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Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence

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Insurmountable Waist-Height Trees: Railroading you into following the plot since 1996.

Rebel: It's a chest-high wall, Mr. Smarty Pants. Got any more dumb ideas? Maybe we can crowbar it away? Or kick under it? Or gravity gun through it?
Frohman: Or climb over it?
Rebel: Or climb over it?

The phenomenon, found in countless video games, in which a seemingly trivial obstacle — such as a Locked Door — cannot be circumvented or removed with brute force, no matter how powerful the player character(s) is/are. This is more jarring when the obstacle in question does not mark the edge of the gameworld, but rather serves to force the player into taking a particular path.

The basic Insurmountable Waist Height Fence is an obstacle, usually between ankle and chest height, that should be reasonably easy for any able-bodied human to traverse, but the character(s) can't climb or step over simply because the game doesn't include such an action.

Common variations of this include:

  • The Indestructible Adamantium Door — a door that only can be opened in cutscenes or by the Master of Unlocking. Bonus points if it looks like it was made from cheap wood 200 years ago (or even worse, if it's already slightly ajar).
  • The Indestructible Fallen Log — A fallen tree which, despite having nuclear weapons and space-warping magic at your fingertips, you can't even chip.
  • The Unclearable Debris — a pile of rubble of some description that is apparently both solid enough that you can't move any of it, yet unstable enough that the game won't let you even consider climbing over it.
  • The Impassable Forest — a sparse congregation of vegetation, apparently sporting a force field that expels player characters.
  • The Frictionless Hill — a slope of arbitrary steepness onto which you can jump only to slide off as if the thing were coated in an industrial lubricant.
  • The Frictionless Ledge — a particularly lazy method of boxing the player in by simply not allowing the character to jump up to and/or grab a ledge that they would normally be able to. Often results in the character making a poor attempt at climbing up it when, on the intended path, they'll throw all their energy into it. Is essentially the animation version of I Can't Reach It for climbing characters.
  • The Gentle Slope of Unclimbability — a slightly inclined piece of land which, despite all logic to the contrary, is completely impassable, both up and down.
  • The Endless One Story Staircase — where if you go up (or down) you can climb forever, either because you can't go that way or you missed getting a Plot Coupon that allows you to, and so you could climb those stairs for ten minutes or for three days, but turn around and all you traveled from where you started was maybe a couple meters.
  • The Rough Ground of Unwalkability — an area of rocky or otherwise uneven terrain you can't even step onto.
  • The Ledge of Instant Death, a type of Gravity Barrier, that looks safe to jump down from, but kills you anyway. Especially flagrant when the game doesn't otherwise have falling damage.
  • The Knee Deep Water of Uncrossability — a body of shallow water which may as well be a Bottomless Pit as far as your ability to ford it is concerned. See also Super Drowning Skills.
  • The Impassable Head High Hole — an opening you can't enter because the top of your character's head is an inch too high. For whatever reason, your character can't/won't just crouch and move through it.
  • The Unslideable Passageway — a passageway that needs to be crawled through but isn't at ground level. Thus, it's inaccessible because you can't crawl over a tiny obstacle or pull yourself up into a crawl.
  • The Impenetrable Darkness — an area which is impassible because your character apparently has a paralyzing fear of the dark. Sometimes justified if there are actually things in the dark trying to kill you or pits to avoid, but more often leaves the player wondering why they couldn't just use one of a hundred different ways to create light.
  • The Overpowering Constant Wind — which uses Vent Physics to push you out of an area if you try to enter it. Some games use an underwater variant where instead an extremely strong current automatically forces the player back when they try to enter a certain passage.
  • The Nagging Voice — in which an NPC stops you from trying to go down another path or otherwise prevents you from deviating from the plot. Particularly annoying if your character is supposed to be at odds with this NPC.
  • The Invulnerable Guard — in which a common enemy or hostile NPC is guarding a door, pathway, etc. to prevent you from going down that path. It can get especially egregious if it's a common mook that you've defeated by the hundreds, yet the game won't give you the option of trying to shove/push/fight your way past them.
  • The Idiot's Dilemma — a particularly infuriating form of Stupidity Is the Only Option — a puzzle requiring a "correct" solution thwarts the player's progress, in spite of a glaringly obvious alternative solution being available — for example, solving a complex puzzle lock to open a glass door when the player has a hammer in their inventory. Usually accompanied by I Can't Reach It, Informing the Fourth Wall, and You Can't Get Ye Flask.
  • The Invisible Wall — a last resort when developers can't come up with a Hand Wave, or flat-out don't care to explain it. There's not even a flimsy justification for why you can't go that way. No explanation, no justification, and no visible obstacles impeding your path. You can't go that way because you just can't.

Many examples could also be thought of as ordinary, non-insurmountable obstacles combined with Invisible Walls. In fact, that is often how they are implemented in situations where the game can't just forbid the player from jumping, climbing, swimming or doing whatever it is a normal person would do to get by the blockage.

A variant on this type of structure is called a Sawtooth by game designers; it applies to anywhere that stops the player going back after passing, and is often logical to the point it's hard to notice (a ladder collapses after you climb down, an elevator is disabled by a powercut, etc). Particularly shallow sawteeth are likely to be obvious, jarring, and extremely ridiculous, such as a hallway that only works in one direction.

A form of Gameplay and Story Segregation. Compare Solve the Soup Cans, Border Patrol. Contrast Cutting the Knot, Absurdly Ineffective Barricade, and Dungeon Bypass. See also Broken Bridge, Boundareefs and NPC Roadblock. Not to be confused with the one-foot-tall brick wall.


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    Action Adventure 
  • There's a case of this in Castlevania 64, where the main character can jump around and grab ledges just fine, until they have to carry an explosive material across several rooms, where jumping or falling even a few feet suddenly results in instant death.
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has this for a good amount of its female characters in Charlotte and Maria. In Charlotte's case she does share Johnathan's ability to jump off their partner but due to later skills for the main characters and the skillset for the Maria/Richter combo there are certain points the girls can't reach on their own without their male partner doing the work. The sisters Stella and Loretta bypass this by being able to fly everywhere.
  • Cave Story:
    • Early in the plot, a locked door provides an obstacle, and a friendly nearby robot is willing to create explosives (out of chewing gum) to break it open. Even though the main character is equipped with a missile launcher, since Cave Story is a 2D game, the protagonist can't actually point it at the door.
    • Later in the game, the entrance to the waterways is initially blocked by a grate which can't be opened even with an NPC's help.
  • Hollow Knight has Overpowering Constant Wind and an invisible wall at the left edge of the Howling Cliffs. Not even the ability that can propell the Knight forward at high speeds or the dash that briefly turns them intangible can get around this. Story Breadcrumbs available in this area explain that this is the edge of the once-civilized world and absolutely nothing lies beyond.
  • You can't jump when you're swimming in I-Ninja. The only way you can exit a body of water is by swimming towards an incline, despite the fact that Ninja can run along walls and pulls himself onto ledges that are otherwise just out of reach almost constantly.
  • With Lampshade Hanging, when you encounter a certain unopenable door in The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time, your AI Sidekick comments, "I've got a feeling that the room behind this door has neither been modeled nor rendered." Similarly, the original Journeyman Project makes you take the lift straight from your 4th floor apartment to the ground floor transporter booth that takes you to work. Pressing floors 2 or 3 receives a reply of "Access denied; this floor was never modeled nor rendered."
    • The games also double subvert this at times. There are many options that would either kill you or violate several time travel directives, and the game does allow you to pick them, but doing so is an instant game over. For instance, at the beginning of the game, if you choose to go to a vacation spot instead of your headquarters, Have a Nice Death, as you are Ret-Gone by a reality distortion wave.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The 2D Zelda games provide many obvious examples of this, with a plethora of simple obstacles that nevertheless require you to find a powerup first. Move past a bush? Not without your sword. Step over a small rock? Forget it unless you got your power glove. A small tree? Nope, only if you got the fire wand. One of the most outlandish is in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, where you can walk past trees in winter, but in any other month their hanging leaves form an impassable barrier. The newer games in the series tend to avert this to a greater degree; for example, starting from Ocarina of Time, bushes and pots can be destroyed from the start — using weapons or just bare hands. No Power Glove required.
    • Both The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening feature important books sitting on top of a bookshelf. To get it down, Link has to go all the way to a dungeon on the other side of Hyrule/the island, defeat countless monsters, and get the Sprint Shoes so he can ram the bookcase and the book will fall off. Instead of, say, just going to someone else's house and stealing a footstool or something like he probably already did with every other useful object in said house.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask actually avert this, in a subtle sense that most players won't catch. Very low fences, like the ones in the training area in Kokiri Forest, can be backflipped or side-jumped over. This is mostly used in speed runs to save quantum bits of time, and can easily be exploited to reach the Heart Piece above Dodongo's Cavern without using a Magic Bean. (Side-jumping off the tower in Kakariko Village can also allow Young Link to talk to the man on the roof and obtain another Piece of Heart early.) Majora's Mask made this much more difficult to pull off, due to changes to the backflipping physics (Link jumps higher, but covers a shorter distance). It's completely gone in the Gamecube and Wii games, where attempting to flip over similarly-high fences will cause Link to hit an invisible wall and more effectively prevent sequence breaking.
    • The fences in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's Hyrule Field. While they come up to adult Link's waist, Link on Epona's back must jump over one in particular it as if it were a high fence, and only then at a very particular angle (perpendicular).
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker:
      • Every time you try to sail to areas your map doesn't cover, the King of Red Lions (your boat) says something along the lines of "In that direction is sea too dangerous for you to travel now." and refuses to sail through.
      • The King of Red Lions also does this if you try to go anywhere but the row of three map tiles between Windfall and Dragon Roost Island before finishing Dragon Roost Temple, and the column from Dragon Roost to the Forest Haven before you clear the Forbidden Woods, so if you want to get back to Windfall Island from the Forest Haven, you have to go north and then west, rather than just cutting through diagonally.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess features many examples of this. There are many rock walls that cannot be destroyed at all until you reach the area on the other side by other means; others can only be smashed by the Ball and Chain or a Goron.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:
      • Link can climb over low barriers, including the waist-height fences in Skyloft. Running over one of these sends you plummeting to your doom, and a convenient passing knight has to save you. Link has his own rideable bird, but the game doesn't let you call it unless you jump off in one of a few special spots (which are not fenced). So even though he can, technically, jump over the fence, it might as well be an infinitely high wall that scolds you when you run into it.
      • The first time Link enter the Lanayru Desert, he can't has to go through the dungeon to reach the Gate of Time because the area is walled off and the only other entrance is blocked by rubble. Nevermind the fact the rubble is piled in such a way that could be climbed over very easily...
    • In Hyrule Warriors' Legend Mode, the mission in the water temple tasks you with saving Ruto, who gets trapped inside a room in the middle of the temple. To get to her, you have to find flood gates to drain the water blocking the way to the room... except the water in this case seems to be only about chest-deep at most, so there's no reason you couldn't just wade or swim there. Becomes even worse after you open the first floodgate and most of the water is drained away, leaving two ankle-deep streams that you could easily jump over or wade through, but which are treated as insurmountable obstacles. This is particularly egregious when you're playing as Ruto, who somehow cannot swim through the water.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild deliberately averts this as much as possible with its open world, as shown by how Link is able to climb virtually any surface whereas in previous games he can only climb with vines. However, there are still obstacles Link simply cannot pass.
      • You absolutely cannot leave the Great Plateau without completing the tutorial quest to obtain the paraglider. Justified by the Plateau being extremely high, so you need the glider to get down safely; however, you can use glitches to reach the main overworld without it, and even then, if the glider isn't in your inventory, the pitfall effect activates and sends you back. Other than a small inconsequential area that was accidentally left out of the exclusion-field, you cannot go anywhere outside the Plateau without this happening.
      • Unlike other surfaces, it's physically impossible for Link to climb Sheikah surfaces. This rule is probably present as not to make the shrines too easy to cheat with.
      • Approaching the edge of the map will cause a message to appear saying that it is not possible to go any farther, along with stopping Link with an Invisible Wall. In the ocean and desert, winds also push Link back, but not enough so that it is impossible to pass them and hit said invisible wall. The mountains to the west and southeast have no such wind border at all, and simply stops Link in his tracks instead. The northern border of Hyrule is more justified in that there is a colossal canyon that looks like it would be impossible to cross even with endgame gear and abilities.
      • If Link tries to climb a surface in the rain, he'll be unable to climb more than a few feet before slipping down again. This functions most importantly when entering Zora's Domain, which is cursed with endless rainfall and surrounded by steep mountains. The only opening through the mountains is a long, monster-filled road that ends in Zora's Domain, at which point Link can create a fast-travel point there. That said, it's still possible (though very difficult) to skip the quest and scale the wet cliffs (as shown here), which activates a unique cutscene since you skipped the original meeting with Prince Sidon.
  • Metroid:
    • All of the worlds Samus traverses to are full of holes Samus is too tall to walk through without the Morph Ball (leading to the infamous meme "Why Can't Metroid Crawl?"), though without her suit she indeed *can* crawl, just very slowly.
    • In the Metroid Prime Trilogy, there are some just too high cliffs that, if you exploit some cheap tricks (like jumping onto inch-thick vines) you can actually get over (and into glitch worlds, in order to do some sequence breaking).
    • Metroid: Other M: There's a missile tank in Sector 1 placed at the end of a balcony that would be theoretically easy to get with the Screw Attack, except an Invisible Wall is preventing any access from side of the spot Samus goes through first. See for yourself.
  • The Nancy Drew has this problem occasionally, but a real crowner occurred in the second game, Stay Tuned For Danger. At the beginning of the game, you are required to pick open a lock with a credit card. Fair enough, but later in the game, you have to open identical doors in the same hallway, but you absolutely have to find the keys for these.
  • Onimusha series:
    • Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams is littered with examples of this, but none more aggravating than a point where your characters are faced with a ladder that descends from the top of a ledge to two feet above ground level. The bottom rung is no further from the floor than the protagonist's knee, but he must still wait for another character to lower it the rest of the way before he can climb it.
    • Onimusha 3: Demon Siege features (among other examples of the trope) the impassable museum rope barrier.
  • In Overlord, the waist high obstacles are further highlighted by the green minions, who can make amazing leaps when attacking enemies but otherwise remain just as glued to the ground as the other types. In some places, they can even end up stuck on or behind the Waist Height Fences while attacking, because they can't jump anymore after all the enemies are dead.
  • Prince of Persia (2008) has the Ledge of Instant Death. Despite the Prince being an excellent acrobat, he can't jump down more than 2 meters. At some points, Elika catches the Prince even though his feet already touched the ground. Same with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
  • Remember Me:
    • Nilin handles frequent parkour/platformer sections but can't jump over knee-high objects unless the plot demands it. There are a handful of spots where you can see Rare Candy right on the other side of a knee-high box but have to find a level passage around.
    • Much of the Rare Candy is on forks off the main path, but proceeding down the main path engages sawteeth behind you. Many forks involve 50/50 guesses as to whether you're going to find a powerup and backtrack or lose it forever.
  • Scrabdackle: Blue is incapable of climbing anything steeper than a slope, including low boulders and piles of trash. They also can't wade across any standing bodies of water, no matter how thin the gap may be between both shores.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, Wander can climb mountain-high monsters and still be unable to scale a few mountains in the valley with relatively gentle slopes.
  • Star Fox Adventures: There is a certain room in a cave that requires you to pointlessly trek a longer path around the room even though the entrance and exit to the room are mere few feet away from each other, all because a small amount of short grass stands between them. This room, as well as every other similar room in the game, is used to allow the game time to load the next area.
  • Tomb Raider:
    • The original has "doors" which are no more than a few two-by-fours nailed together into a gate, barely as high as Lara's tall, and with plenty of room to be climbed over. Lara can't get past them without finding the switch to open them, even though she's strong enough to drag large crates and has a jumping ability to rival Mario.
    • In the 2013 reboot, Lara is incapable of surmounting any obstacle that isn't painted white. Grab onto a random ledge? Nope. Grab onto a random ledge with a smear of white paint? No problem. This will, of course, force the player to go the long way around even if there is a shorter, more obvious route if only Lara wasn't so fixated on only interacting with white painted objects.
    • In one level of Tomb Raider: Anniversary, you come across several cages. With vertical and horizontal bars, which look like they could be climbed like a ladder. Which you nevertheless cannot climb, for a game which features all sorts of climbing (and actual ladders) in other situations... The series as a whole frequently uses frictionless hills, indestructible fallen logs/doors, uncrossable water/quicksand, and impassable foliage.
  • The Zelda-clone based on the Winx Club animated series includes several plot-based fence obstacles, completely ignoring the fact that the protagonists aren't called "winx" for nothing, and can fly easily.
  • Yoku's Island Express features an one of the Overpowering Constant Wind variety; its purpose is to prevent you from swimming too far away from the island.

    Action Game 
  • In the 1982 Colecovision game Smurf Rescue, white picket fences and tufts of grass were obstacles that must be jumped over... because if you touched them, they killed you.
  • The Bourne Identity: Very prominent; almost every object is an impassable barrier despite the player being Jason Bourne. At one point it got so bad that a stairway was blocked by a simple red rope barrier forcing the player to go all the way round.
  • * In Overcooked!, these are frequently used as part of the challenge. Since you can't jump, you must often overcome barriers in other ways, ranging from taking the long path around to skillfully passing ingredients between teammates.

    Adventure Game 
  • Played with in Dark Seed II, wherein a good chunk of the plot is driven by Mike Dawson's inability to succeed at carnival games (including the infamous ring toss).
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey has many instances of this. Subverted in the sequel, Dreamfall Chapters when Crow believes that a simple wooden door will stop him and Kian from advancing, only for Kian to kick the door down. Crow even remarks that things would get done a lot faster if April or Zoe had taken more direct approaches like that.
  • Eternam has what can only be described as an ankle high fence. Rocks, on the other hand, can be walked through.
  • In the Hamtaro games, a puddle is a major hurdle to a protagonist who's only 3 inches tall. There's still no excuse for why he can't step over grain-sized pebbles or sunflower seeds though...
  • Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work: At one point, Passionate Patti is Locked in a Room by way of an Insurmountable Microphone Stand. This trope is in fact a staple of Sierra adventure games, in the form of impassable foliage, force fields, rubble, unswimmable waters, laser fences, unclimbable hills, Ledges of Instant Death, etc.
  • Monkey Island:
    • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: Guybrush, a pirate who spends the whole game stealing various things and generally screwing people over, refuses to go through a row of traffic cones and warning tape because "that would be unlawful".
    • Lampshaded by Guybrush in Escape from Monkey Island. On Lucre Island, there's a nice little field which is closed off by nothing more than a very low, wooden fence. Guybrush refuses to cross it, saying, "I could go over there, but... I... really don't WANT to. Yeah..."
  • Myst:
    • Myst: Invisible walls are found everywhere. On Myst Island, you can't walk across the mountain behind the observatory, for example. Ironically, in the blurb, it says something akin to 'pick your path through the forest'. Yet, whenever the player attempts to do such, they constantly find themselves up against invisible boundaries that are there for no apparent effect other than to break immersion.
    • Myst III: Exile: How many players out there have suspected that they could have taken Saavedro hand to hand? This situation was avoided in Riven, as Gehn and his goons always had you behind bars, or covered by lethal projectile weapons, or both.
    • Riven contains a great subversion as well: early on, you encounter a flimsy wooden door sealed with a padlock. This door is insurmountable, unless you crawl under it.
    • Riven has some strange aversions. The aforementioned gate has so little clearance only a child should be able to climb under it. Later, the player can climb into a pipe that is at most a foot in diameter, and blocked by a fan housing.
    • In Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, the player can climb or jump — but cannot climb or jump over fences eighteen inches high, barbed wire lying flat on the ground, or the game's ubiquitous traffic barricades. Uru allows your character to swim. Myst and Riven often featured water that would hinder the player's progress until they found another way around.
  • In The Night of the Rabbit waist height fences are used literally to prevent you from getting into certain places (the wood dwarves' house, the Hares family's garden and their birthday party). Instead, you have to solve some puzzle in order to get there. Talk about a hero who respects private property!
  • Ollo in The Sunny Valley Fair: Two examples of this:
    • The path to the swamp area is blocked by... a small branch that looks easy to jump over or walk around.
    • Likewise, Muriel Moose’s toolbox blocks the path at one point. One wonders why Ollo doesn’t just walk around it.
  • Lampshaded in One Shot, where Niko finds a corridor blocked off by a piece of debris maybe ankle high. When they are escorted by a pair of locals later, one expresses disbelief that Niko was stymied by this before kicking it across the room.
  • The western half of Peasantry in Peasant's Quest, though one section of fence can indeed be broken by a horse. In a more cleanly parodic case of this, at one point the game marks a Point of No Return with a beaded curtain, which is described as "slamming shut" somehow.
  • RHEM does this a lot in that all water is considered a No Walk Zone, and thus water constantly has to be lowered and/or raised, complete with floating bridges.
  • Hyper and quasispace in Star Control 2 have an edge. This is pretty common to the genre, but somehow glaring here (possibly because the issue of an edge is sidestepped in melee).
  • The allegedly Infinite Hole in The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe shortens every time you fall into it until it's no deeper than a kiddie pool, at which point the teleport button you've been using to escape it stops working. Because you can't jump and can only walk up normal-sized steps, this leaves you trapped for eternity by a knee-high fence.
  • Zork: Probably the oldest case of this in video games.
    You would need a machete to go further <whatever direction>.
    • In the same vein, a large percentage of Interactive Fiction games involve locked doors that must be unlocked or circumvented — you can't just break them down. Unless the developer has specifically allowed you to climb or attack bits of scenery, you usually get a default message saying you can't.
    • Lampshaded in Zork: Grand Inquisitor: using a sword against most objects will result in Dalboz informing you, "Violence never solved anything. Well, not everything. Okay, not this thing!"
    • Lampshaded in Zork Nemesis: several moments in the Conservatory; getting onto the stage, getting behind the stage curtain, and getting into the boiler room - each of which require a puzzle to be completed."

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Teen Titans (2006), the tie-in video game to the 2003 cartoon, is pretty bad with this. In outdoor areas, you'll be blocked by electric fences that needs to be deactivated by hitting certain switches, never mind you're controlling a Titan who can fly.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • In Battlefield: Bad Company's singleplayer level "High Value Target" there is a part where all of the two-story houses have random bathtubs blocking the stairways, preventing you from going to the second floor. Even if you destroy the houses, the normally climbable rubble becomes this trope.
  • Certain obstacles in BioShock, such as a broken stairway in the Medical Pavillion, can only be hopped over once you've been to the other side a different way.
  • BLACK features a truly ridiculous example where a knee-high pile of rubble can only be scaled in one direction because there's a plank on that side forming a ramp. It must be because of the invisible wheelchair the protagonist is obviously confined to.
    • Black almost has more invisible walls and insurmountable fences than plot. Every mission is filled with situations like the one described above. In one mission you descend a staircase, only to notice that the last step is missing when you get down to the floor below. This missing step, only about 10 centimeters high, makes it impossible to go back the way you entered. The fact that you can't jump in the game only makes these situations more ridiculous.
    • Black takes the silliness to further extremes. Many of the waist-high fences can be destroyed (by you or the bad guys)... but passing over the space where they were is still impossible. And the enemies can jump over whatever the heck they want.
  • Borderlands
    • Borderlands 2 contains two examples very close to each other in the main story, both of which are blatant attempts to draw out the endgame. The first is a bridge which is raised to bar your progress, to which the main characters have to undertake a convoluted sidequest to bypass, despite there being a huge pipe crossing the expanse that could be climbed on (if the characters could climb anything other than a ladder.) The second is another pipe, this time with a ladder which falls off when you approach. You must undertake another pointless quest to burst the pipe and walk through it. The second example is worse, because you can actually get on top of the pipe in another location, but are stopped from walking to your destination.
    • Borderlands 3 directly addresses these issues with increased agility and mobility of player characters and improved traversability. One enormously appreciated addition is the ability to climb low ledges, and the fact that climbable surfaces are denoted with paint splatters to avoid confusion.
      Loading Screen: Yes, you can climb now. Get over it.
  • The Brothers in Arms games feature highly physically fit paratroopers who are unable to surmount fences and earthen walls that seemingly only reach them to the waist. Curiously enough, during scripted attacks some enemies are capable of jumping over said fences.
    • In the second game Sergeant Matt Baker, an NPC who was the player character in the first game, can be seen climbing over one of those low fences that he could not traverse when he was controlled by the player.
    • Finally, in the third game, Hell's Highway, vaulting over obstacles was implemented. There's also a lot of destructible cover and terrain. Nothing beats blowing an MG out of his nest with a bazooka. The only things you can't go through are buildings — pretty much everything else is vaultable.
  • Bulletstorm has lots of these. You can jump at the correct "hotpoints", and with few exceptions, you can't even jump back. And no, covert operative-turned-space pirate Grayson Hunt cannot jump voluntarily at all.
  • The Call of Duty games are absolutely crazy about this. There are knee high fences you can't step past. And if there's some rubble, "this road's closed, we have to go the other way!". *sigh*
    • In Modern Warfare, it doesn't matter if you're Force Recon, Army Rangers, or SAS; you lack the training to open doors. Though, once you transfer from any of those to Task Force 141, you get a bottomless supply of breaching charges to just blow the doors to smithereens.
    • The infamous "Mile High Club" bonus mission could be completed in all of about 15 seconds if you could just climb the stairs placed right behind where you start if not for the fact there are two trunks just parked at the base, meaning you have to route all the way around through the rest of the plane (in one minute against a hail of gunfire on Veteran difficulty). The staircase isn't even off-limits, you can climb down it once you've completed the rest of the mission before you bail from the plane. The only thing preventing your highly-trained operative from saving the VIP with no fuss is a couple pieces of luggage.
    • In 3, you can open a few doors. It's just that terrible things happen every time you do.
    • In multiplayer, hosting a dedicated server lets you, among other variables, set jump height much higher than in normal gameplay. This doesn't really let you go anywhere you couldn't normally get to, as pretty much every prop in the game even half as tall as a player character has an invisible wall around the top.
    • Some parts of Black Ops allow you to open doors, but other times you have to wait for your teammates to come by.
    • More flagrantly, certain fences can only be traversed once you get the go-ahead and your team advances, such as at the beginning of the level "Hunted".
  • A particulary colorful example is given in Clive Barker's Undying, where the protagonist, when confronted by an ancient monastery door, decide quite abruptly that the easiest way to deal with it is NOT to use the dynamite he's carrying at the moment, but rather to travel back to a time when the monastery was inhabited and get the key from the residents.
  • Condemned
    • In Condemned: Criminal Origins, it's not uncommon for a tipped-over shelf to completely block a door, preventing Ethan Thomas from passing when he could have easily shoved it out of the way. In the sequel, it's made even more frustrating in that Ethan can now climb through windows, slip through gaps, climb boxes, and jump down pits, but only when demanded by the very linear level design. It makes it very frustrating to be in a hotel and see a luggage cart and reception desk blocking your path, requiring you to find the small, foot-wide area where you can press the magic button to slip through. Of course, Ethan can never do this in other circumstances, such as climbing over a few cardboard boxes and a couch instead of needing to use a conveniently-placed ramp. The worst part is that oftentimes players will struggle to find a context-sensitive area that allows them to progress, or spend time searching for an alternate route when Ethan can just climb through the hole. He can't even climb fences or gates that are locked behind the people he's pursuing, yet attacking enemies can vault over them no problem.
    • Also, Ethan lacks the ability to jump (again, unless it's part of the level design). The issue? Physics objects, like garbage cans, can easily fall in the player's path, yet Ethan can't jump over them and will be stopped in his tracks by an ankle-high cardboard box, requiring the player to kick it out of the way.
    • The first game featured flimsy wooden doors that can be chopped to pieces with an axe but not a crowbar and chains and locks that can be broken with a crowbar and not an axe, and other strangely specific ways to get past obstacles in a game that emphasized improving weapons...
  • Crysis mostly lets you use your super powers to do awesome things. However, after a while, one begins to notice that the entire island is made of valleys with walls just slightly too steep to climb and just slightly too high to jump over. Crysis Warhead doesn't. While you can drive down trees with your Armoured Personnel Carrier and blow up whole buildings with nothing but a grenade, you will still get stuck (sometimes permanently) in the same flimsy wood fences that you could kick down even if you weren't a nano-suit augmented super soldier.
  • Notably avoided (somewhat) in Deus Ex where the player, when faced with a wooden door can always just blow it open with explosives or knock it down with the energy sword. Only reinforced metal doors and some plot-important doors were completely impassable. Played straight in one scene where you are supposed to surrender to the enemy and cannot escape the spot where they engage you even though it is fenced with nothing but waist-high blocks.
  • Doom:
    • The classic games — Doom, Doom II and Doom 64 — are rife with these, as they're integral to the level design in a relatively limited engine.
      • Any protrusion above knee height might as well be Mount Everest until you find the right button to lower itnote . A number of source ports have since added jumping to the game, which allows players to skip huge swaths of some of the classic levels by simply hopping over these obstacles.
      • Less commonly, there are also cases where the ceiling is one or two pixels too short for walking under. Advanced source ports typically add the ability to crouch, allowing players to sequence-break these sections.
      • Due to the way the game handles map geometry, fences are either completely pass-through or infinitely tall. This often leads to flying enemies being unexplainably corralled in because they can't fly over them.note 
      • Thingsnote  are infinitely tall as far as collision with other things is concerned, so it's impossible to jump over or go under anything that has a collision hull, like a candelabra far below or a hanging corpse five yards above; this quirk specifically makes Pain Elementals very effective movement restrictors. Improvements to the engine implemented with Heretic fixed this, and advanced source ports can backport this feature to Doom as a compatibility option.
    • Doom³: Although you can jump, you are incapable of surmounting waist-height obstacles such as three or four broken stairsteps unless you push a box or barrel into the gap to serve as a footstool.
    • Doom (2016): Subverted by adding double-jumping and ledge catching to the player's repertoire... which you will need in order to navigate the game's many treacherous jump puzzles.
  • One level in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin starts in an elevator stopped halfway between floors, and it looks like Becket should be able to climb out onto the upper floor, but the game physics don't allow him to.
  • In Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, most waist-height walls can be vaulted over, but some block your path for no good reason. In the mission where you have to recover the nuclear football, your immediate path to the objective is blocked by insurmountable wooden road barricades.
  • Countless examples of locked doors seemingly made of flimsy wood being impervious to explosives of all kinds. In Half-Life, Gordon Freeman couldn't knock down locked doors with any of the explosives he was carrying, which included grenades and demolition charges. In its expansion pack "Opposing Force" the character of Adrian Shephard, despite being a trained marine, cannot breach doors unless he enlists the help of an NPC with a blowtorch. Even worse, the NPC must be kept alive during an Escort Mission; if he's killed, the game ends. Shephard apparently can't just take the blowtorch from the fallen man and use it himself.
  • In the Halo series, our hero does not normally have Super Drowning Skills, but some bodies of water, especially in Halo 3, are "instant-death water of uncrossability". Even in the games that lack falling damage for normal falls, falling in the wrong place kills you, preventing Sequence Breaking. There's also Frictionless Hills and Invisible Walls, some of which are lethal. And Border Patrol in multiplayer maps.
  • Hard Reset features both insurmountable waist-high obstacles and impassable slightly-shorter-than-your-height gaps. You can't duck through an opening that's slightly below your head height because there is no crouching in the game. Almost as if to emphasize this, such openings are often present.
  • Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: At the end of the trial to test his newly regained Force powers, Kyle Katarn must retrive his lightsaber from a cage atop a pillar. Lowering the pillar is easy enough, but getting his saber out requires a carefully timed combination of Force Speed and Force Pull... even though the bars of the cage are far enough apart that Kyle could quite easily just reach in and grab it. Or levitate the lightsaber out between them. Or activate the saber remotely and cut the cage open.
  • According to the Official Playstation Review of Killzone 2, there's a particularly bad example. The player's squadmates can climb over a fence with no problem, but the Player Character needs their help to get over the exact same type of fence.
  • Left 4 Dead and its sequel feature a variety of these. There are a number of occasions where the survivors' path is blocked by apparently surmountable obstacles: the truck on the bridge after it is bombed in "The Cemetery" level of The Parish campaign and the short fence before the running panic event in "The Barns" level of Dark Carnival, both in Left 4 Dead 2, are outstanding examples. The survivors are also incapable of scaling drainpipes, columns and the like, despite the Infected (which are just humans with a mutant strain of rabies) being perfectly able to use them, and there are a large number of handle-less doors that are impervious to chainsaws, fireaxes, crowbars and explosions despite all of these objects being able to demolish and/or damage all the "usable" doors throughout the game. Also, when playing as the Infected in Versus mode, the limits of the player's range are often baldly indicated with a literal invisible wall, marked only with a string of floating "no entry" signs. The survivors' initial spawn point in a campaign is often surrounded by an invisible wall (as at the beginning of The Parish, where the players are prevented from running off the side of the dock or off the short gangplank leading up to the waterfront).
  • The Marathon series uses the Impassable Head-high Hole and Invisible Wall in a number of places.
  • The Medal of Honor series railroads the player with just about every type; standard insurmountable waist-height fences or walls, barbed wire, minefields, invisible walls, indestructible fallen logs, impassable foliage, unclearable debris, adamantium doors, and unclimbable slopes. Even the more non-linear Airborne often uses these, and no, you can't parachute over them either. One of the most egregious examples is the insurmountable brick wall in the first mission. One exception is the Sniper's Last Stand: Outskirts level of Allied Assault, where you get to blow open a gate with a bazooka. The Nebelwerfer Hunt has an impassible window where you have to trick a Tiger tank into destroying the wall, as you can't blow it up with your own rocket launcher either.
  • Mirror's Edge involves a mission in which Faith must descend to near-street level to enter a subway system. Though falling into the street being instant death is feasible if you're ten stories above it, it makes decidedly less sense when it's more like ten feet.
  • Since you can't jump in the Perfect Dark games, any object taller than ankle height is insurmountable, e.g. overturned furniture blocking a hallway.
  • Rage (2011) includes a jump button, but places invisible walls in various locations to ensure that the player can't take the easy way out. Want to just vault over that wall and drop two feet onto the escalator down to the ground floor of the mall? Nope! Gotta go unlock the gate in front of it. Want to just crawl through the small hole in the fence that leads to the button? Nope! You can't go any lower than a crouch, so you need to blow a hole in the wall to enter the room.
  • The two Red Faction games not only made strides to avert this trope by making much of the environment destroyable, but also sometimes required brute-force breaching to progress with the game. This feature, however, caused those points in the game that were obstructed by indestructible architecture (i.e. most of the game) to become only that much more conspicuous.
    • Ironically, the third Red Faction game, with its enhanced ability to destroy anything waist-sized and up, and jetpacks and sprinting that allows the player to reach just about anywhere, there are several Ledges Of Instant Death and Invisible Walls, usually at the bounds of the map. The player can find even greater heights to jump from without fatality, or even sometimes without major injury, and still die when jumping off map-edge ledges, while the little posts with bleeping lights on them tell you that the dastardly EDF have erected an invisible wall in the middle of this empty field.
    • In the first game, there are several "ledges of instant death", where it looks like you can jump to them, but the landing kills you.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein both use these to prevent the player from accessing areas until the plot requires it, such as unreachable ladders that may later automatically get lowered, plot locked doors, unclimbable ledges, and impassable barricades, which may be cleared by a higher power such as a tank.
  • The Indestructible Adamantium Door variant shows up in Shadow Warrior (2013). Made especially frustrating in that your badass sword can destroy stone, demons' shields, cut up baddies like butter, and yet can't chop through a few flimsy boards across a doorway.
  • Star Trek: Elite Force II has one of these moments, where the main character and his team are in a sewer system and he gets separated from them. Shortly thereafter, they find each other in the maze of tunnels only to be stopped from continuing on together by barrier resembling the bars on a jail cell. Only the bars are about two and a half feet or so apart. One team member even places a hand on each one and leans forward through the bars, only to say "We need to find a way to link up." As if the team or the leader simply couldn't step between the bars.
  • TimeSplitters has a few instances of this. In one level of the third game, your path is blocked by a few strips of police tape and a hole in some boards. A little strange in that your partner Jo-Beth has no problems climbing under the tape. Very strange after she falls through the floor on the other side and instead of climbing under to check on her, you go a much longer path.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Diablo:
    • In Diablo (1997), the town of Tristram is delimited on all sides by these. A waist-high stone wall to the northeast, a river to the southeast that's maybe a metre wide and 30 cm deep. The western border is blocked by moderately large rocks (150 tall at most). At least in this case, your character has no particular reason to want to cross the barriers.
    • Diablo II continues this — Act 1 of the game has sections separated by short stone walls and some trees and weeds between. Maybe there's poison ivy, and who wants to battle evil when they're itchy?
    • Act two of Diablo II has a particularly weird and infuriating example: when you use the staff to blast a hole in the wall of Tal Rasha's tomb in order to get to the chamber of Tal Rasha (where Duriel turns out to be lurking)) you cant go back out to escape Duriel even though there is a huge freakin hole in the wall, which apparenly only works in one direction.
  • God of War uses arbitrary indestructibility pretty egregiously, especially given how destructive Kratos is to things he's allowed to hit. One particularly obvious example comes in the first game, where Kratos is blocked by a metal gate with thin bars, that already has a great big hole ripped through the center by Ares' forces (you know, the one you beat up all game, often by being physically stronger than them). Rather than climb through the hole or rip a new one in the gate, you instead go through a convoluted process of creating a 4 foot stepping stone so you can reach a ladder on a nearby wall and bypass the gate. This stepping stone? Is the head of an enormous statue that you pushed over with no leverage beyond bracing yourself against a wall. Then there's the start of the second game, where the strength of a god allows you to throw the Colossus of Rhodes halfway across the city by seizing it by the foot, but won't let you break down a wall.
  • Despite the source material, many of the barriers preventing free navigation of the maps in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity are small cliffs or piles of debris that Link would simply be able to climb over immediately following a 100-year nap, to say nothing of the jumps, flight and teleportation that the whole roster is capable of. It comes to a head at The Great Plateau, where the player characters need the help of the Yiga and Sheikah's teleportation prowess to save allies in imminent peril instead of simply walking around the rubble on the stone paths.
  • An odd example in RWBY: Grimm Eclipse. While most fences in the game appear to be much larger than the characters, all the characters in Grimm Eclipse are inexplicably smaller than flowers, so if the characters were normal-sized the fences would be waist-high.

    Massively Multiplayer Online Game 
  • Lampshade Hanging in Graal Classic, when Kull's Castle blocked certain doors with impassable Bottles. Your character is even heard to remark "I can't go this way—there's a bottle in the way!"
  • City of Heroes: Whether you're playing as a Hero, a Villain, or anything in between, your character will not plow through hapless bystanders—even when using a power like Super Speed. Instead, your character will slow down to a halt just before colliding with a bystander, or brush past them. This is explainable for the heroically inclined as they wouldn't want to cause more havoc than they're trying to stop, but less so for the villainous. Either way, it can be quite the annoyance, especially with indoor missions where terrified denizens run about in a panic, getting in your team's way.
  • ZOMG features several Insurmountable Waist High Fences. The stairs out of the Train Station are chained off, forcing you to fight your way through the Sewers (which also serves as the game's tutorial). Of course, the doors out of the station are locked too, and jumping the gate would mean missing out getting the rings you need to get any farther than Barton Town. Though when you can't step over a 2 inch ledge in the Zen Gardens, you start to suspect something...
  • In Mabinogi, some areas are littered with waist-high—and even knee-high or ankle-high—insurmountable obstacles; mostly fences, bushes, and rocks. The truly odd thing is that some areas have very low bushes which are insurmountable, while other areas have much taller bushes that characters can walk right through. This may be partly intentional; as it presents an obstacle to bots using the game's auto-walk map system.
    • Fences are understandable. Fences that a paper airplane cannot go over, not so much. Especially since the best places to launch the airplanes are always blocked by fences.
  • Phantasy Star Universe has waist high fences in lobby areas regularly. What makes them so evil? Unlike most insurmountable waist high fences, where there is a way around, or nothing on the other side of interest, these fences REALLY DO have content on the other side that you can't get to. SEGA unlocks content, which already exists and was installed with the game, over time, letting them profit on your monthly fees; so you pay money for a few months in the hopes they'll yank down that fence. It's just cruel.
    • In a less evil sense, there are the laser fences on the field. Which are about waist high, and often positioned in a way where, even if your characters forget how they were jumping around like lunatics during their photon arts, may still be easily bypassed by either climbing over the control panel used to open them, or in some cases, just stepping around it onto a slightly higher part of the staircase than you'd normally use.
  • Fences in RuneScape are sometimes not even waist high and yet a character can not go over them. There are certain spots where a character with high enough agility can cross by climbing over. Other than those, though, you basically have to go around the long way in order to get where you want to go. And some of these fences seem to cross entire continents!
    • Impassable water appears as well. The several rivers that appear in the game are all impassable despite being a few feet wide and inches deep. And the PC is shown many times in the game to be capable of swimming, including in a couple of fairly large areas that are underwater, yet cannot cross these very small rivers. On the other side, the PC claims that every accident including falling into water causes him/her to drown, even with the Diving Apparatus on. And, luckily, monsters also can't cross such obstacles, but some can be shot over. Coupled with the mobs' lack of any sophisticated pathing mechanics, you can get them stuck on the other side of a rock that is perfectly possible to walk around and shoot them to death.
      • One of the most awkward examples is on the border between a "F2P" area and a "P2P" area. There's a large hill keeping you in the wilderness, and out of the eastern member area. Just a large hill. A small bug in one part of it even lets you walk up to the top, then you just stop. Invisible insurmountable fence?
    • This is Lampshaded in multiple artworks by Prezleek, one of which Jagex put on their Facebook.
  • Ryzom is full of these, both of the waist high fence and invisible wall varieties. The invisible walls can be particularly aggravating, as anything steeper than a very gentle slope seems to have one.
  • Star Trek Online has one prominent example. On the Starfleet Academy map you are not able to access the waterfront which is only separated by literal waist-height fence. Under normal circumstances your character would even be able to jump over it. However, when the area was first released there was a bug that transported you on the other side of the fence and let you explore the area beyond it—including the Golden Gate Bridge and the normally inaccessible shuttlebay atop one of the Academy's buildings.
  • Tree of Savior, compared to its Spiritual Predecessor Ragnarok Online, gives all characters the ability to jump ... quite a height, at that. Unfortunately, all the various flavors of this trope are liberally applied throughout the game world. It would be quite frustrating figuring out what is accessible and what isn't, were it not for the minimap showing which parts of a field are accessible to a player. Even then the ability to jump between accessible areas (such as off a cliff onto ground below) is bizarrely restricted, leaving it more of a surprise as to what you can access (such as the rooftops of Klaipeda).
  • World of Warcraft's environment is largely immune from the damaging attacks of player characters, and it has even become a selling point of some dungeons that there are vehicles which can destroy parts of the internal dungeon's defenses. The most straightforward application of this is usually in a major city where there is a door visible, but no means of which to enter, or out in the less populated areas, where there will be a visible portal, which leads to nowhere, or cannot be entered at all. In the latter case, its usually a sign of a possible future dungeon entrance. Players who circumvent these barriers through glitches could be equally punished or rewarded by the GMs (As some sections are clearly NOT meant for the player to get to, while others serve as more of an Easter Egg bonus).
    • This problem will also frequently occur with player pets. No matter how small a fence or ledge is, if the player has to jump to scale it, there's a good chance your pet won't be able to. This can cause them to either get stuck, requiring the player to dismiss and resummon them, or sometimes try to find an alternate route around the obstacle which can lead to unwanted (though often amusing) pulls. Even pets that can fly will do it.
    • World of Warcraft also has bizarre movement behavior related to PCs being either being able or not able to walk up gradients of differing slopes. While some slopes are always far too steep to ever be climbed by a PC, other slopes will either be passable or impassable simply based on whether or not the PC should be able to pass over that area, regardless of the fact that two terrains might have the exact same slope. In fact, there are passable terrains in the game that a significantly greater in slope than many impassable terrains.
    • In Ironforge, the pit part of the forge is only blocked by an invisible barrier from the perimeter, but not pathway going over said pit.
    • In an example of the "Ledge of Instant Death", there are several places where the game limits your ability to explore by killing you instantly if you fall below a certain point — regardless of whether you actually fell far enough to be killed, or had any Slow Fall effects, or even fell at all! The terrain beneath the airship at the end of the Halls of Reflection is an example of this type; travel far enough down the slope, and you will drop dead regardless of whether or not you actually fell.
    • During development of Cataclysm, the developers admitted that a lot of the geometry in the original World of Warcraft simply wasn't there, and they had to put unclimbable terrain in the way so players couldn't get there. With Cataclysm, players can now fly in the original world, so Blizzard had to completely avenge it from the ground up in such a way that the entire world was accessible via flight. However there are still unclimbable slopes if you are not riding a flying mount.
      • Of course, even with a flying mount, there are still a handful of invisible walls, like in the mountains north of the Plaguelands, which blocks players from flying in, and forces them to enter via the gate, because the whole area is classed as an Instance.
      • Patch 5.1 added the Ledge of Instant Death variety in the version of Dalaran visited during the Landfall storyline. Unlike the main world Dalaran, which is stuck in the past in Northrend, this version is an instance, so if you jump off its ledge into surrounding water that looks safe to jump into (normally, landing in water negates falling damage), you die while falling, in midair.

    Platform Game 
  • Croc: Legend of the Gobbos was obvious but logical with its outdoor level design by having the gameplay take place mostly in enclosed valleys for the grass and ice levels and at extreme heights for the castle levels. The desert levels however simply used steep sand slopes with absolutely no friction.
  • In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest's Krazy Kremland area, the heroes find themselves outside a Circus of Fear. They enter and pass through all obstacles, only to emerge in a swamp about twenty in-game feet from the entrance. Separating them is nothing but a grassy knoll.
  • Fe has numerous Frictionless Hills and Frictionless Ledges, which are often indistinguishable from those that are climbable. There are also Frictionless Ice slopes that require you to befriend the Wolves to climb them, and Knee-Deep Water of Uncrossability where a giant fish will jump out and eat you whole if you enter.
  • Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy: A good few of these appear at some point in the game, for example the Fire Canyon and Lava Tube; you need to power up the Zoomer's heatshield to be able to pass through those areas. Then when you get to the Rock Village, you can't proceed to the Mountain Pass because a lurker called Klaww has thrown a flaming boulder in the way. Plus there's the ocean itself: Jak can swim safely in shallow water, but if he tries to go out into the ocean, a Lurker Shark will jump out and eat him.
  • Played with in the various LEGO Adaptation Games where, due to the comedic nature of the games, anything including a red velvet rope, a plate glass window, or a ledge by all rights you should be able to walk on can block your progress until you solve a puzzle in the room or come back with the right character. However, due to the game's somewhat wonky physics it's often possible to slip past them and Sequence Break your way around puzzles, bosses, or to powerups you're not supposed to be able to get yet. Whether this is intentional, a Good Bad Bug, or something in between is anyone's guess.
  • In the first The Lord of the Rings jump-and-run for the PS2-era consoles, insurmountable waist height fences would team up with invisible walls and insurmountable shrubbery and fallen trees to form a path as linear as the early Crash Bandicoot games.
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the Mouldwood Depths dungeon uses lethal Impenetrable Darkness to restrict the player's movement until they find the Flash ability.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog:
    • Modern era games seem to zig-zag this trope, depending on the stage. Some stages, Sonic can walk under water with no problems whatsoever with the only problem being lack of air. Other stages, once he goes past knee-deep, he encounters the Knee Deep Water of Uncrossibility and Sonic cries out "NO!" as he loses a life. Unless he's going fast enough, in some cases.
    • The knee-deep water issue plagues most of the 3D games in the series. Sonic '06 and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric get the most flak for this; Sonic may simply fall over and die even though his head is still above the water.
    • Handled strangely in Generations, due to the game's nature of pulling levels from different games in the series. The most egregious examples are Seaside Hill (console) and Emerald Coast (3DS); the levels feature two different kinds of water; one that acts as a bottomless pit, and one that allows Sonic to explore underwater. In the 3DS version, the two kinds of water look very different, but in the console version, they look almost exactly the same, leading to some bottomless pit psyches.
  • Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy have slopes that are very slippery. Mario, of course, can easily jump — or even fly — right over the slope... and into an invisible barrier. In Super Mario Sunshine, this is more prominent when you consider that you're on an island and could probably swim to each area, minus a couple up on the slopes, without having to go through the hub world.
    • 64 is also home to the infamous Infinite Staircase that can only be crossed via collecting 70 stars (or exploiting the backwards long jump physics glitch that accelerates Mario so fast he effectively goes faster than the game can warp him back to the bottom of the stairs.
  • Yoshi's Island: In theory, Yoshi's jump and flutter mechanics have a maximum upper limit, leaving the game's designer to build labyrinthine paths that are blocked by walls exactly one pixel too high for a normal player to get past. There exist multiple means to extend Yoshi's vertical range and execute many a Dungeon Bypass.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Baba is You lets you turn any object into this trope with the "Stop" keyword, including things that would not make logical sense like patches of grass or complete emptiness. The kicker is that even objects that are "Float" are not immune to any "X is Stop" rules!
  • In Lara Croft GO, the puzzles are kept intact by only letting Lara follow the designated paths of the puzzle — she can scale cliffs if there's a path up them, but can't jump over a pile of rocks if there isn't.
  • There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension: Spoofed in the two chapters parodying The Legend of Zelda, where the path to the Dimensional Temple is blocked by several comically small bushes which The Hero has to cut through with the Sword of Life. In both cases, the Hero seemingly has to backtrack through what all the other worlds in his game to obtain it. The Game of course has no patience for all that, so you have to solve several puzzles to find a quicker way to reach the sword, with the Hero lamenting at one point that the Game should've just given him a pair of gardening shears.
    Game: *after the Hero clears the path to the temple* All that way to cut down two bushes. TWO BUSHES!

    Racing Game 
  • Gran Turismo IV has particularly strong plastic fences. On the Grand Canyon rally course, part of the course travels along the very edge of a cliff with only a foot-tall plastic home depot orange netting keeping a runaway car (or Truck) from careening off the edge. Somehow this flimsy-looking fencing handles the task incredibly well, even so far as bringing a full size Dodge Ram truck doing well over freeway speed to a dead stop.
    • On some tracks in Gran Turismo 3, you can glitch your way through the barrier. If you go too far out of bounds, the game freezes.
    • On a more interesting note, Gran Turismo 5 now includes Tire Barriers (one course that has them in conspicuous view is the new Top Gear Test Track). In Real Life they are flexible enough to bend or collapse in order to cushion the impact of a major crash. But here, not only can they bring even the heaviest cars to an instant dead stop, they absolutely won't budge.
      • And speaking of the Top Gear Test Track, the track itself may appear to be a Wide-Open Sandbox with no fences around the airfield, but some of the challenges put in a case of Racing Line of Instant Death where if you deviate too much from the racing line (a window that can be really narrow, making it really tough to overtake opponents), the game ends by disqualifying you.
  • In Kirby Air Ride's City Trial mode, the area boundary is marked by Insurmountable Waist-High Waves that can't be flown over even with the Dragoon. Mostly.
  • Midtown Madness 3 has insurmountable outdoor café furniture in Paris. For some reason, a set of chairs, a table and a parasol are enough to bring your several-tonne muscle car travelling over 100mph to a complete stop, with the furniture not budging an inch.
  • Need for Speed series: In most of the games, you hit an invisible barrier if you try to jump the fence, but in the later tracks of II, there are spots where you can jump the barrier and fall into Bottomless Pits.
    • In Need for Speed Hot Pursuit (2010), some of the tracks have shortcuts blocked off by glowing force fields. While this could be hand waved as a gentleman's agreement amongst the racers, the police chasing them are similarly barred from using them for not good reason.
      • The series used the "force fields" since Underground, ditto for other semi-open world racing series.
  • Because of the SNES and GBA's technical limitations, Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit had to display two-dimensional blocks to mark the impassible boundaries of the racetracks, even though seem perfectly capable of hopping over them. Starting with Mario Kart DS, whenever tracks from these two games are brought back for Retro Cups, the barriers are made taller than the racers but are no longer impassible.
  • Most racing games have the track walled in by insurmountable adamantium barriers; even the "plastic netting" is impenetrable. Sometimes, as in the Test Drive games, there will be open intersections with cross traffic, but they are blocked to you by Invisible Walls. Said invisible walls also usually prevent you from jumping off the track to your doom.
  • In Vette!, large sections of San Francisco are blocked off by insurmountable fences, some waist height (No, you can't jump over them with low gravity, either). Handwaved in the manual as being due to "earthquake damage". It was also probably done to reduce memory usage, since the city is divided into boroughs/districts connected only by sparsely-detailed freeways.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In the Age of Empires series, forests represent impassable terrain until your lumberjacks slowly work on cutting through them. It's perhaps authentic that you can't just march a big army through a forest with no issues, but the fact that you can't even send individual units into them, even non-military ones, isn't really explained.
  • In Little King's Story, you can break bushes, trash cans, logs, stumps, rocks, eggs, and televisions, and have blocks built into dinosaur-shaped archways, but grass? Eh, that's just too hard. Despite a few of your jobs potentially wielding a cutting implement.
  • Pikmin 2 has short rocks in some of the caves. But in this game, you can't jump.

    Rhythm Game 
  • Happens in your favour in Lego Rock Band. Your band knocks down a narrow tree which stops a 40ft tall robotic T-Rex in its tracks.
  • Patapon has a strange (and often outrageous) variation of this. Toripons fly very high when in Fever mode; high enough to not be hit by some spear and Megapon attacks, and to completely ignore some of the bosses's attacks. But for some reason, they cannot fly over any obstacles; be it stone walls or the low wooden fences and even enemies, so you have to destroy said obstacle in order for them to advance.

  • In Alpha Man, a comedy Roguelike similar to NetHack, if the player has a jackhammer, they can sometimes jack through the exterior walls of a building. When that happens, the player can walk the black void of the outside of the house, and if they leave the screen, they're taken out of the house to the land near the house. Also sort of an example of Super Drowning Skills, because without a wetsuit, raft, kayak, or something similar, the player drowns in deep water.
  • In NetHack, you can do things like dig through the dungeon rock and break down doors and generally destroy most of the environment, but the edges of the two-dimensional world are mysteriously impassable... and also a Fourth Wall: use a stethoscope in the "down" direction while at the bottom of the screen and you'll hear a faint typing noise.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Agarest Senki plays with this trope. Instead of just climbing or going around it, Leo makes a Rousing Speech to get a rock out of his way.
  • Baten Kaitos: In this game world, everyone has wings. Everyone. There are a lot of nifty flying animations in battle, and yet you still get the same variety of jumping and bridging puzzles that would be completely passable if you thought to fly outside of battle when it was useful, rather than when it just looked cool. Eternal Wings makes a flimsy justification, and Origins explains it better; the wings used to be powerful enough to fly around all the time, but they have atrophied greatly over the years. Trying to use them for anything more than a few seconds results in the wings giving out. There's a reason these people use flying boats to get around. Granted, this still doesn't excuse Kalas turning around in Moonguile Forest because a log is blocking his path.
  • Like their Elder Scrolls Bethesda sister-series, the Bethesda-era Fallout games (Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4) also have invisible borders surrounding the edges of the playable game area, which will simply block the player from progressing telling you "You cannot go this way". The post-apocalyptic settings also lend well to piles of rubble, dilapidated buildings, and damaged-but-still-locked doors to be plentiful in blocking progress.
  • Breath of Fire III puts you on a diversion that seems like it takes up a third of the game, simply to get around one of these fences. Specifically, it forces you to go through the Guide Dang It! that is the Desert of Death to get to the final dungeon because your party, who often hop down cliffs exponentially taller than them, can't hop down off a crate barely as tall as Garr.
  • CIMA: The Enemy: The player's progress is frequently blocked by a column. Not columns plural, but a singular thin column with enough space around it that the character should be able to easily go around it, but won't until it sinks into the ground either by pressing a switch or some other means.
  • You can't climb anything that isn't a ladder in Dark Souls. This can lead to ridiculous scenarios where you're blocked from moving by a ledge that only goes up to your knees. Probably the worst case was in Dark Souls II, where your main objective for the first half of the game is to get to Drangleic castle, but you are blocked from doing so by a pile of rubble that a child could easily climb over. To get around it, you need to run all over the game world to find and slay four legendary beings of immense power and acquire their souls, then head up a barely noticeable dirt path next to the rubble and use those souls to open a tiny building called the Shrine of Winter, which has an exit on the other side, allowing you to finally continue on past the rubble to Drangleic Castle. This raises the question of why the rubble even needed to exist in the game at all when the developers could have just put the Shrine of Winter where the rubble was and left it at that. There's also Belfry Sol, which you 'trap' yourself into by hopping down into a pit whose sides only come up to your head. The only way out is to climb the provided ladder and make your way through the belfry, even though you could theoretically just pull yourself up over the ledges, or even just climb up the provided latter and step off on the side once you've climbed 5 feet.
  • Dragon Age: Origins, in the Human Noble origin story, blocked off some paths after the attack with Insurmountable Ankle-Height Rubble. Amusingly, the collision detection with said rubble is off just enough that, when you try to cross it, your feet are coming down on top of the very obstacle that "impedes" your progress.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans, there's a point in the story where your group finds out that a bridge leading to the desert, their destination, hasn't been repaired yet, forcing you to go through an entire mini-dungeon. The catch? At this point, your party is composed of Krillin, Tenshinhan and Chiaozu, the characters whom main gimmick was that they were the first three who learned how to FLY.
  • DragonFable: Want to know where the invisible walls? That's easy — just keep an eye out for lamp posts, columns, trees, and other vertically-oriented structures placed in the foreground. Apparently, structures in the foreground come with some kind of force field magic that makes it impossible to simply walk past them.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Averted in Morrowind, where you can climb, jump, or levitate over any barrier, and wade, swim, or walk across any body of water. The game setting being an island means there aren't even any barriers marking the boundary of the game world, simply a never-ending ocean should you attempt to leave.
    • In Oblivion it is possible, through the use of multiply stacked buffs, to attain superhuman "Acrobatics" skill levels, at which point the use of Invisible Walls by the game designers becomes apparent, e.g. when the player cannot cross some pieces of rubble, despite obviously clearing them by a huge margin. On the other hand, even an unmodified Acrobatics skill, in the upper ranges of what is normally attainable, enables the player to reach the roof tops in several of the cities, and from there the city walls and thus the outside of the city — which should have been kept inaccessible, since this reveals that outside world is only an empty, low-resolution copy of the proper game world, which one reaches by exiting through the gates. In the expansion pack Shivering Isles some of the guardians patrolling the landscape are stymied by a combination of ankle deep water — which they refused to cross — and a slope that was just too steep to be climbed at their normal walking speed, so that they ended up treading in place for minutes on end. Further, paintbrushes which are "dropped" remain hanging in air, allowing the creation of "invisible stairways" of paintbrushes to reach places unattainable even with stacked buffs. In case anyone wants to look for all the Invisible Walls.
    • Oblivion, as well as Skyrim, have invisible borders surrounding the edges of the playable game area, which will simply block the player from progressing telling you "You cannot go this way". Usually, these are placed in a place that makes sensenote , some that make a little sense in contextnote , but more often it's just absolutely nonsensical in where it's placednote . Usually (at least on PC) the borders can be disabled by messing with some game files, and usually there's a surprisingly decent amount of game world actually modeled/textured that you can walk on.
    • In Nehrim (a game based on total conversion of Oblivion), not only are the transparent walls quite prevalent, the authors were quite fond of using "Ledge of Instant Death", sometimes becoming a "Gentle Slope of Instant Death" of "Flat Path of Instant Death". (After the initial cave, as the only path transfers from ledge to ravine, you can turn right crossing through some knee-high bushes (without even jumping), walk towards the waterfall and die for no visible reason at all.)
  • Eternal Sonata features some insurmountable sticks on the ground, especially in Mt. Rock. Oddly enough, standing behind one of these sticks will cause an enemy on the other side of the stick to be seemingly unable to see you.
  • Mostly whenever you see a fence in Evergrace, it's to keep you from dying as the other side is either a puddle of water or a drop off a cliff. This in turn marks one of the few times you'll wish for this trope's existence, since falling off of anything means your doom. In the bonus dungeon, there are no fences, but there are a HECK of a lot of enemies with knockback. Which turns a simple challenging dungeon Nintendo Hard instantaneously. Later on, it gains floors which turn from invisible to visible and back, slowly, enemies can come onto them, and there's STILL no fences to save you.
  • Fable:
    • Fable is absolutely rife with insurmountable fences, rivers, edges, invisible walls, weeds, etc.
    • Fable II notably averts this — audiences at GDC '08 actually laughed when they saw a character simply jump over a waist-high fence.
  • The 3D Final Fantasy games generally lack any kind of parkour or jumping, making even the slightest ridge an effective barrier — though the player can jump in Final Fantasy X-2, which has the interesting effect that the same geography which had appeared in Final Fantasy X could, in places, be approached differently, sometimes allowing new areas to be seamlessly integrated into existing locations. Conversely, areas that required swimming in FFX are no longer accessible in FFX-2. Final Fantasy XII, however, is full of them, including the Knee Deep Water of Uncrossability and the Indestructible Fallen Log. Apparently being able to rend the very fabric of space and time with your magic isn't enough to budge an overgrown twig.
    • Final Fantasy XI also contains some particularly irritating examples of this. They don't mark the end of the game world, nor are they a plot element — they just make it take a couple more minutes to get from place to place.
      • Like that accursed rock in Qufim Island that doesn't let players pass between it in the wall, despite there being clearly enough space to do so, and forces them to instead go around the other side and just hope they don't get killed by the living weapon waiting within hearing range.
      • Worse than the accursed rock in Qufim Island, there is the tiny, almost unnoticeable ledge by the final Notorious Monster tower in Dynamis — Xarcabard that while being only two or three ilms (in game term for an inch) high, far smaller than any character's stride, somehow it is as insurmountable as it it were the tallest cliff face.
      • A much earlier occurance comes in Valkurm Dunes. There is a large elevation difference half way in the map proper with a difference in elevation the equivalent to two feet on a largely gradual slope. Because there is no jumping players are forced to go around it, necessitating crossing over to the far side of the zone just to go around the difference. This can result in passing dangerously close to several mobs where groups are required.
    • Inverted for NPC enemies, which can actually walk up vertical cliff faces to reach your player.
    • In Final Fantasy IX it is actually impossible (at least while exploring the Alexandrian castle in the timed sequence) to step from the paved sidewalk in front of the west tower onto the lawn right next to it. That blades of grass could be an insurmountable obstacle for anyone is a bother.
    • Final Fantasy VII sees our mighty, god-summoning heroes barred by a room full of cats.
      • The buggy vehicle in this game's entire purpose in this game is essentially to cross the Knee Deep Stream of Uncrossability. It is hilariously lampshaded in this webcomic.
    • In the 5th year of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, the Jegon River is dried up, so the boat can't ferry you across it. However, it becomes so narrow that you should be able to easily jump it or even wade through it. Instead, you have to go all the way north to Veo Lu Sluice and revive the flowers that provide the river with water.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII your characters can jump clear over large obstacles and wide pits... when the level designers want you to. The game has to mark places where the obstacles are not insurmountable with little glowing circles, because your ability to jump over something has little to do with its size. Played even more straight with land based enemies, who can't jump even at the marked places.
    • The Besaid coast in Final Fantasy X, in which a magical invisible wall is apparently present in the ocean. Especially grim since the mini-map goes significantly beyond this point.
    • Final Fantasy XIV
      • The game uses mounts that your character can use to fly across the various areas of the map, either through quest progression or finding Aether Currents (depending on the map). Either way, there's usually cliffs that go well above your mount's maximum flight height, in-universe barriers around the parts of the map you'll never be able to access, and other justifications as to why you're not allowed to go past certain areas. In other open areas, Invisble Walls surround the areas, and bumping into them makes a barrier marker come up so that you know you can't go any further.
      • New Gridania features a Invulnerable Guard that makes it so you can't pass through a certain gate in the city until certain quests have been completed. Not only is it possible to go around this guard on the map, and not only can you potentially hit endgame content before you can go through this gate, but you could potentially use this same gate to go into town but not back out again because the guard won't let you pass.
  • In the first visit to Redondo Town in Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Meisou no Rinbukyoku, Edward and company enter the sewers and find a stream that's too wide to cross. So instead of just using his alchemy to build a bridge, he has to jump off Alphonse's back to climb a nearby ledge, move across an alternate path on his own and then build the bridge on the other side of the stream without Alphonse's help. So the game subverts this trope just to play it straight afterwards.
  • Geneforge: No matter how powerful your character gets, he is never able to break through/into relatively flimsy doors and cabinets. However, he is still able to pick the locks on such, using a combination of mechanical skills and "living tools". If your build is invested in magic, an Unlock spell does it better for cheaper. But many map borders and bottlenecks are still formed of waist-high fences, knee-deep water, and ankle-high debris.
  • In the Golden Sun games, your path is often blocked by lines of pebbles.
    • Vale has a literal insurmountable waist-high fence, where your only option to get past is to come back much later in the game with the Lift Psynergy and move a boulder out of the way to clear a path.
    • There is an entire quest where you must board a ship to cross a sea, risking life and limb and fighting off monster attacks and even fight off the bloody Kraken to get across in one piece, because the other two paths, a road and a cave, are blocked. The road is blocked by a tiny pile of dirt from a landslide that doesn't even completely block the road, is about a foot high at its lowest point, and isn't much wider than your party. The cave is blocked by your party's arbitrary inability to pull pillars, or tip them over, or use the Lift Psynergy to raise them out of the way, or use Force to knock it over, or simply walk around it, and serves as your Door to Before once you go through from the other side and push it out of the path.
    • It's played for laughs at one point with a trio of insurmountable waist-high puppies. Trying to walk through them simply triggers Issac to declare that he doesn't want to disturb their playing.
    • Parodied in Altin Mines in the first game, where a monster leaps up a cliff face to get around a puddle of water.
  • Guild Wars has no jump mechanic, so even so much as a pebble will stop you in your tracks.
  • In Koudelka, the titular character justifies her unwillingness to go over a relatively short fence due to her modesty, one of the very few instances where this phenomenon is addressed in a way consistent with the setting and explained plausibly. Still, you'd think somebody so concerned about modesty wouldn't have dressed like that to begin with...
  • The Legend of Dragoon has a sleeping housecat blocking an entrance, which is only passable when the cat is lured away with food rather than, say, just stepping over the cat or shooing it away.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals has a few puzzles where you have to hookshot over a hole to an object directly at the other edge with no space for you to stand on, making you fall down to the floor below. Simply hopping down is only possible at some specific other places in the game.
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story:
    • A good chunk of the game is spent collecting the magical MacGuffins needed to get past the barriers blocking Peach's castle, completely ignoring the fact the barriers only block the bridge and not the very wide area on either side of it, and Starlow can both fly and carry both Mario and Luigi while she does so, something she does routinely in battles against Bowser to get the bros out of range of his fire breath.
    • It also has a pretty widespread example in Bowser himself as a playable character; since he can't jump, half his adventuring has you try and figure out ways round very small ledges that Mario and Luigi themselves can simply jump right over.
  • In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, various areas are blocked off by rubble etc., which shouldn't hold too much difficulty for a group of Marvel superheroes. Not only that, but sometimes characters who can fly can completely surmount the barrier, only to find an Invisible Wall. This also comes up in the boss fight against the giant Arcadebot, which requires players to shoot themselves out of a cannon to reach the robot's weak point, rather than simply flying up there.
  • In Mass Effect:
    • While driving the Mako on story worlds, the Gentle Slope of Unclimbability is made the more obvious, since on non-story worlds you can make it climb almost any mountain no matter how steep, while on story worlds you are confined to narrow valleys with walls much gentler and you still come rolling down from them. One time, there is even a Insurmountable Waist Height Fence in the form of a big boulder, that should make it impossible to go further with the Mako, but with some good positioning you can jump over it, leading to a glitch.
    • On Feros there's a steep drop-off leading into a level, and a party member refers to it as a one-way drop. It's farther than a human is tall, so while the heavily armored Shepard on his/her own might not be able to get back up, what keeps party members from helping?
  • In Mass Effect 2:
    • When you're recruiting Tali on Haestrom, rubble blocks your way until you find nearby demolition charges; while it's as large as you, you've been shown performing athletic stunts before that should make simply climbing up a lot easier than fighting your way through all those geth. And naturally, you can't clear the blockage by shooting it, even with the nuke launcher.
    • The Omega 4 relay itself. The game clearly states that many ships had tried to venture beyond the relay and never returned, implying that you should still be able to use the relay, though it might be result in an instant death on the other side. The game will only allow you use the relay, a key plot point, once you have progressed far enough in the game to obtain the key to passing safely.
  • In Mass Effect 3, some fences appear on the Citadel. And some invisible walls on the Multiplayer maps preventing you from jumping to your death... but enemies can use jet-packs to jump up from somewhere below.
  • Might and Magic:
    • In earlier games in the series, lots of terrain obstacles start out being this — rivers, mountains, heavier forests — only to cease being examples as soon as enough people in the party get the appropriate skill for traversing them.
    • Mostly averted in Might & Magic 6 through 8, where even cliff faces that may have been intended to be examples of this trope can mostly be climbed, albeit very slowly, from the very beginning of the game, or failing that ascended bit by bit with the Jump spell, which you usually get fairly early. Many areas that a lot of players seem to think you need to be able to fly to reach, in reality, require nothing more than patience.
    • The ninth (and last official) game in the series, on the other hand, is filled to bursting with straight examples of this trope. Since it was released as essentially a beta, its list of annoying features is long, but this is near the top.
  • In Monster Hunter: World, when the research commission tries to defend Seliana from being frozen over by Velkhana, their response to it is to create a barricade between it and the Dragonslayer that only reach couple of meters high and doesn't even prevent the dragon from flying. And yet it worked because Velkhana somehow didn't think to simply fly over it or heck just climb the Absurdly Ineffective Barricade.
  • In Mother 3, if you attempt to exit the first area of the game (which is the area around Alec's home), or try to go to Argilla Pass before you're supposed to, you will bump into an invisible wall and receive a message that reads, "There are ants at your feet. You might accidentally step on them, so please don't continue in that direction." Ants.
  • Neverwinter Nights mod Aldeberan City and the Forgotten Empire has impassible groups of boulders wherever they don't want you to go at first. Normally you can destroy a boulder by bashing it if you've got a decent enough weapon, but these boulders can only be cleared with a special wand you have to get from a dwarf excavator. Must be super-hard rock or something.
  • In OFF, knee-high blocks will keep you from entering new rooms. Lampshaded by this piece of official art.
The Batter [translated from French]: This block prevents access. Pfff.
  • Pandora's Tower: A lot of these in the towers, either because of blocks that fell from the ceiling or walls due to crumbling, or because of overgrown tree branches.
  • Paper Mario:
    • The literal insurmountable waist-high fence. Early in the game, when you first get to Toad Town, you'll see a Star Piece on the other side of a fence. You can't get past it until you get Sushie 5 chapters later, even though you can jump higher than the fence itself.
    • In Goomba Village, Kammy taunts Mario, and drops a Yellow Block on the gate out. Even though Mario can easily jump higher than the nose-high fencing, he can't actually jump over. Same with the fence at the bottom of the cliff the Goomba house is built on: it, too, is blocked with a Yellow Block, and you can't jump the fence. But in both cases, this is a good thing, as if the game didn't force you to get the Hammer, you'd be stopped by later obstacles and unable to harm some of even the earliest enemies.
    • Due to Strong as They Need to Be and Cutscene Power to the Max, Mario will be unable to jump over obstacles unaided that he would have been more than capable of jumping over unaided in other games, and/or still not be able to do the same despite demonstrating the ability to jump significantly higher than said obstacle in cutscenes or in battle in the very same game.
  • Pokémon:
    • Your character can jump down ledges that appear to be only knee high, but not back up them. The bikes in the Hoenn games make this problem even weirder, as you can ride your bike up a mudslide twice as tall as your character or bunnyhop up tiny footholds in a cliff face... but still can't go over these tiny ledges. This is something of a visual artifact — in the early Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles, graphics were relatively limited and the ledges were intended to be about as tall as the player avatar, but were visually compressed to simulate a top-down view. Later games, despite overall graphical improvements, kept the ledge models very close to their original ones, resulting in them seeming knee-high at best to the player.
    • Another ridiculous example is in the Old Chateau and the Canalave Library in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, where you can't step over books.
    • Certain games require the player to ride a special Pokémon in order to cross otherwise impassable areas. Some of these are logical obstacles, such as open water or snow deeper than a person is tall. Rough ground also shows up as such an obstacle, but typically ends up looking like perfectly even ground with small rocks scattered over it that the player can't even set foot on.
    • One of the most notable examples is the small trees that occasionally stand in the middle of a path. They're thin, and usually appear to be between head high and waist high for the player character, but you still have to use Cut on them to get past. They finally get a justification in Generation VI, where they're traded out for thick thorny bushes that are more clearly around twice the player character's height and width. Since thorny bushes are, well, thorny, your only option for bypassing them without endangering your health is to use Cut or some equivalent.
      • However, the same Generation VI games also added a Nagging Voice variant, in the form of an NPC stopping you from going to the other side of Lumiose City because there's a blackout on the other side. You have to figure out the cause first to be able to pass, even when it's during broad daylight, and other NPCs walk through anyway. This isn't the first time this happens in Pokemon game however, an arguably just as infuriating example is in Generation V games, where a set of NPCs blocked your access to White Forest/Black City map before postgame, for, as they said it themselves, literally no reason, though at least they're self-aware of the silliness of their status.
      • While Pokemon has always been pretty bad about its overuse of NPCs to fulfill this trope, a truly egregious example can be found when thwarting Team Flare's attack on the Power Plant in Generation VI. When you defeat the first Team Flare Grunt you come across, he decides that even though he lost he's still going to be a pain in the ass by blocking the most direct route to the Team Flare admin, forcing the player to take the long way around. While with most examples in this series one could argue that it just doesn't occur to the protagonist to ask the NPCs politely to step aside so they can pass, this Team Flare Grunt is currently committing an act of terrorism that is actively causing the large swaths of the largest city in the region to go without power. You are perfectly justified in using your Pokemon to threaten this man with physical violence if he doesn't move but you don't.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield adds invisible walls to the series — if you go out to the sea around the Isle of Armor DLC area, eventually you will simply stop moving.
  • Robinson's Requiem abused this trope to death. There were multiple occurrences of Frictionless Hills, Indestructible Logs, One Inch Too High Ledges, and perhaps most annoyingly Gentle Slopes of Unclimbability that sometimes required you to go through caves, jungles and deserts to get to the other side. It was even more maddening when you consider the Slope was 5 meters long and with a 20 degree incline.
  • Rogue Galaxy is basically based on this. If there's a huge, open door in front of you but the room within it isn't displayed on the map you CAN'T get in.
    • There's even a part where, after crossing a very long maze-like path across a mine, you come to a point where the short way can connect directly to the elevator leading to the next level, but you have to turn around and take the longest possible way 'cause there's a rock on the way.
    • Also, in the desert planet Rosa, you have to get to some ancient ruins that are visible from the city's gates. And you are forced by invisible walls and unclimbable mounds of sand to take a complicated coiling road plagued with monsters instead of just freakin' running in a straight line towards the ruins.
  • Rune Factory 2 has particularly bad examples of these. The game blocks your way with fences that are waist high, are falling apart, are made out of cheap wood, and are just wide enough to block your path. What's worse, they are located in totally random areas. They're not on the border of some person's property. They are not separating town areas from monster infested areas. In some cases, they aren't even part of a wall. The only reason they're there is to block the main character's path.
  • Shin Megami Tensei
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, the streets and buildings of Tokyo are often lined with small objects such as traffic cones, guard rails, cardboard boxes, and rubble piles that, for whatever reason, you simply cannot just jump over or push out of the way, even though there are many segments in the game where you make big leaps across pond stones, climb on tops of cars, jump into air vents, and the like. At best, these objects force you to take a longer route to get to someplace about two meters away, and at worst they block off paths completely.
    • Shin Megami Tensei V: The player can't enter the interior of buildings that have been abandoned and decaying for almost two decades unless there's a giant gaping hole in the exterior, at least large enough to fit a small car through. The Almighty Nahobino, ladies and gentlemen. Has power rivaling the God of the Bible. Can't break in a window, even when said window is already missing.
  • Skies of Arcadia has Insurmountable Dark Patches Of Sand keeping you from straying from the path connecting the two halves of the town of Maramba.
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole Professor Chaos has spread "Lava", AKA red LEGO bricks, around the city to impede the heroes' progress. Since the kids are really dedicated to roleplaying it's treated as actual lava to the point that it can burn the player character and Craig treats a small pool of bricks cutting him off from the rest of the team as him being doomed. Eventually you get the ability to blow them out of the way with Stan's sandblaster and in the ending the heroes are so frustrated that they outright just walk right through some "lava" at Cartman's doorsteps, which shocks other kids witnessing this.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story features a short trip through a swampified forest early on. When you approach a marshy area, the hero will say "It's impossible to go further," and won't budge. An NPC actually gives you boots specifically for crossing the marshes just before you set out, making this something of a head scratcher. It's never explained that the boots are an equippable item, and that they must be worn in the "Greaves" slot by one of your characters. It would definitely stymie a first-time player, especially when all the other Plot Coupons in the game are treated as key items.
  • Sweet Home (1989) takes this to ridiculous levels. Rope on the floor? You'll need Kazou's lighter to get by it. Shards of broken glass? Asuka's vacuum is the only way around that. Shallow ditch in the ground? You need a board to cross it. This is despite the fact that the characters are all capable of walking through rushing streams, thorny bushes, piles of still-moving bodies, and even raging infernos.
  • Tales Series: Multiple games call undue attention to this trope by having characters able to jump several times their own height... but only in battle.
    • Tales of Symphonia has a puzzle room in zero gravity. No, you still can't climb over the waist-high obstacles. Also, when the Ymir fruit drops off a tree. It's only a couple of feet away in some seemingly shallow water, one of the party characters has wings, and you STILL have to go through a ridiculous animal-calling puzzle to push it to shore halfway across the map.
    • Tales of Phantasia has the infamous crab in Alvanista that blocks the player from getting a chest. The only way to get this treasure is by waiting for the crab to walk out, then when it tries to go back, go talk to it to make it stop, and repeat. Curiously, this is the only crab sprite in the game that the player cannot go through. Why couldn't Cless just slay this demonic crab? No one knows. Also, when walking around as Arche (possible in later remakes), she seems to float around on her broom when "running." She still gets hurt by tiny floor spikes.
  • Terranigma
    • You can jump. Sometimes you can jump over gaps. Other times, you run into an invisible wall. Sometimes you can jump down deep holes in the ground. Other times, you just take damage and are put back where you fell from. Still other times, you hit invisible walls. The only way to find out is to try.
    • There is also an NPC-block keeping Ark from progressing. Servas is blocking the bridge to the cave Ark needs to enter because he's waiting for his girlfriend to arrive, and won't leave until she's there. Said girlfriend turns out to have died on her way to meet him and Ark gives her ring to Servas, who promptly disappears.
  • Due to Unleash the Light switching back to Attack the Light's movement system, where you move between rooms by swiping instead of exploring them freely in a 3D space in Save the Light, you can no longer jump up or down ledges. You also can't grab items unless you're on the same level as them.
  • The Witcher is a fairly standard feet-stuck-to-the-floor variety, which in itself is nothing remarkable. What makes it annoying is that in the intro Geralt is shown as having acrobatic prowess comparable to Altair. It gets particularly annoying when you find he can't even step over stray pumpkins lying in his path.
  • In World of Mana, it's sometimes rather difficult to tell the difference between regular backgrounds and impassable ones, so it occasionally looks like your progress is balked by slightly gritty dirt. Additionally, in Trials of Mana you're blocked by an insurmountable optical illusion that you can't get around unless you talk to the right NPC and then use the Lumina element on said illusion.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 has an instance where the characters must fabricate a bomb to blow a way through a grid blocking a corridor. That is, despite the main character having a sword able to cut through anything.
  • Xenosaga:
    • Players will enter areas in their extremely large mecha, but solve a puzzle in order to circumvent a two-foot barrier. This is despite the fact that these robots fly during battle.
    • An even stupider combination of this and Broken Bridge appears in Xenogears. A small child accidentally leaves her stuffed animal in front of the door to the bridge of your sandship. This makes it completely impossible to enter the bridge until you find her and get her to move it. Even worse, the characters immediately declare this to each other.
    • Even worse is the Tower of Babel. A large, tall, completely hollow tower that your characters have to ascend in their Gears, which, of course, are capable of flight... and yet they make the entire ascent on foot. It is official: the cast of Xenogears is Too Dumb to Live.
    • In one dungeon, Fei comes across a door that he says is locked from the other side. Much later in the same dungeon, Fei finds himself on the other side of the door, and announces that he still can't open it. Moments later, the door opens, and the characters walk out. One of them calls him stupid: the door wasn't locked, he thought he had to pull it open rather than push it open.

    Simulation Game 
  • From Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the bamboo stopblock item doesn't even look like it goes past the characters' ankles, but you can't step over it.
  • Black & White 2 creatures, despite being over one hundred feet tall when fully grown, cannot step over houses less than a quarter of their height.
  • In Dwarf Fortress:
    • Due to the ASCII nature of the game, any wall your little dorfs build count as these. Even to giants. Walls and various other constructions of the same type are cannot be destroyed by anything other than your own dwarves. Gets even sillier when you realise that fortifications (usually found on top of said walls) work as these too while allowing dorfs to fire things from behind them (if the fortifications are sufficiently submerged in water or lava, swimming creatures can pass them). Flying creatures can still bypass them.
    • They're not walls per se, but trees are strangely impassable obstacles. A dwarf can wind up starving to death if the only path to a place has a sapling in it that ticks over to "mature tree" while he's on the other side of it.
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom features waist-high security gates in Broadleaf. Your character can easily jump high enough to clear the gate, but you still can't get over them, and there's no way to access what's beyond them. You really can't jump over anything, and sometimes can't even jump onto a ledge slightly above you (or, worse, below you).
  • The Sims
    • Sims cannot pass between squares separated by walls or fences, which leads to the ridiculous experience of surrounding a Sim with an ankle-high white picket fence and watching him starve to death, unable to cross it. As a means of a "fix", The Sims 2 includes higher-than-waist fences only.
    • Sims 2 sims cannot climb out of a pool without a ladder. They would sooner drown than simply climb up the ledge that's only inches above the water line.
    • Sims are also unable to escape when surrounded by pink-flamingo lawn ornaments.
    • The insurmountable objects (fences, bushes, plant, etc) even apply when the Sim is above them i.e. put a bush next to the bed while the sim is sleeping and they will be unable to get out of the bed when they wake up, even if the bed is taller than the unpassable object. And since the Sims can't die in bed this leads to an endless loop of them trying and failing to get out of bed even after they should have starved to death.
    • Your Sim will find themself unable to reach a needed object because of very small items left on the floor. This leads to much confusion for the Sim and yelling while gesturing wildly at the plate that was left on the floor that is now blocking them from getting out of their kitchen.
    • MySims has a number of areas blocked off by being boarded up, having a fallen log across the path, having a random pile of rocks in the way, or there being a metal door there. You start the game with an axe. You cannot use it to chop down the boards or chop up the logs; you have to wait until you get the crowbar and saw, respectively. You cannot climb over the rocks, or over the fence into the desert. You have to earn the pickaxe first. At one point, a door blocks a bridge with no rails on it. You can enter the water in most places where it exists, but you cannot pull yourself out of it onto the bridge. Looks like earning the blowtorch is the only way to go...
    • The Sims 3 somewhat fixes this, with Sims now being able to get out of pools without using a ladder, as well as having small ankle-high fences that Sims can cross, though waist-high fences remain insurmountable.
    • This article greatly illustrates the absurdity of the waist high fence on a couple different occasions. Surrounding his Sim's home with said fence, Firefighters are unable to reach the house when it catches on fire and are forced to stand around and watch it burn. Later, Child Services arrives to remove a child from the home. The Child Services agent is able to teleport into the home to remove the baby, but then is unable to leave because of the fence.
    • In most if not all of the series, The Grim Reaper cannot cross water. This means that a player can keep their Sims alive by simply surrounding the house with a moat; any Sims on the property inside the moat is protected from Death itself. This method even still works if the moat has stairs on both the inner edge and the outer edge - Sims cannot die while they are in the property, and generally only leave briefly when going to work or school, when Death cannot get to them.
    • The Sims Medieval has insurmountable knee-height fences, as well as serious difficulty pathfinding around other Sims. The Throne Room doors look big enough for multiple Sims to enter/leave at once, but they always have problems with them.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Hello Neighbor makes use of the Invisible Wall variant to block you from exploring the neighborhood aside from your and the Neighbor's houses. Interestingly enough, you can get over them (in the Alpha at least), since they're not infinitely high and there's a glitch that allows you to use a trashcan to fly above the map.
  • Metal Gear:
    • The first Metal Gear has an Overpowering Constant Wind blocking you from crossing the rooftops until you find a Bomb Blast Suit.
    • Metal Gear Solid has one specific moment where this is gratingly apparent. The protagonist Solid Snake, a veteran special forces soldier, runs down the stairs in a tower for several floors, only to be thwarted when the bottom five feet of the stairs have collapsed. Any normal adult could easily drop down that height without injury. Rather than doing so, Snake opts to climb back to the top of the tower and fight a Hind-D while Otacon fixes up the elevator. This was so widely mocked that the GameCube remake actually changed it up so the bottom few floors have collapsed instead, making it a sheer 30 foot drop or so. Still, too bad Snake couldn't find another rope...
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has Raiden winding his way through a labyrinthine machine for several minutes when the actual goal, a button or lever of some sort, would have been reachable by stepping over a pipe on the ground and leaning in.
    • In one level of the fourth game, choosing to backtrack into the building you just exited is physically impossible. Apparently, this one side of the building is capable of withstanding bullets, grenades, C4, missile launchers, and even rail gun fire.
  • Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell is a master infiltrator who can surmount most obstacles with ease... unless said obstacle is door with cleaning equipment in front of it. In some cases, the high-tech pick of Fisher is hindered by nothing but a mere broom.
  • Thief: Deadly Shadows:
    • Fans of the first two games were unpleasantly surprised by this one turning bodies of water more than ankle-deep into deathtraps, surprising because in the first games, not only could master thief Garrett swim, it was required for several missions. Somehow Garrett forgot how to swim in his journey to Deadly Shadows.
    • In Deadly Shadows, once you acquire the climbing gloves, you can climb brick or stone walls till your hearts content, unless there is a wooden beam thicker than four inches blocking your way.
  • Although you play a goose in Untitled Goose Game, you cannot fly (your wings are clipped), so even small hedges and fences subject you to this trope.
  • In Yandere Simulator, when a player tries to leave the school, the screen turns staticky and the words 'no... I must not...' appear, hiding the Invisible Wall that you're walking into.

    Survival Horror 
  • Alien: Isolation often has doors, paths, and passageways blocked by small crates, belt-high barrels, or small piles of refuse. It shouldn't he hard for Ripley to just push them aside, let alone hop right over them, but this is never an option. Not that this stops her from making impressive adrenaline-fuelled leaps when the plot calls for it.
  • ANNIE: Last Hope have insurmountable chairs in a few areas, that you somehow can't just kick aside. Never mind you're fighting for your lives in a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • In Corpse Party, chairs and desks are impassable obstacles. Several of the ruined classrooms are divided into two halves by inconveniently placed furniture, with the characters apparently unable to simply climb them or move them out of the way. Of course, the game is set in a malevolent Eldritch Location where doors can become impassable at arbitrary moments and earthquakes can collapse entire hallways, so maybe it's just how the place works.
  • Happens a lot in Drakengard, especially in any scenes involving ruins or recently-destroyed buildings.
  • Eternal Darkness has a couple of puzzles where the door can only be opened by solving two puzzles. However, solving the first opens the door to just under head height, making the completely land based characters seem even more stupid. It's easy to justify with the fat characters and squishy priest, but the more physically active characters have no excuse.
  • Fatal Frame is a repeat offender.
    • Fatal Frame II has Mio encounter the Unclearable Debris in the Osaka underground passage. Despite the rocks being large and looking sturdy enough for a teenager to climb over, she refuses to do so.
    • Fatal Frame III has Rei encounter a dresser, which could only be moved by a man's strength, and proclaims the same about a somewhat wide gap between rooftops. When playing as the male protagonist, they can be easily moved.
  • In Kuon, there are various times when objects block your path including a small wooden disk, a fallen paper door, and what appears to be a jacket.
  • Outlast: Impenetrable Darkness is used at one point. The player character drops the camera he was using to see in the dark, and you have to go get it from several floors down before you can continue down a dark hallway. The game doesn't even let you try to go through it, forcing you backwards until you get the camera.
  • In the Resident Evil game series the protagonists, even though they are either well trained members of the Raccoon City Police's special task-force S.T.A.R.S. and/or are able to perform insane stunts like jumping down stairs while fetching a gun in mid-air and shoot gas tanks to take out an entire team of evil grunts one-handed, are overstrained when facing old, battered wooden (read: adamantium) doors they don't have the right key for. This trope becomes especially comical if the player is circled by a pack of zombies who will tear him apart any second and his only escape route would be through an old rusty garden gate, but he'd rather stop any attempts of escaping saying to himself "It's locked. I don't have the right key to open it". Further, in numerous cut-scenes the protagonists find themselves in exactly the same situation, but will then suddenly remember their training back at the police academy and simply breach the door which leads to their escape route.
    • This gets even more ridiculous in the first Resident Evil game, where Jill Valentine, ex-Delta force and current S.T.A.R.S member, complete with pistols, machine guns, and even rocket launchers, is equipped with a lock-pick and has been dubbed "The Master of Unlocking", still cannot go through the very same wooden doors. It gets even more absurd when a cut-scene in the game which shows Jill trapped in a locked room after she takes a shotgun from an adjacent one, ie the "Jill Sandwich" Descending Ceiling room. Despite having a shotgun, she can't use it to blow the lock off the door, and ends up being rescued by another S.T.A.R.S member who simply kicks the door open.
      • The novelization justified it by stating that the locks that needed a key were reinforced locks that made lockpicking useless (Jill even comments that she never saw that type of lock before and tries to use the shotgun on it, to no avail).
    • Not to mention the doors that require obscure objects to open them. Why would the protagonists go searching for a blue jewel or a silver crest, when they can just kick the door down instead?
    • After the second battle with the Grave Digger worm in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, a fallen piece of fencing conveniently allows you to climb over a previously insurmountable rock. Although the rock looks like she could have climbed over it without the aid of the fence.
    • During the days right before Raccoon City gets nuked (seen especially in, but not limited to, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis), the protagonist will be confronted with a passageway that is blocked by a crashed car that could be easily climbed over or through. Sometimes, the car is on fire, or there is a pile of crashed cars. But usually, it looks easily surmountable. This is sometimes viewed as silly when the protagonist has to choose between climbing over the car into an empty alley, or fighting and dodging down a long road packed with monsters, and must choose the monsters because the car is insurmountable.
    • In the Remake on Nintendo GameCube, if you go into the room where you found the first floor map (and used your first self-defense item), you may find that zombie you killed earlier, now mutated into a highly aggressive and physically powerful Crimson Head, blocked by the three-foot high dresser you have to push out of the way to go down the hall where you killed it the first time.
    • Both Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and the remake of Resident Evil 2 feature an electrical switchbox sealed up with strips of strong, thick tape. The ends of the tape are plainly visible and accessible by hand, but your character will not even consider trying to peel off the stuff, and needs to find a knife to cut through it instead.
    • The remake of Resident Evil 2 also has a weapons storage room in the police station whose keypad is missing key caps for "2" and "3". Despite the fact that in real life you can easily still press the switches on the base of the keypad to trigger it despite the missing key caps, the protagonists don't bother and would rather look for the spare key caps just so they can press the buttons the proper way.
  • Silent Hill hits this one early on. In most outdoor areas, you're navigating a map to try to get from point A to point B, but many of the roads are blocked, either by Bottomless Pits or insurmountable roadblocks. At one point in the second game, you're stopped by police caution tape. Yes, your character cannot get past police caution tape. Oddly, he is able to climb through a broken gate at one point.
    • In Silent Hill 2, the above-ground path to the boat launch is blocked by a literal waist-height fence. To get around it, you must go through... the Abyss. And there's a Locked Door barring entrance to that.
    • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has one truly bizarre example is when you stop at the ranger station in the woods. It shouldn't take less than 8 seconds to get out of the car, but in the time it took for you to pull up to the cabin and get out, a waist-high snowbank has formed over the back part of your car and in front of you, blocking you from driving either direction. Strangely, the snowbanks tend to be high, but formed in a way that Harry could scale them with a little climbing.
    • One of the many criticisms that players have for Silent Hill: Downpour is the fact that at the beginning of the game, the main character has one of his paths blocked by a fallen tree. Rather than, I don't know, actually CLIMBING over the tree that appears no more than a foot high, the character just gives up right there and decides to go the opposite direction where the haunted town lies.
    • Downpour later justifies it when you are tasked with finding a key to start a boat. Murphy declares he can hotwire it no problem, and Bobby Ricks immediately tells him no, that they have to play by the town's rules, and that they'll be punished if they don't. Needless to say, the town very quickly proves Bobby right.
    • As Yahtzee Croshaw pointed out, there's another bit in Silent Hill 2 where the character "runs around gathering a lighter, a wax doll, and a horseshoe to make a new handle for a trapdoor, all the while obliviously lumping around at least fifteen extremely cumbersome ways you could have pried it open."
    • This taken to the point of potential parody in yet another puzzle of Silent Hill 2 where you need to solve four puzzles to remove four locks from a box, only to find that it contains a few strands of hair. Said hair is used as string for a hook to fish a plot-important item out of a drain. Not only does the building your in contain tons of things that would serve this purpose, but James' own hair is long enough to serve said purpose.
  • In the Siren Games, female characters are unable to climb ledges above their hips in terms of height, while males can climb ledges that are just above their height in length. When a mission has a male character and a female one the player controls the male every time and in these ledges the player has to help the female get up the otherwise un-climbable ledge. If the mission is a single female the player has to find an alternate route or method to get to the same destination.
  • Slender:
    • The first game's intro has the character climb over the metal fence marking the border of the map, which makes your inability to climb back over it and chicken out when the tall guy shows up even weirder.
    • Slender: The Arrival is an expanded version with more terrain and nature, meaning that there are of course insurmountable terrain that the player character can surmount just fine at other points.
  • Almost every level in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games (at least, the first two). Most of the exterior levels are bordered by flimsy barbwire fences. You can jump over higher things during the game, including climbing a stack of crates over a concrete wall (twice in quick succession) during one of the plot missions in Clear Sky, but the border fences are unjumpable. They do jingle when you bump them, though...
  • Tormented Souls: Protagonist Caroline can move a fridge to reveal a hidden area, but cannot move a few boxes to reach a door that the developers don't want you to get through.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • In the first Dead Space game, you cannot step off of the tram platform onto the tracks and try to get around that way.
  • Dirge of Cerberus loves to have you fight crowds of mooks to shut down pop-up energy fences. The international release of the game added a double-jump, in a very small concession to the fact that Vincent could jump fifty feet in the air from a standing position in most cutscenes. However, they didn't appropriately adjust the height of the fences (which were already dangerously close to this). Cue thousands of players cartwheeling futilely more than two feet above the top of the fence.
  • The insurmountable waist-high fences (and sometimes other obstacles) felt egregious in the Crusader games, where you were an unstoppable Super-Soldier and had guns that could blow up most of the scenery, but would at most deform metal fences, and not enough for you to climb over them. (In the games' defense, you couldn't jump for shit. Maybe that armor was really tight around the crotch.)
    • See also Sigmateam's Alien Shooter, an isometric shooter where the final weapon is some sort of shoulder-fired nuclear-powered gatling gun... which still cannot seem to destroy basic office equipment. Perhaps the aliens should have made their armour out of cheap Chinese plastic instead.
  • As tough as Joel and Ellie from The Last of Us are, both of them seem chronically incapable of moving a pile of chairs and shelves out of their way, no matter how haphazardly they're stacked.
  • Nightmare Creatures for the N64 had waist high fences that could be destroyed. Or walked upon to get to bonuses. Shoulder high fences were insurmountable by the gymnastic, monster-slaughtering hero... the villain could hop them with impunity.
  • Resident Evil 4, with its redefined control scheme, makes it easy to just hit the Action button to jump over any sufficiently low fence when prompted. Of course, this only serves to make the game's proper insurmountable waist height fences more jarring when you have to perform an irritating Fetch Quest for a gate key instead of just jumping over the gate. On the plus side, a lot of non-plot-critical locked doors can be kicked down or blown open with a weapon, so it's a small step in the right direction.
    • Even worse was the 'Separate Ways' bonus chapters present in the PS2 and subsequent versions of the game, in which you get to play as Ada Wong. The girl with the Zelda-style hookshot that can attach to anything, even hundreds of yards away. Since the device was entirely governed by action commands, the game just dictated when you could zip over obstacles, and when you had to run off on a 16-room detour.
    • In Resident Evil 5, there's a Light and Mirrors Puzzle wherein the light kills you, and you have to figure out a way to point it where you want without blocking yourself in, ignoring the fact that you could easily get on the ground and crawl under the light.
      • There's the scene where you have to wander around on a moving conveyor belt leading to an incinerator and littered with half-dead zombies, in order to get round a metal crate that barely comes up to shoulder height on the protagonist, who is strong enough to move a boulder several times his size by punching it, but apparently can't lift his own body weight a few feet. To make it worse, the only thing preventing the heroes from going around the box is a handrail.
      • In that same area, rails that aren't even ankle-high stop you from jumping off of a conveyor belt even though you did a knee-high jump to get on it in the first place & will do another one to get off.
      • Like Resident Evil 4, the plot decides what waist-height objects you can and can't climb on.
    • In Resident Evil 6, Leon and Helena are attempting to go through a hallway that includes a metal detector. The metal detector only takes up half of the hallway's width, with the other part being impeded by a desk. The exact same model as the desks you've been easily vaulting over at will since the beginning of the game. But this desk? Oh, no no no. It's too much of an obstacle. Your weapon-laden characters have no other option but to blunder through the metal detector, set off every alarm in the building, and draw dozens of zombies to their position.
  • S4 League is a rather odd example. While camera glitches that allow shooting from directly behind walls are the most notable "features" of the game, two map-related glitches in the game are in the Colosseum map; if you Anchor (call it a surfboard with a grappling hook) or Fly (using wings) to a certain spot above your spawn point, there's a metal rod that resembles an antenna with clearly enough spacee between it and the building to shoot or snipe through. However, the game treats this space as a wall for some reason.
    • Similarly, if you anchor or fly across the space behind the spawn point and land on the other side, there's an invisible wall which you can't move through but oddly enough, you can shoot through it.
  • Syphon Filter: Grate blocking subway ramp? You can't use grenades on it, only C4 will take it down, from the other side. Hedge maze in Washington Park? No, you can't climb over the hedges. Cars blocking the road? Forget about climbing over them. And outside of cutscenes, falling more than about 8-10 feet (the maximum climbing height) kills you instantly.
  • It would be easier to list which examples Uncharted doesn't use note . Sometimes these barriers are lifted after specific story events or Quick Time Events, but more often than not they remain there to keep the levels linear. Unclearable Debris and Adamantium Door are both the most common and most egregious due to the millennia-old and/or ruined environments Nate often explores and his general ability to climb up just about anything. Knee Deep Water of Uncrossability also combines with Ledge of Instant Death to give open bodies of water that look like Nate should be able to land in safely and swim as normal, only for him to die as soon as he hits it (especially weird when Nate uses this as an escape method multiple times in the story). Impassable Forest and Gentle Slope of Unclimbability are present in jungle and desert environments, respectively.
    • Happily, Invisible Walls are never used, as environmental obstacles are favored in every situation.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine: Captain Titus cannot jump, only roll, therefore knee-high obstacles are impassable to him. You do get a jetpack, but only in certain levels.

    Tower Defense 
  • In Metal Slug Defense, sandbags can be placed to hold off enemies. In normal Metal Slug games, players would just jump over them with blazing guns instead.
  • In Orcs Must Die!, you can build insurmountable waist height barricades to channel the orcs.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • On Yuzu's 8th day in Devil Survivor: Overclocked, you have to get into the Shomonkai's headquarters, and the door is locked. It's just an ordinary sliding glass door, no magical nonsense or special proofing. You and your demons are capable of feats of power up to and including casting a nuclear explosion, but you can't use them.
  • In Fallout Tactics, your squad of heavily-armed Brotherhood of Steel initiates will often have to take long detours in order to get around a couple of wrecked cars, a torn fence or a waist-high row of sandbags.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War has famously large maps for the franchise, which means it's the only game to really need consistent ways to keep the player on-track. If a player tries to stray too far from the intended path, they'll eventually encounter an Invisible Wall preventing the unit from going any further, which is enough to suffice for most maps. But Chapter 4 gets a little more traditional: when a scripted fight between two teams of NPCs ensues, a random mage will appear to black the one square of path that would allow a non-Pegasus unit to reach them. Since the NPC is coded as an allied unit, the controllable characters can't touch them, and once the scripted event is over, the NPC simply disappears.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 lets you vault over fences and climb any house that has a flat roof. But you can't climb over crates, tables, and pretty much everything else that isn't either a fence or a flat-topped building. This is more a coding issue than intentional blockage for the most part — fan-mods fix this up some.
  • Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden: Any obstacle more than knee high is insurmountable. On the other hand, there is a lot of stealth in this game, and you can usually hide behind the obstacles.
  • Nintendo Wars: In the Advance Wars sub-series, only one unit can occupy each square of terrain at a time — meaning that any unit in a single-square wide chokepoint acts as an indestructible barrier if the unit trying to get through is incapable of attacking said blocking unit. This can lead to a squadron of fighter jets being unable to fly over a submerged submarine. Then there are pipelines; indestructible terrain (except for the seams) that air units can't even fly over, yet ranged units can fire over them without any problems. Advance Wars: Dual Strike shows us that the pipes are slightly taller than tanks.
  • Odium has plenty of these, making its turn-based battles somewhat ridiculous. Small piles of junk block movement and bullets alike. You cannot even shoot across gaps.
  • UFO Enemy Unknown features a downplayed example where the fences are climbable, but is odd that your troopers are tough enough to hardly notice stepping off the roof of a two storey building but need a flying suit to get over a dry stone wall. Also, you remember those dragon's teeth concrete blocks they used to slow down tanks in World War 2? In the near future, you will be able to get a similar effect using a picket fence or a box of tomatoes.

    Vehicular Combat 
  • Twisted Metal 2 has a level set in a Dutch tulip field. The field is bordered by a small wooden fence which cannot be destroyed or jumped over, whereas the two sturdy windmills in the field go down easy.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Assassin's Creed justifies this, along with everything else, with "The Animus Did It." The player is not exploring a real place, but a virtual re-construction of a place retrieved from Genetic Memories. Areas of the map are blocked by virtual barriers which render them inaccessible until certain events have transpired: the player character is expressly trying to re-experience his ancestor's memories, so Sequence Breaking results in "desynchronization" from the original sequence of events. Doors that the ancestor never opened cannot be opened. Barriers that the ancestor never surmounted cannot be surmounted. Targets can only be assassinated during specific events in which they are in the open because that is when the given Assassin found the opportunity to bypass security to make the kill. Guild branches always have open rooftop entrances because that is the method by which the Assassins always accessed them. Even in the countryside areas, geography keeps the players from wandering off the map; Ezio, a master acrobat who can climb sheer buildings hundreds of feet high, can't jump to the top of a three-feet high gentle slope, simply because he never really explored those areas and passes on no memories of what those areas contain outside of a specific path.
  • It's not waist-high, but the rubble/debris piles in Fallout 3 are arranged in such a way that any normal person could climb over them. The player character cannot, however.
    • There's another insurmountable waist high fence in a backyard in Takoma Park.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has some examples of this; the overworld is cut into cells to ease loading times, and one can only transit between cells at passes. A few of these passes also house beef gates to force the player to Follow the Plotted Line. In particularly buggy areas such as the area around Nelson, the player character can end up several dozen feet off the ground by skimming a cell edge. Some of the indoor areas, e.g. Vault 34's main floor, are also divided into sub-areas.
      • There is a notable case of this in Freeside: the first cell extends out into the second one but only going through the doors takes you to the actual cell. The Cerulean Robotics factory is in about the same area as the gate to the strip and the Ruined Store is around where the Atomic Wrangler is supposed to be.
      • The High Road section of the Lonesome Road DLC has Crevices of Instant Death where you can see the ground below, but if you fall through, you die in mid-air with a Fade to Black as if it were a Bottomless Pit.
    • The earlier Fallout games play the trope much more directly. Because of how the game deals with shop inventories many of the merchants in the game have their items stashed in containers on the map just beyond the player's vision and, thanks to various waist-high obstacles, beyond their reach as well. At least one of these inventories in Fallout 2 can be accessed with patient skirting of a waist-high fence, not that it really breaks the game at all.
  • In Fallout 4, you may have superhuman strength or be packing enough explosive firepower to personally re-enact the Great War, but you aren't getting through an intact chain link fence. Nor will maxed out Strength and Agility enable you to climb it. Boarded-up doors are equally unpassable. Notably, one house in Natick Banks has an attic level with a loot crate, but unless you have a jetpack, you can't reach it because of an Impassable Head High Beam blocking the stairs.
    • Particularly egregious are the indestructible Port-A-Diner claw machines, which have a ridiculous 1/50 chance of dispensing their delicious pie... at 10 luck. For the unluckiest, the odds are as slim as 1/1000. All that stands between the player and its delicious pie is a bubble of transparent, glassy material so strong as to survive a nuclear war, as well as any and all ordnance the player launches at it, up to point-blank mini-nukes.
  • Every Grand Theft Auto game until San Andreas, along with the later PSP sequels featured instances of this.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V have instances of this as well. In GTA V there is a notable example: there is a construction site in downtown Los Santos (the site of the giant crane you need to climb to access a collectable item) where there are two concrete barricades: one red, one grey. The grey one can be jumped over. The red one is virtually identical except for its color, yet the player cannot jump over it in any fashion.
  • inFAMOUS. Cole McGrath is an electric urban GOD.. Chainlink fences are his kryptonite. Seriously, he can climb anything, glide and ride rails and wires using electricity, but he can't climb a chain link fence? He's also stopped by water, but that makes more sense since he's electric, and the water grounds him out completely.
    • The sequel, however, fixed this, even offering an achievement/trophy for climbing on one of said fences.
  • Just Cause 2 has chain-link fences that work like this for the enemy military. The Panauan soldiers can't climb or use the gates, never try to blow them up and they can't even see through them.
  • Minecraft contains a literal example. Fences and walls appear to be one block tall, which is small enough to jump over. However, their hitbox is actually one and a half blocks tall, making it impossible to simply jump over.
  • No More Heroes features insurmountable ankle-height curbs in various parts of Santa Destroy.
  • In the [PROTOTYPE] games, the protagonists are strong enough to throw cars at helicopters and rip the turrets off of tanks. But the doors on military bases are made of tougher stuff yet, and you can't get through them without killing the base commander for his ID.
  • In places in Open Simulator-based worlds with the old BulletSim physics, stairs can be difficult or downright impossible to climb if the steps are too high. In fact, they only work reasonably well with invisible built-in ramps. You can even get stuck on curbstones if they're too high.
  • Red Dead Redemption has plenty of these. Firstly the main character can't swim, or indeed walk in it if it's above waist height. Then our main character has a pitiful jump which can often lead to your plainly attempting to get over a something if John doesn't automatically climb over it. This is especially clear when trying to get into West Elizabeth early. To prevent the player, the two bridges aren't present, and the river water is raised to be higher. The thing is, at one point, the gap is so small that a normal person could probably just get a good run up and jump the gap. Even John, with his inability to swim, could probably still make it through what amounts to a gap of maybe a meter in width. Then the game is littered with slopes that just a bit too steep to climb up which circles the Sand Box world.
    • Red Dead Redemption 2: In the sequel, Arthur and all horses can swim, and there are even boats the player can access. However, if the player goes too far towards the out-of-bounds shore on the other side of the river/lake, the boat will sink, and the player will drown, regardless of their ability to swim. The insurmountable slopes from the first game make a return, even though some of them seem to be barely steep at all, particularly the ones on the far side of the river near Aurora Basin. In addition, some areas that appear in early versions of the game's map have been hastily blocked off with unclimbable boulders in the final game, to the point where glitching behind them is surprisingly simple and abandoned off-map landmarks can still be seen just by using photo mode.
  • While the world of Saints Row 2 is fairly open to the player, 'homies' can't climb, meaning that they can't get past an insurmountable knee- high fence.
    • Saints Row: The Third is no different. You can jump up onto ledges, jump across gaps, but your homies can't physically do it themselves, so they need the game AI to teleport them across to where you are.
  • Tony Montana in Scarface: The World Is Yours has instances of the One Inch Too High Ledge and the Gentle Slope of Unclimbability. Also, if you swim too far out into the ocean, Tony is eaten by a shark.
  • Shadows of Doubt will actually permit you to perform acts of breaking-and-entering usually barred by other games, such as smashing windows or kicking down doors. However, if the window has even the flimsiest of plastic blinds over it, the game will put the brakes on your larcenous plans and won't let you smash the window. This can sometimes lead to the embarrassing situation of being trapped in an apartment with the police/residents closing in because you can't just push aside a five dollar window blind to leap out to safety.
  • Sid Meier's Pirates! uses a literal Insurmountable Waist High Fence, to the player's advantage. During the stealth segments of the game, the player can leap over a fence to avoid guards, who, despite being able to see you clearly on the other side, are too fat and lazy to climb over and arrest you.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series does this frequently, with the New York level in Tony Hawks 2 being possibly the worst example of it.
  • Watch_Dogs:
    • Hacked (raised) bridges become this to AI pursuers. Almost any vehicle can make the jump between one end of the bridge and the other — certainly any vehicle driven by pursuers — but you can hack the bridge, speed up and over yourself, and be safe in the knowledge that they're stuck on the other side unable to come directly at you.
    • Aiden himself can't jump outside of contextually necessary situations, which can create some odd scenarios where he can't clear small gaps or cut certain corners just because there's a bit of empty space between him and the obstacle.

  • Gruntz is chock-full of various obstacles that any normal human could easily get past by just climbing onto things or walking carefully between them. Then again, the tutorial does mention that the titular gruntz aren't exactly bright.
  • Star Wars:
    • Each game in which the player can use a lightsaber. In the movies and various other media, these have been used to cut through several-inch-thick Unobtainium-steel doors. In the games, they typically have no effect on any barriers whatsoever. Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords actually allowed you to bash open doors with your lightsaber, but there were still "magnetically sealed" doors that resisted all force.
    • In the Expanded Universe just about every force user can hurl massive objects with a flick of the wrist and should easily be able to pull down nearly any barrier. Especially noticeable in The Force Unleashed, when the protagonist is able to pull a Star Destroyer out of orbit and throw five story Unobtainium doors around with the Force, but many other barriers are completely impassible.
    • You could probably build Mount Everest out of the Frictionless Hills and Gentle Slopes of Unclimbability in the LEGO Star Wars series.

    Real Life 
  • In this example, a little dog is seemingly not able to escape a cage made out of empty Pepsi cans.
  • Seligman's original Learned Helplessness experiments, in which dogs which were previously subject to unavoidable electric shocks were later found unable to jump over a very low wall to avoid the shock, instead putting their heads down and whining.
  • Guineafowl have demonstrated a remarkable inability to get around an open farm-gate. Sometimes it takes as long as fifteen minutes for them to realise they can fly over it. Gavin Maxwell relates a tale of having opened the gate to let his geese out of their pen some time earlier than the time he regularly did it, then went away and thought no more of it. Then, some time after the regular gate-opening time, he looked out the window and was surprised to see no geese outside. He investigated, and found all the geese still inside their pen, pacing up and down impatiently in front of the open gate. Only after he closed the gate again and then reopened it with a theatrical flourish did the geese come out.
  • Dave Barry wrote about his dogs who waited in front of a door to be let outside, even though the door was the only part of the porch that was still standing after a hurricane. Thus, they could have simply walked around the door.
    • There was a video that appeared on America's Funniest Home Videos where the glass in a door was completely gone, for whatever reason. A golden retriever was sitting patiently at the door, waiting to go out. His owner stepped through the door, opened it, and then the dog went out. Same story when the dog wanted to get back in: the owner would step through the door and open it, and only then would the dog go.
  • Some Running Mites will not cross a drawn line. Draw a circle around them and they will helplessly run frantically around the circle.
  • Very large ungulates like elephants and rhinos are kept in zoos behind a literal Insurmountable Waist Height Fence (or even lower). It helps show the animal better, and they are too heavy to jump or walk over the fence without touching it. The trick, of course, is making the fence electrified to keep them from toppling it.
  • The fence separating passengers by class in the Titanic was a waist-height fence that became insurmountable because of stewards who didn't know that the ship was sinking. Of course this makes for rather poor drama, hence why James Cameron substitued them for several two-meter tall fences in his 1997 movie.
  • "Picket fence security" is a term in the cybersecurity world for security that would be really easy to break by anyone who wants to break it, but needs to be there to prove that access isn't freely allowed. Even if everybody's got the password for the network written on a sticky-note on their desk, as long as anyone can't just go to the website and access data whenever they want, it's legal proof that the person/company/etc. at least tried to protect their stuff.
  • The term "picket fence security" itself comes from a physical example of the trope: in certain places (such as Germany), it's not illegal to enter private property if there's no fence, locked door, etc. nearby. This is because the laws say that if there's nothing to prove that access isn't freely allowed, then it is to be assumed you're allowed in. So while putting a white picket fence around your house would hardly slow down anybody who wanted to climb over it, a waist height fence prevents you from entering legally because it serves as proof that access isn't given to everyone.
  • These sorts of barriers can be handy psychlogical tools in reality- even simple delinations like turning the lights off in a hallway or side room can be more effective than a door reading "employees only" when it comes to keeping a casual visitor from wandering off the path of a tour, for instance.

Parodies, mentions, deconstructions, lampshade hangings

    Comic Books 
  • The Cattivik story "The Door" has one in the titular door, keeping him from reaching an apartment he plans to steal. He tries to pull ineffectively, then, realizing what this likely was, he decided to push, and when that failed he tried to break in, talk the door into opening, bribe it, and attacked with increasingly destructive means, ending with a laser from a city destroyer and a nuke, to no effect. It was a sliding door and not even locked, and he took it as well as you'd expect.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the movie Hot Shots! Part Deux, the team of military commandos is stopped in their tracks by a simple waist-high residential fence, they panic because it's locked from the inside. Their only solution is to blow it up, and one of the team protests that "it's not our property". And a few scenes later, Topper uses a grappling hook to climb over an extremely short stone wall that he could have easily walked around.
  • Parodied in Blazing Saddles: in order to stall for time, Sheriff Bart installs a tollbooth on the road to Rock Ridge. "Somebody's gotta go back and get a shitload of dimes!" Yes, absurd, as the booth is set up in the middle of a stretch of desert where this army of thugs can easily go around it, but since Taggart thinks that his corrupt money-grubbing boss (who once shot Taggart in the foot for using a stupid cliche) installed the thing, it actually makes sense that he doesn't go around.
  • Played for laughs in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). During the climax Zaphod Beeblebrox is able to stop the Vogons from reaching the heroes by locking the gate on a knee-high picket fence. A gate that he has to reach over and lock from the Vogons side of the fence. Because the Vogons are Lawful Stupid they moan that now they'll have to walk all the way around to the other side of the garden to get in.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Over the Edge supplement Weather the Cuckoo Likes, a randomly-generated deathtrap for Andalusia consists of a Drowning Pit that slowly fills with monkey crap. To add insult to injury, the trap isn't even locked; all Andy would have to do is turn the doorknob and walk out. Unfortunately for Andy, he's a dog and has no opposable thumbs.
  • Paranoia: While everything about Alpha Complex varies Depending on the Writer, one constant is that the Complex's dystopian police state is divided into color-coded areas indicating what level of security clearance is required to enter them. In most versions, this rule is absolute — if your security clearance is ORANGE, then you will be shot on the spot if you walk into an area painted YELLOW. This is true even if the YELLOW zone is only a meter-wide stripe on the floor of an otherwise ORANGE corridor.
  • Wargames, both miniature and board, usually have some classes of terrain that is classified as 'impassable' to all or some kinds of troops- for instance cavalry in woods. While, yes the men could dismount and lead the horses through, in reality they didn't and the men wouldn't train for it; its not easy getting 600 men to the correct point of a wood in the middle of battle, in the correct place in their line and form up, and giving such a command would have a real-life subordinate quite possibly trying to find a way not to do something so suicidal. Where something out of the ordinary did happen it is usually dealt with by scenario specific rules.
    • Players will often enforce waist-high fences on their own - why yes, you could move a column of tanks into the town to attack the enemy there, but you never consider it because it is a good way to lose tanks. This can lead an area a player thinks is secure actually being the path for a surprise enemy attack.

    Video Games 
  • The Simpsons Game lampshades this, as pointed out by Comic Book Guy as a Video Game Cliche.
  • Lampshaded in the Vietnam With Zombies Half-Life mod Heart of Evil: our hero "sadly lacks the intelligence to operate" any vehicle he comes across, and Barney needs to be escorted to the vehicle to operate it. At one point, our hero tries to unlock a door, but it refuses to budge. Our hero "lacks the strength to open the door." Barney pounds it once with his fist, and it swings open.
  • Team Fortress 2 has a commentary node (on tc_hydro) about how its conspicuous waist-high fences are a major theme of the game. And since there's nothing on the other side except empty desert, the players don't really want to get over the fences anyway.
  • This door in Fallout 3 requires maxed-out lockpicking skill to open. This door that barely remains on its own hinges and has a clearly broken window, requires maxed-out lockpicking skill to open.
  • Parodied in Stinkoman 20X6, where the titular hero spends an entire level leaping into low-earth-orbit just to jump over a small wall.
  • Deliberately invoked to heartbreaking effect in Yume Nikki. If you explore the wasteland long enough you will stumble across some toriningen having a lively little picnic with the happiest song in the game playing in the background. However, some small plants prevent you from joining them, so all you can do is watch from afar and feel left out. When you try to find another way in, you'll find that every possible way is blocked. What makes this heartwrenching is that this event is taking place inside the protagonist's head and likely represents past experiences with social exclusion.
  • Parodied in Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. When Larry examines a road construction site, he says it's a cheap way to block off the player from wandering off the level.
  • Lampshaded in Privates, where the player is frequently informed that "We can't get past these little velvety ropes just yet."
  • Lampshaded in Dragon Quest V by Bianca in Returndia if you admit you're lost in the party chat. She wonders why the party can't just climb up and jump down the walls no taller than they are to get around.
  • Addressed and parodied in HOME (2013), where the Batter asks the Judge why he can't simply climb over the IWH Floating Cubes. The Judge reacts like the Batter has lost his mind.
  • Lampshaded in Undertale: a certain bird in Waterfall acts as a Door to Before, by ferrying you across a river a few tiles wide. While the bird does this, its own special Leitmotif plays, titled, "Bird That Carries You Over A Disproportionately Small Gap".
  • Instead of locked doors, Fashion Police Squad has simple colored ribbons blocking the path. The ribbons usually do not even go from one wall to another. To get rid of the ribbons, player needs to collect a pair of scissors of color matching the ribbon.
    • In one instance, the trope is exploited by a villain who traps the main character between ribbons.

  • Parodied in Adventurers!.
    • Another one from the same comic features a chair.
  • Page #172 of the webcomic Concerned made fun of this trope as it applies to the game Half-Life 2.
  • Parodied in Gold Coin Comics, when Lance encounters a log in the road.
  • There is an animated .gif floating around the internet where someone wants to open a door. It proceeds to summon mecha, fire missiles, bash at it with oversized swords and hammers and finally drop a nuke whose explosion can be seen from space. When he is exhausted, the door finally swings open inwardly.
    • The Japanese words at the start say say "Door won't open! Smash it down!!!" At the end, it says "if it doesn't work when you push it, try pulling it". Wise words, indeed.
  • Penny Arcade: the one thing the Physical God Cole McGrath from inFAMOUS can never defeat? A chain-link fence.
  • 8-Bit Theater makes a passing reference to this here, doubling up a reference to Adam Smith Hates Your Guts.
  • The Way of the Metagamer parodies this here.
  • Hoofstuck: During the interactive walkaround flash game, there is a picket fence separating Big Macintosh from the other ponies. The pegasi can fly over this fence. If you try to cross the fence as an earth pony, you get a message that "You can't cross this fence! It's at least waist-high!" If you try to cross it as any unicorn besides Twilight, you get a message that you can't cross the fence because you never learned how to teleport. And if you try to cross it as Twilight, you get a message that "You can't cross this fence because you never remember you can teleport when it would actually be useful."

    Web Original 
  • According to Kickassia, Molassia is surrounded by impenetrable chest-high fence. Even Angry Joe's patented method of shooting it a whole bunch with his MP5s can't defeat the fence.
    Angry Joe: "It's no use! The bullets are just going through the hooooooooooles!"
    • Not even ladders can let them bypass the fence! They have to use footstools instead.
    • A deleted scene had LordKat look at the fence... and then walk to the gate and enter there.
  • Phelous makes fun of this during his Anaconda 4 review, when he points out that the moderately large log obstructing the road could've easily been moved by the group if they'd bothered to lift it. To take it to point, Phelous goes driving and has a small twig "obstructing" the road, which he immediately concludes is immovable, and therefore must leave his car and walk the rest of the way.
    • He also did the same in his criticism of the contrived game trappings in Silent Hill: Downpour where the escaped convict that is your character decides to go the completely opposite (and potentially more dangerous) direction towards the eponymous town when a single tree falls to the side blocking the player's left path. Although long and covering the whole side, the fact the tree looks only a foot high makes is so that an accidental hop would allow the player to pass such as obstacle.
  • College Saga parodies this (among many other video game tropes) by blocking the character's progress with a chair standing in the middle of the road.
  • In a CollegeHumor parody trailer for a The Sims movie, a cop is standing on one side of a chest high, chain-link fence and calls in backup because "There's no conceivable way to get past this fence!"
    • In the same (or maybe another) Sims movie trailer, they reference the ladder-less and thus impossible-to-leave pool from the second game.
  • In Two Best Friends Play: Captain America: Super Soldier, Matt and Pat take delight in pointing out how illogical some of the obstacles blocking Captain America are.
    Matt: I'm not super enough or soldier enough to go up these one foot tall sandbags! 50 million dollars well spent!
  • Lampshaded in Freeman's Mind on multiple occasions as Gordon complains about bullet-proof glass in exit doors, invulnerable doors, and the many other inconveniences he faces.
    Gordon: What the fuck? We installed bulletproof glass in our exit doors? That stuff's not cheap! How retarded are we? I don't even know anymore!
  • They have fun with this in The Legend of Zelda: The Abridged Series of Majora's Mask, even showing a clip where he climbs up a higher wall.
    Link: Damn! I guess now my quest is forever doomed to remain unfinished and it's all because of this damn impassable, easily-climbable wall! Damn you all!
  • Referenced in Maddox's review of Signs:
    "I have hind legs powerful enough to jump up 10 feet onto roof tops, the technology to conquer the non-trivial challenge of intergalactic space travel, but I'll be DAMNED if I can kick down this wooden door."
  • Cracked Photoplasty advertises two variants in "Ads for Products That Must Exist in Video Games": #23 and #16.
  • Final Fantasy VII: The Sevening lampshades how the buggy vehicle in Final Fantasy VII's entire purpose in the game is essentially to cross the Knee Deep Stream of Uncrossability on page 302.
  • On Atop the Fourth Wall Linkara finally gets fed up with how during the Halloween "Silent Hill" Months, he's constantly blocked by things like stacks of cardboard boxes. He calmly tells the boxes he will set them on fire if they force his hand about blocking his path, and the stack quickly falls apart.
    Linkara: Thank you.
    • He also mocks the "trapped in one area until X is done" trope, pointing out that the items he needs to unlock his front door are not available to him while he is trapped in his house. The door unlocks.
    • In an end-of-review skit, he mocks the premise of Silent Hill 4, solving the problem of his front door being chained up from the inside by removing the door hinges. He then leaves a note on the door claiming that "Henry is an idiot"note .
  • The infamous trees and ledges from Pokémon become day-long ordeals in Twitch Plays Pokémon due to the players' absolute inability to walk in straight lines or to select anything from the menu other than Bulbasaur's Dex entry.
  • Lampshaded hilariously with Two Saiyans Play: Magicka.
    Vegeta: This is the least flammable tree in existence.
  • This Onion article: Video Game Character Stares Impotently At Forbidden Realm Beyond Impassable Waist-High Bush
  • In Yudhaikeledai's My Little Pony in the Sims, in keeping with its source material, ponies are unable to cross over small obstacles in their path. In one episode after a firefighter chews out Octavia for allegedly calling the department with a false alarm, the unseen "player" utilizes console commands to trap him between the household's furniture and a pile of unpaid bills. The knowledge that the firefighter is a pegasus and could have just flown out of his entrapment adds to the ridiculousness.
  • In "Elden Ring From the NPC's Perspective", the first skit of the video has two guards going on about the impenetrable "waist high wall" they've constructed (while citing other examples of impassable walls) only to find one of their friends have been trapped outside the wall which is treated as certain death for him. Cue a Player Character riding up and jumping the wall to their astonishment.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Console", after Elmore is turned into a JRPG world, Gumball, Anais, and Darwin find their attempts to leave their house blocked by "an awkwardly-placed shrub", and as Darwin observes "We're apparently too stupid to walk on the lawn." After trying to cut down the shrub, Gumball angrily kicks it, revealing it to be a Pre Existing Encounter with a Man-Eating Plant.
  • Infinity Train:
    • The corgis are unable to defeat the monster on their own, as the two-foot-deep river is impossible for them to cross. Tulip can just walk across it.
    • Atticus claims the door to the next car is locked. When asked how to unlock it, he says you have to put your hand on the knob and turn. As a corgi, this would naturally present some problems for him.
      Atticus: My people have been working on this technology for decades.
    • The Wasteland, the pocket dimension where the titular train travels on, is populated by Ghoms that will kill anyone who are fool enough to pass by there. Additionally, if any Train denizens happen to be in the wasteland and get too far away from the Train, a mysterious, repulsive force will draw them back.
  • In Burbank Films Australia's adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, Mr. Van Oxley (the Beauty's Father character of this version) becomes separated from his horse in a storm and steps over a fallen tree, but then wanders away off the road and stumbles onto the Beast's castle when a slightly larger tree falls in front of him. Phelous joked about this in his review of the film: "Well, I certainly can't walk over that one! Might as well walk aimlessly off the path!" Mind you, the first fallen tree apparently only went up to his shins and the second one up to his knees.
  • In Tigtone, the Fertile Centaur that Tigtone is escorting is allergic to flowers and refuses to touch them. This requires Tigtone to walk around a flower patch that is one meter thick and ten kilometers wide.

Alternative Title(s): Insurmountable Waist High Fence, Adamantium Door, Frictionless Hill, Indestructible Fallen Log, Unclearable Debris, Gentle Slope Of Unclimbability, Rough Ground Of Unwalkability, Ledge Of Instant Death, Knee Deep Water Of Uncrossability, Impassable Head High Hole


Pantry Doors

"They seem to have trouble with Pantry Doors."

How well does it match the trope?

4.38 (29 votes)

Example of:

Main / InsurmountableWaistHeightFence

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