main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Earthquake Machine
This is any device that is designed to cause some sort of seismic event. Usually, an earthquake.

Almost every Mad Scientist has at least one of these in his blueprint library, sometimes even two. Sometimes simply called the Earthquake Machine, or the Quicksand Generator, Liquefaction Array, or even Ruin Device. If it does the two things that all earthquake machines have in common, it will: 1) cause earthquakes as its primary function, 2) probably be a machine.

A modernized, although not necessarily more realistic take will probably depict such a machine as a Kill Sat or something along these lines. This is derived from conspiracy theories concerning HAARP, some of which accuse the project of producing earthquakes for whichever nefarious purpose the NWO might have for them at the moment.

Occasionally overlaps with This Is a Drill. While a Colony Drop might cause an earthquake, and might very well involve a machine, the earthquake is simply a by-product of, well, a dropping colony.

The traditional depiction is verging on Forgotten Trope; the jury is out whether the reimagined version makes it a Cyclic Trope.


  • Was one in Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
  • SCP-219. Actually can shake anything, not just earth.
  • Lupin III
  • Final Fantasy XIII Vanille's Limit Break counts as this, as a heroic example. Alexander also uses this as a special ability, via Ground Pound.
  • Letz Shake's weapon of choice.
  • The DESTINY superweapon from The Core.
  • Does G1 Rumble count?
  • Experiment #513 (named Richter) is a living example. He is designed to create earthquakes by slamming his tail at the ground.
  • Nikola Tesla claimed to have built one, but when it was tested on Mythbusters it failed to create an earthquake, although it was able to sustain some significant vibrations.
  • Hydrogen Bombs do this, particularly when someone buries them. Though one air detonated bomb, the Tsar Bomba, explosion was so big that it could be FELT anywhere and everywhere. Strangely though despite the wide swath of earth that is shook by an underground blast, there is little damage that is earthquake related.
  • In an episode of Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote makes the Road Runner eat the earthquake pills. But, of course, he forgot to Read the Fine Print on the pill bottle.
  • The absolute first appearance of Lex Luthor (Then only known as Luthor) in the Golden Age of Comic Books Superman comics involved Luthor stealing one of these.
  • PC mecha-sim game Starsiege had these in one mission on Mars. Known as 'Hammertanks' or 'Thumpers,' these were modified drilling platforms designed to shake HERCs right off their feet. Seeing as how HERCs are apparently destroyed the moment they fall over, these tanks were extremely useful in their single appearance.
  • In Blue Moon Rising, one of the three Infinity Plus One Swords, Rockbreaker, was one of these.
  • The Technodrome has one built-in.
  • In Macdonald Hall 's The War With Mr. Wizzle, Elmer conveniently has a minor earthquake machine built, which the guys sneak into Wizzle's home and then convince him the home is built on a minor faultline.
  • In Ocean's Thirteen, the crew uses a tunnel drill to simulate an earthquake hitting Las Vegas (specifically the Bank casino) in order to get everyone out of the building (to prevent people from losing the money they just won). However, the building continues to shake even after the drill stops working. In a deleted scene, Roman Nagel suggests to Livingston Dell the possibility of the fake earthquake causing a real one.
  • Space 1889 an earthquake machine or a volcano machine are possible inventions in the main book.
  • Dr. Wily used one in the Mega Man cartoon.
  • The Superman cartoon Electric Earthquake has one— created by a Native American Mad Scientist who wants to reclaim Manhattan for his people, believing it was taken by fraud.
  • One of the Sennins in Houshin Engi has this as her Paopei. Although it had great destruction potential, her ally rightly points out that it's not a weapon of precision and hitting a single, nimble human-sized target is a tall order, even for a person of her skills.
  • In the Doctor Who story "The Enemy of the World" the eponymous dictator Salamander's evil scheme involves causing earthquakes in territories that oppose him.
  • In the sequel to Under Siege Steven Seagal's character has to deal with the bad guys who have got their hands on the controls for just such a Kill Sat.
  • In Conspiracy Theory Mel Gibson's conspiracy theorist character stumbles upon a conspiracy to kill the American president through an artificially induced earthquake. The machine is not described, but it's apparently fired from aboard a space shuttle.
  • This causes the Undertaking in ''Arrow.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: In Desastre, a Mad Scientist threats cities using several types of Doomsday Device, the last one causing earthquakes and threatening the heroes' own city.
  • In the movie The Big Bus, the Big Bad wants to stop the eponymous transit vehicle from being able to make a non-stop trip from New York to Denver, so when it leaves the road and ends up on a cliff, his brother wants to use the earthquake machine to knock the bus over the cliff. When he aims the earthquake at his brother's location, in his iron lung Hilarity Ensues.

Dishing Out DirtThe Ground Beneath Our FeetEarthquakes Cause Fissures
Drop the HammerWeapons and Wielding TropesEpic Flail

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy