Created By: Vir on December 9, 2012 Last Edited By: DAN004 on August 20, 2016

Our Dark Matter is Different

Various ways the \"dark matter\" is depicted in media

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Page Type:
Trope
DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft


In real life, dark matter is a kind of hypothetical matter that constitutes most of the matter of our universe. Its existence is only ever detected via its gravitational and radiation effects, and so far, no one is certain what a "dark matter" actually looks like.

Perhaps owing to its hypothetical nature, in fiction, a dark matter is interpreted in various ways. As a phlebotinum mainly, a dark matter may be a Power Source, Toxic Phlebotinum, something behind Minovsky Physics, etc. Other times something may be named "dark matter" for Rule of Cool.

May be related to Casting a Shadow when used as a superpower.

Examples


Anime and Manga
  • In Gundam Build Fighters, the Gundam Exia Dark Matter is an "evil" version of Meijin Kawaguchi's Amazing Exia with a black-and-red color scheme. When he's freed from mind control, it reverts to its original white-and-blue.

Film
  • Thor: The Dark World has Aether, one of the six infinity gems. Which despite the name is more of a wibbly-wobbly ebby-flowy fluid capable of converting regular matter into dark matter. Also despite the name, it's visible to the naked eye with a sinister red glow, and is if not sapient, intelligent enough to want to protect itself.

Live Action Television
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation episode In Theory features the Enterprise exploring a Dark Matter nebula which caused bits of the ship to randomly vanish. This caused activity from Spot (Data's cat) exiting Data's room without using the doors to a crew member falling through the floor after it vanishes and then getting killed when it comes back.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Voyager featured a Dark Matter asteroid, which looked like the shape of an asteroid but was see-through.

Video Games
  • In Spiral Knights, dark matter is one of five forms of minerals that a player can gather to obtain crowns and affect the level strata.
  • In Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, dark matter exists as a form of Grimy Water that causes Mario and Luigi to instantly disintegrate upon falling into it.
  • In the Final Fantasy games dark matter is a powerful form of magic.
  • In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Samus's Dark Beam fires blasts of dark matter.
  • In League of Legends, "Dark Matter" is the name of one of Veigar's spells, which causes a meteor to fall.
  • Chrono Trigger: Magus' most powerful spell is of the Shadow element and called, you guessed it, Dark Matter.
  • The Dark Matter Gun from Quake IV. It fires Unrealistic Black Holes.
  • Recurring villain Dark Matter in Kirby series is a living blob of darkness that flies through space, finding planets to be corrupted/consumed. There are multiple Dark Matters in the universe, all of them coming from their master/"core", Zero (another Cosmic Entity).

Web Comics
  • Schlock Mercenary has a whole story arc about a race of beings from another galaxy made of "dark matter", with which the Milky Way galaxy is currently at war.

Western Animation
  • In the Ninjago animated series, dark matter is a Psycho Serum found on the Island of Darkness that the Overlord claims can "turn a man's heart as black as night". After using a member of the supporting cast as a guinea pig he uses bombs filled with the stuff to corrupt major portions of Ninjago.
  • In League of Super Evil, the most powerful dark matter in the universe is found in the shape of black licorice, of all things.
  • In Futurama dark matter exists as an oil-like substance and also in an extremely dense solid form defecated by Nibblonians, typically employed as starship fuel.
  • In Exosquad, dark matter is used as spaceship coating for Stealth in Space. It also makes humans who come in contact with it extra irritable and aggressive.

Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • December 9, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Fantasy Dark Matter sounds like it's limited to fantasy. Which it shouldn't be. Needs A Better Name.
  • December 9, 2012
    doorhandle
    Perhaps I-can't-believe-it's-not-Dark-Matter, or just dark-matter. Also perhaps a mentioning of how this is art major physics, and perhaps slightly more explanation on dark matter. (as far as we know) Exsamples:
  • December 9, 2012
    StarSword
  • December 9, 2012
    SharleeD
    • There was a short-lived tabletop RPG called "Dark*Matter", which had more in common with shows like The X Files or Fringe than actual physics.
  • December 9, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    This seems like it is exactly Artistic License Physics, not a subtrope. Every single example on that page could be a (very short) separate article, but that would be dumb.

    Also the examples here tend to be weak, e.g. "In the Final Fantasy games dark matter is a powerful form of magic" is not a factual error any more than calling a sphere of magic by any other name. It is magic.

    We don't know what dark matter is, so saying what it's not is iffy. Maybe Futurama is right and it's excreted by Nibblonians. Who knows?

    Besides, if we made a list of every example of something being called a rose when it's not actually a flower at all, it would be a very long list, and not a trope. These are not (attempted and erroneous) descriptions of what dark matter actually is, it is just calling things that. Except maybe the Metroid one, but, there is an article for that.

    This is armchair physics. Dark matter is something that must exist to account for the speed at which galaxies are receding from each other. We don't know what it looks like or what it tastes like or whatever.
  • December 9, 2012
    JonnyB
    Schlock Mercenary has a whole story arc about a race of beings from another galaxy made of "dark matter", with which the Milky Way galaxy is currently at war.
  • December 9, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    ^ Example: On what basis do you decide that is unrealistic?
  • December 9, 2012
    StarSword
    We do know some things about dark matter, such as (off the top of my head) that it doesn't seem to interact with normal matter or energy except at a gravitational level. (Which would seem to indicate it doesn't look or taste like anything.)

    It may be we don't know enough about dark matter to trope this, but I think we can make a reasonable approximation based on what we do know about it.
  • December 10, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Do you really think it's worth having a separate article for pointing out things like "In League Of Legends, 'Dark Matter' is the name of one of Veigar's spells, which causes a meteor to fall"? That it is an example of a trope?
  • December 10, 2012
    StarSword
    ^Okay, I agree with you there. That's just the author using what he thought was a cool name for a spell.

    But, for instance, Star Trek Voyager had a dark matter nebula at one point. I don't know if dark matter forms nebulae, but I do know it definitely doesn't look the way they depicted it (dark blue Space Cloud).

    To sum it up, there are examples but we need to limit it to poor depictions of actual dark matter.
  • December 10, 2012
    Koveras
    • In Exosquad, dark matter is used as spaceship coating for Stealth In Space. It also makes humans who come in contact with it extra irritable and aggressive.
  • December 10, 2012
    triassicranger
    Live Action Television
    • Star Trek The Next Generation episode In Theory features the Enterprise exploring a Dark Matter nebula which caused bits of the ship to randomly vanish. This caused activity from Spot (Data's cat) exiting Data's room without using the doors to a crew member falling through the floor after it vanishes and then getting killed when it comes back.
    • An episode of Star Trek Voyager featured a Dark Matter asteroid, which looked like the shape of an asteroid but was see-through.
  • December 10, 2012
    Omeganian
    The Dark Matter Gun from Quake IV. It fires Unrealistic Black Holes.
  • December 10, 2012
    Lomerell
    Isn't this just Artistic License with Physics? Or Hollywood Physics (Hollywood Astronomy), etc?

    Very little is known about Dark Matter in the first place, except that certain math requires it to make sense of certain other math.
  • December 10, 2012
    StarSword
    ^I mentioned that already (the supertropes are Artistic License Physics and Space Does Not Work That Way); the OP just hasn't gotten around to adding it to the description.
  • December 10, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    "I don't know if dark matter forms nebulae, but I do know it definitely doesn't look the way they depicted it"

    No you don't. No one knows that. Maybe it is something you can't see unless you've been inoculated with a 24th-century serum that makes dark matter look like a dark blue space cloud. It is fiction about the future.

    Most of the "examples" are just calling things "dark matter", rather than actual inaccurate representations of things that are literally supposed to be the thing we call "dark matter" today... and for those few that really are supposed to be that, there are no criteria by which to decide whether something is accurate. The one diamond (legitimate example) in the vast rough (a list of things being called "dark matter", which is chairs) can go on the Artistic License Physics page, no need to add... this.

    These are not observations an actual physicist would make. They imply we know more than we do. They are wrong. Throwing around the phrase "dark matter" is similar to the fad of calling things "atomic" or "radioactive" in the 1950s when the general public didn't understand those concepts and it just seemed mysterious. We can call that inaccurate, in hindsight. There is no hindsight for dark matter. It remains mysterious.

    I feel like you are arguing to argue, and not because you actually think this is worthy of defense. Being extremely critical of drafts is good, they should be scrutinized, we don't want a bunch of (or any, really, though that is kind of a high bar) crap articles floating around on the wiki. There is no inherent value in defending against YKTTW criticism. Choose battles more carefully.
  • December 10, 2012
    Cider
    You know, I do not see enough of a constant in these examples. Dark matter is, the majority of the universe, and yet, we do not know what it is. So, yes, giving the middle finger to physics is a very real possibility but on the other hand, 80% of the universe gives a lot of leeway for possibilities(something could be realistic and still wrong).

    Magic is unlikely(final fantasy, league of legends), some examples simply use the term dark matter to sound cool with no further implications(the RPG), sometimes it is just a metaphorical term(Off Screen Villain Dark Matter) but all these examples have in common is Theme Naming. If you want a theme naming trope, that could work.

    How do we know at least some of that dark matter is not in the form of undiscovered elements or a form of life we have never encountered? There really is no way to disprove it, unlikely as it is. So yes Dark Matter could be some kind organism residing in the vacuum(demonic possession is a stretch), it could be a toxic substance in another dimension(channeling it for energy weapon ammo would not likely be possible), it might be an extremely dense but useful fuel source(warp drive is a separate issue, all of these are).

    Giving a form to dark matter, even though we don't know what it is, so that, no matter how soft or hard the scifi is it is guaranteed to be hit hard by Zee Rust and Science Marches On. That in itself could be a separate trope, but as it is, there seems to be two of them. The first may already be covered by Rule Of Cool or Theme Naming and the Latter by Artistic License.
  • January 10, 2015
    DAN004
    So... what IS a "dark matter" in Real Life?
  • January 10, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    So could this trope just be using the term any way the writers want it?
  • January 10, 2015
    paycheckgurl
    What about a re-title to Speculative Dark Matter to address the above?
  • January 10, 2015
    DAN004
  • January 11, 2015
    Chabal2
    Chrono Trigger: Magus' most powerful spell is of the Shadow element and called, you guessed it, Dark Matter.
  • January 11, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Not sure that counts, as it's just the term, but others may think it does.

    ^^ Our Dark Matter Is Mysterious?
  • January 11, 2015
    Generality
    Perhaps Artistic License Dark Matter?

    But I agree, you can't call it unrealistic when we don't know what a realistic depiction of dark matter would look like.
  • January 11, 2015
    DAN004
  • January 11, 2015
    Earnest
    This example also has a potential page pic.

    • Thor The Dark World has Aether, one of the six infinity gems. Which despite the name is more of a wibbly-wobbly ebby-flowy fluid capable of converting regular matter into dark matter. Also despite the name, it's visible to the naked eye with a sinister red glow, and is if not sapient, intelligent enough to want to protect itself.
  • January 12, 2015
    Laevatein
    In Gundam Build Fighters, the Gundam Exia Dark Matter is an "evil" version of Meijin Kawaguchi's Amazing Exia with a black-and-red color scheme. When he's freed from mind control, it reverts to its original white-and-blue.
  • January 12, 2015
    DAN004
    Shall I grab this?
  • January 12, 2015
    Koveras
    ^ The idea behind this is good, so go for it.
  • January 14, 2015
    rodneyAnonymous
    No it's not. Most of it is chairs, and the rest is Artistic License Physics.
  • January 14, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ lol you.

    Of course I'm going to redefine this later. :P
  • February 3, 2015
    DAN004
    I'm kinda wanna think whether the idiosyncratic use of "aether" would make a good trope...
  • August 20, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump

    I'm thinking of making "our aether/quintessence is different", but I'm not quite sure for now.
  • August 20, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump

    I'm thinking of making "our aether/quintessence is different", but I'm not quite sure for now.
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