Created By: Unknown Troper on January 5, 2010
Troped

Giant Wall of Watery Doom

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The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was caused by an earthquake on the seabed that released a titanic amount of energy, but an important interpretation of that release is in the amount of work it performed, that is, how much movement that energy generated in the matter around it (the Indian Ocean). Estimates put the total work done to be close to 4.0x1022 Joules, equivalent to the work done by 9.5 gigatons of TNT or 550 million times the work done by the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The resulting devastation was cataclysmic, and need not be further elaborated here.

Water, in large amounts and at anything above a modest velocity, is very dangerous stuff. Storm surges and flash floods claim hundreds of lives and cause millions of dollars in damage every year, while major disasters such as dam collapses and tidal waves can cause widespread destruction.

So when the character steps out of his house and sees a two-hundred foot high wall of the stuff stretching on into the horizon moving at a deceptively patient pace towards him, it usually results in an intense Oh Crap! moment.

Inversion of Soft Water (or an aversion, as even being buried by an avalanche of fluffy pillows would likely be quite lethal if there were a few million tons of them moving at seventy miles an hour). A very literal way to Kill It with Water. Can occur when a character who makes a splash really pushes themselves to the limit.

Examples

Anime & Manga
  • In One Piece, the annual giant wave hits the city of Water 7 . Later in the series, Whitebeard uses his quake-quake fruit power to create an instant tsunami.
  • Happens in Saikano.

Comic Books

Film
  • A Perfect Storm
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?, with The sheriff's eventual demise.
  • Jackass, where Johnny Knoxville (with diving mask, snorkel, and flippers) stands in front of a massive water tank perched in front of a ramp. The camera looks up at him from below, and over the course of three seconds he's standing there, water rushes over the camera, and when it clears he's completely vanished.
  • The Abyss. Scenes near the end of where the undersea creatures create gigantic walls of water near major coastal cities as a warning to humans to stop warfare.
  • The Guns of Navarone. The protagonists crash their ship into the coast of Navarone in a storm. As they're trying to unload it, they see a huge wall of water approaching. They desperately try to get away before it hits.
  • In Deep Impact, this provides an Obi Wan Moment for several main characters.
  • What, no one saw The Day After Tomorrow or 2012?
  • Wrath Of The Ocean

Video Games
  • Happens in Chrono Trigger, as a result of a floating chain of islands crashing into the sea. Results are about as catastrophic as you'd think.

Literature

Western Animation

Tabletop Games
  • Isn't there a Wall of Water card in Magic: The Gathering?
  • Early Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Oriental Adventures had the shukenja and wu jen "Tsunami" spells, which caused a tidal wave at least 180 feet high.
    • The Forgotten Realms had the Tidal Wave spell, which was 75 feet high.

Real Life
  • The New Year Wave incident.
  • In Alaska, a piece of a mountain fell into a lake, and it is estimated that the resulting splash was nearly 1/2 mile (800m) high.
  • The only tsunami to kill people in Canada occurred in 1929, off the coast of Newfoundland. An earthquake in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge created a wave of water that swept houses completely off the land. The locals called it the "great big sea;" a local band named themselves af
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • January 1, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Film
    • The Abyss. Scenes near the end of where the undersea creatures create gigantic walls of water near major coastal cities as a warning to humans to stop warfare.
    • The Guns of Navarone. The protagonists crash their ship into the coast of Navarone in a storm. As they're trying to unload it, they see a huge wall of water approaching. They desperately try to get away before it hits.
  • January 2, 2010
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Film

    Real Life
  • January 2, 2010
    jason taylor
    They had this during a typhoon in Silent Ship Silent Sea.
  • January 2, 2010
    Unknown%20Troper
    • In One Piece, the annual giant wave hits the city of Water 7 . Later in the series, Whitebeard uses his quake-quake fruit power to create an instant tsunami.
  • January 2, 2010
    JAF1970
    Er, in Deep Impact, it's in the trailer. Not exactly spoiler material.
  • January 2, 2010
    JAF1970
    Isn't there a Wall of Water card in Magic The Gathering?
  • January 2, 2010
    Aminatep
    Happens in Saikano.
  • January 2, 2010
    lunarkweh
    Happens in Chrono Trigger, as a result of a floating chain of islands crashing into the sea. Results are about as catastrophic as you'd think.
  • January 2, 2010
    Polar Bear
    The Life And Times Of Scrooge Mc Duck: in The Dreamtime Duck of Never-Never, Scrooge runs away from a massive wave in the Australian desert. It makes sense in context.
  • January 2, 2010
    Assistant
    What, no one saw The Day After Tomorrow or 2012?
  • January 3, 2010
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Early Dungeons And Dragons:
      • Oriental Adventures had the shukenja and wu jen "Tsunami" spells, which caused a tidal wave at least 180 feet high.
      • The Forgotten Realms had the Tidal Wave spell, which was 75 feet high.
  • January 3, 2010
    Assistant
    There's also the destruction of Kilika in Final Fantasy X.
  • January 3, 2010
    wanderlustwarrior
    spoiler tag the part about Whitebeard. also, how about Tidal Wave Of Doom?
  • January 3, 2010
    Ronka87
    Real life: The only tsunami to kill people in Canada occurred in 1929, off the coast of Newfoundland. An earthquake in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge created a wave of water that swept houses completely off the land. The locals called it the "great big sea;" a local band named themselves after the event.
  • January 4, 2010
    LarryD
    Public service announcement: If you are on the coast and you see that the tide has gone way, way, out; head for high ground immediately! That is the leading indicator of a tsunami.
  • January 4, 2010
    PrimoVictoria
    Wrath Of The Ocean movie?
  • January 5, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    I disagree with the tidal wave name. The trope can be invoked by floods and superpowers and dam breakages, after all, so it's probably best not to pin it down.

    Still, name could probably be more witty...
  • January 5, 2010
    Caravelle
    Ah, I was looking for that trope when I wanted to describe Now And Then Here And There's Inferred Holocaust.

    Is this a tsunami specifically, or does a smaller Wall of Water count ? I'm thinking of the water rushing in in some scenes of Titanic
  • January 5, 2010
    Caravelle
    Lovely, I'd forgotten about the edit button so I posted three times to correct my mistakes in the previous posts.
  • January 5, 2010
    Caravelle
    Sorry 'bout that.
  • January 5, 2010
    Chabal2
    The beginning of Golden Sun 2 has a tidal wave (well, good thing they told us it was a tidal wave) that rams your little floating peninsula back onto the mainland, and also allows the last main character to join you (eventually).
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