10 of the Most Memorable Elevator Scenes in Movies


I ride in an elevator every day during the week in order to get to my office (and no, I’m not one of those lazy bastards who takes the elevator from the first to the second floor).  And for a moment, I’m trapped inside a small space, usually with one or more people joining me.  Maybe someone will make some small talk about the weather, but for the most part, it’s a quick, uneventful trip to the fifth floor.

But not in movies.  In movies, anything can happen in an elevator.  It could get stuck, people could have sex, or their could be a fight to the death.  Below, check out 10 of the most memorable elevator scenes in movies to see just what I’m talking about.  As always, let me know if I’ve left off one of your favorites.  Some clips are NSFW, ad there are some spoilers.

The Departed


I certainly never saw this coming when I saw The Departed.  Completely out of nowhere.

The Shining


This alternate preview for the movie shows an extended version of the elevator scene, in which poor Danny and Wendy are subjected to the horrible images of the Overlook Hotel.

Vanilla Sky


As a warning, this scene is a huge spoiler.  All the surreal, trippy things that have been happening to David Ames since his car accident are explained to him.  A lot of people don’t really care for this movie, but I’ve always maintained that it’s pretty damn good.


Jake Green (Jason Statham) is confronted by is own ego in this very well-done scene by Guy Ritchie.

Willy Wonka

The infamous Wonkavator!  I couldn’t find a full video clip, but I figured these screenshots coupled with the original score would be better than posting the dreadful Tim Burton version of the scene.

Get Carter


A very cool fight scene, courtesy of Sly.  Even in his later years, the guy is a total bad ass.

Die Hard

The ol’ makeshift computer bomb down the shaft of an elevator.  Works every time.

Police Story 2


You don’t need subtitles to understand what’s going on in this elevator.  In fact, I doubt you even need sound – but it helps.

Diamonds are Forever

James Bond takes on Peter Franks on this dinky little elevator.



Here’s the trailer for the Dick Maas film about…a killer lift!

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  1. Can we get a shout out to the elevator scene in the first Matrix movie? While short, it’s the revelation that “there is no spoon”, makes it one of the most memorable elevator scene to me. Not to mention, that following explosion is just awesome 🙂

  2. I cant say too much about it as terms of my lawsuit settlement dictate, but scary elevator moments do happen in real life.

    I was on the 36th floor of an educational building in the US (if you want to guess which one, look it up, there aren’t many educational buildings that tall in the US). I went down in the elevator when the braking system, well, broke.

    I ended up being saved by the emergency brake which stopped me about 3 feet before “splat”. The impact broke my back in two places and I was trapped for over 90 minutes. Rescuers had no way to get in the elevator to get to me; they had to have me stand up (with a broken back) and grabbed me by the arms to pull me out of the elevator, which was stuck about 6 feet below ground floor.

    All this happened in the middle of the day in the largest building on campus, with thousands of people going by and watching.

    Either way, I thought I’d share with you “my” elevator moment. It’s a fun story to tell at parties around people who have never heard it. The gasps and shrieks of those who are already scared of elevators are priceless.

    Also, in case you’re wondering, I rode in that same elevator again a little over a year later. (It’s the only one that goes up all 36 floors and I’ll be damned if I’m walking up 36 flights of stairs. I’d rather break my back again, haha.

  3. I’m with you on the departed. I literally yelled when it happened, then sat there in disbelief. Love you, Leo!

    Even as a kid I thought the willy wonka elevator looked fake as hell. Maybe I was born a little cynical.

  4. I was just talking with a coworker the other day about how often you see scenes in elevators. I even look for the hatch that we’ve always come to expect in the ceiling because of movies, and I rarely see it. The one at my workplace just has a bank of lights across the entire ceiling.

  5. I like some of your choices but when I think memorable elevator scenes what comes to mind is the first level in the original Unreal game ( I know its not a movie, but it was a scripted scene that is brilliantly executed ).

  6. @ Matt

    My guess is Cathedral of Learning? Have tried Googling about it, but no success on the story. Anywhere to find more information that you would be able to post?

    Hope you heal as soon as possible if not already,


  7. In addition to the Die hard scene, the one I favor more in fact is the elevator scene in the 3rd, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE —

    Bruce realizes he is in an elevator with 4 baddies posing as cops, and after some wisecracking about the lottery he gives each of them two more holes in their heads.

  8. When you start thinking about it…..there’s absolutely loads of elevator scenes

    Most of these listed and suggested seem to be Action-orientated though, what about the more subtle scenes such as the Pink Panther, ‘gangster, farting scene’, the ‘Ghostbuster switching on the proton pack for the first time’ scene, the Out of Sight ‘waving at your crush\cop trying to chase you’ scene and the Big Trouble in little china ‘drinking of the super ju-ju juice’ scene

    The untouchables and The matrix scenes are also great shout outs….!!!

  9. I also just realized that every Die Hard movie features scenes in an elevator. The first has several, including the homemade bomb, the second has McClane getting away from the cops/airport security by exiting out the top of the elevator, the third has the scene Aditya mentioned, and the fourth has the SUV in an elevator shaft scene.

    Another cool elevator scene is the opening of the first Mission: Impossible movie. There’s the cool sneaking the spies have to do with the secured elevator, and they top it all off by crushing Emilio Estevez in the shaft.

  10. I notice someone above mentioned Fatal Attraction. That’s the FIRST THING that comes to mind when someone says the phrase “elevator scene.” Maybe because I saw it when I was so young and it wasn’t meant for my eyes. It’s etched into my brain.

  11. I loved the elevator scene in 5 Corners (actually, the on-top-of-the-elevators scene) with the Flower Duet from Delibes’ Lakme playing in the background.

  12. Matrix and Speed fro sure.

    Not that it was anything special, the short elevator scene near the start of Spider-Man 2 (when he had to take the elevator down after temp losing his powers) had a certain charm to it.

  13. What about the one from Willard where the elevator opens with Crispin Glover in the middle of it or when the rats follow R Lee Emory to the elevator and eat him alive?

  14. The Eye – original, not remake. When I watched this at almost fully packed theatre, half of the people was screaming, and the other half was laughing 🙂

    Mirror – again, original, not Aja remake.

    Also, one of the episodes of Six Feet Under had guy cut in half by elevator. (I know it’s not a movie, but certainly a memorable scene.)

  15. I know I am totally late to comment on this article, but when I read the title and started thinking of elevator scenes the first one to pop into my head was the scene from the first resident evil movie where they are trapped on the elevator and trying to get out…

  16. I realize this is not as well-known as any of these other fine movies on the list, but I just have to at least throw it out there:

    Deep Red. Or “Profundo Rosso”, if you prefer.

    It’s an Italian horror movie from the 1970’s, and it has an awesome elevator scene literally in the last minute of the movie. I should add that the scene doesn’t actually take place INSIDE the elevator, but you watch it and then tell me if that really matters.

  17. The Shaft (also known as “Down”)
    Resident Evil ( last of first scene)
    Final Destination 2 (man with hooks)
    Devil (whole movie on elevator)
    Death Machine (middle-ish scene)
    Mission Impossible (begining)
    Woman Found Dead in an Elevator (nothing really happens elevator related.. besides the fact that she was found there.. more comical)
    Terminator 2: Judgement Day (midway through, one of best scenes in my opinion)
    And if we’re REALLY going to get into the 2012’s here, then I have to say Cabin in the Woods. xP

    Anyway, I’m an elevator phobia, and an intense love of scaring myself sh*tless in movies, so I watch a lot of movies with elevator scenes in them.. so I know my way around elevator scenes containing blood and guts. XD

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