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A piece of masonry, architecture, or another very large object falls onto a character. Fortunately, they survive because they're standing exactly where the window or some other opening is located.

Usually, the character is unharmed by debris or shockwaves that would be produced by a large structure colliding with the ground.

Compare with Illogical Safe.

Examples of By Wall That Is Holey include:


  • One of the Sci-Fi Channel's Sy Fy's bumps has this happen to two different characters from Warehouse 13 simultaneously. Artie is standing directly in front of the door, which doesn't fall with the house, and Claudia is lined up with the window.
  • There is an anti-drug commercial that seems to be the same as the Brain Wall example below. "Where do you fit in?" is the theme, and it shows the kid playing sports, etc, then the last one is taking a joint from someone, and he decides not to fit in there.
  • In a ad, a musician plays drums at the beach beside a lifeguard tower; when the tower is knocked down by a stumbling surfer, it topples all around the drummer without striking him.

Anime and Manga

  • A running gag in the Lupin the Third special "Operation: Return the Treasures!" has this happen to Zenigata everytime Lupin was locked up and subsequently freed by blowing up the prison cell. Subverted in that the final time this happens, the wall does hit Zenigata.
  • A variant occurs in Claymore, when the giant Dauf tries to bring down his hands on Galatea, but fortunately for her and unfortunately for him she's standing right where his hands are cupped. It's explained she used her yoki bending powers to open his fingers, but the expression on Dauf's face is still pretty priceless.
  • An early chapter of Gunsmith Cats serves up this trope with some Car Fu seasoning: when the crook she's chasing manages a sudden, unexpected turn, Rally tries to do the same, but only ends up sending her car skidding sideways... through a back alley playground, with a young girl caught right in their path. So her partner opens the passenger side door, yanks the girl inside and passes her across the front seat to Rally, who deposits her out the other end, right where she was standing before.
  • The G8 Arc in One Piece has the door of a giant safe come off and nearly crush Usopp and Luffy (who found the whole thing to be hilarious).
  • In Change 123, there is a scene where a bad guys pushes a loosened emergency staircase towards the Non-Action Guy Kosukegawa and his (sort of) Action Girlfriend Fujiko. Kosukegawa, who is always willing to be a hero despite him not being an athletic type, instinctively tries to grab Fujiko and run away. However Fujiko, being a good strategist, knows that they don't have enough time for this, so she forcibly holds Kousukegawa near her and then manipulates both of them to the spot where she calculates that a hollow part of the staircase will fall down.

Comic Books

  • The Catwoman villain Film Freak once set this up to happen, in a deliberate homage to the trope, carefully positioning himself to be standing in the window. The policemen who were trying to arrest him at the time were not so lucky.

Film - Animation

  • Aladdin in Disney's Aladdin when a cylindrical tower is rolling toward him. He thinks quickly enough to see the tower's tiny window and run for the spot where it will make contact. As Abu makes clear, this is a very close shave!
  • Occurs in the animated film Antz (except with a flyswatter...and one of the characters isn't so lucky).
    • Justified Trope in this case. Ever try to kill an itty bitty ant with a flyswatter? It's not easy.
  • Occurs at the beginning of Shrek the Third, to Prince Charming with a cardboard wall.
    • Subverted in the ending, however, where Charming isn't as lucky.
  • In The Emperors New Groove, when Kronk slices the rope holding the chandelier over Yzma. Once the dust clears, it is revealed that Yzma is unscathed, in the middle of the fixture, with a candle in her mouth.
  • One of Pixar's short films does this with a flying saucer that accidentally slams down and crushes the house of a man it'd failed to abduct due to the pilot's clumsiness. The man and his bed survive, as the saucer had an opening in the center of its underside.
  • In Surf's Up, the main character, Cody, accidentally knocks over a cardboard cutout. It lands on a young penguin who happens to be standing where its face was before it was cut out. The penguin appears not to notice and continues walking.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs manages to pull this off several times, keeping it fresh with very different causes—in the same scene, a wave of water with an airspace misses the one guy who's in a raincoat, and a rolling giant goldfish bowl misses the protagonist due to the huge space below the lip of the bowl. And that's just from one scene.

Film - Live Action

  • Trope Codifier: Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jr. Keaton's stunt was noted for being done without any trickery (and for being botched by the crew at one point—they measured it wrong and missed flattening Keaton's skull by mere inches). The page picture is the end result. It's reported that both the cameraman and director were too scared to watch when the stunt was preformed.
    • An earlier example can be found in Keaton's short "One Week," in which the wall first pivots around a horizontal beam, thereby acting as a vertical Bookcase Passage.
  • Jurassic Park had a car falling upside-down onto Dr. Grant and Tim, but luckily, they are only covered by the cabin portion of the vehicle, the top of which had previously been removed by a T-Rex.
    • And a T-Rex spine and ribs.

 Tim Murphy: Well. We are back. In the car again.

Dr. Alan Grant: At least we're out of the tree.

    • The second movie does this in reverse, with the protagonists hanging onto a rope that keeps them suspended while the section-bus they're in plunges into the sea around them.
  • Done with Jack and the waterwheel scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Admittedly, there were a lot of holes.
    • Also happens in the first installment when Barbossa calmly takes a few steps and avoids being smashed by a falling mast.
    • Subverted at the end, where it happens to him again, and he's apparently crushed under (a significantly larger) prop. Although the hole was still lined up with him...
  • Done at the end of Jackass Number Two. After the wall falls, though, he gets hit by a wrecking ball.
    • Also attempted during the outtakes in the credits. Someone yelled "cut" at a bad moment, so Knoxville thought the scene was over and moved...
  • Turned up to eleven in Project A Part II by Jackie Chan, where he started on top of a multi-storey wall and ran all the way down the side of it as it toppled over, with someone else on the ground standing where the window is located. Chan is a big fan of Buster Keaton and silent comedy in general, and it's just one of several classic stunts that he's worked into his films.
  • Subverted with the movie Hook. The giant stuffed crocodile falls on Captain Hook, and the clock had fallen out of it mouth allowing its jaws to fall perfectly to either side of him. It somehow eats him anyway.
  • The Animated Credits Opening for The Pink Panther Strikes Again features a straight homage of Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. gag.
  • Reversed in The Dirty Dozen in a shot when the inmates, while building a barracks cabin, raise a wall around Major Reisman.

Live Action TV

  • Arrested Development pays homage to the Buster Keaton version. The character to whom it happens is even named Buster.
  • Done in The Goodies episode "The Movies" in a homage to the silent movies. And in case the reference isn't obvious enough, after they leave Buster Keaton arrives (he also takes out a notebook and writes something down).
  • Happens with a saloon door on an episode of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
  • Done on purpose in MacGyver, when Mac and the old movie guy he was with use a prop wall to take out some armed assailants, in conjunction with a fake surrender.
  • There is a Japanese game show (named Brain Wall, but colloquially called Human Tetris) based on this trope, in which contestants must make themselves into the shape of a hole in an approaching wall. Failure to do so results in the wall pushing the contestant into a pool of freezing cold water. A celebrity version of the show was made for The BBC and the show was also brought to the US; both of these versions were called Hole in the Wall.
    • The regulars you see on Brain Wall? They're comedians who have, in many cases, not even tried to go through the hole but simply attempted to fail in the most humorous way possible.
  • Invoked in Power Rangers Jungle Fury. When a sign is about to fall on Fran, Dominic saves her by carving a hole in it with his Rhino Spirit power.
  • Happens in the first episode of The Betty White Show.
  • Happens in Psych to Gus and Shawn at a Wild West theme park.
    • This later became part of the opening credits.
  • Also in the first episode of She Spies.

Music Videos


  • The Ur Example is the Pima story of creation, a tribe that lived in Arizona. In it, Juhwertamahkai twice destroys the world he created because he's displeased that the people in it have become wicked cannibals. He does so by letting the sky fall to crush everyone, but breaks a hole with his staff for himself to stand in and survive.

New Media

  • An exhibition in the Centre Pompidou consists of a series of films of this happening from lots of different camera angles, many of which evoke classic scene transitions.

Video Games

  • The Mario Party 4 minigame "Booksquirm" is where you are standing on a giant book and must continually run for the shape cutouts in the next page to avoid being squashed. The holes get smaller, fewer, and the pages turn faster as the game progresses, until only the winner remains.
    • The designers clearly thought this was so much fun they even included a challenge mode of this mini-game that last till all are crushed and keeps a high score on the pages.
  • The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and the checkerboard room in the Forest Temple. Inconveniently, giant Skulltulas guard most of these safe spots.
  • In the X-Men Origins: Wolverine videogame, there is a scene in which Wolverine pushes a stone wall onto a group of baddies. One survives because he's standing right where a hole in the wall is. As he begins to rejoice in his good fortune, Wolverine leaps down and kills him.
  • Name a game that has a descending ceiling filled with Spikes of Doom, and there's always a conveniently player character-sized hole in which they can stand (or duck, in a pinch) to stay alive (some levels add forced scrolling for extra annoyance):
    • Several of the castle stages in Super Mario World, and at least one level where the ground is constantly rising and falling.
    • Metal Shark Player's stage in Mega Man X 6—the ground is a conveyor belt, some parts of the floor are frozen over with super-slippery ice, and we haven't even gotten into the various Nightmare effects yet.
    • The maze in the stomach of the Zone Eater in Final Fantasy VI.
    • The Temple of Doom from Final Fantasy VII has a related case will U-shaped rolling boulders.
    • A suitable subversion occurs in I Wanna Be the Guy. At the descending spiked ceiling trap with a conveniently placed hole, the spike extends to kill you anyway if you try to hide there.
  • This happens in a cutscene of the video game Harry Potter, where Ron is nearly crushed by a falling tower.
  • The final planet encountered in the "Clockwork Ruins Galaxy" from Super Mario Galaxy 2 has giant stone cog wheels crashing down at either Mario or Luigi. However, you can duck under the teeth holes when the cogs roll toward you.
  • In Timesplitters Future Perfect, Captain Ash is nearly crushed by a collapsing wall after a stray artillery shell strikes it. "I'll say!"

Western Animation

  • The Men in Black animated series has the intentional version as well: Agent Jay tries to outrun the falling wall, but Agent Kay grabs him and keeps him in the right spot.

 Jay: Wow, dumb luck?

Kay: Luck had nothing to do with it.

  • This is done in an episode of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, with a wall the Bully Brothers push toward Penelope. The Hooded Claw's reaction: "Blast! They would forget to close the window!"
  • Happens once in The Real Ghostbusters with a whole building section thrown at them by haunted girders.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this is how spunky sidekick Asohka saves Anakin Skywalker from a bunch of what look like giant walking beer kegs with guns.
  • Coop knocks over a bookshelf that lands around Jamie during a flashback in Megas XLR.
  • In Teen Titans a giant illuminated "A" perched atop a Wayne Industries building falls over amid much dust and explosions. When the dust clears, Cyborg is standing in the middle of the space made by the cross-stroke.
  • In the feature film Hey There, It's Yogi Bear, a ladder falls towards a group of cops, who then line up so that each one fits neatly through the rungs.
  • A particularly suspenseful example appears in the Classic Disney Short "The Old Mill". A bird has her nest in one of the spokeholes of the millstone of the decrepit mill when a storm hits. The rope holding the cogwheel in place breaks and the millstone starts to move. The bird, in a desperate attempt to save her eggs, covers them with her body as the nest approaches the cog. She is saved when it turns out the spoke that goes in that particular hole is missing.
  • In one episode of Celebrity Deathmatch, a sitcom set is erected for a bout between the three actresses from Friends. The set eventually collapses on all the combatants but not the referee Mills Lane, who survives because of this trope.
  • In the animated series Tales from the Cryptkeeper two girls who are old movie buffs are investigating a possible vampire. On their way up a ladder, they break a rung. While running from the vampire, they knock the ladder loose and it falls toward them. They freeze and end up standing exactly where the missing rung would have been. They look at each other and squeal, "Buster Keaton!"
  • This is a Couch Gag in The Simpsons episode "American History X-Cellent".
  • This almost saves Cuddles in an episode of Happy Tree Friends. The show being what it is, he winds up getting killed by the windowframe. However, it saves Mime.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Earth Kingdom is known for hurling massive rock projectiles shaped like Chinese coins, with square holes in the middle, presumably to reduce weight. Guess how our heroes avoid injury.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Spa Day", Candace and Stacy are helping build homes for the homeless. Canadace lets go of the wall they are holding in position so she can ogle Jeremy. She passes harmlessly through the hole for the window. Stacy is not so lucky.
  • In the Popeye short "For Better or Nurse", Bluto knocks out a wood plank holding up a dilapidated wall with intent to get crushed so he'll be admitted to the hospital where Olive is a nurse. He's actually disappointed when the trope occurs.
  • A variation on Jimmy Two-Shoes, with a tree with a hole in the middle.
  • Jackie Chan survives this way in one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures where the Monkey King rolls a gigantic store donut at him, but he survives by the fact that the donut has a fake "bite" in it.

Real Life

  • It's a car and not a wall, and the guy did not escape without injury, but there's an amazing video of a pedestrian in Dayton, OH who narrowly escaped being crushed by a car because the dent in its side from a prior impact matched up with his body.
  • The "Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Spectacular" stunt show at Universal Studios (both Hollywood and Orlando) ended the show with the bumbling protagonist sitting on a Plunger Detonator and causing a building facade behind him to explode and fall forward, with him sitting right in the front window.
    • When the stunt show was changed to "Fear Factor Live" at both parks, the trick was retained with the final stunt involving the winning contestant detonating explosives that drop the very same facade over the host, who has been patiently sitting on a stool.