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The Not Catch

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"Too bad. Juuuust missed him! Hahahahahahaha!"
Screwy Squirrel, "Screwball Squirrel"

A classic slapstick comedy trope common in cartoons, where a character moves out of the way just as another falls from above and watches as the falling character humorously crashes into the ground. Generally, comes in two variations.

  1. The character on the ground is apparently trying to catch the falling character, only to move out of the way at the very last second. Often a subversion of the Fireman's Safety Net.
  2. The character on the ground is standing right below the falling character and sees them falling towards them, but instead of making any motion to catch them just waits until the last second and moves just a step to the side.

A type of Bait-and-Switch Compassion. May result in an Impact Silhouette where they land. Often happens when someone dives into a crowd for attempted Crowd Surfing. Compare Barely Missed Cushion for another way a character can miss a supposedly safe landing. Contrast Falling into His Arms and Catch a Falling Star, dramatic and successful catches.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest: In one scene, Kaori is falling out of the sky and screams for Hajime to catch her. He snorts in derision and side-steps, making her comically hit the ground.
  • Slayers:
    • The anime has a scene where everyone looks up, Gourry pushes Amelia and Sylphiel aside, then (still looking up) steps to the other side and Lina falls headfirst between them.
    • An amusing inversion is done with Filia in her human form under an impending cave-in. Xellos, as a proper gentleman, grabs her and teleports to safety. Filia is fine until she realizes who holds her and freaks out. Xellos, like a proper gentleman, immediately releases her — to a long, screaming fall on top of an enemy too beaten up to stand.
  • In Yuri!!! on Ice, Yuri has just finished skating in a competition, and Victor, his coach/love interest standing by the exit of the rink, opens his arms for a hug. Yuri dashes towards him and jumps into his arms - only for Victor to jump to the side because he doesn't want Yuri's nosebleed to stain his suit.

    Comic Strips 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Eternal Love: Xiao Tan falls off a roof while Lian Cheng is below her. Not only does he not catch her, he deliberately steps back so she doesn't land on him. Xiao Tan is not amused.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Mike Harding's comic monologue A 'Uming Face, in which he signally fails to catch a woman trying to escape from a building on fire.
  • The ''Jump, you fucker, jump!" song from Derek and Clive, written and performed by Dudley Moore, in which a man standing on a high ledge is encouraged to leap... only for the people underneath to fail to catch him, as watching him splat is more of a laugh.

    Video Games 
  • Just Dance: The routine for "Here Comes the Hotstepper" in Just Dance 2 involves a farmer doing this to a Rabbid.
  • One of the Romance interactions in The Sims 2 is "Leap Into Arms". The object of the leaper's affection will catch them if the mutual relationship score is high. If it's one-sided, though... (thud).

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius has a scene where Jägers play a confrontation and Jenka hurls Othar at the trio:
    Oggie: Sorry — vos ve supposed to catch him?
    Maxim: I dunno. I don't like him.
  • A variant in The Order of the Stick, when catching a falling Elan would require a spell that Durkon, as a Cleric, can't cast.
    Durkon: ...tha lad's fallin' fast. Looks like I haf ta use the old "Cleric's Feather Fall". [WHAM!!] "Heal."
  • Unsounded: While certainly played for drama Ana failing to catch Toby and Stockyard is darkly humorous. Unbeknownst to her Stockyard had just murdered Toby and her attempts to catch them got Stockyard decapitated, ensuring she accidentally got revenge for her lover.

    Western Animation 
  • Freakazoid!: In "Virtual Freak", Freakazoid is picked up by a pterodactyl and dropped. Several times. Each time, he screams for Cosgrove to catch him, but Cosgrove ignores him for some reason.
  • Page quote comes from Screwy Squirrel's first appearance in "Screwball Squirrel (1944)", where it's played straight and then played with - the first time Screwy pretends to be catching Meathead Dog and pulls the net away at the last second. The second time, Screwy gets so caught up in pretending to catch the dog that he actually falls off a cliff himself, and Meathead (somehow) catches him. Screwy thanks him with a dozen blows to the head.
  • Happens three times in a Super Chicken segment, each time the villain jumps out of a plane intending to land on his horse, only for the horse to move away at the last second. The third time the horse also dodges Super Chicken's sidekick Fred when he is falling.
  • The first variation comes up often in Looney, particularly with Bugs Bunny, though the second variation is common in Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons, as part of Roadrunner's passively mocking repertoire of actions.
    • In "Gorilla My Dreams", Gruesome Gorilla is tossing Bugs (who is pretending to be a baby gorilla) up in the air. He throws him too high, then as Bugs falls he holds out his hands, then pulls them away at the last second.
    • In "Bugs Bunny Rides Again", Bugs tricks Yosemite Sam into walking off a cliff, then rushes down to the bottom and places a mattress on the ground, explaining that "sometimes me conscience kinda bothers me... but not this time!", and pulls the mattress away.
    • In "Baby Buggy Bunny", Bugs discovers that the Doorstop Baby he found is really a bank robber, so he starts to rough him up. He tosses him in the air high enough for him to hit the ceiling, but instead of catching him, turns around saying, "Oh, dear. I seem to have forgotten my fudge." and lets him fall to the ground.
  • Darkwing Duck plays the first variation straight. Negaduck has just fallen off a building, so Darkwing helpfully pulls up in a garbage truck to save him... and then reverses at the last second.
    Darkwing: Whoops! Missed. (mugs the camera)
  • Zig-zag on Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines: In "Operation Anvil," Dastardly is plummeting to the ground and offers Muttley a medal if he catches him. Dastardly bounces off the ground and then lands on the bed mattress Muttley hurriedly brought. "You'll get no medal for catching me on the bounce," Dastardly edicts, so Muttley yanks the mattress from under Dastardly.
  • Van Beuren Studios' Tom and Jerry: In "A Fireman's Life", the boys have a Fireman's Safety Net ready for a man trapped in a burning building. He jumps...and they leap out of the way, deciding to catch the female resident instead.

    Real Life 
  • American Football players are (a) freaking huge guys and (b) prone to tackle-hugging each other in celebration. In one game, a 300-lb lineman is about to do this to somebody... who instinctively moved aside. The lineman went "thud", got up, and went about celebrating elsewhere.


Video Example(s):


Watch the Nosebleed

Viktor holds out his arms for a hug. Yuri responds by going for a running one, only for Viktor to move out of the way at the last minute because Yuri's nose is bleeding profusely.

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