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Upside down man

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I have seen this imagery often in TV and movies, though it doesn’t have to be a man. One of the tarot cards is the upside down man or hanged man, who dangles upside down from a tree (the ‘world tree’) by one leg, while the other leg hangs loose and is bent at an angle. This image is based on an upside down crucifixion (Saint Peter is often shown this way). The Pope is associated with St. Peter, so the Pope is sometimes seen next to an inverted cross, though some associate the inverted cross with Satan.

Tarot card

An inverted tree is an ancient motif in Creation stories, e.g. in ancient Indian texts the universe is symbolised as an inverted tree called ASHWATTHA. There is an old tradition of hanging Xmas trees upside down from the ceiling.

The symbolism of being upside down could refer to the inverted pentagram or to the bizarre ‘inner becomes the outer’ nature of the Great Work. Bats hang upside down. Dracula turns into a bat. In “Labyrinth” (1986), the King of the Goblins, JARETH, says “I have reordered time; I have turned the world upside down”. Jareth has a wish-giving (Genie like) quality. This article is ongoing as I add to it slowly.

LAUREL AND HARDY – In “County Hospital”, Olly hangs upside down by one leg while his other leg dangles loose.

HAT TRICK PRODUCTIONS – British TV production company (mostly comedy), whose logo is a white rabbit (Alice In Wonderland?) pulling a man from a hat by one leg, thus there are 2 inversions: the upside down man and the role reversal. Usually it’s the rabbit that’s pulled from the hat by a magician.

THE SIMPSONS – see the Simpsons section for numerous examples that I’ll be adding to, but here is one of them. “The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons” – an elephant holds Homer upside down by one leg. Earlier, Homer had imitated the elephant god GANESH.

The “Recycle More” logo is an upside down person with one leg askew. The Great Work is a kind of recycling: karma/energy is reused.

Recycle more logo

“Astro Boy” (2009) – Astro boy is held upside down by one leg.

“The Wrong Trousers” (1993) – while hanging upside down from the ceiling, one of Wallace’s feet leaves the ceiling, leaving one of his legs dangling.

“The Dark Knight” (2008) – The Joker is held upside down by one leg by a rope/wire(?).

“Darkman” (1990) – someone is held upside down by one leg. “Darkman” was written and directed by SAM RAIMI who created the cult horror film series “Evil Dead” (he wrote and directed it). In Darkman, the protagonist is burned and disfigured. A hospital operation cuts his nerves so he no longer feels physical pain. The Great Work is an attempt to cut out pain.

“South Park”

Series 14, episode 11 “Coon 2” – A monster from another dimension holds a man upside down by his leg.
Series 15, ep 11 “Broadway Bro Down” – Someone dressed as Spider-man ends up hanging upside down by one leg.


“Finders Keepers” – Stewie hangs from a rope by one leg.
“Mr And Mrs Stewie” – Stewie hangs from a lamppost.


“The Magnificent Steven” – Stan hung upside down by one leg by a rope.

“Garfield and Friends” – Stan holds Hayley upside down by one leg.

“Ninety North, Zero West”, series 16 episode 7 – KRAMPUS holds Santa Claus u/d by one leg. 

“The Sword in The Stone” (1963) – the Disney film version. Merlin holds his owl assistant upside down by one leg.

“The X-Files” Series 7, Episode 6 “The Goldberg Variation” – man upside down by one leg. This episode involves a man who appears to be very good at beating the odds. (beating God?).

“The Lorax” (2012) – a young boy (TED) is held upside down by one leg. Ted wants to see a real tree (the tree of life? The world tree? The tree of life?). He meets someone who chopped a tree down and released the ‘guardian of the forest’: The Lorax. Releasing the Lorax = releasing the Genie from the lamp?

The 9/11 ‘Falling Man’ – the well publicised photo of a man falling upside down from one of the twin towers was taken by one of the few photographers who were standing close to Robert Kennedy when he was assassinated in 1968: RICHARD DREW.

“The Poseidon Adventure” (1972) – disaster movie in which a ship is turned upside down. The advert for the film read: “Hell, Upside Down”. There is an Xmas tree in the boat, hence an upside down Xmas tree.

“Dumbo” (1941) – Walt Disney animated film. The circus Ringmaster is held upside down by one leg.

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011) – The protagonist ETHAN HUNT (Tom Cruise) is held upside down by one leg.

“Toy Story That Time Forgot” (2014) – a short spinoff of the “Toy Story” film series. Buzz and Woody are both held upside down by one leg by a T-Rex.

“The Adventures of TinTin: Secret Of The Unicorn” (2011) – animated movie. A sailor is hung upside down by one leg by a rope.

“Wallace And Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death” – animated movie. Wallace is hung upside down by one leg from a windmill. The movie’s co-writers included BOB BAKER who co-wrote other WALLACE AND GROMIT movies and who co-wrote “Dr Who” scripts and co-wrote the paranormal Children’s TV series “Sky” about a time travelling psychic alien. Baker also co-wrote the fantasy Children’s TV series “Into The Labyrinth”, about 2 feuding, timeless, sorcerers.

RED DWARF – Sci-fi comedy series. In the episode “Dimension Jump”, Rimmer is tied upside down from a tree branch by both legs.

“Howl’s Moving Castle” (2004) – animation. A scarecrow has a wooden cross for a body and is often upside down, e.g. he is found upside down.

“Epic” (2013) – animated movie. In the opening scenes, one of the protagonists is held upside down by one leg by a bird. The loose leg is bent at the knee.

“Morph TV with Tony Hart” (1997) – BBC TV Children’s series. I’m not sure which episode, but CHAS is held upside down by one leg by a rope held by MORPH as a medical cure!

u/d = upside down

“The Pirates! In an Animated Adventure with Scientists” (2012) – animated movie. At the end of the film, the captain hangs u/d by one leg and closes one eye.

“Mary and the Witch’s Flower” (2017) – animated fantasy. MADAM MUMBLECHOOK holds PETER u/d by one leg.

“Naked Gun 33 1/3” (1994) – comedy movie. FRANK DREBIN and a villain are suspended u/d by one leg with a rope.

“Star Trek V” – sci-fi movie. SPOCK holds KIRK u/d by his feet.

“The Predator” (2018) – sci-fi action film. Towards the end of the film, the protagonist QUINN hangs u/d by one leg with a wire/rope (?)

“Ghostbusters II” (1989) – paranormal comedy film. In a courtroom scene, a ghost holds a lady u/d by one leg. 

More to come…