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Tilting Tower of Pisa

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Any fictional depiction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is likely to show it toppling or threatening to do so, being straightened, and/or being made to tilt in the opposite direction. Despite its stone-block construction, it generally won't crack or shatter at the base from such abuse, but merely rock back and forth as if it's one solid piece.

Often used in disaster flicks, cartoons, or stories involving superpowers. Entirely mundane works may show tourists playing with this trope, posing for pics as if "holding up" or "fleeing the collapse of" the Tower.

Examples which involve the tower getting straightened often forget one important fact: because the tower was built in 3 stages over 200 years, and started leaning very early in construction, the upper floors were built with one side longer than the other (making the tower curved) to compensate. So basically, you can't ever straighten the tower; even if the base two floors could be perfectly straightened, the tower would start to lean in the other direction due to the built-in curve, and possibly collapse at some point in the distant future.

Subtrope of Monumental Damage.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Flint the Time Detective: In the episode "Plumella", the heroes travel back to Pisa during the time of the renaissance. Flint sees the leaning tower and, fearing that it might fall over, straightens it, despite his friends warning him that it's supposed to be leaning, and Flint is now altering history. Near the end of the episode, an explosion causes the tower to tilt back to its original position, thus restoring history.
  • In one episode of Lupin III: Part II, the villain's earthquake machine succeeds in straightening the Leaning Tower, but is disabled before it can damage it further.
  • In a episode of Dinosaur King, the dino of the week, a Pachycephalosaurus rams into the tower, straightening it.

    Films — Animated 
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman: The original Peabody's Improbable History "Galileo" short involving the Tower (see below) is alluded to when Sherman tells Penny that the Tower of Pisa didn't always lean.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Superman III: As part of the montage of Superman's tainted Kryptonite-induced rampage of Superdickery, he straightens the Leaning Tower, pissing off a poor seller of tower replicas that witnesses it (see page image). Supes' final act before the credits roll is to go back to Pisa to re-lean the tower, pissing off the man (who had started to sell replicas of the straightened tower) again.
  • Zombieland: Double Tap: In a Cutaway Gag, a man in Pisa uses a hydraulic jack to topple the Leaning Tower, causing it to fall onto a trio of zombies.

  • In Big Anthony: His Story, the origins of the titular absent-minded ditz from the Strega Nona series, Anthony arrives in a town in the middle of the night and goes to sleep leaning against a random building. When he wakes up, he discovers he was sleeping against the Leaning Tower of Pisa, though he thinks he leaned a little bit too hard on it, so he "fixes" the problem with some rope.
  • In The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke there is a passing reference to "that tower they used to have in Pisa, before it fell over."

    Live-Action TV 

  • In the Attack Phase of Attack from Mars, the Martians are seen destroying or altering various Earth monuments, including straightening the Leaning Tower.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dinosaurs Attack! trading card game depicts the Leaning Tower being pushed over by one dinosaur onto another.

    Theme Parks 
  • Efteling: The Italy section of the Carnaval Festival ride features a model of the tower of Pisa wobbling back and forth a bit as someone pushes against it to keep it from falling over.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • In "The Cryonic Woman", when Fry and Bender take the Planet Express ship on a joyride, they unknowingly drag the delivery service's building along behind them since the ship was anchored to it. When flying over Pisa, the ship collides with the Leaning Tower, straightening it. Then the building collides with it, which tips the tower the other way. Then the tower collapses on top of the people who've come to gawk at its new orientation.
    • In "When Aliens Attack", the space vessels that assault Monument Beach destroy all the monuments (and Fry's sand castle) with Independence Day-style energy blasts ... except the Leaning Tower, which they merely tip over.
  • In the cartoon Little Johnny Jet, the backwash from the racing planes causes the Tower to tip in the opposite direction.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "A Hound For Trouble", Charlie Dog's latest owner, a restaurant owner in Italy, gets rid of him by pretending that the Leaning Tower is falling and telling Charlie to hold it up while he goes for help. The cartoon ends with Charlie still pushing on the Tower, thinking he's the only thing keeping the structure from falling over.
  • Inverted in the Phineas and Ferb episode "We Call It Maze", in which Dr. Doofenshmirtz's evil plan includes making every other building in the world tilt at a similar angle, leaving the Leaning Tower of Pisa as nothing special. He then plans to straighten his building, making it unique.
  • In Madballs: Gross Jokes, the Madballs destroy or deface pretty much every monument they come across on their trip around the world. One of the things they do is straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Feisty Geist", one of Heffer's past lives was an Italian version of himself, who accidentally caused the Tower of Pisa to lean over with his weight.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: In the Peabody's Improbable History short "Galileo", Sherman helps Galileo get inside the Tower of Pisa to prove his theory, and at the time, the tower was straight. Sherman smells gas, but Galileo lights a match to see inside before he can be warned. The resulting explosion causes the tower to lean.
  • The Mighty Mouse cartoon "Sunny Italy" opens right off at the Tower of Pisa where Pearl Pureheart is tied to the rail on top over the inward side, dangling by one foot. The villain Oil Can Harry is attempting to topple the tower over with a car jack.
  • What If? (2021): In "What If... Thor Were an Only Child?", Thor, in his hurry to clean up the mess he caused with his worldwide party before his mother arrives, straightens the tower of Pisa, clearly thinking that the actions of him or his friends caused it to tilt.

    Real Life 
  • The tower tilts because of a too-small foundation laid in sandy soil that is not well suited for supporting a tower (there are, in fact, a couple other leaning bell towers in the city of Pisa). It has continued to very slowly tilt over the centuries and by 1960 had tilted to 6 degrees. The tower was closed for 11 years while engineers dug sand out from under the high side to reduce the tilt, which is now just a little less than four degrees.
  • On April 1, 1960, the Dutch news broadcast NOS Journaal reported that the tower of Pisa had toppled over as part of an elaborate April Fools' Day joke. It got quite some reactions from people who were saddened the famous tower was supposedly gone.