troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Heavy Worlder
aka: Light Worlder
A common trope in Science Fiction, the Heavyworlder is someone who is adapted to life in a high-gravity environment - either a human being who has been altered to survive through Genetic Engineering or Hollywood Evolution, or an alien who evolved on such a world in the first place. One factor common to nearly all Heavyworlders is prodigious physical strength (even though logically, physical stamina would be more important when carrying around twice your weight every day). Another common element (one could even call it a fallacy) is that many Heavyworlders are described as being far larger and more massive that normal humans, despite this adding even more weight for them to carry around — in fact, basic mechanical considerations and Square/Cube Law shows that it's much more advantageous for heavyworlder to have a compact, stout, but short body, not unlike common portrayal of Dwarves in fantasy. Usually they have personalities to match (imagine an entire race as The Big Guy). A few exceptions are noted below. In fights, a Heavyworlder is usually a One-Man Army.

"Lightworlders" — skinny, delicate humans from low-gravity habitats, or orbital colonies without artificial gravity (see Space People) — aren't nearly as common as straight treatments, as it's harder to portray your Big Damn Heroes as Badass if they're built like toothpicks. Low-gravity characters are often female, fragility being more forgivable in women to most writers. Truth in Television here - astronauts on extended missions have been known to undergo growth spurts, long bones lengthening and the resultant bone is very, very brittle.

Ordinary humans who visit low-gravity planets, and seem much stronger there than on Earth, are a Humanity Is Superior variant. While this variant is common in vintage scifi, the natives of such worlds are seldom portrayed as skinny, fragile inversions of this trope. That's probably because it makes for poor Fanservice if the Distressed Damsel rescued by the "incredibly strong" human hero makes Olive Oyl look like Pamela Anderson.

In reality, it is unlikely that any of these tropes would work; species generally survive best in the environment they're adapted to, and, as noted above, real-life astronauts who spend significant time in low-gravity situations rapidly suffer health problems, especially muscular and bone degeneration.

Heavyworlders:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Likewise to Superman, Dragon Ball Z has the Saiyans from Planet Vegeta, with gravity 10x that of Earth. The saiyans also routinely train in high-gravity chambers, beyond 150 times Earth's gravity in some cases. This was used hilariously when a lower level Elite Mook in the beginning of the Buu saga challenged the Saiyans, thinking that changing the environment to his home planet, which had 10 times Earth's gravity, would give him a sizable advantage. Boy was he wrong.
    Vegeta: "Maybe... if your planet had five hundred times Earth's gravity, you'd have an advantage, but ten? I don't even feel it!"
    • The series also gets around the whole issue of heavyworlders logically being short by having the Saiyans be invaders from another planet, which presumably had gravity to closer to ours. Indeed, Vegeta's original inhabitants, were noticably smaller than humans.
      • Vegeta himself is a bit short...but that's just him specifically. The other Saiyans we see (including his father, the late King Vegeta) would range from average height to very tall by human standards.
  • One of Rumiko Takahashi's comedic one-shots was Maris the Chojo, about a bounty hunter whose family was from a high-gravity world, and had proportionate strength, so they had to wear special restraints in order to keep from destroying everything around them by accident. The antagonist was also a super-strong heavyworlder, though not to the degree of the protagonist.
  • Not a person but a machine: in Zeta Gundam, Big Bad Paptimus Scirocco's final mobile suit, The O, is designed for operations in Jupiter's gravity. As such it's incredibly heavily armoured and features massive thrusters to allow it to move at all. Turn it loose in space or Earth's atmosphere and it becomes a Lightning Bruiser and One-Man Army.
    • To a lesser degree, Scirocco's three previous mobile suits fit this model as well. He's got a godlike ability for cranking out one-shot, scratch-built Super Prototypes. His first known mobile suit, The Messala, is a Transforming Mecha and arguably the deadliest suit on the field for the first half of the series.
    • The eponymous Crossbone Gundam was also designed to operate within Jupiter's gravity. In order to keep weight down, its primary thrusters are mounted on flexible X-shaped binders that can fan out for maneuverability or close together for incredible speed. As with The O, it's a Lightning Bruiser that can outmaneuver most modern mecha, which allows it to rip them apart in melee combat.
  • Planetes has a lightworlder girl who was born and raised on the Moon: she is taller at 12 than most Earth adults but she wouldn't survive in Earth's gravity.

    Comic Books 
  • Charlie-27 of Marvel Comics' Guardians of the Galaxy is a Jovian, huge, super-strong, muscular and very tough. Implicitly he's even stronger and tougher than your average Jovian, as he was a career military man. The genetically engineered Jovians lived on floating gas-mining cities in Jupiter's atmosphere, prior to their genocide by hostile aliens.
  • Tom Strong was raised in a high-gravity environment, giving him immense musculature and strength while somehow not interfering with his growth. Just the opposite, in fact, he's huge; this may be due to how heavily the miracle food goloka figures into his diet.
  • Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire is a Hoffmannite, from a violent race of large heavyworlders who call normal humans "jellybones" and are prone to Attack Hello. Hoffmanites tend towards the "big and portly" -type, but they were also genetically engineered by a team that thought that making a sub-race of centaurs was a good idea.
  • Before he started flying and shooting laser beams out of his eyes, the late Golden Age and full Silver Age explanation for Superman's powers was that his home planet, Krypton, had exceptionally high gravity (the first explanation given in Action Comics #1 was Evolutionary Levels— Superman had originally been conceived as being from the future). Even after the yellow sun explanation came into play, Krypton was still described as having a much greater mass than Earth. This might be the inspiration for Tom Strong's origin.
    • Elliot Maggin, a prominent Superman writer, once wrote that Krypton's gravity was so great that every explorer from another planet who had landed on, or even approached Krypton was unable to to ever return. Krypton gained an ominous reputation as a "black hole planet", whose gravity was inescapably strong.
    • It apparently wasn't inescapable to Kryptonian rockets, which were rarely used before Jor-El shot Kal off because Krypton was such a paradise, there was no reason for the Kryptonians to try and leave via a space program.
      • Krypton did have a space program, but it was grounded/banned by Krypton's government after the rogue scientist Jax-Ur blew up an inhabited moon of Krypton's. This also partly explained the lack of space rockets to evacuate the planet.
    • Possibly as a reference to this fact, Stan Lee's presentation of Superman was a policeman from an alien world with high gravity.
    • The Elseworlds comic "Superman: Last Son of Earth" is built upon a total inversion of Superman's backstory; here, he's Clark Kent, a human shot into space to escape a disaster who landed on Krypton and was raised as Kal-El. Arriving back on Earth in his adulthood, he's surprised to discover that growing up in Krypton's heightened gravity has given him superhuman strength and bulletproof skin.
  • Not quite the same thing, but the idea that Aquaman's incredible strength and durability come from he and his fellow Atlanteans adapting to the "crushing ocean depths" is related to this trope.
  • Thondor Allen, a "fifth-generation Jupiter colonist" and distant future descendent of Barry Allen, who appears to exist largely for the visual humour of a really massive speedster.
  • Frequent foes of the Legion of Super-Heroes are the humanoid Khunds (no, I'm not going to ask how you pronounce that.)
  • The Kree are a Marvel Universe race stronger than humans and just as bastardly— think Nazis with Star Trek technology. Only a small pacifist cult keeps them from falling into Always Chaotic Evil.
  • The supervillain The Persuader from The Legion Of Super-Heroes is a normal human, but has incredible strength from being born and raised on a high-gravity world.

    Fan Works 
  • In Bait and Switch (STO) New Bajor is stated to have about a third more gravity than Bajor.note  LCdr. Reshek Gaarra, who's from New Bajor, is once seen in the ship's gym adjusting the weight set to mimic his planet's gravity so he won't lose the edge it gives him.

    Film 
  • The Phantasm films have dead humans resurrected as superstrong dwarves by compacting their density on a high-gravity world in an alternate universe.
  • The creature in the B-Movie It Conquered the World (1956) was originally conceived as short and squat, due to the heavy gravity of its native planet. Actress Beverly Garland was unimpressed by the vertically-challenged villain — approaching it within hearing of director Roger Corman she cried "So, you plan to take over the world do you? Take that!" and kicked it in the head. Corman agreed to redesign the creature to more menacing proportions.
  • Officially, Jek "Piggy" Porkins from A New Hope - the first pilot to die on the run against the Death Star - was from a high-gravity world. He was somewhat overweight but still strong. This might have killed him, in fact: in the X-Wing Series one of his surviving squadmates reminisces that Porkins dialed back his fighter's Artificial Gravity a bit more than usual, which could be why he insisted that he could pull out of his fatal dive into the Death Star's surface.
    • Several minor characters and extras in the Star Wars Expanded Universe are also mentioned to be heavyworlders - however, unlike Jek, they're generally portrayed as being short and stout. In fact, it could be that Jek Porkins was adapted to a heavy world, and gained weight from the sudden drop in exercise upon moving to standard-gee worlds.
  • E.T. should have a category all to himself in between these two, having the lower body of a heavyworlder and the upper body of a lightworlder.
  • Earth has higher gravity than Barsoom, as John Carter finds out.
    • He's also much shorter than the green-skinned Tharks, although he's the same size as the local humans. His Super Strength isn't shown much, although he easily breaks through the first chains that the Tharks put him in. Being Genre Savvy, they put him in heavier chains and attach them to a huge rock. Carter manages to throw the rock.
    • Deja Thoris theorizes that the reason for Earthling and Martian physiology appearing similar is that Carter's body is more dense than the Martians. More realistically, the superpower that he shows off the most is being able to jump really far.
  • One reason why Kryptonians are so strong on Earth in Man of Steel.

    Literature 
  • In Last and First Men, Olaf Stapledon describes a realistic version of heavyworlders engineered to colonize Neptune (at the time it still seemed possible): they're simply midgets who take advantage of the Square/Cube Law. Subsequent Neptunian species engineer themselves to be taller than the original terrestrial men, but it's made clear that they're so advanced they're not limited by petty biological constraints.
  • The short story "Heavy Planet" by Lee Gregor is probably one of the earliest examples of this trope. The planet's gravity is so intense that the alien describes the metal of a crashed human ship to be like rubber, poking a hole in it with his bare finger.
  • E. E. “Doc” Smith:
    • The Lensman series featured a company of Valerians, the next-millennium descendants of Dutch colonists on a high-gravity world, serving in the Space Marines of the Galactic Patrol. In close quarters, their Weapon of Choice was the space-axe, essentially a solid-metal combination axe and warhammer pragmatically adapted for zero-G and inertialess combat.
    • Another of his great sci-fi series starred the Family d'Alembert, a circus troupe of heavyworlder secret agents and incredible badasses, one and all.
      • Noteworthy, the Valerians fit the larger type, while the d'Alemberts, are the short and stocky variant.
  • The Jinxians of Larry Niven's Known Space are one of the rare short heavyworlder variety (described by one character as "five feet tall and five feet wide"), realistically so, since human growth patterns are determined in part by the weight of the body. They are strong enough to bend crowbars, and black-skinned regardless of ancestry, since the star they orbit, Sirius, is far brighter than Sol, particularly in the ultraviolet. They got this way after only four hundred years of selective breeding, but the downside is heart problems and short lifespans even with the life-extending drug "boosterspice". Culturally, they are mainly scientists and punsters. Ringworld even features a joke about them:
    Q: How many Jinxans does it take to paint a building?
    A: Three. One to hold the paint sprayer and the other two to shake the building up and down.
  • In Animorphs the pacifistic Pemalites and their android servants the Chee hail from a world with gravity four times that of Earth. As you'd expect, they're very powerful by human standards. While the Pemalites are extinct and we don't know how well they followed the trope, the Chee, being robots, are incredibly strong and incredibly fast. Erek is so fast that he can get from his inland house to several miles out into the ocean and several thousand miles deep in less than an hour. In their more bitter moments, the Animorphs frequently lament the fact that, if the Pemalies would have just reprogrammed the Chee's violence prohibition, they might not be extinct and the Yeerks would done over in a week.
  • Anne McCaffrey's "Planet Pirates" series (Dinosaur Planet, etc.) may actually be the Trope Namer. The genetically-enhanced Heavyworlders, due to their history, resent and distrust "lightweights" to the point of being open to manipulative propoganda and conspiracy theories by the titular criminals. In a greater society of near-universal vegetarians, they also have to eat meat due to their altered metabolism.
  • The CoDominium universe has the inhabitants of Frystaat, a Death World with high gravity, intense heat, blinding sunlight, and native life with More Teeth than the Osmond Family. A mere six hundred years of mutation and natural selection has rapidly transformed them into superhumans with strength, stamina, senses, and reflexes beyond the human norm (almost a match for the Saurons). They are, however, very vulnerable to cold.
  • The eponymous heroine of Honor Harrington is from a world with heavier-than-normal gravity, and the "Meyerdahl Beta" genetic enhancements built into her ancestors to best thrive in heavy gravity are part of what make her kick so much ass. She's actually a fairly marginal example of a heavy-worlder, though. Meyerdahl Betas' modifications were specifically designed to be subtle in the face of widespread prejudice against genetic modification, and Sphinx isn't THAT heavy, only about 1.3 Earth's gravities. On the other hand, the series also has San Martin, at 2.7 g the highest gravity planet inhabited by humans, with several minor characters being from there. San Martinos are much more classic examples of the trope — in its squat-but-wide form — noted for their prodigious strength and muscle mass, and tend to be quite tall as well. San Martin's gravity is actually so high that humans can't even survive at sea level: the increased air pressure makes the atmosphere toxic. The third of the Manticore system habitable planets, Gryphon, with ~1.5 g is somewhere in between, and its inhabitants often lack the genetic mod most Sphinxians sport, becoming short and squat instead. Anton Zilwicki, a stereotypical Gryphon highlander, is 163 cm (5'6") tall and was shown to dismember a Super Soldier with his bare hands, so the comparisons to the dwarf lords are thrown about him quite routinely.
  • One story by Stephen Baxter had "humans" engineered to live on neutron stars. Said "humans" were on a microscopic scale - such that they considered a centimetre to be a really impressive size for a city - and lived inside the star. Oh, and got around by "swimming" through the magnetic field...
  • Bill the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison. The Chingers are lizardoids only seven inches high, but as they come from a 10G world, they're able to throw the Space Trooper protagonist easily. Government propaganda portrays them as being seven feet tall so morale won't be affected.
  • A short story by Gordon R. Dickson adds a forgotten corollary: things fall faster (or rather, accelerate at a higher rate) on a high-gravity world. One alien from such a world is somewhat stronger, but much faster, because falling over on such a planet is a bad idea and being able to catch falling things is usually helpful too.
  • The S't'ach in Star Trek: Titan, who resemble metre-high four-armed blue teddy bears, but are denser than they appear. In early books they are said to be superdense, but in a later book one points out the perils of having a lot of mass on a high gravity world. Apparently, this is a rumour spread by the S't'ach themselves; they're aware of how cute they look to humanoids, and want to discourage them from trying to pick them up and cuddle them.
  • The Perry Rhodan universe features human colonists that come in short-and-squat, physical giant, and even relatively normal looking superman form depending on their exact planet of origin. (Ironically, these just happen to be listed in order of increasing homeworld gravity — so the most normal-looking ones hail from the world with the most extreme conditions. Oxtorne is rated at 4.8 Gs and the locals' idea of "mild" weather would be considered a full-blown hurricane elsewhere.)
  • The Brobdingnagian, from the Hoka story "The Napoleon Crime." Who's also a Gentle Giant and a Japanophile, and would be obnoxiously cute if he weren't huge.
  • Harry Harrison's Deathworld features Pyrrus: double Earth gravity and so, so much more. The population are all TykeBombs. Pyrrans are short and massive, for added realism.
  • Used in George R. R. Martin's "Thousand World" stories. In the short story "The Hero", the planets Wellington and Rommel have habitable climates but higher-than-Earth gravity, and their populations were recruited by the Federal Empire of Earth as soldiers.
  • The "1 on 1" gamebook Battle For The Ancient Robot had Kan-Tal from Jupiter as one of the human player's allies. His vital stats are given as 5' 2" and 492 pounds.
  • The people of Lusus, a very massive planet and industrial powerhouse with its settlements buried underground (called Hives and many of them fitting the description), are described as being rather short, rather stout, and very strong in Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos. This includes Brawne Lamia, a Private Detective from Lusus who fell in love with a clone/reconstruction of John Keats who had lost his memory...and long story short, that's how she ends up one of the main characters of the first novel.
    • The people of Sol Draconi Septem, which in addition to being very heavy was covered in a mostly-frozen atmosphere (or something), are described in the third novel (Endymion) as being rather like short, stout Inuit.
  • The inhabitants of the planet Mesklin (which not only has high gravity, but a rather odd rotation) in Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement are adjusted to this by looking somewhat like flat centipedes. The Mesklinites are the main characters of the story, which tells how a brave sea merchant retrieves a probe fallen from the sky for a strange space alien (i.e., a human).
  • Saval Bork from Steve Perry's Matador Series is from a heavy-g world, and has some genetic modifications to help him survive there. He also spends a lot of time weightlifting, when he's in places with lighter gravity. His personal record in the bench press is 360kg, or approximately 790 pounds.
  • Averted (as per usual) in the Sector General series, with the FROB Hudlar (homeworld in excess of 3G, body plan more or less spherical with six prehensile tentacles) and FGLI Tralthan (homeworld 2G, rather like a hexapedal elephant, can easily be killed by a fall).
  • The Starwolves in Edmond Hamilton's Starwolf trilogy are Vikings IN SPACE! from the heavyworld Varna. They can endure higher-acceleration maneuvers than anyone else they've encountered, which is what makes them so dangerous and hard-if-not-impossible to catch. "When a Starwolf gets killed, they declare a holiday on all decent worlds."
  • Implied to be true of the Jenoine, from the Dragaera series, as they have sturdy, heavily-muscled bodies and the world on which they imprison their captives in Issola has higher gravity than Vlad and his friends are used to. Only an implication, because it's unclear whether the prison-world in question is the Jenoine's native habitat, or if its higher gravity is just a coincidence.
  • The Masters in The Tripods had evolved in a higher gravity world and built domed cities to maintain a higher pressure to accomodate both this and their need to breathe an atmosphere other than Earth's. It didn't have a good effect on their human servants.
  • Reconstructed and downplayed in The Right Hand of Dextra: While Dextra's gravity isn't that much higher, the protagonist speculates that the colonists' descendants will be heavyworlders, albeit a more realistic take on the idea (short, stocky, and thick-limbed). At that point, however, he wasn't counting on people mutating themselves into centaurs.
  • Dragon's Egg features one of the most extreme examples and yet manages to treat it realistically — like the Stephen Baxter example above, the Cheela live on a neutron star with a gravity 67 billion times stronger than Earth's. They're essentially puddle-like Blob Monsters the size of sesame seeds (but with the same mass as humans), since nothing could stand on legs on their homeworld, and made of degenerate matter for even ordinary atoms fold themselves in that gravity.
  • Torin Kerr of the Confederation of Valor series is a mild version of the trope; her homeworld has 1.2 times Earth's gravity. This works to her advantage in a Bar Brawl in the first book since the planet she's on has 0.8 G.
  • Members of The Culture can do this at will. One character lives on a high-gravity world but visits a world with lighter gravity, and his body begins to adapt, shedding muscle and bone mass. He plans to return home soon, so he imagines a stick figure standing on a sphere, and he makes the sphere larger in his mind. His body automatically reverses the changes and builds up muscle and bone again.
  • Ia, protagonist of the Theirs Not To Reason Why series, is from a 3.2g planet; her consequent strength and reflexes serve her well as a Marine.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Star Trek, Vulcan is said to have higher gravity than Earth, and Vulcans are consequently around three times stronger than humans. This explains why Spock, in spite of being a nerd, can kick most people's butts in hand-to-hand combat. Well, that and the fact that while Vulcans turned away from their previous proud warrior race society thousands of years ago, they kept teaching the old (and very effective) martial arts as a matter of tradition.
  • In Andromeda, there are several genetically-engineered human variants, including people who breathe water and Heavyworlders. Captain Dylan Hunt's mother is a Heavyworlder, so he has genes that almost make him a physical match for a Nietzschean Super Soldier.
    • In a straight fight against a Nietzschean with equivalent hand-to-hand combat, he'd lose. This is acknowledged by the producers in commentary tracks. Remember, Gaheris Rhade was eventually revealed to have thrown that fight, though that's a Retcon added by post-shark writers.
  • An episode of the Buck Rogers TV series had an unassuming man of average build named Toman who was secretly from a high-gravity planet, giving him great strength, which he used as a hit man who never needed weapons.
  • The Sontarans, a race of cloned galactic warriors from Doctor Who. Although Sontarans 'grew' in size over the course of the series, the new series took the trouble to restore them to their original short height, leading to the inevitable Hurricane of Puns from the Doctor.
  • The much-despised spin-off of the original Battlestar Galactica (Classic), Galactica 1980, had the Twelve Colonies with greater gravity than Earth so the Galacticans were considerably stronger and could jump much higher.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The "Gatecrashing" supplement for Eclipse Phase introduces Dvergar (singular: Dvergr), short and stocky morphs meant for exoplanets with significantly higher gravity than old earth.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has two prominent examples that ended up going in very different directions. One group of Heavyworlders adapted to their environment by bulking up (and up, and up) at the expense of culture and brainpower, developing into the abhuman Ogryns. Another population grew shorter, stouter, and squatter, becoming the Squats (and ultimately, Tyranid chow. Not that such a silly army ever existed in the first place).
    • For a less extreme example, the jungle death world of Catachan has slightly higher gravity than Terran standard, which helps explain why its soldiers are so brawny. This earns them the somewhat unflattering nickname of "Baby Ogryns."
    • Tau of the Air Caste have become much taller and thinner than other castes over the centuries inhabiting space craft and stations with low or no artificial gravity.

    Video Games 
  • Taken to an extreme by the 'lobster' form that Kheldians can take in City of Heroes; a previous common host for Kheldians were the inhabitants of a white dwarf star.
  • According to official data, The Covenant has a few heavyworlders in its ranks. The Sangheili/Elite homeworld Sanghelios has 1.375G, Doisac (the Jiralhanae/Brute homeworld) has 2.1G, and the Yanme'e/Drones call Palamok, with 2.2G, their home. Fittingly, all three races are quite physically strong - Elites & Brutes can match Spartans in close combat, and Drones are strong enough to lift full-grown armored human marines into the air.
    • Te, the Lekgolo/Hunter homeworld, has 4G.
      • The Lekgolo are actually small wormlike creatures that live in massive colonies, which according to the 'smaller is better' angle would be more appropriate for a high g world.
  • The Elcor of Mass Effect come from a heavy world, and as a result are very cautious and conservative in all aspects of their life, since a fall could literally kill them on their homeworld.
    • Deconstructed in Mass Effect 3. As a race of slow-moving Mighty Glaciers who are outmatched by the Reapers, the vast majority of Elcor civilians fail to evacuate their home-world in time. It's implied that while some Elcor escaped, there aren't enough to recover the species.
    • Mass Effect also has the Volus. The Volus homeworld has a high pressure atmosphere and a gravity of 1.5gs making the Volus rather short. They have to wear a pressure suit to keep their skin from splitting open when in environments that are suitable for the other council species.
  • Gravitas in Meteos is the planet in the game with the strongest gravity. Its inhabitants have little leisure time. They are about 1 meter in height and seem to be angular in shape.
    • There are a number of other planets with very heavy gravity too, though they don't have it as their defining trait like Gravitas. They're reflected in gameplay by everything falling quickly (and thus tend to be more difficult planets to work with).
  • In Master of Orion II, races with the High-G World trait gain an extra hit in ground combat and do not suffer production penalties when colonizing other high-gravity planets, though they still suffer a production penalty when colonizing low-gravity worlds.
  • One of the Biotechs in Sword of the Stars that allow colonists to be genetically tailored to their environments is Gravitational Adaptation.
  • Reach For The Stars has a species that lives on the surface of the solid core of a gas giant. Yes, thousands of miles below the gas giant's apparent surface.
  • In Star Ocean Till The End Of Time, the Klausian people are from a planet with a gravity roughly twice that of Earth's. True to form, they possess heightened speed, strength, and stamina relative to Earthlings.

    Webcomics 
  • The titular Buck Godot from Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire comes from a genetically engineered human sub-race who prospered on a 3G world. Buck and the other Hoffmanites are of the Big Guy-variety. Then again, they were created by a genetic engineering team who thought making centaurs was a good idea...

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm has numerous races designed and redesigned for high gravity planets. Also comes in handy on accelerating spaceships.

    Western Animation 
  • An early Futurama episode involves a high-gravity planet. The only person they meet on the planet is quite short and wide and incredibly strong.
  • Tug-Mug from Thundercats.

Lightworlders:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Zone of the Enders Dolores, i portrayed people born on Mars as being weaker than those born on Earth. It's mentioned that it's a criminal offense for an Earthling to strike a Martian, as there's a good possibility it could kill them.
    • Which is why they built themselves Humongous Mecha about six times the power of Earth models in their most mass produced forms.
    • This is also mentioned when main character James Links is challenged to a fist fight by a Martian gangster. James figures the fight will be easy as he's a Earthling, only to get his ass kicked in record time. Apparently the gangster works out in heavy G, just so he can knock arrogant Earthlings down a peg or two.
    • The Red Mars Trilogy touched on this, too - when long-time Mars residents traveled to Earth, they often needed power-enhancing suits to cope with the higher gravity.
  • Nono in Planetes. She's two meters tall. She's twelve. She was born on the Moon. However, since the human body wasn't designed for this sort of environment, the effects of lunar gravity to her physiology lead to her living permanently in a hospital, both to monitor her health as well as to aid medical research into the effects of low-gravity environments on humans —which is vital for deep-space missions like the Jupiter-bound Von Braun expedition. There is also a subversion of the "Earthborn protagonists are stronger" aspect of the trope in that professional astronauts who spend too much time in zero-G will suffer muscular atrophy and a form of osteoporosis. This is shown explicitly when the elderly Harry Roland easily overpowers the 25 year-old Hachimaki because the veteran astronaut actually made a substantial effort to maintain his muscle mass and bone density. Hachi is inspired to do the same after the incident.
  • Although the world of MÄR Heaven doesn't have gravity that is notably different from Earth's, in that the humanoids look no different, it does give Ginta and Nanashi an extreme power up in strength and jumping ability when compared to the standard occupants of the world.
  • Space colonies in Gundam generally don't have this issue, as they rotate to provide roughly 1G gravity on the interior. This is not as true for the Jovian colonies though, in which a full 1G of gravity is rare, and most time is spent weightless, or nearly so. A couple of Jovians in Crossbone Gundam visit the Earth and are barely able to walk across a room without collapsing.
    • While we don't see much of them in the series proper, Moon people also have this problem, the semi-realistic tech level of most Gundam shows not being up to the task of making the Moon spin fast enough to generate centrifugal force. The most notable example would be the original Mobile Suit Gundam's Zeon Sovereign and de-facto Big Bad Degwin Zabi, who suffers from various health problems due to spending most of his life on the Moon. Contrary to the popular depiction of lightworlders as tall and elf-like, he's abnormally short and dwarfish due to severe osteoporosis.

    Comics 
  • The Mercurians in Dan Dare fulfilled this trope by being very spindly in build, but also subverted it by being superhumanly strong.

    Film 
  • In Avatar, the Na'vi live on the lower-gravity Pandora. They're in the range of ten feet tall and skinny as a rail. Averts the weakness part: they're much stronger and more durable than humans, with the ability to use a hunting/war bow as tall as an average human man and their bones are practically natural carbon-fiber. Perhaps justified in that Pandora has only marginally lower gravity and the Na'vi evolved on a planet where everything tries to kill you. Not to mention that being so large, they have more places for muscles to attach too and just more muscles in general. And then the longer limbs could give them more leverage.

    Literature 
  • The native Martians in John Carter of Mars are considerably weaker than John Carter, who can easily make 50-foot standing leaps in Barsoom's low gravity.
  • The aristocratic Exultant caste in Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun are described as being very tall, possibly due to being originally from a low-gravity world and/or genetic engineering by their forefathers.
  • Charlene Dula, a visiting gamer from The Barsoom Project, grew up in the orbital colony Falling Angels. Her elongated frame reminds people of a Tolkien elf, and she has a hard time with Earth gravity despite months of intensive exercise before coming to Earth.
  • Inhabitants of Larry Niven's Integral Trees are somewhat taller and slimmer than Earth people, but they are strong, tough Heavy Worlders compared to people from the rest of the Smoke Ring. The tidal forces acting on the trees provides at least a little simulated gravity, but everyone else grows up in zero-G.
    • One character, often referred to as a "dwarf", actually has an Earth-normal build; he's described as "monstrously strong" and is the only person who can wear one of the original spacesuits.
    • There's also the planet "We Made It," whose homeworld has low gravity and such severe storms that everyone is forced to live underground. Its inhabitants are all tall, wiry, and albino— basically the opposite of the Jinxians.
    • Earth's moon, Luna, is also colonized in Niven's stories. The people who grow up there, "Lunies," average around eight feet tall and are said to look like fantasy elves.
  • Martians in the Red Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. There is a section where a second generation Martian travels to Earth, but is forced to leave because the higher gravity and air pressure are damaging his health.
  • Brikar from Star Trek: New Frontier. Unusually, Brikarians aren't fragile; in fact they have some of the qualities of Heavyworlders.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress uses a related idea - the tendency of muscles to atrophy in lower gravity - as a major obstacle in Mannie and Prof's trip to Earth.
    • It even goes to the point of saying that living on the Moon for more than a few weeks can cause "irreversible physiological changes," to the point that a person who has lived their whole lives on Earth will be unable to handle Earth's gravity after about six weeks in the Moon, unless they exercise regularly and "stretch time" by using centrifuges to keep their bodies adjusted to 1g. Even then, it's chancy.
  • Inverted in the Gor series, where the planet is often described as having lower gravity than Earth but the men of Gor are far stronger.
    • That's because they use the muscles they have - wind, water and muscle are Gor's only motive powers, so they get plenty of exercise. It should be noted that the occasional Earth exports - Tarl Cabot and Jason Marshall - benefit from their Earth-developed muscle mass, even though Jason takes half of Fighting Slave of Gor to find out how strong he is. Otherwise, the usual comparison is between Gorean men and Earth women, where testosterone trumps gravity every time. And though Gor's lesser gravity is, plotwise, doubtless a tip o'the hat to John Carter of Mars, Gor is much nearer to Earth in size than Mars.
  • In C.S. Lewis's The Space Trilogy, the Malacandrans (Martians) are all thinner and taller than humans.
  • In The Gods Themselves, Moonborn people have weaker bones, leading to slight sexual incompatibility with Earth people. And due to the metabolism being about the same, they need constant exercises to keep their bodies under the proper strain. A human from Earth who comes to the Moon must spend at least a week every two months on Earth, unless he wants to become a permanent resident.
  • The "1 on 1" gamebook Battle For The Ancient Robot had Zanleer from Venus as one of the human player's allies. His vital stats are given as 7' 6" and 169 pounds. As an aside, the surface gravity of Venus is about 90% of Earth's.
  • Sector General again, this time with the GLNO Cinrusskin, a meter-long insectile species from a planet with 1/8 G. Requires an antigravity belt to survive, much less be able to move, in 1G conditions (if the belt failed it'd die of shock within minutes, assuming its exoskeleton didn't collapse first).
  • In the Green Sky Trilogy, the titular world does have much lower gravity, so much that a toddler's fall from the high treetops will injure, but not kill. The Kindar are on the willowy and frail side, while the ground-walking Erdlings descended from Kindar Exiles have developed a sturdier frame from generations of living underground.
  • In the Hyperion Cantos, Kassad is from Mars, which has a lower gravity than Earth. He's very tall and slender, but he keeps in shape (it helped that he had to spend a year as a menial worker in a 1.3 G environment).
  • The Martians in The War of the Worlds are massive, octopus like beings who could walk on their tentacles on their home planet, but can only drag themselves on their bellies on Earth.
  • Honor Harrington also features a few lightworlder characters, such as Joachim Alquezar from the Talbott Quadrant world of San Miguel. They are described as being tall and lightly built.
  • Rather harshly deconstructed in 3001: The Final Odyssey. After being effectively resurrected in the year 3001, Frank Poole (the member of the original crew from 2001 that floated off into space in his suit) spends a long period of recovery in the lower gravity of a ring built entirely around the Earth at about half the distance to the moon. While he feels completely physically fit by the end of his rehabilitation, when he takes a trip to the planet himself along a Space Elevator, he ends up in a wheelchair due to the relative lack of musculature.
  • The Eldritch in M.C.A. Hogarth's Paradox Universe are from a planet with significantly lower gravity than Alliance average, they tend to be six-seven feet tall and thin, with noticeably elongated limbs. And they're notably fragile, in Mindtouch Jahir passes out from the strain Seersana's standard strength gravity puts on his body, though he goes on medication to help strengthen his skeleton and cardiovascular system.

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine gives a Lightworlder in Ensign Melora Pazlar, the only Elaysian in Starfleet. She is mostly bound to a wheelchair (or a quite clumsy "exoskeleton" harness) because of her difficulties in adapting to standard gravity. In her quarters, she turns the artificial gravity to that of her world. Dr. Bashir tries a strengthening regimen, but when told it would be irreversible (thus making it impossible for her to return to her homeworld), she declines. Eventually, Melora beat some bad guys by turning off the artificial gravity and being the only one who could easily maneouver.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Tau of Warhammer 40,000 includes the Air Caste, the Tau social class who crew the empire's spacefleet. As they have lived almost exclusively in a low-gravity environment for generations, they are described as having developed very fragile, lightly-built bodies.
  • Most post-Fall transhumans in Eclipse Phase live on planets, moons, or habitats with lower gravity than old Earth. Though the only morphs that particularly fit the "lightworlder" profile are Bouncers and Titan's "Hazers".
  • Moonbabies in GURPS Terradyne are humans raised in Lunar gravity. They're tall and fragile, as one might expect, and can't safely return to Earth.
  • Similarly, in the backstory of Trinity, "Lunar Aggravated Osteoporosis" was a massive problem for humanity when first colonizing the moon, before the invention of Artificial Gravity.

    Video Games 
  • The Covenant has two prominent light-worlders in its ranks. The Kig-Yar/Jackals hail from Eayn, which has 87.5% Earth's gravity. They are not physically strong or durable (being birdlike and thus likely having fragile skeletons doesn't help them either), relying on shields to protect them. However, even in Earth gravity they're pretty fast on their feet. Unggoy/Grunts come from Balaho, which has only 70.8% Earth's gravity, but are actually pretty strong judging by the weapons they've been seen carrying; in First Strike the ODST Cpl. Locklear has great difficulty hefting a fuel rod cannon over his shoulder, while Grunts carry FRGs with no problem.
    • Some of the Unggoys' strength might be due to their homeworld being a Death World, with flame geysers and other hazards. This is also responsible for their rapid rate of reproduction, to the point where contraceptive chemicals are put in their gas and food while offworld to prevent overcrowding.
  • In Meteos, Luna=Luna (two dwarf planets resembling Earth's Moon) and Arod (an Asteroid Thicket) have very weak gravity. In both cases, inhabitants seem to like jumping from one terrestrial body to another. Gameplay in these areas are more lethargic.
  • In Master of Orion II, races with the Low-G World trait suffer a penalty in ground combat, as well as production penalties on normal-gravity worlds in addition to the penalty most races have on high-gravity worlds. While the trait removes the production penalty most races have on low-gravity worlds, it is considered a disadvantage since low-gravity worlds are slightly rare and tend to be small and poor in resources.

    Webcomics 
  • Inverted in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, where Voluptua has said she is more fragile than she looks because Earth has higher gravity than her homeworld.
    • In fact Fructose Riboflavin (same species) refers to Bob (a completely normal human) as a heavyworlder while fighting him, commenting on how he had to punch him dozens of times in a few seconds to even affect him, while if Bob got one good punch he'd be done for. Of course, we don't get to see the latter happen due to Galatea intervening.
  • In Quantum Vibe Spyders and Beltapes were designed for microgravity, they can't even take Martian gravity for long. Though Beltapes avert the usual lightworlder build by looking like six-foot gorillas.

    Western Animation 
  • Filmation's version of Flash Gordon claims that Mongo's gravity is a bit lighter than Earth's, so humans are stronger there than on Earth. Flash mentions this to encourage Dale when she has to jump across a wide gap to safety.


Half-Human HybridNot Quite HumanHuman Aliens
Gym BunnyMuscular IndexHeroic Build
Gravity SucksTropes in SpaceHemisphere Bias
Heart TraumaSpeculative Fiction TropesHeinz Hybrid

alternative title(s): Lightworlder
random
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 thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
88287
1