• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
Law of Okami; if there is a waterfall, there's a secret behind it.

Waterfalls aren't just pretty to look at, they're also great for hiding stuff. Who would ever think to look behind Niagara Falls to find the hidden treasure of King Whatshisname II? And who would suspect that the Big Bad would keep his reserve of Mooks in a cave where nobody would dare enter? The rush of water alone would keep any sane person away.

This is geological Truth in Television to a certain extent, as the churning water at the base of a waterfall erodes the rock behind it faster than the merely flowing water at the top. However, unlike their fictional counterparts, these caves tend to be shallow, flooded, and thoroughly devoid of Inexplicable Treasure Chests.

Naturally, such a cave would be at the bottom of the Inevitable Waterfall. If you try going that route before entering the hidden cave, chances are you'd be dead before you hit the bottom. But remember, as The Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Cliches says, "There's always goodies behind the waterfall", so sometimes the risk is worth it.

Examples of Cave Behind the Falls include:

Anime And Manga

  • The Wolf Demon clan's lair in Inuyasha lays behind a waterfall.
  • For maximum dramatic entrance potential, the hangar for Allen's airship the Crusade is located in a cave behind a waterfall in Vision of Escaflowne. Lampshaded by way of Zelda reference in The Abridged Series.
  • A Naruto OVA introduces Takigakure, the Hidden Waterfall Village. Naturally, the whole village is one of these.
    • In the main story, the entrance to the temple where Kumo's jinchuuriki learn to control their bijuu was located behind the Waterfall of Truth.
  • Toriko had one, with delicious fish swimming inside it. Oh yeah, and the waterfall was 1000 meters thick.

Comic Books

  • Tintin goes through one in "Prisoners of the Sun".
  • The home of The Phantom is in a valley that can only be entered through a tunnel hidden by a waterfall.
  • In the French graphic novel Pyrénée the Wild Child title character spends some time living with a wise old eagle in a cave behind a waterfall. The cave was once occupied by a human hermit, who left behind a cache of tinned food and some other interesting artifacts.
  • In Lucifer, Mazikeen discovers her estranged mother Lilith's headquarters behind a fortified waterfall. Made of swords!
  • In some versions of the Buck Rogers franchise, Buck's headquarters is hidden behind Niagara Falls.



  • The Ithilien Rangers' hideout was behind such a waterfall in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
    • One possible explanation for the name "Elrond" (given in the Letters) goes thus: after the Sack of Sirion, he and his brother were dragged away and later found beside a waterfall. Elros was playing in the water but Elrond had gone into the cave behind the waterfall, hence his name, "Elf of the Cave."
  • Sun Wukong from Journey to the West discovered Shuilian Cave after jumping through a great big waterfall. He was named king by his monkey clan afterwards, and they all moved in and made the cave their home.
  • In the book version of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, after Alan, Tim, and Lex go tumbling over the Inevitable Waterfall, they hide behind said waterfall in order to escape the Tyrannosaur. Grant finds an access door and leaves the kids there while he makes sure it's safe; the kids nearly get eaten in his absence.
  • Whoever designed the sets for the South Seas Treasure Game in Dream Park likes this trope, as Griffin and Acacia find such a niche behind a waterfall in which to mess around. It's also where the thief hides the stolen vial of Neutral Scent.
  • In The Inheritance Cycle, the entrance to the Varden is located behind a waterfall.
  • Book three of the "The Magician's House" series is called The Tunnel behind the Waterfall.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, the Tribe of Rushing Water lives in one of these, and actually is named after the falls.

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Possibly the earliest example of all: The Legend of Zelda has an old man who tells you "WALK INTO THE WATERFALL". Doing so yields an old lady who gives you a hint to finding the next dungeon.
  • Some of the waterfalls in the Mercury Lighthouse in Golden Sun had treasure behind them.
    • And a Djinn which could be easy to miss if you were new to RPGs.
      • Mercury Lighthouse is justified as the waterfalls, their caves, and the entire complex are artificially created; it's a stylistic choice on the part of the Lighthouse's designer.
    • Not to mention that there's a whole dungeon behind a waterfall.
  • Steambot Chronicles has a waterfall where one of the mysterious sages lives.
  • In Chrono Cross, the only way to get the Titular MacGuffin necessary to defeat the final boss correctly and get the good ending is to go behind a waterfall, whose location on the world map isn't labeled or even really mentioned clearly. Yeah.
  • Most Final Fantasy games make use of this trope.
    • You'll be asked to take your canoe through a waterfall in Final Fantasy I to find a key that gives you access to the floating castle.
    • Final Fantasy IV has a waterfall cave in one of its early dungeons. The exit to the same dungeon is also behind a waterfall, which is guarded by Octomammoth.
    • Final Fantasy V has one of the tablets hidden behind a waterfall.
    • Final Fantasy VII hides, among many things, Vincent's ultimate weapon behind a waterfall.
    • Final Fantasy XI has a waterfall cave (inside a tree by the way) which leads to the battle with Ramuh.
      • Not to mention the other waterfall cave that leads to the hidden city of Norg. And the other other waterfall cave in Gustaberg.
  • Endless Ocean has one of these for the final portion of its Great Aqua Caves area. That's right, an underwater waterfall.
  • In Resident Evil 4, early in the game, the player must dam a river in order to enter a secret tunnel hidden behind a waterfall. There is a plot-critical key at the end of the tunnel. Interestingly, although there is no treasure inside aside from said key inside the cave, there is a treasure on a support beam right in front of the tunnel's entrance.
    • In Resident Evil 1, the underground passage to the Laboratory (or Lisa's hideout in the remake) is hidden behind a waterfall, which you reveal by closing the floodgate after unlocking an alternate path around.
  • The Cavern of the Metal Cap in Super Mario 64.
  • Earthbound has one with a twist: You have to wait 3 minutes to get in.
  • Okami makes heavy use of this trope - making it easy to find secrets if you know it. Once Issun even tells you to jump down a waterfall, and though you don't have to, sure enough, there's a cave there with a wall you can bomb to get a Stray Bead.
  • The aptly named Waterfall Cave in Dragon Quest VIII.
  • One of the worlds in Black and White had a goodie behind a waterfall.
  • Koopa Troopa Beach in Mario Kart 64.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, the small waterfall in Thorntail Hollow can be bomb spored for some Fuel Cells and a couple of health items. Later, in Cape Claw, an item needed to open a door is hidden in a chamber you reach by swimming through a cavern beyond the waterfall. You can only get there by turning the waterfall off.
  • In Tomb Raider Legend attempted to outdo it by putting a whole open temple behind some falls.
  • Ultima-clone Savage Empire has a plot-required cave behind a waterfall, but in a subversion of sorts this cave is plainly visible, but the dimension-travelling world-saving uber-fighter protagonist is unable to walk through the water until he diverts the stream. Supposedly he is afraid of getting wet.
    • Ultima V has a cave under a waterfall, where you end up by going down the waterfall by boat or by carpet.
  • King's Quest IV has one of these. You can't walk through the water here, either, but you can swim as soon as you shapeshift into the much more muscular (?) form of a frog.
  • Leisure Suit Larry III has one, too, except that you enter from the other end.
  • Space Quest II has the exit to a cave behind (i.e. through) a waterfall.
  • In Hydro Thunder, one is occasionally surprised by not finding a tunnel behind one of the many, many waterfalls. Not infrequently, behind-the-falls tunnels are the main channel rather than any sort of secret.
  • An early dungeon in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky is hidden behind a waterfall. The leap of faith into it provides an early bit of Character Development for the partner character.

 "Be brave... Be the bravest ever!"

    • The mainstream games added one in the most recent games, Heart Gold and Soul Silver. There is a cave behind one of the Tohjo Falls, in which a certain mafia-style villain had spent the past three years in...
  • The GBA version of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has a cave as a bonus map behind waterfall in the map after the fight in Minas Tirith. It contains a free rune, and it resets enemy in the previous map. Sucks for someone who hates fighting trolls.
  • Latheon Gorge in Tales of Symphonia comes to an end in one of these - although you repeatedly enter and exit the cave throughout the dungeon, the final entrance is opened by dropping a huge boulder into the waterfall, unveiling the cave entrance behind it. Of course, there's a MacGuffin and a huge Man-Eating Plant in there.
    • Also, while there are no caves involved, there's goodies behind the mini waterfalls in the Torrent Forest later in the game.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater, Snake and Eva rendezvous in one of these.
  • In Breath of Fire II the second set of dragon powers is hidden in one of these. To get inside you need to have Jean in your party so it is recommended you do this before a certain plot event which removes him from your party for quite a while.
  • Both God of War games make use of this in combination with the games' static cameras, making it so the player will only actually notice the waterfall with treasure behind it if they specifically set out to see if something's behind it.
  • A jumping puzzle and the Key To the World lurks behind the waterfall of the Tarzan-themed world in the first Kingdom Hearts game.
  • In Croc 2, one could go through the waterfall during the first boat race to find an extremely helpful shortcut.
  • In Monkey Island 2 Le Chucks Revenge, there's a plot coupon behind a waterfall. At the top of the mountain where you'll find a valve. If you curiously try to use your monkey on it ("monkey wrench", get it?) you'll turn off the waterfall, revealing the cave.
  • Every single waterfall in Tenchu: Stealth Assassins hides a cave with an item in it.
  • In the second commentary preview of Brutal Legend, the creators talked about how it was considered a bug if there wasn't something behind every waterfall.
  • Betrayal at Krondor has the Dark Secret that ends Chapter 3 in one of these.
  • Onimusha has a cave behind a waterfall that contains the best armor in the game.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has a secret room behind a waterfall in the caverns under the castle.
  • One of the Ages in Uru features caves behind a set of waterfalls. Moving something into the cave without getting wet is one of the Age's challenges.
  • In a nod to this trope's ubiquity in video games, Nancy Drew: Resorting To Danger features a secret control panel that's hidden behind a decorative waterfall in the resort's laser-treatment room.
  • There's a couple of dungeons hidden this way in Dragon Fable.
  • Devil May Cry 3 has one of these.
  • In the first area (the mines) in Blackthorne, there are several doorways behind waterfalls.
  • The Text Adventure Dragon's World has this. It turns out to be a back door into the lair of the game's Big Bad.
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, there's a small alcove behind a waterfall in Spiral Mountain. In it is an extra life.
    • In Banjo-Tooie, there's a cave which has one of the secret eggs. It's not so much behind the waterfall as it is the source of it, but the game still calls it "Behind the Waterfall."
  • The Patriarch's lair is one of these in Divinity 2.
  • Some Harvest Moon games will have a waterfall with either a mine or arable land located behind it.
  • Purple uses this twice. One is for Bonus Stage and the other is for advancing further into the stage.
  • Kingdom Hearts has a keyhole hidden in a cavern behind a waterfall.
  • Sonic Adventure 2's Chao Garden hides the entrance to the Chao Stadium inside a cave behind a waterfall.
    • Sonic Generations has the Modern iteration of Green Hill Zone, where Sonic goes through a waterfall into a tunnel, which opens out into a gigantic cavern with rail grinding and a giant mechanical fish chasing him, before blasting back outside.
  • In Wii Fit, the virtual island has one of these leading up to the highest part of the island and the little Mario-style castle.
  • Several of these show up throughout the Spyro the Dragon series, the rewards varying in each game.
  • Diddy Kong Racing has a whole world hidden behind a waterfall, which is evidenced when the music changes when you get close to the waterfall.
  • Step one: Play Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Step two: find a waterfall. Step three: go behind the waterfall. Step four: profit.[1]
  • Many stages in Super Mario 3D Land will have either a 1-Up or Star Coin behind waterfalls.

Western Animation

  • Kim Possible: In "The Twin Factor", Dr. Drakken's lair-of-the-episode is hidden behind a tall waterfall.
  • Disney's Robin Hood: Robin and Little John's hideout is behind a waterfall.
  • Lampshaded in Mike Lu and Og:

 Og: Why does it always have to be behind the waterfall?

  • Danny Phantom: One episode showed a ghost portal Wulf made to be behind a waterfall.
  • The Dungeons and Dragons cartoon series does this in two episodes: Valley of the Unicorns and Cave of the Fairie Dragons
  • Gusto Gummi's Studio in Gummi Bears
    • In one episode Cubbi and Tummi also discovered a Gummi Warrior training facility behind a waterfall.
  • Captain Comic II. This isn't hinted at either, but you can press the key for "enter doorway" in front of a waterfall to get to certain hidden areas.
  • In the Inspector Gadget episode "The Emerald Duck", the ancient Doomsday Device is hidden behind the Great Waterfall.
  • In one Futurama episode, Bender - having upgraded his processor to godlike levels - hides out in one of these. Then things get weird.


  • According to Hawaiian myth, the goddess Hina lives in the cave behind Rainbow Falls on the Big Island.
  1. Okay, not all the time, but checking behind waterfalls will frequently reveal either a dungeon, or a small cave with some treasure.