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Lava Pit

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Shrek: You can't tell me you're afraid of heights?
Donkey: No, I'm just a little uncomfortable about being on a rickety bridge over a boiling lake of lava!

Like a swimming pool, but much more viscous and much hotter than water, and somewhat less inviting. Plus it's too dense to sink into and doesn't require you to periodically add chlorine or scoop out leaves. And it really doesn't matter if you don't wait an hour after eating before you jump in. A better simile, in fact, would be "not like a swimming pool." (cf.) Often used as a barrier rather than a trap proper, but with the right mechanisms and delivery chutes, a Lava Pit can make for a delightful surprise at the end of a long drop. Often found in a Lethal Lava Land.

In urban or outer space settings (where flowing lava is hard to find), you can substitute a blast furnace, trash incinerator, open nuclear reactor, vat of molten metal, or really, anything that's very hot and lethal to anyone dropped in. This version may overlap with No OSHA Compliance.


The Lava Pit can only work as a slow descending trap thanks to Convection Schmonvection — that wonderful law that says rising heat can't kill you and only touching the lava is fatal. Funnily enough, however, in many platform games, the lava seems to have sufficient viscosity for the player to launch him/herself into the air, shoes/backside on fire. You'll lose Hit Points, of course.

A subtrope of Lava Adds Awesome. May or may not be a part of Fire and Brimstone Hell.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Broly – Second Coming, Gohan manages to knock Broly into lava, only to be shocked when he emerges unharmed, having protected himself with a forcefield.
  • Mazinger Z: Several Mechanical Beasts were fought beside or over lava pits on the crater of a volcano -usually Mount Fuji-: Aeros B2 and B3, Holzon V3 — in one of the manga versions — Debira X1... And in one episode, Kouji was dumped in one.
  • The climax of Noir takes place over a Lava Pit, in the mystical dimension in-between Spain and France. No, not Andorra. Altenna dies by falling into it. Kirika almost falls with her, but Mireille saves her.
  • Usually considered the best Pokémon battle in the anime, Charizard vs. Magmar took place over a lava pit.
    • In the Pokémon Colosseum games, stage 100 of Mt. Battle is on a platform that essentially floats on the lava pit in the crater of a volcano.
    • The Blackthorn Gym in Pokémon Gold and Silver and the remakes has lava. The solution to cross it and get to Clair differs between the original (Strength puzzle) and remakes (rotating floor).
  • In Transformers: ★Headmasters, Sixshot captures Wheelie and threatens to drop him into a pit of acid in three hours unless the Autobots give him the secret of Fortress Maximus' sword. Said acid happened to look exactly like lava.
    • Also, in the Transformers comics smelting pits are generally used for particularly gruesome executions. If you like putting people into these, we know you're a creep.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Fubuki's Brainwashed Superpowered Evil Side threatens Judai's roommates with one during their duel.

    Comic Books 
  • Parodied by Nightwing in Gotham City Garage. He, Supergirl an Catwoman sneak into an secret underground facility protected with death traps and Dick wonders if they'll run into a lava trap.
    Nightwing: Laser hallway. How cliché. What's next, the floor is lava?
  • In Knights of the Dinner Table, Patty Gauzweiler cements her Killer GM status (and greatly impresses her fellow GMs) by creating a Death Trap in which the players willingly have their characters jump into a lava pit.
  • Subverted (doubly) in the Legion of Super-Heroes comic. Sun Boy gained his powers when Doctor Zaxton Regulus locked him inside a nuclear reactor just before its activation. In a later issue, Regulus comments "I could have killed him when I had the chance. But no; I had to get theatrical!"
  • Alan Moore, naturally, takes this trope Up to Eleven in Tom Strong; during their first encounter, Paul Saveen, Strong's Arch-Enemy, traps Tom in a pit about to be filled with Phlogiston, described as "heat in its liquid form".
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: When Diana and the Holliday Girls are abducted by Hades to Pluto they're almost killed by first freezing and then a lava pit.

  • The finale in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar takes place in a lava pit created by Jafar to trap and kill Aladdin and his friends. He would have succeeded if it weren't for Iago's intervention.
  • In Shrek, the castle where Princess Fiona is imprisoned is surrounded by a moat of lava. The only way in is across an old rope bridge, which prompts the page quote.

  • The second Austin Powers movie features a Death Trap over a pit of lava. Doctor Evil seems to have a thing for magma.
  • Seen in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, with the variation that the unfortunate prisoner has his heart removed before being lowered, and the heart catches fire when the poor man is dipped into the lava.
  • The big finish in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, when Gollum falls with the One Ring into a lava pit inside Mt. Doom.note 
    One presentation, movie, song, and puppet show later...
    Frodo: This sure is taking a long time.
  • In the opening of Star Trek Into Darkness, the Enterprise crew are working to stop an active volcano from erupting so as to save the native population of the planet. In Spock's case, this means being put into a protective suit and being beamed into it, to place a freezing device.

  • C.S. Lewis's The Space Trilogy has a segment in Perelandra where Ransom is inside a volcanic mountain. He disposes of a dead body by dropping it into the lava, and at one point he's in a kind of a natural water slide, and is a little worried the slide will empty into a lava pit while he's rushing down it (it doesn't).
  • In the first Myst novelization, The Book of Atrus, the path to D'ni from the surface involves crossing a lava chasm, over which the original bridge has collapsed and been replaced by one made of rope. When Atrus tries to escape from D'ni, he finds that this bridge has been removed, and tries to jump over the chasm instead. He barely makes it, but begins to fall in; however, Gehn jumps over and grabs him.
  • A variant in the James Bond novel You Only Live Twice: Blofeld threatens to leave Bond on top of a frequently erupting geyser unless he talks.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in The Basil Brush Show with a pool of Anil's chilli sauce.
  • An episode of Get Smart parodying The Prisoner of Zenda has Max swordfighting the bad guy next to a pit of molten metal. Max knocks bad guy's sword out of his hand into the pit; bad guy's flunky cries out "I'll get it!" and steps into the pit, never to resurface. Bad guy shrugs "Good help is so hard to find these days!"
  • In MacGyver (1985), Mac escaped from many variations of this, including an incinerator ("Jerico Games"), a nuclear reactor ("Flames End"), and even an actual pit of lava ("Good Knight, MacGyver"). Also, Murdoc threatens Pete with one (actually a vat of boiling water, but the same basic principle) in "Cleo Rocks."
  • The Magician: The Chinese warlord in "Illusion of the Lost Dragon" has a lava pit concealed beneath the floor of the corridor leading to his inner sanctum. Anyone attempting to intrude has a limited time to solve the puzzle lock on the door before the slowly opening floor dumps them in the lava.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess features one of these in "Sacrifice 2" with terrible consequences.

  • DOOM (Zen Studios) has two of these, but the ball can't fall into either of them. One of them is a decorative pool of lava that's crossed by a ramp, and another turns the bumper area into this when a reactor meltdown is triggered. If the ball is shot back into play during the meltdown via a ball saver, a portal directly in front of that pool brings the ball back into the playfield. The ball can be made molten if it comes into contact with any lava dripping from the latter pool, which can inflict bonus damage on drop targets.
  • Williams Electronics' Gorgar takes place in one, where the titular monster lives.
  • In Stern's Star Trek, the "Prime Directive" Mode requires rescuing Spock from inside an actively-erupting volcano.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • After Cibernético beat Asesor Cibernético in a casket match. He threw the casket in a volcano as punishment for taking La Secta Cibernética from him and turning it into La Secta Diabólica. Slightly indignant, he would return from the dead, returning to AAA as El Mesías.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons took this to its logical extreme in Dungeonscape where stats are provided for sadistic Game Masters that want to have sharks that can swim (and breathe) in lava. One assumes that they must be fed on a diet of adventurers considering that fairly few other things can and will submerge themselves in molten lava.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Arachnia in Bug has them all over the place. Don't fall in — Mercy Invincibility will not save Bug from becoming ashes instantly!
  • Daikatana features lava prominently throughout the third episode. While falling in is pretty much certain death in the PC version, the Game Boy Color version has the character melt into the lava...only to reappear on a nearby platform with only a few health points knocked off.
  • Holy Diver has lava pits that can be frozen with magic into destructible blocks. They soon start reaching up to the ceiling.
  • Distorted Travesty 3 has a variety of different types of lava, ranging from the kind that deals damage but you can walk on if you have enough hit points, to ones that you just sort of vanish into.
  • The video games Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Super Mario 64 all have some form of lava pit that you can walk across the rocks near it, or (with minor damage) touch it temporarily, but you only get serious injury if you stay in it for several seconds.
  • In the Awakenings expansion of Dragon Age: Origins, you can find a prisoner suspended in a metal cage above a lava pit (Convection Schmonvection, it seems). You can set him free in exchange for a magical rune … or just be a dick and kick open the cage, sending him plummeting into the lava.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, if you choose a site with a volcano or magma pipe, you can use the lava to build a variety of death traps, and it removes the need for coal to smelt most metals, except for steel. The only issue is the Fire Imps and Magma Men that come with said sites.
    • More than that, magma is the preferred way for most DF players to deal with virtually any problem. Too much garbage? Melt it in lava! Attacking hordes? Pump lava to the top of your tower, and pour liberally on any rash of invaders! Elves complaining about your deforestation? Melt the protesters! Your fortress flooding with regular water? Running out of good quality stone to craft with? Pour water and magma together, and you have an obsidian farming operation!
    • In the latest version, there are no longer magma pipes. Instead, there is a magma sea, provided that you dig down deep enough.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In Morrowind, there are plenty in the old Dwemer ruins around Vvardenfell. Justified, since the island is basically all part of a large shield volcano and because the Dwemer seemed to power their creations, at least in part, geothermally. If you join House Telvanni and construct a stronghold, you'll get your own personal lava pit included. Quite fitting for the Might Makes Right Evil Sorcerer Great House.
    • Oblivion has plenty of lava in Mehrunes Dagon's realm (it's treated like water, only you constantly take large amounts of damage from it). Some of the caverns in his realm also have holes in the floor which drop you into pools that have no way out. Admittedly, it is not made clear that it actually is lava — Oblivion realms don't quite work as Mundus does, and red water that hurts you wouldn't be the oddest thing to be found.
  • Final Fantasy VI has these in two parts of the game: In the Sealed Cave in the World of Balance and in the Phoenix Cave in the World of Ruin. Falling into one reduces some HP and sends you to the entrance of that room.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, Kuja traps your entire party in cells in his Desert Palace with floors that retract to reveal lava beneath them. He threatens to retract them all the way unless Zidane and his selected party members fetch him the Gulug Stone from Oeilvert. However, after Zidane and the others leave, he says he hates keeping promises and puts the remaining party members on a ten minute timer which can be reset by an hourglass, but only if Zidane makes it back in time.
    Kuja: Oops, just ten more minutes. Better start praying. Farewell... My sweet, lovable morons. Ahahahahahahaha!
  • In Impressive Title, lava pits can be found just about almost anywhere, ranging from alpine forests like Shadow Veldt, dying wastelands like Wyvern Hills, and Anointed Hills, and tropical grasslands like Labyrinth.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy has entire floors covered with flamethrowers.
  • Joumee The Hedgehog has lava pits as one of the hazards Joumee can face.
  • Lava pits appear in Sector 4 of Jumper Three. Earlier games substituted floating fireballs for that.
  • The "floor" of the arena in Joust is one of these, with a troll lurking in it that grabs at any combatant who gets too close.
  • The Legend of Zelda shamelessly uses lava pits around the inevitable fire bosses (King Dodongo, Gleerok, Volvagia, Hot Head, etc.). Of interesting note is that in many cases the bosses themselves are vulnerable to the lava pit as soon as you incapacitate them or remove their armor.
  • Level Up has lava pits like this and hangs a lampshade on it. If you are badass enough, you can walk it in unharmed.
  • The final area of Lighthouse: The Dark Being is the titular villain's Volcano Lair, complete with a geothermal steam system fueled by its still-active caldera. And for good measure, you have to reroute a set of steam pipes to retrieve part of the MacGuffin, using a diving-bell-esque apparatus suspended over the lava.
  • Machine Hunter has lava pits and ledges that you can push giant alien grubs into. Just make sure you don't fall in.
  • Long, long ago, pre-Halo, the Bungie company had the Marathon series. A few levels take place undeground on some planet, and you can fall in lava if you're not careful. It's like water, except instead of the screen having a blue filter it has a red filter, and your health slides down—quickly, but not instantly.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has a few of these in the Kung-fu training level, if you don't jump over them you die.
  • Underground lava pools in Minecraft are always a threat to the player's safety. Digging straight down poses the risk of falling into one with no easy way to climb back out — that's why not digging straight down is an unspoken rule of the game. The player can scoop up lava with a bucket and use it to fashion lava pits of their own, either as a trap, defense, or a prank.
  • In La-Mulana, several areas contain lava, which on top of draining your health like a mofo, is hard to swim around in, and disables your menus unless you have the Heatproof Case. Once you get the Ice Cape, you are completely invulnerable to lava.note  Also, one of the steps to the Bonus Level of Hell requires you to drop down several screens of a bottomless Lava Pit.
  • Comes up a few times in the Myst series.
    • The original game had a small chasm in the Selenitic Age, containing rocks hot enough to emit fire - and in realMyst, actual lava along with it.
    • Riven has a few locations that show exposed lava pits, along with an underground corridor completely surrounded by lava. Considering that the entire Age is unstable and on the verge of collapse, it's somewhat justified.
    • Myst III: Exile has a room in the Voltaic Age that the player can fill and drain of lava at will, designed to provide air to a hot-air balloon elsewhere in the age.
    • Eder Gira in Uru is split in half by a wide lava pit - which the player will panic-link away from when inches from the surface. Naturally, there's an island in the middle that needs to be jumped onto to complete a steam valve puzzle.
  • In Ōkami, Queen Himiko's palace has a huge pit of lava in it. Oh, and did I mention that said pit of lava is on the second floor of a building that looks easily burnable?!
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has lava areas in some levels. Fire Pokemon are able to move across them without taking damage.
    • The main series games often have lava pits in certain areas,too, but you can't fall into them in any way.
  • Portal's last test chamber includes a massive fire pit. GLaDOS tries lowering Chell into the fire, but she manages to escape with portals.
  • A common Death Trap in the cave levels of Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame. They were a good way of killing skeletons permanently.
    • The SNES version of Prince of Persia had a level set inside a volcano. You don't see the lava here unless you're falling to the very bottom of the level, but that will happen if you don't grab a ledge right at the start.
  • World 1 and 4 fortresses in Purple contain lava pits with Podoboo-like fireballs to boot. World 2 fortress has Acid Pools instead.
  • The Quake deathmatch level "Claustrophobopolis" had several lava pit death traps that players could spring on each other.
    • The Ammo Depot level in Quake II has a rectractable bridge over lava that can be used to fry crossing enemies. The Torture Chambers level has a cage used to dunk prisoners into lava.
  • Present in many levels after the second temple of Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Notably, the final levels feature them... despite taking place on a flying pirate ship. One must wonder how they keep it from cooling down without melting a hole in the bottom of their hull.
  • Red Faction lets the player drop a levitating robot into a garbage incinerator to the same effect.
  • In Resident Evil 4, you get to pull this trope on a miniboss. Easy way to help your chances of survival, given that there's two (Only Works Once for some reason). However, you lose any loot you would've gotten from that boss. Unless you backtrack into the Arena after entering the next room. Chapter 5-2 also has a molten pit that you can knock mooks into.
    • Resident Evil 5 does it one better: You get to do this on the Final Boss.
    • Another example would be Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, in which you defeat one of the Tyrants by knocking him into the lava in the blast furnace. Subverted, as he comes back later with a vengeance.
    • In Resident Evil 6, the Big Bad's facility is powered by geothermal energy coming from a semi-contained Lava Pit. Of course, you punch the Final Boss into it. However, it doesn't stop him.
  • SOMA downplays the trope to a realistic extent. Site Upsilon has a deep borehole used as a source of geothermal power. A glow can be seen from deep below, and the catwalks in the turbine room are all railed.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Marble, Hill Top, Lava Reef, and the Underground Zone all feature lots of lava (or magma) pits. Eggman is very creative about incorporating them into his gauntlets of traps.
  • South Park: The Fractured but Whole has various "pools of lava" in the form of red Lego bricks scattered across the town that block your progress until you gain access to Stan and his sandblaster.
  • These appear in the final "Temple" section of Spelunky, and kill anything that fall in them.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Bowser loves his lava pits, considering every single one of his many castles has one. In the first game, the most common method to beat him is to drop him into one.
    • In New Super Mario Bros. U, Bowser even takes over Peach's castle and then arbitrarily gives her a giant lava pit for a moat. Said lava pit naturally just up and reverts to water without explanation when he's kicked out at the end.
    • Yoshi's Island DS also has lava pits, which kill Yoshi instantly if he falls in. A lava pit also plays a part in the battles against Big Guy the Stilted, where he must be pushed into one so Yoshi can damage him.
      • Not just the sequel, the original Yoshi's Island is a big fan of these as well.
    • Super Mario World has lava pools with slopes. It also has Palette Swapped chocolate pits in Chocolate Island, and bubbling grayish "death water" in some of the fortress levels, which is used frequently in Platform Hell hacks.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has these in some of the Foot air base tunnels.
  • Found in deep depths of Terraria. Also made by players in order to create a barrier or trap for enemies.
  • Tomb Raider: Anniversary does this for the mutant boss in the final level before the final boss. You have to let the monster charge at you, pull off an bullet time shot so that it rolls over and over the edge, and then blast its fingers as it hangs on in order to drop it down a shaft with lava on the bottom.
  • Ultima V, in Shadowgate, has a trapdoor in the floor that leads to another trapdoor, to another trapdoor, to another, to another, to another... then shows the character sprite in the "dead" position in a field of lava tiles.
    • Talorus in Ultima Underworld II has a MacGuffin in the center of a lava pit. You're supposed to complete a Broken Bridge quest to reach it, but it's easy enough to run across the lava and grab it while taking only minor damage.
  • World of Warcraft is in love with lava — and Convection Schmonvection, as evidenced by the abundance of lava pits in zones like Blackrock Mountain, Burning Steppes, Dragonblight, Shadowmoon Valley, Ironforge, and others. It's also not entirely consistent regarding which lava is harmful - there are places where it's almost instantly fatal, places where it's annoying but not a major hazard as long as you get out quickly, and places where you can swim in or walk on it without any apparent ill effects. There's even one zone where you can fish in lava, although what you get out of it isn't edible.
    • You can fish in any lava, with a normal fishing pole. And the perfectly normal fish you catch are not even deep fried.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series : The Joker dumps Batman into a trash incinerator in one episode. In another, Red Claw tries dropping him into actual lava.
  • The Predacons in Beast Wars had a lava pit in their base, which Scorponok and Terrorsaur fell into. Also notable was when Quickstrike, under Tarantulas' commands, dropped Megatron into one. Far from killing him, it caused him to mutate into a Transmetal 2 dragon.
  • Dinotrux has lava pits used by the Big Bad as part of his evil lair. The gang eventually builds there own as it turns out access to a lava pool can be extremely handy in melting down spare scrap metal and reforging it.
  • In DuckTales (1987), "Too Much of a Gold Thing" has an unusual example. A lake of molten gold.
  • Futurama: The championship match of The Butterfly Derby (a popular Blood Sport) is fought over one. There's also one underneath the Planet Express building, which Farnsworth uses to power the occasional machine. Bender winds up going for a swim in it in one episode.
  • Miseryville in Jimmy Two-Shoes has quite a number of these. They vary between being a case of Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid and Convection Schmonvection for the town's inhabitants to being genuinely destructive and incinerating Miseryvillians in an instant depending on the joke.
  • In a variation, the Lava Pit that Orm chains his brother Aquaman and his baby son to in Justice League was an underwater volcano. Aquaman has to chop off his own hand to save both himself and his son.
    • Apokolips is a world teeming with Fire Pits, which in the finale are implied to be made by drilling right into the planets magma core and letting all the smoke and flame spill out, which gives your atmosphere that nice Fire and Brimstone Hell look. The "implied" part comes when, during their latest Alien Invasion, Apokolips tries to perform this terraforming feat on Earth, turning us into a twisted mirror image of that world purely For the Evulz.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Lair of Grievous" the first trap Grievous triggers in his lair is to open a panel in the floor underneath the heroes to a pit leading to lava or a similar superheated surface. One of the clone troopers ends up falling all the way down it and burning to death.
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy has this as one of Snaptrap's many Death Traps in his lair; he opened it by mistake, intending to drop Dudley and Kitty into the Shark Pool, but decided to just roll with it.
  • Lord Hater has one on his ship in Wander over Yonder. It's been known to suffer from technical difficulties.
    Watchdog 2: Really? I thought Hater was gonna dip 'em in lava.
    Watchdog 1: No, lava pit's on the fritz.
    Watchdog 2: Aw, man! I love the lava.

    Real Life 
  • Steel Mill. Except that it isn't lava but molten metal, and it is far hotter than lava.
  • Most volcanic vents that erupt fluid pāhoehoe lava are fountains, not pools. Lava can pool in depressions downhill from eruption, but they cool rapidly into slower-flowing semi-solid ʻaʻā lava. Persistent actively-convecting lava lakes are extremely rare, and as of this writing there are only five in the world: Erta Ale (Ethiopia), Mount Erebus (Ross Island, Antarctica), Kīlauea (Hawaiʻi), Nyiragongo (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Marum (Ambrym, Vanuatu).
    • A 2015 BBC documentary, Kate Humble: Into the Volcano features the eponymous presenter joining a group of scientists as they abseil onto a ledge overlooking the Marum lava lake to make measurements. Just watching it on TV is pretty terrifying.
  • A BBC documentary Iceland, Land of Ice and Fire followed Icelandic geologists and volcanologists as they attempted to assess how critical a pending eruption would be on the fault line running through the country. After nearly a year of rumbling and warning, the Badarbunga volcano blew, venting its lava in the most "harmless" way possible. But the trench of fire as a subterranean lava stream came to the surface was still one and a half kilometres - one mile - long. And all along its length, lava was being ejected for four or five hundred feet into the air. The resulting light show was awesome and spectacular.


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