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Breathable Liquid

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On occasion, a work has a reason for characters to breathe a liquid rather than the normal air. This has been accomplished with perfluorocarbon for medical purposes, and has been proposed with other theoretical substances to help with crushing pressures or high-g forces.

Super Not-Drowning Skills is when a character is able to breathe ordinary water for no explicable reason. May be a component in an Artificial Gill.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Abyss features a character using liquid breathing to dive thousands of feet without compressing. The film also features a scene with a rat submerged in and breathing fluorocarbon liquid, filmed in real life, not special effects.
  • Mission to Mars: The ship that Jim gets into to fly to where the Martians ended up has some sort of breathable liquid in it.
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    Literature 
  • The Forever War describes liquid immersion and breathing in great detail as a key technology to allow space travel and combat with acceleration up to 50 G.
  • In The Hall Of The Mountain King, one of the stories in the Man-Kzin Wars series features a Tnuctipun pilot encased in a capsule of breathable fluid to protect him (and his normally air-filled lungs) from high-G maneuvers.
  • Ben Bova's novel Jupiter features a craft in which the crew are suspended in a breathable liquid that allows them to survive in the high pressure environment of Jupiter's atmosphere.
  • In The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, Robert Langdon (the protagonist) is completely submerged in breathable liquid mixed with hallucinogenic chemicals and sedatives as a torture and interrogation technique by Mal'akh (the antagonist). He goes through a near death experience when he inhales the liquid and blacks out, losing control over his body, but is soon revived.
  • Hal Clement's 1973 novel Ocean on Top portrays a small underwater civilization living in a 'bubble' of oxygenated fluid denser than seawater.
  • In David Brin's Uplift series the Streaker, a starship crewed primarily by uplifted dolphins, is largely flooded with "oxywater" that the neo-fin crew can breathe without periodically leaving their stations to come up for air. They strongly prefer air though.
  • The sliph from the Sword of Truth series is a magical construct used by ancient wizards for rapid travel. She is composed of what looks like living quicksilver one must breathe while traveling (instantly lethal to anyone not possessing the appropriate magic).
  • Dark Life has "Liquigen" short for "Liquid Oxygen", which works similar to the fluorocarbon liquid mentioned in The Abyss above but has the advantages that it turns to vapor quickly when exposed to oxygen (good for when the driver stops using it — prevents them from needing to puke it up) and somehow prevents the human body from being affected with such things as the bends.
  • In the young adult novel Space Winners by Gordon R. Dickson, Peep is an alien from a high-gravity planet. When he falls off a boat in the middle of the ocean he is too dense to float or swim, but his lungs are so powerful he has no trouble breathing the water like air and just walks along the ocean floor to the nearest land.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 7Days:
    • In season 1, episode 13, chrononaut Frank Parker is seen breathing a hyper-oxygenated perfluorocarbon liquid that is pumped through a sealed full body suit that he is wearing. This suit and liquid combination allow him to board a Russian submarine through open ocean at a depth of almost 1000 feet. Upon boarding the submarine he removes his helmet, expels the liquid from his lungs and is able to breathe air again.
    • The three aliens that crashed at Roswell in 1947 are kept in alien jars at Neverland. One is still alive, and it can apparently breathe the liquid since it's not hooked up to any tubes.
  • In an episode of Eureka, Sheriff Jack Carter is submerged in a tank of "oxygen rich plasma" to be cured of the effects of a scientific accident.
  • UFO:
    • The aliens have (stolen) human bodies and stay inside spacesuits filled with an oxygenated liquid that allows them to breath.
    • Played With in the episode "Ordeal". Aliens kidnap Paul Foster and force him to breathe the liquid so he can survive being transported to the alien home world, but it turns out to be Only A Dream.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. In the seas around the Sunken City can be found crystal orbs that, when broken, oxygenate the surrounding water enough for land creatures to breathe it.
  • Shadowrun: The "Cyberpirates!" Sourcebook introduced the Liquid Breathing Apparatus that has allowed divers to achieve depths down as far as 3,000 meters, as the liquid system completely negates the risks of decompression.

    Video Games 
  • In the EVE Online Universe, pilots in capsules (escape pods that function as the control center for the spacecraft) breathe an oxygen rich, nano-saturated, breathable glucose-based suspension solution
  • In Sword of the Stars the Liir use a hyper-oxygenated liquid on their ships. The ceremony for joining the Black Swimmers includes a ritual "drowning" in the substance.
  • X-COM: Terror from the Deep. "Aquanauts" fighting deep ocean conditions breathe a dense oxygen-carrying fluid.
  • Banjo-Tooie: In Jolly Roger's Lagoon, Mumbo can cast a spell to oxygenate the local water, making the vast underwater sections of the level much easier to navigate. In all other levels, Banjo is at the mercy of an Oxygen Meter.

    Webcomics 
  • Invoked in Outsider. As Beryl, Tempo and Jardin are boarding a shuttle to take Jardin to a Loroi outpost, Tempo mentions that the shuttle is big enough to support inertial dampers, meaning that they won't have to use a liquid breathing medium to compensate for its acceleration.
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    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Metalocalypse, the other members of the band submerge guitarist Toki in a "liquid oxygen isolation chamber" while recording an album in the Mariana Trench.
  • In Rick and Morty, Rick created a pocket dimension called Froopy Land to entertain his daughter. When she realizes she didn't imagine it in adulthood, she accuses him of being careless. To prove her wrong, he throws himself off a cliff, revealing that everything is like a trampoline. Then he tries to drown himself, revealing that the water is breathable.
  • Steven Universe: In a clear homage to Evangelion, Peridot's Escape Pod fills up with some sort of liquid that humans can breathe through—which is quite strange when you consider that gems don't need to breathe.

    Real Life 
  • There have been some experiments in liquid breathing using perfluorocarbon, which has a higher oxygen capacity than blood. It requires mechanical assistance to circulate the fluid, and often surgery to ventilate it, but liquid breathing has been used occasionally to help premature infants and adults with ARDS breathe since the 1990s.

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