Created By: fluffything on July 9, 2011 Last Edited By: fluffything on October 21, 2013

Improbable Burrowing Skills

Digging doesn't work that way.

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Digging a hole isn't as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of hard work, and, you need specialized equipment for it. Even things that are really good at burrowing still have limits (whether biological or mechanical) that prevent them from being perfect at digging holes.

In the world of fiction? Not so! Burrowing is insanely easy and anyone can do it. No need for high-tech equipment or specialized claws here.

This comes in two varieties-

Type 1: This is when a machine or animal that is clearly not built for digging is somehow able to burrow as well as any underground-dwelling animal or machine.

Type 2: This is when a machine or animal that is created/evolved to be good at burrowing has digging skills that are impossible. They can dig through solid rock, withstand intense pressure and heat, and can even dig impossibly large and complex tunnels in mere hours.

Compare Fast Tunnelling. May overlap with Tunnel King.

Examples of Type 1-

  • King Ghidorah from Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack was able to burrow his way to the surface from underground despite being a three-headed dragon with huge wings that's more suited for flight than underground travel.
    • Gorosaurus is a kaiju that pretty much looks like a giant Tyrannosaurus rex (IE: Large head, large body and tail, long hind legs, tiny yet powerful front limbs). He's seen emerging from underground in Destroy All Monsters.
  • Daffy Duck is sometimes shown burrowing underground with Bugs. He's somehow able to use his wings/hands to dig as efficiently as Bugs does.

Examples of type 2-

  • Bugs Bunny. While he is a rabbit, and rabbits are good at burrowing, he is able to burrow faster and further than any real life bunny. Case in point, he's able to burrow across entire continents (even when there's an ocean in the way).
  • Mulch Diggums in the Artemis Fowl series.
  • Zilla from the 1998 remake of Godzilla is able to dig its way under New York city and hide without the citizens even knowing despite being a giant monster. It's even capable of digging straight up through skyscrapers in order to attack helicopters.
  • Baragon in the games Godzilla: Save The Earth and Godzilla: Unleashed is able to burrow underground within seconds despite being a giant prehistoric reptile. Not only that, but, in Save The Earth, he's able to trigger a volcanic eruption with his burrowing skills alone.
  • StarCraft Zerg units can burrow instantly into any type of terrain (including metal plating and rock), leave no visible trace of digging or disturbed ground, and some can launch long distance attacks from underground without any sort of visibility on what they're attacking to include distinguishing fried and foe. They can also hit hovering targets and fast, erratically moving targets with 100% accuracy.

Needs More Examples.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • July 10, 2011
    EdnaWalker
  • Mulch Diggums from the Artemis Fowl series is a dwarf, making him Type 2.
  • July 10, 2011
    Lavalyte
    The clown in Mr Do! (type 1), the weird guy in Dig Dug (type 2), rockford the ant? from Boulderdash (type 2, probably).
  • July 10, 2011
    Octagon8
    Compare Fast Tunnelling.
  • July 10, 2011
    oztrickster
    might need a third category for examples where the hole lets the digger exit in an improbable place. for example Godzilla in the american film, it managed to disappear in the middle of New York and ended up attacking a helicopter by bursting out of a undamaged tall building.

  • July 10, 2011
    terrafox
    • Star Craft Zerg units can burrow instantly into any type of terrain (including metal plating and rock), leave no visible trace of digging or disturbed ground, and some can launch long distance attacks from underground without any sort of visibility on what they're attacking to include distinguishing fried and foe. They can also hit hovering targets and fast, erratically moving targets with 100% accuracy.
  • July 10, 2011
    Aminatep
  • July 10, 2011
    fluffything
    ^ Um, how? Tunnel King is for characters who are simply really good at burrowing (sometimes going Beyond The Impossible) and are actually built/evolved to be good at digging (For example, mole people).

    This is for creatures/machines that are either shown burrowing despite being physically incapable of doing so (IE: King Ghidorah being able to burrow despite being a giant three-headed dragon with huge wings) or having burrowing skills that go Beyond The Impossible (IE: Bugs Bunny can dig his way across entire continents).
  • July 10, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    • Naruto demonstrated this during his fight with Neji in the Chuunin Exam.
  • July 10, 2011
    foxley
    This can overlap with Tunnel King, but I don't think they are identical as this seems to be more about the mechanics of tunneling. Some characters (e.g. Bugs Bunny) will be examples of both.
  • October 19, 2013
    HeWhoMustNotBeUsernamed
    • The graboids of the Tremors series and the sand worms from Dune might be this. Not 100% certain how realistic their in-universe explanations are.
  • October 19, 2013
    Chabal2
    Needs a link to Sand Is Water and Sand Worm somewhere.

    • One episode of Dexters Laboratory has him play a halfling in a Dn D-type game. When digging, he just windmills his arms to move forwards.
    • Warcraft III: in the expansion, Crypt Fiends (spider/mantis creatures) are capable of burrowing into the ground instantly to become invisible and regenerate. The gigantic Crypt Lord has an animation for this, but is unused in the standard game. Amusingly, while the burrowed fiend shows up as a trapdoor-like mound of earth, the Crypt Lord's massive Spikes Of Doom stick out of the ground. Some neutral scorpion creeps can also burrow.
    • Skyward Sword: One boss is a scorpion the size of a bus that can bury itself near instantly and move around in sand.
    • Starcraft II: The Ultralisk, a tank-sized Zerg unit, is now capable of burrowing instantly. The game also has certain units with the ability to move while buried.
      • Nydus Worms are basically Drop Pods that burst from the ground to vomit a tide of Zerg units.
    • Warhammer 40 K: Tyranid Trygons and Mawlocs are not only capable of digging through solid rock (by emitting an electrical field to loosen it into particles), the tunnels remain in place, allowing smaller nids to follow after them.
  • October 19, 2013
    KZN02
    Would those digging through Dishing Out Dirt count?
  • October 21, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • By attaching huge augurs to the front of their motorcycles, the Biker Mice From Mars are able to drill through the earth at cruising speed. Even more hilarious is that when the Biker Mice approached some buried dinosaur bones, they detoured around the relics as though they knew the bones were there.

    It might be worth noting that, in many cartoons, when any digging tool such as a shovel, a pickax or scrabbling fingers touches dirt and rock, the stuff disintegrates on contact. No rubble or detritus to move aside or haul away.
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