Follow TV Tropes


Teetering on the Edge

Go To

A vehicle, whether it's a car, a helicopter, or a spaceship, crashes or is otherwise put into a position that leaves it hanging precariously from a high cliff. The occupants may be stunned from the impact, but they realize their situation usually just as the vehicle starts to slide off the cliff, forcing them to figure a way out before they fall to their doom.

This trope typically ends in one of three ways:

  1. The characters manage to free themselves and scramble safely out of the doomed vehicle, possibly resulting in a Literal Cliffhanger.
  2. Someone arrives just in the nick of time to save them, a staple of superheroes like Superman. Can also result in Giant Robot Hands Save Lives
  3. Failing to escape, the characters fall to their doom, often a case of Disney Villain Death.


    open/close all folders 

  • This ad from Aldi's 2017 Christmas campaign ends with Kevin the Carrot's truck teetering over the edge of a cliff.
  • This ad for AT&T Unlimited features a bus skidding out of control and dangling over a cliff - and the passengers inside quickly disembark in a spontaneous musical number.note  After everyone is safely outside, the bus falls over the edge.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon: The Original Series: In Pokémon Shipwreck, the second part of a three-part arc, Ash, Misty, Brock and Team Rocket end up trapped on a cruise ship that capsizes in a storm. The ship ends upside down and the middle section ends up stuck on a rock structure above a very big crevasse with any heavy movements threatening to tilt it over. This forces the groups into an Enemy Mine situation to find a way out.

    Comic Books 
  • In the beginning of the Amulet graphic novel saga, Emily's father's Death by Origin Story happens this way. The family is driving home at night along a cliffside highway when they have to swerve to avoid a stalled car, and their vehicle slides down a snowy embankment before coming to rest at the edge of the cliff against a dead tree that soon begins to break. Emily and her mother are able to climb out to safety, but her father's legs are trapped under the dash, and he plummets to his death with the car.
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones: In the Cliffhanger to #4, Indy crashes a stolen car through the wall on a bridge. The car hangs teetering over the river: held up only by the bumper which is snagged on the edge of the bridge and is slowly giving way.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Incredibles 2, Elastigirl, driving on her new Elasticycle, manages to stop a Runaway Train Just in Time before it could fall off the uncompleted tracks. A subsequent car crashes into the first one, almost pushing it over the edge. Watch the scene here.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 2012, the protagonists have to make a rough landing in the China mountains due running out of fuel. One of the pilots, Sasha, stays on the plane to keep it level while everyone evacuates via the cars on the plane when it low enough to eject out the cargo hold safely. Sasha manages to land the plane safe enough that it skids to the edge of a mountain and stops. He himself chuckling at his good luck... then the plane proceeds to tilt over the edge, crash and explode; killing him.
  • Beetlejuice. The Maitlands are driving across a bridge over a stream. They get into an accident and end up hanging off the middle of the bridge. They and their car eventually fall into the water, where they're Trapped in a Sinking Car and drown off camera.
  • Derailed (2002): After NATO helicopter blows up the bridge to stop the Runaway Train, the detached carriages roll up to bridge and stop with the bar car—where the hostages are located—teetering on the edge of the destroyed bridge.
  • For Your Eyes Only: Following a Chase Scene, hitman Locque's car is badly damaged and perched precariously on the edge of a cliff. James Bond exchanges a few words with Locque, who is trying desperately to stay still as any movement on his part causes the car to shift worryingly. Bond then gives the car a hefty shove with his foot, send it and Locque tumbling to their doom.
  • Furious 7: During the transport attack in the Caucasus Mountains, Brian gets into a fight on the villain's bus vehicle. The driver is killed in the scuffle causing the bus to careen on it's side and right for a cliff. Brian's opponent manages to trap him in the vehicle and jump out. Brian manages to free himself, get out a window hovering over the cliff side, climb up and run along the bus before it teeters over. Heck he almost doesn't clear the jump and only saved when Letty arrives, skids her car around for Brian to grab onto the back end and sling him back to safe ground.
  • The Italian Job: After Charlie Croker's gang successfully pull off their heist, some shoddy driving leaves their getaway bus precariously balanced on a cliff edge — with the front half of the bus (and all of Charlie's gang) on terra firma, while the back half (and all their stolen gold) dangles in the air. Charlie and several others try to reach for the gold, but anytime anyone moves towards the back of the bus, the whole vehicle tips further and threatens to fall. Charlie tells his gang not to worry, because he has a "really good idea", and then the film ends there.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the launching of Sokovia leaves several cars precariously dangling over the edge of broken roads. Captain America specifically tries to stop one red convertible, visibly straining to pull it to safety, only to lose his grip when the bumper snaps off sending the car and driver plunging thousands of feet towards the ground. Luckily, Thor is able to catch the car and fly it and its occupant back to solid ground.
    • In Black Widow, Natasha is attacked by Taskmaster while driving, sending her car to the side of a bridge, the front half teetering precariously. After Natasha scrambles out of the broken rear window to escape, Taskmaster's weight atop the back half of the vehicle prevents it from rolling off the edge.
  • Planet of the Apes: Bridge version in Rise of the Planet of the Apes: the helicopter with the guy who was running the lab comes down and is left teetering on the Golden Gate Bridge. Koba sees and hears the pleading for help from the guy inside and proceeds to push it off and send the guy to his death.
  • Spider-Man 2: Spidey's attempt to stop the runaway train ends with it teetering over the end of the railway, almost falling to the streets below. The passengers then pull Spidey in before he falls.
  • Played for laughs in Spy Hard. Agent Dick Steele panics during a Presidential parade and orders the President's limo to drive off in a hurry before getting it stuck dangling on the edge of a pier. He screws it up by tying a rope to the back end of the bumper to pull it back up, which then breaks off.
  • In Terminator: Dark Fate, the plane-ejected Humvee with the heroes inside comes to a hold on the edge of a damn. After a few seconds, it tips over and drops halfway down where it's being held in place by a rope. Then the villain appears on top of the dam which prompts Grace to Cut the Safety Rope. The Humvee drops down into the reservoir and a Trapped in a Sinking Car situation ensues.
  • Time Chasers: The time machine (a converted two-person airplane) crashes in a tree canopy. As protagonist Nick Miller climbs down from the tree, the branches begin breaking, threatening to drop the plane on him. The plane ends up falling on the villain instead, killing him.
  • In True Lies, a van manned by terrorists slams the brakes after a fighter jet blows up the bridge ahead of them, just in time to not fall below. Then a bird lands on the hood, which is enough to send it falling into the debris below and explode.

  • In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, by the time the titular Grinch has his climactic change of heart, the sleigh full of Christmas presents he was planning to dump off a mountain is already teetering on the edge, about to fall. It takes a special feat of newfound strength to pull it away from the precipice.
  • Jurassic Park has a variant where a car, with its occupants, get pushed off a cliff and lands in a tree canopy. The protagonists have to climb down before the tree branches break, dropping the car on top of them.
  • The Lost World: The T. rexes push a double-trailer until the back trailer is dangling over a cliff. Malcolm and Harding, stuck inside the trailer, have to climb up the inside before the connection gives out, dropping the vehicle into the canyon below.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Emergency! has an episode where a car overturned and is left dangling on the edge of a freeway overpass. The firefighters have to use ropes to secure the car so they could extract the injured occupants.
  • Goosebumps: The end of the TV version of "One Day in Horrorland" had the Morris' car hijacked via remote control by the Horrors and leaving them hanging precariously from a cliff. We don't see their fate as the Horrors watching this on their TV grow bored of it and change the channel.
  • In the pilot episode of Haven, FBI agent Audrey Parker, sent to investigate a murder in Maine, ends up dangling off a cliff after swerving to avoid a supernaturally-induced crack in the pavement. She is saved by Haven detective Nathan Wuornos, who pulls her out. They watch as the car goes over the edge of the cliff and into the ocean below.
    Nathan: Shame about the car.
    Audrey: Eh, it's a rental.
  • Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em: In "Cliffhanger", Frank's latest job includes a company car which he and Betty use to go on a picnic. Things start out well enough until Frank manages to reverse the car halfway over the edge of the cliff. In his efforts to retrieve it, Frank ends up dangling off the rear bumper, over the edge of the cliff.
  • In an episode of the "Vendetta" season of Strike Back, Wyatt nearly takes himself, Novin, and Coltrane over a cliff during a high speed chase. After their efforts to both reverse the truck and carefully shift to the back fail, they manage to jump out just as it goes over completely and explodes on impact.

    Video Games 
  • In Half-Life 2 Episode One, DOG throws a burnt-out van into the Citadel, with you and Alyx inside. After a brief roller-coaster like ride through the building, the van ends up teetering on the edge of a walkway, and it falls off just as you and Alyx get out.
  • Mass Effect 2 has a mission in which Shepard discovers a long-lost human exploration ship that's crash landed on the edge of the ship and must explore the wreck to find out what happened. This causes the wreckage to start to fall, forcing Shepard to flee before it completely topples.
  • In the Green Bridge heist in PAYDAY: The Heist (and its remake in PAYDAY 2), the furthest of the four prison transports may slide down and hang off the edge of the bridge when you reach it. After you open it and the prisoners escape, the van falls off the edge.
  • Near the start of Planetfall, your Escape Pod lands on a narrow cliff precipice, and quickly falls into the ocean soon after. You have to gather your supplies and swim out before it sinks too far down.
  • In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, the game opens with a heavily wounded Nate waking up on a traincar that has crashed and teetering over the edge of a cliff side in the Tibet mountains. To which you have to help him climb up and barely get to stable ground before it slides off and crashes. After a very lengthy flashback showing how Nate got into that situation, when it reaches that point it forces you to do it again (albeit from a different camera angle this time).

    Western Animation 
  • The Deep: At the start of "Colossal Squid", an accident with the Rover and drone causes the Rover to crash and come to rest on the edge of undersea cliff with Ant and Fontaine inside.
  • Family Guy: In "And Then There Were Fewer", when everyone tries to flee James Woods mansion, lighting hits a tree which falls and destroys the bridge out. This leaves the Griffins car teethering on the edge of the destroyed bridge.
  • Jonny Quest episode "Calcutta Adventure": When the Quest team is traveling through the mountains on a train, sabotage causes their car to roll backwards, jump the tracks and end up teetering on the edge of a cliff. The group manages to climb slowly through the train car to safety.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Call of the Simpsons", Homer buys an RV and takes the family out camping. Taking a shortcut through the woods, the RV stops at the edge of a cliff and starts teetering over. The Simpsons manage to escape just before it falls over, stranding them in the wilderness.
    • In "Mr. Plow", while driving to rescue Barney, the road starts collapsing and the left side of Homer's truck starts teethering on the edge. Homer manages to get the truck back on the road by turning the radio dial to the right, towards the higher frequencies.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Wings of the Master", Hera takes the Phantom to Shantipole, a planet with volatile atmospheric storms that tend to deactivate any ship that attempts to land, in order to meet an engineer who's built a new kind of starfighter for the rebellion. When the shuttle is sent into freefall, Hera manages to bring it to a precarious halt on the very edge of engineer Quarrie's landing platform. As she, Zeb and Sabine edge towards the back, the Phantom nearly falls before Quarrie and his droid rescue it and its crew with his equipment mover.
  • In the Thomas & Friends movie, Misty Island Rescue, Devious Diesel ends up hanging from an unfinished bridge by two wheels as a result of trying to deliver flatbeds of Jobi wood and trying to prove that he can do it better than steam engines. As Diesel struggles to back up onto the bridge, Thomas slowly rolls up to him and couples up, pulling him back to safety.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: In Season 3, Episode 5, Shiro crash lands on a planet after escaping a Galra warship. After being knocked unconscious in the crash, he wakes up to realize that he's crashed on the edge of a massive cliff and his ship is beginning to fall.


Video Example(s):


F&F 7 [Brian's Bus Escape]

Furious 7 (2015) - Our heroes are tasked with rescuing a woman that holds valuable informatiom for a terrorist, Brian manages to get onto the transport bus and get her out. But must contend with one of the mercenaries within. As the fight goes on, the driver is killed in the scuffle, the bus turns on it's side and heads towards a cliff with Brian trapped inside.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / TeeteringOnTheEdge

Media sources: