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A character falling, usually between two skyscrapers in a city, hits a clothesline on the way down, and ends up wearing something from the line. If the buildings are tall enough, he can hit several lines, acquiring one item from each, resulting in a hilariously mismatched costume by the time he lands. Alternately, he can get a full outfit off a single line. These can be combined, too, resulting in a gag where the character ends up with several impromptu changes of clothes before the sudden stop at the end.

Compare To the Batpole. May be a variant of Human Snowball. Can result in a Coincidental Accidental Disguise. Trope Namer is a pun on Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress. Not to be confused with the Discworld Seamstresses, or with the slapstick convention of pants falling down.

Examples of Gravity Is a Harsh Seamstress include:


  • A Stella Artois ad on TV had a man hit on a woman at a poolsite, only for her husband to show up, for some reason this pool was on the so manyeth floor and the guy fell down the clotheslines and ended up in a three-piece suit.. With ladies' high heels, as opposed to gentlemen's high heels, which are cowboy boots or simply shoes with more surreptitiously built-up heels.

Anime and Manga

  • Vash has this happen to him in Trigun.

 Vash: Mama, why does this keep on happening to me? I haven't done anything wrong but I'm always in trouble and everyone is always picking on me. What do I do, Mama?!...Why am I crying in French? *Notices he's been crying on boxers* AHH!!!

Comic Books

  • Inverted (and used seriously) in Earth X. When Daredevil drops into the Realm of the Dead, he leaves his judge's cassock on a clothesline and lands in his old yellow-and-red costume.
  • Don Martin's Captain Klutz acquired his costume this way (along with amnesia). His mask is actually a very tasteless hat.


  • Aladdin did a variation sliding down a single clothesline. He even had an anachronistic bra on during the slide.
  • This happens to the Thief in The Thief and the Cobbler.
  • In Tintin, Captain Haddock found himself wearing a pink dress after colliding with a clothesline.

Comic Books

  • This is how Forbush-Man got his costume in the Marvel Universe.
    • Don Martin's Captain Klutz also gained part of his costume in a similar manner.
  • In a more intentional version, Calvin fantasized about a machine that readied him for bed. To get him into his pajamas, it dropped him head first into his shirt, then legs first into his pants. He apparently didn't think about that last part too hard...

Western Animation

  • Happens in Looney Tunes occasionally.
  • Whenever it happens to the American Dragon Jake Long, he'll usually end up in women's sleepwear.
  • Darkwing Duck has had trouble with this a few times, most notably when he was under a bad-luck curse.
  • In An American Tail, after being hurled out a window by a frightened woman, Fievel falls through a sock hanging on a clothesline that had a hole at the end, and then grabs onto a hanging head scarf, using it to parachute the rest of the way down.
  • An example without falling: When Wilbur is coming in for a landing in The Rescuers Down Under, Jake rigs up a bra as a drag line. Of course Wilbur ends up wearing the bra.
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