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Stairs can be dangerous if you misstep and fall down, even worse depending on how long it is. Still, it can be funny, especially in cartoons.

This is one of the common ways a Fright Deathtrap is used to kill someone. It can be caused by a case of Mind Your Step, but there are plenty of ways to misstep and fall without the stairs containing a trap or problem.

Anime and Manga

  • Nobita from Doraemon has fallen down the stairs many times with comedic results.
  • Played with horribly with Yukari Sakuragi in Another. She falls down her school's stairs which is bad enough, but what actually kills her is an Impromptu Tracheotomy "courtesy" of her umbrella
    • Stairs also have a "part" in Junta Nakao's demise. He falls off the stairs of his house and hits his head; he seems to be okay aside of some vomiting, but he actually has developed an aneurysm which bursts and kills him hours later
  • Several people have either accidentally died or have been murdered like this in Detective Conan.
  • Subverted in Mawaru Penguindrum - Masako pulls this on Kanba's ex girlfriend Asami, but she recovers well.

Comic Books


  • In the movie Surf Ninjas, during the final epic battle, an enemy Mooks gets knocked down a flight of stairs that runs up the entire mountainside. He manages to climb back up before the battle ends but gets knocked down a second time. By the time he gets back up again the battle's ended and when told "It's over. Your side lost." He shrugs and willingly throws himself down the stairs again.
  • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka: as a Running Gag, each time Mr. Big's two Mooks Leonard and Willie get captured by the good guys or screw up a mission they're given the option of going out the window or down the stairs. They almost always choose the stairs, after which the camera cuts to a scene of them tumbling painfully down the stairs.
  • Used as a recurring joke in Kung Fu Panda, in reference to actual stairs on ancient shrines, and how out of shape Po is.
  • A non-malicious example: in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Sam pushes Flint down the bouncy stairs in the Jell-O Castle.
  • Pinocchio did this on stage at the start of his number "I've Got No Strings." Not really injurious, but humiliating.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy and his dad escape through Castle Brunwald only to find themselves at a dead end. Indy tries looking for a secret exit; his dad ends up finding it when he sits down and leans back in a chair, revealing a hidden staircase. Unfortunately, Indy was standing right on top of it at the time...
  • In Death Becomes Her, Madeleine is pushed down a very long flight of marble stairs, ending in a battered heap at the bottom with her head twisted around backwards.
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane??
  • This is the way Nomi claws her way to the top in Showgirls.
  • Happens at the end of Hitchcock's remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much.
  • In Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo unintentionally kills Quasimodo's Roma mother like this as he tries to take away what he believes to be stolen goods (in reality, the newborn Quasimodo), accidentally causes her to fall down a flight of stairs and fatally hit her head on her way down.


  • The Book Of Margery Kempe has the husband of the titular character fall down the stairs and getting heavily wounded by it, and potentially mentally challenged. He dies.
  • Used in several Agatha Christie books. Discussed by Hercule Poirot as a typical way of murdering rich, elderly relatives.
  • In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett miscarries her fourth pregnancy (ironically, the only one she was actually pleased by) after falling down the stairs.
  • In Dragondrums, Piemur takes a nasty spill while running up stone stairs, "courtesy" of some of his fellow apprentices "thinking" it would be funny to grease some of the steps (this bunch had earlier shown a taste for nasty pranks against him, such as "anointing" his belongings with bodily wastes while he was away).

Live Action TV


  • Played for Laughs in Key of Awesome's parody of Kesha's "Tic-Toc" music video. The actress who played Kesha commented several times that the staircase scene was the hardest one she has ever done for the KOA.
  • Happens to the narrator in Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck" as a consequence of his drinking.

Nursery Rhymes

Real Life

  • Tragic Truth in Television example: this is how Kaneto Shiozawa died.
  • English folk singer Sandy Denny died of a brain haemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs.
  • Bill Bryson ponders the death toll from falls on stairs in his history of domesticity At Home
  • British stage and television actor Robin Nedwell (best known for playing Dr. Duncan Waring in the Doctor series of LWT sitcoms in the 1970s) died of a heart attack several days after falling five feet off a ladder onto concrete; the heart attack was probably brought on by the injuries he sustained in the fall.
  • British character actor Derek Nimmo was checking an external alarm at his house when he fell down a stone staircase into the basement; the resulting head injuries put him into a coma, in which he remained until his death two months later.
  • In 1946, British actor David Niven and his wife and fellow actress Primula Rollo were attending a party at actor Tyrone Power's house in Beverly Hills. During a game of hide and seek, Rollo opened what she believed was a closet door and ducked inside; unfortunately, the door led to Power's basement down a steep stone staircase, and Rollo died of a fractured skull and brain lacerations.
  • British actor Michael Wilding (whose claims to fame include being Elizabeth Taylor's second husband) died from head injuries sustained after falling down a flight of stairs in his home while suffering an epileptic seizure.

Video Games

  • In some Roguelikes attempting to use the stairs while confused or carrying to much weight can cause you to trip and fall down the stairs, causing you damage (and hence possibly killing you).
  • This was a common way to die in old adventure games, especially Sierra games, which mocked the player for the various ways in which you could get yourself killed by performing ordinary tasks. The King's Quest series is a particularly bad offender.
  • In Deardrops, Shinichi pushed his fellow violinist Johan down a flight of stairs on impulse, injuring him, due to stress.
  • In the otome Visual Novel, (P)lanets, the main character gains her telepathic powers after tripping down a flight of stairs at her school.
  • Mamoru Akasaka's wife Yukie dies like this in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni's arc Himatsubushi-hen.

Web Animation

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In the original cartoon, this trope is what necessitated Penny's uncle to be turned into the cyborg superhero Inspector Gadget (the whole "getting blown up by Doctor Claw" was an invention of the movie).
  • In The Simpsons episode "My Sister, My Sitter," a major plot point is that Lisa accidentally causes Bart to tumble down the stairs in his house. The rest of the episode is about her trying to find medical help for Bart while everyone gets the wrong impression that she had beaten Bart.
    • In an early episode, Homer fell down the stairs tripping on Bart's skateboard angering at his son's hallway mess. He spent the first act laying on the couch due to his back pain.
    • A Running Gag in "Bart the Mother" is Homer falling down the basement stairs due to Bart's actions.
  • A major subplot in Family Guy episode "Brian Griffin's House of Payne" when Chris and Meg's misbehavior pushed Stewie down the stairs causing a severe head wound.
    • One cutaway gag shows Bobby McFerrin falling down the stairs.
  • In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "SDRAWKCAB", Dexter gets manipulated into running up and down a flight of stairs, causing his father standing next to him to get dizzy and come tumbling down.
  • The episode "Girlfriendklok" in Metalocalypse has Nathan's girlfriend falling down several flights of stairs, placing her in a coma.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: in episode "Dear Ed"
  • According to TF Wiki, Skywarp's favorite pastime is pushing people down the stairs.
  • This happens in a season 1 episode of Jackie Chan Adventures.
  • In Drawn Together, Princess Clara thinks she's pregnant and submits to a tumble or two down the stairs of the "M. C. Escher Room" in an attempt to force a Convenient Miscarriage.

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