Created By: Earnest on July 9, 2013 Last Edited By: Earnest on July 28, 2013
Troped

Underground City

A self sustaining city built underground.

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Trope

A full-fledged city built Beneath the Earth. It's a civilian form of Elaborate Underground Base and comparable to an Underwater City.

Typically, these cities come in a few flavors:
  • Apocalypse Bunker: A refuge from an apocalyptic threat, thus serving as a Bottle City capable of weathering everything short of planetary crust destruction via Apocalypse How scenario.
  • Inhuman Borough: Home to a non-human or once-human race of Mole Men or home to evolved sentient dinosaurs using it as the above mentioned Apocalypse Bunker. While most of the time the residents are natives of Earth, aliens occasionally live in these.
  • Buried City: This was once a thriving surface city that has come to ruin, but also been hidden and preserved to an amazing level underground. Usually thanks to an earthquake. If it was highly advanced it may have survivors in the form of a Living Relic, King in the Mountain, Human Popsicle or Perpetual-Motion Monster.

The underground city is very often a Hidden Elf Village and is only rarely part of a larger network of interconnected cities. Usually each is a one of a kind sovereign and isolated city state. In contrast, one way in which Our Dwarves Are All the Same is that they tend to live in a network of underground cities.

In videogames, these can be an Underground Level.

Examples:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • In Action Comics #412 Superman discovers the existence of an entire underground city beneath Metropolis.
  • Xenoarchaeologists in World of Fire find an underground city under their dig site and decide to break through the still-functioning energy barrier put around it. This stirs up the xenophobic, paranoid security system, which kills them all, then people landing on the world to investigate, then ships flying in orbit overhead...

Film
  • In the Matrix movies the only human city in existence, Zion, is hidden underground.
  • The Worker's City in Metropolis is a utilitarian and gloomy place underneath the titular city of the movie. It becomes a symbolic of the worker's being an oppressed class, and is a plot point as the film's villains attempt to flood it.
  • Atlantis in Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Instead of simply being underwater, it was buried beneath the ocean floor, and still inhabited.

Literature
  • City of Ember is set in an apocalypse bunker type of city where their supplies and power source are failing.
  • The dwarves of Discworld live in vast, underground cities, and living underground is a part of their cultural beliefs. Vimes visits their capital in The Fifth Elephant, which is reached by elevator and holds a vast mine. He's disgruntled to find in Thud! that the dwarves in Ankh-Morpork are starting to build one in the network of buildings that has sunk below ground level.
  • The Hyperion Cantos have the high-gravity world Lusus, where all settlements are for some reason underground "Hives" carved into the rock. These are quite extensive; Lusus is a major center of economic and political power in the Hegemony and subsequently (the detective and central character Brawne Lamia's father was a powerful Hegemony Senator).
  • The Legend of Drizzt: Drows live in city-states in the underground domain called the Underdark, after being (supposedly) chased there by the elves. The best known of these cities is Menzoberranzan, the birth home of The Hero, Drizzt Do'Urden. It has 20,000 drow inhabitants plus hundreds of thousands of slaves, grows giant mushrooms and Rothe livestock and trades with other underground humanoid races.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's dwarves often lived in such cities.
    • The Hobbit: Before it was conquered by Smaug and turned into his personal treasure horde, Erebor was a dwarven city ruled by the King Under the Mountain.
    • Lord of the Rings: Khazad-dum, aka "the Mines of Moria," was one of the oldest and grandest dwarven cities in existence until its inhabitants Dug Too Deep and awakened an angry and powerful balrog.
    • The Silmarillion: Two other dwarven cities, Nogrod and Belegost, existed in the Blue Mountains, and dwarves from them carved out the Thousand Caves of Menegroth which served as the capital of the Elven kingdom of Doriath. All three were sunk beneath the sea at the end of the First Age.

Live-Action TV
  • In Cleopatra 2525 all of humanity live in underground cities because robo terraformers called Baileys roam the surface killing any human they find up there.
  • In Falling Skies, starting with Season 2, the remnants of human civilization are living beneath the city of Charleston, North Carolina in an Apocalypse Bunker.
  • The Ocampa in Star Trek: Voyager lived in an underground city provided by the Caretaker after his species decimated their planet's surface.

Tabletop Games
  • In various Dungeons & Dragons settings, races such as Dwarves, Dark Elves (a.k.a. Drow) and Illithids tend to live in huge underground cities, often including vast open spaces and even farmlands (usually growing some kind of mushroom-based crop).
  • Earthdawn. The entire population of the Earth had to hide from an interdimensional invasion. Most of them constructed and found refuge in kaers, magically protected underground cities. The dwarves of Throal actually hollowed out a mountain and used it as their kaer.
  • Paranoia takes place almost entirely in Alpha Complex, a massive underground Arcology run by an utterly insane computer.

Video Games
  • Asheron's Call had at least two examples. The first was actually called "The Underground City" and it was the former home of Elysa Strathelar and Thorsten Cragstone's rebels. The other was Xarabydun, a settlement in the middle of the desert strangely full of plant life.
  • If it survives long enough, a Dwarf Fortress that grows from outpost to Elaborate Underground Base will eventually be a full fledged self-sustaining city able to go without outside trade. That's a big IF though.
  • Fallout: The Vaults enabled humanity to survive nuclear war in America but just barely. And they were intended as proof-of-concept models for a Generation Ship that wasn't built in time, hence the various experimental (and often sadistic) situations manufactured.
  • In Master of Orion II the Sakkra are a reptilian civilization with a penchant for underground cities, effectively doubling the population that can inhabit a planet and making orbital bombardment harder.
  • Pokémon Colosseum has the Under, a town in the old mines beneath Pyrite Town that at the start of the game is ruled openly by CIPHER. The player frees the town, and by the time of XD: Gale of Darkness everyone has moved to the surface.
  • Professor Layton and the Unwound Future has one under the city of London. The inhabitants are made to believe that it is located in the future.
  • Former Hell, introduced in Subterranean Animism, the 11th Touhou game. When Hell moved from underground to somewhere else, youkai who were hated because of their powers decided to move to the old location. They formed a contract with the above-ground youkai, where the above-ground youkai are forbidden to go underground, while the underground youkai keep the remaining evil spirits sealed.
  • World of Warcraft: The capital city of the Forsaken undead is the (aptly named) Undercity. It was originally just a series of sewers and catacombs below the palace of Lordaeron, but after the palace was destroyed by Arthas, the undead led by Sylvanas Windrunner claimed it to themselves.
    • Ahn'Kahet is an underground city that here and there borders natural subterranean life. It features large, glowy mushrooms, insects of different types and sizes and bioluminiscent birds/bats that fly around. It also contains large number of undead that took over the city as well as the few surviving Nerubians that orginally inhabited the city. While the dungeon itself is fairly linear, players are able get a good view of the massive underground caverns from ledges and combinations of creepy music, darkness and mysterious whispers (courtesy of an Old God under whose range of influence the city is located) make this place quite Nightmare Fuellerific.

Web Comics
  • The titular Endtown is the Apocalypse Bunker version crossed over with Inhuman Borough because most of the inhabitants are mutated humans.
  • Drow Tales: Similarly to Forgotten Realms (on which the comic was originally based), drows live in underground cities. Most notable of these is Chel'el'Sussoloth, the capital of the drow nation. The city is split across several caverns that are connected by tunnels and bridges, and the ceiling above it resembles a starry night sky.

Western Animation
  • Ben 10: Omniverse eventually developed Undertown, an entire city hiding underneath Bellwood's sewers where a great many species of aliens and traders make their living here outside of the watch of humans.

Real Life

Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • July 9, 2013
    MattStriker
  • July 9, 2013
    MattStriker
    Tabletop Games:

    • In various Dungeons And Dragons settings, races such as Dwarves, Dark Elves (a.k.a. Drow) and Illithids tend to live in huge underground cities, often including vast open spaces and even farmlands (usually growing some kind of mushroom-based crop).
  • July 9, 2013
    maxwellsilver
  • July 9, 2013
    Earnest
    You almost got the tag right henke37, it should be [[spoiler:

    That said, wiki convention frowns on spoilering the work's title. A better alternative is to spoiler where the city is.

  • July 9, 2013
    eowynjedi
    • The dwarves of Discworld live in vast, underground cities, and living underground is a part of their cultural beliefs. Vimes visits their capital in The Fifth Elephant, which is reached by elevator and holds a vast mine. He's disgruntled to find in Thud! that the dwarves in Ankh-Morpork are starting to build one in the network of buildings that has sunk below ground level.
  • July 9, 2013
    Generality
    This is entirely covered by Beneath The Earth.
  • July 9, 2013
    Earnest
    Im much the same way that Elaborate Underground Base is already covered as a subtrope by Beneath The Earth, yes.

    This is a viable subtrope considering how very wide BTE is, plus nowhere in the description does it mention cities. In fact, it's using EUB as a catch all for non-sewer, non-subway and non Lost World type urban structures. We need this trope.
  • July 9, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Agree with this reasoning.

    Video Games:
    • Pokemon Colosseum has the Under, a town in the old mines beneath Pyrite Town that at the start of the game is ruled openly by CIPHER. The player frees the town, and by the time of XD: Gale of Darkness everyone has moved to the surface.
  • July 9, 2013
    paycheckgurl
  • July 9, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Fallout: The Vaults enabled humanity to survive nuclear war in America but just barely. And they were intended as proof-of-concept models for a Generation Ship that wasn't built in time, hence the various experimental (and often sadistic) situations manufactured.

    • Paranoia takes place almost entirely in Alpha Complex, a massive underground Arcology run by an utterly insane computer.
  • July 9, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Cleopatra 2525 all of humanity live in underground cities because robo terraformers called Baileys roam the surface killing any human they find up there.
  • July 10, 2013
    Arivne
    Comic Books
    • In Action Comics #412 Superman discovers the existence of an entire underground city beneath Metropolis.
  • July 10, 2013
    Melkior
    Webcomics:
    • The titular Endtown is the Apocalypse Bunker version.
  • July 10, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Literature
    • The Legend Of Drizzt: Drows live in city-states in the underground domain called the Underdark, after being (supposedly) chased there by the elves. The best known of these cities is Menzoberranzan, the birth home of The Hero, Drizzt Do'Urden. It has 20,000 drow inhabitants plus hundreds of thousands of slaves, grows giant mushrooms and Rothe livestock and trades with other underground humanoid races.

    Video Games
  • July 13, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    • Former Hell, introduced in Subterranean Animism, the 11th Touhou game. When Hell moved from underground to somewhere else, youkai who were hated because of their powers decided to move to the old location. They formed a contract with the above-ground youkai, where the above-ground youkai are forbidden to go underground, while the underground youkai keep the remaining evil spirits sealed.
  • July 13, 2013
    MrRuano
    Ben 10 Omniverse eventually developed Undertown, an entire city hiding underneath Bellwood's sewers where a great many species of aliens and traders make their living here outside of the watch of humans.
  • July 15, 2013
    TonyG
    Atlantis in Atlantis The Lost Empire. Instead of simply being underwater, it was buried beneath the ocean floor, and still inhabited.
  • July 15, 2013
    Antigone3
    The Worker's City in Metropolis.
  • July 15, 2013
    Topazan
    Asherons Call had at least two examples. The first was actually called "The Underground City" and it was the former home of Elysa Strathelar and Thorsten Cragstone's rebels. The other was Xarabydun, a settlement in the middle of the desert strangely full of plant life.
  • July 16, 2013
    Melkior
    I expanded the Endtown example because it's actually more than one type of underground city.
  • July 17, 2013
    JohnnyCache
    • In Futurama, the New York City of the 21st century has become buried under the New New York City of the 31st century and is the home of the mutants. (There have been vague hints that there is another layer, even further buried....)
  • July 17, 2013
    Tallens
    • The Shadows of Babylon Five have moved all their cities on Z'Ha"Dum underground for security.
  • July 20, 2013
    Arivne
    "The Worker's City in Metropolis" is a Zero Context Example and needs to be expanded.

    Can be an Underground Level in a Video Game.

    Tabletop Games
    • Earthdawn. The entire population of the Earth had to hide from an interdimensional invasion. Most of them constructed and found refuge in kaers, magically protected underground cities. The dwarves of Throal actually hollowed out a mountain and used it as their kaer.

    Copied from Dug Too Deep:

    Comic Books
    • Xenoarchaeologists in World of Fire find an underground city under their dig site and decide to break through the still-functioning energy barrier put around it. This stirs up the xenophobic, paranoid security system, which kills them all, then people landing on the world to investigate, then ships flying in orbit overhead...

    Copied (and edited a little bit) from Underground Level:

    Video Games
    • World Of Warcraft
      • (Undercity example)
      • Ahn'Kahet is an underground city that here and there borders natural subterranean life. It features large, glowy mushrooms, insects of different types and sizes and bioluminiscent birds/bats that fly around. It also contains large number of undead that took over the city as well as the few surviving Nerubians that orginally inhabited the city. While the dungeon itself is fairly linear, players are able get a good view of the massive underground caverns from ledges and combinations of creepy music, darkness and mysterious whispers (courtesy of an Old God under whose range of influence the city is located) make this place quite Nightmare Fuellerific.
  • July 20, 2013
    Arivne
    There are a bunch of examples of underground cities in City In A Bottle that could be copied over (along with some editing to make them fit here).
  • July 20, 2013
    m8e
    Could we change the spoiler in the Professor Layton example to this?

  • July 20, 2013
    Specialist290
    As a general observation, one way in which Our Dwarves Are All The Same is that they're often fond of building Underground Cities.

    Literature
    • JRR Tolkien's dwarves often lived in such cities.
      • The Hobbit: Before it was conquered by Smaug and turned into his personal treasure horde, Erebor was a dwarven city ruled by the King Under the Mountain.
      • Lord Of The Rings: Khazad-dum, aka "the Mines of Moria," was one of the oldest and grandest dwarven cities in existence until its inhabitants Dug Too Deep and awakened an angry and powerful balrog.
      • The Silmarillion: Two other dwarven cities, Nogrod and Belegost, existed in the Blue Mountains, and dwarves from them carved out the Thousand Caves of Menegroth which served as the capital of the Elven kingdom of Doriath. All three were sunk beneath the sea at the end of the First Age.

    Video Games
  • July 20, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Web Comics
  • July 20, 2013
    KZN02
    BIONICLE: the Onu-Matoran of Mata Nui and Metru Nui reside in Onu-Koro and Onu-Metru respectively, both expansive underground cities with huts and tunnels to connect itself and other parts of the island.
  • July 20, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ You got to give more context than that...

    EDIT: That's better.
  • July 20, 2013
    JonnyB
    In Falling Skies, starting with Season 2, the remnants of human civilization are living beneath the city of Charleston, North Carolina in an Apocalypse Bunker.
  • July 20, 2013
    karstovich2
    Literature:
    • The Hyperion Cantos have the high-gravity world Lusus, where all settlements are for some reason underground "Hives" carved into the rock. These are quite extensive; Lusus is a major center of economic and political power in the Hegemony and subsequently (the detective and central character Brawne Lamia's father was a powerful Hegemony Senator).
  • July 23, 2013
    Grahami
    You should probably point out in the test that humans would have a hard time living underground due to lack of vitamin D they would normally gain from sun exposure.
  • July 28, 2013
    Earnest
    Bump for hats.
  • July 28, 2013
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Literature:
    • In The Hunger Games, Area 13 is a former Apocalypse Bunker that acts as a semi-independent city state. Daily life is extremely regimented; presumably this lifestyle, along with a diet of future food enables humans to survive underground for long periods.
    • In The Chronicles Of Narnia, adventurers seeking to solve the kidnapping of Caspian's son discover a previously unknown subterranean civilization of the Inhuman Borough type. It turns out the local inhabitants are slaves captured from an even deeper cavern biome.
    Live Action Television:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=0vtaw0zrcmz1d9ivtilo7oqv&trope=UndergroundCity