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Waterfall into the Abyss

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Gotta wonder where all that water comes from...

Magical lands abound in the world of fiction, especially fantasy. What better way to depict the magic of the place than to show floating islands? Why not throw in waterfalls flowing off the islands, to enhance the magical look?

This kind of waterfalls is an almost obligatory feature of Floating Continents, Floating Castles and Flat Worlds; the latter in particular are often ringed by great circular falls where their oceans pour endlessly into the void. Awesome, but Impractical in the case of smaller floating islands since you'd expect the water to run out fairly quickly since they don't have a very large area of land from which to collect rainfall. It's especially strange in the case of Flat Worlds since it doesn't seem that there would be anything to bring the water back.

Not to be confused with Rock of Limitless Water, which are (usually small) rocks that create water, a fact that is usually explicitly stated. They also tend to be important to the plot. By contrast, Floating Waterfall Islands are usually there purely to look good.

Sister trope to Sea Sinkhole, which is what happens when waterfalls appear in the middle of the ocean as opposed to floating landmasses.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Digimon Fusion: The Green Zone has several floating islands with waterfalls constantly spilling off of them, forming streams where they land. Attention is only drawn to them to illustrate the otherworldly nature of the place that Taiki/Mikey and friends have just been dragged into.

     Comic Books 

     Film — Animation 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: The core city is elevated above a volcanic flow, its waters endlessly spilling over into the similarly inexhaustible magma (and creating a huge cloud of steam as a result).
  • One Piece Film: Strong World: Merveille (known as the "Hidden Land in the Clouds") is a series of floating islands of varying ecologies and sizes. Many of the larger islands boast impressive waterfalls off the side, often with accompanying rainbows.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: The Mushroom Kingdom has floating islands with waterfalls that simply cut off in mid-air, and Bowser's floating castle has lava falls which likewise endlessly pour from the structure.

     Film — Live Action 
  • Avatar: The floating islands of the Hallelujah Mountains have waterfalls constantly flowing from out of them, despite not having a source for such water.

  • The Adversary Cycle: Played for horror in Nightworld. Portals to Another Dimension have opened sending nightmare creatures swarming across the Earth. Some of them open in mid-ocean, creating vast whirlpools during the day and reversing at night into mile-high fountains of water, littering the ground with dead fish and... other things.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The world has this feature described in some detail in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Continually sailing to the east doesn't bring you around to the west again, but to The End of the World. If you go over the edge, you end up in Aslan's Country — one of the few ways to get there without dying first.
  • Myst: The novel The Book of Atrus features something like this in a small, gravity-defying Age that Catherine made. The water falling off into the abyss turns to vapor almost instantly and rises to the top of the world, where it condenses and rains back down again, perpetuating the cycle. Atrus had fun working out the physics behind it, Catherine just thinks that it's cool.
  • Shatterpoint: The giant waterfall at the edge of the Korunnal Highland. In this case, the water doesn't actually fall into "the abyss" so much as a soup of heavier-than-air toxic gases; eventually it boils away and makes it way back into the cloud layer.
  • Terry Pratchett:
    • Discworld
      • The Flat World's oceans continuously flow over its edges and are replenished by the Background Magic Field. Exploited by people who put up nets at the edge (the "Circumfence") to catch salvage and slaves, and by a bird species that lives just below the edge and feeds on stuff that gets washed over.
      • One heavily magical region has the Wyrmberg: a very big mountain that has been flipped over so that it is, perfectly stably, standing on its peak. It still manages to have streams, rivers and small waterfalls that flow towards the base.
    • Strata: A Flat World made by Ancient Astronauts terraformers is ringed by great oceanfalls around its rim. Its creators installed a hidden system to pull the water back up.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Forgotten Realms: In the wake of the Spellplague, a worldwide magical disaster, a number of floating islands known as earthmotes calved off from the ground and into the sky. Many of these have waterfalls endlessly emptying off their sides, despite earthmotes usually being the size of a large mountain at best; this is explained in-universe as being due to the magic that created the earthmotes also opening portals to the Elemental Plane of Water on many of them, which disgorge an endless supply of water than then flows off the islands.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The islands on the plane of Kamigawa float and are surrounded by waterfalls.
    • The Theros block card Voyage's End shows a waterfall into the abyss, presumably at the edge of the world, and a shipwrecked sailor about to be washed over.
      Philosophers say those lost at sea ascended to a more perfect realm. Sailors say they drowned.
    • Many of the floating islands on Zendikar have these, raising the usual questions as to where the water comes from. Even stranger are the ones in the volcanic region of Akoum, which have lavafalls instead, which just raises more questions.

     Video Games 
  • Aion: Asteria Fortress has literal versions of these, as it's located in the aptly named Abyss.
  • Banjo-Tooie: One puzzle involves removing the plug from a pool of water in Cloudcuckooland.
  • Chrono Trigger: The Kingdom of Zeal is a series of Floating Continents, of which the largest has two waterfalls coming off it. Oddly enough, walking around on the surface of 12,000 B.C. you can't find any torrential downpours falling out of nowhere... so probably the wizards living on the floating continent have something worked out.
  • Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-: Destiny Islands has been reduced to a number of sandy floating islets after being dragged into the Realm of Darkness. While the place lacks actual waterfalls, several of the islets outside the playable area have sandfalls that continuously spill into the otherwise empty sky, This is particularly impressive since many of the islets are tilted away from their sandfalls. It's also somewhat justified since the Realm of Darkness is an Eldritch Location where the laws of physics are more like very timid suggestions.
  • Final Fantasy XII: A few of these can be seen spilling out of the forests around the outer areas of Bhujerba. The water presumably comes from the cloud layer that the city is level with.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: If you look at the floating Cocoon from Oerba, you will see what must be massive streams of water running down from the bottom of its outer shell.
  • Grandia II: One of the Granacliffs cuts across the ocean, resulting in this. No explanation is given for where the water goes after falling down the cliffs for thousands of years, but at the end of the game it starts filling up.
  • The Journey Down: The Edge looks like this. If you go over and survive, you may end up in Port Artue. Go deeper, and you might find yourself in the mythical Underland. In fact, it's possible to navigate down the waterfall to the locks, which can be done by special ships designed to sail both the water and the mist.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: There's a waterfall in Skyloft that goes from a small pond in the corner of the floating island and empties out into the unknown world below.
  • Levyn Light: The magical city Fontis Sapienta is made up of several such islands floating over a giant lake.
  • Minecraft: Water or lava sources can spawn on floating islands or be intentionally created by the player, creating water- and lavafalls pouring down onto the world below. Due to the way that fluid dynamics work in the game, replenishment ins't a concern — a "source block" will produce an endless stream of its associated liquid.
  • Twinbee Rainbow Bell Adventure has plenty of floating islands with waterfalls in the background.
  • Skies of Arcadia: These are all over the place, as The Sky Is an Ocean but most every Floating Continent has a river or two.
  • Skylanders: Some of the Skylands have this. Of particular note is the main hub of Spyro's Adventure, where you have to go on a ship with a Gillman and drive off the island in a waterfall.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Sunshine: The floating canal that makes up for the setting for the difficult Lily Pad Ride Bonus Stage drops its (toxic) water into the cloudy depths of the sky where it takes place.
    • Super Mario Galaxy:
      • The Heavenly Beach and Twin Fall Lake planets of Beach Bowl Galaxy are dominated by large bowl-shaped bodies of water, with water continuously pouring over their rims to fall through the sunny, cloudy, sky-like "space" via multiple waterfalls, but they never run out of water. The exception is the cylindrical planet, whose water originates from a black hole and flows into another.
      • The Fountain empties into the planet that the Comet Observatory is orbiting.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2: The planets of the Hightail Falls Galaxy are dominated most entirely by massive waterfalls. In the planet symbolizing the galaxy in the level select screen, these waterfalls pour out over the planet's edge and into space.
  • Water in Terraria normally adheres to gravity and will drain given an opening, but small holes create a cosmetic water effect that will gradually fade if it doesn't reach a resting point first. Seen in particular with water on floating islands, and one of the forest backgrounds that show floating islands.
  • Valheim: Zigzagged. While sailing to the edge of the world shows that the water just drops abruptly away, using cheats to go down reveals there's actually an infinite expanse of Ashlands terrain, populated only by Surtlings.
  • Wizard101 has a lot of these because of the Shattered World setting.
  • World of Warcraft: There are a number of floating islands in Nagrand that have waterfalls continually coming off them. Outland has both small floating islands with waterfalls on them, as well as a few places where water falls off the edge of the world. Also, the Necropoli of the undead Scourge and their derivatives in World of Warcraft and Warcraft III have slime waterfalls flowing out of them.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: Several of the islands that float above the Eryth Sea have never-ending waterfalls. You can also find areas like this at the outer edges of the Bionis.


     Western Animation 

     Real Life 
  • Common interpretations of the "flat Earth" belief tend to depict all the oceans ultimately spilling off the edge of the world, as if the Earth itself was one large floating island.
  • Sometimes, a fountain takes the form of a running tap which appears to float in mid-air with nothing supporting it. The trick is that the tap is held up by a clear glass/plastic tube hidden in the middle of the stream, which both supports the tap and supplies the water.
  • The concept is downplayed in certain fjords in the Southmost tip of South America, where relatively tiny islands somehow manage to have their own water streams spilling directly into the sea coming from seemingly nowhere. There's no real oddities involved; the land is just that rainy, so even these meager amounts of land get saturated.

Alternative Title(s): Floating Waterfall Island