"That was the secret of secrets," said the Queen Jadis. "It had long been known to the great kings of our race that there was a word which, if spoken with the proper ceremonies, would destroy all living things except the one who spoke it."
In a fantasy setting featuring Fantasy Gun Control
, Medieval Stasis
, and assorted other reasons why the culture would never develop anything even close
to nuclear weaponry, there may be some form of magic attack so powerful and destructive that it is obviously a stand-in for nuclear weapons. This goes double if it leaves behind some sort of corrupting effect that lingers long after the spell itself is cast, a la
fallout. Compare to how Automatic Crossbows
stand in for guns. Kamehame Hadoken
, Wave Motion Gun
and Person of Mass Destruction
are common ways of invoking it.
Elsewhere, this trope is about the deliberate insertion of something nuke-like into a civilization that hasn't even invented the steam engine yet. Like Fantastic Racism
and Fantastic Drug
, in that the situation is obviously designed to parallel a real world situation, either in order to make some point about the issue or simply to allow all the connotations and associations of the real world situation to easily be applied to the fantastic. In Japanese works, may be related to Nuclear Weapons Taboo
A Fantastic Nuke may set off a World-Wrecking Wave
or precipitate The End of the World as We Know It
. It's frequently also an Unholy Nuke
based on The Dark Arts
And no, we're not saying that nukes are fantastic as in "wonderful and great"
. That would be just plain sick
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Anime and Manga
- Slayers quite famously has four: the most iconic is the Black Magic spell "Dragon Slave", and the most famous is the scaled up super-version, the "Giga Slave" — which taps into the power of the Lord of Nightmares and thusly will obliterate the entire universe if the caster loses control of it, something that makes its creator seal it away so it can never be used again. Both of the aforementioned are also Unholy Nukes There's also the Fire Shamanism spell "Blast Bomb", which is even more destructive than Dragon Slave, and the Astral Shamanism spell "Ra Tilt", which is equivalent in power to Dragon Slave but only targets astral bodies.
- The Dragon Slave has acquired a bit of No Endor Holocaust due to use in Contractual Gags from Character Exaggeration. This makes it all the more noticeable when the drama kicks in and ground-level imagery recalling atomic bomb test footage is suddenly turned way, way up.
- Ra Tilt and Blast Bomb, on the other hand, never suffer from this effect. Blast Bomb is more or less novel-exclusive, only appearing in the anime once in a scene that contained no comical exaggerations, and is noted mostly for being so mana-expensive that nobody since Lei Magnus has had the bucket capacity to actually cast it. Ra Tilt is an astral spell with no physical effects, so it's less funny.
- The "Vegatron bombs" from UFO Robo Grendizer (one of the Mazinger Z sequels). Each one of them could obliterate one whole city, and left the land polluted with radioactivity in the wake of the explosion.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has Nagi reference this concept during the war when he mentioned his own world (earth) developing 'a very powerful bomb' that would end all wars. He said there were spells that were even more powerful available to mages.
- Three examples are the 'High Ancient' (Greek) incantations: Khilipl Astrape (Thousand Thunderbolts), Kosmike Katasrophe (End of the World) and Ourania Phlogosis (Burning Sky). Their power seems to depend on the mage casting it, though.
- Of course, Natsumi repeatedly refers to Jack Rakan as "the Human Atomic Bomb". Given his ridiculous amount of power, this is not entirely inaccurate.
- "They're N2 mines, not nukes."
- Scrapped Princess has the Ginnungagap, a "Long Ranged Strategic Class Spell", one of a whole class of nuke spells.
- In Naruto, the Bijuu and Jinchuuriki, giant monsters made out of chakra and humans with the things sealed within their bodies, are treated like nuclear weapons by the ninja villages that don't simply shun and fear them. The First Hokage, the guy that at one point had control of them all, even gave most of the bijuu away to other villages to prevent them from shifting the tide of war too heavily and help grant stability. Pain and his organization have been kidnapping all the Jinchuuriki, intending to extract their bijuu and use them to rapidly start and stop wars to convince the other nations of their power as part of their plan to Take Over the World. However, his real plan turns out to be to create a superweapon capable of wiping out entire countries instantly, available to any country who's will to pay, and likely to be used if one side doesn't have ninja. After being used once he thinks people will stop war altogether out of fear, until someone uses it again, repeating the cycle.
- In Chapter 572, a Tailed Beast Bomb clash between Kurama and 5 other tailed beasts creates a fireball that is about 50 times the diameter of a normal Bijuu-Dama explosion. Suddenly that "wiping out an entire country" idea sounds plausible. Kurama one-ups it by having Hachibi join in and creating a Combined Tailed Beast Bomb many times their size in a vain attempt to stop the Juubi's revival in 609. The resulting explosion could be seen from all the battlefields in the war.
- Following Pain's death, Tobi instead wants to use their chakra to fuel Mass Hypnosis.
- A special material in the second movie has the capabilities of producing infinite free energy, and served as the foundation of an ancient civilization, that was gone since then. In the climax, the mines where this material is found begin to collapse, threatening to wipe out the entire continent in one giant explosion. Hmm.
- In Chapter 613 the Ten-Tails completely revives and is very reminiscent of a familiar mobile nuke launcher. In fact the first thing it does is launch a couple of hyper-Tailed Beast Bombs and destroy a couple of cities. Its range is so impressive some attacks take a few minutes to hit. Unlike a normal Tailed Beast Bomb, the Ten-Tails' bombs explode in a conical, rather than spherical, shape and can be seen the next country over.
- The Ten-Tails, in frustration and having gathered more chakra, prepares a Tailed Beast Bomb similar to the aforementioned bombs, but as large as itself. Its explosion engulfs an entire sea.
- Pain himself has a jutsu that creates a small gravitation pull towards everything in area that qualifies, given that he destroy Konoha with it. The real Madara also has one in the form a jutsu that calls in a gigantic meteor that's so big he considered it impractical to use in life because he had no way of making sure that he himself wasn't killed by it.
- Vision of Escaflowne: Toward the end of the series one country drops a Magitek nuke.
- Lyrical Nanoha: The Time-Space Administrative Bureau possesses a shipboard weapon, the Arc-En-Ciel, that is described as a "magical distortion cannon" and is far worse than a nuke. Fired at a planetary surface it will consume everything for hundreds of kilometers. Fitting a ship with an Arc-En-Ciel requires extensive background checks and briefing for all crew who have access to the bridge, and firing it requires both two seperate verbal commands and a key-based interlock. The Arc might even adhere to the Two-Man Rule; the ship's technical specialist down in the sensor room appears to be the one who powers and arms the weapon, but only someone on the bridge can fire it.
- In the Bount arc of Bleach it is revealed that the Soul Society previously used Jokai Crests to produce Reishi. They stopped using them and sealed the rest away under giant concrete blocks after one exploded and destroyed a 1/10 of the Seiretei, but now the Big Bad has absorbed one and plans to release its energy and detonate the others in a chain reaction. It's clear what the inspiration was.
- Ulquiorra's Lanza del Relámpago he missed and it landed far away and still the Chunky Updraft still reach Las Noches.
- Not to mention Soi Fon's bankai, which is pretty much a nuclear missile. She makes an anchor of sorts with a metallic sash to stop herself from being blown away by the blast.
- One Piece has some major Does This Remind You of Anything? whenever it refers to the Buster Call or the ancient weapon Pluton.
- In Trigun, the Angel Arms and (manga only) photon-ion cannon are often seen by fans as analogous to nuclear weapons in their effects and their power. As an exception, references to actual atomic bombs are made in the final chapters of the manga. The special reload of this weapon in Doom the Roguelike is a nuclear blast.
- The god warriors and their main weapon in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, as well as the method of warfare of provoking an Ohmu stampede against enemy cities.
- Almost subverted in the manga, which makes clear that the god warriors do emit plenty of harmful radiation.
- In Hayao Miyazaki's film Castle in the Sky, the floating island of Laputa has the power to launch some sort of energy weapon that results in an explosion of nuclear scale.
- The titular aircraft of Simoun possess extremely destructive capabilities, which are triggered by executing "Ri Maajons" - elaborate patterns in the sky usually performed in complex flight formations. Some Ri Maajons have the power to destroy several thousands of enemy aircraft and tanks in one go. That the Simoun are intended for use in religious services and are thus piloted by priestesses is rather ironic.
- The titular Otome of Mai-Otome are weapons that singlehandedly win wars and determine a country's military strength. In the one major conflict since their creation, an entire country was wiped out, the survivors and their children suffering from debilitating illnesses. The underlying technology, if used peacefully, would improve the lives of millions. In the OVA, the various nations get together for Strategic Otome Limitation Talks (S.O.L.T.). And they're all entirely non-nuclear, nanomachine-powered, magical-girl maids.
- The Black Cores from Dai no Daibouken, which are basically magic-powered nukes. (created from a rare ore analogous to the plutonium / uranium, nonetheless) On the back-story, one of them was powerful enough to destroy an entire continent.
- Fairy Tail has a magitek Kill Sat called the Aetherion, which fires a burst of magical energy to create a nuclear-level explosion. This blast also grows in power over time, if the initial burst is contained, like a chain reaction.
- There's also Fairy Law, a spell that can annihilate everything in a radius of miles that the caster considers an enemy. If it's in the middle of a battlefield where you need to be selective about your targets, it's simply an extremely precise Wave Motion Gun that destroys enemies without hurting allies. However, if the caster were in enemy territory surrounded by enemy units, then it would probably rival Aetherion in it's capability for taking huge numbers of lives in an instant.
- Then there's Acnologia Roar apparently capable of wiping out an entire island and leaves no traces.
- When Louise uses Void Magic for the first time in Zero no Tsukaima the result is a flash of blinding light and then everything belonging to the enemy (that's what we see at least) spontaneously catches fire.
- The FLAYA of Code Geass is basically this, even made by an Einstein.
- In early Super Dimension Fortress Macross series and OAVs, the good guys used "reaction weaponry" which was not nuclear weapons in any way shape or form, instead being officially antimatter weapons. Later series, either not having to deal with or outright ignoring the Nuclear Weapons Taboo, have been more open to out-and-out using nuclear weapons as part of the setting.
- Dragon Ball started presented Ki Attacks as this with the introduction of Piccolo Daimou, who when restored to his youth, reduced a large city to a wasteland that extended beyond visible site during his fight with Goku. After Raditz's introduction, they were taken to Earth-Shattering Kaboom levels.
- In Fallout: Equestria and its derived works, "balefire bombs" were instrumental in causing the postapocalyptic world described in the stories. They are clear analogues to nuclear weapons.
- Referenced in Under The Northern Lights, an otherwise unrelated Friendship Is Magic fanfic. Twilight Sparkle stops a bomb-throwing assassin who seems to be destroyed by his own bomb when Twilight traps him and the bomb within a forcefield. Media and gossip make this into a "balefire bomb" to the ire of Twilight because balefire bombs are just theoretical weapons, no assassin is stupid enough to use a nuke-equivalent to kill someone, and nopony could contain a balefire blast like that.
- In the Czech film Císařův pekař - Pekařův císař the golem is an obvious allegory for nuclear power. (The villains attempt to use the golem to rule the world and get killed in the process, while the hero goes to use it for the good of all.)
Live Action TV
- Doctor Who: The war that led to the creation of the Daleks was not fought with nuclear missiles, but in fact "Neutronic missile". Presumably this was done because it gave them more creative freedom over what they could say the weapons do/did, for example real nuclear missiles would just burn or vaporise a jungle rather then petrifying it.
- Warehouse 13: The brick from the House of Commons is said to have contain the entire force of the London Blitz. Artie calls it out as an "Artifact Nuclear Device".
- The Minoan Trident in the season 2 finale. If struck into the ground three times it causes huge earthquakes. Do it near a supervolcano and you don't just get a nuclear-level blast, but the ash causes the equivalent of nuclear winter as well.
Mythology and Religion
- Hindu Mythology and numerous associated stories described the Brahmastra, a weapon that could only be used by someone who had meditated on the god Brahma and possessed the highest levels of concentration that could completely obliterate its target in a single strike and would never miss, but would destroy all life in the area and render everyone nearby sterile. Yes, the ancient Indians were talking about nukes before nukes were invented.
- If the fringe theorists are to be believed, it really was a nuke. Scientists measuring the level of radiation in Rajasthan found out that the area has been suffering from high radioactive levels since more than 10.000 years ago. Combine this with vivid description of (what is today understood as) nuclear warfare in certain Hindu scriptures, and you really wonder whether this is a Real Life case of And Man Grew Proud.
- During her meeting to obtain her spaceship parts in We Are Our Avatars, Imca suggested that Aurora could wipe out the Thalmor with a gigantic magic spell as a warning to those who try to take over the world. At first, Aurora thought it was bad because there's the possibility of civilian casualties. Mitch even compared it to the situation that caused America to drop the nukes on Japan.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash is capable of a Sonic Rainboom, typically a combination of rainbow and sonic boom. However, as shown in the episode "Lesson Zero", it seems that if she directs the force at the ground, rather than at generating fancy flightwork, it creates a rainbow explosion, complete with mushroom cloud.
- In "Twilight's Kingdom Part 2", Twilight creates another such cloud during her one-on-one fight with Tirek. As she is holding the power of four Alicorn Princesses at the time, two of whom are Physical Goddesses, it's pretty Justified.
- In the fourth season of The Legend of Korra, Varrick accidentally creates one by tapping into the power of the spirit vines, first accidentally releasing the energy as a concentrated beam and then redirecting the energy into a bomb to destroy all of his work so Kuvira won't weaponize it. Unfortunately, Kuvira's people are able to continue the project, eventually creating a giant spirit energy cannon attached to the arm of a 25-story Humongous Mecha. Similar to actual nukes, Varrick's original goal was to create a source of unlimited clean energy.