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Night Swim Equals Death

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"'Tis a naughty night to swim in."
The Fool, King Lear

Many people enjoy swimming from time to time, it's fun and a complete sport. Maybe you even like taking the waves. Or maybe you just like the relaxing feeling of the sea. Or maybe you enjoy the water in company. But if you are in a fiction work you should only go for a swim in broad daylight, otherwise things tend to get a little messy...

No matter the place: the beach, a lake, a river, open sea or a swimming pool, if you go for a swim after dark you will die in the water or shortly after. It may be a Sea Monster out for dinner, it may be a Serial Killer stalking you, it may be an Eldritch Abomination coming out of the sewers or maybe you manage to drown by yourself but no matter what, you are in for a gruesome death.

This can be Truth in Television to some degree, as swimmers are less likely to see aquatic predators such as sharks and crocodiles at night, and such predators are often more active at night too. This is why many beaches close at night or at least warn people that night swimming is dangerous. In a similar vein, a human killer can take advantage of the water, darkness and often solitude of a night swimmer. Drownings also tend to take place at night, though this may be generally because it gives people plenty of time to have got drunk first.

Compare Darkness Equals Death where darkness means trouble, Hazardous Water where the water indirectly contributes to your death and Murder Water where the water itself is trying to kill you.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Comic Books 
  • Superboy (1994): A couple goes for a late night swim in a cove where King Shark is lurking, so he eats them.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in 1941 (1979) - girl goes swimming at night, gets caught on a Japanese submarine. It's even the same girl who did the Jaws scene.
  • In The Burning, Eddie and Karen go Skinny Dipping on the overnight canoe trip. After Eddie comes on too strong, Karen returns to shore to discover her clothes have been stolen. As she is searching for them, she becomes Cropsy's next victim.
  • Subverted in Cat People. Although it doesn't end with a death, the suspension being built up pretty much forces you to expect it.
  • In Death Screams, Sandy at the bonfire party decides to go swimming in nude. She's interrupted by the floating corpses of the two lovers from the opening, followed by the killer slashing her throat.
  • Deep Blue Sea plays with this trope. It's subverted in the beginning as it seems everyone in the water is going to die, but they are saved by the protagonist. However later it's played straight and often, as most of the movie takes place during night.
  • In the prologue in Freddy vs. Jason, a girl goes Skinny Dipping in Crystal Lake and becomes Jason's next victim.
  • Happens to anyone who skinnydips at night in Crystal Lake in the Friday the 13th movies.
  • Averted in Gattaca, when Vincent and Anton go for a swim in a lake/ocean (it's not explicitly stated and there's minor problems with either option) at night during the film's climax as a Call-Back to when they did the same towards the beginning. Vincent is stated as being at risk for a heart condition, and Anton was shown to be a better swimmer in the beginning of the film. Anton becomes afraid and gives up, while Vincent has already resolved that he will succeed or he will die, and only stops to go back and help his brother.
  • Invasion U.S.A. (1985): A couple taking a night swim right where the terrorists are about to come ashore get shot a minute or two after getting out of the water.
  • Frequent in the Jaws movies. The opening scene in the first movie is the most remarkable one.
  • In Mistress of the Apes, one of the Bantu maidens decides to take a moonlight dip in the river and is killed by the Near Men in retaliation for Thurston killing one of their women.
  • Despite the warnings, two lovers in The Monster That Challenged the World go swimming in the moonlight, and they soon disappear beneath the surface.
  • Parodied in the opening scene of Piranha, in which a couple break into the research facility to take a dip in the pool and get eaten by the piranha inside.

  • One of the murder victims in A Caribbean Mystery falls foul of the killer while swimming at night.
  • In Pyramids, this is why main character Pteppic has a Missing Mom. She took an evening swim in what turned out to be a crocodile.
  • In the Backstory to The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, the title character goes for a swim at night. His wife rows out to him in a small boat and knocks him unconscious with a paddle, causing him to drown. The same thing happens in The Film of the Book. The reincarnated man recreates the swim as part of his plan to rid himself of the bad dreams of his former life. Unfortunately, the wife of the previous man follows him out as before. He tries to stop her from killing with an oar as before, but this time she has a gun, and he dies all over again.
  • In the book Siren, the older sister drowns when she decides to go and dive off a cliff for fun in the middle of the night

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in the finale of Boardwalk Empire: Nucky strips off all his clothes and swims far out into the ocean at first light, ducking under the water in the final shot. It's left ambiguous whether this is a flash-forward to his death or simply a recreational swim. Later on, he tells Eli he'd been for a swim out of nostalgia, as he used to do it as a kid. He had considered swimming out too far but decided to return instead.
  • In an episode of Brimstone, a young woman (who is one of the 113 escapees from Hell who makes for the show's McGuffin, and who went to Hell after she murdered the families of the men who raped her) goes swimming at night with her new boyfriend. When he gets a little too frisky and triggers her, her demonic powers kick in and she boils him alive in the water.
  • Happens in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Go Fish", where the swim team are turning into fish monsters.
  • A Castle episode starts with the champion of a college swim team training in the pool after dark. Of course, he ends up being the Body of the Week not even two minutes into the episode.
  • Too many CSI, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY episodes to list. When this happens, the usual is finding the body floating in the swimming pool.
    • Parodied in one episode of CSI. A body is found floating face down in a swimming pool during a nighttime party. Everyone panics. Our heroes are called to the scene. The "body" turns out to be a mannequin.
  • DDA Emma Rios of Major Crimes is drowned in her own pool while taking an evening swim to kick off the series finale.
  • In Primeval, a couple is swimming in a public pool at night, when a mosasaur joins them...
  • In one episode of Smallville, Lana Lang goes for a night swim at the high school pool. Naturally, she's attacked, and some guy hunting meteor freaks shoots her attacker dead before he can drown her (Clark would have been too late).
  • In Stranger Things, Barb doesn't actually go swimming, but she is sitting alone by a pool at an illicit party when the Demogorgon takes her.


    Video Games 
  • In the Flash game It Came From The Deep End, a kid at summer camp gets dared to swim at night in a lake where a child-eating monster is rumored to live. The player has to steer him from one end of the lake to the other, but if he gets steered directly over the monster's lair, the monster eats him.
    GAME OVER! Your bones join the others at the bottom of the lake...

    Visual Novels 
  • Averted in Melody. The protagonist and title character go swimming in their hotel pool after one of Melody’s concerts, and they have some sexy fun there. Not only do they not die, they don’t get caught either.


    Web Video 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Chrissie's Last Swim

There was a reason why people were afraid to go in the water after seeing this movie.

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