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Trampled Underfoot

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Ratchet: [The humans] have no protective shell. If they get underfoot they will go... squish.
Optimus Prime: Then, for the time being Ratchet, we must watch where we step.
—Two Mechanical Lifeforms facing a dilemma of working with humans, Transformers: Prime.

Simply put, this is about comparatively small "good" characters or things being crushed underfoot by comparatively gigantic dangers. This can take two main forms.

First, a "straight" one, commonplace in cartoons involving mice, Incredible Shrinking Man scenarios, or normal-size humans who have to deal with Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever — but usually that's more a desperate attempt to avoid being trampled. Often associated with an Implacable Man or The Juggernaut.

Then, secondly, it can be used as a small Kick the Dog moment for a character so mean, evil or determined that nothing stands in their way; and just to prove it to the audience, the camera will turn to a shot of their feet (or their mount's feet), as they walk over and stomp on, crush or trample underfoot things that symbolize innocence, peace, happiness, or niceness, such as:

  • A flower or flowers
  • A doll
  • A small, cute woodland animal
  • Someone's body (or skull)
  • Fragile wedding china
  • Framed photo with breakable glass

Compare Giant Foot of Stomping and Fearsome Foot. Can be considered a Sub-Trope of Cruelty by Feet. Named after (but has absolutely nothing to do with) a song by Led Zeppelin. Not related to Curb-Stomp Battle, although a particularly brutal one-sided fight may involve actual stomping. If the villain intentionally uses their foot to trample an object of sentimental value to a character, that's Crush the Keepsake.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Blue Submarine No. 6, an enemy machine crushes a human skull while it walks.
  • Happens to Team Rocket at the hands (or feet) of the main heroes at the end of episode 4 of Pok√©mon: The Series.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, when X (Howard X Miller in the dub) prepares to duel Judai, he walks over to a flower and steps on it, after comparing it to a child and remarking that he enjoys cutting down children's potential and dreams.
  • This is how Seishuu dies in The Twelve Kingdoms. For worse, he gets trampled by a carriage because he has been blinded recently and can't see it coming... and the dude in the carriage actually doesn't even bother with changing its path, thus running Seishuu over intentionally.
  • In One Piece, many villains do this to Luffy's hat. They really ought to know better by now.
  • Attack on Titan: The Female Titan does this to several soldiers while she slaughters her way through the Survey Corps, most egregiously to Team Mom Petra.
    • The absolutely-massive Titans summoned by Eren to carry out the Rumbling do this to 80% of all of humanity.
  • Subverted in Fight! Iczer One. Nagisa's little friend Sayoko gets stomped by Iczer-2's mecha, but she survives thanks to an amulet that Nagisa had given her
  • A flashback in the original Fushigi Yuugi shows that Nuriko's beloved younger sister Kourin was trampled to death by a bunch of runaway horses going through the streets of the capital.

    Comic Books 
  • Tintin: Subverted in Flight 714, where Rastapopoulos boasts that he will crush Tintin as he crushes "this insignificant spider!" The spider then manages to elude at least five of his attempts to step on it, reducing Rastapopoulos to incoherent rage ("FDJRK").
  • Used to great effect in the Justice League storyline Rock of Ages. In a Bad Future where the Earth is a desolate and corrupt wasteland, Darkseid tramples a lone flower. He didn't just care he stepped on it, he went out of his way to do it.
  • Fury (MAX): While massacring a village, the sadistic 7-foot-tall mercenary Barracuda slices open a pregnant woman's belly, causing her unborn child to spill out. He follows up this deranged act by slowly crushing the squealing baby beneath his large boot, all while grinning widely.
  • In an inversion, the heroes and titular lions from Pride of Baghdad use this against the bear, Fajer. Fajer is probably too strong to fight and beat head-on, so the lions knock him out of the building he's been using as a cave, then scare a herd of horses into trampling Fajer. The bear's spine is snapped and he's left helpless due to this.
  • In a Donald Duck comic book story, Gyro Gearloose's nephew gives a ride to Daisy Duck's nieces with a wooden bridge that walks. When Donald's nephews step on the bridge and activate it, the bridge stomps all over Gyro's nephew when he tries to stop it, though he manages to survive the attack.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Bambi Meets Godzilla. Bambi is on the receiving end.
  • In the original The Land Before Time, our heroes nearly get stepped on by Sharptooth, as they were unknowingly sleeping in one of his footprints.
  • When Battle Butler Max first enters in Cats Don't Dance, he steps on a rubber duck.
  • The Disney Animated Canon is a big user of this trope:
    • In Mulan, the heroine's horse Khan greets "the indestructible Mushu" by trampling the tiny dragon.
    • The Lion King (1994):
      • The opening scene has Scar slamming his paw on a mouse.
      • A far darker example occurs later when Scar kills brother king Mufasa to his doom by tossing him back into the wildebeest stampede and lets the stampeding wildebeests do the rest.
    • There's also The Princess and the Frog, in which Faciler kills Ray by stepping on him, although death wasn't instant.
    • In Tarzan, a dare by Terk causes Tarzan to accidentally cause an elephant stampede, which results in one of the baby gorillas nearly getting trampled if not for Kerchak.
  • Anastasia: Rasputin steps over a drinking glass that a guest at the ball had dropped as he makes his evil Menacing Stroll through the crowd. Given a nice Call-Back later at the end of the film, when Anastasia destroys his reliquary by stepping on it multiple times, dedicating the blows to her family, Dimitri, and to Rasputin himself—"Da svidanya!"
  • Happens to some of the roaches in the movie Twilight of the Cockroaches, one of the many ways that they are killed off in the film.
  • In The Road to El Dorado, when Cortez lands in the New World, his first move is to crush a random skull on the beach.
    • Parodied later, when a warrior is apparently crushed by a gigantic stone jaguar and we hear a muffled "I'm still OK!"
  • In G.I. Joe: The Movie, Lady Jaye trips and falls down and several of her teammates just run by her. Fortunately, Flint stops and picks her up.
  • A non-villainous example in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: buff hippo Moto Moto emerges from the watering hole and walks over to Gloria in a straight line, Played for Laughs as he pushes a rock and tree out of the way and then walks right over a couple of antelope, who shriek as he steps on them.
  • In Turning Red, this is downplayed. The audience's first look at Mei's red panda form is two huge furry red feet crushing Mei's bunny slippers.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Men in Black: The second films main antagonist (the sexy yet sadistic Serleena) makes sure to trample over the corpse of an alien she had just interrogated and murdered.
  • Terminator
    • The Terminators and HKs step on human skeletons in the first and second movies. Our first view of the Bad Future involves tank treads crushing a field of skulls in a post-nuclear Los Angeles.
    • The T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day steps on the roses when he reveals they were just there to hide a shotgun.
    • The T-1000 steps on the T-800's Gargoyle sunglasses, crushing them underfoot.
    • When the first film's Terminator parks outside another Sarah Connor's house, the truck's tire crushes a child's toy.
    • Terminator: Dark Fate pays an Internal Homage to the franchise by having terminators in the future crush skulls under their feet.
    • Feet (or similar crushing) is a trademark of James Cameron. Aliens has Ripley running over a Xenomorph head with the APC.
  • The Mummy (1999): There's a bit where a group of characters are running away from the titular mummy and one glasses-wearing treasure hunter falls over, and his glasses fall off. The weasely backstabbing guy (who we've already seen selling out The Hero to almost certain death in the first scene) not only leaves him on the floor but stomps and smashes the glasses. You get a view of the treasure hunter's dismay as he hears them crunch.
  • In the 1998 remake of Godzilla (or something people want you to think was Godzilla but wasn't), this scene is subverted as the intrepid cameraman stands in the center of the street to film 'zilla. We see the great reptile's foot come down ... but when it moves on, the cameraman is right there, alive and unharmednote ; albeit quite understandably wigged out at his close call
  • Short Circuit:
    • The film begins with a shot of tanks crushing flowers, just to emphasize how inhuman the military antagonists are.
    • Subverted later, where an accidental squashing of a grasshopper undertread is what causes Number 5 to realize that it is alive and start rebelling against his military programming.
  • Nowhere To Go: A Caterpillar is shown struggling to cross a mud covered street. As it's about to succeed, a woman's boot crushes it with a loud "crunch". The young woman smiles while she sarcastically apologizes and grinds her boot back and forth.
  • Not an evil version, but in A Bridge Too Far a Dutch mansion is requisitioned as a field hospital. As wounded soldiers enter the building, one of them wearing a Thousand-Yard Stare steps on a child's toy train track, knocking the train off the rails.
  • Happens twice in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, where an Oliphaunt visibly steps on a Rohirrim horse-rider. The entire battle between the Rohirrim and the Oliphaunts could almost be described as this until they figure out how to take them down.
  • In The Uncanny, After Lucy shrinks Angela to the size of a mouse, she steps on her and crushes her.
  • Jurassic Park franchise:
  • Gun Fury: After he betrays the gang, Slayton has Curly staked out in the desert and then the gang ride their horses over him.

  • The first mention we ever get of Mr. Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a story of how he callously knocked down and trampled a little girl he passed in the street. His second use of this is far more cruel, however. After bludgeoning Sir Danvers Carew with his dreaded cane, Hyde proceeds to finish him off by jumping up and down upon his body in an "apelike" manner.
  • In The Jungle Book, Mowgli finally manages to kill his Smug Snake nemesis, Shere Khan the tiger, by causing a large buffalo herd to stampede over him.
  • Lily Weatherwax in Witches Abroad transformed some coachmen into beetles for failing her, then trod on them. Later, the zombified Baron Saturday does the same thing to the Duc when Lily's magic is withdrawn and he reverts to frog form.
  • He doesn't do it himself, but in Galaxy of Fear: The Swarm, when some of Thrawn's men died in the S'krrr gardens and the Imperials investigate, they do the gardens a lot of damage, which in text is compared to trampling them.
  • The Mermaid: The first time Amelia is exhibited as a mermaid, the crowd rushes the stage, and a woman falls and is trampled to death. After everyone leaves, Amelia is horrified to find her bloodied, broken body in an aisle. She almost quits over it. P.T. Barnum hires guards to prevent it from happening again.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Supernatural episode "A Very Supernatural Christmas", Sam and Dean are caught by two pagan gods who ritually kill people around Christmas time. Their ritual is interrupted by a neighbour bringing fruitcake. After the neighbour leaves, the husband god just drops the cake, and ominously steps on it while going back to the brothers who had escaped.
  • In 1000 Ways to Die, this happens to a biker during the mayhem he himself caused (by ripping off a female dancer's top) in "Lady And The Trampled" and a jealous cheerleader captain who "accidentally" let the new girl on the team fall (only for the bitchy cheerleader to get run down by the entire football team as they charge out onto the field) in "Pam-Caked!"
  • Played for Laughs in Game of Thrones. The dwarf Tyrion Lannister gives a Rousing Speech to the savage Mountain clans. It works so well they charge off to battle right over Tyrion, who gets knocked unconscious and trampled into the mud. By the time he wakes up, the battle is over.
    Bronn: You're a shit warrior.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, a minor official of the king's court is trampled as punishment for disbelieving that God would raise the siege on the city of Jerusalem—by divine intervention, the enemy troops flee in panic, leaving all of their goods behind, and the official dies when he tries to keep order at the city gates.
  • A divine figure standing on a fallen enemy is a common theme in Hinduism. The most famous example is likely Kali.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Some creatures in Pathfinder have the trample special ability, which is exactly what it sounds like: it tries to run over smaller creatures who take a lot of damage if they fail to dodge (or choose not to).

    Video Games 
  • The kidnapping of Billie and Teko from the John Woo game Stranglehold is underscored by one of the Russian mob dudes knocking a picture of them to the floor and treading upon it as they drag the two off.
  • The intro movie from Battlefield 1942 does it with a tank flattening a helmet.
  • The intro movie from MechWarrior 2 starts with a blurry shape that is revealed to be a human skull seconds before a Battlemech's foot crushes it. In that same spirit, the intro to MechWarrior 3 features a soldier who trips and falls right on the path of a mech, and is promptly squashed underfoot.
  • This is how Gundham Tanaka is executed in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. More exactly, he's placed right in front of a huge animal stampede, and gets stomped to death.
  • In Mass Effect 3's Citadel DLC, Joker has a fantasy in which he climbs into an Atlas mech and slaughters a bunch of Cerberus troops. One shot has a wounded Cerberus trooper trying to crawl away when the mech's foot crushes him.
  • In Skyrim, one of the possible unarmed Finishing Moves Dragonborn can execute is stomping a humanoid enemy on their back or face with style.
  • In Overlord II, the protagonist meets a group of gnomes. When one of them approaches, but then slips and falls to the ground, the Overlord considers this an "act of aggression" and executes the gnome by stomping it rather forcefully. This is the first step in his genocide against gnome-kind.
  • Sonic Shuffle:
    • One of the 1 Vs. 3 mini-games is "Eggbot's Attack!". In this mini-game, one player controls the titular giant robot, while the other three run from it. Any player unfortunate enough not to dodge the Eggbot's feet will end up Squashed Flat by them, and if this happens to all three players before time runs out, the player controlling the Eggbot will win.
    • Another 1 Vs. 3 mini-game is "Gargantua", where one player is turned into a giant. The other three players, armed with guns, have to shoot the giant until his/her health is fully depleted, but if the giant gets close to them, he/she can step on them, squashing them flat. If this happens to all three players, the giant will win.
  • Yoshi's Final Smash in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate involves the target getting trampled by a stampede of Yoshis of varying colours, as a nod to the intro cinematic of Super Smash Bros. Melee.

  • Digger combines this with a footnote on the difficulty of properly conveying it in a webcomic.
    While "crunch" fails to capture the sad, wistful sound of daisies being crushed underfoot, it's about the best we can do.

    Web Original 
  • Lauren crushes Bill Cowan's family photographs underfoot in KateModern: The Last Work, although that had more to do with mean-spiritedness than badassery.
  • Dr. Horrible has an Imagine Spot wherein Captain Hammer is the trample victim, in Act II of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
  • Subverted during the second half of Double Rainboom; The monster attacking Townsville appears to have stepped upon the talking dog, but the Powerpuff girls got there first. Later on, he's about to do the same to them but this time Rainbow Dash intervenes
  • In SHED.MOV of the PONY.MOV series, Discord is shown crushing Applebloom a la Bambi Meets Godzilla. Ultimately subverted in SWAG.MOV, since Rainbow Dash manages to stop Discord from killing Applebloom, who quietly creeps off to the side.
  • Pagan Vengeance: Juvage has a captured enemy tied up then has a feasting tent set up over him. When the feast is over, so many people have walked on him that he is very much dead.

    Western Animation 
  • Chaotic shows the bad guys' mount trampling flowers.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius has a coach that orders his grade school age charges to do this to each other.
    If you fall, you will be trampled. If you refuse to trample, you will be trampled.
  • In Transformers: Beast Wars Rampage runs over a butterfly when the Predacons were entering the valley that spawned the ancestors of humankind, in what is a reference to either the original Butterfly of Doom or how easily they Predacons could kill the proto-humans.
  • In Justice League, the Thanagarian's little powerpoint of the Gordanians has a close-up of their armies trampling a skull.
  • In the second appearance of Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee, their tank crushes a flower in a grassy meadow as they chase the Gaang in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In a scene reminiscent of the one from Flight 714, Mr. Burns threatens to crush someone "like a bug, I tell you, like a BUG!" and then proves too feeble to crush an ant. He steps on it, but it walks away unharmed.
    • In the episode Cape Feare, Sideshow Bob lies on the road after hiding under a car and taunts Bart that there's no harm in laying on the road. Immediately after, he gets trampled by a marching band complete with a pack of elephants.
  • Defied in the episode "The Last Roundup" in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Fluttershy spots a desert rabbit in their path and screeches to a halt. The glower Rainbow Dash gives her implies they should have jumped over the bunny — or just kept going.
  • The Beatles episode "Penny Lane" opens with the boys touring Buckingham Palace when a gaggle of screaming girls appear at the gate (George: "Look! It's our many adoring fans!"). When the gates are opened, the girls trample the boys as they rush to fawn over dimpled detective James Blond.
    John: [dazed from being trampled] Ah, the glorious price of popularity...
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat frequently stomps on flowers, either out of anger, meanness, or the fact that he was just ignoring their presence.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: Superman is trodden on, and driven into the ground by, the eponymous phantom in "The Force Phantom".
  • A passing bear steps on Grouchy and has him stuck on its foot as it continues to walk on by in The Smurfs (2021) episode "Unsmurfable Smile".

    Real Life 
  • The Mob Effect, of people getting caught up in an adrenaline-fueled moment, is responsible for some unfortunate real-life trampling deaths.
    • Wal-Mart, 2009, Black Friday: A crowd of shoppers takes "doorbuster" literally and tramples to death the temp working security as he opens the door.
    • Air Jordans cause shoppers to mob and trample.
    • Madrid Arena, 2012, Halloween: Both a stampede and selling far more tickets than allowed cause five girls being crushed to death.
    • During the coup attempt in 2021 to prevent Joe Biden's electoral college victory from being certified, a rioter named Rosanne Boyland was trampled to death by other rioters while carrying a Don't Tread On Me sign.
    • At the 2021 Astroworld Festival in Houston, there was a massive stampede which resulted in over 300 reported people having injuries and 8 deaths.
  • A 150 million year old sea turtle fossil was found that had been crushed flat. Paleontologists suspect that it was accidentally stepped on by a sauropod dinosaur after coming ashore to lay its eggs.
  • Trampling is a fetish where a person takes enjoyment out of their partner stepping, standing, and/or stomping on them. Although it is usually safe, more extreme examples (like if the person doing the trampling is wearing stilettos) can result in injuries.


Video Example(s):


Monkey vs Dragon

This is the final battle with Monkey King and the Dragon King, with both of them kaiju-sized.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BehemothBattle

Media sources: