Want to send a message to the whole Earth that you're awesomely powerful, and probably egotistic and evil too? Or maybe you just want to show to absolutely everyone how much you care for your beloved like in the main picture? Just fire up your biggest laser cannon or longest-range missiles and use them to deface the Moon by blasting your face or INSERT YOUR MESSAGE HERE onto it. After all, the moon has no weather or pesky tourists to mess it up... so any mark left on it, even if it's just etched into the dust, will probably remain there until the moon itself is destroyed. Your message will be set in stone, pardon the cliché.
It doesn't have to be the moon. Any sufficiently large and prominent landmark will do. In a pinch, you can use graffiti, as long as it's large graffiti; but lasers, missiles, or whirlwind carving are more stylish.
Rushmore Refacement is a sub-trope in which you are replacing someone else's face on a monument with your own.
Not to be confused with Detonation Moon, where the moon is actually destroyed.
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An old 7 Up commercial had Orlando Jones about to write "7 Up" on the surface of the Moon with a big laser. He fires it, and the Moon blows up with an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, prompting him to angrily ask "Who's been messing with my laser?!"
Anime and Manga
In the AKIRA manga, Tetsuo impresses his subordinates by flying up and blowing a hole in the moon.
The protagonists of Eureka Seven give the moon a small touch-up job reminding the now-saved world about the power of love.
Doesn't help that Aquarion's Mugen Punch keep slamming enemies into the moon and making more craters.
The Super Robot Wars Z manga lampshades this with a picture of Queen Dianna Soreil yelling at the Nirvash and Aquarion as they flee from a defaced moon.
Despite appearing at the end of the series, the altered moon is such an iconic image that it actually makes a cameo in the Alternate Universe movie where it's seen at the end of a dimensional tunnel. The moon is notably not defaced in the Sequel Series, Eureka Seven Ao because the setting is actually in the distant past, but it is seen defaced in Elena Peoples Mind Screw visions, hinting at her connection to the original series's time period.
In Trigun, after Knives activates Vash's Angel Arm, Vash directs it upward to avoid destroying the entire city, creating a giant crater in the moon. This, in turn, adds to the dark legend of "Vash the Stampede".
In Genesis of Aquarion, the Mugen Punch involves punching a target into the moon and making a huge crater.
Naruto: Madara's master plan involves turning the moon into, essentially, a giant hypnotic eyeball.
The accidental destruction of a large chunk of the moon is a major part of the back story in Cowboy Bebop , and in an aversion of No Endor Holocaust, an ensuing shower of moon debris makes the Earth barely-habitable in the process.
Not to mention MPU trying to re-draw the Nazca Lines, which were no longer visible, across the majority of South America using satellite lasers. Edward follows this up by drewing a smiley.
The sequel DieBuster not only shows this trope from the opposite angle but the final battle also leaves a giant imprint of Nono as the titular Diebuster mecha on the far side of the moon.
Koro-Sensei of Assassination Classroom destroyed almost all of the Moon prior to the story beginning. Whatever he did, it rendered the Moon into a permanent crescent.
While on Soul Eater's Weird Moon, Crona ends up knocking a few of its teeth loose and later covers the whole thing but the eye in Black Blood, turning a physical crescent moon with a face into a giant floating boob.The fact that such a thing would be made by someone whose mother was highly abusive and neglectfuldoes not go unnoticed.
In Spirit of Wonder: Miss China's Ring resident inventor Doctor Breckenridge invents a machine which warps space in such a way that a person can interact with the Moon as if it were within arm's reach and roughly the size of a beach ball. While both the moon and the person remain where they are. Don't think too hard about it. First the Doctor's assistant Jim carves the name of the titular Miss China on the Moon to impress her. Next day they are surprised that nobody in town mentions anything about the Moon, and when they directly ask them if they have noticed anything, they become uncomfortable and evasive. Apparently a psychological Weirdness Censor kicked in: People think that writing appearing on the Moon overnight is impossible, so they go on like it doesn't exist. Well, Miss China certainly noticed, and after some discussion with the help of the invention they have her kick the Moon so hard it shatters, and forms a ring around the Earth. Bet you didn't think that was going to be her ring!
In the Silver AgeSuperman story "The Last Days of Superman", Superman believed he was dying from a Kryptonian virus, and among the preparations he made for his death was using his heat vision to write "Do good to others and any man can be a Superman. [signed] Superman (Clark Kent)" on the surface of the moon. When it turned out (surprise surprise) that he wasn't going to die after all, Supergirl and Krypto removed his secret identity from the message; the rest of it, however, was apparently there to stay.
At the end of the fourth issue of All-Star Superman, Jimmy (as acting head of P.R.O.J.E.C.T.) orders a "cosmetic, short-term alteration of the moon's surface". It's a note saying "I Love Lucy" - which he uses as a backdrop when he asks his girlfriend (Lucy Lane) on a date. You better believe she appreciated it.
A variation was done by Marvel Villain Terminus, who used a giant energy beam to carve his name across North America.
This trope appears in Spirou and Fantasio, in the story Z comme Zorglub. Mad Scientist Zorglub wants to prove he's a genius by advertising on the moon, using temporary ink that will fade after a few months. Unfortunately, his "unorthodox" method for recruiting henchmen - abducting random policemen and brainwashing them until they can only speak "Zorglang" (backwards words) - ends up screwing up his plans: his men do write a brand name on the moon, except it's "acoC-aloC".
Inverted in the Garth Ennis comic Preacher, where Jesse Custer meets a man who was kicked out of NASA and devoted the rest of his life to blasting the words 'fuck you' into the Arizona desert in letters large enough to be seen from space.
In Atomic Robo, Robo arrives on Mars after six months of doing nothing, because Stephen Hawking told NASA he could go into "sleep mode" during the flight. He gets revenge by arranging rocks into words visible from Earth: "STEPHEN HAWKING IS A BASTARD".
In Baloon Vendor, a 1970-era psychedelic underground comic, inventor Cecil Quill develops a high-powered laser which he uses to project Laurel and Hardy movies on the new moon.
In Batman # 353, the Joker, using a stolen supercomputer and some strategically placed high explosives, tried to blast a mountain into the shape of his own face. During their battle, Batman subtly knocked one of the bombs out of alignment. Although the blast creates the Joker's face for a few moments, the edifice almost immediately crumbles. A year later, Joker would return for a three-part storyline (spanning two issues of Batman and an issue of Detective Comics) in which he tried to take over a Banana Republic, which he planned to level and turn into Jokerworld, a country-sized Amusement Park of Doom.
Todd Ingram of Scott Pilgrim uses his amazing Vegan powers to punch a gigantic new crater into the moon for his then-girlfriend Ramona. He repeats this later with Envy Adams; apparently, it's the most flattering thing he can do. It comes back to bite him in the ass though, as Envy puts two-and-two together and realizes it means he cheated on her with Ramona.
In Don Rosa's Scrooge McDuck storyAttack of the Hideous Space-Varmints Rosa plays some amusing Biting-the-Hand Humor as the ducks accidentally deface the far side of the Moon with three craters that produce a perfect Mickey Mouse silhouette, and worry if they're going to get sued for it.
In Judge Dredd, the entire face of the Moon is regularly used for advertising.
The Joker tries to draw a giant smiley face on Gotham using an orbital laser in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Not just an act of cartoonish evil, as amongst the landmarks to be destroyed in the smiley face would be a hospital where Terry's girlfriend is recuperating, Terry's house where his mom and brother are, and Wayne Manor.
The eventual media storm this will caused, does however get lampshaded by Ray;
Ray: Do you think I'm gonna get in trouble for that?
In the 1903 (!) silent film A Trip to the Moon the cannon-fired capsule pokes the man in the moon in the eye.
The 2002 Remake of The Time Machine, after some bright spark decided to mine lunar caverns with nuclear weapons, by 2037 the the moon's orbit has become disrupted and leaving the Earth barely habitable for the next several aeons, signalling the end of all human civilisation and major technology. When Alexander see's the moon again in 802,701, it is shown to have been split into several chunks and surrounded by an asteroid field of former debris.
The film adaptation of the Coneheads when the Remulakians extract the Conehead family, their spaceship hit the moon chipping off a few pieces. You can see the chipped moon in the sky at the end of the film.
Averted with Moon, a film set on a mining operation on the moon. The mining takes place on the dark side of the moon, as an example of Shown Their Work, since defacing the side of the moon facing earth would have untold effects on local wildlife.
In The Wizard of Speed and Time, the heroes use a laser to put an (non-permanent) advertisement on the moon to get the general population to watch the Special Effects show in which their segment will be part. Immediately, the police want to arrest them for "unauthorized use" of the moon (leading one to wonder what "authorized" use would be).
In Bruce Almighty, Bruce brings the moon closer for a more romantic evening with his girlfriend, snuffing out certain stars to make the sky look perfect as well. Later, the effects of the moon being closer caused tidal waves on the other side of the Earth, not to mention what might have happened in any of the solar systems that just had their star snuffed out. A number of people also take the disappearance of stars as a sign of the end times.
Remember, with great power comes great responsi.....oops!, sorry, wrong movie!
The Arthur C. Clarke short story Watch This Space (part of a series of short stories talking about a single moon journey) had astronauts releasing gases into the lunar environment to analyze their reactivity when unfiltered sunlight hit them. Somebody sabotaged the chemical release tube so that, instead of being released as an amorphous cloud, they formed the Coca-Cola logo (he isn't explicit about whose logo it was, just that it had some Cs and Os in it, as well as Ls and As). It didn't ruin the experiment (they analyzed the reactions anyway), but the guy was fired. He didn't care, though, because the company was so grateful for the advertising coup that he was pretty much set up for life.
The reason the image wasn't messed up by atmospheric turbulence is because there isn't any on the moon.
In Robert A. Heinlein's The Man Who Sold The Moon, DD Harriman gets some of his financing for his moon trip by approaching rival soft drink companies and getting them to pay him not to paint their rival's logo on the face of the moon.
And also by convincing another businessman, deeply opposed to Communism, that the Russians were planning to send up a mission to paint the Hammer and Sickle on the moon.
A more serious example in Heinlein's The Star Beast, the Hroshii threaten to burn an incandescent mark a thousand miles long on the face of the Moon to show they "'aint foolin'" when there were delays in recovering Lummox for them.
In Isaac Asimov's Buy Jupiter a race of aliens wish to purchase the atmosphere of Jupiter but negotiators for Earth refuse to sell it to them until they finally admit they want it to use as a billboard advertising their product for passing starships. Then Earth starts thinking about how much the competitors will pay for Saturn...
When the Cyb come calling in L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s Adiamante, their first act is to demonstrate the destructive potential of their warships by using a particle beam to mirror-polish a large region of the moon.
Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives features an alternate Earth where the Nazis won the war with the aid of an Eldritch Abomination from another dimension, and proceeded to lord their triumph over the rest of the world by having their ally carve Hitler's face onto the surface of the moon with mystic runes.
In the 4th book of Jack Vance's The Demon Princes, Lens Larque's grand scheme is to explosively imprint his hideous face in a moon over a planet of racist snobs. In something of a subversion, the hero kills Larque before he can realize his triumphnote and indeed refuses the villain's dying-breath plea to press the button, and lets him die thinking it never will be pressed. He was pissed at Larque. but then carries out the plan anyway, because the snobs really do have it coming.
"Go out into your back garden. There's a great Darsh face hanging over your garden wall."
Initially, this was the entire goal of the Baltimore Gun Club in From the Earth to the Moon: fire a huge cannonball into the moon, and prove their success by spotting it in a huge telescope.
In Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light, one example of the weaponmaking ability of Lord Yama is how the "fire wand" he made for Lord Agni scarred the faces of all three moons when Agni stood on the seashore and waved the thing.
According to the Qu'ran, Mohammad performed a miracle in which he briefly split the moon in half.
One of Larry Niven's stories, The Woman in Del Rey Crater, has a variation not driven by any kind of vanity; highly radioactive waste is stored in a large moon crater, which has had a giant "verboten" sign blasted over it as a warning of the danger.
The novelisation of Red Dwarf mentions advertisers beginning to deface entire constellations with slogans visible from Earth.
In the backstory to The Probability Broach, one of the superpowers intimidates its rival with a "humane demonstration" of its new weapon - which cracks the moon.
In Douglas Hirt's Cradleland Chronicles, in the days of Noah, Lucifer had his minions carve his face into the moon, and he had work started on doing the same to Mars before the Flood put a stop to it.
A giant stone face carved into the side of a tremendous mountain is an essential plot point in H.P. Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath. Presumably an example of this trope, as it's carved to resemble one of the Dreamworld's gods.
Similarly to Judge Dredd, adverts are beamed onto the moon in the sci-fi-future part of Cloud Atlas. It's been happening for so long that when an old man explains what it was like in his youth, the protagonists find the idea bizarre.
As implied by the title, the Pararachnid invaders have done this to the moon in the Doctor Who short story "Moon Graffiti"; scrawling a rude message about the inhabitants of Earth across the moon's surface.
Referenced by Frankie Boyle on Mock the Week, upon discovering the price of the 2012 London Olympics, and the excuse that it will 'improve national morale", Frankie Boyle suggests that "For that money, we could have written 'Fuck off, Germany' onto the moon."
In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin once fantasized about using the treads of a buggy to spell "Calvin is great" on the moon's surface in cursive.
Similar instances had him writing demeaning messages to his father in the snow, or writing "Hey Jet Pilots Do a Barrel Roll!" in the ground as well. A frightening attempt had him attempting it using GASOLINE. And we never even learned what he planned to write...
In Sonic Adventure 2, Dr. Eggman demonstrates the power of his orbital not-fully-powered-up Eclipse Cannon, which he is using to hold the world hostage, by blowing up a huge chunk of the moon. The moon appears perfectly fine in all later games, though (most notably Sonic Advance, in which the final level takes place there).
Eggman apparently fixed the moon in Sonic X, immediately after the Adventure 2 arc. Why the newly-formed metal half would have lights on it is another question...
One of the planets in Mass Effect is described as having a long monologue carved into its surface by batarian space pirates with energy weapons. It celebrates the superiority and achievements of one "Captain Zaysh", and goes on to say very rude things about the parents of every human in the galaxy.
In the second game, Jack gives an Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking list of her accomplishments that includes "hijacking a space station and vandalism". If you ask why she included vandalism, she replies that she crashed the space station into a hanar shrine on a small moon. "The hanar really liked that moon."
Also from the second game, scanning one of the planets reveals the story of a miner who came to the planet to mine for Element Zero. After fruitlessly spending his every last dime, in a fit of frustration-induced rage he hijacked a local mercenary group's gunship and wrote a 208-kilometer message stating "There's nothing here" in Russian, which is visible from orbit. It became a tourist attraction. The third game reveals that some other determined individual went and erased the message, in essence defacing the defacement.
The Great Rift Valley on Klendagon is revealed in the second game to be a glancing blow from a incredibly powerful mass accelerator, fired by an ancient race as their final act of defiance against the Reapers. In this case, they weren't actually aiming at the planet at all, but at the Reaper several star systems over. The only reason they hit the planet was because after destroying the Reaper, the round simply kept going!
Near the end of Marathon 2, Durandal blasts rival uberintelligent AI Tycho's ship out of orbit. It crashes on Lh'owon's moon. Durandal then uses his Wave Motion Gun to carve a 300 meter-high epitaph into the moon's surface for Tycho.
This being Durandal, of course, what he writes is "The just fate of fools." In Latin.
In Disgaea 4, HD Asagi uses this in her final skill, which knocks the enemies around her into orbit... right in the path of the Yoshitsuna's Wave Motion Gun. As they're being annihilated, she carves a signature into the face of the earth.
In Asura's Wrath, Augus slices the moon deep enough in Episode 11 to make the sliced chunk rise high. Evil Ryu punches the sliced chunk back into place in Lost Episode 1, and Oni not only does the same damage in Lost Episode 2 that Augus did, but Asura's fight with him ends up epically destroying the moon.
In Injustice: Gods Among Us, the Super Move of DLC character General Zod includes shoving his opponent straight through the moon.
When flying towards the Moon in Destiny, three great tears are visible on its surface, similar to giant claw marks. Once on the surface, you can see great city-sized cracks and rifts off in the distance, probably caused by the Hive burrowing into the lunar rock. Then there's the aptly-named Hellmouth...
In one of the early Exploitation Now strips, cute teenage supergenius supervillainess (and slum landlord) Jordan Kennedy uses a gigantic laserDeath Ray to write "Hillary Clinton is a big fat hairy bulldyke!" on the Moon. (In the strip, the official response from Senator Clinton's office was "She is NOT fat!")
This◊ Perry Bible Fellowship strip features the Schlorbians (apparently an entire race of galaxy-travelling Jerkasses) snickering to themselves as they've carved something on the moon. Then one of them actually looks in the book of "human terminology" and they realise it says "you guys sock".
A wallpaper available from Girl Genius shows Agatha using a large Death Ray to turn the moon into a jack-o'-lantern.
Thisxkcd What If article is about the effects of pointing lots of laser pointers at the moon. If we are using high enough power lasers, the moon's surface turns into plasma, blowing it away from the Earth, making it an extreme example of this trope.
In one filler strip of Freefall, Helix rewrote the instructions of some terraforming robots so that they sculpted a small moon into a bust of Sam. He's also made pixel art of him on the ground using boulders.
In her animated series, Carmen Sandiego attempted to paint her own likeness on the moon.
In one Family Guy cutaway, Ted Turner announces he colorized the moon, as a reference to when he colorized Casablanca and King Kong, which is tantamount to vandalizing art (thinking putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa, it's like that to film buffs).
In the G.I. Joe episode "Lasers in the Night", Cobra Commander attempted to carve his likeness into the moon (specifically, his battle mask, as opposed to his hooded head or his actual face). In that episode however, Destro is outraged that the Commander wasted his organization's resources for "cosmic graffiti."
Chairface Chippendale in the animated and comic forms of The Tick attempted to carve his name into the moon. He only gets as far as CHA.
Later, The Tick goes to the moon on a mission to carefully plant explosives so that the CHA will be removed...and botches it, of course. The resulting explosion causes everyone to believe he's dead, and only the C is removed—so the moon's lettering now reads "HA". Later that episode Omnipotus (a parody of Marvel's Galactus) takes a bite out of the moon (after The Tick gives him a Patrick Stewart Speech to protect Earth). The half-eaten, scarred moon is then seen regularly throughout the series.
Inspector Gadget had MAD planting bombs on the moon to turn its surface into a giant MAD symbol.
In The Simpsons, Mr. Burns uses lasers to project a picture of Lisa kissing Millhouse onto the moon.
Millhouse: Yeah! Go moon Millhouse!
Phineas and Ferb "Chez Platypus" Dr. Doofenshmirtz uses explosives to make the moon in the shape of a Heart Symbol while on a date. On another episode, The boys carve their faces on a passing comet.
And the Martians sculpt the face of Candace on the planetary surface, but Doofenshmirtz accidentally redoes it so it looks "kind of like a Rhesus monkey wearing a powdered wig".
One episode has Dr. Doofenshmirtz planning to put his name on the Tri-State Area by spraying the ozone layer with chemical spray-cans.
Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers started the episode "Queen's Lair" with this. Her Majesty arranged a little "demonstration" of her Super Weapon, blasting a chunk out of Earth's moon, and letting everyone else know that if Earth didn't feed 5000 humans to her Soul Jar machine, her next target would be Earth itself.
Sartana of the Dead uses her mystic guitar to carve her own likeness into the moon in El Tigre
In the Walter Lantz cartoon "Dig That Dog", the huge dog of the story somehow manages to bury the (outer layer) of the moon, leaving a black, scrawny core.
Former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos had his face carved into the side of a mountain, just to remind everybody how powerful he was. After he was deposed of, someone blew it up.
One proposal for searching for extraterrestrial intelligence involves looking for suspiciously artificial arrangements of celestial bodies. Such an arrangement would be advantageous because of their visibility over vast distances and time spans.
This is why the supposed "Canals of Mars" and "Face on Mars" garnered so much excitement.
After the Sputnik debacle, the US was desperately searching for ways to one-up the Soviets in the space race, and a proposal was made that an atomic bomb be detonated on the moon! Fortunately they decided to send astronauts instead. As cracked.com puts it, "they realized the difference between legitimate science and cartoonish supervillainy".
Coca Cola figured out that it was technically possible to use lasers to beam their logo onto the moon — not to physically etch the logo onto the surface, but to continuously illuminate it like in a laser show. They were stopped from doing so over concerns that the lasers would interfere with passing aircraft.