The term Abyss, (also called a Pit, a Bottomless Pit, a Sheer Drop, or a Steep Drop) refers to an area in a video game where no solid ground is programmed. If a playable character falls or jumps into the pit, he or she will be affected negatively. It appears that many of these pits have no bottom, although after falling a varying distance down the pit, the person will die without hitting the bottom. This will even happen to invincible characters. Some Shaydes are tasked with cleaning pits as punishment in the Underwhere, as seen in Super Paper Mario.
Certain pits are only one block wide. In such cases, the player is able to run across the pits without falling down. Walking across the abyss without accelerating, however, does not work.
Some pits do not cause instant death. Some pits, such as those found in Donkey Kong, are not bottomless. However, players will be taken out if they hit the bottom and are issued a penalty, such as losing a life or being warped back to a particular location. Secondly, the pits in Wario World lead to Unithorn's Lair, a subterranean cavern, similar to Super Mario Bros. 3, where there are pits that will lead Mario to a underground room. Because players can resume progress once a specific goal has been reached, these cannot be considered bottomless pits.
Pits can take many forms. Although Mario can swim in some levels of Super Mario Bros., if he falls into water in a non-swimming level, he will lose a life just like if it was a pit. In Super Mario Bros. 2, allowing the player's character to sink through quicksand is the same as falling into a pit. In 2D platformers, lava is essentially a pit. In Super Mario Galaxy, pits are generally the Black Holes, or the wide if the player falls in, and they appear in island-like galaxies like Beach Bowl Galaxy or Matter Splatter Galaxy.
In 3D Mario platformers, many levels consist of landmasses or platforms floating in a large void. Examples of this are Whomp's Fortress, Pianta Village and many levels of Super Mario 3D Land. These voids are considered to be massive pits.
In Super Mario 64, in the mansion of Big Boo's Haunt, if Mario falls in a pit, he will end up in the mansion's basement. Also, in the DS version, if Mario falls in a pit in Big Boo Battle, he will be teleported back to the starting area.
Pits also appear in the Mario Kart series. They appear in some courses, such as Mushroom Gorge from Mario Kart Wii. When a character accidentally drives off of the course into an pit, the camera shows the character screaming as they fall into darkness, and the screen will turn black. A second later, Lakitu will lift the character up and drop them back onto the course.
It is not known if the pits in Super Paper Mario are bottomless because if Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser, or Luigi falls into a pit, they flip back onto solid ground and lose 1 HP. A few pits in Super Paper Mario (on the outskirts of Flipside and Flopside) do not hurt the player, instead sending them to a secret room with a spring and a valuable item(s).