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Water Wake-up

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Bob suffers a Tap on the Head or some other form of Instant Sedation. The world goes black...

The next thing he (or we) know is that he's somewhere else — and soaking wet, because whoever roused him decided to do it by throwing a bucket of cold water into his face.

This generally means that Bob has fallen into the hands of people who don't care much about his comfort, and that imminent interrogation of the not-very-nice sort is coming. (If Bob is in a cell, Strapped to an Operating Table, or tied to a chair, that's a pretty good sign that there's worse to come.) But it can also be done by friendly characters — to wake Bob quickly in an emergency, to attempt to jolt him back to his senses when he's panicking or delirious, or simply for laughs. Bonus comedy points if Bob comes awake on his own but the other character pitches the water in his face anyway.


Tends to overlap with Waking Up Elsewhere.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This has been done at least once in Ranma ½ when Akane found Shampoo sleeping with an oblivious Ranma. (She'd crawled into his futon sometime during the night.) Akane woke him up with a bucket of cold water which, thanks to his curse, also turned him into a girl. Added hilarity came from the fact that Shampoo didn't know about the curse and was trying to kill "Girl-Type Ranma".
  • Samurai Champloo: In the first episode, Mugen passes out while fighting Jin in a burning building. He wakes up to a bucket of water, and learns he's going to be tortured and executed for killing the Governor's son.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Kenichi Shirahama is often woken up in this manner if he passes out during training.
  • In Gate:
    • Princess Piña Co Lada takes a nap and tells the head maid to wake her up if anything important happens. The maid promises to wake her up even if she has to dump a bucket of water on her. Later, she does dump a bucket of water on her.
    • When Itami gets knocked out by a door, Tuka pours her canteen in his face.
  • In Pokémon Sun & Moon, when Mimikyu hexes Meowth, Jessie and James dump water on him to revive him. He swallows a good bit of it, and briefly thinks he's drowning. But then he tightly hugs both because of the Near-Death Experience Mimikyu's hex put him through.

    Asian Animation 
  • One of the early promos for Bhaagam Bhaag shows Sunny's mother pouring a bucket of water on her son to wake him up.
  • Boonie Bears: In Season 4 episode 4, the bears splash a bucket of water onto Logger Vick to wake him up, only for Vick to complain about the water being too cold.
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 4 episode 29, Big M. falls unconscious after eating a cooked apple given to him by Sweet S., and Little M. wakes him up by pouring water on him.
  • At the end of the Motu Patlu episode "Angry Clouds", which is all just a nightmare Motu was having, Patlu splashes some water on Motu to wake him up.
  • In episode 21 of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, a scene transition implies that Wolnie pours water on an unconscious Wolffy to wake him up.

    Comic Books 
  • In Cavewoman: Raptorella's Revenge #1,Egomaniac Hunter Raptorella knocks out Carrie and kidnaps her; waking her up miles out of town by dumping a bucket of water on her face.
  • One of multiple Jimmy Olsen comics that involved Jimmy getting superpowers ended this way. Jimmy is doing a trick that involves being submerged under water. Unfortunately, he realizes to his horror that his powers are on the verge of disappearing, leaving him about to drown. Upon wakening, he realizes the water was actually from a pitcher that Superman used to wake him after he overslept on a work day.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness, a curious fairy maid at the SDM decides that some water would be the right thing to help wake up a sleeping Yukari. A pitcher of water. A minute later, the fairy flees screaming from the room after being subjected to the "scary eyeball gap lady's" wrath.
  • In Kage, after Jade has been captured and knocked unconscious in the beginning of the story by the good guys of the W.I.T.C.H. universe who believe her to be a minion of Prince Phobos, she's awoken by Aldarn throwing water in her face, much to her anger.
  • In My Master Ed after a day of particularly grueling training, Hohenheim accidentally sleeps in so late that Edward has to wake him up, and he uses ice to do so.
  • In The Return-Remixed, Trish Stratus does this to Mickie James during a match against Kelly Kelly, when Kelly is preparing to give Mickie a Stinkface.
  • In Harry Potter, Harry Snape or Harry Riddle? Harry dumps a bucket of water on a sleeping Sirius as a prank.
  • The Power of the Equinox: After Dusty Joy flees the hallway in which Dimmed Star appears as a creepy moving stain, the sleep-deprived maid falls asleep in the gardens. When her boss Peach Seed finds her, he wakes her up by splashing her with water from a nearby pond.
  • In Wandering Harry faints after hearing that he has a little over a billion galleons in Gringotts and the goblin king throws a bucket of water on him.
  • In Time to Live Harry dumps a bucket of water on a sleeping Remus at the beach in Greece.
  • In Ordinary Days, Angie splashes Kaede with a pitcher of water after she watches Junko's video and nearly jumps to her death in order to get her out of her despair induced daze.
  • In Bleeding Feathers Anthony throws a bucket of water on an unconscious Dolores Umbridge.

    Films — Animated 
  • Timon and Pumbaa wake Simba up this way in The Lion King.
  • Subverted in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, when Esmeralda lies unconscious from smoke inhalation. Quasimodo tries to revive her by spooning water onto her face, but it doesn't work, and Quasimodo assumes she's dead. Fortunately, she revives a few moments later as Quasi is confronting Frollo.
  • In Pinocchio, Geppetto is frightened when his wooden puppet starts moving and talking, so he douses himself with a pitcherful of water in order to "wake" himself from his "dream".
    Geppetto: Now we'll see who's dreaming! Go on! Say something!
    Pinocchio: [beat] Gee, you're funny. Do it again!
    Geppetto: You do talk!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • The comedic version shows up in the first movie, as Captain Jack Sparrow and Will wake Gibbs this way. Then Will dumps a second bucket of water on Gibbs, and says "That was for the smell." To clarify, Gibbs was sleeping in a pigpen. After hearing Will's reason, he just looks surprised and nods.
    • Again in the third movie, when Jack finds Gibbs asleep on the end of the pier-a pier notably short a ship. Gibbs is also found clutching a stuffed animal, and takes a second to comprehend the followup question regarding the absence of the Pearl.
  • In Blazing Saddles, Bart and Jim do this to wake up the now-securely bound-with-chains Mongo. Mongo casually breaks loose while yawning. (Fortunately, Mongo's in a good mood, considering.)
  • The introduction of Fat Sean and Little Cripple in The Delinquent has Fat Sean dumping a bucket of cold water on Little Cripple's face while he's asleep.
  • In The Princess Bride, Fezzick revives Inigo from a drunken stupor by shoving his head into buckets of cold and hot water.
  • In Quigley Down Under, Marston forces his mooks to stay awake when it looks like Quigley is planning something all night long. One of those methods is throwing a bucket of water in one’s face.
  • In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby's father throws a bucket on him to wake him up... then throws another on him when he reacts with confusion... and another because he filled up three.
  • In Camp Rock, Shane Grey gets the comedic version from his uncle after refusing to wake up twice.
  • Inception: This is how characters wake up from a layered dream into the previous one.
  • In My Man Godfrey, the female lead fakes a Fainting attack to draw the hero close. He finds out, carries her under a shower and turns the water on.
  • In Chaplin's The Circus, Merna faints when seeing the Tramp stuck in a cage with a lion. He is able to revive her by pouring the lion's drinking water on her face.
  • In To Have and Have Not, Harry wakes up sleeping Eddie with a bucket full of water.
  • In The Alamo, Crockett does this to Bowie.
  • The hilarious moment in The Bad and the Beautiful where Jonathan carries drunken Georgia out of her apartment and drops her unexpectedly into a swimming pool to help her sober up.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service: Eggsy is woken this way by his team mates once as part of their bullying campaign. Earlier in the film, the room was turned into a Drowning Pit, and all of the candidates woke up once the water level was high enough. The prank was therefore making Eggsy think this was happening again, making it a rather cruel prank.
  • Johnny Reno: After knocking Yates out in the barroom fight, Reno wakes him up by dunking his head in the horse trough several times.
  • An accidental version in Mad Max: Fury Road. Max is still chained to his former captor Nux, dragging his unconscious body with him until he comes across Furiosa and the Five Wives washing themselves down with a fire hose. Max forces them at gunpoint to hand over the hose and greedily gulps down the water. As Max has his eyes (and shotgun) on the women the whole time, he doesn't notice the water splashing on Nux who's lying at his feet.
  • The Mermaid: Liu Xuan, after finding out his new Love Interest, Shan is actually the titular mermaid, and that Shan's uncle is a mere-octupus, tries fleeing only for another merman to club him from behind. He wakes up after an unspecified amount of time when a merman douses him with water, and realize he's in the merpeople's quarters, surrounded by pissed-off merfolk who wants him to answer for the consequences his project had inflicted on their habitat.
  • Apocalypse Now. Captain Willard is badly hungover when soldiers turn up to escort him to where he's going to be briefed on his upcoming mission, so they just drag him into the shower and turn on the water full blast.
  • In The Ribald Tales of Robin Hood, Robin wakes up the unconscious Sheriff by emptying a wineskin over his head.
  • In The Criminal, Clobber knocks Kelly unconscious, but then wakes him up by emptying a cup of water over his head so he will feel feel the rest of his beating.
  • In Preservation, the last hunter empties a bottle of water on the captive Wit's face to wake her up.
  • In Hooded Angels, Wes captures the unconscious Hannah and later wakes her up by dumping her in a muddy waterhole.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Similar to the book (see below), Katniss comes into Haymitch's home finds him passed out (likely drunk) and throws water on him to revive him.
    Haymitch: You are a strangely dislikable person.
    Katniss: (slams two bottles of liquor on the table)
    Haymitch: ... But you do have your virtues.

  • This is what people do on multiple occasions to attempt to revive Grace Marks, protagonist of Alias Grace, after she faints from strong emotions or shock. Emphasis on attempt, as every time she faints, she faints so deep that the water (or indeed anything else) doesn't even come close to making her stir, so everyone eventually gives up, leaving her to wake up from her dead faint naturally on her own many hours later.
  • Happens to Nathaniel in book 2 of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, after he knocks himself out trying to control a powerful staff.
    Bartimaeus: Well, it's a delicate process, ridding yourself of a charge like that. I wanted to wake you straightaway, but I knew I had to wait several hours to ensure you were safely recovered.
    Nathaniel: What? How long has it been?
    Bartimaeus: Five minutes. I got bored.
  • In How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse, Stoick faints dead away after Hiccup gets cured at the last minute from the Venomous Vorpent's sting. Fishlegs employs a variant of this technique, using a bucket of snow in Stoick's face to awaken him.
  • And again in the book version of Neverwhere. Hunter, Door's bodyguard, wakes Richard up with a bucket of water, and then wakes Door much more gently, after both have passed out drunk.
  • In Stephen King's The Stand, Randall Flagg uses this method to get the attention of a contact who has needed information, but is dying of the super-flu.
  • In Iain Banks's Whit, after offers of coffee and threats of excommunication fail, Isis successfully wakes up her hungover half brother Zebediah by the graduated series of containers method. First the sleeper is drenched with a thimbleful of water, which is followed by the contents of an egg cup, a tea cup, a pint glass and finally a bucket.
  • Young Army Boys in Septimus Heap who slept past wake-up time are usually awakened this way and forced to sleep in the wet bed afterwards.
  • Kiron has to do this to Aket-ten in Alta. She is affected by the Magi's sleep spell, he isn't, and they both need to get into the air as soon as possible.
  • In The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was, after the Youth sleeps in on his wedding day, his bride-to-be throws a bucket of cold water on him to wake him up.
  • The Black Gryphon: At one point, an exhausted Winterhart pretends to be asleep so she doesn't have to have sex with Conn Levas. She thinks that if he pulls this, she won't be able to keep pretending because she knows perfectly well she would have woken. (He doesn't, because he doesn't want to use a soaked bedroll.)
  • In Charlotte's Web, farmhand Lurvey revives Wilbur with a bucket of water when the latter faints after overhearing the humans talk about butchering him. Later, when Wilbur faints from Stage Fright at the county fair, Lurvey runs off to get water again, but instead Templeton revives Wilbur by biting his tail. Lurvey reappears with the water moments later, impulsively throws it before noticing that Wilbur has already revived, and accidentally drenches Mr. Zuckerman and Avery.
  • Evoked but averted in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There: when the White King faints from fear after the much-bigger Alice picks him up in her hand, Alice goes to look for water to throw on him. But she finds only a bottle of ink, and when she comes back with it she finds him already revived on his own.
  • In the short story "The Last Test", Georgina faints from relief upon seeing her brother returned and alive. He frantically fetches a jug of water and pours it on her, waking her up.
  • In "The Man Who Got Off the Ghost Train", Richard—at the urging of eight-year-old Vanessa—wakes up Annette by dumping a jug of water on her face.
  • In his autobiography Will, G. Gordon Liddy relates how a German teacher (a refugee from Hitler's regime) demonstrated the difference between Continental and American systems of education — after one of his students back-chatted him, the teacher ordered a young Liddy to "Fvetch a bucket of vater", then knocked the smirking student unconscious. The bucket was then used for this trope.
  • In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Katniss splashes Haymitch with water to wake him up in time to get ready for the victory tour when she is unable to wake him up any other way.
  • Played with in Gunner Cade by Cyril M. Kornbluth and Judith Merril. The entire barracks is a shower, and one soldier who is Not a Morning Person barely gets his bedding shoved in his locker before the water vents open up.
  • During the events of Curious George Takes A Job, George trips out and then passes out on the floor after smelling the contents of a bottle of ether while waiting to be picked up from the hospital by The Man with the Yellow Hat. This is how the doctor, nurse, and The Man find George when they return, and they wake George up by putting him in the shower. George is very surprised and confused when he comes to.
  • In the Robert A. Heinlein novella "If This Goes On—", very much combined with "interrogation": The hero is being subjected to a lengthy bout of Cold-Blooded Torture; he avoids too many horrific details, but does note that "I must have passed out repeatedly, for my clearest memory is of catching a bucket of ice water in the face not once but over and over again".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Band of Brothers: Captain Winters uses this to wake up his alcoholic friend Captain Nixon. Unfortunately it turns out that Nixon had used the "water" jug for toilet purposes during the night (yes, that did happen in Real Life as well).
  • This happened to Fraser on Due South in the Season 2 episode "Red, White or Blue".
  • In El Chavo del ocho, each time the title character gets scared he immediately paralyzes — after adopting an awkward pose nicknamed "la garrotera". The only way to snap off from this is by splashing water on him. Normally a small splash in his face works, but meaner-spirited characters often empty whole buckets on the poor kid.
  • Heroes
    • In the final episode, chapter 3, Ando gives himself the ability to amplify other abilities after injecting himself with the serum. This causes him to black out, and he is subsequently awoken by Matt, who pours a glass of water on his face.
    • Early on in Season 2, The half-naked, bloodied, tied-to-a-chair Peter is awoken with a bucket of the wet stuff to the face by the Irish gangsters who are holding him captive.
    • During Volume 4, Mohinder gets woken up with a bucket of water thrown at him in the classic tied-to-a-chair situation after being recaptured by Danko's team... although they actually don't proceed to give him the third degree. But it didn't do his already wild, shaggy, frizzy hair any favors.
  • A flashback in the Torchwood episode "Fragments". With Captain Jack and a "couple" of Victorian-era Torchwood members.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Two", the man revives the woman by throwing a bucket of water over her after knocking her out.
  • NCIS
    • Tony is sleeping at his desk when Kate pours water on his head to wake him up.
    • Ziva dumps a bottle of water on Tony's head in the episode "Under Covers". He reacts by jumping up on the bed and standing in a karate stance.
  • In season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Scoobies capture Andrew — who barely qualifies as a villain and is regarded as more of a pest, and so the capture-and-interrogation routine is entirely Played for Laughs. While he's unconscious and tied to a chair, Dawn tries to wake him up, first by slapping him and later by throwing cold water in his face. Neither method works, but he comes to on his own before she can try throwing hot water on him. Since Buffy doesn't approve of this, Dawn and Anya try to pretend the water came from Andrew drooling all over himself.
  • The Expanse. In "Back to the Butcher", an unconscious Holden is woken up by a droplet of blood that's floating in zero gravity until it strikes his face.
  • Treadstone. CIA agent Bentley is knocked out by Petra and woken in a KGB interrogation cell by the guards chucking a bucket of water on him. Petra then drapes a towel around him. "I told them to use warm water but they never listen."
  • The Head. One of the Winterers locks the others outside in the Antarctic winter, but someone is able to get inside and choke him unconscious so they can open the door. He's woken by an understandably pissed-off colleague rubbing snow in his face.
  • The Barrier:
    • When Álex shows up at La Résistance headquarters, fumbles the password and refuses to disclose the identity of the person who gave him the password because he promised to do so, Jorge and Iris suspect him of being a government informant, knock him out, and later use water to wake him up so they can interrogate them.
    • Manuela uses a glass of water on Iván for that purpose when she finds him sleeping on a deckchair near the pool after yet another night of partying and needs to talk to him before starting work.
  • Ultraman Taro does this to a kaiju, of all things. One episode involves Veron, the harmless monster pet to an alien boy-band called the Space Boys crashing into Tokyo while drunk on sake, where it goes on an unintentional rampage while intoxicated and tap dancing to music. The final battle had Ultraman Taro using the King Bracelet to summon a giant bucket of water (one large enough to be held by an Ultra) and splashing its contents on Veron, waking him up, at which point the embarrassed monster quickly leaves and is never seen again.
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). In "Callisto Soul", Faye Valentine crashes her spacecraft doing a Heroic Sacrifice, but we find she's still alive via a POV shot of Ein licking her face. Faye is suitably disgusted once she wakes up.
  • The Professionals
    • In "Stakeout", an atomic bomb is about to go off, but the bomb maker decides he doesn't want to die for the cause. Before he can defuse it however, he's knocked out by his more fanatical colleague. Doyle empties the contents of a fire bucket over his face to bring him round again.
    • In "Long Shot", an assassin tries to shoot Cowley while he's taking a shower. Fortunately Cowley has been forewarned, leaving the shower running while he knocks out the assassin from behind. Bodie and Doyle then wake the assassin up by dunking his head under the still-running shower.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • At Over the Limit 2010, John Cena and Batista faced each other in an I-Quit match, where you only win if your opponent says, "I Quit". When Batista got knocked out at one point, Cena woke him up by pouring a water bottle on his head.
  • At Payback 2015, John Cena and Rusev faced each other in an I-Quit match. When Cena got knocked out at one point, Rusev woke him up by pouring a water bottle on his head.

  • A real-life example took place on the Opie & Anthony in 2005. Tippy Tom, a homeless man and one of the show's frequent guests at the time, dozed off and stopped breathing, which led to the hosts fearing that he died in the studio. Fortunately, staff member Master Po had a solution: pour water in his ear. It successfully revived and woke him.

  • In Act I of La Bohème, when Mimí faints (the first sign of her tuberculosis), Rodolfo revives her with a sprinkle of water, which Puccini depicts musically.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
    • When in the Sciropescire arc, when Eivor is looking for Ceolbert, the only guard who knows where to look for him is a drunken, passed out one. Having Level 3 Charisma allows them to learn from his brother they can dunk him in the lake to sober him up. They do just that to get the info they need.
    • In the Cent arc, they do this to a drunken bard by dunking him in the nearby river to get info for an emissary.
  • Volgin does this to Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, both to rouse him from unconsciousness and to get Snake all nice and conductive for the Electric Torture Volgin has in store.
  • In Persona 5, this is how the protagonist is woken up at the start of the game by the police interrogators. They proceed to beat a confession out of him.
  • In Immortal Love 8: Sparkle of Talent Sam throws a bucket of water on an unconscious Emma after capturing her, due to thinking she's one of Radcliffe's minions.

    Web Comics 
  • Beeman is awakened this way in his background story in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.
  • In GastroPhobia, Gastro wakes up his mother Phobia this way... because he can't sleep and want her to tell him a story. She's understandably ticked off, and gives him first a good spanking.
  • The Order of the Stick has O-Chul being woken up by a bucket of water for his daily torture.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Samy tries this on Heloise, but it only succeeds in causing her to dream about being a mermaid.
  • Done in Beavis And Butthead: Do America, when Muddy threw water at the two boys who passed out in the desert after the Disney Acid Sequence.
  • In The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the episode "Groundpiglet Day'' has Pooh, Rabbit and Tigger mistake a tiny pile of snow for a frozen-solid Piglet, and when they try to warm "Piglet" up, "he" melts. Pooh nearly faints in shock, so Tigger tries to throw the bucket of melted snow onto him – Rabbit has to catch the water in a bowl to save "Piglet" from being lost altogether.
  • In The Perils of Penelope Pitstop episode "The Boardwalk Booby Trap", Pockets throws water on Snoozy when the latter is driving Chugga-Boom erratically.
  • Patrick does this for Medieval Sandy in SpongeBob SquarePants. But instead of using a bucket of water...he uses his own spit instead, gargling it like water! Gross!
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Monster Arm", Ferguson and Alfonzo wake up Star by splashing a soda in her face.
  • Ed of Ed, Edd n Eddy is still screaming from a Catapult Nightmare when a huge splash of water snaps him out of it, courtesy of a bucket held by Eddy:
    Eddy: I told ya that'd shut him up!
  • Family Guy: In "Road to Rhode Island", Stewie tries to wake up Brian while they're staying at a motel. After failing to wake him through other means, Stewie drags him into the shower and turns it on.
  • In one episode of Rugrats, Tommy and Angelica try to wake up a senior in a retirement center, with Angelica throwing a pitcher of water in his face. This causes the senior, a retired Marine, to wake up shouting "Don't submerge, Admiral! I'm still on deck!"


Video Example(s):


Don't Submerge, Admiral!

While in a retirement home, Tommy and Angelica try to wake up one of the residents, with Angelica deciding to give him 'a cold shower', resulting in the senior, a retired Marine, waking up thinking he was on a submarine.

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