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"I tied my shoes together and fell down three times!"
—Ralph Wiggum, The Simpsons: Road Rage
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A good way to simultaneously express just how mean and crafty someone is, usually but not limited to kids, is to have them tie an unsuspecting someone else's shoelaces together. Then, when the victim gets up to walk, they fall over, often face first. If the prankster is quite small in comparison to the prank victim's shoes, then this doubles as Hobbling the Giant.

A common practical joke in Real Life as well.


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Examples

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    Comic Strips 
  • In one gag of Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin conspires with Hobbes to find somebody and tie their shoes together, only to fall over on his face when it's revealed Hobbes had already tied Calvin's shoes together by the laces.

    Fan Works 
  • The Arithmancer: At the start of third year, Hermione tries to create a charm that would help her tie her shoelaces, as a first active attempt at spellcrafting. It doesn't turn out quite right and only manages to tie her shoelaces together, to the point the spell was initially assumed to be a jinx without context. She later casts it on Draco Malfoy in Chapter 43, saving him from being attacked by Buckbeak.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Marsha uses this when she and Louis foil the Macks' kidnapping. She doesn't have much telekinetic power, but it's good at manipulating small objects in complex ways.

    Films — Animation 
  • Roquefort the mouse did this to Edgar in The Aristocats.
  • In Fun and Fancy Free, the Jack and the Beanstalk segment features Mickey Mouse trying to do this to a sleeping Willy the Giant, but Mickey failed when the giant suddenly woke up.
    Charlie: Heh, shoulda left well enough alone.
  • Early in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Jimmy's Shoe-Bot ties Jimmy's shoelaces together instead of tying them properly, so when Jimmy gets up after seeing the school bus pull up outside, he falls over, sees his laces have been tied together, and glares at the Shoe-Bot, which shrugs.
  • Angelica does this to Jean-Claude in Rugrats in Paris to slow him down while she and the babies escape from him on the Robo Reptar.
  • In The Thief and the Cobbler, Tack ties one of the bandits' shoelaces together when he picks him up by the legs.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Casper ties together the shoelaces of the students who teased Kat earlier. When the bell rings the entire class stand up and fall down in unison.
  • And then there's Hot Shots! Part Deux:
    (Dexter is being rescued)
    Dexter: You don't understand. I can't walk... they've tied my shoelaces together.
    Topper Harley: A knot. Bastards!
  • In Captain EO, Fuzzball does this to the whip-warrior's whips, causing them to crash together.
  • Dietrich in V for Vendetta incorporates it into his satire.
  • Jeremy from Slick does this to people all the time.
  • Number 5 from Short Circuit pulls this on Newton while Newton is looking over the changes to Number 5's wiring.
  • In Molly (1999), Buck spends hours trying and failing to teach Molly to tie her shoes before he gives up for the day and falls asleep in a chair. Molly finally gets the hang of it while he's asleep and shows off her new ability by tying Buck's shoes together.

    Literature 
  • Used as a legitimate strategy for incapacitating a group of attackers in Thief of Time; Lobsang can "slice" time to make himself fast enough to tie everyone's shoelaces together before they can move.
  • In Unseen Academicals, Dr. Hix, the Unseen Academicals' official evil wizard does this in the football crowd, both because it helps him move through the crowd and because it's the acceptable level of evil by university statute.
  • During the post-funeral gathering in Pet Sematary Lou Creed, who worked for his uncle's funeral business, contemplates telling the guests about the practice of tying the deceased's feet together, so the dead won't walk. Most of the early morticians were Irish, who brought the custom to the New World, and the custom of tying a toe tag to a body during an autopsy comes from this. Lou decides not to share the story.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Two Ronnies serial "Done to Death", Piggy Malone is being held at gunpoint by the murderer, when he realises his sidekick Charley is under the table. He manages to write "Tie shoelaces together" on a card, and drops it where Charley can see it. He then manages to distract the murderer, knock the gun out of his hand, and bluffs him into making a run for it, only to find that Charley misunderstood the note, and tied Piggy's shoelaces. The murderer escapes, and they have to come up with another plan to trap him.
  • In a season one episode of Saturday Night Live, after John Belushi does an "H & L Brock" sketch, when the camera cuts away, Lorne Michaels is seen tying Belushi's shoelaces together. If you listen closely, you can hear Belushi say, "Aw, what the fuck, man?"
  • On the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode "Pimemento", Jake pranks Hitchcock by tying his shoelaces together while he sleeps in the break room. When they come back, Hitchcock has somehow gotten the laces around his neck and almost strangled himself to death.
  • Harry Hill managed to do this to Jamie Oliver by inserting himself into a clip from Jamie at Home.

    Video Games 
  • In the music video for "Fantastic Three" from beatmania IIDX 22 PENDUAL, when the Funk Brothers decide to retaliate against the bullies with pranks, this is Abbas' (wac's) prank of choice.

    Web Comics 
  • This is used as a prank in this Eerie Cuties, but quickly turns into a Deadly Prank.
  • In Jacksons Diary the two resident bullies fall victim to this by way of the strange green magic Jackson witnesses. Much later it's revealed that Exer was the one using magic.
  • Ozy and Millie: Millie does this to Ozy while he spaces out, though he notices before he tries to walk. It's still impressive since she had to put shoes on him first.

    Western Animation 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: In "The Chipmunk Story", Baby Alvin does this to Mr. Roach, an evil landlord hounding Dave for his rent. When he falls over, he discovers the Chipmunks.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: During the flashback Cold Opening of Operation T.R.E.A.T.Y, when a younger Numbuh 1 and Chad are sparing, Chad wins the fight by pulling this trick on Nigel, calling it "the oldest trick in the book". Numbuh 1 wins their later, much more serious fight with the exact same trick.
  • Paulina and Kwan team up to attempt this to an AV volunteer in Danny Phantom, however Sidney Poindexter's spirit thwarts both pranksters and carefully reties the AV kid's shoes properly before he trips.
  • Tubby fell victim to this trope by the Westside Gang in The Little Lulu Show episode "Spook Delivery".
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In the prologue to "Gribber's Quest", Daffy shows Porky a new pair of basketball shoes he bought online. Porky tries to tell Daffy that he accidentally tied his shoelaces together, but to no avail. Daffy ends up tripping when he tries to play basketball.
  • Mr. Bogus did this to Mr. Anybody's overbearing boss near the end of the first act of the episode "A Day At The Office".
  • The Owl House: Eda does this to her goody two-shoes sister Lilith in "Covention".
    Eda: Now, let's go before my sister realizes I tied her pointy shoes together.
    (cue off-screen thump and Lilith screaming in anger)
    Eda: Aaand that's our cue!
    • It's even funnier when in a later scene, Lilith angrily walks forward and trips on her tied shoelaces.
  • In an episode of Speed Buggy, Mark and Debbie did this to a villain who had grown to giant size.
  • Larry did this to Tuddrussel twice on the Time Squad episode "Hate and Let Hate."


 
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