Why does Indiana Jones not fall when he grabs the wrong letters in The Last Crusade?

In Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, when Indiana Jones steps on the letters to spell out the God's name and he accidentally steps on J, which was the wrong letter, he falls and grabs onto other letters to not to fall. However, the letters he grabs are L and Y, which are also wrong letters. According to the clue, these letters should also have been collapsed but these do not? why?

• I never came across a good explanation for this. It seems it's simply a goof.
– Walt
Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 17:21
• Only thing I can think of here is that those steps were somehow were Feet sensitive. Responding only to steps of a man and not touch.
– user30432
Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 11:20
• Presumably, the centers of the stepping stones were weaker than the edges. Maybe he could have just walked on the cracks all the way across. His mother was already dead, so there would be no concern about breaking her back. :-) Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 14:05
• It's hard to believe that the steps are foot sensitive. I mean, this is reading a lot into the scene. Like @Walt says, this seems a pretty clear goof. Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 17:30
• 'J' breaks when he merely places one foot on it, though. And another tile falls when he just lightly touches it on his way to 'O'. [Which means this whole thing could've been easily solved with just a long stick, TBH... Too bad the staff of Ra wasn't handy ;)]
– Walt
Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 20:57

Well, I think the answer of this question is in the second clue, which is:

Only in the footsteps of God will he proceed

This clue means that he has to step on the letters that spell out the God's name. When he puts his first step on the wrong letters and falls, he grabs the wrong letters with his hand (not by foot). That is why these letters `L and Y` do not break.

Besides, when he reaches the letter O, he also accidentally steps (about one-fourth part of his foot) on letter P which was just before the letter O. Since it is wrong, it falls down. These are some assumptions we can take from the second clue, and I do not think that is a goof.

• LOL Indie could handstand and pass all without correct combination of letters :D
– user30432
Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 17:32
• he would have if he was a gymnast not an archaeologist. However, these are just assumptions.
– A J
Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 17:33
• ▲ for being not lazy and giving out that answer.
– user30432
Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 17:37

Previous answers assume that only those letters which were on the path across had supports underneath them. For a floor that large to stay up, lots of letters had to have supports under them. All that is necessary is that those supports which aren't on the true path eventually lead to dead ends, where the next support isn't reachable by stepping. When Indy fell through, he was simply able to grab the top of a letter on one of these off-path supports.

• Although what your said is most definitely logical, we can clearly see a few pillars when they shoot from below as he's falling, and the letters he slammed into when he fell had nothing below them. It looked like a chain reaction should have happened, considering how thin the ground looked. Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 20:15
• See the following picture from the movie, which proves there is nothing holding the letters he grabbed as he fell. Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 6:47

I found this interesting site where your question is listed as one of the goofs of the movie. Top 10 mistakes and all the mistakes.

And another interesting fact from the site is this mistake:

Jehovah is spelled Iehovah in Latin. However medieval languages (Latin or vernacular) had neither official rules nor the letter 'J'. It was not until the sixteenth century that the French humanist Pierre de la Ramée proposed to use the 'J' as a separate letter distinct from the 'I'. The 'J' could therefore not have been a trap at the time the test was constructed.

• Well, maybe and maybe not. There was a guardian who stood watch for centuries, and, I'd assume, others have tried and failed. At some point, the guardian probably had to do some reconstruction and maintenance, otherwise the "trap" portion of the trap would be gone and only the winning path would remain. In restoring the trap, he very well could have adapted it to meet the evolution of the alphabet. :D Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 18:42
• @PoloHoleSet He also spoke very fine modern English, so. This is not a movie that was shot to answer these questions. Commented Jan 31 at 18:16

One possible explanation is because he grabbed a correct letter.

This is what the tiles look like (I added some coloured circles for ease of explanation below):

The wrong letter on which he stepped was the J, which is circled in red. The letters against which he slammed were directly in front of him, which means the I and the Y.

When he falls:

The shot from below when he's hanging on after falling through the hole. Notice how his left hand is grabbing on the I tile and the right hand is grabbing the Y tile, both of which are not supported by any pillar whatsoever:

When he recovers:

If you look closely, you will notice that some letters appear more than once (circled in green are C, and circled in purple are G). The other I on which he steps is circled in pink, on the left, in front of the M which is in the left corner, and next to the G:

Which basically means there isn't one single correct way to reach the other side, as long as you got the correct answer and do it properly.

Still, some questions are left unanswered:

• If that is indeed an I, Indy could have stepped on it instead of going for the other one which is harder to reach.
• Although the three G tiles have similar font, the I letter on which he steps on doesn't look anything like the one against which he slammed. But it looks too much like a capital I to be mistaken with another letter.
• The Y tile next to the I he slammed against should have fallen, considering his elbow touched it, the same way the P tile almost fell when he was stepping on the O tile.

• In case you think it's a lowercase L and not an I, there's an actual L on the right of the pink circle (where the other I is located). Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 19:36

My thought is that EVERY letter not in the name Jahova couldn't collapse. The structure needed to have some (most) non-Jahova(Iahova) letters remain to suspend the letters in Jahova. So to review, if you went through the blocks and knocked out every non-Jahova letter, the blocks holding the Jahova letters would also collapse due to lack of support. So SOME of the non-Jahova blocks were permanent. Enough of a deterrent to make it a very dangerous test still.

• Hi, welcome to Movies & TV. Even if what you say is true, and it would be better if you had evidence for this, it's not apparent that the "Y" tile is necessary? Commented Jan 29 at 19:23