[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/theabyss.jpg]]

''The Abyss'' is a 1989 ScienceFiction film, written and directed by Creator/JamesCameron and starring Creator/EdHarris, Creator/MaryElizabethMastrantonio, and Creator/MichaelBiehn. The original musical score was composed by Music/AlanSilvestri.

The movie follows the efforts of a U.S. SEAL team, inserted into a civilian experimental underwater oil rig, to salvage a nuclear submarine that sank after an encounter with an unknown underwater presence. Before long, they find themselves trapped underwater in the Cayman Trough and their communications with the surface cut off while a hurricane rages above them. As tension mounts and tempers flare in the tight quarters, they discover that they are not alone in the Cayman Trough - something unknown and inhuman is watching them...

This might forever hold the record for most technically complex movie ever made. Cameron, crewmembers and major cast members had to become dive-certified, since some of the filming took place in a set built inside (and under the surface of) a flooded, partially-built nuclear reactor containment vessel. (Cameron spent so much time underwater that he regularly had to spend time in decompression chambers, viewing dailies while hanging upside down in the pressure tank.) Many of the FX shots were done with precisely constructed models and green screens. The "water tentacle" was a wildly expensive, difficult and groundbreaking piece of CGI effects. With today's tech-infrastructure the movie could be made at a fraction of the cost with full CGI, but in 1989 the shots were often live footage combined with greenscreen models, matte photography, animatronics ''and'' CGI elements.

A novelization of this film was written by Creator/OrsonScottCard, based on the screenplay. Mastrantonio, Biehn, and Harris read the first two chapters, which were extrapolated by Card from the script, to prepare for their characters.

'''Character tropes (including the aliens) go on to the [[Characters/TheAbyss Characters Sheet]].'''

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!! This movie contains examples of:

* EightiesHair: Not quite so obvious on the crew, but the [=SEALs=] have some rather non-regulation hair going. In the extended version, the newscast reveals some spectacular 80s hair on the newscasters and crowds. A bit of TruthInTelevision, since [=SEALs=] are free to have non-regulation hairstyles (within reason) as long as it doesn't interfere with their operations, though most still keep their hair fairly short.
* AbstractScale:
--> '''Hippie:''' [[BringMyBrownPants Oh, man. I give this a Sphincter Rating of about 9.5!]]
* ActionPrologue: The submarine accident.
* AllThereInTheManual: The novelisation was developed alongside the film. Orson Scott Card wrote three chapters for the hypothetical backstories of Coffey, Bud and Lindsey. When Cameron saw these, he gave them to the actors to help them develop the characters. Lindsey's reason for being hard on people is that she grew up the youngest in a family with five brothers - and had to fight to be noticed. The biographies of Coffey, Bud and Lindsey are the first three chapters of Card's {{Novelization}}.
* AllThereInTheScript: One Night's full name is Lisa "One Night" Standing.
* AlmostOutOfOxygen: Right after they [[spoiler:disarm the bomb]].
* ArtisticLicenseMilitary: [[spoiler:Both variations of Trident missile only carried a complement 100kt yield warheads (Coffey stated 50kt). Physical size of the package was fudged a little, and weight was fudged a lot.]]
* AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther: Bud and Lindsey Brigman, who are on the brink of divorce at the beginning but have a long-distance heart-to-heart while he's a mile down in the trench.
* BackFromTheDead: Lindsey Brigman, who deliberately drowns so her husband can use the diving suit to get back. Hooray for the Mammalian Diving Reflex!
* BaitAndSwitch: Coffey pins Lindsey up against a wall, and says "I've wanted to do this ever since I first saw you." Then we hear two ripping noises and he produces a piece of tape, which he sticks over her mouth.
* TheBigBoard: The transparent variant, onboard the ''U.S.S. Montana''.
* BigDamnHeroes: When Coffee is about to strangle Bud, Catfish appears out of nowhere to save the day.
* BigDamnKiss: Between Bud and Lindsey at the end.
* BigNo: Bud, after Lindsey drowns. [[spoiler:She gets better]].
* BitchAlert: Lindsey, coming complete with a character introducing her as "the Bitch Queen of the Universe" and another character making a gagging gesture when Lindsey's put on the phone.
* BrickJoke: Early on, Bud calls Lindsey a "cast-iron bitch". When he's doing his [[HeroicSacrifice suicide dive]], well...
--> '''Lindsey''': It's not easy being a cast-iron bitch. It takes discipline, and years of training... A lot of people don't appreciate that.
* CassandraTruth: Lindsey spends the first half of the film trying to convince the crew that there's something not human in the trench. Nobody believes her until they see a giant [[strike:Russian]] water tentacle in front of their faces.
* ChekhovsGun: Bud's wedding ring, the explanation of High Pressure Nervous Syndrome, the liquid breathing system.
* ChekhovsSkill: "They used to call me 'The Hammer'."
* ClothingDamage: Coffee's shirt suffers from it.
* CompleteTheQuoteTitle: The movie title come from a quote by Creator/FriedrichNietzsche shown in the opening scene.
* CPRCleanPrettyReliable: Well, kind of - it isn't clean, and not all that pretty either. It isn't even reliable: the novel explains that [[spoiler: the aliens are the ones who save Lindsey because of Bud's impassioned pleas for her to live]].
* CrowdPanic: When the giant tidal wave threatens the city, the people at the beach flee in terror.
* DelayedReaction: When Catfish sees the fluid water creature in the room, it takes him a second to realize what he just saw.
%%* DeusExMachina
* DirtyCommunists: The setup for the plot was for an American salvage team to recover a sunken American nuclear submarine before the Soviets did. The Director's Cut expands on the UsefulNotes/ColdWar subplot, with the salvage efforts being likened to a second Cuban Missile Crisis due to the wreck's close proximity to Cuba.
* DistressCall: The divers are responding to a crashed nuclear sub.
* DoNotCallMePaul: Bud's real first name is [[EmbarrassingFirstName Virgil]]. Inverted at the end when he allows himself to be called that. Lindsey also asks the [=SEALs=] not to call her Mrs. Brigman, prompting Coffey to snidely ask whether they should just call her "sir." However, this is inverted [[spoiler: at the end.]]
--> '''Lindsey:''' Hi, Brigman.
--> '''Bud:''' Hi, Mrs. Brigman.
* DramaticAlienVTOL: The dramatic scene where the alien platform lifts to the surface of the ocean.
* DramaticSpaceDrifting: An underwater version where corpses are floating inside the wreckage of the sunken ''U.S.S. Montana''.
* DrowningPit: Several scenes. First three of Bud's team mates die when their quarters are flooded. Then he himself narrowly avoids drowning in a corridor. And lastly, when Bud and Lindsey's minisub starts leaking and Lindsey gets the idea to allow herself to drown on the remote chance she could be towed back to Deep Core and resuscitated.
* EmptyQuiver: The setup is an attempt to decommission a [[DistressCall lost nuclear sub]]. You just know something bad's gonna happen with [[ChekhovsGun that nuke]] on board.
* {{Epigraph}}: The movie opening on a quote by Creator/FriedrichNietzsche "...when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."
* ExplosiveInstrumentation: When the nuclear submarine crashes into the wall of the underwater canyon, fires break out in the control room instrument panels.
* FeetFirstIntroduction: Lindsey's legs amongst the crew that leave the helicopter.
* FloatingWater: The water tentacle.
* {{Foreshadowing}}. "They used to call this 'The Hammer'." Think Catfish will use The Hammer to deck someone later at a key moment?
* GetAHoldOfYourselfMan. Lindsey is a little high-strung, which Bud has to remind her.
-->'''Bud:''' Look, he's operating on his own. He's cut off from his chain of command, he's showing signs of pressure-induced psychosis and he's got a ''nuclear weapon''. So as a personal favor to me, will you try to put your tongue in neutral for a while
* GiantWallOfWateryDoom: In the director's cut, aliens threaten to annihilate humanity with mile-high tidal waves rearing up on every coast. [[spoiler:Instead, it turns into a harmless demonstration of the aliens' power when they ''stop the waves'' just short of breaking over the coast.]] And when the Deep Core is damaged, one of these hits the barracks module, killing [[spoiler:Finler, Perry, McWhorter and Dietz]]. Also, one of these gushes through the nuclear sub at the beginning.
* HandWave: The only explanation the movie gives for why the crew isn't dead of decompression barotrauma at the end is that the aliens must have done something to prevent it. It is ''explicitly'' stated in the novelization, in addition to being the reason for [[spoiler:Bud Brigman actually being alive and functioning by the time he gets down to the nuke, and for Lindsey's recovery from drowning]].
* HarmlessFreezing: A realistic application of this trope.
* HeroicSacrifice:
** [[spoiler:Bud figured he wouldn't have enough oxygen to get back after defusing the bomb. He went anyway.]]
-->[[spoiler: '''Bud:''' ''(typed)'']] KNEW THIS WAS ONE WAY TICKET / BUT YOU KNEW I HAD TO COME.
** Lindsey [[spoiler: allows herself to drown so Bud can get both of them back to the rig]].
* HeyYouHaymaker: Cat delivers a devastating one to Coffey who thrown into the water by the sheer force of it and immediately retreats rather than dare to take Cat on in a fair fight.
* HintDropping: While Bud is diving down into the trench.
-->'''One Night:''' "Keep talking, Lindsey, let him hear your voice."
-->'''Lindsey:''' "Okay, Bud, your depth is 8900 feet, you're doing fine--"
-->'''One Night:''' "No, Lindsey. ''Talk'' to him."
* HotSubOnSubAction: The minisubs involved aren't fighting with weapons they're fighting over a weapon.
* HowDareYouDieOnMe: When CPRCleanPrettyReliable goes from partial [[{{averted}} aversion]], to full-on enforced to the point of WorstAid, PleaseWakeUp meets ClusterFBomb.
-->'''Bud''': No! No, she has a strong heart! She wants to LIVE! C'mon, Linds! C'mon baby! Zap her again! Do it!... Do it!... Come on baby, come on baby!... Come on, breathe baby. Goddamn it, BREATHE! ''Goddamn it, you bitch, you never backed away from an
** And the situation is inverted later when Bud is resigned to a HeroicSacrifice after disarming the nuke. This time, with Lindsey begging him not to go through with it.
* HumanityOnTrial: The aliens consider washing humanity away for all its warmongery and cruelty. They even raise huge tsunami waves all around the globe and held them erect for a while just to make their point perfectly clear, but changed their minds when Bud willingly sacrificed himself on a OneWayTrip to the depths in order to save the aliens from a nuclear warhead sent down by an Ax-Crazy U.S. Navy SEAL. (It's debatable whether the nuke would have hurt them, but still...) They even saved Bud's life as a "thank you.
* HumansAreBastards: Played with in the novel, as the Builders realize that their own practice of "remembering" and then destroying aberrant individuals is exactly the kind of behavior they have come to abhor in humans.
* {{Hypocrite}}: Lindsey tells the Navy [=SEALs=] to watch for signs of High Pressure Nervous Syndrome and yet continually jerks Coffey's chain when he's clearly showing signs of it. It's only when the rig crew are at gunpoint, that she tries to be diplomatic, but by this point, he's completely flipped.
* IComeInPeace: The scene where Bud is confronted by the aliens behind a water curtain:
-->'''Bud Brigman:''' Howdy. Uh... How are you guys doin'?
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: Coffey's explanation to Bud as to why the [=SEALs=] stole the sub: they were JustFollowingOrders.
* IdiotBall: Let the mining team disconnect the cable connecting them to the surface so it neither yanks them off the cliff edge or snaps loose to fall on them? Nah! Take the Idiot Ball and head to the submarine to retrieve a nuclear weapon because evidently, [[DeusExNukina decomisioning a nuclear submarine is much more important]] [[TooDumbToLive than being alive to do it]]!
* InSpaceEveryoneCanSeeYourFace: The masks were specially designed to show the actors' faces.
* ItWorksBetterWithBullets: As Lt. Coffey finds out when he tries to blow Bud's head off with his service pistol; Ensign Monk had removed the magazine. Presumably a SEAL should be able to tell the difference in weight between a loaded and unloaded weapon, but Coffey isn't all that mentally stable at that point.
* LateToTheTragedy: The more paranoid crew members believe the "visitors" are responsible for crashing the sub.
* MagicalDefibrillator: Justified in that the device in question is an early-80's model without a quick-look ECG function.
* MarriageOfConvenience: Bud explains that he and Lindsey only married to get better sleeping quarters on one of their projects.
* MonumentalDamage: Subverted, In the special addition we see giant tidal waves about to wipe out the Golden Gate Bridge, Lady Liberty and a few others but then it stops.
* NearDeathClairvoyance: The CPR scene was meant to invoke an out-of-body experience.
* NippleAndDimed: The film is rated PG-13 even though Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's breasts are visible during the CPR scene. Possibly because the context of the scene is not at all sexual or erotic.
* NoOntologicalInertia: Lampshaded when the "aliens" [[spoiler:[[DeusExMachina return everyone to the surface with no pause for decompression]]]]. [-"We should be dead!"-]
* NotSoDifferent: Bizarrely, this is half the moral of the book, and it's the moral the ''aliens'' learn from it all. They realize that they're actually just as bad as the humans, and need to grow up just as much as the humans do.
* NukeEm: Paranoid delusions + Access to nukes = BAD THING.
* OceanMadness: High Pressure Nervous Syndrome. It turns Coffey into a ''[[SociopathicSoldier paranoid]] [[AxCrazy lunatic]]'', and another soldier is on his way, but he [[NoOntologicalInertia gets better as soon as they reach the surface]].
* OhCrap: The entire crew's reaction when the crane falls into the trench, and watching the tether slowly following - with the rig ''still attached''. And the reaction of Coffey, Lindsey, and Bud when [[spoiler: Coffey's mini-sub tumbles down the trench]]. Lindsey and Coffey even reflexively reach out to each other, a failed TakeMyHand moment that shows that, as far gone as Coffey is at that point, he's still human, and that Lindsey would help him if she could.
* OminousCrack: [[spoiler:Coffey]]'s fate is sealed when a first crack appears on the windshield of his minisub.
* OneWayTrip: Bud's decision to go disarm the nuke. [[spoiler: [[YouHadUsWorriedThere Subverted]] in that the aliens let him live.]]
* PleaseDontLeaveMe: After they've reconciled, Lindsey pleads with Bud not to "leave [her] here all alone now" as he struggles against increasing water pressure during his dive to find the wayward nuke.
* PrimalFear: The final act of the movie is chock full of it, and Bud goes through all of this, and we feel it and fear for him; hydrophobia aside, there's the deep dark abyss itself, the notion of falling further down away from the surface and human civilization, and the loneliness that he's experiencing with only Lindsey's voice on the radio to give him any comfort.
* PunyEarthlings: Humans are depicted as technologically and morally inferior to the unnamed aliens in the Trough can control water with remarkable precision, and appear to have psychic powers of a sort.
* RammingAlwaysWorks: Lindsey's mini-sub battle with Coffey, ending when she hits him hard enough and [[spoiler:shorts out his engine, causing him to plummet over the edge of the trench]].
* RealityIsUnrealistic: The scene where the rat is immersed in a breathable liquid isn't a special effect - the rat really is breathing liquid fluorocarbon emulsion. (Not in the UK release, however). The same technology is used in modern medicine, to treat extremely premature babies whose lungs aren't developed enough to handle breathing air.
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: Cameron was going through a rather messy divorce while writing this movie. Many critics questioned how much this influenced the Brigman estrangement subplot.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: A rare non-verbal example is given to Bud by the aliens in a slide show of all of humanity's famous atrocities.
* ReCut: But not because of ExecutiveMeddling; James Cameron cut out almost a half-hour of footage himself because he felt at the time that it didn't work correctly; ironically, Cameron said that when he told the suits this, ''they'' were the ones who didn't like the change. There were also issues with the cut CGI that later technology allowed him to go back and fix, leading to the release of a "Special Edition".
* RelationshipSalvagingDisaster: Bud and Lindsey are estranged at the start of the film. Getting caught in the deep sea rig together results in them falling in love again.
* RousseauWasRight: The aliens initially wanted to wipe out humanity since they thought HumansAreTheRealMonsters. However, they change their minds when they witness [[spoiler:Bud's HeroicSacrifice]].
* SemperFi: Retired Marine beats Navy SEAL.
* SensorSuspense: In the opening scene a U.S. Navy submarine is tracking an unknown underwater object by sonar. The sonar blip is projected on a screen, showing the object maneuvering near the sub.
* ShoutOut: The opening scene with the sub is one big shout out to ''Film/DasBoot''.
* ShownTheirWork: Cameron manages to work in obscure (but real) things like High Pressure Nervous Syndrome and the Mammalian Diving Reflex into the plot.
* SomeoneHasToDie: Bud and Lindsey are trapped underwater with one set of breathing equipment, which Bud is already wearing. Bud offers the gear to Lindsey, which would doom him. Lindsey presents what she calls "[[TheSpock the logical option]]", which gives ''both'' of them a chance of survival: she drowns, and Bud drags her body to safety, and hopes she can be revived. Bud is the stronger swimmer, so Lindsey has to drown. Bud's initial response is "Fuck logic!", but he soon comes round.
* SpaceSuitsAreSCUBAGear: Inverted. Bud's deep diving suit resembles an armored space suit.
* TearsOfJoy: Lindsey wipes them off of Bud's face after her coming BackFromTheDead.
* TrappedInContainment: When the rig is flooding.
* UnderwaterBase: The drilling rig.
* UnwantedAssistance: When Lindsey is trying to get the rest of the crew to believe her about the underwater aliens, resident conspiracy nut Hippy goes into his usual ConspiracyKitchenSink speech. This results in a zinger:
--> "Hippy, do me a favor? Stay off my side."
* WasJustLeaving: Bud defuses the heated situation when Lindsey is confronting Coffey about the nuclear warhead by mentioning that she was just about to leave.
* WeddingRingRemoval: Bud throws his titanium wedding ring down a toilet in a fit of pique when he learns his estranged wife is visiting the underwater station he is running. Thankfully he has second thoughts and fishes it out. It eventually saves his finger (and life) when a bulkhead closes on it later.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse:
** What happened to that poor crane operator? [[spoiler: The book explicitly states that he died.]]
** The pet rat, who people will definitely worry about (including the British Board Of Film Classification - the shots of the rat in the breathing fluid were cut from the UK release). The American cut reveals that the actual rat was unharmed.
* WhatTheHellHero: You could easily throw a ''massive'' one of these at the StarfishAliens, as they decided it was the best way to send their peaceful message to humanity to [[SpaceWhaleAesop grow up and stop trying to kill each other]] by threatening to ''hurl worldwide giant tsunamis at them''. Perhaps justified by the fact that the humans, in their bickering, had tried to attack ''them''. Further justified with the tsunami being a demonstration of their power - it's easier to show that humanity would be ''totally'' outclassed if they tried to start something with the aliens. "We want to live in peace - bear in mind what we can do if you force us into defending ourselves..." Then again, this entire situation is happening because the aliens accidentally crashed a nuclear submarine and ''killed 159 people''... While trying to prevent a nuclear exchange.
* WireDilemma: Bud is told to cut the blue wire with the white stripe, and not to touch the black wire with the yellow stripe. This piece of information turns out unhelpful due to the yellow chemical light making both look identical, so he just has to guess.
* AWizardDidIt: The ending, more or less.
* YouAreNotAlone: Lindsey and the crew to Bud Brigman, during his deep suit dive.
* YouHadUsWorriedThere: Two of them in particular: Those pants-crapping tense seconds when Bud is cutting the wire, and when Bud resumes communication with the crew after meeting the aliens.
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