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Portal Pool

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Digory: I think we can get out of this place into jolly well Anywhere! We don't need to jump back into the same pool we came up by. Or at least not yet.
Polly: The Wood between the Worlds. It sounds rather nice.

If you're a character in a fantasy setting, proceed with caution when approaching any large body of water. The most mundane-looking lake, spring, waterfall or well could secretly be a portal to a Magical Land. Your Breather at the local hot spring could turn dreadfully exciting without warning.

In some, you just keep falling until the water disappears and you hit solid ground — always unharmed, of course. In others, you step or fall in, go down (what are those weird lights?), turn to head back up (wasn't this down a minute ago?), and find you're still in a body of water, but it's not in Kansas anymore. Such cases are not guaranteed to work both ways.

Compare Portal Picture, its oil-and-canvas counterpart. Also compare Portal Door, when doors lead to someplace non-adjacent. When the portal is actually a swirling vortex, see Mega Maelstrom. Not to be confused with No-Flow Portal, which can be about portals immersed in pools, nor with the pools in Portal, which will cause an unsatisfactory mark on your official testing record, followed by death. Nor this, as long as we're talking about Portal.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Skuld in Ah! My Goddess can use bodies of water to teleport. She initially materializes while Keiichi is taking an innocent bath.
  • One of the three demons lords in Demon City Shinjuku resides in an aquatic abyss, and uses the city's puddles as portal pools to pull in and drown unwary travelers. When the hero kills the demon in its own realm, all the puddles suddenly erupt as geysers, throwing him back into the real world.
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Steel Troops have the gang using the calm water of a lake's surface as a portal to a mirror dimension, in order to lure the invading robot army into destroying an empty world instead of the real deal.
  • Inuyasha has a portal well. However, it's empty, so be sure you meet the requirements for transport, 'cause if you don't make it across, it's gonna hurt.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!: Yuuri's primary conveyance between the two worlds are bodies of water. His first trip was amusingly brought about by getting his head dunked in the toilet.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Fate Averruncus can use water to teleport.
    • Evangeline and Kotaro use shadow instead.
    • Akira's Artifact lets her get in on the act, too.
  • In Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior, Giratina's portals to the Reverse World appear on reflective surfaces, often the surfaces of lakes. Like the one the protagonist's boat is on.
  • In Thermae Romae the protagonist Lucius sits in various bodies of water in Rome such as bathhouses, springs, and streams, and emerges in other pools of water in modern-day Japan such as bathtubs, bathhouses, and hot springs.
  • In ×××HOLiC, purified water, such as that from an old well, can link to a pool on the mountain that the Zashiki-Warashi lives on.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The hot spring at Duel Academia turns out to be a portal to the Duel Monsters' world. Fortunately for the boys, the wayward trip comes with instant wardrobe replacement.

    Comic Books 
  • In Superman/Masters of the Universe crossover "Fate Is The Killer", the Man of Steel dives into the sea, chasing after three glowing spheres, and gets dragged into an underwater vortex which throws him into the world of Eternia.
  • In Swordquest: Fireworld, the Chalice of Light grows to enormous size, and the water within it becomes a gate to Waterworld.
  • In The Transformers (IDW) series, the planet Gorlam Prime has an underground lake that leads to the Dead Universe (which is about as pleasant as it sounds).

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Mother Holle": The well located near from the house of the wicked stepmother is really a portal to Mother Holle's realm. When the protagonist is forced to jump into the pool, she lands in a beautiful meadow, near from Holle's cottage.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, the mirror that separates out the red panda spirit in the astral realm looks and acts like a vertical version of this. Traveling through it completely results in ending up back in the physical world without the red panda spirit while going halfway through it then backing out results in ending up back in the physical world with the red panda spirit and in giant red panda form.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Blair Witch Project — Ten-year-old Eileen Treacle went to the first annual Wheat Harvest Picnic near Tappy East Creek. During the picnic, Eileen wandered off to wade in ankle deep water. Eleven eye-witnesses claimed to have seen a ghostly white hand reach up out of the water and pull her in under the surface. No body was ever recovered. Later, the creek mysteriously became clogged with oily bundles of sticks, rendering the water useless for thirteen days.
  • The titular protagonist of Constantine (2005) flat-out states that water "lubricates the transition between worlds" — meaning you can get there as long as you know how, but without water, it literally hurts like hell.
  • Parodied rather niftily in Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans. After failing to defeat the Deathstalker, one Mook contacts his master, Jarek, through a nearby boiling pond by dumping a few coins in it, which magically allows the two to view and communicate with each other (Jarek is speaking through a Magic Cauldron) as if it were some kind of magic video payphone. Jarek proceeds to off the mook for his failure by jamming his sword through his cauldron and into the mook's chest on the other side, then goes through the portal to his location to finish the job himself.
  • In Enchanted: Giselle is pushed down a "wishing well" that leads to a manhole cover in the middle of Times Square.
  • This is how The Beatles escape capture in Help!: They jump into a hidden hatch within the Big Bad 's temple, and wind up in the swimming pool of a nearby hotel.
  • In Hot Tub Time Machine, a hot tub serves as a portal to the past.
  • The horror movie House has several portals connected to one another through different parts of the house. The portal pool effect comes into play when Roger explores the abyss behind the bathroom mirror, and ends up falling into a black ocean that leads down into a river in his Vietnam-based Mental World. Diving into the river again causes him to surface in the swimming pool behind the house, which was the same Portal Pool that his son got lost in several years before.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the ocean of Davy Jones' Locker acts as a one-way Portal Pool that leads Back from the Dead, but only if you're in an upside-down boat, and only at sunset (which is sunrise in the living world). And anything that sucks you underwater from this end — waterfalls, whirlpools, humongous invertebrate cephalopods — can take you over.
  • In Poltergeist III, an oil slick in a parking deck turns into a portal pool, with monstrous hands reaching out of it to abduct Carol Anne, as well as her cousin and the cousin's boyfriend. The rest of her family later finds the other two chilled to the bone but otherwise unharmed least, so it seems.
  • Portal pools appear in The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2. In the first movie, it appears in the Forbidden Falls during a blue moon, opening a portal between the medieval-past Smurf Forest and present-day New York City. In the sequel, Gargamel opens one between present-day Paris and a pond near the Smurf Village.
  • The 1997 movie Warriors of Virtue consisted of this when the protagonist falls into a whirlpool and is teleported to the land of Tao.

  • The second Sorcery! book, set in the cityport of Khare, have several mysterious pools which, by making the wrong choices, you'll end up falling into. These pools leads into the sewers of Khare.

  • In Bones of Faerie, Liza pulls her mother, Matthew, and Allie through the lake in Faerie to get back to their village, though the lake is only a portal because Liza has the power to turn reflective surfaces into portals (into the past, present, and future).
  • C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: The portals branching off to various worlds in The Wood Between The Worlds lie in pools scattered about the Wood. Jump into a pool, land in a world — if you have the right magic ring, that is. Pools can also lead to "empty worlds" where nothing exists yet (allowing some characters to actually witness the creation of Narnia), though the destruction of a world causes its pool to dry up (as happened with Jadis' home world in The Magician's Nephew).
  • To a powerful watercrafter in Codex Alera, any body of water becomes one of these.
  • In Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere, these are a hallmark of a Shard's invested presence in a planet. They transport a user to the Cognitive Realm, which compresses the vast distances between planets so that travellers can hike between them.
  • In Emerald Prince, Julien always wakes up in water when summoned to Thyreia.
  • The titular character in The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha (by Lloyd Alexander) is sent to the kingdom of Abadan by being dunked in a pail of water by a traveling magician.
  • In Implied Spaces, Pools of Life are pretty much equivalent to 'save points' in games — you can enter a pool to have a snapshot of your memories stored and/or your body plan altered and/or have yourself deconstructed then reassembled at another location with or without your consent.
  • In The Iron Grail by Robert Holdstock, Merlin descends to the otherworldly interior of a hill (the hill fort Taurovinda) by way of a well. This is a well sacred to the Celtic god Nodons, into which offerings are placed (see Real Life section below).
  • In The Looking-Glass Wars (which is based loosely on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), the Pool of Tears is a portal to our world and certain puddles are used to return to Wonderland.
  • In Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy (which is partly a Take That! to Narnia) the portals are fountains in an empty city.
  • In Maybird and the Ever After, along with the other sequels, the titular character enters the After Life through a glowing lake hidden in the woods behind her house.
  • Though not a still body of water, the River in Tad Williams' 'Otherland' series (particularly the second book, 'River of Blue Fire') is how the characters travel between different simulations in the Otherland virtual reality network.
  • Dian Curtis Regan's Princess Nevermore (much like Enchanted) features a princess from a magical land who travels to the "real" world by way of a magical pool.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel jumps into an empty swimming pool in Season 2 of Angel that acts a portal to another place.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Anne" has a portal to a demon dimension where kidnapped street kids are taken to be worked to death that looks like a pool of used motor oil.
  • The eponymous Catweazle, a bumbling wizard, casts a spell in the 11th century to escape from invading Normans, jumps into a lake, and finds himself transported to the 20th century. He goes back in the last episode of series 1, but repeats the procedure in Series 2.
  • In Charlie Jade, certain people can move between alternate universes by covering themselves in water.
  • In the Charmed (1998) episode "Enter the Demon", a Zen master can jump through any water surface (usually of a pool) to enter the plane of limbo.
  • Subverted in the Doctor Who episode "The Curse of the Black Spot". The "siren" is initially thought to enter the ship through standing water, so everyone hides in the driest parts of the ship. She actually uses reflections to travel and she's really a misguided computer simulation doctor from an alien ship.
  • In one Fringe episode set back in the 1980s, Peter Bishop, recently kidnapped from another universe, tries to invoke this trope, almost dying in progress.
  • Ik Mik Loreland: Mik travels from Loreland to Kratermaan by jumping into the town well and emerging from a water-filled krater on the other side. It's sort of implied that Karbonkel used his magic to create this portal.
  • The Lost World at the bottom of the waterfall in Land of the Lost (1974).
  • The Magicians (2016): The Neitherlands is just many fountains leading to different worlds.
  • Perhaps more a stylistic similarity than Playing with a Trope, but Stargate SG-1 simulates the rippling water for the Stargate. Needless to say, it does take you to other planets at least. Stargates placed horizontally have a much closer resemblance.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Bewitchin' Pool", the last-aired episode of the original series, two children from an affluent broken home escape through their back yard swimming pool to a rural paradise overseen by a Cool Old Lady.

  • In the highly disturbing (NSFW) music video for DyE's "Fantasy", the bottom of the swimming pool leads the protagonist to an alien dimension.
  • Invoked in the music video for She-Ra: Princess of Power's "We Have The Power" song, wherein a lake of water is alluded to transport Adam to Etheria.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Celtic Mythology, the entrance to Annwn — the Otherworld — could be located in a number of places and appeared or disappeared on a whim. One of these is a real island off of Ynys Gwales that only appears when the tide lowers in just the right way. In the Second Branch of the Mabinogion, another portal is located in a lake in Ireland. The giant Llasar Llaes Gyfnewid and his even more gigantic wife, Cymidei Cymeinfoll, emerge from here carrying the Cauldron of Rebirth.
  • In Mayan Mythology, the Xibalba was a gloomy, watery underworld inspired by the cenotes that lead to flooded underground caves that dot the Yucatan peninsula. These cenotes were believed to be portals to Xibalba, and offerings were thrown into some.
  • Celtic and other British isles tribes believed that lakes and other bodies of water were portals to the spirit world. Archaelogists occasionally encounter finds of worked silver cauldrons, containing many valuable artifacts, that were deliberately dropped in lakes or bogs as offerings. Both cauldrons and lakes also pop up frequently in the preserved Celtic and Welsh legends that have survived to today as portals to the underworld.

    Video Games 
  • In Age of Mythology the Well of Urd, is one of the many ways of reaching the underworld that you encounter through the game, and the one you use in the nordic campaign.
  • In Alan Wake, Cauldron Lake is a portal to the Dark Place.
  • Clive Barker's Undying uses an enchanted pool to teleport the player between the modern-day ruins of an ancient monastery, and the medieval monastery itself. Bonus points for each side of the pool reflecting the other: in the present day, the pool's reflection shows the past, and vice versa.
  • Not exactly the same thing, but old-school hilarious adventure game Eric the Unready featured a magical banana which could be summoned out of any body of water by speaking a magic word.
  • The Jade Passage in Final Fantasy II.
  • For the King's Unlockable Content includes Alluring Pools that serve as a Warp Whistle. One is generated in each map biome, allowing a player character to enter and emerge from any other Pool they've already discovered.
  • Your first trip through one in The Game of the Ages kills you if you lack protection. You later find two further pools.
  • Sort of present in Half-Life. Glowing pools in the "border-world" Xen are capable of literally teleporting you from alien point to alien point.
  • While not literal, Sora's dream sequence in the beginning of Kingdom Hearts evokes the same sort of imagery as he plummets into the ocean and lands in a surreal, foreshadowing, tutorial sequence. It also happens to Roxas and Ventus in the opening movie cutscenes for Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep respectively.
  • This sets the plot in motion for King's Quest VII, as the pond in the Daventry castle gardens somehow magically transports Rosella and Valanice to the realm of Eldritch.
  • The Lunar series employs this with Springs of Transmission which teleport the player between locations. Lunar: Eternal Blue even involves discovering that the huge star-shaped pool in front of the palace in Pentagulia is a Spring of Transmission in disguise, with the alien demi-goddess/love interest blasting the railing off the balcony and leaping in, followed by the rest of your party.
  • In My House, the master bathtub becomes a portal to the Bathhouse after filling all of the sinks in the GZDoom version of the house.
  • In Neverwinter Nights, a pool in Neverwinter Wood allows access to the realm in which the forest's guardian spirit dwells. Rather than simply jumping in, however, the player must acquire a special knife and then it stab it into his/her own heart while kneeling therein.
  • Ōkami: The Mermaid Pools serve as the game's Warp Whistle. You need to toss a Mermaid Coin into it to enable the portal, but a secret brush technique unlocked in Dragon Palace allows you to enable it without tossing anything.
  • Super Mario 64:

  • Alice from Cheshire Crossing uses mirrors as portals to Wonderland, but once used a puddle of water as a mirror.
  • Erma: Erma and her mother, as Stringy-Haired Ghost Girls, can use disconnected pools of water as portals to quickly travel from one place to the next, including kitchen sinks, though this can result in unexpected messes.
  • Waterworks: The "Spatial Transport" ability of Slick's suit allows him to use any puddle as a portal to any other puddle. "Spatial Transport II" extends this to any body of water.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation has SCP-354, a lake filled with a red fluid. If you lock yourself into a submarine and keep going down, and down, and down, the fluid will keep getting thicker and thicker... until you finally reach a whole new world.
    • They also have SCP-120, a pool that cycles through 11 different destinations. To choose a particular destination, Class D personnel have to be used. Why? Five of the eleven destinations are the Lagrange points. Which are in space. And the pool only works with living, awake humans.
    This destination is on a relatively flat section of the Sea of Rains on the lunar surface. Through vast expenditure of money and D-class personnel, a small outpost has been established there, and is considered one of the Foundation's safest locations.
  • Subverted in a Choose Your Own Adventure article on In it you journey through the horrible world of Shadowmoor, a Bizarro World of the idyllic world Lorwyn. At one point you encounter a pond in a cave and the description suggests it might be a portal pool to Lorwyn. If you enter it however, you are promptly ripped apart by vicious Merrows, and the game calls you a naive idiot.

    Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door, "Operation P.O.O.L.": In fact, in this episode, any swimming pool combined with the proper Applied Phlebotinum can become a portal between the real world and the Mirror Universe.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: "Queen of the Black Puddle" featured a sea witch of sorts who used puddles of rainwater to transport back and forth in between her magical lair, to which she tried to lure Eustace so she could eat him.
  • The Cow and Chicken episode "The Laughing Puddle": people are disappearing one by one into a creepy laughing puddle, until Chicken is the only one remaining. With great trepidation he jumps inside — and lands in a bar where Boneless Chicken is doing a stand-up (pun definitely not intended) show.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy parodies the Twilight Zone episode in "Puddle Jumpers", when Grim's scythe turns Billy's inflatable pool into a "cosmic sinkhole" that leads to several different worlds, including a bayou inhabited by a kindly old grandmother... except she wants to bake Billy into a pie.
  • Peter Potamus' hot tub in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law somehow turns into a portal to prehistory.
  • In The Owl House, a journal of a long-lost researcher who is also a human who was transported to the Boiling Isles long before the protagonist Luz was describes "wild portals" between realms that form when Titan's Blood, an extremely powerful magical substance, leaks into pools of water. It's how Philip first traveled to the Isles.
    • On a smaller note, Darius the head witch of the Abomination Coven demonstrates the ability to use said creations to teleport individuals, such as sending the B.A.T.T.s from the woods to a cell in the Conformatorium.


Video Example(s):


Darius's Abomination Portal

Darius teleports the captured members of B.A.T.T through pools of his abominations.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / PortalPool

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