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Oh no! The Bad Guys had the foresight to prepare an aerial getaway (usually in the form of a helicopter).

Does the hero take it lying down because Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress? Of course not. Especially not if he is a Hollywood action hero! He will destroy the vehicle in a spectacularly explosive manner (because Everything Is Better With Explosions), but usually not before he leaps into the flying vehicle in question to have one final, mano-a-mano, brutal fistfight with the Big Bad in question.

Examples of Short-Lived Aerial Escape include:


  • Used in quite a few of Renny Harlin's films:
    • Die Hard 2 with 2 exploding airplanes.
    • Cliffhanger, with a helicopter hanging on the side of a cliff by a wire (don't ask how, just enjoy), complete with a final fistfight between the hero and Big Bad.
    • 12 Rounds has the helicopter in question explode in mid air after a brutal mid-air fistfight, with the hero jumping into a conveniently present swimming pool with his girlfriend just in time.
    • Sharks of Deep Blue Sea manage to take out one in such fashion during their big escape plan.
  • Die Hard With a Vengeance had a helicopter get destroyed, as well as one escape with moderate damage..
    • Die Hard 4.0, with a car... because he was out of bullets.
  • John Woo's Broken Arrow, which includes no less than four exploding helicopters before the credits roll.
  • Sudden Death in which Jean Claude Van Damme shoots out the pilot and the Big Bad does a LONG Big No as the helicopter slowly crashes tail-first into the skating ring below in an orange fireball.
  • True Lies: Two words - "You're fired."
  • The climactic ending scene in Swordfish includes a helicopter being taken out by a rocket launcher.
  • Also, the ending scene in the 2000 film Charlie's Angels had a missile reprogrammed to take out the chopper than launched it.
  • If Looks Could Kill: The villain tries getting away in a chopper overloaded with too much gold. The hero and his female sidekick shoot at it until he falls out whereupon his pilotless copter crash-lands on top of him.
  • The first Mission Impossible film had one inside the Chunnel. With gum shaped explosives.
    • Before that one, Darkman brought down a villain's chopper when he was dangling underneath it on a cargo hook, and the pilot tried to dislodge him by dragging him across road traffic. Darkman found his footing on the roof of an 18-wheeler, attached the cargo hook to the truck, and let it drag the chopper to its explosive destruction in a highway tunnel.
  • Star Wars The Phantom Menace: During the scene where the Naboo pilots Gundamjack their fighters away from Trade Federation droids that had secured the hanger, a turret out side the hanger manages to hit one of the fighters on take off, causing it to crash into a nearby mountain side.
  • In X-Men: Origins, Wolverine destroys a helicopter by using his claws, a motorcycle, and a Jeep as an impromptu catapult, allowing him to slice the rotors off of an enemy helicopter mid-flight. The trope is somewhat subverted in that he blows up the helicopter after it crashes, by lighting its leaking fuels with his cigar.
  • Done multiple times in Blue Thunder, which, to be fair, is all about helicopters anyway. The film also features instances of (almost)-Hellish Copter, and the two tropes sometimes overlap within the film.
  • Green Zone: Al Rawi's men shoot down a US Delta Force helicopter with an RPG.
  • Considering most James Bond movies since From Russia with Love feature a helicopter, 007 has taken down a few of them.
  • There are a few subversions where it happens to good guys instead:
    • Cloverfield: The protagonists almost escape Manhattan via helicopter, but the monster whacks it out of the sky.
    • Independence Day: The First Lady is evacuated from Los Angeles in a helicopter, but doesn't get out of the blast zone in time when the aliens attack.


  • Matthew Reilly's Temple has a giant demonic cat jump 10 feet straight up into a helicopter taking off. It explodes, but not before firing missiles into a seaplane and a couple of buildings; taking out some Mooks, two more helicopters and almost totaling the heroes' Humvee with it's machine gun; and crashing into the helicopter taking off next to it.
  • At the end of Snow Crash, YT's faithful Rat Thing chases a jet down the runway. And catches it.
  • Alex Rider does it in Point Blank. With a snowmobile and a ski-jump.
    • He does it again in Ark Angel, by tying two canoes to the floats of the helicopter. When Nikolei Drevin attempts to turn the helicopter around, the canoes get tangled up in the trees and the helicopter is torn in half before crashing.

Live Action TV

  • Hawaii Five-O once had a bad guy trying to escape Oahu via Learjet. Cue the automatic weapon squad firing M-16s at the escaping plane which promptly exploded in a ball of stock footage.
  • In the pilot episode of Misfits of Science, the villain's chopper is taken out by a basketball hurled into its rotors. This jolts it enough so that the bad guy, who'd been aiming a Death Ray at the heroes for a devastating parting shot, misfires into the helicopter's fuselage and blows his own aircraft to atoms.

Video Games

  • The end of Advanced Variable Geo 2, in which the heroines combine their powers into a Combined Energy Attack to blow up the airplane of the escaping Big Bad.
  • At least twice in Modern Warfare 2. First, in the climax of "Of Their Own Accord", Hunter 2-1's Blackhawk and a SEAL team's Little Bird get attacked by an anti-aircraft missile battery soon after being evacuated from a rooftop. They combine this with Taking You with Me by opening fire on the missile batteries even as their chopper falls from the air. The last mission of the game has this being invoked as the villain tries to make his getaway in an MH-53 Pave Low.
    • And we have it again in Modern Warfare 3. At the very end of the last level, "Dust to Dust", Price follows Makarov to the top of the hotel, where Makarov gets on a Little Bird helicopter. Price jumps on the helicopter, takes out the two pilots, but can't stop the helicopter from crashing.
  • Tequila blows up a helicopter in the climax of the battle with Vladimir Zakarov in the John Woo game Stranglehold.
  • Enemy leaders attempt to do this a few times across the Ace Combat series, but they usually do it mid-mission, where you're easily able to shoot them down before they get anywhere.
  • At the end of Mirror's Edge Faith jumps into a helicopter starting from the roof of a massive skyscraper and uses her momentum to kick the villain out through the other door. As he falls out he fires his machine pistol hitting the pilot and the engine, with Faith leaping onto the buildings roof in the very last moment.
  • Max Payne doesn't let the Big Bad's escape helicopter get as far as taking off before he blows it up.
  • The NES Bionic Commando has you blowing up Master-D's escape helicopter with a bazooka after bringing down the Albatross. The remake, Rearmed, gives it a proper boss fight.
  • In the old arcade game Elevator Action Returns, after making your way through the deathtraps of the final area, you reach the roof of the building only to see the final boss flying away higher and higher in a helicopter... oh look, a handy bazooka nearby. It only have 4 shots. You need to hit twice. Don't miss.

Western Animation

  • Parodied in The Venture Brothers, when Race Bannon battles snake minions aboard a plane to recover a canister of the Goliath Serum. He kicks their asses and finishes them off with a grenade blast as he escapes out the side with a parachute...and is fatally wounded as the falling plane's wing clotheslines him in the chest.
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