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Soft Water

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"Chief, you don't have to worry about sharks if our plane crashes at sea; because you think water's soft, since you can swim in it, or drink it, or take a bath in it. But it's funny: when you hit that water from WAY UP THERE... ssssa-MACK! It's just like hittin' concrete!"
Pruitt, CPO Sharkey

Soft Water comes into play when a fall from any height at all can be rendered harmless or merely incapacitating if, at the end of the fall, the character meets a body of deep water (and sometimes, not even all that deep).

In the real world, falls into water from even moderate heights can be injurious if not done correctly, as anyone who's belly-flopped or back-smackered off a diving board can attest to. Even if done correctly, if the water isn't deep enough, one can still reach the bottom while traveling at unsafe speeds and injure themselves on the bottom (which is why relatively shallow public pools generally have "no diving" signs). And falls from a sufficient height into water will be fatal regardless of how you manage the impact.

But in TV-world, after a moment or two of dramatic silence (and perhaps tears of shock and mourning from onlookers), the hero or heroine will emerge from the lake/ocean/pool none the worse for the wear, except being a bit wet. Which can be kinda cool.

Falls into water from high cliffs are a great way for writers to provide a Disney Villain Death for a character (or a relatively blood-free Karmic Death in the case of villains) while at the same time leaving open a possible future return because everybody's absolutely certain that No One Could Survive That! and they probably never find a body. Of course, this all depends on the falling character not having Super Drowning Skills.

This trope has resulted in a rather interesting side effect. Either believing this trope to be true (or being aware that a majority of the audience believes it to be true) writers know that they can't present a simple long drop into water as a threat, because the audience will assume it's survivable. Usually, in order to show that a potential fall into water would be dangerous, they'll show the water as turbulent with jagged rocks. Because that's somehow more fatal. Ironically, violently choppy water is actually safer to fall into due to lacking surface tension. The rocks'll still hurt, though, because, y'know, rocks.

Does not mean soft water with a chemical content conducive to washing up; water is tough stuff to land on no matter what its chemical composition. Also no relation to Wacky Waterbed since waterbeds, despite being filled with water, would rupture if one were to fall from a great height and would still lead to injuries.

For detailed explanations about why this trope doesn't apply in Real Life, see the Analysis page.

See also Not the Fall That Kills You…, Hollywood Density, Variable Terminal Velocity.


    open/close all folders 

  • A commercial by Fleggaard shows nearly-naked female skydivers, one of which fails to open her parachute and lands in a pool from a height of several hundred meters. She climbs out completely unscathed and her biggest problem is that she is now completely naked among several visitors of a nearby party.
  • In a Priceline commercial, William Shatner scales the outside of a hotel and cuts into the window of the room where a guy who "always gets what he wants" is just coming into the room with his daughter. Shatner yanks to guy out the window and he falls about 3 or 4 seconds before splashing down in the hotel pool. Just as the commercial ends, the guy surfaces gasping.
    Shatner: He seemed nice.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ouran High School Host Club:
    • In the final episode Tamaki and Haruhi take a tumble off a bridge — from a moving car and a moving horse-drawn carriage, respectively — into deep water. They come out of this completely unharmed, and not even emotionally shaken.
    • In another, earlier episode, Haruhi is pushed off of a cliff, into the water. Now, it looks like this trope will not be in effect, as Haruhi is noticeably unconscious and appears to be drowning. So what does Tamaki do? He jumps in after her, in a diving position, hits the water, grabs Haruhi, and pulls them both out of the water, more or less completely safe.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Fate's last battle against the title character ended with her unconscious form falling from a great height into the sea without any (additional) injury. Of course, later seasons have shown that a mage's Barrier Jacket allows them to get smashed through several floors worth of building and perform hard drops from helicopters, so that ended up looking pretty tame in comparison.
  • The title protagonists from Michiko & Hatchin fall into the sea from a balloon that is flying at a considerable height. They get wet.
  • Played straight in Black Cat, where Train jumps from a skyscraper into a lake below, but first shoots the water to break the water and make it appropriately soft.
  • Used in Sonic X, where Sonic makes an incredibly large leap... only to start falling — and then land in a pool! Subverted in the next moment though, because this being Sonic, he sinks to the bottom and has to be fished out.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Near the beginning, Ranma takes his fight with Kunô outdoors — by jumping out the third-floor window. Even though there's a pool below, Kunô is horrified; Ranma panics only because the water will trigger his change and possibly reveal it to the school at large. True enough: when they hit, Ranma is perfectly fine and tries to swim away. Kunô, however, is knocked out, and only wakes up while she is dragging him to safety.
    • And near the end, Ranma has to dive over a cliff after his mother, saving her from falling into the raging waters below. Since they all fall into the water a few scenes later, from a much lower height, it's made clear that the danger didn't come from the rocks at the foot of the cliff, but from hitting the water from the top of the cliff.
    • The anime version is somewhat inconsistent: the example with Kunô mentioned above merely stuns him for a few moments, and he grapples with Ranma while still in the pool. Also, in the first movie, after being tossed overboard from Kirin's flying boat, several hundred feet in the air, the whole cast (sans Ranma, Lychee, Happôsai, and the elephant Jasmine) splashes harmlessly into the water below.
    • Averted in the Cursed Doll storyline: a possessed Akane pulls Ranma down with her off a cliff overlooking the water; Ranma immediately pushes her around so he hits the water first, shielding her from a direct impact. It's this action that convinces the doll's spirit that she had wrongfully blamed Ranma, and peacefully changes places with the real Akane again.
  • In the Angel Blade: Punish! OAV 2, Highly Visible Hottie Ninja Ayame jumps from a diving board on a 99-meter-tall tower. Naturally, she dives in the pool unharmed... except that she loses her two-piece bathing suit in the water, to the great delight of the men around. Why a 99-meter-tall diving tower was built in the first place isn't addressed.
  • Future Boy Conan: When Conan falls off of the hydroplane 80 or so feet in the air, one of the bad guys thinks that Conan died in the fall, but it is revealed that he did not die or get hurt.
  • MÄR:
    • Ginta is standing on a pillar to confront Alviss, landing in the pool created by a waterfall. He has enough momentum that he injures himself on the pool's bottom and complains as he climbs out.
    • In an example that crosses over between this and Giant Robot Hands Save Lives, Snow saves herself from a fall which the watching characters clearly expect her to go splat from, she saves herself by calling on her giant snowman and landing safely in its hand.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, a cornered Seto Kaiba jumps out a window of a house on a large cliff with a body of water at the bottom. Filled with jagged rocks. He is later shown coming out of said body of water uninjured. And climbing up the cliff. With one hand. With the other hand lifting a very heavy briefcase.
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy and a contingent of pirates of mostly Devil Fruit users (who are thus incapable of swimming) free their ship from being stuck at the top of a giant-sized frozen solid tidal wave, by breaking their ship out. What they weren't aware of is that they would fall into an equally frozen warzone. Fortunately, they happen to land in a hole in the ice made when a giant-sized iceberg was torn out of the sea to be used as a projectile. All this landing on the water from a height of "so high it wasn't even in vision" did not hurt any of them in the slightest, aside from momentary unconsciousness from Super Drowning Skills. Luffy is at least justified — he's virtually immune to blunt impact — and a few of the other characters have similar excuses, but at least half of them should have died. On the other hand, most of them are still Made of Iron when not directly Made of Diamond. We're still talking about former Impel Down prisoners, who endured ghastly tortures for a long period of time.
    • Sadly averted earlier though, the hard landing from the group leaving Skypeia worsened the hull damage Belamy's crew caused to the Going Merry, this damage made it irreparably trashed, which led to them having to give it a burial at sea when it's no longer fit for sailing.
  • In the "Night Baron Virus" case from Case Closed, the title character sneaks into a hotel room to search for clues. When he gets near to the balcony, someone enters and pushes him off it. Did we mention that this room was several stores up the building? Conan is just waaaaay too "lucky" that said room was right above the hotel pool, where he lands without much injury. And it becomes a Chekhov's Gun since he deduces that the victim of the week was thrown from the same balcony, but under different circumstances — by the same person who almost killed him.
    • Averted in the backstory of the Detectives Koshien case, since Kana dies when she throws herself from a cliff and into the sea after being unfairly accused of theft and murder. She might have died from internal injuries caused by hitting the rocks, however.
  • Averted in Shin Tekken Chinmi. During a face-off in Kanan where border patrol repeatedly throws rocks at them, Chinmi and Puushin has to inevitably jump off the cliff when a giant rock is thrown by the very strong General Boru. Thanks to his quick wit, Chinmi manages to veer into the huge splash created by the rocks in order to slow them down before hitting the current below and feasibly survives.
  • In the Hetalia: Axis Powers movie Paint It White, everyone jumps out of the alien mothership (while it was in flight) and fall very, VERY far into the ocean below. Other than being knocked unconscious on impact, none of the characters show anything worse than minor scrapes and bruises when they reconvene on the island below. Possibly justified in that the countries are generally very difficult to hurt (like Britain having a missile sticking out of his head), but falling from above the cloud layer should not be survivable ever.
  • Parodied in Soul Eater: Kilik claims they can survive falling from the moon because they would land in the ocean. Jackie thinks otherwise.
  • Implied in Children Who Chase Lost Voices. Shun leaps off a bridge with Asuna in his arms, and they apparently land in the river hundreds of feet below (the landing isn't shown, but Shun doesn't seem to be able to fly). Shun has Super-Strength to protect him, but Asuna should have been smashed to bits; instead, she just passes out for a while. Similar incidents happen a couple of times in Agartha, but these may be justified by the "water" being a magic substance which actually is less dense than regular water.
  • In the climax of the sixteenth Pokémon movie, Mewtwo and the Red Genesect are saved from a fall by a floating body of water. Said fall was at terminal velocity. Said fall also started from outer space.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou gets pushed out of an airplane. His parachute malfunctions and he lands in a river. He almost drowns before Itsuwa rescues him.
  • In the Infinity Arc of Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal, Ami throws herself out a window and into the pool below. Let's point out the fact that she threw herself out a window at Mugen Academy, many stories up, and the only reason she survived is that, on the way down, she transformed into Sailor Mercury.

    Comic Books 
  • Played totally straight in an issue of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic. Buffy and Willow are facing a fall onto solid concrete from the top of a skyscraper. In order to avert their inevitable demise, Willow magically changes the sidewalk into water. They climb out with nothing more than wet clothes.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • Scrooge McDuck discovers his trademark ability to swim through cash like it was water when he's thrown off a cliff onto a moving train full of cash below. Naturally, he uses it as Soft Water to save his life. If it's paper-money then this is understandable — but not if it's coins, obviously.
    • In one comic, Scrooge McDuck actually defeats the Beagle Boys this way, right after the Boys have succeeded in legally stealing Scrooge's entire fortune. Scrooge asks them for one last "swim," which the Boys magnanimously grant, though with the suspicion that their victory has left Scrooge so despondent that he plans to break his neck on his lost fortune. On seeing Scrooge dive into a pile of metal coins and surface not only completely unharmed, but swimming and jumping in and out of the money like a dolphin, they decide it looks so fun that they try it themselves... only to knock themselves cold on the hard surface from a much shorter dive. Scrooge's confused nephews ask Scrooge how he manages to swim through money like he does, but Scrooge only reveals that "there's a trick to it." The Boys are left in a coma for months, during which time Scrooge undoes all the legal maneuvering they performed to steal the McDuck fortune.
  • Superman:
    • Supergirl (1982): Justified in issue #20. Villain Parasite seals Supergirl in a flying metal coffin. Supergirl manages to rip it open, but she finds herself being one mile high and being unable to fly. So she glides downwards with her cloak, knowing her indestructible costume will take the brunt of her impact in the lake.
    • The Earthwar Saga: Element Lad turns the atoms of one Raider ship into air, causing the crew inside to fall down, and then he transforms the land below into water. Despite falling hundreds of meters down, the Raiders merely get wet upon landing into the pool.
  • Dido: In this Norwegian comic, the eponymous hero dives into a lake from what looks like about 100 feet. The Bad Guy turns impatiently away declaring that no-one could have survived that fall, but moments later the kid emerges from the lake still in one piece with no explanation whatsoever and no complaints other than "Ouch, that really hurt!" And that was only the last in a row of unlikely escapes...
  • In an early issue of Firestorm (DC Comics), Firestorm transmutes the pavement into water to save Hyena from a fall of several dozen stories. She lands unharmed.
  • In Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman, Reid and his truck are hurtling through the air on their way to apparent death, but are saved by landing in a swimming pool.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert, of all things, features a variation on this. Elbonian air travel, which works by being shot out of giant slingshots at high speeds and sometimes intercontinental distances, doesn't kill or seriously injure the "passengers" because the entire country is covered in mud.

    Fan Works 
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Fight of Metal Gears, Jake Snake survives jumping out of his plane without his parachute opening by landing in water.
  • How to Survive in Middle Earth When You're a Teenaged Girl dumps her into water. When Priscilla falls down the well and enters another world, she splashes down somewhere in the setting of The Lord of the Rings. "From that height, I should have spontaneously flattened against the surface of the river, thin as a pancake, and then slowly disintegrated." She survived, but not without pain.
  • In the MMORPG Alfheim Online (ALO), Undine player characters have an affinity with water, so they don't drown, or take damage from falling into water (as long as it's deep enough that they don't hit the bottom). Other races, not so much.

    Films — Animation 
  • Pocahontas: The title character dives off what looks to be a 500-foot cliff into the lake below. To no ill effect whatsoever. And she's such a good diver she enters the water barely making a tiny splash.
  • In Pinocchio, the title character and his best friend escape from Pleasure Island by jumping of a gigantic cliff (though to be fair Pinocchio is at least a bit scared about doing so). They both survive. Made all the more bizarre by the fact that the best friend is a cricket — which ordinarily would drown quickly even entering from a mundane height.
  • In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Sa'Luk falls off a cliff into water at the end of his duel with Aladdin. However, unbeknownst to Aladdin and the Forty Thieves, Sa'Luk turns out to be Not Quite Dead as he emerged from the water unharmed.
  • The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible jumps off a high waterfall and lands safely below but hey, his superpower is being Made of Iron.
  • In Happy Feet, we see Mumble in free fall for at least two seconds after jumping off a cliff, ultimately hitting the water unharmed.
  • Judy and Nick of Zootopia at one point find themselves in freefall over water, and both survive. Judy's survival is possibly justified, as she manages to compose herself and pull into a proper diving stance. Nick, on the other hand, tumbles head over heels screaming the entire way down...
  • Zigzagged in Tarzan, kid Tarzan jumps from the top of a waterfall, falls many stories, and hits the water with a loud smack before his body sinks, after which Terk and her friends comment "That's gonna leave a mark". However, he than rises to the surface seemingly unharmed.
  • Exaggerated in Fun and Fancy Free, with Bongo diving two hundred feet onto a wet sponge.
  • Up: A bunch of the dogs fall into a gorge, but apparently all survive because they all managed to fall in the river.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Towards the end, Ralph and Vanellope plunge into a pool of chocolate from great height without taking any damage.
  • Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio: In Pinocchio's final confrontation with Count Volpe, both Volpe and Spazzatura fall off a cliff. Volpe lands on a rock just above the surface of the water and dies. Spazzatura falls into the water, at the exact same height that Volpe fell, and survives.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The A-Team, the team uses the main cannon of a plummeting tank to Recoil Boost it towards a lake, and then fires off all the ammo before impact to slow down as much as possible. Despite smashing into the water head-on at least highway speeds, it drives out of the lake with no damage.
  • Bad Boys (1995):
    • Julie escapes from the mooks chasing her by jumping from a rooftop, falling many stories and landing in a hotel swimming pool. She survives, and the mooks even lampshade this.
    • In the third film, Mike jumps off a helicopter ladder while chasing Armando and lands in the river below. Unsurprisingly, Armando knew he would survive the fall.
  • Batman & Robin. Freeze demolishes a wall by freezing its water pipes, (what, you expected them to follow other laws of physics?) only to reveal an absolutely massive drop to water. Freeze, Ivy, and Bane jump without any hesitation, only Freeze just commenting that he hopes Bane can swim.
  • The Bourne Series:
    • In The Bourne Identity, the eponymous protagonist himself is shot, falls off a boat and ends up injured further with his plot-driving amnesia.
    • In The Bourne Ultimatum, he jumps off a building into water and survives. Never mind that he gets shot (maybe, we never learn if he was hit) while in mid-jump. However, it could be one of the reasons it took him so long to move after hitting, the wound and avoiding surfacing to be spotted also viable arguments. Meaning that he was even able to take a deep breath of air before impact! Even James Bond would be amazed.
  • In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch and Sundance are trapped in a ravine with a river below. Butch tells Sundance that the only way they can escape is to jump. Sundance is reluctant because...
    Sundance: I can't swim!
    Butch: [laughs hysterically] Why, you crazy? The fall'll probably kill ya!
  • Subverted in Club Dread: Before jumping off a cliff into water, Juan tells the others to close their legs, or else they'll die from the fall. However, what he says will happen isn't exactly accurate.
  • The ultimate example is shown in Commando, where Matrix jumps from the landing gear of an airliner just after take-off— only to be saved by landing in about 18 inches of water (it even has reeds and cat-tails in it!). Even if the falling-distance itself wasn't far enough to be harmful, the velocity of the plane at take-off (250 knots, aka 287mph) would cause him to be moving faster than terminal velocity, being certainly fatal. Likewise, the lateral motion from the plane would cause him to skip like a stone across the surface of the water, causing a certain fatality. But in the movie, he just falls in as if he had stepped off of a 5-foot platform.
  • Used at the climax of Death Becomes Her — Ernest Menville falls off an enormous mansion, smashes through a stained-glass skylight, and lands in an indoor pool, with only a nasty-looking (but utterly unthreatening) cut on his arm and a wet tuxedo for it. Cheap but forgivable on its own, until one considers the entire movie has been focusing on ways in which a body can be horribly mangled and playing them for laughs. Unless the mansion was over 100 feet high, then this is easily do-able; and the skylight would actually slow his fall; glass can't cut you if you hit it sideways. Finally, the water could protect him from the falling glass, as long as he was under it when it hit.
  • Lampshaded and played straight in Face/Off where the main character is on a prison oil rig with information that if you should attempt to swim away, the fall with kill you. He jumps anyway, in shackles, and not only manages to survive the fall but somehow get back to the mainland without too much of a problem.
  • In Fast Five, Dom and Brian escape from an exploding train by driving off a bridge and even jump out of the car in mid-air as they fall 100 feet into water. They survive and are captured by the Big Bad, but since the characters are Made of Iron this shouldn't be surprising.
  • Final Destination 5: In the opening premonition, Oliva falls off of the collapsing bridge and lands in the water, relatively unharmed with no apparent sign of injury, until a car ends up falling off and crushing her. Granted, her plunge never ends up happening.
  • The Fugitive. "The guy did a Peter Pan right off this dam, right here!" The fall in question is a special case, however, as it's not straight down into a pool of water. Kimble drops into water that is flowing down the outside of the dam, which curves outwards. Provided he could hold his breath for long enough, and the initial contact was at a sufficiently shallow angle, he could have used the dam as a slide. Some may be familiar with the now-vanished funfair/amusement park rides that used the same principle, only with polished plywood rather than water down concrete.
  • In Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, the two title characters jump from the roof of a tall building into a swimming pool below without any injuries.
  • Happens in House, starring William Katt. In a scene where Katt is going down a rope into nothing but darkness, the rope is cut and Katt falls for several seconds, landing in water. He is not harmed by the landing.
  • In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Nick survives a fall of what must have been (at his vastly-reduced size) hundreds of feet into Wayne's cereal bowl. He emerges from the milk entirely unscathed and immediately begins attempting to swim away. This doesn't even take into consideration that the proportional surface density of the cold milk would have made this a far more solid landing for Nick.
  • Happens to Plenty O'Toole in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever.
    • And in Skyfall; the opening sequence features Bond being shot twice and knocked off a speeding train as it crosses a bridge, falling at least 100ft into water. They don't even bother to handwave how he survives, and he's officially declared dead. Though he does mention later that he broke four ribs and damaged "some of the less vital organs", and suffers lasting physical effects.
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) tries to justify this by having the heroes land on the (nearly vertical) water slide that slows down their speed, and then fall into deep water. That's probably more plausible than the tons of other scientific inaccuracies in the movie.
  • Done by Riggs in Lethal Weapon 2 when he falls out of a window and lands in a pool. To make matters worse, he gets mad at his partner for not following him out the window. Again, distance is important. 10 stories is plausible: 20 isn't.
  • In the film version of The Lord of the Rings:
    • Gandalf and the Balrog fall for a particularly long time but are saved simply by landing in an underground lake. But then again, one is an angel and the other is a semi-legendary monster from the First Age. In both the book and the movie, when Gandalf had been trapped on top of Orthanc, he did not escape by falling 500 feet onto land. In The Silmarillion, another Balrog "fell to ruin in the abyss" by slipping from a mountain passage. In this movie, Gandalf and Balrog fell miles to the water, but still were none the worse for wear when they hit bottom. Likewise, in The Hobbit the narrative stated that Gandalf's possible jump from a fir tree "would have been the end of him." Likewise, Tolkien wrote in his editor's notes that "Gandalf needed to survive the fall, so he only fell into a sort of moat located a short fall from the bridge." So it was Soft Water that saved Gandalf, not being Made of Iron.
    • Aragorn also survived a fall off a cliff with a Warg into the river. Aragorn fell only a relatively short distance — but was still knocked unconscious, and was severely weakened afterward; he was only rescued by a super-intelligent horse of Rohan. A bit of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Viggo Mortensen actually nearly drowned during the filming of one of those sequences and had to be resuscitated.
  • Used by the protagonist to escape arrest and pointed out by the antagonist in National Treasure:
    Ian: You all right, Ben? No broken bones? A jump like that could kill a man.
    Ben: No, it was cool. You should try it sometime.
    • Justified by the previous mention that Ben studied wreckage diving at the Naval Academy — he would likely have learned how to dive from heights "correctly" to avoid worse injury. They even showed him diving the correct way, feet first with arms crossed.
  • New Killers In Town have the hero being pursued by thugs and jumping off the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge interconnecting the three cities. The mooks pursuing him then comments "he must be dead by now"... only for the next scene showing a Gilligans Cut where he swam ashore, somehow still alive.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Elizabeth Swann faints from her corset being too tight, and falls off a cliff into some Soft Water. She is in danger of dying, but it's from drowning; the impact seems to have not hurt her at all. (Hitting the water backside-first might have saved her life by sparing her head... but in that case would have snapped her lumbar (lower) spine, costing the use of her legs for life.)
    • In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Blackbeard makes Jack Sparrow jump off a high cliff into a river to retrieve a MacGuffin, though this time it's actually acknowledged that the fall could kill him (hence Blackbeard sending Sparrow instead of one of his more trustworthy crewmen). Blackbeard's Quartermaster "solves" this by throwing a Voodoo Doll of Jack into the river. Since the doll was undamaged, Sparrow himself was also able to make the jump unharmed. Or maybe he just got lucky.
    • Earlier in On Stranger Tides, Jack jumps from an exploding lighthouse into the sea. He's perfectly alright, though doesn't seem to have enjoyed the experience.
      • "Did everyone see that because I will not be doing it again."
  • The Princess: Zigzagged. The Princess knocks an attacker out of a high window into the water below; he's later found having washed up on shore, killed either killed by the fall or drowning. But later, the Princess herself falls from a window into the same moat, and is none the worse upon surfacing. (Granted, this window was not as high, but she was mainly saved by Plot Armor.)
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife has some people in an elevator. The solution to not having a working motor? Cut the cable and drop the elevator in the water below.
  • Averted in Rush Hour when Griffin falls from a roof into a large fountain and dies on impact.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
    • Mary Watson is thrown from a moving train into a river with little injury. Holmes insists he "timed it perfectly". And he apparently has.
    • Near the end of the film, inspired by The Adventure of The Final Problem, Holmes falls down a waterfall with Prof. Moriarty and is presumed dead until the last scene. The oxygen device he swiped from Mycroft explains how he didn't drown, but not how he survived the several hundred-foot fall.
  • Ironically used in Revenge of the Sith, where Obi-Wan is believed dead after falling from a cliff into deep water from only about 60 feet— which is not even enough to kill a normal person: in response, the Clone-troopers say "he couldn't have survived that fall", despite knowing full-well that Jedi are capable of falling safely from extreme heights — and likewise knowing that Jedi carry compact SCUBA equipment (both of which Obi-Wan, in fact, uses to escape). In the novelization, the clone commander insists that Obi-Wan isn't dead until they find the body. They send probes to make sure, but Obi-Wan tricks a nearby predator into eating them.
  • True Lies. After a shootout in a mall, the main villain rides a motorcycle to the roof of a hotel, then drives it off the edge and splashes down in the pool on the roof of a building across the street. Considering his parabolic arc, the drop must have been at least a hundred feet, but he's uninjured and impaired only by a sopping wet trenchcoat. The horse that Arnold Harry Tasker rides in this chase makes this "you've GOT to be kidding me" look when Harry tries to make him follow and stops just short of the edge, pitching Harry out of his seat and causing him to dangle precariously.
  • Wild Thing does this twice. At the beginning of the movie, three-year-old Wild Thing jumps from a bridge into a river to escape from murderers, and at the end, he jumps from a tower into the same river to escape from cops.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Averted in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Before jumping into the ocean to reach the island, Logan tells Gambit to his enjoyment that it will hurt very badly falling out of his plane.
    • In The Wolverine, Noburo gets thrown a dozen hotel floors into an outdoor swimming pool yet after he lands, he's still moving.
  • In xXx: State of the Union (xXx 2: The Next Level) the protagonist shoots a grenade into the water he's about to fall into, thus heavily aerating the water and actually making it Soft Water. Granted, he'd probably still die, but they tried.
  • 12 Rounds: Two people fall out of a helicopter into a swimming pool and survive with no obvious injuries.
  • Zigzagged but still averted in a rare fashion in Gamera vs. Viras, When Gamera finally kills Viras, the moment he does so is by dropping him into the ocean from what can only be described as thousands of feet up (given that they're both monsters). However, before he did so, he flew Viras up so high into the atmosphere that he froze from the cold temperature. Then when Gamera dropped him, Viras shattered into thousands of pieces when he hits the water.
  • In the Sylvester Stallone film The Specialist, a bomb his character plants in a hotel room launches a henchman out of a window and into the sea, where he resurfaces apparently unharmed by either the blast or the fall. By the time we see this, however, the hotel room itself is falling toward him, having been dislodged from the hotel by another bomb.
  • Averted in Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!, Yuri and Takeda are dangling off a bridge over water it's treated as life-threatening danger, they only survive when a revived Ghidorah exhales underwater which bubbles and softens the water. Even then, Yuri is knocked unconscious.
  • In Wonder Woman (2017), Diana sees an airplane appear through the camoflauge veil surrounding Themyscira and crash into the sea. She performs a perfect dive off the cliff of at least 300 or more feet and, showing no signs of injury, quickly swims out to the area. Being a superhero and daughter of an Old God really results in being Made of Iron.
  • In Disaster on the Coastliner, Stuart and Waterman leap from a Runaway Train off a bridge and into a river. Stuart is completely uninjured, while Waterman is hurt but alive.

  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Justified with Percy himself; one of the perks of being Poseidon's son is that he is completely immune to harm from water, and immersion in it heals him. So all water is soft for him, he can breathe in it no problem, and doesn't even get wet unless he specifically wants to.
    • In The Lightning Thief, Percy finds out that this trope applies to him when he's forced to jump off the St. Louis Arch and into the Mississippi River. Percy is aware that of how unrealistic this trope is, and is quite surprised that he didn't pancake himself upon hitting the water.
    • Further averted in the same series: Percy and Thalia have an argument. Thalia hits Percy with a bolt of electricity, so he lifts up the entire river to hurl at her. Chiron shouts at him to stop what he was doing, implying he would have killed or seriously hurt Thalia. He is distracted by the Oracle before he can throw the water.
    • In the sequel series, Percy falls off an Alaskan glacier after shattering the edge with a Sword Plant and summoning a massive wave. Frank and Hazel are astonished when they return to find him none the worse for wear, claiming the fall was "nothing" compared to the St. Louis Arch incident.
  • In The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane, Arnold (along with the talking radio) survives a fall from an airplane into the ocean, and is rescued by a fishing boat. The "letters" page after the story includes a note from the Coast Guard explaining that it would not have gone that way in real life.
  • In Saving The World and Other Extreme Sports, Fang describes diving into the ocean from 500 feet up as equivalent to God punching his face. He survives, though, completely unharmed and swimming back to shore in a matter of minutes. Actual physics dictate that a human-sized object falling from 500 feet would approach terminal velocity and implode on impact.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes escapes the island fortress Chateau d'If by being thrown off a cliff into the sea. He emits a shout as he hits the water, but it's the sudden cold that causes it, rather than dropping just shy of a hundred feet. He swims away and is completely fine afterward.
  • In Angels & Demons, Langdon survives a fall from the helicopter into the Tiber river thanks to a tip he learned from a Chekhov's Classroom. It's noted by the emergency personnel who saves him that he didn't break his bones.
    • Averted in The Movie, where Langdon was never on the helicopter in the first place; only the Camerlengo, who in both versions used a parachute and landed near St. Peter's Square.
  • Despite having not only been thrown into a deep-water-covered bog at high speed but also hit by a dragon's tail, Simon Heap in Flyte survives the fall. (One notes that he can breathe underwater so drowning, at least, was not a danger.)
  • In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, even gas is not soft — a man observes that at the rate a ship is going, hitting a star would be like hitting a brick wall, even though it's all gas.
  • The Carl Hiaasen novel Skinny Dip opens with the protagonist surviving a several-hundred-foot plunge from the deck of a cruise ship after being pushed off by her husband. It's noted that the only reason she's able to survive the fall is because she was on the diving team in high school and thus knows the proper technique to minimize damage — and even then, the force tears her dress off and leaves her so banged up that she can barely swim.
  • At some point in Noob, Fantöm needs to jump off a flying palace before it self-destructs while being very low on Hit Points. He knows he'll die and be subject to the game's Continuing is Painful if he falls on the ground. However, when he realizes the palace is no longer flying over land but over water (the sea), he doesn't hesitate to jump, using the reasoning that falling in the water has a significantly higher chance of not being fatal. On the other hand, the story is set in a Fictional Video Game, so it may just be part of the game's mechanics (in which Fantöm is an expert).
  • Justified in Quest Of The Unaligned. When a masked villain drops Deshamai off the tallest tower of his castle and into his moat, he manages to use his water magic to make the water cushion his fall.
  • Invoked by Kaladin in Rhythm of War, when he dives into a well. The dive itself is not long but he is being propelled by a Magi Tech device and his speed is quite high. He is surprised that hitting something as soft as water can be that painful.
  • In the Pilgrennon's Children novel Pilgrennon's Beacon, Dana is flung out of a helicopter over the ocean, and Jananin jumps after her. Both are uninjured.
  • In the Dolphin Trilogy, the protagonist is the Sole Survivor of the explosion that kills his parents and everyone else on their small Caribbean island. He happens to be protected from the worst of the shockwave, which flings him dozens of feet into the ocean instead of killing him. John lands uninjured and is adopted by a pod of dolphins.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the trio breaks into Gringotts to steal one of Voldemort's horcruxes from the Lestranges' vault, and end up escaping flying on the back of a dragon they set free. After a long trip, the dragon flies over a lake, which the trio jumps into to get clear before it notices their presence. It's a bit Hand Waved as Harry tells the others to wait until the dragon descends enough before jumping off, and it was still a leap of faith since they had no way to know if the lake was deep enough (fortunately it was).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Lexx episode "The Beach", Stanley Tweedle and Kai fall from the upper atmosphere of Water into the ocean below. Kai, being dead, merely sinks to the bottom (he can't float) but Stanley of course is perfectly fine. Making this even more stupid? Stanley later gets exhausted and drowns. (He got better, though.)
  • Followed to a T in the Horatio Hornblower miniseries, episode "Retribution", when Lieutenants Hornblower, Kennedy, and Bush decide to jump from a cliff to get back on their ship. We even get the choice quote: "It's only water! You won't break anything!" And then we get a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid shout-out with Lt. Bush screaming that he can't swim.
  • In Alias, Sidney dives from a balcony into a pool from a height with dubious survivability.
  • In an episode of MythBusters, Adam and Jamie investigated a viral video showing a man making a 115-foot long waterslide jump into a kiddy pool. Oddly the team didn't take up whether the foot-deep pool would actually make the landing survivable, testing only distance and accuracy. In addition, MythBusters have tested the saying that, at a certain speed, hitting water is like hitting concrete (a myth previously perpetuated on this very page). They found that water is always softer than concrete, even at terminal velocity note , and thus the saying is busted.
  • In Heroes, the Petrelli brothers were flying at some hundred miles an hour, when Nathan suddenly loses his power. No problem, they fall into a lake.
  • Invoked in Batman (1966) when Catwoman takes a huge fall and then lands in a river. Batman specifically says that she could have not made it because hitting the water from such a height would've killed her. Subverted; she actually did survive, but it's not clear if it was due to this trope being played straight or if she managed to avoid falling in the first place.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Season 6 has River Song fall several stories down a building and land in the TARDIS swimming pool, apparently unharmed. Though it was the TARDIS swimming pool. The TARDIS is known for being psychic and having the ability to alter its own shape, rooms, and properties such as gravity. It has also been known to help people stay alive.
    • Downplayed in "Heaven Sent" when the Doctor falls from a great height but realizes the fact that he'll fall into water won't ensure his survival. He's right: the impact knocks him out, but he sustains no other injuries and wakes up before he drowns.
  • House once jumped off a hotel balcony several stories up and did a cannonball into the pool below, suffering no visible injuries.
  • In an episode of Burn Notice, Michael explains in the narration how despite people thinking (because of this trope) that diving from a height is a great way to escape, it can result in injury when not done right, especially if the person doing it is just some untrained schmuck. So when they have to get a dude out of a motel room that's a couple of stories up to evade the bad guy, Mike tosses the mattress out into the motel pool and tells the guy to aim for that. The untrained schmuck still injures his ankle in the process.
  • The Burj al-Arab commercial with music by Owl City, which shows a man diving from the top of the huge tower and entering the water safely.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: Detective Jane Rizzoli jumps off a bridge to save the Driven to Suicide suspect who had just fallen off just as she talked him out of jumping (she'd found proof that he was being framed). They suffer absolutely no injuries from the fall. Even if one can assume that it wasn't enough to kill them, walking away unscathed is highly unlikely.
  • Blake's 7: Played with in "Orbit" when Egrorian sabotages a shuttle so that it will crashland in a marshy area and he can salvage the MacGuffin it's carrying. However, it's stated that the crew will be turned to jelly by the impact.
  • Chuck: In "Chuck vs the Undercover Lover", Chuck and Casey fall a large number of stories into a hotel swimming pool. Casey immediately strides dramatically out of the pool in his tuxedo to break up his long-lost lover's wedding. Also, they were tied together by chairs.
  • In the season 6 finale of CSI: NY, arc-villain Shane Casey falls off a lighthouse into rocky water and is presumed dead. At the very end of the episode, he's back threatening the Messer family and appears uninjured.
  • Resurrection: Ertuğrul: Toward the end of season 5, it initially seems as though Beybolat Bey/Albasti may have killed himself after jumping into a river from a rather daunting height, he gets restored to life once Arikbuka comes across his body, playing this trope straight in the process.
  • Reconstructed in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Trent landing in a pool after falling off the roof is the reason he actually survives. He still breaks every bone in his body.
  • In episode 2 of The Wheel of Time (2021), Perrin and Egwene jump off a city wall into a moat some 20 metres below without any consequences. Not even catching a cold on a cool March night. Being ta'veren must've helped.

    Music Videos 
  • The music video for "Arms of Sorrow" by Killswitch Engage has a man falling off a high-rise apartment building. In the end, the man falls into a swimming pool and not only survives but is totally unhurt.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In Thunderbirds, any rescue involving Thunderbird 4 (the submarine) has the equipment pod in which it is transported being dropped into the ocean from a height of about a hundred feet. Even if it is well-anchored down, it would surely have suffered some damage, to say nothing of how shaken up the pilot would be.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In 7th Sea, falling player characters suffer no damage at all if they land in water or anything else "soft" such as a haycart or awning. This is because the game's swashbuckling genre simulation rules explicitly enforce Not the Fall That Kills You… to encourage players to perform ridiculous stunts.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Quest XI, the Hero and Jade fall head-first into a river from a high cliff and they aren’t even injured.
  • Minecraft: In the early versions of the game, even if you build a tower to the top of the game world and jump into a hole at the bottom of the game world, if there is water that is at least four blocks high in the hole — you'll survive. In Minecraft 1.8, the depth requirement was removed; even the minimum possible amount of flowing water will negate all fall damage. Since then, it has been a common strategy among the community to always carry a water bucket whenever exploring high places, since you can actually place the water on the ground and land on it, completely negating fall damage. This technique has since been called "MLG Water Bucket" and has now been used by many alike in the game.
  • Terraria: Landing in water negates all falling damage, except it's even more ridiculous when you're using the Water Walking Boots/Potion and stop dead the second you land on the water, unharmed with not even a ripple.
  • Particularly flagrant in Half-Life and the mods and sequels thereof, in which a drop from fatal heights can be stopped by landing in any fluid, including but not limited to radioactive waste and spilled coffee, as long as it is two "units" (roughly 1 to 1½ inches, depending on the game's scale) or deeper, in which case all damage is negated (not counting any damage from the liquid itself, if it happens to be radioactive waste).
    • Some maps in Half-Life and its mods even incorporate the "fall into a puddle of spilled coffee" game mechanic into their level design. For example, the Counter-Strike map Aztec has a slightly flooded canal flowing below a bridge — players can jump off the bridge and aim for the ankle-deep water to make a strategic shortcut if necessary. Most levels in Half-Life 2 with significantly high falls into water avoid this trope by placing an instant-death trigger at the water level (most notably in the bridge level).
    • There are at least two instances, one in Half-Life and one in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, where in order to proceed the player is required to fall an absurd amount of distance into a pool of water.
    • The objective of Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2 "surf" maps is to obtain a high velocity through manipulation of flaws in the physics engine. Making 2-inch deep puddles of water is a perfectly logical and simple way for map designers to mitigate all damage to players upon landing.
    • Averted in Left 4 Dead duology, as falling into water will still give you Fall Damage or worse, incapacitate you. In some maps like "The Bridge" (The Parish finale), doing so will instantly kill you since it's scripted as you're not supposed to go there.
  • Justified in Halo. The Master Chief is equipped with a suit of Powered Armour that allowed a user to survive falling two kilometers, into a forest, with practically no injuries. Falling a few hundred meters into engine coolant isn't hard to believe at all. In most in-game situations, however, falling more than about 10 meters is always fatal, even if there is water below. And some bodies of water are programmed to give MC Super Drowning Skills.
  • Twice in Desert Breaker, an old arcade game, have you falling down a ravine into a river, some several hundred meters below, firstly when a helicopter blows up the Rope Bridge you're on, and secondly when your hijacked patrol boat goes off a waterfall. And both instances have you simply picking yourself up and continue kicking ass like nothing had happened.
  • Battlefield 1942 and Vietnam treated this realistically, where any fall that would kill if you hit the ground killed if you hit the water, but it reached new heights in absurdity when they took this mechanic out in Battlefield 2 and you could jump out of a jet at 1500 feet and be perfectly fine if you only landed in a body of water.
    • Keep in mind that this is the same series where you can jump out of a moving F-18 Hornet in full afterburner, and have friend in an AH-1 Cobra catch you without turning you into fine red mist.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
  • Tomb Raider: All games treat water like this. If it's deep enough to swim in (not wade in), then Lara can survive any height.
    • In one FMV in Tomb Raider I, Lara dives off a cliff to evade Natla's henchmen, and of course, survives unscathed. In the add-on to the first game, Unfinished Business, there is a huge drop in the first Atlantis level that involves Lara diving/jumping through a narrow shaft several floors deep before finally landing in a deep pool.
    • In one of the games, Lara is dropped down a shaft into the longest drop in the game — her death-scream, an indicator she will die if she hits the bottom, loops several times — and she is saved by a pool of water, just like in every other jump into water in the games.
    • Similarly, the beginning of the Aldwych level in Tomb Raider III, where you drop down from the bell tower into the sewers. The death scream doesn't loop here, though.
  • The Wind Road have your Falling into the Plot intro, where you plunge for hundreds of miles before landing in a knee-high pool of water without a scratch. Semi-justified, since you're in the spirit world and all that.
  • World of Warcraft
    • A notable quest drops you 300 feet in the air over a lake in the Plaguelands. The player lives. It may not be unrealistic for that universe since characters can survive around 65-foot drops onto solid ground as well. On the other hand, the water does need a certain depth to save you. If it's too shallow, you'll smack into the bottom and die.
    • At the monthly Darkmoon Fair event, players can get launched from a cannon and, with a slow-fall buff that must be cancelled at the right time, try to land in a lake half the zone away. The operator advises you to either aim well, or hope you have life insurance.
    • Shamans used to have the power to avert this (and have a good laugh at their friends' expense) by casting the Water Walking spell on the falling person, which would cause them to smack into the water surface as though it was solid ground.
    • In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Death Knights have been given a similar skill, allowing them to run on water by freezing a path of ice. To add insult to injury, this spell is cancelled by damage, so that jumping into a lake with it on leads to 1) taking a massive amount of damage, and 2) plunging into the water anyway, probably by smashing your bones through a thick sheet of ice.
    • At least two Northrend dungeons (Utgarde Keep and Azjol-Nerub) have some fun with this. In order to exit Utgarde Keep, a giant keep, you have to either A) walk out, or B) jump down into a cavern behind the boss. It's a really big fall... but there is water below you, so it's OK. Azjol-Nerub just has you jumping off a platform, into an even bigger fall, to land in an underwater lake in order to get to the final boss.
    • Done again with the Trial of the Crusader, when Arthas breaks the ground beneath you and drops you to the last boss. You survive by landing in a conveniently-placed pool of water.
    • One of the worst examples is the entrance to the mostly-hidden area "Naz'anak: The Forgotten Depths". It's an insanely long and totally vertical shaft, which takes maybe twenty seconds to fall down and a little more to fly, but as long as you land in the middle of the small pond at the bottom, you will be completely unharmed.
    • One optional boss in Zul'Gurub, Gahz'rahka, tosses players into the air, and they must land in the water to avoid taking falling damage.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Played straight in Morrowind, where falling into water won't harm long as that water is deep enough. Interestingly, if you have a spell of Water Walking enabled, the water will behave just like land...
    • Used and averted in Oblivion; in most cases, water will save you, but landing in the shallows still applies fall damage. One ruin has you falling for a good ten seconds and being saved by 10 feet of water, despite a similar-length fall onto land killing you instantly.
    • Also quite glaringly obvious in Skyrim. Players who want to give this a good looking at, head to the College of Winterhold. There's a fairly decent bit of overhanging rock at the northernmost point. What's it hanging over? A good few seconds of free-falling and a lake. Or the ground, if you're unlucky... This has even become a meme in the form of Extreme Fishing. The Dwarven ruin Kagrenzel has a long drop into an underground lake.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater plays this completely straight during cutscenes but averts this during actual gameplay. Snake is thrown off of a bridge early in the game, falling to a height in excess of 100 feet, and later leaps from a drainage pipe which is easily even higher of a fall. If Snake leaps or drops off of the bridge on his own, he'll die. Both times Snake lands into water, with no injuries other than what was sustained in a brutal asskicking. The second fall DOES knock him unconscious, though.
  • The first Metal Slug have this happening in the final mission, where you're on a bridge some hundreds of meters above an ocean before it gets blown up by General Morden's gunship. You drop from the clouds all the way below, which lasts for nearly ten seconds onscreen into the water, before a battleship picks you up. And somehow you're unscathed from the fall, even though you're a One-Hit-Point Wonder who dies from a single bullet.
  • Assassin's Creed pulls this off not just with water but also with haystacks (and in the forested areas of Assassin's Creed III, piles of leaves and branches), never mind that these, while not quite as hard as the ground, would be equally deadly due to containing lots of pointy objects. The story justifies this as an embellishment of the Animus simulation that the game takes place in, but that doesn't explain why the Assassins themselves are observed to do it as part of their training and Desmond later does it in the modern era.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Link often finds himself jumping onto not-too-deep water from great heights. Like the Great Deku Tree, or the waterfalls at the Gerudo Valley and Zora's Domain that are even higher. It's worth noting that Link takes those dives head first. Then again falling doesn't seem to be particularly dangerous in the Zelda Universe, even if impacting solid ground. There's a hidden area in The Fire Temple, which requires the Scarecrow's Song to reach, with a drop that is long enough that Link will stop yelling before he hits the bottom. The result? Landing in a crouch on both feet, grunting, and taking a couple hearts of damage. In fact, for this franchise, a couple hearts is extreme. Usually, one quarter of a heart, sometimes half, is the penalty for distant falls.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
      • Wolf Link and Midna cross a bridge over it when some Mooks light the oil on the bridge on fire. Wolf Link climbs over the guard rail and jumps off the bridge, managing to fall into the remains of the lake, which is very little water. The distance between the bridge and the lake is "big city skyscraper" height, far enough that no matter how much water there is, hitting it should be little different from hitting concrete.
      • To access the last dungeon, you need to shoot yourself into the sky with a cannon. Sure enough, you land in a small pool of water, but at least then you wouldn't be travelling that fast since you slow down when you came up. The real problem is, to get back on earth, you need to use another cannon that shoots you up even higher, with Lake Hylia being the Soft Water.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: As long as the water is deep enough that you can't walk through it you don't lose any hearts no matter how far you fall. You can still drown if you don't have any stamina once you're in the drink, but the impact with the water itself isn't what's fatal.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: After your Bag of Spilling is emptied, the very first thing the game teaches you is that water will harmlessly stop your fall from any height. Exaggerated as you leave the Great Sky Island and return to Hyrule; Link dives from at least cruising altitude into a lake miles below, and comes up without so much as a bruise. Exaggerated even more at the very end of the game, when Link and Zelda are dropped from far above cloud level, making a water column at least 50 feet high when they hit a lake. Not only are they both fine, but Zelda — who was unconscious during the fall — does not appear to have inhaled any water either.
  • Pikmin 3: Alph, one of the playable captains in game, gets ejected out of his ship in the Pikmin planet's low orbit, falls all the way to said planet below, but is only slightly dazed from it because he lands in a pool of water. Granted, his fellow captains, Brittany and Charlie, also survive the fall by landing in piles of snow, so it's quite possible that Koppais are just Made of Iron in general. The fact that they're only a couple of centimeters tall and would have a very low terminal velocity probably helps too.
  • Deus Ex plays this trope very straight as well; there's one section that requires you to take a huge plummet into water, but you're fine once you do so. The character is a cyborg of sorts, though.
  • Uncharted
    • In Drake's Fortune, Drake and Elena drive a jeep backwards off a cliff to escape the bad guys and fall over a hundred feet to the water below. They don't even get bruised.
    • Uncharted 2; Drake throws a guard into water a long way below after saying he doesn't want to kill anyone, leading to seeming hypocrisy, but if you watch the water it turns out they are completely unharmed. Later, Drake and an ally jump into a river far down a large cliff and end up seemingly unharmed.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy parodies it like no other, as a pool of water that The Kid lands in after jumping from a great height not only cushions his fall, but also keeps him from burning up from the flames caused by his meteoric fall. This pool is one of the only things in IWBTG that doesn't instantly kill you; in fact, it's like the only thing in the game that saved The Kid?
  • Water in Shadow of the Colossus will break your fall perfectly. There is, however, one particularly tall cliff with water below it that the player may be tempted to jump into, as a Colossus is nearby, but it turns out the water is only a few feet deep, and jumping in it is the same as jumping a thousand feet to solid ground that only LOOKS like a nice, deep lake.
  • The classic SNES survival game SOS. You can fall any distance, and as long as you land in water, you'll survive, even if the screen has already gone black before you cannonball.
  • In Alone in the Dark (1992), shortly before the dark maze and final boss room, there is a large room with a maze of catwalks over a pool of water. Although it's only about a 10-20 foot drop, falling in the water causes instant death, no matter what your health. At least until you destroy Pregzt, after which it strangely becomes Soft Water. Definitely not toxic water, either, since going in the water in other parts of the caverns (which connect to this room) doesn't kill you.
  • Far Cry. The water has to be deep enough to trigger the swimming animation in order not to take any damage. However, if this condition is met, you won't take any damage, whether you've fallen ten feet or a thousand feet. In the Classic remake, this is the easiest way to earn the "Flight Simulation" achievement.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In Super Mario 64, falling into water from high places will not harm Mario. As an added bonus, the water will heal you of ALL damage once you rise back up for air since your Oxygen Meter and HP use the same display. This is taken to the extreme in a bonus stage that takes you into the sky above the castle. If you fall out of the clouds, the game will cut to the castle grounds and you'll see Mario plunging thousands of feet into the nearby pond. You simply swim out of the water no worse for wear.
    • Said physics remain in Super Mario Sunshine, but the healing is gone since Oxygen and HP are separated (if they remained together, the game would be much easier considering the amount of water in Sunshine).
  • Played straight in Duke Nukem 3D, with several places requiring a fall to finish a level. Works with lava and toxic waste, too, although you'll still take damage from the goo itself unless you're wearing protective boots. The same mechanics apply in Shadow Warrior (1997) and Redneck Rampage that run on the same engine. Possible lampshading, given the tongue in cheek nature of the game: in one level, you jump into a pit, fall a great distance, and land in a pool of ankle-deep water, with solid rock underneath, unharmed!
  • Riot have several stages where your character falls out of aircrafts or rooftops to escape enemies, dropping several hundreds of meters through building awnings or through clouds... before landing in shallow, knee-high pools of water. You then get up looking none the worse for wear, picks up your machine-gun and continues kicking all sorts of ass.
  • Partly averted in fellow Build engine game Blood. Although the water surface won't ever hurt you, if the pool isn't deep enough to slow you down you take damage on hitting the bottom.
  • Daikatana did the same as Blood, but most pools you had to fall into weren't actually deep enough to slow your fall.
  • Metroid deserves a special mention here due to the MythBusters subversion — despite Samus not taking damage from any fall, water or otherwise, short of a Bottomless Pit. Samus can only shoot out of water in the Prime games, not into it. If you need to bag an underwater enemy, you better hop in first.
  • Unreal uses this a little too often, including one story drop that is neutralized by any water deep enough to swim in.
  • A later level in Jurassic Park: Trespasser begins with an impressive view at the edge of a fifty-meter high cliff, and a fifty-meter jump into a small pond to continue. Hope you lined it up right!
  • In Crackdown, falling damage can seriously injure your character (for a while, anyway) unless you aim for a river or the ocean. In fact, the fastest way to end the "High Flier" achievement (climbing to the top of the Agency Tower) is to leap off and splash into the tiny pond explicitly placed there to catch you — there's even a second achievement ("Base Jumper") for doing exactly that.
  • In Mercenaries a long fall will almost kill your character (usually dropping you to 2% health) — unless you fall into water, in which case you take no damage. Very useful to know when your helicopter is about to explode.
  • There are several places in Banjo-Tooie where you can do a high dive into water and suffer no falling damage, the most obvious being the "Dive of Death" in Witchyworld.
  • Played straight in The Saboteur. You can jump from the spire of the Eiffel Tower, fall 300 meters and land in a 2-metre deep pond and survive. You even get an achievement for it. You should've been dead long before that since you jumped from a burning zeppelin into water and were only knocked out for a short time.
  • Near the end of Kingdom Hearts II, after leaving that mysterious island encountered after defeating Xemnas, Sora and Riku are shot headfirst into a body of water from pretty high up in the sky. Not even their hair is damaged. This specific method of travel is common for those traversing the worlds without a ship — in fact, Kairi first arrived on the world you find her on in this exact fashion.
  • One Quake II level featuring a room 200 foot high with small puddles of water at the bottom, barely deep enough to get your feet wet. You could jump from the top and as long as you landed on the wet patch, you were fine.
  • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri) treats water in this fashion when transferring from one zone to another; you're never knocked into the air enough to actually go into water. Even if a Rathian knocks you off a cliff, you have time in the zone change to adjust your trajectory so you don't break your back. Also, regardless of the height, you fell from, if you fall into water while carrying a wyvern egg, you always get the "egg sinks to the bottom" animation you get when you lose an egg by entering water, not the "egg shatters" animation you get from falling from a height.
  • Justified in Portal 2 as in that game you can fall at any speed from any height and land anywhere and be perfectly fine. However, there is one point where you are dropped down a shaft and fall for several minutes before finally landing in shallow water, completely unharmed. Given that you were dropped down said shaft deliberately by Wheatley, it's entirely possible that it was supposed to kill you. Unexplained, however, is how GLaDOS survives the fall alongside you, given she is undergoing a stint as a potato. Given a lack of leg braces or boots to mitigate the impact, she should've been a potato pancake. It's even lampshaded before being played straight. GLaDOS asks to be put in one of Chell's boots during the fall, in order to survive the landing and advises Chell to try to land on the other foot.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, any fall that would normally kill you can be survived so long as you fall into a deep enough body of water. You even get an achievement (and some bonus experience points) for taking a dive from 200 meters or higher. Good thing your heroes can swim... It's worth noting that while at first, this appears to be a gameplay convenience, the evidence suggests that this is an actual quirk of the Xenoblade Chronicles 1 world's physics. The Fallen Arm, an island in the game world's ocean, is home to a number of Homs (the game's human-equivalent) who arrived there by falling from Sword Valley, many many miles above, and landing in the ocean nearby. Indeed, you as the player initially arrive there by the exact same route, and if you go back to the specific location you fell from, you can do it again as many times as you like. Perhaps in all the other instances of falling off the edge of the Bionis, it's not the fall that kills you, but the unfortunate reality of ending up stranded in the middle of the ocean below...
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 continues this. There's only a few bodies of water in the entire game that can be entered from a height, and doing so is completely safe. There are also many, many places where one can jump into the Cloudsea, which is similarly harmless... at high tide. At low tide you presumably get stranded down around the Titan's knees and the game respawns you. This is actually justified for the Cloudsea, though. It's not liquid at all, but a soup of nanobots that happen to have the approximate properties of water when in saturation. The fluffy clouds at the surface mean there's no surface tension to smack into - perfectly safe to cushion a fall, as long as you can swim!
  • Guild Wars 2: While this is true for the game in general, one particular moment comes to mind. At the end of the Chaos Crystal Cavern jumping puzzle, you enter a magical teleportation gate, and wind up hundreds of feet in the air over a fairly deep lake, with no resulting injuries aside from those inflicted by enemies in the lake.
    • Also seen often with diving goggles where jumps into often relatively shallow water from several hundred feet cause you no harm at all.
  • In the third Max Payne, Max drops about thrice his height into a tiny patch of water that doesn't fully cover him even when lying horizontally. Somehow, it barely affects him.
  • Played straight in Fallout 3, where ordinarily lethal fall distances (such as a 100+ foot high overpass) are cushioned by sufficiently deep water (not so much shallow water).
  • At the very end of Golden Sun, Sheba and Felix fall off the top of Venus Lighthouse during an earthquake. At the beginning of The Lost Age, they wash up on the drifting Idejma Peninsula, and are then, along with Jenna and Kraden (and possibly Alex), hit by a tidal wave. Felix's first action after the latter incident is to check himself for injuries, but everyone's fine if a little shaken (and Alex disappeared again).
  • In MechWarrior games with Falling Damage, hitting the water does no damage, though if it fails to slow you down enough the seafloor below it sure as hell will. In Mechwarrior Living Legends, the water is so soft that a fusion-torch powered Space Plane jet fighter can go into a full afterburner dive into the water, then fly around underwater.
  • Kerbal Space Program mostly averts-to-inverts this (see below), but plays it straight with Kerbals on EVA, who are able to reliably survive vertical drops into water at Kerbin terminal velocity (about 54-60 m/s, or 121-134 mph, depending on orientation), despite frequently dying from hitting solid ground at a mere 25-30 m/s.note 
  • Blockstorm plays this near-completely straight. It's impossible to go underwater in maps that have it, in game-terms only being able to have half of your character's model (the legs) occupy slightly more than a single block of water. This means that falling into water is essentially as instantaneous a stop as falling onto solid ground... but it's only as fatal as such if the water is only one or two blocks deep. If it's three or more, then it completely negates all falling damage.
  • Present in Subnautica. You can build a base up to over a kilometer above sea level and bellyflop from the roof with no damage.
  • During the opening scenes of Panzer Dragoon Saga Edge is shot off the edge of the excavation site and falls down a canyon so deep you can't even see daylight from the bottom but bar a moment of being unconscious is no worse for wear because he lands in a pool of water. In reality, it's subverted, the ending reveals that he actually did die (though it's not clear if it's from the fall or the bullet) but was resurrected to carry out his purpose.
  • In the Blaster Master games, Jason will always take fall damage if he falls more than his jump height unless he lands in a body of water thick enough to immerse him completely. There are times that the player can shave a lot of time off their speedruns by landing in the wet stuff instead of taking a ladder back down. This still applies in Zero II, but it is equally bane as it is boon because the G-SOPHIA requires a hard landing to recharge its SP.
  • The Cave: Long falls with water pools often separate chapters, where you're not supposed to be able to backtrack. Especially, when you first enter the cave.
  • Watch_Dogs features this trope in all 3 games, of particular note Watch_Dogs 2 is set in the San Fransisco Bay Area, prominently including the Golden Gate Bridge which, IRL is the most used suicide location in the world specifically from people jumping off the deck. In game? Not only can protagonist Marcus Holloway survive jumping from the deck, he can also leap from the top of one of the main towers of the bridge and survive so long as he jumps from a spot where he hits water.
  • In Chapter III of The Trader of Stories Myo falls into a lake from a considerable height. She's rendered unconscious and lightly injured, but getting fished out and a couple of days of RICE is enough for her to recover fully.
  • Played for Laughs in Tales of Arise'. One dungeon has the party able to jump off a large cliff next to a waterfall. While they take no damage from landing in the water, Law and Rinwell do not'' take it well.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the fifth case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, Phoenix falls dozens of feet into a powerful river after trying to run across a burning bridge to rescue Maya. Again. He's not completely unharmed though — he gets a cold. It's also mentioned that his back was badly bruised.
    • Dahlia Hawthorne intentionally jumped into that same river in the fourth case's backstory and came out alive, though we don't know whether or not Dahlia got injured at all.
  • In Yume Miru Kusuri, during a series of events so bizarre it seems like it should have been all just a dream, the protagonist manages to fall from a great height into a swimming pool (while having sex with and strangling the crazy drugged-up girlfriend who is begging him to kill her. It's even weirder than it sounds. Also, they didn't know the pool was there and fully expected to die.) and is perfectly fine afterwards.

  • An escape in The Dreamland Chronicles hinges on this. The fact that it's a three-hundred-foot drop is briefly brought up, but ultimately, the impact is ignored, leaving drowning as the only apparent danger.
  • Darths & Droids #567 notes the use of this trope in The Rant, as it's riffing on the scene in Revenge of the Sith where Obi-Wan, on Utapau, falls from a great height into the water.
  • In Narbonic, this trope saves lives specifically Helen's and Artie's, but the author admits in her commentary to have been worried enough about the unrealisticness of it that, while the first person mentioned under the spoiler is the one who needs to get out of the water unscatched, the second is only there to cushion them. The cushioner also suffers injuries (enter the adorable little sling) and lampshades the sheer ludicrousness of the situation (and the presumed Xanatos Gambit) in their inner monologue:
    Artie: My last thought before blackout is this: That every aspect of my nature—my mind, my sense of ethics, the body in which I currently reside — seems, now, engineered for this moment, for shielding this woman from impact. I have never been able to fathom the disjointed workings of Helen's mind. Did she surmise that someday she would be in danger? Did she create me specifically to save her life? And, if she really can plan this far ahead, why couldn't she just find a way to avoid the whole stupid situation? I always knew I'd die with a headache.
  • Discussed in A Tale of Two Rulers Zelda throws Vaati out a window. When he accuses her of trying to kill him, she suggests he could have landed in the moat. She even calls it "soft." It's possible Zelda is perfectly aware of how hard water can be, and is just adding a subtle layer to her snark.

    Web Videos 
  • The Nostalgia Chick:
    • The Nostalgia Chick points out how Pocahontas diving off an epic cliff and jumping into the water really isn't possible.
    • Same thing happens in her review of Cutthroat Island; after a series of gags about the main character having gravity as her ally, she looks at a scene where the two leads plunge about five hundred feet off a cliff face into quite shallow water and says, "No, really, they should be dead."

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series abuses this trope a lot.
    • On one occasion, a character falls out of a moving aircraft to what should have been certain death. He instead lands unharmed in a rooftop penthouse's swimming pool. If the soft water didn't kill him, the speed he would have hit the water at should have ensured that upon hitting the bottom of the pool, he'd have broken both his legs.
    • Also averted in one episode. The DCAU version of Count Vertigo dies by falling out of a castle window and into the moat.
    • This series uses every trope in the book to avoid the cartoon violence of a person being killed or injured, despite often falling from high places; they'd just fall harmlessly into a bush, a tree, a canopy, etc. And if anyone did die, it would turn out to be simply a robotic impersonator.
    • Another scene involves a character being tossed off the Statue of Liberty and landing unharmed in the water below. However, the original writer probably wanted the drop to be fatal but was required to show the victim survive as censorship. Only a few seconds later a similar event occurs when the assassins responsible, as opposed to committing suicide, spray themselves with a mindwiping gas. Instead of dying from the drop, said character was in a coma and never appeared for the rest of the series.
    • Averted when Clayface fell about 30 feet off a cliff and promptly disintegrated when he landed in Gotham River. This is a special case, though, because of his condition.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Avatar has an army of soft-waterbenders. Given the amount of water some waterbending attacks take, they should be incredibly painful if not fatal but are often brushed off. In the second season finale, Katara attacks Zuko and Azula's men with a huge wave of water that should have been fatal if only because of the sheer weight of the water and not the concussive force. They get all up with no injuries. Waterbenders are, however, capable of using their water to cut through steel.
    • "The Warriors of Kyoshi": Towards the end, Aang jumps from Appa's back and directly into the sea hundreds of feet below, without receiving any harm from the collision.
    • Interestingly, they avert it in the series finale where after falling from a great height, Aang specifically bends water upwards to catch him and it flows downwards as it returns to sea level meaning he deliberately softened the water to make the landing safe.
    • Also on the episode before that, Sokka lures an entire army of firebenders to the lower deck, flies significantly lower but not too low, where he promptly opens the conveniently placed giant trapdoor, sending them straight off the ocean (somehow including even those who stood on the ramp). They manage to survive, apparently rising unscathed from at least thirty meters above sea level despite many of them wearing heavy armor... and to top it all off, it's a mook's birthday.
  • In the first episode of the second season of Winx Club, Lord Darkar threw Layla (who was at the time unable to transform into her fairy form) off his castle, declaring that no can survive a fall from that height. Layla survives because she landed in a river, although she did spend four days in a coma after the ordeal. A few episodes later, while on a mission to rescue the pixies, both Stella and Brandon fall off a cliff and survive by landing in the same river.
  • In the Static Shock episode "The New Kid", Static is being pursued by Specs and Trapper's kill-bot, and uses Edwin Alva, who has been funding the pair's research, to get them to stop shooting at him. When Daisy causes a power outage that disables the robot, Static drops Alva into his penthouse swimming pool below. Not only does Alva land headfirst into the water from very high up and emerge unharmed, but the kill-bot had also landed in the pool before him, and was visibly sparking before Static dropped him. And still, he's perfectly fine when he surfaces.
  • Shows up many times in Inspector Gadget, including an instance where a movie studio uses a water tank for a jumping-out-of-a-building stunt that would probably use an air cushion or wires in real life, and an instance that uses the Trope Naming joke when Gadget makes it out of a fall off the roof of his house without so much as an Amusing Injury because he lands in an inflatable rubber kiddy pool maybe a foot or two deep.
  • Water always functions as a cushion no matter how high you fall in Totally Spies!, which makes it that much more surprising when the Spies are shocked when Jerry falls from a bridge in season 3's specials as part of a ruse to trick his vengeful twin brother into thinking he was dead. Apparently that, for some reason, is so convincing that even the Spies think he was a goner, until he saves them and it's revealed that he was wearing a waterproof suit, although that still doesn't explain why the focus is on how he survives drowning rather than how he survives the damn fall in the first place.
  • Played straight in Disenchantment, where King Zog routinely drops his annoying court jester into the ocean from a trapdoor in his clifftop castle. Subverted when Bean tries it with some invading Vikings; it was low tide and they hit the rocks.

    Real Life 
  • It's rather difficult to determine the exact diving height from which lethality is guaranteed, but surviving from around 200 feet (60 meters) isn't unheard of. The current world record is 177 feet (without injury) by Oliver Favre, and suicide attempts from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge (average 220 feet, varying with rain and such) have rarely been survived.
  • When a train stopped on a bridge at night in Quimperlé, France, two passengers mistakenly thought they'd reached the station and stepped out. The one who landed in the field below died, but the one who landed in the river, a few feet further, survived (although seriously wounded).
  • Cliff diving from places like La Quebrada, Acapulco, Mexico runs on this, though, of course, divers must calculate the right moment to jump to catch an incoming wave and avoid serious injury or death.
  • Many diving wells (the pool that competitive divers land in) have the capability to allow a coach to bubble a considerable amount of air into the pool to ensure a softer landing. These are usually used to train young divers to dive from greater heights (3m platform to 5m or 10m platform, for instance) or to help those just training a new dive (when they're a lot less likely to enter the water cleanly).

Aversions & Subversions

    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted (sorta) in Hetalia: Axis Powers, when Russia tries to pull this with snow, jumping off an airplane without a parachute. It... doesn't work.
  • Averted in Code Geass: Kallen is in free fall in her Knightmare over the Pacific ocean and cannot eject, thus she expects death as the logical outcome. A Midair Repair saves her. Of course, later on, Gino has a similar problem over solid ground, and not only does he not eject, but he also isn't even injured despite having no means of deceleration.
  • Miss Yukari from Azumanga Daioh proves that even a belly-flop at the pool can have dire consequences. In the anime, she challenges Nyamo to a swimming contest. While the Phys. Ed. teacher dives in expertly, Yukari SMACKS into the water hard enough to mark her entire front a pinkish-red hue (and with a slap loud enough to make everyone nearby wince). Then she does it again, and she knocks herself out.
  • While played straight most of the time in Excel♡Saga, in the manga Iwata, who at this point is a cyborg, once again proves to be Too Dumb to Live while working on a skyscraper and falls with his safety line off. Although he lands in the ocean, he still breaks into many pieces, having Shiouji remark on why water doesn't work on a 50-story drop.
  • Averted in Welcome to the NHK, in that the characters at the offline party seriously expect to die. In fact one of the offline members asks if there's any chance of them surviving only for someone to tell him that it "only happens in anime and manga."
  • A few Gundam characters have actually been killed this way, most notably Miharu, Kai's (very) short-lived love interest, of Mobile Suit Gundam, who's blown off the Gunperry when attempting to launch a missile in defense of the White Base and ends up hitting the water. Kai already knows she's dead and it ends up changing him.
  • In A Silent Voice, Shouya falls into a river while saving Shouko from her attempted suicide, and is injured so severely that he ends up in a coma. Not only that, but blood can also clearly be seen in the water just before he passes out. Shoya recalls a friend saying that falling onto water from a certain height is like falling onto concrete, but can't remember the exact distance.
  • Subverted in Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl — Makoto hits a lake from very high up and seems fine, but in the next episode it's almost immediately revealed that he actually broke his arm in the process. Erio was apparently okay, though she did virtually the same thing before the start of the series by herself and it ended with a broken leg.
  • In one episode of the Virtua Fighter anime, Akira, Pai and Leon are trapped by the bad guys on the roof of a speeding train, heading to a certain doom. As the train passes by the ocean, Leon suggests jumping off the roof and diving into the water. Akira, of all people, tells him that this would be a terrible idea, as at the speed they're going, landing on water would be the same as landing on concrete.

    Comic Books 
  • The Night Gwen Stacy Died: When Gwen Stacy is thrown off of a bridge, Spider-Man knows that he has to catch her — otherwise, she will die when she hits the water. He manages to catch her with his webbing, but the sudden stop breaks her neck.
  • Interestingly, an issue of the Tomb Raider comic had Lara dropping off a cliff, observing calmly that she will probably break every bone in her body if she hits the water, but that it was "better than kissing the rocks below". She falls into the water with such impact that her glasses shatter, bones are snapped, and she falls instantly unconscious, possibly dead — but since the drop was to get into the valley of Shangri-La, a legendary city of eternal health, she wakes up in a king-size bed fully healed.
  • In the "Fatherland" arc of Justice Society of America, issue #38, the Fourth Reich unleashes a weapon known as the Darkness Engine which nullifies the powers of every superhero on the planet. Green Lantern is flying above an ocean when the Engine negates his Power Ring, causing him to plummet to his death.
    At enough velocity, impacting water is no different from impacting concrete. He didn't survive.
  • In Knightfall, Jean-Paul Valley's first encounter as Batman with Bane ends with him plunging towards the floor of a shopping center and unable to use his grappling hook to stop his fall. He kicks the wall and attempts to somersault into a mall fountain, but the cape causes too much drag and he doesn't clear it all the way, hitting his leg on the edge of the fountain. Though he's alive, he's injured his arm and his leg, and he ends up limping out of the mall.

    Comic Strips 
  • Subverted in one FoxTrot strip. Peter dives off a diving board, falls for almost the entire strip, turns so that his belly is facing the ground, violently collides with the pool, and comments "Forget chlorine — pools with high dives need to put novocaine in the water."

    Films — Animation 
  • Averted in The Incredibles. While over the ocean, Elastigirl evacuates herself and her kids from an airplane and then flattens and spreads her torso to form a parachute. As they get near the ocean, she warns them, "Brace yourselves!"
  • Subverted in Megamind. Megamind realizes he's going to land in a fountain but knows that it won't break his fall. Double subverted when he uses his dehydrator gun to dehydrate himself, which does break his fall. He is re-hydrated once he reaches the water.
  • Subverted in Castle in the Sky, in which the general, and later Muska die a Disney Villain Death by falling from Laputa, which is shown to be directly above the ocean.
  • Averted in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, in which Hiccup detaches his own prosthetic leg to drop the villainous Grimmel the Grisly into the water to his death while the two are in free-fall.
  • Subverted in The Last Unicorn, in which King Haggard suffers a similar Disney Villain Death to the above mentioned Muska when he falls from the crumbling castle above the sea.
  • Averted in Rio: It's pretty much made clear that falling out of a plane and into the ocean would be fatal.
  • Averted in Hotel Transylvania. Frankenstein jumps from an extreme high-dive and belly-flops into Dracula's pool. He barely sinks and his individual limbs float off after separating from the force of the impact (he's fine, naturally).
  • Partially averted in Big Hero 6. GoGo drives Wasabi's car off the end of a pier as they are fleeing from Yokai. Nobody in the car appears to be injured, but the car's front-end crumples and the windshield cracks when it hits the water.
  • Somewhat averted in Tarzan. In an early scene, Tarzan jumps off a cliff and dives into a pool a good hundred feet down, at least. He lands with a nasty smack and seems to be a little dazed, but eventually swims away unscathed.
  • Rather graphically averted in the opening scene of Cars 2 with one of the Mooks.
  • In Planes, Dusty crashes into the ocean, and ends up severely damaged.
  • Played with in Flushed Away:
    [Spike and Whitey are falling]
    Spike: Keep your legs straight when you hit the water!
    [Whitey lands safely in the water, while Spike hits a cement stone]

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Averted, or at least acknowleged, in Assassin's Creed, where a character falling into a river from a great height breaks the surface tension of the water by throwing a dagger into it as they fall.
  • Averted in The Dam Busters, based on a Real Life bombing run in which bombs were skipped across the water to the target. The physicist who came up with the idea pitched it to the skeptical airmen had to argue strenuously against the belief that this wouldn't work.
  • Subverted in the first Rush Hour movie: the Big Bad falls from the roof of a convention center into a water fountain making an enormous splash, and the first thing said by Detective Carter is: "Ooh, you know he dead!" Carter's right: he's definitely dead.
  • Averted in Final Destination 5, as everyone on the crumbling bridge knows better than to try jumping into the comparably placid water beneath them (even Sam and Peter when the alternative is skewering by construction supplies). However, also played straight by Olivia surviving her fall into the water seemingly unscathed ... until a car falls on her.
  • Played with in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two outlaws are on the run, having worn out their horses and down to their last few rounds of ammo, trapped at the top of a cliff by their relentless pursuers. Butch proposes that they jump off the cliff into the river below, but Sundance refuses to go, preferring to stay and attempt a doomed shoot-out with the posse. As Butch tries to persuade him, Sundance reveals that he doesn't want to try it because he can't swim, to which his partner replies "Are you crazy? The fall'll probably kill ya!" This scene was also parodied in The Simpsons.
  • Averted (horribly) in the (realistic) The Perfect Storm film when one of the rescuers mistimes his jump and falls 80 feet onto hard water.
  • Averted in Romeo Must Die, where two characters are thrown out of their high-rise, waterfront condo. The next scene is the police fishing their corpses out of the water the next morning.
  • Averted quite a few times in the James Bond series: pretty much everybody hitting water from a height dies unless they're diving properly.
    • Halle Berry still manages to play this trope straight in Die Another Day, though it was given a token Handwave in that her character had apparently chosen the place she dived off beforehand; presumably, she checked the water was deep enough to make the fall survivable. The height she dives from is still pushing a bit, but by the standards of that particular Bond film, it hardly merits a mention.
    • Particularly notable in Goldfinger, where a planes explodes on contact with the ocean.
    • Done twice in A View to a Kill, first when one of the executives gets Thrown from the Zeppelin, and later when Max Zorin falls off the Golden Gate Bridge. Though that's the last the audience sees of him (i.e., no body), it's pretty clear he is killed. Naturally, since many San Franciscans will tell you that simply falling from the street level is fatal (the body is immediately pulverized and the victim — if still alive somehow — drowns in their own blood); Max fell from the very top of one of the towers.
  • Averted in The Boat That Rocked. The Count and Gavin play a game of Chicken that involves climbing the mast of the ship and then jumping in the water. In the following scene, The Count is seen with a bruised and bandaged face, while Gavin appears relatively unscathed until he stands up, and limps around on a cane.
  • Averted in Terminator Salvation, when Marcus Wright falls from a moving aircraft into a river and goes skipping across the surface like a stone. His not being killed is sort of justified because he's a cyborg.
  • Averted in The Three Musketeers (1993). Lady de Winter throws herself off a cliff rather than suffer a beheading. Given the rocks in the water below, the distance, and the obvious reactions of the witnesses, it was a real death. In contrast to which, the 2011 film has her jumping out of an airship and turning up alive, apparently only having been knocked unconscious and being in danger of drowning rather than being completely splatted. A particularly laughable example because even films that normally play this trope straight wouldn't have someone surviving a freefall from airplane heights.
  • Averted in Van Helsing, where Prince Velkan gets tackled off of a cliff by a dying Werewolf and everyone immediately declares him to be dead. His later survival is justified as he was bitten by the Werewolf beforehand, so falls that could kill a regular human no longer apply.
  • Averted in Batman Returns. The Penguin actually dies after falling into sewer water from above the street. It also helps that the water is toxic, but not enough to kill other characters who fell in it from lesser distances and the blood out of his mouth implies internal bleeding.
  • Subverted in Death Note (2017), Light falls from the Seattle Great Wheel and survives, suffering injuries that put him in a coma for a few days. Whether the fall should be fatal or not, is hard to tell as death-related magic is involved.
  • Averted in Love Is Forever (1983), about a man who brings his wife out of Communist Laos by swimming the Mekong River underwater. At one point the border guards are shooting at them, but the bullets fly all over the place the moment they strike the water, making being hit a matter of pure chance. Not that this makes the river any less dangerous, as all kinds of debris is being swept along in the strong current, and the water is so dirty you might not see an object before it hit you.
  • Averted in Bram Stoker's Dracula where Dracula's wife Elisabeta throws herself into a river from a great height, because she was tricked into thinking he was killed. It most definitely kills her. However, when we see her body after the fact she's in very good shape for someone who hit the water after falling from the top of a cliff.
  • Averted in Titanic (1997). Many people either fall from or choose to jump from the ship's deck, usually from tens of feet above the ocean. It's shown that these impacts are not soft. Additionally, being in water doesn't protect swimmers from things falling on top of them (such as being struck by a steel cable, or crushed under the funnel).

  • Averted in Rendezvous with Rama; a character is stranded atop a 500-meter-high cliff over the mid-station toroidal lake. Much is made about the problem (no climbing gear, the one and only flier that got him there is now destroyed), and the sheer height of the fall. Then a scientist back on Earth remembers that reduced gravity (okay inertia/centrifugal force) means reduced terminal velocity. Rescue then becomes a matter of him jumping off and staying vertical (they don't tell him this plan/theory until the rescue boat arrives at the bottom of the cliff, so he won't have time to worry). He also uses his shirt as an impromptu parachute.
  • Averted in the Tom Swift book Monster Machine, in which Tom and his friends are in a transformable vehicle (now a spacecraft) that is plummeting toward the Pacific Ocean from space. Of course, they survive, but during the descent, Tom muses that even though it's "only" water they are falling toward, from this height, hitting it would be like hitting concrete.
  • Subverted in Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series. When someone gets thrown off a 10-story(ish) building into a deep swimming pool, they die. Effectively being pulpified in fact. The thrower, apparently finding this amusing, proceeds to get rid of all her opposition in the same way. The main character only survives because she's a vampire, though she's still very badly injured.
  • The Succession Duology: Subverted in The Risen Empire (or Killing of Worlds, depending on if you bought the book as a whole or in halves). While in free fall, H_rd breaks her nose on a ridge of ice; the ice then breaks, and she continues falling.
  • One of the rare examples of Hard Water stopping bullets as it does in real life occurs in Nation where it becomes an important plot point.
  • The bullet penetration error was also averted in Cryptonomicon, where Goto Dengo (whose ship was just sunk) escapes machine-gun fire by diving. The bullets are stopped within "a meter or two" and then just sink.
  • Averted in Discworld
    • Carpe Jugulum: When Agnes is falling from the sky, she spots a lake off to one side and decides she should try and 'angle towards it'. However, Perdita (Agnes's other personality) points out that given how fast they're falling, hitting the water would be the same as hitting the ground.
    • The Last Continent: When they're about to be hit by a tidal wave, the wizards blithely assure each other that water is soft. Ponder Stibbons remembers the other kids throwing him in the swimming hole, and realizes that no, it isn't.
  • Given an early aversion in one of the Doc Savage stories from the pulp magazine of the 1930s. A woman is falling towards the ocean from a height of several hundred feet as Doc and one other person looks on helplessly. The person he's with blurts out that maybe hitting the water won't kill her. Doc has no such illusions; he knows that hitting the water after falling that far is the same as hitting concrete.
  • Subverted in Dragon and Damsel. Bernadette almost slips and falls a great distance into an underground lake, and both she and Azrael realize that hitting the water from that height would be deadly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Baywatch. Hasselhoff's character falls out of a plane and dies on hitting the water. There's even a funeral in a later episode. Although it was All Just a Dream.
  • Averted in Dead Like Me, when showing the death of one of the Reapers. Betty jumped off the side of a cliff assuming she'd be alright, only to die when she hit the water. She actually died from hitting the bottom (shallow enough), not the water, but close enough.
  • In Burn Notice, Michael breaks a fall into a swimming pool by throwing down a mattress first, but another person who is with him misses the mattress and breaks a leg instead. Averted in a previous episode, when he jumps from a helicopter at around 30-50 feet up, and visibly only assumes a "diving" position about halfway down. It's implied the subsequent five-mile swim to shore was more life-threatening, as he did it fully clothed.
  • Several times in The Challenge, there will be challenge(s) in which contetants must take a large plunge into the water. Fortunately, the producers are quite aware of this trope - so it's not high enough to cause harm. However, accidents can still happen - James Lock landed awkwardly in the first episode of "The Challenge UK" and suffered several facial injuries as a result.
  • Forever: Averted with a detailed description of the consequences of falling from a high bridge in "Look Before You Leap" which invokes the analogy to landing on concrete.
    Henry: When you fall off a bridge, your body accelerates to an impact of roughly ten miles per hour per story. So, from here, the fall is roughly 70 miles per hour. The water is like concrete. When you land, the bones in your hips shatter and get driven into your internal organs. If you should survive, you can't stop yourself from sinking. All things considered, it's one of the worst ways to die, certainly in the top twenty.
  • In Stranger Things, Hopper begins to grow suspicious about the supposed death of Will Byers when his drowned but physically intact corpse is found in the water of a quarry, apparently having fallen from the top of the cliff. Hopper had previously mentioned that if someone did fall from that height and hit the water, they'd break every bone in their body and be pulverized; sure enough, Will's 'body' turns out to be a dummy. Mike is prepared to die from being forced to jump into the lake by the bullies threatening Dustin, if not for Eleven intervening and saving him.
  • MythBusters checked the myth that you could avert this by having something hit the water first in order to break the surface tension. Busted.
    • "Bullet Proof Water" is confirmed, with the observation that high-caliber rifle rounds are easily stopped (more so for the .50 BMG), but smaller projectiles such as pistol rounds and 12-gauge shot can cut through to at least eight feet (ignoring problems of deflection). They also observe that the relative angle between shooter and target suggests that a mere foot or two of depth can provide the needed protection.
    • At least part of this is due to a bullet's center of gravity (especially long skinny pointy rifle bullets with a copper jacket and dense core) being located towards the rear. They exit the barrel flying in a tight spiral but tend to yaw or tumble when entering a denser medium (such as water, ballistic gel, or organic tissue). The increased surface area effectively turns an aerodynamic "dive" into a "belly flop"; the added resistance can cause the bullet to break apart given enough velocity. The same rifle bullets at a longer range (MythBusters tested at very short range) would shed velocity and thus probably go deeper underwater without disintegrating. Some discussion on this yawing effect with 5.56mm NATO-standard ammunition can be found here.
    • In "Dive to Survive", they confirm the myth that you can survive an explosion by diving into shallow water. Although, they point out that water can only protect you from an explosion if the conditions are just right. You can be protected from say, gasoline, but water will not save you from more powerful high explosives. You would at the very least have to be submerged at least 50 feet away, and that's for the relatively weak dynamite.
    • Royal Navy pilot Charles Lamb once had to ditch a stricken aircraft at sea, unable to make it back to his carrier. Fortunately, the ship knew he was in trouble and had launched a rescue boat. Unfortunately, Lamb realized his aircraft had been carrying a full load of primed depth charges and was sinking fast. He knew once the aircraft sank to about a hundred fathoms, the depth-sensitive fuses would go off. He also knew the explosion, powerful enough to cripple a U-boat, would send out shockwaves that would pulverize the flimsy boat he was currently in and mash those aboard it to pulp. He then took over the rowing of the boat over the head of an affronted bosun, not revealing the peril they were in for fear of causing panic, but wanting to get back to the safety of the nearest big ship (not necessarily his own carrier), double-quick.
    • In "Dodge a Bullet" Kari Tory and Grant "bust" the myth that landing in water is the same as landing on concrete at terminal velocity; seemingly upholding this trope. However, they took the myth literally and said that the G-forces and injuries to a pig carcass weren't identical, rather than following the spirit of the myth that no matter which you hit, dead is dead.
    • In "Cannonball Chemistry" Adam and Jamie test if floating a mattress on water will invoke this trope and make it safe to land on from a long fall (35 feet according to the myth taken from an episode of Burn Notice). They find that it actually makes matters worse, but then bring on a professional stunt coordinator (the same one who helped them with Dumpster Diving) who showed them that if you know what you're doing water can be soft — by jumping from 35 feet and safely decelerating in just over 4.5 feet of water (the depth of the shallow end of a pool described in the mattress jump myth).
  • In an episode of the Netflix series Love. Mickey jumps off the roof of a two story home and lands face down in a swimming pool. She is immediately shown as injured, although not severely so.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The tale of Icarus averts this and gets it right: he lands in the sea and dies. Though whether it was the fall or because he couldn't swim isn't specified - it's ambiguous to allow for either.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Averted in 3.5 rules: for the first 20 feet you take no damage and for the next 20 you take reduced non-lethal damage, but beyond that, you take falling damage as normal. Somewhat straight if you dive into the water, as if the water is deep enough you can make a Swim check and negate the damage no matter how high up you are. However, the DCs to make this dive grow pretty fast.
    • 1st Edition rules (from the Dungeonneer's Survival Guide) also took a water landing into account. On a successful Dexterity check, a character can dive and divide the damage by 10 as a result. On a failed check, though, the fall is just as damaging as against hard stone.

    Video Games 
  • Conversed in AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity. At one point, it's mentioned that some people prefer living above a body of water, because if they fall off their floating island, they'll land safely in the water. It's then mentioned that falling into water from that height is like falling onto concrete. There is no way to see for yourself, as the instant death grid at the bottom of every stage is always above the water.
  • Call of Juarez is a rare exception to this rule, where falling into water exerts the same damage as falling onto solid ground.
  • Notably averted in the Syphon Filter series starting with Dark Mirror, as falling into the water from a sufficient height is definitely harmful. Judging the fatal height (for both water and solid landings) is also quite difficult thanks to the health system, as characters are given a (literal) Bulletproof Vest, but very little health. The earlier installments also sort of averted the trope, by virtue of not having any real bodies of water to speak of. In Syphon Filter 2, for example, a fatal fall from a bridge or a sheer cliff in an environment where a river at the bottom may be assumed to be present, are actually just well-disguised Bottomless Pits. If you fall in, the water is not shown — the screen just fades to black, the "Mission Failed" message is shown, and you're brought back to your last checkpoint. In Omega Strain, falling a height that would be fatal on land (only a few meters) also kills you if you land in water.
  • Blue Dragon features a subversion by way of unexpectedly avoiding the issue entirely. Early on, the main characters are dropped out of a flying fortress over a large body of water, and — as we know they're not going to die yet — it seems like there'll be a Soft Water save. Instead, they're sucked back up into a different part of the fortress, and we never find out if they'd have survived the fall; although, if their reactions to the situation are any indication, they wouldn't have.
  • In the Deus Ex: Human Revolution spinoff Deus Ex: The Fall this trope is averted. The main character jumps out of a plane over the ocean, surviving thanks to futuristic technology that uses force fields to cushion falls, but even with said technology he still takes extreme damage from the fall and has to be hospitalized from it.
  • Averted at one point in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Early in the game, you need to raise the water level in a pit to make it down safely, because it's still too far to fall without dying. It's played straight at other points and in the sequel though.
  • Averted in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, as if you slip whilst navigating the outside of the Big Shell you get treated to a short of Raiden screaming as he plummets to his demise before switching to the mission failed screen.
  • For a game that uses so many of the idioms you'd see in a typical action movie, Just Cause 2 almost averts this. Rico can fall very far onto solid ground without getting hurt, and can even prevent fall damage by using his grappling hook to pull himself straight towards the ground, but if a fall is high enough for him to take damage (indicated by him going into a skydiving position), belly-flopping in water will not negate it. However, diving headfirst into the water will allow you to take no damage at all.
  • The game Crysis begins with a paratrooper drop, but when the player's parachute is torn off by a flying alien, it is heavily implied that you only survived the drop into the ocean because of your nanomuscle suit (which was briefly disabled by the impact). However, the in-game physics engine plays the trope pretty straight.
  • Subverted-ish in Far Cry 3. Drop a short distance into water? You'll probably be fine. Drop a long way? You'll black out for a moment, and if the water isn't deep enough you will take damage. A couple of times you do dive what seems to be about fifty to a hundred feet into a cenote, but the water's deep. Justified in that your character is into extreme sports and knows how to dive properly (feet first, arms crossed). You can trigger an animation showing the protagonist crossing his arms together when diving by making sure that you are sprinting and looking downwards before diving into a (fairly deep) body of water.
  • Averted with the Windham Classics text adventure of Treasure Island. Fall overboard during the storm or from any great height and instant death.
  • A Valley Without Wind calculates falling damage upon impact with the surface of water, and only then does it slow you down. The fact the acid water also starts eating at your health is just salt in the wound at that point.
  • Averted in the Nancy Drew game Hauntings at Castle Malloy: If Nancy, while wearing a jet pack (long story), attempts to fly over the ocean past the castle, she runs out of power and falls to her doom. One potential "Good News / Bad News" segment begins with the assurance that it's "just water"...then explains that falling into any body of water above fifty feet provides the same effect as falling onto cement.
  • Averted in some parts of Time Gal. Some of the failure outcomes shows the protagonist falling from a great height into water, high enough for it to be fatal.
  • Inverted in early versions of Kerbal Space Program. Hitting the ground too hard will cause parts to explode, but doing so slows down the rest of the ship, which could allow the at least part of it to survive. Hitting water doesn't slow down the ship nearly as much, resulting in it completely self destructing as each part enters the water. The 1.0 update introduced more realistic water physics, moving it closer to being simply averted, but it's still inverted to a degree.
  • Averted in Dwarf Fortress: being pushed off the top of a waterfall or catapulted into a pond causes realistic concussion, broken bones, organ damage and eventually death from trauma or internal bleeding. Even short falls (about 3 feet) can prove fatal, as they will still stun the victim long enough for them to drown.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: The Stormblood expansion introduced swimming (before that it was impossible to enter water more than a foot deep), but falling into deep water is treated the same as falling onto land. note 
  • Bionic Commando Rearmed 2: In the "countdown" level, the main character's Super Drowning Skills were rather lazily implemented, and when he falls into the water, he just faceplants on it as if it were ground, and his corpse remains on the hard surface until the screen fades (note that the game otherwise has no falling damage).
  • In the Overwatch cinematic short "Shooting Star", in a last-ditch effort to set her Mini-Mecha to explosively self-destruct to defeat the oncoming Gwishin attack, D.Va bails out over what appears to be several stories over the ocean. She instantly blacks out once she hits the water, and upon retrieval is rushed to the hospital from unspecified, but clearly life-threatening injuries. While the short later shows her back at work, she still has a broken arm and leg to show for her troubles.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out!: Jumping off the ridiculously-tall high dive at the pool will cause Larry to belly-flop into the water and let out a pained cry.
    Larry: YEEEEOOOOWWWW! That really hurt!

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: In the 2018 rematch of Mario vs Sonic the Hedgehog, after holding onto a spin dashing Sonic in his hands, Mario sets him on fire and throws him towards the sea hard. The impact gibs Sonic as he dies in a nuclear bomb explosion.
  • The LeBrons: In the episode "Stay on the Court", Kid nervously climbs on a very high diving board (called a "high dive") and "dives" off of it, taking the longest fall he ever had until he finally hits the water in the swimming pool, where he's about to drown, only to be saved by his love interest Li.
  • hololive: In one of the Hologra shorts, Miko and Ollie are falling off a plane and towards the ocean; Miko initially thinks this trope will be in play and keep her from "going splat" but Calli informs her of the reality, making her panic more.

    Web Comics 
  • Subverted in this strip from 8-Bit Theater: first Red Mage points out that water doesn't work like that, then Sarda teleports them into his cave, causing them to impact the rock floor instead.
  • In Fite! Lucco survives a long fall into a lake with no apparent injuries, but the landing causes him to hallucinate briefly (it takes him a moment to even realize he's in water).
  • Averted in Keychain of Creation, where Marena is quick to point out to Secret that hitting the water surface from their current altitude would be like crashing on a rock.

    Web Original 
  • Worm averts this with Leviathan, whose water shadow, hitting at the same speed he does — and he moves very fast indeed — is responsible for wounding or killing as many capes as his physical body.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of The Real Ghostbusters has the guys plummeting from high in the air towards the river. Ray thinks it'll be a soft landing until Egon reminds him that from this height it'll be like hitting concrete. The guys fire their particle throwers at the water to create a plume of water to catch them mid-fall, as well as to slow their descent just enough so that it's a reasonably softer impact.
  • Averted/Justified in one instance in Avatar: The Last Airbender when Aang is about to fall into water and then uses waterbending to lift it up in a column to soften the blow. The same episode has Sokka dumping the crew of an airship out the bomb-bay into the ocean though he at least lowered the airship's altitude. (The crew is still stuck in the ocean, miles away from the shore.)
    • In the sequel series, Korra repeatedly uses the same trick as Aang to dive into water from large heights.
  • Averted in Gargoyles, where two characters fall off a cliff into the ocean... and actually die. But played straight when two other characters fall off of a dam and survive.
  • Averted in the Code Lyoko episode "Marabounta". Ulrich tries to show off at the pool by diving from the highest platform — which is a very bad idea since he's suffering from vertigo. He panics and ends up belly-flopping and knocking himself out, having to be rescued by William and given CPR by Jim.
  • Averted in an episode of X-Men: Evolution where Nightcrawler and Shadowcat stow away on the X-jet with an insane Wolverine at the controls (long story). Shadowcat proceeds to ask why they can't just teleport out of the jet. Seeing as they were flying over an ocean at the time, Nightcrawler points out the absurdity in this plan with "Picture this: bumpity bumpity bumpity bumpity SPLAT!"
    • It can be a case of Not the Fall That Kills You…. Since he meant that they were travelling at supersonic speed. Teleporting out would mean that they would be out of the Jet... but still at supersonic speed!
  • Averted on Jimmy Two-Shoes. In an embarrassing old movie, Lucius falls from a high dive and hits the water like concrete before sinking. Luckily for him, he's on a show where Amusing Injuries is in effect.
  • In an old Disney short featuring Donald Duck, Donald was dragged through the air on the end of a rope. Eventually, he is swung with whip-like force downwards into a lake. But instead of splashing in softly as expected, he hits the water with a loud "WHACK", not even making a splash before he sinks. Of course, he survives, being a toon and all.
  • One Tom and Jerry short, Cat Napping, averts this. When Tom hits the water, he breaks into pieces.
  • Averted in The Amazing World of Gumball: Gumball sometimes jumps the plank at the school swimming pool as one of the show's gags, but whether he falls flat on the water surface before sinking or makes a gigantically splashing dive bomb, he always gets hurt as a result.
  • In the opening sequence to The Legend of Zelda cartoon, Link fires some blasts from his sword to break up the surface of the pond/moat into which he and Zelda are falling.
  • Technically averted ("technically" because it still falls under another artistic license trope) in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Dragon Quest". Spike jumps off of a high cliff into a pool of lava some teenage dragons are bathing in to try and impress them. He hits the surface with a loud smacking noise, then slowly sinks.
  • Subverted in the SWAT Kats episode "Mutation City" where Jake/Razor is knocked unconscious when he hits the water and has to be saved by his partner.
  • Averted in an episode of Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil. Kick lands in a water with a thud before sinking, but is otherwise unharmed

    Real Life 
  • There was a skydiver whose parachute failed to deploy, and she fell into water, and survived. There was a catch, though; it wasn't exactly clean water. She fell into an open sewage receptacle. Even more surprising is the depth of the fluid inside the receptacle, in that it was barely even full; the skydiver landed in the mixture of water and chunky unmentionables that was only about 2 feet deep, which certainly saved her life, though she sustained a broken back on impact. This article mentions that the condition of the liquid also helped, in that because the water contained within the receptacle among its other contents was very cold, it kept the swelling down from her injuries, which bought a bit more time until the ambulance arrived. Non-aqueous fluids can also be considerably lighter than water, with oil being a prime example.
  • Cliff divers, whose dives are usually about twice as high as platform divers, usually enter the water feet first: better to have a broken leg than a broken neck. Those that have to dive "head-first" actually dive arms-first: using locked arms and carefully-positioned hands to break the water ahead of the head.
  • As noted, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is the site of frequent suicide attempts, a few of which each year are unsuccessful. It's to the point that there are crisis hotline phones along the bridge sidewalks as well as signs warning suicidal people against making the jump, as detailed in this Wikipedia article. In 2011, a teenage boy leaped from the bridge during a field trip (apparently convinced by this trope that he was in no real danger) and not only lived but sustained no injury more serious than bruising. There are a lot of variables that come into account in these falls, but it's usually the wind that saves you.
  • It wasn't the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger's fuel tank that killed the crew — that only threw the shuttle off-kilter, and the resulting supersonic aerodynamic stresses tore the orbiter apart. It wasn't the disintegration of the orbiter that killed the crew, either — the crew module survived the midair breakup intact. What did kill them was falling a hundred thousand feet and landing in the ocean at 200 miles per hour.
  • While 30 feet is hardly significant in fiction, free falling 30 feet into 12 inches of water and walking away without any noteworthy injuries does deserve mention.
    • Well, there is what's known as the "thirty-thirty" — thirty feet over the water, thirty knots, lobbing frogmen out the back. Granted they aren't landing in a foot of water, but...
    • 30 feet, or ten meters, is also a fairly standard height for the highest amongst diving boards. It's a height at which even bad dive attempts are usually survived without too serious injuries. Which is why a foot of water can break one's fall: the diver goes on purpose for a very painful but ultimately survivable belly flop. Don't Try This at Home, though, not without some serious stunts and/or diving experience. Double that height and even professional cliff divers won't jump without a safety team standing by. At these heights, air friction doesn't play much of a role yet, and a little extra height can make a big difference.
  • In 2015, Bostonians, pelted by snow, have been jumping off second story windows into snow banks. For kicks. The jumpers are taking advantage of the very "airy" nature of fresh-fallen snow: the same nature that causes you to sink into that snow unless you spread your weight with things like snowshoes. All that air provides a means of softening the impact. As of the writing of the article, there are apparently no reports about getting hurt but the Mayor of Boston is telling people to stop (because the snow may be concealing something less forgiving underneath).
  • When the Red Army ran out of parachutes in the winter of 1941, its paratroopers were instructed to make desperation jumps anyway, leaping from planes at below two hundred feet and instructed to aim at snowdrifts. Incredibly, some paratroopers survived.note  Some even survived long enough to join up with partisan groups behind German lines and carry on fighting. It should be noted that they were leaping out of bi-planes, which flew considerably lower and slower than any plane in operation today. The Russians didn't just run out of parachutes: practically all of their newly built planes were destroyed on the ground in the first push into their territory. They had to press crop-dusters into service. Still, much of the modern Russian reputation for badassery is because of the actions of the under-equipped troops during the first year of WWII. Fighting for home, and an ideology that they still very much believed in at this point, they accomplished feats unmatched by any other army.
  • Magma and lava, as well as some other molten materials such as molten metal and caramel, are prime examples of shear thickening non-Newtonian liquids. Apply significant force to them, and they increase in viscosity (an inverse of the mechanics behind quicksand, ketchup, and shampoo, for example). What this means is that, far from lava acting like water as seen in many forms of media, if you tried to jump into it (assuming you had means to survive it and all the other forms of danger associated with being near it), you'd hit the surface and sink very slowly into it, before promptly bursting into flames. It's fair to say you could very well knock yourself unconscious from hitting the surface if you were to approach at a great enough speed. Again, as with other shear thickening liquids, gentle agitation keeps it fluid, which is why scientists are able to gather samples of lava with handheld tools and a bucket of water.
    • In 1985, the volcanologist George Ulrich survived falling on a lava flow after a crust of cooled rock collapsed under his boots. He did not sink and was pulled off the flow quickly. He survived with some burns, thanks to his boots and insulated pants.


Video Example(s):


Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out!

This trope gets averted (NOTE: Aversions are allowed for this trope as it has a section dedicated to them at the bottom of the page) when Larry jumps from La Costa Lotta's ridiculously tall diving tower, as he ends up getting really hurt when he lands into the water.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / SoftWater

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