->'''Sherif Ali:''' There is the railway. And that is the desert. From here until we reach the other side, no water but what we carry with us. For the camels, no water at all. If the camels die, we die. And in twenty days they will start to die.\\
'''T.E. Lawrence:''' There's no time to waste, then, is there?
-->--''Film/LawrenceOfArabia''

CueTheSun but not in a good way. You're in the desert, a [[SceneryGorn parched barren wasteland]] stretching for miles in every direction. If the maddening heat doesn't drive you into a MushroomSamba or just kill you, the lack of water or one of the desert's [[GiantSpider many]] [[ScaryScorpions hostile]] [[SandWorm inhabitants]] probably will. Expect CirclingVultures lurking ominously overhead. Although the sky can be as barren as the land, with not a single cloud in sight. The sun appears to fill the sky on its own and the camera will point at it just to make sure you know. A shot of the characters marching (or crawling) forward moaning "Water, water..." is a common element, especially in more humorous takes.

Analogously, this trope is to ShiftingSandLand as HungryJungle is to JungleJapes or LovecraftCountry is to HollywoodNewEngland - a nastier, more serious portrayal of the same region.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* TintinTheCrabWiththeGoldenClaws: As befitting Captain Haddock's first appearance as an alcoholic washout, he and Tintin wander through the Sahara. On learning where the are, the captain gets stuck on "the desert of thirst! the desert of thirst!" for a while.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comedy ]]

* The setting of [[http://longestjokeintheworld.com "The Longest Joke In The World"]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* The former TropeNamer is the Mojave Desert as portrayed in ''FearAndLoathingInLasVegas''.
* Played with in ''[[Film/RoadTo Road to Morocco]]''.
* The Arabian and Sinai deserts in ''LawrenceOfArabia''.
* A thirsty Micky Dolenz beats up an empty Coke machine in the middle of the desert during a memorable scene from Music/TheMonkees' movie ''Film/{{Head}}''.
* ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'':
-->'''Lone Starr''': Water! Water!\\
'''[[RobotBuddy Dot Matrix]]''': Oil! Oil!\\
'''[[RichInDollarsPoorInSense Princess Vespa]]''': Room service! Room service!
* ''Film/ThreeAmigos'' was filmed in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, Arizona and contains a thirsty desert crossing scene where each Amigo stops to drink from his canteen. Lucky turns over his canteen to one remaining drop of water. Ned's canteen fills his mouth full on with sand. Dusty drinks from his canteen, splashes some water on his face, and throws the rest aside, while the others watch delirious. Dusty offers them lip balm.
* In ''TheWayBack'', the protagonists are crossing the Gobi desert. [[spoiler:Two of them die of heat stroke and dehydration.]]
* Death Valley serves as this in the silent classic ''Film/{{Greed}}''.
* ''LustInTheDust''. Rosie's canteen falls and spills out its contents, causing her to exclaim, "My ''gin''!"
* ''{{Hidalgo}}'''s plot revolves around a race across the desert. At least a few of the racers are forced to put down their horses, and Hopkins and Hildalgo themselves must live off of locusts from time to time.
* In ''Film/{{Walkabout}}'' a teenaged girl and her little brother are stranded in the Australian outback. They are on the verge of death by dehydration when an Aborigine boy saves them.
* In the Australian horror film ''Razorback'' (1984) the protagonist suffers hallucinations while staggering through the desert.
* {{Exploited}} by Tuco in TheGoodTheBadAndTheUgly to very slowly kill [[ClintEastwood Blondie]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* In Creator/RobertEHoward's "The Slithering Sands", ConanTheBarbarian knows that the desert will kill him within a day, and strongly considers a MercyKill for the girl with him.
* Claims the life of [[spoiler:Arvid]] in ''Literature/TheEmigrants'' tetralogy.
* Arrakis of the ''{{Dune}}'' universe is one of the driest deserts in fiction and is home to {{Sand Worm}}s that can eat large vehicles in one bite.
* The Aiel Wastes in Robert Jordan's ''TheWheelOfTime'' series is one of the most hostile environments on the main continent. The only ones that are worse have been heavily tainted by the [[BigBad Dark One]].
* The heroes visit Tatooine twice in ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear''... though both times the major danger is less in the desert, more in the cooler, damper respite from the suns where they spend their time: the palace of Jabba the Hutt.
* The protagonists end up stuck in the middle of one in ''Literature/FiveWeeksInABalloon''. They end up borderline insane or catatonic and nearly dying, until they're saved at the last minute by a sandstorm which allows them to fly their balloon to greener pastures.
* Crops up from time to time in the works of Creator/KarlMay. The most iconic 'Western' example here is probably the (really existing) Llano Estacado, described as this in the stories and usually coming complete with at least some miscreants planning to lead travelers astray explicitly so they can die of thirst and never be heard from again.
* The mesas of New Mexico in ''Literature/TyrannosaurCanyon'' fit this quite nicely. The environment challenges several characters who hike through it with potential dehydration and heatstroke.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/TheTwilightZone'' TOS:
** The Libyan desert in episode "King Nine Will Not Return".
** An (unnamed) American desert in "The Rip Van Winkle Caper".
* Despite having started by marooning an expedition on a desert planet, the ''Stargate'' franchise manages to avoid this trope all the way to its third live-action series, ''Series/StargateUniverse'', in the episode "Air, Part 3."
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode "Final Mission."
* ''ThePrisoner'' (2009) had the desert surrounding the Village, filmed in Namibia.
* In ''Series/TheAquabatsSuperShow'' episode "Cowboy Android!" the Aquabats trudge through one after the Battletram runs out of gas.
* ''The Return of Sherlock Holmes'', a made-for-TV movie in 1987, features a cryogenically frozen Holmes who reawakens in modern day. While driving through the Arizona desert on a case, his car breaks down, so he is forced to cross the desert on foot. Believing himself to be hallucinating or dead, he comes across London Bridge with a British telephone booth and calls his assistant. "No, that's not heaven," she tells him. "That's Lake Havasu."

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* Attempts to employ this trope in ''DungeonsAndDragons'' are difficult, since the healing-oriented classes tend to get a ''create water'' spell at 1st level and employ it whenever there seems to be a hazard of thirst.
** However, the Desert of Desolation series (I3-I5) focused on this trope.
* The interior of Vrita, the Titan of Drought, is this in ''{{Scion}}'' taken to the extent it's basically an entire world comprised of this. And there genuinely is no water of any sort to be found. Indeed, it's so thirsty that those unfortunate enough to enter it have the very real feeling that ''their blood is being sucked out through their skin''. Which is probably because ''it is''.
* The desert world of Tallarn in Warhammer40K. Strangely enough, it ''isn't'' a DeathWorld: its entire surface is desert but there are great underground cities, with their armies all LawrenceOfArabia clones.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Appears in ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIII'' and ''VideoGame/KingsQuestV''. In the first game, it's essentially a barrier to prevent you from going too far the wrong way. It's an [[GuideDangIt insidious maze]] in the latter.
* Lamakan Desert in ''VideoGame/GoldenSun''. It's so hot there's a thermometer that appears during the entire trip with the PCs complaining about the heat at regular intervals, and letting it max out causes damage to everyone. Fortunately, there are oases hidden by mirages that reset the thermometer to zero, unfortunately most of them contain an AntlionMonster. Strangely enough, it's located in Weyard's equivalent of Asia, while the Suhalla desert in Weyard-Africa has no such issues.
* Very much a part of ''QuestForGloryII'', where the player will literally die of thirst if you don't have enough water, and multiple foes ranging from [[{{Outlaw}} vicious brigands]] to [[ScaryScorpions giant scorpions]] to [[TyrannosaurusRex rampaging mini T. rexes]] to [[DemBones ghouls]] will try to kill you.
** Carried over to ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryIII'', which takes place in a Thirsty Savannah (and later a Thirsty Jungle), where the danger isn't dehydration from extreme heat, but from extreme ''humidity'' (which is just as lethal).
* ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireIII'' features a trackless desert towards the end of the game. Travel is only feasible at night, as you're navigating by the stars, but you can travel during the day if you don't mind expending more water and getting disoriented (i.e. don't travel during the day). You start with enough water to just barely reach your destination, but you can escape back to the entrance without any problems, even if you've been traveling for days.
* The Mojave Desert becomes this with the Survival mode active in ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas''. The fact that the water you need to survive also irradiates you is just insult to injury.
* The Arid Extra-Dry Desert in ''VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing'' inflicts severe penalties on any player who tries to adventure there without getting the 'Ultrahydrated' effect from the oasis.
* The first SpaceQuest game (and its VGA Remake) has this when you crashland on Kerona after escaping the Arcada. Fortunately, you have an infinite supply of "dehydrated" water (don't ask) and the game gives you ample warning when you need to take a drink of it.
* In ''VideoGame/RuneScape'', the desert south of Al Kharid will drain your health if you don't stay hydrated (using waterskins, an enchanted water tiara, etc). The rate at which you go through water/health depends on your equipment - melee armour makes you thirsty more often, whereas desert robes (and similar things) let you stay hydrated more easily.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', the Tronin Desert in Southern Libaterra which also doubles as TheSavageSouth. It's the home of the [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Sarquil]] and the [[LizardFolk Sirithai]], and recently the [[TheLegionsOfHell Northern Horde]] has conquered it.
* [[Wiki/SCPFoundation SCP-622]] can create these.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Generally averted in RealLife, since desert biomes are often teeming with life despite the harsh climate.
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Valley Death Valley]] has its name for a reason, though. It is officially one of the hottest places on Earth, with summer highs of up to 134 F/57 C, and next to no rainfall.
* Hundreds of bodies of people who died from thirst or "exposure" are found every year in the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. Most are from Mexico traveling illegally to the United States. Many are from other parts of South and Central America, notably Guatemala and El Salvador.
* Parts of the Atacama Desert in South America haven't received rainfall in hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. Some areas receive moisture from coastal fog, other areas are as dead and barren as Mars.
** In its most desolate regions the Atacama is allegedly ''sterile'', as not even bacteria can survive there. When the TopGear boys crossed the Atacama on a road trip, Jeremy Clarkson mentioned this - primarily to illustrate that co-host Richard Hammond was currently the smallest organism within a hundred miles.
* The Rub' Al Khali[[note]]''The Empty Quarter''[[/note]] desert on the southern Arabian peninsula is one of the largest sand deserts in the world, taking up about 250,000 square miles of area. While it's not completely inhospitable (there is some life), it's close: water sources are extremely few and far between. On the flip side, though, it's geologically ''rich'', with mineral and oil deposits estimated to be worth billions[[note]]So much so that some geologists call it the Rub' Al '''G'''hali, meaning the '''Valuable''' Quarter, according to TheOtherWiki[[/note]].
* The Taklamakan Desert in Central Asia is often considered the world's worst desert to attempt to cross. Antarctica is actually far bleaker to cross, but it's not a Thirsty Desert(after all, lack of water is definitely not a problem in Antarctica).

----