the attempt.
  • Argylle: After finding Bakunin's notebook, Aiden and Elly have no choice but to escape by jumping from the roof of the building onto a barge. To demonstrate the safety of the jump, Aiden throws poor Alfie first.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): Aguilar and Maria escape their execution by having their pursuers follow them up a large tower in the middle of construction and then performing a Leap of Faith off the top of it into a hay wagon. Later, Aguilar is cornered on a bridge and performs another, more artful Leap into the river below.
  • Avatar: Jake Sully's avatar leaps over a waterfall to escape a Pandoran beastie.
  • The Avengers (1998). Mrs. Peel and her clone are fighting on a rooftop. When Steed arrives, the clone (realizing she's outnumbered) jumps off the roof to escape. We don't see what happened to her, but she turns up later with no explanation.
  • In Back to the Future Part II Biff corners Marty at the edge of a roof and Marty jumps. Something of a Suicidal "Gotcha!" since he lands on the roof of the Delorean hidden from Biff's view, only a few feet below.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. When the title characters are trapped against the edge of a cliff by the posse pursuing them, they decide to take their chances and jump into the river below.
  • The Dark Crystal: Jen and Kira are cornered by Garthim at the edge of a cliff and have no alternative but to jump. Fortunately Kira is able to fly them to safety. Because girl Gelflings, as we now discover, have wings.
  • In Death House, Agents Boon and Novak, trapped on a floor with violent psychopaths, decide jump down the elevator shaft, hoping to supplies their descent by skidding down the elevator cable.
  • Devil Hunters ends with its Power Trio - played by Moon Lee, Sibelle Hu and Ray Lui - leaping off an exploding balcony when the movie's main villain chose to blow up himself in a Taking You with Me moment. It's notable that the two actresses, Moon and Sibelle, ends up a little too close to the explosion when it happens, resulting in both of them suffering third-degree burns on their backs after filming.
  • Harrison Ford in The Fugitive: Chased down a tunnel in a dam by Lt. Gerard, his choices are get arrested, or jump. Guess what he does?
    Gerard: Guy did a Peter Pan, right here, right off of this dam!
  • In Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Indy and Basil leap from the Nazi treasure train into the river just before it is derailed by the Allies.
  • Into the Grizzly Maze: Fleeing through the forest from the rogue grizzly, Rowan escapes by leaping off a cliff into the river.
  • In Kiss the Girls, during her escape from the Serial Killer Kate has to decide whether to leap off a 150 foot waterfall or be recaptured. She takes the jump and gets away.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, when the hobbits are chased by a farmer and his dogs.
  • In The Man from Kangaroo, John and Muriel leap from the stage coach as it thunders across Hampden Bridge into the Kangaroo River.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded Trinity jumps out of the window when cornered by two agents. Neo's dreams foretell that she dies.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Mission: Impossible III: While stealing the "Rabbit's Foot" Ethan gets caught and has to escape the building by jumping out a window that's too low for a safe parachute landing but is still very high up. He manages to survive because his parachute gets caught on a few things on his bumpy way down.
    • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: When caught by the Russians the only escape Ethan can manage is jumping out the window, though he hesitates due to knowing he's not going to have a graceful landing.
  • Men in Black: The alien Jay chases down chooses to jump rather than give himself up.
  • The Prophecy II features one coming about due to apparent divine inspiration. The rogue Arch Angel Gabriel, (who has gone to war with God due to Him favoring humans over angels) has chased Valerie, a woman pregnant with an angel's baby, to the edge of a multistory industrial complex. She suddenly cocks her head to the side while Gabriel is in the middle of a tirade, and says that God is speaking to her. Gabriel, who still loves God and hasn't spoken to Him in a long time, asks what He's saying. Valerie comes closer, blissfully takes Gabriel in her arms, and replies "Jump." She then takes both of them off the edge. Gabriel gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice while she is miraculously unharmed. (Well, relatively.)
  • In Ravenous (1999) after the rest of his party has been killed off by a super powered cannibal right out of myths about the Wendigo, Boyd is corned on the edge of a cliff by the cannibal, who begins toying with him. After a couple of seconds of hesitation, Boyd jumps off cliff, without any landing spot. He survives, but his leg is badly broken.
  • In Rogue (2020), Sam and her men and the schoolgirls they rescued are cornered on the edge of a ravine by Zalaam and his jihadists. With no option, Sam orders her men to abandon most of their gear and jump off the ravine into the river below.
  • Happens early in Sin City when Marv is escaping the cops.
  • In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond skis off a cliff, only to reveal he was wearing a parachute.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • Kirk and Bones are involved in a chase scene which ends with them jumping off a cliff into the ocean below.
    • Harrison escapes the wreckage of the Vengeance by jumping off it.
  • Star Wars: Near the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is hanging on by one hand over a seemingly bottomless pit. Rather than take the opportunity Darth Vader offers him to rule the galaxy as father and son, Luke lets himself fall.
  • In Swashbuckler, Lynch, Nick and Jane escape from the mounted soldiers by driving a wagon full of bananas of a cliff into the ocean.
  • Terminator: Dark Fate. Our heroes are in a Hummer hanging off the side of a dam by an attached parachute. Then an implacable Killer Robot from the future appears at the top of the dam. So Grace cuts the parachute cords.
  • Thelma & Louise: How the eponymous duo resolve their situation. Realizing that they're completely cornered by the police, they resort to driving off the cliff.
  • The woman in The Teaser of Timber Falls gets cornered by Deacon on the edge of a cliff. With nowhere else to go, she jumps off the cliff. She misses the river and smashes into the rocks beside on the bank (not that landing the river would have helped given the depth).
  • In TRON: Legacy, the hero is in this situation when being cornered by a security guard on the rooftop of the Encom building. He does a Suicidal "Gotcha!" and escapes using his Hammerspace Parachute.
  • Near the beginning of Undercover Brother the title character is fleeing some mooks. He jumps off the top of a building and parachutes to safety.
  • In When Darkness Falls, Nina's family tries to force her to suicide because they think that she destroyed the family honor. She then locks herself in her room together with her sister Leyla and escapes through the window before the family can open the door with a picklock.
  • A variant in the 1910 short film White Fawn's Devotion, in which the man being chased is driven to the edge of a cliff—whereupon he pulls out a rope, ties it to a rock, and tries to rappel down. One of his pursuers gets there soon after and starts hacking away at the rope with a knife while the man tries to get down.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Invoked on 30 Rock when Jack tells Liz about the time he fell on a crevasse while ice climbing, and to save himself had to "climb down into the darkness". Both Jack and Liz then had to metaphorically "go into the crevasse" to solve their dilemmas that week by debasing themselves.
  • Arrow: In "Public Enemy", Arrow, Arsenal and Canary escape from the Vigilante Taskforce by leaping off the roof of the building where they are cornered; firing grapple lines to slow their descent as they fall.
  • At the end of the Babylon 5 episode "Z'ha'dum", John Sheridan is pursued by the Shadows and what's left of his wife and ends up trapped on a balcony high above a miles deep pit in the center of the Shadow City. Which makes him resort to remote activate his ship in orbit to aim at his position and arm the two fusion bombs he stole. Facing certain death, he receives a telepathic message imprinted in his mind by Kosh, before he died, urging him to jump. It all worked out, in the end.
  • On The Bionic Woman, Jaime jumped out a window to escape Fembots. It was too high a fall for her bionic legs to take, and she was injured seriously.
  • Happens on Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Faith jumps off the roof of her apartment building to escape Buffy and lands on the top of a truck, but the landing knocks her unconscious. It probably happens other times on Buffy too but that's the one that jumps to mind (no pun intended). Having a gaping stomach wound doesn't help...
  • Burn Notice uses this a few times. One episode has Michael lampshade this through his narration by stating that the best way to escape a pursuit is to do something that the pursuers will not do, like jump off a building. He then jumps off the roof so the security guards chasing him won't follow (it's not very high but one can easily break bones if landing badly).
    • In another episode Michael is in a helicopter with Management flying out to sea and is told that he really has not choice but work for the people who burned him since they are the only thing protecting him. He promptly jumps out and swims to shore.
  • The City Hunter: Yoon Sung leaps over the railing of a hi-rise building to escape being captured by the Secret Service.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Doctor Dances": With gas-mask zombies advancing on both sides, Rose gets herself, the Doctor and Jack out of it by using Jack's squareness gun to make the floor disappear.
    • "Forest of the Dead": At a particularly tense moment where the Doctor is surrounded by possessed skeletons, he reveals that he's standing on a trapdoor that he then sonics open, falling through. As the Vashta Nerada look down to see the long drop below, the Doctor makes his way to safety by hanging on to the underside of the covered-bridge-structure and inching along.
    • "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone": The mid-story cliffhanger inverts the trope, where the Doctor shoots out a gravity globe to give everyone the boost to be able to jump up and out of the Weeping Angels' clutches.
    • "Heaven Sent": Trapped by the Veil, the Doctor suddenly throws an ottoman through the window and dives after it into the seemingly bottomless pit below. As he falls, he retreats into his time-dilated TARDIS Mental World to figure out why he just did such an insane thing. He realizes in the nick of time that various things he's noticed subconsciously in the last few minutes indicate there's deep water at the bottom of the pit.
  • A Running Gag on Get Smart: The villain, exposed and cornered by the good guys, prepares to jump out a window. The heroes warn him he won't survive. He gloats that he'll get away because there's an awning or the like to break his fall, gets off one last evil laugh or We Will Meet Again one-liner, and jumps. Max goes to the window, looks down, turns back to face the room, and says, "Missed it by *that* much."
  • Chance, of Human Target, did this at least twice: one was a legitimate jump off a 12 story building into Soft Water; in another he pretended to jump off a tall building, actually grabbing a gargoyle adorning the roof.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "Bad Medicine". The Diablero is chased up to the top of the building by security guards, then jumps off and disappears. He used his magical powers to turn into a raven and fly away.
  • On Leverage, Parker uses this fairly often. Most notably is when she base jumps off one of the world's tallest buildings.
  • In the Queen of Swords episode "Death to the Queen", the cornered Queen escapes by diving off the cliff into the ocean.
  • On White Collar Neal has to get to the penthouse of a highrise building and swap a painting for a forgery before Peter shows up and catches him in the act. He simply takes the elevator up but does not have the time to escape the same way. Just as Peter is entering the apartment, Neal jumps off the top of the building and opens up a parachute.

    Music Videos 
  • In the video for Disturbed's "Asylum", the patient being pursued by the men in white coats chooses this option, jumping from the top of the building, one of them smirking at his corpse. This was just one of his "deaths" in the video, all of which lead to him being back in his padded cell.
  • Used at the end of the Gorillaz video for Stylo- Murdoc drives the car into the ocean and it turns into a shark submarine!

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Undermontain complex in Forgotten Realms sometimes. The point is, there are even rings made by its owner Halaster the Mad that allow to teleport inside the labyrinth at will... but only randomly and down.

    Video Games 
  • The character Eslaf Errol of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's in-game books Beggar, Thief, Warrior, and King made escaping capture by jumping out of windows part and parcel of his trade.
  • Final Fantasy X: At one point, Yuna's plan to Send Seymour was accidentally spoiled by the party's (admittedly badass) rescue attempt, the villains using them as leverage to make her go through with the marriage. After all is said and done, the bad guys decide to still kill her friends. Yuna's solution? Leap off the tower head first and summon Valefor mid-air to fly away on to distract the villains.
  • One mission in Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad Of Gay Tony has Luis Lopez chase a bad guy up the Empire State Building Rotterdam Tower. Once you confront him at the top, your only way off is to use the bad guy's parachute to base jump off the building.
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, Master Chief has to jump out of a Covenant battleship into a pool of leaked coolant after the Flood had overrun all the other passages on the ship.
  • In Heavy Rain, Ethan's final escape from the police takes him to the edge of a building's roof. It's up to you whether to surrender and go to prison (effectively taking Ethan out of the game), or simply fall backwards, hoping for the best. If you do, you'll apparently survive the fall with nothing but a few bruises, despite already having several cracked ribs and miscellaneous injuries at that point.
  • In Ignac, the eponymous main character is locked up in the house by his parents for a bad math grade, and has to find a way to escape. Eventually he escapes through the window.
  • Medal of Honor (2010): "Bullets or broken bones? Bones heal."
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, Naked Snake falls from the top of a waterfall after he is cornered by Ocelot. Unlike most escape examples, the drop (temporarily) kills him.
  • Mirror's Edge frequently requires you to escape from persuing cops and the occasional police helicopters with machine guns, by pulling off almost suicidal jumps off the roofs of skyscrapers. The final jump in Heat being exceptionally crazy.
    Merc: "Did you just do what I think you did? Damn it, girl! I just spilt my joe all over my keyboard."
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity has this at one point in the game after you are separated from your partner; before fighting Toxicroak and two other Pokemon, you end up on the edge of the cliff, and then, after deciding to slowly climb down, you are spotted. After the ensuing boss fight, you have trouble fighting the rest, and Salamence appears to take you out. Eventually, Hydreigon shows up and hits you with his tail, causing you to fall off the cliff before Hydreigon catches you and flies off to the cave, in which afterwards you come to in said cave.
  • Tomb Raider: Anniversary inverts this at the pyramid in Atlantis. Lara chases Natla up the structure to stop her from executing her plans. When Lara reaches the top, Natla appears from behind with her mutants, cornering Lara and taunts her that she has nowhere left to go but down. Some exchange of words and shooting of a MacGuffin later, Natla tackles Lara over the edge to knock her into a lava pool below. Lara escapes by using her grappling hook on a ledge above to save herself while Natla takes the plunge instead.
  • Near the beginning of Radiant Historia, Stocke has to jump from a bridge to escape a powerful enemy.
  • In the Toluca Lake section of Silent Hill 2 James must voluntarily jump down holes into dark, unguessable depths. Repeatedly. He starts out underground to begin with.
    • Repeated jumping down holes is how the Water Prison in Silent Hill 4 gets solved.
    • The final battle of Silent Hill games in general tends to take place just after such a descent.
  • At the beginning of Suikoden II, you and your best friend, Jowy, have to leap off a cliff into a waterfall to get away from a neverending stream of enemy soldiers. You can refuse to jump, triggering another fight, as many times as you want to... a good way to gain some easy levels early in the game AND a method for triggering a hidden Easter Egg, by fighting off a high number of soldiers there (108 encounters). But no matter what you do, the story won't progress until you jump into the river.
  • Syphon Filter: Jumping through a glass ceiling, jumping off a cliff, jumping off a bridge onto a moving train, jumping down an airshaft with a giant fan at the bottom, etc.
  • In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves both Nate and Sully wind up leaping off a cliff into a river to escape pursuing Russian mercs... with a direct reference to the Butch & Sundance example mentioned above.

    Web Animation 
  • In Season 10 of Red vs. Blue, the Freelancers find themselves with two options in Episode 15: Jump off a 110-story building, or die horribly. They take option A.
    Carolina: This must be karma for kicking Maine out the window!
  • Homestar Runner: Strong Bad's action movie hero persona Dangeresque does this so often (sometimes with little or no excuse other than Rule of Cool), "Looks like I'm gonna have to juuuuump!" is pretty much his catchphrase.
  • Love of the S*n: When Charger Block and Crown are hanging off a walkway next to Michael and Sean, they let go and fall to escape.

  • Homestuck: When a pair of Ogres arrive at John's house, trapping its current residents on its roof, an Imp absconds by parachuting away with an umbrella.
  • Surviving Romance: Used in combination with Better to Die than Be Killed. As dying resets the events of the day, Chaerin of course occasionally makes use of this through the school’s windows.
  • Tower of God: Khun and Anaak subvert this when they made Quant think they had applied this trope to lure him to the lower exit of the Hide and Seek testing area while they headed for the upper one.

    Western Animation 
  • In Amphibia, after Andrias uses the Calamity Box to transform Newtopia's castle into an Ominous Floating Castle, everyone inside are effectively trapped. While Anne and the Plantars inadvertently escape via a portal to Earth, Grime's plan for him and Sasha to get away is to go out the window, though Sasha points out he neglected to consider how they would land without dying. Fortunately, Joe Sparrow catches them safely.
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon "Donald's Crime", Donald climbs the stairs of a skycraper to escape the law, and with no way out, jumps off the roof onto another building. Just barely—the bricks he tries to grasp give way one after another until he can climb back up.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Daffy and Bugs escape from the prison guards by jumping off a cliff into the river in "Jailbird and Jailbunny". (Or rather Daffy jumps off the cliff and Bugs goes along because they are shackled together.)
  • During their first meeting, Samurai Jack and the Scotsman end up stuck on a narrow bridge with two mobs of bounty hunters closing in from either side. They initially try jumping off the side, but they each go a different direction and (being chained together) don't end up going anywhere. Jack cuts the planks beneath them and drops them into a swamp to escape.
  • Grouchy and the Smurflings escape Gargamel in the early part of The Smurfs episode "Grouchy Makes A Splash" by jumping from a precipice into the river. Well, the Smurflings escape into the river, but Grouchy, who doesn't know how to swim, clings onto a root and causes Gargamel to fall into the river before he climbs to safety.

    Real Life 
  • A famous and tragic example from World War II occurred in Nazi occupied Poland. A group of resistance fighters assassinated the head of the Warsaw Gestapo. As they were making their escape, two of them ended up trapped on a bridge with German soldiers closing in from both sides. They chose to jump into the river below rather than be captured. They were shot in the water and drowned.
  • Even more tragic variant of this trope happened in World War II on Japanese remote islands, such as Saipan and Okinawa, invaded by US forces. Most times the civilians, fearing the assumed atrocities to be committed by the Americans, jumped off the shore cliffs into the sea rather than surrender.
  • A rather less tragic example from Word War II saw British Airman Nicholas Alkemade leap from his bomber to escape death by burning. He fell 18,000 feet without a parachute and suffered only a sprained ankle thanks to the cushioning of tree cover and 18 inches of snow.
  • Also happened during 9/11. To quote one firefighter on the scene, "How bad is it up there that the better option is to jump?"


Video Example(s):


Escaping the Super Posse

Butch and Sundance have been backed into a figurative corner and Butch thinks their only choices are to fight or give. Then he comes up with a third option: to jump-- but Sundance isn't having it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / NoEscapeButDown

Media sources: