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Film / Waterworld

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"Dry land is not just our destination, it is our destiny!"

Waterworld is a 1995 Science Fiction film and the second major collaboration between actor Kevin Costner and director Kevin Reynolds after Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It also stars Jeanne Tripplehorn and Dennis Hopper.

Set In a World… where the polar ice-caps have melted due to havoc caused by a geomagnetic reversal. The world is now covered by water. What's left of humanity is surviving on ramshackle crafts tied together to make Atolls (villages). The Mariner (Costner) enters one of these Atolls to trade, but is discovered to be a mutant and sentenced to death. A gang of raiders known as Smokers, led by Deacon (Hopper), attacks the Atoll. A woman named Helen (Tripplehorn) and her adopted daughter Enola (Tina Majorino) bribe the Mariner to take them to the mythical Dry Land, which no one has ever seen. Conveniently, Enola's back has been tattooed with a map indicating the alleged way to Dry Land. However, with the Smokers hot on their tail, their journey encounters more than a few bumps along the way. And the Mariner is not your traditional plucky hero. He'd prefer just look out for himself.

Essentially, it's Mad Max with the opposite problem: too much water instead of a barren Earth.

The film had a notorious Troubled Production that caused the film's $100 million budget to balloon at $175 million (in 1995 dollars), making it the most expensive film ever made until Titanic two years later.

An extended edition of the movie was also released, adding roughly one hour of world building and background information, which was cut before the theatrical release. Unfortunately it also cut a lot of violence and some of the rougher scenes as it was meant for television, so a fan-made version known as the Ulysses Cut was made that mixed the theatrical and extended releases. The general consensus is that both remade versions are much better than the theatrical release.

Despite the film's financial failure, it ended up spawning a stunt show at the Universal Studios parks, called Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular, which over time became more popular and better-known than the movie itself.

It also had a tie-in game that holds the distinction of being the only movie-licensed game to be released on the infamous Virtual Boy.

Not to be confused with the type of Single-Biome Planet where the whole world is an ocean, although obviously the Earth in this movie comes pretty damn close.

Waterworld provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: The Smoker who manages to survive and escape his encounter with The Mariner despite losing his gunner and being injured.
  • After the End: The film takes place in 2500, where the polar ice caps have melted and flooded the world. Most of humanity has not survived, and the remnants have been reduced to living in makeshift rafts and cities of flotsam.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey!: The Deacon every so often mentions "Old Saint Joe" with the same reverence as an actual saint. Near the end of the movie it's revealed that the Smokers' base is the remains of the Exxon Valdez and "Old Saint Joe" is a portrait of the ship's disgraced captain, Joseph Hazelwood.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Don't like the mariner's gills.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Smokers seem to fit this to a T.
  • Anti-Hero: In typical '90s fashion.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 2: Planetary Scale, Societal Collapse, with massive disruption to the biosphere thrown in for good measure.
    • How exactly it happened is also unknown. The icecaps clearly melted (global warming and all), but there seems to have also been a geomagnetic reversal and the moon is far too close. The tie-in comic implies it was bombardment by gigantic icy asteroids.
    • The Extended Cut suggests that it is soon headed for a Class 3. Helen mentions how every year their atoll gets less and less mariners to trade with, how their technology is breaking down with no way to fix it, and how they have had no contact from another Atoll in well over a year. Even the Smokers, as (comparitively) sophisticated as they are, are literally running on fumes, as they only have enough oil reserves to last them another 2 months, and there simply aren't anymore atolls or other large settlements to raid and plunder anymore. Basically, humanity is slowly but surely dying out as what is left fights and kills one another over the scraps.
  • The Apunkalypse: Civilization has collapsed, humans are adrift on the world-ocean, and the punkish, scavenging Smokers play the part of a large jet ski gang.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Somehow, the Mariner can inhale water with his gills and exhale breathable air indefinitely to allow Helen to breathe underwater. Needless to say, gills do not work that way.
    • Mariner's gills are realistically way too small for allow him to breathe underwater (and also leads to the question how the water gets from his mouth/nose to his ears).
    • Even if we accept the Mariner's gills, has it really been long enough for a giant, three-jawed vertebrate mutant like the one he catches to eat to have evolved?
    • The underwater city is said to be Denver; skyscrapers there top out at over 700 feet. Even if the water is just above the top of the buildings, that's way deeper than Helen could go without specialized equipment and breathing mix.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: The Mariner has on his boat some kind of small machine which can filter urine into drinkable water in less than a minute. Human urine on average has higher salt content than seawater, not to mention all the other elements that would need to be removed. That machine should easily be able to turn seawater drinkable as well. (Plus, if he has gills and is adapted to breathe underwater, would it be so farfetched that he could process seawater internally anyway?)
  • Artistic License – Engineering: In the end, the Mariner takes a wooden yacht, sets it back in the water and sails off. In reality, a wooden hull that spent more than few years out of water would dry out, deform and become extremely leaky, if not outright fall apart upon contact with water.
  • Artistic License – Geology:
    • If you melted all the ice on the planet, you would cause a 60 metres (about 190 feet) rise in sea level, which is a lot, but only lowland areas would be seriously affected, and at the very worst people would have to resort to living on long chains of large islands. Everest would still tower six miles above the sea, and it has the rest of the Himalayas to keep it company. In fact, to replicate the situation in the film, three times the entire world's water supply (freshwater and all) would have to appear from somewhere.
      • Actually three orders of magnitude worse than that. According to that other wiki there are about thirty-five million cubic kilometers of fresh water on Earth. A shell, with inner radius of the Earth and thickness 30,000 feet (to cover Everest), has a volume of forty billion cubic kilometers.
    • Even if there were enough ice to cover the world to the extent depicted, the ocean salt water would become diluted enough to be drinkable. (And kill everything that's adapted to live in salt water. Not to mention it would be much more difficult to float in it.)
    • The underwater city is Denver, the "mile high" city. They are in shallow enough water there for there to be light to see, and an un-crushed submarine, so they can't be more than a few hundred feet down and there should be actual dryland all around. The Rockies go way higher than a mile, from northern Canada to well south of Denver.
    • The shores of Everest have sandy beaches. It takes thousands, sometimes millions of years for rocks and boulders to break down into sand.
    • This is more of a case of Artistic Licence – Meteorology and a bit of a missed opportunity, but throughout the movie there's never any rain, let alone storms, despite that they tend to be stronger over water and last longer without much Dryland in the way to break them up. Logically rainfall would be the one natural source of freshwater available to humans out on such a vast expanse of ocean, but that's never once brought up.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Just one word: Portugreek. And it sounds like neither, unless it's just named that.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Even if the world were totally flooded in water, the moon would not appear as huge as it does in the movie. (Though the one time it does appear that big perhaps was more of a camera trick, the same way the rising sun can appear vast and dwarf animals in the foreground in some images.)
    • Want to make it worse? An early screenplay version of the movie has a drawing that shows that for whatever reason the Moon really is that close to earth, and that it is in geostationary orbit. The reason why Dryland even exists is because the Everest was directly beneath, and the gravity well of moon pushed the water apart (instead of sticking out of the bulge).
  • Barbarian Longhair: Pretty much everybody has barbarian hair, with the notable exception of the Deacon's Bald of Evil.
  • Big Bad: The Deacon.
  • Bland-Name Product: Smeat, an Expy of Spam. There's tons of it on the Exxon Valdez and the Deacon hands out cans of Smeat like it's manna from heaven and going out of style.
  • Blood Knight: Chuck, the goggles-wearing Smoker in charge of machine-gunning the shit out of the atoll. He screams at his helpers to get the guns back to operational when he's forced to pause, and when the Smokers scream at him to stop firing before he hits the Deacon's boat he either doesn't hear, can't stop or won't stop.
  • Brick Joke: When an insane trader wants to sell the Mariner a few pages of paper as the biggest treasure ever, he just ignores him and the whole thing is played to show how much deranged the trader is. And then, many scenes later, it is revealed the Mariner has an entire locker full of newspapers, books and maps.
  • Brutal Honesty: The Mariner, who at first glance sounds like a Deadpan Snarker, but each of his comments is proven real and dead-serious.
  • Buffy Speak: The pale old guy who measures the oil in the smoker ship apparently doesn't know it's called oil; he calls it "black stuff". This seems to apply to all the Smokers, as they all refer to it as "go-juice".
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations: The knife-fight variety, when the Mariner killed the drifter after cancelling their deal.
  • But Now I Must Go: Kind of justified considering our Drifter is a mutant with gills and webbed phalanges who really doesn't need or want life on land.
  • Byronic Hero: The Mariner is the less erudite version of this, without any hint of formal education, but it's par for the course in a less cultured, post-apocalyptic world.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Drinkable water is called "hydro". Makes sense, since the entire planet is covered with undrinkable saltwater.
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: The tower bridge of the oil tanker used as lair by the Smokers has a huge "NO SMOKING" sign over it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The paper the crazed drifter gives to the Mariner in exchange for some time with Helen. The writing is Chinese, the same language as the map coordinates on Enola's tattoo.
  • City on the Water: Atolls and the Exxon Valdez.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Played straight, invoked verbatim and discussed, when the Mariner goes to rescue Enola, even if he has no real profit in it.
  • Character Development: The mariner changes from Jerkass to Jerk with a Heart of Gold halfway through the movie and loses his "jerk" persona by the end of the movie. He's still far away from being a likable, charismatic individual, but at least stops snarling at people just for standing too close to him.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the extended edition the Smoker plane pilot tearfully laments that "they killed Ed!" (his gunner and friend). The Deacon pats him consolingly and tells him not to fret, as there's plenty more where Ed came from.
  • Conflict Ball: Helen towards the Mariner. After blackmailing him into saving her and Enola's lives, she immediately expects his trust. Later, in the middle of a firefight when the Mariner is trying to save her life and his own, Helen suddenly questions whether she can trust him.
  • Cool Boat: The Mariner's trimaran, and the Exxon Valdez.
  • Cool Car: The rust-eaten shell of a car the Deacon rides around in throughout the depths of the Smoker colony.
  • Cool Plane: The Smokers' seaplane. Cool by virtue of being ancient, rust-colored, and probably the last of its kind.
  • Crapsack World: All that appears to be left is small communities on the edge of genetic extinction, traders, slavers, pirates and marauders.
  • Dark Reprise: The Atoll leaders rephrase the already-dreary prayer they use when they toss a deceased person's body into their recycling goop with an anti-mutant slant as they get ready to lower the very-much-living Mariner into it (as a result of their decision to sentence him to death).
  • Dated History: The Smokers use the Exxon Valdez as their base, but the real Exxon Valdez was renamed several times (it was the Sea River Mediterranean at the time of filming), refitted into an ore carrier in 2008, and finally beached in India and dismantled in 2012.
  • Desperate Object Catch: Deacon tosses a lit match at the open hatchway to the oil tanker's petroleum tanks, just so he can watch one of his henchmen make a Diving Save to keep it from igniting the fuel and blowing them all to hell.
  • Digital De-Aging: An early, rudimentary example. Supposedly Costner forced the filmmakers to use CGI to enhance his thinning hairline.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Deacon makes a speech to his crew claiming to know where Dryland is, while promising to destroy the natural reasources there for "progress," mirroring the speeches of real life politicians. His podium is similar, too.
  • Dope Slap:
    • After Enola waves at a plane of "Smokers" flying above them, the Mariner dope-slaps her and yells, "What are you thinking about?!?"
    • Enola, again, gets one from the Deacon for mouthing out while they're confronting the Mariner on the deck of the tanker.
  • The Dragon: The Nord is the right-hand man and a top enforcer for Deacon.
  • Dull Surprise: Kevin Costner's performance, in a notorious contrast to Dennis Hopper's Ham and Cheese. Which is justified, as his Mariner spent most of his life alone on the ocean, keeping away from people to hide his mutation. Some people deal with that much solitude by going bonkers (like the sailor they encounter at the halfway point of the film), and others react by emotionally shutting down.
  • Epic Movie: Waterworld was the most expensive movie ever made at the time, with an eventual budget of $172m in 1995 (~$270m in modern money, which is still enormous by today's standards).
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Smokers have several women and children as part of their crew.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The pilot of the Smokers' seaplane was deeply distraught to say the least over losing Ed, his gunner and apparently best friend whom Helen killed when they attacked the Mariner's boat.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • The Mariner. Subverted in the extended edition, wherein after the heroes reach Dry Land, Helen gives the Mariner a real name just before he heads onto the ocean. It's Ulysses, the Latin name of the main character of Homer's Odyssey.
    • Also the Deacon, and in a way the Nord. The Smokers don't get names either because most of them are just Mooks.
  • Exact Words: Subverted. The Deacon interrogates two atoll survivors by saying "First one to tell me lives." So one survivor tells him what he wants to know and is still threatened with death. He reminds the Deacon that "You said you wouldn't kill me." So Deacon gives his gun to the Nord to execute him. The talker should have used the exact words.
  • Eyepatch of Power: The Deacon gains one during the movie, but unlike typical example he absolutely hates the fact he got crippled, making it very personal with the Mariner.
  • Fake Shemp: Jeanne Tripplehorn refused to strip for this film, even though she had done nude scenes before (and would do them after this film). She insisted on choosing her body double, as she wanted the naked backside shown to resemble her own. She had the three finalists come into her trailer and drop their robes. She described it as such an odd experience that none of them could stop laughing. In between takes of the nude scene, Tripplehorn remained off-camera to offer a robe or towel to the double.
  • Fantastic Racism: You'd believe that being able to breathe underwater would be quite a desirable asset in a ocean world, but people seemed to think otherwise. Downplayed in both the novelization and the extended cutnote .
  • Fate Worse than Death: Implied with the old guy who works in the oil tank in the villains' ship, who is actually relieved to see the flare blowing the whole thing up with him inside.
    "Oh thank God!"
  • Flooded Future World: The Earth was covered by global oceans when runaway global warming flooded the entire planet. Humans mostly inhabit "atolls", ramshackle floating villages built out of whatever junk and flotsam could be scavenged from the sea, but there are also Drifters who spend their entire lives sailing nomadically between villages on one-person boats, aquatic mutants with gills behind their ears, and the Smokers, feared pirates with access to the only remaining motor craft. Food plants and soil have also become rare and valuable luxuries. Myth claims that a single piece of dry land remains, and most of the movie follows a hunt for this island. In the end, it's revealed that the island exists — it's the tip of Mount Everest.
  • Flower Mouth: The giant three-jawed mutant fish-thing the Mariner hunts and turns into sushi.
  • Foreshadowing: The fact that so many people are seen escaping from the coral atoll is this to their later reappearance.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: When the Deacon gets a glass eye to replace the one he lost to an explosion, it's a complete piece of crap that doesn't even resembles a normal eye. When the Deacon asks his goons how does it look, they all say that it looks okay (probably to prevent the Deacon from fragging them). Then he asks a kid in the room, and the kid says that it looks like shit.
    The Deacon: (ruefully) That's what I like about kids. No guile. (Takes a look in the mirror) It DOES look like shit! And it feels like COLD shit!
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Subverted when Helen strips naked, appropriates the Mariner's weapons and threatens to kill him, only for the Mariner to lower his sail directly onto her.
  • Future Imperfect:
    • Dry Land is considered mythical and a few dialogues imply it is blasphemous to even consider the world once had any land on it or was flooded.
    • While going through the Mariner's belongings, the Atoll's citizens assume that a yo-yo, clarinet, and thigh master exercise machine are garrote wire, a device for "listening to the unsuspecting", and a torture device.
  • Glass Eye: The Deacon gets one initially, but hates the appearance, so he settles for an Eyepatch of Power instead.
    The Deacon: It DOES look like shit!
  • Green Aesop: The film's portrayal of a ruined Earth depicts the villains in a world flooded by global warming as wasteful "Smokers" (most of whom coincidentally smoke tobacco) who use motorized vessels running on unsustainable fossil-fuel obtained from the Exxon Valdez, a tanker infamous for one of the largest oil spills in history. The aquatic anti-hero and his companions use natural wind-power and eventually find refuge in a serene promised land with vegetation and fresh water atop the Himalayas, but only after blowing the Smokers to kingdom come.
  • He Will Come for Me: Enola defends the Mariner with a speech intense enough to scare her captors, and when ordered (at knife point) to put a lid on it, finishes with "He'll come for me, he will."
  • Human Resources: How the residents of the Atoll dispose of their dead... they need the organic material for sustained growth. They call it "recycling," and it's done to the dead as well as to prisoners they want to execute.
  • Indy Ploy: A rare villainous example. The Deacon has no idea how to find Dry Land, and even after capturing Enola, he is unable to interpret the map on her back. Yet he keeps venturing forth anyway. Lampshaded after he gives a Rousing Speech to his minions that went over exceptionally well:
    The Nord: So which way are we rowing?
    The Deacon: I don't have a goddamn clue. Don't worry, they'll row for a month before they figure out I'm faking it.
  • Ironic Echo: "Nothing's free in Waterworld" is said twice in the film's Novelization: once in the prologue when the Mariner thinks the trader he is talking too is being too good to be true by giving him "free" information about the location of an Atollnote , and the second time during the climactic battle as a Bond One-Liner after he blows away the Nord.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: The Nord runs out of ammo just as he has the Mariner at gunpoint and gets blown away for his troubles.
  • Jerkass: The Mariner. He tosses a little girl overboard when angry at her antics. Deconstructed, as he isn't expecting that she can't swim and isn't trying to kill her, just scare her.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • The Atoll's ruling council, a bunch of old men willing to kill a stranger just because they fear he may be a threat to their power base, lose the Atoll to the Smokers and the two that survive the battle are unceremoniously shot by Deacon and the Nord after being interrogated.
    • Deacon and the Nord are both killed by Mariner, whom they spent the whole movie harassing because he has Enola, and just like they set fire to the Mariner's boat he sets fire to theirs (and holy crap is there a lot of fire).
    • On the plus side the Atoll Enforcer, who saved the Mariner from an angry mob and tried to spare him from execution, is repaid during the Atoll's downfall when the Mariner kills a Smoker about to get the drop on him. He's later found by Gregor and makes it to Dryland with the other survivors.
  • Last Fertile Region: Dry Land is supposed to be this to those who believe it exists. It is.
  • Logo Joke: The Universal Pictures globe floods to the levels seen in the movie proper.
  • Long Runner: While the film bombed, the stunt show based on the film has been running at Universal Studios Hollywood since 1996. The parks in Japan and Singapore opened with the attraction in 2001 and 2010.
  • Meaningful Name:
  • Made of Explodium: A Wronski Feint between three smokers on jet skis creates a giant fireball explosion. What fuel they used to create the massive, towering fireball is still unknown. There are also traces of Outrun the Fireball, but on a bungee.
  • Moe Greene Special: The Deacon gets a nonlethal one when caught in the crossfire from one of his own gunners. Results in Eye Patch Of Power.
  • The Mole: The atoll dwellers believed the Mariner was a spy for the smokers who would bring them to invade the atoll looking for Enola but their concerns of him were completely unfounded. The Nord on the other hand...
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • So the world has gone crap, few survivors left are squabbling against each other and there's tension between the protagonist and two females he saved... Suddenly, over-the-top Smokers hijinx!
    • A smaller example happens during the escape from the Atoll. Whenever the boat is cut to, the music sounds triumphant, but whenever the slaughter on the Atoll is cut to, the music sounds tragic.
    • The opening escape sequence has the same issue — as long as the camera focuses on the Mariner and his sailing, it's one of the most triumphant pieces of the entire soundtrack. The moment it cuts to the thief he left stranded with impending Smokers, it gets somber within just a single beat.
  • More Dakka:
    • The Smokers' idea of a siege weapon is a four-barrel antiaircraft machine gun emplacement trained at your enemy's floating citadel. It gets hijacked by the good guys, and shows itself very effective against ships too.
    • The Smokers in general run on this. While for obvious reasons bullets are an incredibly valuable commodity, Smokers not only seem to have an endless supply of ammo for their almost exclusively automatic weapons, they are shown making more somehow. Everyone else makes do with jury-rigged harpoon guns, water cannons, javelins and good old-fashioned melee weapons.
  • Mutants: Numerous humans and wildlife have ended up developing mutations in this new world.
  • Namedworld and Namedland: Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Waterworld"
  • No Place for Me There: The Mariner brought Helen, Enola, and their friends to the much sought-after Dry Land. However, he decided that it wasn't a suitable place for him to settle down, and left for the sea.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Taking a page from Jaws, much tension comes from the invisibility of underwater threats. The giant three-jawed mutant-fish-thing the Mariner catches for food is only very briefly seen (alive — it does get a few more minutes of screen time as mutant sashimi).
  • Obviously Evil: The Nord turning out to be a Smoker spy probably surprised a grand total of zero people.
  • Ocean Madness: The other seagoing trader whom the Mariner eventually knifes because he wants to take Helen. The Mariner himself has shades of it, too, getting easily irritated when having to deal with the mere presence of other humans.
  • Ocean of Adventure: The takes places almost entirely upon the ocean, as rising sea levels have caused the Earth to be covered in water, to the point that dry land is believed to be a myth by many. The plot concerns the protagonists traveling across the global oceans while searching for the last dry land, moving between surviving floating settlements, exploring underwater ruins and evading pursuit by a fleet of pirates.
  • Ocean Punk: In all its post-apocalyptic, Green Aesop glory.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: The Smokers make the residents of a small trading post, whom they've recently killed, appear to be waving to the Mariner as the latter approaches, intending to draw him into a deadly trap. The Mariner doesn't buy it, since there is nobody to reply to his calls in Portugreek.
  • The Old Convict: Sort of, if you count the old guy who measures the oil level in the Exxon Valdez's tanks. It's implied he can't leave.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Enola arrived to the atoll she lives on in a basket full of rich, fertile earth. Helen used it to bribe the elders to keep the infant despite limited resources.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: Helen tries to convince the Mariner to let her and Enola stay on his boat after his deal with them has technically ended and he doesn't have any real use for them anymore. When she runs out of options, she suggests letting him have his way with her after ordering Enola to go below deck. He considers it, but refuses.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "MU-TA-TIOOOON!" "HE'S-A-MU-TAAAANT!"
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Any technology that's still around, along with operable and floating vessels. But special mention should be given to the airplane the Smokers use. Subverted in the extended cut of the film, where it's revealed that everything is slowly but gradually breaking down with no way to repair any of it.
  • Rasputinian Death: The Deacon. To the point he is back for Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Atoll Enforcer saves the Mariner from a bigoted mob, pointing out that he was defending himself, and is genuinely sorry when he is sentenced to be recycled anyway. Regardless, it's enough for the Mariner to save his life when the Smokers attack.
  • Recycled In Space: It's Mad Max... on JET SKIS!
  • Regional Redecoration: The entire world is underwater. Aside from the very tops of the Himalayas.
  • Religion of Evil: In the extended edition, The Deacon refers to the Smokers as the Church of Eternal Growth when talking with Enola.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Downplayed. A lot of mechanisms on the trimaran work on this principle, to accommodate for the fact the Mariner sails alone. Some of them are shipyard-made, other were obviously MacGyvered by him.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Seen underwater when the Mariner takes Helen to see where he got dirt from. Word of God says it's Denver, Colorado.
  • Rule of Cool: A water-covered planet, where a mutated loner is helping to track down Dry Land in a race against ski-jet riding bandits, all served with a Used Future Ocean Punk sauce and a side-dish consisting of Large Ham? Yes please!
  • Scavenger World: There's (almost) no dry land left, no agriculture beyond tiny gardens, and no real industry, and relics from the old world like simple technology, uncorroded metal, plants and soil are rare and worth fighting for.
  • Scenery Gorn: The atoll gets trashed and part of it set ablaze during and after the Smokers assault. In the extended cut, they proceed with cutting the atoll's tree down.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Enola is "alone" spelled backwards. Fitting considering she was orphaned.
  • Sea Monster: There's a brief shot of giant, three-jawed fish creature, which the Mariner kills for food using himself as a bait.
  • Seen It All: Quite literally. The Mariner remains absolutely unfazed by all signs of technology, goods or objects, because he regularly dives to the bottom and scavenges from there.
  • The Sheriff: The Atoll Enforcer, who serves as The Big Guy, and a Reasonable Authority Figure who is one of the few aversions of The Social Darwinist to appear.
  • The Social Darwinist: Most of people in the movie are this but the Mariner is the prime example, at least at the movie's beginning: he definitely believes in survival of the fittest and has no concern for anyone but himself.
  • Spent Shells Shower: A Smoker operating a Maxon Mount four-machine gun chassis in the atoll assault scene showers the boat it is mounted on and his crew with hundreds of .50 calibre brass shells. On the other hand, it does show them collecting most of their brass. While the ability to refill it is questionable, you don't let valuable metal go to waste. Especially as brass doesn't corrode much.
  • Tempting Fate: As the Smokers start their attack on the Atoll, one of the elders declares that they will be safe behind the Atoll's walls... and then turns and asks a fellow elder a nervous "aren't we?". Cue the Smokers using their "key to the city" to turn the walls into Swiss cheese.
    • The drifter who steals the Mariner's limes and then flaunts them once he's safely sailing away from the oncoming Smokers. Except the Mariner's trimaran turns out to be swifter as well as bigger, and when the Mariner decides he needs some bait to get the Smokers off his tail... had the drifter kept his mouth shut he may have lived to enjoy those limes.
  • The Stateless: While many characters in this film have only their boat as their "nation", the Mariner still stands out, as he has no affiliation to any atoll, group or species. And the closest thing to nations in this universe are the atolls and Deacon's oar-powered supertanker.
  • Suddenly Shouting: "Maybe he has some FOOD!"
  • Suicide Attack: The Smokers direct an explosive-laden boat at the Atoll to blow a large hole in the side.
  • Technology Porn: Countless shots and takes all over the trimaran, establishing both the impressive stash of old tech and trinkets the Mariner owns, but also how he adapted the giant vessel for solo sailing.
  • The Promised Land: Dry Land is supposed to be the last piece of land that hasn't been covered by water, but no one is sure if it exists or not: aside from Helen, all of the Atollers believe it's a myth, and while the Smokers believe it exists, they want to plunder it for its natural resources. The Mariner - who has spent his entire life sailing the globe - believes that Dry Land doesn't exist. It is real, and is found at the end of the film, where it's revealed to be the top of Mt. Everest, which has been transformed into a tropical island, complete with forests, wildlife, and fertile soil.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: When the Smokers raid the Atoll, the Mariner impales one of them with a thrown machete.
  • Title Drop: "Nothing's free in Waterworld."
  • Token Romance: The Mariner and Helen.
  • Traumatic Haircut: A somewhat strange example that serves as a Kick the Dog moment for our anti-hero, the Mariner. Following barely surviving an attack on his boat, he takes out his knife and holds down Helen, responsible for all the massive damage, cutting off her hair as punishment. When Enola starts to protest, he spots that she has a crayon in her hand, after already warning her to not touch his stuff. Next scene we see them all, Helen and Enola have short hair.
  • Used Future: Almost all technology is repurposed from "ancient" (read: 20th–21st century) equipment, and thus looks heavily patched and rusted. The remainder is mostly Bamboo Technology.
  • Viewers Are Morons: The Opening Narration was added on Universal's insistance, despite the Logo Joke and title screen providing the exact same amount of information without saying a word. The narration is also responsible for half of all plotholes, since it's the only bit where ice cap meltdown is given as a reason why the entire planet is covered in (salt) water.
  • Villain Song: An instrumental version when the Deacon rolls around inside the Smoker colony to the Peter Gunn theme.
  • Wasteland Elder: A group of corrupt, power-hungry and thoroughly cowardly elders are ruling the atoll. Their vices are all that more apparent in the extended cut.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: the various atoll survivors who don't follow The Mariner to Mount Everest., various smokers who presumably drown at the end and the incompetent gunner who cost the Deacon his eye and is never seen again afterwards.


Video Example(s):


"Oh Thank God"

The poor oil reserve tank man working for the Deacon, is quite pleased when he sees a flare about to cause an explosion so close to him.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeathSeeker

Media sources: