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"Stop falling in the death water!"

Water with a tainted color (usually not blue) that harms or kills the character upon contact. Usually explained as water with some kind of toxin in it, or (shudder) not water at all.

It is a good way to make a video game character avoid pits of liquid without invoking Super Drowning Skills or going as far as Lava Pits. Usually appears in games with regular swimmable water as well. Sometimes it is possible to clear up the grimy water to make it swimmable. Rarely, just the surface causes injury.note 

Often involved in Rise to the Challenge levels, as well as Bubblegloop Swamp ones. The classic term, back before Marathon and Duke Nukem 3D introduced swimming, was "hurt floor", since these areas were effectively just floors that dealt damage.


Not to be confused with Hazardous Water (where the water doesn't deal damage directly but still poses a risk) or Mucking in the Mud. See also Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid. Inversion of Healing Spring.


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    Action Adventure 
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has two instances:
      • Woodfall Swamp is covered in it, although after you beat the boss, it becomes unpolluted.
      • Its dungeon has the same water, and it's filled with Venus flytrap plants. Only Deku Link can hop on them safely and when you activate a certain mechanism, it cleans the water and kills said plants instantly.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there are swamps of bubbling black ooze in which Link will drown instantly (at the cost of one heart) if he is even partially submerged in it.
  • Castlevania
    • Circle of the Moon has purple water that hurts you when you touch it. It can be purified with the proper item, or just avoided with extremely judicious double jumping. Or with the invincibility card combo.
    • Simon's Quest also has purple poisonous swamps that slow you down and eat away your life meter.
    • All the water in Castlevania 64 is poisonous, and literally dissolves the player like acid if (read: when) you fall in.
    • In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the water is perfectly clear, clean and pure, and at times looks kind of pretty. It still hurts Alucard upon touching it though, without a special relic. Despite the relic looking like a snorkel, this ISN'T Super Drowning Skills but apparently has to do with a myth about vampires not crossing running water. Richter, a human, has no problem with it.
  • Ōkami. In Tsuta Ruins, there is a very obvious (purple!) lake of poison water. Amaterasu's Exposition Fairy prompts her to draw a lily pad on the water, which is instantly destroyed. Once you destroy the totems that are polluting the water, it immediately clears.
    • The same purple water appears in other places as a course hazard. If Ammy falls in she dies instantly, with a howl that will haunt your dreams.
    • Later on there's a Womb Level where you have to use lily pads to move across a river of stomach acid. The acid functions just like water, except rather than costing you a unit of health if you stay in too long, it damages your health directly.
  • LEGO Star Wars II: In a Tatooine level in A New Hope, there is an area dotted with moisture vaporators that has deadly pools of mud. A vaporator next to it, when activated, can suck the area dry and provide a walkable surface.
  • LEGO Batman: there is regular water which is quite swimmable and of course grimy water which will kill you instantly. The bad water is actually green toxic waste and is accessible when you have unlocked certain characters that are immune to the toxins.
  • In LEGO Lord of the Rings, ordinary water will kill you, but you have a chance of jumping out of it by tapping A. Swamp water, found in the Dead Marshes, will kill you instantly.
  • The purple water in the first act of ActRaiser's Bloodpool causes instant death, needless to say.
  • MediEvil gives us an entire level based around this known as the Pools of the Ancient Dead. While Sir Dan has Super Drowning Skills and will lose a life bottle upon touching water anyway (being dead doesn't exactly do water for one's buoyancy, you know!), the entire level here is absolutely covered in this and falling in is all too easy thanks to the landscape and all of the exploding chests that, while they don't damage you outright, will do one worse and send you flying into the water.

    Action Game 
  • Tomb Raider loves insta-death water:
    • Tomb Raider II had green in one level and red in another. The red water was meant to be lava, despite it being... well, red water. Made worse by the fact that a) when you fell in it, you stood up and then keeled over and b) the very next level had proper instant burst-into-flames lava straight from the original TR.
    • Tomb Raider III had an annoying and possibly terrifying variant, quicksand. Lara sank very quickly unless it was a designated shallow spot, once submerged your breath meter went down very quickly, and the kicker? Lara was unable to climb out of the stuff.
    • Also, falling into regular water on a vehicle resulted in it exploding.
    • Once again in TR3, the penultimate level had stuff that... well, it sure didn't look like lava. More like bright gold paint. More like molten gold, given its effect on you.
      • Hell, even normal water wasn't safe from this Nintendo Hard masterpiece. Some ponds had Piranhas in it, which despite not working that way, would butcher Lara in less than three seconds if she was caught in a school of the stuff.
      • Don't forget the subzero arctic waters in the end of the game. While you can swim in it, the hazardous cold water is only survivable for a few seconds. Once your exposure meter is depleted, then your health drains fairly quickly. If you dive under the water, the meters drain even faster.
    • Tomb Raider: Underworld has glowing blue water in its final levels. Instant death if you so much as touch it.
      • This would be eitr, appropriate given the setting, and yes, it is that deadly.
      • The first and last boss arenas in TR3 also have "fire water" that kills you if you touch it.
  • Evolva: Not the river water that appears in most levels, but the sea water that appears in levels 9 and 10. It drains life quite fast if you merely touch it, and diving into it causes instant death (in contrast to lava, which takes a few seconds to kill you). Oh, and the shield skill doesn't you protect you from it.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda plays with it on Kadara, a planet plagued — among other issues — by its water supply being ludicrously toxic. A certain audio log details how a desperate exile took a sip against better judgment and died a quick but agonizing death when the stuff ravaged his innards in short order. Other NPCs are hospitalized after merely having been near a puddle. The water is still blue (an incredibly gorgeous shade of blue even, courtesy of the geothermal processes active around the lakes and puddles), but tip as much as your armored toe in it and Ryder's environmental hazard bar will instantly drop to zero and (s)he'll recoil in pain. Do it again and you'll be treated to the critical mission failure screen in less than a second. In a somewhat unusual twist for a video game, your squadmates aren't immune to this sort of environmental hazard either and will vocally cry out as well if they come into contact with the lethal soup.
  • Bayonetta has purple poison water, found in Chapter VI and underneath the arena Iustitia is fought in. Unlike electrified water in Chapter XII and the shallow pits of lava in Chapter III, the poison instantly kills both Bayonetta and the angels seen falling into it.

    Adventure Game 
  • King's Quest VI has a section with instant death water — entirely justified given the fact that it's in the Land of the Dead, and said death water is the water from the River Styx. King's Quest: Mask of Eternity also has instant death water in the Dimension of Death, along with harmful pools of blood in the same Dimension, plus toxic water from the Swamp (some of which is covering a small pond in Daventry). King's Quest II also had the swamp and lake surrounding the vampire's castle. Instant death for Graham if he swims it, so he has to find a way to hitch a ride.
  • In The Black Cauldron, it is fatal to drink the green water in the moat of the Horned King's Castle.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The Half-Life series runs the gamut. There is the Damage Over Time scummy green radioactive contaminated water, which is replaced by a yellow goopy sewage-like water from the second game and on. It is your HEV Suit that lets you survive contact as long as you get out fast. Radioactive waste is sometimes replaced with identical-looking biowaste. The difference is that while radioactive stuff triggers the Geiger counter and it does damage while you stand in it, biowaste has no audio warning and continues damaging for a while even after you leave it (and this damage is subtracted directly from your health, ignoring all armor). And of course there are the respective trefoil/biohazard signs on your HUD while you are being damaged.
  • Quake has both toxic waste and lava (which still behaves like water), as well as clear (and murky, but harmless) water.
  • Turok 2: Seeds of Evil has two examples.
  • The River of Souls (which is both its own level, and extends through a couple others) is legendary for deadly properties: anything that drinks from or falls in the water dies instantly. Towards the end of the game, you find out that the river is polluted by discharge from the Big Bad's spaceship, and you are tasked with purifying it towards the end.
  • While green nukage and red-and-orange lava are always harmful in Doom and the extremely blue water is always harmlessnote  , whether or not brown slime and blood are damaging varies depending on the whim of the level designer. With custom WADs, no holds are barred: nukage and slime can be treated as algae-infested or plain muddy water, blue water can be electrified, or actually liquid nitrogen or reactor coolant, and blood can even be swam in; lava tends to be consistently damaging, however. A major exception in the classic episodes is Map 29 of Final Doom's TNT/Evilution, River Styx, where in addition to non-damaging rivers of blood, the level contains floors with lava textures that are consistently high damage in every other appearance across Doom 1, 2 and Final Doom, yet have no damage modifier in this level.
  • Duke Nukem 3D has puddles of radioactive waste that can be made walkable with a pair of special boots. Most of it isn't deep enough to be submerged, let alone swim. Strangely, if Duke dives into pools of waste that are deep enough, the liquid instantly becomes as harmless as water, going so far as to not drain the protective boots.
  • Unreal
    • Unreal (1998) was meant to feature light blue water-like nitrogen pools that hurt just as much as lava but can be waded into with an Asbestos Suit, but that was Dummied Out in the final release and can only be found in custom levels. The only thing that remained was the goopy green sludge from Tarydium refinement, that doesn't deal quite as much damage but is still hazardous enough to make escape all but impossible; a Toxin Suit negates all damage.
    • Almost all bodies of liquid in Unreal Tournament either instantly kill players as soon as they fall in, or slowly damage them for as long as they're submerged. In some cases, this makes sense (lava in CTF-LavaGiant), in others not so much (the water in DM-KGalleon). The main reason behind it is to prevent players from wandering off the main playing area.
  • Three examples in The Conduit 2. There's a small but lethal pool of glowing blue... stuff in the first level that is otherwise mostly for show. The levels in Atlantis have electrified water that is instantly fatal. And lastly, the China level has this quicksilver-like liquid that will also kill Mr. Ford on contact.
  • In addition to lava pits like in the first two games, Descent 3 has green acid/nukage that also damages your ship.
  • PlanetSide 2's Heyoka Chemical Lab facility is surrounded by a moat of toxic chemicals that can instantly kill anyone that walks further in than knee-deep. The moat can be crossed by Hard Light bridges that only allow friendly vehicles to drive over safely, while enemy vehicles fall straight through. The bridges can be hacked to Reverse Polarity, flipping its friend-or-foe identification. Much amusement can be had by tricking enemy tanks (or full Sunderers) into trying to cross the bridges only to plunge straight through it, right into the toxic water. Or telling the Vanu Sovereignty players that their Hover Tank can hover over water.
  • The fourth level of Star Wars: Dark Forces has a rust-colored material near the end that damages your health, but wading through it provides a shortcut to your ship. The third level also plays with this with brown and green sewage that is safe to swim in and is required to be waded through to progress but is otherwise only dangerous because of the dianogas living in it.
  • Strife does this differently with green poisonous sewage and light blue reactor coolant. The grimy water isn't instantly hazardous, but it fills up a hidden toxicity meter, which you can notice by the screen turning green and foggy. After a certain threshold, the player starts taking damage, and will continue to take damage even immediately after leaving the hazardous area or putting on a hazard suit; it only stops after toxicity drops below the threshold.
  • Halo 4: In the level "Reclaimer", you eventually reach a stream that is both colored green and giving off steam. Mission Control dubs it "bad news" and orders you back on the Elephant. The elephant can ford it just fine, but not only will it kill you if you try to do so on foot, other vehicles (including tanks) will explode upon contact. Bad news indeed.

  • In The Lord of the Rings Online, up in the frozen lands of Fornost, going into the water instantly causes death, perhaps due to freezing. You can enter other water just fine, it's just the water in the arctic type area that is deadly. In the same game, Angmar has bright green water that is instantly fatal.
  • Guild Wars, where some water (mostly in Kryta, and then more often in Factions' Undercity) inflicts poison on you. Walking in actual sewer water (which is a dull bronze color), strangely, usually has no effect.
  • In World of Warcraft, swimming in green water such as the kind found in Undercity and Scourge ziggurats used to cause damage overtime, though it was rather minor and very easy to get out of. The damage was removed in Cataclysm, but the stuff in Naxxramas still applies a debuff that harshly lowers your stats.
    • In Serpentshrine Cavern in The Burning Crusade, the water in the central hub spawns fish that attack anyone who falls into it (hazardous at the raid's intended level, but a minor annoyance in later expansions), while the water in Lady Vashj's room is scalding hot.
    • In Highmaul in Warlords of Draenor, the water around Brackenspore's area is acidic. The Iron Horde grunts trying to fight him back learn this the hard way when they attempt to retreat through the water and immediately die.
    • Also in Warlords of Draenor, huge areas of Tanaan Jungle are covered in green snot-looking 'fel sludge', which depending on the depth of it will do nothing, give you a minor bit of damage, or a stacking buff/debuff that raises both your damage dealt and damage taken, but kills you immediately at 10 stacks.
  • In FusionFall, large green pools of "Fusion Matter" lurk in many of the regular and infected areas. Swimming in, walking through, and even sometimes walking NEAR these pools causes the player to take damage.
  • While only present in one room in one level, Elsword has a swamp with ankle-deep purple water. The level's mobs are able to stand in it and not take damage (since you're in their home turf), but players take steady poison damage as well as lose MP while standing in it, making it essentially a mad dash between the sporadic patches of dry land and platforms.

    Platform Game 
  • Occurs in all the Metroid games.
    • In Metroid/Zero Mission and Super Metroid, the "water" in Norfair is highly acidic and damages you until you get out. The Varia upgrade removes the hazard.
    • In Super Metroid, there is no suit which protects you from the acid in Lower Norfair. The Varia Suit prevents you taking damage from Upper Norfair's lava, but the acid is still a problem even with the Gravity Suit. In Zero Mission, the acid in Brinstar becomes safe to travel through with the Varia Suit, the lava in Norfair is safe with the Gravity Suit, and the acid in Tourian is never safe.
    • In Metroid Prime, one of the first bosses is filling the water with toxins, and when it is defeated, the water stops causing damage. In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes you're harmed by the water in Dark Aether, where pretty much everything is lethal.
    • Metroid II and Metroid: Samus Returns didn't even make a pretense of calling the fluid on SR388 water; it was acidic, toxic, and generally lethal. The only way to remove the hazard was to drain the stuff.
    • In Metroid Fusion, Sector 4 AQA featured electrified water, which would cause continual damage if you fell in. Draining the water removed the hazard.
  • Whenever you encounter water that's an odd colour in the Banjo-Kazooie series, there's often something living in it, namely piranhas in the first game and Dragundas in Tooie. Strangely, it seems the only reason why the polluted goo is dangerous is because of the Dragundas who live in it, not because it's toxic.
    • Gobi Desert includes untouchable sand, dangerous not because it would suck you in, but because it includes irritable sand eels.
      • Seems like a favorite trick of the programmers at Rare; they did that in the Donkey Kong Country series as well.
    • Rusty Bucket Bay has a variation: Banjo can swim in the polluted water, but the oxygen meter depletes even while swimming on the surface and twice as quickly underwater.
      • Speaking of Rusty Bucket Bay, there is a small area on land that is full of glowing green waste and toxic barrels. Contact with the waste is not instant death, but it damages instead. Similar technicolor goop is found in Grunty Industries in Tooie; maybe that's where all the toxic waste came from.
    • The freezing water in Click Clock Wood winter uses the same mechanic as the oily water in Rusty Bucket Bay (it doesn't drain your oxygen at the surface, but you can only surface at two points anyways). The water in Freezeezy Peak just mocks you while it drains your health.
    • The freezing water in the icy side of Hailfire Peaks just damages you outright instead, due to being even colder. On the fiery side, the one pool of water you find is boiling and will scald you if you try to dive without protection.
    • Mad Monster Mansion includes what could best be described as a pool full of haunted water (the game does not explain why the purplish liquid harms you). Oddly, you are protected from this damage if you're an adorable pumpkin.
  • Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! puts a twist on the formula with toxic water with no effect other than the player's directional pad is reversed, so you must press left to swim right.
  • Occurs quite a bit in various Super Mario Bros. games:
    • Super Mario Sunshine has Noki Bay, where the otherwise crystal-clear water is horribly polluted from an eel in desperate need of a dentist. Only the surface is harmful, and since several of the levels there give you a suit that lets you stay underwater longer, it's actually safer to just swim under the water when you have to go in.
      • There was also Ricco Harbor before it, where Gooper Blooper polluted some of the water with his ink. In both of these cases, the water literally deals a hit a second, barely giving you any time to either jump out or dive down lest you get stuck.
      • Before that, the lake in Bianco Hills was polluted for two chapters.
      • Corona Mountain also had insta-death lava that was basically orange water.
      • And, of course, that one polluted canal (also instant death) with the 8 red floating coins.
    • Super Mario Galaxy had a level or two where the water or some other substance was so toxic that falling into it resulted in instant death as the player watched Mario stick his hand out and garble under the muck before drowning. Both the original game and the sequel also had pools of dark matter that cause Mario to disintegrate upon making contact with them and could create holes in space that cause platforms to disappear while under them.
    • In Super Mario 64, the second ice world you come to has two types of water, both harmful: one is swimmable, but because of the freeziness of it, it slowly drains your life rather than help you to replenish it. The other is cold enough to act exactly like lava and forms the backdrop of a boss battle.
    • In the first New Super Mario Bros., World 4 has purplish, toxic water that is fatal upon contact, regardless of Mario's current form. The same applies for the obligatory jungle levels in the three following games in the series.
      • This was probably inspired by the many infamous Platform Hell Mario hacks (especially Kaizo Mario World), where grayish-purple "death water" was ever-present.
    • Super Mario World had boiling-hot chocolate.
      • Said "death water" was also present in some levels of the original game, particularly the fortress levels.
    • Super Mario 3D Land has at least one underground level with boiling purple sludge that kills Mario on contact in a manner similar to lava, only with purple smoke burning Mario's rear instead of fire.
    • Paper Mario: Sticker Star has World 3, a forest that's covered in dark purple poison, which damages Mario when he steps in it and randomly hurts him if he enters battle in it. The poison vanishes after the world's boss is defeated.
    • Similarly, the waters of Plum Park in Paper Mario: Color Splash end up poisoned courtesy of Petea Piranha and takes on a lovely lavender colour. Of course, falling into it deals some damage to Mario. Defeating Petea will restore the park's water to its pristine glory.
    • Along with continuing the trend of purple, instant-kill poison, Super Mario 3D World has certain levels full of what looks like blue lava.
    • Somnom Woods in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team marks yet another appearance of purple, toxic water, with the notable addition that it's now electric. Like lava or spikes, it doesn't actually damage Mario or Luigi, and it's instead used to reset their position in the platforming areas.
  • In The Legendary Starfy, most of the waters in Sogwood Forest are weirdly bubbly and of an unhealthy purple colour. Needless to say, Starfy must better not touch those poisoned waters, else he would be damaged.
  • In Ratchet & Clank games, clear water is safe to swim in. Murky water always contains Lombax-eating fish.
    • In the first game, an obstacle course level had pools of clear water with those very fish. You usually had to drain the water and kill the fish, then fill it back up or they would eat you. Also, freezing cold water will instantly freeze Ratchet to death, and the poor furry guy can't swim in mud or poison goo, he simply sinks.
      • Pleasantly, the clear water pools at least had visible fish.
      • Also in the first game, in Gemlik Base, during the section where you walk on the left side of the room with the Magneboots, there is a rising and sinking orange liquid that will cause Ratchet to fall off the path if it touches him.
      • And finally in the same game there are two occasions where the water you need to swim through is electrified, and you can only temporarily turn off the current, making the entire traversal a Timed Mission.
    • Strangely enough, Ratchet is capable of jumping out of the opaque goo in almost every level of the first and second games in the series, but will drown if he falls back in two more times. In Up Your Arsenal, it kills him instantly.
    • In Going Commando, the main path in Notak ended in a puzzle where you had to freeze and thaw the rising and falling fish-filled water to progress.
    • The Obani Draco level of Up Your Arsenal is the same as Gemlik Base, except instead of causing Ratchet to fall off, a Good Bad Bug causes him to enter his sinking animation, which counts as a kill.
  • The Rayman series does this as well. However, in those games, it seems as if the only thing that separates "swimmable" water from the "piranha-infested" kind is the presence of a sign...
    • Starting with Revolution, you could see fish jumping out. But only near walkable regions, so they could drop on your head and bite you.
    • Water in Rayman Origins is sometimes unsafe to be in for more than a second because it's infested with Darktoons or piranhas.
  • The Spyro the Dragon series, at least the Insomniac-produced ones, occasionally had this. One level in the second game had green water that you could walk on while using the invincibility power-up.
    • In the first game, all 'water' was this — even apparently clean, fresh water coming out of fountains. In Spyro 2 and 3, Spyro can paddle (and dive into) water if it is clear, but not if it is coloured or murky. Interestingly, oxygen isn't an issue, and Spyro can breathe indefinitely underwater.
    • Year of the Dragon and A Hero's Tail both had a level where you had to use the invincibility powerup to swim in toxic water.
  • Ink serves this purpose in de Blob. It Makes Sense in Context — well, it makes about as much sense as the rest of the game, anyway.
  • Jak and Daxter:
    • The electrified water in Lost Precursor City from the first game (though it damages instead of killing instantly), which bears an unnaturally bright green hue and has odd yellow lines occasionally showing up.
    • There were occasional muddy waters in first and second game. In the latter you can hover over it (as well as the Dark Eco) once you acquire Jetboard, which is needed to grab some of Precursor Orbs.
  • The "Mega Mack" from the Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit) doesn't kill you on impact (in practical terms, it's just regular water), but it plays hell with Sonic's Oxygen Meter: there aren't any air bubbles for Sonic or Tails to use to replenish their air supply!
  • Muddy waterfalls in the Meadows of Spike's Peak.
  • Jett Rocket has two variations of this. The water in the first world is safe swimming. In the second world, the water is freezing, and while you can swim in it, it saps your rather limited health very quickly. In the third world, it will suck you into it and make you lose health, but you can wade through it for a little bit before this happens.
  • Occurs quite often in some of the Crash Bandicoot games, but because of Crash and Coco's Super Drowning Skills, it's not much different from regular water ... at least usually. The second game has sewer levels with ankle-deep water, and an electic eel that would electrify the water at regular intervals, at which moment you had to be out of it.
  • Croc: Legend of the Gobbos has icy water that you can't swim in, as well as lava. However, you can swim in certain areas of light blue water, which is necessary to rescue certain Gobbos.
  • In Epic Mickey, all bodies of water have been replaced by paint thinner, which damages Mickey upon contact (as he is made of paint like everyone else) and forces a small leap up. He has no Mercy Invincibility, and the hops are quick, so if Mickey gets tossed out too far, it's certain death. There are also 2D stages based on Mickey's past cartoons. Normal water exists in some of these stages, but Mickey reacts to them the same way he does to thinner.
  • Super Mario Fusion Revival has World 4-HC2: Poison Aqueduct. The level is a stealthy entrance into Hellfire Citadel itself by forging a path through its aqueducts. However, the aqueducts are filled with toxic liquids.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest contains murky, poisoned water that damages Ori when you attempt to swim in it. It's not until the completion of the first dungeon when the water in the game becomes safe to swim through. The area leading up to Mount Horu has instant-death volcanic hot spring water. The sequel likewise has purple swamp water as a result of The Corruption overtaking Niwen, requiring Ori to reactivate the Wellspring to clear it, with darker water causing more rapid HP loss, and later, instantly lethal tar and liquid Corruption pits in the Silent Woods and Willow's End, respectively.
  • In Skylanders: SWAP Force, Motleyville has ponds and streams of what appears to be raw sewage that causes continuous damage, while Kaos' Fortress has green ooze with the same effect.
  • Hollow Knight has bubbling acidic water with the same effect on the Knight as Spikes of Doom, booting them back to the nearest platform minus a mask for taking damage, unless they have acquired Isma's Tear, which allows them to swim through it without harm.
  • In A Hat in Time, the thick, purple swamp water in Subcon Forest is a variant: stepping on it will summon hands that will try to pull you down and progressively restrict your movement until you're pulled below or you get back to dry land.
  • A section of Shade Man's level in Rockman 7 EP is filled with toxic water. There's a meter that indicates Mega Man's toxicity. His skin even changes to match the toxicity.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Portal has poison water, which kills you if you don't get out of it quickly — an unlikely escape, since it would require you to fall in near a portal surface and swim out through a portal. It is stated by GLaDOS that contact with it results in "an unsatisfactory mark on your official testing record, followed by death." In Portal 2, it is known as deadly goo, kills instantly, and is presumably highly acidic since GLaDOS calls it acid — and one sign shows a silhouette of a person whose lower body is disintegrated beneath the surface of the liquid.
  • Poisoned water in Where's My Water?, which is handily colored purple. One drop and it completely poisons clear water, and if it gets to Swampy's shower... well, it doesn't seem to hurt him, but he's grossed out all the same. Furthermore, it dissolves algae and explodes when combined with green ooze, both of which occasionally come in handy for clearing obstacles. In the Cranky levels, the goal is to get poisoned water to his home so it can clear algae from his food.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • A rare RTS example occurs in Total Annihilation. One tileset features acidic water that damages any units which try to slog through it. Sadly, this isn't enough of a deterrent for the AI...

  • ADOM has a puzzle — an important item is on a small island on a red-colored lake of water. The swimming skill is not an answer...

    Role-Playing Game 
  • In general, many games made in RPG Maker have this, as there's a tile that resembles purple water that damages characters standing on it. The damage usually isn't that severe, though.
  • All the water in Fallout 3 is irradiated, save for a very few places. You can still swim and drink from it, but will need to deal with the ensuing radiation poisoning afterward.
    • If you have Broken Steel and released the Modified FEV into the water, the virus-laced Aqua Pura will adversely affect your stats and ultimately kill you if you consume a certain amount.
    • The Monongahela River in The Pitt has the most irradiated water in the game, with up to 600 rad/sec. Swimming here is a death wish.
    • Fallout Tactics is much worse; the water is obviously irradiated and glows with an ominous sickly green glow.
    • New Vegas reverses the trend, in that (on top of the expected "clean" and "dangerous" types) there's somewhat natural looking silt-tinged water that's completely safe to drink, and absolutely pure and clean looking water that's absolutely lousy with radiation. The only real way to tell is to stop and wait to see if your Geiger counter starts clicking before taking a drink/hopping in.
  • Bahamut Lagoon has "poison swamps". They can be turned into regular swamps by casting healing magic on them.
  • This is the whole MacGuffin plot of the SNES RPG, Lagoon.
  • In Demon's Souls, the second stage of The Valley of Defilement is covered with this. Not only is the player unable to dodge when walking through it, but extended exposure causes poison.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • In Dragon Quest VIII, there are a few areas (such as a segment in the Black Citadel) where the player can walk through what appears to be purple water. Doing so slowly damages the entire party.
    • In Dragon Quest III, the Charlock Castle, where Zoma awaits for the Hero and his Party, is surrounded by purple, poisonous swampy water. The access to Gaia's Pit and the Dark World is also encircled by a toxic purple swamp.
    • Poisonous swamps appear throughout the series, but the only game where you can actually die from its damage is Dragon Quest I; sequential titles will never let your party's health fall below 1HP.
    • This feature is useful in Dragon Quest IX, as there is a side quest which requires you to heal allies from exactly 1 HP several times... good luck getting monsters to drop you to exactly 1 HP, unless you have a lot of Defense and a lot of patience!
  • The Blood Priest in Wasteland is found in the middle of a lake of blood. The water doesn't hurt you (if you can swim)... but the fish do.
  • In Xenoblade, the aptly named Poison Swamp in Satorl Marsh damages anyone who wades through its sickly purple water, but only by about 4% of their max HP every few seconds. The off-colored water at the Fallen Arm and Mechonis Field causes a significantly larger amount of damage, despite not looking nearly as dangerous as the swamp, though it mostly exists to keep you from swimming too far out into the ocean and to punish you for falling. Lastly, the glowing green pools of liquid ether inside the Bionis look dangerous, and will kill you very quickly; a fact one of the bosses tries to exploit by knocking your characters around and inflicting them with status effects that cause them run around uncontrollably or keep them from moving.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles X, In addition to the usual lava in Cauldros, is one area with pools of glowing multicolored liquid that is said to be phosphorus. Walking into it unprotected hurts faster than the lava.
    • Noctilum also has a few reddish toxic ponds here and there.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, all of the water is purple and toxic in Temperantia and Spirit Crucible Elpys, and some unique monsters are situated near these pools. Correct positioning of your party is important for these, as your AI-controlled party members will see no problem with wading right into these waters to attack.
  • EarthBound has a poisonous swamp that slowly damages anyone walking through. Except this one's called Deep Darkness and the water is murky. The sewer water in Fourside is harmless, though Ness and co. are similarly forced to wade through it.
  • In Holy Umbrella, though Super Not-Drowning Skills are ordinarily in play, it's still a bad idea to take a flying leap into the Gastric Sea (the Emperor Dondera does just that in a cutscene).
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 1, the third scenario features Lan and MegaMan investigating why all of the water in town has dried up. When it comes back, the water is now purple and poisonous, but one guy delirious from dehydration doesn't notice and falls ill after drinking from a tainted fountain.
  • Hinted at in Pokémon Gold and Silver — the pool of water in Celadon City (which previously had normal Water-types in Red and Blue) is now full of Grimer and Muk, Poison-types who thrive in tainted water. You can still Surf on it without your Pokémon getting poisoned, but the implications of the city suffering from pollution is bit of a Mood Whiplash.

    Third-Person Shooter 

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Swampland in Final Fantasy Tactics is harmful, and any units that finish their turn while standing in the water will be Poisoned (treading water and climbing out onto solid ground has no ill effects.)
  • Swamp tiles in Fire Emblem Gaiden are often quite vast in the few maps they appear in, and they harm units standing on it for about 3~5HP of damage every time their army's phase begins while standing on it. Swamp tiles also have a high movement cost (how many move points it takes to traverse it; the higher the value, the shorter distance that unit can go on that terrain), which makes it quite time-consuming (and unsafe) for a ground unit to cross.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • In Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, the water surrounding the city is extremely polluted, to the point where it takes on a thick, slimy, dark texture and a very dark blue color. The reason for this is supposedly industrial pollutants mixed with a massive oil spill, thus creating water so grimy, it's fatal to anyone who tries to swim in it.
  • In the later SimCity games, severely polluted water is brown.
  • In Second Life's Linden Realms, there is pale green and purple water that will send you to the nearest respawn point if you fall in.
  • In Cities: Skylines, dumping sewage in a river results in a slowly dispersing brown streak traveling downstream. If you were dumb enough to build your freshwater facilities downstream from your sewage pipes, don't be surprised at your city's health levels plummeting soon after. The same can happen due to pollutants released by industrial zones near bodies of water.

Non-video game examples:

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Lorax, befitting the Crapsaccharine World setting, the water in Thneedville is indicated to be irradiated in the first few minutes when one kid goes swimming and comes out glowing green.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, Homer builds a silo to house his new pig's waste and is told to get rid of it when it starts overflowing. Rather than dispose of it at a proper facility, he drops it into the recently-cleaned Lake Springfield, causing it to become even more polluted than before; the water briefly turns black with a skull and crossbones bellowing "Evil!" in a deep voice and is later shown to have become mutagenic, which is what leads to the town being sealed under a dome.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Grizzly Rage: The characters stumble onto a river of grimy water polluted by toxic waste. It's implied it caused the Grizzly bear to mutate.
  • Six Reasons Why: The Sherpa and The Entrepreneur are ecstatic when they find a lake in the middle of the Thirsty Desert of The Badlands, by The Nomad tells them it is contaminated by toxic chemicals from the old coal mine and will kill them within two days if they drink it.

  • Due to earthquakes striking the city, the nearby rivers and lakes in Survivors are contaminated. Fish survive in it but it has a rank smell and an off, green or even rainbow look to it. This bad water is what causes the Leashed Pack to try and sneak into the Wild Pack's territory; they have control of a clean lakeshore.
  • The River Ankh in Discworld is the most polluted river in the world, sometimes described as only being a liquid because it moves slightly faster than everything else. It's home to fish, but nobody knows what they look like because they explode on contact with any transparent medium. In times of drought, the citizens can technically walk across the river on the crust that forms; they don't, since like ice, it can have thinner places that will break under them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • MXC, the comically re-dubbed version of Takeshi's Castle, often features a muddy brown water that many contestants fall into in the various challenges. The water is given a disgusting name, every time it appears, like "septic sludge" or "toilet flushings from the Air Force One", often depending on who the contestants are.
    • The original Takeshi's Castle with the Craig Charles narration claims that this is runoff from a nearby pig farm in southern Japan.

  • Land of Wind and Shade in Homestuck has oceans of oil, polluted by its denizen Typheus. John apparently avoids entering it at all costs (and walkarounds treat it like walls), but then again most characters in that comic generally avoid going into any deep body of liquid.
  • The Dyne river from Girl Genius glows at its source spring and touching the water can kill a person or drive them mad while deforming their bodies. The castle uses up the spring's odd properties for power so the river that flows through Mechanicsburg is safe to touch. The Heterodynes built Mechanicsburg at the site of the river's current origin after one of their ancestors drank the water from the spring and survived it.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation has a few:
    • SCP-242 is a swimming pool that causes anything placed into it to dissolve into sterile water.
    • SCP-676 is a hot spring that causes whatever is put into it to dissolve within a few seconds. Even radioactive markers disappear, suggesting that it occurs at the subatomic level.

    Western Animation 
  • Camp Lazlo:
    • In one episode, Raj gets a cheese wheel made with water from the Kafizzle River. He uses it as a plaything instead of eating it because the river is acidic and eating the cheese would kill the imbiber within hours, so when Lumpus eats it and thinks he's dying, the rest of the episode is him enjoying his last day alive... until it turns out the cheese was made in China and he wasn't going to die after all.
    • In another episode, Clam gets sick and falls in love with Gretchen. One of the methods proposed to cure him is a soup made with water from Raj's Kafizzle River snow globe, which makes it strong enough to eat through the earth.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One", the Griffins go swimming in a lake that turns out to be polluted by toxic dumping, causing their hair and Brian's fur to fall out. After Lois briefly becomes mayor and agrees to let an oil company resume dumping in the lake, the pollution makes Jake Tucker's ordinarily upside-down face turn rightside-up.
    • In "Brian the Closer", Brian scams Quagmire into buying a crappy, dilapidated shack after making it appear better than it actually was. When Peter opens the window, an old man in a neighboring building tells them that the harbor is poisoned.
  • On Kim Possible, Ron's Hilariously Abusive Childhood had him spending one summer at a terrible camp where among other things, the lake was clearly toxic. Years later, it turned out to have mutagenic properties and even once brought an army of snowmen to life when its waters were used to create artificial snow.
  • The eponymous water in The Pirates of Dark Water, quite naturally, as the rare case of not water at all.

    Real Life 
  • Large bodies of stagnant water, such as those you see in swamps, are generally to be avoided. Water is a perfect breeding ground for all manners of bacteria, and if it's not being changed or cycled that bacteria has a chance to develop and breed to toxic quantities.
  • Raw sewage is sometimes so toxic that having it touch exposed skin will require a full decontamination.


Video Example(s):


Plum Park

Plum Park is infested with purple poisnous water and Mario has to go across the bridges to avoid getting hurt by it.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / GrimyWater

Media sources:

Main / GrimyWater