Quick, think of Ancient Egypt. What's the first thing that comes to mind? With 90% certainty, you're thinking pyramids, and the other 10% of the time you are probably thinking of The Sphinx. And why shouldn't you? The Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest artificial structure on Earth for three and a half millennia and is the only extant example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ancient Egypt is inherently cool. Plenty of writers, primarily in the fantasy genre, like to have pyramids in their works to evoke an Egyptian feel. These will almost always be found in desert areas, and will usually have some sort of curse. Shifting Sand Land levels in video games will usually feature at least one pyramid on the premises. Also, regardless of whether the setting is ancient or new, it will all be made of golden-brown sandstone bricks, without the ivory-and-gold outer skin the pyramids were built with. The walls will be decorated with hieroglyphic inscriptions, usually meaningless, perhaps with some Wadjet eyes and scarabs thrown in for Faux Symbolism. Sarcophagi and mummies are native to here. For cases in which the historical pyramids have something unusual associated with them, see Pyramid Power. For cases where pyramid-shaped buildings show up in science fiction, see Futuristic Pyramid.
open/close all folders
- In Astérix and Cleopatra, Edifis the builder admits that he'd rather design pyramids. His cameo in The Golden Book shows a poorly-made pyramid in the background.
- In A.A. Pessimal's Good Omens fic, I Shall Endure, the angel Aziraphale is trying to explain to the demon Crowley about the ubiquity of the pyramid as an architectural construct. They are sitting in the shade with drinks watching the post-Flood Egyptians build the first of many.
And the three Pyramids still rose."How did they get the idea, anyway?" Crowley asked."Basic maths." the Angel said, shrugging. "Look, I'll show you. It's all about square numbers, right? Let me illustrate. Square six is thirty-six. Now look. If you have thirty-six rounded pebbles and lay them out in a square, six to a side, they…""Roll off the table." Crowley said, helpfully.Aziraphile shot him an annoyed glance."But say they don't. What do you see? You see twenty-five little pits, right, where the pebbles meet. And twenty-five is square five. So you lay anther twenty-five pebbles into the pits formed in the top of the original thirty-six.""And a lot more pebbles roll off the table.""You're not helping. Now you go to a third level, yes, with sixteen more pebbles. Thirty-six on the bottom, twenty-five above them, sixteen above those, fitting into the dimples left in the five-square. Then nine fit in top of the sixteen. Nine dimples, right? Four on top of the nine. One on top of the four. You then have a stable structure with a low centre of gravity. Do you see it, Crowley?""And then you fill the sides in. Smooth them out. Yeah, I see it. I've heard over in the big Western continent, they're building 'em like this, but not bothering to fill in the sides. Sort of step pyramids.
- Star Wars: The rebel base on Yavin IV is a pyramid. Many of the Yavin IV scenes were shot in the ruins of Tikal in what is now Guatemala, making this more of a case of "Build Like a Mayan."
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Yavin IV is dotted with pyramids, built by the Massassi under the direction of an exiled Sith thousands of years before the Rebels arrived. Much of the architecture and art used by the Sith species (not the order!) in Expanded Universe sources are seemingly based on ancient Egyptian as well as Mesoamerican motifs.
- Stargate: Pyramids are apparently landing pads for alien spaceships.
- Pyramids is, you guessed it, about pyramids - or, more accurately, a very reluctant Pharaoh who is called back to govern his backwards kingdom after the death of his father, and his similarly reluctant duty to construct a pyramid for his funeral, which his chief advisor (not evil but horribly misguided) insists must be the biggest and grandest pyramid ever built. It turns out that these pyramids indeed can re-sharpen a razor — because they manipulate time: they can keep their occupants perpetually young, but mostly just functioning as a literal time sink keeping the country of Djelibeybi stranded in the past even in the modern day. Now the Great Pyramid is about to be finished. Hilarity Ensues.
- Michael Moorcock's Queen of the Swords. The City of the Pyramid is an immense ziggurat with houses on each terrace.
- The Ancestral Trail has the Great Pyramid of Loktar plonked down in the western part of the continent, with no evidence of anything else Egpytesque.
Live Action TV
- The Iron Maiden album Powerslave, whose Title Track is even told from the point of view of a Pharaoh. The tour (documented in the concert video Live After Death) continued the Egyptian theme, and so did a throwback in the Somewhere Back In Time tour nearly 25 years later.
- The stage set when Dio toured behind The Last In Line album had an Egyptian theme, to tie in with the song "Egypt (The Chains Are On)". It can be seen in the concert video A Special From The Spectrum.
- Earth, Wind & Fire had a lot of Egyptian themology on their album covers, costumes and stage shows, including having a pyramid-shaped UFO as part of it.
- Roger Dean's Pyramid With Eyes appears on the covers of the Asia albums Alpha, Aura, and XXX.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Adventure I3 Pharaoh. The PCs explore an ancient pyramid to free a pharaoh's spirit so it can reach the afterlife.
- Adventure WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. The Temple is in the shape of a two-stepped pyramid.
- In Spelljammer 'verse Ptah is one of widely known powers among the spheres, so of course there are early products of his (and the rest of the pantheon's) worshippers. So you may encounter 80' wide stony Flying Pyramids IN SPACE! — now mostly occupied by mummies and less respectable undead.
- Warhammer has the Black Pyramid of Nagash, the first necromancer (and later responsible for the existence of vampires).
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Necron Monolith, which is a floating pyramid of doom.
- The Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marine legion has many nods to ancient Egypt as part of their imagery and fluff, one of which were the beautiful pyramids on their homeworld of Prospero...before the Space Wolves flattened them.
- Chaosium's Stormbringer/Elric! game. Temples to Goldar (one of the Lords of Law) are built in the shape of a pyramid.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- The series features pyramids in the Shifting Sand Land worlds of Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Super Mario 64 has a big pyramid in the middle of the actual "Shifting Sand Land".
- Super Mario Land as a whole has a much more Egyptian bend than the rest of the series, with pyramids appearing routinely in level backgrounds and replacing the castles as most end-world stages.
- In Dusty Dune Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy, there are planetoids that resemble double-sided pyramids. The Slipsand Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy 2 has a pyramid which also has sand-slides for good measure.
- The Desert Table in Mario Pinball Land has a pyramid as its center attraction where the boss is Tutankoopa, a mummified Koopa pharaoh.
- One of the stages in Super Mario 3D Land is a pyramid. Like most stages it has a remixed version in the Special Quest.
- The Dry Dry Ruins in Paper Mario 64 are in a pyramid.
- Sandopolis Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles has pyramids in the background of Act 1. Act 2 is set entirely in one. And that goes for almost every single desert level in the Sonic series. Apparently the ancient Echidnas built pyramids.
- In Sonic Adventure 2, Dr. Eggman uses the interior of a pyramid as his base of operations.
- And in the first Sonic Adventure, the ancient echidnas live in a jungle with a Mayan-like pyramid which appears in both flashbacks and the present day. A copy of that pyramid later appears on a space station in Sonic Adventure 2.
- Mirage Road Zone in Sonic Rush has a decidedly Egyptian flair, with pyramids in the background and cartouches on the walls.
- Desert Ruins Zone in the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Lost World is interpreted in this way, featuring massive sarcophagus-like statues in the background.
- In Star Fox 64, the base on Katina is a pyramid.
- The second scenario in RollerCoaster Tycoon, "Dynamite Dunes" took place in a vaguely Egyptian desert, complete with pyramids (which guests can't enter) and sphinxes.
- The community maps "Egypt" and "Lakeside" in Team Fortress 2.
- The City-Building Series features pyramid construction in both its games set in Egypt.
- The Temple of the Sun in La-Mulana is an Egyptian-themed level built around a pyramid.
- World of Warcraft has Ahn'Qiraj which has a pseudo-Egyptian look and Uldum which has a more traditional Egyptian appearance. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, the two zones are adjacent to each other (though blocked from each other by mountains).
- Banjo-Kazooie has several pyramids in its Gobi's Desert level.
- Stage 4-1 in Purple has a lot of pyramids in the background (and despite that, it's not Shifting Sand Land). Stage 4-2 has a pyramid as a part of the stage itself which houses a Bonus Level switch.
- The Pyramid of Moore in Final Fantasy V which contains one of the tablets to unseal the legendary weapons.
- Dragon Quest III has a pyramid dungeon located near an Egyptian-like kingdom.
- Aladdin (Capcom) has a stage in which Aladdin must go into an Egyptian-type pyramid to rescue Abu.
- Minecraft has Desert Temples in the shape of classic pyramids which spawn in Desert biomes. Collect enough sandstone, and you can build one yourself, too.
- The Shifting Sands track in Super Tux Kart, where the racers even enter into a pyramid.
- Sophanem and Menaphos in RuneScape
- When playing the Egyptians in Age of Mythology, you'd obviously build like an egyptian. That said, the developers have done quite some research on the topic so Pyramids aren't that prevalent.
- Breath of Fire III has Angel Tower, which despite its name is a ziggurat (step-type) pyramid. Curiously, it is not located in the game's desert zone.
- Final Fantasy VII has the Temple of the Ancients, although its ziggurat shape (and location in a forest/jungle) suggests the Cetra architecture was inspired, like the Yavin pyramids in Star Wars, by the Mayans.
- The villain of Nightshade, an NES Adventure Game, has an Egyptian fetish of some sort. In addition to dressing up like Set, he's decorated the entire city with nonsensical hieroglyphics.
- In Persona 2, the Taurus Shrine, one of four unearthed dungeons, has a sandy desert motif.
- Persona 5: Futaba Sakura's dungeon has you trying to infiltrate a pyramid in the middle of a desert.
- Pyramid Scheme, a level in Rocket: Robot on Wheels.
- MechWarrior Living Legends has Sandblasted, a combat arena which has 4 giant pyramids made of stone, which are partially encased in gold plating, have hieroglyphics, and giant laser beacons mounted on the top. Obelisks and stone homes surround the pyramids. The Jungle Solaris Arena inexplicably has fake Egyptian ruins dotted around it, and has a quarter of a Pyramid in one corner of the two kilometer-wide arena.
- The Shrines in Shining the Holy Ark were all pyramid shaped. The South Shrine however was Egyptian themed.
- The Doom WAD Alien Vendetta has the level "Misri Halek", set in really expansive underground tunnels under a pyramid next to the Sphinx. (Setting the level in the pyramid itself would presumably require designing it as multiple floors over each other, which is impossible in the Doom engine.)
- Bomb Jack has a pyramid and Sphinx in the first stage background, though just as eye candy. In Mighty Bomb Jack, however, most of the game takes place inside a pyramid, and the Sphinx is an item that unlocks hidden rooms.
- Dokapon Kingdom has a pyramid dungeon. You have to bring an NPC to the bottom floor to blow up an ancient I.O.U. for the king.
- While the Tomb of VARN in Might and Magic VI is a Futuristic Pyramid, it has traits more closely associated with this trope — featured in a fantasy game, found in a desert, has a curse ( radioactive contamination), and features a lot more Egyptian aesthetics than merely the pyramid's shape (instructions in hieroglyphs, jackal-headed guardians...). It also looks perfectly non-futuristic from the outside, and for the most part on the inside.
- In Mass Effect, it is possible to find Prothean ruins consisting of a reflective pyramid on various worlds.
- Mass Effect 3, Shepard and company end up taking a detour through an abandoned krogan city, and learn that they used to build towering gold-and-glass pyramids. In the Extended Cut, the epilogue might show the krogan building even taller pyramids, indicating a new renaissance in their civiliation.
- The salarian homeworld of Sur'kesh also has a pyramid-y feel to its buildings, although theirs is more Mayan style than Egyptian.
- In Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, the Shifting Sand Land level is followed by a level inside a pyramid, with mummies.
- In ActRaiser, Kasandora Act-2 involves fighting your way through an Egyptian-style pyramid, with mummies, birdmen and a giant Pharaoh mask.
- Heat Man's stage in Rockman 2 Deus Ex Machina.
- Toaplan's Hellfire has an Egyptian-themed second stage, with a pyramid and a sphinx in the background near the beginning. Its boss takes the form of a sarcophagus.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Pyramid of Power in A Link to the Past (not inside a desert, but it's not necessary since the Dark World as a whole is mostly a wasteland already), the numerous pyramids built in the grassy, temperate islands of the long-fallen Cobble Kingdom in Phantom Hourglass, and the Sand Temple in Spirit Tracks. Notably, both Mutoh's Temple and the Sand Temple remain faithful to the pyramidal layout in the inside, as the dungeon maps will attest.
- The Cave has you running around in the midst of a massive pyramid deep within the Cave that's full of traps. It makes about as much sense as everything else within the titular cave.
- The Pyramids of Shmu-Hadron in Carnivores resemble smaller versions of Egyptian pyramids, though they were erected by a long-gone alien civilization. Similar pyramids built by the same Ancient Astronauts can be found on the Greenshire map in Carnivores Triassic.
- ADOM has a Pyramid, choke-full of traps and mummies and complete with a mummy lord, that is accessible only between PC's levels 13 and 16. Protip: Balms used for mummification are highly flammable.
- There's an entire pyramid level in Yo! Joe! Beat the Ghosts with standard tourist attractions including traps, mummies and venomous snakes.
- Shantae and the Pirate's Curse has Tan Line Island, a desert with cursed mummy sarcophagi, sandstone brick buildings covered in hieroglyphics, and an ancient people led by a serpent-staffed priest who will mistake Shantae for their long lost princess and dress her up in a skimpy Egyptian princess outfit.
- The town of Scaraba in EarthBound which has a pyramid that also functions as a Temple of Doom.
- The Tomb of Onomatopoeia in Scribblenauts Unlimited is a pyramid which has traps, mummies, a frog god statue and aliens.
- Terraria worlds sometimes spawn with a Pyramid, which contains items and accessories you can never find anywhere else. Of course, you can make one too, given enough Sandstones.
- Enforced in Civilization VI, as the Pyramids wonder must be built on a desert tile.
- Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth". The Enterprise crew must solve a puzzle involving a pyramid in an ancient city or be destroyed.
- Futurama features an Egyptian-themed planet, O'Cyris IV. They explain when the crew arrives that the Ancient Egyptians visited them and taught them religion, architecture, and the secrets of space travel.
- The Simpsons episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer" features a golf pro shop on top of a pyramid.
- The Venture Bros. features the group SPHINX, as well as an Egyptian-theme group calling themselves the Cult of Osiris in "Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II".
- Rhinoland is full of pyramids in Babar.
- Pyramids have in fact been independently invented in many different times and places. You don't have the technology to do reinforced concrete or steel-framed skyscrapers, but you want to build something Really Big—piling up the rocks in a shape that's larger on the bottom and slopes up to a more-or-less pointy top is the logical way to do it. In addition to the Egyptians and the aforementioned Mesoamericans (Mayans and Aztecs), pyramids and pyramid-like structures have been built by many different civilizations. A slightly more poetic, but still plausible reason is that Pyramids imitate the shape of mountains. The ancient Egyptian reasons, at least, were that the pyramids resembled both the Mound of Creation, the first land created by the gods, and the rays of Ra.
- "Egyptomania" in nineteenth century Western Europe led to building of various architecture in the Egyptian style.