[[quoteright:300:[[Film/TidalWave http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tidal_wave.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:[[OhCrap Shit]].]]

->''"They say the wave was 400 meters high when it hit the cities! Three billion dead, Gendo!"''
-->-- '''Kozo Fuyutsuki''', ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion''

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 [[BigDamPlot dam collapses]] and tsunamis can cause widespread destruction.

When someone steps out of their house and sees a 200-foot-high wall of the stuff stretching away to the horizon and moving at a deceptively patient pace toward them it usually results in an intense OhCrap moment.

Inversion of SoftWater (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 70 miles an hour). Can occur when a character who [[MakingASplash makes a splash]] really pushes himself to the limit.

Perspective and point of view can [[Administrivia/TropesAreFlexible play with]] this trope. If you are out on the open ocean, a wave only needs to be big enough to capsize your vessel to fully qualify. If you can haul your boat on a trailer behind the family automobile, a 10 foot / 3 meter wave can be a major problem. If you are on a cruise ship or an aircraft carrier, a wave big enough to qualify for this trope could wipe out entire small coastal villages once it hits land.

For a slower, but just as dramatic, form of watery doom, see RisingWaterRisingTension.



* One commercial for Jameson Irish Whiskey had the namesake founder of the distillery smash open a dam and use the ensuing flood, led by a massive wall of water, to extinguish a fire that was consuming a town and threatening the distillery.

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** In the beginning of the Davy Back Fight Arc, a school of Sea Monkeys (In this series, "Sea Monkeys", are giant fish with monkey faces), stir up a giant wave that the Straw Hats need to escape.
** In Water 7, we learn that an annual tidal wave hits the island once a year, and submerges the outer districts in sea water. In the story, this particular wave is apparently so strong that the mere lapping ''damages the town''. When the Straw Hats have to follow the [=CP9=] to Enies Lobby for Robin, they have to brave this wave.
** Whitebeard's first action in the Paramount War is to generate ''two'' of these with his earthquake powers. Aokiji stops the waves by freezing them with his ice powers.
* ''LightNovel/ScrappedPrincess'': When the High Council elected to use the [[HolyIsNotSafe Ginnun]][[FantasticNuke gagap]] spell, they plunked it right in the center of the ocean, directly atop the SKID. [[SphereOfDestruction The sheer immensity]] of its AreaOfEffect and the shockwave generated by it, resulted in a mega-tsunami that devastated the vast majority of the continental coast!
* In ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00'', in the mission to rescue Allelujah, Ptolemaios II crashed into the sea creating a wall of water that caused quite substantial damage to the A-Laws base.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' when Adam/Antarctica blew up during Second Impact, a "ripple" almost a quarter-mile (four-hundred meters) tall in places spreads outward, wiping out every coastal city in the southern hemisphere, and continues to wreak havoc in the northern. [[TakeOurWordForIt Pity we didn't get to see it]].
* The [[OurMermaidsAreDifferent mermaids]] in ''Manga/HekikaiNoAION'' use tsunamis to hunt down humans for their ''psyche''.
* The climax of ''Anime/PokemonHeroes'' has [[OlympusMons Latios and Latias]] stopping one of these from destroying Altomare.
* In Dragon Ball Z, Goku created several of these, as well as earthquakes, around the world while powering up to [=SSJ3=]. Apparently [[DestructiveSaviour he never thought about the consequences of his actions]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Comicbook/TheLifeAndTimesOfScroogeMcDuck'': In ''The Dreamtime Duck of Never-Never'', Scrooge runs away from a massive wave in the Australian desert.
* Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Hulk once caused one of these when throwing down in the middle of the ocean.
* Generally whenever incredibly super strong characters such as the Hulk fight someone in a large body of water, this is the result.
* ''ComicBook/BlackMoonChronicles'': When [[ColonyDrop the Black Moon leaves its orbit to crash into the world]], the moon's gravitational pull starts to cause earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and massive tidal waves. The old naval Empire of Tharque is destroyed by the mother of all tsunamis.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
%%* ''WesternAnimation/IceAge2TheMeltdown''
* The title character in ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'' creates one when he does a cannonball into a lake.
* A total solar eclipse triggers one at the end of the "Rite of Spring" segment of ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime V'' when the characters reach the island followed by an earth shake.
* In ''WesternAnimation/KuboAndTheTwoStrings'', Kubo's mother calms one in the prologue with her magic. Unfortunately there was another one right behind her which causes her head injury and almost kills her and baby Kubo.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheImpossible'': Is entirely about this, namely the [[DisasterMovie the tsunami]] that [[BasedOnATrueStory happened]] on [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquake_and_tsunami December 26, 2004]].
* ''[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring]]'': Arwen [[ElementalPowers makes]] the [[https://youtu.be/NllOWlaGPx4?t=152 Bruinen river rise]] against the Black Riders with an incantation to splash them away; for added awesomeness, the waves are shaped into horses. The Black Riders have an OhCrap and try to run away from it, to no avail. In this case it's actually a "Giant Wall Of Watery Salvation" to the good guys, especially Frodo.
* ''Film/ThePoseidonAdventure'', and its remake ''Film/{{Poseidon}}''.
* ''Film/ThePerfectStorm''
* ''Film/OBrotherWhereArtThou?'', with [[spoiler:the sheriff's eventual demise]].
* For one of the stunts in ''Film/{{Jackass}}'', 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.
* ''Film/TheAbyss'': At the climax in the director's cut, the undersea creatures create gigantic walls of water near major coastal cities as a warning to humans to stop warfare.
* ''Film/TheGunsOfNavarone'': The heroes 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 ''Film/DeepImpact'', this provides an ObiWanMoment for several main characters.
* ''Film/TheDayAfterTomorrow'' has a 40 foot tall storm surge swamp Manhattan.
* ''Film/TwoThousandTwelve'', a wave manages to travel all the way across India and still retain enough height to flood out the Himalayas, i.e. an 8 kilometer high wave.
** Not quite. In the movie it's clearly stated to be around 1.5 km tall, and it's later shown that Mount Everest and many of the other tall mountains in the Himalayas are far above the water level. The reason it manages to overtop several shorter mountains is because the continental plate that the Himalayas rested on sunk several thousand meters in the preceding earthquakes.
* ''Film/WrathOfTheOcean''
* ''[[Film/TheWave2015 The Wave (2015)]]'' features a massive rockslide triggering an 80 meter (300 foot) wave headed straight for a Norwegian town named Geiranger, with the citizens having less than ten minutes to get the hell out.
* In ''Film/TheMummyReturns'', Imhotep controls the water in a canyon river, turning it into a giant water wall with his face on it, to chase down the protagonists in their dirigible.
* ''Film/TheLastAirbender'' features one of these.
* ''Film/TheLastWave''
* In the Hallmark version of ''Film/JasonAndTheArgonauts'' the god Poseidon has a little fun with the crew by pretending to be an island and then standing up to create a tidal wave which destroys most of the ship. The only reason they survive is probably because Zeus blows them onto the Isle of Lemnos where they get repairs.
* ''Film/PointBreak1991'' has Swayze playing a surfer robs banks to fund his search for the largest wave ever. It turns out to be large no other surfer goes near it. He does, as a way of committing suicide rather than be jailed for the robberies.
* The page-image is from the 2009 South Korean disaster flick titled ''TidalWave'' in English.
* Franchise/{{Godzilla}} displaces so much water in ''Film/{{Godzilla 2014}}'' that he kills hundreds of people in massive tsunamis just from rising out of the ocean.
* Miller's planet in ''Film/{{Interstellar}}'' is located close to a black hole. Given that the planet is not perfectly spherical, and is 'tidally locked' to the black hole, this causes huge tidal waves to circle the planet as they lag behind the planet's rotation. Waves so huge that the protagonists initially mistake them for mountains.
* ''Film/SanAndreas'' features a giant wave inundating San Francisco after a 9.6 earthquake strikes it. The heroes, plus a few hundred other people, figure out that in order to survive, they must travel over the wave in their boats. But then, there's a cargo ship looming over the wave to add to the difficulty.
* In ''Film/Bait3D'', a tsunami strands the characters in a flooded Australian grocery store, along with a ThreateningShark that was swept into the market by the seawater.
* The Film/SyFyChannelOriginalMovie ''Malibu Shark Attack'' uses the same device to trap some victims in a shark-besieged lifeguard shack.

* ''Literature/ThePoseidonAdventure'', about an ocean liner that capsizes after being hit by one of these. The author, Paul Gallico, was inspired by his own real-life experience of being aboard the ''Queen Mary'' when she was hit by a rogue wave in 1942 and nearly turned over.
* They had this during a typhoon in ''Literature/SilentShipSilentSea''.
* At the beginning of ''Literature/{{Nation}}'', a tsunami caused by a nearby volcanic explosion wipes out most of the island.
* Used in an attempt to MurderTheHypotenuse in ''[[Literature/YoungWizards A Wizard Of Mars]]'', but Nita stops it in mid-air and threatens to send it back through a portal at the girl who just tried to kill her. And the city she's in.
* A tsunami finishes off Númenor in ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'', based on a RealLife dream of Tolkien's. Later seen in a dream in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings''.
* A more positive example from ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' comes when Elrond and Gandalf summon a giant wall of water along the river to sweep away the Nazgul who are attacking Frodo.
* Gali, [[ElementalPowers Toa of Water]], pulled this off in a ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'' web serial. She usually just goes for bursts of water, but this time she decided the enemy was strong enough to warrant the of use very single drop of elemental energy she could muster. The wave was described as being "a thousand feet high" and destroyed every building in the land of Karzahni.
* In Sharon Creech's ''The Wanderer,'' the crew encounters a wave like this during a horrific storm. It's important later because Sophie remembers the wave as having been black, when according to everyone else, it was white. Sophie is flashing back to ''another'' such storm that she survived, but which killed her biological parents, though Sophie has no conscious memory of this.
* In the book ''Literature/LucifersHammer'' a giant tidal wave created by the impact of the Hammer wipes out Los Angeles, and presumably other west coast cities that the reader doesn't see.
* In Frank Schätzing's ''[[Literature/DerSchwarm The Swarm]]'' (not to be confused with the film or trope of the same name), the Yrr cause one of these by triggering a huge underwater landslide in the North Sea and pretty much wrecking the whole of coastal northern Europe.
* ''Literature/{{Footfall}}'' shows the results of a giant asteroid [[spoiler:intentionally]] dropping into the Indian Ocean, with pretty much all of the surrounding coasts completely scoured by the resultant wave.
* In the Dramatic Audio version of ''Soul Harvest'' from the Literature/LeftBehind book series, one of the Christians on board a cruise liner in the middle of the ocean barely has time to lead the people in a prayer of salvation before a giant wave of water caused from the impact of a giant mountain crashing into the seas (one of God's Trumpet Judgments) reaches the ship.
* ''Literature/TheBigWave'' is about the destruction of a seaside Japanese village by a tsunami.
* In Catherine Marshall's novel ''Julie'', half of the heroine's hometown is destroyed by a wall of water resulting from a dam failure.
* In ''Mother of Storms'' by John Barnes, tens of millions are killed by storm surges.
* In ''The Man Who Could Work Miracles'' by HG Wells, the world stops revolving. And the sea doesn't.
* ''Rogue Wave''[[note]]The Tsunami Countdown in the UK[[/note]] by Boyd Morrison is about a meteor impact in the central pacific which creates a series of tsunamis that devastate Hawaii.
* ''Literature/TheFifthWave'': The 2nd wave consisted of these. The Others [[ColonyDrop dropped massive rods]] onto the Earth's fault lines, triggering massive earthquakes and tsunamis that wiped out the world's coastal cities and killed three billion people.
* In ''The Eve of April 20'', a neo-Nazi organisation holds a rally beneath a dam as a suitably imposing backdrop before launching a coup, which is foiled when the protagonist blows not the dam, but the cliffs of the lake behind it, causing water to displace over the dam and wash away the DayOfTheJackboot before it happens.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Happens in ''Series/UltramanLeo'' complete with people getting drowned and covered in debris as the wave levels buildings.
* The end of the ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' episode [[Recap/StargateAtlantisS01E11TheEye "The Eye"]] has one hit the floating city.
* ''Series/DeadliestCatch'': Once per season per boat in red king crab season, once per episode per boat in opilio season.
** Special mention goes to the ''Aleutian Ballad'', which got smacked by a 60-foot rogue wave in 2005 and nearly capsized.
* ''Series/BeringSeaGold'': To a sub-25 foot pontoon boat suction dredge, 2 foot waves can be a problem. 5 foot waves can swamp you and a 10 foot wave can capsize or even sink your dredge. To the 100-plus foot bucket dredges, it takes slightly rougher seas to convince the captain to pull the plug and make the 2 mile run back to port.
* Happens fairly often on ''Series/WhaleWars''; one 30 foot rogue wave in particular struck the left side of the ''[[CoolBoat Brigitte Bardot]]'' and nearly snapped the trimaran's port-side pontoon clean off!
* One of the first season episodes of ''Series/{{Sliders}}'' ended with the group reaching a San Francisco which is just about to get hit by a wave.
* ''Series/HawaiiFive0'' New Series Season 1 Episode Kai e'e. The Tsunami warning system is taken over and a false warning sent out. This is going to be used by the bad guys to facilitate their robbing the police headquarters.
* One episode of ''Series/CSIMiami'' had Florida hit by a tsunami while some bank robbers took advantage of the confusion to swipe a fortune in gold bullion.
* This is Weather Wizard's chosen method to destroy Central City in ''Series/TheFlash2014''. And it really ''was'' unstoppable; [[spoiler:the only reason the city wasn't destroyed it's that the Flash [[ResetButton accidentally broke the time barrier and returned to the previous night]] when trying to create a wind shield against the tsunami by running faster than ever.]]
* A moment showing one of these about to hit a pier, dwarfing the hero as he runs toward it, is about all we get to see of the film version of ''Comicbook/{{Aquaman}}'' starring Vincent Chase, the main character of ''Series/{{Entourage}}''.
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'': Spells doom for a VictimOfTheWeek trapped in a storm drain during a flash flood in "Down the Drain".
* ''Krakatoa: The Last Days''. Realising that the volcanic eruption will cause a tsumani, Captain Lindeman ties himself to the wheel and steers his ship into the wave. The ship survives, but those landward of the wave are not so lucky.

* During the Music/MatthewGood song ''Last Parade'', specifically the lyrics
--> Like we're taking pictures of a tidal wave
--> On the shore, grinnin', a hundred feet away
* In "Suddenly There Is a Tidal Wave", the final song on ''The Wayward Bus'' [=LP=] by Music/TheMagneticFields, the chorus goes:
-->The boys talk like they own the world\\
The women keep their stupid diaries\\
But suddenly there's a tidal wave\\
And everything is sucked out to sea
::Later in the song the chorus is repeated, twice, back-to-back. Three seconds later the music abruptly stops. (No similarity to a ThreeSecondSilence.) Then--if you happen to be listening to the two-fer CD ''The Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Trees''--enjoy four-and-a-half minutes of silence, followed by the songs on the ''Distant Plastic Trees'' [=LP=]. Perhaps (analogous with [[HiddenTrack "hidden tracks"]]), this qualifies as a [=HiddenAlbum=]?
** Was ''The Wayward Bus'' ever released, standalone, in ''any'' format? If not--and, let's say you're listening to ''The Wayward Bus''--then you can be certain ''Distant Plastic Trees'' will follow.
* The band ''Great Big Sea'' took their name from an old Newfoundland folk song about the 1929 tsunami described below.
* Music/DanielAmos' "(Near Sighted Girl with Approaching) Tidal Wave", from their album ''Music/HorrendousDisc''. Most people on the beach survived by fleeing, but the girl in the title ignored the warning signs and wasn't so lucky.
-->It's a tidal wave\\
It's a watery grave\\
She really tried to swim\\
She couldn't in the end.

* ''Pinball/TimeMachineZaccaria'' combines this with TimeCrash, as the collision of Past and Future eras is represented by two tidal waves colliding to form a massive waterspout that dwarfs mountains.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' has [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=202457 Tsunami]], [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=189636 Living Tsunami]], and [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=2197 Wall of Water]].
* Early ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** The ''Spell Compendium'' has spells called "Tsunami" and "Wall of Water".
** ''Oriental Adventures'' had the shukenja and wu jen "Tsunami" spells, which caused a tidal wave at least 180 feet high.
** The ForgottenRealms had the Tidal Wave spell, which was 75 feet high.
* An example of a good Wall of Watery Doom comes from ''TabletopGame/LegendOfTheFiveRings'': during an invasion of Rokugan from the Shadowlands in the eighth century, a Crab Clan shugenja named Kuni Osaku summoned a giant wall of water sufficient to stop the Shadowlands army in its path. [[CastFromHitPoints The effort of the spell eventually killed her]], but before it did, the rest of the Crab Clan was able to build an actual wall to ward off the invasion.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Happens in ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'', as a result of a floating chain of islands crashing into the sea. Results are about as catastrophic as you'd think.
** In ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'', you visit the [[BleakLevel Dead Sea]], a city that was frozen in time as it was being destroyed by these.
* Strago's "Clean Sweep" lore in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' takes this form.
** As does the summon Bismark in the same game, and possibly some forms of Leviathan.
*** Also the "El Nino" result of Mog's Water Rondo dance, which is the strongest water-based attack in the game.
* ''VideoGame/SpiderManShatteredDimensions'': {{Deadpool}} uses bombs to trigger three of those in a row in [[ComicBook/UltimateSpiderMan Ultimate]] Spidey's second level. You have to web-sling ''towards'' them across a floating obstacle course in order to reach high ground.
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaOrderOfEcclesia'': One of the bosses will produce some [[TemporaryPlatform moai heads]], then follow it up with a massive tidal wave. Make sure you don't destroy them.
* In ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'', the moves Surf and Muddy Water both use this trope.
* Happens twice in the ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' Cataclysm cinematic, at Booty Bay and Thousand Needles.
* One stage in ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountryReturns'' has you taking shelter from these at regular intervals. Being exposed will kill you.
* Tsunamis are one of the earlier and constant threats in ''VideoGame/FromDust''.
* This is one of [[FrickinLaserBeams a few]] [[CombatTentacles reasons]] [[ApocalypseHow not to]] [[KickTheDog hurt the]] [[RidiculouslyCuteCritter Chao]] - [[EldritchAbomination Chaos]] will get angry and cause one of these. [[VideoGame/SonicAdventure The ancient echidnas learned that the hard way]].
* This is how the aptly named Tidal Wave spell looks in the 2D games of the ''VideoGame/TalesSeries''.
* In the first level of ''[[VideoGame/GhostsNGoblins Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts]]'', giant tidal waves repeatedly rear up in the background while you're jumping across a series of platforms. Although the waves don't actually affect Arthur directly, they will wash away large parts of the terrain, killing you instantly if you're not standing on a "safe" part.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'', one of Balthier's [[LimitBreak Quickenings]] is a tsunami.
* At one point in ''VideoGame/OutOfThisWorld'', Lester has to run from a watery AdvancingWallOfDoom.
* ''VideoGame/WarcraftIII'': The Crushing Wave spell sends a huge wall of water into enemies, though the animation for it is entirely 2D.
* ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'': Nami's ultimate, Tidal Wave, practically summons this trope. It won't kill, mostly... but will set up a lot of it.
* In ''VideoGame/WarOfTheMonsters'', throwing enough objects at the UFO in the Tsunopolis stage will trigger a tsunami that will engulf the map. The water can be avoided by flying on climbing on buildings.
* ''[[VideoGame/AnnoDomini Anno 2070]]'s Deep Ocean'' expansion pack introduces tsunamis as a natural disaster that occurs when a geothermic power plant collapses into its deep sea trench. The wave expands circularly from the late plant, destroys all ships at or near the coast and can reach quite far inland on any island it hits, demolishing any building that happens to be in its path. Affected areas can't be rebuilt until the water has receded, and the only real defense against these tsunamis consists of high mountains between the power plant's location and the surrounding settlements - which is something the player has very little influence on.
* ''VideoGame/{{Smite}}'': He Bo's ultimate Crushing Wave literally turns him into the trope, heavily damaging anyone caught in his path and can kill a lot.
* In ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAlpha 2'', [[Anime/BrainPowerd Yuu Brain and Hime Brain]] use their [[DeflectorShields Chakara Shields]] to hold back a massive tidal wave long enough for [[Anime/GaoGaiGar ChouRyuJin]] to use Eraserhead to disperse it.

%%[[folder:Web Animation]]
%%* Subverted in ''WebAnimation/TheDementedCartoonMovie!''.

* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2623 one is in full swing when God decides]] to call off TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.
* ''Webcomic/AxeCop'':
--> '''The Water Queen''': "Prepare to get stabbed... by the entire ocean."

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In the Literature/WhateleyUniverse, Riptide is a side character. But when Chaka gets hurt in "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl" and Riptide gets really upset, and there's a lake handy, a badguy in a getaway van finds out there's nowhere to run.
* Real Life Lore has examined several [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oaGUg7ik_c massive real-life tsunamis that qualify,]] including Dam Vajont noted below. However, they also note this type of wave is normally caused by the impact of a huge amount of earth entering the water, rather than "normal" Tsunamis that are caused by earthquakes.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', waterbenders can do small scale versions of this. The Avatar, being much more powerful, can conjure tsunamis. Aang once nailed Sokka with one ''by accident''.
* [[WesternAnimation/InvaderZim Zim]] once flattened an entire city... [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome with a water balloon containing all of the water on Earth that created a 200-story (660 m) high wall of water.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' [[SubvertedTrope subverts]] and then proceeds to [[LampshadeHanging lampshade this]] in the episode "The Belly of the Beast", in which the titular characters drop a giant mechanical shark into Danville Harbor, causing what appears to be a giant wave. It then miraculously manages to avoid everyone on the crowded boardwalk except Candace, who then proclaims, "OK, now how did that only hit me?"
** This scene is then repeated, and at the end of the episode, it's played straight.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Real-life tsunamis are not as visually spectacular as the "wall of water" that many trope examples invoke: they're more like a very rapidly rising tide. However, the speed and force of the water is such that you do ''not'' want to be in it.
** Indeed, the majority of real-life tsunamis could be seen as an aversion of the trope. They most often look very tame when they are approaching the shore, not much different from a normal wave. They are extremely deceptive, though; rather than stopping at the shore like other waves, they just keep on going and going inland without stopping.
*** However, if the seabed topography, shoreline shape, and wave characteristics come together right, the "gigantic comber" is in fact possible. There is one particular video that very briefly shows the 2011 Tohoku tsunami coming in in this manner at one particular location. The man with the camera took a couple of seconds to understand what he was capturing on video and then [[ScrewThisImOutOfHere drastically revised his priorities]].
** The name [[BilingualBonus tsunami]] comes from Japanese and means "harbour wave". It implies according to Law of Bernoulli that the narrower a channel the tsunami is to pass, the higher it will get, and tsunami is on its most destructive on harbours. The first to understand the connection of an earthquake and the following gigantic wave [[OlderThanTheyThink was Thucydides]].
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/rogue_wave Rogue waves]]. They can be up to 35 m high (yup, that's 115 feet) and they are preceded with a trough so deep and steep as described as "like a hole in the ocean". Their existence was long doubted, but they do exist. A rogue wave is steep and resembles a vertical wall of water, and can sink even an ocean-going ship, nevermind yachts and fishing vessels.
** Two of them infamously sank the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. To scale the idea, it was a 700 foot long massive iron ore carrier and it was sunk so fast that they never even had a chance to make a distress call.
* The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami is possibly one of the largest, most widely [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct9GEaWAmJg youtubed]] disasters in history.
* In Alaska, a piece of a mountain fell into Lituya Bay, and it is estimated that [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN6EgMMrhdI the resulting splash was around 100-300 feet high]]. The wave had enough speed and energy to ride up the opposite slope to a height of around 1700 feet.
* The only tsunami known 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".
* The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was caused by an earthquake that uplifted a 100 mile long section of sea floor, releasing a titanic amount of energy.
* The 1700 Cascadia earthquake occurred off the coast of what's now Washington and British Columbia, devastating that coastline with waves up to 30 meters. It existed in the historical record only in Japan, which had an orphan tsunami with no apparent cause at the same time. It wasn't until 300 years later that physical proof was found of origin in the Pacific Northwest.
* Sometime in February 1933, the US Navy oil tanker USS ''Ramapo'' was steaming through a nasty Pacific gale when she encountered a massive wave. Fortunately, she escaped with minor damage. Geometric calculations, however, showed the wave to have been ''112 feet tall''. To this day, it remains the tallest wind-driven wave ever recorded.
** Estimations by oceanographers suggest that the tallest height possible for a wind-driven wave is ''198 feet''. Of course, it would take a freakishly rare combination of events and geography to produce such a monster; but still, a wave of that size could severely damage or even sink any ship unfortunate enough to encounter it.
* One analysis of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoan_eruption Thera eruption]] in the 17th Century B.C.E. states that in Turkey, "two peninsulas jutting into the Aegean Sea confined the wave ... building it higher and higher and ultimately funneling it thirty miles inland. To penetrate so far, it had to be eight hundred feet tall when it hit the shore." Thera is almost a hundred miles from the peninsulas mentioned, and there are other islands in the way which would've robbed the wave of some of its force ... but it was ''still'' 800 feet tall.
* During the end of the last ice age, an immense ice dam in what is now Washington state collapsed under the weight of the water behind it, causing a series of devastating floods across the eastern part of the state -- the most powerful of these generated the equivalent of 4500 megatons of TNT.
* The volcano on La Palma in the Canary Islands could cause one; an eruption could potentially send part of the island sliding into the Atlantic, causing a ''MEGA''tsunami that could obliterate the east coast of the United States from Florida to Maine.
* For a long time The [[Literature/TheBible Biblical]] Flood has been considered legend or myth and without evidence, but there are indications it was indeed based on an actual event.
** The leading hypothesis that the Flood was inspired by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_flood the flooding of the Black Sea]] at some point around 5600 BCE, which presumably would have looked a lot like this to the people present.
** The Burckle Crater in the Indian Ocean, if indeed it turns out to be a crater, is hypothesized to have caused waves up to four kilometers tall when the object that created it hit, which would have hit most of the cradles of humanity at the time.
* Tsunamis caused by underwater/into-water landslides are the largest and most powerful type after impact-generated tsunamis. Both are termed [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megatsunami "Megatsunamis"]], in Japanese [[BilingualBonus ''iminami'']], and there have been several in recorded times, the most recent being in 1980 with the eruption of Mount St. Helens and its avalanche into Spirit Lake. Several areas are likely to produce a major landslide and megatsunami in the future, the most alarming being at the Hawaiian Islands, where a large chunk of the Big Island is slowly cracking away from the rest of the island. For another potential example, see above.
* The biggest tsunamis, speaking of which, are actually caused by meteorites crashing into the ocean.
** For example, the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was thought to have created megatsunamis several kilometres high that were large enough to completely submerge islands as large as Madagascar.
* Sometimes, such tsunamis can take place in the least expected of places. In [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajont_Dam Vajont, Italy]] - in the mountains half a kilometer above sea level and nearly 100 kilometers from the coast - an entire mountainside (270 ''million'' cubic meters) collapsed into a reservoir half the size (shielded from a valley by a 200 meter dam). The dam itself withstood the pressure just fine, but the displaced water flushed over in a ''250 meter''-high wall of water and rolled through the valley beneath in a gigantic wave, destroying several villages and killing 2000 locals. It was the biggest man-made tsunami of all times.
* Less extreme than the others here, but in 1952, the English village of Lynmouth was devastated by a flash flood that swept away houses, bridges and a lifeboat station as well as causing the collapse of a lighthouse. The wall of water was "only" about fifty feet high and carrying tree trunks and boulders.
* At the end of the most recent glaciation, several areas of the world (most notably the part of the Pacific Northwest with the impossibly cool name of ''the Scablands'') experienced glacial lake outburst megafloods which almost certainly presented themselves this way, with an added ominous rumbling audible long before their arrival.
* One of the most unusual real life variations on this was the Great Molasses Flood of Boston in 1919. Almost nine thousand cubic meters of molasses were released when a tank of it burst and released an eight meter wave of molasses. Small buildings were ripped off their foundations and crushed. Unlike water the molasses was almost impossible to escape from once people were ensnared. A reporter described vague shapes (people and horses) struggling inside the the sticky mass.