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Pulling the Rug Out

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A classic piece of Slapstick, this trick consists of grabbing hold of the rug (or other floor covering) that someone is standing on and yanking it towards you. The target will find their feet being dragged along with the rug and out from under them, causing them to topple to the floor.

This is the origin of the idiom "[to] pull the rug from under them", meaning to put someone at a disadvantage by suddenly withdrawing support from them.

Super-Trope to Super Rug-Pull.

Compare Tablecloth Yank, a related trope where a tablecloth is pulled out from under a vase of flowers on a table, leaving the flowers still standing.


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    Comic Books 
  • In the Scrooge McDuck story The Black Knight, the Ducks lay out a red carpet in front of Scrooge's money vault to celebrate an occasion. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun later on when the indestructible Black Knight Arpin Lusene breaks into Scrooge's money bin with the intent to dissolve his entire fortune. While looking down Scrooge gets the idea to pull the carpet out from under Lusene and send him falling straight through the floor inside his dissolving suit, with a pile of diamonds (the one mineral unaffected by it) breaking his fall.
  • Hilariously subverted in El caso del bacalao, the fifth chapter of Ibáñez's Mortadelo y Filemón. When held in gunpoint by the local mafia, the title agents try to pull the rug from under their captors to throw them off. It turns out, however, that the rug was so cheap that it tears up in their hands, throwing them against the wall behind by the momentum and leaving them KO.
  • In Marvel Team-Up #30, Spider-Man and The Falcon defeat Midas the Golden Man by pulling the rug out from under him and sending him out the window.
  • In his first appearance in Smash Comics #1, the Invisible Hood defeats a crook who is holding him at gunpoint by pulling the rug out from under him. The sheer unlikeliness of his being able to perform this act without getting shot is highlighted in this blog post.

    Film — Animation 
  • In 101 Dalmatians, Perdita takes out one of the Badduns by yanking the rug out from under him, causing him to fall into the fireplace.
  • A rare invoked case in Aladdin and the King of Thieves given the character in question is a rug. As the 40 Thieves ambush Aladdin and Jasmine's wedding, Carpet pulls out from under two thieves knocking them over. He then mimes a victory pose.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Played for Laughs in Prince Valiant (1997). When a man challenges Valiant to a fight, Valiant asks if there are any rules. The man says no, and Valiant immediately tries to pull the rug out from under him, but the man is apparently really heavy as Valiant isn't strong enough to take him off his feet.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): A scene cut for time during the battle at April's apartment has April, whom is otherwise keeping vigil over the unconscious Raphael, yank the large floor carpet out from beneath a couple of Foot Soldiers, a move that Michelangelo thanks her for.
  • Played for Laughs in The Three Musketeers (1973). Near the end of the movie D'Artagnan confronts several guards inside the palace. He grabs the rug they're standing on and tries to pull it out from under them, but only succeeds in ripping off the edge of the rug. And then it turns out they aren't involved in the current battle and have no idea who that guy was who tore their carpet and ran.

  • In The Doomfarers of Coramonde by Brian Daley, this is how Springbuck kills Strongblade at the climax of the novel. Being driven back by Strongblade's magical flaming sword Flarecore, Springbuck retreats to the edge of the dais they are fighting on so he is off the carpet covering most of the dais but Strongblade is still standing on it. Springbuck parries an overhead blow and kneels and grabs the carpet and yanks it. Strongblade is only driven to one knee but Springbuck in desperation loops the carpet around Strongblade's sword and arm, entangling him in the carpet that instantly bursts into flame. Strongblade in panic entangles himself further in the carpet trying to extricate himself and burns to death.
  • In the Jeremy James books, Timothy wins all the games at his own birthday party, until the last one. During the final game of musical statues, Jeremy James thwarts him by pulling the rug under Timothy's feet, making him wobble.
  • At the end of the Andre Norton Solar Queen novel Sargasso of Space, this is how Frank Mura and Dane Thorson capture the antagonist of the story.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Avengers (1960s): Used as a method of murder in "Look - (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers...". The two murderous clowns slide a length of red carpet under Lord Dessington's door. When the distracted Dessington steps on it, they yank it out from under his feet, and Dessington plummets to his doom out of an open window.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "Three for the Money", Mac tries to talk down a belligerent drunk who is spoiling for a fight. When it becomes obvious he cannot get away from the fight, Mac tales off his leather jacket and lays it on the ground; saying he doesn't want it to get damaged in the fight. Predictably, the drunk immediately stands on the jacket. Mac then yanks it out from under his feet, dropping the drunk and stopping the fight before it starts.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake: Aerith knocks down one of Don Corneo's mooks with this move, then immediately follows it up with a chair to the head.
  • In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, this is how you defeat the Tough Possessor. It possesses a suit of armor which you must lure onto a carpet so you can suck it up with the Poltergust, causing the armor to fall over.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?", Robin knocks a thug standing on a table off his feet by pulling out the tablecloth. "I love that trick, but I can never make it work."
  • Jessica Cruz's non-violent method of beating Kilowog in a sparring match in DC Super Hero Girls.
  • In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Phantasmo", the titular experiment possesses the kitchen rug Stitch is standing on to pull it from underneath him, causing him to fall over and drop all the dishes that he initially caught and saved from breaking thanks to said experiment.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In Porky's Romance, Porky Pig is attempting to propose to his girlfriend Petunia when her spoiled dog Fluffnums pulls a mean-spirited trick on Porky by pulling the rug out from under him and the fickle and selfish Petunia laughs at him, causing Porky to leave the house and walk off in shame.
    • Porky Pig's Feat, has Daffy Duck pulling the rug out from under the hotel manager, causing him to fall down several flights of stairs.
  • Tom and Jerry: In "Mouse Cleaning", Tom is trying desperately to keep the house tidy while Mammy is out. At one point, Jerry juggles lots of eggs, then throws them; Tom catches and juggles them himself, but Jerry has also started spinning a pie plate on a fork. Tom manages to take that over, too, but then Jerry pulls the rug out (literally). Tom catches the eggs in a carton, but the pie hits him.
  • We Bare Bears: In "Rescue Ranger", Tabes defeats the trapper by pulling out the rug he's standing on, causing him to stumble into one of his own cages.


Video Example(s):


Scooby Doo, American Dad Style

For Halloween, the Smiths, minus Stan, go as the Scooby Doo gang, and later they would encounter a monster.

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