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Somehow, a disproportionate number of fictional fights break out at easily-recognized national monuments and landmarks around the world.
One reason for doing this is that at least a portion of the audience will be familiar with the monument in question, whether by general knowledge or by having actually been there. This means the author doesn't have to justify the presence of a massive, ancient structure they just made up. In addition, the audience may feel more involved because the setting is familiar (allowing them to concentrate on the action), awed (because the setting is visually impressive), or concerned (because the setting itself might be in danger, and so elicits its own emotional response in anticipation of its defacement or imminent destruction).
This can be justified several ways: the landmark, or something buried underneath it, is said to posess occult powers; there is something of importance about the landmark itself, like a clue left by an Ancient Conspiracy
; or there is a major delegation of world leaders being held very close by. As often as not, however, it's a simple case of Small Reference Pools
Most common places:
- Paris, France
- The Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame
- South Dakota, USA
- Mount Rushmore — presents the unique opportunity to do battle on Lincoln's nose. See also Rushmore Refacement.
- London, England
- London Bridge or Tower Bridge.
- The Clock Tower containing Big Ben.
- The London Eye.
- Some way from London, but still recognisable as English; Stonehenge, usually of the "ancient occult powers" version.
- New York
- The Statue Of Liberty has become a popular site for final one-on-one duels. (What is symbolizes is often a factor.)
- The Empire State Building and (before a certain date) The Twin Towers.
- San Francisco
- Tokyo, Japan
- Tokyo Tower
- Tokyo Big Sight, aka the Tokyo International Exhibition Center, located on Odaiba in Tokyo Bay. The world's largest comic convention, Comiket, is held here twice a year for over half a million people.
- Tokyo Dome
- The Sunshine 60 skyscraper in Ikebukuro, which has many stores of all kinds: an aquarium, an observation deck, etc.
A consequence of The Eiffel Tower Effect
, see also Monumental Damage
. Compare The Very Definitely Final Dungeon
- when the monuments are fictional, and the architects aren't limited by common sense. Or, often, the laws of physics. See also Landmarking the Hidden Base
and Weaponized Landmark
, which go a little way explaining why some of the battles take place where they do. This can lead to a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment
if some disaster ends up later destroying the monument you so gleefully smash in your work.
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Anime and Manga
- Besides Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Mew Mew also fought a battle in and around the Tokyo Dome.
- Tokyo Big Sight, with its quadruple-inverted-pyramid shape is becoming popular for situations that poke fun at manga fans.
- The second episode of Nurse Witch Komugi had the bad guys turn the convention center into a giant robot, Big Sightron.
- In a DVD Bonus, Big Sightron gains its own Video PV.
- Ultimate Girls faced off with their final foe atop and beneath the distinctive structure.
- Hellsing lightened its fourth OVA finish by showing the villains heading to Big Sight afterwards to sell manga and perform various otaku activities.
- A fight in the second episode of Shinzo, a fascinating and Timey-Wimey Ball-loving series which takes place After the End, finally shatters the already-wrecked Statue of Liberty. Nobody but the viewer knows the significance of it.
- One of the most memorable battle of Fist of the North Star occurs on the fictional Pyramid of the Southern Cross, built by the will of Souther, worthless child enslaving brute of an Emperor and Kenshiro, the hero of the franchise.
- The first part of the Read or Die OVA ended atop the Statue Of Liberty.
- Sailor Moon defeated Kaolinite at the Tokyo Tower.
- In the Stars anime, the las battle between the Senshi and Sailor Galaxia starts during the Starlights' last concert in the Tokyo Dome.
- In the beginning of Stars, Haruka and Michiru are caught by Nehellenia's crones in the Sunshine 60 building.
- Digimon Adventure: The fight against DeathMeramon took place on top of Tokyo Tower, physically warping it from sheer heat. Twelve years later...
- The Cowboy Bebop film, Knockin' on Heaven's Door, has the final battle on what looks to be either the Tokyo Tower or the Eiffel Tower... but the film's set on Mars.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Edo Phoenix can even create a facimile of Big Ben using his Clock Tower Prison Field Spell. In theory, this means that he could conceivably use the Solid Vision Hologram system of the game to create a Monumental Battle anywhere, at least in spirit. (This would count as a Weaponized Landmark too, seeing as it has benefits to him in more than one way.)
- In Uncanny X-Men #200, there's a big fight in Paris that includes Colossus getting thrown through the rose window of Notre Dame. This was the big payoff from Marvel having sent the comic's art team to Paris for X-Men publicity and story authenticity.
- The issue before that featured the beginning of a big battle in the National Holocaust Memorial in New York, which was only ended when Magneto agreed to be arrested so Freedom Force would quit destroying shit.
- In a climactic battle in the Psi-Force comic, the good guy—a gestalt entity with the magnified powers of the titular team—hit the bad guy with the Washington Monument. He still lost, though. The bad guy then walked into the National Archives and set fire to the Constitution.
- Recently done in Secret Avengers during the Fear Itself arc. A mutant Senator with vaguely defined powers to "bring history to life", animates The Lincoln Memorial and exhibits from The Smithsonian to battle the invading enemies.
- During the Captain Britain and MI 13 portion of the Secret Invasion event, the Skrull invasion of Britain and the remnants of the human military have their climactic battle on Westminster Bridge. It's invoked to a degree, since a good portion of the battle is fought with magic and the location has a great deal of symbolic value for the British people linked to this.
- In The Umbrella Academy, the Eiffel Tower is actually a space-faring warship built by robot zombie Gustave Eiffel.
- The Lincoln Memorial becomes a giant monster in opening to the Dallas storyline, only to be shot in the head by a giant, stone John Wilkes Booth.
Films — Animated
- The Great Mouse Detective has a climactic fight in Big Ben between Basil and Ratigan. Notable as one of the earliest examples of Conspicuous CG.
- G.I. Joe: The Movie opens with a big, flashy battle between the Joes and Cobra over the Statue of Liberty. Even after being demoted from the final battle to an opening action scene, it's still often considered the highlight of the movie. (Hell, can you blame anyone? The one-minute sequence managed to include every little detail of the Statue at least once, and fighting from nearly every possible angle imaginable. And the music accompanying it was rather well-done compared to other cartoons like this. Most would have considered it a milestone of animation at the time.)
Films — Live-Action
- James Bond:
- Bond fought a major minion or two at the Eiffel Tower in A View to a Kill. The final confrontation took place over the Golden Gate Bridge.
- In The World Is Not Enough, he ends up hanging off of a hot-air balloon above the landmark then called the Millenium Dome (now the O2 Arena).
- The final showdown between apes and humans in Rise of the Planet of the Apes takes place on the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Although not a national landmark, the movie Highlander had the final battle take place at the Silvercup Studios roof, with the "Silvercup" sign a local landmark.
- Parodied in the film Team America: World Police — their Elaborate Underground Base was in Mount Rushmore, and any battle that took place in another country resulted in the casual destruction of one of their national treasures. Over the course of the film, our team destroy the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and Abu Simbel. The Panama Canal is also destroyed, this time by the team's enemies.
- Older than Television: King Kong climbed the Empire State Building in 1933.
- King Kong climbed the south tower of the World Trade Center before jumping to the north tower in the 1976 version.
- Seems that Alfred Hitchcock liked this trope a lot:
- The live action Richie Rich film parodied this with a climax that took place on "Mount Richmore", a mountain carved Mount Rushmore-style to look like the Rich family. Earlier in the film, the villain actually watches a little of North by Northwest.
- In the final battle in Way of the Dragon, Bruce Lee and a very hairy-chested Chuck Norris duke it out in Rome's Coliseum.
- The Hong Kong Wuxia A Man Called Hero (as well as its original source material Manhua (Hong-Kong Manga) Chinese Hero featured an epic final duel between China and Japan's greatest warriors... on top of the Statue of Liberty.
- In X-Men, the final battle also takes place at the Statue of Liberty, with Wolverine and Sabretooth having a battle atop its head.
- The climax of X-Men: The Last Stand takes place at Alcatraz and the demolishment of the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Shanghai Knights ends with a battle inside Big Ben. (Or rather, inside the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, where the bell named Big Ben is.)
- In Earth vs. the Flying Saucers the invading aliens damage the Capitol building and the Supreme Court building.
- In Mars Attacks!!, during their attack on Washington D.C. the aliens knock over the Washington Monument, nudging it so it falls onto a troop of Boy Scouts. They also destroy the Taj Mahal in India and blast Big Ben in London.
- The first third of Superman II features both a fight with terrorists at the Eiffel Tower and a daring rescue (or two) at Niagara Falls.
- Superman III also features Superman in full Jerkass mode straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
- Superman IV: The Quest for Peace features a chase between Nuclear Man destroying various landmarks and Superman quickly repairing things. Among them include the Great Wall of China and (of course) The Statue of Liberty.
- Happens often in kaiju films: Godzilla and Angurius destroyed Osaka Castle in Godzilla Raids Again, Mothra wrecked Tokyo Tower in her debut film, and there have been at least three films with a final battle at Mt. Fuji.
- Q: The Winged Serpent is finally killed in a surprisingly cool action sequence at the top of the Chrysler Building in New York City.
- The fight with the alien robot in Monsters vs. Aliens culminates at the Golden Gate bridge.
- Remo Williams The Adventure Begins features a Parkour-type chase down the outside of the Statue of Liberty using the scaffolding that was in place during the refurbishment that it was undergoing around the time that the movie was being made.
- Semi-Justified in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen where the Pyramids were constructed as a hiding spot for an ancient alien Doomsday Device. The last third of the movie takes place at its base and on top of it.
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has an epic battle scene in Paris, where Cobra attempts to destroy the city with nanites. They fail, but manage to destroy the Eiffel Tower. Oddly, the Joes don't seem to care.
- The Joes may not engage in conversation about the tower destruction, but Breaker seems to be genuinely appalled by the fact.
- Who wouldn't be appalled by the utter and almost instantaneous destruction of a monument that possibly took a few hundred visiting tourists with it? The Joes, apparently.
- Please. It's GI Joe! The tourists all leaped from the tower and parachuted to safety mere moments before the nanites hit!
- The smaller asteroids in Armageddon seem inexplicably attracted to major landmarks. The Eiffel Tower is right at Ground Zero for one of the asteroid strikes, for example.
- Correction: Ground Zero for the Paris impact is located near the Champs Élysées instead. Curiously, the blast destroys the Eiffel Tower but leaves the much closer Arc de Triomphe more or less intact.
- Similarly, the various geomagnetic anomalies in The Core only seemed to strike national monuments. The superstorm destroys the Coliseum in Rome, and the microwave hole fries the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
- The alien spacecraft in Independence Day sure liked to hang around recognizable landmarks. The first strikes were aimed at the White House and the Empire State Building. At the end, the vanquished alien wrecks lay near the Giza Pyramids and the Syndey Opera House. If you also count the novelization, the TransAmerica pyramid, Nelson's Statue, the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Forbidden Palace get blown up in the first assault. Why didn't they show that in the movie? Oh yeah, budget.
- The first Blade movie ends with a short scene of Blade hunting vampires in Moscow. Where, exactly? Well, on the Red Square, konechno!
- Rush Hour 3 ends with Jackie Chan facing off against the Big Bad in a swordfight that starts in the Jules Verne restaurant of the Eiffel Tower and ends up on the girders of the outside. As is Rush Hour tradition, the baddie falls to his death onto a glass booth below.
- Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones dangle from the skybridge of the KLCC Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in Entrapment.
- Judge Dredd. The final battle between Dredd and Rico takes place inside the Statue of Liberty.
- Original script for Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan had the climactic fight taking place on the statue of liberty.
- The Rock is basically Die Hard in and around Alcatraz.
- Silverwing features the main character and friends getting turned into living bombs and dropped on Bazil of all places. Christ the Redeemer features prominently during the bombing run & after they escape they hide in a bombed out hole in the thing.
- Percy Jackson fights monsters at the top of the Saint Louis arch (The Lightning Theif), Hoover Dam (The Titan's Curse), Alcatraz (Battle of the Labyrinth), and of course the Empire State Building (The Last Olympian). Thank the gods for mist
- He also kills the Minotaur on Williamsburg Bridge (in fact, all the bridges in Manhatten are the site of battles) in The Last Olympian, and fights Telekhines on Mt St. Helens which is also where Typhon is trapped, until the battle accidently frees him in Battle of the Labyrinth. The sequel series The Heroes of Olympus seems to be following the tradition, with the first time Jason, Piper and Leo face monsters is the Grand Canyon well, the first time we see Jason fight a monster, that is.
- The final battle with the colloids and their monstrous offspring takes place at the Statue of Liberty in The Parasite War.
- Doctor Who had Big Ben partially destroyed in "Aliens of London", and 10 Downing Street completely destroyed in the second part, "World War Three".
- The Battle of Canary Wharf in "Doomsday" in and around 1 Canada Square (usually just called Canary Wharf) which, due to the Weird Al Effect, is now thought by countless Americans to be called "the Torchwood Tower" in real life...
- And the original series had the world-conquering supercomputer WOTAN based in the Post Office/BT Tower.
- In The Pandorica Opens hundreds of aliens races gather at Stonehedge to battle it out for the Pandorica, with the Doctor standing between all of them and it. Except they're all working together against the Doctor to trap him in it.
- Highlander: The Series had MacLeod use the Eiffel Tower to kill two birds with one stone: By killing his opponent, who had hidden a computer counting down to initiate his master plan somewhere in central Paris, Mac caused the tower to act as an antenna for his quickening, shorting out every computer for miles.
- In Sam and Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die!, a cybernetically-animated version of the Lincoln Monument runs for president; the player must get Max to run against it, and win, to advance the story.
- Lilica's stage in Arcana Heart takes place on the Tokyo Tower.
- The final boss fight of Metal Gear Solid 2 is a swordfight on top of Federal Hall in New York.
- Deus Ex has a number of levels set at famous landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park and the Paris catacombs.
- Chelnov: Atomic Runner has the final boss fight atop the Statue of Liberty's shoulder.
- Resistance: Fall of Man famously featured a battle in Manchester Cathedral which led to a legal spat between Sony and the Church of England.
- The climax of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter takes place at the Presidential Palace in downtown Mexico City, as well as the adjoining plaza El Zócalo, the second most iconic location in the city. Several missions earlier, the hardest scene (as well as the final showdown) occurs at the first most iconic location, Plaza del Ángel, where the US Embassy is blown up by insurgents.
- The Conduit has several stages in or near various Washington D.C. landmarks.
- Several missions in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 take place around famous buildings, with them often being turned into infantry strongholds or super-weapons. In the Soviet Paris mission, the objective is to turn the Eiffel Tower into a gigantic tesla coil capable of destroying every enemy in the entire city. In the expansion, Yuri even remakes the Easter Island heads in his own image, with lasers shooting out of their eyes.
- There was a bit of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when you got to fight in New York, optionally destroying the World Trade Center... they had to rename it in a patch.
- Red Alert 3 has many more famous buildings around the battles. Some need to be destroyed to complete the mission, others have been fitted with weaponry to be used against you, including a weaponized Mount Rushmore with laser eyes!
- In Tiberium Wars, GDI and Nod's first campaigns are in Washington DC; both feature a level where you take over the White House; GDI also has to defend the Pentagon. The Scrin's first mission takes place in London, and your objective (aside from destroying GDI), is to take out Big Ben, Parliament, and Buckingham Palace.
- The final battle in Mass Effect 3 takes place in London, within sight of Big Ben. This is justified in that the Reapers are trageting major cities in order to easily harvest as many humans as possible.
- BattleTanx: Global Assault was all about traveling to famous places in America, England, France, and Germany, and having a massive tank battle on top of their ruins.
- In Tom Clancy's HAWX, the PC and his squadmates fight in battles above Rio, Washington DC, and LA. In the DC mission, one of your squadmates mentions that the White House has been BLOWN UP in an attempt to kill the President. You also have to protect Air Force One.
- One of the stages in Modern Warfare 2 take place in Washington D.C., including a mission where your squad has to help retake the White House from the Russians.
- The third Onimusha game, which partly takes place in modern Paris, features several of these.
- Metal Wolf Chaos featured this in pretty much every mission. Statue of Liberty? Fought a giant tank. Grand Canyon (which is somehow in Utah)? 'copter. Alcatraz? Took down a giant rail gun. White House? Don't you mean the "Fight House?" Hell, in the D.C. missions, you can go parading around and shooting up monuments (namely Lincoln) for some funny dialogue.
- Fallout 3 features a lot of Washington landmarks. The more recognizable monuments actually get less plot-critical appearances, and the climactic battle takes place in and around the less familiar Jefferson Memorial.
- Fallout: New Vegas features a major battle over Hoover Dam, one of the last remaining sources of electricity in the wasteland.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Red Faction II is set inside the Statue of Sopot.
- One level in Toy Soldiers takes place at Mt. Rushmore.
- In Sly Spy, the first stage involves a firefight with terrorists in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
- Assassin's Creed II features many of Firenze's and Venice's landmarks, and the final mission involves sneaking into the Vatican to assassinate Pope Alexander VI.
- Kim Possible fought three villains at once at the Eiffel Tower; in a probable reference to the trope, she also fought Dr. Drakken at "The World's Biggest Wheel of Cheese".
- In an exaggerated twist on Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter and Mandark brought Washington and Lincoln's figures from Mount Rushmore to life, and made them fight. They stop and go to get drinks after they realize they are both known for their honesty in pop culture.
- The Real Ghostbusters faced an army of ghosts released when the Eiffel Tower was discovered to be a SteamPunk Ecto-containment grid. Like the Highlander example, they managed to use the tower's unique design to their advantage, converting it into a transmitter which beamed the ghosts back to their containment unit in New York.
- The South Park episode "Super Best Friends" had Jesus, Buddha, Joseph Smith, Krishna, Lao Tzu, Muhammad, and Sea Man (a parody of Aquaman) fighting David Blaine in Washington DC. Blaine brings the Lincoln Memorial to life to fight them, so they build and animate a giant stone John Wilkes Booth to fight back.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Jackie and Valmont were once in a fight on top of Mount Rushmore. This along with other battles taking place in San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and Colt Tower, along with the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle, and Uluru/Ayers Rock.
- The opening title sequence has Jackie doing battle at most every major landmark in the world, interspaced with the live action Jackie Chan.
- The Grand Finale of Mighty Max took place at Stonehenge.
- At one point of the multi-part Grand Finale of Exo Squad, it is discovered that the Pentagon has been converted into a Neolord brood facility, and the Charlie-Fives are dispatched to take it out. The resultant battle eventually ends up on top of the Washington Monument.
- The Rugrats once battled an egomaniacal... theme park owner's right-hand man in Paris, taking in the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.
- This happened several times in Gargoyles, along with a tendency to deface or destroy the monuments with giant laser beams. The Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, Uluru, Notre Dame du Paris, Rockefeller Center, and George Washington Bridge all saw fighting, while the Great Sphinx of Giza, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and NYC Cleopatra's Needle were severely damaged.
- The Defense of the Great Wall in 1933. One of several battles in history at or around the Great Wall of China (hardly a surprise, given its purpose), but the only one with the Wall itself in the battle's name.
- A common Urban Legend about the Great Sphinx of Giza says that it lost its nose in a battle like this, by cannon fire either from the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte, British troops, or the Mamluks. However, sketches of it as far back as 1737 still show the nose missing. More than likely, the true reason the nose was destroyed was vandalism by the iconoclast Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr in AD 1378.