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Noose Catch

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"It's a long way from here to the rope."
Lord Blackwood tempts fate, Sherlock Holmes (2009)
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Often a villain will end up falling from a high place, never to be seen again. This generally allows The Hero to remain virtuous and ethical.

However, sometimes this is not enough. Perhaps the villain can swim. 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...

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This is commonly used as an Ironic Death: a villain 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.

A Sub-Trope of Disney Villain Death and Hanging Around. Compare There Is No Kill Like Overkill.

As this is a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked. Beware.


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Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • 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 Corrupt Hick 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.

    Films - Animated 
  • 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.

    Films - Live Action 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.

    Literature 
  • 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.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Batman: One version of Two-Face (where he was a stage actor called Harvey Apollo) had him die in this fashion after slipping on his own Two-Headed Coin and falling from the top of a cinema screen.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Æon Flux: In "Gravity", Æon's climbing on a plane and slips when she's just about to reach the hatch. She falls, but does manage to get her grappling hook attached to a nearby bridge. However, she is too distracted to notice that the rope has tangled up around her neck. Cue Gory Discretion Shot.

 
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Peter Stegman's Death

After Norris and Stegman's fight results in Norris throwing Stegman into the glass roof, Stegman is left hanging on to a rope for dear life, he tries to convince Norris to pull him up, but when Norris grabs Stegman's right hand and Stegman pulls out a switchblade to kill him, Norris punches him down into the orchestral room, when the rope wraps around his neck and hangs him, giving the whole school a horrifying sight to see.

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