Follow TV Tropes


Floating Water

Go To
Think that's breaking the laws of physics? You should see the sport they play in there.

"Aren't you surprised by how we got water to blatantly ignore gravity?" [Beat] "What?!?! You think it is easy altering the laws of physics, like gravity?!?!? How 'bout you try?!?"

Water works in a pretty simple way. Water flows wherever gravity takes it, and water takes the shape of its container. Or does it? Floating Water is the strange fictional occurrence in which water decides to defy gravity, and sometimes make a plethora of shapes.

There can be any number of explanations that can be made by the people using this trope, but it really all boils down to the Rule of Cool. Remember however, it can still be in a glass container of some sort, just expect it to be crystal clear and barely noticeable. Pretty much guaranteed when someone is Making a Splash. Is an excellent source of Parting the Sea.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Goku from Dragon Ball Z exercises himself when he is in a hospital bed by concentrating his will on the water in a glass, moving the water out of the glass while it remains in the same shape as the glass. Naturally, when someone entered the room, he became distracted and the water fell on his head.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Juvia, being a water mage, makes regular use of this with her spherical 'Water Lock' spell. She can also liquify herself, so to a certain extent she is floating water.
    • In the Grand Magic Games arc Lucy and Juvia go up against women in other guilds inside one of these.
  • Hoshin Engi, one of the Four Saints has a water-manipulating Paopei which he uses to summon huge amounts of sea water in any way he wants, including forming spherical blobs which cling to people's heads or forming a giant dome of sticky water to keep his opponents from fleeing.
  • The Noiseman anime short has this.
  • Pokémon:
  • 3×3 Eyes, having power over water, Hua She/Yoko can sometimes make masses of water levitate in midair. at one point she kills the demoness She Gui by encasing her head in a bubble of water, letting her drown. Also, the guardian of the Water General Tumulus manifests as an orb-shaped mass of floating, corrosive water with a single eye, formed by all the water of the pond inside the tumulus.

    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: The titular hero's water elemental introduces himself on a floating ball of water on which he relaxes on. BoBoiBoy Water can also manipulate water to take the shapes of animals, such as eels or whales, as attacks.

    Comic Books 
  • During DC Comics' Crisis Crossover Invasion!, the Space Opera hero Adam Strange was visited by a Thanagarian delegation who vocally admired the "water sculpture" in the hero's house as it made various shapes in the air above the "fountain" it filled. Then they tried to kill him. Turns out the "water sculpture" was actually a trained alien "watchdog" made of liquid and the fountain was its equivalent to a doghouse. (It also turns out that Thanagarians take a long time to drown, since their lungs are larger than those of a human.)
  • Aqueduct (a.k.a. Water Wizard), a villain in the Marvel Universe, has the psychokinetic ability to control and shape all forms of liquid (including oil) for virtually any effect, such as rainstorms, floods, tidal waves, water slides, and mobile animated water creatures.

    Fan Works 
  • Tangled Up In Blues: Seafoam demonstrates her telekinesis by "dividing the water in the fountain into cubes that float through the air."
  • With Strings Attached: During the Ego Trip, John causes a fifty-foot stretch of river to rise up and stream over his head so the others can cross without struggle. Everyone is mightily impressed—except the Hunter, naturally.

    Film — Animation 
  • Justified in the movie Antz. Water really does that at that scale.
  • In Turning Red, this is downplayed. When Mei is levitated by the magic of the red moon ritual, her Tears of Joy also float.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Richard Kelly is obsessed with this image. Watch any movie he directed, from Donnie Darko to Southland Tales to The Box.
  • The water tentacle from The Abyss.
  • Played for literal tearjerker effect in Gravity. We realise the heroine is crying when her tears start floating in bubbles through the microgravity of the Soyuz capsule. Note this is for Rule of Drama as in real life Stone's tears would not have formed free-floating tear spheres. The liquid's surface tension would make them cling to her skin or eyelashes.
  • In the climatic battle of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore momentarily nabs Voldermort inside a sphere of water and levitates it into the air in a spell reminiscent of the water cage that looked like a sheet of glass he uses for the same purpose in the book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
  • In The Last Airbender, The Heavy Admiral Zhao is killed in a curb stomp battle when three unnamed waterbenders simply trap him in a ball of water and suspend him until he drowns.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Water creeps up walls and drips up off leaves near the Fountain of Youth.
  • Star Trek (2009): The Red Matter. Justified in they had to have it suspended in a vacuum, because if it touched any other kind of matter at all it would turn into a black hole.
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: The Mon Calamari opera dance witnessed by Anakin and Palpatine during their talk about the legend of Darth Plagueis.
  • Tomorrowland: During Casey Newton's brief exploration of the vision of Tomorrowland the "T" pin gives her, she sees a set of swimming pools, suspended in discs positioned one above the other. Swimmers proceed to dive from one pool to the other, practicing different flips as they descend between the levels.

  • Animorphs: The Pemalites turned out to be Crazy-Prepared enough for the event of aquatic lifeforms wanting to board their ship. The Animorphs needed giant squid morphs to reach the depth of the ocean where the ship was hidden, and when they get inside, each of them get their own personal water bubble to float around in. Notably, this technology is beyond what the other alien races hiding on Earth are capable of.
  • The Bible:
    • God separated the waters of the Red Sea, opening up a dry path on the seabed for the Israelites to pass on.
    • Less impressively, but still something, the waters of the Jordan, twicenote .
  • In The Colour of Magic, when one of the Krullian hydrophobes falls onto a pond, his innate revulsion for water manifests magically and pushes it away from his body, leaving him suspended over a trough in the liquid's surface.
  • Justified in one of Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry novels, although the zero-g environment was artificial in this case.
  • Justified, or at least Hand Waved, in Larry Niven's The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring: "Ponds" in the setting are spheres of water floating in midair, due to the near-complete lack of gravity.
  • Old Kingdom: The Afterlife Antechamber of Death takes the form of a shallow river divided into nine Precincts. The Fifth Gate is a "waterclimb" that flies upward into the Sixth Precinct, requiring magic to traverse safely.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the title character moves and suspends water multiple times throughout the series.
  • In one of the Simon Black novels by Ivan Southall, the Australian Ace Pilot travels into outer space and finds himself with the problem of how to take a bath in zero gravity. Eventually he slips into the huge glob of floating water and wriggles around until he's clean.
  • In the Spellsinger series, the river Sloomaz-ayor-le-Weentli is a "double" river, in which one river flows at ground level and another underground, with an air-filled space between them (A Wizard Did It).
  • In Waters of Aqnis there is a chapter dedicated to a crazy captain telling his crazy story. Included in said story is an entire ocean of floating water, hovering just above the usual one.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Smith and Jones", the gravity-transport beam the Judoon use to transport the hospital from the earth to the moon causes water to condense out of the air around the hospital and fall upward, creating the illusion that it's "raining backward".
  • Cleo from H₂O: Just Add Water has the power to manipulate the form of water and mold it into a different shape. She can mystically create more water to form a "branch" from a small cup.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Thirty Days" has a planet made entirely out of water, the reason being that it is held together by a massive force-field generator at its core. Meanwhile, the people living on the planet believe that their gods had given it to them as a gift (note: they live underwater in buildings).

    Music Videos 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Forgotten Realms setting in had a spell called "Laeral's Aqueous Column," which created a column of water that was 10 feet high per caster level and 10 feet wide.
    • 1st Edition has a lot of Bible-derived cleric spells, including "Part Water" and "Raise/Lower Water".
    • 5th edition's Xanathar's Guide to Everything introduced the "Wall of Water" spell, a 3rd level Evocation reflavored from "Wall of Fire." Druids, Sorcerers, Wizards, magic-focused Rogues and Fighters, and the Triton race can learn this spell.
  • Exalted: In some areas of the Northern Wyld, where Reality Is Out to Lunch and the element of Air's inherent tendency to be above other things permeates everything, the rivers that run on top of the local Floating Continents don't always cascade off their sides as would be expected but instead continue flowing through the sky. The resulting streams wind high in the air, stretching for considerable distances and often connecting distant flying islands.

  • Toa of Water in BIONICLE are able to manipulate water. Particularly skilled ones are able to keep it suspended in mid-air for extended periods of time, or mold it into unusual shapes such as a hand.

    Video Games 
  • The computer game Aquaria has water bubbles suspended in air.
  • In the trailer for BioShock 2, a Big Sister uses telekinesis to make a big shield of water, for no reason other than to look awesome.
  • One part of Clive Barker's Undying set in Oneiros had vertical columns of water that you had to ascend and jump out of at the top to scale a dungeon.
  • Blitzball matches in Final Fantasy X take place in floating water spheres. See the picture above. Absolutely no attempt is made to explain how they do it (although it probably involves pyreflies, which are used to explain how the players can spend the entire match of what equates to underwater soccer without needing to come up for air).
  • Donkey Kong Jungle Beat has floating bodies of water floating in air that you have to swim through.
  • The second and third main games in the Ecco the Dolphin series have floating tubes and spheres of water.
  • Floating bodies of water are sometimes seen in the Kirby games. In particular, Kirby Super Star has a couple of blatant examples. In the first level of the Dynablade sub-game, an optional room has a perfectly rectangular space of water. The water-themed planet in Milky Way Wishes has other oddly-shaped bodies of water, with arbitrarily-placed pockets of air.
  • The forest level in The Legendary Starfy has numerous examples.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: As Link makes his way to the Water Temple in the skies, he finds floating orbs made of water, which he has to use alongside the reduced gravity in order to reach high spots. There's a Shrine along the way whose puzzles take advantage of these orbs.
  • LEGO The Incredibles: Dory travels on land in a bubble of water.
  • Centaur Man's level in Mega Man 6 has a room where reverse gravity water is moving up and down on the ceiling. To get across without the Jet Adaptor, you have to time your jumps to have the gravity-reducing water increase your jump distance.
  • Through use of the sponge block, it is possible to produce this effect in Minecraft. To a lesser extent, it can be done with signs and several other similar items. They allow you to pass through, but block the water.
  • NiGHTS into Dreams… has a stage with floating bodies of water: the appropriately named Splash Garden.
  • This is a water rift from...well, Rift.
  • All the water in Riven: The Sequel to Myst is like this. The explanation is that the water contains a heat-avoiding bacteria that makes people sick when they drink it. Boiling it kills the bacteria and makes it ordinary water.
  • One of the outdoor levels in Secret Agent has a block of water just floating in mid-air (that kills you instantly on touch.) There's no explanation for this. Apparently it's a level designer's error.
  • Something Else:
    • Rainy Clouds, which makes sense as clouds are filled with water.
    • The Secret Exit route in Cat Beach is based around this particular gimmick. One false move and Luigi plummets to his death.
  • Fan-made Super Mario 63 has water that can cling onto walls. They even lampshaded it in one particular level.
  • Sometimes floating water appears in Super Mario Bros. series.
    • A single-course setpiece obstacle in New Super Mario Bros. Wii: moving circles of water mixed in with the platforms. Yes, you can swim in them, and you can fall out of them to your death.
    • Super Mario Galaxy has the Loopdeeloop and Loopdeeswoop Galaxies, which are Manta Ray race tracks made of floating water. The latter even has the water go uphill and in a vertical loop!
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2 has some interesting 2D platforming involving water passageways above, below, and next to platforms with gravity pointing any which way.
    • Super Mario Odyssey has a variant. While not technically floating per se, Bowser's castle does have a swimming pool which is enclosed on only three sides, meaning the water is violating gravity in not dribbling out and into the void. It also plays it straight with floating blocks of water in some subareas.
    • Super Mario Bros. Wonder: In certain levels, the Wonder Flower can make water float upon being grabbed.
    • Mario Party 7: Bubble Brawl is a mini-game where the four players are placed in a giant floating bubble of water, and must punch the others out of the bubble. (And yes, despite what logic might otherwise dictate, being punched out the top of the bubble counts as a knockout.)
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd famously lost his cool while playing Super Pitfall as the result of this trope.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, the capital of Malkuth is called Grand Chokmah, the Floating Capital, because most of it extends out over the surface of the nearby ocean. In addition to being filled with truly awe-inspiring fountains and waterfalls, the bar that you can enter has globes of floating water on display, suspended in midair as decor. Since Malkuth is the country known for its practitioners of fonic artes, it's safe to say A Wizard Did It to show off.
  • Terraria: Can be accomplished with bubble blocks, which are impenetrable by liquids but otherwise intangible, allowing water (or honey, or lava) to be effectively suspended in mid-air and dived into from the sides or bottom.
  • The very first Turok game (the good one) had vertical columns of water that you had to ascend and jump out of at the top to scale a dungeon.
  • Warcraft III's water can act strange, notably in Naga levels where two water areas are uninterrupted by land yet are at different height leves, connected by a ramp of water. Sometimes it's disguised by putting waterfalls over the ramp, sometimes not.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: The Thin Dimensional Barrier and dormant portal in the Unseen Elder's cavern distort the local gravity among other effects, causing a stream to flow along the ground, fall upwards to the ceiling, and continue its course there.

  • 8-Bit Theater's take on blitzball is drownball, where players compete to be the first to drown in the arena. Fighter handily wins despite coming in last place, because he actually survives the matches (thanks to his brain not needing that much oxygen in the first place) so he wins by default and upsets the entire sport.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • This is the main principle of Waterbending in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Katara calls it "streaming the water".
  • In The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Space Madness", Captain Hoark is in the bath and Space Cadet Stimpy turns off the gravity in order to calm him down. Cue this trope with the bath water taking the same rectangular shape as the bathtub.
  • Aqualad of Teen Titans can do this too; he actually prefers to do this while he's in the water.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: In zero gravity, water will form floating spheres. These NASA videos shows a number of visually cool experiments involving them.
    • And played for laughs in the Planetes manga: in an omake four-panel strip, Hachi sees a blob of floating hot coffee. Being cute, he sticks a straw in it and slurps it. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Demonstrated in the Tintin album in space. (With whisky instead of water, but the same principle applies.)
    • And in the novel Simon Black in Space by Ivan Southall when one of the characters attempts to create a bath in zero gravity, and almost drowns in the process.
  • Another way water does this in real life is in water droplets. When watched in a high speed camera it's revealed that the drop will float on the surface of the water as a perfect sphere for a fraction of a millisecond before bursting, launching a smaller sphere into the air which does the same thing until it gets too small to support itself.
  • Also, water is somewhat diamagnetic, so a sufficiently strong magnet can be used to float water. (This effect has been used to levitate not just water, but also live frogs and mice.)
  • Technically, ice sculptures are this trope. Nobody specified liquid water, after all... By the same criteria, icebergs and clouds.
  • Some decorative "dancing water" fountains simulate this effect, using continuous streams of water so smooth that they don't appear to be moving.
  • Siphons can make liquids flow upwards using negative pressure.
  • Due to urban air turbulence, it sometimes rains up around the Empire State Building's observation deck.
  • With the magic of speaker pulses and video frame rates set in time with each other, someone has actually filmed a stream of still floating droplets, in this video.


Video Example(s):


BoBoiBoy Water's Debut

Floating ball of water appear around BoBoiBoy as he unlocks his water elemental form... who turns out to be obese.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheFatEpisode

Media sources: