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Stalactite Spite

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Starlight, star bright, first star getting speared tonight...
It's been well established that video game protagonists just can't catch a break, and that even the most mundane of objects seem to have it out for them. One common manifestation of this is that certain inanimate objects will hang ever so precariously from the ceiling — but will wait patiently to actually fall until the moment the player walks under them.

As if that wasn't enough, these objects can typically distinguish between friend and foe — most mooks and NPCs can stand beneath them with total impunity. Once the player triggers them to fall, however, these hazards can sometimes still interact with the environment by taking out enemies or destroying other objects in their path, which can make for some quite interesting puzzles. If they don't just vanish and respawn endlessly after falling, they may even get stuck in the ground and become platforms you can stand on.

The actual object that falls can vary, as this type of hazard can be adapted to suit just about any setting. The most common offenders include actual stalactites in Underground Levels or icicles in a Slippy-Slidey Ice World, but with a little creativity, you can find variants just about anywhere: falling coconuts in a Palmtree Panic level, falling boulders on Death Mountain, falling chandeliers in the haunted mansion, or more inventive varieties still. Or if all else fails, you can never go wrong with some good old Spikes of Doom from above.

A subtrope of Malevolent Architecture and part of Everything Trying to Kill You. Note that this trope doesn't include non-inanimate enemies (like Thwomp in Super Mario Bros. series) with that kind of behavior, nor does it include Death Traps which look like they're deliberately made to do their thing.

See also Collapsing Ceiling Boss, where a boss attacks by causing things to drop from the ceiling. For Stalagmite Spite — things that come from below instead of falling — see Spikes of Doom.


  • Capcom's Aladdin has many falling stalactites in later levels.
  • One of the Ball Revamped games has coconuts that start dropping when ball is underneath them.
  • Icicles act this way in level 4 of Battletoads.
  • During the ice phase of the Final Boss fight in Bayonetta, several stalactites will fall from above in certain areas, freezing Bayonetta solid for a short period of time.
  • Bloblonia is full of falling stalactites in the Wii version of A Boy and His Blob. They're also one of the few things that can kill Boy while he's in the Cola Bubble, which is otherwise completely impervious to everything from enemies to water. Fortunately for you, you can send Blob underneath them to trigger them early.
  • Braid features a chandelier in the final level, which could've been used to jump up to where the princess is. She herself was trying to drop it on you. Also, if you get all the stars, you can use it to get up there.
  • Some Castlevania games have chandeliers or stalactites that fall when you approach.
  • Cave Story - When Egg Corridor is revisited, two sizes of stalactites will fall if the player stays under them. The larger size insta-kills anything pinned under it.
  • In CJ's Elephant Antics, the Slippy-Slidey Ice World's Boss Room has a ceiling that spawns falling icicles in random locations.
  • Crystal Caves. But only some of the stalactites. There are also stalagmites, which just stand in the ground (oddly enough, on the reverse gravity levels, stalactites and stalagmites are not reversed).
  • Partially averted in Dragon Quest VIII where the icicles in the Snow cavern will fall right behind (or in front of) you, instead of onto you. They're actually required to complete a puzzle in order to navigate the grotto.
  • The caverns in Double Dragon are loaded with huge stalactites that drop constantly. Weirdly, getting a giant, pointy rock dropped on Billy's head doesn't do as much damage as you might think.
  • The first DuckTales NES game has some falling icicles that do this in the Himalayas level.
  • Duke Nukem has "Acme" signs that fall when you walk underneath them. They provide bonus points if shot while falling.
  • Dungeons & Dragons actually justifies this trope. Spiteful stalactites are actually monsters called piercers that pretend to be stalactites in order to surprise prey by dropping on them pointy end first.
  • Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth: Prior to its boss battle, the Crystal Dragon (which is the boss of the prism-themed Lucent Hollows) will invoke this trope as an attack to prevent the character party from approaching it. Once the player enters its wide territory, it will use its crystal wings to shoot large crystal shards upward so these fall down onto the party, harming them as well as knocking them back. The usual strategy is to not run straight onto it so the falling crystals don't fall over them, but there's a clever trick that allows the party to use the fallen crystals as teleporters to approach the boss quickly. It's even possible to approach the dragon from behind this way, initiating the battle with a preemptive strike.
  • Large icicles in Gaea's Cliff of Final Fantasy VII are treated as enemies in battle: Every time you strike them, they counter-"attack" by dropping smaller icicles on you from the ceiling.
  • Icicles drop from the ceiling in two very specific places in The Goonies II. One of them is easy to dodge. The other ... is the reason there's a football helmet power-up that does nothing but repel those two icicles.
  • A version of this appears in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (at least on the PC): Stalactites in the Fire Seed Cave fall when Harry approaches, but he can never be hit by them and they're necessary to proceed through the cave.
  • Hitman allows you to make use of this trope. In the Sapienza map, 47 can shoot stalactites in the underground lab to kill people and complete a specific objective
  • Hollow Knight has falling stalactites in several areas, that will trigger as soon as the Knight walks under them. They will kill enemies they hit in addition to being dangerous to the player.
  • Ice Climber, though they won't appear on the level you choose to start on.
  • In I Wanna Be the Guy, where Everything Is Trying to Kill You, it's no surprise that almost any time you walk close enough to a nearby spike, apple (cherry?), etc., it may suddenly fly out and try to kill you — even if that means it's "falling" up, sideways, or diagonally.
  • Indiana Rodent has falling fruit in a homage to I Wanna Be the Guy.
  • Jill of the Jungle features falling stalactites in several of its cave-themed levels.
  • Jineseiowata no Daibouken, "The Life-Ending Adventure," features an odd falling ceiling in its neverending pursuit of sadistic player homicide.
  • A player-triggered example appears in some of the snow-themed stages of minimalist fighting game Samurai Gunn. Attacking a hanging icicle will cause it to fall, taking down any players it happens to hit on the way.
  • Falling spikes are a rather rare type of traps in the Jumper series. A memorable instance is at the end of stage 6-3 in Jumper Two.
  • Kirby games have explosive coconuts which fall when being under them. A handful of icicles can be found in ice levels of Kirbys Dreamland 3 and Kirby Mass Attack.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Stalactites are plentiful in Ice Cavern and a part of Ganon's Tower, where the ceiling is high enough that you probably won't see the icicles from a distance, and they also respawn.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: There are stone coffins placed upright with loose lids so unstable that walking past one will cause the lid to fall, causing half a heart of damage. The lids can be prematurely activated by shooting an arrow at one.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: In Snowpeak Ruins, there are stalactites that not only ambush you, but also turn into Chilfos on landing.
  • Several Chillydip Cove levels in The Legendary Starfy have giant icicles looming above the path and will fall when Starfy is under them.
  • One of the traps in the snow-themed stages of Oh No! More Lemmings is falling icicles.
  • Linus Spacehead has got bouncing coconuts (brown for some reason) which fall when approached.
  • In "The Frozen Tundra" level in LittleBigPlanet- The icicles actually fall before you get to them, thus forming convenient platforms. Of course they're still capable of smashing you.
  • Ice Man's stage in Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge has a couple of rooms with a limited number of stalactites that fall after certain amounts of time and will damage Mega Man if they land on him, but he can then safely jump onto them after they land to help reach the exit above.
  • In the intro stage of Mega Man X3, Zero knocks out a stretch of the ceiling and drops into the corridor just before the player takes control of him. Throughout the rest of the corridor, there are other stretches of ceiling that will fall when he passes below.
  • Monster Party - Round 3 is an example of falling stalactites.
  • Antarctica stages in Konami's Noah's Ark have icicles.
  • Ōkami: Giant icicles that freeze you are falling all over the place in Yoshpet.
  • Panic Restaurant - Icicles in the penultimate ice fridge level.
  • Prince of Persia, in the level preceding the Final Boss, has a bunch of ceiling tiles that fall into your path as if someone were running over them (as loose ceiling/floor tiles are otherwise not unusual).
  • Various levels in Purple have hazards that fall when the player approaches; construction beams in stages 1-2 and 4-3 as well as icicles throughout World 5.
  • Prison City features large icicles that start to fall when Hal gets under them.
  • Rick Dangerous. While they only trigger on your proximity, they will also kill any enemies they happen to fall on.
  • In The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World, the North Pole Ice Cave begins by deluging Bart with icicles.
  • Spikes intentionally being dropped onto the player's head is an occasional Sonic The Hedgehog trap in levels:
    • The lifting weights with spiked undersides in the Marble Zone (Sonic).
    • The Underground Zone of the Game Gear Sonic the Hedgehog 2 features spikes that fall when you near them/pass under them.
    • Ice Cap Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog 3, though the fallen icicles can also be used as platforms—in some places, this is the only way to proceed.
    • In Sonic and Knuckles, stalactites can be found in the Lava Reef Zone.
    • Daytime Holoska stage in Sonic Unleashed has a few of those icicles.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario Bros.: Starting from Phase 16 (17 in the Japanese version), icicles start appearing and can kill Mario and Luigi instantly. They also regenerate, so their immediate surroundings won't be safe for too long upon their fall.
    • Super Mario Bros. Special: Icicles appear in some levels, and they cannot be destroyed by fireballs. However, they do not respawn either.
    • Super Mario World: In various stages, ceilings lined with yellow spikes will occasionally have an odd-color spike mixed in, that shakes and falls as you cross underneath.
    • New Super Mario Bros.: Icicles are all over the place in World 3 of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Frosted Glacier in New Super Mario Bros. U. Complete with whole ceilings worth that do this, and giant types about the size of a car that have to be used as a temporary platform.
    • Super Mario Odyssey: One room in Shiveria has circular shadows on the floor. Should Mario stand too long in them, a big stalactite will ccome down crashing on his unfortunate head.
    • Super Mario Maker 2: Icicles come in two varieties. The standard blue version which is stationary and won't fall down even if a character is right under them (though they're still harmful), and the cerulean version which does fall as soon as someone stands below it and regenerates in its spot shortly after.
    • Super Princess Peach: The game has this with icicles in Gleam Glacier, as well as coconuts in Wavy Beach.
    • Mario Party 8: The minigame Frozen Assets has a large Freezie stomp the snowy floor to make a number of icicles fall down, which two dueling characters have to break with punches and kicks to see which one holds a pink crystal to collect it. After a while, the Freezie will stomp the floor again to make the next icicles fall down, and the characters have to repeat the process. The first character to gather five crystals wins. If both manage to get their fifth crystal at the same time, or neither manages to do so after five minutes, the minigame ends in a tie.
    • Several falling stalactites appear in the Slip-Slide Isle level Yoshi's Crafted World.
    • In Wario Land 4, there are various types of falling hazards, like icicles in the level 'Forty Below Fridge', and chandeliers in the game's final stage.
  • Syobon Action, being a Platform Hell where proceeding safely is almost a puzzle, has some of the particularly bad falling ceilings.
  • Stalactites in level 2 of the impossibly unforgiving ZX Spectrum game Through the Trapdoor.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure has stalactites in its cave levels that fall when Buster gets close to them. The first boss battle with Plucky has him using a hammer to bring them down, which also triggers Dr. Gene Splicer to lower his plane so Buster can jump on his head.
  • The 8-bit Tom and Jerry: The Movie on the Sega Master System / Game Gear features this extensively, including not only falling stalactites but also light fittings.
  • Tomb Raider:
    • The second game has falling icicles in the mountains stages and the first game has falling ceiling swords.
    • Plenty of icicles in the Nepal level of Tomb Raider: Legend, but justified in that you have to hang on to them and jump from one icicle to another, and perhaps Lara's body weight might make the icicles fall.
  • Treasure Hunter Man 1: There's two of this as actual stalactites in the Dark Cellar, falling from the ceiling and can be stood on after falling.
  • The Crystal Caves level of Trine is full of falling stalactites.
  • Wonder Boy and Adventure Island feature falling icicles in the ice temple levels. Oddly in the latter, being hit by an icicle results in a blue Palette Swap of the "death by fire" animation.
  • World of Warcraft has this as a standard tactic of Slabhide, a large stone drake you fight in the Stonecore. While they aren't deadly on their own, the tops of them are large and plentiful enough to block Line of Sight with a healer if you're positioned wrong/really unlucky.
  • In Bonze Adventure, spiked ceilings (of any color) will constantly spawn falling spikes.
  • Justified in Dawn of the Dragons: The reason the stalactites fall in one cave is because it's a magical trap set by orocs (a type of humanoid made out of rock).
  • In Don't Look Back, there are falling stalactites in some rooms.
  • Two of the three ice levels in Pac-Man World 2 have icy caves filled to the brim with icicles, waiting for Pac-Man to get close.
  • In Low G Man, Airswimmer, the boss of Sector 2-1, attacks with falling icicles.
  • Fausetté Amour has an ice cave level where icicles will detach themselves and launch themselves at you, whatever their orientation.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan has a rare non-videogame example in the fifth book Trials of Death. One of the trials for vampires seeking to prove their worth is The Path of Needles - a Death Course through a cavern of sharpened stalagmites and stalactites, the latter of which will snap and fall at the slightest sound (including the sound of other stalactites hitting the ground).

Alternative Title(s): Malevolent Stalactite