A staple of cartoons where a character grabs a backpack and jumps from the great height, opens the pack, and anything but a parachute falls out. Commonly, it can be food, camping supplies or heavy objects like an anvil.
- Before the days of cell phones and SMS, an ad for a pocket message receiver showed a skydiver about to jump receive a message at the last second: "I have your parachute, where is my backpack?" cut to the poor guy BSODing in the plane.
- Used for a gag in the comic Cattivik. Subverted when our hero gets the wrong parachute but still manages to land safely on a plane. (It Makes Sense in Context).
- In Superman #176, which explains how Superman decided on his ideal location for his Fortress of Solitude, he's on a flight over the arctic as Clark Kent when the plane suffers engine troubles. Almost immediately, everyone went for the parachutes, but Clark, who was inspecting the packs with his x-ray vision, notices a ripped parachute and switches it with his good one. Luckily for Clark, nobody notices the Human Alien dropping like a stone in the arctic night.
- The cover of Marvel Romance Redux: Restraining Orders Are For Other Girls.
- Two similar gags in Léonard le Génie:
- One comic has the disciple open the parachute, only to reveal a sheet of paper from the maid Mathurine, saying the parachute is in laundry.
- In a similar gag, Leonardo once handed Basile the backpack containing their lunch instead of a parachute.
- Very likely to happen in Mortadelo y Filemón at the end of any segment involving planes.
- The Far Side: A cartoon shows a skydiver with a piano and an anchor coming out of his backpack.
"Murray didn't feel the first pangs of real panic until he pulled the emergency cord..."
- In an early story arc, Dogbert gets a job as a Corporate Jet Pilot:
Dogbert: (while wearing what appears to be a parachute bag) It looks like the plane's going down and there's only one parachute.
C.E.O.: (grabbing the "parachute bag") Give it to me!!! I'm a C.E.O. with a Harvard MBA. You're a dog!
Dogbert: (as they're falling) That's my knapsack.
C.E.O.: (while random junk is flying out of the open knapsack) Old joke.
- Another strip has Dogbert showing off an exhibit from his new museum:
Dogbert: Cooper hijacked a jet, demanded money and a parachute, then jumped. He learned that you should never get your parachute from the same people you're robbing.
- In an early story arc, Dogbert gets a job as a Corporate Jet Pilot:
- Giggles Bags the Borg by Odon. A WW1 pilot opens the pack and finds a requisition form from the Ministry of Air which has to be filled out before a parachute can be issued.
- One of the guys in Fandango is out to prove something.
Pilot's wife: All that laundry, shot to hell...
- On The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, Will Ferrell makes a cameo as a member of the "mercenary" salesman team that died on a publicity stunt, which involved parachuting to the car lot while dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Unknowingly he took a backpack full of sex toys instead of the actual parachute, and in his desperation he tried to soften his fall with a dildo. Of course, considering that this is a "sad" flashback...
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie is falling from a great height and is joined by Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, both wearing parachutes. Eddie asks for a spare, so Bugs gives it to him. He opens it... and out comes a spare tire.
- There is a joke about Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, the Dalai Lama and a Boy Scout on a plane that is going down. (The identities of the figures vary according to when and where the joke is told. It's a very old joke.) There are only three parachutes. Michael Jordan declares that he is the world's greatest athlete and therefore deserves to live, grabs a parachute and leaps out. Bill Gates declares he is the world's smartest man and therefore deserves to live, grabs a parachute and leaps out. The Dalai Lama offers to give the last parachute to the Boy Scout. The Boy Scout says, "It's fine, Your Holiness. There are still two parachutes. The world's smartest man just jumped out wearing my knapsack."
- Referenced in an episode of Friends. When Chandler realizes he's Digging Himself Deeper, he exclaims "Dear God, this parachute is a knapsack!"
- Used as a gag in one episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? — a Scenes From a Hat game asked for things that one wouldn't want to see when their parachute didn't open.
Greg: (pulls ripcord) Miniature Snickers?!
Colin: (pulls ripcord, opens book) "What To Do When Your Parachute Doesn't Open."
- There is a dramatic version in the live-action Shazam series in which a boy incorrectly packs a parachute by himself without telling any adults about it. As a result, a skydiver takes the pack and takes off for a dive before the boy confesses. They are too late to stop the dive and everyone watches in horror knowing that his parachute won't open. Fortunately, Billy Batson transforms into the Flying Brick Super Hero, Captain Marvel, and flies up to open the parachute pack himself.
- This is used in the Henry Stickmin Series game Escaping the Prison. In one of the choices, Henry can use the parachute to fall down from the roof, only to find out that the "parachute" is actually just a regular backpack. The fail screen lampshades this (see page quote).
- While this doesn't actually happen in Far Cry 3, the in-game Survival Guide jokes about it once you receive the parachute after getting to the second island, stating that you should "make sure to watch out for the bags of pots and pans disguised as parachutes."
- Schlock Mercenary had eponymous amorph left behind because he doesn't have armor (he's ridiculously hard to kill anyway) and they were going through vacuum. Following the team on his own in an emergency exosuit, Schlock quickly discovered that the emergency suit doesn't have gravitics like powered armor and he's going to "navigate" a shaft 6.2 kilometers deep ballistically, in near- Earth gravity, but zero air resistance.
- Wildy's novel in DMFA: Wildy decides the parachute scene is boring, so she decides the parachute has been "rigged to be replaced with an alligator".
- Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies:
- In Duck Amuck, Daffy's parachute works just fine, but the animator erases the chute and replaces it with an anvil.
- On one Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoon, Wile E. tries to be Crazy-Prepared by wearing a parachute in case he falls off a cliff. He opens it and out comes... canning samples. He was even prepared for that, and swallowed a bunch of painkillers.
- "Devil's Feud Cake": An econo-cartoon featuring clips of past Bugs Bunny-Yosemite Sam adventures with alternate endings. The trope-fitting clip comes in the segment featuring a segment from "Hare Lift" where – after Bugs sends the plane they're on into a nosedive – Sam grabs what he thinks is the only available parachute and jumps ... only to find he's grabbed a knapsack of camping supplies and it's bye-bye, Sam! In the original cartoon, Sam's chute works fine, except that he lands in the backseat of a police car (having earlier robbed a bank).
- Variation in the Wartime Cartoon "Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips", Bugs encounters a parachuting Japanese pilot and hands the guy a "scrap iron" donation (See: Anvil) and the poor fellow instantly plummets to earth like his canopy was cut.
- In a Boot Camp Episode of Animaniacs, while plummeting toward the ground with their drill sergeant, the Warners tell him that they took the liberty of washing the sheets he stores in his backpack. He pulls the cord and a duck-headed flotation device comes out.
- Family Guy: Brian is going skydiving. Right before he jumps out, the instructor stops him and points out that he grabbed "the one with silverware" in it. He tosses Brian another parachute... that contains an anvil.
"... that one's probably fine. ..."
- Subverted in a Cutaway Gag that explains why Stewie does not trust Brian with packing his parachute. When Stewie jumps out of a plane, he pulls the cord and his parachute works just fine — but it has the words "I'M A HOMO" painted on it.
- In one episode of Laff-A-Lympics, Mumbly switches the tags on Grape Ape's and Yakky Doodle's parachutes during a skydiving competition. The small parachute causes Grape Ape to fall like a stone, while the large parachute leaves Yakky Doodle stranded aloft in a thunderstorm.
- Happened on The Magic School Bus's desert episode. Arnold tries to avoid his usual complainer status by being Crazy-Prepared. When the Friz puts the bus-plane into a steep dive when they arrive in the desert, Arnold asks Liz for his parachute.
Arnold: That's not a parachute! That's a pair of shoes!
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob visited a dream in which he and Sandy were free falling. One of the things Sandy asked him to do was use a parachute. Cue SpongeBob inflating his shoes and giving Sandy a parakeet before she (forgetting to deploy her parachute) falls onto a truck full of clam manure and flatly says, "Medic."
- The Day My Butt Went Psycho!: In "Flush of Dooty", Deuce opens his parachute for nothing but a stack of cheek burgers to come flying out.