Often a villain will end up tripping and falling from a high place, never to be seen again. This generally allows The Hero to remain virtuous and ethical and decreases the disapproval from Moral Guardians.
However, sometimes this is not enough. Perhaps the villain can swim or they miraculously land on a soft pile of bags. Perhaps the hero is worried that nobody will ever find the body and wants to make sure he's really gone. Or perhaps the villain's truly evil, yet no court will find him guilty.
When one of these annoying problems poses itself, there is a solution: the noose catch. This is when a character, usually a villain, falls from something very tall, such as a tree, a cliff, a construction site, or a building, and is stopped by some long, thin, dangling object that happens to wrap around his neck. Vines, chains, ropes: almost anything will do. This doesn't just stop them from falling — it also kills them. Sometimes their neck snaps. Otherwise, they simply hang there, dying, as the rope slowly chokes them to death...
This is commonly used as an Ironic Death: a villain who escapes from death row may avoid being hanged by the authorities, but is still hanged by "other" means. Similarly, it could involve a Vigilante Man taking matters into his own hands, because a fatal fall only requires a neatly placed push.
As this is a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked. Beware.
- In the first (and last) issue of All-Negro Comics, the villain in the detective story dies this way, falling through a staircase and hanging himself with the zoot chain he'd been strangling his victims with.
- Daredevil villain Trixter fakes this: wrapping the end of his scarf around the highwire and pretending to fall and choke, then escaping in the other direction when Daredevil moves to catch him.
- This happens to a criminal in a Golden Age Seven Soldiers of Victory story—he's already been sentenced to death by hanging and escaped prison to avoid that fate. Naturally, while fighting Green Arrow and Speedy, he manages to fall off a cliff with a rope in such a way as to hang himself.
- In Weird Western Tales #17, Jonah Hex shoves a Hanging Judge off a cliff. However, rather than falling to her death, she suffers a Karmic Death when her scarf snags on a tree sticking out of the cliff and snaps her neck.
- The Trope Codifier: Clayton's death in Tarzan. In a frenzied attempt to attack Tarzan with his machete, he gets himself tangled up in jungle vines, not noticing until too late that one is coiling around his neck as he slashes away at them. Eventually, he cuts away the last one holding him up, causing him to plummet a huge distance from the tree the two were standing on — but with one vine still ensnared around his neck. It then suddenly cuts to the vine stretching taut with a loud crunch, Tarzan and Clayton's machete dropping to the ground, and then lightning briefly illuminating the tree behind Tarzan to reveal the shadow of Clayton's dangling corpse.
- The climactic fight of Air Force One ends with the baddie shoved off the plane by the President, with a cargo strap wrapped around his neck.
The President: Get off my plane.
- This is how Max from The Babysitter (2017) bows out in the first film; falling through the floorboards of Cole's treehouse and getting hanged on the tyre swing.
- The fate of Peter Stegman in Class of 1984: falling through a skylight and getting strangled to death in the ropes above the stage.
- Final Destination: While Tod is in his bathroom, his toilet leaks. When he finishes, the water flows across the floor and almost makes him slip several times. While Tod takes the clothes off a clothesline over the bathtub, he slips on the puddle from the toilet leak, falling into the bathtub as the clothesline coils around his neck. Tod struggles to get up due to the shampoo and conditioner spilling into the tub as the wire begins to tighten around his neck and slowly begins to suffocate him.
- The Golden Child. One of the Big Bad's henchmen has a chain that he uses to snare opponents. Near the end of the movie the title character manages to wrap the chain around the henchman's neck. When the henchman falls over a balcony, he ends up being hanged by his own chain.
- In Hard Candy, Hayley makes Jeff jump from the rooftop of his house with a noose around his neck tied to the chimney.
- In Flowers in the Attic, Corrine is killed when she is shoved off a balcony and her bridal veil snags.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has a variant when Indy wraps one end of his whip around a mook's neck and the other end around a ceiling fan. Instead of getting hanged by falling, the mook gets hanged when the fan yanks him upward and breaks his neck.
- The Corrupt Corporate Executive in The Island (2005) is hanged by his own grappling hook.
- A variation occurs in the Dutch horror movie De Lift ("The Elevator", later remade as "Down" and "The Shaft"). As the titular homicidal elevator is destroyed and crashes to the bottom of the shaft, the Corrupt Corporate Executive responsible for its creation gets entangled in the loose cables and is hanged in the elevator shaft.
- In Murder by Decree, The Ripper is hanged when he gets tangled in a cargo net and strangles himself.
- In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Lord Blackwood falls through Tower Bridge but gets himself tangled up in chains. One of which snaps and sends Blackwood falling off-screen. One of the chains wraps around Blackwood's neck and snaps it, killing him. This is a Karmic Death as Blackwood had escaped hanging at the start of the movie.
- Hitman: Overachievers: In reaction to the explosion, Jaguar fell off the rafters and got hanged by some electrical cables.
- Bill Sykes in Oliver Twist accidentally hangs himself while trying to escape out a window; the plan was to have the rope under his shoulders, but he freaks out and falls out with it around his neck. Possibly the Ur-Example.
- In Michael Reaves' The Shattered World, Beorn the werebear battles a guardian chimera beneath the Labyrinth of Darkhaven, and leads it away in a running brawl when its chain breaks. Although too formidable for even Beorn's bear-form to defeat, the chimera defeats itself when it leaps across a chasm to attack Beorn, only to have its leap cut short, drop into the chasm, and expire with an audible neck-crack when its trailing chain gets caught up in some rubble at the chasm's edge.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has the series' villain Makarov be killed by Captain Price in this manner after beating Makarov's face and head in with Price's fists and the glass floor they're on while Price ties a crashed helicopter's winch cable around his neck. Makarov gets to let out a Big "NO!" before Price drives them both through the weakened glass with a final effort and the cable snaps his neck to quickly ending his flailing. It's probably worth noting there was Makarov's dropped Desert Eagle pistol nearby that Price could have grabbed instead to finish him off with, but the hastily-prepared hanging was definitely the funner option.
- Little Hope: If Anthony convinces Tanya Clarke to climb down the drainpipe in the prologue, she slips and her scarf catches on a piece of the house, snapping her neck.
- Elements of Justice: A theatre costume designer named Overall Concept dies from being hung by a rope from up on a catwalk during a production, in full view of the audience. The following trial seeks to determine who killed him.