Let the only sound
Be the overflow
Pockets full of stones..."
This is an example of being Driven to Suicide in which a character walks or swims into a body of water, such as an ocean, lake or river, and drowns in it. This usually happens at nighttime for a calm, allegedly "painless" death. The sea, befitting this mood, will more often than not be relatively calm. This trope may evoke despair, or quiet contemplation, or both. The scene itself may well include dialog using "drifting away" metaphors.
Another version of this is Sailing into the Sunset, where the protagonist takes a small boat and heads to the blue seas with no intention of ever coming back. Death may not necessarily be due to drowning, but by exhaustion, sunstroke, dehydration or perishing in a storm.
Note: This trope does not include examples of jumping into the sea, via cliff or bridge or such, as that evokes a different mood, and is usually more about hitting the water in any case.
This is a Death Trope, so expect spoilers, marked and unmarked.
- In the anime version of Dear Brother, Alpha Bitch Aya attempts this after her Break the Haughty episode. Tomoko and Nanako find her in time and drag her back to the beach, and Mariko gives her a You Are Not Alone speech.
- In Detective Conan, Natsuki Koshimizu's best friend Kana Mizoguchi fatally throws herself into the sea over being wrongfully accused of murdering her boss (who in reality committed suicide) and being unable to prove otherwise. The anime special that treats this case and Natsuki trying to enact revenge on the "school detective" that caused Kana to be blamed over a wrong deduction even begins with her death.
- In Elfen Lied, Mayu was very likely about to drown herself this way when she first encountered Wanta. Caring for the small dog kept her going until better times finally came. In the manga, Yuka, despondent over Kouta's feelings for Nyu, was possibly contemplating this until he made his affection for her plain, even slapping the tsundere for making him worry so much about her. Using tsundere logic, this confirmed to her that he cared for her.
- The opening of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex's third episode features one of the "Jeri" androids which have began committing suicide doing so by walking into a pool (and short circuiting instead of drowning, but it's played out the same way).
- In Occultic;Nine, 256 people walk into the lake and drown, calmly as if they were going for a walk
- The ABCs of Death: The "G" segment follows an unseen protagonist he weighs himself down with bricks, paddles out into the ocean, and sinks to the bottom; his surfboard sticking upright out of the water like a gravestone.
- In Birdman, the protagonist tells the story of how he tried to commit suicide some years ago by walking into the sea but aborted his plan when he found himself in a field of jellyfish which made him return back to the shore.
- Played for laughs in Bjarnfreðarson, in which the title character, at a low ebb of depression, strips off his clothing and wades into the very cold Icelandic surf... only to emerge shivering seconds later, running awkwardly for his clothes.
- In Bloody Reunion, Jung-Wo commits suicide by walking off the end of a pier into the ocean.
- Rather strongly implied at the end of Coming Home, when Bob takes off all his clothes and goes swimming out into the ocean after finding out that Sally cheated on him, but not definitely stated.
- Dead of Night: After losing the golf game for Mary's hand, Larry Potter slowly and solemnly walks into the lake on the golf course until the waters close over his head.
- Dunkirk: On the beaches in Dunkirk, under bombing by German planes and awaiting an increasingly unlikely naval extraction, the main character watches one British soldier throw off his helmet and walk into the waves.
- Subverted in the Black Comedy The End (1978). Burt Reynolds' character, who's spent the entire film trying to off himself after learning he has a terminal disease, swims out into the ocean to do this, then decides he doesn't want to go through with it. Exhausted, he swims back toward shore (negotiating with God all the way), makes it to the beach... and is shot at and then chased with a knife by his "friend" the escaped mental patient (Dom De Luise), who he'd enlisted to help with his earlier suicide attempts.
- In The Face of Another (Japanese: Tanin no kao), the side-plot has a young woman and her brother live by the sea. Because of a disfiguring facial scar, she can't seem to have a fulfilled sex life. At one point she seduces her brother. Afterwards she dresses up and walks into the sea.
- Towards the end of Grace of My Heart, Denise's husband Jay kills himself by doing this after a song he wrote is brushed off by Denise.
- The film version of The Hours starts with a fluvial version of this, with a depiction of how author Virginia Woolf committed suicide by weighing down her overcoat with rocks and walking into a river near her home.
- An ambiguous example in 1912 film The Land Beyond the Sunset. Joe, a ragged urchin regularly beaten by his abusive grandmother, lives in a filthy New York slum. He gets a ticket from the Fresh Air Fund for a trip to the country and an afternoon of fresh, clean air. While there, a guide reads a fairy tale to the children in which a boy sails away with the fairies to "the land beyond the sunset." Joe finds an abandoned rowboat and decides to imitate the story—by sailing off into the open ocean in his rowboat, without food or water, without even an oar. The film leaves the viewer to contemplate whether Joe is actually committing suicide or if he's sailing to "the land beyond the sunset" as in the fairy tale.
- The ghost in Lemon Tree Passage compels Maya to commit 'suicide by lake': making her walk off the end of a jetty and into a lake, where she sinks like a stone. She survives.
- In The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, it's suggested that Rynn's terminally-ill father killed himself in this manner.
- In Long Weekend, Marcia starts walking out into the sea fully clothed, but is grabbed by Peter and dragged back to the beach.
- When his ship gets stuck on a becalmed ocean, a young officer in Master and Commander is accused of being a "Jonah", i.e. someone whose actions have brought some kind of divine curse onto the ship to prevent it from going anywhere. The guilt for fearing this is true, combined perhaps with a fear of what his shipmates will do if the weather doesn't change, he bids farewell to his friend during night watch duty, grabs a cannon ball and jumps overboard.
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Contessa Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo tries to commit suicide by walking into the ocean but is saved by James Bond. It was only one of her self-destructive behaviors, which included gambling with money she didn't have. Also occurs in Ian Fleming's original novel.
- In Oslo, August 31st (2011), Anders attempts suicide by putting rocks into his jacket pockets and carrying a large rock into a river (though he eventually emerges).
- At the end of Point Break (1991) Bodhi paddles out to sea on his surfboard one last time to catch a once-in-a-lifetime wave after being warned that the seas are too rough for any surfer to survive. The area is surrounded by police and he will be arrested when he gets back to shore. It is fairly clear to the audience that he does not intend to come back.
- A flashback to P.L. Travers' childhood in Saving Mr. Banks involves her stopping her mother from walking into a lake.
- In Stag, Timan—seeing no way of the spiraling Crime After Crime situation he is trapped in—drowns himself in Victor's swimming pool.
- Norman Maine walks into the sea to die in both the 1937 and 1954 versions of A Star Is Born, after his star fades and his depression worsens.
- In Third Star (2010), James (terminally ill with cancer) travels to Barafundle Bay and drowns himself with the assistance of his friends, who agree to do so when they witness the extent to which his condition causes him severe pain.
- The early color film The Toll of the Sea (a silent adaptation of Madame Butterfly) ends with the heroine Lotus Flower committing suicide this way, in place of the original story's suicide by dagger. In the film's original release, the final scene allegedly showed her walking into the sea, but those frames have since been lost and replaced with simple shots of waves at sunset, along with an intertitle implying her fate.
- In Deepa Mehta's Water (2005), Kalyani walks into the Ganges to commit suicide after discovering that her love Narayan, who wanted to marry her despite the fact that she is a widow, is the son of the man she has been forced to sexually service against her will since the age of nine.
- In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, protagonist Edna swims far into the sea and lets herself be drowned. It's quite symbolic as learning to swim and bathing in the sea meant a lot for her and unleashed her desires and creativity.
- In Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, Esther has been trying to commit suicide. After failing to hang/strangle herself because of her body's natural preservation instincts, she decides to swim so far out into the ocean that she won't be able to swim back. She chooses a large rock as a marker to swim to only to realize that if she reaches it, she'll simply climb on the rock. She tries to drown herself where she is but is unsuccessful.
- In the bleak ending of Far Rainbow, the Tester Group swims to their deaths into the approaching Wave (a colossal wall of negative energy spawned by a scientific experiment Gone Horribly Wrong) while singing, rather than wait passively for it on the coast.
- The Fog: There's a scene where a woman, having been left by her lover, goes to commit suicide in the sea but has second thoughts. She winds up drowning when a horde of fog-infected (and thus insane) citizens and tourists from Bournemouth suddenly commit mass suicide via marching into the sea, dragging her along with them.
- The French story "Le Jettatura" by Theophile Gautier has a man (possibly) have the Evil Eye without realizing it. After attributing every misfortune that happened near him to this and believing himself to be the cause of his fiancée's wasting disease, he blinds himself, but discovers that she's already dead, and heads off towards the sea.
- Mary Wesley's novel Jumping the Queue and its TV adaptation begin with the protagonist about to drown herself in the sea but changing her mind, and end with her actually doing so.
- The Kalevala: Aino drowns herself because she does not want to marry Joukahainen.
- Long before the events of Ozma of Oz, King Ev sold his wife and kids to the Nome King in exchange for a longer life. He didn't realize until after the fact how horrible what he did was, and since he couldn't do anything to get them back, he threw himself into the ocean, wasting the very thing he'd sold his family for.
- The Plague Dogs: Two dogs that escape from a research laboratory, Rowf and Snitter, try to live as feral dogs. However, when animal control and the police converge upon the two dogs in an attempt to recapture them, Rowf and Snitter swim out to sea rather than go back to the horrors of the lab.
- Sweet Valley High. Surfer Bill Chase's backstory includes him attempting suicide by sea after learning of his girlfriend's death—he grabbed his surfboard and went out into a storm.
- In the Mary Higgins Clark novel You Belong To Me, one of the murder suspects kills himself by sea (he's innocent of the murder, but the investigation has revealed equally nefarious things that he was involved in and he is certain to face jail time anyway).
- All My Children: Hayley attempts this after falling Off the Wagon, having just found out that her ex-boyfriend is involved with her best friend. It isn't 100% clear whether this was intentional or if Hayley was just too drunk to realize what she was doing when she walked into the ocean. Either way, after she washes up on the beach, she admits that struggling against the waves made her realize that she wanted to live.
- On an episode of Baywatch, lifeguard Eddie has to rescue a guy who's hell-bent on doing this. His girlfriend's reaction of "Oh, no. Not another one", indicates that this is a problem that the guards often have to deal with (probably in real life also).
- The Blacklist has Reddington explain to Liz that this is how Masha Rostova got rid of herself after her husband was shot by Liz in an accident.
- Parodied on one episode of The Daily Show when John Oliver visits Australia to find out how they passed tighter gun-control laws and concluding that American politicians would never have the guts, "so I'm going to walk into the ocean." The bit ends with him on a populous beach doing just that.
- A character on Diagnosis: Murder commits this. As he does so, the footage freezes and turns black-and-white.
- The Enemy at the Door episode "Call of the Dead" ends with a character taking off her shoes and walking into the sea, overwhelmed by the things she's done to survive.
- In The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Reggie fakes his death by leaving his clothes on the beach, making it look like he has committed suicide by walking out into the sea.
- In the final episode of Green Wing, Alan and Joanna rather romantically stride naked, hand-in-hand, into the North Sea to kill themselves, following their accidental crime spree. The extended ending shows they weren't very successful at dying, though.
- The second episode of the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series has a man (actually Douglas Adams) walking naked into the sea, throwing money away.
- Lodge 49: Dud and Liz's father disappeared while surfing at night some years prior to the events of the series, and while officially his possible death was ruled an accident, its an Open Secret that he probably committed suicide via this trope (he was suffering severe financial and emotional problems at the time, on top of having been widowed). For most of season one, Dud refuses to accept this, insisting that his father was actually killed by a shark attack. In the season finale, he finally comes to terms with it, decides to honor his father by surfing in the spot where he died, and is immediately attacked by a shark.
- Referenced in Mad Men when Don proposes an advert for a resort of a pair of business shoes and briefcase on a beach with footprints going into the water, apparently to show a sense of peace and ease. His colleagues point out it looks like someone committed suicide (which a depressed but in-denial Don fails to see) and reject the idea.
- In the Murdoch Mysteries episode "Loch Ness Murdoch", a woman walks into Lake Ontario with weights in her dress, because her fiance has left her for another woman.
- In The Phantom of the Opera miniseries, the titular character's mother tries to do this when her lover's reaction after she tells him that she's pregnant and wants to get married is that he's already married. He saves her, but she furiously rejects him afterwards.
- In one episode of Reno 911!, Wiegel threatens to kill herself by walking out into the ocean, despite the state of Nevada being landlocked. Clemmy deadpans that Wiegel would be lucky if she could find her way to her own car, let alone the nearest coastline.
- In the Scrubs episode "My Fishbowl", Elliot reveals she tried this during her Hilariously Abusive Childhood. She swam out into the middle of a lake and just floated, waiting to tire out and drown. Then she got whacked in the back of the head by all the oars of a passing rowing team who were training, and was rescued without anyone knowing she was trying to drown herself.
- The second season of Spooks ends with one of the main characters, fugitive from the law and with his career in shreds, walking into the sea. It's left ambiguous until the beginning of the next season whether this is a genuine suicide or a trick to evade his pursuers.
- Top of the Lake begins with a twelve-year-old girl trying to drown herself in the titular lake due to her pregnancy-by-abuse.
- Two and a Half Men: Attempted by Walden Schmidt at the start of season 9 after his wife left him, only to turn into a Bungled Suicide.
- An episode of Without a Trace concludes with the team discovering that the Victim of the Week did this.
- The BBC miniseries adaptation of Witness for the Prosecution ends with John Mayhew drowning himself in the sea at the end after hitting the Despair Event Horizon, when his wife reveals she no longer loves him, and he learns that the man he helped liberate was in fact guilty of the crime he was accused of.
- The 1997 miniseries adaptation of The Odyssey has Odysseus' mother Anticlea do this when she fears he is dead. This is a change from the original epic poem, where she just dies of grief, but in both versions, Odysseus later encounters her in the underworld.
- Julia in 3%, out of despair of being separated from her son Augusto who remained in the Inland while she went to the Offshore, drowns herself by walking into the sea with iron rings on her feet. In remembrance of this tragedy, her husband Ezekiel often dunks his head in water.
- "Swim to the Moon" by Between the Buried and Me has the protagonist give up on his life and swim into the ocean at night with the intention of drowning himself. As the sequel album The Parallax II: Future Sequence reveals, he survives... because a civilization of fish people captured him and tortured him for their amusement, but released him apologetically upon realizing his greater destiny in the fate of the world.
- Garth Brooks' "The Beaches of Cheyenne" tells of a woman who, upon learning her husband had died in a rodeo, ran out into the ocean and drowned herself.
- The song "Witherer" by Cobalt apparently has the narrator trying to kill himself by drowning in the sea.
"Waves roll over heel, back, and down my throatMy body sinks with the tide"
- "The Islander" by Nightwish features an old seaman and/or lighthouse guard whose family is gone and who figures he's gotten all he's going to get out of life. He decides to Go Out with a Smile while letting an anchor drag him down.
- "Swim Good" by Frank Ocean is centered around this.
- Tom Waits subverts this in "The Ocean", where a man wants to drown himself but the ocean "doesn't want [him] today," implying he's unsuccessful.
- "The Emigrant's Wake" by Cormorant ends with the lonely protagonist walking into the ocean to drown himself.
- Referenced in Brandi Carlisle's song "Whatever You Do".
There are reasons why a body stays in motionBut at the moment, only demons come to mindThere are days when I could walk into the oceanWith no one else but you to leave behind.
- "Devochka i Morye" by Polnalyubvi tells of a girl who falls in love with the sea and presumably drowns herself in it.
- The Igbo Landing rebellion, where a group of Igbo captives drowned themselves in Dunbar Creek rather than submit to slavery, has left a significant impact on African-American literature and art.
- In the Believe It! episode "Goodbye", Richard Wilson has had enough of falling over, forgetting people's names, and never being invited onto Desert Island Discs, and decides he's going to go to a nice island, spend some time there, and then just walk into the sea. He is prevented from doing so by the fact he can't send his suicide e-mail because the sea has no wi-fi, and then a phone call from Ian McKellen saying that he has been invited onto Desert Island Discs. Which is a lie; his emotional farewells led to his friends realising something was up.
- In the finale of Der Silbersee by Kurt Weill and Georg Kaiser, Olim and Severin attempt to drown themselves in the Silbersee, but the lake miraculously freezes over.
- In Hamlet Ophelia falls into a lake and just kind of lets her self drown. A subplot was trying to determine whether or not it actually was suicide.
- Althea, The Light Princess, attempts this, but is thankfully interrupted by the discovery that the lake gives her artificial gravity.
- Once On This Island: Ti Moune walks into the sea, guided by the gods, after Daniel marries Andrea.
- Peter Grimes: Rather than face a mob angry over the death of 2 apprentices, the titular character sinks his boat with himself in it.
- Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water: Flashbacks show that the suicide pact Fuyuhi and Haruka took part in involved their group walking into a lake at sunset while holding hands. Fuyuhi and Haruka were the only ones to survive.
- In Hollow Knight, it's implied that Quirrel does this, after he assists you in killing his mentor, and in the process regains his lost memories. Exhausted by his newly realized age and believing his journey over, he sits calmly on the shore of Blue Lake until the player speaks to him there, then disappears, leaving his blade behind in the beach. The achievement you receive for speaking to him there all but confirms it.
Witness: Spend a final moment with Quirrel.
- In The Secret World, this is a recurring event related to Solomon Island:
- It happened en masse when the Fog that followed the returning Lady Margaret swept over Kingsmouth Town, most of the inhabitants walked into the sea and drowned—only to return as a horde of zombies to prey on the survivors.
- This is the final fate of Tyler Freeborn. Driven to find answers, he dons a respirator and walks into a shallow strait, intent on pushing through to whatever is at the heart of the Fog and knowing that he won't be returning.
- The tragic end of the Norsemen who saved the Wabanaki during the Darkness War. Exposed to the Filth, they returned home only to succumb to madness and disease, leaving their blighted villages behind as they marched into the sea to serve their new masters.
- Narcissu: Setsumi decides to die by drowning rather than let her disease kill her.
- Yasu/Beatrice from Umineko: When They Cry committed suicide in Ep 8 by jumping into the sea to repent for his/her actions that led to the massacre on Rokkenjima. Battler tried to follow after but survived and lost his memory due to brain damage. After being rescued he instead took on the name Tooya Hashijo essentially symbolizing Battler joining Beatrice in her final catbox at the bottom of the sea.
- In Bad Machinery, "The Case of the Fire Inside", Lorraine, an elderly woman with memory problems, mistakes a young selkie for her daughter, Ellen. She realizes the selkie's true nature eventually. When it comes time for the selkie to return to the ocean, Lorraine lies about being okay, and she walks into the ocean as soon as she's alone.
- In an April Fool's comic for Gunshow The Anime Club plans to drive their car into the lake and all drown together.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Tuuri eventually catches the Rash, whose only possible outcomes are death after weeks of sickness or turning into a Plague Zombie. And as far as the mages know, your soul cannot pass to the afterlife in either case. She treats it as a Better to Die than Be Killed situation, and runs to the nearby sea to let herself drown in it while the rest of the crew is distracted.
- xkcd: In comic 1912, "Thermostat", a tech support guy recommends this to a user, as it may be a favorable fate to enduring the wrath of whatever tech god(s) caused his bizarre issue.
- At the end of the Adventure Time episode "The Great Bird Man", the reformed villain Xergiok tries to drown himself in a lake, after a brief relapse into villainy causes all his friends to abandon him in disgust. He immediately changes his mind when a hot mermaid hits on him.
- Referenced in the Bojack Horseman episode "Downer Ending". While incredibly high on numerous substances, Bojack, Todd and Sabrina insist that Bojack's autobiography have an ending. Bojack suggests an apparent long time thought, when he's too old he'll just swim out into a lake until he's too weak to swim anymore and let the water take him. His companions response gives the episode title.
- This is what happens at the beginning of Father and Daughter, if one takes the opening scene literally—the father gives his daughter a goodbye hug, steps into a rowboat, and rows away into the ocean, never to be seen again. However, an equally likely interpretation is that the whole scene (and the whole cartoon) is a metaphor for death and remembrance.
- The Simpsons episode "Homer the Moe" has Moe's bartending professor die this way, walking into a pond to avoid dying by cancer. Moe only realizes what he's doing until after the professor walks in.
- The Walt Disney Presents episode "The Goofy Success Story" has Goofy attempting to do this, when he is distraught at not receiving an Oscar, as a Shout-Out to A Star Is Born (1954). Thankfully, he's saved when he gets a telegram offering him a big role.