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Whenever a character is in immediate danger, they will rarely just be able to run away from said threat. Usually, a locked door or gate will get in their way. But not to worry, the character always has the right keys and just enough time to open the door before they are killed.

Except... Uh-oh! They just dropped the keys!

The Oops, I Dropped the Keys trope refers to the often-used cliche (particularly in horror movies) where a character will always drop their keys if they are in a life-or-death situation. It doesn't matter if a killer is right behind them, or if a pack of wild and hungry animals is mere seconds from tearing them apart, the character will always fumble with and drop their keys at a crucial moment, thus giving the threat some much-needed time to catch up with them (and in some cases, actually kill them).

This also happens often in car scenes too... If a character wants to escape from something in their car, they can never just put the key in the ignition and start the engine. First, they will drop the keys near the gas pedal and spend the next minute-or-so stumbling around to find them.

Examples of Oops, I Dropped the Keys include:


Film Edit

  • In Titanic, Rose and Jack are trapped in the lower decks of the ship by a metallic gate as it floods. One of the cabin crew tries to unlock it but manages to do and say the trope before apologetically fleeing. Cue Jack attempting to retrieve the gate key multiple times as the freezing cold water rises.
  • In Halloween: H20, Molly and John are being chased by Michael Myers and surprisingly manage to get a fair distance away from him, before locking themselves in a small courtyard. Unfortunately, Molly drops the keys outside the courtyard and spends a few minutes trying to reach them, thus allowing Michael Myers to catch up to them, pick up the keys and unlock the courtyard gate with ease.
  • This happens in Drag Me to Hell.
  • Played with in Zombieland, when Columbus drop his keys by the car while being chased by a zombie, but is smart enough to circle around the car until he's able to reclaim the keys without getting killed. Then it turns out the car wasn't even locked.
  • In The Human Centipede, Lindsay deliberately drops the keys (for some reason) after locking herself in the doctor's bedroom. She then realizes what a dumb idea this was, when the doctor then appears at the window with an axe.

Live Action TV Edit

  • Doctor Who's "Closing Time" featured a variation. The Doctor escaped out of ahouse from the attacking monster, but accidentally dropped his Sonic Screwdriver as the door closed behind him. This led him being locked outside as the monster confronted his friend Craig moments later.

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