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Inevitable Waterfall

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"Crossing here shouldn't be that bad."
"Spoke too soon.... If I can make it to the bank, I'll be alright."
"... Uh-oh."

Pacha: Uh-oh.
Kuzco: [facing the other way, deadpan] Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall.
Pacha: [also deadpan] Yep.
Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom?
Pacha: Most likely.
Kuzco: [beat] Bring it on.

If the characters are rafting, swimming, or just floating down a river, then they will either go over a waterfall or narrowly avoid going over a waterfall. Always. No exceptions. You could take it to the bank.note 

Despite the suspense or drama they may invoke, plunges over a waterfall will not always result in significant physical injury to the characters. This is true regardless of the height of the fall, or the shallowness/rockiness of the bottom.

Usually, this is a good way to stop the fact that in a lot of circumstances travel by river is actually one of the best options available.

May have a Cave Behind the Falls. Compare Mega Maelstrom.


    open/close all folders 

  • MetLife: In one ad, a live-action couple canoeing down a river find themselves stuck on the edge of a waterfall. Luckily, Snoopy helicopters in (using his ears) and brings them to safety.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Akazukin Cha Cha: A school ice-skating race - naturally the river is frozen making the waterfall much more of an issue. Luckily Chacha's skirt turns into an impromptu parachute (though she's not too happy, especially with her two male friends hanging onto her ankles).
  • In Dinosaur King, The Alpha Gang has a tendency to fall over these, preceded by a "this feels familiar". In the Niagara Falls episode, it occurred twice!
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Dinosaur have this happening to Doraemon and gang after their failed river escape from the Dinosaur Hunters. A stray shot splits their raft in two, one half carrying Shizuka, Suneo and Gian crashing where they're then captured alive by the villains; the other half carrying Nobita, Doraemon and Piisuke runs into a waterfall.
  • In the very first episode of Dragon Ball Z, a filler sequence has Gohan fall into some rapids, which lead into a cave that ends with one of these outside.
  • The heroes of Monster Farm/Monster Rancher build a raft to float downstream but are diverted to a waterfall by the Baddies. This is a catalyst to get Suezo to learn his Teleportation technique.
  • In one episode of The Mysterious Cities of Gold, some of the main characters are swept over a waterfall. Needless to say, none of them are badly hurt. (Though Zia is knocked unconscious, she quickly recovers).
  • In Naruto, Team 7 has a mission cleaning up a river. During the entire episode, Naruto tries to prove that he's better than Sasuke. So, naturally, he gets too close to the giant waterfall, loses his footing, falls into the water, and goes screaming over the waterfall, only to be caught by an annoyed Sasuke.
  • In One Stormy Night, Mei and Gabu tumble over a series of several waterfalls (culminating in one big one) when they attempt to escape from their clans' attempts to have them betray one another.
  • The world of Pokémon: The Series is filled with these waterfalls. And just as it is inevitable that Ash will save the Pokémon of the week from going over at the last minute, Team Rocket always end up going down it at the end of the episode.
    Jessie: But first, a poem: Team Rocket drifted down the stream... And now we SCREEEAAAM!!!!... (Splash!)
    • For a change, it happens to Ash and Goh in Pokémon Journeys: The Series. When the two are exploring Cello Island, a wild Gyarados knocks them into the river they're trying to cross and then they go down a waterfall.
  • Midway through Ranma ½, Female-Ranma and Pantyhose Taro went over a waterfall while fighting on a drifting log. The thing is, nobody (not even the onlookers) even realized there was a waterfall there until the combatants went over the edge.
  • Slayers has an example in the episode "Selfless and Senseless! Pursuit Through the Labyrinth!" of Slayers TRY. In the river pursuit of Jillas's boat, the protagonists are forced down a waterfall on Gourry's makeshift raft, while Jillas escapes to a cave after descending the waterfall in a wooden barrel. A subtle nod is made by the protagonists about how typical the situation at hand has become.
  • Strike Witches: The Movie: After Yoshika rescues a dog stranded on a rock in a river, she falls in and quickly heads towards one of these. She goes over the falls, but is saved by a Witch cadet who happens to be flying by.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Jungle Book (2010): In "Fished Out", Mowlgi and Bagheera try to rescue Baloo after he hits his head and falls on a log in a river, which is slowly flowing towards a waterfall.

    Comic Books 
  • In Archie Comics, the cover story of Life with Archie v1 #135 has Chuck about to sail over a waterfall.
  • In Jonah Hex #39 (original series), Jonah faces one in a flashback to Civil War days. Lampshaded by Jonah's internal monologue:
    "'Cause the only worse predicament thet could happen tuh me right now would be if'n thar turned out tuh be some kind of obstacle on this here stretch of river thet wazn't marked on the general's campaign map! Like mebbe a - Gasp! - W-waterfall!"
  • Played with in Lucky Luke: As the Dalton brothers are about to fall into one, Jack (or is it William?) tells Joe not to worry, that in such situations the characters are always saved in the nick of time. In fact, nobody comes to the Daltons' rescue, and they fall over. Of course, they make it.
  • Emma narrowly avoids going over a waterfall early in the Ruse storyline featuring the maybe-vampires. It turns out to be a Chekhov's Waterfall, and plays a significant role in the climax of the story.
  • The last victim in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Special escapes from the lunatic Hewitts and ends up floating down a river on a tree trunk. As she promises to herself to clean up her act, she suddenly starts screaming when she comes across a waterfall. But it's not the small drop that terrifies her, it's the chainsaw-toting Leatherface, who is waiting for her at the end of it.
  • The main character in Tintin narrowly avoids going over one or two of these.
  • X-Men Unlimited #4 features an inevitable waterfall... on the lower Mississippi.

    Fan Works 
  • When a bridge is blown up in chapter 9 of An Astral Drop in Heatherfield, Susan, Peter and Hope wind up in the river. Inevitably there's a waterfall.
  • In the Thomas & Friends fanfic The Brother's Grimm, Bernard saves a man trapped in a car from going over one of these.
  • Calvin and Hobbes go over several of these in the Calvin & Hobbes: The Series episode "Two Loons and a Kid".
  • In Olivia Goes West, a crossover between The Great Mouse Detective and An American Tail, the bad guys devise a plan to get rid of the snooping little kids Fievel Mousekewitz and Olivia Flaversham by trapping them on Fievel's secret raft, sending them down the dangerous currents of Green River without oars and making it sound like they couldn't be saved in time. As the children go down the rapids, Fievel is too shocked to do anything because of his resurfaced bad memories about being swept to the Atlantic Ocean, forcing Olivia to keep the raft from hitting the rocks all by herself. Inevitably, they fall down a waterfall that's fifteen feet high (but for mice children like them, it might as well be fifty feet), but fortunately they survive. When Basil investigates the place and finds proof that the children survived, he concludes that their small size and light weight allowed them to avoid hitting the rocks below the water.
  • Darrel ends up going over one in Chapter 18 of RWBY: Reckoning. Complete with word-for-word Shout-Out from the page quote.
  • This Bites!:
    • The Straw Hats encounter one in Chapter 9 as part of random Grand Line madness.
    • The rescue team encounters one in Chapter 29 on the way to the Ordeal of Balls, as in canon. Cross sees it coming, of course, and even lampshades it:
      Cross: Oh, come on, don't tell me you didn't see the 'inevitable waterfall' cliché a mile off.
      Su: (whimpering) I hate you, Cross.
      Everyone else: JOIN THE CLUB!
    • The Straw Hats encounter the big drop on their way out of Skypiea. Cross, Conis and Su all see it coming.

    Film — Animated 

    Films — Live Action 
  • In Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Ace is tied, along with his Capuchin monkey Spike, to a log-raft that Ace deduces is going over said waterfall. The monkey escapes from the ropes and is about to free Ace, then changes his mind and jumps to shore while he still can, leaving Ace to go over the edge.
  • The Adventures of Milo and Otis is about a kitten who gets too curious for his own good and climbs in a box floating down the river, only to be washed away down into a waterfall and the rest is history.
  • Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, where the boat somehow manages to go over a waterfall while heading up the river.
  • Probably justified in Apocalypto, as Jaguar Paw knew it was there and could well have headed there intentionally.
  • Subverted at the end of the Buster Keaton comedy The Balloonatic. When the characters' canoe, newly outfitted with a simple canopy, reaches a waterfall's edge, it continues moving in the same direction despite gravity. A long shot reveals that what looked like a canopy was just the bottom of a newly-repaired hot-air balloon.
  • Bushwhacked: Before Palmer and Bragdon can kill Max, the scouts intervene and knock Palmer out, but Max falls into the river and the scouts follow to rescue him and escape the criminals. They reach safety before going over a waterfall and throw their backpacks in the river to drive Palmer and Bragdon off.
  • A downplayed example in Christopher Robin comes when Christopher Robin (now a grownup) sees Eeyore floating in the river heading for the waterfall. He attempts to dive in to rescue him, only to find the water comes up to his shins and the "waterfall" is knee-high at best. He realizes that the river isn't as scary or dangerous as it was when he was a kid because, well, he's not a kid anymore.
  • Evan Almighty. A real trick, considering it involves an ark and a flood. Oh, and God.
  • George of the Jungle: Lyle has George subdued by a group of hired mercenaries, and forcibly takes Ursula to a boat waiting on Ape River to perform their marriage rites. However, the ceremony is interrupted by a series of harsh rapids that puts them both in danger.
  • Give My Regards to Broad Street, during the "Eleanor's Dream" sequence.
  • In the first Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Sassy goes over the Inevitable Waterfall after the log bridge she was trying to cross broke underneath her because she didn't want to cross further up the river where the currents are light because she hates getting wet.
  • Indiana Jones:
  • James Bond:
    • Moonraker: At the end of a boat chase after Bond, Jaws falls afoul of the Iguazu Falls in The Amazon Rainforest. He survives, still.
    • Die Another Day: During the hovercraft chase in the Action Prologue, Bond manages to get rid of Colonel Tan-Sun Moon by immobilizing him on the giant hovercraft's blower at full speed and letting the vehicle crash through a zen sanctuary's wooden door, with is situated atop a waterfall. The hovercraft then plummets down the waterfall.
  • The heroes almost go over one in Jungle Cruise because Frank gets distracted messing with Lily and misses the correct turn.
  • Last of the Mohicans: The heroes face two waterfalls while escaping. The first one is small enough for the heroes to go down without getting hurt, but the second one is enormous. The heroes have to stop at the river bank and abandon their canoes.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring this scene appears to pop up, but it's okay, they're just banking at The Gates of Argonath.
    • When Frodo and Samwise paddle across the lake, there doesn't even seem to be a current moving toward the falls! (Ignoring the text of the book, which specifically says they're fighting the current all the way.)
  • Used tragically in The Mission. With the Distant Reaction Shot of the denouement providing the art for the Film Poster and the cover art for the Ennio Morricone soundtrack album.
  • Mr. Magoo: Mr. Magoo steals the ruby from Ortega and finds himself being chased by Peru's men, the government agents and Luanne. Magoo then is trapped on a raft just before it goes over a waterfall but manages to invert the raft like a parachute so he can gently float to safety.
  • The climax of the 1953 film Niagara, in which the heroine is stuck on a boat moving inexorably toward the lip of the titular waterfall with the mentally unstable Anti-Villain. He pulls a Redemption Equals Death by helping her climb out onto a rock before he plunges lethally over the edge.
  • Buster Keaton's Our Hospitality: Willie manages to steal the train locomotive and tender, but the tender derails, dumping him into the river towards the rapids. Virginia spots him and goes after him in a rowboat; she falls into the water and is swept over the edge of the large waterfall. McKay swings trapeze-like on a rope, catching her hands in mid-fall and depositing her safely on a ledge.
  • Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol: Capt. Harris and Lt. Proctor crash their hot air balloon in a rapid river and head for a waterfall before getting rescued in time by Tommy "House" Conklin, a member of the Citizens On Patrol program.
  • As Dutch escapes the alien hunter in Predator, he ends up on a river which takes him to a waterfall.
  • The ending of Pure Luck. The missing heiress and one of the guys sent to find her drift down river toward what looks like a huge waterfall.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Phantom Menace: In a Deleted Scene on the DVD, after arriving in Theed through Naboo's core, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Jar Jar narrowly escape their sub before it falls over a waterfall. Removed with good reason, as Darths & Droids points out.
    • Revenge of the Sith has a fall of lava, though both Obi-Wan and Anakin manage to escape the piece of wreckage they're on before it goes over.
  • Way Down East features a number of tranquil shots of the nearby waterfall, both to contribute to the pastoral Down on the Farm setting, but also to foreshadow the dramatic climax, as David and Anna scramble to avoid falling off the edge of the waterfall with the ice floe.
  • In Wild America, a charging moose carries Marshall into a river, where he's swept towards a rather small waterfall. He's rescued by a survivalist who holds out a stick for him to grab.
  • Without a Paddle: The trio take off into the river but are unable to read the damaged map, causing them to go the wrong way. They go over a waterfall, and although they survive, their canoe is destroyed.
  • The Wrong Guys: The scouts build a raft to escape downriver, but an attack from Duke separates Tim from the group. He ends up surfing part of the raft down a waterfall, fulfilling a prophecy made earlier by his psychic girlfriend about a "wave that never ends."
  • The 1952 Film Serial Zombies Of The Stratosphere has this for the obligatory Cliffhanger. Larry Martin is in a boat being chased down the river when he's knocked unconscious as he's approaching the spillway of a dam. Will our hero recover Just in Time to jump out of the boat in next week's episode? Of course he does.

  • In Snakehead, seventh installment in Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, Alex steals a float and oar from a seaplane, and uses them to form a kayak. He then navigates through treacherous rapids and tries to avoid a marksman aiming at him from a helicopter, and only after getting through this does he tumble down the 50-yard high Bora Falls...and, being the protagonist, survives. This is not the first time that it is made blindingly obvious that the kid is Born Lucky, nor is it the last.
  • In Asperger Sunset, Baldy throws Russ off a bridge just upriver of a dam. Russ fails to get to shore on time, but manages with difficulty to get through a sluice without dying.
  • In The Beyonders, Jason's first encounter in the world of Lyrian is with a band who are floating down a raft toward a waterfall... by their own choice. He attempts to save them anyway. Things go downhill--in the most literal fashion--soon after.
  • Hera's Step, an enormous and well-known waterfall in A Brother's Price. Jerin's kidnappers were planning to take the boat through a series of locks to go around said waterfall and continue downstream, but when he and Cira got loose and started wreaking havoc, well... Cira calculated that they couldn't swim to shore and it would be better to stay on the ship for the plunge. This would have killed him if there hadn't been people around to fish him out, though, and it does kill those of the kidnappers who hadn't died during the escape.
  • Discworld:
    • Witches Abroad: the witches end up heatding for a waterfall. ("The dwarfs didn't say anything about a waterfall." "I expect they thought we'd find out for ourselves.") Magrat tries to use her Fairy Godmother wand to save them and, just as they're about to go over, manages to turn the boat into a pumpkin. This doesn't help.
    • The Fifth Elephant: Vimes goes over one while he's on the run from the werewolf pack. Prior to going over he sees Death because he is having a near-death experience and thus Death must be having a near-Vimes experience (because of Quantum).
    • The Colour of Magic: The crowning champ for scale: Rincewind goes off the edge of the world, over the Rimfall.
      • Which makes him the only person who is smart about it during The Last Hero. There's actually a Discworld culture that built a giant net in front of the Rimfall and lives off what they catch, it's that inevitable.
  • In The Hour of the Gate, also by Foster, Jon-Tom's party only survive the Inevitable Waterfall because the wizard Clothahump levitates their boat over the Helldrink. This was even more harrowing than most examples, as they were on a subterranean river with no way to change course or land, and were being pursued by an Eldritch Abomination at the time.
  • In Jurassic Park, with a friggin' T-rex at the bottom.
  • Katt Loves Dogg: When Oscar decides to doggy paddle across the raging river between the katt and dogg zones, he gets washed away in the rapids and comes close to falling off a waterfall. Luckily Molly manages to pull him out.
  • In The Lord of the Rings (both book and movies), Boromir's funeral consists of putting him in a boat and letting it fall over the Falls of Rauros. "The River of Gondor will take care at least that no evil creature dishonors his bones."
  • The Niagara Falls themselves show up in Jules Verne's novel Master of the World. Two torpedo ships chase a mysterious vehicle, called the Terror, across Lake Erie, until they corner it before the falls. Instead of either letting the ships catch or sink the Terror, or perishing by being dragged down the falls, the vehicle's inventor and captain takes a third option: The Terror spreads its wings and flies away.
  • In Patrimony by Alan Dean Foster, Flinx has to deal with one of these things.
  • Happens repeatedly in Redwall. In one case, a hare asks the shrews how often they go through that, only to learn that was the first time they'd done it.
  • One pops up in the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel I, Q. Lampshaded, of course, by the ever Genre Savvy Q, who has seen enough B-movies to know it's coming.
  • In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock:
    • Floating down to the sea in a raft is interrupted by a waterfall — for once, one they know about in advance and avoid.
    • Later, caught in an underground river, they go over one. Thorvald points it out to Shann and dryly asks whether he wants to backtrack.
  • An outtake in Tough Magic lampshades the trope, with the Author himself commenting '...and who put a waterfall there!?'
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolfblade, when Ragnor and Haegr escape a Cult by swimming in an underground river, they go over a waterfall.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, this happens in Moonrise. The traveling Clan cats end up having trouble in bad weather, fall into a mountain stream, and go over a waterfall, landing in a pool of water at the bottom. Fortunately, there is a Tribe of cats that lives in a Cave Behind the Falls, so even though the Clan cats are pretty battered, they are able to recover because the Tribe takes them in for a little while.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On All My Children, Julia and Noah fled to Jamaica to escape his false murder conviction, where they were pursued by the deranged Taylor, who wanted Noah for herself. Taylor chased Julia to the top of a waterfall, eventually shoving her over. Luckily, she was unharmed.
  • Luke and Laura's 1993 return to General Hospital was chock-full of adventure. The culmination of this was them leaping from a stalled plane into a raging river and nearly going over the falls before being rescued by a helicopter.
  • Seen in the opening credits of Land of the Lost (1974).
  • An episode of Rentaghost had Mr. and Mrs. Meeker narrowly avoid going over Niagara Falls. In England.

  • Old Master Q gets Chased by Angry Natives in one comic strip, where he's on a canoe and and there's another boat filled with natives chasing behind. Master Q, realizing he's not going to outrun the natives, then grabs his oars and threatens his pursuers. To his surprise, the natives turn tails and flees, leading to Master Q gloating and not noticing the waterfall behind him.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Flash Gordon, when Flash, Dale, and Thun are swept away in an underground river. To be sure, that was just after escaping a monster's open maw.
  • Pooch Café: "We live in a flat, urban environment. Where did that waterfall come from?"


  • The Lion King features a scene where a restless Simba goads Timon into crossing a river. It results in Timon getting swept over a waterfall and nearly eaten by crocodiles.

    Theme Parks 
  • In Kung Fu Panda Adventure at Universal Studios Hollywood, the protagonists barely make it far in their journey before finding themselves plummeting down a waterfall.
    Po: (looking at the map) That's weird, it's like the river just ends up ahead...
  • Universal Studios ' Back to the Future: The Ride had a lava falls at one point.
  • Usually the climax of flume rides and shoot the chute rides, Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls from Islands of Adventure and Splash Mountain from the Magic Kingdom are good examples.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed III - In the first Homestead mission you have to save one of the woodcutters before he goes over.
  • The Banner Saga 2 has one early on. Significant, because the waterfall wasn't there when they initially planned the route, but was a consequence of the world splitting apart, and thus preventing them from making easy sailing to the capital. You can get your boats to the bank just in time - a long as you aren't weighed down with refugees.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has one at the finale, when you are chasing Gen Shepherd's helicopter in a Zodiac raft. Made doubly badass because you could have escaped going over, but you and Price deliberately stayed in order to take the killer shots.
  • The second stage of The Crystal of Kings have you crossing a river via a raft, and after fighting off the hostile Lizard Folk and assorted wildlife that attacks, you then come across an incoming waterfall. You don't suffer any health loss despite the steep drop, however.
  • Deadpool has a double subversion. Deadpool, floating in a small boat, sees one coming up and is ready for the inevitable... only for the boat to drop a couple of feet. Deadpool is immediately relieved that it was such a comically small drop... only to see the significantly larger waterfall he'll plummet down in a few moments.
  • Can potentially happen in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim if you decide to swim around in its rivers.
  • Exile: Warns you shortly before a long series of them. The final set is multiple in a row. You are pre-warned, but, by then, you've long since crossed the Point of No Return. All they do is take away your food, though. The party remains unharmed.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Sabin and Cyan jump down a waterfall in order to reach their destination. Cyan will hesitate and Shadow will calmly leave your party if he's still with you at that point, but there's still very little pause given before jumping off a waterfall so large you've got time for a few random encounters and a minor boss battle on the way down. The two do end up unconscious, but they float to shore and wake up in short order. You don't take any hp damage from this incident.
  • Gears of War 2 - While underground and headed towards Nexus, Marcus and Dom are riding a commandeered Locus Gunboat. Of course, there's a waterfall, which prompts Marcus to shout "You've got to be kidding me!"
  • Averted in Golden Sun: Despite the entire world being rimmed by a waterfall as the ocean pours into... whatever's below Weyard, your boat treats waterfalls as impassible barriers, even once it gets wings. The closest thing to a literally Inevitable Waterfall happens in the ice-floored levels, where your character tries running in place (then in midair) as they slide towards the drop.
  • Ōkami has an interactive challenge involving one of these on a log rushing towards a waterfall.
  • Discussed in Persona 2 when Lisa complains that the river boat ride is kind of boring, prompting Eikichi to ask her if she wants to see a huge waterfall "like in the movies". Unfortunately, the team is currently in an Eldritch Location where thoughts become true, so the waterfall actually shows up as soon as he says that.
  • In The Simpsons Arcade Game, this causes the unconsciousness that leads to level 6, Dreamland.
  • In the Sky Odyssey level "Over the Falls" the player has to fly over a series waterfalls in order to find the hidden ruins at the source of the river. On the way back down the seaplanes engine catches on fire, forcing you to land on the river. Once there you get washed over the edge of all the waterfalls you just passed. The player has to pull up and glide over the rocks at the bottom of each fall. 
  • In Space Quest II, after The Maze, you end up in an underground river. One fork leads to a waterfall, which kills you, the other to a whirlpool, which is the proper exit.
  • Spelling Jungle: Played with. Both games feature a waterfall, but it's at the head of the river, and Wali is starting from downriver. Once he reaches the base of the waterfall, he then has to climb up the mountain that it's on to find the cause of the Mighty Spelling River's flooding.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario Party 6: The minigame Daft Rafts starts with all four characters trying to cross a bridge over a river, then the bridge breaks and they fall onto a series of rafts that are being dragged by the river into a waterfall. The objective, thus, is to jump onto the incoming rafts (and other objects like trunks, sideway-moving wooden platforms and the like) to run against the direction of the river to avoid falling onto the abyss. Some of the objects have Spinies (if it's day) or Lava Bubbles (if it's night) boarding it, which must be avoided as well. When only one character remains, the minigame ends and that player wins; but if the last remaining characters fall down (or touch the enemies) at the same time, then the minigame ends in a tie.
    • Mario Party 9: In Time Attack, the player character's canoe triumphantly jumps off a waterfall after clearing all ten minigames.
    • Paper Mario: Sticker Star: In one of the jungle levels, aptly named Long Fall Falls, Mario has to ride a raft on rapids while pursued by a giant Cheep Chomp... until the raft plummets down a waterfalls (the Cheep Chomp, somewhat, merely flies away during the fall). Thankfully, both Mario and his raft end up unharmed.
  • World of Final Fantasy takes place in the world of Grymoire, where the different continents float at different altitudes. At one point, protagonists Lann and Reynn intend to head to the "Low Seas"; the individuals who give them their mode of transportation give some ominous hints that the seas in question are on a different continent.
    Reynn: Note to self... the Low Seas are not south.
    Lann: What the honking HAAAAAWNK!
    Reynn: They are literally STRAIGHT DOWN!
    Lann: Aaaaahhhh! Gravity, NOOOOO!

    Web Animation 


    Western Animation 
  • In the "Hasty But Tasty" episode of The Ant and the Aardvark this was averted and then inverted when the aardvark, on a motorcycle, falls over a cliff into a river. He restarted the bike at the last possible moment to do a miracle 180... only to fall off the other waterfall behind him.
  • In Around the World with Willy Fog, the villainous Transfer gets swept over Niagara Falls while trying to follow Fog and his party across. His last words before going over are: "No-one's ever survived Niagara Falls!" However, he turns up in the next episode, still very much alive.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: "The Waterbending Scroll": Although Aang and Katara manage to stop the boat at the top of the falls with their new waterbending skills, pirates are giving chase in Zuko's boat and crash into it, sending both boats over. Luckily, Appa arrives in time to catch the Gaang as they fall. The boats in question had somehow traveled up the same river from the sea earlier, with no mention of how they got up the waterfall in the first place.
  • Used in The Backyardigans episode "Polka Palace Party". To make it to the titular party on time, the Backyardigans, who are playing instruments at the party, ride a raft down a river. When they come to a waterfall, they make it off the raft in time. The instruments don't; however, they are eventually found and retrieved by the Wormans who bring them to the Polka Palace safely.
  • Beast Wars: In "Go With the Flow", Rattrap and Una fall over one while riding on Depth Charge through a river.
  • Happens in the Camp Lazlo episode "Float Trippers" in which Raj rows the canoe at a rapid pace at an attempt to retrieve his floating retainer in the river, only for him and the other two Bean Scouts to encounter a waterfall as Raj attempts to reach for his retainer while hanging from a branch. Eventually, Raj chooses his friends over his retainer and hoists the two on the branch with him, only for the branch to snap, causing the Bean Scouts to fall down the waterfall, in which they emerge unscathed from later on.
  • The Classic Disney Short featuring Donald Duck as Commando Duck. Unlike most of the examples in fiction, the waterfall's relevance doesn't end when Don falls over it: Donald's raft gets caught and starts filling with water, swelling so massively that when it finally bursts it causes a flash-flood that wipes out a Japanese air-force base hidden in the jungle.
  • Shows up in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Gimme Gimme Never Ed". The Eds get dumped in the creek after Ed accidentally drops a jar of termites, which devored the tree instantly. Afterwards, they almost immediately go over a waterfall.
  • In the "It's a Wonderful Nine Lives" episode of Eek! The Cat, Eek is in the water with his blonde-haired pig friend during one of his Amusing Injuries. They go over a waterfall (much to Eek's cowardice) and the pig somehow disappears. Then Eek gets trapped inside a sewer and fortunately swims out of it.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In the episode "Parent Hoods" Timmy and the fairies visit Niagara Falls, making it even more inevitable than normal.
  • The Futurama episode "Mars University". Robot House speeds past with Bender on water skis. The boat's wake drags the humans into the river and towards a waterfall. Guenter puts the hat on and rescues them, but falls off a cliff.
  • In the pilot episode of Inspector Gadget, our heroes are ice-skating when Dr. Claw uses unseen technology to cut a small circle around them and then remove all the ice except for the circle, sending them adrift, towards a (perhaps somehow recently unfrozen) waterfall.
  • Shana dealt with this trope in the Jem episode, 'Last Resorts'.
  • Parodied on Jimmy Two-Shoes in the episode "Wish You Weren't There". While Lucius is on a cruise, the boat hits a waterfall...which is so small it just rocks the boat a little. Then there are two more just like it, so Lucius doesn't worry about the fourth one...which is a big one.
  • Occurs quite often on Looney Tunes. Usually, a character is in a motorboat that won't start until it goes over the falls. If it does and the character manages to escape, chances are there's another waterfall at the other end of the river.
  • The Magic School Bus: Occasionally subverted. In a few episodes where the class finds themselves drifting down a river and you're expecting them to go over the waterfall, they actually come across rapids. Of course, that's not a whole lot better.
  • Ruby-Spears' Mega Man had one of these in the final episode. Thing is, Megaman and Protoman are fighting in the river when they notice this—and it doesn't stop them.
  • In one sketch on The Mr. Men Show, Mr. Stubborn goes over one, but he thinks he's going to a calm stream.
    • In another sketch, Mr. Bump goes over one.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Pinkie Apple Pie", the Apple family's trip to Goldie Delicious' house ends up taking a detour down a river. Sure enough, one wrong turn sends their raft over a waterfall.
    • In "Sleepless In Ponyville", Rainbow Dash saves Scootaloo from one of these.
  • Ninjago: While exploring through a primeval jungle, Lloyd and Princess Harumi are attacked by a giant lobster creature, which suddenly breaks off as the river they're on becomes much rougher. Soon enough, they find themselves going over a giant waterfall, at the bottom of which is the place they were looking for.
  • From a short on Oh Yeah! Cartoons:
    Jelly's Sister: Hey big brother, what's that?
    Jelly: Oh, just a cliché waterfall that usually appears in these situations.
  • Candace encounters one in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb's Hawaiian Vacation". She falls for at least ten seconds.
  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat: When Sagwa and Bei-Hu race each other, they fall into a river that leads to a waterfall.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Simpson Tide": Homer joins the Naval Reserve. In one scene, Homer is tying a ship to the dock, but forgets to actually tie the rope to the ship. The ship then sails off into the ocean only to fall off a giant waterfall. At first, it looks like the ship is falling off the edge of the Earth.
    • Also in "Milhouse of Sand and Fog".
    • In "Catch 'Em if You Can", Homer and Marge have sex while falling off Niagara Falls on one of those bouncy castles.
    • There's also the season 1 episode where Homer and Bart go over one, lose their clothes, and Homer ends up being mistaken for Bigfoot.
  • The Super Mario World cartoon had an inevitable LAVA waterfall. Kind of fits with the Platform Game source.
  • Taz-Mania: "Doubting Dingo" contains a ludicrously tall example, with Taz's fall almost veering into Overly Long Gag territory.
  • In Thomas & Friends, this almost happened to Toby when a flood washed away the bridge he was on.
  • Some Disney shorts, where a huge waterfall is just downstream of where a whole bunch of people are skating on a frozen river.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation.
    Babs: Why, Buster Bunny, are you falling for me?
    (Buster and Babs' raft goes over a waterfall)
    Buster: You might say that!
  • Tiny Toons Looniversity: In "Spring Break," Hampton and Swetty Bird get stranded in the Yukon, and at one point attempt to use a raft to travel south. It isn't long before they find themselves going over a waterfall.
  • We Bare Bears: Parodied in "Tubin'". The Bears go over a waterfall after escaping a tribe of technology-hating hippies, but the waterfall turns out to only be about two feet high.
  • Niagara Fools, the famous Woody Woodpecker cartoon in which Woody deliberately tries to go down the Niagara Falls in a barrel for the fun of it. A guard keeps trying to stop him and succeeds, only to ironically end inside the barrel and fall down the waterfall over and over again.

    Real Life 
  • Former president Theodore Roosevelt encountered this trope while exploring Brazil in 1913. Roosevelt's group attempted to travel down an uncharted river in dugout canoes. When they encountered a waterfall, the group attempted to carry the heavy canoes past it. However, they encountered so many waterfalls that the group eventually resorted to just throwing the canoes over the falls and hoping they weren’t smashed. The absurd number of waterfalls (and the occasional need to carve new canoes) became such an obstacle that starvation and illness threatened to destroy the group. Roosevelt barely survived the journey, and some members of his party died along the way.



The Pit of Total Oblivion

Good thing Bob's got good upper body strength.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / InevitableWaterfall

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