Created By: HumanaUox on March 25, 2011 Last Edited By: HumanaUox on March 28, 2011

Water Water Nowhere

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(This is my second YKTTW. Take it easy on me.)

Ah, water. It's one of the most abundant substances on Earth, and it's a thing we generally take for granted. How does that saying go, that you don't realize what you have until you've lost it?

Often enough, a fictional world (be it future Earth or another planet) will lack water, or at least have very little of it. Water might be "wet gold," it might be currency, it might even have spiritual significance, all due to its scarcity. Water can often serve as a metaphor for something else, like oil or semen.


The movie Solarbabies takes place on a pretty dystopian version of Earth where destruction of natural resources has sent the planet into a desert-like state.

The Trope Codifier, if not Ur-Example, has to be Frank Herbert's Dune series, most of which takes place on a desert planet. Water is pretty much everything.

Not quite as severe as the other examples, but it is implied in Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land that water is scarcer on Mars than Earth, and has spiritual value to the Martians.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • March 25, 2011
    Uchuu Senkan Yamato takes place on one.
  • March 25, 2011
    That old 1980s skate game show... I forgot what name was, but all water was captured by megacorpration and people worked for water.
  • March 25, 2011
    The movie The Ice Pirates is based on this trope--water is so rare, people steal ice.
  • March 25, 2011
    Wavy brackets for single-word titles.
  • March 25, 2011
  • March 25, 2011
    • It's never a plot point, but the Lucky Starr series mentions that water is limited on Mars, and has heightened value for Martian-born people.
  • March 25, 2011
    The town of Dirt in Rango. Water, in fact, is used as currency, and the Big Bad is hoarding the entire supply for his grand plan of building a new community and letting the old town die out.
  • March 25, 2011
    In an episode of Arthur there's a Dream Sequence Cold Open where Francine wastefully uses the last drop of water in the world. (The plot of the episode was conserving water.)
  • March 26, 2011
    Not quite as severe as the other examples, but it is implied in Robert A Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land that water is scarcer on Mars than Earth, and has spiritual value to the Martians.

    Implied? No, it is outright stated that water on Mars is very scarce and it has spiritual value. Heinlein's Mars, which he explains more about in his other stories, is cold and very dry, with a very low atmospheric pressure. However, it is still warmer, wetter and has more of an atmosphere then the Real Life Mars does. At the time of Heinlein's writings, little was known of the real conditions on Mars.
  • March 26, 2011
    Real Life: All nations and people face water shortages. Billions of people already lack clean water. Water is expected to become more expensive and scarce. The US military has already determined that water is likely to be a cause for war in the near future.
  • March 26, 2011
    This is currently under Desert Planet in Single Biome Planet. There are examples scattered throughout the media folders, including Dune.
  • March 26, 2011
    After the water tanks got blown up in Battlestar Galactica, in subsequent episodes Adama made a point of drinking water with people who visited him in his quarters, sharing it with them as though it were scotch.
  • March 28, 2011
    Fallout 3 has water all over the place... it's just that all that water is HEAVILY irradiated after decades of exposure. The whole point of the game is to finish building a device that makes it all clean again.