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In Real Life, parachutes are big; rarely ever less than twelve to fifteen feet across once unfurled. But in animation (and comics especially), parachutes are usually much smaller -- a four to six foot diameter for example -- yet somehow, they still manage to work just as well (if not better) than their real life counterparts. This also applies to airship envelopes, and for the same reasons.

This is based on the Rule of Perception, as a realistically proportioned parachute would reduce the user to little more than a dot or a line hanging from it.

A type of Balloonacy, with Parasol Parachute as a distinct subtrope. See also Improvised Parachute, which often fits this trope.



  • In Aladdin, the main character jumps from a building and uses an approximately 2x2 foot scarf to soften his fall. Try that and good luck in not reducing your leg bones to shards.
  • Undercover Brother. When Undercover Brother falls over the edge of the cliff near the end of the movie, he floats to the ground using his bell-bottom pants as a parachute. They are much smaller than a normal parachute.
  • Pee Wee's Big Adventure - when Pee-Wee drives Mickey's Edsel convertible off a cliff, after several seconds of screaming, he raises the top, which balloons out a small amount and floats the two-ton car to a soft landing.
  • The Great Race - Professor Fate has a small pedal-powered airship - but the envelope component looks too small to lift the metal gondola framework, let alone a person - and it carries two people. Still, it looks cool.


Live Action TV

Web Comics

  • Almost every dirigible in Girl Genius is ridiculously small for its lifting power.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • The Herculoids. Whenever Gloop or Gleep turn themselves into an Improvised Parachute, they're significantly smaller than a regular parachute - too small to provide the braking power they do.
  • Any and every Warner Brothers cartoon parachute.
  • Many cartoons show umbrellas being used as parachutes - the real-life consequences are shown on The Venture Brothers when Hank jumps off the roof of the compound with an umbrella (in a Batman Halloween costume), with fatal results.
  • One episode of He-Man shows the short-but-massive Ram-Man descending on a parachute only slightly wider than his shoulders.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Penelope once used her scarf as a parachute after jumping from a plane.
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