Stop Drowning and Stand Up

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No river is shallow to a man who cannot swim.

Bob, who is unable to swim, falls into the water and starts flailing around, calling for someone to help him. Alice arrives on the scene, but simply tells him to, "Stop Drowning and Stand Up." Much to Bob's chagrin, he does so and thus finds out the water was only waist deep at best.

A common occurrence, especially in comedies.

Examples of Stop Drowning and Stand Up include:

Anime and Manga

  • Happens to Fuyuki from Sgt Frog more than once.
  • Sonic in Sonic X does this during his first fight (the series) with Knuckles.
  • In Hidamari Sketch, while at a water park, Yuno worries about how to enter the lazy river, since she can't swim and her innertube would float away if she puts it in first (and jumping in is not allowed). While she agonizes over what to do, Sae informs her that the pool is shallow.
  • This happens to Akane in Ranma ½ when she starts her swimming lessons. And it continues all the way through the manga, even when the water is only knee-deep and she's wearing flotation devices.[1]
  • Judai and Sho do this in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX when Sho loses confidence over an upcoming tag duel and tries to leave Duel Academy.
  • Tsuna and his new friend Enma (the only person who is more of a Butt Monkey than him) do this in Katekyo Hitman Reborn.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler does this significantly, when Isumi is forced to teleport herself, Hayate and Sakuya away from a losing battle. Hayate eventually helps either get Sakuya to where she can stand, or just helps her to stand in the water, while Isumi is apparently unwilling to even get wet at all, and brings in her dolphin so she doesn't even get her clothes wet. The other two comment.

Comic Books

  • In the Watchmen Comic Within a Comic story "Marooned", the main character, adrift on a raft and succumbing to morbid hallucinations, jumps into the ocean in order to drown himself. For a few moments, he wonders why he's still alive, then realizes he's standing ankle deep in water, just a few feet from land.


  • Happens to Vidia in Silvermist and the Ladybug Curse. Before it's discovered that she's in shallow water, another fairy cries out, "Help! My flowers are ruined and Vidia is drowning!"
  • Mentioned, though not seen, in Reaper Man:

"In my father's day, any Revenooer came around here prying all by himself, we used to tie weights to their feet and heave 'em into the pond."
But the pond is only a few inches deep, Miss Flitworth.
"Yeah, but it was fun watching 'em find out."

  • In Warrior Cats, Bluefur attacks the enemy warrior Oakheart, but misses and falls into a river. Bluefur begs for Oakheart to save her, but he laughs and tells her to stand up, because she was "drowning" in shallow water.


  • Little John in Robin Hood: Men in Tights does this in an inch-deep stream.
    • Robin Hood: Men in Tights was parodying a similar scene in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves where Robin and Little have this conversation after they're both knocked into the water after a quarterstaff battle;

Robin of Locksley: Do you yield?
John Little: I bloody can't swim!
Robin of Locksley: Do you yield?
John Little: Yes!
Robin of Locksley: Good. Now put your feet down.
John Little: [finds that he is standing in less than 2 feet of water] I'll be buggered.

  • Chuckie does this in the first Rugrats movie.
  • Edgar in Once Upon a Forest is left flailing in a pool of water, only for Abigail and Russell to point out that it's only knee-high.
  • Used in Ice Age, with small proto-elephants in a tar pit (they were doing it on purpose).
  • Muk and Luk do this in Balto, leading to a whole speech about the "shame of the polar bear that fears the water".
  • In Predators, Edwin falls into a pond and flops around before discovering it's waist-deep.
  • A Three Stooges short had them breaking into a bad guys' hideout through the basement - in a scuffle the lights go out and there's a big splash. Curly starts crying "Moe, Larry, I'm drowning!" and keeps saying it as the lights come on and we see he's standing in a washtub in about six inches of water. Moe growls "Hey, porpoise!" and smacks him.

Live Action TV

  • Invoked (in a meta sort of way) in a clip from some 24-hour news station (perhaps CNN) shown on The Daily Show. A reporter was at some community that had recently been hit by a hurricane and had decided that the best way to add gravitas and veracity was to report from a canoe, implying that the water is deep enough that boats were necessary for getting around. Not long after starting her report two men in galoshes walk in front of her and the water is not more than an two or so inches above their ankles.
  • The beginning of an episode of Sliders had the group hanging on to a building on a flooded world. The group had to fall in order to get to the portal. Remy did and found himself in water. He screamed that he was drowning until one of his friends told him to stand up. He realized that he is in a much dryer world but landed in a fountain.

Newspaper Comics

  • Calvin and Hobbes does this at least once. Justified subversion here: he knew the water wasn't deep and just wanted Mom to pay attention to him (she was reading).

Western Animation

  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Patrick gets butt cramp in the Goo Lagoon and SpongeBob, while pretending to be a lifeguard, tries to save him. It ended up with SpongeBob drowning in the water with Patrick until a real lifeguard saves them by simply walking in the ankle-high water and picking them up.
  • Shaggy does it in the Scooby Doo, Where Are You! episode "The Haunted House Hang-Up".

Shaggy: Help! I'm drowning! Call the coastguard!

  • This happens in an episode of Arthur where Binky learns to swim.
  • Tigger does this in the opening of one of the episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, the one titled 'My Hero'. Piglet saves him. No really, go watch it. It's on youtube.
  • One episode of U.S. Acres on Garfield and Friends featured a flashback with Wade's father trying to teach him how to swim. As Wade was on water, he was afraid of sinking and kept yelling until his father told him how shallow the water was.
  • In the "Love and Cheese" episode of Hey Arnold!, Lila is drowning in a stream of water in the Cheese Festival's Tunnel of Love. Arnold comes to save her, and after he grabs her and takes her to the surface, he tells her that they can stand up. Once they do, the water only reaches their ankles. Of course, it's all part of a Zany Scheme played out by Helga to break them apart.
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon Donald's Diary, Daisy persistently tries to snare eligible bachelor Donald - at one point flailing in a pond in a park crying for help. When he obliviously walks by, she stands up in a huff in the shin-deep water.

Real Life

  • To say things were crazy in the June 6, 1944 D-Day (Operation Overlord) landings at Normandy during World War II is an understatement. There is, however, an amusing story recounted in Stephen Ambrose's D-Day by Corporal George Ryan as he got off his landing craft at Omaha Beach.

Shells were bursting around the LCT. "We gotta get off this thing," someone in Ryan's crew shouted, and they all jumped into the water. Ryan held back. ""I wasn't so much afraid of them bullets or the shells as I was of the cold Channel water. I cannot swim."
Ryan threw off all his equipment, inflated his Mae West (Not the actress, his life preserver), and began to tiptoe in off the ramp when "some German opened up on the side of the LCT with his machine gun, blblblblang. That convinced me. Into the water I dove. I pushed with all my might and started going. I'm swimming and I'm swimming. Somebody taps me on the shoulder and I look up. I was in a foot of water, swimming. You talk about a will to live. If they hadn't stopped me I would have swam two miles inland."

  1. And a snorkel.