Most video game characters, especially in 2D games, seem to have incredibly durable legs; they can survive just about any fall that isn't into a Bottomless Pit.
This trope is about the ones that can't.
In some video games, characters will get hurt when falling from great heights. Exactly how realistic this is varies. Sometimes, the damage they take is closer to having their foot stepped on than shattering all the bones in their legs. Other times, the character dies the moment they fall from any unsafe height, or something in between, but regardless, it hurts them.
Several games that allow falling damage do have a maximum distance which a character can fall without receiving any damage at all. It just wouldn't be good game design to allow a character to hurt himself every time he goes up or down stairs. Others take it a step further and have velocity checks, dealing damage if you hit the floor while travelling too fast, regardless of how you were moving that fast.
Compare & contrast Not the Fall That Kills You.
- Super Mario 64 has this. In this case, Mario can Ground Pound just before impact to avoid this.
- Aura Aura Climber takes this concept way further than some others do, as if you fall for just long enough for your fall to be damaging, it doesn't matter whether you're going at terminal velocity or light speed, Aura-Aura is dead when he hits the ground.
- In Bioshock Infinite, falling from too high will damage you.
- In Minecraft, falls deal 1 point of damage for block (meter) fallen after the third, so a 23-block fall will kill you. However, landing in water, vines or spiderweb cancels the damage, and Feather Falling-enchanted boots will reduce it.
- 3DRealms games Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, Shadow Warrior, and Redneck Rampage all have falling damage inflict death and other hazards, complete with the player character screaming his lungs out when falling from great heights.
- LucasArts game Outlaws also features death by falling.
- Dead Rising predictably has this in effect. However, once you learn the knee drop and time it properly, you can negate all the fall damage.
- Driv3r implements this. Jumping off, say, an elevated train track in Miami will damage you, if not outright kill you. Good Bad Bugs reveal that this affects NPCs as well. You may occasionally find a random citizen falling from a building or.... the sky, inevitably dying upon contact with Earth.
- The Grand Theft Auto series has this as well.
- This goes at least as far back as the original Donkey Kong arcade game (1981). If Mario falls through a hole in the floor, goes over the edge of a platform, or falls too far before hitting a surface while jumping onto or off an elevator in Screen 3, he dies on impact. In general, a fall height of more than two girders is fatal. The Game Boy version is a bit more generous, after falling for a little while Mario will begin to spin, if he lands on his face he'll simply be stunned momentarily, he won't die unless he lands on his head.
- Sierra's King's Quest series has three descent scenarios: descending steps or something similar garnered no damage. A minor tumble totaling no more than the player character's height yielded some circling stars, but only nominal damage. A fall greater than the character's height, however, is always fatal. Princess Rosella is especially vulnerable to serious falls.
- In the video game based on Spy Kids 3D: Game Over, Juni falls several feet when he enters the virtual reality world he was assigned to infiltrate. Upon regaining consciousness, he loses a life.
- Played straight in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, unless you unlock the Icarus Landing System perk, which grants you immunity to Falling Damage with some flashy special effects.
- In many The Legend of Zelda games, you can lose hearts if you fall/ jump too far, but none more than The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, where you're given a magical sailcloth that acts like a parachute right near the start. If you don't use it on high enough drops, then the Wii controller shakes to tell you "ouch", as if Link clutching his chest wasn't enough. Every single time.note The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild kicks it up another notch, and some falls can kill Link outright no matter how many hearts he has.
- In The Lord of the Rings Online, player characters take a variable amount of fall damage based on how far they fell. A short fall leaves the character uninjured. A longer fall leaves the character limping and with most of their defensive skills disabled; the length this debuff lasts depends on the length of the fall. A fall over a great enough distance renders the character "incapacitated by misadventure" upon impact. The game averts Soft Water, so the character gets just as injured (or killed) from falling into water as from falling onto land.
- Dungeons & Dragons Online has player characters take variable amount of fall damage based on how far they fell (but with no other adverse lingering effects). Increasing certain skills (Jump and Tumble) can allow a character to mitigate this damage, as can the 'slow fall' class feature of the Monk.
- Tomb Raider: Laura Croft and broken bones seems to go hand and hand.
- In Star Trek Online, players who fall a comparably high distance (about 12-15 feet at the lowest) will suffer a small but negligible amount of damage.
- In Prince of Persia, falling two levels will subtract one from your Life Meter, and falling three levels will kill you outright. The former becomes necessary in some levels of Prince of Persia 2.
- Falling from too high of a height without gliding in the Bubsy games will result in instant death. Less of an issue in the first game due to being a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
- Spelunker took this to ridiculous levels. If you fall less than your own height, you die. This was averted in the Arcade Game.
- Rayman 3 is the first game in the series to implement this; if the main character falls for too long, he gets squished into a pancake for a brief period of time. The first two games avert this.
- Hexen has two thresholds based on falling speed: one where the player takes damage and one where the player automatically dies regardless of health. A fall between these two values can't kill but will reduce health to 1.
- Many of the platform games of Action 52 exaggerate this to an absurd degree where the One-Hit-Point Wonder characters die in midair. This even happens in Cheetahmen and its sequel despite providing a Life Meter.
- Team Fortress 2 includes fall damage, which is a concern when Rocket Jumping, since you also take damage from your rocket as well, so you better not be too low on health. Failing to stick the landing after an explosive jump is widely known as 'cratering.' One of the Scout's unlockable weapons, the Pretty Boy's Pocket Pistol, negates all fall damage, but you'll take 50% more damage from fire. The Soldier's Mantreads unlock actually encourages him to risk falling damage—by aiming his landing point so that he ends up Goomba Stomping his enemies instead, they will take the damage as opposed to him.
- In Guild Wars 2, the player character takes fall damage - more damage the higher the fall is. This, however, can be negated by landing in deep water, and each profession has an optional trait that can reduce the damage taken (rangers, for example, can create muddy ground when they fall).
- Real Life plays it straight. Usually.
- The Looney Tunes: Back in Action video game had this. In fact, there are unique falling animations for Bugs and Daffy that let you know falling damage is going to occur. Bugs will actually lampshade this in the Area 52 stage if you're playing as him. At one point, you need to ride a player-controlled platform across the room from very high up. One of Bugs' remarks when stepping on it is "One wrong move, and I'm an ex-rabbit."
- Fallout 3 plays it straight, with one subversion (compared to genre conventions, that is), thanks to the advanced physics engine. Like in other games, landing on water can negate falling damage... but in this game, the depth of the water actually matters! The higher you fall from, the higher your momentum on impact; the deeper the water, the more momentum it can absorb if you fall into it. If you fall from so high that the water can't negate all of your momentum before you hit the bottom, it's going to hurt. Leaping off the flight deck of the Rivet City carrier in particular requires about five meters deep water to survive; land on any of the underground rocks and you will die instantly. There is a console command in the game that can increase the physical size of the player's model. However, it does not translate into increased resistance against falling damage: if you make yourself 50 foot tall, even an ordinary jump will deal lethal falling damage on landing.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim takes this trope to an extreme level. There is a small distance you can fall without taking damage at all, but once you pass that, the damage increases dramatically. Once you pass the cutoff distance for fall damage, your only thoughts will be "just reload the save before the death animation plays".
- Present in Terraria; the damage you take increases depending on how far you've fallen. There's even a few death messages for when you die due to falling damage.
<Player name> didn't bounce.
- Fortunately, there's several ways to negate fall damage. Landing in 2-block deep pools of water or cobwebs does not incur damage (neither does falling in lava, but that has its own problems). This can be exploited by placing a block of liquid or a cobweb underneath you while falling.
- Using an item like a Cloud in a Bottle, Rocket Boots, or a grappling hook resets your fall distance. Amusingly, grappling hooks still prevent fall damage even if you grapple onto the ground.
- Featherfall potions and the Umbrella item slow your fall to speeds that don't incur fall damage. The Frog Leg increases the distance you can fall before taking damage and decreases the damage you take from falling.
- Finally, some items completely negate fall damage when equipped: the Lucky Horseshoe (and its variant, the Obsidian Horseshoe), the Djinn's Curse, and all types of Wings.
- In Monkey Shines, if you fall from a great height, you lose energy (or die if you fall from too high). However, there are wings that allow you to fall from any height unharmed.
- In the MechWarrior games that implement falling damage, mechs will take leg damage from hitting the ground too hard, primarily caused by using a Jump Jet Pack and not saving enough fuel to slow down before impact. In Mechwarrior Living Legends, mechs and Powered Armor are immune to falling damage, but some vehicles can take heavy damage from collisions with terrain, and aerospace fighters landing gear will crumple and explode if you land with too much vertical velocity.
- Played straight in all Quadrax games. Falling from anything higher than 1.5x the height of a stone block will kill a character. Justified in it being one of main principles of the game. The character also won't try to descend any unsafe height on their own, they have to fall through closing trapdoor, pushing a stone block, etc.
- Occurs in SteamWorld Dig before you get the upgrade that stops it from happening (which only exists in the first game, although there is a blueprint that reduces fall damage in the second). Human enemies aren't immune to it either— it's possible to kill one by digging the ground out from under them.
- Averted in the BloodRayne series: Regardless of how ridiculous a height Rayne falls from, she never takes any damage at all. This is implied to be one of the perks of being a half-vampire.
- Used weirdly in ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal: Amy doesn't have Hit Points, so she can fall from crazy heights and act like nothing happened; however, if the fall takes too long, the game thinks you fell into a Bottomless Pit and resets Amy's position back to the location entrance.
- City of Heroes Zigzagged this trope. While you did take falling damage, it was incapable of actually killing you. Savvy players without appropriate flying powers would take shortcuts to ground level by jumping off buildings, crashing to the ground, and waiting to heal up.
- World of Warcraft has some fun playing with this trope.
- Classes like Rogue and Druid (when in Cat Form) take less falling damage than other classes. Also, Priests and Mages have spells like Levitate and Slow Fall, that turn the fall into a soft glide.
- Falling in water completely negates the damage... unless you have a spell that grants the ability to Walk on Water active at the time of impact. Some abilities, like the Paladin's Divine Shield, can also be used to negate the damage.
- Blizzard even lampshades the unrealistic sides of this mechanic (like the Critical Existence Failure) with achievements like "Going Down?" and "Almost Blind Luck" in which you have to fall at least 65 yards without dying.
- Doom and its sequel avert this trope, but some mods add it back in.
- Non-video game example: in the opening action sequence of Skyfall, Bond gets shot twice before falling about a thousand feet off a moving train on a bridge into a river, then down an equally high waterfall. He's Bond so this is averted.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion plays with this trope in the final Thieves Guild quest. Usually, you take damage proportional to the length of the fall upon landing, which is mitigated by your Acrobatics Skill Score. In the end of said quest, you are supposed to leap off an insane height that would kill you—had it not been for a pair of magic shoes you acquired earlier and are supposed to put on before the jump. Too bad they are destroyed upon landing. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does away with the Acrobatics skill but has a heavy armor perk that reduces fall damage, there is also the shout "become ethereal" which temporary makes you immune to all damage, allowing you take short cuts by jumping off mountains.
- Parodied in an Achievement Hunter Let's Play of Trouble In Terrorist Town when Ray Narvaez Jr., hunting for the last terrorist, idly wonders if there's fall damage in the game just after he jumps off the roof. There is, he dies and the terrorists win the round. In fact, this was actually one of Ray's Running Gags in their Let's Plays.
Ray: "I wonder if there's fall damage..." (Falls, dies) "Yep."
- Portal and Portal 2 have no falling damage. Justified in that Chell is wearing "Advanced Knee Replacements" (replaced with "Long Fall Boots" in Portal 2) designed to cushion her against any such damage. These were apparently added when the playtesters felt Chell surviving those falls without harm was a bit hard to swallow.
- Zigzagged in Saints Row: The Third: You normally take damage after falling from significant heights—unless you got your parachute out in time. Otherwise, there are still special perks that allow you to reduce the damage you take from falling—and, at the highest respect levels, ignore falling damage entirely, no matter how far you fell.
- Falling long distances in Spelunky not only damages the player but also stuns him, unless he manages to grab a ledge (or ladder, or rope), bounce off an enemy or land into Soft Water or spider web.
- Halo: The player does not take fall damage in Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 5: Guardians, but does in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach. There are still Bottomless Pits in the former games, though.
- Metroid Prime Trilogy:
- When Samus falls from a fairly tall height in Metroid Prime she will grunt and be stunned for a moment when she hits the ground, but then stand up no worse for the wear physically. Of course, that Powered Armor she's wearing is probably absorbing enough of the impact to prevent damage.
- Played straight in Metroid Prime: Hunters, which also includes instant death bottomless pits.
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning does not suffer any falling damage. However, if she falls from nearly-the-top of the Temple Of Chaos all the way down to the bottom ... then it's a long way back up again.
- Falling from high enough in Final Fantasy XIV mormally only would just reduce the player's HP to 1- unless the player is targeted by an enemy, in which case it's an instant death.
- In the Dark Souls games, damage is based on the height fallen and your equip load.
- In the first game, you could use the spell "Fall Control", which negates falling damage as long as the distance wouldn't have killed the player.
- In the second game, you also get equipment which negates damage based on hard amounts. So even fatal distances can be leaped and survived (while still needing to take a healing item).
- Early in Xenoblade Chronicles X, Elma suggests to the Player Character that they jump off a hundred-foot-plus-high cliff with the only concern being the tougher monsters on the beach below. It's the first hint that neither she nor the PC are normal Humans.
- In the NES Castlevania games, if Simon or Trevor falls from a great distance, they'll be stunned briefly upon landing and crouch, but will otherwise be unharmed.