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Cave Behind the Falls

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"Law of Ōkami: if there is a waterfall, there's a secret behind it."

Waterfalls aren't just pretty to look at, they're also great for hiding stuff. Who would ever think to look behind Niagara Falls to find the hidden treasure of King Whatshisname II? And who would suspect that the Big Bad would keep his reserve of Mooks in a cave where nobody would dare enter? The rush of water alone would keep any sane person away.

This is geological Truth in Television to a certain extent, as the churning water at the base of a waterfall erodes the rock behind it faster than the merely flowing water at the top. However, unlike their fictional counterparts, these caves tend to be shallow, flooded, incredibly wet and mossy, and thoroughly devoid of Inexplicable Treasure Chests.

Naturally, such a cave would be at the bottom of the Inevitable Waterfall. If you try going that route before entering the hidden cave, chances are you'd be dead before you hit the bottom. But remember, as the Grand List says, "There's always goodies behind the waterfall", so sometimes the risk is worth it.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Wolf Demon clan's lair in Inuyasha lays behind a waterfall.
  • For maximum dramatic entrance potential, the hangar for Allen's airship the Crusade is located in a cave behind a waterfall in The Vision of Escaflowne. Lampshaded by way of Zelda reference in The Abridged Series.
  • Naruto:
    • A film introduces Takigakure, the Hidden Waterfall Village. Naturally, the whole village is one of these.
    • In the main story, the entrance to the temple where Kumo's jinchuuriki learn to control their bijuu was located behind the Waterfall of Truth.
  • Toriko had one, with delicious fish swimming inside it. Oh yeah, and the waterfall was 1000 meters thick.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: The main hangars at JOSH-A, the Earth Alliance's Alaska headquarters, is located behind a waterfall. The Earth Alliance even built a mechanism for parting the falls to allow the passage of ships and aircraft.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: "Super Bem, the Synthetic Iron Beast" has a whole Galactor base hiding behind a waterfall. The 'garage door' swings upwards and outwards when being used.
  • Metal Fight Beyblade: The Legendary Bey Galaxy Pegasus is encased in stone behind one of these.
  • Great Mazinger: Venus A's main hangar is located behind a waterfall. Notice that the cave is big enough to house a twenty meters high robot.
  • In The Mysterious Cities of Gold, one path behind a waterfall leads to Macchu Picchu.

    Comic Books 
  • Tintin goes through one in Prisoners of the Sun, as shown in the page image.
  • The home of The Phantom is in a valley that can only be entered through a tunnel hidden by a waterfall.
  • In the French graphic novel Pyrénée the Wild Child title character spends some time living with a wise old eagle in a cave behind a waterfall. The cave was once occupied by a human hermit, who left behind a cache of tinned food and some other interesting artifacts.
  • In Lucifer, Mazikeen discovers her estranged mother Lilith's headquarters behind a fortified waterfall. Made of swords!
  • Batman often has one of the entrances to his Batcave behind a waterfall, usually the one that the Batmobile exits and enters, somewhere near Wayne Manor. So people do not find it, the waterfall is located at the end of a condemned road, and the Batmobile has to jump a cliff to reach it.
  • One Alix story has a tomb behind a fall. The leader of a Gaul caravan dies, and is buried by first damming a waterfall, burying him, and then letting the waterfall resume its course.

    Comic Strips 
  • In some versions of the Buck Rogers franchise, Buck's headquarters is hidden behind Niagara Falls.
  • One Spy vs. Spy strip plays with this; the White Spy, in his patrol boat on a river, sees a black periscope disappear into a waterfall. Assuming that the Black Spy has driven his submarine into one of these caves, he zooms after it.. and smashes straight into the cliff. It turns out the Black Spy was swimming in scuba gear and poking an unattached periscope out of the water.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Hidden City of Gold in The Road to El Dorado is in a valley that can only be entered through a tunnel hidden by a waterfall.
  • In The Incredibles the entrance to Syndrome's hideout is a waterfall with a mechanism that stylishly parts the water for a dry entrance. He apparently likes this trope, as the entrance to his control room is concealed by a fall of lava that opens similarly. There is another cave behind a waterfall where Mr. Incredible found the password for Syndrome's computer.
  • Return To Never Land gives Neverland one of these. The Lost Boys use it to hide their treasure.
  • Disney's Robin Hood: Robin and Little John's hideout is behind a waterfall.
  • In Shrek 4-D at Universal Studios, Dragon pops out of one to save the protagonists at the last second.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Lord of the Rings
    • The Ithilien Rangers' hideout was behind such a waterfall in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
    • One possible explanation for the name "Elrond" (given in the Letters) goes thus: after the Sack of Sirion, he and his brother were dragged away and later found beside a waterfall. Elros was playing in the water but Elrond had gone into the cave behind the waterfall, hence his name, "Elf of the Cave."
  • Sun Wukong from Journey to the West discovered Shuilian Cave after jumping through a great big waterfall. He was named king by his monkey clan afterwards, and they all moved in and made the cave their home.
  • In the book version of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, after Alan, Tim, and Lex go tumbling over the Inevitable Waterfall, they hide behind said waterfall in order to escape the Tyrannosaur. Grant finds an access door and leaves the kids there while he makes sure it's safe; the kids nearly get eaten in his absence.
  • Whoever designed the sets for the South Seas Treasure Game in Dream Park likes this trope, as Griffin and Acacia find such a niche behind a waterfall in which to mess around. It's also where the thief hides the stolen vial of Neutral Scent.
  • In The Inheritance Cycle, the entrance to the Varden is located behind a waterfall.
  • Book three of the "The Magician's House" series is called The Tunnel behind the Waterfall.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, the Tribe of Rushing Water lives in one of these, and actually is named after the falls.
  • In The Saga of Grettir the Strong, a cave behind a waterfall is the lair of the murderous giants that haunt Bárðardalur.
  • In The Seventh Sword the hero, Wally, ends up in such a cave after being thrown down the waterfall for blasphemy. There he meets the demigod of volcanoes, the assistant of the river goddess for insulting whom Wally got executed. The demigod heals him and explains his mission once again in less vague terms. The cave is rather deep and quite far from the bottom. For all Wally knows, gods may've created it in the distant past retroactively just for this conversation.

    Live-Action TV 

    Myths & Religion 
  • According to Hawaiian myth, the goddess Hina lives in the cave behind Rainbow Falls on the Big Island.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Sulfur Falls
  • Classic Traveller Adventure 2 Research Station Gamma. One room in the station has a Hologram of a rippling waterfall on one wall. Behind the hologram is a room containing a security station. The hologram is one-way, allowing anyone inside the security station to see through it into the other room.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Module UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave. In the title cave one wall has a waterfall that magically falls in slow motion. Behind the waterfall is a hidden observation room carved out of the rock.
    • Dungeon magazine #63 adventure "Hunt for a Hierophant". The underground stone tunnel that leads to the treant Evergreen's home lies behind an artificial waterfall created using a Decanter of Endless Water.

    Video Games 
  • Possibly the earliest example of all: The Legend of Zelda has an old man who tells you "WALK INTO THE WATERFALL". Doing so yields an old lady who gives you a hint to finding the next dungeon.
  • In Paper Mario: Sticker Star, the cave containing the secret exit to Whammimo Mountain is hidden behind one of Water's Edge Way's many waterfalls.
  • Some of the waterfalls in the Mercury Lighthouse in Golden Sun had treasure behind them.
    • And a Djinn which could be easy to miss if you were new to RPGs.
    • Mercury Lighthouse is justified as the waterfalls, their caves, and the entire complex are artificially created; it's a stylistic choice on the part of the Lighthouse's designer.
    • Not to mention that there's a whole dungeon behind a waterfall.
  • Steambot Chronicles has a waterfall where one of the mysterious sages lives.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, you can walk behind the small waterfall near the fishing pond. It leads to a hidden room containing a unique set of “Hidden Falls” gear.
  • In Chrono Cross, the only way to get the Titular Macguffin necessary to defeat the final boss correctly and get the good ending is to go behind a waterfall, whose location on the world map isn't labeled or even really mentioned clearly. Yeah.
  • Shadowgate Unlike most exits, this one isn't on the map.
  • Most Final Fantasy games make use of this trope.
    • You'll be asked to take your canoe through a waterfall in Final Fantasy to find a key that gives you access to the floating castle.
    • Final Fantasy IV has a waterfall cave in one of its early dungeons. The exit to the same dungeon is also behind a waterfall, which is guarded by Octomammoth.
    • Final Fantasy V has one of the tablets hidden behind a waterfall.
    • Final Fantasy VII hides, among many things, Vincent's ultimate weapon behind a waterfall.
    • Final Fantasy XI has a waterfall cave (inside a tree by the way) which leads to the battle with Ramuh.
      • Not to mention the other waterfall cave that leads to the hidden city of Norg. And the other other waterfall cave in Gustaberg.
    • Final Fantasy XV has one of the Royal Arms hidden in an icy dungeon behind a waterfall at the end of Chapter 3.
  • Endless Ocean has one of these for the final portion of its Great Aqua Caves area. That's right, an underwater waterfall.
    • Endless Ocean Blue World has a waterfall that keeps you out of the temple area of the Cortica River until you turn it off.
  • In Resident Evil 4, early in the game, the player must dam a river in order to enter a secret tunnel hidden behind a waterfall. There is a plot-critical key at the end of the tunnel. Interestingly, although there is no treasure inside aside from said key inside the cave, there is a treasure on a support beam right in front of the tunnel's entrance.
    • In Resident Evil, the underground passage to the Laboratory (or Lisa's hideout in the remake) is hidden behind a waterfall, which you reveal by closing the floodgate after unlocking an alternate path around.
  • The Cavern of the Metal Cap in Super Mario 64.
  • Earthbound has one with a twist: You have to wait 3 minutes to get in.
  • Ōkami makes heavy use of this trope - making it easy to find secrets if you know it. Once Issun even tells you to jump down a waterfall, and though you don't have to, sure enough, there's a cave there with a wall you can bomb to get a Stray Bead.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest V: The entrance to Cataract Caves, as you may guess, is behind a waterfall. Inside this dungeon, the specific cave containing the Circle of Water is also behind a waterfall.
    • The aptly named Waterfall Cave in Dragon Quest VIII is located behind a cataract.
  • One of the worlds in Black & White had a goodie behind a waterfall.
  • Koopa Troopa Beach in Mario Kart 64.
  • In Star Fox 64's first stage, Corneria, if Falco is alive and you've flown through all seven arches towards the end of the stage, Falco instructs you to follow him through the waterfall. This leads to the alternate boss, the Attack Carrier, and opens up the path to Sector Y.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, the small waterfall in Thorntail Hollow can be bomb spored for some Fuel Cells and a couple of health items. Later, in Cape Claw, an item needed to open a door is hidden in a chamber you reach by swimming through a cavern beyond the waterfall. You can only get there by turning the waterfall off.
  • Several examples in the Tomb Raider series. The Lost Valley in the original game was an iconic example of this, being one of the first 3D examples of it. Tomb Raider: Legend attempts to outdo it by putting a whole open temple behind some falls.
    • Tomb Raider: Anniversary had a lot of things behind various waterfalls
      • In the "Lost Valley" level:
      • Shotgun behind the upper waterfall in the cave.
      • Exit from the level behind the lower waterfall in the cave.
      • In the "Natla's Mines" level the exit from the initial room is behind the waterfall.
      • In the "Final Conflict" level, for a change of pace, a relic is hidden behind a lava fall.
  • Ultima-clone Savage Empire has a plot-required cave behind a waterfall, but in a subversion of sorts this cave is plainly visible, but the dimension-travelling world-saving uber-fighter protagonist is unable to walk through the water until he diverts the stream. Supposedly he is afraid of getting wet.
    • Ultima V has a cave under a waterfall, where you end up by going down the waterfall by boat or by carpet.
  • King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella has one of these. You can't walk through the water here, either, but you can swim as soon as you shapeshift into the much more muscular (?) form of a frog.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals has one, too, except that you enter from the other end.
  • Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge has the exit to a cave behind (i.e. through) a waterfall.
  • In Hydro Thunder, one is occasionally surprised by not finding a tunnel or at least a hidden Boost item behind one of the many, many waterfalls. Not infrequently, behind-the-falls tunnels are the main channel rather than any sort of secret.
  • An early dungeon in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky is hidden behind a waterfall. The leap of faith into it provides an early bit of Character Development for the partner character.
    "Be brave... Be the bravest ever!"
    • The mainstream games added one in the remakes of Pokémon Gold and Silver, Heart Gold and Soul Silver. There is a cave behind one of the Tohjo Falls, in which a certain mafia-style villain had spent the past three years in...
    • Pokemon Ranger Guardian Signs contains a waterfall hiding ancient ruins behind it. The Pokemon Pinchers use these ruins as their hideout.
  • The GBA version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has a cave as a bonus map behind waterfall in the map after the fight in Minas Tirith. It contains a free rune, and it resets enemy in the previous map. Sucks for someone who hates fighting trolls.
  • Latheon Gorge in Tales of Symphonia comes to an end in one of these - although you repeatedly enter and exit the cave throughout the dungeon, the final entrance is opened by dropping a huge boulder into the waterfall, unveiling the cave entrance behind it. Of course, there's a MacGuffin and a huge Man-Eating Plant in there.
    • Also, while there are no caves involved, there's goodies behind the mini waterfalls in the Torrent Forest later in the game.
    • Tales of Zestiria has the Water Trial Shrine hidden behind like this. Amusingly you access it by using the Wind field ability.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Snake and Eva rendezvous in one of these.
  • In Breath of Fire II the second set of dragon powers is hidden in one of these. To get inside you need to have Jean in your party so it is recommended you do this before a certain plot event which removes him from your party for quite a while.
  • The God of War games make use of this in combination with the games' static cameras, making it so the player will only actually notice the waterfall with treasure behind it if they specifically set out to see if something's behind it.
  • A jumping puzzle and the Key To the World lurks behind the waterfall of the Tarzan-themed world in Kingdom Hearts.
  • In Croc 2, one could go through the waterfall during the first boat race to find an extremely helpful shortcut.
  • In Monkey Island 2, there's a plot coupon behind a waterfall. At the top of the mountain where you'll find a valve. If you curiously try to use your monkey on it ("monkey wrench", get it?) you'll turn off the waterfall, revealing the cave.
  • Every single waterfall in Tenchu: Stealth Assassins hides a cave with an item in it.
  • In the second commentary preview of Brütal Legend, the creators talked about how it was considered a bug if there wasn't something behind every waterfall.
  • Betrayal at Krondor has the Dark Secret that ends Chapter 3 in one of these.
  • Onimusha: Warlords has a cave behind a waterfall that contains the best armor in the game.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has a secret room behind a waterfall in the caverns under the castle.
  • One of the Ages in Uru features caves behind a set of waterfalls. Moving something into the cave without getting wet is one of the Age's challenges.
  • In a nod to this trope's ubiquity in video games, Nancy Drew: Resorting To Danger features a secret control panel that's hidden behind a decorative waterfall in the resort's laser-treatment room.
  • There's a couple of dungeons hidden this way in Dragonfable.
  • The Day The World Broke has this, concealing a set of stairs leading to Ozzy Jr's hideout. It's surrounded by an underground river on the outside, and well-hidden due to the rust hazard water poses to the native Mechanimals.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening has one of these.
  • In Blackthorne, the first area (the mines) has several doorways behind waterfalls.
  • The Text Adventure Dragon's World has this. It turns out to be a back door into the lair of the game's Big Bad.
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, there's a small alcove behind a waterfall in Spiral Mountain. In it is an extra life.
    • In Banjo-Tooie, there's a cave which has one of the secret eggs. It's not so much behind the waterfall as it is the source of it, but the game still calls it "Behind the Waterfall."
  • The Patriarch's lair is one of these in Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga.
  • Some Harvest Moon games will have a waterfall with either a mine or arable land located behind it.
  • Purple uses this twice. One is for Bonus Stage and the other is for advancing further into the stage.
  • Sonic Adventure 2's Chao Garden hides the entrance to the Chao Stadium inside a cave behind a waterfall.
    • Sonic Generations has the Modern iteration of Green Hill Zone, where Sonic goes through a waterfall into a tunnel, which opens out into a gigantic cavern with rail grinding and a giant mechanical fish chasing him, before blasting back outside.
  • In Wii Fit, the virtual island has one of these leading up to the highest part of the island and the little Mario-style castle.
  • Several of these show up throughout the Spyro the Dragon series, the rewards varying in each game.
  • Diddy Kong Racing has a whole world hidden behind a waterfall, which is evidenced when the music changes when you get close to the waterfall.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, as part of the series' propensity toward Always Check Behind the Chair, it's a good idea to check behind every waterfall you come across. Not ALL of them hold secrets or treasure, but enough of them do to make it worthwhile.
  • Many stages in Super Mario 3D Land will have either a 1-Up or Star Coin behind waterfalls.
  • Minecraft lets you build your own.
    • You can also use lava for this, but you'll need some sort of mechanism that blocks the flow when you want to get past.
  • Command & Conquer: Renegade has one in the second level. But be careful of the Tiberium and its mutants...
  • In Warcraft III there are a 1000 gold coins hidden behind a waterfall as an Easter egg in the Founding of Durotar campaign.
  • Li-Li in World of Warcraft mentions this trope by name, saying that you should always check behind a waterfall for caves. The waterfall she's talking about doesn't, by the way. But you all looked there anyway.
  • Likewise, in Diablo III, a certain NPC magician hangs a snark-laden lampshade on this trope: "A secret door hidden behind a waterfall. How imaginative."
  • ICO: Ico must block off the water to a waterfall in order for him and Yorda to advance to the extensive cavern behind it.
  • There's a tunnel behind the waterfall in Lost in Blue that takes you to the jungle and the grasslands.
  • Captain Comic II. This isn't hinted at either, but you can press the key for "enter doorway" in front of a waterfall to get to certain hidden areas.
  • Goof Troop has a cave behind a waterfall in Stage 4 that can't be entered until you do a puzzle to stop the waterfall.
  • Featured in one level of Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. The waterfall will push you back if you collide into it, so you'll have to use one of your Mons to freeze it, then shatter it with an egg.
  • The Great Falls, one of the three final missions in Sky Odyssey starts off with one of these. In the beginning of the level the player needs to find and fly behind a series of 2,600 foot waterfalls in the aircraft of their choice. Once there they then have to enter a massive series of caverns behind the falls and fly their way through.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo has a briefcase hidden in one of these during a training simulation.
  • The Super Adventure Box in Guild Wars 2 has several hidden treasure rooms behind waterfalls.
  • The Hobbit had a few of these, being heavily influenced by the Zelda games.
  • The appropriately-named Waterfall zone in Undertale has one waterfall you can walk through, leading to a cave with a useful item inside.
  • One of the Lo'as you rescue can be found behind a waterfall in the Hub Level in Skylar and Plux: Adventure On Clover Island.
  • In Alwa's Awakening, a book collector is hiding out behind one of the waterfalls in the Forsaken Valley, the area where you start the game. He'll give you a special item in exchange for a book he's missing.
  • Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! has a cheat code that allows you to go into a waterfall, discover a "memorize the sequence" mini-game that's normally reserved for Banana Birds, and get all 85 Bonus Coins if you clear it.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds has a waterfall with a cave that contains the entrance to the Salt Mines in the Pummelin' Prairie Pixel Lobby.
  • In Secret of Mana, Undine hides in a cave behind the waterfall near the Water Palace. In order to gain her magic, the heroes need to defeat a Biting Lizard boss.
  • In Battle Chasers: Nightwar, taking the left path inside the Path of Fangs will lead to a waterfall cave containing a few treasure chests' worth of crafting materials.
  • Gothic I and Gothic II have such cave up the river that separates camps from the Mine Valley entrance and the Old Mine. The treasure inside depends on patches.
  • Anvil of Dawn has "Waterfall Hidden Cave" — a very small location halfway through the game, a Breather Level. Here you can rest or store items (some locations crash if you carry too many). Also, there's an NPC of minor importance.
  • In Neverwinter Nights, a gold dragon lives in a large cave behind a waterfall in the Neverwinter forest.
  • In Golf With Your Friends, one level in the Twilight theme has the flag in a cave behind a waterfall. It's easy to notice right from the beginning that you should send the ball that way; the challenge is in actually having the ball land and stay in the area.
  • Near the start of the (first: US, second: Japan) King's Field game is a waterfall with a cave behind it with skeletons and not much else.
  • In Portal Runner, one is present in the first level. It's relatively well-hidden behind the waterfall spray, but Vikki even lampshades it as the player ventures inside.
  • Bug Fables has a cave behind a waterfall on Peacock Island, which Team Snakemouth must reach using Leif's ice magic in order to enter the Peacock Spider's lair.


    Web Original 
  • We're Animals in a Post-Apocalyptic Town: Played straight and lampshaded during the Crystal Shores arc. When the group finds a waterfall in the jungle, Jack wonders if they might find a cave behind it, pointing out that it happens all the time in stories. Sure enough, there turns out to be a cave behind the waterfall, where the group encounters a sleeping giant salamander and a path to the cliffs above.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible: In "The Twin Factor", Dr. Drakken's lair-of-the-episode is hidden behind a tall waterfall.
  • Lampshaded in Mike, Lu & Og:
    Og: Why does it always have to be behind the waterfall?
  • Danny Phantom: One episode showed a ghost portal Wulf made to be behind a waterfall.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series does this in two episodes: Valley of the Unicorns and Cave of the Fairie Dragons
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears:
    • Gusto Gummi's Studio
    • In one episode Cubbi and Tummi also discovered a Gummi Warrior training facility behind a waterfall.
  • In the Inspector Gadget episode "The Emerald Duck", the ancient Doomsday Device is hidden behind the Great Waterfall.
  • In one Futurama episode, Bender - having upgraded his processor to godlike levels - hides out in one of these. Then things get weird.
  • In Winx Club, the Black Willow Tree on Linphea is in a cave behind a waterfall. It's tears are what make the waterfall, which actually flows upward. Darcy lampshades it, wondering why there's always a cave behind a waterfall.
  • Gravity Falls has Dipper use his journal to point out a secret cave behind a waterfall in "The Legend of the Gobblewonker".
  • In the Sofia the First episode "Princesses to the Rescue!", the secret entrance to the Jade Jaguar's cave is behind a waterfall.

    Real Life 
  • Niagara Falls has the "Journey Behind The Falls", consisting of an elevator descending 150 feet through bedrock to two portals and two observation decks behind Horseshoe Falls.
  • Niagara Falls has an even more impressive "cave behind the falls" — the tailrace tunnel deep under the decommissioned Toronto Power Company generating station (known as "Confluence" to urban explorers). Sadly, access now appears to be permanently sealed off.
  • While it's not exactly a cave, the overhung gap beneath Igazu Falls on the Brazilian/Argentinian border rates a mention, because it provides shelter for a huge colony of swifts. These tiny birds are such agile flyers that they can slip between the plummeting drops to enter and leave their concealed nesting site.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cave Behind The Waterfall


Mike, Lu & Og: Cave Behind the Falls

"Why is it always behind the waterfall?"

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Example of:

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Media sources:

Main / CaveBehindTheFalls