Wrong Parachute Gag

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I think that was just a regular backpack. See what happens when you assume?

A staple of cartoons where a character grabs a backpack and jumps from the great height, opens the pack, and anything but a parachute falls out. Commonly, it can be food, camping supplies or heavy objects like an anvil.

Examples of Wrong Parachute Gag include:


  • Before the days of cell phones and SMS, an ad for a pocket message receiver showed a skydiver about to jump receive a message at the last second: "I have your parachute, where is my backpack?" cut to the poor guy BSODing in the plane.

Comic Books

  • Used for a gag in the comic Cattivik. Subverted when our hero gets the wrong parachute but still manages to land safely on a plane. (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • In Superman #176, which explains how Superman decided on his ideal location for his Fortress of Solitude, he's on a flight over the arctic as Clark Kent when the plane suffers engine troubles. Almost immediately, everyone went for the parachutes, but Clark, who was inspecting the packs with his x-ray vision, notices a ripped parachute and switches it with his good one. Luckily for Clark, nobody notices the Human Aliens dropping like a stone in the arctic night.
  • The cover of Marvel Romance Redux: Restraining Orders Are For Other Girls.
  • One Leonard Le Genie comic has the disciple open the parachute, only to reveal a sheet of paper from the maid Mathurine, saying the parachute is in laundry.



  • There is a joke about Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, the Dalai Lama and a Boy Scout on a plane that is going down. (The identities of the figures vary according to when and where the joke is told. It's a very old joke.) There are only three parachutes. Michael Jordan declares that he is the world's greatest athlete and therefore deserves to live, grabs a parachute and leaps out. Bill Gates declares he is the world's smartest man and therefore deserves to live, grabs a parachute and leaps out. The Dalai Lama offers to give the last parachute to the Boy Scout. The Boy Scout says, "It's fine, Your Holiness. There are still two parachutes. The world's smartest man just jumped out wearing my knapsack."

Live Action TV

  • Referenced in an episode of Friends. When Chandler realizes he's Digging Himself Deeper, he exclaims "Dear God, this parachute is a knapsack!"
  • Used as a gag in one episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?—a Scenes From a Hat game asked for things that one wouldn't want to see when their parachute didn't open.

Greg: [pulls ripcord] Miniature Snickers?!
Colin: [pulls ripcord, opens book] "What To Do When Your Parachute Doesn't Open."


Newspaper Comics

  • A Far Side cartoon shows a skydiver with a piano and an anchor coming out of his backpack.

"Murray didn't feel the first pangs of real panic until he pulled the emergency cord..."


Web Comics

  • Schlock Mercenary had eponymous amorph left behind because he doesn't have armor (he's ridiculously hard to kill anyway) and they were going through vacuum. Following the team on his own in an emergency exosuit, Schlock quickly discovered that the emergency suit doesn't have gravitics like powered armor and he's going to "navigate" a shaft 6.2 kilometers deep ballistically, in near- Earth gravity, but zero air resistance.

Western Animation

  • In Duck Amuck, Daffy's parachute works just fine, but the animator erases the chute and replaces it with an anvil.
  • On one Wile E Coyote and The Road Runner cartoon, Wile E. tries to be Crazy Prepared by wearing a parachute in case he falls off a cliff. He opens it and out comes... canning samples.
  • In a Boot Camp Episode of Animaniacs, while plummeting toward the ground with their Drill Sergeant, the Warners tell him that they took the liberty of washing the sheets he stores in his backpack. He pulls the cord and a duck-headed flotation device comes out.
  • Family Guy: Brian is going skydiving. Right before he jumps out, the instructor stops him and points out that he grabbed "the one with silverware" in it. He tosses Brian another parachute... that contains an anvil.

"... that one's probably fine. ..."

  • In one episode of Laff-A-Lympics, Mumbly switches the tags on Grape Ape's and Yakky Doodle's parachutes during a skydiving competition. The small parachute causes Grape Ape to fall like a stone, while the large parachute leaves Yakky Doodle stranded aloft in a thunderstorm.
  • Happened on The Magic School Bus's desert episode. Arnold tries to avoid his usual complainer status by being Crazy Prepared. When the Friz puts the bus-plane into a steep dive when the arrive in the desert, Arnold asks Liz for his parachute.

Arnold: That's not a parachute! That's a pair of shoes!