Pacha: Uh-oh.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.note Despite the suspense or drama they may invoke, plunges over a waterfall will not always 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. May have a Cave Behind the Falls. Compare Mega Maelstrom.
Kuzco: (facing the other way, deadpan) Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall.
Pacha: (deadpan) Yep.
Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom?
Pacha: Most likely.
Kuzco: (beat) Bring it on.
Kuzco: (facing the other way, deadpan) Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall.
Pacha: (deadpan) Yep.
Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom?
Pacha: Most likely.
Kuzco: (beat) Bring it on.
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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.
Jessie: But first, a poem: Team Rocket drifted down the stream... And now we SCREEEAAAM!!!!... (Splash!)
- Also from the episode Pokemon Paparazzi when Team Rocket meets their defeat this time by going over a waterfall... but suddenly freeze as Jessie recites a poem before they fall.
- 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).
- Midway through Ranma ˝, 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 occurred 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.
- In one episode of The Mysterious Cities of Gold, some of the main characters are swept over a waterfall. Needless to say, none of them are badly hurt. (Though Zia is knocked unconscious, she quickly recovers).
- The main character in Tintin narrowly avoids going over one or two of these.
- Played with in Lucky Luke: As the Dalton brothers are about to fall into one, Jack (or is it William?) tells Joe not to worry, that in such situations the characters are always saved in the nick of time. In fact, nobody comes to the Daltons' rescue, and they fall over. Of course, they make it.
- In Jonah Hex #39 (original series), Jonah faces one in a flashback to Civil War days. Lampshaded by Jonah's internal monologue:
"'Cause the only worse predicament thet could happen tuh me right now would be if'n thar turned out tuh be some kind of obstacle on this here stretch of river thet wazn't marked on the general's campaign map! Like mebbe a - Gasp! - W-waterfall!"
- X-Men Unlimited #4 features an inevitable waterfall... on the lower Mississippi!
- Emma narrowly avoids going over a waterfall early in the Ruse storyline featuring the maybe-vampires. It turns out to be a Chekhov's Waterfall, and plays a significant role in the climax of the story.
- Last victim in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Special escapes from the lunatic Hewitts and ends up floating down a river on a tree trunk. As she promises to herself to clean up her act, she suddenly starts screaming when she comes across a waterfall. But it's not the small drop that terrifies her, it's the chainsaw-toting Leatherface, who is waiting for her at the end of it.
- Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs with a lavafall.
- Disney Films:
- Aladdin: The Return of Jafar
- The Emperor's New Groove, with Lampshade Hanging as outlined in the above quote. They go over, and Kuzco screams "BOOYAHAHA!!" on the way down.
- The Rescuers Down Under: It was actually how the Big Bad met his end.
- In Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, Piglet and Owl end up heading toward one of these while floating on a chair. Owl has his back to the waterfall, and is so busy telling Piglet a story that he's oblivious to the latter's attempts to warn him. (He can fly and therefore has nothing to worry about.) Fortunately, the chair ends up catching on a tree root.
- In Pocahontas, the title character willingly went over a cascading waterfall in her boat.
- In the first Mulan film, the main characters are carried over an Inevitable Cliff by an avalanche. It's essentially identical to an Inevitable Waterfall scene.
- Mulan II has a straight version, resulting in the most obvious Disney Death of all time.
- Occurs in A Goofy Movie with Max and Goofy after a long father-son talk.
- In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible gets thrown over a waterfall.
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
- After Jane falls in the river in Tarzan (2013), she is swept over one and Tarzan follows in an attempt to save her.
Film -Live Action
- Star Wars:
- The Phantom Menace. Originally, there was going to be a scene involving one, but it was deleted. You can still see it on the DVD. Removed with good reason, as Darths & Droids points out.
- Revenge of the Sith has a fall of lava, though both Obi-Wan and Anakin manage to escape the piece of wreckage they're on before it goes over.
- Indiana Jones:
- Averted in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, probably because they'd already fallen off a mountain while in their raft moments before landing in the river.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull actually has three of them, one right after another. Verges into an Overly Long Gag.
- Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Ace is tied, along with his Capuchin monkey Spike, to a log-raft that Ace deduces is going over said waterfall. The monkey escapes from the ropes and is about to free Ace, then changes his mind and jumps to shore while he still can, leaving Ace to go over the edge.
- In the first Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Sassy goes over the Inevitable Waterfall.
- At the end of a boat chase, Jaws falls afoul of one in The Amazon in Moonraker.
- Used tragically in The Mission. With the Distant Reaction Shot of the denouement providing the art for the Film Poster and the cover art for the Ennio Morricone soundtrack album.
- Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, where the boat somehow manages to go over a waterfall while heading up the river.
- As Dutch escapes the alien hunter in Predator, he ends up on a river which takes him to a waterfall.
- Give My Regards to Broad Street, during the "Eleanor's Dream" sequence.
- Buster Keaton comedy "The Balloonatic", subverts it at the end. When the characters' canoe, newly outfitted with a simple canopy, reaches a waterfall's edge, it continues moving in the same direction despite gravity. A long shot reveals that what looked like a canopy was just the bottom of a newly-repaired hot-air balloon.
- Evan Almighty. A real trick, considering it involves an ark and a flood.
- Probably justified in Apocalypto, as Jaguar Paw knew it was there and could well have headed there intentionally.
- The Adventures of Milo and Otis is about a kitten who gets too curious for his own good and climbs in a box floating down the river, only to be washed away down into a waterfall and the rest is history.
- The ending of Pure Luck. The missing heiress and one of the guys sent to find her drift down river toward what looks like a huge waterfall.
- In The Fellowship of the Ring this scene appears to pop up, but it's okay, they're just banking at The Gates of Argonath.
- When Frodo and Samwise paddle across the lake, there doesn't even seem to be a current moving toward the falls! (Ignoring the text of the book, which specifically says they're fighting the current all the way.)
- The climax of the 1953 film Niagara, in which the heroine is stuck on a boat moving inexorably toward the lip of the titular waterfall with the mentally unstable Anti-Villain. He pulls a Redemption Equals Death by helping her climb out onto a rock before he plunges lethally over the edge.
- 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 40,000 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 dishonors his bones."
- In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock:
- Floating down to the sea in a raft is interrupted by a waterfall — for once, one they know about in advance and avoid.
- Later, caught in an underground river, they go over one. Thorvald points it out to Shann and dryly asks whether he wants to backtrack.
- An outtake in Tough Magic lampshades the trope, with the Author himself commenting '...and who put a waterfall there!?'
- One pops up in the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel I,Q. Lampshaded, of course, by the ever Genre Savvy Q.
Live Action TV
- An episode of Rentaghost had Mr. and Mrs. Meeker narrowly avoid going over Niagara Falls. In England.
- Seen in the opening credits of Land of the Lost.
- On All My Children, Julia and Noah fled to Jamaica to escape his false murder conviction, where they were pursued by the deranged Taylor, who wanted Noah for herself. Taylor chased Julia to the top of a waterfall, eventually shoving her over. Luckily, she was unharmed.
- Luke and Laura's 1993 return to General Hospital was chock-full of adventure. The culmination of this was them leaping from a stalled plane into a raging river and nearly going over the falls before being rescued by a helicopter.
- The Lion King Broadway musical.
- 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. The two do end up unconscious, but they float to shore and wake up in short order. You don't take any hp damage from this incident.
- Well, of course they take no damage from the fall, being unconscious healed them completely.
- 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.
- Can potentially happen in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim if you decide to swim around in its rivers.
- In the Sky Odyssey level "Over the Falls" the player has to fly over a series waterfalls in order to find the hidden ruins at the source of the river. On the way back down the seaplanes engine catches on fire, forcing you to land on the river. Once there you get washed over the edge of all the waterfalls you just passed. The player has to pull up and glide over the rocks at the bottom of each fall.
- In Space Quest II, after The Maze, you end up in an underground river. One fork leads to a waterfall, which kills you, the other to a whirlpool, which is the proper exit.
- Darths & Droids: #35 Qui-Gon, Obi-wan and Jar-jar, after traveling though the underwater core of Naboo, only to emerge right in front of one. It even links to this very page!
- Here it quotes the quote at the top.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship: comic Raft Friends◊ has one of these. It ends the way most PBFs do.
- In Reds Planet, Red falls over one just before meeting the fishing alien.
- Ruby-Spears' Mega Man had one of these in the final episode. Thing is, Megaman and Protoman are fighting in the river when they notice this—and it doesn't stop them.
- The Simpsons
- "Simpson Tide": Homer joins the Naval Reserve. In one scene, Homer is tying a ship to the dock, but forgets to actually tie the rope to the ship. The ship then sails off into the ocean only to fall off a giant waterfall. At first, it looks like the ship is falling off the edge of the Earth.
- Also in "Milhouse of Sand and Fog".
- In "Catch 'Em if You Can", Homer and Marge have sex while falling off Niagara Falls on one of those bouncy castles.
- There's also the season 1 episode where Homer and Bart go over one, lose their clothes, and Homer ends up being mistaken for Bigfoot.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender. The boats in question had somehow traveled up the same river from the sea earlier, with no mention of how they got up the waterfall in the first place.
- Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation.
- Shana dealt with this trope in the Jem episode, 'Last Resorts'.
- The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
- From a short on Oh Yeah! Cartoons:
Jelly's Sister: Hey big brother, what's that?Jelly: Oh, just a cliché waterfall that usually appears in these situations.
- Shows up in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Gimme Gimme Never Ed".
- Shows up in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. Given that this is during a camp-sponsored raft race, the possibility of this happening to a bunch of young children who are rafting without adult supervision makes this an even more egregious example of Adults Are Useless than is usually present in Peanuts cartoons.
- Occurs quite often on Looney Tunes. Usually, a character is in a motorboat that won't start until it goes over the falls. If it does and the character manages to escape, chances are there's another waterfall at the other end of the river.
- In the Hasty But Tasty episode of The Ant and the Aardvark this was averted and then inverted when the aardvark, on a motorcycle, falls over a cliff into a river. He restarted the bike at the last possible moment to do a miracle 180... only to fall off the other waterfall behind him.
- Happens on The Fairly OddParents on the episode where Timmy and the fairies visit Niagara Falls. The fact that they were visiting Niagara Falls made it even more inevitable than normal.
- In one sketch on The Mr. Men Show, Mr. Stubborn goes over one, but he thinks he's going to a calm stream.
- In another sketch, Mr. Bump goes over one.
- The Super Mario World cartoon had an inevitable LAVA waterfall. Kind of fits with the Platform Game source.
- Parodied on Jimmy Two-Shoes. While on a cruise, the boat hits a waterfall...which is so small it just rocks the boat a little. Then there are two more just like it, so Lucius doesn't worry about the fourth one...which is a big one.
- The Classic Disney Short featuring Donald Duck as Commando Duck. Unlike most of the examples in fiction, the waterfall's relevance doesn't end when Don falls through it. It immediately takes over the plot and leads to a glorious Crowning Moment of Awesome for Donald. Watch the short so it makes more sense.
- The Magic School Bus: Occasionally subverted. In a few episodes where the class finds themselves drifting down a river and you're expecting them to go over the waterfall, they actually come across rapids. Of course, that's not a whole lot better.
- Niagara Fools. The famous Woody Woodpecker cartoon in which Woody deliberately tries to go down the Niagara Falls in a barrel for how cool and fun that would be. A guard keeps trying to stop him and succeeds, only to ironically end inside the barrel and fall down the waterfall over and over again.
- In the "It's a Wonderful Nine Lives" episode of Eek The Cat, Eek is in the water with his blonde-haired pig friend during one of his Amusing Injuries. They go over a waterfall (much to Eek's cowardice) and the pig somehow disappears. Then Eek gets trapped inside a sewer and fortunately swims out of it.
- Taz-Mania: "Doubting Dingo" contains a ludicrously tall example, with Taz's fall almost veering into Overly Long Gag territory.
- In My Little Pony: The Movie, at one point Baby Lickety Split, Spike the dragon, and the Grundles are riding down a river on a floating log. Naturally, they end up going over a waterfall.
- In Thomas And Friends, this almost happened to Toby when a flood washed away the bridge he was on.
- Some Disney shorts, where a huge waterfall is just downstream of where a whole bunch of people are skating on a frozen river.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Pinkie Apple Pie", the Apple family's trip to Goldie Delicious' house ends up taking a detour down a river. Sure enough, one wrong turn sends their raft over a waterfall.
- In "Sleepless In Ponyville", Rainbow Dash saves Scootaloo from one of these.
- In the pilot episode of Inspector Gadget, our heroes are ice-skating when Dr. Claw uses unseen technology to cut a small circle around them and then remove all the ice except for the circle, sending them adrift, towards a (perhaps somehow recently unfrozen) waterfall.
- In Around the World with Willy Fog, the villainous Transfer gets swept over Niagara Falls. His last words before going over are: "No-one's ever survived Niagara Falls!" However, he turns up in a later episode, still very much alive.