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Waist-Deep Ocean

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To the right, Godzilla; to the left, the USS Scorpion, an Ohio-class nuclear submarine. Not shown: How the heck Godzilla is able to stand upright in the middle of the open ocean.

"Okay, so just seconds ago [Gipsy Danger] rose up out of the water completely submerged, but now [it is] standing and the water comes up to [its] knees. So what position must Gipsy Danger have been in underwater in order to pull off that rise-up-from-the-deep move? Like, lying flat on the floor of the ocean, right?"
CinemaSins, Discussing this trope in Pacific Rim, and what it would take to pull off.
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In a wide range of media, it is common to see characters standing upright and knee-to-chest-deep in water or other liquid substances that logically should be well over their heads and/or in which they were previously shown completely submerged.

This trope is particularly common in kaiju movies and giant monster-related media, and doesn't just apply to the open ocean, either: even lakes, bays, and continental shelfs — where the water is relatively shallow — can have depths exceeding the height of giant monsters. In tokusatsu films, this is done both as a means of practicality — to avoid risking the people wearing the monster costumes drowning in the often heavy and cumbersome suits — and to make the giant monsters and robots seem more imposing by comparison, even if it logically makes no sense. In animation and films where the action is filmed using CGI instead of suits, this is generally done as an homage to classic giant monster movies.

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This trope is not exclusive to giant monsters, and has appeared in a range of other media as well. Contrast the subtrope of High-Dive Hijinks where a character dives into a shallow pool of water — for example, a wading pool — and disappears into it as though it's deep. Superficially similar to, but in many ways the opposite of, Stop Drowning and Stand Up. A subtrope of Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Adventure 02: At the end of "The Call Of Dagomon/His Master's Voice", Dagomon/Dragomon — an expy of Cthulhu — is shown in silhouette rising out of the Dark Ocean and standing submerged up to its waist.
  • Pokémon:
    • The episode "Mystery of the Lighthouse" has a gigantic Dragonite who walks to and from the lighthouse up to its hips in the ocean, even when far away.
    • In the Pokémon: Mega Evolution Special III, Primal Groudon is shown wading through the open ocean, creating a sea of lava in its wake.
  • So I'm a Spider, So What?: In the manga, the fire-dragon Rend is shown swimming in a sea of magma that only comes up to his knees when he fights the Queen Taratect and later Kumoko. The anime omits the fight between Rend and the Queen Taratect, instead showing him severely wounded and bursting from the magma to attack Kumoko.

    Comic Books 
  • Dark Horse Comics: In Godzilla Color Special, Godzilla weaponizes this trope by diving underneath a battleship and then standing up — his dorsal plates ripping the ship apart like cheesecloth. Later in the issue, Godzilla and the oni samurai Gekido-jin are shown standing waist-deep in water that is later shown to be far deeper than they are tall.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Little Mermaid: In the film's climax, Ursula uses the power of King Triton's trident to transform into a colossal version of herself, rising straight up out of the ocean and towering over everyone while submerged up to her waist... which enables Prince Eric to impale her with a shipwreck.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: Insectosaurus and the alien probe towering over the Golden Gate Bridge even though neither is tall enough to even clear the 115 meters of water below (Insectosaurus is officially 350 feet tall — 106.68 meters — and the alien probe isn't much larger).
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: At the beginning of the film, Jack Skellington dives into the town fountain after lighting himself on fire, and then dramatically rises straight up out of it to stand ankle-deep before climbing onto the fountain's statue.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas: Cetus, one of Eris' pet living constellations in the shape of a Sea Monster, is sent to stir up chaos by attacking Sinbad and Proteus' ships — rearing the upper part of its body out of the water and attacking with its tentacles and telescopic tongue.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Clash of the Titans (1981): This is initially averted, as the Kraken is shown propping itself up on rocks with one set of arms to keep its upper body above the surface of the ocean. After it's petrified and its arms break off, however, this is played straight as its body crumbles to pieces instead of sinking.
  • Ghostbusters II: Inverted at the climax of the film, when the Ghostbusters ride a walking Statue of Liberty from Liberty Island to New York City. The Upper New York Bay that surrounds Liberty Island is 50 feet deep at its lowest point, while the Statue of Liberty is 111.5 feet tall from head-to-foot, meaning that the water should only be waist-deep... but the statue is shown submerged up to eye-level.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla (1954), Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1956), and Godzilla Raids Again avert this trope, with the 50-meter-tall Godzilla being shown either swimming fully submerged, walking along the seafloor, or standing neck-deep in the ~40-meter-deep waters of Tokyo Bay.
    • King Kong vs. Godzilla: Captured by bumbling corporate executive Mr. Tako, King Kong is en route to Japan from the Solomon Islands when the dynamite on the raft he's secured to is blown up. The 45-meter-tall Kong stands upright waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean — a fair distance outside of Japanese maritime boundaries — and wades the rest of the way to Japan.
    • Ebirah, Horror of the Deep: The fight between Godzilla and Ebirah starts with them being waist-deep and has Ebirah dive and then drag Godzilla straight down to the bottom of the ocean — with both of them being fully submerged — before they return to the surface.
    • All Monsters Attack: Ichiro and Minya watch a fight between Godzilla and Ebirah that — as it uses stock footage from Ebirah, Horror of the Deep — has the two giant monsters alternate between fighting waist-deep on the surface and at the bottom of the ocean.
    • Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth: Partway through the film, Godzilla and Mothra's caterpillar form are shown duking it out in the middle of the ocean, with the water only coming up to Godzilla's waist. Mothra even chomps down on the tip of Godzilla's tail and gets flailed around.
    • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah: The 40-meter-tall Godzilla Junior is shown wading waist-deep through the Pacific Ocean.
    • Godzilla (1998): Inverted when the 60-meter-tall Godzilla is shown rising out of the East River and not even standing knee-deep despite having just been fully submerged save for the tips of its dorsal scutes. It is inverted a second time later in the film, when Godzilla dives into the ~62 meter-deep Hudson River to escape military pursuit and is shown fully submerged well over its head.
    • Godzilla: Final Wars: The last shot in the movie is of Godzilla and Minilla doing exactly this, wading through the ocean.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Godzilla (2014): The 108-meter-tall Godzilla stands upright and towers over the Golden Gate Bridge — despite the bridge having a clearance of 67 meters and the water beneath the bridge having a depth of 115 meters.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Midway through the film, the now 119-meter-tall Godzilla stands upright next to a submarine in the open ocean — in water he was previously fully submerged in — before diving back under and swimming away.
  • Pacific Rim:
    • Trespasser — the first Kaiju to emerge from the Breach — is shown ripping through the Golden Gate Bridge, despite the Kaiju only being 92.05 meters tall in contrast to the bridge's clearance of 67 meters and the water beneath the bridge having a depth of 115 meters.
    • The fight between Gipsy Danger and Knifehead is stated to take place on a shallow shelf seven miles off the coastline of Alaska, with Knifehead later pinning Gipsy Danger to a rock outcropping while ripping it apart. However, both the 79.25 meter-tall Jaeger and 96.01 meter-tall Kaiju were shown standing waist-to-knee-deep in water they'd both previously been completely submerged in.
    • Otachi and Leatherback are shown completely submerged in Hong Kong Bay until they pop up to ambush Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha, at which point the water barely comes up to their knees and elbows. Even when Otachi is thrown into deeper water by Crimson Typhoon, she isn't submerged until she dives to attack Striker Eureka.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In the film's opening, Poseidon rises straight up out of the ocean as a giant humanoid and walks to shore before assuming a human-sized form.

    Literature 
  • Nemesis Saga: In Project Nemesis, Nemesis — while swimming in water at least 150 feet deep — pops her torso up out of the ocean in order to attack a yacht belonging to a corrupt CEO attempting to force himself on his secretary. She bites the CEO in half, then proceeds to rip the yacht apart with her claws and eat everyone else onboard — including the secretary she'd just saved — before diving back down into the ocean.

    Music 

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: Poseidon is often depicted — usually in modern art — as a colossal humanoid rising up out of the depths of the ocean, befitting his status as the god of the seas.
  • Japanese Mythology: The Umibozu is a Yōkai often described as resembling a colossal shadowy humanoid figure rising out of the sea and being submerged from the waist-down.

    Video Games 
  • Cold Waters: Downplayed. The ocean does get deeper than your submarine can dive. The deepest-diving player sub in the (unmodded) game is USS Seawolf, which has a test depth of 1650 feet, and it's possible to go deep enough to crush her. However, the ocean floor seems to bottom out at 1914 feet everywhere, even places where it should be much deeper. In the year 2000 campaign, your home base is at Guam, and you can easily drive over the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest spot on the planet at 35827 feet (10920 meters) deep. But if you go there in-game, your fathometer will still read 1914 feet.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: The Great Mighty Poo is an operatic poop-monster that lives in a giant feces-encrusted toilet and is shown rising up out of the center of it — which is revealed to be a deep pit once he's flushed away. His Villain Song makes several allusions to him having an anus, implying that he has an unseen lower body and isn't just a Blob Monster.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: As an early 3D game, having swimming animation would've added considerably to the development time, and as such all of the water is shallow enough for the player to walk through. That said, the player character is realistically slowed depending on how high the water goes up his body, and plant-filled swamp water slows him down even more.
  • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: In the Omega Ruby remake, Groudon emerges from a pool of magma it subsequently stands knee-deep in.
  • The Shore: At the end of the game, Cthulhu erupts from the depths of the ocean and stands waist deep even as he makes his way right up to the titular shore.
  • Super Mario 3D World: In the Nintendo Switch version's side-campaign, Bowser's Fury, the colossal Fury Bowser is shown emerging from and retreating into water that is only ankle-deep when he's rampaging.
  • War of the Monsters: In the opening cutscene, Togera — an expy of Godzilla — is shown rising out of the ocean and standing waist-deep in front of a fishing vessel as the crew panic.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: In Episode 4, after Anne's room floods she's able to stand waist-deep in it... until the river lampreys pull her and Sprig under the water, at which point the water is far deeper than it should be — with Sprig and the lampreys being able to swim with no indication of where the floor is until the lampreys burrow through it. When the water drains away, Anne is shown to have been standing waist-deep again.
  • The Godzilla Power Hour: Godzilla is often shown rising straight up out of the water, which he then stands waist- or knee-deep in — regardless of whether it's the open ocean or a harbor.
  • Rugrats: Reptar, being a satire of Godzilla and in-universe tokusatsu franchise, was prone to making his appearances by rising straight out of the ocean and then only standing knee-deep — as seen in the opening of the episode "Runaway Reptar", a spoof on Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.

 
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Just how deep is that ocean?

Despite the ocean seemingly being deep enough to conceal both the entirity of a Kaiju and a Humongous Mecha, it doesn't even reach the knees of either.

How well does it match the trope?

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