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[[quoteright:332:[[Franchise/{{Tintin}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/TinTinDesert_3526.jpg]]]]

->''"The Man in Black fled across the desert, and [[{{Determinator}} the Gunslinger]] followed."''
-->-- The first line of ''Literature/TheGunslinger'' by Creator/StephenKing

On his neverending quest to find the MacGuffin, Hero Bob must cross a desert wasteland. Expect there to be [[ScaryScorpions scorpions]], [[AllDesertsHaveCacti cacti]], a few {{Ribcage Ridge}}s, and maybe even a SandWorm or two. For whatever reason, rather than travel during the night, Bob will nearly always travel starting at high noon, though this can be {{justified|Trope}} by the planet [[AlienSky having multiple suns]], or the desert having some kind of curse, or what have you. If Bob's travelling with Alice, Carol, and Dave, expect at least one of them to suffer from heat stroke, and another to see a HollywoodMirage. And AllDesertsHaveCacti.

May be a ThirstyDesert. Watch out if so.

In VideoGames, the setting itself will have some or all the traits of the ShiftingSandLand, and there'll usually be some aversion of GameplayAndStorySegregation, either by way of taking damage due to the extreme heat, or getting lost easily due to each screen looking nearly, if not completely, identical.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/AfroSamurai'' crosses a desert in Resurrection, with Ninja Ninja complaining the whole time. Kotaro follows, and nearly dies in the desert as a result.
* ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'' has Vita and Signum looking for monster souls in a desert planet.
* Shows up frequently in ''{{Claymore}}''
* Due to the nature of the [[Franchise/{{Digimon}} Digital World]], the heroes often find themselves crossing deserts. Seldom do they have a known destination in mind.
* The world of ''Manga/OnePiece'' has the entire country of Arabasta, where [[MagnificentBastard Crocodile]] takes advantage of the climate to cause an entire war.
* In ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', it isn't exactly seen, but both Ling and May Chang cross a desert.
* In the ''[[Manga/RanmaOneHalf Ranma 1/2]]'' anime (but not manga) Genma once had to cross a desert ([[MST3KMantra somewhere]]) with baby Ranma on his back. When he ran out of water he traded Ranma to a (well fed) stranger for a bowl of rice and some fish to eat (after the stranger fed Ranma Genma stole him back). And thus Ranma gained [[UnwantedHarem another fiancée]].
* Gaara has done this in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' in order to get to the Leaf Village.
* Happens early on in ''DragonBall'' when Bulma, Goku, and Oolong are on the trail of one of the titular [[MacGuffin MacGuffins]]. They are soon attacked by Yamcha, the desert bandit. HilarityEnsues.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The "traveling by day" bit is averted in an early ''ElfQuest'', where after travelling through the troll caverns the Wolfriders get thrown out into the desert (although initially they're not sure whether the desert sun is the same one they had at home, or whether it will set or not).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Two instances in ''Fanfic/TheLionKingAdventures''.
** In ''Drought'', Nala and Haiba have to cross a desert in order to find Simba.
** Simba, Nala and Haiba have to cross another desert in ''The Curse of Death''. [[spoiler: In the middle of a sandstorm, no less.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Happens at least once in ''LawrenceOfArabia'', naturally, first when joining Prince Faisal with the guide, then crossing the Nefud with the rest of Faisal's squad, then going back in Nefud to find his lost servant. Also doubles as a ThirstyDesert.
* Creator/SergioLeone's ''Film/TheGoodTheBadAndTheUgly''. Tuco and Blondie go on "walks" through the desert, in attempts to kill each other before reaching the nearest town.
* in ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe'', Film/JamesBond and Anya Amasova walk and walk and walk throughout the Egyptian desert after their getaway car breaks down, eventually reaching a dock.
* This happens in ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'', and coupled with a parody of ThirstyDesert. Things are further complicated when Lone Star and Barf discover that they'd been carrying [[spoiler: Princess Vespa's oversized hairdryder]] all along.
* C-3PO and R2-D2 in ''Franchise/StarWars''.
* Paul Atreides and his mother Jessica do this in ''{{Dune}}'', as does Liet-Kynes.
* And of course it happens quite a lot in ''Film/{{The Mummy|1999}}''.
* Happens to Bastian in ''Film/TheNeverEndingStory II: The Next Chapter''
* This is whole plot of ''IceColdInAlex''.
* A large chunk of ''TheWayBack'' involves trying to cross the Gobi desert. It's played out brutally, and [[spoiler:two of them die of heat stroke/dehydration.]]
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''Tribesman of Literature/{{Gor}},'' Tarl Cabot must make a long trek through the Tahari Desert to stop a DoomsdayDevice from destroying the planet.
* Brutha crossed the desert from Ephebe to Om with Vorbis on his back in ''Discworld/SmallGods''. There is also the metaphysical crossing of the desert; dead souls are taken to the black desert by [[GrimReaper Death]], and they then must cross it and they then go to the afterlife they believed in.
* In ''Literature/KingSolomonsMines'' by Creator/HRiderHaggard, Allan Quatermain and his crew had to spend a long time suffering while trying to cross a desert to get to the land of the Kukuanas.
* ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'' series begins the mysterious, cowboy-like protagonist chasing an equally mysterious man in black across a desert, as quoted at the top of the page.
* In the beginning of Willa Cather's ''Death Comes for the Archbishop,'' Bishop Latour must cross the New Mexico desert to Santa Fe.
* In Creator/LFrankBaum's ''Literature/TheMarvelousLandOfOz'', the second [[Literature/LandOfOz Oz book]], Mombi tries this to escape Glinda. Glinda catches her.
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's "The Slithering Shadows" ConanTheBarbarian and a girl are crossing the desert away from a disasterous battle.
* An odd example, from LaurenceYep's ''Literature/DragonSeries'' - In ''Literature/DragonOfTheLostSea'', the dragon Shimmer injures her wing, and she and the boy Thorn have to cross a dried out sea on foot. Since all the water was removed from the sea instantaneously [[AWizardDidIt via magic]], the dry seabed is a desert plain of blindingly white salt flats, with periodic stinging salt winds.
* In the first book of the ''Literature/InheritanceCycle'', Eragon, Murtagh, and Saphira have to cross the Hadarac Desert to reach the Varden.
* Dany takes her followers across the Red Waste in ''A Clash of Kings'', the second book in ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' as hostile forces lurk in every other direction. They quickly run out of food and water, horses die, and many of her followers, including [[spoiler: Doreah]], do not survive.
* Briefly in ''Literature/CountAndCountess'' when the Turkish army sets up camp in Syria. A young Vlad Dracula, who has been taken hostage by the Ottomans and forced into the [[ChildSoldiers Janissaries]], complains unendingly of the heat.
* ''Flyaway'' by Desmond Bagley. The protagonists are stranded in the Sahara when the villains come across their 4WD, emptying the fuel and water tanks. Their only recourse is to walk across the desert to a camel track in the hope of getting picked up. Even when they reach their goal they can't rest, as it's nighttime and the camel train could easily go past without seeing them, so they have to spend all night walking backwards and forwards across the track until they blunder into a camel.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* One of the sequences in the TopGear Middle East special has them doing this is Syria. The main obstacles in this case are mostly rocks and rough terrain.
* The Aquabats in ''TheAquabatsSuperShow'' episode "Cowboy Android!" have to trek through a flat desert after their Battletram runs out of gas.
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[[folder:Music]]
* The song "A Horse With No Name" by America.
* Neo-ProgressiveRock band Galahad reference ''Lawrence of Arabia'' in their song "Aqaba (A Matter of Going)".
* The hero of Music/{{Muse}}'s "Music/KnightsOfCydonia" must do this after getting exiled by the [[BigBad sheriff]].
* Two songs by the BlueOysterCult: ''Then Came The Last Days of May'', in which a clandestine trip into Mexico goes badly wrong in a "cold and barren plain". And ''Death Valley Nights'', which is self-explanatory.
* Maria Maldaur's whimsical song ''Midnight at the Oasis''.
* The BonzoDogDooDahBand's ''Ali Baba's Camel''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Long journeys through the Desert of Desolation occur in the ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' module series of the same name.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireIII'', you must cross a desert to get to TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon. Just before you finish, [[spoiler:Nina suffers from heat stroke.]] Notably, you're strongly encouraged to only travel during the night, using the stars as guidance.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Boktai}} 2'', shortly after you get vampirized, Sabata drags you through the desert in a coffin. Somewhat touching, considering Sabata burns in the sunlight.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', you have to wander around in a desert to find "The Boss" after you're imprisoned at Gold Saucer. Every screen is identical.
* In ''VideoGame/KingsQuestV'' you must enter the desert to get some {{Mac Guffin}}s. The sun's [[GameplayAndStorySegregation frozen in the sky]], but you must drink water every ''x'' screens or you will die. Oddly, you only need water in the desert areas, never in the more temperate zones.
** And again in ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVII''. Valenice will be just fine as long as she stays within the few screens where most of the action takes place, but when she has to venture out into the greater parts of the desert, where all the screens look the same, then she has a chance of dying of thirst.
* ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryII'' took place in the desert land of Shapeir, and the hero could easily die of thirst if he ran out of water while traveling through the desert. Sierra likes using deserts.
** ''[=QFG2=]'' actually had an interesting twist on this: with enough supplies, you actually '''can''' cross the desert and go from the CityOfAdventure to the WretchedHive before the scripted plotline forces you to. However, there's no point, since you can't get into the second town until said plotline occurs. But still, points for letting players do it at all.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' has the Gerudo Desert which you must cross in order to get to the last temple, the Spirit Temple. If you get lost, you have to start over.
* The third "chapter" of ''VideoGame/MOTHER3'' starts off with a trek through the desert
** Dusty Dunes Desert and Scaraba in ''VideoGame/{{Earthbound}}''. Crossing the desert for a while will get you sunburned.
* ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' has it three times across two games. The first one requires you to find water or risk taking massive damage. The second just has tornados that will send you back to the start of the level. The third has lots of jumping around and steppes.
* ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga]]'' has Teehee valley, in which Mario And Luigi must guide Peach across to get to a Mushroom Kingdom city.
* In ''VideoGame/StarOceanTillTheEndOfTime'', you need to cross a (very small) desert to get to some ruins. You quickly dehydrate and have to stand in the water from an oasis in order to recover, making the gameplay in this section exploring as quickly as possible to find the next oasis before you keel over. No, we don't know how standing in water rehydrates you. [[MST3KMantra Don't think about it so hard]].
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'' has a desert mission that behaves like the first VideoGame/GoldenSun example above. It actually does have a night setting where you die a little slower.
* In ''[[Videogame/OddWorld Abe's Oddysee]]'', Abe must cross the desert of Scrabania on elum-back to reach a temple.
* In ''Videogame/{{Uncharted}} 3'', there's a chapter where you do nothing else. Unusually for a shooter game, the chapter contains no enemies at all - the only danger Nathan Drake faces is being hopelessly, pathetically lost in the largest desert on Earth, the Rub' Al Khali, with no supplies, no help, no company and no idea where he's headed, weakening from dehydration and sunstroke. As days pass, Nate is reduced to staggering and then crawling before he begins hallucinating. He does ''try'' to navigate by the stars, but he just never learned how.
* The beginning chapters of ''VideoGame/{{Journey}}'' consist of a desert landscape - one that simply places the player in the middle of nowhere, pointed toward a distant mountain split by a crevice full of light. Your objective, whole and entire, is to reach the mountain. The player characters are completely swathed in robes and don't seem to need supplies, fortunately.
* In ''VideoGame/GatlingGears'', to reach TheEmpire's city, you have to pass through the fourth area called the Drylands. This place actually used to be ''an ocean'' until the Empire drained it dry. Thankfully, you don't suffer from heat or thirst- you're piloting safely in a MiniMecha.
* Although several ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' games have desert areas, crossing the desert is only plot-critical in ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' and ''VideoGame/PokemonBlack2AndWhite2''. In the first one, you have to go to the Desert Resort to battle Team Plasma and meet Professor Juniper, and in both games, the Desert Resort area is home to Volcarona (although in the sequels, it's only accessible via underground tunnels). Although you aren't harmed by the constant sandstorm, any battles will involve any non-immune mons being hit by the sandstorm and losing a little HP each turn.
* In the original ''VideoGame/{{Dune}}'' (the AdventureGame), any attempt to do this will ultimately end in death, even when wearing a stillsuit. However, you are required to venture out at least once, for a short time, in order to [[spoiler:gain telepathic powers]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* The Maltak arc of ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan'' consists of trekking through a vast, featureless wasteland, without pack animals, in the daytime, and without apparent protection from the sun or supplies.
* In ''Webcomic/KissWood'' Mua, the BigBad, creates a huge desert between Sul and the Gate in an attempt to stop him escaping. After an ambiguous number of days Jubahm collapses and Sul then has to carry him. Then [[spoiler:the snow storm]] starts.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "My Three Suns", Fry crosses a desert to make a delivery on the planet Trisol. Just as the sun goes down, [[FromBadToWorse a larger one rises.]]
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', the Gaang wanders the desert to find a hidden library. And yes, [[NeverLiveItDown Sokka and Momo]] [[MushroomSamba get high]] [[AllDesertsHaveCacti on peyote.]]
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce'', Ben wanders the desert with a Highbreed, Reinrassig III, in order to get to a teleporter. The two eventually [[spoiler: share a NotSoDifferent moment, causing the latter to stay behind in self-imposed exile.]]
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'' plays a blacktop basketball court as a huge desert. Of course, the protagonists ''are'' babies.
* The second act of Disney's ''Disney/{{Dinosaur}}'', which for some reason, resembled the final act of the "Rite of Spring" segment from ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}''. In fact, the soundtrack played during this scene is even called "Across the Desert!"
[[/folder]]

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