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"It's amazing such shaky buildings can stand up well enough for the characters to walk upstairs in the first place."
Roger Ebert, Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary

Some primal termite knocked on wood

And tasted it, and found it good

And that is why your cousin May

Fell through the parlor floor today

When the floor suddenly gives way underneath someone, usually due to the boards having been weakened by rot or something heavy falling on them.

Often leads to the floor below that collapsing, and then the floor below that in a cascade of disintegrating floors.

Examples of Floorboard Failure include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Seitokai Yakuindomo, the main characters visit Shichijou Aria's house and are taken to an old storeroom. The floor breaks under Shino and Hata asks if there's a way to get under the floor to take photos.
  • Happens twice in the second episode of Code Geass: the rebels destroy a group of enemy mechas by shooting the floor out from under them, and Lelouch's own mech falls through several floors of a concrete building (it survives undamaged).

Film

  • In Up, young Carl has to cross the one remaining floorboard of the attic of an abandoned house (later his and Ellie's home) to get his balloon. He takes one step and falls through.
  • The Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit had this.
    • In this case, the hole was already there with a large rug thrown over it, and poor Walter gets stuck in it for several hours.
  • Another Tom Hanks movie, The Burbs, also used this--although it was the creepy neighbor's porch in this case.
  • Happens to Po on Kung Fu Panda as he tries to sneak down a hallway late at night.
  • The first Ninja Turtles movie has this occur in the middle of a fight between the Turtles and the Foot clan on the second floor of April's apartment. Given that the floor had been hacked at with ninja axes and the number of people in the room at the time this was inevitable. Donatello even tries to warn the Foot.

 Donatello: Uh, guys, I'm not so sure if this is, structurally speaking... such a good time for your buddies to drop in.

Foot soldiers drop in through the skylight. Seconds later epic floorboard failure occurs.

  • A central part of the plot in Duplex, a Drew Barrymore black comedy.
  • Iron Man: Tony's first flight test ends him crashing though the ceiling and the floor during an attempted landing. Further causalities are a piano and a car.
  • A justified variant in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, when Clark is trapped in the attic. He deliberately steps between the rafters rather than on them, so his weight is supported only by sheetrock, which, unsurprisingly, eventually gives in.

Literature

  • In the Animorphs book The Reaction, Rachel involuntarily morphs an elephant on the second floor of her house, causing the floor to collapse.
  • In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson tells the amusing story of the time her daughter's entire high-school madrigal choir crashed through the boards of the stage in the middle of rehearsal.
  • In one of the Ramona Quimby books, Ramona falls halfway through the unfinished floor of a friend's attic. She's very annoyed when she tries to tell the story at the dinner table with what she feels is an appropriate amount of drama, and her older sister interrupts, saying how easy it is to step onto the plaster and that she knows someone who fell all the way through.
  • In Septimus Heap, when the Port Witch Coven is hunting after the protagonists, they are thwarted when the floor of the Coven collapses due to a long-standing giant woodworm attack.

Live Action TV

  • In Desperate Housewives, Susan managed to suspend herself between two floors when it happened to her in her house.
  • In The Equalizer, Edward Woodward's character was being menaced by the villain on a building site. Woodward warned the villain not to come any closer because there were broken boards between them. Of course the bad guy didn't think the warning was for his benefit, so he stepped onto the broken boards and fell to his death.
  • In How I Met Your Mother this happens to the building inspector checking out Ted's house.

Music

Newspaper Comics

  • In Little Nemo in Slumberland, Nemo and Flip are served a new kind of breakfast food that gives them a Balloon Belly. The chairs start to collapse underneath their weight, and then the floors, leading to the entire house being demolished.

Video Games

  • In Fallout 3, a couple of buildings have this as a scripted event. The Point lookout expansion has you falling though several floors and into the basement.
  • Splinter Cell has this when the player character moves too fast in a burning building.
  • Happens quite often in the Half-Life games. Also happens in ducts as well (once into a room full of laser tripwire explosives).
  • In Bioshock 2 Subject Delta is shot at, nearly set on fire and falls though several floors into water.
  • In Barrow Hill, entering the barn's loft for the first time causes the floor to collapse, trapping you in the lower part of the building until you find the means to escape.
  • In Mortal Kombat 3, the stage fatality of Shao Kahn Tower has the winner uppercutting the loser, after which the defeated opponent falls through the floor (which stayed intact for the entire duration of the fight), and keeps falling through several stories of floorboards, before landing on a bed of spikes.
  • In the "The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings trailer for the Xbox-release, the assassin throws an ice grenade at a kings ship, freezing the ship and almost everyone on it. When one of the survivors makes a few steps forward to see where the blast of cold came from, a breaking deck plank sets off the Tranquil Fury sequence while the entire ship starts to shatter around them.

Web Comics

Western Animation

 Number One: All Stonecutters must take the Leap of Faith. If you survive this five-story plunge, your character will be proven.

Homer whimpers

Moe: Happy landings! pushes him

Homer falls two feet onto the floor; everyone laughs

the floor collapses and Homer falls through with a yell and a crash -- five times consecutively

Homer: from the bottom I think I have to do it again. My blindfold came off.

    • Another Simpsons episode has Homer & Marge talking about the terrible shape their house is in, and just then Bart falls halfway into the kitchen from the 2nd floor. "Little help?" Marge pushes him back up the newly created hole with a broom handle.
    • And in the episode "Lisa's Wedding", Lisa's fiance Hugh falls through the floor of the addition Homer built onto the house. Thankfully, the compost heap cushioned his fall.
  • The Family Guy episode "To Live and Die in Dixie" had several.
  • Happened in an episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, where Piglet's floor collapsed, leading Tigger to joke about how he has a basement now.
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