Follow TV Tropes


Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid
aka: Videogame Lava

Go To
What are those barrels supposed to be made of?
"Using Surf to cross lava?!"

Real-life lava is molten rock (the subterranean version is called magma). Imagine an entire lake of electric-stove heating elements, all glowing red-hot. Its viscosity, or thickness, ranges from that of ketchup, to caramel, to much thicker than peanut butter; in other words, what you would expect of a liquid rock. For some types of lava, if convection wasn't an issue, you could probably stand on and even walk or run about on its surface. It is an opaque emitter of yellow-to-red light. Its temperature is typically between 700 and 1,200 °C (between 1,300 and 2,200 °F). Even the smallest flows will blister the skin before one can get close enough to touch it, while large amounts can set nearby objects on fire without even needing to touch them. It is also often accompanied by volcanic gases that can contain compounds that you do not want to breathe.

In fiction, Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid. It flows like water, it's no heavier than water, it can be diverted like water, and its solid form is less dense than its liquid form (like water). Objects can sink in it (although if you freeze part of it, the frozen rock won't sink). The heat will be trivial to overcome – not just Convection, Schmonvection, but people swimming around in it with a special suit or vehicle, or game characters only taking a finite amount of damage per second spent in the lava. Emitting light is optional.

Lava's animation (in video games or other media) is likely to be just as bad, especially in works where the technology and artistic technique to draw bubbling and flowing are limited. Lava will look like someone tipped a barrel of red Kool-Aid in a lake; if something falls in, it will still be visible, through the red tint of cherry flavour. This can be a justifiable omission, since for rendered graphics a plausible fluid-dynamics model could end up using more CPU power than the entire rest of the piece of media.

In many video games, lava is water recoloured red with a damage script attached (and sometimes the water causes just as much damage). Acid and toxic waste will probably be Lemon-Lime and Grape, respectively.

Now, of course, liquid rock can be heated to the point of water-like viscosity... however, lava heated to that degree, in reality, would have local thermodynamics of the sort that a human even a full football field's length away would be seared to ash almost instantly, even under an open sky.

Compare Sand Is Water. Sometimes a subtrope of Palette Swap.


    open/close all folders 

  • In an ad for Hershey's Cookie Layer Crunch, a woman is eating the candy until the announcer declares "If the Earth didn't have layers, well, you'd be drowning in magma." Suddenly, the ground disappears and the woman starts slowly sinking into the magma, but she initially treats it like sinking into hot water.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Mazinger Z:
    • Mazinger Z: Several times Kouji fought near flowing lava. Since he always was inside his Humongous Mecha it is handwaved like Mazinger-Z's armour and insulation protecting him from the extreme heat for a while. Still, in one episode he got dunked into a volcano. The characters pointed out, though, not even Mazinger could endure that for long, and they had to get Kouji out of the magma RIGHT AWAY or he would die. Nevertheless, the lava usually looks clearer and more liquid than it should be (although it is somewhat more viscous than in other examples).
      • This particular episode is also very famous for its title: "Kouji Kabuto Dies in Lava!" In Japan, this title is a long-standing memetic.
    • Mazinkaiser paid homage to that episode with one scene where the titular Humongous Mecha was tossed into the crater of Mount Fuji. The lava also seems less dangerous than it should be in this instance. However, given what kind of punishment Mazinkaiser shrugs off throughout the series, withstanding a lava bath seems almost trivial.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has an example where Asuka needs to dive into a volcano. While the story makes a point to show how both she and her Eva need special equipment to even enter the caldera (though Eva-01 doesn't, Hand Waved as it using its AT Field) she still shouldn't have had anywhere NEAR the amount of mobility, speed, or sight she enjoys while submerged in molten ROCK. To "see" in the lava, she switches to something called "imaging mode", and she has to wear a plugsuit specially modified to beat the heat of the volcano, suffering great embarrassment over how it inflates and makes her look morbidly obese — but the suit doesn't cover her head. And Shinji -who jumped into the volcano to save her- wore no special suit.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Yellow surfs on lava. At one point, she even goes around in circles to create a lava tornado that sucks up Lance. (Of course, Lance survives... by protecting himself with a giant bubble.) Pokemon in general in Adventures are amazingly resilient. While Lance and his Gyarados needed a bubble to protect them (which were, incidentally, strong enough to break Yellow's arm when she was struck by one), his Dragonite didn't need protection, and quite freely swam through the lava. It was hurt, but not by much, which may well be a reference to the Dragon-type's resistance to Fire attacks.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, Ash battles Blaine in a volcano. At one point an explosion by Team Rocket causes everything to shake; a wave of lava breaks against the wall of the arena and looks like nothing more than red seawater.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Averted during the Frieza fight where it was shown lava isn't just red water. It's heavier and more viscous, and both Goku and Frieza need to stay powered up to survive the intense heat. This was even used as part of Gohan's strategy against Broly in Movie 10, where they flew through a lake of lava and Gohan shot an energy blast ahead to create a wave that pulled Broly down, instead of him flying right through it like water. Humorously-enough, played entirely straight in Dragon Ball.
  • In Outlaw Star, Aisha relaxes in a lava pool, and Gene falls in. He runs out, parboiled, but otherwise unharmed. Aisha is a were-tigress in a universe where all space-pirates are Chinese cyborg-wizards. Gene definitely should've died horribly, though.

    Comic Books 
  • Legion of Super-Heroes story arc The Dominator War: Played with. When Supergirl, Mon-El, Ultra Boy and Brainiac 5 travel through the Earth's molten core, the surrounding magma is a glowing, orange-and-red ocean or a dense blackness depending on the panel.
  • In X-Men: Phoenix – Legacy of Fire, Jena and Madelyne Pyre take a bath on a "magma spring". Given that they are extra-dimensional demi-human beings from Limbo, its possible they can bathe just fine in it.

    Comic Strips 
  • Played with in Knights of the Dinner Table. When the GM tells Bob, "You've been skewered by a spear, you've fallen off a cliff, and you're swimming in lava," Bob asks, "Do I get a saving throw? I've got +1 with swimming."
  • Prince Valiant: One strip waxed narrative on the lava flow of a snowy peak, with a breathtaking image of a river of Cadillac-pink water.

    Film — Animated 
  • An early draft of Atlantis: The Lost Empire had lava whales. Yes, whales that swam and lived in lava. In the DTV sequel, there were lava lizards who could swim in lava, and also ate rocks. Also the afore-mentioned lava whales appeared in a brief scene.
  • In the first Direct to Video BIONICLE movie, magma and lava are essentially glowing, orange water, to the point where even the directors refer to it as a generic fluid in their commentary. Characters surf on it with droplets clearly touching their feet, yet have to be protected against it by a force field if it rains down on them.
  • Averted in Fantasia. The lava in The Rite of Spring segment is very viscous and thick, and is not exactly nice to whatever it encounters.
  • Fire and Ice (1983): The King of Firekeep pulls one lever that releases a river of lava that flows toward Icepeak. The stuff has the color and consistency of tomato soup, though it does calve off chunks of rock as well as melt ice.
  • Oddly averted in The Incredibles, where the lava waterfall comprising the moving walls of a hallway has a very high viscosity. 'Oddly', in that this exact same scene puts its arms around Convection, Schmonvection and does not let go. The pathway between the opened walls of lava was clean; so, even if it was real lava flowing in the walls, it was encased in some clear material rather than just flowing from the ceiling. Played straight though in Bob's first fight with the Omnidroid, as the robot sinks like a stone in the lava and quickly comes back up elsewhere.
  • In The King and I, the prince and the servant girl fall into a river of lava that doesn't burn them, and they just keep swimming in it.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, lava is boiling diet cola in the game Sugar Rush. With stalactites made of Mentos. The Mentos occasionally fall into the diet cola.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Core seems to present the ultra-high pressure liquid metal at the core of the earth as being thin as water and just about as clear, just slightly yellow-orange tinted. Being under such high pressure, the "liquid" core really functions more like a solid (denser than lead), and it's most certainly not the transparency and color of tang.
  • In the Italian film Diabolik (the final episode of MST3K, if you want to see it), the eponymous thief informs his girlfriend that the protective suit he wears to smelt a giant gold ingot into smaller, more manageable ingots would allow him to "swim through the sun." Not a true example in the sense that he never attempts it, but when he's smelting the gold it's clearly just gold-tinged water.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug treats molten gold as gold-colored water that's only dangerous through direct contact. Real molten gold is not only quite viscous (it is, after all, very dense), its tremendous heat makes it glow considerably. In the climax of the film, Thorin boats down a channel of molten gold in an iron wheelbarrow. Gold melts at 1,064 degrees Centigrade. While iron melts at 1,538 degrees C, it's also a good conductor, so Thorin should have been frying inside that wheelbarrow.
  • In Krull, Colwyn sticks his arm up to the elbow in a pool of lava to obtain the Glaive. Good golly, Miss Molly; the movie should have been over then and there, but he's perfectly fine.
  • The film version of The People That Time Forgot features a climax over a boiling pit of lava… or a pit of slightly agitated water lit with red lamps.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Gollum and the Ring tumble into the magma within Mount Doom. Gollum splashes around and sinks — but we don't see his flesh burning. When the Ring hits the lava, it quickly flashes up its fire-writing — which before took several minutes to appear when heated in a normal fire — and the lava directly below it cools into dark and solid rock, which eventually melts back down. So it looks like the Ring actually absorbed enough heat out of the lava to activate the lettering while cooling the lava it was touching to rock; it took several minutes for enough heat to conduct to re-liquefy first the cooled lava and then the Ring itself.
  • Subverted in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. The lava behaves much like this trope, enough that it can be surfed on, but it turns out to be completely harmless liquid.
  • Revenge of the Sith: In the climactic fight scene between Obi-Wan and Anakin, the lava behaves surprisingly like a river, complete with a water-like magma fall into a lava lake and lots of what appears to be lava mist all over the place. Admittedly, the whole scene looks awesome.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day the T-1000 falls into molten metal that mysteriously splashes just like coloured water. Molten metal does splash if hit by a hard object like a rock, even more so by a man-sized metallic object. It's not so fun for those working near it, like iron foundry workers, who need to (religiously) obey job safety rules.
  • The Time Machine (1960) did this by accident. The prop lava was made of red-colored oatmeal, and it started out looking accurate enough; unfortunately, a very hot day caused the huge batch of "lava" to ferment and liquefy. The horrified effects team carried on regardless.

  • In the Jules Verne 1877 novel Hector Servadac, the characters are caught from the Earth by a ricochet impact with a small cometnote  and carried to the coldest parts of the Solar System via the comet's orbit. Desperate to save themselves from the cold, they make their home in a cave on the side of a volcano, which is heated by a lava waterfall flowing over a remote crack of the cave. Real Life lava falls do exist, and they do look as spectacular as their descriptions go if not more so, but the comet imagined by Verne could've not realistically have magmatism of the scale needed to support a sustained lava flow of this magnitude. His saving grace, though, was that the root causes of magmatism were extremely poorly understood at the time. The plate tectonics theory was proposed in The '30s, and was originally laughed at, and more-or-less realistic numerical models of the Earth's interior were developed only in The '50s.
  • The NPC Qube in Prophecy Approved Companion, living in a game world, thinks that all lava is essentially painful water. After all, even wooden ladders can survive in it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Farscape: The episode "Lava's a Many Splendored Thing," the character spend most of the episode in close proximity to a river of lava with no harm until they touch it, and even then personal force fields allow them to wade through it like water.
  • An episode of Let's Make a Deal showed a Zonk Volcano Kayaking Trip as a prize. The video demonstrating the trip showed photos of someone kayaking down the lava flow.
  • In an episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century some characters were trapped in a room full of bubbling mud with red lighting, er, lava.
  • The Netflix game show Floor Is Lava tries to play up the "lava", but it's clearly colored water mixed with something to make splashed areas slick.
  • Raven has day 5 of each week of series 7 involve the final 3 (2 in the last week) compete in challenges under a volcano called the Blasted Mountain. None of the warriors get harmed by the heat though the "lava" in the challenge Lava Pit supposedly can cause the loss of a life to the 2 losers of the challenge.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the story Under Dragon's Wing, the mooks were "magma men" - living creatures that were either made of lava or lived in it. Never mind that for them, walking on land would be like us strolling about on Pluto.
  • Strangely enough, Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 plays this trope straight but averts Convection, Schmonvection - there are rules for ongoing damage just for being near lava, but swimming in lava is perfectly possible as long as you can survive the damage received per round. It also has a type of shark that lived in molten lava. 4th edition outright averts it. The rules are "If you touch it and aren't fully immune to fire, you die." No damage. Outright death.

    Video Games 
  • In The Adventures of Rad Gravity, lava causes instant death when touched, as does water.
  • American McGee's Alice has lava with fire-breathing fish jumping out of it to burn you. Justified in that the game takes place in Wonderland. The game could have Ice Breathing Fish living in Lava and they would fit right in.
  • In Among Us, if a player is voted out on the Polus map, they're dropped into a lava pit in the center of the map, and will go straight in with a splash.
  • Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance: You can find lava pools in the Elemental Plane of Fire, but due to graphic limitations they just look like pools of dark orange water with occasional sprouts of flames. Wading in lava will deal a massive amount of fire damage, making crossing it dangerous.
  • Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts: The first level has lava inside a volcano that is just water with a different color. It fits the theme, however, of a level with inflatable trees, clouds moved by a water mill, and a horizon provided by LCD screens.
  • Ben Jordan was forced to play a cruel Japanese quiz show, and if the player doesn't choose enough correct answers, is dunked into… harmless red liquid. The host is such a Troll about letting him imagine it's going to scald the legs right off his body without the police caring that it's happening live on a popular television show.
  • Lampshaded in Ben There, Dan That!:
    Dan: "It's a bubbling, boiling river of orange-hot lava."
    Ben: "You sure? Looks like tomato soup to me."
    Dan: "Can it, you. It's lava, alright?"
  • Blaster Master lets you try to swim in the lava in Area 7, but you'll take damage too quickly to get very far in it. In the on-foot sections, it's still instant death if you get knocked in.
  • Averted in Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King. If you step on the lava in the Boiling Caverns, you'll be able to walk slowly on it while still taking damage.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope in Call of Duty: Black Ops II brings us Magma for part of its second DLC pack. Falling in the lava kills you, but it flows very fast, like a raging river, and standing near the river doesn't kill you. Standing near the recently cooled rocks however...
  • Carto repeatedly lampshades this in the volcano level, referring to lava as "Nature's Spiciest Water", and with a character commenting on how good that hot lava was going to feel on his cold body.
  • Caves of Qud is a little odd: technically, the game doesn't use flowing liquid at all, and all liquid is treated as a puddle that occupies a tile (and thus, rivers and the like are simulated in the map generator by long strings of large puddles next to each other; it works better than it sounds described). Lava is thus treated like any other "liquid" in that system, and it splashes and puddles and behaves like "a liquid". What is properly simulated, however, is the thermodynamics; lava is insanely hot and merely being close to it risks you being set on fire without any protective gear. Getting lava on you is all but guaranteed to be fatal due to how badly you'll be set on fire. The thermal properties apply to collecting it, too - if you try to collect lava in a normal (cloth) waterskin or even a metal canteen, you'll just end up melting the container and you'll have lava on you. If you don't have very specialized containers to hold your lava, you're better off staying far, far away.
  • It's possible that it's not even supposed to be lava, but at any rate the Last Cave in Cave Story has pits filled with a red liquid that damages you. Aside from its color and its ability to damage you, it is identical to the water found elsewhere in the game.
  • Clash at Demonhead allows you to swim through lava when you buy a (very expensive) Super Suit. Without it, you'll die on contact with the lava.
  • Contra Re Birth: Lava will glow, but it's still a viscous dark red liquid.
  • Parodied in Crash Tag Team Racing: the "lava" in Tyrannosaurus Wrecks is actually just hot sauce (and a mild variety too). One Die-O-Rama even has Crash swimming in it before getting eaten by the shark from Mystery Island.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island has a lava-powered barbeque.
  • In Dark Souls, not only is Convection Shmonvection in effect, but you can also roll through lava to take less damage than running through it (although you may be set on fire). Lava also flows quickly, as evidenced by Ceaseless Discharge, who produces most of the lava in the Demon Ruins. When you kill him, it drains pretty quickly. You can even walk through lava with little damage once you get the Orange Charred Ring.
    • Dark Souls has a weird relationship with lava: it works differently in all of the games. Dark Souls has it as flowing, but solid enough that you can walk through it with relative ease (besides the obvious burning to death without a certain magic ring problem). Dark Souls 2 has nothing but Lava Pits, where the lava acts more liquid and serve as colorful Bottomless Pits. Dark Souls 3 kind of stops midway between the two: you can walk in it again, but now it acts like a swamp rather than a burning floor (and adds what is probably the most surreal lava-related fact in the series: you can block lava damage by holding up a good shield while wading through it).
  • In Densetsu no Stafy 3, the lava found in Crackling Volcano is essentially just a recolored version of the purple acid pools also found in the game, and has the same properties as well; having occasional spouts that lift platforms and damaging you on contact. This makes it look like boiling Kool-Aid as well.
  • Descent averts this and has in fact quite plausible depiction of lava. Convection, Schmonvection is justified, in that you are flying a spaceship, that even can resist the heat on Mercury (the planet). The lava has an opaque, bright glowing surface with slightly darker and brighter spots on it and looks quite similar to real lava (despite not being dazzling bright, but this can be justified, by shaded cockpit glass). Touching it is very damaging, and nothing can dive or sink in it. Getting splashed by lava (then someone shoots in it) does enormous damage. Rock next to lava is also glowing hot, which is realistic, because the temperature you need to melt most minerals, is higher than the Temperature you need to make it glow.
  • Taken to a ridiculous extreme in Diddy Kong Racing. The track Hot Top Volcano allows the use of two vehicles: the default one is the plane, which makes sense. The other option is using a hovercraft, a vehicle used normally in water tracks. And yes, when you cross lava, the hovercraft behaves exactly as it does on water.
  • Most of the lava in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is treated as a Bottomless Pit. However in one level you can cool the lava down in order to swim through it.
  • Donkey Kong 64 reuses the idea of boiling hot water that needs to be spat in by an animal to cool it down. The actual lava in Donkey Kong 64, found in the same temple even, is instant death, even if the character does just fall through it like water.
  • In the Dungeon Keeper games, lava behaves exactly like opaque yellow-red water, except for dealing damage over time to non-fireproof creatures that are forced into it.
  • Dwarf Fortress's handling of lava seems to have gotten less realistic as time has passed:
    • In the old 2D versions, lava flowed significantly more slowly than water and touching it was typically instantly fatal, though special workshops could be built hanging over magma without harming the workers (unless dangerous creatures crawled out of the magma).
    • In 3D versions up to, it flowed at the exact same rate as water (but didn't follow the rules of pressure unless you used pumps) and was still very deadly.
    • In the latest versions (0.31.xx) it moves slower than water again. But the introduction of tissue layers and some issues where not all tissue materials have melting points defined, means that being immersed in magma only causes fat to melt off and results in bleeding to death. If the creature is big enough and thus has enough blood to survive that, the bleeding stops and the creature tends to drown (if the magma is deep enough) before dying in the heat. Creatures that are immune to both bleeding and drowning (such as undead) are completely magma-proof. Their bodies will be instantly destroyed if they are killed while immersed, but the magma itself won't kill them.
    • Still fun!
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Oblivion, players can swim through and under lava if they have enough hit points/health potions, and the Water-Walking spell works on it. Then again, considering it's a hell dimension, it may very well be boiling blood. Well, it IS referred to as the "Waters Of Oblivion." Who says it isn't just magic water that does fire damage?
    • Most likely the case, as lava in Morrowind is treated fairly realistically (you don't sink when you step on it, you can't swim in it, and it doesn't flow like water). Can't stand next to it all day without minding, though. Cyrodiil doesn't have much in the way of active tectonic activity, where Morrowind is set on a large volcanic island.
    • Even more ridiculous, you can actually use the game's rest command to regenerate to full health… by sleeping in the lava for an hour or two and then swimming on. Just make sure no monsters are attacking you.
    • An NPC states in Oblivion that that realm should be quite hot, considering all the lava and brimstone, yet feels a deep chill. This implies that the laws of physics work differently in Mehrunes Dagon's realm, which could explain why lava works so strangely.
    • Lava in Skyrim is treated exactly the same way, though it will set your character on fire if you step in it. If you have the hit points and temerity to swim in it (or turn God Mode on), it's basically boiling, glowing lemonade.
  • In EverQuest, lava is basically an alternate version of water that slows swimming speed, severely limits vision, and causes extremely high damage per second. However, players can still swim in it (and even gain swimming skill), can still see several feet in front of themselves while submerged, and can stand right next to it without being harmed. Furthermore, due to the limited abilities of the game's aging engine, a player can skim the surface of lava while jumping in and out of it to reduce the damage they take, since the game only applies damage if the player is actually in the lava when the damage interval is checked. Timing this properly can actually allow players to cross lakes of lava unscathed.
  • In Fate, lava encountered in the Dungeon is a recolor of water. You can catch fish in it.
  • The lava in Fantasy Life has fish living in it and will to no harm to the wood fishing rod and lure used to catch them.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy: The volcano in which the Fire Crystal and the Fire Fiend reside, naturally, is filled with lava. But the Warriors of Light can walk across it easily, suffering only a fixed amount of HP damage when they move—if they stand still in the middle of it, they suffer no damage.
    • Final Fantasy X averts this. The second half of the Omega Ruins is full of smoke and red light, with glowing rock a long distance below the main path. However, the rock appears to be either cooling down or warming up, and it doesn't move.
    • Final Fantasy XIV gives us the Hell's Lid volcano dungeon. The first phase of it is deep inside the caldera, and as the party proceeds forward, walls and trenches spread open with the lava parting easily and cascading down the sides much like slightly viscous water.
  • Jurassic Park for NES does this to an extent in stage 4. It uses the same sprites as water, but is animated so that it brightens yellow and dims red.
  • In the Famicom's King Kong 2: Ikari No Megaton Punch, the final stage is constantly flooded with a crimson liquid that forms pink bubbles, and an occasional skull floating in it.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing before you go into the final battle against your nemesis, you must cross a pretty difficult puzzle involving rocks that sink and rise from lava. Failing causes your character to have to cross the lava all the way back to the starting point, suffering damage in the process. If you fail repeatedly, your character belatedly realizes you could be swimming to the destination, unlocking an option to "skip this bastard maze".
  • In La-Mulana, lava is a Palette Swap of water, with the mechanics being very similar despite the different colors: you need one item to avoid taking damage (water can cause damage too in this game) and another to use the MSX while submerged. Diving through several screens of lava in the Inferno Cavern is actually required. Interestingly, with a bit of Sequence Breaking a player can acquire the item that allows them to swim in lava before the item that allows them to swim in water. Which amusingly results in Lemeza being able to swim in lava unharmed but unable to swim in water without constantly losing health. The remake justifies this by claiming that the water in the ruins is poisonous. The Ice Cape protects Lemeza from lava - not poison. Meanwhile, the sequel has a third type of dangerous liquid: poisonous lava.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In the original The Legend of Zelda, it not only is a cheap recolour of dungeon water, but also completely invisible in the dark.
    • An interesting graphical discrepancy between The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games is that, despite using the same sprites, in the Oracle games, lava looks like chilli and is darker than water.
    • Ocarina of Time, however, has denser lava. Mind you that, by denser, we mean you can walk on itnote . You won't even take damage for a few seconds if you're wearing the appropriate tunic.
    • Death by falling into lava in Twilight Princess uses the same animation for drowning in quicksand. You can also fish in the lava (you won't catch anything, of course), indicating that the game simply thinks of it as retextured water with an added contact penalty.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Lava acts more like opaque, super-heated red water, judging from the splash that appears when you fall in.
  • In Lemmings, lava looks like bubbling, red-orangey water, and causes the same kind of death as any of the other types of water.
  • In the latter Marathon games there are levels flooded with lava, and occasionally you are forced to swim through it (carrying your guns and ammo, of course). It hurts quite a bit, but it's survivable, and under the surface it looks and sounds just like red-tinted water (as the engine used the same behavior for being under all types of media).
  • Mega Man:
    • Shadow Man's stage in Mega Man 3 goes back and forth on this. Relatively hot-looking lava can be seen cascading in the background several times, but everywhere else in the stage, it looks suspiciously like Coca-Cola. It's hard to tell if the stage is a boiler plant and the liquid is lava, or if the place is a sewage plant and the liquid is human waste. Either way, falling into pools of the stuff will kill Mega Man. Ditto for Heat Man's stage in Mega Man 2.
    • In Mega Man X5 there's one segment in Burn Dinorex's stage where you have to duck in certain areas to avoid the waves of orange transparent lava that occasionally come by. Later on, you'll find a Ride Armor which you can use to travel through it.
    • Mega Man X4 also has lava-proof Ride Armors, this time for Magma Dragoon's stage which is literally a volcano. The armour can wade knee-deep in the (opaque foreground layer of) lava, allowing access to a shortcut into the boss arena. To reinforce the boss's Meaningful Name, he enters by jumping out of the lava on the opposite side of the arena and flashing red-hot for a second or two.
    • In Mega Man Zero and Mega Man Zero 2 there is at least 1 lava stage in each. Zero can even jump across floating rocks in the lava if they are present. The lava does act as an instant death trap if directly touched, though.
  • Metroid games, in general, have a complicated history with this trope.
    • Sometimes the games actually avert this by explaining that the lava in Norfair is really superheated acid. Similarly, the "lava" in Bryyo is highly corrosive fuel, explaining why shooting it with Ice Missiles can freeze chunks on the surface for a few seconds.
      • On the other hand, there are two types of hazardous liquid in Norfair. One is a bright orange, and is explained to be magma (or possibly some sort of subterranean lava, as it is boiling and emitting gasses and whatnot), which the Gravity Suit protects from. The other is the superheated acid found only in Lower Norfair (and a few scarce parts of normal Norfair), which is brownish in colour, and damages Samus despite the Gravity Suit.
    • Metroid Prime's Magmoor, as the name might indicate, doesn't try to escape it. Aside from the damage, Samus' mobility while wading in it is all but negated.
    • Unlike most games, however, rooms with lava are typically so hot that you take constant damage, unless you have the heat-resistant Varia Suit. The first two titles in the series are the only ones known to play Convection, Schmonvection straight.
    • There's also the giant worms, Other M's whales, and various other creatures that live in the lava.
    • The lava in Metroid Dread is simply red colored water, but it is justified since you travel through it with the Gravity Suit and need to be able to see where you're going.
  • Might and Magic VIII has lava not only looking like water colored red and glowing in night, but it also emitting water-like splashes when hit by projectiles.
  • Downplayed in Minecraft: lava flows much more slowly than water to simulate its greater density, although still faster than the real-life stuff; if under the effects of a Fire Resistance potion, it is possible to submerge and "swim" through it, albeit much slower than in water. It also causes any wood in short distance from it to start burning and ice to melt, but it can (or at least could) be blocked by using blocks of packed or blue ice; You can collect lava in an iron bucket and use it to fuel a furnace of any variety. Lava's not fatal if the player can escape quickly enough, but it deals significant damage and you will catch on fire for continuous Damage Over Time even after you get out. However, even more pain occurs when one dies in lava: everything you had on your person that isn't made of Netherite is irrevocably incinerated.
  • Monster Hunter Frontier: The Lavasioth can swim through lava, while everything else (except you) can literally walk, run, and even sleep in it.
  • Monster Hunter: World Hunters can walk on lava, however, but doing so will slowly deplete their health.
  • Subverted in Mortal Kombat: Deception. One Death Trap is a lava pit and when knocked into it your opponent still has time to make gurgling sounds as they melt in the lava. The same goes for the acid pit.
  • While the lava from Voltaic in Myst III: Exile at least looks like actual lava, letting it drain out of the steam chamber causes it to flow away as swiftly as water would, leaving no crusty deposits on any submerged surfaces and no residual heat.
  • Nobody Saves the World: Your aquatic forms can swin in lava just as easily as in water, and while it does inflict the Burn status effect, the damage is relatively minor. Also, Burn takes some time to build up, so if you're quick enough, you won't be hurt at all.
  • In No One Lives Forever 2, the evil corporation H.A.R.M. uses artificial lava in their underground lair that looks a lot like red hot water. In-game characters exposit that the reason H.A.R.M. uses artificial lava because it looks more realistic than real lava and is much easier to work with. There's also a memo you can find in one of the final levels that was sent by the manufacturer of their fake lava, stating that while it looks far less realistic than previous versions (the lava in NOLF2 looks terrible compared to the first game), it is far hotter.
  • Ōkami lets Amaterasu use the Waterspout technique on lava. If she has the Fire Tablet equipped, she can swim in lava, otherwise she's instantly ejected and suffers damage.
  • In One Piece Unlimited Adventure: it is possible to fish in a pool of lava, where lava fish somehow are swimming around. It is One Piece, after all.
  • Quake and Quake II treat both slime and lava exactly like water, except that slime causes slow health loss while lava causes rapid health loss. At least one secret item in each game requires you to swim through lava using an Invincibility Power-Up.
  • Lava looks like this in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, in contrast to its more realistic depiction in the previous game. (Even though in that game, it was possible to navigate the lava by riding it on a plum.
  • Taken to extremes in RollerCoaster Tycoon; lava really is just water that happens to be red and behaves exactly the same way as regular water. In the second game, when you get to design custom scenarios, you literally get to choose whether your scenario's water is blue, red, or greenish. Probably justified, as Real Life amusement parks do use colored water to represent lava in their attractions.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog's Marble Zone, the lava looks somewhat like real lava, but it is able to not only support Sonic on a block of marble, but also flow quickly to transport him across the lava. It also bubbles and erupts.
    • The Sonic Adventure stage, Red Mountain. The lava is bright red bubbling goo, and is buoyant enough to have gigantic rocks floating on top of it for Sonic to jump on.
  • Zig-zagged in Spelunky. If an item falls into lava, it will sink more slowly than in water. However, if you have Vlad's Amulet, you can swim in lava like water. Averted in Spelunky 2, where lava has actual physics like viscous water.
  • The classic Spyro trilogy plays this straight with the first game but averts it with the second and third games. More specifically, Spyro will drown in lava as if it were water in the first game but will take damage upon contact with it (and his charred corpse will be laying atop the lava if he dies from it) in the latter two games.
  • Starbound has lava as a commonly seen liquid, mainly in planet cores and on fiery planets (including magma planets, which are planet-wide lava oceans). Touching it causes severe damage (which doubles each tick, in case you want to try to be clever with healing items), but standing next to it is harmless. You can even siphon it up with your matter manipulator, allowing you to carry around thousands of gallons of the stuff. Never cools, either. Keeping in line with the trope, it is possible to swim and fish in it as well.
  • In StarCraft II the mission "The Devil's Playground" features "tides" of lava that periodically rise up and disappear without a trace. In it, Raynor is tasked with collecting 8000 minerals for Tosh. Every five minutes, lava washes over the lower areas of the map, in which high-yield minerals are located. The challenge lies in collecting the resources and moving out of harm's way to keep from being destroyed by the rising lava. This most certainly averts the trope as the lava is instantly fatal to any unit or building left in the affected area.
  • Stardew Valley
    • A lake of lava appears on the 100th level of the mine, and you can fish there. While the lava eel and the ghostfish has some excuses for being able to survive in there, there's no excuse for how you can snag garbage items like driftwood, soggy newspapers or algae. Or, for that matter, how you keep your fishing line and everything on it from burning up.
    • After unlocking Ginger Island, another area can be found at the peak of the volcano. Not only can you fish there for lava eels, but a few fire monkeys can be found treating it like a hot spring.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros.: This is justified, as the game actually palette-swaps its water sprites for use in the lava-infested castles. It doesn't even damage Mario; he just falls through it into the bottomless pit.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3 has lava that look like boiling spaghetti sauce. Averted in later games, where the lava kills Mario instantly or causes him to jump off if he touches it, although he still has Convection, Schmonvection on his side. In the Paper Mario game it is even used as a light source and difficulty to move through even with invulnerability.
    • Super Mario 64 has translucent red lava. Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy have opaque lava, but objects and enemies still fall right through it like water.
    • Super Mario Sunshine: If you hack the game to give yourself infinite health, you can swim under the lava in Corona Mountain just like regular water. Apparently, the developers made lava by taking the mechanic of polluted water surface dealing damage (seen previously in a few other areas), dialling the damage dealt up to "One-Hit Kill", and overlaying an entire body of water with it.
    • Super Mario Odyssey: Taken almost literally in the Luncheon Kingdom's Mount Volbono, where the lava is bright pink and apparently not the hottest around. Touching it will cause Mario to leap up in pain, but the temperature in the Kingdom is cooler than the Sand Kingdom's, and as such, Mario can be comfortable (i.e., not go through heat idle animations that keep him from falling asleep) if he dresses down to his boxers there. In the Sand Kingdom, no amount of undress will let him cool off.
    • Super Mario Bros. Wonder: The Wonder Effect in "Pull, Turn, Burn" lets you swim through the magma and the lava geysers in the ruins like they're water. You can even use the Dolphin Kick badge to swim through them faster.
  • Terraria somewhat mimics Minecraft, in that the Lava's not instantly fatal and flows a bit slower than water. However, it only destroys loose blocks and common items... which leads to the Fridge Logic-inducing sight of a stone block beside a lava pool you just mined — which had just moments ago been holding the lava in place, mind you — is destroyed by that very same lava. Additionally, Lava can only break background type items, meaning there's nothing stopping you from containing it with wood or even snow blocks. With the right equipment or an Obsidian Skin potion, you can also make yourself immune to lava damage for a time, effectively turning it into glowing red water.
  • The Temple of Xian level of Tomb Raider II has a lava which looks like boiling blood and doesn't even set Lara on fire. Also makes a splash when she falls into it. It is basically a Palette Swap of the acid pool in The Deep/Diving Area. On the other hand the Floating Islands level has semi-realistic (with Convection, Schmonvection) lava like in the first TR.
  • Twisted Metal 2 has a map featuring a jungle temple surrounded by lava. There are two kinds of lava: the one within the circumference of the solid ground deals very little damage and can mostly be treated as solid ground. The one outside this area is very damaging and risky to tackle without a shield or high health.
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger has a Mini-Mecha called the Thermo Extreme Bunyip that functions exactly like a submarine when submerged in lava.
  • In Ufouria for the NES there is blue water, orange water (lava) and purple water (some toxic substance, possibly acid or poison). You can swim in these but only the first, obviously, won't kill you.
  • The magma in Unreal is basically just a red-hot water. In some levels you can even take a dip in it to reveal some ludicrous secret and even survive if you're quick and have enough health and armor.
  • Warcraft III's dungeon maps have red-tinted water that serves as lava. And lava tilesets, meaning you can literally walk on lava. Most maps using it will have the lava-covered areas deal periodic damage.
  • In Wario: Master of Disguise, the vast majority of Sweatmore Peak is spent traversing magma as if it were water. It damages Wario to do so unprotected; he needs the Sweatmore Hotpants to avoid this. Lower portions of the level have hotter magma that requires upgraded Hotpants to survive in.
  • World of Warcraft, taken to such an extent that one dungeon, in particular, is easier and quicker to reach by dropping into and walking through a large pool of lava, healing up as you go, than it is to take the "normal" entry route past a long chain of mobs. It's still quicker even if you're many, many levels above the mobs in question. It used to be that high level players had faster natural health regeneration than lava damaged them. The biggest risk would be drowning. This was changed in patch 6.0, lava now does percentage-health damage and even at the level cap will quickly kill you. The Cataclysm expansion added the ability to fish in lava. The best result is some form of elemental fire, but you also get small animal bones, melted weapons, and ... all the usual fishing failure items, like weeds and pieces of cloth.
  • Yoshi's Island: Yeah, it's hot enough for Yoshi to jump up and pull a face, but there are logs, questionmark buckets, and these weird wheels which can swim in it without any problems.

    Visual Novels 
  • Appears in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair when SHSL Cook Teruteru Hanamura is executed; the culprit is dropped into a volcano and bobs up and down as though the lava were a large deadly swimming pool. A possible justification is that it's actually cooking oil meant to deep fry the Cook.
  • In Your Turn to Die, failing to realize that this trope isn't in effect can cost you time on a puzzle. In chapter 3-1A, the group gets stuck in a boxing ring while lava floods the room. If Sara examines the source of the lava, she realizes that the lava isn't emitting light, which means it's effectively Kool-Aid that isn't boiling. This gives one person the idea to wade through the liquid and buy time for the puzzle. Realistically, the group should have been able to tell that it's not lava simply because it wasn't cooking them alive.

  • This panel from The Book of Biff illustrates the trope perfectly.
  • In Scandinavia and the World Iceland has it's own way to deal with lava.
  • In Rusty and Co., much of level 7 is spent in the vicinity of lava without harm — though D&D's rules for it may take part of the blame. Grinner is fine until he actually hits, and then the problem is that he's carrying explosives.
  • In the xkcd strip/game "Hoverboard", you can descend into a volcano, and the "lava" is basically coded as opaque but insubstantial (there's no damage effect in the game so it's also, by definition, harmless). There are other people perched on rocks in the cauldron, including someone explaining that you should breath out through your nose as you jump in, otherwise you get lava in your nasal passages. Obviously, someone as nerdy as Randall Monroe knows that every part of this is wrong.

    Web Animation 
  • Sure, the lava in Gaming All-Stars looks realistic on the surface, but when Bowser falls into it and re-emerges after turning into Giga Bowser, it splashes as if it were just really hot water with flames coming out of it.
  • Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers: In Mario SAW, this trope is played straight. However, the "lava" isn't boiling Kool-Aid, just warm watermelon Kool-Aid.

    Web Video 
  • In ProtonJon's Mario's Wacky World LP, he lampshades his memetic "Death Water" comment by referring to lava as "our old nemesis... CHERRY KOOL-AID!"

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 contains an animation goof where a flood of lava actually seems to go up to Mario's waist and doesn't kill him.
  • Played completely straight in Cow and Chicken during the "Boneless Kite" episode. During a Kite Fight over a lava pit, the Red Guy ends up falling inside. He comes out screaming in pain before realizing he's unharmed, comments that "This lava is warm!" and starts happily swimming in it.
  • Played almost literally in Dexter's Laboratory, at the end of "Mock 5".
    Dexter: Monkey, that is not candy, it is molten lava!!
  • In The Fairly OddParents! episode "One Man Banned", Timmy's horrible triangle-playing causes a volcano to emerge and flood his house with lava, but he and his parents treat it like water.
  • Fangbone!: In "The Shadow of Bill", Fangbone, Bill and Cid escape from the dire razorworm by rafting along a lava flow as if it is a river; complete with Inevitable Waterfall.
  • In the Futurama episode "Jurassic Bark", Fry's fossilized dog (long story) falls into lava, and he and Leela almost jump in after it, despite Farnsworth's protestations. Then Bender actually does jump in after it. Despite being, well, a robot, he should not be able to see anything while "swimming," making it pretty hard to find a small, rapidly sinking stone dog. He also ought to melt after a few seconds, but this is hand-waved by him being "40% dolomite" (he's also 40% several other things). His eyes melt only after he escapes the lava, due to Rule of Funny.
    Professor Farnsworth: Professor! Lava! Hot!
  • Played with in Jackie Chan Adventures when the Monkey King uses a spell to make a volcano erupt. The group fails to outrun the lava and get coated in it, only to harmlessly emerge from it seconds later. Seeing as how the Monkey King is a prankster spirit, his spell also turned the lava into cherry gelatin.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, lava in Miseryville is often portrayed as being basically red water, with the characters even swimming in it sometimes. Other times, this is not the case when it's funnier to see characters get incinerated.
  • Played with in Mixels. The Infernites, being a fire element tribe, handle the stuff no problem, to the point they actually treat it like water, with things such as lava showers and lava hot tubs. However, a loosened clog from the lava shower (which happens to be connected to the rest of the water system of Mixel Land) traveling through the pipes of the other kingdoms is enough to severely burn other element-based Mixels.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Atomic Superman", an alien on a fire planet falls into a river of lava. Although immune to heat, the alien has to be rescued by Superman as he is in danger of drowning.
  • The Secret Saturdays: Done in an episode where the characters encounter large volcano lizards in Peru called Cherufe, capable of swimming through lava. Argost and Drew also use the creatures' shed skins as lava diving suits.
  • The Simpsons: Inverted in "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo". As part of the Japanese game show they're on, they have to walk across a bridge hanging over a volcano. At the end, the lava's revealed to be wasabi-loaded orange juice.
    Homer: IT BURNS! IT BURNS!
    Host: Don't worry. That "lava" is just Orange Ade, made by our sponsor Osaka Orange Ade Concern.
    Homer: IT BURNS! IT BURNS!
    Host: It's loaded with wasabi!
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Foolduke says that the "lava" inside the Pie Island volcano is just lukewarm tomato juice.
    Foolduke: [flatly] I hate this place.
  • Played with in The Transformers episode "Hoist Goes Hollywood". Hoist threatens to drop Spike and Carly into "flesh-eating lava", then actually does so, which convinced Megatron that the Autobot was out of his mind, causing him to retreat. The "lava" was actually a prop containing mud. Well, they were at a movie studio...

     Real Life 
  • Theoretical modelling of the extrasolar planet CoRoT-7b suggests its dayside would be so hot (up to almost 2,500 K/4,000 °F) that the lava ocean present there would have almost water-like viscosity. This is also expected to happen in other searing hot worlds as Kepler-78b.
  • In 2017, a lava delta from Mt. Kilauea (and its nearby cliff) collapsed into the sea, causing a steady cascade of lava to flow directly into the Pacific Ocean. The flowing cascade was described as a "firehose" by mass media, and often did have the appearance of a steady, solid flow of cherry kool-aid.
  • Carbonate lava, which is what forms when a carbonated rock such as limestone melts, rather than the usual silicated ones, is a downplayed variant. While it has some of the properties of kool-aid lava, such as an almost water-like viscosity and being much cooler, it doesn't look much like red water since unlike normal lava, it's typically too cold to glow, making it akin to a searingly hot liquid ressembling tar.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Lava Is Kool Aid, Lava Is Red Hot Water, Videogame Lava


"The Cold Heart of Hate"

"The Cold Heart of Hate" is set in a volcano in Russia, yet a normal raccoon like Sly is able to be near it without dying instantly. Clockwerk has the excuse of being made out of some sort of super-metal.

How well does it match the trope?

4.33 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / LavaIsBoilingKoolAid

Media sources: