Created By: Mr.Bubbles on April 13, 2017 Last Edited By: WolfMattGrey on December 7, 2017

Extradimensional Power Source

Using another reality as a source of energy. (Launching soon)

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trope
The laws of thermodynamics and conservation of mass prove there's a finite amount of energy in this universe. It can never been created or destroyed, but just change form. Of course, there Ain't No Rule that says you can't bring in energy from somewhere else to solve your needs. Enter the extradimensional power source, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: utilizing the energy from another reality for whatever purpose one might have in mind for it.

Depending on the work, the extradimensional energy can be of magical, technological, cosmic, or even quantic nature. The later often happens in sci-fi works because otherwordly particles are convenient Applied Phlebotinum. Using energy from another world frequently has unforeseen consequences, because of how it may interact with a different world.

If there is No Conservation of Energy in a work, this trope is the most likely reason. Contrast Background Magic Field, which is when the power comes from the same dimension as the user.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Paradox: The titular Black Paradox is a group of people who agree to commit suicide together, but in doing so discover a gateway to a parallel universe that disgorges jewels that serve as a great power source. It turns out this alternate universe is actually the afterlife, and the jewels are human souls.
  • In Dungeon Meshi, this is considered one of the Forbidden Magic. It is explained that there is a separate universe filled with limitless energy, and the magic brings that energy to the world. The dungeon is also said to be created with a similar magic.
  • In the 2003 version of Fullmetal Alchemist, it's revealed that the energy source for all alchemical reactions is the souls of those who died in an Alternate Universe. Specifically, our universe.

    Comic Books 
  • Probably the most famous example is DC Comics' Speed Force, which is an extradimensional energy field that exists outside space and time and grants all speedsters their abilities.
  • The Pym Particles in Marvel Comics enable Sizeshifting by transferring matter to a pocket dimension when shrinking, then transferring it back when growing.
  • Marvel's Spiral uses the energy of the dimensional crossroads known as "the Wildways" to power her spells.
  • The Authority: The titular team's Living Ship is powered by a baby universe.
  • In PS238 Victor von Fogg discovers a means of siphoning off energy from an alternate universe that he thinks is uninhabited, but which later turns out to be a non-metahuman universe disguised as a lifeless dimension where Zodon sent his parents.
  • RASL: The secret government experiments were all about drawing energy from other universes. Robert has to shut the projects down when he discovers those other universes are inhabited, and the energy drain actually kills people, rather horrifically.

    Film 
  • In the film adaptation of Doctor Strange magic is powered by the energy of other dimensions. This contrasts with the comics where the energy comes from beings from other dimensions.

    Literature 
  • In Isaac Asimov's 1972 novel The Gods Themselves, human scientists create a device called the "electron pump", which can produce an infinite supply of energy by transferring matter from our universe to another universe (with different physical laws) and vice versa.
  • While Speaker for the Dead doesn't have Faster-Than-Light Travel, ships can still move at tremendous speeds due to the energy they siphon from another universe. Ender is a little disturbed by the situation.
  • In Star Carrier, interstellar ships are powered by zero-point energy field manipulation, in other words pulling power from pocket universes.
  • In The Wheel of Time history, researchers in the Age of Legends identified an infinite extradimensional energy source that could power a new form of Channeling, the setting's Functional Magic. Unfortunately, the power source is the God of Evil, and creating a hole into its prison outside Creation ends very poorly for everyone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The two-parter "Army Of Ghosts" and "Doomsday" has Torchwood attempt to harness the energy of an opening in the fabric of spacetime 600 feet above London. They believe that this will make Britain truly independent. As a consequence, the ghosts start coming through...
    • The interior of the TARDIS exists within another dimension. "Flatline" features the two-dimensional Boneless, who keep leaching the TARDIS's dimensional energy and causing the Bigger on the Inside part to seep away and by extension the exterior to shrink.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "The Road Not Taken", an Alternate Universe version of Samantha Carter was attempting to draw power from alternate realities. An accident during a test killed her and transported the prime universe version of Carter into that one.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • Zero-Point Modules draw zero-point energy from a pocket dimension in subspace, albeit one small enough that the Expedition has a habit of depleting ZPMs shortly after finding them. The Ancients tried a reactor that drew energy from this universe but exotic particles killed everyone on the planet, and when McKay tried to "fix" it he blew up a solar system by accident.
    • The episode "McKay and Mrs Miller" has an inversion - the team attempts to create a stable version of the reactor by venting its exotic particles into a parallel universe, under the logic that it has only a Million-to-One Chance of being inhabited. Naturally, an alternate version of Dr. McKay soon shows up, who politely asks his counterpart to stop destroying his universe.
  • In Supergirl, Mr Mxyzptlk is an imp from within the Fifth Dimension, which is pretty much just reality-warping energy in the form of another dimension. On Earth, he can connect to his home to use this energy to power what looks like magic.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Early editions of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons feature this:
    • Magic-users and clerics/priests draw the power to cast their spells from the Positive Material Plane, the Negative Material Plane or some other plane in the multiverse.
    • Undead with the ability to drain character levels receive this power from the Negative Material Plane. One undead, the mummy, gets its power to cause disease from its connection with the Positive Material Plane.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones Transcendent implants blur the lines between universes to telekinetically move objects, phase through walls, start fires, or summon small Eldritch Abominations. But, the further the user reaches (measured in Cuil), the less likely they are to survive.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Warp, or Immaterium, which is a realm shaped by the thoughts, emotions, and mental aspects of all life within the material world and is not governed by the laws of physics we know. In a similar fashion, Psykers can draw power from this realm to fuel their abilities and shape the material world. Unfortunately, the Warp is overflowing with daemons and other horrifying entities, and utilizing psychic abilities is often enough to attract their attention.

    Video Games 
  • The Fade in Dragon Age is the source of magic in the world of Thedas. It's a metaphysical realm where the spirits of the dead go and that most can fleetingly enter when sleeping, but only Mages can remain fully conscious when they visit. Unfortunately, much like the Warhammer example above, the use of magic can make Mages targets for the demons that reside in the Fade.
  • DOOM: Mankind was facing an energy crisis and found an energy source in syphoning energy from Hell. Extracting this "Argent energy" is fraught with health risks note , but using it once extracted and purified is perfectly safe. Of course, beyond the health risks is the fact that you've opened a Hell Gate to syphon it, and demons can and will pour through every so often. The plot is kickstarted by one of these demons offering one of the top scientists a deal with the literal devil.
  • The bad guys' plan in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey and Dreamfall Chapters involve stealing the dreams from a parallel world in order to power-up the Undreaming, a primeval force of destruction, in order to tear down the Divide between Stark and Arcadia.
  • In Xenogears, there is an entity/dimension known as the Wave Existence, which is a higher plane of reality of basically limitless power. It is essentially God, but somehow wound up trapped in a monolith called the Zohar. By proximity or usage of the Zohar, one has source to an endless abundance of energy.
  • In Xenosaga, the Upper Domain is a higher dimension filled with energy derived from the collective consciousness. In this game, there is the Original Zohar, which is described as a direct door to the U-DO, with access to limitless power and energy, and then there are the Zohar Emulators, which attempt to use the same "wavelength" as the Zohar but with many more imperfections and thus (while still powerful) pale in comparison to the Original.

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 
  • Occurs accidentally in It's Walky!: the main faction of human villains arrived from an alternate universe, and shunted the leftover energy created by their portal into a random tree branch that was nearby. This not only accelerated the heat death of their home universe, it also created the Power Booster Rod, which ends up being a massive Chekhov's Gun for the story.
  • In Narbonic future!Kelly sends back a video tape explaining that physical time travel requires all the energy in the universe, so she pretty much destroyed the universe sending that one message back in time. However, after that timeline is apparently averted Dave meets his and Helen's future daughter who says that they solved that problem by siphoning energy from other universes that don't want to exist as much.
  • When confronted, the aliens from Sequential Art explain that "retardium" is generated by willfully ignorant people, and exists in another dimension as a physical material. This material can be harnessed to sustain the aliens, who operate a reality television show to keep these people glued to their sets, generating plenty of retardium. The mechanics are spelled out beginning with strip #871.

    Web Original 
  • In Orion's Arm, a "Tipler Oracle" is a Pocket Dimension created by an Archai for the sole purpose of answering a question that even a godlike artificial intelligence can't handle on its own: it's seeded with self-replicating computational material, processes the question through its entire existence through Time Dilation, and passes the answer back through a wormhole before collapsing into a singularity. Despite all this, they're still fallible.
  • Whateley Universe: From Even Murphy's Law has Loopholes Chapter 3 and Chapter 5, presumably the Transdimensional Aranis-Hewley Power Station, which is based on a scientific paper called Theoretical Arguments for Extra-Dimensional Power Sources to Explain Paranormal Abilities.

    Western Animation 
  • In Legend of Korra, the Spirit Vines, which comes from the Spirit World, can be use as a new energy. Kuvira mostly uses them to power her weapons.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "The Ricks Must Be Crazy", it is revealed that Rick's spaceship is powered by a miniature universe inside the battery: the people of the "microverse" generate electricity using foot-pedals, with a portion of the power being redirected towards the battery. Unfortunately, this stops working when a scientist of the microverse discovers how to create his own "miniverse" and generate free power without having to work the pedals. The inhabitants of the miniverse then create a teenyverse for the same purposes. In the end, Rick manages to restore his battery's power by giving the microverse's inhabitants an ultimatum: either they go back to using the pedals, or he gets rid of his non-functional battery (and destroy their universe in the process).

Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • April 13, 2017
    Chabal2
    The Authority's Living Ship is powered by a baby universe.

  • April 14, 2017
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Isaac Asimov's 1972 novel The Gods Themselves. Human scientists create a device called the "electron pump". It can produce an infinite supply of energy by transferring matter from our universe to another universe (with different physical laws) and vice versa.

    Tabletop Games
    • Early editions of Advanced Dungeons And Dragons
      • Magic-users and clerics/priests draw the power to cast their spells from the Positive Material Plane, the Negative Material Plane or some other plane in the multiverse.
      • Undead with the ability to drain Character Levels receive this power from the Negative Material Plane. One undead, the mummy, gets its power to cause disease from its connection with the Positive Material Plane.

  • April 14, 2017
    Theharbo
    Doom2016: Mankind was facing an energy crisis and found an energy source in syphoning energy from Hell. Extracting this 'Argent energy' is fraught with health risks note , but using it once extracted and purified is perfectly safe. Of course, beyond the health risks is the fact that you've opened a Hell Gate to syphon it, and demons can and will pour through every so often. The plot is kickstarted by one of these demons offering one of the top scientists a Deal with the literal devil.
  • April 15, 2017
    Getta
    Compare No Conservation Of Energy

    By the way, siphoning energy from a Layered World might make it look like Background Magic Field.

    My own Fridge Logic with this: the amount of energy in the universe is theoretically finite, but isn't it also, you know, vast? Nigh-uncountable? (And I never heard any work where someone requires all of the energy in the universe to power up something...)
  • April 15, 2017
    Prime32
  • April 15, 2017
    Generality
    Occurs accidentally in It's Walky!: the main faction of human villains arrived from an alternate universe, and shunted the leftover energy created by their portal into a random tree branch that was nearby. This not only accelerated the heat death of their home universe, it also created the Power Booster Rod, which ends up being a massive Chekhovs Gun for the story.
  • April 15, 2017
    intastiel
  • April 15, 2017
    Malady
    Web Original:

    Whateley Universe: From Even Murphy's Law has Loopholes Chapter 3 and Chapter 5, presumably the Transdimensional Aranis-Hewley Power Station, which is based on a scientific paper called Theoretical Arguments for Extra-Dimensional Power Sources to Explain Paranormal Abilities.
  • April 15, 2017
    Getta
    Eh, I guess I found an answer to my question: the use of energy from another dimension usually justifies the use of energy that usually exceeds the amount of energy that a body (or equipment) can store or harness.
  • April 15, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • In the film adaptation of Doctor Strange magic is powered by the energy of other dimensions. In contrast with the comics where the energy comes from beings from other dimensions.
  • April 16, 2017
    Koveras
    • The bad guys' plan in Dreamfall The Longest Journey and Dreamfall Chapters involve stealing the dreams from a parallel world in order to power-up the Undreaming, a primeval force of destruction, in order to tear down the Divide between Stark and Arcadia.
  • April 16, 2017
    lakingsif
    I'm not sure if this counts as an example, or if it's just some Power From Another Dimension trope:

    In Supergirl, Mr Mxyzptlk is an imp from within the Fifth Dimension, which is pretty much just reality-warping energy in the form of another dimension. On Earth, he can connect to his home to use this energy to power what looks like magic.
  • April 16, 2017
    JesseMB27
    Anime and Manga
    • Spoilerific exampale. In the last episode of the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist anime, it is revealed that the energy to perform alchemical transmutations are from the souls of Human beings who have died in our dimension.
  • April 16, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • Also in Stargate Atlantis "normal" Zero-Point Modules draw zero-point energy from a small pocket dimension in subspace. Though it's small enough that the Expedition has a habit of depleting them shortly after finding them. The Ancients tried a reactor that drew energy from this universe but exotic particles killed everyone on the planet, and when McKay tried to "fix" it he blew up a solar system by accident.
    • In Narbonic future!Kelly sends back a video tape explaining that physical time travel requires all the energy in the universe, so she pretty much destroyed the universe sending that one message back in time. However, after that timeline is apparently averted Dave meets his and Helen's future daughter who says that they solved that problem by siphoning energy from other universes that don't want to exist as much.
  • April 16, 2017
    Zuxtron
    Would this qualify?

    • In the Rick And Morty episode "The Ricks Must Be Crazy", it is revealed that Rick's spaceship is powered by a miniature universe inside the battery: the people of the "microverse" generate electricity using foot-pedals, with a portion of the power being redirected towards the battery. Unfortunately, this stops working when a scientist of the microverse discovers how to create his own "miniverse" and generate free power without having to work the pedals. The inhabitants of the miniverse then create a teenyverse for the same purposes. In the end, Rick manages to restore his battery's power by giving the microverse's inhabitants an ultimatum: either they go back to using the pedals, or he gets rid of his non-functional battery (and destroy their universe in the process).
  • April 19, 2017
    KingZeal
    • In Xenogears, there is an entity/dimension known as the Wave Existence, which is a higher plane of reality of basically limitless power. It is essentially God, but somehow wound up trapped in a monolith called the Zohar. By proximity or usage of the Zohar, one has source to an endless abundance of energy.

    • In Xenosaga, the Upper Domain is a higher dimension filled with energy derived from the collective consciousness. In this game, there is the Original Zohar, which is described as a direct door to the U-DO, with access to limitless power and energy, and then there are the Zohar Emulators, which attempt to use the same "wavelength" as the Zohar but with many more imperfections and thus (while still powerful) pale in comparison to the Original.
  • April 19, 2017
    MetaFour
    • RASL: The secret government experiments were all about drawing energy from other universes. Robert has to shut the projects down when he discovers those other universes are inhabited, and the energy drain actually kills people, rather horrifically.
  • November 21, 2017
    MarqFJA
    Is anyone working on this draft? If you'll excuse me, I'm going to correct the order of some of the example sections.
  • November 21, 2017
    Snowy66
    For Doctor Who
    • In "Flatline", the Boneless are two-dimensional beings who kept leaching the TARDIS's dimensional energy and causing the Bigger On The Inside to seep away. The interior of the TARDIS exists within another dimension, so it also counts to this trope.
  • November 22, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    Webcomics
    • When confronted, the aliens from Sequential Art explain that "retardium" is generated by willfully ignorant people, and exists in another dimension as a physical material. This material can be harnessed to sustain the aliens, who operate a reality television show to keep these people glued to their sets, generating plenty of retardium. The mechanics are spelled out beginning with strip #871.
  • November 22, 2017
    WolfMattGrey
    ^^^ Seems it's up for grabs. Do you want to sponsor it, or can I do it?
  • November 22, 2017
    TonyG
    Pym Particles from Marvel Comics, which enable Sizeshifting. Matter is transferred to a pocket dimension when shrinking, then transferred back for growing.
  • November 22, 2017
    WolfMattGrey
    Alright, unless someone wants it, I'm sponsoring this draft. I'll try to elaborate a bit on the description because I'm sure more things could be said on the topic.
  • November 22, 2017
    malias
    • While they don't have Faster Than Light Travel in Speaker For The Dead, their ships can still move at tremendous speeds due to the energy the ships siphon from another universe. Ender is a little disturbed by the situation.
  • November 22, 2017
    WhirlRX
    Don't know if this fits

    In Legend Of Korra, the Spirit Vines, which comes from the Spirit World, can be use as a new energy. Kuvira mostly uses them to power her weapons.
  • November 22, 2017
    TrueShadow1
    • In Dungeon Meshi, this is considered one of the Forbidden Magic. It is explained that there is a separate universe filled with limitless energy, and the magic brings that energy to the world. The dungeon is also said to be created with a similar magic.
  • November 22, 2017
    intastiel
    Web Original:
    • In Orions Arm, a "Tipler Oracle" is a Pocket Dimension created by an Archai for the sole purpose of answering a question that even a godlike artificial intelligence can't handle on its own: it's seeded with self-replicating computational material, processes the question through its entire existence through Time Dilation, and passes the answer back through a wormhole before collapsing into a singularity. Despite all this, they're still fallible.
  • November 25, 2017
    StarSword
    Literature:
    • In Star Carrier, interstellar ships are powered by zero-point energy field manipulation, in other words pulling power from pocket universes.

    TV:
    • In the Stargate SG 1 episode "The Road Not Taken", an Alternate Universe version of Samantha Carter was attempting to draw power from alternate realities. An accident during a test killed her and transported the prime universe version of Carter into that one.
  • November 25, 2017
    Chabal2
    The Long Earth: The ability to travel to alternate-dimension Earths (where humanity never evolved) for free is quickly exploited by industrialists. However, there's a massive restriction in that iron can't be brought across (only bonded iron, such as the one in blood, can go) and transport capacity is limited to what humans can carry. Also deconstructed slightly when one character goes to the location of Sutter's Mill (where the California gold rush started) only to be informed that he's far from the first to have had that idea, and the more gold he brings back, the less it'll be worth.

  • November 25, 2017
    zarpaulus
    ^ That sounds more like material resources than power, though I suppose taking oil or other fuels from an alternate Earth might count.
  • November 26, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • In PS238 Victor von Fogg discovers a means of siphoning off energy from an alternate universe that he thinks is uninhabited, but which later turns out to be a non-metahuman universe where Zodon sent his parents and only disguised as a lifeless dimension.
  • November 26, 2017
    WolfMattGrey
    ^^^ The trope is all about energy, so I'm afraid metals and other material resources don't qualify.
  • November 26, 2017
    ElSquibbonator
    Junji Ito's manga Black Paradox contains an example. The titular Black Paradox is a group of people who agree to commit suicide together, but in doing so discover a gateway to a parallel universe that disgorges jewels that serve as a great power source. It turns out this alternate universe is actually the afterlife, and the jewels are human souls.
  • December 4, 2017
    WolfMattGrey
    Any other examples, corrections or whatever else, people? Or is it pretty much ready to launch?
  • December 6, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • In Hc Svnt Dracones Transcendent implants blur the lines between universes to telekinetically move objects, phase through walls, start fires, or summon small Eldritch Abominations. But, the further the user reaches (measured in Cuil), the less likely they are to survive.
  • December 7, 2017
    NubianSatyress
    • Doctor Strange: The Dark Dimension, the Chaos Dimension, and various other extradimensional realms controlled by the various Eldritch Abominations battled by Strange on a regular basis are places of vast power and energy. To wit, when the Incredible Hulk was trapped in the Dark Dimension for a time, the ambient magical energies there made him more powerful than ever.

    • Cyclops: Scott's powers are often explained by his eyes opening portals to a realm of "limitless non-Euclidean energy".
  • December 7, 2017
    StarSword
    Literature:
    • Aeon 14:
      • Graviton emitters for Artificial Gravity work by drawing gravitons from the dark layer, a dimension of spacetime where dark matter has physical form.
      • The Transcend and the Orion Guard have a technology called the CriEn module, which generates vast amounts of power by accessing other layers of spacetime. In Orion Rising it's mentioned that having lots of CriEn modules in one place can cause bad things to happen.
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