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Arts & Entertainment

Rope Tricks

Penn & Teller

Lesson time 6:10 min

Rope tricks play with images of destruction and resurrection. Penn & Teller walk you through their version of cut and restored rope tricks.

Penn & Teller
Teach the Art of Magic
In their first-ever MasterClass, Teller breaks his silence as he and Penn teach their approach to creating moments of wonder and astonishment.
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[MYSTERIOUS MUSIC] - Let's learn a little bit about rope tricks. Teller will show you the basics right here. You cut a rope, and then you put it back together. That's all a rope trick really is. Teller's cut a rope, and he's put it back together. But now it's magic. Another basic plot of magic is restoration. Something's destroyed, and it comes back. You burn it, you rip it up, you tear it up, you cut it up, you destroy it, and then it's restored. And another prop that's used in magic a lot is rope. Rope is used so much. Teller's going to do a little cut and restored rope for you here. - We'll take the middle of the rope, and we're going to cut that with a pair of scissors like this. That leaves us with two pieces. Let's tie them together. Tie them together. The knot would be better down here, don't you think, or maybe down here, or maybe gone altogether? OK, let's all learn this. You might want to stand up. - OK. - Start with the two ends of the rope in your two hands. Put both of them in your left hand. Clip them under your thumb. Good. Grab the middle of the rope with your palm up. Take two fingers like this, and as you raise your hand, grab this piece of rope and pull it up instead of the middle, hiding this folded joint. Now use your scissors to cut the rope. Take one of the ropes that is intact and drop it on the right, one on the left, and hide that joint, hide that joint so people think they're looking at two pieces of rope. And the rest is very simple. You just take those two ends and tie them in a double knot around each other. And that looks enough like a like a regular double knot. Once it's there, hold the rope so that you can see the position of that. Then you can move it down, and people will laugh a little bit. Move it down a little more. People will laugh a little more. Finally, throw the knot away and display the rope as intact. Now, if you want to get really fancy, like I sometimes do-- I know this is not polite. But you can do this, and you can do this. Tie a knot like that. Would you hold-- just take the end of the knot, please. - This one? - Just the end of the knot. - This one? - Yeah. I'll see you later. - Oh. - But that's fancy. [PLAYFUL MUSIC] PENN (VOICEOVER): Cut and restored rope. [MYSTERIOUS MUSIC] Hold both ends of the rope in your left hand between the thumb and index finger with the back of the hand toward the audience and the looped middle hanging down. With your right hand, grab the very center of the rope and bring it up to the ends of the rope, and the left hand grabs it with the center loop sticking up above the left hand to the right of the two ends. With your right hand, reach for the scissors. And as you do, the left hand accidentally drops the center of the rope, making it necessary to repeat the procedure. However, this time you'll do a secret move that simulates the previous action but makes the trick possible. With...

Open your mind with magic

With more than 40 years performing together, Penn & Teller have sold out shows around the world, earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and created the longest-running headline act in Las Vegas. Now the legendary magicians are taking you behind the curtain. Learn fundamental magic tricks and the psychological tools that create amazement, at home or on stage. Expand your perception of the possible.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Science is a kind of magic. But in the end we tell how we do it! Magic always helps in a physics class and magic theory helps with the teaching/presentation. T2

Humor and great lesson with cheap articles on which to practice!!

I am about to become the Greatest Papa a grandchild has ever had!

Love the insights and passion of these two. An honest and forthright masterclass.


A fellow student

This is a good trick, but it has some very unsatisfactory details. (1) When you clearly identify the centre of the rope and then bring it up into the other hand, why are the two loops hanging down of different length? From an audience perspective, this looks very suspicious. (2) If you were to cut the rope really in the middle (ie would not do the swap with the end bit behind your hand) then the two piece on the right would be dropped down to show two equal lengths of rope, not, as in the trick, the piece on the far left in your left hand and the piece on the far right. So pulling down the rope from the very left of the left hand also looks suspicious to a watchful audience. (3) tying the first knot looks very suspicious, as if it was really tying two separate pieces of rope together, you could not pull like that, you would have to carefully hold the first knot to be able to tie the second knot and (4) the double know looks unrealistically fat. (5) why is the knot not in the middle if the rope was cut in the middle? I wonder if there are any established work-arounds for all of this to make it look more convincing?

Greg R.

I love the recaps at the end that show the trick from the magician's perspective. It's really helpful to have something you can follow through with just the instructions.

Bob T.

Don't mean to be mean but it was a bit disappointing that Teller demoed the trick with a Pop Off Knot... twice and taught the trick as a sliding knot. Really wished he explained what he performed or at least kept the performance to what he was prepared to teach.


Best Class Ever !!! Penn and Teller define "Master Class". I feel honored to have this experience.


PENN AND TELLER CONTEST! Win two tickets to see P&T live in Las Vegas. Enter a video of you performing a Penn and Teller-inspired magic trick into the Community:

Rich C.

Fun stuff. Tip: Get "magician's rope" at your local magic store or online. Tug the center strand out (discard it) and the rope becomes very pliable and easy to manipulate (while appearing, and being, completely ordinary).

andrew P.

Also get very good scissors for this trick. Scissors from a fabric store.