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Teetering on the Edge

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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.


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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • 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 numbernote . After everyone is safely outside, the bus falls over the edge.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon: 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.
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    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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Italian Job (1969): 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.
  • 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 The 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • For Your Eyes Only: Following a Chase Scene, hitman Locque's car is badly damaged and perched precariously on the edge of a cliff. 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.

    Literature 
  • 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 (1995). 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Thomas the Tank Engine 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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