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Monumental Damage Resistance
The Washington Monument in the background is the dead give-away.
A major city has been completely leveled, whether by a marauding monster, invading alien, nuclear attack, or anything that has a tendency to cause massive collateral damage. The town is nothing but a smoking pile of smoldering rubble. But wait! What's that over there? A few buildings are still standing. And what do you know! It's The White House! It might be a little worse-for-wear, and probably has chunks taken out of it and bits broken off, but it's still standing and easily recognizable.

Basically, this trope is when widely recognized monuments are left remarkably whole in an otherwise devastated city. This occurs because, otherwise, no one would be able to tell just which city this wasteland used to be.

The inverse of Monumental Damage. Sometimes occurs after a Monumental Battle. A specific type of The Constant. It's often related to the Eiffel Tower Effect.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime And Manga 
  • In Naruto, Pain's Shinra Tensei destroys the whole Konoha village, but does no damage to the Hokage mountain. This meant that when Naruto was reverse summoned there, he could still be sure where he was.

    Film 
  • In Resident Evil: Extinction, Las Vegas is buried in sand, but the monuments of the strip are still there and recognizable.
  • Independence Day creates a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment at one point in a shot of a devastated New York City. The World Trade Center is still standing, with only a few large chunks ripped out of it here and there. Also, most everything in Los Angeles is reduced to rubble except the palm trees. To let you know that yes, that was Los Angeles.
  • Planet of the Apes: In the 40th century (the time period during which the first and second films take place), the Statue of Liberty lets the audience know that most of the movie takes place in a very post-apocalyptic New York.
  • Dreamscape. During the President's final dream, a train car is passing through a landscape blasted by a nuclear explosion. We see a partially destroyed Capitol building to let the audience know it's the ruins of Washington D.C.
  • In the movie version of Logan's Run, when Logan 5 and Jessica 6 reach the ruined city, we know its Washington DC because the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and National Archives are still standing. Vine-covered and weathered, but still standing.
  • Older than Television: In the 1933 film Deluge, New York City is flooded. The Empire State Building is knocked down by the wall of water, but the Statue of Liberty remains standing.
  • Played straight in The Day After Tomorrow, where pretty much every New York City landmark survives the flooding of the city and the subsequent hard freeze.
  • The 1956 film Earth vs. the Flying Saucers sees Washington, DC destroyed... again... and yet the White House is left standing.
  • Also played straight in 1975's Earthquake, which restricted most of the destruction to Los Angeles's outlying areas, leaving nearly all the city's landmarks fundamentally untouched.
  • In the Distant Finale of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, New York City has been covered by glaciers, but the World Trade Center and the other recognizable buildings of downtown Manhattan are intact, sticking through the ice. (Glaciers, of course, move, and would flatten anything in their path.)
  • In Idiocracy, when Paris is briefly shown, the Eiffel Tower (in perfect condition) is the only thing that remains there; everything else is an uninhabited flattened wasteland.

    Literature 
  • The novel of Metro 2033 mentions that the Kremlin is standing and is in pretty good shape, compared to the rest of Moscow after the city was nuked. It is explained that NATO specifically avoided hitting Kremlin, preferring to test a new biological weapon instead. Said weapon consumed everyone holed up there and eventually became something much worse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of The Outer Limits ends with a view of Washington DC destroyed. Inexplicably, the Washington Monument is still standing while everything around it is rubble.
  • The St. Loius arch is a prominent background feature in Defiance, which is set in what used to be St. Louis.

    Video Games 
  • The intro-movie of Star Ocean: The Last Hope features the Earth consumed in the nuclear fires of World War III... and yet the White House and the Arc de Triomphe are both shown to be standing tall while their respective cities (Washington, DC, and Paris respectively) are flat fields of rubble.
  • Seen generally in the Fallout series, but most noticeable in Fallout 3. Despite the general devastation of the DC area, most of the landmarks are left remarkably intact. The Washington Monument, the National Archives, the Jefferson Memorial, the Museum of Natural History, and the Lincoln Memorial all feature prominently in in-game quests. The US Capitol building also dominates the view of one end of the National Mall, with the iconic rotunda still standing (albeit with a hole in the side). The setting tries to justify this: the extended Cold War between the US and China led to the government reinforcing major landmarks in anticipation of a nuclear apocalypse, while the weapons technology of the Fallout universe favored low-yield weapons that did less explosive damage but left far more... well, fallout.
    • Fallout 3 also subverts this trope. With so much of the city still standing, you'd expect to eventually be able to explore the White House, but all you'll find at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a deep, highly-irradiated crater and a few Glowing One ghouls.
    • ''FalloutNewVegas Plays this strait with Hoover Dam, though in real life many scientist have estimated that the Dam will remain more or less functional for thousands of years after it is abandoned, so indeed quite justified.
  • This trope is in full effect for the Washington DC levels in Modern Warfare 2. Both the Washington Monument and White House ("Whiskey Hotel") suffer damage but are still iconically standing. That said, they still take quite a beating, especially the White House, which gets quite a few walls knocked down and its interior utterly totaled. Its later shown repaired.
    • In Modern Warfare 3, though pretty much the entire New York City skyline is in flames, One World Trade Centre is conspicuously untouched. This one's pretty justified, though, for obvious sensitivity-related reasons. The Statue of Liberty is also untouched.
  • Prominent at one point in the first Guilty Gear: Sol Badguy's stage takes place right next to the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty.
  • No matter how many nukes you drop on city in Civilization IV, you can never destroy a World Wonder. Razing a city by conventional means will still destroy them, however.
  • World in Conflict has the Space Needle and the Statue of Liberty survive untouched, though the latter is threatened in one mission.
  • Earth Eternal is set long After the End — humans have blasted themselves into oblivion with nuclear war, the ruins of our civilizations have long fallen to ruin, the radiation has been cleaned up, and the Beasts have reclaimed the world. But the Eiffel Tower is still intact, somehow.
  • Played with in Mass Effect 3, where the final cutscene will show Big Ben either surviving (albeit heavily damaged), or outright destroyed, depending on the amount of War Assets that have been gathered over the course of the game.
  • Metro Last Light expands on what the book said about the Kremlin, and Artyom actually gets to explore it and Red Square during the game. His diary notes mention the nameless superweapon that left buildings standing while devouring all organic matter, and the agony experienced by those who died has resulted in the entire capital area being haunted by some of the most tortured spirits in all of post-apocalyptic Moscow.

    Real Life 
  • The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, aka the A-Bomb Dome, survived the atomic bombing despite being less than 500 feet away from the epicenter of the blast. It currently survives as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Cologne Cathedral - hit by seventy bombs, but the only building in the city to survive.
  • There's an iconic photo from the London Blitz during 1940-1941 of St. Paul's Cathedral surrounded by smoke and fire from incendiary bombs falling all around it. However, while the area surrounding the Cathedral was practically wiped out, the Cathedral itself survived more or less unscathed.
    • Some have said that the Luftwaffe deliberately left St Paul's untouched was because it was a prominent landmark and useful for as a waypoint for estimating distance to targets. However, the cathedral was hit on 1940 and would have burnt down without the intervention of the firefighters
    • Similarly, one raid saw a bomb fall right on the Houses of Parliament, completely wiping out the House of Commons. The iconic clock tower housing Big Ben, however, was slightly damaged but otherwise okay.
  • In fact, the Nazis organized an entire series of air raids that targeted cities that were strategically unimportant but contained famous architecture (the Baedeker Blitz; apparently, the Luftwaffe high command chose the targets from the Baedeker's Tourist Guide to Great Britain, and all of them were ranked three stars or higher). Fortunately, most of the targets like Cantebury Cathedral, Exeter Cathedral, and York Minster escaped mostly unscathed.
  • Generally justified with any castle or other large stone structure dating from the Roman Empire onwards. Architects couldn't calculate the minimum thickness of stone needed to hold up for the building's design lifespan with the same degree of accuracy as is possible in this day and age, so they'd err on the side of caution; by modern standards, the end product is hugely over-engineered, and will remain recognisable -if not necessarily useable for their intended purpose- for hundreds of years after being abandoned.
  • After Hurricane Sandy swept away the historic Atlantic City Boardwalk, the roller coaster in Seaside Heights remained in place and was perfectly recognizable.
  • The Pyramids of Giza and Mesoamerica, the Roman Coliseum, Stonehenge, and the Great Wall of China, among others, have survived for thousands of years, but not unscathed. None of them are intact due to multiple natural disasters and plunderings by people carrying off souvenirs or reusing their materials for other local building projects. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the reigning champion for MDR; it is approximately 4,573 years old and has only lost its funerary contents, limestone casing, and a bit off the top during the millennia.


Monumental DamageSpectacleMonumental View
Monumental DamageAction Adventure TropesMucking In The Mud
Monumental BattleOlder than TelevisionNoodle Incident
Magnetic WeaponsImageSource/Video GamesScenery Gorn
Monumental DamageExample as a ThesisMotive Misidentification

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