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Stepping Stones in the Sky

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It's actually pretty easy, just Don't Look Down!

A version of Colossus Climb controlled by the Rule of Cool. A character somehow jumps and runs along a rain of falling debris or projectiles — none of which are actually attached to anything — not only to dodge but to gain altitude, sometimes to reach the area firing the things in the first place. A very good way to show off both a character's agility and their speed.

A common variation of this seen in Platform Games is having to climb a waterfall by jumping on logs which are cascading down.

Due to Newton's Third Law of Motion, this isn't actually impossible, but you do need to be moving faster than you're falling to actually get anywhere, and whatever you're climbing must have enough mass to be worth pushing against - otherwise, you would push your "foothold" downwards, instead of gaining lift from it. It becomes much more plausible if...

  1. ...the destination is in freefall as well, as the stepping stones don't provide lift so much as direction;
  2. ...the climb takes place in microgravity, as the stepping stones falling slowly enters the realm of possibility;
  3. ...the climber possesses time manipulation abilities, allowing them to be the only thing moving at normal speed.

Not to be confused with Floating Continents. See also Improvised Platform and Lily-Pad Platform.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Project A-Ko, Aiko does this on a wave of missiles to get to the alien spaceship that has kidnapped C-ko.
  • While not using stones, the samurai in Samurai 7 tend to leap from huge flying cyborg to huge flying cyborg, slicing apart as they go.
  • The last chapter of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann features Stepping Galaxies In Outer Space!
  • In Inuyasha, the character Koga, whose speed and agility are enhanced by magical jewel shards in both his legs, demonstrates the ability to run up rockslides, even while carrying another character. The title character sometimes does so, too, though it usually takes the only slightly more plausible form of leaping from one large, plummeting boulder to another.
  • Jiyu and Freeshia from Jubei-chan spend a portion of their final title bout duking it out on top of a falling redwood which, for bonus points, they'd just sent flying in the first place.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Ku-Fei found herself doing this when she accidentally shattered the rock spire she was standing on while training her martial arts in the Magic World. An inversion, since she did it to get down and away safely. Also a use of Flash Step, rather than superhuman leaping.
  • The last episode of Slayers Next has Gourry doing this. What's more remarkable is that by doing this he beats people who are simply flying their way out. The Power of Love is strong, indeed.
  • In the Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun scene pictured above, Those Two Guys not only dodge the rocks but also to cover considerable ground while climbing a cliff during a rockfall.
  • Optimus Prime in Transformers: Robots in Disguise does this to stop the Predacons interfering with a race. Slapper complains that he's breaking the laws of physics.
  • Viewtiful Joe: Justified in episode 23 — he used Slow. What made it impressive was that he punched the ground to make the rocks fly up in the first place.
  • Justified in Fullmetal Alchemist where the homunculus Wrath used his Magical Eye to know how to escape a train going off destroyed tracks by running up the rubble the blast created.
  • The title character of Naruto eventually discovers he can gain some level of aerial maneuverability by making a Shadow Clone in midair then either kicking/shoving off of it or having it throw him.
    • When Guy didn't get enough distance with a jump, he summoned Ningame for the first time in years (both in and out of story) in midair to give him something to get extra air off of.
    • The Gedo Mazou's transformation into the Juubi brought another dimension to the battle between Tobi and Naruto and co.
  • In the Sengoku Basara 3 manga, Ishida Mitsunari takes this to the extreme by slashing a group of soldiers into the air with his sword and using them as stepping stones to reach a second floor balcony.
  • Ranma Saotome from Ranma ½ bounced around the falling debris of a collapsing mountain to save Herb after knocking him out in the first place. Much earlier, and arguably even less reasonably, he swam up the spray of a fire hose during his fight with Kodachi.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, to rescue Kuroko, Mikoto blows a hole in a building with her Railgun attack, then Touma runs and leaps along the flying debris from the attack to grab Kuroko. Kuroko was on the fourth floor.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, during the duel of Sora vs. Kurosaki, the former of the two does this to avoid being crushed by a collapsing building, which, judging by some of the in-universe audience's reactions, demonstrates an agility and physical ability that's huge even by Action-Duel standards. This also serves as one of many moments that show that Sora really isn't playing casually anymore.
  • In Pokémon Generations, Buck does this with his Claydol levitating rocks to get around Heatran and to replace the Magma Stone that was removed by Team Galactic.
  • Pokémon the Series: XY: Ash's Froakie and Pikachu do this against Rock Tomb and Draco Meteor, respectively, during his gym battle against Grant.
  • Dragon Ball Super - During the Tournament of Power, Jiren uses this to get back to the fighting stage after Goku nearly rings him out (flying having been disabled for the tournament.)
  • Sonic X: Sonic has been shown to pull this off with missiles, particularly in the Japanese opening.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, Sale at one point uses his Stand called Kraftwerk, which has the power to render objects stationary compared to other objects, to travel in midair by taking rocks and making them stationary compared to the calm air, turning them into stationary footholds and handholds.

    Comic Books 
  • The Flash can get away with this because he's not just quick, he's supersonic. Running up the side of a building is a standard Flash trick. But Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, didn't stop there; he took this trick (and so many others) to truly hilarious lengths. Barry would routinely run along things like smoke particles and — no joke — light beams.
  • One Donald Duck story has the Beagle Boys do this with birds (thanks to Time Stands Still). One of them rightfully notes that his lawyer is never going to believe him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Tai Lung's prison break in Kung Fu Panda involved clawing his way out of a bottomless pit by leaping from bit to bit of the falling debris that would have crushed him. Po does it later in the film with some broken off roof tiles.
  • The end of the anime film Mind Game has the main characters escaping their prison in the stomach of a giant blue whale by running up the water pouring in when it surfaces. Then they run up planes, subway trains, boats, and a large number of other things being swallowed by the whale with enough power to launch them far into the sky. Earlier the main character outruns God.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Flint performs a version of this during the spaghetti twister.
  • In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Nanaki, Yuffie, Vincent, and Tifa leap into the air and throw Cloud further upwards. It happens again in the final showdown between Cloud and Sephiroth, where part of the fight literally takes place on, in, and through falling rubble from a destroyed building.
  • Done by Tigger and Roo at the climax of The Tigger Movie. Justified in that they're really quick jumpers by nature.
  • Unlike western Dragons who flies using their wings, the Dragons in Raya and the Last Dragon are Water Spirits who "fly" in the rain by leaping onto rain-drops, visibly flattening them into briefly seen shimmering spheres beneath their feets.
  • Justice League vs. Teen Titans: The Flash pulls of this trick on Weather Wizard, using the hail shards he's raining as stepping stones, before snatching his wand off his hands.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of the first action sequences in The Flash (2023), where Barry uses his Super-Speed to save a dozen falling babies by jumping across various debris to position them in a straight line before grabbing them all with a stretcher.
  • Beautifully parodied in the movie Kung Fu Hustle: during the final battle, in order to gain enough height to execute his Finishing Move, the hero uses a bird in flight as a stepping stone.
  • Moonfall. As the Moon falls towards the Earth its gravity starts pulling chucks of the ground up into the air, which causes a problem during a car chase when a crevasse appears in the ground in front of the protagonists' vehicle. The driver uses a rising slab of ground as an improvised jumping ramp, giving the car enough height to land on another floating slab of ground which gets them over the crevasse, while the pursuing vehicle slams into the latter and blows up because it's now floated too high to land on.
  • Done in Priest (2011) by the titular character. In this case, his stepping stones are rocks thrown horizontally by the Priestess.
  • Spider-Man 3: Spidey performs an inversion of this trope: he uses falling rubble to go down faster.
  • Legolas does this in his fight with Bolg, on a collapsing stone bridge, in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: At one point during the battle on Titan, Doctor Strange creates discs of magic energy in mid-air for Star-Lord to step on as he rushes towards Thanos.
  • Dark Phoenix. Quicksilver tries stepping on flying pieces of wood from an exploding house, but Dark Phoenix uses her powers to take out one of them from under his feet, meaning he hits the ground at high speed and is put out of action for the rest of the movie.
  • Ultra Series:
    • In Ultraman Saga, shortly after Nozumu Taiga becomes Ultraman Zero's human host, he gets assaulted and flung into the air (together with parts of a destroyed bridge) by the kaiju Gubila, at which point he proceeds to jump from debris to debris before landing.
    • Ultraman Ginga S The Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors! has Shou and Hikaru being handcuffed to each other while trying to climb a mountain during a Training from Hell montage. They eventually succeded making to the top by timing their jumps with collapsing rocks, leaping vertically upwards from one dropping rock to another.
  • Transformers: Starscream pulls off a variant. Using F-22s.
  • The over-the-top Taiwanese martial arts film, Ninety Nine Cycling Swords has an utterly ridiculous example. The protagonist pulls off this trick with a flung dinner plate.

  • Luke, Mara, and Tahiri perform this during the New Jedi Order series, at a point where they're fighting a Dark Jedi with the language-less mentality of a five-year-old on a ruined Coruscant. Slightly easier for them as they had the help of the Force, as well as the fact that many of the rocks they were hopping across were building size.
  • In The Rise of Kyoshi and The Shadow of Kyoshi, Kyoshi learns how to "dust-step" from the Flying Opera Company. It appears as though they're walking on air, but it's Not Quite Flight — they're actually walking on lots of dust particles too small to be seen. Waterbenders can do a similar thing called "mist-stepping".


  • Haley does this in the video for "Bury It" by CHVRCHES by using her telekinetic powers to hold random objects in the air long enough to climb down to where the other characters are. She then demonstrates that this was actually not necessary.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Irish myth it was said that Cú Chulainn could throw three spears at three targets, leap to the last spear thrown, from there to the second, then to the first, then to the ground to slay another opponent even as the spears hit their targets. Making this Older Than Feudalism.

    Tabletop Games 
  • With the right Schticks, characters in the Feng Shui game can walk on hails of bullets. It's still damn hard, just not impossible.

    Video Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • This is present in all games. This ranges from logs in waterfalls to the much more regular falling stepping stones. Other objects include midair springboards to floating enemies that (usually) Sonic must Homing Attack across.
    • The intro movie in Sonic CD has a particularly badass example of Sonic jumping on falling rocks before Spin Dashing through a large boulder and hopping off it before it crumbles away.
  • Dante from Devil May Cry has done this a few times in cutscenes, and can actually do it in-game.
  • Bayonetta: The protagonist does this a few times with her ability to freeze time.
  • Ganryu 2 has the level where Musashi falls down a pit after the cliff he's on collapses. He then climbs upwards by jumping from the lowest platform to the highest, while fending enemy ninja all the way up.
  • Sly 2: Band of Thieves; Sly races down the large chunks of Arpeggio's airship platform as it crashes and breaks apart, in an effort to reach and save his teammates.
  • In the Super Mario Bros. franchise:
    • The third boss of Super Mario Land attacks Mario by throwing boulders at him, and the only way to get close enough to defeat him is to jump from boulder to boulder (in which the preceding levels have provided ample practice but with less of the "In The Sky" factor).
    • In Super Mario World (and later the SMW style in Super Mario Maker), it's possible to drop most items (including keys, P-Switches, and springboards) midair and, with proper timing, have Mario jump off of them. While this isn't required at all in the original game, many ROM hacks (particularly the super hard ones) require this technique to progress/get to secrets.
      • A similar example, also present in Super Mario Maker, is throwing a shell against a wall midair and bouncing off of it when it rebounds. This one takes time to master, lest Mario get hit by said shell or miss it and fall into whatever hazards lie below.
    • Not to mention whenever Bullet Bills appear in any 2-D Mario game—they're there as things for Mario to leap off of, especially in later stages when he needs the extra height to proceed.
  • Used in Skies of Arcadia when after Zelos was awakened, the whole lower structure of the Dangral Island complex attached to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon starts to collapse including the rail lift that took the Heroes there, so they had to run all the way up to the start of the rail lift while it was crumbling. At the end it resulted in a full body catch after the last of them got off at the start of the rail lift.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora does this during the final battle. With fragments of buildings. Buildings that were thrown at him, and which he cut into pieces himself.
  • A boss fight in The Force Unleashed's Jedi Temple downloadable level has Starkiller invoke this trope to gain higher ground.
  • The Infocom text adventure Spellbreaker has this as a puzzle solution ... though it makes a little more sense jumping up rocks when you've stopped time in the middle of the rock collapse.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
    • Wario is capable of doing this by pulling his bike out of Hammerspace when in midair then immediately jumping out of it, which still allows him access to his Double Jump. Doing this actually boosts him higher than his regular recovery move.
    • More generally, if two characters are in mid-air, one can use the other's head as a footstool to gain a bit of extra height.
  • Asura in Asura's Wrath does this to jump above the second form of Wyzen and continue to attack from above when sky diving.
  • Bloody Spell has an area in the cliffs where magic, hovering, translucent seals will appear and disappear in mid-air. The only way you can cross is by jumping on those seals, but miss a jump you'll lose a life.
  • The aerial chase stage from The Cliffhanger: Edward Randy have Edward on a biplane chase, which culminates in his ride getting damaged. He must then climb aboard the wings of his plane and leap on another adjacent enemy aircraft, jumping from wing-to-wing until he reach a cliff face at the end of the level.
  • In Super Mario Galaxy, we have the staircase at the end of each Bowser level leading to the planet which Mario fights Bowser on, which gets smashed apart by meteorites summoned by Bowser (and in the case of the final boss battle, his son Bowser Jr.) as he does so.
  • Meatgrinder, already a game that runs on Outside Ride for 70% of it's levels, throws a plane chase in the final stage where you'll need to jump from the top of one plane to another. The stage ends with everything exploding, and you even jump between pieces of falling debris as everything goes down.
  • Round 6 of Shinobi III is set entirely on a series of falling rocks in a chasm.
  • The Legend of Tian-ding have your titular character jumping on eagles during a Traintop Battle stage. There's also the final cutscene where you escape a collapsing cavern filled with lava by hopping on falling rocks.
  • In The Lion King, the "Hakuna Matata" level has a waterfall Simba has to climb by jumping on logs.
  • Disgaea 4 has a fist move called Master Palm in which the user causes Chunky Updraft to send boulders (and their target) into the sky, uses them as stepping stones to get up to a particularly large one, rapidly punches it into the shape of a hand, and then kicks the massive stone hand at their opponent, crushing him into another boulder.
  • Halo 4 gets in on the action when Master Chief jumps onto a Lich to get near a fleeing capital ship.
    Chief: Track those Liches. We can go across them to get to the Didact's ship.
    John-117: Yes.
  • Hidden Dragon: Legend have several moments where you scale pits by hopping on collapsing rocks or debris, though it's achieved via Quick Time Events instead of actually controlling your character. For instance, leaping off a temple roof and knocking down three "Flying Machine" puppets, one at a time, or the mountain chase where you jump on rocks and a collapsing bridge to cross a chasm.
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Raiden does this to MISSILES BEING FIRED AT HIM!!! during the TUTORIAL LEVEL, WITHOUT a quicktime event. View it in all its awesomeness here.
  • Vice: Project Doom: Stage 5-1 has the waterfall log-jumping version.
  • The Legendary Axe II: Stage 2 has the waterfall climbing version.
  • Rayman Origins has you doing this in the second-to-last level. It marks a large increase in difficulty in an already moderately difficult game, some of the things it asks of you are absurd.
  • Advance Guardian Heroes has you jumping between pieces of falling debris from a destroyed airship during the boss battle against Kanon.
  • Done in Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, where the slowed-down time and falling debris form a contrived obstacle course that allows you to reach and kill the Final Boss.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Tex. Wash. The Meta. Falling and cracking ice shelf. It is awesome. It takes a whole minute of it to stop their ongoing gunfight.
  • RWBY: When a Nevermore the cliffside temple they're in, Team RWBY is forced to climb the falling debris to make it back to solid ground again.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Æon Flux short "War", the sword-wielding fighter climbs by jumping off a series of enemy soldiers rappelling down from an aircraft.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Equestria Games", Spike reaches the ice block by jumping off the backs of several flying pegasi.
  • Near the end of one episode of the short-lived Spider-Man Unlimited series, Spidey easily executes this to escape a Collapsing Lair, with Venom and Carnage right behind.
  • Sort of used in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants, Spongebob and Sandy are chased by, and eventually end up riding, a huge Alaskan Bull Worm. It heads toward a cliff and after it begins to plunge off the side, they run back up the falling worm and end up safe and sound on the cliff's edge.
  • Happens in two episodes of Sym-Bionic Titan. First in "Roar of the White Dragon" which Lance does with a car. Lance again in "Escape from Galaluna" when the bridge he and his opponent are on blows up.
  • In Teen Titans (2003), using her name-implied superpowers, Terra performs a visual interpretation of the trope to get Badass Normal Robin into the face of a giant robot worm. Robin himself used this method several times over the course of the series.
  • Pulled of epically in the third season premiere of Transformers: Animated where Blurr uses craters, asteroid, planetary rings, and Thundercracker's face to run from some unknown planet to Cybertron.
  • Wakfu:
  • Agent Six's Establishing Character Moment in the first episode of Generator Rex is jumping out of a low-flying plane with a pair of katanas, toward falling debris that is about to land on a handful of squishy civilians. He proceeds to jump from piece to piece, slicing them apart as he goes, before landing on his feet while the rubble lands harmlessly around the civilians, and telling the faltering main character to get a move on. And he only gets more badass from there.


Video Example(s):


Sisu walks on Rain

Sisu, along with the other dragons of Kumandra, can literally walk through the skies on rain, by flatting the water into solid platforms.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / SteppingStonesInTheSky

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