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Quicksand Sucks

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"What is it that's not exactly water, and it ain't exactly earth?"
Bart, Blazing Saddles

Quicksand is a common and deadly element of swamp, jungle, and desert terrain. Science Fiction stories written before the Moon landings are also liable to describe thick layers of extremely fine lunar dust on the Moon's surface that are treated as functionally equivalent to quicksand. In all cases, its most dangerous feature is its ability to suck people and animals down and drown them in a malevolent blend of sand and water. Although most victims blunder blindly into quicksand, it sometimes seems that the merest touch of an extremity is enough to pull the unwary into its muddy and all-consuming depths like iron filings to a magnet.

Originally a movie serial and B-film device, this trope has been carried over to television by way of programs that mimicked or paid homage to those films, or to pulp fiction in general. Then it also moved to Video Games. This trope is a Discredited Trope nowadays, although the Shifting Sand Land of video games is still allowed to play it straight, as a gameplay challenge if nothing else. In particularly challenging versions, enemies will come out and attempt to drag the player to the depths, making them somewhat similar to Instakill Mooks if sinking in quicksand is an instant-death condition (and it often is). In movies, it is often used to set up a Chekhov's Gun scenario in which the hero stumbles into it and escapes early on, in order to set up for a villain to die that way later in the film.


In truth, quicksand (while real) isn't terribly common; exerts none of its movie counterpart's mythical "sucking" power; and isn't nearly the Sticky Situation the movies made it look like. In fact, real quicksand is so dense that you can't sink in it (with more than half your body). The usual advice for someone who finds themselves caught in deep quicksand is to simply relax and float on their back. Struggling in a panic may actually cause you to drag yourself down instead of up, and survival guides stress the importance of staying still if this starts to happen. While animals and people do sometimes die in quicksand, it's almost never from drowning — it's from exposure, dehydration or predation after exhausting themselves struggling to get out. However, with the right combination/consistency of sand, clay, water, and salt, it is nearly impossible to escape some quicksand without help.


You could sink if you are weighed down by something you can't remove... but that would happen even in boring old regular water. Indeed, real quicksand requires water, and writers are traditionally unfettered by such technicalities. Fictional quicksand tends to be placed in the desert, or away from a river or any apparent source of water; although a hidden spring could in theory create quicksand in surprising places. In live-action, budget and set-design constraints sometimes lead to a "quicksand pit" barely large enough to hold the actor. Technically speaking, desert quicksand is hand-waved as being very loose sand that looks normal, but is incapable of supporting a large amount of weight.

Although not always strictly "sand", tidal flats (mudflats) have silt and mud which is actually closer to the danger portrayed in fiction as quicksand. The tide regularly refreshes the surface and smooth implies solid to people. Viscosity decreases after an initial stress. More to the point, being a tidal flat, it's a case where people actually ARE at risk of their lives, since tides have this funny way of coming back in after going out. There are tidal flats which have seen so many deaths the locals are tired of watching stupid people die, but it's not wholly clear how much that is getting stuck in one specific spot versus getting trapped some distance from dry ground on slow-to-traverse terrain or attempting to wait on an insecure bit of slightly higher ground as the tide comes in around you.

There is also a hazard in nature called a "predator trap", where an animal gets itself hopelessly stuck in thick, sticky mud or tar and its corpse attracts the attention of multiple carnivores, causing them to become trapped and die of exposure as well — sometimes becoming fossil goldmines. (The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles are a well-known example of one of these fossil troves.)

Quicksand's ability to trap things largely relies on its interesting physical properties, being subject to a phenomenon in common with numerous other non-Newtonian fluids called shear thinning. When at rest, quicksand appears to be very hard, and its viscosity may be such that it can support the weight of lighter objects on it. However, if given sufficient agitation or shock (the margin of which is extremely narrow), the mixture of water and sand/silt becomes increasingly more elastic as it liquefies, and this is the point where objects begin to sink. As mentioned above, this is the point where it becomes dangerous to be around quicksand, as once objects have begun to sink, they reach a point where their buoyancy won't bring them down any further, but the surrounding material returns to its rigid state through shear thickening if more force is applied, thus holding things in place and leaving them at the mercy of further danger from the surrounding environment.

See also Sand Is Water, Mucking in the Mud, Swamps Are Evil, and Bubblegloop Swamp... Also compare Unrealistic Black Hole, because both black holes and quicksand are portrayed in media as pulling in anything nearby, whereas in reality both only consume things which have gotten too close in the first place.

This trope is Older Than Feudalism.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Three Visionary Swordsmen have Nobita's Alternate Self, Nobitania, fighting General Ganbosu, a powerful elephant demon who reveals his ability to transform into a mountain-sized behemoth. Doraemon then takes out his quicksand powder and have Nobitania's allies, Shizukaria, Sunemisu and Giantosu, sprinkle the powder all around Ganbosu's feet. Cue the elephantine monster suddenly sinking and quickly drowning (the last scene being his trunk sticking out the quicksand's surface).
  • Doraemon: Nobita's the Legend of the Sun King have a guilt-ridden Prince Tio setting off on a solo quest to rescue his Love Interest, Kuku, in the jungles. Nobita, Doraemon and their friends quickly catches up and managed to find Tio - nearly drowning in a quicksand, with his hand holding on a root until Doraemon pulls him out with a gadget.
  • The 2016 remake of Doraemon: Nobita and the Birth of Japan contains a Mythology Gag for Three Visionary Swordsmen above when the gang gets assaulted by two gigantic elephant-headed robots sent by the main villain, Gigazombie. Doraemon produces the quicksand powder and tells Gian, Suneo and Shizuka to drop the powder at the robots' foot; it works, and both of them sinks in a manner reminiscent to General Ganbosu.
  • In Naruto, Gaara's jutsu essentially can both play this straight and invert it, the former having been done in his fight against Kimimaro and the latter having been done in his fight against Shigure.
  • In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the heroine is sucked down by quicksand but surprisingly is not killed but instead sucked into a subterranean world.
  • One Piece:
    • Sir Crocodile's "Desert Girasole" attack involves him using his sand-controlling powers to create a giant whirlpool of quicksand. He does explain, however, that he's tapping into an underground water source to do this, and he's never seen doing it outside of a desert.
    • Caribou's devil fruit basically allows him to transform his entire body into this trope, though he's never seen using it to suffocate anyone to death, simply using it to knock them out and preserve them so he can sell them for slavery.
  • In one episode of Pani Poni Dash!, the whole cast collectively walk into quicksand, and once they realise it, they're instantly sucked in, fall through the center of the Earth, and end up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

  • John Mulaney opened one set by remarking on some of the changes in perspective he gained after reaching adulthood, citing the ubiquity of this trope in old media vs. the reality of it as one example:
    "For instance, when I was a kid, I assumed that quicksand... was going to be a much bigger danger than it turned out to be."

    Comic Books 
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones:
    • In #5, Indy and Karen Mays get trapped in quicksand while attempting to travel overland across the moors to Salisbury Plain. The Nazis who are chasing them cut through Indy's whip and then offer to pull them out in exchange for the MacGuffin. Having little choice, Indy gives it to them. The Nazis then walk away, leaving them to die.
    • In #7, Indy and Marian attempt to escape from angry crocodiles by swinging across the river, only to land in quicksand, with Indy's bullwhip out of reach.
  • Red Ears: One comic involves a young woman wading through the Thirsty Desert before finding herself sinking into a pool of quicksand. Three travellers happen to chance upon her in quick succession. The first two demand fellatio in exchange for rescuing her, but she refuses. Near death, she begs the third traveler to rescue her in exchange for letting him use her body. Upon hearing this, he angrily stomps on her head—he would have gladly rescued a brave young woman, but he preferred to let a skanky woman die.
  • Spider-Man:
    • In one comic, Spidey is facing Kraven the Hunter in the jungles of Africa. Kraven uses a blowdart to drug Spider-man, making him lose most of his strength and his spider-sense, then tricks him into falling into quicksand.
    • This is also a common tactic of spidey villain Sandman, though the fact that he's a man made of sentient sand means he could consciously pull Spidey down in a manner like Hollywood quicksand.
  • Swamp Thing: The Bogeyman is killed when he stumbles into quicksand and drowns in it.
  • In Tragg and the Sky Gods #4, Tragg falls into a tar pit while battling the Beast Man Sabre-Fang.
  • Mentioned in White Sand when Kenton notices a patch of loose sand and makes a mention of its danger. Of course, the final sphere he has to acquire to pass his exam sits right in its centre.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: Link, using the Book of Mudora in the Desert of Mystery, reveals a scorpion statue that has the Pendant of Power hang on it. Before Link can approach it, he sinks into the quicksand — and resurfaces on top of a Lanmola. Eep!
  • One Archie Comics story has Archie stumble into a pit of quicksand. He stops sinking at around chest height when his feet hit something solid, but it is noted someone shorter than Archie would sink all the way. It turns out that the quicksand was created by a blockage, in this case an antique car, and when Archie, Betty and Jughead remove the blockage, the quicksand is replaced with a scenic pond.

    Comic Strips 
  • Beetle Bailey. In the strip for May 17th, 2013, when Beetle finds himself walking on some quicksand he immediately sinks below the surface.
  • Crabgrass: This comic, Kevin gets stuck in what appears to be quicksand, and for a moment it seems this trope is going to occur as Kevin sinks up to his chin. Subverted when it turns out he was just playing a prank, and the quicksand was actually just mud.
  • An old Esquire cartoon showed two very proper British explorers up to their necks in you-know-what captioned 'You know Smithers, I've half a mind to struggle.'
  • A favorite of The Far Side, with a collection of hats usually floating on the surface to indicate who the last unlucky victim was.
  • Garfield gets sucked under in a bowl of oatmeal
  • Averted in a Hägar the Horrible strip. Hägar and Lucky Eddie seem to be sinking in quicksand, but a local (whom only Eddie can speak to, so we only see gibberish) informs them that it isn't quicksand. It's concrete.

    Fan Works 
  • Downplayed in Sister Floriana, where it's presented more realistically: a group of kindergartners caught in it don't find themselves in any danger, but are forced to discard their boots to free themselves.
  • One entry into a Miniatures forum about what to do when you have nothing but standard bearers in your army is to plant the standards in a sandtrap; the enemy will waste a lot of time to "avoid the quicksand".
  • Prehistoric Park Reimagined:
    • Arlo the apatosaurus is first introduced stuck in quicksand. Ultimately downplayed in that he ultimately ends up largely in more danger from getting eaten by a pack of ceratosaurus and combined bask of diplosaurus and amphicotylus then he is of sinking beneath the surface of the quicksand.
    • In a later mission, a sizable number of local Pleistocene La Brea fauna end up having to be rescued from sinking beneath the surface of the infamous La Brea tar pits.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Brave Little Toaster, Kirby and the others trying to pull him out get sucked into a mud pit in a swamp that acts much the same way.
  • Averted in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Spring Breakdown: Rainbow Dash falls into a pit of quicksand when she visits a small island, but sinks realistically slowly as she struggles to escape it. Sunset also tells Rainbow not to struggle, and it's only when a Man-Eating Plant shows up that forces the issue that Rainbow begins to rapidly sink from trying to get free. It turns out to be a Portal Pool to Equestria.
  • Averted in Once Upon a Forest. The quail firmly believe this trope, leaving one poor bastard who gets stuck in the mud to die. Luckily for him, the party comes through and The Smart Guy has them build a lever device to pry him out.
  • In The Secret of NIMH, A house made from a cinder block is disposed of like this-after being dropped by crane onto Nicodemus. As a murder weapon. The residents are also still inside.
  • In the second The Swan Princess film, while Derek is swinging over a deep pit in a swamp, Knuckles cuts the vine and Derek falls in. Knuckles then just sits and watches as Derek pleads for his life, all the while being swallowed alive by the bog. Fortunately for him, Odette (now in swan form for the time being) shows up and pulls him out just before he can go completely under.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Nesquik Sand! Calhoun has to smack some sense into Felix to get him to stop making it worse with his panicking, which actually helps them figure out an escape via slapstick.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The British PSA Apaches has one of the children fall into a slurry pit [a pit full of liquefied cow manure] that basically works in the same manner. The boy sinks under and drowns the same way as if it were quicksand. Which is an accurate depiction of how slurry works.
  • In Apocalypto the protagonist falls into a quicksand pit, but he manages to escape, signifying his prophesied "rebirth from mud".
  • Featured in Valentin's failed silent film, Tears of Love, in The Artist.
  • In The Beastmaster, Dar ends up falling into a pit of quicksand after sliding down a cliff thanks to two mischievous ferrets, and struggles to keep himself afloat as he's sinking. He escapes thanks to using his power to get the ferrets to lower a branch, and then ends up saving one of them from being sucked down in return.
  • A pit appears early in Blazing Saddles; other than the fact that it shows up in the middle of an arid desert, it's actually a pretty accurate representation. Rather than panicking, Bart urges his friend that they should remain calm instead of flailing around, then they slowly move back along the rail just enough that they don't disturb the sand grains even more.
  • Dora and the Lost City of Gold: Quicksand is one of the perils that the heroes encounter. More realistically than most examples, Dora coaches her companions in the correct way of getting out, not by struggling to break free, but letting oneself sink in further then lying on your back to float your whole body up to the top. Unfortunately, Alejandro is too stubborn to try it and ends up having to be rescued by the others.
  • Dune (2021). An approaching Sand Worm vibrates the ground to cause soil liquefaction, essentially turning hard-packed, walkable sand into quicksand for Fast Tunnelling. Needless to say this causes problems for anyone trying to run away from them.
  • The first Dungeons & Dragons (2000) movie had a magic quicksand trap disguised as a rug. Presumably, it was solid when the Evil Sorceror who cast the spell was about.
  • In Django, the titular hero nearly downs in one after the gold-loaded coffin he drags behind him slips from his grasp. There's a bit of foreshadowing at the start of the film; Django kills a handful of mooks, the last mook falls into the quicksand and is instantly swallowed.
  • Fauve has a realistic and man-made example when two boys go playing in an open-pit Abandoned Mine. The mine appears to be asbestos, and there are pools of standing water in the bottom of the pits, and the asbestos and the water make a sucking mud that plays out just like this trope.
  • Gamera vs. Barugon has this as one of the threats Keisuke's expedition to New Guinea encounters along the way to the Valley of Rainbows, nearly costing Onodera his life before Keisuke and Kawajiri come to his rescue. Seeing as how Onodera repays their compassion by letting Kawajiri die to a scorpion sting, then tries to seal Keisuke in the Valley of Rainbows, this sequence comes off as especially ironic.
  • Guns Of Darkness is one of the earliest examples to play this realistically on film. The protagonists run their station wagon into quicksand as they're trying to smuggle the deposed President of Tibulación out of the country. After getting his wife across to safety, Tom Jordan goes back to help the President across. The human characters barely go in up to their necks in the course of all this, and the car takes several minutes to go completely under despite being a lot heavier than the three of them combined.
  • The Hallelujah Trail: The opening narration tells you that there is going to be a disaster at Quicksand Bottoms.
  • While it may be a magical plant rather than quicksand and actively pulls down anything that ends up in its grasp, the devil's snare in the film version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone fits the functional parts of the trope perfectly. When it grabs the heroes and starts crushing them, Hermione remembers that devil's snare only reacts to panicked movement, so she and Harry relax, slipping through the plant's vines and into the room below. Ron, on the other hand, is so freaked out that he keeps flailing around and will obviously get strangled. Hermione manages to remember another weakness of devil's snare and uses it to free him.
  • A realistic depiction in Hidalgo. The Prince is thrown from his horse and ends up neck-deep in a quicksand. He stays there for hours, solemnly waiting to die of thirst. Frank rescues him, however.
  • One of the Sheriff's attempted duels in Hot Lead and Cold Feet ends with him sinking in quicksand brought about by heavy rains. Don Knotts really did get swallowed up by quicksand on camera, and it took an hour to get him cleaned up after they pulled him out upon completion of the take.
  • In the climax of House of Frankenstein, the finally powered up Frankenstein's Monster grabs the Mad Scientist and tries to evade the local Angry Mob, whose purposedly chase them straight into a nearest bog where it sinks with the scientist.
  • Probably the most accurate portrayal of quicksand in a film is the notorious scene in Ice Cold in Alex, in which Anthony Quayle's "Nazi Spy Disguised As South African Officer" falls into some, and is exposed by his inability to remember the Afrikaans for "Quicksand" ("Wilsand"). Only reason he even sank was because he was rushing to get to his listening device to sink it before the others saw what it was, and because he kept struggling afterwards when they tried to get him out.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull provides a Hand Wave for the inaccurate depiction by having Indy explain that what he and Marion are sinking into is not actually quicksand, but some sort of collapsing dry sand pit. It's parodied when Indy starts to lecture Mutt on the difference between quick sand and dry sand, only to be interrupted before he can actually explain anything informative.
  • In Jungle, Yossi stumbles in a patch of quicksand and is soon stuck in it up to his neck. He manages to escape by grabbing an overhanging branch and dragging himself out, but he loses his backpack and his lucky charm.
  • The live-action film version of The Jungle Book by Stephen Sommers has this happen to a villain. He even explicitly states "It's sucking me down!" while struggling.
  • One of the policemen in Kekexili Mountain Patrol dies from this.
  • The heroes in Krull run afoul of this in a swamp. It is heavily implied The Beast is using his dark magic to make them get sucked in.
  • In the film Lawrence of Arabia, Lawrence has two young servant boys, Daud and Farraj. Daud falls into quicksand, and Lawrence and Farraj try to save him, but fail. In real life, Daud died of hypothermia—in Arabia, no less.note  Also, in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence describes his own fall through a crust of ice into mud, in which he is trapped until his obliging camel pulls him out.
  • The chariot race scene in Magadheera have Kala Bhairava and Ranadev Billa crossing a desert full of quicksand pits, just as Billa's mercenaries tries to ambush Kala. One unfortunate mook ends up falling in a quicksand pit and drowns, while Kala nearly suffers the same fate if not for his trusty steed pulling him out.
  • Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears: While arguing with Jack in the desert, Phryne steps in the middle of a patch of quicksand that sucks her down to her shoulders in the time it takes Jack to turn around.
  • In The Mummy, a biplane sinks into a pit of quicksand... in the middle of a desert. The protagonists stand atop a dune and solemnly watch it sink. The sequence takes so long that it's hard to tell if it's Lampshading its own absurdity or just deathly oblivious to it.
  • The Neverending Story contains a particularly heartbreaking scene in which Atreyu's horse Artax sinks to his death in quicksand in the Swamp of Sadness. It is explained, however, that Artax' sinking was not due to quicksand, but sadness.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Kristen finds herself trapped in the beach dream when the sand beneath her turns into quicksand. Freddy Krueger places his foot on her head, and pushes her down.
  • Parodied in the book and movie The Princess Bride, which featured a super-quicksand called "lightning sand," which is dangerous because its grains are so small that you fall straight through it. At least as dangerous (in the novel, at any rate) is the way the stuff gets into your lungs.
  • In Pure Luck, Martin Short's extremely unlucky character manages to walk into a quicksand pit in the California desert.
  • Done in The Return of Count Yorga which the titular vampire has a pit right behind his house which uses to conveniently dump bodies of those he doesn't want turned undead, or dealing with meddling priests.
  • In Southern Comfort, one of the National Guardsmen meets his demise in sinking quicksand.
  • A cave in The Scorpion King featured this. Like The Mummy and The Jungle Book examples, it was also by Stephen Sommers.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens has Finn run to the crashed TIE Fighter to rescue his friend Poe, only for it to be submerged by one of the quicksand pits around the desert. Although the belch sound effect implies that it was eaten by something.
  • In Sugar Hill (1974), zombies chase Morgan until he falls into a pit of quicksand, which just looks like water with sand dumped into it. He flails around yelling for help, slowly sinking until his face vanishes.
  • The B movie Superargo And The Faceless Giants (one of the Rifftrax Movies) involves a quicksand pit in a forest that appears to be a nondescript pile of dead leaves.
  • Tank Girl. A non-liquid version: the dust/sand covering the Rippers' subgates.
  • In The Terror, Gustav stops Andre from walking into a patch of quicksand on the path to the Baron's castle. He demonstrates its lethality by tossing a large stone into it, where it is immediately sucked down. The quicksand in an unfired Chekhov's Gun, as originally Gustav was later supposed to die in it, but the script was changed so he was attacked by a falcon and fell of a cliff instead.
  • The moondust version is seen in 12 to the Moon (1960). One Red Shirt gets sucked under 'pumice dust' while dramatically clutching at nothing, while the lead character is pulled out by a 'magna-buoy', which MST3K mockingly refer to as "some sort of anti-sand device".
  • How one of the protagonist's escape attempts fails in Woman in the Dunes. He manages to make his way out of the sand pit where he's being held prisoner and seems to be on his way to freedom, when he stumbles into quicksand. He has to call to his pursuers for help.
  • The Movie of Wizards of Waverly Place has this happen first to Justin and later to Jerry.

  • Fighting Fantasy have a few of these:
    • Right off in one of the earliest adventure, Island of the Lizard King, you can choose a path that leads to your friend, Mungo, being attacked by a Giant Crab. Bordering on Video Game Cruelty Punishment, if you choose NOT to help Mungo but to flee, you then automatically fall into a tar pit and drown. Saving Mungo by killing the crab and you'll never even notice the pit.
    • Creature of Havoc have the marshes of Bu Fon Fen, filled with soggy quicksands and inhabited by hostile a frogman tribe. In the correct path, as you're about to be killed by several frog men, your friend Grog pulls a Heroic Sacrifice by tackling the frogmen leader into a quicksand, dragging him into it, allowing you to flee in the confusion.
    • In Fangs of Fury you can come across a pair of goblins struggling to drag a chest out of a quicksand, but if they see you they will abandon their treasure and attack you on sight. You'll need to kill both goblins within a handful of Attack Rounds if you intend to check out the chest - take too long and the chest is lost forever.
    • The jungles of Southern Allansia in The Riddling Reaver have plenty of quicksand pits which can swallow the players.
    • Deathmoor has a swamp area which doubles as a Shout-Out to The Neverending Story; spend too much time there, you end up losing hope and decide to let yourself be gobbled by a quicksand.
  • Sorcery!: Invoked on purpose with the Quicksand spell, which can create instant puddles of quicksand by throwing grains of sands at the intended target's feet.

  • The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear plays a little with the trope, in that the Minipirates mix quicksand in the soap when swabbing the deck, to avoid the deck getting slippery. More dramatic is the intelligent quicksand encountered by Bluebear note . This quicksand is not only intelligent, but benevolent and can communicate telepathically with potential victims to warn them away. However, if someone chooses to ignore the warnings and step into the quicksand anyway, there's not a lot the quicksand can do about it other than say "I told you so" and offer its condolences as the poor victims sink to their deaths.
  • Averted in the A to Z Mysteries book "The Quicksand Question" in a case of Shown Their Work. The kids' investigation into who stole the fundraising money for a bridge so the ducks that live in the river that surrounds Green Lawn can safely cross the nearby road without being run over by cars leads them to a marshy part of the river where an elderly man says that he saw a jeep with the duck bank storing the change for the ducks charge off the road near there. As they're wading in for clues, the kids run into a patch of quicksand that formed in the riverbed recently. Fortunately, Dink remembered to lean back into the water and not struggle in order to not sink in any further and has Josh do the same thing. Even more fortunately, Ruth Rose wasn't far enough into the river at that point to also get stuck in the quicksand, so she was able to get out of the river and run to the nearby fire department to get help. The incident also ends up solving the case because Josh felt a jeep antenna poking at his leg before he was rescued. Once the fire department fishes the jeep out of the quicksand and find the fundraising money stored inside, and the police department runs its registration, the culprit is found and arrested. Officer Fallon speculates that the reason why the culprit didn't get stuck in the quicksand when he ended up accidentally driving the jeep into the river is that he either jumped out of the jeep to the solid riverbed when it got stuck or he just swam from the jeep to the edge and never touched the bottom in the process.
    Ruth Rose: I never even knew there was quicksand in Connecticut.
    Firefighter Lenny: Quicksand can be anywhere there's water and sand. I was a Navy SEAL, and I saw plenty of the stuff.
    Josh: But we've waded in the river lots of times. We've never gotten stuck before.
    Firefighter Lenny: Sometimes you find it only in small pockets. In fact, right here is the perfect spot for it. Lots of sand under shallow, slow-moving water.
  • Nick Cave's novel And The Ass Saw The Angel uses this as a framing device. The narrator recounts his story while sinking into a bog. The unlikelihood of this contingency is easy to swallow compared to some of the other stuff we're asked to believe, or asked not to believe.
  • In one of the Bill the Galactic Hero books, a Space Marine in a heavy suit of Powered Armor lands in a bog. All his squadmates tell him to take the suit off because it's so heavy that all they'd accomplish trying to help is to drown as well, but that takes an hour so it guzzles him up.
  • In Clouds Of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey, walking on the Yorkshire moors in fog, accidentally strays into a notorious local bog with the coincidental but appropriate name of Peter's Pot. It immediately begins to suck him in; the suction is so powerful that Bunter is entirely unable to pull him out, and just barely manages to hold onto him until help arrives. The incident is also notable for the normally made-of-iron Wimsey being prostrated (although not for very long) by the strain of the event.
  • The Commissar by Sven Hassel. The protagonists lose all the gold they've stolen when a bombing raid sets off a landslide of quick clay, dragging under most of their vehicles with it.
  • In Bram Stoker's short story "Crooken Sands", rich Englishman on a vacation to Scotland is menaced by a ghostly Doppelgänger who is constantly sinking into quicksand, and tries to lure him into same fate.
  • Alluded to in H. P. Lovecraft's short story "Dagon", where it is mentioned that after the narrator's boat landed on what he claims to be a piece of the ocean floor brought to the surface by volcanic upheaval, he had to wait three days for the land to dry sufficiently enough for him to walk on.
  • In one of the smaller Dinotopia books, Magnolia and Paddlefoot, her dinosaur companion, get mired in quicksand. However, the author has done their research — Magnolia and Paddlefoot are experts about water, so they simply lie flat and float. Eventually a boy and his Triceratops come along and give them a hand out.
  • During Dinoverse: Raptor Without A Cause an Acrocanthusaurus ends up in deep mud that is noted to be "like quicksand". She panics and thrashes, sinking, and the other Acros make a Chain Of Dinosaurs to get her out. The closer ones all also sink somewhat, but are pulled out by their fellows.
  • In Dream Park, when Griffin enters the South Seas Treasure Game as an alternate, the party finds him trapped waist-deep in quicksand.
  • A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke is one of the better-known pre-Moon landing stories that described Moon dust as being fine enough to amount to quicksand.
  • Galaxy of Fear: Eaten Alive features a similar effect on D'vouran, but it happens because the ground itself is an organism that pulls people down and suffocates them.
  • In The Law of the Gun by J.T. Edson, the main bad guy perishes when he attempts to escape the heroes by diving of the trail through the cane brakes along the Rio Grande and plunging into quicksand where he vanishes without trace.
  • Occurs in Book 7 of The Hardy Boys Casefiles, Deathgame. Joe starts sinking in the quicksand and knows enough to float on it, but then has to force himself to sink below the surface to hide from his attacker. The caked mud later serves him as improvised camouflage.
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles uses the swamp version, which is dangerous to enter even if you know the way, and nigh impossible to traverse without a guide. Stapleton, who boasts that he is the only one who can safely cross, falls victim when he tries to escape justice in a hurry. In the 1959 Hammer Films movie adaptation, it is his daughter who dies that way, after they had saved Watson from it earlier in the film.
  • In the Known Space stories of Larry Niven some areas of Mars have sand that is so fine that it essentially is a liquid and people can sink in it.
  • The Shivering Sand in The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Dangerous, but not an impossible trap. It's used by a certain character to hide an incriminating piece of evidence, using a locked box and a chain, and to commit suicide.
  • The Neverending Story contains a particularly heartbreaking scene in which Atreyu's Sapient Steed Artax sinks to his death in quicksand in the Swamp of Sadness. It is explained, however, that Artax' sinking was not due to quicksand, but sadness.
  • In The Pavilion on the Links by Robert Louis Stevenson, the quicksand even has a name: Graden Floe, a piece of treacherous terrain which is said to swallow a man in "four minutes in a half". The protagonist saves his love interest from walking into it. One of the antagonists is not so lucky - only his hat remains as proof of his gruesome demise.
  • About halfway through Swiss Family Robinson, Fritz falls into a quicksand while taking a shortcut back to camp from collecting bamboo. He uses the bamboo reeds as floaties until a zebra wanders by, which is tame enough (the family had been using them as regular horses) to let him hitch a ride.
  • In The Takers (a modern Two Fisted Tale-homage by Jerry Ahern) the protagonist and his Plucky Girl get caught in quicksand while wading through a swamp on a Caribbean island.
  • The Vor Game: During a stint of being Reassigned to Antarctica, Miles Vorkosigan runs across a nasty arctic version called a "Permofrost Inversion Zone"; this appears to be solid ground, but has the potentially lethal property of unexpectedly thawing into a gooey sea of mud. Miles manages to sink an entire "scat-cat" (a kind of arctic all-terrain jeep) in one after he parks on top of it rather than try to drive back to base at night, and very nearly dies because he chained his tent to it.
  • The RainWings in Wings of Fire use quicksand as a makeshift prison for Mastermind (they don't have a real prison since they've always punished criminals with exile). They have to pull him out of the quicksand every few hours so he doesn't just die.
  • A couple of mud examples are seen in Warrior Cats, such as in The Fourth Apprentice and Mothwing's Secret, which both take place during droughts and involve cats trying to cross land that would normally be covered by water. While neither resulted in a death, both were life-threatening events and required the help of others to escape.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This effect was used in one of the reality shows on Discovery Channel. They put an area of sand with perforated pipes in front of a bank door, with brick pavers over the top and a similar larger and deeper one at the exit to the parking lot. When the simulated bank was simulatedly robbed, the air was turned on, he sank to above his knees and was trapped when the air was turned off; the driver of the getaway SUV was sunk in the other one to the point where he couldn't open the door.
  • The rescues reconstructed by the series 999 include several examples of children being rescued from deep mud (or similar situations, such as slag heaps).
  • Subverted in the 1960's Batman (1966) series. At the end of the episode "Batman's Anniversary", Batman and Robin are caught in a Death Trap consisting of a 15 foot deep pool of quicksand. At the beginning of the next episode "A Ridding Controversy", Batman realizes that they won't sink deeply enough into it to drown. The Dynamic Duo escape by using the experimental "heel and toe Bat Rockets" in their boots.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy was one of the earliest series to have disproved this. Bill gets stuck in a tidal flat. He takes the opportunity to explain that you won't be buried alive in the sand, or mud in this case: you're more likely to drown or get stranded, especially if no one knows where you are. The trouble is if you're in a place where a high tide comes in; some rescue workers pulled him out safely before it can get that far.
  • This is how Britany Jenkins dies for the first time in Le cœur a ses raisons, when in Africa in search for Brett.
  • The Coroner: Done realistically in "The Drop Zone". Beth gets stuck in quicksand on a secluded beach, but is not actively being sucked down. She cannot save herself by lying back and floating (assuming that Beth would even know this) because doing so would cause her to put her head underwater. She has to call Davey to come and rescue her.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Doctor's Daughter", Martha falls into a pool of this while traversing the hostile surface of an alien planet. The Hath accompanying her ends up sacrificing himself to get her out.
  • Emergency has a more believable variant with the paramedics responding to a call about a woman who fell into a forgotten well barely covered by soil. When the paramedics take a careful look, they see the woman waist deep in really thick mud at the bottom and sinking into it. Fortunately, the crew of Station 51 is able to quickly set up some ladders and ropes to pull her out.
  • Shows up in the pilot of The Frankenstein Chronicles. One of the river gangsters, after their boats capsize, runs straight into one after swimming to the shore. Strangely, he sets foot in it and is instantly up to his neck, then takes 30 seconds for his head to go under; enough time for Marlette to call for some rope and the man to whimper in horror.
  • Justified in Get Smart when Max, 99 and the Chief are on an artificial island created by KAOS and are captured. To kill them, Siegfried forces them on a patch of synthetic sand, which is specifically designed to be a quicksand Death Trap. They escape with the series' usual silliness: they use a small powerful magnet they have on their person to try to interact with a giant horseshoe magnet used to capture shipping so as to use their mutual attraction to pull them out. Unfortunately, their magnet somehow proves more powerful than the giant one and all they accomplish is to force the giant magnet to reorient itself to them without pulling them out. However, this ridiculous situation saves them since the giant magnet pulls a submerged submarine to the island to the point of plowing through the ground and into the synthetic sand pit, thus allowing our heroes to grab on the periscope and ride the sub to solid ground.
  • One episode of Gilligan's Island had Skipper stumble into a pit of quicksand. While Gilligan is preparing a rope to throw him, a vine conveniently dislodges from a treebranch and lands right next to him. He uses it to climb out, and taps Gilligan on the shoulder. Gilligan replies, "Do you mind, I'm trying to save my..." And notices it's Skipper.
  • The intro for I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! shows someone up to their neck in a quicksand pit saying the title of the show.
  • In an episode of Lassie, Timmy gets stuck in the swamp version of this.
  • Subverted in an episode of Magnum, P.I.: Rick stumbles in what he believes is quicksand and yells for help; when TC and Magnum arrive, Magnum tells Rick he's in a swamp - "There is no quicksand in Hawaii."
  • One episode of The Man Show has a segment advertising fake products. One of those was "Quicksand Kitty Litter," which causes cats that step in it to sink in and drown. Technically, it does what it's advertised to do: free you of the responsibility of cleaning the litter box.
  • In Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls demonstrates how to escape from a quicksand in the middle of the Sahara Desert and prevent health problems as a result from having clay on your skin.
  • Merlin pulls Gwenyviere out of one in Merlin1998, making her a Damsel in Distress. She was warned to Stay on the Path as well.
  • In one episode of Merlin2008, this happens to Arthur on his quest but he manages to pull himself out.
  • In The '90s series Missing Persons, two children have disappeared on the way to school. It turns out they're caught in the grain bin version of this trope, after climbing on top of a railway car and getting stuck in the grain.
  • This trope has been comprehensively disproved by the MythBusters.
  • Conversed in an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles between Callen and Sam when they visit the La Brea Tar Pits on a case. Specifically, Callen wonders why it's not used so much anymore.
  • Larry and Balki get trapped in quicksand on an episode of Perfect Strangers. Watch it here.
  • Even Power Rangers has used this, a couple times over the years. "Ninja Quest" in season three, and "Fire Heart" in Mystic Force.
  • Alan Davies laments the decline of quicksand in an episode of QI.
  • In Sea Patrol 2Dads sinks into a pit, briefly going under before he's fished out by a team member. It's described as 'swamp', not quicksand, but it works the same way and when he falls in he's immediately buried up to his chest.
  • A version appeared in an episode of seaQuest DSV. A French leisure submarine was lost and the SeaQuest was sent to investigate. Their findings? Small underwater caverns were filled with fresh water, and they caved in like undersea potholes. Rather than aerated water causing the issue, the freshwater mixed with the sea water and desalinated it through dilution. This made the vessels too heavy to remain buoyant in the brackish zone, and they fell to the bottom of the freshwater pockets, unable to escape as their oxygen dwindled.
  • In one episode of Small Wonder, Ted walks into quicksand on a camping trip, and Vicki can't save him due to being ordered not to use her powers for the rest of the trip. It then turns out that the quicksand is only three feet deep.
  • Tales from the Crypt: In "'Til Death", Logan loses one of his workers (and his hat) to the quicksand that covers most of the land he just acquired. Later, while trying to escape from Maggie, he blunders into the quicksand himself and starts being sucked down, only to be pulled out by her. After setting her on fire, he shoves her into the quicksand and she vanishes beneath the surface. Logan thinks he's seen the last of her, but he's wrong.
  • A version with mud appears in the Bolivia Special on Top Gear when Jeremy Clarkson gets stuck in river mud along the Amazon's riverbank and slowly sinks about eighteen inches before Hammond and May are able to get him free.
  • The Big Bad in The Wild Wild West's "The Night of the Bottomless Pit", who absolutely hates muck, meets his maker that way.
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, one round with Xena's Evil Counterpart, Callisto, culminates in Xena and Callisto falling into this, Xena manages to get out, Callisto doesn't. Not that her death lasted long.

  • The song "The Legend of Wooley Swamp", by the Charlie Daniels Band, involves quicksand. A group of hoodlums murder an old man who lives in the titular swamp by beating him up and throwing him in a pond. When they turn around, they sink into a quicksand with the laughter of the old man's ghost ringing in their ears. The legend is that on certain nights, you can hear the hoodlums screaming and the old man laughing at them.
  • Waist Deep in the Big Muddy is about sinking in quicksand. Specifically, the singer's experience in 'Nam where the sergeant marched the squad into a swamp and was guzzled up by it, and the Captain ordered an immediate about-face. It turns into political commentary, likening the state of things to a "great fool saying 'Push on! push on!"' while the squad (country) is neck-deep in stupid.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: This happens to Jeremiah during an assassination attempt in Jeremiah 38. He was rescued, though.

  • Pops up in the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town, sort-of. Spencer's fear is drowning, and the monster ends up pulling him into the floor like it was water.

  • How Green Was My Cactus: While attempting the lead the Liberal Party out of the political wilderness, Andrew Peewit gets the entire party trapped in quicksand. The sketch ends with Little Johnny sitting down to wait to be rescued, and vanishing completely under the surface.

  • Shows up in Survival of the Fittest, where it's used to kill both Melina Frost and Beth Vanallen, one getting stuck in the sand long enough to be stabbed, the other being pulled in head first and drowned.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Fragments of Fear, adventure "Valley of the Four Shrines". While traveling through the jungle the PCs can fall into quicksand. If they do, they will be sucked under and start to drown in about 1 minute unless they either (a) realize they can use their Swim skill to stay afloat or (b) pull themselves out or are pulled out by their fellow PCs.
  • Carcosa: Weird Science-Fantasy Horror Setting. Hex 1613 has quicksand that can trap travelers. If the victim is unlucky they will be pulled under the surface and die of suffocation.
    • Nomads of the Nine Nations. The Deadmar Bog near the town of Batai has deadly quicksand..
  • DC Heroes adventure When a Stranger Calls. While traveling through a Central American rain forest, a hero can fall into a pit of quicksand. When the hero sinks beneath the surface of the pit, they will drown.
  • The Dragon Tree Spell Book. The fourth level spell Bog causes any horizontal surface to act like quicksand. Anyone who walks on it starts to sink into it and can't save themselves.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Supplement I13 Adventure Pack I, adventure "The Weird Woods of Baron Orchid". Several patches of quicksand occur near a lake.
    • Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. One of the rooms in Lolth's spider ship has a quicksand floor to trap unwary PCs.
    • OA6 Ronin Challenge. Quicksand can be encountered in the Kutuk Valley. Anyone falling in sinks at a rate of 2 feet per minute.
    • OA7 Test of the Samurai has several patches of quicksand in the other-dimensional plane of Qui.
    • AC3 The Revenge of Rusak. One type of trap in Rusak's lair is areas of quicksand. A character who falls in can sink at a rate of two feet per minute and thus be pulled under the surface in three minutes.
    • Bog Imps, swamp-dwelling Fey introduced in the supplement Heroes of Horror, have this as an supernatural ability for anyone not standing on solid ground. Guess where one might find them. Gibbering Mouthers have a similar ability, but in their case it's more about being stuck and eaten alive than sinking.
    • World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting boxed set (1983) "Glossography" booklet. One of the many terrain dangers in Greyhawk is quicksand. Anyone who falls in cannot swim their way to safety: if they attempt to do so they will sink under the surface at a rate of two feet per minute and drown three minutes after their head goes under.
    • Mayfair Games' Role Aids supplement Dark Folk. Quicksand is one of the many dangers of the Jovian Swamp. The PCs will encounter a Will-o'-Wisp monster that will try to lure them into some quicksand.
    • The 1st Edition ''Wilderness Survival Guide" has rules for quicksand. A character who falls in can tread water for a while but will eventually sink below the surface and start to drown.
    • Dungeon magazine
      • Issue #5 adventure "The Rotting Willow". One of the dangers of the swamp near the village of Rotting Willow is quicksand pools. If a Player Character falls into one and is either wearing armor heavier than leather OR thrashes around, they will sink under the surface in one minute and drown one minute later unless they're pulled out.
      • Issue #25 adventure "Hrothgar's Resting Place". If the PCs decide to travel through the moors they are at risk of falling into quicksand. If they do, they will sink to their deaths in two minutes unless rescued - they can't save themselves by normal means.
      • Issue #33 adventure "That Island Charm". The PCs may fall into a 20 foot deep pit of quicksand. Anyone who does so and can't free themselves somehow will sink into it and suffocate.
      • Issue #38 adventure "Things That Go Bump in the Night". The PCs find two firbolg giants, one of which is trapped in a pit of quicksand. The trapped giant will sink under the surface in six minutes and suffocate four minutes later if not rescued by the PCs.
      • Issue #41 adventure "Old Man Katan and the Mushroom Band". One of the hazards of the Glitchegumee Swamp is quicksand. Anyone who falls in must make a Wisdom check or sink below the surface and drown within five minutes. If the person is moderately (or more) encumbered, they will sink under in three minutes.
      • Issue #53 adventure "Steelheart". One random encounter in the realm of Vaasa is quicksand. If someone falls into the quicksand and isn't rescued, they will be sucked under the surface in a couple of minutes and drown.
      • Issue #72 adventure "Mistress on the Mere". While in the swamp known as the Mere of Dead Men, Player Characters can encounter pools of quicksand. If they fall into one, they can make a Dexterity check. If they succeed, they sink at a rate of 6 inches per minute: if they fail, at 1 foot per minute.
    • White Dwarf magazine
      • Issue #36 article "The Druid's Grove". In the Grove, any creature caught in quicksand will be sucked under at a rate of 1 foot of the victim's height every six seconds.
      • Issue #55 adventure "Spiderbite". One possible random encounter is quicksand. Anyone who falls in will sink deeper at a rate of two feet per minute unless they are thrown a rope.
    • Imagine magazine
      • Issue #17 adventure "Tir Nan Og". The title island has two beaches, one of which has pools of dangerous quicksand. Anyone who falls into one of the pools will sink under the surface in 1-4 minutes and drown 2-8 minutes later. It is impossible to escape the quicksand without help.
      • Issue #26 adventure "The Great Paladin Hunt". In order to escape a tribe of gnolls, several paladins must cross a swamp. One of the hazards of the swamp is quicksand, which will drag the victim under the surface in a few minutes. The victim has no chance to escape without outside help.
  • Judges Guild adventure Tegel Manor (1989). One trap found in the manor is quicksand. Anyone who falls into it sinks at a rate of six inches per round (1 minute).
  • Midkemia Press' Heart Of The Sunken Lands. One of the hazards of the Sunken Lands is quicksand. Any party encountering it will have 1-4 people fall into it. They will sink under the surface in 1-8 minutes (1-6 minutes if wearing armor or carrying a pack) unless pulled out by someone else.
  • Marvel Super Heroes supplement Uncanny X-Men boxed set "Adventure Book". In chapter 5 "Nightmare in New Guinea" the PCs can accidentally fall into pools of quicksand while trying to rescue a woman. If they do, they will sink at a rate of one foot per minute.
  • Rolemaster Shadow World setting
    • Demons of the Burning Night. The PCs can run into this deadly threat in the Elder Swamp near the city of Tarek Nev.
  • Several Classic Traveller adventures and one supplement have this as a possible encounter on alien planets.
    • Adventure 3 Twilight's Peak has quicksand as a possible encounter in wetlands on the planet Fulacin. If PCs get into it they will be trapped and sucked down with no chance to save themselves.
    • In Double Adventure 4 Marooned/Marooned Alone, PCs can encounter dangerous quicksand in the jungles of the planet Pagliacci. If trapped, they'll be sucked under in 4-9 minutes.
    • Supplement 2 Animal Encounters. PCs can randomly encounter quicksand in swamp terrain on two types of planets: small worlds with thin atmospheres and medium sized worlds with standard atmospheres.
    • Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #2 article "The Bestiary". One possible encounter in chasm floor jungle terrain is quicksand that will pull anyone trapped in it under its surface in a couple of minutes unless they are rescued.
  • Some older editions of Warhammer had random terrain features that included dangerous Khemrian quicksand regions. As a general rule, if you failed your armour save, you got to live, because you obviously weren't wearing enough to drag you down. Funnily enough, you could get an armour save penalty from having your equipment turned into lead by the Lore of Metal, leading to the odd situation of lead armour being easier to swim in than its steel equivalent.

    Video Games 
  • Armello: This appears in the "Sinking Caravan" quest. A merchant is late and he was last seen entering a swamp. When you get there, his wagon is stuck in a quicksand and you have the choice to either try to get it unstuck (body test) or to tell him to leave it.
  • Banjo-Kazooie: Subverted in Banjo-Tooie. While there is quicksand in Mayahem Temple and Terrydactyland, it doesn't pull you down, the Dragundas living in it do, then spit you back onto solid ground. The wading boots are used to cross the quicksand. The Dragundas are also in Grunty Industries' toxic waste and polluted water.
  • Berenstain Bears' Camping Adventure: Downplayed, as the Bears can jump out of it easily. Still, it is an obstacle, and they have to use a conveniently placed Beach Ball or log to cross it.
  • Castle of Illusion: The Toy Time stage features jelly that can suck Mickey in, though there are some sections where he actually needs to pass all the way through the jellied floors to progress.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow has the Dead Bog stage, which will promptly pull Gabriel down if he fails to get out of there within an alloted amount of time.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day doesn't have this in the traditional sense (not only because it has no desert levels, but also because sand as a whole is very rarely present in the game), but the creek of poo in the Great Mighty Poo's lair has more or less the same effect: if Conker falls in, he sinks and drowns.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island: One puzzle on Plunder Island has Guybrush escaping the belly of a snake, only to get stuck in a pool of quicksand that sucks most of the cool stuff he found in the snake's stomach (i.e. everything he doesn't need to solve further puzzles) out of his pants ("Now there's an odd sensation"). Fortunately, Guybrush only gets sucked in up to his waist, but he still needs to find a way to grab onto a nearby conveniently-placed vine in order to get out and progress.
  • Day Dreamin' Davey: There are floors in Hades' Underworld lair (Ancient Greece) and the Medieval Swamp (Medieval Times) that can make you sink down like quicksand and swallow you up if you stay on the floor for too long.
  • Death In The Caribbean: One screen is a patch of quicksand within a foggy swamp, which you'll sink into and die if you don't have a length of rope to throw around a tree to help pull yourself back to safety. A hat on said screen implies that an explorer who came before you fell victim to it.
  • Donkey Kong 64: Subverted. While the quicksand in Angry Aztec will damage you steadily the longer you stay in it and also slow you down, you don't sink in it.
  • Fight Knight: In the sand area, all the upper floor "out of bounds" sand tiles cause you to sink to the lower floor, but the rest of the sand only sinks when you step on specific tiles within two tiles away from the stone faces, which immediately Turn Red and cause you to sink. Being constantly aware of where you can step and where you can't is a vital part of solving what is effectively one big navigation puzzle, and later you need to figure out which tiles to step on to deliberately sink yourself to reach certain blocked-off lower floor areas you can't reach otherwise.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII. It doesn't pose a direct hazard to your player characters, but Corel Prison is described as "a natural prison in the middle of the desert... surrounded entirely by quicksand."
    • Final Fantasy IX has sand whirlpools on the path leading up to Cleyra. If you end up in one, you whirl towards the centre, sinking in. Mashing X repeatedly allows you to jump out, failing to do so will land you in a fight with a sand scorpion. The scorpions are presumably causing the whirlpools in order to trap prey.
  • Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure: Some of Mysteria's levels have this. If you are completely submerged in it, you will actually take damage over time, presumably due to drowning. If you have the Golden Pipe, on the other hand, you won't take damage.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn: Pyramid Sands features a lot of quicksand. The yarn graphics give it a unique approach: the sand is in fact horizontal strands of yellow and orange yarn, and each strand is pulled away rythmically, leaving Kirby fall onto the strand below the previous one, effectively pulling Kirby lower and lower.
  • There are quicksand pools in the desert area, but they simply mire down the player and make it difficult for them to get out. They won't actually kill them on their own, but being a sitting duck for the other players is often dangerous enough regardless.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: You fight a Lanmola in a pit of quicksand. You only get sucked downward (to a cave you must traverse to get back to the surface) if you get put in the center of the pit; the rest of the quicksand simply pulls you toward that center.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The Haunted Wasteland has a river of no-escape quicksand that you cross by either using the Longshot or the Hover Boots. Once across, you are still in danger of sinking if you stray off the path.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The Arbiter's Grounds has quicksand, including the instant-death type, as a frequent and dangerous obstacle. While some areas can be crossed while sinking slowly, wearing the metal boots is instant death.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass averts the trope in both the desert-themed Isle of Gust and its dungeon the sandy Temple of Wind (the actual threat is the wind currents and geysers, sand is harmless otherwise); but plays it straight in the Goron Temple, where all sand is deadly for Link (luckily, his Bombchus can navigate through them just fine).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: The Sand Realm has quicksand pits in the Sand Temple and parts of the nearby Tower of Spirits. The Sand Wand can create sand bridges by solidifying part of the quicksand's terrain so Link (as well as Phantom Zelda in the Tower of Spirits) can walk over them safely.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: There are quicksand pits in the final room of the Desert Palace and the battlefield of Zaganaga in Lorule's Misery Mire. The Sand Wand makes a return since its debut in Spirit Tracks (now under the name of Sand Rod) to allow Link to cross over them safely with the created solid sand tiles.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Link can keep from getting sucked into the quicksand of Lanayru Desert if he sprints across it. Also, the Timeshift Stones can change it back into the solid, grass-covered ground it once was Before the Dark Times.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: A variant occurs with bottomless bogs, patches of sucking mud encountered throughout Hyrule. Link will sink steadily the moment he enters them; he can cross them safely if he hurries, but staying in one for more than a few seconds will see him sucked down below the surface. Notably, objects that normally float when dropped in water, such as wooden weapons and monsters parts, will also sink instantly in this substance; however, amphibious enemies such as lizalfos and water octoroks can swim and float in it just fine.
  • The Lost Vikings: This appears in the Egypt levels. You have to get across by having coconuts drop into the quicksand and landing on the coconuts.
  • Lucy Got Problems: Lucy wanders into a mangrove swamp and ends up sinking in it, largely to titilate the sinking fetish. It uses the "Why am I getting shorter?" version as well. She manages to use the mangrove trees roots to pull herself out too.
  • Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning Against the Parrot Creatures of Venus: At one point, Max ends up in a quicksand pit, and you need to figure out how to get him out of it.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man X: Command Mission: One character falls into a quicksand trap, which pulls him and his two friends down into it. Which wouldn't make sense in the first place, but made even worse by the fact that all three are super-strong reploids that could have easily pulled themselves out (especially since one was still on firm ground). They even treat it like it's deadly, despite the fact they don't even need to breathe and would, at worst, just be stuck.
    • Mega Man 10: Commando Man's level has Mega Man rushing through quicksand pits. Although he can move and shoot normally in them, even completely buried, he needs to jump to exit it, and if he's dragged to the bottom of the screen, he dies as if he had fallen in a bottomless pit. Mega Man 4 has it as well.
  • Mega Man: Revenge of the Fallen: Zig-zagged. In Pharaoh Man's stage, when you reach the bottom of the screen in quicksand, you'll usually die instantly. However there are two instances where sinking in quicksand can be beneficial, even opening up a new alternate route!
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: There is a pool of this whose dangers are carefully described by Vamp. Who then, seconds later, starts swimming through it with ease (He does have superpowers). This has been implicated in the loss of ships at sea, because of a subsidence or other event on the seabed which causes a dramatic release of gas.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater features bottomless swamps full of muck early in the game that behave like quicksand. Once you go under, you suffocate and die. It makes for a great way to dispose of enemy bodies, though.
  • Mutant Football League: University of Chimera Stadium, the arid desert home field of the Cardinal Sins, has pools of quicksand as field hazards, the local spin on a concept present in most arenas: pits that take you out of the game with an injury for a short while if you fail to avoid them.
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps: The Silent Woods have pools of a tar-like muck that instantly sucks down and kills Ori if they so much as touch it.
  • Phantasy Star IV: Motavia features quicksand areas that act as Broken Bridge, blocking your party from progressing until a certain point in the plot.
  • Pokémon: The seventh generation of the games, starting with Pokémon Sun and Moon, adds the sand castle-like Pokémon Palossand, who absorbs the life of the prey it catches. In one illustration, it is seen swallowing a Pikachu in a very similar way to a quicksand.
  • Prince of Persia 2: An early puzzle required you to jump between a set of stone platforms in a displayed but randomly-selected order. Quicksand comes in because the platforms are suspended in it, and if you miss a jump, or jump onto a platform not in the sequence, you're sucked in.
  • Ragnarok (Roguelike): Quicksand is especially dangerous, as it's impossible to free yourself without a grappling hook, or by using magical means. Otherwise, you'll eventually get pulled downwards and drown.
  • Ratchet & Clank has the planet Aridia, a desert planet with massive LAKES of quicksand. You can hop out, but only three times before you sink, for whatever reason.
  • Realm of the Mad God: Quicksand appears all over in the Tomb of the Ancients. It doesn't kill directly, but the slowing effect can be very dangerous regardless.
  • Robinson's Requiem: The moment you walk onto patches of dark wavy sand, you'll freeze in place and sink into it [while Trepliev1 sobs] like there's a black hole under it. There's absolutely no escape.
  • In Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle, the main character Brian encounters a quicksand pit, and when he sees the goggles of his pilot Otto in the pit, he worries that Otto was lost in it.
  • Secret of Evermore has patches of quicksand fade in and out of existence in one of the areas. Stumbling into one sends you back to the start of the area.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): Wherever sand appears, expect it to be quicksand. If you fall in, you fall straight through like there's nothing there. It's essentially another Bottomless Pit in disguise, much like water in the same game.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles: Used rather realistically (given the medium). In Sandopolis Zone (and the 2-player mode Desert Palace level), quicksand would slowly pull the character under but it could be escaped by jumping properly. Marble Garden Zone also featured surfaces that acted the same way, but looked like black water.
  • Spyro: A Hero's Tail has Crocovile Swamp and Coastal Remains, both of which have quicksand that will instantly cause Spyro to sink and die if he touches it.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros. 2: Quicksand is frequent in desert levels, and come into two types; the first takes about 7-10 seconds to completely suck you in and is quite easy to jump out of, the second (sand waterfalls) takes half as long as the first and renders attempting to jump out a hopeless endeavor, though fortunately the first type is typically near it. There's even a shortcut late in 6-3 that involves going in almost to your cranium.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3 features quicksand with green Piranha Plants underneath, with these enemies popping out only when they're going to shoot fireballs at Mario or Luigi. A secret area beneath a pool of quicksand can be accessed in 8-2.
    • Super Mario 64 and its DS remake play this on the Shifting Sand Land level with three intensities. First there is light quicksand where you slowly and steadily sink in; you can eventually free yourself by jumping. (This quicksand was used for the most realistic pit, just outside the pyramid, where you go in only halfway, and also for a deadlier pit inside the pyramid, a quicksand bin above the pit, a thorn patch in Tall Tall Mountain, and the domain of the giant Venus Fire Traps in Tiny-Huge Island, the latter two being so shallow that all they do is impede your jumping.) Second a middle type that sucks Mario in quickly but not instantly. It's the most common type. Last is dark quicksand that instantly sucks you in, thus counting as a bottomless pit.
    • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 has sands behave in different ways due to the game's bending gravity mechanic, though classic quicksand (which instantly sinks Mario to his death) is still present — it can be distinguised by having a darker orange color.
    • Super Mario 3D World: The presence of quicksand is very limited, being only present in the level Conkdor Canyon. The rate at which it sinks the characters is low enough for them to not only force their way out, but also reach an upper area by "swimming" across a waterfall made of falling sand.
    • Super Mario Odyssey: A single pool of quicksand appears in Tostarena Ruins within Sand Kingdom. The nearby sinkhole isn't lethal; in fact, entering it is necessary to get a Power Moon.
    • Mario Kart: Some of the desert tracks in the series have quicksand in them, namely Yoshi Desert in Super Circuit, Dry Dry Desert in Double Dash!!, and Bone-Dry Ruins in 8. Funnily enough, in the former two tracks the unlucky drivers don't end up completely sinking, as they're instead eaten by a large Piranha Plant lurking beneath.
    • Mario Party: Quicksand is a rare feature in the series, despite the abundance of desert-based minigames, but it still exists:
      • Mario Party 2: The minigame Quicksand Cache revolves around three characters grabbing coins in a large bowl where sand is converging downward to the center (where the fourth player, wearing the Bowser Suit, awaits while manipulating the quicksand's motion at will to grab the remaining coins).
      • In the boards Spiny Desert (Mario Party 3) and Pyramid Park (Mario Party 7), there are two quicksand pits connected from the underground and surrounded by Event Spaces. If a player lands into one of those spaces, the quicksand pit will transport them to the other (and, in 7, viceversa to anyone located in the opposite pit).
    • Mario Teaches Typing 2: During a cutscene, Mario and Luigi fall through a hole in a bridge and are saved by a pool of quicksand below, inverting the trope.
  • Super Metroid: The many quicksand pools present no danger at all, because Samus wears a sealed space suit and can't drown (it will not, however, prevent damage from spikes that may happen to be placed at the bottom of a pit of quicksand). If you don't feel like jumping out, you can sink all the way in and walk around on the bottom. In a few places this allows access to new areas. These quicksand pools are found exclusively in the aquatic area, Maridia, meaning that these quicksand pools are all underwater.
  • Super Spy Hunter: The second level features an open desert section with flowing quicksand pits scattered about. They damage you if you touch the center of them.
  • Sweet Home: Several sand traps are found in the dungeons below the mansion. Anyone who falls in can be rescued with a rope, but pulling off a successful rescue takes timing. Naturally, the Infinity +1 Sword is found at the bottom of one of these pits.
  • Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe has quite a few patches of quicksand around that will slowly pull Sydney down should he step on them. Sydney can repeatedly jump to get out of them.
  • ToeJam & Earl: Quicksand makes the protagonists start sinking and move slower. The sand also resembles a desert, complete with cacti.
  • Tomb Raider III has quicksand in several levels. Depending on where you stand, Lara will either sink only up to her waist or be submerged completely, but can still wade through the stuff in either case. If Lara is fully under, she'll quickly start to drown and then die unless you are fast enough to get her to higher ground. One level in particular has you jumping from safe spot to safe spot in a massive pool of quicksand since said safe spots are solid enough to stand on and one misstep will have you killed unless you are fast enough to climb up to the safe spot.
  • Toontown Online also features highly dangerous areas of quicksand.
  • Wacky Races (1991): In the Licensed Game for the NES, quicksand is present throughout the Desert world. The battle against Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly in the Army Surplus Special at the end of the world takes place entirely over a stretch of quicksand. Strangely, while Muttley is able to sink in the quicksand, the Army Surplus Special can't.
  • Weird Dreams: There's a quicksand pit in front of the statue that will take you back to the Hall of Mirrors.

    Web Animation 
  • FreedomToons: Seamus criticizes the way government measures unemployment (anyone who has given up on looking for work is not considered "unemployed") by depicting a census taker observing several people drowning in quicksand, then declaring the problem solved when their head goes under.
  • This Homestar Runner cartoon involves Homestar making this type of overestimation, as applies to a sandbox crudely labeled "QUiCK SAnD". "If you have any vines or roots you can toss my way, I would be really, really still alive."
  • Ninjai: The Little Ninja has the Big Bad leave people to sink in a "swamp" which, despite being explicitly referred to as quicksand, seems to be a very sticky, viscous fluid.

    Web Comics 
  • Black and Joy fall for this in the episode 12 of Black Adventures.
  • In Work Sucks, Zeppy escapes from the vine of a carnivorous plant, but only to run straight into such a pit.

    Web Original 
  • Creepypasta:
    • Bog of Whispers is about a Genius Loci evil swamp that shares visions of all the final moments of the creatures that died there, including, you guessed it, some poor deer sinking to its death. The protagonist also gets mired in an area of deep mud with grass growing in it.
    • Implied in ''In the Bayou." We hear a ghost, who manifests as a decaying body in a tree, shreiking in terror. The sole survivor of a witch's curse states that the woman who's ghost it is drowned trying to climb the tree she appears in.

    Web Videos 
  • Several websites specialize in fetish videos involving women either stumbling or being forced into quicksand or mud and struggling (and failing) to get out, or sensually playing in and letting themselves sink into the murk. Since a lot of the "quicksand pits" are artificial mudholes a fair bit of disbelief suspension is required, though natural muddy areas and silty riverbanks are used a bit as well (the models still have to force themselves deeper to give the illusion of being sucked down).
  • Roy and Valerie get stuck in a pit of quicksand while traveling across the Second Dimension in Journey of the Cartoon Man.

    Western Animation 
  • Mozenrath's Black Sand in Disney's Aladdin: The Series. The heroes didn't even have to step in it, it reached out to suck them in, an act that was, in one episode, disturbingly referred to as eating. Of course, it's not normal quicksand, since A Wizard Did It.
  • Catwoman leaves Batman and Robin in a quicksand Death Trap in the Filmation series episode "The Nine Lives of Batman".
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • An odd take in the episode "Can't Bayou Love", where Jambalaya Jake lures Darkwing into wet cement mixed with actual quicksand as a trap. Darkwing escapes by firing a rocket from his gun to push himself out and into the air.
    • Another subversion occurs in "Water Way To Go", where Darkwing and Launchpad think they've fallen into quicksand. Instead, it turns out to be a hidden entrance to Steelbeak's lair.
  • Happens with Shareena and Gug in this clip from a Detention episode. Actually, the "quicksand" is just a sinkhole.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • In "Wrongway in Ronguay", Scrooge sinks into a quicksand pit in the middle of the desert. He escapes by swimming out using a box of scuba gear he had brought with him!
    • In "Sweet Duck of Youth", Launchpad lands the helicopter in quicksand, and the gang has to lighten the load to get it free. Scrooge falls in and starts sinking due to being weighed down by his money belt, but he's able to get free by hooking his cane onto the helicopter as it takes off.
  • Subverted in Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show. Ed and Eddy at first appear to be sinking in quicksand, and appear to die as Edd attempts to save them. However, as Edd mourns their deaths, it turns out it was just a joke that Ed and Eddy played on him. Naturally, Edd gets pissed off at the two and immediately leaves them to return to the cul-de-sac, preferring to be punished by the kids for the scam that backfired and sent them on the run in to first place rather then continue on the journey with Ed and Eddy.
  • One episode of The Fairly OddParents has Jorgen turn the floor of a room into "quicksand" that is a black hole in all but name. Rather than sinking in it, the kids in the room get sucked into the centre at hyper fast speeds and then fall into it. Its appearance is also clearly modelled after a black hole (albeit probably an unrealistic one) as well.
  • Happened to the whole cast of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. They were rescued by BEES. A bit perplexing, even if you DO accept imaginary beings springing into life for no explained reason. The ending of the episode implied it was All Just a Dream, with the whole camping trip being imaginary, but, possibly, Your Mind Makes It Real. Not that that makes it any less perplexing, as imagination, despite its life-giving powers in the setting, was never shown to have power to that degree before or since.
  • Duke falls into a pit of quicksand while escaping from Cobra in an episode of G.I. Joe and goes in over his head in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, this convinces his pursuers that he's a goner, allowing him to grab a nearby vine and pull himself free after they leave.
  • Jellystone!: Parodied on "Gorilla in Our Midst". While crossing over Grape Ape's body, Doggie Daddy gets trapped in "quickhair", which is "like quicksand, but hair."
  • Heloise throws a bunch of pandas into a quicksand pit on an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes. They only approve of the mudbath.
  • Played for laughs in the Johnny Bravo episode "Buffoon Lagoon"; Johnny is sent to search for food in the jungles on an island and he stumbles into quicksand, thinking it's pudding. Even as he's sinking, it still doesn't click with him that it's quicksand.
    Johnny: *sinking* Needs more butterscotch.
  • Kaeloo: One episode had Kaeloo, Stumpy, Quack Quack and Pretty try to find the ancient tomb of a pharaoh hidden in a desert. On their journey, Stumpy falls into a pit of quicksand and starts sinking. Of course, this being a show like Kaeloo, nobody cares. At least until he reminds them that he has their bag of supplies with him.
  • Kissyfur: In "The Birds And The Bears", gators Floyd and Jolene cross the line when they steal Gus's paddlecab and lure the poor papa bear into quicksand to drown and die while they use the paddlecab to catch some of the cubs for dinner. Fortunately, fate deals him a winning hand when Kissyfur, Beehonie, Toot, and Miss Emmy Lou manage to free him from the quicksand, giving him the chance to once again put the gators in their place and rescue the cubs and retrieve the stolen paddle cab.
  • Several episodes of the Disney's The Legend of Tarzan cartoon had this happen; Tarzan always rescued them before they drowned, however. Unless, like in the books, it is used to dispose of an antagonist (in one episode, a Giant Ape-Eating Python).
  • The Little Mermaid had underwater quicksand.
  • Max Steel both plays this straight and partially subverts it. In season two, Max and Berto walk in to quicksand and start sinking, having to use a vine to pull themselves out. In season three, Berto and Kat walk in to quicksand; however, Berto says that the human body is lighter and they manage to swim out of it.
  • Pinky and the Brain run into this a couple of times in the episode "Welcome to the Jungle."
  • In the first episode of Rainbow Brite the villain disguises quick sand as water. Rainbow is suspicious of it however Starlite is covered in dirt and attempts to clean himself. He gets stuck in the quicksand, as does Rainbow Brite, and if it wasn't for Brian they would have died.
  • A Robot Chicken sketch has a giraffe step into quicksand and, because its tall body takes so long to go down, goes through the five stages of grief as it sinks. The giraffe's life is saved when its feet hit bottom, although it's still stuck.
  • Parodied in an episode of Rugrats, where the babies didn't know the proper term for it, but Chuckie described it as "some kind of sand that I'm sinking into really quick".
  • In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, the gang loses footage of all the paranormal things they witnessed after their camera falls into quicksand.
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018) the Crimson Waste are filled with quicksand pits. Right after being warned about how dangerous the place is, Glimmer walks right into one of these. Adora drives right in to save her, forgetting about Glimmer's Flashy Teleportation power, who has no problem getting out herself. Only to port back to get Adora back.
  • Averted in the Skatoony episode "Hoo Loves You Baby". When Chudd, Earl, and the Quizblock end up in a pool of quicksand, not only do they sink slowly enough that they can complete a full round of quizzing while doing it, but it's shallow enough that their heads never go above water. It turns out they were in the shallow end of a quicksand swimming pool.
  • In The Smurfs episode "Handy's Sweetheart", the mean Custodian of the pools of Avalon makes the waters turn into quicksand to trap the three Smurfs who were trying to take his lilyroot without paying him gold in return.
  • There were at least two occasions on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! where the good guys found themselves getting stuck in quicksand. In a strange mistake in relation to the games, they apparently forgot they had the ability to hop out of the quicksand and needed to be rescued.
  • The Transformers: In the episode "Countdown to Extinction", Megatron lures the Autobots into quicksand, expecting them to at least be stuck forever, and also expecting them to be completely submerged by it.
    Megatron: "I know you Autobots know how to tread water, but it's not quite the same in sand."
  • Total Drama:
    • As if Boney Island isn't dangerous enough as it is, Chris sets up quicksand pits in "Up the Creek". Trent walks ahead of the other Screaming Gophers and steps into one. Lindsay tries to save him, but only ends up stuck and sinking too. Cody sees an opportunity to be a hero and swings with a vine above the pit with the intent to grab Trent's hand, but he misses and slams into a tree. The vine, however, swings back and Trent and Lindsay grab it to pull themselves out. They still give Cody full credit for their survival.
    • While they have their eyes and thoughts focused on tracking down Ezekiel in "African Lying Safari", Duncan and Alejandro fail to realize timely that they've come to a standstill in quicksand. Duncan is taken aback because he expected to meet death in the mud or the gutter, but not in quicksand. Alejandro, being a little closer to the edge, gets his hands on a stick and just as fortunately, Ezekiel drops by. With a little prompting, Alejandro gets Ezekiel to bite the stick and drag the two of them out. Later that day, Duncan gets eliminated and booted off the plane. He lands in another pit of quicksand, right next to a lion that proceeds to maul him.
  • Happens in the form of dry desert quicksand The Transformers episode "Countdown to Extinction".
  • Wander over Yonder uses this trope in "The Epic Quest of Unfathomable Difficulty" Quicksand is one of many obstacles they must face on the quest and if that weren't bad enough, this quicksand inflicts Laser-Guided Amnesia!
    Sylvia: (up to her waist in quicksand with Wander] "What were we doing again?"
    (Both look down at the sand)
    Sylvia: "Oh Yeah."
  • The Wild Thornberrys subverts this completely, as the "evil swamp" Darwin was so worried about was only about two inches deep. Eliza still lost a shoe, though.

    Real Life 
  • Water with a great deal of gas bubbling through it behaves suitably, in that a human would sink like a rock in it, and subsequently drown. This isn't encountered very often, however. An example in real life which has taken many lives is Niagara Falls. The massive amount of falling water has the same effect as the aerated water of Metal Gear Solid 2 and has resulted in many people drowning.
  • Rodolfo Fierro, a General at the service of Francisco Villa died this way. He fell along with his horse and fell to the bottom because of the weight he was carrying (it's said it was gold). He was very well known as a sadistic bastard so his death could be a Karmic Death.
  • The effects of The Princess Bride's "lightning sand" can be mimicked by forcing a burst of air through sand (a phenomenon that happens daily in the Fire Swamps, of course). An object placed on top sinks instantly to the bottom. Fortunately the events required to create this dry quicksand are highly unlikely to occur in nature.
  • Large heaps of loose sand can stop a vehicle. In the rare situations this is life or death (when a stranded car in the desert means a stranded driver for instance) and it can be fatal. And in any case, it probably isn't something you wish to explain to your insurance agent.

    Sometimes, getting stuck in the sand is the desired effect. Some steep roads have sand or piles of other things to give truckers a chance to stop relatively safely in case their brakes fail. Some airports seem to have something similar at the end of the runway in case the plane doesn't stop for some reason. Locomotives and trams may carry sand for traction help.

    That's why gravel traps are so common at racing circuits. No matter if a car that goes screaming off the tarmac is doing it forwards, backwards or sideways, loose sand and gravel stop it up since the vehicle digs into the gravel, pulling itself in and creating resistance. However, since this also tends to ruin the underbody and wheels of a car, another option that's become popular in recent years is to create a large tarmac runoff area so a driver can recover from a loss of control or error in judgment and quickly rejoin the race. On cars with slicks, especially light ones such as Formula One cars, they're so grippy that gravel traps actually cause more slippage in comparison.
  • An interesting article on the rise and fall of this trope can be found here.
  • Non-Newtonian fluids behave in a similar way; they are so viscous that if a great deal of force is applied to them, they behave like solids or liquids, but if the same force is applied slower and gentler (shear thickening) or faster and more abrupt (shear thinning) the opposite is true. It can be very difficult to get something out from being trapped in a pool of a non-Newtonian fluid. These same properties also explain such phenomena as being able to walk on the surface of a pool filled with custard, hitting the ketchup bottle to be able to pour out what's inside and a hammer bouncing off corn starch.
  • This video shows off most of the mechanics behind quicksand and other shear thinning non-Newtonian fluids in action, courtesy of a silt mudflat on the banks of a river. While at first, it's possible to walk on and even jump around on the surface of the mudflat, once a stick is jammed into the ground (which takes some effort), the supersaturated silt and water mix takes on its shear thinning properties, and the ground around the demonstrator and the stick becomes increasingly 'spongy' and elastic, creating the weird imagery where it seems possible to jump off the surface of the quicksand as if it were a trampoline, though standing on it for too long results in the demonstrator's feet sinking into the ground slightly.
  • Soil liquefaction, a rare phenomenon associated with earthquakes, can cause water-saturated sandy ground to temporarily turn so slippery and unstable that it becomes too weak to support buildings' foundations. This can also lead to an interesting inverse of this trope, in which objects underground may float upward, as seen in several earthquakes where manholes and pipes burst out through the ground, breaching pavements and roads damaged in the quake.
  • Mont Saint-Michel in France is a tidal island, and the ground exposed during low tide is known for its rampant patches of deep mud and quicksand. For this reason, tourists are advised to either stick to the causeway or travel with a qualified guide (who will know how to both avoid and escape quicksand), as the intensity and fickleness of the tides creates the drowning hazard mentioned above.
  • Morecambe Bay is notorious for its quicksands and unpredictable tides, just imagine being trapped by quicksand as the tide rushes in to drown you! Many people have drowned in Morecambe Bay, from coaches pulled by horses in the 1700's to poor Chinese cocklers in the early 2000's. In fact, the area is so dangerous that there is a proper, appointed by the Queen, "Sand Pilot" to be used by travellers across Morecambe Bay to avoid quicksand and tidal drownings. The worst thing about the Morecambe Bay quicksands is that they move about, meaning that the Sand Pilot has to be a good reader of the sand conditions in front off them.
  • Grain bins are a common artificial source of quicksand-style danger, where one false move can get a worker pulled down in a matter of seconds and suffocated under all the grain.
  • As mentioned under the entry for Apaches, slurry pits are another artificial and agricultural example of this trope, being big drums filled with water, decaying plant matter, manure and just about anything else intended to be decomposed by bacteria into fertiliser for use on the fields; here, the main risk to one’s life isn’t just drowning (though that certainly happens, as these pits have a very large capacity, and the material inside isn’t nearly as solid), but from inhaling poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas, which is produced in large amounts by the bacteria at work breaking down all the organic material in the pit. Just 100 parts per million is enough to paralyse a victim’s olfactory nerve and interfere with their awareness of the danger they’re in. A concentration of 800ppm kills 50% of humans exposed to it for 5 minutes, and once concentrations of the gas hit 1000ppm, it can knock someone out with just a single inhalation. If the toxic gas doesn’t kill you by causing respiratory collapse, you’ll fall unconscious through inhalation of the gas or your own fatigue, then drown in the pit’s contents, in a particularly gross way to go.
  • After signing the Magna Carta, King John of England (Robin Hood's enemy) tried to renege on the deal by raising an army to fight against the rebellious barons; his plan was foiled when the packhorse carrying the Royal treasury (i.e all his gold) and the Crown Jewels fell into quicksand while crossing The Wash (a large bay on the English east coast) and sank immediately; realising they would now not get paid, all his knights deserted. The next King, Henry III, had to be "crowned" with a plain gold ring, as the country could not afford to replace the Crown.
  • Sam Steele (a Mountie circa 1894) recounts several instances where he ended up in quicksand. Part of his survival training involved being taught to swim out. He also recounts two instances where a horse sank in a bog. The second time, it had learned that panicking only made the situation worse.


Video Example(s):


The Truth about Quicksand

Bill Nye explains how the trope is inaccurate.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / QuicksandSucks

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