Follow TV Tropes


Kill It with Water

Go To

"Let's see you under pressure."
Lulu casting Waterga, Final Fantasy X

So you're fighting an unstoppable behemoth, and everything you throw at it just bounces off its skin. You and your companions run, but it's slowly tearing the place apart around you...

...until, in desperation, you throw your bottled Water at it, causing it to turn to dust instantly. What just happened? Did something else disintegrate it? Was it really a pushover this whole time and you just needed to take a refresher course somewhere besides the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy?

No (well, not only)! You've just faced down an enemy with a rather unfortunate Kryptonite Factor, one covering 70% of the planet, and the solution was always just to Kill It with Water.

Unlike Kill It with Fire, this strategy doesn't tend to be viable if you're fighting an opponent who doesn't specifically have a Kryptonite Factor to water... unless you use an unbelievable amount of it, then it's rather effective. Or you could try making it colder. You can even just increase the water pressure! Or, if your enemy is a demon or vampire, then you will most likely need to use holy water instead of regular water.

Woe betide someone with this weakness who goes up against a character fond of Making a Splash. Frequently a Weaksauce Weakness, may be counteracted with a Kryptonite-Proof Suit — usually made out of lead. Could be prevented if waterproofing existed. Can lead to an understandable case of Kryptonite Is Everywhere, because, well... it's water.

In video games, this often appears as a manifestation of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors. Consequently, beings with an affinity for fire are often unfortunately prone to this trope. For when water is merely a deterrent, see Cannot Cross Running Water. Contrast Heal It with Water, where water is presented as a healing force.

See also Holy Water, which will often act in this capacity against evil entities. Bringing a Water Tower Down is a common method to do this.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Amakusa 1637:
    • A group of captured Japanese Christians is taken to the Unzen Valley. The catch is that there are pools of very hot sulphuric water in Unzen, so they'll be tortured to death there. In fact, Natsuki and Eri walk into some jailers already torturing a man like this and attempt to confront them, but the one who saves the day is Eiji Horie since he uses a trick to create the illusion of a rising dragon, which terrifies the superstitious torturers as they believe they've angered the local gods. It's actually inspired in a Real Life case; see below.
    • Later, this is used in the form of a Drowning Pit where a pregnant woman and Eiji's love interest, the local Hooker with a Heart of Gold, are locked in. Which is actually the rendition of the incident that sparked the Shimabara Rebellion as a whole.
  • Black Clover: Noelle Silva's magic often veers to this due to the vast amounts of water she can produce. Her Sea Dragon's Roar spell rips off Vetto's arm and likely would have defeated him if not for his Mythical Beast Magic, and is the reason for her epithet "Water Goddess".
  • In Bleach, Lunuganga, the Hollow made of sand, suffers from this weakness.
  • Very nearly happens to several characters in Cardcaptor Sakura in the episode dealing with the Watery Card. The card spirit itself is also shown to be very temperamental. Additionally, since it is of Classical Elements, it's more powerful than most of the other Card Spirits. So with some pointers from Tomoyo and Kero, Sakura solves the deal by invoking "Kill It with Ice" and locking Watery into a walk-in freezer.
  • Used in Case Closed, specifically in the case known as Billionaire Birthday Blues. Years ago, the Rich Bitch Reika and her Upper-Class Twit boyfriend Nikaidou saved themselves from a storm that crashed their boat via basically leaving the Rich Bitch's childhood friend Yaeko, who had come to help them, to drown in the sea. The guy who was in love with poor Yaeko, Ichieda, decided to take revenge... via murdering the two and using water as his "weapon of choice". In the present he strangles and drowns Nikaido, then he kidnaps Reika and puts her inside a makeshift Drowning Pit that he built in a deep Japanese bathtub, Bound and Gagged so she cannot escape. (As a bonus he drugs Ran and forcibly puts her head inside a water full sink so he can give himself an alibi... which only manages to ROYALLY PISS CONAN OFF and give him the first clues needed to take Ichieda down.
    • Also used in another case, where another Upper-Class Twit, Teruhiko, tried to get away from his soon-to-be Unwanted Spouse Shinobu via drugging the girl and leaving her to die by drowning inside a water park's closed section. The Detective Boys and Conan, however, found the unconscious Shinobu when they snuck into the spot, and from then on they worked in tandem to both save themselves and Shinobu and reveal Teruhiko's intentions.
  • The titular villain from Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly, disintegrated when hit by water.
  • Happened in Goblin Slayer where the party faced an Ogre. Not mere water magic, but a portal scroll linked to the bottom of the sea, resulting in a water jet so powerful, it cleaved the monstrosity in one shot.
  • Part Four of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has Red Hot Chili Pepper, a stand made of electricity. Since it becomes faster and stronger the more electricity it has access to, it's arguably one of the most powerful stands in the entire series, when circumstances align in its user's favor. However, since salt water is an extremely good conductor, it dissolves completely when immersed in the ocean.note 
  • The Ceruleans from Kemono Friends turns to rock once they are sprinkled with water. Justified, as they are made of Sandstar, which itself is expelled from the interior of a volcano.
  • In the manga adaptation of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, this is how Sora, Donald, and Goofy defeat Larxene: Donald casts a Blizzard spell that Sora melts with a Fire spell while Goofy spins them around, creating a sprinkler effect that drenches Larxene and, due to her electric nature, causes her to explode.
  • Lala Ru from Now and Then, Here and There uses prodigious amounts of water as a weapon to defend herself with and drown King Hamdo and take out Hellywood with him at the cost of her life in the finale.
  • One Piece:
  • In one episode of Sailor Moon, the Monster of the Week is a confectionery-based drone called Marzipan. She easily manages to get the best of the Senshi by encasing them in sweets, until Sailor Mercury manages to attack her with Shine Aqua Illusion. It causes Marzipan to become soggy and heavily weakened enough for her attacks to wear off.
  • Rosario + Vampire: The touch of water is very deadly to vampires. They have to purify their drinking and bathing water with herbs to keep it from hurting them.
  • Sgt. Frog: Giruru, who was eventually defeated with cornstarch.

    Comic Books 
  • In Cardboard, the cardboard creatures are susceptible to water.
  • A Little Gloomy strip that ran in Disney Adventures had Simon von Simon's Blob Monster, the Glob, melt when it started to rain.
  • Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos: In an early edition, the Howlers, less Nick Fury, are held captive in a German jail. They manage to trick and overcome a guard, and break out of their cell. A call is heard, "Bring up Der Vater-Gun!", and "Reb" Ralston scoffs, saying, "They'll be throwing spitballs at us, next!". But the water CANNON actually proves quite effective in subduing the Howlers, as Ralston himself notes "it's like being kicked by a Missouri mule!" and the Howlers, drenched, are pacified.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Flint Marko, Sandman, has the ability to convert his body to sand, granting him vast superhuman strength, durability and shape-changing abilities, making him one of the most feared and dangerous career criminals in the Marvel Universe. But douse him with a sufficient amount of water, and he dissipates into nothing, or at the very least, an ineffectual wimp. Subverted when said water is the villain Hydro-Man. When merged, the two become a rampaging, mud-based monster of limited intelligence. Because both can increase size by absorbing their composite elements, the monster can reach Kaiju levels of destructive potential. Fortunately, neither villain particularly likes this form and the two will go to lengths to avoid physical contact.
    • By all rights, Max Dillon, the villain Electro, by virtue of his vast control of electricity, should have taken over a country or at least killed a superhero or two in the course of his long tenure. But he's invariably handed his ass, often by foes he should have defeated handily, just because water makes Electro its bitch.
  • The only demonstrated way to kill a Passenger in Revival is to drown it.
  • Superboy (1994): B.E.M. can't control his transformations well enough to hold his body together if it comes in contact with a large body of water while he's transforming. Superboy and B.E.M. both think S.B. accidentally killed him when he punched him into the ocean during a fight but B.E.M was eventually able to pull himself together and return.
  • In The Transformers (Marvel) there is a race of mechanical parasites called the scraplets that have this weakness. It takes most of the issues they're in for the transformers to realise that the legendary chemical they're vulnerable to is something that's really common on Earth.
  • Many creatures in White Sand have skin and teeth made of something like sandstone, which is extremely tough, but very susceptible to melting from exposure to water to the point that there are plants that use storing water as a survival mechanism.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Flash Gordon story, a portal is opened to an alternate dimension populated with Mechanical Lifeforms. They prove hostile and nigh impossible to defeat until scientists reveal their dimension is "completely dry" — spraying them with a firehose causes instant and lethal rusting.
  • In the Nodwick comics, Piffany's favorite weapon against the undead is her trusty H2Oly Sacred Soaker. She also managed to kill a giant demon with a lake full of holy water.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • In Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow, one of the guardian fairies' apprentices, the fairy Sunburst's powers are weakened by water. When Laverna captures her and takes her place, Sunburst is left trapped inside an underwater bubble until Elina rescues her.
  • The T-Rex breed of Sharptooth from The Land Before Time are unable to swim due to their tiny arms. This allowed the heroes to kill the original Sharptooth, drowning him in a lake.
  • Lilo & Stitch:
    • While water itself isn't deadly to Stitch, he can't swim and is too heavy to remain buoyant even in salt water. Naturally, he winds up on the most isolated chain of islands in the world. The series shows that Stitch's greatest fear is, in fact, deep water.
    • That's not all. Several of his "cousin" experiments can also be nullified through water, although they also need water to be released from their capsule.
    • In The Movie, from a distance it looks like Stitch's ship is going to crash into the middle of the Pacific, and all the alien races there cheer as they assume he will fall into the ocean and drown. Then they zoom in and see that he manages to make landfall on a little tiny island chain. Much frustration ensues.
  • Attempted in Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost when the real version of the titular entity appears at the climax and Scooby and Shaggy throw water on her, thinking it will melt her like the Oz example. She's unaffected and more exasperated than anything.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Alien³, the creature is doused with molten lead, but manages to get out of the foundry; immediately thereafter, he is sprayed with water from a sprinkler system. The resulting thermal shock causes it to explode.
  • During the title character's rampage in Carrie (1976), Norma's neck is broken by a firehose hitting her full blast in the face.
  • Josiah is defeated in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering when he gets hit with water that has been laced with mercury (which is his Achilles' Heel).
  • In Dark City John Murdoch kills Mister Book by telekinetically smashing his human host body into and through a water tower, killing the hydrophobic alien within. How a hydrophobic parasite could possibly live inside a being made up of roughly 70% water is a different matter entirely; since they inhabited dead bodies, salt and preservatives may have been involved. Squick.
  • In the movie adaptation of The Day of the Triffids, the titular plants dissolve when blasted with salt water. It probably wasn't on the producers' minds, but this is a direct reversal of the original book, in which flame-throwers are among the most effective anti-Triffid weapons.
  • Both monsters in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man meet their apparent demise when one of the local townsfolk blows up a dam near the ruins where the two are fighting.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, Freddy is able to finally break through the unstoppable resolve of Jason Voorhees by tapping into his innate fear of water (brought on by being a drowning victim in life).
  • Gamera vs. Barugon: The villainous monster Barugon (Not to be confused with Baragon) is killed when Gamera throws him into a lake, causing him to drown since water hurts Barugon and he cannot swim.
  • The Indominus Rex in Jurassic World meets her end by being drugged to the bottom of the Mosasaurus's tank.
  • Le Gendarme et les extra-terrestres: The aliens are made of metal and they rust after being sprayed with water.
  • In Mortal Kombat: The Movie, Sub-Zero is technically killed by a bucket of water tossed at him by Liu Kang. The water reacted to his powers by freezing into an ice spear, which impaled him.
  • The low-budget horror flick Neon Maniacs features a crew of undead warrior beings that are ultimately defeated with buckets, squirt guns, and showers.
  • Another example of water proving fatal to aliens: the blob-like energy aliens in Night of the Big Heat can't be harmed with bullets or dynamite, but die at the end because their constantly heating the island up to suit their preferred climate causes a torrential downpour which melts them.
  • Operation Daybreak (1975). The German authorities track down the commandos who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich to the crypt of a church. After suffering casualties trying to storm the hideout the Germans use fire hoses to flood the crypt to force those inside to surrender. The commandos commit suicide instead.
  • A Quiet Place Part II reveals that the aliens can't swim. An alien drowns after being tricked into jumping into the ocean.
  • Water turns out to be deadly to the aliens from Signs. Many consider this plot point to be idiotic: Why the heck were the aliens invading a planet that is visibly 70% covered in poison, while stark naked no less? (We have a few theories.)
  • The Kid kills Death in Six String Samurai with water, realizing his weakness after spitting in his face causes him to scream in pain, as the saliva burns him like acid.
  • In Tank Girl, the Big Bad CEO of Water & Power has himself turned into a cyborg with a saw-bladed arm and a holographically-projected face. This makes him nearly indestructible... until Rebecca dumps water on him and shorts out his circuits. That technically didn't kill him, just temporarily incapacitate him. It was her stabbing him with the same dehydration tool he'd use to kill two or three others (on-screen at least) in the movie that did him in. So... Kill him without water?
  • Similarly, drowning was the only way to hurt the (supposedly) Nigh-Invulnerable protagonist of Unbreakable.
  • In The Wizard of Oz, The Wicked Witch of the West is really susceptible to death by being splashed with water.

  • Although it never really becomes a plot point, it's stated in Alien in a Small Town that water is poisonous to Jan, at least if taken internally. When Paul grows a garden of Jannite crops, he has to make sure they're very tough ones that can survive regular dousings with rain.
  • Animorphs: The Veleek, a nearly unstoppable swarm of insects all working as one that can shred any solid matter by touch, is killed when the kids trick manipulate it into going out over the ocean, and then Cassie drops onto it as a humpback whale. The whale's weight is far too great for the Veleek to carry, and it gets forced into the ocean. The water either drowns the bugs or separates them and keeps them from working together anymore.
  • The tenth book of the Be an Interplanetary Spy Choose Your Own Adventure series put you up against a trio of Space Pirates who were, essentially, lethally allergic to water. The end result was the protagonist forcing the leader of the trio to surrender by threatening him with a tiny puddle of water.
  • The flesh of the cthonians, worm-like Cosmic Horror Story monstrosities introduced to the Cthulhu Mythos by Brian Lumley, disintegrates on contact with water.
  • One of the "easy" ways to kill a Discworld golem is to heat it to a significant temperature, then drop a bunch of water on it (or vice-versa), and let the rapid temperature shift work its magic. This happens to Anghammarad, in Going Postal during the Post Office Fire.
    • In fact, this is only the second permanent Golem death encountered in the series thus far.
  • From The Dresden Files
    • Warden Carlos Ramirez is a water mage and combat magic specialist. In the Dresdenverse, water is associated with entropy and cleansing, and pretty much all of Ramirez's combat spells involve disintegration to some extent.
    • Senior Council Joseph "Listens-to-Winds" is an older and stronger version of Carlos. He once called a rainstorm, by a rain dance, to pour down heavily on a Physical God's magical attacks. The water purified and distilled the magic, nullifying the attacks. He would also simply be untouched as the magic that wasn't destroyed missed him or blipped out when it was a foot from him and then started up again behind him.
    • The Red Court vampire Arianna used water magic to counter Harry's fire magic during their duel in Changes. Which did work until Harry revealed that he, as the Winter Knight, now also could use Ice magic. She was quickly impaled with dozen of icicles.
  • In Dune, Sandworms are poisoned by water in large amounts. And when killed thus they vomit a toxin that the Fremen Reverend Mothers use to unlock their Genetic Memory and then convert into a drug used in orgies. The God-Emperor Leto, in his millenary form of human-sandworm hybrid, has this weak point. The idea can be seen as hilarious as compared to the Wicked Witch of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in the following point. Leto himself shows this weak point to a girl that will be his future killer, having foreseen that his death is a necessary step in human evolution.
  • Enchanted Forest Chronicles:
    • Wizards, the antagonists of the series, can be (temporarily) melted by splashing them with water, mixed with soap and lemon juice. The discovery was completely by accident, and nobody's completely sure why it works, but it takes all three elements to do the job; in the second book, King Mendanbar forgets the lemon, which just results in wet, soapy wizards, until Cimorene reminds him.
    • They also invert the trope near the end of the first book, when the Stone Prince throws water on the wizard who is holding the witch Morwen hostage. The wizard melts; Morwen, who practices clean living, does not.
  • The Figure in the Shadows: Eliphaz Moss's evil spirit is finally dispatched by plunging the coin that is essentially his Soul Jar into clean water.
  • The various species of terrestrial mantis shrimp found on Henders Island in Fragment are vulnerable to salt-water. Not just vulnerable to it, terrified of it. However, this could be considered a subversion, as it is not the water itself that kills the creatures, but rather their inability to regulate salt when it is introduced to their bodies. This fact is used heavily in the plot of the story from explaining why none of these Death World natives haven't gotten off the island and killed us all yet, as well as who sent the emergency signal that brought the boat to the island in the first place and started the whole story. One of the characters actually lampshaded this similarity to the Triffids, another group of creatures susceptible to the "kill it with salt water" tactic.
  • Parodied in Journeys of the Catechist: Faced with a living mass of desert sand called the Dunawake, Ehomba Etjole reaches into his backpack and comes out with a small vial of liquid, which he throws at the monster. When one of his companions asks what was in the vial, Ehomba says it was his supply of whater — not "water", "what-er", a rare liquid that his tribe uses to purify water by separating out any impurities. Applied to the Dunawake, the whater separates the monster into its component minerals, killing it in the process.
  • In the Known Space series by Larry Niven, Martians were spectacularly vulnerable to water. In the short story "At the Bottom of a Hole", explorers sent to Mars discovered an ornately constructed water well... and realized that it was used as a crematorium. That vulnerable.
  • Max And The Midknights The Temple Of Time: The water in the Blistering Bay is so broiling hot that touching it results in instant death according to Clayton. Gastley meets his end when he falls into the water.
  • In Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, the Dead and (some/most) Free Magic monsters Cannot Cross Running Water and are destroyed by being immersed. Incidentally, they also are repelled by fire.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Rain Rain Go Away": A Feghoot about a strange couple that melt in the rain because they're made of sugar.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle, many kinds of summoned creatures have elemental affinities and also elemental weaknesses. Creatures with Earth, Fire, and Air affinities are immediately destroyed on contact with a large amount of water, such as a lake or ocean surface. Even the demon Jakan, the Big Bad of the Serpentwar Saga, whose power rivals the gods, is killed this way.
  • One of the Mooks in Skulduggery Pleasant uses magic to make himself invulnerable to fire. Unfortunately, it balances out with an extreme vulnerability to the opposing element...
    • Vampires are also somewhat vulnerable to water; ingesting salt water causes their throats to close up, which will probably suffocate them. It is lampshaded that this weakness isn't particularly useful for fighting them. One character is seen to have carried around a vial of salt water for decades after surviving an encounter in his youth, only for someone to point out that he probably wouldn't be able to get the vampire to swallow the stuff before it finished him off.
  • It is strongly implied that in Something Wicked This Way Comes, the Dust People might have this weakness. They must leave before the autumn storms because "the rain washes away their dust."
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, there are many mentions of Tywin Lannister's infamous slaughter of House Reyne, but it was never told how it was done. Then The World of Ice & Fire gave us the story and it turned out to be a version of this trope. House Reyne, having already suffered one defeat by the Lannisters, fled to a series of mines, hoping that the Lannisters wouldn't want to suffer the huge casualties that would be needed to storm the place, and that the Reynes could negotiate a way out. Instead, Tywin Lannister simply had all entrances and exits to the mines sealed and diverted a local river so that it flowed into the mines, drowning every single man, woman, and child inside. Not something to think about before going to sleep.
    Ser Reynard sent word to Ser Tywin above, offering terms. But Tywin Lannister did not honor Ser Reynard's offer with a reply. Instead, he commanded that the mines be sealed. With pick and axe and torch, his own miners brought down tons of stone and soil, burying the great gates to the mines until there was no way in and no way out. Once that was done, he turned his attention to the small, swift stream that fed the crystalline blue pool beside the castle from which Castamere took its name. It took less than a day to dam the stream and only two to divert it to the nearest mine entrance. The earth and stone that sealed the mine had no gaps large enough to let a squirrel pass, let alone a man... but the water found its way down. Ser Raynard had taken more than three hundred men, women, and children into the mines, it is said. Not a one emerged. A few of the guards assigned to the smallest and most distant of the mine entrances reported hearing faint screams and shouts coming from beneath the earth one night, but by daybreak, the stones had gone silent once again.
  • In the vampire novel They Thirst, it is eventually discovered that seawater has a deadly effect on vampires.
  • In Vixen 03 by Clive Cussler, the airborne QD/Quick Death bacterium kills any living thing it touches in fifteen minutes or less, can encyst itself in the absence of hosts to survive in the soil for (theoretically) up to three centuries, and is capable of no-selling methods of protection up to and including airtight hazmat suits and methods of disinfection up to and including nuclear blasts. For this reason, it's theorized that if released somewhere on the mainland it could render entire continents uninhabitable for hundreds of years. Fortunately, however, it dies instantly when immersed in water.
  • Water is highly dangerous to demons in Wars of the Realm - it burns their skin and can even kill them outright.
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a point is made about water being the only thing the Wicked Witch fears more than the dark... and yet she specifically has Dorothy (at this point her slave) cleaning her castle with water... This manages to be even dumber than the movie, where a bucket just happens to be lying around.
    • In The Musical of Wicked, her weakness to water turns out to be merely an urban legend, which she uses to fake her death.
    • In the book version of Wicked, she had a bucket sitting around collecting rainwater.
    • In the later Oz sequels, this goes from being specifically the Wicked Witch of the West's weakness to a weakness that ALL witches have in that universe. The witch Mombi is eventually executed via this method in The Lost King of Oz.
  • Andre Norton's Witch World series - the Dark cannot (as a rule) cross running water. While this doesn't generally kill them, it can be used to trap them as Sealed Evil in a Can.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Newcomers in Alien Nation get acid-like burns from salt water.
    • This makes for an awesome Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the movie when Newcomer George sees his human partner fall into the ocean, and reaches into the water to grab him. In what other circumstances could you reach into acid and pull forth a (mostly) unharmed friend?
    • According to those involved in the later TV series, only the sea-salt mixture of SEAWATER had this effect. Saltwater using ordinary table salt either had a much reduced or no effect. That said, it did come up a few times: assassins kill a major Newcomer figure by dumping rock salt into his swimming pool, and racist thugs armed with a seawater-filled squirt pistol nearly blind George's daughter.
    • The Newcomers also were kept in their ship for a long time and had built up a natural resistance, like how lungs adapt to higher-elevation living.
  • Blake's 7. Tarrant and Servalan are trapped on a planet by Sentient Sands that feed on their cellular energy. Its Weaksauce Weakness is discovered when Servalan of all people sheds a tear. Fortunately, the crew of Scorpio have a similar "Eureka!" Moment and make it rain by diving their spacecraft through the atmosphere, giving them enough time to escape before the sand regenerates.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the episode "Something Blue", Xander and Anya are attacked by a demon that can only be killed by drowning. They force his head into an inexplicably filled sink, creating smoke and killing it.
    • Another episode has Buffy kill a vampire by switching his glass of water with holy water.
  • Deadliest Catch, natch. Since the water they're in is near-freezing, falling in could cause death within minutes with complete and utter disregard to your ability to swim. A rescue has to happen pretty much immediately, and that is made extremely difficult by the rough conditions of the Bering Sea.
  • In the short-lived UPN series Deadly Games (which involved a video game being brought to life, and Christopher Lloyd being evil), one of the villains (an ex-Quarterback named "Killshot") was burned by water.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The titular menace in "The Seeds of Death" is a fungus that threatens Earth until it's discovered that water kills it.
    • The fiery Pyroviles from "The Fires of Pompeii" (or the lesser foot soldiers, at the very least) are able to be killed by having water thrown at them.
  • Kingdom (2019): The parasitic worms which started the zombie outbreak are extremely hydrophobic; the zombies themselves will also refuse to cross bodies of water that are shallow enough to walk through. In fact, the worms will immediately expel themselves from the host body if submerged in water, allowing freshly bitten victims to avoid zombification by removing the parasite before it reaches the brain.
  • In the short-lived Misfits of Science, Johnny B. couldn't touch water due to being a living electrical generator. The merest drop burned him.
  • Season 5 of Orange Is the New Black has this for why Piscatella no longer works in men's prison. He killed the prisoner who beat [Piscatella's] boyfriend by handcuffing him to pipes and scalding him with a boiling hot shower.
  • The Outer Limits (1963): In the episode "Specimen: Unknown", an alien plant arrives on Earth. It spreads like wildfire and sprays toxic gas into the air. When it starts to rain, everybody panics and thinks they are doomed, but instead of making the plants grow faster, the rain makes them wilt and die.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force had the utterly invincible lava-based villain Magma. He spent the whole episode effortlessly handing the Rangers' butts to them, and then Madison gets pissed at her lack of screentime (no, seriously) and blasts him with a water attack... which burns him. (However, that's not what kills him - he then goes giant and resumes the butt-kicking against the Rangers' Humongous Mecha, but is defeated by the rules of his own game with the Rangers, which must be obeyed even to the death.)
    • Used several incarnations earlier in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue; the demons' weakness to water is the only thing that kept them from destroying the Lightspeed Aquabase as early as episode 2.
  • The "Frogs" in Raumpatrouille can live in vacuum just fine and aren't bothered by energy weapons (at least not the small portable models used by humans in the setting), but oxygen is lethal to them. This is why they bothered to depressurize the human outpost where they are first encountered instead of simply leaving it as-is, which in turn is what eventually clues the protagonists in to their Achilles' heel.
  • The Secret Circle: The demon Abaddon is killed when Diana's father drowns his host body, Nick, at the marina.
  • Supernatural: Demons are highly susceptible to holy water, as you'd expect. One of Bobby's favourite tricks is beer with just a little bit of the stuff — if his visitor is human, they'll never even notice. If they're not, they burn. Also, at one point, the boys assault a building full of demons by consecrating the sprinkler system.
  • Ultraman's human-turned-monster Jamila had this weakness. It's explained in the show that Jamila had been stranded on a waterless planet back when he was an astronaut, and as a result of his body adapting to the environment, water is now like acid to him. However, the resulting death by a spray of high-pressure water from Ultraman is not as cheesy as one might expect.
  • The X-Files: In the episode "Agua Mala", the Monster of the Week is a monster in seawater, and it turns out that fresh (unsalted) water kills it.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Many elements of European folklore have running water "washing away" magic. This has been incorporated into several fantasy series and may be the reason vampires are said to be unable to cross running water under their own power.
    • The Wild Hunt could not cross running water. (Not that this often did much more than delay them. Depending on the myth, you generally needed to get cold iron or survive until dawn, as the hunt could travel to the ends of the earth in a single night, and could afford to take the long route.)
    • In Scottish folklore, an unlucky traveler might have to deal with a type of evil and disgusting sea-fey called a "nuckelavee" — a man-like creature that was merged into the back of a one-eyed horse from the waist down (kind of like a centaur, except the horse's head is there too). The best way to escape one of these skinless abominations was to get fresh running water between it and you. Crossing a stream usually worked.
    • Possibly one of the more famous Scottish ones is "The Tale of Tam O'Shanter" who, after being discovered by witches has to cross the "keystone of the bridge" in order to escape. He makes it, but his horse gets her tail pulled off.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
  • In Rifts, Vampires can be harmed, even killed by running water. This apparently means any water in motion. That means water hoses and squirt guns are effective weapons when vampires attack. Of course, this being After the End, you won't just be going down to the local Menard's and picking up either of those.
  • Warhammer fantasy role-play has a superstition that this is how you kill fire wizards. It doesn't work.
  • In Witch Girls Adventures, this is the biggest downside to having Hag's Syndrome. You can cover up the green hair and skin and red eyes with makeup and the like, but there's not much you can do about your tendency to melt when exposed to water, except avoid it.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The power of the "Mermails'" bracelet is great, with it the "Atlanateans" summoned a downpour, robbing the "Fire Kings" of their power. As well, those who dared to disobey were reduced to bubbles in the ocean...

    Web Animation 

  • In American Barbarian, Rick opts for drowning.
  • Virtually everything native to the world of Astray3. Water is an acid (technically) in real life, but to them, a gulp of water is like a gulp of etching solution would be to us.
  • Cheshire Crossing naturally includes this, but a twist is added where any witch in Oz will melt when hit by water. Including Mary Poppins.
  • In El Goonish Shive the best way to beat a fire monster is to punt it into a river.
  • Girl Genius: In the Death Montage of the traitor Beausoleil's bodies one is depicted as being killed via drowning.
  • In The Phoenix Requiem, shades cannot be killed but can be subdued by using water.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, an army of robotic water coolers is defeated by knocking over their water tanks. Apparently, Hereti-Corp never thought to waterproof their water coolers.
  • Sunbird: Serenthia executes traitors by drowning.
  • Averted in a crossover between The Wotch and Accidental Centaurs with, you guessed it, the Wicked Witch. No one ever thinks of using water against her. When it IS brought up Lenny points out that she's already used to it, so it wouldn't have worked anyway.
  • Wilfreda The Wanna Be Witch: Parodied and deconstructed. Victor, one of Wilfreda's more skeptical classmates, tries to prove she's not a witch by throwing water on her going off the ol' "witches melt in water" mythos. After he splashes her, however, Wilfreda counters that that rule only applies to wicked witches.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Referenced in the "Everything Wrong With" series on CinemaSins. Whenever this trope pops up in a movie, it's sinned as "X has the same weakness as the Aliens from Signs." This includes the review of Signs itself.
  • Invoked and Played for Laughs with Phelous' "Old Man" character. If anything gets even slightly wet, Old Man will despondently proclaim "it's completely useless now." This is an exaggeration of a scene from the original movie, where the Old Man is depressed because his shipments were supposedly waterlogged when the ship hit a storm.

    Western Animation 
  • Waterbenders in Avatar: The Last Airbender weaponize water (and sometimes ice) quite effectively. There even include some fringe tactics like the "Foggy Swamp" style of waterbending that utilizes the water in vines to move them like tentacles and the much darker "bloodbending" that allows someone to take control of someone else's body by moving the water in their blood.
  • In Batman Beyond, water mixed into and diluted Inque's liquid body to the point of her being unable to hold herself together. This was used against her a few times, like her Batman: The Animated Series predecessor Clayface (though, being denser, it took a while for it to work on him.)
  • Bee and Puppycat: Subverted; Bee is shown to hate water to an extreme degree for no apparent reason in the episode "Beach" and "Cats", but after her Robotic Reveal, many believed this to be the reason why she hates water. However, in "Now I'm Really Alone", it's revealed that water doesn't actually damage her in any way and she hates water because she merely dislikes being wet.
  • Ben 10 features a slime-like alien species called the Limax that survive in hot temperatures and can be easily be killed by water. However, despite their weakness to water, the Limax are still able to eat beings who have water in them. For example, one of them ate a fly. They also planned on devouring an entire neighborhood of senior citizens and there were no plans to dehydrate them in any way.
  • In Castlevania (2017), Dracula's vampire court spends an entire scene discussing whether running water is harmful. Godbrand, a viking vampire, points out that he's been on boats and taken baths, though Isaac (a human of the court) argues that bathwater hardly counts as "running". Carmilla also describes how Greeks used to bury vampires on islands to prevent them from leaving, but Godbrand thinks he'd know if running water would kill him, which Carmilla finds idiotic, since you don't automatically know that poison will kill you. The conversation is interrupted by Dracula telling them to shut up, and we never do learn whether running water harms them or not. The climax of the season shows a vampire army crossing a bridge easily, but they encounter problems when the water is blessed by a priest and they are dumped into it.
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • Megavolt will short-circuit if splashed with water. Large amounts of liquid (such as Liquidator, a pure water being) effectively knock him out.
    • Liquidator himself knows several decent methods of killing it with water, ranging from boiling water to water hammer to a freaking tsunami. And when he collides with Megavolt...
  • The Wizard of Oz is parodied in a Futurama episode: "Who would have thought a small amount of liquid could ever fall on meeeeee...!" Leela turns herself into a witch a bit later and meets the same fate almost immediately... due to a backed-up toilet.
  • Gravity Falls: The Dipper clones in "Double Dipper", being made of paper, will droop and turn to (nonliving) sludge if exposed to any kind of liquid. They helpfully point this out to the original Dipper as they are totally subservient to him, though this proves more difficult than he expects because of their quantity. The exception is Dipper No. 2, who lives through it all and decides to have a peaceful soda with the original Dipper, forgetting about his weakness. Dippers 3 and 4 also survive, and the Grand Finale reveals they are out in the wild wearing raincoats to protect themselves.
  • In Invader Zim, when Zim is hit by water he screams wildly and his skin gives off smoke/steam with a horrible sizzling noise. It is heavily implied that water acts as an acid to him (although creator Jhonen Vasquez has suggested that it's not the water itself, but the pollution in it) and so if Dib ever managed to pour enough water over him, he'd probably melt in a rather horrific fashion. Except that, unlike the aliens from Signs, Zim quickly discovered a way to waterproof himself once he discovered the weakness, which was to bathe himself in glue.
  • In an episode of Justice League Unlimited, young villain Downpour tries this... on Aquaman. Aquaman himself weaponizes this trope in a non-lethal manner to defeat Wonder Woman in Justice League by dragging her underwater until she ends up passing out.
  • Kim Possible has a minor variation on this trope when Dr. Drakken creates an army of Kim clones. It's eventually discovered that the clones are susceptible to carbonated water, prompting Kim to unleash the awesome power of a soda fountain upon the clones.
  • In Ninjago the easiest way to kill a ghost (short of being a ghost yourself or finding Deepstone is to splash water onto their spiritual bodies since water sorta acts like their intangible forms.
  • The Smurfs (1981) has the child-friendly version of the trope in episode "The Littlest Witch": witches do not die from exposure to water but lose their powers for a year, so they never bathe. The evil witch teacher in the episode (who looks a lot like the one in the Wizard of Oz) suffers this at the end.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, Livewire's one apparent weakness is water despite the fact that she's supposedly a being of pure energy courtesy of a Freak Lab Accident.
  • In Teen Titans (2003):
    • Beast Boy discovers that water is the most effective weapon against the Big Bad's army of mooks, which turns them into tofu. Cue epic super soaker gunplay!
    • Overload was also easily defeated with water at the beginning of "Car Trouble".
    • Also, in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, they captured Saico-Tek, who attacked their home; during interrogation, he set off the water sprinkler and disappeared. Beast Boy made a joke that he wasn't waterproof, that no one took seriously. It was later revealed that Saico-Tek, as well as the other colorful villains they faced during their visit to Tokyo, were made of ink, so he did pretty much get killed by water.
  • In 1942 Wartime Cartoon "Tulips Shall Grow", the Screwballs, obvious Nazi analogues, are defeated when it starts to rain and they all rust solid.
  • A single drop of water is what vaporizes Mega-Slank's Synthetic Space Slug in an episode of Widget the World Watcher.
  • Aqualad in Young Justice (2010) has the ability to manipulate water into an assortment of weapons.

    Real Life 
  • For the most literal way to Kill It with Water, there's always drowning, a danger for all creatures unable to breathe underwater.
  • While not killing it with just any kind of water, you can kill a freshwater fish by throwing it in salt water, or a saltwater fish by throwing it in fresh water and watching osmosis happen. Before people actually wish to try this, realise one thing: Osmosis is the process of salts and water creating a new balance within cells. Throwing a sea fish into fresh water will make all its cells rupture. His skin and organs will turn into slime. A freshwater fish thrown into salt water will die of dehydration. That's how badass osmosis is.
  • In the Yom Kippur War, the vaunted Israeli "Purple Line" was a series of sand fortifications that faced the Suez Canal. Because it was essentially a gigantic wall of man-made sand dunes, it was considered extremely difficult to breach, especially for a force that would have to conduct an amphibious landing under fire beforehand. In a stroke of genius, the Egyptians blasted it apart with water cannons in under 30 minutes and sent their tanks through the gap, eliciting a Mass "Oh, Crap!" from the Israelis. (Egyptians sometimes cite this as part of their national myth of unorthodox ingenuity, calling it a "very Egyptian solution.")
  • Chinchilla fur is so thick that it cannot air-dry on its own. If a chinchilla gets wet and is not dried properly, the fur on top will dry and trap the moisture on the skin underneath. While this doesn't lead to death immediately, it opens the chinchilla up to fungus growth, fur rot, and other diseases.
  • This is actually the recommended way of killing the dreaded giant Japanese centipede known as the "Mukade", drowning it in hot or boiling water. The reason for this being, if you try to kill it by smashing or cutting it the body will release a pheromone that'll attract more centipedes to the area.
  • Most electronic equipment will not survive long contact with water. Just how long varies.
  • Drinking large volumes of water can kill you, actually.
  • In a pretty hilarious reference to this trope, a student called for a ban on dihydrogen monoxide as part of his science project—and got 43 students to favor the ban.
    • Banning "dihydrogen monoxide" has become a very popular petition any time and place there is an abundance of enthusiasm and a lack of information on scientific matters. Even Penn and Teller got in on the act and operated on a strict rule that they would not lie or even stretch the truth. Hippies by the dozen signed it.
  • Water pressure is a constant threat to divers of all kinds. Any bubble or object of lower density will be pressed by water from all sides as the water tries to fill in the lower-density volume.
    • 'Free divers'' who hold their breath can actually have their lungs crushed by water pressure if they dive too deep. Even seagoing mammals like seals and whales have depth limits because of this.
    • Back when people lacked oxygen tanks and were breathing through an air line attached to the boat above, there were stories of sudden depressurization caused by the air line being cut, causing the unfortunate diver to be squeezed into their helmet by the surrounding water pressure. Old-time diving suits did have safety valves that were supposed to trip to prevent this, but they often weren't maintained and could rust open, preventing them from working.
  • A not exactly uncommon method of execution, especially in Christian martyrologies of all times:
    • More than one myth about Roman martyrs mentions them being tied to stones or anchors and then tossed into either the sea or rivers. Some of them are, however, very inaccurate: since the Romans were very pragmatic people, martyrs would have never been thrown in rivers because their corpses would contaminate them (unless it was a public lynching instigated by mobs, instead of an actual and legally-sponsored execution), and if the anchors were tied to their necks, the weight and size would've ripped the victim's head off instead of pulling them down to the river's bottom (besides, why waste huge and probably very necessary anchors anyway).
    • Among the victims of the persecution and martyrdom of Japanese Christians in XVII century Japan, the Martyrs of Unzen were either forcibly drowned in the Shimabara river, or, as depicted in Amakusa 1637, fatally scalded in the sulfur springs of Unzen.
    • The two Wigton/Solway Martyrs, a teenage girl named Margaret Wilson and an older lady named Margaret McLachlan, were executed in 1685 for refusing to convert from Presbyterianism to the Church of Scotland (which at the time was Episcopalian, bishops having been reintroduced to Scotland after the Restoration). Both women were chained to stakes located in the Solway Firth (the watery part of the border between England and Scotland) and forcibly drowned.
    • The Drownings at Nantes, which took place between November 1793 and February 1794 (during the original Reign of Terror). Jean-Baptiste Carrier, the representative-on-mission in Nantes, who found madame la guillotine too inefficient to dispose of all the "enemies of the Revolution" he "found" in the city, ordered that anyone jailed for not consistently supporting the Revolution, or suspected of being a royalist sympathizer (especially Catholic priests and nuns) would be cast into the Loire, most often by being placed on barges designed to sink.
    • In The '50s, Blessed János Scheffler was murdered by the Romanian communist regime via being scalded to death after his refusal to join a national Church under the thumb of the regime.
    • In 1984, the Polish Catholic priest Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko was kidnapped, beaten to half-death, had a huge boulder tied to his feet, and then was thrown and drowned into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Wlolawek by three members of the Slużba Bezpieczenstwa (Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) for being an ally of Lech Walesa's Solidarity.
  • The Cement Shoes trope is about this. A person's feet are placed in buckets of cement, which hardens around them and forms a weight. The person is then thrown in a lake or river where they drown.
  • Taken literally with anyone who has Aquagenic urticaria, an extremely rare form of allergy where contact with water causes the skin to break out in painful hives and welts. While taking showers, jumping in pools, and walking in the rain are a big no-no, some cases are so severe that those suffering the condition can't even drink, sweat, cry or even give birth without getting a painful reaction.
  • Obviously, very effective to kill a fire. It does not work with all types of fire, though, relying largely on the combustible that fuels it - adding water to a grease fire will just create a fireball (as the water instantly boils into steam and sprays the oil into a fine mist), burning magnesium can split water apart into hydrogen and oxygen (which are both highly flammable), and an electric fire can cause electricity to arc through the water extending it and even electrocuting the poor fellow who attempted thatnote .
  • A Water jet cutter (think of a pressure washer on steroids) can cut through plastic and wood with ease. Combined with an abrasive agent it can cut through steel. Naturally, one of these can cut through flesh just as easily if mishandled.
  • While, for Earth-based life, water is essential, hypothetical aliens who ran on biochemistries different to ours - those, for example, that lived in a planet so cold that liquid ammonia replaced water (which at those gelid temperatures would be frozen solid) - could see it as venomous. An even more dramatic example are those that came from a world as Titan, Saturn's largest moon, where rock-solid icenote  replaces rock and its equivalent of lava is liquid water; for them we'd be largely made of molten rock and we'd drink and bathe in it. Hence the aliens in Signs being defeated by water.
  • Crocodiles usually kill large land animals such as wildebeest by dragging them underwater and holding them there until they stop moving.
  • While they don't necessarily hold them under long enough to kill them, kangaroos pursued by dingoes retreat to watering-holes and defend themselves by pushing the wild dogs below the surface.
  • Water cannons for riot control. Though it's less "Kill them with water", and more "hose them down with enough pressure to make them fall". In spite of its non-lethal intent, the sheer volume of water and the pressures at which it is delivered is extremely capable of injury (there are numerous reports of people losing their eyes due to injury from a water cannon). There are also reports of at least one man who was killed by a water cannon, suffering a traumatic head injury when he was hit in the face by a blast of water. This is more an example of the 'pressure' version of water lethality.
  • Another 'pressure' variant of lethal water - in maintenance of industrial hydraulic systems, pinhole leaks can actually produce a jet of fluid so thin and high-pressure, it can break skin and inject the fluid into you. For actual water, this mainly just hurts like hell, but can still cause damage at the injection site. For hydraulic oils and other toxic materials, this process will start rapid necrosis of your cells, and you will literally burst open and die from within unless the affected body part is immediately amputated. Do NOT Google pictures of "Hydraulic Injection" without Brain Bleach handy.
  • Disruptor Cannons are essentially guns that use water pressure as the propellant for their projectiles rather than gunpowder. They have a niche in Bomb Disposal, where the fact that disruptor cannons do not produce sparks make them excellent at, for example, breaking the windows of a car that might house a sensitive bomb.
  • Bathing in hot springs has been a popular activity worldwide for thousands of years. However, there are some places where it absolutely can't be done safely. Yellowstone National Park is a well-known example: many of the hot springs are so hot that they can literally cook a human in minutes.
  • The elements potassium, rubidium, and cesium are so reactive that they explode when they touch water.
  • During the 2019 Hong Kong protests against China's attempts to control the city, numerous viral videos were made showing protesters responding to police attempts to use tear gas against them by pouring bottled water on the canisters or sticking them in buckets of water. Both ways turned out to be highly effective means of rendering the canisters harmless and the practice has since become popular for demonstrators worldwide.
  • Water traps are very effective at killing mice. Fill a bucket with water, smear peanut butter on the inside rim, and put a ramp going up to the lip of the bucket. Mice will go in attracted by the prospect of food and drown almost instantly. The benefit to this is you only need one such trap to kill multiple mice, while most traps need to be emptied and reset after catching a single mouse.


Video Example(s):


The Wicked Witch melts

The Trope Namer of " I'm Melting!" Dorothy inadvertently rids Oz of the Wicked Witch of the West by splashing her with water.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (25 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImMelting

Media sources: