Thanks to my sister GHTLovesTHG for this rant idea.
Here's a question. Why is it that, in an RPG (and almost every other entertainment medium, but as usual, I just focus on the RPG side of things), falling to your death almost never results in dying?
Think about it. How many times in an RPG have you ever seen a character die from a seemingly lethal plunge down the side of a cliff, or off an airship, or whatever? Admittedly, minor characters can be killed by falls--Dyne from Final Fantasy 7 and Barinten from FF Tactics, for example--but no one with any particularly strong relevance to the plot ever is. If you ever see someone important leap off a height of hundreds of feet and you don't actively watch them perish, and they weren't already dead or dying when they did it, they didn't die.
Examples? Why, I thought you'd never ask.
A. Final Fantasy 6: After the airship is destroyed in midair, everyone falls off it from what we can safely assume is a huge height. Aside from Celes hitting her head and being in a coma for a year, everyone winds up being just fine after falling from an air transport in the sky--right in the middle of Armageddon, I might add.
B. Final Fantasy 7: (SPOILERS--BUT REALLY, DO ANY OF YOU NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS GAME BY NOW?) During Cloud's flashback, the bridge over a huge and deep chasm between mountain peaks comes apart while Sephiroth, Zack, Tifa, Cloud, and Miscellaneous Shinra Grunt are traveling across it. Big surprise, the grunt is the only one who dies, and everyone else, after falling far down into the abyss that you can't even see through the mist and distance, is perfectly okay.
C. Xenosaga 2: Early in the game, Jin and Margulis have a fight that results in Margulis falling through the roof of a building, down into darkness. Now, the actual height of his fall isn't specified, but since he doesn't just hop back up or shout that he'll be back in no time, and since Jin seems convinced that he's not going to return for a good measure of time, it's only reasonable to presume that he fell quite a ways. And, of course, he survived just fine and dandy.
D. Tales of the Abyss: After a fight between the heroes and several of the God Generals on a snowy mountain, the fight's noise and seismic collateral damage causes an avalanche that engulfs the combatants and sweeps them off the cliff's face. Naturally, being hit by an avalanche and thrown off the edge of a mountainous cliff kills all of...most of...some of...actually, every person involved survives with no significant injuries.
See what I mean, here? It's like RPG characters are impervious to the consequences of gravity. I mean, don't get me wrong, there are times when this is decently sensible and okay, like in Tales of Legendia, when Senel falls off a cliff but survives because we see him caught by mystical glowing energy stuff, or when Yuna in Final Fantasy 10 takes a plunge off that Bevelle wedding tower thing and summons her flying Aeon to catch her, or even in Arc the Lad 2 when Gruga falls off a platform down to the lava, but turns out to have caught himself on the edge or something and climbs back up. If the game SHOWS me or at the very least TELLS me how they survive, and it's actually FEASIBLE, then I have no problem with it. But that's only rarely the case.
Worse still, however, is not the fall that doesn't kill you--it's the Curative Fall. A Curative Fall is an occurrence in an RPG where not only doesn't a fall manage to kill someone, but that someone who survives it should have died anyway from other causes. Basically, the person who falls is in really bad shape, but, somehow, they wind up being just fine after the fall brings them off-screen for a while, even though they should have died not only from the drop, but from their current injuries. Plot-wise, the fall seems to have CURED them from their otherwise fatal wounds, rather than increase the damage.
Instances of this phenomenon:
A. Final Fantasy 7: After being sliced deeply across the chest by one of those standard Ridiculously Huge RPG swords, Sephiroth is lifted up, slammed into the wall, and falls into the heart of a reactor that runs on radioactive magic. Does the drop's impact aggravate his grievous wound at all? Doesn't seem so, cuz he's just fine later on.
B. Tales of the Abyss: So Van has been beaten to shit by his adversaries, and is surely going to die from his injuries. But look, he's falling off the platform, into the planet's core! I guess he's dead, right? Well, only if by "dead" you mean "he'll be just fine and will come back stronger than ever."
C. Final Fantasy 8: At the conclusion of a rough battle while on a mission, Laguna, Kiros, and Ward are in a bad way in enemy territory--Laguna's beat up and exhausted, Kiros is so badly injured he can't get up, and Ward is like Kiros only with his neck slashed open. What does Doctor Laguna prescribe for his dying friends? Why, heaving their broken bodies over the side of a cliff to the rough sea several stories below, of course! Naturally, hitting the water whilst a bloody, dying mess and being forced to swim for who knows how far is just the miracle cure Laguna was hoping for, as all 3 fellows survive the event. Rather than death, the only permanent consequence of their wounds and the aggravation to said wounds of a fall and power swim is that Ward can't talk. Everything else is A-OK!
D. Final Fantasy 4 (there IS a lot of falling in this series, isn't there?): Okay, yeah, see, Cid is flying this airship, and for reasons that only kind of make sense, he jumps off of it with a bomb in his hand or strapped to his chest or caught in his beard or something. The point is, a bomb goes off that is right next to him, the explosion of which is large and destructive enough to blast the hell out of the nearby rocky underground cliff face, while he is falling through the air from a height that can only be multiple miles high, down to a very hard and rocky underworld surface that may or may not have lava on it. This causes me to theorize that there is actually a second rule to go with the one stating that no one dies from falling: the more inescapably fatal a fall should be, the greater its curative effect. This at-least-60-years-old mechanic has a bomb go off in his face, yet somehow the healing power of him accelerating to an incredible velocity then slamming into a hard and unmoving surface manages to piece his smithereens back together so effectively that the next time you see him, he's just sleeping it off in a bed.
THIS IS NOT HOW GRAVITY WORKS, PEOPLE.