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Frigid Water Is Harmless

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Spend as much time skinny-dipping in the Arctic Ocean as you want; it won't hurt you.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
DudeBob on Sep 10th 2017 at 11:03:16 PM
Last Edited By:
AHI-3000 on Dec 23rd 2017 at 10:00:54 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Often in video games (and occasionally other works of fiction as well), there is no difference between swimming off the coast of Florida and swimming off the coast of Antarctica. Water is water, and the only hazard it ever presents is drowning (if even that). So you can spend all day swimming right outside Santa's workshop on the North Pole and be no worse for wear.

In real life, this is of course a good way to get hypothermia. Water that is just above freezing will sap the heat from your body much faster than air of the same temperature.

Some children's cartoons and games will acknowledge the dangers of frigid waters by having a character who falls into them be be encased in a rectangular block of ice, but this doesn't seem to actually hurt them. These examples are for when a character takes a dip in freezing waters and doesn't suffer any effects whatsoever.

Sub-trope of Exposed to the Elements, and closely related to Harmless Freezing.


Video Games

  • In Ocarina of Time, Link can spend all day swimming in the waters of Zora's Fountain after it gets frozen over.
  • Skyrim: The Dragonborn suffers no harm from swimming in the icy northern oceans. While this may be justified in the case of Nords, who have a 50% racial resistance to cold damage, the other Player Character races have no such excuse.
  • Averted in Super Mario 64. The only frigid bodies of water deep enough for you to become immersed in are in the level Snowman's Land. There are two such bodies of water here: one slowly drains your health while you swim in it, and the other is so intensely cold that it acts as reskinned lava.

Feedback: 29 replies

Sep 11th 2017 at 2:14:09 AM

  • Capitalized (north pole).
  • Corrected spelling (suffer any affects -> effects).
  • Examples section

Sep 11th 2017 at 11:17:30 AM

Hmmm, isn't 34 degrees just 2.6 degrees below body temperature? I'd say 34 degree air is pretty damn hot weather, too...

Sep 11th 2017 at 5:12:50 PM

While played straight in most The Legend Of Zelda games, notably averted inBreath of the Wild: Ordinary water is only a minor hazard, at most removing one unit of Link's health if his stamina runs out while swimming, and it even breaks a fall harmlessly, but water in cold environments steadily saps his health to the point of death, even with protective clothing.

Sep 11th 2017 at 5:41:00 PM

^^The temperature in the description needs to have the scale specified. Koveras, you are correct that 34 degrees Celcius is just 3 degrees (Celcius) below human body temperature and thus quite warm. The sponsor presumably meant 34 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just 2 degrees (Fahrenheit) above the freezing temperature of water, and thus quite cold. (34 degrees Rankine or 34 Kelvin would be just above absolute zero, thus being extremely cold and making both swimming in water and human survival completely out of the question.)

There is currently one Aversion listed in the examples, plus the one Generality proposes above. Aversions are not examples of the trope (because they are by definition a lack of the trope) and are generally ineligible for listing as examples except for Omnipresent Tropes. Averting this trope would simply be realism, therefore aversions are not notable and shouldn't be on the page.

Sep 11th 2017 at 9:59:58 PM

  • Averted in Dragon Fable where the player goes into the frozen waters surrounding Dragesvard which saps the player's HP over time.

Sep 12th 2017 at 5:14:52 AM

^^ Ah, I should have guessed that the OP uses some outdated local units of measure. :^) Anyhow:

  • The final sequence of Abzu takes place in the Arctic ocean, complete with drifting ice, penguins and polar bears. The protagonist is not deterred by the temperatures in the slightest, though this is justified as she is actually a humanoid robot with superhuman resilience.

Sep 12th 2017 at 8:01:24 AM

The Other Wiki has these: ice swimming and polar bear plunge. And, according to a documentary that I watched (or skimmed) on Discovery Channel years ago, some guy in Finland can swim in frigid water without shivering due to his body temperature.

Sep 12th 2017 at 2:20:18 PM

Compare Freeze Sneeze and Catch Your Death Of Cold wherein being exposed to the cold does have consequences.

Sep 12th 2017 at 6:13:57 PM

Averted in Ratchet And Clank were falling into cold water lethally flash freezes Ratchet into a block of ice.

Sep 12th 2017 at 8:25:29 PM

  • Played with in Zootopia, during the training montage at the beginning Judy falls into a pool of icy water and comes out visibly shivering (when realistically she'd probably die), and the mobster Mr. Big apparently throws mammals into a pit of near-freezing water as a method of execution.

Sep 13th 2017 at 1:56:03 AM

Oh, and can someone fix this?

34 degree water will sap the heat from your body much faster than 34 degree air.
A majority (read: those who use Celsius) would think that 34 degrees is warm enough for frigid water.

Sep 13th 2017 at 9:05:12 PM

  • In Season 7 of Game Of Thrones, Jon Snow is knocked into the frigid waters of a frozen lake. Despite being submerged for quite some time, he survives just fine, even when he has to wear his thoroughly drenched clothes on a long ride back to the Wall afterwards.
  • Well and thoroughly averted in Titanic 1997, which realistically showed the passengers of the doomed ocean liner quickly succumbing to the cold when they plunge into the icy waters. (In fact, the movie actually adds onto the water's lethality, since it claims more people died of hypothermia in the water than actually did in real life.) Earlier in the film when Rose was contemplating suicide, when Jack talks her out of it one of the things he talks about is how painful water that cold will be.
    Jack: I fell through some thin ice; and I'm telling you, water that cold, like right down there... [He gestures down toward the Atlantic Ocean] it hits you like a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body. You can't breathe. You can't think. At least, not about anything but the pain.

Sep 14th 2017 at 12:58:58 AM

Subverted in Alien Vs Predator, where a brief scene at the beginning establishes that falling into the Antarctic waters means certain death. At the climax, the Queen ends up falling in the water.

Sep 14th 2017 at 7:52:00 AM

Sep 14th 2017 at 1:41:17 PM

Video Games

  • Somewhat averted in Banjo Kazooie. In Freezeezy Peak, the cold water takes away Banjo and Kazooie's health if they fall in it, and the water itself warns them that it's too cold to jump into the first time they fall in it. The Walrus transformation from Mumbo in the same level helps protect Banjo and Kazooie from the frozen water. In a later stage, Click Clock Wood, the cold water in the winter season doesn't take away your health, but is still very hazardous. It acts the same as the oily water in Rusty Bucket Bay; it drains Banjo and Kazooie's air meter twice as fast as regular water when swimming underwater, and even causes them to drown while swimming on the surface.

Sep 14th 2017 at 6:39:41 PM

Made a small edit to the main description in order to avoid the problem of which temperature scale is being used. Does the reworded section work for everyone?

Sep 15th 2017 at 4:38:42 PM

  • In any given Sonic The Hedgehog game, either all water is instant death, or all water is safe for underwater platforming, regardless of temperature.
    • Downplayed in Sonic The Hedgehog 3. Water in Ice Cap Zone doesn't hurt you, but it's only found at the lowest points of the level, over Bottomless Pits. So you're unlikely to spend more than a few seconds in that water.
    • Used straight in Sonic Advance and Sonic Advance 3, where Ice Mountain Zone and Twinkle Snow, respectively, are both half-underwater.
  • Wario Land Super Mario Land 3: The frozen Sherbet Land has a few underwater levels, where the water behaves exactly the same as in every other world.

Nov 7th 2017 at 3:07:11 PM

  • In Ill Met By Moonlight, Greg takes Steven and Amethyst to the beach to swim despite it being October. Whether or not their resilience to the cold is due to their youth or to the fact that Steven is a Dhampyr and Amethyst a werewolf is uncertain.

    Films - Animated 

    Video Games 

Dec 20th 2017 at 10:51:12 AM

Do we have a super-trope about cold temperatures having no effect on people?

Dec 20th 2017 at 12:06:08 PM

So this page would be a sub-trope of Exposed To The Elements, and perhaps related to Harmless Freezing as well. I think we ought to mention that.

Dec 20th 2017 at 12:18:03 PM

Sounds good. Is someone maintaining this proposal?

Dec 20th 2017 at 10:43:39 PM

IIRC, It's up for grabs since it hasn't been edited in 3 months+, since "6:38:32 PM 14th Sep '17".

All Elder Scolls games, not just Skyrim, would count?

VideoGame.Bioshock: You start the game in the water of the Atlantic, and can stay there for as long as you want. Then, when you.go under the sea, you can get sprayed with sea water forever, if you want.

Is this in anyway related to Take Your Time? The assumption is that time actually passes and stuff by this is handwaved away for fun??

Dec 22nd 2017 at 12:24:36 PM

Not sure if this'd actually count, but there's an old issue of Comic Book/Batman where The Penguin falls through the ice at the South Pole and climbs out completely fine. This is given zero explanation (the Penguin is by all accounts a completely ordinary human), save for Batman remarking in surprise that "He's immune to the cold!"

Dec 23rd 2017 at 2:55:04 AM

^ That's probably because in Real Life penguins swim in frigid water all the time, and since he's called The Penguin, naturally... (yes, this is comic book logic).