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"Why not otters? I wouldn't mind dropping into a tank of otters. They're fun."
Ron Stoppable, Kim Possible

A body of water filled with any variety of unpleasant creatures, such as alligators, killer jellyfish, piranhas, or sharks (with or without frickin' lasers on their heads). Inconvenient heroes and their sidekicks are either suspended over the pool on a slowly-descending rope, or are delivered into it by way of a chute or Trap Door. Also may be used to dispose of henchmen who have failed for the last time.

The hole or vat may contain substances besides water, including molten metal, toxic waste, hot lava, or, for the villain who happens to have a Sweet Tooth, boiling chocolate, caramel, or any sugary or savory food in liquid form. See also Acid Pool.

Compare with Animal Assassin, where the dangerous animals are delivered to the victim rather than the other way around.

See also Fed to the Beast. The Snake Pit is a version with less water and more snakes. Drowning Pit is the critter-free version that does the job with just water. If the animals are just used to dispose of the body after it's been killed by other means, that's Fed to Pigs. Fictional pirates usually prefer to feed victims to sharks in their natural habitat by making them Walk the Plank. Monster in the Moat is a similar concept, but intended for defending a fixed point rather than for dramatic executions.

Has nothing to do with the TV series Shark Tank. Nor pool sharks of the billiards table kind.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball offered an odd inversion when Emperor Pilaf lowers a cage containing a pair of crocodiles from the ceiling.
  • Excel♡Saga features the title character frequently being dropped into a pit of alligators, piranha, and/or various other nasties by her superior-slash-object of obsessive affection, Il Palazzo. When Il Palazzo's wrath is imminent the rope to open the trap door for the pit spontaneously descends (by mechanisms unknown) into his reach. In the manga, the animals in the pit become increasingly ludicrous (baboons!), while the main characters lampshade the pit's creatures on a regular basis, for example wondering if Lord Il Palazzo personally hunts the animals put down there, since there shouldn't be any members in the organization besides the main characters.
  • The boxing club president suspends Mako Makanshoku above a transparent vat of boiling oil in Kill la Kill episode 1, threatening to turn her into Mako tempura if Ryoko fails to turn in herself.
  • One Piece had Sir Crocodile leaving the crew locked in a room slowly filling with water and, well, crocodiles in the Alabasta Arc. Also, after the young mermaid Caimie was kidnapped in the Sabaody Archipelago arc, a noble intended to buy her to see how long she could outswim his school of deadly piranhas.
  • Pokémon Adventures: Aqua Admin Matt, feeling as if Locked in a Room and his handmade Drowning Pit variant weren't lethal enough, calls out his Sharpedo to turn it into a makeshift Shark Pool. Ironically, attempting to execute a Nature Heroine in this fashion wound up taking a bite out of his own fisherman's basket instead — she got a hold of the Sharpedo's broken-off teeth and used them to break a window and drain the water out.
  • Rando hangs Yusuke over a pond of piranha-like fishes in YuYu Hakusho.

    Comic Books 
  • Alan Ford:
    • In Save us please, thank you, Napoleon note  has a shark pool under his room on his ship, which he threatens to feed the group to and to which accidentally feeds a traitorous servant (he only wanted to scare him into confessing)
    • A girl called Brenda has the villain owning a swimming pool in which he can introduce piranhas to dispose of incompetent lackeys. He karmically ends up eaten by them.
    • In All-Included OK Trips, Shirley ultimately feeds the man and woman responsible for the horribly stingy holiday hotels to sharks.
    • In Horror in Hollywood, Strabalda tries to dispose of her brothers by tricking him into entering a random pond which just happens to house an alligator who can't believe his luck.
  • Happens regularly throughout various incarnations of Batman, where he utilizes his grappling hook at the last second.
    • Although the Shark Repellent Bat-Spray probably deserves a special mention.
    • And it was on a rack labeled "Oceanic Repellent Bat-Sprays" and there were three other varieties for different animals around it.
    • In The Joker's Five-Way Revenge (a notable comics story marking the return of the psychotic murderous version of the character), the Joker threatens an old henchman (who he suspects of having betrayed him) with this... unless Batman volunteers to take his place. Naturally, Batman accepts. Naturally, the Joker reneges and dumps them both in the pool. Naturally, Batman beats the trap, rescues the hostage, and collars the Joker.
    • In one issue of Batman: Streets of Gotham, The Carpenter (a criminal who specializes in building/fixing evil villain lairs) lampshades the prevalence of this trope while building some commissioned death-traps. However she decides not to fill the pit with alligators as planned, instead she uses electric eels.
  • In one Daredevil story arc, the hero ends up in an old mansion converted into a gigantic house of DEATH. At one point, he gets thrown into a tube and ends up in a pool... which, due to lack of maintenance, featured a half empty base, and a suffocating shark. Subversion!
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In one of the Italian stories Donald wins a holiday vacation but is mistaken by an international thief for one of her rivals because he keeps throwing his name around (which just so happens to also be the name of a lemonade brand that Donald likes), who threatens to throw him into a pool filled with sharks.
  • In the EC Comics story "Piecemeal" (Shock SuspenStories #8), a wealthy naturalist with a large collection of rare fish is murdered in typical EC fashion by his buxom wife who falls in love with his younger brother. The latter two then go out for their usual midnight swim, only to encounter in the pool the naturalist's latest acquisition: a shark.
  • In the comic Górsky & Butch, the Mad Scientist Dr. Fishstein/Fishmeyer/Fisherking has this as his preferred method of doing evil. Being completely incompetent, he keeps forgetting about water....
  • Parodied by Nightwing in Gotham City Garage. He, Supergirl an Catwoman sneak into an secret underground facility protected with death traps and Dick wonders if they'll run into the mandatory lava pit or shark pool.
    Nightwing: Laser hallway. How cliché. What's next, the floor is lava? A room filled with sharks?
  • One The Punisher story has him fight a druglord who keeps a shark in a huge aquarium in his office. Naturally, the glass is broken during the firefight and the druglord gets eaten.
  • Robin (1993): During the Zero Hour tie-in, where a time-displaced Pre-Crisis Dick Grayson teams up with Tim Drake, the criminal they're chasing leads them to the aquarium and shoots out the huge tanks holding the sharks turning the room the Robins are in into a shark pool. Both Robins are able to escape to the elevated catwalks above the tanks.
  • Played with in Sillage by Ehmte-Ciss-Ronn. His race is naturally aquatic and his shark-equivalents smart enough to recognize him as their master. So instead of activating a trap door, the panic button under his desk instantly floods the whole office.
  • Wanted has alternate universe Batman and Robin captured by Mr. Rictus, suspended over a tank with a man-eating robotic octopus. Because they can't remember that they are superheroes, they die horribly.
  • One issue of her solo series has X-23 dive into one to save Gambit.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc V: Pendulum's Fifth Swing: Malik Ishtar kidnaps Shouzo and calls the heroes to find him in the local aquarium. When they arrive, they find that the kidnaper has set a suspended bridge above a shark tank which cannot support everyone's weight, this forcing Zarc to confront him alone (and preventing a physical fight). The shark tank goes through The Worf Effect in part 2 when the Winged Dragon of Ra evaporates the water, turns the sharks to charcoal and melts the glass within seconds.

    Films — Animation 
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven has Carface owning a tank full of piranhas. He uses them to torture his lackey Killer into explaining how Charlie got Anne-Marie free.
  • In Despicable Me, Vector's living room sits on top of a shark tank — with a transparent floor.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove a pull on the wrong lever drops characters into a crocodile pit. Even the lever's creator questions the wisdom of this setup.
  • Megamind has an alligator pool.
    Megamind: Predictable? Predictable? Oh, you call this predictable?
    Roxanne: Your alligators, yeah, mm-hmm. I was thinking about it on the way over.
  • The Rescuers Down Under has Crocodile Falls, a river named for both featuring a waterfall shaped like a crocodiles head and being infested with crocodiles. McLeach tries to kill Cody by feeding him to the crocodiles, but is thwarted just in time. He's not so lucky.
  • In the 1986 The Transformers: The Movie, anyone the Quintessons find "innocent" is dropped into a tank filled with Sharkticons. According to supplementary material the Quintessons would also drop people they found guilty into the tank of Sharkticons. Apparently, they are just Jerkasses like that.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 1994 Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns, the so-called 'Tiger Killer' disposes of their second victim by dumping them in the piranha tank at the aquarium.
  • Subverted in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, when Ace stumbles into a literal Shark Pool that turns out to actually vindicate the man he is investigating, who was shaping up before that to be a classic arch-villain. (Ace thought it contained the stolen Miami Dolphins mascot.)
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Dr. Evil wanted a pool full of sharks (with laser beams attached to their heads), but had to settle for ill-tempered mutated seabass. In the third movie, Dr. Evil did get sharks with Frickin' Laser Beams attached to their heads as a gift from his newly evil son Scott.
  • Colombiana. A ponzi embezzler has a covered pool in his Big Fancy House, which he delights in telling his Paid Harem is full of sharks that will attack at a single drop of blood. Cue the hitwoman protagonist infiltrating by swimming through the pool, unmolested by the sharks as she's not bleeding. She then kills his bodyguards, lures the mark out onto the pool covers, Knee-capping him so he falls through an open cover. Now that there's blood in the water, the sharks attack him in a frenzy. Cue headlines: SHARKS EAT SHARK.
  • Cleverly inverted in Deep Blue Sea: the shark tank in question was built by the protagonists and most of the movie consists of the sharks breaking into the non-tank parts of an aquatic research base, which itself is a converted submarine pen.
  • In the 1936 Flash Gordon film serial, while in the underwater city, Flash is locked in a tank to fight a shark.
  • James Bond villains are notorious for this.
    • In Thunderball, Largo tosses a mook who has failed him into a swimming pool. Not so bad, except it has a Trap Door that opens to let in a school of hungry sharks. Bond winds up in it too, but (no need for spoiler warning here:) Bond lives.
    • Ernst Stavro Blofeld pulls off his signature move in You Only Live Twice by dumping one of his underlings into a piranha tank.
    • Mr. Big/Kananga has a shark pool in his Elaborate Underground Base in Live and Let Die. And earlier in his Louisiana lair, Teehee strands Bond in a large pond full of crocodiles and/or alligators.
    • Karl Stromberg has a shark pit in his lair in The Spy Who Loved Me with push-button Trap Door access.
    • Hugo Drax drops Bond into a pool with a reticulated python in it in Moonraker.
    • Franz Sanchez feeds Bond's friend and collaborator Felix Leiter to a shark in a marine research facility in Licence to Kill. He survives, but is badly mutilated. Bond is certainly NOT pleased when he finds out.
    • Skyfall. While fighting one of the mooks at a Chinese Casino, Bond and the said mook fall into a pit filled with Komodo Dragons. Bond obviously makes it out ok, the henchmen ends up becoming dinner for the lizards.
    • Never Say Never Again. Fatima Blush turns the Caribbean into a giant version by sending electronically controlled sharks to attack Bond after placing a Tracking Device on him.
  • In Kick-Ass 2, the main villain has a shark tank as part of his personal supervillain lair. However, the shark does nothing but lay at the bottom of the pool, causing people to think it's dead. As it turns out, it's just hungry.
  • The opening scene of the French movie Le Magnifique: A spy is trapped in a phone booth, which is then lifted by an helicopter (!!) and dipped into the sea, where a squad of divers attach it to a shark's cage before opening the door. The scene is purposefully over-the-top as it's a parody of the whole James Bond/OSS 117 type of spy literature.
  • In Murders in the Zoo, Eric Gorman pushes his wife into the zoo's crocodile pond.
  • No Retreat, No Surrender 2 has another crocodile example, where Big Bad Colonel Yuri has a pool filled with crocodiles for disposing prisoners. His Character Establishing Moment sees him crippling a prisoner and flinging said prisoner into the crocodile pit, and later dangles two of the heroes, Sulin and Terri, above said pit. Yuri's Karmic Death sees him getting flung into the same pool alongside an exploding jeep.
  • In The Phantom, the Sengh Brotherhood has a Shark Pool in their Elaborate Underground Base. This is one of the parts of the film lifted directly from the very first Phantom story, published way back in 1936, so the trope is at least that old.
  • In Shark Night, Sheriff Sabin tries to lower Nick into one of these. Nick sets him on fire and he falls in instead. The fire gets put out, but he's devoured by a sand shark.
  • In Shark Week, Tiburon makes his captives progress through a series of shark pools, each containing a different type of shark.
  • One villain in Speed Racer keeps a tank of piranhas in his truck which he uses to threaten Taejo.
  • Star Wars: The garbage pit in A New Hope is a combination of this and The Walls Are Closing In.
  • In the Stormbreaker movie, Alex Rider is dropped in a tank with a giant Portugese Man o'War. That was in the book, too.
  • Kim Jong-il has one in Team America: World Police, which he drops Hans Blix into. With live dogfish playing the sharks.
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The Seaview has a shark tank inside the giant submarine for research purposes. Despite this non-threatening purpose, inevitably someone ends up falling into it during the climax, with fatal result.

  • In the Alex Rider novel Stormbreaker, Nadia Vole tries to kill Alex by dumping him in the giant fish tank where her boss' pet Portuguese man-o'-war lives.
  • Animorphs
    • In The Illusion, a scientist is dropped into a pit of Taxxons — giant, eternally-hungry, alien centipedes which eat everything they can get their mouths around.
    • There's a more literal narrow aversion in The Escape. Marco is halfway to shark morph in the school swimming pool and really wanting to rip into some boys who are bullying him. It's only Jake talking to him that convinces him to reverse the morph and let it go.
  • The second book of the Caretaker trilogy, Whirlwind has a particularly nasty version: a candiru pool. The Big Bad actually breeds the things just so he can have this nifty pool to threaten people with. People thrown in take many days to die, during which time they are in agony. Some even try to drown themselves in order to avoid this, but "the body's impulse to stay alive is remarkably strong, even with the certain knowledge that one would be far better off dead."
  • At the end of the Dan Brown book Deception Point, one of the heroes threatens the villain by holding a wounded assassin over a large group of frenzied sharks.
  • Discworld
    • In The Last Hero, Evil Overlord wannabe Evil Harry Dread is cheated and gets dolphins instead of sharks for his pool.
    • Lord Vetinari is said to have a Scorpion Pit. Various characters have mentioned it, but we've never actually seen it. In Guards! Guards!, Vetinari himself is thrown into a dungeon and reveals that his predecessor was a little too gung ho with this trope, and had used scorpions, snakes, and rats. Vetinari actually befriended and advised the rats, so now they were the only ones left (and quite loyal to him). Whether or not this is the same place as the aformentioned Scorpion Pit is unknown.
    • Paul Kidby did an illustration of the scorpion pit for The Art of Discworld. In it is a mime. Hung upside down. Opposite an (unseen) plaque saying "LEARN THE WORDS". Do not try to do mime in Ankh-Morpork.
  • Elminster in Myth Drannor features fish-feeding, but with separate mincing (elves are tidy):
    Symrustar had over a thousand finned and scaled pets here. From the crowning bowl where she now scattered morsels of the secret food she mixed herself (Amaranthae had heard it said that its chief ingredients were the ground flesh, blood, and bones of unsuccessful suitors)... (after next page there is little doubt).
  • Gentleman Bastard
    • In The Lies of Locke Lamora, crime boss Capa Barsavi has an enclosed pool beneath his ship-based headquarters, in which he always keeps "something nasty" for when he drops victims into it.
    • The city of Camorr also uses a variant as part of its justice system. At the Shifting Market, prisoners condemned for crimes such as rape and murder are granted a reprieve if they can fight off an angry devil fish (which is apparently like a really pissed off octopus) with naught but a tiny dagger. Few people, if any, succeed at this task.
  • James Bond
    • The original Bond books do this too. In the original Dr. No, Bond was dropped into a pool with a Giant Squid.
    • Leiter is mutilated in Live and Let Die; they stole the scene for Licence to Kill, which wasn't written by the creator of Bond.
  • In The Night Mayor the protagonists are trapped in a virtual reality realm built of old movie tropes. At one point, they're captured by an evil cult who throw the male lead into a pool of alligators.
  • Seneca's idea (see below) is recycled by Robert Harris in the novel Pompeii, where the main villain does this to a slave who kills a tank of rare expensive fish. In front of the slave's old mother.
  • Matthew Reilly loves this trope. It all started when the Big Bad noticed killer whales hanging around in the dive pool, and got re-used with caimans, Komodo dragons and sharks in his next books.
  • In The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School, several of the students are the daughters of mad scientists or criminal masterminds; one mentions knowing a man named "Singapore Charlie" whose business is providing such people with deadly animals for their alligator pits and other death traps.
  • The "slow death caused by being lowered into a pond full of killer fish" idea is Older Than Feudalism. Seneca wrote about a wealthy Roman in the time of Augustus, Vedius Pollio, who was really pissed off at one of his slaves for breaking a glass when the emperor was visiting. So he decided to have the slave thrown into a pool full of famished moray eels, because that way it'd take longer for him to die. Good times! Thankfully, the story ends with the slave being spared because the emperor finds the idea barbaric.
  • In the SPQR novel The Tribune's Curse, after the eponymous tribune disappears, a horribly mutilated body answering to his description is found. After expert analysis shows that the body was mauled by a crocodile, Decius investigates the Egyptian embassy, which has an infamous crocodile pool, finding both the crocodile and the still living tribune who had faked his own death in order to avoid punishment for practicing forbidden magic.
  • Spy School: Erica learned to swim in one blindfolded (although she had to use grouper instead of actual sharks).
  • Swellhead. Seeing how the Elaborate Underground Base looks like a classic Supervillain Lair, The Ditz asks where the alligator pit is. Someone presses a button on the Cool Chair and the hero and his sidekick nearly fall into a trapdoor from which there's a bad smell and the sound of something thrashing about. Two people fall in there for real later on, but not our hero thanks to his Levitating Lotus Position.
  • A particularly chilling example of this trope occurs in the autobiography When Rabbit Howls written by the multiple personalities of a woman. As a punishment her sadistic stepfather lowers her into a well infested with snakes. The trauma of this single event finally pushes her over the edge and she begins to split off her personalities to deal with her abuse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Batman (1966) episode "The Spell of Tut", King Tut uses a Crocodile Pool as a Death Trap for Robin.
  • CSI has a plot where a killer put a shark in a casino swimming pool, resulting in it eating someone (thus making it a double duty trope with Animal Assassin).
  • Harrow: During a confrontation with the murderer and her mook in "Aegri Somnia" ("Hallucinations"), Harrow and the thug fall into the aquarium's shark tank during the struggle.
  • The antagonist of The Outer Limits (1995) episode "The Camp" kept a giant squid-like monster in a tank and used it as a means of executing prisoners. On occasion, a tentacle would be broken off and used as food.
  • A Saturday Night Live James Bond movie parody has archvillain Christopher Walken taking Bond (played by Phil Hartman) through his lair, still under construction due to contractors being behind schedule. Walken shows Bond architectural renderings of what he would do, including dropping him into a shark tank.
  • In The Vampire Diaries the moonstone is placed in a well filled with vervain, making it an Acid Pool to vampires. It also contains snakes, though possibly only by coincidence.
  • One sketch in the BBC series The Wrong Door has an evil genius discussing this with a workman fixing his Trap Door. The workman points out that piranhas aren't that deadly, being omnivores, and pointing out that his last victim is still alive. He then recommend polar bears to be the optimum creatures for a killing pool.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The story of Thecla in the Biblical Apocrypha involves a pool of sharks. Thecla, who learned the value of celibacy from the Apostle Paul, was sentenced to death for the effects her preaching was having on other women. Miraculously, she survived. The lions in the arena refused to harm her, and she threw herself into a pool with live sharks in it, baptizing herself. The sharks, it is said, died the moment she entered the water.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The add-on Dungeonscape features an acidborn template... making... wait for it... SHARKS IN ACID. Which is the most awesome idea ever.
    • The template can also be adapted to produce "lavaborn" creatures. Guess where they swim around.
    • Dragonlance module DL12 Dragons of Faith. One of the traps in a maze is a Trap Door leading to a pool filled with sharks.
  • The Sultai Brood of Magic: The Gathering's Khans of Tarkir setting use crocodile pits. In particular, "got a diving lesson" is a Deadly Euphemism that refers to execution in this manner.
  • Gaedren Lamm, the Starter Villain of Pathfinder's Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure path, dunks any of his child pickpockets who have outlived their usefulness into a pool with his bad-tempered, mistreated pet alligator. The fight with him is deliberately designed to maximize the chance that his attempts to escape the vengeful player characters result in him falling into the water and getting eaten himself.

    Video Games 
  • Onwards from the second chapter of Blood expect any sizeable body of water to be littered with Gill Beasts - nasty amphibious creatures with More Teeth than the Osmond Family which swim really fast, their bites take a good chunk of your health and their constant roars send shivers down your spine. Yikes!
    • Pools filled with Bone Leeches are very common in the second game. And 90% of the times, the game REQUIRES you to swim through it.
  • Dwarf Fortress
    • It is possible to create something much worse in Dwarf Fortress — the Carp Pool!
    • There's also a croc pool. Alligators are 15 times bigger and proportionally meaner. And when they finally bite it, there are much more valuable bones and good leather. Tamed crocs outperform turkey in churning out tons of edible eggs... while sitting in their pool and biting in half any goblin who happened to drop in. Or be chained on the ground like guard dogs, since they're amphibious. Thus, it's possible to have a goblin dodge two guard crocs only to stumble off the road into croc pit with a handful of their brothers and sisters.
    • Or you could just use one of the many species of shark.
  • Both the first and second Evil Genius games include these as a booby trap that can be placed in the lair.
  • In Guild Wars 2, the final fight in this Vexa's Lab mini-dungeon occurs over a pool of sharks. The boss regularly shatters portions of the floor and has a number of push/pull skills, causing hapless players to fall in.
  • One mission in Hitman: Blood Money features one target who performs onstage above a shark tank. The pyros can be rigged to set her on fire, forcing her to dive into the tank, where she is promptly eaten.
  • Mechanical shark tanks are an uncommon hazard for motorcycle stuntman Joe Danger.
  • The Facebook MMORPG Mob Wars had a weekly limited heist that was offered from the 8th to the 13th of Feb '11 which involved "smuggling a man-eating shark into their private pool".
  • In Monster Hunter 3 (Tri), there is a mission which consists of killing 30 Sharqs in a water filled arena, completely without any armor. Fortunately, the sharqs are one of the weakest waterborne creatures. Unfortunately, they are not the only monsters swimming in the arena.
  • Exaggerated in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, where every single body of water, from the shoreline of Keelhaul Key to the docks of Rogueport to an innocuous, luxurious water fountain in Poshley Heights, has piranhas waiting to bite at Mario should he fall in.
  • Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights: Toward the end of the game, Shaggy is found hanging over a tank of water with a shark in it. Scooby has to jump over the top of the tank, grab Shaggy's legs, and swing his way over to two buttons. The first button somehow causes the shark to vanish, while the second button drains the water so Shaggy won't drown.

    Web Animation 
  • How It Should Have Ended: In the fifth Villain Pub short, "The Boss Battle", a captured Batman is suspended above a shark pool where Jaws is waiting to devour him. With enforced Bond Villain Stupidity, of course.
    Palpatine: No shark repellent for you this time, Batman! We looks forward to watching your demise. [beat, music dies down] But it's too bad we won't be able to see it.
    [other villains protests]
    Palpatine: As standard villain practices go, we must now conveniently leave the room and assumes that the killing device achieves its purpose. That and because it's also closing time. And I'm ready to go home.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in The Maker's Ark, when a pool of laser sharks was rescued from a villain — and picked up by an entrepreneurial hero, who turned them into a tourist attraction, complete with merchandise and even an animated TV series.
    Plutocrat had laser sharks that made money.
  • The fictional movie trailer Shark Pool, naturally enough, features one of these. However, it's a swimming pool, and the only thing making people go into it is abject stupidity, despite the fact the Only Sane Man keeps telling them not to.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series
    • The Joker does this in the episode "The Laughing Fish", in a scene adapted directly from the example under "Comic Books".
    • "Mad Love" does this with piranhas. The Joker had concocted it as one of his many potential ways of eliminating Batman, but gave up on it because there was no way to make it funny. He had wanted to call it the "Death of a Thousand Smiles", but piranhas are incapable of smiling, even when given Joker-Venom. Harley Quinn tried to implement the plan herself to impress him, reasoning that the frowns would look like smiles if you lowered Batman into the tank upside-down. Joker was furious, however, because she had to explain the joke.
    • In "The Underdwellers", the Sewer King tries to throw Batman into a pool of Sewer Gators, but falls in himself. However, the Sewer King laughs and explains that his alligators are 100% loyal and would never harm him.
  • Batman Beyond
    • In the episode "Unmasked", a member of Kobra who let the plan slip is tossed into a pit of snakes. He doesn't get a last-second reprieve, either.
    • In the episode "Out of the Past", two mooks try to throw Terry into an alligator pool, but he breaks free and throws one of them in instead. To his credit, the mook fights off the alligators with his machete and escapes.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: In "The Mask of Matches Malone!", 'Matches' (actually an amnesiac Batman) attempts to lower the Birds of Prey into a shark tank.
  • DuckTales (2017): Glomgold, of course, has a shark pool. Scrooge, who is no stranger to all manner of bizarre death traps, still takes a moment to comment on it.
    Scrooge: Where would the sharks come from?
    Glomgold: I've got a great shark guy!
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has Jackie and Tohru suspended over one.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Lucius has a Trap Door that drops into a pit of...eel things in his office.
  • Kim Possible used several variants of this:
    • Dr. Drakken used the standard shark version in his first episode.
    • Falsetto Jones, the lead villain of "Rufus in Show", had a tank of electric eels.
    • In his first appearance, Señor Senior Sr. threatened Kim with ravenous koi because "the piranha have not yet arrived." (this was less than a week after he had started his supervillainous career)
    • Cheapskate villain Frugal Lucre once threatened Kim and Ron with a kiddie pool full of baby snapping turtles in "Low Budget".
    • Dr. Drakken goes over-the-top in "Hidden Talent" by dropping a chained-up Kim in a locked safe into a bottomless very very deep chasm filled with water, covered in six feet of ice, and containing a shark and man-eating squid. She escapes thanks to a few Contrived Coincidences.
    • Señor Senior Sr. also had a shallow pool with crocodiles.
    • Professor Dementor had an almost generic shark pool, filled with lava!
    • In "Bad Boy" Evil!Ron had a piranha pool prepared in order to scare Shego into complete obedience. It worked.
  • Several Looney Tunes show alligator-filled versions.
    • The final Wolf and Sheepdog cartoon has Ralph Wolf rigging up a can't-miss deathtrap for Sam Sheepdog, with an armory of weapons at point-blank range, the bluff he's on undercut and rigged to break off over a big tank full of hungry crocodiles — just as he's throwing the master switch, the 5:00 whistle blows. He rolls his eyes and sighs "Pshaw!" and companionably heads home with Sam.
      Sam: Better luck next time, Ralph.
      Ralph: Oh, sure! You can't win 'em all, Sam. Nice day, huh?
      Sam: Yep. Good to be alive, Ralph.
    • In "Honey's Money", Yosemite Sam tries to kill his overgrown stepson Wentworth by putting alligators in the swimming pool. Unfortunately for him, Wentworth makes such a big splash that it sends all the alligators on top of Sam.
    • During “Stork Naked”, Daffy sets up a group of alligators in his basement as part of his plan to get rid of The Drunk Stork. Daffy inevitably falls victim to it instead.
    • Big Bad Limey Louie drops Daffy into the basement of his tavern in "China Jones", and it's filled with alligators. The scene notably has some Recycled Animation from “Stork Naked”.
    • Bugs Bunny in "Half-Fare Hare" is chased around a moving freight train by a pair of hungry hobos looking to make a meal of him. Improbably, one of the cars is carrying alligators and has an open top.....
  • Megas XLR has Kiva and Jamie being suspended over a quantum singularity. Because it's funnier.
  • Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb has done this to Perry the Platypus a few times, such as in "The Ballad of Badbeard" with a pair of alligators.
  • In Teen Titans, the villain Control Freak sics a mechanical shark named Glenn on Aqualad, because he's Genre Savvy enough to know the hero could command a real one.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: Captain Johnny has one on board his ship in "Liar, Liar, You For Hire?". However, the shark is really cardboard.
  • The New Adventures of Superman episode "Luthor's Loco Looking Glass". Lex Luthor puts Jimmy Olson in a Death Trap involving a sliding floor over a pool of sharks.
  • A frequent occurrence in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, and several variants of this were used, from alligators to man-eating plants.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water features Bloth's Constrictus, a nasty alien creature that lives in a watery pit in his deck, and that he uses to dispose of enemies and stupid crewmen. Quoth the first episode:
    Niddler: I want to be fed!
    Bloth: Niddler, when have I ever lied to you? I'll feed you — to the Constrictus!
  • The Powerpuff Girls had HIM invent the "vat of boiling sharks" trick as part of a Knights and Knaves setup. HIM being a Reality Warper, HIM could do that in the middle of a test of logic puzzles and get away with it.
  • One episode of The Simpsons, "Bart The Daredevil", had daredevil Lance Murdock intentionally invoke this by agreeing to jump over a tank filled with man eating great white sharks, ravenous piranha, bone-crushing alligators, and the most frightening of all, a ferocious lion (the lion is actually added into the pool with the other aquatic predators). Lance makes the jump, but then falls off the rim into the tank. Luckily, he manages to survive. Naturally, it was the lion that nearly killed him.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: Lex Luthor keeps a shark tank next to his office. Not for disposing of minions (and certainly not for Superman - he's smarter than that); he just likes the decor. In "Prototype," Sergeant Mills breaks the glass and tries to feed him to the shark.
  • From The Tick:
    Chairface Chippendale: Unfortunately, the three of you aren't going to be around to witness my historic crime, because I'm going to feed you to my pit of ferocious man-eating alligators!
    Arthur: What?... What? [aside, to The Tick] What?!
    The Tick: [ahem] Standard villain procedure.
  • The Venture Bros.: In the episode "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean", the Monarch has the main characters tied up and prepared to drop them all into a river infested with candiru fish. Venture mocks him, claiming the candiru's ability to swim up a man's urethra is an urban legend, too bad he's wrong. (You may now cringe if you're a guy.) He has also used an actual pool of sharks to aid in the execution of a purportedly disloyal henchman. Although the sharks didn't touch him, because he'd already replaced the guy's blood with acid.
  • Snap Trap from T.U.F.F. Puppy has a shark tank as his favored methiod of tormenting Larry. He also ties Kitty and Dudley up and prepares to dip them into it as a Death Trap, but presses the wrong button and gets a Lava Pit instead. He decides to go with it anyway.
  • "Truman X: Super villain", an episode of The X's, has Glowface trying to sink the family into an acid pool full of robot sharks.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks has the four ensigns brought as captives while their superiors are on trial for unspecified reasons. They're suspended above the "Tank of Contempt", which is filled with eels. The eels end up dead when the burners are activated to boil the ensigns if necessary (which begs the question of why the eels were even there).

    Real Life 
  • The Golden Nugget Casino Hotel in Las Vegas has a shark tank next to the swimming pool. It even has a transparent water slide that goes through the tank. The Atlantis Resort and Casino in Nassau has a similarly arranged shark tank, pool and water slide.
  • The Georgia Aquarium has a shark pool with four-foot long Bonnet Head Sharks — that visitors are encouraged to touch. (They're fairly even-tempered sharks.)
  • Most aquariums have tanks full of aquatic predators.
  • The Carbrook golf club in Australia became famous for having live bull sharks in a water hazard. Unlike other examples on this list, however, the sharks were not placed in there by humans and no one really knows where they came from. A popular theory is that some sharks were swept into the lake during a flood, then trapped there when the floodwaters receded. Then they reproduced.
  • Golf courses in Florida regularly have to call Animal Control to remove alligators from their water hazards and avert this trope.
  • Vedius Pollio, an ancient Roman equestrian, once executed a slave by having him thrown into a pool of lampreys: primitive jawless fish with mouths full of rasping teeth that use their tooth-covered tongues to rasp away a victims skin in order to drink its blood. This is the only time in recorded history that someone has confirmed to have been killed by lamprey attack, and only then because Vedius Pollio's guards kept the slave from climbing out of the pool.
  • The orca tanks at SeaWorld and similar marine parks. Orcas in captivity are far more aggressive than they are in the wild, and have been known to seriously injure and even kill both their trainers and anybody unlucky enough to get caught in the tank. The death of trainer Dawn Brancheau at the hands of an orca at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010 led to the documentary Blackfish about the tribulations of captive orcas, which in turn led SeaWorld to start phasing out their famous Shamu shows due to both animal and human welfare concerns.


Video Example(s):


Blofeld kills Helga

Blofeld sends Helga Brandt to her doom for her failure to kill Bond by opening a trap that tumbles her down the piranha pool.

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / PiranhaProblem

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