The Interstellar equivalent of the ICBM. You fire it from a star system or from interstellar space, and it will hit a target light years away.
An Interstellar Weapon
is distinct from a starship or an automated weapons platform. A starship or weapons platform goes over to the target and blows the hell out of it. An Interstellar Weapon
either fires its payload from one star system, which proceeds to impact a target in another star system, or it is the payload that gets delivered from one star system to the other.
If entire wars are fought this way, you can take it as the most extreme aversion of Old School Dogfight
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Uchuu Senkan Yamato the Gamilas bombard Earth with radioactive bombs from their home planet.
- The Yamato 2099 remake shortens the range somewhat, having the planet bombs being launched from a forward base on Pluto.
- Another old school anime that used this trope is Space Runaway Ideon, where the Buff Clan accelerates simple (albeit a kilometer-long) metal rods to speed close to that of light and flings them across space to wreck massive damage upon human colonies. Also, in the end of the series, Ideon itself generates swarms of meteors that remotely obliterate Earth and Buff Clan home planet.
- The Backstory to Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S features a brief flashback featuring interdimensional/interplanetary ICBMs.
- Astonishing X-Men had an arc where a giant silver bullet was launched at Earth from some far-off alien world.
- Green Lantern John Stewart once used his ring to create a sniper rifle, which he used to pick off an enemy on the other side of the galaxy.
- The enemy in question, a Sinestro Corps member called Bedovian, has the natural ability to see across entire galaxies and act as a Cold Sniper.
- In Dark Empire, there's the Galaxy Gun, a massive cannon which launches incredibly destructive projectiles through hyperspace. It can destroy planets.
- In The Miracle at Palaven, thanks to the Mass Relays, it's relatively simple to send a weapon from one end of the galaxy to the next as long as there's an open Mass Relay on the other side. The tactic of sending a constant stream of Warp Bombs is used to force the Reapers to back off from the Trebia Mass Relay sufficiently that any ship that comes through doesn't get instantly shot down by Reaper forces.
- Starship Troopers sees intelligent insects launch an asteroid through interstellar space to take out Buenos Aires. The book has something similar, except its version makes some actual sense.
- Hitting Buenos Aires with an asteroid from a planet light-years away is the equivalent of hitting someone on the other side of the planet with a pebble.
- There is some speculation that the attack on Buenos Aires was done by the humans themselves, in order to justify the war.
- It could also have been a random asteroid, which the military failed to intercept and decided to blame the aliens.
- The Last Starfighter. Xur launches meteors at the Starfighter base.
- In Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars a a black hole weapon that could destroy a whole galaxy is deployed.
- In Thor, we learn that keeping the Bifrost open too long will destroy any world it's currently connected to. Odin however refuses to use it as a weapon of war. Loki on the other hand...
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a race of nihilistic aliens builds a weapon that supposedly could destroy the rest of the universe.
- Alan Dean Foster is fond of this trope, most prominently in his Humanx Commonwealth series, which features a wide assortment of Lost Superweapons left scattered around the cosmos by various Precursors. The two greatest examples show up in the Grand Finale, Flinx Transcendent, and include a weapons platform whose Wave Motion Gun fires through subspace across galaxies, and an even bigger superweapon whose power source is a galaxy (indeed, multiple galaxies).
- In Arthur C. Clarke's Sunstorm, the eponymous event is caused by a planetoid hurled across the galaxy.
- Charles Stross' Iron Sunrise features guided, ramscoop-powered missiles designed to deter interplanetary invasions. If a planet is attacked, the missiles accelerate up to lightspeed and (eventually) hit the invaders' home planet.
- Colin Kapp wrote at least two of these. In Patterns of Chaos, a technique for predicting the future let aliens in the Andromeda Galaxy seven hundred million years ago send sublight missiles at spots in our galaxy a few centuries from now with pinpoint accuracy, impacting close enough to the people they wanted to kill that a hand grenade would've done the job — but they still sent planet killers. And then there was the Chaos Weapon, in the book of the same title, a Wave Motion Gun kept in another universe, which devoured entire stars for fuel.
- In Halo, it's mentioned briefly in Ghosts of Onyx that the UNSC can send nukes through slipspace.
- Of course, given that human slipdrives are far from being accurate (they'll send you to the right system, but that's as accurate as they get).
- And of course, the titular Halos are capable of wiping out all sentient life in the galaxy when fired in unison.
- Stephen Baxter's Vacuum Diagrams contains an ICBM equivalent.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there's Centerpoint Station. Built by the mysterious Celestials tens of thousands of years ago, it has the power to move and collapse stars across the galaxy, among other functions.
- There's also the Starlancer Project, developed during the Siege of Borleias to remotely bombard the Yuuzhan Vong command ships at Coruscant from the fortified Pyria system. It's all a gigantic fake, and the Starlancer "prototype" does nothing - but it does force the Vong fleet to begin their final assault at a moment the Republic defenders dictate, allowing them to annihilate the fleet.
- Also the Galaxy Gun, which fires hyperspace-capable planet-busting missiles while remaining in orbit above Byss. The missiles are of variable yield, meaning that the Empire can dial up for destroying anything from a single ship (whenever their intel is good enough to know exactly where a major New Republic ship is at the moment) to a planet. Not only are the missiles incredibly well-shielded and thus nearly impossible to stop once they drop out of hyperspace, the fact that the Galaxy Gun itself never leaves Byss (at the time, by far the most heavily defended planet in the galaxy, with a fleet at least 10 times larger than the one the Empire had at Endor) makes attempt at a direct attack both futile and suicidal. Ultimately, the New Republic takes the Galaxy Gun out by hacking the nav computer of another Imperial superweapon, the Emperor's gigantic flagship Eclipse II, and programming it to ram the Galaxy Gun. The incredibly durable Eclipse survives this...but it doesn't survive the planet-buster missile that misfires during the ramming and hits Byss, blowing up both the planet and everything in orbit.
- How humanity is wiped out in the beginning of The Killing Star. Aliens who would rather not take the chance that we'd annihilate them decide to destroy us first, and they do so by launching missiles from their homeworld at the various inhabited planets of the Solar system. By the time the missiles arrive, they're moving at 92% of the speed of light, so we can't even see them coming before they impact.
- The Genesis Wave in the Star Trek Novel Verse. Based on the genesis device from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the weapon fires a reality-warping wave of energy programmed to Terraform worlds in its path - to make them resemble the homeworld of the aliens who built it. Launched from an Asteroid Thicket, it destroys/reforms several planets in the Genesis Wave series.
- Lensman had interdimensional PLANETS fired at fifteen times the speed of light through hyperspace. One to smash the enemy planet and one to supernova their star for good measure. This was followed by an intergalactic combined psychic attack...which barely worked.
- And to a lesser extent, planetary sized antimatter bombs, focusing the full output of a sun into a single beam, planets fitted with FTL drives and heavy armament or simply used as nutcrackers...
- In Harry Turtledove's Homeward Bound, after the FTL-capable Commodore Perry shows up in the orbit of Home (the Race's homeworld) in a clear case of Gunboat Diplomacy, the Race warns humans that they may have the advantage of speed (the Race doesn't expect to develop FTL-travel for at least 70 more years, now that they know it's possible), but the Race can still build ships capable of accelerating to 50% of the speed of light. Those ships can be launched to impact Earth with their great speed, causing an extinction-level event. While humans claims that they might be able to intercept the relativistic missiles, the Race representatives state that they wouldn't be able to stop them all.
Live Action TV
- In Stargate SG-1, one of the Goa'uld sends an asteroid bomb on a collision course with Earth from outside the solar system.
- Doctor Who has had a few of these over the years, possibly the most famous being The Hand Of Omega which was a weapon to manipulate solar systems.
- Both "Dreadnought" and "Warhead" of Star Trek: Voyager involved warp-propelled warheads.
- On one episode of Earth: Final Conflict, the Taelons developed a weapon that shot balls of lava from the Earth's core through the shows version of Hyperspace that could hit other planets in other solar systems.
- Wormholes in Farscape: low-setting, shoot a chunk of a star at a spaceship or a planet you don't like. High-setting: annihilate the entire universe in a Class-Z Apocalypse with the Negative Space Wedgie to end all Negative Space Wedgies.
- Anacreon: Reconstruction 4021, the 1987 4X game, has "LAMs," Long-Range Attack Missiles, which are basically interstellar nukes. They're one of the lighter weapons, but can be launched by the tens of thousands and are frequently used to support the arrival of a proper attack force. Enough of them can destroy an entire fleet or scour the target world of all its defenses, both orbital and ground-based. There is no way to defend against a LAM attack. Anacreon is not a very happy game.
- In Sins of a Solar Empire, each race has its own long-range doomsday device. Keep in mind that each of these can and usually are built in groups.
- The TEC have the Novalith Cannon, which decimates planets.
- The Vasari have the Kosutra Cannon, which decimates things orbiting planets.
- The Advent have Deliverance Engines, which fire culture and propaganda.
- One particularly "happy" strategy with the TEC Novalith is to fire it at planets that belong to your "ally". Because it takes the rounds some time to hit the planet, and because you can't see the round while it's underway (you don't even get a warning), you can pre-position your ships to attack as soon as the Novalith cannon rounds hit. This is largely considered both poor sportsmanship and exceedingly clever when pulled off properly.
- The human Node Missiles in Sword of the Stars could be considered this, especially in the earlier versions of the game. Dozens of these could be sent to soften up enemy defenses before the arrival of the fleet. Unfortunately, later versions significantly reduced their damage and upped their cost, reducing their usefulness, especially given their slow interstellar speeds (Node Missile drives are not upgradeable).
- They are only slow relative to the fastest available starship drives, and even then not that much slower. They are very speedy compared to drives that would be standard when you can actually research them, should you choose to make a priority of getting them.
- In the Mass Effect series:
- One of these is used in the backstory to take out a Reaper, and it grazed a planet, leaving a massive canyon/scar on the planet in question. It's theorized in the blurb that it would take a mass acceleration cannon kilometers long to create that much power. By comparison, the longest main cannon in the game series so far is half a kilometer long.
- Technically, as described in such loving detail in Mass Effect 2, all kinetic weapons fall under this categorization, because once you fire this hunk of metal, it keeps going till it hits something. That can be a ship, or the planet behind that ship. It might go off into deep space and hit somebody else in ten thousand years. If you pull the trigger on this, you are ruining someone's day, somewhere and sometime. That is why you check your damn targets! That is why you wait for the computer to give you a damn firing solution! That is why, Serviceman Troper, we do not "eyeball it!" This is a weapon of mass destruction. You are not a cowboy shooting from the hip!
- The Crucible in Mass Effect 3 was supposed to be this. And it actually can become a weapon that destroys all Reapers (along with other synthetics) across the entire galaxy—but it's much more complicated than that.
- Ogame has interplanetary missiles that damage enemy planet's defenses (but not ships) without any chance of repair (instead of the usual 70%), though counter missiles are cheaper and available earlier.
- It doesn't show up in-game (missiles are fired from and land on the same planet), but these were used in in Starcraft's backstory: the planet Korhal was nuked by a thousand Apocalypse-class nuclear missiles fired from the planet Tarsonis. Nuclear weaponry on such a scale was banned after that, so the in-game ones are much, much smaller.
- Asura's Wrath features a magical version, Chakravartin, who's large enough that his gravitational pull is drawing in entire galaxies shoots an equally massive laser towards Asura and Gaia from what could easily have been the Event Horizon.
- An interplanetary weapon is found in Star Fox 2 in the form of IPBMs launched from planetary bases. Naturally they need to be shot down before impacting with Corneria, or else.
- Downplayed in Dawn of War: Soulstorm's campaign, where the Tau's orbital stronghold has a cannon that automatically hits an enemy province no matter where in the star system it is (including another planet's moon).
- Schlock Mercenary has the Long-Gunner Of The Apocalypse, an energy weapon the size of a planetoid, which fires through instantaneous wormholes and can hit any place in the galaxy.
- There's also a number of others, including terapedoes (missiles fitted with a teraport system, theoretically letting them hit any target in the galaxy, often from the inside. Pity Teraport Area Denial systems are common), orbital plasma lancesnote , cee-sabotsnote , and the Pa'anuri occasionally induce supernovae and use the blast wave to kill everything living in nearby systems.
- The Nicoll-Dyson laser of Orion's Arm. There is also a weapon called a Killer Star, it causes a star to go supernova but in such a way that most of the energy is sent in one direction.
- Orion's Arm has Dyson Sphere powered planet-killer beam weapons, kinetic relativistic kill vehicles aplenty, monopole-based 'conversion bombs' which can destroy stars, and more, almost always wielded by transapients. The highest Archai, however, have access to Metric Bombs, which are essentially void ships turned into weapons. They can travel across space at near the speed of light almost entirely undetected inside a void bubble, and destroy entire star systems by altering the very nature of spacetime at the heart of the central star and causing it to go supernova regardless of its mass. All that remains afterward is a black hole.
- Near-Earth asteroids
- Gamma ray bursts
- Relativistic weapons, if they are ever developed. While they may travel slower than light, they still are nearly impossible to see coming, since its own light would only be slightly outpacing it. Once you see a relativistic weapon being launched towards you, it's already most of the way here, it's not where it seems to be, and there's no way to stop it. The only conceivable way to thwart such a weapon is having an Subspace Ansible-equipped spy report its launch at origin point and using the remaining few years to evacuate your planet. Or have your own relativistic weapons triggered by a Russian style Dead Hand computer.