If the characters are rafting, swimming, or just floating down a river
, then they will either go over a waterfall or narrowly avoid going over a waterfall. Always. No exceptions. You could take it to the bank.*
Despite the suspense or drama they may invoke, plunges over a waterfall will not result in significant physical injury to the characters. This is true regardless of the height of the fall, or the shallowness/rockiness of the bottom. Sometimes invokes a bit of Fridge Logic
depending on the circumstances, as one wonders why a large boat was in operation or a race was planned using that specific
waterway, despite the can't-miss-it waterfall.
May have a Cave Behind the Falls
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Anime & Manga
- The world of the Pokémon anime is filled with these waterfalls. And just as it is inevitable that Ash will save the Pokémon of the week from going over at the last minute, Team Rocket always end up going down it at the end of the episode.
- Akazukin Cha Cha: A school ice-skating race - naturally the river is frozen making the waterfall much more of an issue. Luckily Chacha's skirt turns into an impromptu parachute (though she's not too happy, especially with her two male friends hanging onto her ankles).
- The Slayers
- Midway through Ranma ½, Female-Ranma and Pantyhose Taro went over a waterfall while fighting on a drifting log. The thing is, nobody (not even the onlookers) even realized there was a waterfall there until the combatants went over the edge.
- In Dinosaur King, The Alpha Gang has a tendency to fall over these, preceded by a "this feels familiar". In the Niagara Falls episode, it occured twice!
- In Naruto, Team 7 has a mission cleaning up a river. During the entire episode, Naruto tries to prove that he's better than Sasuke. So, naturally, he gets too close to the giant waterfall, loses his footing, falls into the water, and goes screaming over the waterfall, only to be caught by an annoyed Sasuke.
- In Arashi No Yoru Ni, Mei and Gabu tumble over a series of several waterfalls (culminating in one big one) when they attempt to escape from their clans' attempts to have them betray one another.
- The heroes of Monster Farm/Monster Rancher build a raft to float downstream but are diverted to a waterfall by the Baddies. This is a catalyst to get Suezo to learn his Teleportation technique.
- Strike Witches: The Movie: After Yoshika rescues a dog stranded on a rock in a river, she falls in and quickly heads towards one of these. She goes over the falls, but is saved by a Witch cadet who happens to be flying by.
- Witches Abroad: the witches end up heading for a waterfall. ("The dwarfs didn't say anything about a waterfall." "I expect they thought we'd find out for ourselves.") Magrat tries to use her Fairy Godmother wand to save them and, just as they're about to go over, manages to turn the boat into a pumpkin. This doesn't help.
- The Fifth Elephant: Vimes goes over one while he's on the run from the werewolf pack. Prior to going over he sees Death because he is having a near-death experience and thus Death must be having a near-Vimes experience (because of Quantum).
- The Colour of Magic: The crowning champ for scale: Rincewind goes off the edge of the world, over the Rimfall.
- In William King's Warhammer 40000 Space Wolf novel Wolfblade, when Ragnor and Haegr escape a Cult by swimming in an underground river, they go over a waterfall.
- The Niagara Falls themselves show up in Jules Verne's novel Master Of The World. Two torpedo ships chase a mysterious vehicle, called the Terror, across Lake Erie, until they corner it before the falls. Instead of either letting the ships catch or sink the Terror, or perishing by being dragged down the falls, the vehicle's inventor and captain takes a third option: The Terror spreads its wings and flies away.
- In The Beyonders, Jason's first encounter in the world of Lyrian is with a band who are floating down a raft toward a waterfall... by their own choice. He attempts to save them anyway. Things go downhill--in the most literal fashion--soon after.
- In Jurassic Park, with a friggin' T-rex at the bottom.
- In Patrimony by Alan Dean Foster, Flinx has to deal with one of these things.
- In The Hour Of The Gate, also by Foster, Jon-Tom's party only survive the Inevitable Waterfall because the wizard Clothahump levitates their boat over the Helldrink. This was even more harrowing than most examples, as they were on a subterranean river with no way to change course or land, and were being pursued by an Eldritch Abomination at the time.
- In Snakehead, seventh installment in Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, Alex steals a float and oar from a seaplane, and uses them to form a kayak. He then navigates through treacherous rapids and tries to avoid a marksman aiming at him from a helicopter, and only after getting through this does he tumble down the 50-yard high Bora Falls...and, being the protagonist, survives. This is not the first time that it is made blindingly obvious that the kid is Born Lucky, nor is it the last.
- In the Warrior Cats series, this happens in Moonrise. The traveling Clan cats end up having trouble in bad weather, fall into a mountain stream, and go over a waterfall, landing in a pool of water at the bottom. Fortunately, there is a Tribe of cats that lives in a Cave Behind the Falls, so even though the Clan cats are pretty battered, they are able to recover because the Tribe takes them in for a little while.
- Hera's Step, an enormous and well-known waterfall in A Brother's Price. Jerin's kidnappers were planning to take the boat through a series of locks to go around said waterfall and continue downstream, but when he and Cira got loose and started wreaking havoc, well... Cira calculated that they couldn't swim to shore and it would be better to stay on the ship for the plunge. This would have killed him if there hadn't been people around to fish him out, though, and it does kill those of the kidnappers who hadn't died during the escape.
- In The Lord of the Rings (both book and movies), Boromir's funeral consists of putting him in a boat and letting it fall over the Falls of Rauros. "The River of Gondor will take care at least that no evil creature dishonours his bones."
Live Action TV
- Pooch Cafe: "We live in a flat, urban environment. Where did that waterfall come from?"
- Assassins Creed III - In the first Homestead mission you have to save one of the woodcutters before he goes over.
- Gears of War 2 - While underground and headed towards Nexus, Marcus and Dom are riding a commandeered Locus Gunboat. Of course, there's a waterfall, which prompts Marcus to shout "You've got to be kidding me!"
- In Final Fantasy VI, Sabin and Cyan jump down a waterfall in order to reach their destination. Cyan will hesitate and Shadow will calmly leave your party if he's still with you at that point, but there's still very little pause given before jumping off a waterfall so large you've got time for a few random encounters and a minor boss battle on the way down.
- Ōkami has an interactive challenge involving one of these on a log rushing towards a waterfall
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has one at the finale, when you are chasing Gen Shepherd's helicopter in a Zodiac raft. Made doubly badass because you could have escaped going over, but you and Price deliberately stayed in order to take the killer shots.
- Exile: Warns you shortly before a long series of them. The final set is multiple in a row. You are pre-warned, but, by then, you've long since crossed the Point of No Return.
- All they do is take away your food, though. The party remains unharmed.
- In The Simpsons Arcade Game, this causes the unconsciousness that leads to level 6, Dreamland.