Elevator Action Sequence

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Some places are just designed for epic fight sequences. The lush scenery, the rippling wind in the Badass Longcoat, the Greek choir blaring triumphantly in creepy tone...

And then there's the Elevator Action Sequence. This trope is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

There are advantages to the Elevator Action Sequence which make it so common in fiction. The main one is that it forces an arbitrary restriction on the heroes: in a game or movie with many wide-open spaces, elevators (even large, moving ones) tend to be static areas from which it is impossible to escape. The situation forces characters into a fight whether they like it or not, and also moves everyone automatically, so that we can pay more attention to the battle than where they're going. That people on an elevator must be going somewhere is naturally a foregone conclusion.

This is most common in early nineties Beat'Em Up games, which often used a moving platform rather than an enclosed elevator, allowing the player to throw enemies off the side. Although those games are out of vogue these days, examples can still be found occasionally in platformers, Action games and RPGs.

Lift of Doom is a specific variant, usually found in Platform Games.

This trope is not to be confused with Elevator Going Down. Its polar opposite is the lack of action in an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment.

See also Evil Elevator.

Examples of Elevator Action Sequence include:

Non-Video Game examples

Anime & Manga

  • Shows up in Hellsing, but since it is Alucard, it's more of a Elevator Massacre Sequence.
  • Heavily implied in Afro Samurai, when Brother 1 starts machine-gunning the elevator Afro and Ninja are in while standing on it. The doors open at the top of the mountain to reveal that Afro apparently killed him somewhere on the way up. Apparently.

Films -- Animation

  • The fight between Emperor Zurg and Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 2 took place entirely on the top of an elevator car.

Films -- Live Action

  • In Die Hard With a Vengeance, the hero unwittingly enters an elevator with no less than five mooks disguised as law enforcement. The mooks make a number of gaffes, betraying that they are neither Americans nor cops, before McClane notices that one of them is wearing a familiar badge. An elevator gunfight ensues.
  • Ethan Hunt, after being slipped a pocket knife, waits until his restraining gurney enters an elevator to make his escape in the third |Mission Impossible film. He disables three guards (one with a telephone, yowch) while still strapped to his stretcher.
  • Such a fight happened in Borat between two naked guys. They were interrupted, and the witnesses (not actors or extras!) couldn't seem to believe what they were seeing.
  • There is a rather memorable Elevator Action Sequence in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Sarah, John, and the T-800 escape from the mental institution. The T-1000 attempts to sword-thrust its way into the elevator at several points.
  • In Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond starts a fight with smuggler Peter Franks in an elevator and ends up killing him outside it. A damn small elevator—might as well have been a phone booth.
    • In Quantum of Solace, Bond dispatches four guards in about as many seconds while riding an elevator.
  • Smokin Aces features a battle between two characters wielding handguns on an elevator. Both are pretty much shredded.
  • The elevator fight sequence in Total Recall, complete with its rather gruesome ending as Richter (Michael Ironside) gets crushed by the ascending elevator, leaving his hands behind.
  • Taken has a fight around an elevator that ends with a crime boss getting shot inside the lift... which then goes up, where a party is being held.
  • Oldboy has one we don't actually see. Oh Dae-su walks into an elevator full of mooks, and the very next shot is the elevator opening up and all of them fall out, badly beaten, while Dae-su walks out nonchalantly.
  • In They, Sam takes the elevator in a final attempt to evade the monsters coming for him. They get him anyway.
  • A minor subversion occurs in GoldenEye: the elevator reaches its destination and the doors open, revealing Natalia apparently unconscious on the floor as a guard walks in in confusion. Cue Bond dropping down from the ceiling and smashing him into the wall while Natalia gets up!
  • In Unleashed, the final action sequence features a few moments of fighting in a tiny bathroom, with both combatants mere inches from each other.
  • In Inception, Arthur uses an elevator to initiate a 'kick' to bring them out of the dream world.
  • In Drive there is a literal Curb Stomp Battle in an elevator in which Driver brutally stomps in the head of a Mook


  • The first The Dresden Files book featured an incident near the end where a big nasty monster was trying to kill Harry while he was in his fifth-floor office. He bolts for the elevator on the logic that it has big steel doors, which works okay until the giant scorpion jumps down the shaft and starts ripping through the roof. Harry Dresden being Harry Dresden, he uses a wind spell to lift the elevator to the top of the shaft, crushing the bug against the ceiling, then throws up a shield to survive the landing. He says in a later book that the elevator's never been the same since.
  • Contest had a fight in an elevator shaft—beneath a descending elevator.
    • Area 7 is set in a base with a large aircraft elevator. There is a sword fight in it... using pieces of broken aircraft instead of swords.

Live Action TV

  • Occurred in The Sarah Connor Chronicles between Cameron and a strangely flexible female terminator. Even funnier when interrupted, as both have fake blood all over them.
  • One of these happens (in a normal elevator, though, not a service elevator) in Episode 5, "Mafia vs. Yakuza", of Deadliest Warrior.
  • In Human Target', Chance slides down an elevator cable while shooting a handgun downward against the security chief of an evil corporation wielding a shotgun whose in the elevator. Once inside the elevator, they loose the guns and fight hand-to-hand, eventually with a metal cover and railing used as impromptu weapons.

Web Animation

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • This is not so rare in Code Lyoko with the elevator leading to the Lab and Scanners. Usually, the heroes reaching it and closing the door in time give them some reprieve from XANA's latest attack—but sometimes the enemy slip in too for a good scuffle. And the elevator doors offer little protection against some of the most advanced of XANA's specters, that can actually make their host phase through walls.

Video Game examples

Action Adventure

  • Heavy Barrel has two stages that comprise of mainly traveling up on a large elevator. Which passes by multiple flights of stairs and cannons. No surprise as to what happens...
  • Averted by the video game X-Men 2: Wolverine's Revenge. Several times you use a very large freight/vehicle elevator by yourself, but there's never a fight in it.
  • The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning has several of these when you storm Cyndar's castle.
  • One level in Gungrave: Overdose takes place on a giant Akira-style elevator.
    • In the original game, the path to the Stage 5 boss has Grave fending off waves of enemies while riding an elevator/lift thingy.
  • Appear in Metal Slug 4, and done in reverse in Metal Slug 5, where the elevator descends instead of going up.
  • Contra 4. Near the end of the second half in the waterfall level, you ride a huge elevator lift. But after finishing the first part of the boss fight, it will break the elevator causing you ride on the falling platform with the boss chasing after you until it's killed.
  • There is also the 4th level in Super C.
  • The "Mad Doctor" level of Mickey Mania has a part in which Mickey fights skeletons entering an elevator as it goes up.
  • Devil May Cry 2 features a short elevator battle (not uncommon since the game regularly traps the player in confined rooms to fight) while climbing the sky-scraper leading to Arius.
    • Devil May Cry 3 features elevator fights with an emphasis on speed. Mooks drop down from above, and if you don't knock them off or kill them quickly enough, the elevator will falter and send you back down to the bottom of the shaft.
  • In Phantasy Star Online Episode II features a long battle against Olga Flow down an elevator shaft.
  • The second area of Time Crisis is set on a cargo elevator/inclinator. Crisis Zone has an elevator sequence in the office building level.
  • Metroid: Other M has an elevator in Sector 2 where you fight a swarm of space pirates, then a boss makes it's first appearance of four. Thankfully, on subsequent jaunts to this elevator, it's completely devoid of enemies and exists purely for transport back to the entrance of Sector 2.

Beat Em Up

  • Streets of Rage has a very memorable outdoor elevator stage as it's penultimate level.
  • The fourth, seventh and eighth stages of Streets of Rage II all have these sequences, proving that this kind of action scene can have staying power even when overused. Also appeared in the third stage of the third game.
    • Occurred in one level of the first game too, albeit made hilarious by the graphical effect of the special attack. In-game, the characters could call in what were effectively drive-in air strikes to clear a stage. The normal cut scene involved switching to the car driving up and launching the missiles and then panning over to the players to show the damage. In the case of the elevator level, after panning horizontally a few screens, the missiles would then take a 90-degree angle turn and start going straight up at a rapid speed before exploding as usual.
  • In Final Fight, the second scene of the Industrial Area stage is set on a lift where the player must enemies dropping from above before the boss fight with Rolento. The stage was missing in the SNES port, but included in all the other versions.
    • The Italy stage (where Rolento is the boss) also had a similar scene in Final Fight 2.
      • Final Fight 3 also has.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Arcade Game had a climactic fight on an elevator in the Technodrome.
    • A similar elevator battle occurred in the SNES port of Turtles in Time.
      • Same thing in Hyperstone Heist only this time the elevator is going down
    • There is an elevator level in TMNT III: The Manhattan Project... on the outside of a building.
  • The Simpsons arcade game from the early 1990s has a sequence where you're riding an elevator, and mooks jump onto it at regular intervals, which you can either dispatch as normal or just throw them off.
  • This also occurs toward the end of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker.
  • One of the last levels of Fighting Force takes place on an exposed lift with bad guys dropping in left and right. One of the earlier levels has the villain's penthouse elevator as a level. Very huge, with many items to smack the bad guys with. Both elevator ride times have in no way correlate with the size of the building they are in.
  • Occurs in the Aliens vs. Predator beat-em-up with both mooks and a rogue Predator.
    • And in the Run And Gun-style Aliens game (you have to kill the mook aliens before they cut the elevator cables).
  • Seen in the last levels of Viewtiful Joe 1 & 2.
  • Happens once or twice in Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.
  • The final area of the 2nd level in Batman Forever for SNES/Genesis.
  • Almost every Splatterhouse game involves some level where the hero is on a huge freight elevator with what seems to be a million floors, bashing monsters to a bloody pulp.
    • The 2010 remake has a special element added: while you're fighting the monsters, they're attacking the elevator's engines. If they destroy both of them, the chains give way and you die.
  • The Sailor Moon game for Genesis involves a fight on a looooong elevator.
  • The first level of Super Double Dragon has a fight in a glass elevator car. The enemies were originally supposed to break the glass, but due to the game being rushed, the animation was left out in both versions.
  • Marvel Super Heroes has one.
  • Undercover Cops features one in the second level.
  • MadWorld has one in the last level called The Tower, before fighting the final boss.
  • Tokyo Beat Down has a couple of elevator sections in the later parts of the last stage
  • Astro Boy Omega Factor has an elevator ride in the middle of the second stage.
  • The final stage of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game begins with this.
  • In Castle Crashers, there's one of these in the Industrial Castle.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance on the Helicarrier. Which takes place on the outside, so when Spider-Man throws a goon off, it's half a mile plunge to a splattery death.
  • Battle Circuit has one on giant...plate...things.
  • Captain Commando has a very brief one on the last stage.

Fighting Game

  • Several times in Super Smash Bros Brawl's adventure mode.
  • In The King of Fighters '95 the first seconds of each round in the stage of team Kyokugenryu/Mexico occur inside a wooden platform that raises to the actual floor of the Dojo. Inversely, the last stage before the boss fight in The King of Fighters '99 has the last round or two of that level (a sewer) occur over an elevator heading to NESTS' underground base.
  • In Fatal Fury 3, you fight Hon-Fu over what seems to be a platform carried by a very large crane. A beautiful sight of South Town is in the background.
  • Street Fighter Alpha 2 has the New York City Skyline working as this. It's Rolento's stage, and it's a reference to the Final Fight examples above.
  • There's also one in the Konquest mode of Mortal Kombat Armageddon.
  • This is a staple of Capcom's crossover games. X-Men vs. Street Fighter notably had one where they were fighting on the Blackbird that was on an elevator. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 meanwhile has on set in New York with a parade with floats based on some of the characters in the background. Street Fighter X Tekken has one where they're in a space elevator that eventually goes up into orbit.

First Person Shooter

  • Half-Life 2 and its expansion Episode 1 both have scenes where you ride a slow moving elevator and fight off enemies from it. In addition both the two aforementioned and its most recent expansion, Episode 2, have parts where you must fight off enemies while waiting for one to arrive.
    • A particularly memorable moment occurs when the Big Bad is ascending in an elevator-ish thingy, and you have to climb up to the top to meet him before he gets away. Kind of a reverse elevator action sequence.
  • One of the multiple fights against Dark Samus in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes takes place on an elevator. The first few moments of the fight take place as the elevator is moving upward and the rest of the fight takes place in the room where the elevator stops.
    • There's a quasi elevator battle in Prime 3's Skytown (if you call it an elevator that only goes down, and has a massive nuclear bomb attached to it).
  • Halo subverts the Elevator Action Sequence after referencing it in a level called "But I don't want to ride the elevator!" All FPS fans know what happens when you climb onto a large, slow-moving elevator. Thankfully, the ride is uneventful.
  • A good portion of Halo 2 occurs on various moving platforms, both horizontal and vertical.
    • Some rather scrappy examples include the elevator sequences on The Oracle and Quarantine Zone, both of which involve the Flood, and the gondolas on Regret, and of course the diagonal one in Cairo Station.
  • Halo Three has one or two short examples in the mission The Covenant, though they mostly only have enemies if you failed to kill them in the prior room. On some difficulties, that's not so implausible.
  • Subverted in Left 4 Dead. There is a massive Hold the Line sequence while waiting for an elevator to reach you, but once you actually get inside you get pretty much the only uninterrupted peace in the game (provided that a Tank doesn't get trapped in the elevator with you...)
    • This actually happens more than once in the game, but never more than once per scenario. Interestingly enough, when you're in an elevator, it doesn't just give you a bit of breathing room, it also depicts the ascent realistically: going from the fourth floor to the twenty-eighth floor near the end of the No Mercy episode takes about sixty real-time seconds, with each floor being counted off.
    • Although the realism fades a little bit when you realize you cannot jump in the elevator.
    • Although when played in versus the players occasionally have to deal with special infected dropping down onto the roof from above.
  • The arcade game Revolution X had a level that featured a freight elevator, and all sorts of goons shooting at you as you tried to get to the roof.
  • In F.E.A.R., there is a brief Escort Mission where the Point Man has to protect Alice Wade while traveling up to the rooftop for extraction. During this time, the Replica troops are forcing the elevator to stop on each floor. Fortunately, the Replica want Alice alive and thus are unwilling to throw grenades into the elevator, and won't assault the elevator itself, so it is possible to simply stay in cover and wait it out.
    • In the sequel, Project Origin, there's a long, drawn-out battle with the Replica as Beckett travels to Still Island via Armacham's underground tram system, which involves a crapload of Replicas attempting to first assault and then, in desperation, smash Beckett's tram car off the rails.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein has a gondola ride after you escape from the castle.
  • The Punisher. Grand Nixon Island has a gondola ride to a Boss Fight. Don't find all the snipers? They'll plug the machinery and you are going for a ride to the bottom of the valley.
  • One section of Turok takes place on a massive elevator. The problem? You're swarmed on all sides by enemy troops, and the elevator itself goes EXCRUCIATINGLY slow. Your companion even comments on it: "There's a lot of them! Can't this thing go any faster?!"

Mecha Game

  • The Virtual On stage Death Trap (Vertebrate Shaft in Oratorio Tangram) is just a single massive elevator—with bouts of combat thrown in the middle.
    • Oratorio Tangram also features the Ascent Corridor, which is also equally-huge, and seemingly in an open area, which makes you wonder where it is, and where it's going.
  • Mechquest has one optional quest with a very long elevator sequence consisting of a hundred floors worth of random mech attacks and monsters that come after you hand-to-hand.


  • Both Ninja Gaiden Sigma games have at least one elevator fight.
  • Various Mega Man games feature such sequences.
    • A notable example is Jakob from Mega Man X8, which is an entire level set inside a space elevator.
  • Elevator Action: Trope Namer? Although the action wasn't limited to elevators, they did feature prominently. The game was full of rather oddly-placed elevators which the player would have to carefully navigate, often to avoid falling to his death or getting squished, all while trading gunfire with enemy agents.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, toward the end, has a prolonged fight against sand monsters in a Azad's elaborate elevator. The third game also features such an elevator, and Farah mentions she'd love to see the one in Azad. The Prince is less enthused at the prospect.
  • Stage 4 of the NES version of Super Contra has one of these.
  • Played with in the Final stage of Gunstar Heroes.
    • And similarly done in at least one level of American Dragon: Rise of the Huntsclan. The similarity is even lampshaded by Spud just before one of these levels starts.
  • Happens a couple of times in Kirby Mass Attack.

Role Playing Game

  • There's a boss fight against a flying robot in Final Fantasy VII that has the party members riding an elevator. This is purely Rule of Cool, as you can't escape from boss fights to begin with.
  • The fight against Hashmal in Final Fantasy XII.
  • Also, Chrono Trigger's final dungeon. Annoying because you have to go up again and meet the same frigging enemies.
  • A minor variation can be found in the first Kingdom Hearts: the platform moves horizontally rather than vertically.
    • Then played straight in the second one with the Crooked Ascension.
    • The Space Paranoids world has another horizontal one. Similiar to the above-mentioned Devil May Cry 3 example, you have to destroy the enemies quickly or the platform overloads and you have to start over.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, the last non-bonus Vigoro fight takes place on an outdoors elevator leading to the Big Bad's Elaborate Underground Lair.
  • In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, the lift in the SHIELD Helicarrier is filled with Doombots and Ultron drones.
  • Avernum 5 does this twice with lifts. On one, you fend off hordes of rats that are jumping onto the lift, and on the other, enemy archers take the opportunity to fire at you while you can only respond with ranged attacks.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: In a first for the series, the Lonesome Road DLC has you descending on a lift platform to a nuke silo, with explosions and Tunnelers popping in and out spontaneously.
  • Mass Effect 3 has Shepard and company fighting their way through an elevator shaft during Cerberus's invasion of the Citadel.

Stealth Based Game

  • Metal Gear Solid has two of these. There's one where you fight the soldiers in stealth mode, and another where they simply leap onto an elevator that Snake is using to leave. In either case, the restricted elevator environment forces Snakes into combat- something normally discouraged in this game when dealing with regular mooks.
    • Though, in the second one, at least, you can melee the mooks over the edge of the elevator, though you won't get the items they drop.
    • Strangely, although there are plenty of elevators in MGS2, and at least one in MGS4, this trope is never used again.
  • The boss fight with the Four Horsemen (previously known as Ultrabox) in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake takes place in an elevator.

Survival Horror

  • Most of the elevators in Dead Space are fairly small and thus do not have much in the way of action. So when you get to a very large elevator in the mining area of the ship, its just natural that your first trip down involves necromorphs dropping down on you from all directions.
    • The first elevator, although not directly an Elevator Action Sequence, certainly plays like one. You get into the elevator after running for your life from the first encountered necromorphs, the doors close, you're safe, and then the doors are torn open and a necromorph lunges, only to be decapitated by the doors forcing themselves closed.
  • Dead Space 2 continues the tradition. In one rare event you open the elevator to find an angry necromorph trapped inside. In a later sequence you ride a large elevator outside of the space station and have to deal with large necromorphs not only smashing through the windows to get at you but also your limited oxygen supply after the elevator depressurizes, if you take too long to kill them you'll run out of air.
  • The Resident Evil series has had several elevator action sequences- as in Metal Gear Solid, it's used to force the player to fight in a game which otherwise not encourage mindless combat.
    • Resident Evil Zero has poor little Rebecca forced to take on a tyrant in a cargo elevator. Billy isn't there to help you, and no convenient, helicopter thrown grenade launchers either.
      • Resident Evil 2 has you fight William/G on the same cargo elevator, while it's actually moving.
    • Resident Evil 4 had one elevator, near the end of the castle. You were ambushed by groups of monks from above, and the best way to deal with these tightly-bunched groups of enemies was via shotgun.
      • And the Skilift earlier on which showed us some Jiggle Physics.
        • The ski lift was technically an inversion. Instead of being forced into close combat, the enemies were all very far away. And since they all have thrown weapons, sniping is pretty much the only way to get through with no damage. Compared to most other areas of the game, it's pretty peaceful adn slow-paced.
    • Resident Evil 5 has a huge spiraling elevator that involves two fights (one after going down and another when you are going back up).
  • One of the most annoying enemies in Silent Hill Homecoming is introduced when several of them ambush Alex in a hotel elevator.

Third Person Shooter

  • In UT2k4 Mod Alien Swarm, There are several large elevators. Every single one of them has a huge fight associated with it. The first is accompanied by awesome music and slow-motion for the entire fight.
    • The "stand-alone" Source version of Alien Swarm has the same, with the visuals lifted directly from Metal Gear Solid.
  • The last level of the first Max Payne had a variant; the first elevator you make use of has a glass panel in the roof, and if you look up it you'll notice that the security team have rigged the lift shaft with Claymore mines, which you have to set off with gunfire. (Must've been cheap or past their use-by date.) There are a few other elevators in-game, including quite a long one a bit later in the same level, but they're a welcome few seconds of relative peace to reload and let the Vicodin kick in.
    • Except for the one where the helicopter starts shooting at you, and you have to leap from that elevator to another one in order to escape.
  • The Hitman series plays with this: elevators are a perfect place for sneaky, quiet assassinations. You could also have shootouts in them, but not recommended if you want a good rating.