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"Looks like I'm gonna have to jump!"
Strong Bad as Dangeresque

You're caught in a Chase Scene, when suddenly you hit a dead end--literally. You're at the edge of a cliff, or the roof of a skyscraper, or the lip of a sewer drain. Your pursuers are on your tail, and there is no escape. Well, No Escape But Down.

This trope is about escapes that end with a long fall. Sometimes it's on purpose (the pursued decides to take his chances or he knows it's not as dangerous as it looks, and wants to dare the pursuers to Try and Follow) or by accident (he doesn't realize he's run out of turf). Slo-Mo Big Air is a given. Survival depends on Soft Water, Literal Cliff Hanger, or other forms of Not the Fall That Kills You. Sometimes the pursued person jumps because it's Better to Die Than Be Killed. Sometimes he jumps because he knows he'll be caught somehow, and thus survive the fall.

Super-trope of Prisoner of Zenda Exit, Suicidal Gotcha, Super Window Jump, Trash Landing.

Examples of No Escape but Down include:

Anime & Manga


Film--Live Action

  • Harrison Ford in The Fugitive: Chased down a tunnel in a dam by Lt. Gerard, his choices are get arrested, or jump. Guess what he does?
    • "Guy did a Peter Pan, right here, right off of this dam!"
  • The alien Will Smith chases down in Men in Black chooses to jump rather than give himself up.
  • The Dark Crystal: Jen and Kira are cornered by Garthim at the edge of a cliff and have no alternative but to jump. Fortunately Kira is able to fly them to safety. Because girl Gelflings, as we now discover, have wings.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. When the title characters are trapped against the edge of a cliff by the posse pursuing them, they decide to take their chances and jump into the river below. Watch it here, 1:20-2:35.
  • In Back to The Future Part II Biff corners Marty at the edge of a roof and Marty jumps - onto the the roof of the DeLorean hidden from Biff's view, only a few feet below.
  • In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond skis off a cliff, only to reveal he was wearing a parachute.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (the movie version), when the hobbits are chased by a farmer and his dogs.
  • In Apocalypto Jaguar Paw attempts to evade pursuit by leaping over a waterfall. His pursuers do follow, although one of them is killed in the attempt.
  • Jake Sully's avatar also leaps over a waterfall, to escape a Pandoran beastie.
  • The Avengers 1998. Mrs. Peel and her clone are fighting on a rooftop. When Steed arrives, the clone (realizing she's outnumbered) jumps off the roof to escape. We don't see what happened to her, but she turns up later with no explanation.
  • In Matrix Reloaded trinity jumps out of the window when cornered by two agents. Neo's dreams foretell that she dies.
  • Near the beginning of Undercover Brother the title character is fleeing some Mooks. He jumps off the top of a building and parachutes to safety.
  • In Ravenous when Boyd jumps from cliff, without any landing spot. He survives, but his leg is badly broken.
  • Happens early in Sin City when Marv is escaping the cops.
  • Near the end of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is hanging on by one hand over a seemingly bottomless pit. Rather than take the opportunity Darth Vader offers him to rule the galaxy as father and son, Luke lets himself fall.
  • In the second The Prophecy movie, the rogue Archangel Gabriel, (who has gone to war with God due to Him favoring humans over angels) has chased the protagonist, a woman pregnant with an angel's baby, to the edge of a multistory industrial complex. She suddenly cocks her head to the side while Gabriel is doing a tirade, and says that God is speaking to her. Gabriel, who still loves God and hasn't spoken to Him in a long time, asks what He's saying. The protagonist comes closer, takes Gabriel in her arms, and replies "Jump." She then takes both of them off the edge. Gabriel gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice while she is miraculously unharmed. (Well, relatively.)

Live-Action TV

  • In the Queen of Swords episode "Death to the Queen", the cornered Queen escapes by diving off the cliff into the ocean.
  • Unsurprisingly, Doctor Who has done this one! They played with it in "Forest of the Dead", at a particularly tense moment where the Doctor was surrounded by possessed skeletons. Yes, really.
    • Sticking with Doctor Who, "The Beast Below" features a more traditional one.
    • Don't forget the one in "The Doctor Dances". Although in that case Rose "makes" the exit with Jack's squareness gun.
    • River Song uses this a couple of times, trusting that the Doctor will show up in the TARDIS at the right time and place to catch her.
    • A reverse of this was used by The Doctor in "Flesh and Stone." He flipped the gravity to fall up when escaping some Weeping Angels
  • Invoked on Thirty Rock when Jack tells Liz about the time he fell on a crevasse while ice climbing, and to save himself had to "climb down into the darkness". Both Jack and Liz then had to metaphorically "go into the crevasse" to solve their dilemmas that week by debasing themselves.
  • Kolchak the Night Stalker episode "Bad Medicine". The Diablero is chased up to the top of the building by security guards, then jumps off and disappears. He used his magical powers to turn into a raven and fly away.
  • Happens on Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Faith jumps off the roof of her apartment building to escape Buffy and lands on the top of a truck, but the landing knocks her unconscious. It probably happens other times on Buffy too but that's the one that jumps to mind (no pun intended). Having a gaping stomach wound doesn't help...
  • At the end of the Babylon 5 episode "Za'ha'dum," John Sheridan is pursued by the Shadows and what's left of his wife onto a balcony. The only way to escape is to jump into a two-mile-deep chasm, which he does. (He gets better.)
  • Burn Notice uses this a few times. One episode has Michael lampshade this through his narration by stating that the best way to escape a pursuit is to do something that the pursuers will not do, like jump off a building. He then jumps off the roof so the security guards chasing him won't follow (it's not very high but one can easily break bones if landing badly).
    • In another episode Michael is in a helicopter with Management flying out to sea and is told that he really has not choice but work for the people who burned him since they are the only thing protecting him. He promptly jumps out and swims to shore.
  • Chance, of Human Target, did this at least twice: one was a legitimate jump off a 12 story building into Soft Water; in another he pretended to jump off a tall building, actually grabbing a gargoyle adorning the roof.
  • Yoon Sung leaps over the railing of a hi-rise building to escape being captured by the Secret Service in the Korean Series The City Hunter.
  • On White Collar Neal has to get to the penthouse of a highrise building and swap a painting for a forgery before Peter shows up and catches him in the act. He simply takes the elevator up but does not have the time to escape the same way. Just as Peter is entering the apartment, Neal jumps off the top of the building and opens up a parachute
  • On Leverage, Parker uses this fairly often. Most notably is when she base jumps off one of the world's tallest buildings.

Music Videos

Tabletop Games

  • The Undermontain complex in Forgotten Realms sometimes. The point is, there are even rings made by its owner Halaster the Mad that allow to teleport inside the labyrinth at will... but only randomly and down.

Video Games

  • In Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, Naked Snake falls from the top of a waterfall after he is cornered by Ocelot. Unlike most escape examples, the drop (temporarily) kills him.
  • In the Toluca Lake section of the videogame Silent Hill 2 James must voluntarily jump down holes into dark, unguessable depths. Repeatedly. He starts out underground to begin with.
    • Repeated jumping down holes is how the Water Prison in Silent Hill 4 gets solved.
    • The final battle of Silent Hill games in general tends to take place just after such a descent.
  • In Uncharted 2 both Nate and Sully wind up leaping off a cliff into a river to escape pursuing Russian mercs... with a direct reference to the Butch & Sundance example mentioned above.
  • At the beginning of Suikoden II, you and your best friend, Jowy, have to leap off a cliff into a waterfall to get away from a neverending stream of enemy soldiers. You can refuse to jump, triggering another fight, as many times as you want to... a good way to gain some easy levels early in the game AND a method for triggering a hidden Easter Egg, by fighting off a high number of soldiers there (108 encounters). But no matter what you do, the story won't progress until you jump into the river.
  • In Heavy Rain, Ethan's final escape from the police takes him to the edge of a building's roof. It's up to you whether to surrender and go to prison (effectively taking Ethan out of the game), or simply fall backwards, hoping for the best. If you do, you'll apparently survive the fall with nothing but a few bruises, despite already having several cracked ribs and miscellaneous injuries at that point.
  • One mission in Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad Of Gay Tony has Luis Lopez chase a bad guy up the Empire State Building Rotterdam Tower. Once you confront him at the top, your only way off is to use the bad guy's parachute to base jump off the building.
  • Syphon Filter: Jumping through a glass ceiling, jumping off a cliff, jumping off a bridge onto a moving train, jumping down an airshaft with a giant fan at the bottom, etc.
  • Medal of Honor (2010): "Bullets or broken bones? Bones heal."
  • Near the beginning of Radiant Historia, Stocke has to jump from a bridge to escape a powerful enemy.
  • The character Eslaf Errol of The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion's in-game books Beggar, Thief, Warrior, and King made escaping capture by jumping out of windows part and parcel of his trade.

Web Original

  • "Looks like I'm gonna have to juuuuump!" --Dangeresque's catch phrase

Real Life

  • A famous and tragic example from World War Two occured in Nazi occupied Poland. A group of resistance fighters assassinated the head of the Warsaw Gestapo. As they were making their escape, two of them ended up trapped on a bridge with German soldiers closing in from both sides. They chose to jump into the river below rather than be captured. They were shot in the water and drowned.