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Vertical Kidnapping

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Not the pick-me-up one usually has in mind.

Our heroes are patrolling around completely alert but somehow miss the monster on the Ceiling...

Cousin to Neck Lift, this is where a character is lifted up by said monster. Usually, the character will be unnaturally silent when this happens, and often they will be dropped moments later very dead, and possibly disemboweled. This often happens to the last person in a group while the main characters aren't paying attention.

It seems every monster worth its salt has Super Strength and a knowledge of Pressure Points.

For the more personal, intimidating version, see Neck Lift. For a horizontal horror equivalent, see Barrier-Busting Blow.

Compare and often overlaps with Kidnapped from Behind, Behind the Black, No Peripheral Vision, and Failed a Spot Check. May also be preceded by a *Drool* Hello.

If it's a bird doing the kidnapping, then it's Kidnapping Bird of Prey.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass: Roofzaku, a.k.a. Suzaku dropping down from freaking nowhere to attack two Britannia guards going after Lelouch when he announces himself Emperor.
  • A heroic example in Fullmetal Alchemist: Jerso, a frog-gecko-something/human chimera allied with the heroes, sneaks in via the ceiling in the middle of a hostage situation and yanks the current opponent, the gold-toothed doctor up into the air, enabling the heroes to regain control of their situation.
  • Sorta used in Ranma ½: ''Big Trouble in Nekoron, China", when one of Kirin's henchmen uses his Razor Floss to grab Akane by the arm and pull her up to their airship.
  • Subverted in Tentai Senshi Sunred: The ceiling monsters not only don't capture anyone but insist on making their presence known by nagging everyone else in the house. Amusingly, instead of a monstrous voice, their voices are girls from a JPOP group.
  • Kyouya of Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever does this to a member of the special forces they're demonstrating against at the beginning of the OAV. With piano wire. He "tried not to kill him."
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, Joey is carried off by a Kurama this way.
  • Heroic example in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: in one episode, a crook is using the bathroom when the window above his urinal opens, Batou leans in and gives a shit-eating grin as the crook freaks out, then grabs him and pulls him out the window.

  • Michelangelo's The Torment of St. Anthony is set in the middle of such a kidnapping as a host of demons take St. Anthony by surprise and lift him above the hills into the sky.

    Comic Books 
  • This is one of Batman's standard methods for disabling and terrorizing bad guys, and he's taught it to all his protégés.
  • As his his wont, Black Adam took this Up to Eleven when 'fighting' Wildcat, snatching the aged boxer off the ground and flying him all the way up into Earth's atmosphere simply to show him how futile it was to try throwing down with a Physical God like himself.
  • The first arc of the Power Girl ongoing series involves Ultra-Humanite doing this to Manhattan.
  • Like Batman above, this is one of Spider-Man's favorite ways to deal with bad guys, when he can keep his mouth shut anyway.
  • Superman has been known to do this here and there to low-level crooks he hopes to scare straight.
  • Having inherited the symbiote of Spider-Man above, Venom occasionally indulges in this when he's feeling generous (when he's not feeling generous, well...)
  • In Yamara, while two heroes are listening at a door, the third is grabbed and carried off by a floating undead that slipped right over them via the open transom above the door.

  • In Origin Story, Alex Harris does this to Henry Peter Gyrich when she finds out that he's ultimately the one responsible for all the attacks against her and her girlfriend Louise. In order to keep Louise safe, Alex believes she has to do something drastic, so she grabs Gyrich from above right off his front stoop, carries him into outer space where he suffocates, and then pushes his corpse out of earth's orbit. It eventually collides with a Kuiper Belt object six million years later.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Alien series.
    • In Alien, after a Cat Scare.
    • Aliens: When the Colonial Marines are attacked by the aliens under the atmosphere processing plant, one of the aliens grabs Dietrich by the neck and lifts her up (and then takes her away, alive). As she is wielding a flamethrower at the time, she panics and shoots... hitting Frost, who was carrying all the ammunition.
    • In Alien³ the soon-to-be victim is denying that there are any aliens. He experiences vertical kidnapping by the non-existent alien mid-sentence. Cue panic in everybody else in the room, and when all is quiet again, an Atomic F-Bomb.
  • Batman uses the exaggerated version of this trope in Batman Begins on a mobster.
  • Day of the Dead (2008): A guy is lifted by a zombie in air vent; everyone else only notices when he is thrown down with part of his chest missing.
  • In The Phantom, the Phantom evades some pursuing mooks by riding through the Tree Top Town of the Rope People, who snare the mooks and dangle them high above the ground.
  • In The Professional, Leon does this to a mook riding the elevator with his strangling cord in a quite famous scene.
  • In Spider-Man 3 Venom sneaks up on our hero, grabs him by the neck from above and throws him into a girder.
  • Terminator Salvation. A Humongous Mecha reaches down through the roof of an abandoned gas station and starts grabbing people to put in cages.
  • Sort of happens in The Wizard of Oz. Scarecrow laughs off the Cowardly Lion's suggestion that the woods are haunted, then is lifted into the air by an invisible force and dropped back down. Then the flying monkeys show up, make merry hell with Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion, and carry Dorothy and Toto off.

  • Bite Me! by Christopher Moore (third in the series that starts with Bloodsucking Fiends), one of the Animals (the Safeway stock crew) is vertically kidnapped by Chet, the huge vampire kitty. He's pretty much eaten right away, but still.
  • Star Wars Legends: The first book of Galaxy of Fear has people being instantly sucked down into the ground, leaving no trace. Which is still on the vertical axis. Since their footprints in the dirt also vanished, it raised the question of whether those people had been there at all.
  • Tarzan made this one of his favored tactics, once he learned how to use a rope. A whole village ended up convinced there was a supernatural force that would yank men up into the trees.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Day of the Triffids: After Torrence launches his takeover bid, Mason and Coker are taken out to the woods to be fed to triffids. An armed mook is ordering them out of the back of the truck when triffid venom drops on his shoulder, then one of the Man Eating Plants yanks him screaming into the air.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Lexx: In "Lyakka", a humanoid plant woman mesmerizes her victims, before having tentacles descend from the ceiling and devour them.
  • In the first episode of Lost, the Oceanic 815 pilot is dragged out of the cabin by an off-screen monster (which was later revealed to have a giant pillar of smoke as its default form).
  • In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Dead Man's Switch", several people across the world are sealed in impenetrable bunkers to act as Dead Mans Switches for the global nuclear, biological, and chemical arsenal, when alien ships are detected in the Solar System. When all contact with the outside world is lost, the trapped people assume the worst. Then one of them notices her bunker's ceiling buckling and assumes it's the rescue. As she approaches the hole, black tentacles reach in and grab her.
  • In Supernatural the Wendigo kills a park ranger this way. Apparently, the monster was annoyed about being shot.
  • The Eldritch Abomination does this to a scientist at the beginning of Stranger Things

    Music Videos 
  • The video for "The Night" by Disturbed features a security guard inspecting a mysterious, inky black energy present throughout the video while the band plays in an underground parking lot. At the end he seems to be picked up and killed in this fashion by the dark while the band leaves on an elevator.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Nightgaunts from Arkham Horror will swoop down on unsuspecting investigators, tickle them into submission, then deposit them into the nearest portal. This can occasionally be beneficial if they let you cross the board or kick you out of the Other World you're exploring.
  • This is a favorite tactic of Ropers and Chokers in Dungeons & Dragons. Both monsters like to hang out on the ceiling in caves and grab unwary adventurers with their Combat Tentacles, then hoist them into the air out of reach of their comrades.

    Video Games 
  • True to its source material, this can happen to Amanda in Alien: Isolation. Spacecraft/station designers in this universe seem to love including tons of three-foot-square ventilation ducts, many of which lead to ceiling openings. Keep an eye on the ceiling vents; if you see a stream of drool coming from one, stepping under it is ill-advised, to say the least. It gets worse later on, when rewire boxes and computer terminals turn out to be located precisely under these openings.
  • Ezio Auditore is capable of pulling these off on two mooks at once. From rooftops mainly, mind you, but there are segments where he gets to double-assassinate from crossbeams, so it's all good.
    • Conner Kenway can also pull this trick once he gains access to the rope darts. In fact when you're out in the wilderness, it's the recommended way of dealing with British patrols.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and Batman: Arkham Knight, this is again one of the standard moves. Batman snatches a mook and leaves him hanging upside down and yelling for help. For an achievement, Batman can then use a Batarang to cut the rope, dropping the guy onto any friends who came to investigate. Only one mook can hang from a support at a time, so this frees it up for another takedown, and it is ever so much fun to watch them panic.
  • Dead Space 2: These unfortunate security officers fall victim to this.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: One of the enemies, the Cave Leech does this to anyone unfortunate enough to stand under them. However if the player listens carefully, when idle they let out a faint "giggling" sound, and when they are attempting to grab a player, they make a distinct hissing noise, giving themselves away to a player with sensitive hearing.
  • In Fredbear and Friends, Endocluster hunts the player by peering from ceiling vents. You can recognize where it is by stray wires dropping from the openings, though it has a habit of moving, so it's best to avoid standing under the vents altogether. It's even introduced to the player with this trope, as it snatches up Chris right after he makes the mistake of stopping underneath it for a moment.
  • In Half-Life, enemies on the ceiling called barnacles perform this, grabbing you with their long, rope-like tongues and pulling you up to be eaten. However, they aren't too bright and will attempt this on anything you throw to them, up to and including Exploding Barrels. And even though they never move, and their only means of catching their prey is to lazily just hang their tongue limply below them, you will run into one and get caught, and you will feel like a complete moron for it. And never mind how easy they are to kill—even while they're trying to eat you—they are terrifying.
  • The Hidden does a variation on this in Tape 617, a Hidden Source machinima. You can replicate this in the game by landing on someone, stabbing them in the back, then grabbing their body and launching off onto a railing or ledge above. Bonus points if the body is later found pinned to a light fixture being butchered and eaten.
  • Agent 47 can do this in Hitman, via creative use of his strangling cord and open elevator ceiling panels, in a Shout-Out to The Professional.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Wallmasters come out of the walls in the first game (hence their name), but in their subsequent appearances usually emerge from the ceilings instead. If one grabs hold of Link, he gets dragged back to the dungeon's entrance.
  • Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners: Happens to Mizumi . It's possible to save them if you can figure out the right place to look up and see where they've been spirited off to in time... Otherwise, they'll get Killed Off for Real.
  • Pikmin:
    • Snitchbugs attack by strafing your squad, grabbing members from its ranks and flying off with them — Swooping Snitchbugs kidnap Pikmin, while Bumbling Snitchbugs go after captains.
    • The enemies from the Umbloda family in several games manage to pull that on the Pikmins. They use their Overly Long Tongue and snag the Pikmins from above and subsequently ingest them. It might not come as a shock to the player, who has plenty of time to see the Slurkers coming, but to the Pikmins themselves...
  • Plants vs. Zombies:
    • Bungee Zombies do this to your plants, resulting in a One-Hit Kill. Not a big threat, but truly annoying.
    • Also happens to Crazy Dave at the beginning of the battle with Dr. Zomboss. He shows up again in the post-victory music video, though.
    • Capsule Cages in Mini Robot Wars do this to your Minirobots in a similar way and in even greater numbers, but stay much longer and are easy to handle.
  • Nicholai in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis meets his end to Nemesis pulling one of these, during one of the branching end paths.
  • This is one of Noir Spidey's preferred tactics in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
  • In Spider-Man (PS4), Spider-Man can do this to enemies if they don't know that he's there. Doing so is necessary for stealth missions.
  • Sam Fisher can do this to unwary guards in Splinter Cell when moving via pipes in the ceiling. You can draw your pistol and shoot while upside-down. In later games, you can choose between a nonlethal (midair chokehold) or lethal (Neck Snap) melee attack. There is also a subversion in the form of the "water snatch".
  • A variation plays in the first Starcraft during a cutscene, a squad of Terran Marines are aboard the science vessel Amerigo on a mission to destroy it owing to the previous mission. Alongside their nuclear warhead, they also packed drinks in the ice surrounding the warhead. A quick dialogue exchange followed by the line "I got your Zerg riiight here!" is said by one of the Marines. Cue Hydralisk scythe going right through his face and then the rest of him being dragged into the ceiling.
  • Happens to an NPC in Star Trek: Elite Force 2.
  • In the Street Fighter series, Rolento has the Take No Prisoner supermove. He ducks to pick up a thin wire hidden in the ground, and pulls on it; the wire can be seen "advancing" toward the opponent. After Rolento tugs the wire to hang it from a hook at the top of the screen, the target is then yanked toward Rolento, clutching at their throat. It stands out as a particularly violent move in a game built around beating people to near death in the street.
  • Its possible to kill Mooks this way in Tenchu: Shadow Assassins.
  • You can do this in Total Annihilation: Aerial transports work by flying down and picking up your unit...and they can also do it to an enemy unit.
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron shows Jazz doing this to a Decepticon during Cliffjumper's level where they fighting their way through an Energon mine.
  • X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse boss Exodus can do this to your X-Man if you're not careful. He grabs the X-Man and, using his Flight, soars up with them to the top of the stage before throwing them back down to the ground. Unsurprisingly, this inflicts a lot of Falling Damage.

    Web Animation 
  • At the beginning of Animation vs. Minecraft: Cave Spider Roller Coaster, a cave spider snatches Yellow from a thin corridor above his head.


    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the second-season finale, the Dai Li coup involves two of these from above and one from below a sewer grate.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The Glass Princess, Part 1", the raptorians sweep down with a net, snatch the ponies from the air, and fly off into the sky in the space of less than a minute.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: During battle, Geonosian warriors often strafe clone trooper squads, grabbing soldiers by the shoulders to drag them into the air and away to unknown fates.
  • Total Drama:
    • After setting all the animals gathered for DJ's interview free, Blaineley gets targeted by a snake. It wraps itself around her neck and pulls her up and out of view in "Aftermath II: Revenge of the Telethon".
    • In "I See London...", the Ripper hides inside a double-decker bus. Owen and Noah enter in search of him, but while Owen has his back turned to Noah, the Ripper jumps down behind Noah and grabs him. Before Owen looks back, the Ripper jumps back up to the ceiling and takes Noah with him.
    • Zeke captures Alejandro in "Zeek and Ye Shall Find" by emerging from the cave's ceiling, grabbing his hair, and pulling him up and out of view.

    Real Life 
  • Spiders sometimes use this tactic to catch prey. The other wiki has more.
  • Wading birds such as herons and egrets make a living by performing this trope on fish that don't pay enough attention to what's beyond the ceiling of their pond or river.

Bet you look up real quick just to be sure nothing's there after reading all that.

Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Head Lift, Head Grab, Arm From Above


South takes out guards

Two guards are taken out by South in the style of a horror movie monster. One is yanked up off-screen by the neck while the other isn't looking. The other is lured in with a voice changer before encountering the first guard's dead body.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / MookHorrorShow

Media sources: