Follow TV Tropes


Super Drowning Skills / Video Games

Go To

Back to Main.

    open/close all folders 

  • The lake in Alan Wake is home to an Eldritch Abomination with a personal grudge against the protagonist. In general, any liquid other than coffee is to be avoided.
  • In Arc Doors for the Commodore 64, the protagonist is a frog and yet drowns instantly on contact with water. This is justified in the intro — when an evil wizard transformed the protagonist into a frog, he made sure to take away his swimming abilities as well.
  • Army Men, especially in Sarge's Heroes, will only instantly die to three things: flamethrower, sniper round to the head, and getting a toe wet.
  • Bomberman: The White Bomber has this problem. For the most part, if he gets into deep water, he's toast.
    • This is lampshaded in Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, when Pommy taunts him about not crawling through a pipe filled with running water. It gets even worse when you visit the water planet Aquanet, and Pommy comments on how an underwater town must be full of treasure, but because Bomberman can't swim, they can't go check it out.
    • While deep water doesn't outright kill him instantly in Bomberman Hero, falling into water would cause you to lose a life point and throw you skyward so you can get to dry land. This only on the standard stages, however, as he can traverse underwater with the Bomber Marine gear, or as the Golden Bomber.
    • Averted in Neo Bomberman, which has world 2 set in levels where Bomberman can (and has to) go underwater. Bomberman doesn't swim, however — he just walks. Also, his bombs turn into bottom naval mines while underwater (which functions exactly the same as normal bombs, only they can't attack creatures on land).
    • Super Bomberman 2 had this issue too: If he takes too long on a temporary platform and falls into the water, he dies.
    • Averted in Pocket Bomberman, where he can swim just fine.
  • In Circus Caper for the Nintendo Entertainment System, falling in the water is an automatic Game Over.
  • Played with in Daemon X Machina: the femto-absorbing qualities of water means that any Arsenal that falls into the ocean will sink like a rock. The good news is that Arsenal cockpits are vacuum-sealed and come with emergency beacons and enough oxygen that the pilot will likely survive. The bad news is that a sunk Arsenal is effectively put out of commission, so falling into water instantly results in mission failure.
  • Arthur of Ghosts 'n Goblins sinks like a rock in tiny streams and puddles.
  • Hidden & Dangerous handles this in the worst possible method ever. Depending on the level you can freely move in waist deep water, or will die if you're so much as ankle deep.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game, Indy has to cross pools of inexplicably deadly water by jumping between overhanging ropes.
    The Angry Video Game Nerd: How is Indiana Jones such a wimp that he can't set foot in water more shallow than a kiddie pool?
  • In the NES adaptation of Mission: Impossible, your heroes will instantly die if they so much as fall into the water in the first and last missions.
  • In Overcooked!, water functions the same as a bottomless pit — if you fall in, you vanish and must wait 5 seconds to respawn.
  • In Robo Warrior, unless you have a Life Ring equipped to allow you to Walk on Water, you can only wade through it for about one second before you drown and die.
  • Miranda from Steel Harbinger dies instantly from falling into saline water, though it's because she's a former human converted into a half-mechanical murder-machine by the alien pods.
  • The ambulance in The Stretchers is unable to move on water and immediately gets teleported to dry land if it lands in the sea. However, this stops being a problem once it gains the hovercraft upgrade late into the game.

  • American McGee's Grimm will die the moment he lands in water. But considering the sorts of things he turns it into, like lava and vomit, perhaps it isn't so surprising.
  • Anyone can drown in Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth, even Katara and Aang who can control water.
  • If you send Batman jumping off a cliff into water in Batman: Arkham Asylum, it cuts to a short clip of him grumpily getting back up and out. If you send Batman into the water while in Killer Croc's lair, it's game over for you and dinner time for Croc. In the other games in the series, landing in water causes Batman to fire his grapnel gun and pull himself to the nearest solid surface. Justified in that the Batsuit, being as armored as it is, likely does not allow one to swim very well.
  • In the first Blaster Master, in a ridiculous example, Jason instantly drowns in the overhead sections of Area 4. He can swim in the side-scrolling portions without drowning, including Area 4.
  • In Brütal Legend:
    • If Eddie, Drowned Ophelia, Doviculus, your car, or any unit so much as TOUCHES water they slowly take damage. The deeper the water, the more rapid the damage. This results in standard death animations, often with a case of gibbing. Landing in deep water in the campaign mode results in instant death.
    • Averted in some way in multiplayer and in later battles since Eddie, Drowned Ophelia, and Doviculus can fly indefinitely as long as they've got a stage.
    • Apparently water is the antithesis of metal and Drowned Ophelia very much lives up to her name.
    • This becomes very confusing when Eddie not only swims to the bottom of the Sea of Black Tears in the finale cutscene, but fights off its tentacles and holds his breath for an extremely long time.
  • Buffy is the freaking Vampire Slayer, yet if the water's more than ankle deep, she drowns in both of her console games.
  • Castlevania:
    • Most games have this problem. Castlevania I-IV will kill you instantly if you fell into water. Bloodlines will kill you if it's Bottomless, and do serious damage if you end up with water above your head.
    • City planners in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest thought it would be a great idea to punctuate their streets with bottomless pits of water. This has the unfortunate side effect of preventing villagers from walking through town unfettered, unless they take several flights of stairs from building to building (stair-climbing is unfortunately not a skill the peasantry has developed by this point.) Meanwhile, Simon Belmont, allegedly one of the greatest Vampire Hunters who ever lived — killing Dracula more than once, a rare feat for Castlevania heroes — will die horribly and instantaneously when he missteps into one of the many water hazards that are part of Transylvanian architecture. Forget about Edge Gravity; The controls are so flighty and the width between edges so unforgiving that it almost feels like the water's actively trying to suck you in right in the middle of a routine cross-town walk.
    • These are still present in most fan remakes, meaning the very victims of these watery deathtraps wish to visit their childhood miseries upon us to this day. Dracula's Shadow deserves special mention for managing to have water that insta-kills you, and water that you can wade through, with no clues given as to which is which. "Death puddles... Not acid, not lava, not a giant toothy maw... But H20?"
    • Castlevania 64 and Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness Handwave the inability to swim by having the protagonists remark that the water has been "poisoned by the evil of the castle". (The steam that rises whenever you fall in seems to suggest a more malicious chemical at work.)
    • Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow has Soma, who can not only swim but also walk ON water and UNDER water, if he has the right Souls equipped.
    • Averted in the later two games on the DS: Charlotte and Jonathan in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin can't drown in the one bit of deep water they encounter, and Shanoa in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia gets an item that lets her breathe underwater early on. In a subtle bit of Lampshade Hanging, Shanoa actually can't swim at all. Careful inspection of her sprites shows she holds her breath while submerged and competently treads water on the surface, and the water-breathing upgrade simply allows her to walk slowly on the bottom.
    • Alucard's allergic to the old H2O in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It gradually erodes your HP until you get the Holy Symbol; this is a nod to old vampire lore (Castlevania likes these; see also Walter and Isaac having red hair per traditional Romanian 'how to tell a vampire on sight' cues) that states that the fangity ones cannot cross running water.
    • In Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse he swims about as well as everyone else — which is to say he sinks like a rock.
  • In both the NES and Game Boy versions Dick Tracy, the self-titled character also has Super Drowning Skills. Though it only takes a half-point of health in the NES game, it is more severe in the Game Boy version. In the pier portions of stages 3 and 5, Dick Tracy will instantly drown the moment he falls into water. The same thing happens in the Sega Master System and Mega Drive versions, complete with a Dead Hat Shot for the MegaDrive version of the game.
  • In the 2003 game of The Hobbit, if Bilbo sets foot in any water over two inches deep, he dies. (Tolkien explicitly established in The Lord of the Rings that most Hobbits never learn how to swim.) Rather than making it a form of Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence, the developers saw fit to create entire segments based on waterfalls, rivers, cataracts, whirlpools, and the like. Given that the game was an unabashed Zelda clone made this more jarring, as you can swim in most of those games.
  • The Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis'':
  • The Last Ninja, despite being able to somersault with ease, drowns instantly on contact with water. He can't even grab the bank/log he had just fallen off to slow his demise. Made even more ridiculous when the water he's falling into is a little creek less than two meters across, which couldn't be more than knee-deep.
  • In the Legacy of Kain series:
    • Both protagonists at first can be destroyed by water not due to fear but due to their nature. Later Raziel lost this vulnerability after consuming the soul of his vampire brother Rahab.
    • Another Vampire protagonist, Rayne of Bloodrayne has the same problem, for the same reason. She doesn't actually "drown" so to speak (considering that there isn't any body of water in the game that goes over her head), but any contact with water will quickly burn her to death.
    • In the original Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen, Kain eventually gained a Mist form that would allow him to at least cross bodies of water.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • A drowning system is used in some of the two-dimensional games until Link acquires a pair of Flippers, usually to keep the player from going places they shouldn't yet. One example of when this trope should have been used is in Link's Awakening, in which it was originally possible to make the game Unwinnable because you jumped across a moat you shouldn't have crossed yet.
    • In certain games, such as Link's Awakening, The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, non-water-based mooks die the moment they touch water.
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: Falling into water pits will kill Link instantly. The only body of water he can walk into is that leading to the Sea Palace (the fifth dungeon), and he still needs the Water Boots from another dungeon to do it. Water similarly acts as Bottomless Pits in The Legend of Zelda CD-i Games.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: Link can transform into a Goron. The game states that since Gorons are basically living rocks, they sink like them as well. With the Deku Mask, Link can skip across water a few times, but if he runs out of skips before touching dry land again, he sinks like a rock.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Downplayed. Link can swim, but not indefinitely; if he's still in deep water when the on-screen timer runs out, he will drown.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, falling into water is the same as falling into a pit or lava. How Link forgot how to swim between The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass is a mystery.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
      • Downplayed. Link can swim fine, but only as long as his stamina meter lasts; if he's still in the water when he runs out, he drowns. Though he can keep eating stamina-restoring food to refill the meter, sooner or later his food reserves will run out.
      • Enemies approach this to various degrees. Lizalfos can swim indefinitely, while Hinoxes can swim for a while but eventually drown. Bokoblins, Moblins, Chuchus and Stal-type monsters, however, can neither swim nor float; if they enter water that's deep enough for Link to swim in they will instantly drown and die.
  • Little Big Adventure.
    • It's amazing how the hero doesn't drown when stepping into small patches of water that can be found in caves, or when walking in the rain without an umbrella. Then again, not being able to swim did not prevent him from stopping the Big Bad and saving his home planet. Perhaps he just doesn't have enough time for practicing swimming.
    • The eponymous Twinsen of Twinsen's Odyssey uses this trope in the extreme. Not only will he drown instantly in any lake or ocean that is more than ankle-deep, but he will also sink like an anchor in a hotel swimming pool that is probably shallower than he is tall.
    • This carries over into the sequel, even though he lives on a small island.
  • The trio of player characters in Mercenaries are Made of Iron badasses who are accustomed to using practically any weapon and drive/fly any vehicle. Somehow, despite years of special forces training, they have no clue how to swim. The sequel corrected this, with the players being able to swim across the water's surface fairly easily.
  • Messiah: Generally, if anyone so much as brushes against liquid, they die instantly.
  • Neopets: The Darkest Faerie: The heroes can't swim in anything above knee-deep. However, in most levels it's impossible to tell the difference between a creek and a raging river. In addition, there are some places where falling into the water will just knock off some of your health, and some places where it will kill you outright and send you back to your most recent save point. Again, there's no way to tell the difference between the two until it happens.
  • Ōkami treats water (and with an upgrade, lava) like a cursed zone, you can't go 45 seconds in the water or you'll die. It's later averted when you acquire the Water Tablet, literally letting you Walk on Water. Ammy is given Super Not-Drowning Skills when she swims in Mermaid Springs, but the second you swim away from that, she gets her normal drowning skills back.
  • In Predator: Concrete Jungle, if you fall/jump/lean in the water you instantly die, only to reappear seconds later a few feet away from where you descended to a watery doom. Justified, since with his armor and all the predator weighs about half a ton.
  • Psychonauts: Lampshaded:
    • It's written into the story that Raz and all his family were cursed by a psychic to die in water. Getting too close to water causes a giant watery hand to reach out, grab Raz, and pull him under to his death. One world even includes a cardboard hand coming out of an equally cardboard "ocean" during a stage play, drowning Raz in fake water.
    • Milla makes a comment about this if Raz falls into the water in her mental world which also isn't real water. She'll ask if he wants to talk about it after the test is done.
    • Psychonauts 2 elaborates on the curse. There isn't one, the idea of a curse was implanted into Raz's grandmother's mind as a means of suppressing a dangerous side of her with extremely powerful hydrokinesis. After beating the game, the watery hand that once tries to drown Raz now harmlessly lifts him back to dry land. He still can't swim, but now he won't take damage from falling into the water.
  • In Rastan, if the hero falls into the water, he's history.
  • Reign of Fire. Entering ANY body of water will cause your vehicle's health to drop like a rock. Perhaps the humans couldn't find any steel anymore so they instead build tanks out of bread that's been spray-painted black? This is even WORSE when you consider getting wet is the only way to stop yourself from dying in seconds if you get lit on fire, and since you're fighting dragons and all the whole time, you get lit on fire a LOT.
  • In the NES series StarTropics and its sequel: Zoda's Revenge: StarTropics II, the protagonist, Mike Jones, apparently can't swim, as jumping into water instantly kills him.
  • The first NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game have ALL the turtles drown in any contact of water on the ground. As The Angry Video Game Nerd sums it up...
    They're turtles, for fuck's sakes! They can't even swim?!
    • Played straight in the Amiga port, in another ridiculous example. If the turtles fall in the water in the side-scrolling portions of Stage 3, they'll drown and be "caught". Despite the NES version having them return to the entrance of the building they previously fell in the water.
    • This is also a case of lazy programming and/or continuity failure: The turtles know how to swim in Stage 2 but they suddenly lose that skill afterwards.
  • In the video game tie-in to Toy Story 3, if any character touches the water, they instantly die (which may be justified, because they are toys). Also, Woody can drown in coffee that is filling the bedroom in the Bonnie's House level.
  • In Transformers: Armada the game, shallow water will not hurt you, but the further you go in, the faster it drains you heath to the point that deep enough water will instantly kill you.
  • While not deadly, in the game version of Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, only one level has water, a flier-only level, and the game will not let you touch it. If you let yourself fall into it, you automatically start hovering.

  • Bug! had Splot. Touching the swamp water was instant death, not even Mercy Invincibility would save Bug from drowning. Making things frustrating was that the next level was Quaria, and Bug could do fine without any harm whatsoever.
  • Bug Too! justified this in the levels with water, since falling in would make Bug get eaten by Splot's swamp worm boss from the previous game.
  • Justified in Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth, as all the deep waters in the game are cold (the game occurred in winter on the New England coast) and stormy seas.
  • The text-based game of The Hobbit had this issue, though in each case where it was possible to enter the water it was justified — albeit in annoying ways. The black river that makes Bilbo doze off and drown is the least problematic. If Bilbo jumps into the raging river instead of using a barrel, he will be swept helplessly into a portcullis and drowned; this takes a turn or two but is more annoying because other characters are apt to jump in without your permission and become stuck. Finally, there is a bog in which Bilbo can sink; Thorin, if present, will object to standing around in the bog and drowning, but there is no way out.
  • King's Quest:
    • Among the many ways he can die in the first King's Quest, if Sir Graham walks too close to the castle moat at the start of the game, he will immediately fall in and drown unless you know that you can type "swim" the parser to make Graham start treading water, saving his life if you do it quickly enough. Except in those places where the water has hazardous currents, or alligators.
    • In King's Quest II, Graham will swim automatically upon entering water. However, by King's Quest V he has forgotten how to swim entirely. This is Handwaved by the water being "too cold", or the current being too strong.
    • His son Prince Alexander fared no better: he can swim just fine in King's Quest III, but not in King's Quest VI. Although there is a strong emphasis in the mythos of his location, the Land of the Green Isles, that an extremely strong current runs around the islands, creating an insurmountable undertow that will drag people far out to sea and drown them; only the best navigators can steer through them on a ship.
    • Most Sierra adventure games were very unfriendly in this regard. Laura Bow and Roger Wilco also had their fair share of either drowning deaths or being attacked by something living in a body of water anytime they got close to it.
    • Quest for Glory has cautiously stayed away from scenes where swimming could be required (except for the fifth game). On the other hand, Police Quest 2 has a scuba scene, and EcoQuest plays almost entirely underwater.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry 2, if you walk into the pool and don't type "swim" quickly enough, you drown and get a mocking message explaining it. Getting it right is needed to win the game.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals, if Larry or Patti just walk into the sea at a seashore, it is instantly "game over" as they drown.
  • As an Anvilicious safety tip for young players, setting out in any canoe or motorboat without first adding a life jacket to your inventory causes instant (off-camera) death by drowning in Nancy Drew games. Same for bicycling without a helmet, for that matter.
  • The goblin-like Minions of the titular Overlord have this one. The Overlord himself can wade through any water he comes across and will not enter anything deeper, but his Minions are much shorter and flail around amusingly before drowning. Only the Blue Minions can cross water, and they can also save their brethren, if managed correctly.
  • Played straight in the original Pitfall!, but in the second game, Harry has Super Not-Drowning Skills.
  • The controllable character, Mars, from Shining Wisdom can't swim at all. Justified as he is always in armour but what makes it annoying is that the player is required to wade through knee-high water throughout the course of the game; the only way to tell is that the water is a slightly lighter hue of blue and enemies can easily knock you into deeper water.
  • Played with in Stray: The cat has enough common sense to avoid touching any body of water deeper than their paws, but the parasitic Zurks don't as they're too focused on eating anything they come across.
  • Ultima VIII: Pagan was notorious for this, as falling into any body of water, including water right next to the shore or even the Tenebrae water fountain, would kill you instantly. In fact, throwing or knocking any object into the water would destroy it. This is handwaved by the fact that the seas are the realm of the Lurker, the Titan of Water, who claims any victims that enter her territory. The irony of this is that the Avatar was in fact rescued from drowning after the Guardian dumped him into the sea in the intro sequence, but apparently that can only happen once. This site has an interesting exploit involving the use of water to destroy things in the game.
  • In Ultima IX, the Avatar dies when entering the deep water blocking the way between islands.

  • The original Driver has no accessible bodies of water to speak of. In Driver 2, the bottom of the skybox is depicted as deep water, and acts like a Bottomless Pit, you also "drown" if you wade into knee-deep water. Subverted in the third game, in which Tanner can swim, but drowns if he stays in the water too long.
  • Prior to Mario Kart 7, any game in the Mario Kart series treats any reasonably deep body of water as a bottomless pit, with shallow water being safe but speed-unfriendly. Even in Mario Kart 7 and 8, there are some courses where water is a no-no (such as Daisy Hills and Electrodome). In Super Mario Kart, players have only a few seconds to drive out of deep water before Lakitu is forced to pick them up.

  • At least in the first two Double Dragon games, the main character(s) sink like stones if they fall in the water.
  • Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, has a water level and the whole puzzle is to get through it without drowning, because Sub-Zero can't swim.
  • In both Naruto: Rise of a Ninja and its sequel Naruto: The Broken Bond, if any of the characters land in water, they vanish in a cloud of smoke and reappear on the shore, usually complaining about getting wet.
  • In all versions of both Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun and its first localization Renegade, falling into the harbor in Mission 2 will kill anybody, including the player, regardless of how much strength they have left.
  • In River City Ransom, falling in the water where you fight Benny and Clyde instantly kills you, regardless of how much stamina you had.
  • In the Sailor Moon R video game, falling into the water in the raft stage meant you lost 25% of your total health. Even Sailor Mercury can drown in water.
  • Certain stages in the SoulCalibur games feature Ring Outs, and some of these involve knocking your opponent into a body of water. Doing this instantly wins you the round.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Water in Melee is treated as a bottomless pit that doesn't break your fall. This is also the case for the stages in 3DS that feature water, such as Tortimer Island.
    • In Brawl, 3DS/Wii U, and Ultimate, every character has an individual limited amount of time they can swim in water, with Sonic having the shortest swimming time by a fair margin. In Ultimate; Sonic, Inkling, Charizard and Incineroar now take damage in water.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II wins a prize. In Multiplayer, you can end up as one of the SEAL's, and still instantly ragdoll when hitting the water and the camera shifts to third person, appearing as though they were dead to begin with. Makes you wonder how they passed BUD/S in the first place. The waist-deep pool area in the map Raid, on the other hand, is ok to wade through.
  • The AI in Crysis is infamous because North Korean soldiers die several seconds after touching water (even if their heads never go below the surface). This doesn't stop them from happily charging into the ocean to chase your character, however. Averted with vehicles: A fun trick in multiplayer was driving an anti-aircraft tank underwater. It would continue to be fully functional until the top of the radar dish was underwater, turning a tank sized target into a hitbox that would make even Oddjob jealous.
  • This is a major weakness of the Trigens in Far Cry. It is excusable because they are weird mutants who conceivably play by their own rules, whereas the enemies in Crysis are supposed to be human soldiers.
  • Half-Life 2 uses an interesting variant. Gordon can swim just fine despite wearing a heavy HEV Suit, but try to swim in the oceans and leeches will pick the flesh off your bones in seconds. There's also an entire chapter dedicated to traversing several rivers out of the city on an airboat, not because Gordon couldn't swim himself if he really needed to, but because any given section of the river's water actively damages him if he touches it directly. Also, several enemies will get stuck in water and die. Curiously, lone headcrabs will drown in seconds, but headcrab zombies seem content to lie underwater indefinitely, regardless of its toxicity.
  • Although you cannot drown in Halo (you're wearing self-contained Powered Armor that lets you traverse hard vacuum without a problem), it's shown that Spartans can't swim either (after all, they weigh over half a ton). The Chief sinks to the bottom of pools in Halo 1, and Halo 2 has a cutscene of him being knocked into a lake and sinking like a rock. This makes a certain amount of sense until you notice that if you are killed and your corpse lands in water, it will float gently down the river (apparently dead Spartans can be used as flotation devices). Some areas, such as in Halo 3's early levels, have bodies of water that insta-kill Spartans if they so much as touch them, as a form of Gravity Barrier. However, oddly enough, one instance of Halo 3's first playable level has you able to walk around in a large pool of water for as long as you want, with only minimal effects to your vision and speed. You can even run after schools of fish.
  • Left 4 Dead averts this while the sequel plays it more straight.
    • In the first game, you will start to drown if you are underwater for too long. In Left 4 Dead 2, this applies as well but only if you are ducking under the water or are incapacitated under it. Having your body waist-deep submerged in the water in the sequel resulted in instant death, while shallow water up your ankles results in a noteworthy speed penalty.
    • The infected lack the survivors' speed penalty in shallow water, but they too possess severe reactions to waist-deep water. This is made especially confusing and annoying as newer players always learn the hard way in Swamp Fever that even if they are still in "ghost mode" and they don't technically exist yet, attempting to traverse waist-deep water again causes instant death.
    • Further made annoying in that some rare instances, the game's "AI Director" will spawn common infected DEEP UNDER WATER.
  • Metro Exodus: There are three possible outcomes if you fall in the water:
    1. You thrash around for a bit, then pull yourself out at a spot of the game's choosing.
    2. You thrash around for a bit, then an NPC pulls you out at a spot of the game's choosing.
    3. You die.
  • In NightFire, you can swim in the single player mode (without moving your arms at all, but still). However, in split-screen multiplayer, water equals instant death... even in the same level you were swimming in on single player.
  • Large bodies of water in Overwatch are generally used as boundaries for maps. Falling into them will instantly kill every hero. Examples of maps that feature them include Rialto, Volskaya Industries and Château Guillard.
  • In Painkiller, so much as stepping in a puddle of water causes the player to instantly die. Drag a toe into it and you're gone, regardless of that perfectly safe log you tried to reach.
  • Quake II features this for the AI. Any Strogg unit that somehow finds itself falling into water will immediately sink like a rock and begin to drown... despite them all being more machine than anything else! What does make sense is when they fall in lava and die — this was uncommon to see in classic FPS games; usually the enemies would continue to behave as usual whether they were submerged or on any form of damaging floor.
  • Entering a deep body of water in Shadow Warrior (2013) is particularly jarring: Instant death in the form of Lo Wang's death scream and blood splattering across the screen.
  • Inverted in Tron 2.0. The only places with water-like pools are pools of energy and standing in them fills up Jet's energy bar.
  • Thankfully, totally avoided in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, for the simple reason that, as a vampire, you don't need to breathe.

    Hack and Slash 
  • In Dark Messiah, the player can swim, but the enemies drown instantly if knocked into water.
  • In the game Die by the Sword, the character remains upright with his head above water when falling into the water, can barely move, and dies in a few seconds, after which he falls to the bottom of the water. This might be partially explained by his heavy shield and sword, but the short duration of him sinking and how little he can move in the water makes it unrealistic.
  • In Magicka wizards can't swim, so you have to freeze the water instead. This also applies to enemies, even Deep Ones which spawn by climbing out of water.
  • In Orc Attack: Flatulent Rebellion, none of the orcs can swim. If they fall into large bodies of water, their health will start draining fast. Should Master Muck fall in a river, he'll die instantly.

  • In Aion, you play an immortal angelic being who, despite being able to fly, apparently never learned how to swim. Most "lakes" are knee-high pools that you can run through, but you start to drown as soon as the water goes over your head. Thankfully NCsoft seem to be aware of how ridiculous this is and have shown characters swimming in their planned development trailer. There's no date on when this will be implemented, though, and no information on whether characters will only be able to swim in certain areas or not.
  • In The Elder Scrolls Online, the player cannot drown in shallow water, but will immediately die in deep water from a Slaughterfish attack, with the hint, "Stay out of deep water."
  • Averted for the player in Final Fantasy XIV, as they can swim indefinitely: the biggest danger from being in water is simply being unable to fight back if you draw aggro from a monster (extremely rare as it is for monsters to be close enough to water to follow you out onto it, and anything actually in the water can't hurt you — even the sharks are essentially moving props that don't react to you), and you are given an enchantment in Stormblood that allows you to breathe underwater, opening up sub-aquatic exploration. Some story characters, on the other hand, are noted for being unable to swim — namely, Alphinaud and Urianger.
  • LEGO Universe plays with this. When you jump in the water, it looks for a second like your character will swim...until three seconds later, when a shark's already eaten your character. Of course, if the shark didn't pop up to eat you, you'd be stuck in the sea with nowhere to swim to and no way back up, so you'd have to smash your character anyway.
  • PlanetSide 1's soldiers are about as buoyant as a lump of iron (granted, they are wearing Powered Armor). Players "swimming" will simply wade across the bottom of the lake/ocean at a crawl until they run out of oxygen and die. Non-amphibious vehicles with sealed cockpits allow you to survive longer, but the vast majority of vehicles will flood and cease functioning after mere seconds; only the ANT and BattleFrame Robotics could reliably operate underwater. Played even more straight in Planetside 2 — players die the instant they get past knee-deep water (generally only in the out-of-bounds area, however), or touch Heyoka Chemical Plant's Grimy Water. When the Grimy Water was first introduced, much fun was to be had baiting Vanu Sovereignty Hover Tank players into the water, as the tanks could hover over water in the original game but not in the sequel, where they drop like a rock in water like any other tank.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has the same problem as Aion where, rather than swim, your character will just tread water until it's over their head and die extremely quickly.
  • In World of Warcraft, while player characters have an Oxygen Meter and/or Super Not-Drowning Skills, there are a couple instances where you can summon NPCs underwater only for them to drown in short order. In particular, in Warlords of Draenor, if you have a barn in your garrison, you can trap wild animals, and once they're caught the farmer from your barn will come to collect them. If you caught them in water deep enough to swim in - particularly likely if you're hunting riverbeasts, which are as semiaquatic as their name suggests - said NPC will proceed to drown almost instantly. Fortunately, it doesn't have any impact on the beast's capture. The same thing apparently happens to Nat Pagle if he's called to a place underwater, which is even less reasonable as he's a living legend famed for his skill as a fisherman.

    Party Games 
  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout:
    • If you so much as touch the pool of slime at the bottom of certain rounds, you're instantly eliminated and removed from the stage. (Only Slime Climb makes this clear, since in other rounds with slime, you can't dip your toe in it, you can only fall bodily into the goop.)
    • Zig-zagged with the way that bodies of actual water works in the game, which is introduced in Season 5 — in most rounds, your Fall Guy can safely walk in shallow pools of water, and the most that they can do is slowing you down. However, in Stompin' Ground, the entire arena is surrounded by a lake of water, and players who get knocked out of the ring and fall into the water are instantly eliminated.

  • In The Adventures of Lomax, if the titular character falls into water, he can still jump out once if you're fast enough. Fall into water for the second time or don't jump out fast enough, and he'll drown.
  • The Adventures of Rad Gravity: Contact with any body of liquid is instantly fatal. Mercy Invincibility won't save you, either. Particularly annoying in the upside-down Turvia, where the water pits are guarded by goddamned flying sharks that attack you in midair.
  • Aladdin (Virgin Games) had a scene where you had to cross a pond by jumping on the backs of flamingos. The flamingos, obviously, stand on the bottom, but if Aladdin touches the water he's history.
  • In the 1994 Animaniacs video game adaptations, neither of the characters can swim and will drown if they fall in.
  • A scene in Another World requires you to run away from a flood of water. If it catches you — even by the thinnest of margins — the game instantly cuts to a scene of you drowning. Same thing happens if you touch the waterfall that blocks the path to the next stage before you drain the pool. Later averted when you have to swim through the area you flooded earlier, in which case you have Normal Drowning Skills.
  • Justified in Beacon of Hope. Beacon is a sentient desk lamp. Touching water will make him short-circuit and die.
  • Justified in Bionic Commando, as the hero has heavy mechanical parts that prevent him from swimming. However, this doesn't explain why he can still drown in some places while his head is still above the surface.
  • Billy Hatcher and The Giant Egg has most of the characters drown the instant they so much as touch water. However, it does offer you couple of lifelines in certain levels — one power-up allows you to ride your Egg McGuffin around, allowing you to cross treacherous terrain (water included), and one Mon you can find to assist you has the power to swim. Get hit in the water, though, and it's Davy Jones' Locker for you anyway.
  • In both the 1989 NES and the 2009 Wii versions of A Boy and His Blob, the boy will drown the moment he falls into water. If he uses the blob to use the bubble ability, then he can safely traverse in water.
  • In Bubsy, because Cats Hate Water, you can only guess what happens if the titular character falls into water.
  • In the Nintendo Hard arcade game Captain Silver, the protagonist can drown minutes into the first level by falling into a water fountain that appears to be about one foot deep. Later levels in the game use lakes or oceans for this instead.
  • Cave Story plays with this. Quote can drown if he spends 100 in-game seconds in water, which becomes important to remember in later parts of the Labyrinth and especially the boss fight against the Core, but after Curly Brace gives him her air tank he gets Super Not-Drowning Skills.
  • Commander Keen 4 features a boy genius with an IQ of 314 who built his own laser gun, spacecraft, and intergalactic translator but never bothered to learn how to swim. Once you acquire scuba gear, he can then doggy paddle on the world map and stay underwater indefinitely in the game's one water level.
  • In Crash Bandicoot:
    • In the games, falling into water kills you, even in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped which features rooms filled with water that rises and falls, which makes you wonder why Crash can't just wait for the water to lower before dying instantly.
    • In Crash 3, Coco has been shown to swim if her jet ski blows up. Fridge Logic kicks in at Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex where falling into deep water causes her to instantly panic and drown. The worst part? Most of Coco's levels in that game are filled with water.
    • Crash 2 and 3 have also made Crash panic before drowning. In his only level in Wrath of Cortex with deep-enough water, Crash will drown in at least one second in and float to the surface, motionless. At least 3 and Wrath of Cortex also avert this by containing a few Under the Sea levels where Crash wears some scuba gear.
    • In the singleplayer mode of Crash Tag Team Racing, bodies of water are treated as Bottomless Pits, but in at least two of the Die-O-Rama clips Crash is shown to be able to swim.
    • In Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, going into water as Coco has the same effect as doing so with Crash, but she'll ordinarily simply float on the surface until she respawns. She'll still drown in the rising water in "Tomb Wader", but not if she falls into the narrow pits on the floor when the water level lowers. She also seems to avert Electrified Bathtub, as she's not killed by her laptop shorting out.
    • In Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, not only do Crash and Coco drown in water if they fall into it, but Tawna, an Action Girl, mind you, also drowns. Dingodile also drowns when he falls into water, which is especially baffling as he is half-crocodile, and crocodiles are supposed to be excellent swimmers. Cortex also drowns immediately when falling in the water of his first playable level "Fossil Fueled", though his only other interaction with water is in the freezing-cold "Ship Happens", which will instead turn him into a block of ice like it does to Crash and Coco.
  • In Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, Croc, who is a crocodile, can swim in certain pools of water (you enter a special level). Most pools of water, however, are in the ice world, where it's implied to be extremely cold, and does damage to Croc instead. Of course, there's the Fridge Logic of why cold water hurts him while running around wearing nothing but a backpack in snow and ice doesn't have any ill effects...
  • Crossbow Warrior - The Legend of William Tell: If William Tell falls into water, it's a game over.
  • The title character from Dangerous Dave doesn't merely drown upon contact with water but violently explodes in a fireball that hovers above the water's surface. (The same effect occurs when Dave touches fire, yet jumping on the stars in the sky does not harm him one bit.)
  • Dark Castle had log platforms floating in water in the "Fireball" levels, and falling in would kill you. The remake Color Dark Castle replaced this water with lava, which is another trope entirely.
  • Randall from Deadlight can perform many amazing feats, such as leaping great distances across empty space, pulling himself up a ladder using only his arms, easily vaulting over parked cars and low obstacles, and chopping off zombie's heads with aplomb. Why can't he swim? We have no idea.
  • In the Wii game Dewy's Adventure, the hero will die instantly if he falls into water. This is justified as the hero is literally made of water, so entering a large body of water causes him to "lose" himself.
  • Upon falling into water in Disney's Kim Possible 3: Team Possible, the player either respawns or dies depending on how much health they've already depleted.
  • In the Dizzy series, which were a fairly harsh series of platform-puzzle games, the protagonist was an egg. Since he was a good egg, he sank rather than floated. In most of the games, water was instantly fatal (and in the first three games, so were any other hazards). A couple of games featured an aqualung (or similar equipment) which allowed you to breathe underwater indefinitely.
    • Treasure Island Dizzy was the first one to have a "rubber snorkel". Annoyingly, it could easily be accidentally dropped underwater, as Dizzy's inventory was organized in a "first in, first out" manner. (Even worse, Dizzy has only one life in this game.)
    • Spellbound Dizzy has an aqualung, and falling into water without it caused Dizzy to gradually lose energy instead of immediately dying. A similar system was used in Crystal Kingdom Dizzy.
    • In the PC game Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy, a homage to the original 8-bit series, water is handled inconsistently: in some areas falling into water was handled as in Spellbound (you gradually lose energy, unless you have an aqualung); in others, water is instantly fatal, even with an aqualung.
    • Surprisingly averted in the spinoff game Bubble Dizzy, which takes place Under the Sea and gives Dizzy an Oxygen Meter.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • In Donkey Kong Country Returns, unlike their previous adventures, both Donkey and Diddy Kong can no longer swim. Falling into the water at any time results in you losing a life. In the sequel Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze , the Kongs can swim again, but when they go back to their island, which is now frozen, there's a level based on each world in Returns, and the beach setting is back, but falling into the water is still deadly because it's too cold.
    • In Donkey Kong Land III, while the water that you were in Coco Channel doesn't harm Dixie or Kiddy Kong, however, if Squitter falls into it, he takes damage instantly. It's justified that most spiders can't swim.
  • Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: in the NES game, Hyde can fall into water while passing over a bridge and instantly die.
  • In DuckTales, Scrooge, a duck who is known for his ability to swim through gold coins (and can in-game in the Remastered version), can't swim in actual water. Go figure.
  • In the Flash game Eggy Easter, the main character will immediately die if he lands in the water unless he collects the oxygen power-up.
  • Epic Mickey. In the cartoon segments, getting in contact with water (such as from a moat or a fire hydrant) produces the same effect as getting burned from the paint thinner blotting Oswald's ruined world. This does make sense since Mickey is sort of made of paint.
  • A general rule of thumb for The Fairly OddParents: Breakin' da Rules and its successor Shadow Showdown: water = death. No exceptions. The latter game has a justification in "Take It on the Chin", as it's been polluted by H2Olga.
  • In Frogger, the main character — a frog — dies on contact with water. Frogger II: Threeedeep! handwaves this trope just for the opening screen, which is Under the Sea. Some versions handwave this by saying the currents are too fast and strong for the poor frog. Later installments in the series say it's due to a childhood accident in which he nearly drowned, which makes even less sense since a "child" frog is a tadpole.
  • In the original The Great Giana Sisters and its DS/iOS remake, Giana dies instantly upon contact with water. This is especially irritating in the remake, as some of the water hazards in that game amount to mere puddles of water that don't even cover Giana's head. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, in contrast, gives Giana Super Not-Drowning Skills.
  • The first three Jak and Daxter games avoid this, although swimming too far out causes Border Patrol to kill you. Daxter, however, can't swim in Daxter, despite being shown swimming in a cutscene in Jak 3: Wastelander. It's played straight in Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier for no adequate reason.
  • In the PC shareware Jill of the Jungle games, Jill drowns instantly when she falls into water. Unless you turn into a fish, in which case you can't leave the water, unless you're swimming down (or up!) waterfalls.
  • In the 1994 The Jungle Book video game adaptations, specifically, the Genesis and Super NES versions, Mowgli can't swim. Falling into water results in a watery grave for him.
  • Kao the Kangaroo: Fall into a deep enough body of water, and Kao will drown instantly. Subverted in that if the water isn't very deep, Kao will extend his neck to ridiculous lengths to keep his head above the surface.
  • The freeware PC games Knytt and Knytt Stories by Nifflas give this weakness to their protagonists. NPCs can still swim without issue.
  • In La-Mulana, water just sucks away at your health bar (like lava) until you get an item. The remake handwaves (and justifies) this by pointing out that the water is poisonous.
  • Downplayed in Legend of Kay where the title character has a gauge limiting his time spent in the water, despite the fact that he only swims on the surface. When the gauge runs out Kay drowns, only to respawn on the closest surface with health lost.
  • The Legendary Axe has water pits that you don't drown in, just fall through like Bottomless Pits made of air.
  • LEGO Adaptation Game:
    • LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy: If Luke, or any other character who's not an astromech droid, steps in Dagobah's waters, they immediately sink and die. Later games would add a proper swimming mechanic.
    • LEGO The Lord of the Rings has all characters flail around in water for a few seconds, and then instantly "die". The only water you can survive in is ford-level. Even Gollum can't swim, despite him swimming frequently in canon.
    • However, it's LEGO Jurassic World that takes the cake in this regard. In the game your characters cannot swim at all: they flail around and sink if the water goes even an inch above their head. Now not only are these characters who are able to swim in the movies the game is representing, but when you actually get to the part in Jurassic Park III where the survivors end up in the water, suddenly they can swim just fine during the cutscene. Of course, even after that if you dare to enter the water, you sink like a rock tied to an even heavier rock.
    • In LEGO Dimensions, Gizmo and the Wicked Witch both die when they come into contact with water, as they did in their original appearances. Additionally, exiting a submersible vehicle while playing as a character without the "Dive" ability will cause them to flail around a bit and then break into pieces. There's also a portion of the Sonic the Hedgehog level pack in which water behaves as it does in the Sonic games, modeled after a level in which drowning was notoriously easy to do.
    • In LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, your character doesn't drown, per se, but walking too far into any body of water will cause them to disassemble and then reassemble closer to shore.
  • The little child from Limbo will automatically drown if he submerges his head in water for more than a second. This may have something to do with the water in Limbo-world, but given how little backstory you get, who knows?
  • The Lion King video game, from the same publisher, had a scene early into the second level. It featured Simba jumping on giraffes' heads instead of Aladdin jumping on flamingos, but the premise is the same — giraffes stand on bottom, Simba dies instantly if he touches the water.
  • Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch:
    • The game does this in some custom maps and in MM4DIV. Touch the water and you are gibbed instantly. Added to the fact over 50% of the map is WATER and the actual water in Dive Man's stage in Mega Man 4 could do you NO HARM, this takes absurd to a whole new level.
    • MM2BUB has pits... In the water... Loads of pits... Enjoy.
    • A single custom map has this "flushing" that happens in the water area, that covers 25% of the stage. What the flushing does? It causes damage to anyone in there, constantly. Also, this happens actively in pools of water within that same stage.
  • Samus of Metroid fame sinks like a rock if she enters any liquid, be it water, lava, or harmful chemicals. While she can't drown due to her power suit, the latter two will kill her because they drain the life bar if she stays in them long enough. She also can't move around very well in most games until she gathers the proper suit upgrade (and some add one that lets her swim in lava as well). The only time she's been out of her power suit, she can't get to any type of liquid to test and see if she drowns.
  • In Mickey Mania, Mickey takes damage from just touching the water in the Lonesome Ghosts and The Prince and the Pauper levels, even when it's only a few feet deep. It doesn't damage him when the water level is below his head, though.
  • Lampshaded in Mystery Quest for the NES, where touching water without an SOS raft triggers a Non-Standard Game Over, with a water background and the words "Hao Can Not Swim; Game Over".
  • Never Alone justifies this, being set in the Arctic during a blizzard. It makes sense that Nuna and her fox would not survive a dip in those icy waters.
  • Nuts & Milk for the NES has a body of water occupying the bottom of the screen. Waddling Heads can't swim in this game.
  • Stranger can swim with ease in Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, yet knocking an enemy into water will cause them to dissolve, clothes, weapons, and all. The only thing that survives is the Moolah they're carrying (which is always equal to their "dead" bounty, for some reason.) Storywise, it does bring up a few interesting points. 1) There are so many outlaws in the Mungo River Valley because said river is dried up, 2) The reason Sekto is making so much money selling bottled water is because no one wants to drink water with dead outlaw in it, and 3) The Dam breaks at the end of the game, filling up the river... while also flooding the Clakker towns and outlaw hideouts. Strangely, only Mooks seem to be affected, though you never have the opportunity to shove a boss into the water in game.
  • The "water=death" version is justified in Otto Matic, where the main character is a primitive robot who short-circuits if he touches liquid.
  • In Prehistorik Man, at first the character died in any hole, including water, in the same fashion he dies from any damage. But in the last levels, after being told you can't breathe in water, when falling into it... No, he doesn't swim either: he just sinks and drowns, but with a "drowning" sprite this time. Yes, this is a game where you actually learn to drown, giving a new meaning to Super Drowning Skills.
  • In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the Prince is never shown to actually swim, as there are no pools deep enough in the Fortress, but the enemies, being composed of the Sands of Time, will instantly die and dissolve when exposed to water. This includes the seemingly unstoppable Dahaka, though he does try to defy the laws of nature. The only downside of this is that you get no weapons or Sand from a 'drowned' enemy, but can still use this to your advantage if you enter the Garden Tower with a proper sidearm, and throw the attacking enemies in the central pool (they won't step into it on their own, the AI is good enough).
  • Ratchet & Clank handles this several different ways. With a special gadget (O2 mask, etc.), Ratchet can swim indefinitely. In certain levels (poisonous water, lava, etc.) he has Super Drowning Skills and sinks instantly. In still other levels with "normal" water, to force a certain path, entering the water will cause Ratchet to be quickly devoured by a fish. As of Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus, Ratchet has apparently developed Super Drowning Skills: he instantly sinks with a gurgling noise if he touches any water. This is despite the fact that he could swim in previous games, and the fact that he still pretty clearly has his oxygen mask (he uses it in an outer space level). This also means that lava in this game is less dangerous to him than water since the former just damages him instead of killing him outright.
  • In Rayman 2: The Great Escape, sometimes you can swim rather well, and sometimes (in supposedly "piranha-infested" water) you can't.
  • In Rolo to the Rescue, out of Rolo and friends, the beaver is the only one that can swim in water rather than drown.
  • Shantae (2002): Falling into water is equivalent to falling into a Bottomless Pit. Shantae learns how to swim by Shantae: Risky's Revenge.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World, if Bart falls into the water, he won't even try to get out, he will literally just stand there and drown. The Angry Video Game Nerd noted that he's a depressed kid.
    • Falling into the lakes in Escape from Camp Deadly, also made by the same company, means instant death for Bart.
    • The Simpsons Game does the same thing. In the Day of the Dolphin stage, both Bart and Lisa will drown if they fall in. Lampshaded by Comic Book Guy when he adds it to his list of video game cliches. This applies to all characters and any stage that features water.
  • Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. When Sly hits the water, he flails helplessly, then loses what amounts to a life point and is tossed back to wherever he came from. If he doesn't have one left, he thrashes, then gives up, assumes "Captain Going Down With The Ship" position, and makes a resigned but dignified exit, stage down. Eventually, Sly retrieves Suzanne Cooper's Water Safety Technique, allowing him to recover from dunkings without penalty. In later games in the series, however, he decides to forget it, as he still loses health on falling into the water. Adding to the problem, his companions are a turtle and a hippo, and neither of them can swim either. At least Bentley (the turtle) has the excuse in the third and fourth games that he's paralyzed from the waist down (and is in a wheelchair kitted out with lots of electrical equipment). One of the manuals actually lampshades this, with the characters saying "We really should have taken those swimming lessons back at the orphanage." None of the mooks can swim either, drowning as soon as they enter the water.
  • Justified in The Smurfs Mission Vileaf: during the intro, Hefty says that he actually can swim, but is told that the added weight of his Smurfizer will cause him, and by extension any of the other playable Smurfs, to sink to the bottom. Falling in water causes them to respawn near where they fell, sans half a health unit. None of the game's enemies will fare any better.
  • In the Atari 2600 version of Smurf: Rescue In Gargamel's Castle, there is a river that causes instant death to your Smurf if he doesn't jump over it.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog games, tends to play with this trope.
    • Sonic doesn't automatically die jumping into water (unless its a pitfall trap); the nightmare comes from getting out of the water, before he drowns — made difficult due to the removal of his speed and lack of fine control when submerged. The 3D games, however, with a few exceptions, tend to treat water as bottomless pits, to the point where, in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic dies in knee-deep water that he could easily walk out of.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles plays this straight by having the characters drown in water, with two exceptions: Hyper Sonic, who has Super Not-Drowning Skills; and the bubble shield which allows any character to breathe underwater.
    • Funnily enough, come Sonic Colors he seemed to finally overcome this by learning how to jump infinitely underwater. Of course, come the immediate sequel, Sonic Generations, he's somehow forgotten how to do this.
    • Sonic Boom dances around the issue a bit. From what was seen, the "water" Sonic can't swim in is filled with all sorts of nasty chemicals, which would justify the "instant death on entry" response.
  • While Kirby can swim just fine underwater (he even automatically dons a snorkel in later installments), if a non-aquatic enemy touches the water, they'll sink like a rock and die.
  • Spider-Man
    • In Spider-Man 2, the eponymous character can swim, though the player never controls him while he does so; if the player lands Spidey in the water, the screen fades out then back into him reappearing near where he was when he fell in, complete with voiceover complaining about his suit getting wet. Especially in one of the heroic deeds you needed to do: saving people from a sinking boat. If you touch water in any fashion while carrying someone, you fail.
    • Amusingly, in Spider-Man (2000), water kills you outright.
  • Justified in 'Splosion Man — the eponymous main character is made of fire. Less justified by the ordinary human scientists, who find water just as instantly fatal.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom and The Movie games both give us this. If SpongeBob or Patrick so much as touch water or any liquid that isn't the water that everybody lives in, they jump out for a quick second back to land (or as close to land as possible). If they make contact with the liquid again... they drown. This can take effect in fountains as well. At the very least, this is consistent with their swimming ability in the show.
  • Spyro the Dragon:
    • In the first game, touching water results in the loss of one hit point (out of a maximum of 4). In some cases, the water is inescapable, and the player is guaranteed to drown.
    • Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon introduces swimmable water in which Spyro cannot drown. Harmful water is still present in some levels which is differentiated by being opaque and is implied to be toxic.
    • The Super Drowning Skills return in The Legend of Spyro. All water in the first two games is the dreaded toxic ooze, except for a few shallow streams. Averted in Dawn of the Dragon where Spyro or Cynder will just hover above water until you fly them over to dry land.
    • It's played straight in the GBA Spyro games. If the titular protagonist so much as dips his foot in the water, he's history.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • In Tak: The Great Juju Challenge, Lok takes damage if he touches water, but not because he can't swim — fish hate him, and will swarm him angrily as soon as he falls in. (Tak has no such troubles, unless the water is full of gators). However, when Lok's wearing the Lobster Suit, he can walk around underwater indefinitely.
  • Taz: Wanted: Taz can't swim, which is especially noticeable in Looney Lagoon.
  • Vixen, an ancient platformer on the Amiga would have the female Tarzan-like player drown in a few seconds if she fell into water.
  • The title character of Voodoo Vince has this, with justification; the main character is a burlap voodoo doll, and burlap really does sink quite rapidly.
  • Wonder Boy of the first game and Monster Lair not only couldn't swim, but seemed to have a very violent allergy to water; as soon as he touched it he died spectacularly. The NES game series that was modeled after it, Adventure Island, did this to Master Higgins in the first game. Subsequent games in the series added underwater levels, allowing Higgins to swim freely.
  • In Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, Hawk-Man takes damage just from touching water (though all other forms have Super Not-Drowning Skills).

  • In the Adventures of Lolo series, if an egg bridge collapses and Lolo is standing on it, he will drown instantly.
  • In Chip's Challenge, water is just another obstacle, requiring the right footwear to navigate. You can walk into the water, and die, one square away from land. Unless you have flippers. That makes it all better.
  • In Gruntz, the titular gruntz normally avoid falling into water for a good reason (though there's a rare tool allowing them to swim). But if they do fall into water, they drown instantly.
  • Lemmings die immediately on touching water. Then again, they also die immediately on touching everything else. And it isn't always ordinary water; there's also lava and (in Oh No More Lemmings), deadly vines, and mysterious bubbly stuff, although all of these act just like the water that's actually water anyways. The non-water water at least has reason — even if it's just "well, we don't have weird bubble stuff on Earth, who's to say it wouldn't kill you" — for falling into it to be immediately lethal, though perhaps in different ways than causing instant drowning.
  • Another ubiquitous example is The Lost Vikings. Even though most of the liquids are lava, sludge or acid, the vikings can't swim in regular water either. In the sequel, one of them gets cybernetic aqualungs.
  • Most Lizards in Nibblers will drown instantly if they are over a water tile. Exceptions include Turtles and Crocodiles (can swim), Mud Lizards (only appear on a mud tile, and would retreat into the mud pending a cascade), and Blizards (will freeze water tiles into ice tiles if they cross one).
  • Pheus from puzzle platformer Pheus and Mor dies instantly if he touches any water whatsoever. The only way he can cross anything too big to jump over is by standing on the back of his dog Mor.
  • In Portal:
    • Chell is warned by GLaDOS that falling into the murky (and apparently toxic) water that is used in some of the puzzles would kill her instantly. Contrary to GLaDOS's usual sarcastic tendencies, this is not a lie. Justified in that you don't encounter any water hazards until after you get the portal gun, which comes with a warning to avoid submerging it in water. Also justified in that the water is most definitely toxic. It deals damage when you fall in, evident from the way the screen flashes when Chell goes underwater, the same way it flashes when she gets hit by bullets.
      GLaDOS: Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an "unsatisfactory" mark on your official testing record, followed by death. Good luck!
    • This trope also applies to the co-op robots in the sequel. Instead of just dying, they flail in the water for a second before exploding. This is again justified, as they're robots who were not designed to be waterproof, and may in fact have been designed not to be waterproof so that the testing hazards remain effective.
  • Spelling Jungle: If a boulder/snowball sinks under Wali, or a Killer Whale swims out from under him, he drowns automatically. The All-Terrain Vehicle in Spelling Jungle also sinks as soon as it hits the water.
  • Tesla: The Weather Man has Tesla take damage whenever he falls into water. This is Hand Waved by pointing out that he's wearing lots of electrical gadgetry.
  • In Thomas Was Alone, only Claire (the big blue square) can swim. Anyone else will drown upon touching the water, forcing them to respawn at the closest checkpoint.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In Battalion Wars, when a vehicle is driven into water, it can drive fine, but if the water is too deep, it floods the engine cavity, and the vehicle takes damage until it either explodes, or is back on dry land.
  • In Battlezone II: Combat Commander, Hover Tank and Humongous Mecha units can fly over or walk through water indefinitely, but treaded units will start taking damage the instant they touch water even though they are environmentally sealed against the vacuum of space and hellish volcanic environments. Scion players have taken to using the Sonic Wave, an Attack Reflector weapon, to shove enemy tanks into deep water where they will explode within seconds.
  • In Colobot, aside from the one robot who's specifically designed for driving underwater, all robots will explode instantly if they get submerged any deeper than the height of one's ankles.
  • Pilots who bail out of their aircraft over water or soldiers who fall off a bridge in the Command & Conquer game series die instantly upon contact with the surface (the only exceptions being Tanya and Navy SEALs in Red Alert 2).
    • The first game does not contain any such logics, though. They were first implemented in the first Red Alert game, where moving away a water transport while a tank is entering it will cause the tank to instantly sink into the water. Strangely enough, the logic was not implemented for infantry; moving away the transport while a soldier is entering it leaves the soldier standing on the water. Given the fact they did implement it for vehicles, this is a pretty odd oversight. Not to mention, an exploitable bug.
    • Boris, Tanya's Soviet counterpart notes in a mission parallel to one where Tanya has to swim that he won't swim and demands a transport. Apparently he's just lazy.
    • Justified in the German version as every soldier besides the special ones (like Tanya, etc.) were made into cyborgs to make the game less violent.
    • The background materials for Red Alert 3 explain that the Soviets deliberately do not train their soldiers in swimming in order to reduce desertions. On the other hand, Natasha doesn't seem to mind swimming in cold water.
    • Tiberian Sun claims that most of Earth's waterways have been overtaken by Tiberium making travel by ship impossible. Considering Tiberium's Toxic Phlebotinum status, the lack of swimmers is understandable.
    • Infamously, the Core Defender from Tiberian Sun's Expansion pack Fire Storm can be destroyed by luring it onto a bridge, then blowing up both ends before it can get off. It's apparently immune to EMP and the Ion Cannon, but not waterproof.
  • In Lord Monarch, any units, who stands on bridge, which is being demolished, will drown instantly.
  • Pikmin: Every Pikmin (except for the blue ones) will drown in seconds if they enter a body of water. Olimar has a chance to rescue them, by calling them back to him, but the chance that a Pikmin still drowns is pretty high. Also, the blue Pikmin can help save its drowning brethren. Olimar himself can't drown, since he's wearing a spacesuit. In the games after the first, their aversion to water is shown to be so strong that if some enemies simply splash them with it, it'll send them scurrying about in such a panic that they'll soon die if you don't calm them down by whistling at them.
  • In Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, if a mage casts a [[Forced Transformation
Baleful Polymorph]] spell, which changes living beings into sheep (if over land), and targets a dragon or Griffin Rider over water, the sheep is never shown, it instantly drowns. No units in a sunk transport ever survive, not even unarmored units like peasants or mages. Or the many people presumably manning battleships or dreadnoughts.
  • War Wind: No matter which race you choose, almost all of your units will need bridges, boats, or flying/hovering vehicles to cross even the smallest water obstacles. Should the bridge or vehicle be destroyed, all passengers die instantly. Averted by the Frogmen, specialized diver units used by the Marines, which can swim and even stay underwater for an infinite amount of time.

  • ADOM inflicts drowning damage the instant you enter water. It has a swimming skill to sometimes prevent damage. The "bridge building" skill and ice magic can make water crossable without swimming, which is required at one point.
  • In the Roguelike game Alpha Man, without the proper items, the player quickly loses hitpoints and drowns in water.
  • In Into the Breach, knocking a non-flying Vek into a tile with water instantly kills them. Only boss strength Vek are immune to drowning, although it disables their attack.
  • In Nethack, with appropriate magical assistance your character can jump or levitate over water, saddle and ride a tamed winged creature as it flies over water, polymorph yourself into a flying or water-based monster, Walk on Water, build a bridge of ice or stone across water, or even survive without air and thus walk along the bottom underwater, but s/he can never learn to swim. If you fall in and there's land next to you, some of your possessions get soaked and you scramble out. If no land is available, you drown.

  • Lampshaded in Darkened Skye, a game that frequently breaks the fourth wall. On first encountering water, the heroine exchanges a conversation with her sarcastic sidekick, culminating with the line, "YES! I'm a warrior-hero-adventurer-goddess who CAN'T SWIM."
  • In Dark Souls, water is nothing but a mere Bottomless Pit that kills you instantly, except on the shore within melee range of the Hydra in Darkroot Basin, and the bottom of Blighttown — yet that part is toxic.
  • The PC can happily splash around in shallow water in Dragon Age: Inquisition, but anything above knee-height is apparently fatal. (Notably, while you get a low health bar from jumping/falling off cliffs, deep water sends you back to shore unharmed but coughing and retching.)
  • In Dragon's Dogma jumping or falling into a body of water deeper than your character's head summons The Brine, which mercifully doesn't kill you. You simply get spit back out onto nearby dry land some time later. However, your followers and all other characters are killed on contact.
  • Drakkhen takes place on a perfectly square shaped continent that is bordered by a vast ocean to the south, and one region contains a ludicrous number of lakes and rivers, which makes it very vexing to navigate because your characters will sink and die in any water in a matter of seconds. The SNES version, at least, offered a ludicrous solution: make your characters walk off the screen. They only sunk when visible, so making them exit would un-sink them. While this was time consuming as the game would keep trying to show them until you cleared the water, one likes to imagine a group of four super drowners wading across the ocean to reach the continent in the first place.
  • Generally averted throughout The Elder Scrolls series through various means. Early games, starting with Arena, essentially treat going into the water the same as running. The only differences are that your character "bobs" up and down in water, and you cannot use weapons. Starting with Morrowind, the series allows you to swim across the surface without issue, but going underwater brings up an Oxygen Meter. When it depletes, you start taking damage rather quickly. (Skyrim hides the oxygen meter, but the concept is still present.) Each of these games also play with the Soft Water trope. Fall damage is only applied when you hit the bottom of a body of water. This means that, as long as the water is deep enough, you can survive a fall from any height without taking damage.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics A2:
    • There are two whole races who, for no apparent reason, physically can't enter water, although they could in the first game. This is despite the fact that water in the game is never more than ankle-deep. The only logical explanation is that they needed the walk on water boots to have a purpose once it became possible to take normal actions while standing in water. It's actually around waist deep for humans, making it about mouth height for moogles, one of the two races that cant enter water.
    • This also applied to Cid, Babus, and Ezel if you managed to recruit them to your clan in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. They cannot, without any reason whatsoever, enter water unless you give them the Feather Boots. One fan theorized that the programmers simply didn't bother creating sprites for them when they entered water. The Tonberry enemies in the same game had the Galmia Shoes effect; ignore height but unable to enter water. Once you had your own Galmia Shoes, anyone wearing it could not enter water.
    • And in Advance, you can't use any abilities while in water for no adequately explored reason. Meanwhile, in the original Final Fantasy Tactics, all units are able to enter the waist-high water and perform actions in it. Unless, of course, the water is than two panels (around neck-high) deep, then they can't use abilities.
  • If a character in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates walks into water deeper than their chin, they drown.
  • In Genshin Impact, your characters can freely swim as long as their Sprint Meter doesn't run dry, but most enemies will instantly keel over if they go into water deep enough. This is a bit more believable for hilichurls and other primitive monsters than it is for the clearly human Fatui, Treasure Hoarders, Nobushi, etc. who should logically be better swimmers but will flail about and perish all the same. The only normal-sized land-based enemies who can't be killed this way are Cryo Slimes and Cryo Abyss Mages, as their ice powers cause water under them to freeze, and Hydro Mimics, who just hover over it.
  • The King's Field games have a non-submergeable hero — made that much worse by his tendency to travel about the world in a first-person viewpoint and the world's equally obnoxious tendency to have open wells and rivers just lying about with no thought given to safety fences. Jumping into the ocean doesn't do you any better. What's more fun is that there are often paths you must take in the shallow water, where the only way to make sure that you don't step off the trail and instantly drown is to practically watch your own feet, leaving you exposed to enemies coming at you from other directions to knock you off your narrow, partially submerged path.
  • Luther from the Lands of Lore series, has super drowning skills and the design of rivers makes it impossible to climb out most of the time. His larger form, fortunately, can wade through water that would quickly trap and kill his other two forms.
  • Mass Effect: On Virmire, if the Mako drives into the water up to its hubcaps it's an instant game over.
  • Mass Effect 3: A conversation with Garrus on the Citadel reveals that turians apparently can't swim. Specifically he says that for turians, swimming involves a lot of flailing and screaming interrupted by occassional bouts of drowning.
  • Handwaved in NieR: water is scarce, so nobody wants to touch and risk polluting what little they have, which means no swimming lessons. Doesn't quite explain why Nier manages to drown in knee-deep water, but it's a start.
  • Justified in NieR Automata: YoRHa androids are too heavy to swim. Mercifully, falling into water doesn't kill you, as you return to dry land with only a slight loss of HP.
  • In Paper Mario, bodies of water have Invisible Walls... until you find Sushie, and use special docks to cross the water.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, if Mario falls into water, even a fountain or swimming pool, he leaps out again after getting bitten by a large, carnivorous and apparently mechanical fish. Later on, he is cursed with the ability to turn into a paper boat, letting him cross the water.
  • Pokémon:
    • In the main games, the shoreline represents a ledge to you: you can't so much as wade in the shallow area of water. You need to have a Pokémon with Surf in order to get past it. Yet there are numerous Swimmer trainers populating every sea route. And they never leave the route.
    • Downplayed in Pokémon Legends: Arceus: your character can swim, but only for all of 3 seconds before they start flailing about. Fortunately, all that happens is that they respawn on nearby dry land, but they will, however, lose various items from their satchel if drowning causes them to black out. Probably justified since they aren't supposed to cross deep water before getting access to Basculegion. After he becomes available, you'll be prompted to press A to access him and avoid drowning.
  • Shadow Caster: Most of the forms available to the player—including the base "human" form—drown underwater, losing health with varying degrees of rapidity.

  • In ARK: Survival Evolved, one of the most low-risk methods for killing a wild Giganotosaurus is to lure it into deep water. Gigas have lousy base Stamina and Oxygen, so they tire out and sink quickly.
  • In Destroy All Humans! everyone, both Crypto and his enemies, dies instantly if they fall in water. You can drop cars, trucks, and tanks into what must be fairly shallow ponds and streams all day long, but they just never seem to get full.
  • In Foxhole's Early Access alpha, bodies of water are less deadly pools to drown in and more bottomless pit. You die but the game shows you plummeting off the map.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • The heroes of the earlier games (from the original to Vice City), who are amongst other things highly skilled speedboat racers, can't swim. This seems to be a common problem in their world, where even the most lavishly appointed swimming pool is about two feet deep. The manuals say oil spill, shark attacks, blah blah blah. CJ, Vic, Niko, Johnny, Luis, Franklin, Michael, and Trevor, however, all avert this trope. CJ, ironically, claims at one point to suffer from hydrophobia. CJ's girlfriends, as well as recruited gang members, can also swim, which makes it hard to dispose of them once all their benefits/the player's patience are used up. Everyone else in the game drowns in seconds. Cops are not smart enough to avoid leaping in after the player, and often drive trucks straight into the water.
    • Amusingly, Claude, the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto III, drowns when his crotch is submerged. Though the inability to swim is justified in-game by explaining that Liberty City's water supply is the most polluted on Earth, to the degree that dying from being submerged waist deep in it may be fairly explained as being exposed to a large dose of a terrible poison or deadly bacteria. This is why you take damage when you so much as skim the water while trying to get out of your boat.
    • Tommy Vercetti from GTA: Vice City thrashes and flails most awfully before succumbing. Leaping from roof to roof or crawling out of a flaming upside down car is just fine. This is much more noticeable than in GTAIII because like Miami, Vice City is roughly 80% beach. Of course, there are supposed to be sharks in the waters surrounding Vice City, but that doesn't explain Vic Vance from the PSP spinoff game, who can swim there fine... until he gets tired (and once he completes enough of a certain side mission, he doesn't have to worry about that anymore).
    • Toni Cipriani in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, after CJ averted this for the first time in GTA history, plays the trope straight. Falling in any water will kill him as it does with the previously mentioned Claude and Tommy Vercetti.
  • Anyone who manages to fall off of the rail bridge near Dodge City in Gun, only 10 metres or less above water level, is told that they are dead due to drowning. This is a form of Bottomless Pit mechanic, too.
  • The otherwise indestructible Hulk in The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction appears to suffer from acute hydrophobia — landing in water will cause the player to instantly lose control of the character as he automatically jumps back to the nearest shore. So does Spiritual Successor [PROTOTYPE]. Alex Mercer is too dense to swim, but he just jumps back out of water if he falls in. The standard Infected are not so lucky.
  • Justified in inFAMOUS.
    • Cole probably could swim, but now he's got all his electricity powers, standing in any body of water larger than a puddle will cause him to blow a fuse and die. How long it takes varies depending on whether you stand in a fountain, or jump into the river. On the other hand, small bodies of water (such as puddles) doesn't seem to even annoy him. You can also fry other people standing in the same body of water as you. Also, launching enemies into the body of water surrounding the city will cause them to die instantly. Not the same case in the sewers, as they just stand waist-deep in sewage and keep firing at you.
    • While this was entirely justified in InFAMOUS and inFAMOUS 2 given Cole's electrical powers, it's also present in Second Son, despite Delsin's powers having nothing to do with electricity. On the other hand, Delsin doesn't drown; he just treads water until you hit the button prompt to return to shore.
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, falling into the ocean results in an instant Game Over... despite this being around your base, where you'd expect your staff to be prepared for the occasional accidental dip. This is avoided elsewhere, as no matter how wide the rivers in your areas of operation are, the water is only ever ankle deep.
  • In the 1.4.2 update of Minecraft, slimes could spawn at night in swamp biomes. However, they can't swim, so it's quite likely that they will jump in deep water and eventually drown.
  • Due to being A) a cowboy (and thus not likely to know how to swim) and B) in a desert where all the open water is either filthy and/or incredibly fast, John Marston of Red Dead Redemption doesn't last more than a second in water. However in the prequel, Red Dead Redemption II, Arthur is capable of swimming, unlike his predecessor. John in the Playable Epilogue retains his inability to swim.
  • Sleeping Dogs grants main character Wei Shen the unique ability to swim in water. The citizens of Hong Kong, however, are not so lucky. They die instantly upon touching water, before they're even fully submerged. This leads to some humorous kills by shoving NPC's into the ocean and watching them ragdoll as soon as their feet touch the shore.
  • A Deus Ex Machina reprieve from Superhuman Drowning: in Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico, falling, jumping, or even wading too deeply into water resulted in the character Ram flailing a few moments before being rescued with a teleport to nearby land and the admonishment: "This isn't a diving game!"

  • Adventures of Dino Riki has river crossings that serve as deathtraps if Dino Riki botches a jump.
  • Gets justified in the Metal Slug games: when falling in water in snowy stages, the death animation shows your character floating off frozen in an ice block, while in tropical water the death animation shows piranhas swarming them and stripping them to the bone.
  • Contra
    • In Contra Force, falling into the water in Stage 2 results in instant death.
    • Same in Shattered Soldier. Drowning into water in Stage 4 instantly kills you if you don't land on floating pads right. And the boss fight section makes this trope even nastier.

  • The PS2 Armored Core games were very guilty of this. Shallow pools aside, your mech would instantly and completely shut down and sink upon even the slightest contact with a large body of water.
  • In Pilotwings, going waist-deep in water pulls you under and kills you. Unless you're using the Jumble Hopper in 64, which averts this trope by having you land on the surface of the water, but with a 2-point penalty.
  • Your guests can't swim in the first two Rollercoaster Tycoon games, so if they fall into the water they have to be lifted out manually by the player. Though, for some reason, it's much more satisfying to watch your paying customers drown.
  • In The Sims, the characters can swim, but cannot climb out of a swimming pool without a ladder. Remove the ladder and they will just keep swimming until they tire out and drown. The Sims 2 hangs a lampshade on this: in the Pleasantview neighborhood, you'll see a little text saying Brandi Broke's husband died in a "suspicious pool ladder accident".
  • Subverted in The Sims 3 where they can, and usually will, climb out of the pool if you remove the ladder. Played straight in that some sims can now be hydrophobic, and fear their Super Drowning Skills to the point that some freak if they have to take a bubble bath.
  • In The Sims Medieval, Sims can't drown, but they also aren't given the option to swim at all. The closest they get to swimming is wading into the sea to fish.
  • Justified in Slime Rancher, as the slime sea is described as being made of the same thing as the slimes. Beatrix can swim just fine in fresh water found in the Moss Blanket and the Indigo Quarry.
  • In the Creature Stage of Spore, this seems to be averted at first in that the creatures can swim in shallow water and do not drown, but straying past a certain distance from the beach causes a Sea Monster to pop out and eat them.
  • Steel Battalion: Your VT can wade through shallow water, but take one step into deep water and your VT will sink, with the cockpit flooding in the process. If you don't eject, the pilot drowns and your save file gets erased!
  • In World of Tanks, drowning is based on water depth: once the water is deep enough your tank starts to drown. This is fine most of the time, but it can mean that a super-heavy tank the size of a two story house like the O-I, KV-4, or Maus can drown while most of the tank is above water.


  • The Assassin's Creed series treats this particular subject with a dash of Lampshade Hanging.
    • In the original game, Altaïr is a highly trained assassin who can murder a dozen people before breakfast but the game instantly "desynchronizes" if he falls into any water deeper than his knees. The second game's manual lampshades this as a consequence of the story's Framing Device: specifically, a glitch in the Animus 1.0's programming.
    • Assassin's Creed II and subsequent games allow the protagonist, Ezio, to swim perfectly no matter how much armor he's wearing. However, none of the guards and civilians possess this ability and a very effective way to subtly murder people is to tackle, push, or throw them into water — although this can also cause you to fail missions where the objective is not to kill anybody. This becomes doubly amusing when you realize that part of II is set in Venice.
    • Word Of God notes: "Guards are lousy swimmers! And their armour is really heavy. So they stay out of the water."
    • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood continues this trend. To the point to where this will more than likely become the #1 cause of death for any aspiring Assassin apprentices.
    • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, the apprentices can thankfully no longer die due to drowning. They still can't swim, instead they merely despawn when they hit the water. Everyone else still drowns in the water.
    • Assassin's Creed III continues this trend, with both protagonists fully capable of swimming. They appear to be the only characters ever to learn this skill. Anyone else who ventures past waist deep plunges under the surface like they have legs made of lead weights and die instantly. This MIGHT be acceptable for soldiers, who are carrying heavy packs and weapons, but if you nudge a fisherman who is dressed in light clothing and is only carrying a fishing rod? Same thing. Amusingly, this panics any other people in the area, who flee the waterfront as they apparently realize just how close to instant death they are. As a bonus, you get no penalty or warning for shoving people to their watery graves, unlike the threats of desyncronization that come if you outright shoot them. Just like with Revelations, apprentices are immune to this, merely despawning instead of dying.
    • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Finally averts the trope by having everyone being able to swim, if they just fall into the water by themselves, and not shoved, or pulled off a ledge in an attack. Ironically, as many of the game's characters actually shouldn't know how to swim.
  • In Dishonored this doesn't exist for you, it exists for everyone else. NPC's die on contact with water, conscious npc's can be knocked in with wind blast level 1, walking a possessed person into water or throwing them in with 'pull'. Unconscious NPC's can also die if they are being carried when the player goes into the water as the player automatically drops whatever they are carrying at this point. If a badly placed unconscious NPC falls in water it will kill them, failing a Clean Hands (no kill) run, something a player may only find out at the end of a level.
  • When Hitman: Blood Money added shoving to Mr. 47's repertoire of attacks, it was the NPCs that gained super drowning skills. You can kill people instantly just by pushing them into a fountain or a swimming pool. Granted, one person in the entire game can actually swim and thus survive a fall into a tank of water. Unfortunately, that tank also houses a very hungry shark. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater does this, but with a hint of Lampshade Hanging. While Snake swims very well, his enemies don't, and can be killed easily by knocking them into water. Interrogating one can often result in a perky, "The lot of us! We can't swim!"
  • Raiden can swim extremely well in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. In fact, Raiden is quite proud of his ability to swim. However, the bacterial tank in which the Vamp boss battle takes place is filled with a special kind of water in which he will sink instantly and drown. Vamp himself can swim like a dolphin in it, though.
  • Thief:
    • In Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II: The Metal Age the anti-hero Garrett could swim, and used this skill to infiltrate buildings through sewers and reach a lost underground city. In Thief: Deadly Shadows, he lacks this skill and will in fact drown on contact with water. This is probably a consequence of the developers having added a ability to switch between a first- and third-person perspective and not bothering to make swimming animations for the latter. Interestingly, Garrett was the only character in the Thief games who normally swam; that meant deep water was usually a safe place to flee to. (There were some exceptions; Craymen and Water Mages couldn't drown.) Luring enemies into drowning themselves was a way to kill them without violating the "no kills allowed" requirement on higher difficulty levels, and also an excellent way to stop zombies, which usually need explosive ordinance to permanently put down.
    • The first two Thief games even drew the line between enemies drowning themselves and Garrett actually making them drown by knocking them unconscious and then leaving them in water. He could swim carrying unconscious bodies without having them die, possibly through means that are best not thought too much about, but dumping an unconscious body into a pool would eventually cause it to drown, and you'd fail the mission if Garrett wasn't allowed to kill anyone.
    • Instant drowning became a bug in one of the first game's missions. When you had to rescue the high priest of the Hammerites, he would instantly die if he contact water. The intent of the mission was to use the raft, but the game would sometimes detect water contact if you placed him on the raft while it was moving.

  • Hilariously, in the Advance Wars series, naval units need fuel to remain afloat. If one runs out of fuel it doesn't just sink, but violently explodes. This is in stark contrast to land units which, naturally, just lose the ability to move without fuel.
  • In Age of Wonders you can use transports and certain enchantments to move troops across water. If the transport is destroyed or the magic dispelled before they reach land, any without innate swimming will drown.
  • Populous: The Beginning followers can drown instantly in the sea, rivers, swamps and occasionally dry land. So can the Shaman, despite her near god-like magical abilities.
    • Populous did the same, followers and enemies drown in any form of water. Some levels either used fatal water, but others simply made it harmful (making the flood ability less powerful since the AI would almost instantly recover.) Swamps were always instant kill.
    • All water in the SNES Populous game was harmful, and never fatal except Swamps (which aren't technically "water"). Water gradually reduces a unit's population (all of those guys on the screen repesent groups of people). When population = zero, the "guy" disappears. If a very-low population unit drops in the water for whatever reason, it merely looks like the water is fatal. Obviously, in some map types, the environment (and water) kills quicker than in other maps (namely the Snow and Ice maps vs Grassy Plains).
  • In Yggdra Union, only Undines can walk on water tiles. In some maps, water can be frozen with the card skill "Diamond Dust", letting every other unit walk on the created ice sheet. However, the ice melts after two turns, and any non-swimming units who are still on the ice will sink, killing them on the spot (instantly game over if it's Yggdra or Milanor.)

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • In Giants: Citizen Kabuto the Meccaryns would be eaten by piranhas if they fell in the water (though it was possible to escape), while Delphi (a mer-woman) would heal while swimming. Kabuto meanwhile sank and died.
  • In Infernal, Lennox dies if he falls into water. It might be less annoying if he wasn't explicitly stated to have gotten to the level where it's most likely to be a problem by swimming there.
  • In The Last of Us, Ellie's inability to swim is a major element of game mechanics. Sometimes you'll have to spend several minutes in an area trying to find a way to get her across a small body of water that Joel can easily swim across in seconds. Often this involves finding a floating object that she can climb onto, and then pushing it across the water to the other side.
  • Virmire in the first Mass Effect game is a tropical planet, and Shepard's mission starts with a long beachfront drive through ankle deep water. Your path is guided by jagged rocks to stop you straying into the darker coloured water. Of course, that doesn't stop Shepard from getting out and stepping from the clear, shallow stuff into the dark deep, and sinking like a rock. According to Garrus in 3, turians can't swim — their bodies are too dense.
    Garrus: You obviously haven't seen turians swim. It's a lot of flailing and splashing interrupted by occasional bouts of drowning.
  • There are some flooded areas in MDK2. The water is deep, and if you fall in, you will drown.
  • The Humongous Mecha in MechAssault begin to flood and take damage when their torso is submerged underwater.
  • In Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, the Player Character can wade in shallow water, but going into water that's more than waist deep will result in their health being rapidly drained.
  • Inklings and Octolings in Splatoon die the second they even touch the water, despite being descendants of squids and octopi, respectively. The games make a bevy of jokes to remind the player of that fact whenever the topic of water comes up. Fan justification comes from players assuming that Inklings are, well, made of ink, while Word Of God additionally theorizes that both species could also have thinner skin that doesn't handle the pressure change of entering water that well. It's also deconstructed. The rising water levels of the world meant that there would be little room for both species to comfortably live on the surface, leading to the Great Turf War over remaining territory in the game's backstory. They retain this weakness to some extent in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as falling in water damages them rather than instantly dissolving them.
    Marina: I can see it now. The sun, the breeze in my tentacles, a quick dip in the ocean...
    Pearl: Marina, did you forget that we LITERALLY DISSOLVE in the ocean or somethin'?

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark, most classes and monsters cannot swim. If a character without the ability to swim gets pushed into a body of water, they will drown instantly.
  • The eponymous protagonists of the comedy turn-based Worms series can survive grenades, dynamite and point-blank shotgun blasts, but die instantly when contacting water. Most projectiles succumb as well, but a fast-moving bazooka shell can skip across the water. A fast-moving worm will skip across water, as well. Some of the later games introduce weapons such as water balloons, which cause water to spawn on the stage that doesn't instantly kill your worms, although they can drown if left underwater for too long. The water at the bottom of the stage will still instantly kill you though.