That powerful and evil beings insist on causing destruction even as they die is an unfortunate habit.
A boss-type monster whose destruction causes the location to self-destruct
(see Collapsing Lair
). Usually results in a scene after the final battle wherein the player must make a hasty escape before the clock runs out
Commonly happens with Final Bosses
Always seems a bit too contrived, though Terry Pratchett suggested in his first Discworld
novel The Colour of Magic
that this phenomenon was due to entropy (having been frightened away by the horrifying boss) making up for lost time. Or perhaps the lair simply has No Ontological Inertia
Can be justified
by some form of Dead Man Switch
or, in more fantasy/magical settings, by a literal bit of A Wizard Did It
, in that the power of the Big Bad
is what originally put, and is currently holding, the place together, making his defeat somewhat like shutting off an electromagnet. Not related to Load-Bearing Hero
, except in as much as he'll have to hold up the resulting Collapsing Lair
for his friends to escape.
Particularly large-scale examples may be a type of Cosmic Keystone
. Reactor Boss
is a justified subtrope
. Compare Defeat Equals Explosion
and Barrier Maiden
. When a boss takes some final action to cause this sort of situation, its Taking You with Me
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Anime & Manga
- In Sailor Moon, the destruction of the Kisenean Blossom leaves the senshi stranded on an asteroid on a collision course with the earth.
- In the third season, Mugen is destroyed by the battle and the senshi are buried beneath the rubble. They're OK, though.
- Bleach: After Chad and Uryu defeat Demora and Iceringer, the room they are in collapses, having been designed to do so if they were defeated.
- Atem/Yami Yugi plays this role in the last episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!; after he is defeated in the Ceremonial Duel, the temple they're in begins to collapse.
- In One Piece, Luffy's final kick against Arlong destroys Arlong Park, the building that they're in. In a filler arc, after Luffy defeats Don Atchino, his Atsu Atsu Fruit powers melt the Atchino family's iceberg base.
- In the Arlong case, this is because Luffy's final attack was to kick Arlong through the building; it wasn't so much that the building was destroyed because the boss died as it was because the boss was smashed through all five floors of it.
- In Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally, after Nunnally rejects opening Heaven's Door in favor of "tomorrow," resulting in her parents being erased from existence like they were in the original series, the cave in Kamine Island collapses.
- Very popular in Saint Seiya. All of the OVA villains pull this one after being defeated, concluding with Seiya & Co. running for their lives.
- Athena herself is one in the anime version of the Hades chapter: when she kills herself to attack Hades in his own domain, the Saints all but states that the main part of the Sanctuary is about to collapse now that Athena's cosmo doesn't sustain it anymore, and that is still standing only because it was the only one built by men (meaning that Athena's cosmo was simply protecting it from the ravages of time instead of enabling its very existence).
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S, Jail Scagletti's Elaborate Underground Base begins to collapse after Fate kicks his ass with Sonic Form. Averted not long after, as Fate and Shari use the control-panel-piano-thing to cancel the collapse.
- Played with in Dai-Guard, when the team find a dormant Heterodyne and wonder whether they should leave it be or destroy it before it wakes up. The eventually go with the former, which is good because while it was dormant it kept growing underground until its structure was holding up the entire Kyoto area and the only safe way to dispose of it was to wait until it eventually sank into the Earth's crust.
- The ailing Princess in the Kokuboro arc of Kekkaishi created the castle and alternate dimension that shares the name of that storyline; the castle gradually decays and eventually collapses as her health deteriorates, to the point where the whole dimension completely collapses when she ultimately expires.
- Hakumen no Mono from Ushio and Tora fits this trope perfectly. If Ushio's mom lets up the barrier and allows the yōkai of Japan to kill him, all the islands of Japan will sink with him
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: When Simon defeats Lordgenome in Episode 15, all the Gunmen being piloted by his mooks deactivate. More to the point, so does the mountain-sized Humongous Mecha they were fighting on top of, causing it to rapidly collapse under its own weight. Pops up again when the Anti-Spiral are finally defeated. Not only does it destroy the enemy's galaxy-sized mecha, it also destroys their home planet and the very dimension they inhabited.
- In s-CRY-ed, defeating Kyoji Mujo caused the warped base to fall apart. Justified since it was being sustained with Kyoji's Alter Power, with him dead, there was nothing supporting it.
- In GaoGaiGar Final, when the heroes use the Goldeon Crusher to kill Pisa Sol, the whole UNIVERSE falls apart. Thankfully they were in an alternate universe, but still!
- As the Big Bad in the Rock Opera Interstella5555 dies his Disney Villain Death, the underground ritual chamber and his castle start to collapse, thus requiring Stella and her bandmates to run for their lives.
- In Gankutsuou, the Count's headquarters begins collapsing seconds after he dies for no readily apparent reason.
- Defeating King in Rave Master causes the tower the hero and his dad were fighting on to crumble. Their race to the bottom leads to a perfect Dropped a Bridge on Him moment. Except instead of a bridge what dropped was a...
- Subverted in the Wizardry OVA, where although Werdna's death causes much trembling throughout the dungeon, the heroes are able to wait it out and then walk out.
- Outlanders is a particularly egregious example, where the death of the Santrov Emperor causes the Organic Technology of the entire planet to collapse and die.
- In SD Gundam Force, the death of Sazabi causes the Horn of War to collapse.
- Vampire Hunter D. When Count Magnus Lee is killed, his castle self-destructs.
- Something similar happens in Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Vampire castles apparently have No Ontological Inertia.
- In the film version of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Golg Bodolzer himself is wired into his ship's computer. When the hero shoots him down, the rest of the ship quickly follows. Though in a bit of a variation, what actually seems to happen is Bodolzer's death causes a malfunction in the ship's Fold System, causing random pieces of it to get teleported who-knows-where. Explosions happen as a result of this, and the ship is thoroughly wrecked, but its outer structure is still largely intact afterward.
- In the first Tenchi Muyo! OVA, Tenchi bisects Kagato in their climactic battle. Somehow this causes Kagato's gargantuan spaceship that they were fighting inside of to also be sliced in half.
- In the Black★Rock Shooter OVA, Dead Master's palace collapses when she is defeated.
- Discussed in the first Digimon Tamers movie. No one believes Mephismon is dead because its pocket dimension isn't collapsing, and sure enough, it comes back as Gulfmon.
- Invoked in Gold Digger: Julia defeats a warlord who enslaved his own people to fuel his power by tangling him up in chains around the pillars holding up his throne room, then knocking them out in a way to leave him as the "keystone" holding the whole thing together. If he tries to move to attack or free himself, tens of thousands of tons of stone come tumbling down on his head. The only way to get free would be to beg his subjects to free him. The rival Julia came to rescue notes that said warlord is likely to let himself starve to death first.
- The Immortal Game: After Nihilus is destroyed by the Elements of Harmony, her floating fortress disintegrates.
- Jewel Of Darkness: After Midnight is defeated in her lair at the end of the Jump City Arc, Slade spirits her to safety, activating the base's self-destruct to cover their escape. Lampshaded by Beast Boy:
"And there's the post big fight self destruct."
- Life In Manehattan: The Final Battle between the Manehattan Six and Nightmare Moon occurs in a Pocket Dimension facsimile of Manehattan created by the latter; when she's defeated, it starts to fall apart. Fortunately, Luna is able to carry them all to safety.
- Through A Diamond Sky: Clu hangs a lampshade on this when killing The Baron causes his hideout to go to cascade failure. But Justified because of the base's shoddy construction and The Baron soaking up way too much power, destabilizing it further.
"Explain to me," Clu grumbled. "Why we take out the boss and this place decides to go into cascade failure?"
Films — Animation
- At the end of The Pebbleandthe Penguin, Drake hurls a boulder at Hubie as a last-minute attempt to kill him, but he throws said boulder in the wrong direction, and as a result the boulder rolls back and crushes Drake to death before finally destroying enough pillars holding up his island causing it to crumble into the sea.
Films — Live-Action
- Krull, though this is also a case of No Ontological Inertia.
- Also, the pieces fall up - apparently the villain was so evil, the planet won't have any of it.
- When Dr. Merrick is killed in The Island (2005), the holographic projectors are destroyed. This allows the inhabitants of the underground facility/prison escape into the real world.
- Though this is actually due to Lincoln's actions before he killed Merrick.
- For some reason, throwing Sabbala in the volcano causes it to erupt in The People That Time Forgot.
- If Looks Could Kill; Zigesfeld being crushed under a falling cage while standing on a gold vat causes Steranko's mansion to begin blowing up from the inside out from the resulting explosion. Who knew liquid gold was so volatile?
- This happens at the end of Logans Run.
- Yor: The Hunter from the Future, an old B-movie starring Reb Brown, has a cave inexplicably collapse after the strongest warrior of the tribe living there is defeated.
- In the Spawn film, Jason Winn sets himself up as the ultimate load-bearing boss: He attaches a heart-rate sensor to himself, which will set off dozens of virus-bombs all over the world in the event of his death to deter assassinations (though how a would-be kill is supposed to know this ahead of time is anyone's guess). Spawn uses his nifty magic powers to just pull the sensor out of his body before turning him over to the cops.
- The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King makes it even more extreme than the book: The death of Sauron causes the land around the entrance to the black gate to collapse into a pit, taking the orc army with it, while the area on which the good guys are standing forms a sort of rock outcropping.
- Averted in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Scaramanga's base/lair/thing begins to explode as soon as Bond kills Scaramanga, but this is due to the unrelated actions of a less-than-intelligent Bond Girl.
- Justified in Inception: killing the dreamer makes their dream world spectacularly collapse.
- Happens in Big Trouble in Little China when the evil wizard Lo Pan is killed by a knife to the forehead by hero Jack Burton.
- In Killer Klowns from Outer Space, when the giant monster klown dies, the klowns' spaceship immediately explodes.
- In Conan the Destroyer, when the wizard guarding the key is killed his entire crystal palace crumbles into the lake.
- After detective Nicholas finally kills Bernard Phillips in God Told Me To, the building they were in catches fire and starts collapsing, possibly because of all the energy deployed in the fight.
- In the Fighting Fantasy book Night Dragon, the title dragon's mountain lair collapses after the hero kills it (twice).
- Lone Wolf:
- Start with Book 7, Castle Death, and the destruction — in a volcanic eruption — of the title fortress of Kazan-Oud after the defeat of its evil Lord, Zahda. Though to be specific, it is the shattering of the Doomstone which induces this, since its magic was keeping the volcano at bay, and not just Zahda's death.
- Averted in Book 12. If Helgedad is destroyed shortly after the defeat of Big Bad Gnaag, it's because Lone Wolf has brought a freaking magical bomb with him, causing a chain reaction that wipe out the whole evil capital city.
- Played straight in Book 17, The Deathlord of Ixia, with the destruction of Big Bad Ixiataaga resulting in the collapse of the whole city of Xaagon as time is catching up with it.
- Probably the earliest example (from 1470) of the Load-Bearing Boss, Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur features a fight between Balin and King Pellam. Balin's sword breaks, so he steals an ornate spear that happens to be lying around.
And when Balin saw that spear, he gat it in his hand and turned him to King Pellam, and smote him passingly sore with that spear, that King Pellam fell down in a swoon, and therewith the castle roof and walls brake and fell to the earth, and Balin fell down so that he might not stir foot nor hand. And so the most part of the castle, that was fallen down through that dolorous stroke, lay upon Pellam and Balin three days.
- Another early example is Edgar Allan Poe's classic Gothic tale The Fall of the House of Usher, first published in 1839, in which the eponymous house breaks in two and collapses when Roderick and Madeline die.
- Their deaths don't actually cause the house to collapse. However, since the house was a metaphor for the family, it seems justified.
- Dracula was apparently originally going to include a scene where Dracula's castle collapsed upon his defeat (though it would not have been a threat to anyone, since the climactic battle takes place outside of the castle).
- Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash has a rare example of Load-Bearing Boss without a Collapsing Lair. Raven, a big mutant Aluet has a hydrogen bomb he carries around with on a motorcycle sidecar. It's hooked up to an implant that sends the detonation signal if his heart stops. (This, combined with his incredible fighting skills and use of undetectable glass knives, leads the main character to label him "The Baddest Motherfucker in the world".)
- Literary subversion: in Captain's Fury, fourth book of the Codex Alera series, one of the villains has managed to tie the ongoing calmness of a volcano in his homeland to his own survival via magic. Rather than waiting for the volcano to go boom upon the villain's eventual defeat, his rival Gaius Sextus actually uses this to defeat the villain in the first place by blowing the volcano up on top of the still-living villain, burying him and his entire capital city in volcanic ash a la Pompeii.
- The villain had been inspired to do this by Lady Placida's more benevolent use of it in the previous book; she had used her powers to suppress destructive furies in her homeland that would be unleashed upon her death unless the proper steps were taken, forcing her husband into neutrality after the villain kidnapped her. She'd had no intention of using it as a weapon, and was merely trying to help her people.
- In The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (one of the Chronicles of Narnia), the death of the Lady of the Green Kirtle causes not just her fortress, but her entire underground kingdom to be destroyed. The protagonists speculate that she had used sorcery to ensure this would happen as a means of posthumously avenging herself on her killer.
- In another classic children's fantasy series, the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, we see this trope played out in the fiery collapse of the castle of Arawn, Lord of the Dead, in the land of Annuvin, when he is killed by the sword Dyrnwyn.
- The destruction of the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings causes both the death of Sauron and his Dark Tower to collapse. It's explicitly noted earlier that the Ring's power was holding the thing up. It also causes the collapse of the Black Gate and the Teeth of Mordor (the guard towers by the gate).
-  had this setup at one point. It was the reason Jaime killed Aerys: he found out about Aerys's plan to use wildfire to burn everything in King's Landing, including his family and all the innocent people, and decided that it could not be allowed to happen.
- King Haggard and Haggard's castle in The Last Unicorn, both in the novel by Peter S. Beagle and the animated movie.
- As noted above, in The Colour of Magic when Bel-Shamharoth, an Eldritch Abomination, retreats from his temple, this causes the released inertia from formerly-stopped time to erode it away to nothing in seconds, being a Justified Trope version of No Ontological Inertia.
- Justified in Sourcery, where Coin created the huge miles-high tower (which has become the new home for wizards), by using raw magic. Once he starts dueling with his father and they start pulling magic from the tower, well...
- Used again in Hogfather with the Ice Castle.
- In Barry Hughart's "novel of an ancient China that never was," Bridge of Birds, the Duke of Chin's castle crumbles into dust after the Duke does.
- In Chronicles of the Emerged World this is what happened when the Tyrant is vanquished.
- In the Solomon Kane story The Moon of Skulls, the hidden city of Negari is destroyed by an earthquake just after its queen Nekari is killed.
- The Big Bad of Against a Dark Background claims to have a Dead Man Switch to take a good chunk of civilization with him.
- In Nightworld this is explained as being due to the Big Bad using magic to counteract the laws of physics. When he dies, nature reasserts itself and the underground cavern starts to collapse due to the weight of the ground above.
- In Apotheosis, there is a peculiar example in which the boss is on the same side as the protagonists. The AI calling itself Tjaele Mosasa has been manipulating society for centuries to keep Bakunin a Stateless planet, and thus one that will tolerate Mosasa's existence. As soon as he's gone, the Proudhon Spaceport Development Corporation starts taking over, and the old society of Bakunin collapses.
- In the Rainbow Magic series, in the final Sugar and Spice Fairy book, the return of all seven charms makes Jack Frost's Candy Castle collapse and melt away.
- Subverted in The Heroes of Olympus: At the end of Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian, Mount Othrys collapses and the cast presumes it's due to Kronos' defeat... actually, While Percy and co were defending Olympus, the children of the Roman gods were assaulting Mount Othrys.
- Doctor Who — The Tenth Doctor. Elaboration: (CAUTION: Here be spoilers.)
- In "Rose", the Nestene Consciousness. When the anti-plastic hits, the facility goes ka-boom.
- Justified in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Extreme Measures," when Sloan dies, and it is feared that the resulting collapse of his mind-scape (which Bashir and O'Brien were exploring) would have been fatal to anyone still inside.
- Criminal Minds: "Fisher King" (Part 2) The unsub blows himself up, forcing the team to first locate the hostage inside and escape while the house is burning.
- BIONICLE put a unique twist on this by having the Big Bad be the Matoran Universe itself for the Grand Finale. This meant that if the villain died, the universe would fall apart and become uninhabitable. But there was another twist, namely that this process took about three days to happen. Everyone escaped within seconds, thanks to the writer taking artistic license with scale.
- In Exalted, the Primodials have multiple souls organized into different Power Levels. The most important one is called the Fetich Soul, and killing it causes the Primordial to implode and come back wrong, with a new theme and powers.
- In Genius The Transgression, when a Genius dies, all of his Wonders become Orphans and either develop rudimentary intelligence and go on a rampage or simply break spectacularly. Since more powerful Geniuses often have dozens or even hundreds of Wonders, the results of such a Genius getting killed will be... messy.
- Dungeons & Dragons.
- In the Judges Guild adventure Dark Tower, the title building collapses after the lich Pnessutt is killed.
- In the 3.5 Edition supplment Elder Evils, the Hulks of Zoretha cause the entire mountain in which their temple is located to collapse when they are defeated.
- In the 1st Edition module S1 Tomb of Horrors, this happens when you kill the demilich Acererak. Except not really. You actually killed a fake and he has an illusion set up to make you think the dungeon is collapsing as a result and you get a fake map to another dungeon. If you go back after the collapse, you'll discover the ruse. The guy is kind of a prick.
- Black Mage of 8-Bit Theater finds this idea to be completely ridiculous (of course the universe doesn't care what he thinks).
- Invoked in the Webcomic Casey and Andy: Quantum Crook holds sterotypical Evil Overlord Mulligan as hostage to cover his escape. When the confused main characters ask why they should care about him killing their archnemesis, Quantum Crook explains this trope to them.
- Referenced (somewhat subtly) in this page of Gorgeous Princess Creamy Beamy.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Inverted — an ancient robot which must be defeated at tennis once a year (don't ask) breaks apart when the main character fails to defeat it; the temple housing it begins to collapse shortly thereafter.
- Elan thinks this should happen at the end of the first arc of The Order of the Stick. Nobody else agrees, but they're too late.
- Discussed but averted after the Grand Finale of Burning Stickman Presents...Something!. After defeating the villain, one of the heroes glances about, waits a moment...and then after nothing happens, decides the villain wasn't a Load-Bearing Boss after all.
- Being Genre Savvy, the cast of Adventurers fully expect this to happen.
- Similarly savvy, RPG World concisely hand-waves this...before deferring the lampshade onto the nature of the boss itself.
- Homestuck. Snowman is pretty much the ultimate example: if she dies, the entire universe goes down with her. She uses this fact to torment Spades Slick without fear of retrubution, as nobody dares lay a finger on her.
- She is eventually killed though, thanks to Doc Scratch's schemes.
- In Dragon Mango, the count's death brings down the Blackforest chateau
- Invoked in the famous Overlord List, where it is pointed out that, even though the Evil Overlord should intend to live forever, buildings should always be reinforced, just in case.
- Referenced on Homestar Runner, in Strong Bad Email #173, "the paper". Strong Bad is seen on a sinking island, and says to himself "How is this island sinking? I didn't even kill any end bosses!"
- Homestar Runner also parodies it in Thy Dungeonman where, if you try enough times, you can actually "get ye flask", only to be told that it was a load-bearing flask and picking it up caused the dungeon to collapse on you.
- This is referenced again in the final episode of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People. After finally defeating Ultimate Trogdor, the dungeon begins to collapse. Homestar comments that he "must've been a load-bearing dragon."
- In the Forum Community/MMORPG Gaia Online, one NPC builds an enormous tower that inexplicably collapses after he is shot from miles away by a Black Cloak Sniper. Like most of the Gaia Online storyline, this didn't make much sense, but looked really cool.
- Played with in the Whateley Universe. It's well known that Karedonia (a small island in the Caribbean enlarged by deliberate volcanic eruption) has a very unstable volcano under it, and the only thing that keeps it from blowing up is the beating heart of King Wilkins (also known as the supervillain Gizmatic).
- Played with in Kim Possible with the many, many lairs that get destroyed; once even Lampshaded when Kim states that she wishes just once that the bad guys' lair wouldn't blow up.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: In the first Season Finale, Shendu magically restores his old palace as he prepares to release an army of dragons. Once he's beaten, the palace crumbles back into dust, along with the treasure the Dark Hand guys wanted.
- In the Aardman short film Stage Fright, after the villain kicks the bucket (literally and figuratively), the theatre starts collapsing.
- In The Last Unicorn, after the defeat of the Red Bull, King Haggard's Castle crumbles, throwing him into the sea.
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Knock It Off" has Dick Hardly's lair collapsing as his Powerpuff clones turn on him, with one of them telling the Professor to get him and the girls out before it's too late.
- In G.I. Joe: Renegades, after Duke defeats Cobra Commander by knocking him and his robot suit into an Acid Pool, Duke and his team escape Cobra Commander's exploding mansion. But somehow Cobra Commander survives the Acid Pool and his Collapsing Lair...