Follow TV Tropes


Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits

Go To

In many video games, falling into a Bottomless Pit doesn't kill you; it just mysteriously transports you back to the start of the area. Sometimes this has no ill effect or explanation at all—it just never happened. Other times you lose a bit of health in the process, possibly implying that it did happen and you spent God only knows how long climbing back up. Even in games where extra lives are given out like candy, you sometimes find this effect.


Also used in RPGs in which it would be kind of silly and frustrating to punish the player for missteps (sometimes they also have an Invisible Hand Rail).

Often accompanied by Puzzle Reset.

In this special case of Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, more mundane hazards such as evil monsters and sharp blades force you to restart from the last Checkpoint or Save Point when you die, but falling into lava, down Bottomless Pits, into water, or whatever reduces your health by the same amount as a monkey hitting you on the head with a coconut. Possibly even less than that.

A Super-Trope to Bottomless Pit Rescue Service.



  • Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City both use this. While there are bottomless pits, if Batman falls into one of them, he just uses his grappling hook to launch himself to the nearest ledge, unharmed. Both games also avert Super Drowning Skills if Batman falls into the water, having him do the same thing as if he fell into a pit.
  • In Psycho Waluigi, when Waluigi falls into a bottomless pit, he bounces back up and loses 1 HP.
  • In Zelda games, falling into pits or a pool of lava usually resets you at the start of the room, or near where you fell, with a little bit of health missing. Should you fall into a pit with your health too low to survive the penalty, you'll reappear, only for Link to just collapse and die on the spot. The exception is when there's another floor below the pit; Link will just fall through to that floor, which is often a bigger annoyance than the loss of health would have been. In some games, other "lethal" events will also have this effect, like being crushed by an obstacle or falling in quicksand.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has an interesting one. You have an area where there is a nonlethal bottomless pit. By solving the puzzle hinted earlier, however, the platform moves below and you fall onto solid ground with no damage, and can proceed with the rest of the dungeon.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
      • Being set on fire while in Deku or Zora form, and falling into deep water while in Deku or Goron form, have the same effect.
      • Wandering too far from the center of the boss battle arena in Stone Tower Temple will result in you falling into quicksand and being teleported completely out of the temple.
    • Advertisement:
    • Many people complain they went too far in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, as falling into a pit only makes you lose a quarter of a heart.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has non-lethal lethal poisonous swamp gas, as well as pits and lava. It's especially odd considering that Midna's dialogue early in the Goron Mines implies that lava will kill you instantly. Interestingly, if you're wearing the Zora Armor or the Iron Boots, lava will cause an instant Game Over. Why you'd be wearing that in a place with lava is anyone's guess, but there you go.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, falling from Skyloft will result in a knight catching you and bringing you back to where you were, followed by a quick lecture on being careful. Everywhere else, you'll reappear at the ledge with no damage at all. Since your Sailcloth lets you avoid any Falling Damage, this makes some sense. What doesn't make sense is how you get back up.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, falling down bottomless pits (such as those in the Shrines), being submerged in the occasional Grimy Water, or running out of stamina in normal water will have you respawn on the last bit of stable dry land you stood on, losing 1 heart of health. Since Falling Damage can be a flat-out One-Hit Kill in this game, and so can many enemy attacks early on, losing only one heart is downright merciful in comparison. This game also bucks the long-standing tradition of having Link first respawn, then die instantly upon losing all health to a pit; if the fall or drowning is lethal, the game over screen will immediately display instead.
  • Metroid series:
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, surprisingly.
    • And again in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. During the Boss Battle against Ghor, it's advisable to leap off the ledge rather than let Ghor ram you; you lose far less energy that way. If you know you're about to fall, you can also just activate Hypermode, which even protects you from fall damage.
    • But not in Metroid Prime: Hunters, which likely annoyed a lot of players who were used to the console versions.
  • Final Fantasy VI has this as a result of falling into the lava in the Esper cave.
  • In Ōkami, falling in water or a pit would zap you back to where you started, at the cost of some health. The falls do not count as losing a life.
    • Getting zapped by a pit, water, or a curse zone does reset your Godhood to "skull", though. Until you pop a Traveler's Charm/Godly Charm or score enough combos to increase it, Ammy takes extra damage from enemy attacks instead of ignoring them completely, as a positive Godhood level would allow.
  • The first Boktai was a case, as you just started the room over. However, all the other ones treated it like an instant Game Over and charge you to restart in that room.
  • Most 3D platformers use it, with Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog being the major exceptions (although while Mario used to be filled with Bottomless Pits, they're now relatively rare, and while Sonic used to have them be relatively rare, it's now filled with them).
  • The remake of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 gives us a bottomless pit where the infamous inescapable spike pit was. Falling into it leads you to the Hidden Palace Zone.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Galaxy: The Hub Level offers an exception to the exception, since if you fall off you just get placed back where you fell. In other levels, if you're on a stage where it's possible to fall off, you'll fall into a black hole. In fact, black holes are used as a visual indicator to let players know that falling will result in death, rather than gravity pulling you onto the other side of whatever you're standing on.
    • Paper Mario series:
      • In Super Paper Mario, falling into a pit has you take 1 damage, then get warped back into the level via the same "mouse" that draws the boxes throughout the game.
      • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has them as well, although with spikes and water rather than classic pits. You do lose some Life Points, however, which can potentially give you a Game Over.
    • Super Mario 64 had these not for Mario, but for Bowser. Throwing him into the bottomless void or lava just caused him to jump back onto the platform, which could actually make it more difficult for Mario, depending on which battle you were on.
    • A variation occurs in Super Mario RPG, where falling into a lava pit will cause Mario to leap back out. Super Mario 64 has the same mechanic for falling into lava, though unlike Super Mario RPG, it actually causes damage.
    • Super Princess Peach uses these rather than the lethal variant found in a normal Mario platformer.
    • The Mario & Luigi series has these with bottomless pits, lava, spikes, and such like, which do at most about 2 points of damage and cause Mario/Luigi/Bowser to jump backwards to the nearest ledge/start of the room. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team actually goes further still; you don't take any damage whatsoever for falling in lava (outside of one giant battle), pits, or spikes, just end up on the nearest ledge/start of the room again. There's also Mount Pajamaja, where if you mess up, you just end up on the screen one north of the entrance (so a long way back down from where you fell).
  • Arguable case for driving games, where if you total the car or fall off the track, you'll restart in the middle of the track with only a few seconds penalty. Outrun 2019 is an example of this sort of driving game. Whether or not you can recover from falling down is another story.
    • Mario Kart has Lakitu fish you out of the water/lava/pit whenever you fall off.
    • Averted in most F-Zero games, however, where falling off the track results in an instant Retire.
    • Trailblazer, though not really a driving game, also uses this system: falling off the track just loses a few seconds, and the only way to get a Game Over is to run out of time.
  • Sly Cooper uses it instead of Super Drowning Skills, as does Psychonauts.
    • Although in the first game, this was only if you had a horseshoe or the extra abilities to negate it. If you didn't, instant death.
    • And in Psychonauts, while the water follows this trope, falling off into nothing (i.e. The Milkman Conspiracy neighborhood, the asylum) does cost you one astral projection layer (the closest thing to a "life" in the game).
  • Kingdom Hearts, to the point where, at one point in 358/2 Days, the solution to a puzzle involves jumping into a black, seemingly-bottomless pit when you can't progress any further horizontally.
  • Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal, in one of the gyms (Ecruteak Gym, home of Morty the Ghost tamer). The Pokémon games don't normally feature this kind of situation, so this was a one-off example.
  • Most Bottomless Pits in Conquest Of The Crystal Palace meant instant death, except for the ones in the castle levels (two and five). Falling down in one of those levels sent you back to a predefined checkpoint. One particular set of pits in the second level led you to a Bonus Boss, and defeating him would get you the rare "smart bomb" special weapon, the Moon Mirror.
  • Wild ARMs 1: "Let's just pretend this never happened."
  • If you play Mega Man ZX Advent on easy mode, if you fall into a bottomless pit, you are drawn back up by Model A. You are given Mercy Invincibility, a few seconds before it disappears, and a small loss of HP. Don't fall again.
    • The same applies to the first ZX game; whichever biometal you're using at the time gives you a few seconds of flight, but if you fall again without touching land, you're doomed.
    • Rockman 4 Minus Infinity turns every Bottomless Pit into these if Mega Man has the Trampoline upgrade.
  • In Secret of Evermore, falling off a walkway led your character to come back up, saying they found a secret passage below.
  • Gotta mention Jet Set Radio Future: If you fell into a lake/off of a building on certain levels/random vat of water, it would show you climbing back up, wet (if in water), and Professor DJ K saying something humorous about your mishap.
  • Zelda-like game Beyond Oasis has these kind of pits (that drain a bit of life and teleport you to the room entrance), but it also has a powerup that will fly you out of the bottomless pit, costing you a bit of mana rather than life.
  • Kid Icarus, as long as you carry a feather; if not, it's game over.
    • Kid Icarus: Uprising plays it completely straight, though (in the situations where it doesn't employ Edge Gravity to prevent you from falling in the first place).
  • Dark Castle has a variation on this that's both better and worse. Whenever you fall down a Bottomless Pit, you always get kicked into the Trouble dungeon levels as punishment for your sloppiness.
  • In a departure from the earlier games in the Crash Bandicoot series (except for one instance in the level "Un-Bearable" in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and the motorcycle levels in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped), Crash of the Titans and Crash: Mind Over Mutant featured these. It was made all the more blatant in the latter game, in which the lives system was dropped.
  • La-Mulana's Bonus Level of Hell has many pits that, instead of dropping you into the room below like most of the game, whisk you away to a magical place called the Land of Hell, where you have to kill all the (rather annoying) enemies in the room to open an exit back to the rest of the dungeon, probably forcing you to retrace your steps for several rooms. Oh, there's also an innocuous-looking ladder that sends you back to the beginning, but that's neither here nor there.
    • The third Land of Hell has pits of its own; falling into one drops you back into the second one, wiping out even more of your progress.
    • And the best part? In order to complete one of the puzzles, you have to sleep in front of the "LAND" sign in the first three Lands of Hell.
  • Castlevania series:
    • Castlevania: Lament of Innocence features very little platforming, being a 3D Castlevania game, but two rooms feature platforms in a darkened room where your range of vision is slightly less than your jumping distance, requiring a great deal of guesswork. Due to the game's camera-based controls combined with the tendency of the camera to move mid-jump, navigating these two small rooms can involve dozens of tries. Fortunately, falling just teleports you back to the room's entrance with no damage sustained.
    • But you do get a wonderful blood-curdling scream as Leon plummets to his doom darn!
    • Similarly, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood has many pits that simply take you to new or previous areas of the stage.
    • Castlevania: Dracula X has Stage 3, where the very last section in the level before the boss warm-up room has pits everywhere. Falling into one will actually send you to the alternate "Stage 4'", a sewer level. Unfortunately, entering this level means you'll invariably be getting the worst ending.
      • This is almost never done on purpose, since there are lot of Ledge Bats waiting to send you into one of about 30 pits, making this one of the hardest areas in the entire game and, with the added stuff ahead after Stage 3, effectively makes the whole situation an Earn Your Happy Ending marathon.
  • Streets of Rage 3's third stage has bottomless pits in the first area, and a place to fall into in the elevator sequence of the third. Your characters just take a good chunk of damage instead of straight up dying if they fall in, while enemies will simply die, even if they have multiple lifebars.
  • Cleverly subverted in Hexen. In one level, a cavern passage leads to a small outdoor area with a swampy river that flows underground and ends with a seemingly Bottomless Pit, but it turns out to be not only non-lethal, but also the only way to get into a previously locked-out area and carry on with the game.
  • Falling down a pit in Dynamite Headdy flings Headdy to the top of the screen. Sometimes, using the jump is the only way to collect otherwise-inaccessible items on platforms too high to normally jump to. However, falling down a pit knocks off one unit of Headdy's health.
  • Another Treasure game, Gunstar Heroes, features these pits. Jumping in one would result in your character rocketing up out of the pit, losing 20 health in the process. Oddly enough, this applies to boss enemies as well — Orange in particular. If you throw him and he lands on the platform, he'll lose 400 health and be stunned; but if you throw him and he falls off the screen, he only loses 40 health and jumps back up with a damaging elbow drop.
  • Ozzie in Chrono Trigger is quite fond of Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits, but they're lethal to him.
  • City of Heroes:
  • Clash at Demonhead semi-averted this, by having its pits be neither lethal nor bottomless. (Yes, you actually had to work at getting out of the pits.)
  • The Catacombs in King's Quest VI are rife with deadly bottomless pits, but at one point, you're required to stumble into a seemingly bottomless pit that instead deposits you into the lower area of the Catacombs. However, you can still die in this room- if you don’t have the correct item, the Minotaur will enter the room and kill you.
  • A version of climbing back up again happens in Evil Dead: Regeneration; when Ash falls into a bottomless pit, the screen fades out briefly and back in just as he drags himself up over the edge of the pit. Climbing up such a pit must be hard with only one hand... then again, he's ASH.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, the bottomless pits are not only nonlethal, but harmless. In fact, falling into one refills your life meter. You are merely deposited at an invisible checkpoint, sometimes near where you fell in. Some lava pits are the same, for all practical purposes, but others let you run around on the lava at the expense of eating your health. Basically, if you can get out of the pit using the game mechanics afforded you, it's a lot more dangerous to fall in in the first place.
  • BloodRayne 2's bottomless pits were few but forgiving; dropping down elevator shafts, skyscrapers, and sky bridges would return Rayne safely to a nearby ledge.
  • Ratchet: Deadlocked did this if Ratchet fell into a pit or the clear yellow stuff in the DreadZone Arena. It's also done when you fall off in the main hub, except you don't lose health upon returning.
  • You find this trope all over in Hype: The Time Quest. Some are actual pits, but the largest is the ocean... or whatever big water that is.
  • Backyard Skateboarding has nonlethal AND harmless bottomless pits.
  • Legend of Kay has Kay lose a health point for each fall. Or each time he drowns, be it in water or in mud.
  • During the rooftop race in Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku (a.k.a. Crash 'n' the Boys: Street Challenge in the U.S.), falling into pits costs you a bit of your health and launches you forward, except in cases where the fall would bring your health down to zero (thus causing you to lose the event).
  • In An Untitled Story, falling off a ledge in CloudRun takes you instantly to The Bottom, but doing so in MountSide and the final boss battle hurts the player.
  • Marble Madness doesn't penalize you for allowing your marble to fall off the playfieldnote . You just have to suffer the respawn delay.
  • The LEGO Adaptation Games have these.
  • In Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, there's a short section where Cyberdwarf has to get through an invisible floor over the pit. Falling into the pit has no effect other than being sent to the beginning with Cyberdwarf's comment.
  • In Runman Race Around The World, falling into a pit launches the player back upwards, with losing momentum as the only punishment.
  • In both installments of Shaman King: Master of Spirits, if Yoh falls down a bottomless pit, he will lose a somewhat sizable chunk of his lifebar, then Amidamaru will grab him and put him back on safe ground. If he loses the last of his health, though, that's it, he stays down there.
  • TRI: Of Friendship and Madness contains many. Surprisingly, there are real ways to die in the later levels.
  • Turgor is an odd case. Bottomless Pits count as exits to Chambers, throwing you out into the Void. As a result, you generally don't want to fall into one during a Boss Battle (since you won't be able to finish it) or if you're trying to do something inside the Chamber, but if you need a speedy exit from a horde of Predators, jumping into a Bottomless Pit is often the best option.
  • A Game Show example: The Japanese show Dasshutsu Game DERO! and its Spiritual Successor Nazotoki Battle TORE both have rounds centered around this trope; the pits seem to be made "bottomless" via CGI. In these rounds, the players have to solve puzzles as fast as they can, while the Malevolent Architecture makes it progressively harder not to fall in the longer they take to come up with the right answer. Players who fall in are out for the round (but not the game — they can still play in any subsequent rounds, hence the "non-lethal" part), while players who are still standing after reaching a target number of correct answers win money or score points for their team.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy: As part of its many, many Rule of Cool, falling into what seems to be Bottomless Pits teleports you somewhere else. Which is a good thing, since half the arenas are floating chunks of rocks or blocks of buildings in the middle of nowhere. The characters can glide effortlessly in the air, too.
  • In Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu, if you fall off on the cloud stage, you land on a big nasty foot which literally kicks you back to the beginning with the loss of one point of health.
  • In Nintendo Land, you're allowed to fall off the edge of Nintendo Land Plaza, and you just reappear back inside it. Of course, it wouldn't make sense for you to be able to die while you're not even actually playing a game.
  • In Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, Jazz is a high-agility secret operations agent with a Grappling-Hook Pistol. Any time he might risk falling into a pit (often full of of lethal toxic waste runoff), he deftly does a midair 180-degree turn and grapples his way to safety, usually with a quip about how close the call was.
  • Fallout 3: In the Operation: Anchorage VR simulation, falling into a pit teleports you back to the nearest solid ground.
  • The Void in Dishonored.
  • In Napple Tale, contact with pits, spikes, bodies of water, and the like have very mild penalties: the heroine loses a little health and restarts next to the hazard.
  • In Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti, falling off any Rope Bridge or into any pit returns you to the start of the area.
  • Thankfully in Warframe, where all bottomless pits will teleport you to near where you fell in. However, it was once possible to exploit this by knocking bosses in to said pits and it'd count as an instant kill.
  • Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals just takes off 10% of the active character's HP whenever they fall into a bottomless pit — unless you have the Ignore Falling Damage passive, which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Most bottomless pits in Moonlighter cost the player 5% of their maximum health should they fall in one, but there are a few that lead to special rooms.hint 
  • Falling down a pit in the Shantae will deal damage to the player and place them back at the beginning of the room (except for the first game, where they're instant death). The second game onwards also has a helpful visual indicator of skulls emanating from the bottomless pits so you can quickly tell which ones lead to an new area. The player can also negate damage in Shantae and the Seven Sirens by equipping a Wetman card.
  • Cyber Chaser: Bottomless pits don't kill the player character, just deal some mild damage.
  • Bug Fables: Falling into a water or a bottomless pit doesn't carry a death penalty; instead, you simply reappear on the ground.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Non Lethal Bottomless Pit


Luigis Mansion 3

Luigi falls down from the vine, yet is somehow teleported right back.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / NonLethalBottomlessPits

Media sources:

Main / NonLethalBottomlessPits