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High-Dive Hijinks

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When they call it the high dive, they're not kidding!

After a long, hard day, nothing's more refreshing than a dip in some nice cool water.

A character wants to show off how brilliant and athletic they are without getting all sweaty and gross or joining a team? Platform diving is the best way to do it. Climb that ladder to the diving board or platform, throw the shoulders back, and let gravity do most of the work.

In the situations where this trope shows up, it is never as simple as that. Swimming pools and diving boards are not necessarily hazardous themselves, unless tampered with, or Artistic License has been invoked — then diving into the pool goes from a simple activity most people can do with ease to something a lot more difficult and dangerous.

The trope is common in several different visual media, both live-action and animated.

When the trope is played seriously, particularly in live-action, the technical prowess will be focused on (entering the water without a splash, doing the trick dive correctly) and the Jerkass will seek to ruin it for the diver.

The dive may result in:

When Played for Laughs in a live-action setting, the diver will often flub the dive and end up belly-flopping instead (which is actually a rather painful way to hit the water in real life due to surface tension).

When the media is animated, the high dive is almost always Played for Laughs, and the sky is the limit. Almost literally.

  • The regular dive is what a live-action high dive is.
  • The "real" high dive is probably the height of your average two or three-story building.
  • The *gulp* high dive is so high that:
    • satellites are passing by as the character steps onto the platform.
    • astronauts are floating by to wish the character luck.
    • when the character looks down, they can't see the pool, just the impossibly long ladder and the "big blue marble" view of planet Earth itself.

The dive itself, when taken from the low earth orbit high dive may result in the swan dive, the jackknife, the triple somersault, the half-gainer, etc., all done for the viewer's benefit as the diver is falling several thousand miles to the pool below. Occasionally, the diver may catch fire from re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, only to be extinguished by entering the water. If the diver is the protagonist, no matter how high the dive, they will find the pool filled with Soft Water. If the diver is the Butt-Monkey, all bets are off for how the dive ends.

Oh, and the pool below? It may be a flat surface painted to look like a pool full of water. It may be filled with water. Or jello. Or not filled at all. It may be replaced by a glass of water. Or a damp sponge. Or the pool may be populated with sharks or crocodiles, leaving the diver to attempt to land safely with all that momentum, and without getting eaten or toon damaged. Often results in the diver ending up bellyflopping into the water.

See also Super Not-Drowning Skills. Empty Swimming Pool Dive is a subtrope.


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  • A commercial for Wilkins Coffee has Wontkins perform a high diving act at a carnival. Wilkins asks Wontkins if he wants some Wilkins Coffee before he jumps, and Wontkins tells him, "No!". As Wontkins jumps, Wilkins moves the tank of water away and says, "You miss a lot when you don't drink Wilkins.", resulting in Wontkins hitting the ground.
  • A commercial for a scuba-diving Stretch Armstrong figure begins with a live-action Stretch preparing to dive from a tall dock, stretching his leg to give his foot a test dip into the cold water.
  • A commercial for Taco Bell Kids' Meals had Nacho the cat in training, which consisted of his diving from a ridiculously great height into... a glass of guacamole. (With his canine companion Dog giving viewers a Don't Try This at Home warning before Nacho made the dive.)
  • MetLife: In one spot, Woodstock plunges into Snoopy's water dish from the high dive. Three nearby birds hold up cards with very high scores.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side had a comic where a man is jumping off a diving board into a tiny bucket of water, but when he is in midair, a janitor mistakes the bucket for his own and moves it, causing the falling diver to go Oh, Crap! as he is about to hit the ground face-first.

    Films — Animated 
  • Hotel Transylvania: Johnny sets off a chicken fight in the pool slash moat of the castle slash hotel. Frankenstein tries a super high dive off the tongue of a sea monster and it ends in a hella belly flop. Johnny tries the same thing until Dracula uses a gelatinous cube to arrest his fall.
  • In Fun and Fancy Free, one of Bongo's circus acts was to dive three hundred feet into a damp sponge.
  • On Monsters vs. Aliens, Link attempts a flip into the Murphy's swimming pool, but he face plants on the board instead.
  • The Iron Giant: Hogarth dives into a lake from a tall rock, and finds that the water is colder than he expected, shivering as he says how refreshing it is. Hogarth invites the Giant to dive in too, and at first the robot just seems to walk away, but it turns out the Giant was just taking a running start. His cannonball dive creates a giant wave that washes Dean out in the middle of a nearby road and lands Hogarth on the top of a tree.
  • As a child, Tarzan is dared by Terk to get an elephant hair so he can hang out with her and her friends. The two are on a tall cliff over the water the elephants are in. She tries to lead him away to go back to his mother, but Tarzan rushes forward and jumps off the cliff. He starts with a proper dive while shouting what would be his signature yell, but the yell turns into a scream as Tarzan starts flailing around and ends up painfully belly-flopping into the river.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Craft, the Alpha Bitch yells "shark!" at the diver, and causes her to land with a splash, which will cost her points as it was a swim meet.
  • In Lethal Weapon 2, one of the police officers took a dive and a swim regularly. This habit was used to set a bomb on the diving board.
  • Back to School, the Triple Lindy, a dive that involved jumping from the high dive and landing on all the lower boards before hitting the water.
  • Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken is about a a girl and her diving horse.
  • In The Right Stuff, Washington bureaucrats are being shown a film of potential astronauts. One of them is a circus high diver, who dives into a pool of flaming water. The people showing the film say he might be a good candidate because of his "ease with flames, comfort at heights and agility in the splashdown phase."
  • In Coneheads, Connie aces the three-meter-high dive by entering the water literally without making a splash. Watch it here.
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch (there was a movie before the series) the Alpha Bitch tries to pull this trope on Sabrina, but fails.
  • Referenced in Singin' in the Rain, where Don Lockwood laments that after The Dueling Cavalier comes out, no one would even show up to see him jump off the Woolworth Building into a damp rag.
  • In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Javi tells Nick during an exercise in improv that they must dive into the sea to escape his enemy. When they resurface, Nick admits that he didn't expect the cliff to be so tall.

    Live Action TV 
  • Primeval has a prehistoric crocodile turn up in a swimming pool, in a tip of the hat/spin on the way this trope is usually portrayed in animation.
  • Mr. Bean had to get his hand stomped on to let go of the board.
  • Frontier Circus: In "Never Won Fair Lady", a major part of the plot is driven by Casey trying to find someone who is willing to undertake his new high-diving act. Eventually, a milksop attempting to prove his bravery to win the heart of the female lion tamer takes up the challenge.
  • Mythbusters examined the physics of high-diving when they did an episode on a scene in Burn Notice where a character jumped onto a mattress floating in a shallow pool. Reality Ensued when Jamie developed severe back pain after several dives.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: In the Danny Kaye episode, the Flying Zucchini Brothers hurl themselves from a height of two hundred feet, planning to dive into a bucket of water. Beauregard, mistaking the red-and-gold pail for his own bucket, picks it up just after they jump.
    Beauregard: [entering] Hey, who left my bucket on the floor? [Picks it up.]
    Kermit: [running in] Hey, don't move that bucket!
    [One of the Zucchini Brothers crashes to the floor, then another, then another. They get up, dazed.]

    Video Games 
  • In Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out!, Larry can jump off a ridiculously high diving board in the pool area of La Costa Lotta Resort. In an aversion of Soft Water, Larry will let out a pained cry and complain "That really hurt!" after he hits the water.
  • In Psychonauts 2, the Portal Pool variant occurs in one of the later levels, as it's the transition to the next part of the level.

    Web Animation 
  • In the RWBY Chibi skit, "Cannonball", Penny watches Jaune and Sun playing "Cannonball" on a standard diving board. When Jaune offers for Penny to join in, saying it would be fun, Penny uses her robotic nature to set up for an inhumanly high jump and landing. When a targeting retinal appears over the pool just as Ruby arrives asking about Penny, Penny ends up landing on Ruby, burying the girl in the concrete while complaining about her misaligned targeting system.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Gordito's father, The Great Flying Shooting Juan, was both a circus acrobat and a sharpshooter. One of his tricks involved a high dive into a small pool, while shooting a playing card out of the air on the way down.

    Western Animation 
  • Commonplace in Looney Tunes, where Bugs Bunny triumphs in one form or another over the high dive.
    • Bugs was supposed to be the hapless diver in High Diving Hare, but he turns the tables on Yosemite Sam.
    • In Big Top Bunny Bugs and Bruno the Bear compete to see who can make the most difficult high dive. Bruno wins by saying he'll dive 1,000 feet into a block of cement, and does, thanks to a Batman Gambit.
    • In Stage Door Cartoon, Bugs maneuvers Elmer Fudd into making a high dive into a glass of water.
    • The "high dive into a glass" gag was one of the acts auditioning for Porky Pig in Curtain Razor.
    • In the Three Bears short Bear Feat, Henry, who is training his family to be circus bears, attempts a high-dive routine. Unfortunately, Junyer, who is eating salted crackers, drinks all the water from the tank before his father lands.
      Junyer: [looking inside the tank] Hey, Ma, what was Dr. Crenesaw's number?
    • The Looney Tunes Show "Casa de Calma" episode has Daffy choosing to go to the low earth orbit high dive, knowing that at poolside waits Bugs whom Daffy had insulted and offended only moments earlier.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • In the short, "The Re-Return of the Toxic Revenger" from the episode, "Looking Out For the Little Guy", Montana Max plans to get revenge on Plucky for swimming in his pool (with the water he stole from his pond) by dropping an anvil on him. However, Plucky tickles Monty with a party favor, causing him to drop the anvil into the pool and launch himself into the air. Plucky then puts Monty's swamp drainer in reverse, transferring the water from the pool to the pond, causing Monty to land in the empty pool with a thud.
    • In the short, "Lifeguard Lunacy" from the episode, "Pledge Week", Calamity Coyote is the junior lifeguard and is assigned to keep little children off the high dive. He suddenly sees that Li'l Sneezer has climbed to the top of the high dive (which is revealed to be in space), and is allergic to heights, so naturally, Sneezer sneezes and falls off the board. To make matters worse, Elmyra presses the button that unplugs the drain plug and drains the pool of its water. Calamity saves Sneezer by using an inner tube as a trampoline, but since it is taken away from him, he lands in the drain.
  • The Tex Avery toons:
    • "Daredevil Droopy" has Droopy successfully make a high dive into a bushel-sized container of water, much to the consternation of his antagonist, Spike.
    • In another Droopy short, Spike tries to kill Droopy by painting a tennis court blue and putting in a diving board. Droopy dives and splashes into the "water". But when Spike tries it...
    • In "Jerky Turkey," the screwball turkey dives from a tree limb towards a tank of water. The pilgrim pulls the tank off to the side, but the turkey suddenly stops in mid-air, moves himself over the tank, and lands in the water.
  • Disney:
    • Uncle Scrooge has the high dive lead to a swimming pool filled with coins instead of water.
    • The Classic Disney Short "How To Swim", with Goofy trying out the high dive. The pool is empty, and he leaves a Goofy-shaped hole on the floor.
    • The Horace Horsecollar comic book story "High Horace" (Walt Disney's Comics and Stories 692) has Horace brag his way into promising to make a 100-foot dive. In his ensuing efforts to skip town, Horace eventually plummets from a plane into the pool, accidentally accomplishing the dive in the process.
    • In the Pixar Short Mater the Greater, one of Mater's daredevil stunts is to jump off a high dive into a small pool of water.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle - One of the introduction sequences was Rocky preparing to jump from a very high diving board into a tub of water tended by Bullwinkle. However, Rocky is a flying squirrel, so he flies around the circus tent, while Bullwinkle chases after him carrying the tub. As Rocky lands safely, Bullwinkle tumbles into the tub.
  • The Flintstones: Most of Fred Flintstone's attempts to show off in a pool result in him belly-flopping, sinking, and then needing to be rescued by Barney.
  • Timmy in The Fairly OddParents! goes for the low earth orbit high dive to impress Trixie on more than one occasion. A particularly memorable one involves him losing his swimsuit and then wishing to have no emotions out of grief, which results in him being able to do more and more reckless things, though he no longer cares about impressing Trixie.
  • In one Andy Panda cartoon, a circus performer attempts to dive into a tub, but an elephant drinks all the water just as he dives. Ringmaster Andy takes the tub to get refilled and rushes to put it back, but the diver, now aware of his predicament, starts running around in mid-air. The two go back and forth, knocking down the big top tent in the process. Andy finally catches the diver, only to realize the bottom has fallen off the tub long ago.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Inverted: They have Perry the Platypus dive from a low platform into a small wading pool of water.
    • "Split Personality" has Doof up on a high dive, which, while not ridiculously high, was still quite tall.
    • "Last Train to Bustville": When Candace goes into the "Give Up!" song, a scared swimmer afraid to take the high dive is the second person to join her give up line up.
    • "Return Policy": When Candace joins Jeremy at the Extreme Water Park (incidentally created by Phineas and Ferb), the high dive is high enough to give a view of Danville and the tri-state area.
  • Planet Sheen: Sheen challenges the Gronze brothers to dive 50 feet into a bowl of pudding.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball does a high dive into the school pool to be a distraction for Darwin. However, he spots Penny, and begins wondering if he's doing the right thing. Then he belly-flops onto the water, which is anything but soft. Ouch.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
    • Dragon Quest has Spike faced with having to do a cannonball into lava to impress other adolescent and teen dragons. He jumps off, eyes shut, and ends up doing the belly flop — which really impresses them more than any other attempt he's made to gain their favor.
    • In "Leap of Faith", Granny Smith reveals that she used to be an aqua-pony in her youth, doing synchronized swimming and high-dives. After taking the Flim-Flam Brothers' Miracle Curative Tonic inspires her to start swimming again, Granny is inspired to try and break her old high-diving record ... and Applejack, who knows the "curative tonic" is a fake, must intervene before Granny gets herself (and Apple Bloom) killed.
  • The Sabrina: The Animated Series episode "Fish Schtick" has Sabrina trying to jump off an incredibly high board out of jealousy involving a One-Shot Character named Dorsala Finn. It backfires, since she gets scared enough to get carried off by helping guards.
  • Magilla Gorilla has a cartoon in which he runs off to join the circus. The first act he performs as "Magilla the Masked Gorilla" is jumping off a platform into a bucket of water.
  • Happens to Mr. Bogus in the second act of the episode "Good Sport Bogus", when he tries to do the high dive at the Olympic pool. Unfortunately, instead of landing in the water when he actually does the dive, he ends up landing in the poolboy's net.
  • Rugrats:
    • One episode has Stu going on the high dive at a community swimming pool, despite the fact that the last time he tried, he froze up and they had to call the fire department to get him down. At first, Stu freezes up again and the lifeguard tries to talk him into coming down, but when he sees Tommy bouncing on the low dive, he immediately gets over his fear and makes a perfect dive, getting into the water in time to save Tommy when he falls in.
    • Chucky recounts having a scary experience like this, but with slides rather than diving boards. While playing in a large ball pit, Chucky goes to slide down a small slide nearby. He got lost in the balls and accidentally climbed onto "the big kid's slide" which from Chucky's perspective looks like it stretches up ten stories. He also has a line of older children behind him telling him to go down so they can have their turn. Chucky breaks down crying and has to have an adult get him down.
  • Tom and Jerry Tales: Jerry watches Tom and Droopy compete for community pool lifeguard. Tom cheats and bullies Droopy. When it comes to the high dive, Jerry uses a car jack to lift the ladder so high that Tom can see the earth from space.
    • There's another instance in the same cartoon where the blonde scorekeeper (based on Red Hot Riding Hood by Tex Avery) needs to do complex math equations as Tom, then Droopy, make the dive and perform multiple acrobatic feats on the way down.
  • In the Big City Greens episode "Swimming Fool", Cricket spends most of the episode attempting to go on the hi-dive only to find he's too scared when he up there every time. Ultimately, he learns to face his fear and does leap off the diving board in the end.
  • In an episode of Peppa Pig, Daddy Pig climbs up the high dive ladder. Peppa scolds him not to dive because Daddy Pig is very fat and she doesn't want him to splash everyone. Daddy Pig assures Peppa he won't, as he's quite skilled. True to his word, he enters the water smoothly, with hardly even a ripple. But on exiting the pool, mischievous Daddy Pig shakes himself off like a dog, splashing everyone.
  • A bumper on the Secret Squirrel show featured Squiddly Diddly doing a high dive, but the tank he's diving into has a shark in it. Squiddly uses his tentacles to helicopter himself back up to the diving board.

    Real Life 
  • In the early days of film, high diving horses were common as pre-movie entertainment, or entertainment at carnivals and fairs.


Video Example(s):


Swimming Fool

Cricket wants to jump off the high dive at the pool to impress the kids, but finds himself too scared to jump.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / HighDiveHijinks

Media sources: