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In Daredevil, S2 E11, the title character displays some impressive acrobatics.

A group of assassins sent by the Hand break into Metro-General Hospital to reclaim children used for occult rituals. Matt Murdock and Claire fend them off, with Claire defenestrating an assassin with a coat hanger. Ninja assassins must be big on poetic justice, because they immediately attempt to return the favor, throwing her out the same window in turn.

Daredevil then

vaults out the window, grabs one of the grappling hook lines left by the assassins, grabs Claire, and smashes through a lower window.

Now, how did Daredevil manage to catch up given the other character's head start?

Daredevil is heavier. If I recall correctly, mass does enter the equation of motion for a falling object when air resistance is accounted for, with the acceleration due to drag inversely proportional. However, drag is also proportional to surface area, which Daredevil has more of. In any case, the forces are only acting over a distance of a few dozen feet at most.

How did Daredevil build up the necessary downward momentum to accomplish this feat?

  • Visual effects – apollo Mar 22 '16 at 10:30
  • Obviously is a plot fail. Writers wanted to exit DD and Claire out so the ninjas could flee with the patients. They just wrote a scene that brokes physics.... just remember that they are writers, not physicst – Bardo Mar 22 '16 at 11:37
  • They show in sky diving at least that if one is laying flatish and the other is vertical you can catch up to a falling object if they have the space to do that a few floors up is sketchy – Himarm Mar 22 '16 at 12:43
  • Why the downvotes? This is (a) a question about a sci-fi/fantasy TV show that (b) might have an objective answer in some element of the scene that I did not catch. I feel like it is customary here to explain downvotes. – Adamant Mar 22 '16 at 19:27
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    This is a universe with aliens, sentient robots, telekinetics, zombie ninjas, invincible men, people who can talk to ants, and some guy that becomes a giant monster if he gets angry, and you're finding the fact that a blind ninja can somehow increase his downward momentum in too short of a space is where you have trouble believing things? – phantom42 Mar 25 '16 at 20:20
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In-universe, he built up momentum by pointing himself downwards and diving towards Claire. Claire is positioned horizontally, so she's supposedly slowing herself down, similar to how a parachute would. He has less "resistance", so he goes faster than she does.

Out-of-universe, this obviously doesn't make a ton of sense. But it's a very common occurrence in action movies and tv shows, and you're supposed to apply a bit of suspension of disbelief. See the TVTropes page on Variable Terminal Velocity:

How fast you fall depends on who and what you are.

The wacky world of TV physics seems to postulate, among other factors, that how fast a person or object is pulled towards the ground is a function of how heroic they are, and not the constant acceleration of gravity (9.8 meters/second^2) that the rest of us have to deal with.

For instance, no matter how tall a cliff or building is, should a character or a fragile vase fall off, there will always be enough time for the Hero to leap after them, catch up to them in mid-fall, and rescue them.

This is a gross violation of physics in most cases. One object accelerated by gravity alone cannot pass another such object that was dropped before it. Neither the size of the objects nor the relative virtues of them can change that. Galileo and Newton both famously showed this, and Dave Scott confirmed it much later in a near-perfect vacuum.

Even factoring in wind resistance, you'd need to fall a very long distance (as in thousands of feet while skydiving, not the hundreds of feet out an apartment window) for that effect to be workable in your favor. And you also have to make sure the wind resistance is, in fact, in the rescuer's favor (by, say, falling forward and keeping your arms and legs together as the rescuer while the person in danger is falling flat with their limbs hanging out).

It only gets worse if the falling rescuing hero completes the rescue with help of Building Swing gadgetry like grappling hooks or ropes: in Real Life, a falling person trying that would be more likely to lose the rope than save the person on the other end.

Then again, you're watching a show about a blind guy who fights crime by listening to heartbeats, so you're not really supposed to think too hard about this stuff.

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    Somehow related, there is also that other trope "It is the ground that kills you not the impact", so if you grab some flagpole or are catch mid-air, any fall damage is negated. – SPArchaeologist Mar 22 '16 at 17:45
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    @SPArchaeologist Yep, that's linked in the Variable Terminal Velocity TVTropes article: Not the Fall That Kills You – Kevin Workman Mar 22 '16 at 18:01
  • Yes, I was afraid it might be this. I always look for a good in-universe answer whenever possible, but I was not sure there would be one. – Adamant Mar 22 '16 at 19:31
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    This is SF.stackexchange. We're supposed to think too hard about this stuff. – Adamant Mar 22 '16 at 19:42
  • @Jonah Ha! I agree that thinking about this stuff is fun. I just don't think the writers wanted you to think too hard about it. – Kevin Workman Mar 22 '16 at 19:51

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