FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
File:Killwithwater01 3793.png


So you're fighting an unstoppable behemoth, and everything you throw at it just bounces off its skin. You and your companions run, but it's slowly tearing the place apart around you...

...until, in desperation, you throw your bottled Water at it, causing it to turn to dust instantly. What just happened? Did something else disintegrate it? Was it really a pushover this whole time and you just need to take a refresher course somewhere besides the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy?

No (well, not only)! You've just faced down an enemy with a rather unfortunate Kryptonite Factor, one covering 70% of the planet, and the solution was always just to Kill It with Water.

Unlike Kill It with Fire, this strategy doesn't tend to be viable if you're fighting an opponent who doesn't specifically have a Kryptonite Factor to water... unless you use an unbelievable amount of it, then it's rather effective. Or you could try making it colder.

Woe betide someone with this weakness who goes up against a character fond of Making a Splash. Frequently a Weaksauce Weakness, may be counteracted with a Kryptonite-Proof Suit. Could be prevented if waterproofing existed. Can lead to an understandable case of Kryptonite Is Everywhere, because, well...it's water.

In video games, this often appears as a manifestation of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors. Consequently, beings with an affinity for fire are often unfortunately prone to this trope.

Examples of Kill It with Water include:


General

  • It seems a lot of hostile extra-terrestrials are vulnerable to good-ol' H2O.
    • Like the scraplets, a kind of mechanical pests/parasites who attacked Transformers Generation 1, in the Marvel comic books. Discovered accidentally when a human dropped a glass of water on an infected autobot.
    • Sometimes the audience will complain that anything so severely vulnerable to water shouldn't be able to survive in our atmosphere what with all the water vapor. Whether or not they're correct is debatable and as-of-yet impossible to prove.
  • In any setting containing monsters that are vulnerable to holy water -- vampires, demons, etc. -- a blessing and a Supersoaker are your best friends. True professionals bless rainclouds.
    • In Constantine they did exactly something like this: They blessed the water tank of a Sprinkler System. Cue hurt demons...
  • The game of Rock-Paper-Scissors is occasionally spiced up with extra hand signs. For example, you can add in dynamite, which defeats rock, paper, and scissors. The only way to beat dynamite is with water, which loses to absolutely everything else.


Anime and Manga

  • In One Piece, Sir Crocodile is made of sand that can freely disperse and reform when struck. When wet however, the sand clumps together so his face can be punched in. Furthermore, any devil fruit user can be defeated if they can be submerged in sea water (a problem for a Pirate-themed adventure on a planet with even more water than the Earth), especially if they are so nasty they don't have friends inclined to help them.
    • In a specific case, Luffy almost fell victim to this when Arlong "put" Cement Shoes on him and then tossed him into a pool. His Rubber Man powers saved him, since the major Genzo and Nami's sister Nojiko extgended his neck enough for him to breathe until a solution was found.
  • In Bleach, Lunuganga, the Hollow made of sand, suffers of this weakness. Later subverted when he shows up again later, having apparently gotten better.
  • He isn't killed, but this happens to Colonel Roy Mustang of Fullmetal Alchemist at least three times over the course of the anime: his enemies get him completely soaked, rendering him unable to use his ignition gloves. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In the manga adaptation of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, this is how Sora, Donald, and Goofy defeat Larxene: Donald casts a Blizzard spell that Sora melts with a Fire spell while Goofy spins them around, creating a sprinkler effect that drenches Larxene and, due to her electric nature, causes her to explode.
  • In one episode of Sailor Moon, the Monster of the Day is a confectionery-based drone called Marzipan. She easily manages to get the best of the Senshi by encasing them in sweets, until Sailor Mercury manages to attack her with Shine Aqua Illusion. It causes Marzipan to become soggy and heavily weakened enough for her attacks to wear off.
  • Very nearly happens to several characters in Cardcaptor Sakura in the episode dealing with the Watery Card. The card spirit itself is also shown to be very temperamental. Additionally, since it is of The Four Elements, it's more powerful than most of the other Card Spirits... Sakura's solution is to trick Watery into entering a freezer room, then locking it inside and catching the card when it's frozen.


Film

  • In The Wizard of Oz, (in the film version, anyway) The Wicked Witch of the West is really susceptible to death by being splashed with water.
  • In Dark City John Murdoch kills Mister Book by telekinetically smashing his human host body into and through a water tower, killing the hydrophobic alien within. How a hydrophobic parasite could possibly live inside a being made up of roughly 70% water is a different matter entirely; since they inhabited dead bodies, salt and preservatives may have been involved. Squick.
  • In the movie adaptation of The Day of the Triffids, the titular plants dissolve when blasted with salt water. It probably wasn't on the producers' minds, but this is a direct reversal of the original book, in which flame-throwers are among the most effective anti-Triffid weapons.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, Freddy is able to finally break through unstoppable resolve of Jason Voorhees (a drowning victim in a previous life) by tapping into his innate fear of water.
  • Water turns out to be deadly to the aliens from Signs. Many consider this plot point to be idiotic: Why the heck were the aliens invading a planet 70% covered in poison, while naked no less? (We have a few theories.)
  • Another example of water proving fatal to aliens: the blob-like energy aliens in Night of the Big Heat can't be harmed with bullets or dynamite, but die at the end because their constantly heating the island up to suit their preferred climate causes a torrential downpour which melts them.
  • Similarly, drowning was the only way to hurt the (supposedly) Nigh Invulnerable protagonist of Unbreakable.
  • The Newcomers in Alien Nation get acid-like burns from salt water.
    • This makes for an awesome Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the movie, when Newcomer George sees his human partner fall into the ocean, and reaches into the water to grab him. In what other circumstances could you reach into acid and pull forth a (mostly) unharmed friend?
    • According to those involved in the later TV series, only the sea-salt mixture of SEAWATER had this effect. Salt water using ordinary table salt either had a much reduced or no effect.
    • The Newcomers also were kept in their ship for a long time and had built up a natural resistance, like how lungs adapt to higher-elevation living.
  • The villainous monster Barugon (Not to be confused with Baragon) is killed when Gamera throws him into a lake causing him to drown since water hurts Barugon and he cannot swim.
  • The Kid kills Death in Six String Samurai with water, realizing his weakness after spitting in his face causes him to scream in pain, as the saliva burns him like acid.
  • While water itself isn't deadly to Stitch, he can't swim and his "molecules are too dense" to remain buoyant even in salt water. Naturally, he winds up on the most isolated chain of islands in the world. The Animated Series shows that Stitch's greatest fear is, in fact, deep water.
    • In The Movie, from a distance it looks like Stitch's ship is going to crash into the middle of the Pacific, and all the alien races there cheer as they assume he will fall into the ocean and drown. Then they zoom in and see that he manages to make landfall on a little tiny island chain. Much frustration ensues.
  • In the first Mortal Kombat movie, Sub-Zero is killed by a bucket a water tossed at him by Liu Kang.
    • Or rather, from the deadly spear of ice the water turned into when it hit his ice shield. And considering that Sub-Zero was the guy doing the freezing, it counts as a Hoist by His Own Petard.
  • In Alien 3, the creature is doused with molten lead, but manages to get out of the foundry; immediately thereafter, he is sprayed with water from a sprinkler system. The resulting thermal shock causes it to explode.
  • In Tank Girl, the Big Bad CEO of Water & Power has himself turned into a cyborg with a saw-bladed arm and a holographically-projected face. This makes him nearly indestructible ... until Rebecca dumps water on him and shorts out his circuits.
    • That technically didn't kill him, just temporarily incapacitate him. It was her stabbing him with the same dehydration tool he'd use to kill two or three others (on-screen at least) in the movie that did him in. So... Kill him without water?
  • The low-budget horror flick Neon Maniacs features a crew of undead warrior beings that are ultimately defeated with buckets, squirt guns, and showers.
  • Both monsters in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man meet their apparent demise when one of the local townsfolk blows up a dam near the ruins where the two are fighting.
  • The T-Rex breed of Sharptooth from Land Before Time are unable to swim due to their tiny arms. This allowed the heroes to kill the original Sharptooth, drowning him in a lake.


Literature

  • Shai-Hulud is poisoned by water in large amounts.
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a point is made about water being the only thing the Wicked Witch fears more than the dark... and yet she specifically has Dorothy (at this point her slave) cleaning her castle with water... This manages to be even dumber than the movie, where a bucket just happens to be lying around.
  • In Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, the Dead and (some/most) Free Magic monsters are unable to cross running water and are destroyed by being immersed. Incidentally, they also are repelled by fire.
  • One of the Mooks in Skulduggery Pleasant uses magic to make himself invulnerable to fire. Unfortunately, it balances out with an extreme vulnerability to the opposing element...
    • Vampires are also somewhat vulnerable to water; ingesting salt water causes their throats to close up, which will probably suffocate them. It is lampshaded that this weakness isn't particularly useful for fighting them. One character is seen to have carried around a vial of saltwater for decades after surviving an encounter in his youth, only for someone to point out that he probably wouldn't be able to get the vampire to swallow the stuff before it finished him off.
  • Andre Norton's Witch World series - the Dark cannot (as a rule) cross running water. While this doesn't generally kill them, it can be used to trap them as Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • The various species of terrestrial mantis shrimp found on Henders Island in Fragment are vulnerable to salt-water. Not just vulnerable to it, terrified of it. However, this could be considered a subversion, as it is not the water itself that kills the creatures, but rather their inability to regulate salt when it is introduced to their bodies. This fact is used heavily in the plot of the story from explaining why none of these Death World natives haven't gotten off the island and killed us all yet, as well as who sent the emergency signal that brought the boat to the island in the first place and started the whole story. One of the character's actually lampshaded this similarity to the Triffids, another group of creatures suceptible to the kill it with salt water tactic.
  • One of the "easy" ways to kill a Discworld golem is to heat it to a significant temperature, then drop a bunch of water on it (or vice-versa), and let the rapid temperature shift work its magic. This happens to Anghammarad, in Going Postal during the Post Office Fire.
    • In fact, this is the only permanent Golem death encountered in the series thus far.
  • In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, wizards can be (temporarily) melted by splashing them with water, mixed with soap and lemon juice. The discovery was completely by accident (Cimorene threw her washing water at one), and nobody's completely sure why it works, but it takes all three elements to do the job; in a later story, Prince Mendanbar forgets the lemon, which just results in wet, soapy wizards, until Cimorene reminds him.
    • Actually, this was discovered by Alianora, Cimorene's fellow (and actually captive) Princess while the two were cleaning. This trope is also reversed when the Stone Prince throws water on the wizard who is holding the witch Morwen hostage. The wizard melts; Morwen, who practices clean living, does not.
  • The tenth book of the Be an Interplanetary Spy Choose Your Own Adventure series put you up against a trio of Space Pirates who were, essentially, lethally allergic to water. The end result was the protagonist forcing the leader of the trio to surrender by threatening him with a tiny puddle of water.
  • In the Known Space series by Larry Niven, Martians were spectacularly vulnerable to water. There was a short in which explorers sent to Mars discovered an ornately constructed water well... and realized that it was used as a crematorium. That vulnerable.
  • The Veleek, a nearly unstoppable cloud of dust from Animorphs that can shred any solid matter by touch, is defeated when the kids trick it into falling into the sea.
  • In the vampire novel They Thirst, it is eventually discovered that seawater has a deadly effect on vampires.
  • Warden Carlos Ramirez from The Dresden Files is a water mage and combat magic specialist. In the Dresdenverse, water is associated with entropy and cleansing, and pretty much all of Ramirez's combat spells involve disintegration to some extent.
  • It is strongly implied that in Something Wicked This Way Comes, the Dust People might have this weakness. They must leave before the autumn storms because "the rain washes away their dust."


Live Action TV

  • The fiery Pyroviles from the Doctor Who episode "The Fires of Pompeii" (or the lesser foot soldiers, at the very least) are able to be killed by having water thrown at them.
  • In the short-lived UPN series Deadly Games (which involved a video game being brought to life, and Christopher Lloyd being evil), one of the villains was burned by water.
  • Power Rangers Mystic Force had the utterly invincible lava-based villain Magma. He spent the whole episode effortlessly handing the Rangers' butts to them, and then Madison gets pissed at her lack of screentime (no, seriously) and blasts him with a water attack... which burns him. (However, that's not what kills him - he then goes giant and resumes the buttkicking against the Rangers' Humongous Mecha, but is defeated by the rules of his own game with the Rangers, which must be obeyed even to the death.)
  • The 'Frogs' in Raumpatrouille can live in vacuum just fine and aren't bothered by energy weapons (at least not the small portable models used by humans in the setting), but oxygen is lethal to them. This is why they bothered to depressurize the human outpost where they are first encountered instead of simply leaving it as-is, which in turn is what eventually clues the protagonists in to their Achilles' heel.
  • In the short-lived Misfits of Science, Johnny B. couldn't touch water due to being a living electrical generator. The merest drop burned him.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Something Blue," Xander and Anya are attacked by a demon that can only be killed by drowning. They force his head into an inexplicably filled sink, creating smoke and killing it.
  • Deadliest Catch, natch. Since the water they are in is near freezing, falling in could cause death within minutes with complete and utter disregard to your ability to swim. A rescue has to happen pretty much immediately, and that is made extremely difficult by the rough conditions of the Bering Sea.
  • Supernatural: demons are highly susceptible to holy water, as you'd expect. One of Bobby's favourite tricks is beer with just a little bit of the stuff - if his visitor is human, they'll never even notice. If they're not...


Newspaper Comics

  • In one Flash Gordon story, a portal is opened to an alternate dimension populated with Mechanical Lifeforms. They prove hostile and nigh impossible to defeat, until scientists reveal their dimension is "completely dry" - spraying them with a firehose causes instant and lethal rusting.


Mythology

  • Many elements of European folklore have running water "washing away" magic. This has been incorporated into several fantasy series, and may be the reason vampires are said to be unable to cross running water under their own power.
    • The Wild Hunt could not cross running water. (Not that this often did much more than delay them. Depending on the myth, you generally needed to get cold iron or survive until dawn, as the hunt could travel to the ends of the earth in a single night, and could afford to take the long route.)
    • In Scottish folklore, an unlucky traveler might have to deal with a type of evil and disgusting sea-fey called a "nuckelavee" -- a man-like creature that was merged into the back of a horse from the waist down (kind of like a centaur, except the horse's head is there too). The best way to escape one of these skinless abominations was to get fresh running water between it and you. Crossing a stream usually worked.
    • Possibly one of the more famous Scottish ones is "The Tale of Tam O'Shanter" who, after being discovered by witches has to cross the "keystone of the bridge" in order to escape. He makes it, but his horse gets her tail pulled off. I think the American version of this is Sleepy Hollow, with Ichabod Crane?
  • The Bible uses it a couple of times. The Great Flood and Moses and the parting of the Red Sea are rather well known.


Tabletop Games

  • In Rifts, Vampires can be harmed, even killed by running water. This apparently means any water in motion. That means water hoses and squirt guns are effective weapons when vampires attack.
  • Warhammer fantasy role-play has a superstition that this is how you kill fire wizards. It doesn't work.
  • In Witch Girls Adventures, this is the biggest downside to having Hag's Syndrome. You can cover up the green hair and skin and red eyes with magic or appropriate enchanted items, but there's not much you can do about your tendency to melt when exposed to water, except avoid it.


Video Games

  • In Kameo: Elements of Power, water is only harmful to fire-based enemies and for some odd reason makes the water-based enemies vulnerable (normally they're intangible).
  • Final Fantasy VIII: the scarce Water magic spells (Water and Leviathan) are weak spots to a handful of enemies. However, fire-based foes are only weak to ice magic (Blizzard, Blizzara, Blizzaga, Shiva). Water is also useful early in the game when it is junctioned to offensive stats (Strength and Magic) as it dramatically boosts those stats compared with other offensive magic.
  • In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, water is the Dahaka's only weakness.
  • Most of the monsters and bosses in Super Mario Sunshine are vulnerable to Mario's water sprays.
    • Curiously, Yoshis in Super Mario Sunshine disintegrate when in sufficiently deep water, despite not displaying any aversion to water anywhere else in the franchise.
  • A handful of Pokémon have some unfortunate type combo of Fire, Ground and Rock, which makes them 4x vulnerable to water attacks.
  • Several Mega Man bosses (usually fire or stone based) are weak against whatever water based attack the hero gets from another boss.
    • A notable example is the Alien Wily in 2 whose only weakness is Bubble Lead, with every other special weapon actually healing the boss.
  • All the vampires in Legacy of Kain are hurt or killed by water, except for one clan in Soul Reaver that evolved a resistance to it, and Raziel once he acquires their power.
  • In Dominions 3, vampires and vampire lords cannot go underwater by any means. If they do end up in a water province somehow they are killed, permanently. Which can give a player a nice Palm Face moment if he's playing an aquatic nation and summons some vamps for their immortality, only to find out that vampires killed in battle do respawn... in their underwater capital.
  • Certain ghosts in Luigis Mansion can only be sucked up if you spray them with water first. Or, alternatively, just drench them until they fade away.
  • The Shikigami in Touhou are mentioned to be weak against water since it causes them to lose the empowering link they have with their masters. Chen gets a double whammy in this weakness since she's also a cat, so she's always weak against water.
    • The Scarlet sisters, being vampires, are weak against running water. In fact, the backstory of the Extra Stage in Embodiment of Scarlet Devil had Patchoulli casting a rain spell to prevent Flandre from leaving the mansion.
  • In the Thief games, Water Arrows kill Fire Elementals and can disable the steam-powered Mechanist robots if aimed at the rear vent.
  • The Endermen in Minecraft take damage from water, including rain. An easy way to kill an Enderman fast is to use a Water Bucket on it.
    • After the 1.9 update, Endermen have gotten around this weakness with Artificial Brilliance, any Endermen exposed to water or rain will immediately teleport away.
  • In Fallout 3, mirelurks (huge bipedal mutated crabs) in the Jefferson Memorial basin start dying once the purifier is turned on in Broken Steel. Apparently, mirelurks can only survive and nest in irradiated water and die upon prolonged contact with fresh water.


Web Comics / Web Originals


Western Animation

  • In Batman Beyond, water mixed into and diluted Inque's liquid body to the point of her being unable to hold herself together. This was used against her a few times, like her Batman: The Animated Series predecessor Clayface (though, being denser, it took a while for it to work on him.)
  • In Teen Titans, Beast Boy discovers that water is the most effective weapon against the Big Bad's army of mooks, which turns them into tofu. Cue epic super soaker gunplay!
    • Overload was also easily defeated with water at the beginning of "Car Trouble".
    • Also, in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, they captured Psycho-tech, who attacked their home; during interrogation, he set off the water sprinkler and disappeared. Beast Boy made a joke that it wasn't water proof, that no one took seriously. It was later revealed that Psycho-tech, as well as the other colorful villains they faced during their visit to Tokyo, were made of ink, so Psycho-tech did pretty much get killed by water.
  • In Invader Zim, when Zim is hit by water he screams wildly and his skin gives off smoke/steam with a horrible sizzling noise. It is heavily implied that water acts as an acid to him, if it isn't said outright in the show, and so if Dib ever managed to pour enough water over him, he'd probably melt in a rather horrific fashion.
    • Except that, unlike the aliens from Signs, Zim quickly discovered a way to waterproof himself once he discovered the weakness, which was to bathe himself in glue.
  • In the third Barbie Fairytopia movie, one of the guardian fairies' apprentices, the fairy Sunburst's powers are weakened by water. When Laverna captures her and takes her place, Sunburst is left trapped inside an underwater bubble until Elina rescues her.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, Livewire's one apparent weakness is water despite the fact that she's supposedly a being of pure energy courtesy of a Freak Lab Accident.
  • Kim Possible has a minor variation on this trope when Dr. Drakken creates an army of Kim clones. It's eventually discovered that the clones are susceptible to carbonated water, prompting Kim to unleash the awesome power of a soda fountain upon the clones.
  • Darkwing Duck's enemy Megavolt will short-circuit if splashed with water. Lagre amounts of liquid (such as Liquidator, a pure water being) effectively knock him out.
    • Liquidator himself knows several decent methods of killing it with water, ranging from boiling water to water hammer to a freaking tsunami. And when he collides with Megavolt...


Real Life

  • While not killing it was any kind of water, you can kill a freshwater fish by throwing it in salt water, or a saltwater fish by throwing it in fresh water and watching osmosis happen.
  • In the Yom Kippur War, the vaunted Israeli "Purple Line" was a series of sand fortifications that faced the Suez Canal. Because it essentially a gigantic wall of man-made sand dunes, it was considered extremely difficult to breach, especially for a force that would have to conduct an amphibious landing under fire beforehand. In a stroke of genius, the Egyptians blasted it apart with water cannons in under 30 minutes and sent their tanks through the gap, eliciting a Mass "Oh Crap" from the Israelis. (Egyptians sometimes cite this as part of their national myth of unorthodox ingenuity, calling it a "very Egyptian solution.")
  • Chinchilla fur is so thick that it cannot air-dry on its own. If a chinchilla gets wet and is not dried properly, the fur on top will dry and trap the moisture on the skin underneath. While this doesn't lead to death immediately, it opens the chinchilla up to fungus growth, fur rot, and other diseases.
  • Most electronic equipment will not survive long contact with water. Just how long varies.
  • Drowning is a danger for all creatures unable to breathe underwater.
  • Drinking large volumes of water can kill you, actually.
  • In a pretty hilarious reference to this trope, a student called for a ban on dihydrogen monoxide as part of his science project--and got 43 students to favor the ban.
    • Banning "dihydrogen monoxide" has become a very popular petition any time and place there is an abundance of enthusiasm and a lack of information on scientific matters.
  • Related to the supernatural examples listed above, graveyards are often built next to a stream, and you can generally tell where the people it was built for lived by crossing over that running water. (iron fences are a secondary favorite)
  • A not exactly uncommon method of execution, especially in Christian martyrologies of all times:
    • More than one myth about Roman martyrs mentions them being tied to stones or anchors and then tossed into either the sea or rivers. Some of them are, however, very inaccurate: since the Romans were very pragmatic people, martyrs would have NEVER been thrown in rivers because their corpses would contaminate them (unless it was a public lynching instigated by mobs, instead of an actual and legally-sponsored execution), and if the anchors were tied to their necks, the weight and size would've ripped the victim's head off instead of pulling them down to the river's bottom. (Besides, why waste huge and probably very necessary anchors anyway?)
    • Among the victims of the persecution and martyrdom of Japanese Christians in XVII century Japan, the Martyrs of Unzen were either drowned in the Shimabara river or, as depicted in media like Michiyo Akaishi's manga Amakusa 1637 and Shusaku Endo's novel Silence (plus its movie adaptation by Martin Scorsese), fatally scalded in the sulphur springs of Unzen.
    • The two Wigton/Solway Martyrs, a teenage girl named Margaret Wilson and an older lady named Margaret McLachlan, were executed in 1685 for refusing to convert from Prestyberianism to the Church of Scotland. Both women were chained to stakes located in the Solway Firth (the watery part of the border between England and Scotland) and forcibly drowned.
    • The Drownings at Nantes, which took place between November 1793 and February 1794. Anyone arrested and jailed for not consistently supporting the Revolution, or suspected of being a royalist sympathizer (especially Catholic priests and nuns) was cast into the Loire and drowned on the orders of Jean-Baptiste Carrier, the representative-on-mission in Nantes.
    • In The Fifties, Blessed János Scheffler was murdered by the Romanian communist regime via being scalded to death after his refusal to join a national Church under the thumb of the regime.
    • In 1984, the Polish Catholic priest Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko was kidnapped, beaten to half death, had a huge boulder tied to his feet, and then was thrown and drowned into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Wlolawek by three members of the Slużba Bezpieczenstwa (Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) for being an ally of Lech Walesa's Solidarity.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.