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Falling Damage
aka: Fall Damage

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"Was that...was that falling damage? They put falling damage in their motherfucking 2D platform game!?"
*spinning newspaper saying "JONTRON QUITS" appears*
JonTron, on Bubsy's use of this trope.

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.

When falling damage is present, the impact damage from other directions is often still not present. For an example, players can smash their head against a ceiling or slam into a wall with as much of a velocity they like.

A Sub-Trope of Jump Physics.

Compare & contrast Not the Fall That Kills You….

Straight examples:

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  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Tomb Raider: Lara Croft and broken bones seems to go hand and hand.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series has this as well. This could prove problematic in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City if you picked up the drug powerup, which drastically increases Tommy's speed and strength. By running over a speed bump, Tommy would stay in the air for a considerable period and the landing would be treated as painful or even lethal, even though the vertical distance was practically nothing.
  • 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.
  • While the original MediEvil doesn't have falling damage, the sequel adds it. This was not an appreciated change, especially since the sequel has significantly more sections of running on narrow ledges high in the air than the original ever did.
  • 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.

    Action Game 
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey: The protagonist starts with an ability that makes it impossible to die from falling damage (presumably this is how they survived getting tossed off a cliff as a child), and a later upgrade makes them simply immune. Enemies don't have these advantages, however, and one of the easiest ways to deal with tough enemies is to kick them off a cliff.
  • 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 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".
  • NieR: Automata has falling damage, though you have to fall from a pretty significant height for it to kick in. If 2B slams into the ground instead of landing normally, falling damage kicks in, and if she assumes a skydiving pose mid-fall she's likely to take a ton of it on impact.
  • In Warframe, the warframes are immune to falling damage, but will be stunned for a little bit if they hit the ground too fast (with the exception for Valkyr). Enemies are not, but it's pretty rare to be in a situation where you can take advantage. The open-world zones have flying transports that you can destroy so that enemies die from falling damage, but it's situational. The Operators who pilot the warframes, however, do take falling damage, highlighting their Squishy Wizard status, which can take a bit for players to adapt to.

    Beat-Em-Up/Hack And Slash 
  • 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.

    First Person Shooter 
  • In BioShock Infinite, falling from too high will damage you, even though falling off the floating city of Columbia only returns you to where you fell with no damage taken.
  • Build Engine throwback Ion Fury includes this, with the game even prompting you to "Press [USE] to scream" if the fall would be fatal.
  • The original Borderlands does have falling damage; it was later removed on Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!. The lack of fall damage is also lampshaded in Borderlands 2, where after finishing a quest that requires getting to the top of a huge, tall tower overlooking the rest of the level, if you decide to just jump away towards the level exit, Brick will be shocked at how badass you just looked.
  • 3DRealms games Duke Nukem 3D, Blood (1997), Shadow Warrior (1997), 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 has fall damage, though it is not too common since most maps rarely have different elevations. Depending on the length of your fall and your current health, you'll either take some damage, a lot of damage, get incapacitated, or just outright die. Getting punched by a Tank can send you flying and if there's any elevation difference, you'll also suffer additional fall damage.
  • In Outlaws, you can take possibly lethal damage by falling.
  • Quake games have falling damage. Usually it takes quite a distance for characters to receive fall damage.
  • In Star Wars: Dark Forces, you can take damage by hitting the ground hard enough. Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II expanded this to a full-on collision damage system with the introducing of mobility-based Force powers - Force-jumping into a low ceiling or running into a wall with Force speed will damage you in the same way falling too far would.
  • 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.' 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.
  • It is possible to die from fall damage in Unreal games when falling speed is too high.

    Mecha Game 
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Platform Game 
  • 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.
  • Banjo-Kazooie: The amount of damage taken by falling down will depend on the height. If Banjo falls down for too long, then he'll plummet to his death after crashing into the ground.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day has some nasty fall damage - if Conker falls from any height above his own jump height, he will take damage, to the extent that falling off a raised ledge will cause the fall damage. Falling from a high enough place also causes instant death, complete with Conker's whole body splattering into Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • This goes at least as far back as the original 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.
    • Donkey Kong 64: Damage by falling happens whenever a Kong falls from a great height. Luckily, this game allows the Kongs to fall at a limit of at least 50 feet to the ground without taking damage. Anything above that, however, will elicit some damage, via losing only a quarter of a melon.
  • Zig-zagged in A Hat in Time. If Hat Kid falls from a height, she'll merely fall on her rear without taking any damage, taking a moment to get back up. If she falls from a greater height, however, she'll take a single point of damage.
  • Lester the Unlikely: Jump or fall off a ledge that's too high, and you'll get injured.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spelunker took this to ridiculous levels. If you fall less than your own height, you die. (The Arcade Game adaptation wasn't quite as absurd, with distances appearing larger.) You die midair, too, not even needing to hit the ground.
  • 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.
  • Super Mario 64 has this. In this case, Mario can Ground Pound just before impact to avoid this. Falling damage also doesn't exist in places with snow or sand, since Mario will just get partially stuck before quickly releasing himself. Later games just have characters get stuck in the ground after falling long distances, stunning them briefly.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In Lemmings, the eponymous critters will crumble to pieces if they hit the ground from a sufficient height. This can be mitigated by giving them parasol parachutes.
  • 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.

    Role Playing Game 
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas play it straight, with one subversion (compared to genre conventions, that is), thanks to the advanced physics engine. Like in other games, landing in water can negate falling damage... but in these games, 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 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 feet tall, even an ordinary jump will deal lethal falling damage on landing.
    • In Fallout 4 and Fallout 76, Power Armor negates all fall damage, and falling from great heights even sends out a shockwave that damages nearby enemies.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the titular player character Geralt has undergone mutations that make him stronger, faster, more agile, and more resilient than normal humans, but can be killed falling from heights that wouldn't injure most people in the real world.

    Run N' Gun 
  • The dangers of fall damage in most Blaster Master games becomes quickly apparent as soon as you step out of your tank. A drop of one tile from a full jump is okay. Two tiles and you take some damage. Anything higher than that is almost always lethal. Resist the urge to jump into lower platforms.

  • In Minecraft, falls deal 1 point of damage per block (meter) fallen after the third, so a 23-block fall will kill you even at full health. This may sound unlikely, but since the game involves a lot of exploration of enormous, dark caves full of monsters that love to unexpectedly knock you off of things, death by falling is extremely common.
    • Landing in/on water, vines, slime blocks, powdered snow, or spiderweb cancels the damage—with quick reflexes, you can survive a fall unharmed by emptying a bucket of water under yourself—and Feather Falling and/or Protection-enchanted boots will reduce it. Landing on a hay bale or block of honey reduces fall damage taken by 80%, while landing on a bed reduces it by 50%.
    • In the Dripstone Caves deep underground, falling onto a stalagmite doubles fall damage.
    • Teleportation by ender pearl causes 5 points of damage per use, which is counted as falling damage by the game. As such, it's possible to reduce the amount of damage taken using Feather Falling and/or Protection-enchanted boots.
    • Most mobs also take falling damage at the same rate as the player, but a number take reduced damage (such as horses, frogs, goats, and llamas) or no damage (such as chickens, cats, both iron and snow golems, and magma cubes).
  • Phoning Home: If ION falls from too high up, he takes damage. This is demonstrated near the beginning of the game when ION gets back to the ship.

    Survival Horror 
  • Pigsaw: If the Player Character hits the ground from too high up, he will get hurt.
  • In System Shock 2, falling long enough will cause you to take damage which is larger the smaller your agility stat is. This also applies to hitting any surface fast enough, as one can attest in the semi-final stage featuring vents that can propel you upwards and sideways in not quite roomy corridors.

  • 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.
  • In the video game based on Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Juni falls several floors when he enters the virtual reality world he was assigned to infiltrate. Upon regaining consciousness, he loses a life.

Non-straight examples:

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  • Just Cause 2 has a strange example, where you can easily die if you hit the ground from a sizeable height - except if you fire your hookshot before landing to pull yourself towards the ground (at an even higher speed than you were falling at it in the first place), in which case you are totally fine.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In La-Mulana and it's sequel, falling from a great height will cause you to land on your ass but otherwise be completely fine. It's one of the only graces the game gives you, however the fall will still stun you for a bit, allowing enemies to hit you as you recover. Falling too far will cause you to lose the ability to whip or double jump though. Landing like that in front of a mural is needed for a puzzle in La-Mulana 2
  • Ghost of Tsushima has fall damage, but also a technique you can learn that lets you cancel the damage by rolling right as you hit the ground. However, some falls are simply too long for you to save yourself - if the screen flashes red as you're falling, you're doomed. Depending on the height of the fall, you may be able to resurrect yourself with another technique that gives you a Last Chance Hit Point.

  • 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).
  • 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. Morrowind works like Oblivion, but has means to negate fall damage that aren't destroyed upon landing — the Slow Fall spell effect, in addition to slowing falling speed, negates falling damage even at the lowest power, and if Acrobatics is boosted to 125 (25 beyond the normal maximum) no falling damage is taken.
  • 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.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Doom and its sequel avert this trope, but some mods add it back in.
  • In Kingpin: Life of Crime you take falling damage, but the character damage is segmented to head, torso and legs, and falling damage hits your legs. In practice this meant that you could survive higher falls by wearing a pair of pants (which counted as leg armor).
  • Overwatch has no fall damage (which is really helpful as certain heroes focus on aerial combat and Rocket Jumping, and some maps can be pretty vertical), but maps still have areas that count as a Ring Out if you fall into them. Most of them are in the form of Bottomless Pits or water, but then you get some wackier ones that heroes look like they could otherwise survive but can't for gameplay purposes, such as the shallow cliffsides in Necropolis and Ayutaya or the single-storey drop onto an off-map street in Eichenwalde.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • 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.



    Puzzle Game 
  • 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.
  • Quadrax played it completely straight until Neverending - any fall from more and 1.5x height of PC would kill them, which was actually part of puzzles. It still plays it straight in Neverending - for the most part. The falling damage is, quite logically, completely negated in underwater levels. To allow for specific puzzles, the PCs still can't jump down on their own accord from higher height they would normally survive, but if released by trap doors and such they won't be harmed. Good luck when you return to regular levels afterwards though.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Final Fantasy series:
    • 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.
    • Generally, falling from high enough in Final Fantasy XIV deals damage past a certain height, though it cannot kill you under normal circumstances, at worst bringing you down to 1 hitpoint. There are two exceptions: falling a long way in the field while targeted by an enemy can kill you, while falling a long way if it's required as part of a dungeon, raid, event, or what have you won't damage you at all.
  • TechnoMage: Return of Eternity plays around with this. Falling is dangerous, and it will actually play Melvin's death animation, this isn't treated as a true death by the game, as it will not deal any damage, and instead just send him back to a respawn point.

    Run N' Gun 
  • Blaster Master Zero II has this trope behave differently based on who or what is experiencing it. All fall damage is negated on immersion in Soft Water, for better or worse.
    • Jason still takes fall damage; one unit from one block of height over his jump reach, sixteen units from anything higher. EX Characters are immune to it, since gaining height is trivial for them.
    • The G-SOPHIA actually inverts it; long falls are beneficial because it triggers the tank's "Gaia System", which restores Mana Meter from plummeting for particularly long periods of time by absorbing the energy created by the impact. In fact, this is how you fight the Disc-One Final Boss: by falling on it repeatedly until it dies.

  • The Corridor: At one point the narrator puts the button at the bottom of a deep pit and claims that if you fall from a great height you die and lose forever. Given that he clearly made this up just now, it's no surprise when you jump down and nothing happens.
  • 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."

Alternative Title(s): Fall Damage