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Someone's long fall is broken by an open dumpster or an open heaping trash can. The trash will usually be softer than anything else in the immediate vicinity - you'd think there was a chance of broken glass in there, but this is hardly ever a problem... maybe fictional people are better at wrapping it in cardboard.
Sometimes the trash just happens to be there, which is a lucky break if the person falling wanted to live. People Driven to Suicide who land in one of these will likely be unhappy about the Unwanted Rescue.
Sometimes, the person doing the falling aimed for the trash.
When the character picks themself up, there is a good chance they will stop to remove debris or food from their clothing. This will *always* include a banana peel. For large trash piles, they might not need to stop -- trash will fall off their clothes as they move. Bonus points if someone tries eating items from the trash.
Another common variation, limited solely to comic uses, generally to kids' shows and mostly to people who really deserve it, is the big-ol' pile of horsesh... er, manure.
May serve as a way for our heroes to end up Down in the Dumps.
Note: This is a very risky stunt, and unless the only alternative is certain death, it would be best to think twice about doing this in real life.
- Purposely arranged in Death Note so Matsuda can convincingly fake his death to escape from a cabal of Corrupt Corporate Executives.
Films -- Animation
- The guards chasing Aladdin land on Crazy Hakim's Discount Fertilizer.
- In the trailers for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles CG Movie, three of the turtles land from a jump off a fire escape, and make badass poses, looking menacing and ninja-y... and then Michelangelo takes a header into a dumpster instead, prompting facepalms from the other Turtles.
- During the chase at Tokyo Airport in Cars 2, both Mater and Finn McMissile escape from villains Grem and Acer by leading them through the fuselage of a Samairai plane, causing the two villains to fall into a waste disposal truck parked next to that plane. According to the novelization and comic, this happens to said villains again during the chase in London near the end, but such did not happen in the film (in the actual movie, both Grem and Acer meet their end when Holly Shiftwell knocks the two away from Mater and Lightning McQueen, then luring them both into a pub called "Ye Left Turn Inn", where the two are immediately beaten up by several trucks inside, including automobile versions of King Fergus, Lord Dingwall, Lord MacGuffin, and Lord Macintosh).
Films -- Live Action
- Done hilariously to Cady in Mean Girls after parading down the hall with "The Plastics".
- Neo, while running from the three Agents in The Matrix.
- Foul Play with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase has a scene like this.
- Steel falls into the garbage (where he belongs) after trying to leap buildings. But is able to get away because the dumpster is also where he stored his bike.
- In a variation, Biff Tannen crash his car against a manure truck in each of the two first films of the Back to The Future trilogy. (In the third film, it is his ancestor and a manure wheelbarrow.)
- Hot Fuzz: "Skip."
- One of Lane's amusingly pathetic suicide attempts in Better Off Dead ends with him falling into a garbage truck. This result is witnessed in passing by a couple of black tree-trimmers:
"Now that's a real shame when folks be throwin' away a perfectly good white boy like that!"
- Star Wars: "Into the garbage chute, flyboy."
- Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: Ace falls and land on his back on a pile of garbage from a roof of a two story building when trying to catch the rare albino pigeon.
- In Thomas And The Magic Railroad, Diesel 10 lands in a garbage barge after falling off the viaduct at the end of the chase scene. At which point he quips, "Oh well. Nice time of the year for a cruise."
- Done rather painfully in Lethal Weapon 4, as the person falling landed feet first rather than back-first to distribute the force of landing.
- Marv in Sin City escapes the hotel this way. The same sequence is also included in the original comic.
- In Stuart Little 2, when Falcon drops Stuart from a tower to kill him, the mouse lands on a dumpster.
- A Running Gag in The Fighter has Dickie constantly jumping out a second story window into a trash heap to avoid his family catching him in a crack house. They quickly learn to anticipate the move.
- Spider Robinson's Callahan's Lady includes a short story with a villainess with some Applied Phlebotinum that forces the characters to do anything she asks them to. One of the orders she gives to the protagonist and another character is "don't go downstairs". They use Exact Words to turn that into "Do not descend a staircase" and the protagonist jumps into a dumpster from an upstairs window.
Maureen: "If you are able to arrange your life to avoid dropping into whorehouse garbage from a height, I suggest you do so."
Live Action TV
- Scrubs: Ted accidentally falls off the hospital roof after being startled (while contemplating suicide). He is saved by landing on a pile of garbage bags that the Almighty Janitor and his sidekick had been hiding on a lower roof as part of a money-making scheme.
- CSI has an episode where a liquor store robber jumped out a window and into a dumpster to escape the cops, but in a subversion of the Soft Glass trope the window glass cut into his neck and killed him.
- Law and Order Special Victims Unit turned this into pure terror. While running from the police, a suspect jumps to safety in a garbage truck. Unfortunately at that moment the driver starts compacting the trash in the truck and could hear neither the screams of the victim nor the cops due to headphones he was wearing.
- In the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Marlin", Sarah and a Fulcrom agent fight on a rooftop. Chuck arrives just in time to see them both go over the edge, but running to the edge he discovers that they landed safely in a dumpster.
- Like in L&O SVU above, in The X-Files episode "Essence" a foe falls off a roof while fighting Mulder and Scully. He seems to land safely in a garbage truck... but then the compactor is activated.
- Tested by the Myth Busters -- if you're certain there's nothing dangerous under that top layer of trash, it's doable. Their "best case" setup assumed a dumpster used by a mattress factory and thus full of foam scrap; it did a better job of cushioning Buster's (and later Adam's) fall than the regulation stunt airbag.
- However, when they went to a waste disposal facility to look through dumpsters, they noted that the three that they selected at random to look at had items like medical waste, rebar and wood slats, which would likely severely injure anyone jumping into the dumpster.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Survival", the Doctor is thrown from the explosion when neither he nor the guy he's playing motorcycle-chicken with swerves in time. He lands face first (and arse up) in a pile of rubbish someone was nice enough to leave lying in an abandoned field.
- In the opening chase of the first episode of The Last Detective, a young thief jumps off a balcony into a pile of rubbish bags and hurts his leg. DC "Dangerous" Davies stops to ask if he's OK before following him.
- MacGyver: In "The Coltons", Frank and Jesse tackle a pair of bad guys out throw a second storey window and land in a dumpster which is miraculously full of bags of shredded paper.
- Although she didn't fall very far, Penny lands in the trash in Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog
"Did you notice that he threw you in the garbage?"
- The Bastard Operator From Hell has caused this to happen to annoying lusers a few times, although more realistically, often not without injury.
- Parodied and subverted in Sluggy Freelance. Rammer doesn't just fall on a dumpster, he falls on a dumpster full of pillows. Unfortunately it was closed at the time, so he busted up his ribs. Torg later points out the irony.
- The Simpsons: In the "Treehouse of Horror" episode where Homer is sucked into the
fourththird dimension, when he escapes he lands in a dumpster.
- In "Marge on the Lam", Ruth with Marge brakes and stops in time before driving into the chasm, but Homer and Chief Wiggum fail to stop and fly over the cliff until they are saved by a landfill mountain.
Wiggum: And to think, those stupid environmentalists were protesting this landfill.
Homer: Solid waste. I could kiss you. [kisses it] Ewww... [kisses it] Ooh... [kisses it] Blech... [kisses it] Ooh, I think this was pizza...
- In the Futurama episode "Luck of the Fryish", Fry falls headfirst into a garbage can after electrocuting himself on some power-lines. A fast-food clerk then comments "That is one unlucky guy!" as he dumps his bucketful of waste into the same can.
- In Batman Beyond, Terry gets thrown into a dumptster, and flies out of it just as it's being picked up by a couple of garbagemen. While the one is shocked, his companion just shrugs it off with, "A guy's gotta eat."
- In The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest episode "Nemesis," Jonny and Hadji end up in a garbage dumpster while running away from some bad guys.
Hadji: Jonny, this was--
Jonny: ...A really rotten idea?
- In Darkwing Duck, the "Just Us Justice Ducks" episode sees Darkwing falling out of a skyscraper and into a garbage truck. At the end, it looks like Negaduck is about to get the same treatment, but Darkwing drives the truck out of the way at the last second, causing him to crash into the pavement instead.
- Regularly on Hong Kong Phooey, the title hero changes into his kung fu get-up in a file cabinet and goes down a chute from an ironing board cabinet into a dumpster where his Phooeymobile is housed.
- In the (Second) Defenestration of Prague on May 23, 1618, two Catholic regents and a secretary were thrown from a third-story window at Prague Castle by a mob of Protestants. The three men fell one hundred feet but survived by landing in a large pile of manure in a dry moat outside the window. The Catholic Church proclaimed a miracle; the Protestants rebutted by pointing out the men landed in a big pile of crap.
- Some people have done this into (deeply stacked) piles of cardboard boxes, which collapse and absorb the impact, allowing a landing without injury. Example.