Created By: KingZeal on September 26, 2011 Last Edited By: KingZeal on December 24, 2013
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Biological Weapons Solve Everything

The convenient and easy Final Solution.

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Just like Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke, Biological/Chemical outbreaks are the new Nuke 'em.

So why choose this above Deus Ex Nukina? Several reasons. While nuclear weapons are highly destructive and devastating to an enemy, a Nuclear War would probably cause more problems than it solved (perpetual winter, radiation, etc.), and thanks to the Cold War, the general public is very familiar with the theoretical effects of a nuclear war. On the other hand, biological weapons are so variable that they can basically do whatever the plot requires.

So, if the heroes are experiencing their Darkest Hour, and the end looms near, this is a simple and effective way to tip-toe around a situation where Only the Author Can Save Them Now. Likewise, if you want to demonstrate how depraved your villain is, you can certainly show victims of The Plague dying in slow and horrible ways, and punctuate it with mounds of burning bodies.

It can go by many names: The "Virus", The "Plague", The "Cure", The "Cleansing", etc, but it fits the same criteria:

  1. It targets only living things. Infrastructure and biospheres are left untouched.
  2. It will completely destroy the enemy ranks, or at least decimate them to the point that they are not a significant threat.
  3. It can be spread across the entire kingdom, continent, planet, universe, etc.
  4. It has a half-life long enough or communicability rapid enough that it's nigh-impossible to escape.
  5. (Optional) It will target the enemy and only the enemy, leaving the deploying army free from consequence.

When used by the good guys at the climax, rarely do the negative affects get addressed. In Real Life, viruses are well known to mutate into nastier and unpredictable forms. A virus that once spread slowly and was cured easily could potentially mutate into a rapid pandemic. If it was bacteria/fungi, that stuff can survive outside of a living host and contaminate all sorts of things. If it was some sort of nerve agent, the issue of tainting water supplies or tainting landscape is glossed over. And even if humans are immune from the weapon used, it usually conveniently leaves other terrestrial lifeforms and ecosystems intact. This may be justified if it's an Alien Invasion, and No Biochemical Barriers is averted.

Sister Trope to Deus Ex Nukina. May lead to a Zombie Apocalypse.

Usually used in a Guilt-Free Extermination War. Subtrope of Final Solution (that trope doesn't specify how it gets carried out).

As an Ending Trope, BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!

Examples:

Comics
  • In League of Extraordinary Gentlemen it is revealed that the bacteria which killed the martians during the events of War of the Worlds (see Literature below) was in fact a hybrid of Anthrax and Streptococcus developed by Dr. Moreau while working for the British Military.

Film
  • Failed spectacularly in Serenity. The Alliance attempted to use an engineered gas to make the violent populace very docile. The gas worked too well: most of the population became so apathetic that they just laid down and died. The others became hyper-violent berserkers, known as the Reavers.
  • The crux of the third and final Blade film is the use of a virus that will kill all vampires everywhere, seemingly instantaneously.

Literature
  • A subversion in Animorphs: the Andalites tried to do this to prevent the Yeerks from enslaving the Hork-Bajir race (by way of a virus that only affected the Hork-Bajir), but eventually failed.
  • The War of the Worlds. In H.G. Wells's classic novel, Earth's bacteria do in the aliens. This is kept in most adaptations, from radio to the 1950's movie. Subverted at first in the 80s TV show that just had the aliens in hibernation. Later one of the characters develops a bacteria to kill off the aliens for good.
  • In Edward Willett's "Marseguro" a colony of genetically engineered humans called "Selkies" is invaded by the religious fanatics who rule the rest of human space. The Selkies unleash a plague designed not to harm them and vaccinate the baseline human colonists. The invaders die but the baseline who drew them there in the first place was vaccinated and an unknowing carrier, and he made it back to Earth where it kills a large chunk of the planet. The sequel "Terra Insegura" covers a Selkie mission to bring the vaccine to Earth.

Live-Action TV
  • The Aschen from Stargate SG-1 use super bacteria as a means of destroying any opposition on any newly conquered planets. Once the weapon has killed all infustructer they come in and make themselves look like heroes.
  • An erstwhile Alliance officer on Firefly made his fortune using biological weapons to depopulate communities, then he looted their untouched valuables.
  • Used in the 7th season of Supernatural by the Leviathans against the other monsters. they used a special chemical in fast food that would make the body's of humans who ate it to be deadly to all monster species, and this is a series where every on is a Humanitarian.

Religion
  • God has done this a few times.

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer 40K. Virus bombing is one of the ways Exterminatus (destroying a planet that has succumbed to The Corruption or cannot be saved) can be carried out. As it destroys all life (and eventually, the atmosphere), its use is rather limited.

Videogames
  • The first Halo trilogy can be loosely interpreted to end this way. The eponymous Halos are installations which can wipe out all life within a certain radius, meant to "starve" The Flood. The Halos aren't biological weapons themselves, but they're clearly built to target certain forms of life (plants and most animals are left untouched, but anything sapient is toast).
  • In Resistance, an eleventh-hour cure is used to defeat the Chimaera and end a war that, technically, humanity had already lost years ago.
  • An eleventh-hour cure is also used in Gears of War to destroy both the Locust and the Lambent.
  • Subverted in Metroid. The Chozo created the eponymous Metroids as a biological weapon to control the rampant Parasite X on planet SR-388, which could have threatened the entire galaxy if left unchecked. Later, other races discovered the Metroid and the creatures began to spread across the galaxy, proving to be an even worse threat than Parasite X. Then, when Samus eradicated the Metroid, Parasite X came back stronger than ever.
  • Played with in the Multiple Endings of Mass Effect 3.
    • In the Destroy ending, the trope is inverted, with the final weapon destroying all synthetic life, including the friendly ones, and leaving the organic life alone.
    • In the Control ending, only the leader of the villains is affected, with the Hive Mind now being controlled by the main character.
    • In the Synthesis ending, both organic and synthetic life are combined into one hybrid race, making the war completely irrelevant.
  • The original Sword of the Stars stated that the Liir rebelled against the Suul'ka by using a bioweapon to wipe them out. Given the species' adeptness with Synthetic Plagues everyone assumed that the bioweapon was one. Until the sequel revealed the true nature of the Suul'ka and the "bioweapon" used to destroy them, and that seven of them survived.
  • Star Fox Assault concluded with the heroes attacking the Aparoid queen with a electronic virus intended to induce apoptosis in their biological components. Though she is able to suppress it somehow until you finish killing her with conventional weapons.

Webcomics
  • Genocide Man takes place after several extremist groups used open-source biotechnology to kill billions. The titular Genocide Project is an international law enforcement agency that uses targeted plagues to wipe out "genetic deviants" and their creators.

Western Animation
  • Family Guy: Stewie and Bertram end up in a playground war which ends when Bertram infects Stewie's side with Chicken Pox.

Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • September 26, 2011
    KevinKlawitter
    In Animorphs the Andalites tried'' to do this to prevent the Yeerks from enslaving the Hork-Bajir race (by way of a virus that only affected the Hork-Bajir), but eventually failed.
  • September 26, 2011
    Stratadrake
    See also Deus Ex Nukina?
  • September 28, 2011
    Arivne
    Can result in a Genocide Dilemma for the people deciding whether to use it.

    Literature
    • Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters. A Venusian disease is introduced into territory controlled by the title monsters. It will kill them in 4 days and their possessed human hosts in 9 days, leaving 5 days for the released victims to be treated with an antitoxin.
  • September 28, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    A version of genetic engineering for use as bio-weapons is mentioned as part of the description for Genetic Engineering Is The New Nuke. If we go with this then someone is going to have to go through the entries and related wicks for that page and pick out the ones that apply. There isn't too many though:
    "Genetic Engineering Is The New Nuke found in: 276 articles, excluding discussions. "

    Synthetic Plague also exists and covers weaponised viruses.
  • September 28, 2011
    KingZeal
    Genetic Engineering Is The New Nuke was supposed to be the Hand Wave that explains where powers and mutations come from.

    And Synthetic Plague covers the origins of the plague. This trope is as different from that as Nuke Em is from Deus Ex Nukina.
  • September 28, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    Genetic Engineering Is The New Nuke seems to have been expanded in lieu of having this trope. However if we launch this to replace that part of it, then we'll still need to check the wicks for links that would be a better fit here and tweak Genetic Engineering Is The New Nuke to refer to this. Same for Synthetic Plague and its wicks.

    Both tropes would have to be mentioned in the "see also" section.
  • September 28, 2011
    KingZeal
    Fine with me.
  • September 29, 2011
    Chabal2
    Warhammer 40 K: Virus bombing is one of the ways Exterminatus (destroying a planet that has succumbed to The Corruption or cannot be saved) can be carried out. As it destroys all life (and eventually, the atmosphere), its use is rather limited.
  • September 29, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Wasn't this how the evil aliens were dispatched in WarOfTheWorlds and the TV miniseriesV? There might be a difference, in that the former has this happen without human intervention, and in the latter people actively worked to weaponize a virus (if memory serves).
  • September 30, 2011
    surgoshan
    Live Action TV
    • An erstwhile Alliance officer on Firefly made his fortune using biological weapons to depopulate communities, then he looted their untouched valuables.
  • September 30, 2011
    TairaMai
    Literature
    • TheWarOfTheWorlds In H.G. Wells classic novel, Earth's bacteria do in the aliens. This is kept in most adaptations, from radio to the 1950's movie. Subverted at first in the 80's tv show that just had the aliens in hibernation. Later one of the characters develops a bacteria to kill off the aliens for good.
    Film
    • Independance Day copies War of the Worlds, a computer virus robs the aliens of their shields.

  • September 30, 2011
    nitrokitty
    May lead to a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • November 20, 2011
    Generality
    The crux of the third and final Blade film is the use of a virus that will kill all vampires everywhere, seemingly instantaneously.
  • November 20, 2011
    pcw2727
    In League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen [[spoiler:it is revealed that the bacteria which killed the martians during the events of War of the Worlds was in fact a hybrid of Anthrax and Streptococcus developed by Dr. Moreau while working for the British Military.

    In an episode of Family Guy Stewie and Bertram end up in a playground war which ends when Bertram infects Stewie's side with Chicken Pox.
  • November 20, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    When a Plague Master wants to go wholesale, it will probably be this.
  • November 20, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    In Dawn Of War 2 the final mission involves a suicide mission to deliver a custom-made toxin to the tyranid ships, potentially wiping out the whole hive fleet.
  • November 20, 2011
    Rytex
    Adding to the Metroid example, Samus herself is a bit of a bioweapon. She was sent in to eradicate the Space Pirates, Mother Brain, and the Metroids. She succeeded pretty durn quickly in some peoples' playthroughs.
  • April 2, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Literature
    • In Edward Willett's "Marseguro" a colony of genetically engineered humans called "Selkies" is invaded by the religious fanatics who rule the rest of human space. The Selkies unleash a plague designed not to harm them and vaccinate the baseline human colonists. The invaders die but the baseline who drew them there in the first place was vaccinated and an unknowing carrier, and he made it back to earth where it kills a large chunk of the planet. The sequel "Terra Insegura" covers a Selkie mission to bring the vaccine to earth.

    Webcomics
    • Genocide Man takes place after several extremist groups used open-source biotechnology to kill billions. The titular Genocide Project is an international law enforcement agency that uses targeted plagues to wipe out "genetic deviants" and their creators.
  • April 2, 2013
    SharleeD
    For the description: The pathogen's harmlessness to everything except the enemy may be justified if it's an Alien Invasion, and No Biochemical Barriers is averted.
  • April 2, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Serenity examples are useless as they are. Just unmark the spoilers, since this is an ending trope anyway.
  • April 11, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of South Park a Native American casino wants to build a freeway through South Park but the residents won't leave, so the Native Americans infect the South Parkians with SARS.
  • April 12, 2013
    zarpaulus
    In a later Animorphs book the Andalites attempted to use a virus against tye Yeerks themselves, but there was a significant chance the virus would mutate and become lethal to the Yeerk's hosts, namely humans. So the Animorphs stopped them.

    The Dawn Of War example is similar to something from the Ultramarines novel Warriors of Ultramar. Earlier in that novel a fanatical Inquisitor virus-bombed an inhabited planet in the Tyranid's path.
  • April 12, 2013
    KingZeal
    Okay, I think we're getting into a different trope.

    This trope is specifically when Biological Weapons are used to resolve a long-standing conflict with few consequences for the protagonists/victors.

    In fact, I think examples like the Firefly/Serenity one ought to be disqualified.
  • April 12, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Live-Action TV

    From Babylon 5: Pharmaceutical magnate William Edgars developed a deadly airborne virus in his labs on Mars that latched onto the same set of genes that activated telepathic abilities in humans (and thus would affect only telepaths), along with an antidote that would have to be taken at regular intervals, as a plot to kill telepaths unless they submitted to terms for receiving the antidote (the plan was more or less to extort them into dependency and enslavement, giving "mundanes" an advantage in what he saw as the inevitable coming conflict between telepaths and mundanes, or as he called it "the telepath problem"). The plot was foiled by Bester and an unwitting accomplice....
    • And also it is mentioned that during the latter stages of the Earth-Minbari War when Earth was clearly losing and things were getting desperate, Earth's military brass were seeking development of a biological weapon to target Minbari. They had ordered a young Dr. Franklin, already a leading expert on xenobiology, to assist with development, but he refused on moral principle and his oath as a doctor, and destroyed all his data on Minbari biology.
  • April 13, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • In Out Of The Dark after losing every battle that did not involve Orbital Bombardment the Shongairi start working on a bioweapon to wipe out humanity. However, the vampires come out of hiding and kill them all before it is deployed.
  • April 13, 2013
    Astaroth
    Subverted in Artemis Fowl; when the siege at Fowl Manor is resolved, the faeries target the Manor with a 'Blue Rinse' bio-bomb intending to kill Artemis and reclaim the ransom they just gave him. However, Artemis has found a way to escape the time-stop effect that the faeries created, and survives the blast.
  • April 13, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^ Wasn't the bio-bomb nuclear rather than biological? Releasing a burst of short-lived radiation that was lethal to all life.
  • April 13, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    It would be really appreciated if someone added context for that Religion example...
  • April 13, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Real Life: Some wars have been won because the other side ended up sick.
  • April 13, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^These are the ones I'm familiar with:
    • The Bible:
      • In the Book Of Exodus God sends ten plagues against Egypt as punishment for Pharaoh Rameses' refusal to free the Israelites. Among the plagues is a disease causing the Egyptians to break out in boils.
      • In 1 Samuel chapters 4-7 the Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant in battle and stored it in the same room as an idol of Dagon. God smashed the statue and plagued the Philistines with tumors and rats. The Philistines play hot potato with the Ark for a while and eventually send it back to Israel with a guilt offering.
  • April 18, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • The original Sword Of The Stars stated that the Liir rebelled against the Suul'ka by using a bioweapon to wipe them out. Given the species' adeptness with Synthetic Plagues everyone assumed that the bioweapon was one. Until the sequel revealed the true nature of the Suul'ka and the "bioweapon" used to destroy them, and that seven of them survived.

    • Star Fox Assault concluded with the heroes attacking the Aparoid queen with a electronic virus intended to induce apoptosis in their biological components. Though she is able to suppress it somehow until you finish killing her with conventional weapons.
  • April 18, 2013
    TiredRoman
    • Used in the 7th season of Supernatural by the Leviathans against the other monsters. they used a special chemical in fast food that would make the body's of humans who ate it to be deadly to all monster species, and this is a series where every on is a Humanitarian.
  • November 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Dude... Final Solution doesn't think what you think it means. And the first two paragraph is unnecessary.
  • November 11, 2013
    KingZeal
    What are you talking about? Final Solution means exactly what I used it for.
  • November 11, 2013
    AgProv
    Literature:
    • Robert Rankin trumps H.G. Wells in his Victorian steampunk novel, The Educated Ape. The War of the Worlds is referenced as having just been won, as per book, by the Martians not having thought to innoculate against Earth's diseases. But the devious Winston Churchill (a man who in life was an advocate of euthenasia, eugenics and chemical warfare) sent some of the captured Martian spacecraft back to them, loaded with volunteer crews of terminally ill humans, with every contagious diseases known to Man. A Mars cleansed of its higher life forms is then open to colonisation from the British Empire...
  • November 11, 2013
    Prfnoff
    • In Jack London's story "The Unparalleled Invasion," what prevents the Yellow Peril from taking over the world is the bombardment of Chinese cities with glass tubes containing "every virulent form of infectious death," which exterminates the Chinese population in six weeks.
  • November 11, 2013
    DAN004
    • checking again* First two paragraphs are fixed. Nice.
  • November 12, 2013
    Arivne
    Italicized a couple of work titles, deleted the reference to the film Serenity under the Firefly example because it violated How To Write An Example - Remember That This Is A Wiki (it referred to an example in another section) and Example Indentation.
  • November 12, 2013
    KingZeal
    Adding final examples later today and launching in 1-2 days.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xjka22ibk3y4hecgf5zzwzmg&trope=BiologicalWeaponsSolveEverything