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-> ''"Allow Me to explain. About 50 years ago the foolish practices of the humans combined with natural disasters to destroy most of the world except for this terrible desert...\\
...Not that a little global holocaust discouraged the humans from pursuing their foolish wars. Then when we thought everything had calmed down, the single river that sustained this world, the life of our desert, suddenly stopped...\\
...With absolutely no chance of rain, as usual, more deaths are predicted."''
-->-- ''Manga/SandLand''

The term "WagonTrainToTheStars" had more relevance than we thought. Much of humanity has gone to outer space, but apparently [[BBCQuarry all the planets they could settle on were dry, desert-covered worlds]].

A big advantage to setting a sci-fi world in a desert is that it's easy to conceptualize, compared to a geographically and culturally diverse world like Earth. The author doesn't have to spend time explaining the history or nuance of the world because there is none. Also, judging by the planets we've been finding around other stars in recent years, while potentially inhabitable planets seem plentiful, earthlike ones seem slightly more rare, with slight variations in size, composition, and average temperature making the difference between an Earthlike mixture and a comparative [[SingleBiomePlanet ice world, water world, or desert world]]. A moderately large galactic empire would almost certainly put up at least a token effort at setting up outpost colonies on some of the less pleasant worlds, if just to have a place to put your LandfillBeyondTheStars.

When life becomes hard, and on such a world, it usually is, morals are the first thing you throw away. Law and order are swift to break down, and suddenly we have TheWildWest [[RecycledINSPACE on another]] [[SpaceWestern planet]]. Also, it's wise to be wary of DesertBandits.

Alternate version: deserted lands AfterTheEnd (usually nuclear wars).

For the anime and manga that is also an example of the genre, see ''Manga/DesertPunk''.

See also CattlePunk.
!!Desert Planet Examples


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Orgos from ''Desert Coral''.
* ''Anime/{{Trigun}}'' was probably the first big one, at least as far as anime goes, though it's also a very good trope example, and [[JustifiedTrope justifies the setting very well]]. Long story short: They were going to terraform the planet (or even just find a better one), but the BigBad tried to kill everyone and screwed it up.
%%* ''Anime/GunXSword''.
* ''Franchise/{{Zoids}}'' has a considerable amount of this, seeing that the planet Zi is mostly desert.
* ''Anime/SandsOfDestruction'' takes place InAWorld where SandIsWater, meaning that the whole planet is a desert except for islands of land which is capable of supporting plant life. The [[Manga/SandsOfDestruction manga]] is the same in terms of setting, though [[AlternateContinuity its plot is wildly different]].

* The live-action ''Film/SuperMarioBros'' movie.
* Nimbus III in ''Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier''.
* [[Franchise/StarWars Tatooine and Jakku]] are also fairly shining examples of this trope.

* ''Literature/{{Dune}}'' and [[Franchise/{{Dune}} its sequels]], by Frank Herbert, may be the ur-example of desert planet sci-fi, though thematically it resembles a HeroicFantasy more than DesertPunk. Except that in ''Literature/{{Dune}}'' it's not so much TheWildWest [[RecycledInSpace In Space]] as [[UsefulNotes/TheMiddleEast The Middle East]] ([[RecycledInSpace In Space]].)
* The ''Santiago'' books by Mike Resnick.
* ''The Literature/PitDragonChronicles''.
* Creator/IanMcDonald's ''Ares Express'' and ''Desolation Road'' are this away from the urban zones. In the cities it's a mix of DieselPunk and CyberPunk.
* ''Literature/TheMartian'' comes as close to this trope as a work of hard sci-fi possibly can.
* China Mieville's Literature/{{Railsea}} takes place in a world where the "oceans" are barren, monster infested wastelands crisscrossed by railroads.
* Creator/EdgarRiceBurroughs' Franchise/{{Barsoom}} novels take place on a Mars that is, mostly, a desert except for the areas bordering the canal network, a region surrounding an underground sea at the south pole, and a few swamps, which represent all that is left of the once-great oceans covering the planet. There is apparently still groundwater deep below the surface, though, since some plants and animals do manage to survive despite the complete lack of rainfall.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' many border worlds and moons, as well as those on the Rim are only marginally terraformed, generally resulting in them being deserts or borderline. More affluent or Alliance worlds in the Core are more idyllic in terms of atmosphere.
* Any story set on [[Franchise/StarTrek Vulcan]]
** You know, in ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}'' (the original series in particular) every place they go seems to be a desert. And they all look [[KirksRock suspiciously similar]]...
* Reversed on ''Series/TerraNova''. The general feel of desert punk is there, especially with the Sixers, but it's set in the jungles of the Mezozoic.
* Similarly on ''Series/{{Earth2}}'', the equipment and the costumes of the Eden Advance survivors (survivors of a crashed advanced scout ship that arrived at an Earth-like planet ahead of the main colonial transport) lent themselves to a DesertPunk feeling in many episodes, although the planet G-889's terrain ''was'' more varied than just a [[SingleBiomePlanet desert planet]], and the group experienced different seasons as they traveled toward their original target destination. The DesertPunk equipment included futuristic Humvee trucks and dune buggies, cool guns, high-tech but utilitarian survival gear, and costumes that became more rugged and patched up as time wore on for the group on their journey.
* Since it takes place in a near future UsefulNotes/LasVegas surrounded by a desert wasteland (even more of one than now) ''Series/{{Dominion}}'' qualifies.

[[folder: Music]]
* The album ''Dopesmoker'' by Music/{{Sleep}} has this sort of setting. It's a concept album about the holy pilgrimage of the Weedians as they journey across a vast desert, following the smoke towards riff filled lands. It's like a stoner metal Book of Exodus. The album's iconic cover artwork depicts a caravan of hooded figures with gas masks (that are implied to basically act as bongs) travelling over the sand dunes, with two moons in the sky and a space ship on the horizon. Needless to say, it rules.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The [[TabletopGames RPG]] ''Burning Sands'', being ([[WordOfGod by the author's admission]]) heavily inspired by ''Franchise/{{Dune}}'', is another example.
* Creator/GamesWorkshop games:
** ''TabletopGame/{{Gorkamorka}}'' has been described as ''Film/MadMax'' with [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Orks]]. The game revolves around bands of Orks roving the deserts of the desolate world Angelis, fighting each other in ramshackle vehicles while [[ScavengerWorld searching for scrap]], adding communist goblins and scientist mutants, and for some HilariousInHindsight goodness, [[Film/MadMaxFuryRoad pale-skinned humans who really want to be orks and are good with tech]].
** The [[ExpansionPackWorld Ash Wastes setting]] for ''TabletopGame/{{Necromunda}}'' sees gangs of mutants, lizard riding nomads, and outcasts driving rust-covered vehicles clashing in the [[PollutedWasteland industrial wastes]] that separate the [[MegaCity Necromundan Hive Cities]].
* TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons' TabletopGame/DarkSun campaign setting. This also crosses over with Burned-Out Earth as the planet of Athas used to be greener before Defiler mages burned away most of the plant life.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Space 1889}}'' Caravans of Mars and Steppelords of Mars have elements of desert punk, particularly some illustrations.
* Shows up from time to time in ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'', particularly on some of the less habitable worlds in the Periphery, where there's far less advanced technology available (to the point that some planets have an average tech level that's lower than 20th Century Earth) and the inhabitants get preyed on by pirates and gangs.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Journey}}'', a robed figure is born in a desert where your ancestors' civilization existed. While cloth fragments are still around, [[RagnarokProofing not as much technology functions well and the buildings have deteriorated]] [[spoiler: since the war machines' conflict against the White Robes]]. A exception to this is the snowy mountain, its peak split by a crevice.
* Many of the ''VideoGame/WildArms'' games have elements of this, as did the anime, with ''VideoGame/WildArms3'' being the straightest example (the others all have prominent oceans and forests). Like ''Journey'', crosses over with the Burned-Out Earth, though, since Filgaia as a planet is slowly dying.
* The "Under the Burning Suns" campaign in ''VideoGame/TheBattleForWesnoth'' takes place in the distant future of the main setting of the game, centuries after [[AWizardDidit Mages]] ''raised a second sun into the sky''. Funnily enough, there's a solid gameplay reason for that: Lawful creatures (including mages) are stronger during the day. One way or another, having two suns led to the whole planet going desert. (The campaign features "Desert Elves".)
* Pandora in ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands}}'' invokes very Mad-Max like look-and-feel thank to be mostly desert and having a lot of remnants of mining equipment and towns in various states of decay and numerous garbage dumps. The lore for the planet states that it has orbit with high eccentricity, making climate hot and dry at short 'summer' and chilling cold at longer 'winter' causing most local species to hibernate at local winter. Since ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'' is set several years later (likely at local 'autumn'), it features much more diverse landscape, though there is still no trees and vegetation is scarce even at more hospitable areas.
* Motavia in ''VideoGame/PhantasyStarIV''. It's naturally a desert planet, but in between ''VideoGame/{{Phantasy Star|I}}'' and ''VideoGame/PhantasyStarII'', it was fully terraformed into a GhibliHills world that borders on CrystalSpiresAndTogas. However, Climatrol was destroyed in ''II'', and since then, the world has been slowly desertifying and monsters have been taking over the wilds, with only the Hunter's Guild to fight them back. Thus, this crosses over with the Burned-Out Earth variant. Obviously, it was a desert planet in the original ''Phantasy Star'', but it was far less "punk" back then.
* It's quite literally AllThereInTheManual, but the early history of the protagonist race from ''VideoGame/{{Homeworld}}'' had elements of this.
* ''VideoGame/PokemonColosseum''. The protagonist is not a plucky 10-year old, but an [[RedemptionQuest ex-Pokemon thief]] that rescues the female protagonist, [[http://cdn.bulbagarden.net/upload/archive/6/62/20121231043747%21Colosseum_Rui_3D.png who looks like a cheap, under-age hooker in the Japanese version]]. Together they fight their way through the badlands of Orre, [[MyHorseIsAMotorBike driving a rusty hover-cycle]] [[EnormousEngine with an engine presumably stolen from a Top Fuel dragster]]. Reinforced by the near-total lack of Pokemon (read: organic life) in the desert areas. The only real exceptions are Agate Village (a lovely green village built high in the mountains) and Phenac City, a veritable oasis city [[spoiler:whose mayor is secretly the BigBad]].
** The sequel game ''VideoGame/PokemonXDGaleOfDarkness'' takes place in the same region, but there are a few places where life has begun to find a way, and wild Pokemon have begun to appear. Strange, since Orre is not a post-apocalypse locale that has something to recover from, but merely in the Pokemon world equivalent of an actual desert in the south-western United States.
* Mar Sara and a few other desert worlds from ''VideoGame/StarCraft''.
* ''VideoGame/SandsOfDestruction'' downplays the "punk" part in favor of ScienceFantasy, but certain aspects take on a distinctly punk aesthetic - see, for example, the stern of Agan's CoolShip [[http://img.neoseeker.com/v_concept_art.php?caid=6156 The Sea Gale]].

* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', the Land of Sand and Zephyr, and Earth c. 2422 [[spoiler:(in the beta timeline, anyway).]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Bara Magna in Toys/{{Bionicle}}

!!Burned-out Earth Examples

[[folder:Anime And Manga]]
* ''Manga/DesertPunk''
* ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'' seems to be about 25% Kenshiro wandering through sand.
* ''Manga/SandLand''
* ''[[Anime/{{Xabungle}} Combat Mecha Xabungle]]'' straddles both types and plays the trope for a surprising amount of humor, but really falls here due to it being EarthAllAlong.
* Last three episodes of ''Anime/ExcelSaga'', though it was only one city. [[NegativeContinuity 26 doesn't count]].
* ''LightNovel/TheThirdTheGirlWithTheBlueEye''
* ''Anime/{{Ozuma}}''
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' Pre-timeskip, everything is desert with giant freakin robots and beastmen. Can't really say the same for [[SpaceOpera post-timeskip]] though.

* Just A Pilgrim, by Garth Ennis, is set on an Earth devastated by a solar flare, literally burned out. The few survivors scrape along the arid ocean bottoms, beset by various mutant monsters.]
* Some ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'' stories set in the Cursed Earth had this feel.
* ''ComicBook/TankGirl'', is usually set in the Australian outback. And Tank Girl is definitely a punk.

* UrExample and TropeCodifier: The ''Film/MadMax'' sequels, especially Film/TheRoadWarrior and [[Film/MadMaxFuryRoad Fury Road]].
* ''Film/TerminatorSalvation'' seems to have this as the setting outside of cities.
* ''Film/ResidentEvilExtinction''. While it is set in the Nevada/Utah desert, the opening explains the whole world is a desert. The world got better in the sequels.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Nine}}'', though it's not quite clear in the film whether the ''entire'' world is like this or if it's just the place where the dolls live.
* ''Film/TankGirl'' - At least Australia is sand, but we're not sure if it's the rest of the world too.
* Despite being set in the present day, ''Film/FairGame'' (1986) and ''Film/TheCarsThatAteParis'' (1974) have elements of this trope, most notably {{cool car}}s, arid Badlands, {{sociopath}}ic hoons in {{punk punk}} inspired clothing, and deserted settlements.
* TheMovie of ''Series/KamenRiderKabuto''
* Patrick Swayze film ''Film/SteelDawn'', which is a western with swords in a [[AfterTheEnd post-apocalyptic world]].
* ''Film/TheBookOfEli''
* ''Film/ABoyAndHisDog'' - Society on the surface world has been reduced to roving bands of scavengers prowling for food and sex. There is a civilization underground, but it's a bizarre, oligarchical, almost dystopian state.
* Much of ''{{Film/Cherry 2000}}'' takes place in the post-apocalyptic Nevada desert.

* The video for Music/TomPetty's "You Got Lucky" takes place in an AfterTheEnd version, loosely implied to be after an alien invasion.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}} is set in a very strange version of the wild west that qualifies as this with a bit of magic thrown in for kicks.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}''. The Fallout universe as a whole is designed around the popular conceptions of future technology and the effects of nuclear war that the American public had in the 1950's. Many aspects of it are intentionally unrealistic.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 1}}''; Justified in this case, as the game takes place in post-apocalyptic Southern California.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}''; Justified in this case, as the game takes place in post-apocalyptic Northern California, Northwestern Nevada and Southern Oregon.
** ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas''; Justified in this case, as the game takes place in the post-apocalyptic Mojave Desert. The exception is [[DownloadableContent Zion Valley]] which is lush with life, clean flowing water, and a rain cycle.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}''; Justified in this case as, even though it's set in Washington D.C., it was hit ''hard'' by nuclear weapons (the White House is ''gone''), burning it even worse than the rest of the country.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 4}}''; Mostly averted, since Boston was not hit as hard as the rest of the country. However, the southern areas are still dangerous, mainly due to the presence of the Gunners, mercenaries who in practice are little better than raiders, as well as bands of Super Mutants. There's also the [[{{Mordor}} Glowing Sea]] in the southwestern corner, a radioactive wasteland (even by Fallout standards) created by the only nuke to hit the Boston area, which is filled with various types of DemonicSpiders that occasionally wander into the Commonwealth.
* ''VideoGame/{{Rage}}''
* ''VideoGame/{{LISA}}'', being heavily inspired by ''Anime/FistOfTheNorthStar'', is pretty much solely this.

* One of the [[ThirdLineSomeWaiting subplots]] of ''{{Webcomic/Homestuck}}'' involves four survivors of [[spoiler: the ravaging of Skaia]] exiled on Earth, doing... something. That's a pretty good question, what ''were'' they doing there?
** Turns out their job is to both advise the players and [[spoiler:restore life on Earth.]]
* ''Webcomic/WeaponBrown''
* ''Webcomic/BicycleBoy'' takes place in a vast, dry post-apocalyptic desert.
* ''Webcomic/{{Suihira}}'' judging by the {{Saharan Shipwreck}}s and mentions that "lower desert" used to be ocean floor.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The entire basis of the PlayByPost game ''Roleplay/WeAreInADesertPunk''.