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Surprise Slide Staircase

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This is a classic gag often seen in silent films and cartoons: a staircase with hinged, pivoting, or collapsible steps turns into a steep ramp or slide. Often used in sequences where a character climbs the Stairway to Heaven, only to be turned away at the Pearly Gates and sent whizzing down to Hell (compare with Hellevator).


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     Films — Animated  

     Films — Live-Action  

  • One of the two staircases to the balcony of the grand dining hall in Citadel of Chaos is rigged to do this. If the player tries to use it, they fall and take some nasty damage unless they have a levitation spell to spare.

  • In the Harry Potter series, a staircase in Gryffindor House does this to prevent boys from entering the girls' dormitories. The boys' stairs have no such trap.
    • In the final battle of Deathly Hallows, Hermione turns a staircase in a Hogwarts secret passage into a getaway slide to escape from a pair of Death Eaters. Of course, the Death Eaters simply go sliding down after them, so she turns the tapestry covering the entrance at the bottom to stone. CRUNCH.
  • The Hand of Thrawn duology has this built into secret passages in Thrawn's fortress, which causes considerable inconvenience to Luke and Mara.

     Tabletop Games  
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Dragonlance module DL12 Dragons of Faith. In Chafka's Tower, there is a ramp of stairs from Level 4 up to Level 5. When an alarm sounds, the stairs fold down and become covered with grease, causing anyone on them to slide down into a pit.
    • Judges Guild
      • The modules The Caverns of Thracia and Verbosh each have a staircase that can fold down and send PCs on a slide to the bottom.
      • Demons of Dundurn. In the Feathered Serpent Inn, the staircase between the first and second floors can be flattened into a ramp by turning the knob on the post at the bottom of the stairway.
    • Module I2 Tomb of the Lizard King had one of these. Anyone who fell victim to it would slide down into a flaming pit that would kill anyone without fire resistance.
    • Module L1 The Secret of Bone Hill. A set of stairs inside the title dungeon has a pressure-detecting trap on it. When a creature steps on the second stair, the stairs fold down. Anyone on the stair will slide down and slam into a stone wall.
    • Module A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity. The last room of the dungeon (where the Boss Battle takes place) has a long descending stair into the center of the room. If the PCs don't detect and disarm the trap, the stairs will become a slide and the party will slip down it into the room, automatically losing surprise and initiative for the first round of combat.
    • Ravenloft module Adam's Wrath. In Schloss Mordenheim there are two staircases that lead down to the Reception Hall. If a knife switch behind a painting is thrown, the left-hand staircase turns into a slide.
    • The 3rd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide mentions a sliding staircase trap as a possible dungeon feature.
    • Dungeon magazine
      • Issue #10 adventure "They Also Serve". In the Kingstown Thieves Guild guildhall, one staircase has a hidden lever which will cause all of the stairs in the building to either fold down into a ramp or return to normal. The thieves can use this device to send uninvited guests who are using the stairs on a nasty slide.
      • Issue #29 adventure "Nymph's Reward". In the Spider's Lair room in Vexia's treehouse, anyone stepping on the fifth step of the stairs will cause the steps to flatten down, and anyone on the stairs may slide down into the nest of spiders at the bottom.
    • Polyhedron magazine
      • Issue #80 adventure "Guarded Wagon". While exploring the ruins of Narwal, the Player Characters will enter a building and find a stairway leading down. When they walk down it, the stairs will fold flat and the PCs will slide down into a pit.
      • Issue #132 adventure "Audition". While trying to get through a thieves guild training course, the Player Characters will have to climb up a staircase. As soon as there is more 120 pounds of weight on the staircase, it will fold down flat. This will also burst bags of oil hidden under the risers, which will make the staircase very slippery.
    • White Dwarf magazine #60, adventure "The Fear of Leefield". In the kenku lair there is a staircase. If a lever is pulled, the stairs will fold down and form a 45° angle slope coated with grease.
    • Pegasus magazine issue #7
      • Adventure "The Ruined Tower of Mabeleck". In area D, there is a 100 gold piece gem on the stairs. If it is disturbed, the steps will fold down and form a chute. Any Player Characters on the stairs will slide down and end up in room 18.
      • Adventure "The Pyramid of Suberus". In area 12, when the Player Characters climb the stairs on the side of the pyramid, the stairs will fold down and form a slippery chute. The Player Characters will slide down the chute and fall into a pit that opens at the base of the chute.
  • Flying Buffalo's Grimtooth's Traps supplement. The "Slider Spiker" trap uses this trick.
  • Rolemaster Arms Companion. One of these is given as a "Maiming" type trap.
  • Tunnels & Trolls. Pegasus magazine issue #4 adventure "Mountain Moor". One of the traps the Player Characters will encounter is a section of stairs that has been rigged to fall flat and form a slide. Any character who slides down far enough will fall into a shaft and down to the next level of the dungeon.

     Video Games  
  • In Chrono Trigger, Crono, Lucca, and Frog can encounter one in a dungeon located underneath a chapel. There are two stairways to choose from, but the first one taken will always become this, forcing you to go all the way around to get back to the other.
  • A couple of times in the Super Mario Bros. series you have to ascend a flight of stairs within a time limit, or they'll turn into a ramp and return you to the bottom.
  • Wario Land: Shake It! has switchable stair/ramps that can be used to build up momentum.
  • Occurs briefly in LEGO Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy ("Escape from Cloud City" level) and LEGO Indiana Jones ("Well of Souls" level). LEGO Star Wars contains several of these, in the form of slides that the player must turn into stairs (or build stairs on top of) in order to pass.
  • One of those things are present in That One Level in LocoRoco 2.
  • The "Lonesome Ghosts" level of Mickey Mania has a bunch of these.
  • Dragon's Lair has one of these.
  • The Lode Runner clone Wizard uses this as a standard level design mechanic.
  • Near the end of Psychonauts, you run into one of these, with the switch being manned by a bird.
  • Luigi's Mansion 2 has one in the first mansion. Expect a slide when the candles are burning purple. Taken to ridiculous lengths with the massively long Eerie Staircase in the second mansion, which sends Luigi all the way to the bottom if he takes one wrong turn.
  • One of the recurring obstacles of the "Slippery Climb" level in Crash Bandicoot (1996) are stairs that turn into slides that lead you to the nearest spiked doom.
  • In Spyro: Year of the Dragon, cat wizards in Charmed Ridge turn some of the stairs in the level into ramps Spyro can't walk up.

     Western Animation 
  • Mickey Mouse encounters one in a 1933 animated short, "The Mad Doctor."
  • Super Friends (1973) episode "The Baffles Puzzle". Wonder Woman is walking down a staircase leading underground when the stairs fold and she slides to the bottom. Watch it here.
  • Occurred in the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode "Never Ape An Ape Man". Fred has the rest of the gang run up some stairs while the Ape Man chases them. When the gang reaches the top Fred presses a button, the stairs fold down and the Ape Man slides down them and into a trap.
    • A late-90s Cartoon Network bumper has Shaggy and Scooby falling down one of these, with the flattened staircase revealing CN's checkerboard logo.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Bart Gets Hit By A Car": Bart's escalator to Heaven turns into a slide to Hell after he spits over the side.
    • Played with in the "Bart Simpson's Dracula" segment of "Treehouse of Horror IV." In this case the "surprise" slide actually has a switch that must be pressed from the top of the stairs, accompanied by a sign reading "SUPER FUN HAPPY SLIDE". Even though Bart realizes that pressing it would be a terrible idea (since the vampiric Mr. Burns has just woken up and the staircase is the only way away from him), he can't resist the urge to press it anyway.
  • Futurama: Played straight in the episode, "Hell is Other Robots", when Fry and Leela are sent down a chute onto a surprise slide.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender season 2 episode The Earth King, Toph collapses the giant stairs leading to the palace into this. She then proceeds to use it as an elevator all while Sokka apologizes to the earth kingdom soldiers.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "The Crystal Empire" has an odd example. When faced with an impossibly tall spiral staircase, Twilight Sparkle pulls off an impressive Dungeon Bypass by casting a spell to invert her gravity, and sliding up the the slope on the bottom of the stairs.
  • In the animated Around the World in 80 Days, one figures into an attempt by Mr. Fix to trap Fogg in a carnival funhouse.
  • One of the traps which Lion-O and Wilykit encounter in the Thunder Cats episode "The Tower of Traps" is a flight of trick stairs. When Lion-O attempts to pull himself and Wilykit up to the landing, he triggers a surprise slide which sends the two Thundercats right back to the bottom. The only way they can get past this staircase is to vault over it using the Sword of Omens.
  • Alfred J. Kwak: When Alfred and Professor Paljas explore an Egyptian pyramid and get lost, they find themselves on a stairwell that suddenly turns into a slide. They manage to hold on thanks to Paljas' cane, but then they hear a rumbling sound approaching from above.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Warlock's Revenge", the Warlock magically transforms the stairs beneath Lois Lane's feet into a slide to dump her into a busy street.

    Real Life 
  • Turns out, there actually exists a kit to convert your stairs into a slide, via a set of long panels and sideguards that are affixed at either end of the stairs. Unfortunately, this kit only works on stairs that don't have a middle landing.