Explosions are cool
. So are giant objects. Therefore, giant objects exploding
are extremely cool
But let's think about this for a moment
. Halt the Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever
in a major city by blowing it up. Or just kill it and let it fall over, for that matter. That's going to do some monstrous damage to the city. Yet any collateral damage or casualties are depicted as minimal. Either we cut to credits before we see any aftermath, or (more blatantly) we see that there was no collateral effect at all. If there are, they are just Conveniently Empty Buildings
Why? You can't have the heroes take down the alien spacecraft For Great Justice
and the American way, only to look sheepish when the flaming debris flattens the city
. Not in any show on the idealism end of the scale
, anyway. Maybe they have a brilliant plan
to lure it somewhere uninhabited before they blow it to rubble, but surprisingly often, it's just not something the writers concern themselves with, leading viewers to notice the Inferred Holocaust
If you're a hero, you needn't worry about this. Even if there is collateral damage, your Hero Insurance
is going to cover it. If not, then Hilarity Sues
See Colony Drop
for when a large man-made object is deliberately dropped on top of a planet in order to
cause a massive impact. The Trope Namer
is the fan theory about the destruction of Endor as a result of the detonation of the Death Star in Return of the Jedi
(see Film section below).
Compare There Are No Global Consequences
As potentially mass-death-causing events tend to happen during pivotal plot points, expect spoilers.
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Anime and Manga
- Averted in Bokurano, where the giant robot fights are shown quite explicitly to cause utter devastation to the area/ city they are fighting in, with reports afterward (if it was a "home" battle) mentioning the hundreds if not thousands of dead and injured and (hundreds of) millions of dollars' worth of damage. This is even brought to our attention during Kodaka Masaru's battle, where one of the characters observes that the "enemy" robot is going out of its way to cause as little damage as possible; Kodaka's response to this was to state that he couldn't care less and proceeds to move carelessly, trashing the city... and ends up crushing his dad's car (with his dad inside it) in the process. Cue BSOD when he realizes this.
- Pell of One Piece saved Alubarna by flying the giant bomb (designed to annihilate the whole city and its inhabitants) straight up for a few seconds. And he also survived the blast, even though clutching onto the bomb. Hey, unless it's a flashback, nobody dies in One Piece.
- Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds includes an attack that results in an huge explosion. There is no damage afterwards.
- Played straight in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, which is a Magical Girl show with lots of Stuff Blowing Up. Each battle take place in a Phantom Zone that removes non-magicians, but static structures remain. At one point, the title character is sent crashing down into a building. At another point, a character forcefully enters the Phantom Zone and, upon landing, makes a crater on a building's rooftop. Some dialogue implies that the The Bureau has to fix the damaged areas before they can drop the Phantom Zone effect. Due to some internal Lampshade Hanging within the production company, the majority of fights in the third season averts this by having the fights taking place in the abandoned part of a city the protagonists are stationed in. That way, they can blow up as much stuff as possible and nobody would care, since the infrastructure was abandoned anyway.
- Mazinger Z partially averts it. The show constantly shows how much death and destruction would cause a humongous war mecha rampaging through the land or a battle between giant robots in a highly-populated city, and the heroes often have to suffer the consequences of it. Episode 7 gave an example when mobs of people — sick of people getting killed and homes getting demolished due to several Humongous Mecha battling — threw stones at the heroes and besieged the Institute and Kouji's house. Still, the series does not go into that topic with so much depth as it could. The sequels — Great Mazinger and UFO Robo Grendizer — dealt with the trope in similar fashion.
- In Saint Seiya, when Princess Hilda of Asgard or Poseidon flood the Earth by melting the ice caps, the series goes out of its way to show the devastation from tidal waves and superstorms even in spite of Athena's attempts to hold the waters back. When the villain du jour is defeated, though, it's considered a victory for mankind, and no mention is made of the millions of lives lost while the Saints battled. Likewise, the Gold Cloth Saga actually showed a very violent war breaking out, but it never reached the heroes and was never brought up before or after the Big Bad's defeat.
- Dragon Ball Z: Piccolo blew up the moon to stop a monkey from rampaging in a forest. Dragon Ball Abridged had something to say about this.
- Jackie Chun beat him to it in the original Dragon Ball... but played with when the announcer for the tournament chews him out for it. Notably, they fixed it by having Kami make another one after Goku traded his tail... which didn't happen in the DBZ example.
- In addition, the opening animated sequence of DBZ Budokai 2 has Goku slice the moon in half with a Kamehamaha. Dragon Ball just seems to have it in for the moon.
- The series also generally falls under this when it comes to especially destructive Ki Attacks. Apparently something that is strong enough to blow a planet apart is no danger as long as it's not pointing down, even though that kind of thing should have sucked the atmosphere right off of Earth. An especially bad case was Vegeta's "Final Flash" attack against Perfect Cell, which made it into space despite being fired horizontally and apparently taking a continent's worth of land with it.
- The series often averts this trope as well, especially in the beginning. The protagonists will often force the fight away from civilization, as to avoid any innocent casualties during the explosive battles.
- In the Pokémon anime, there's one episode where a coastal city is attacked by a giant Tentacruel. The place is flooded within seconds and several large buildings are destroyed, yet there's never any mention of injuries or deaths. That's to be expected, though, considering the show's place on the Sliding Scale.
- UFO Princess Valkyrie has a huge UFO crash-landing in the middle of a bathhouse, still filled with visitors, with exactly one casualty - which is instantly rectified. Somewhat later, a destructive fight between a crazy catgirl With Psycho Weapons and a Kamehame Hadoken-throwing space-princess leaves several large chasms blasted through the entirety of the cityscape. Neither the potentially-astronomical casualties, nor the damage to the city, is mentioned again. But the catgirl apologized, so it's cool...
- Slayers often avoids this, but it's played straight when Lina uses a Dragon Slave to blow up an enormous rock that threatened to fall on Seyruun. The spell accidentally destroyed a sizable chunk of the city, and presumably killed hundreds of people. However, people react more or less like they normally do when Lina Dragon Slaves stuff, as described above.
- Virtually every single episode of The Big O simply begins with the eponymous robot exploding up from underground, taking streets, cars, skyscrapers, and one can only presume people along with it. And yet the chief of police is good friends with its pilot and never bitches him out for mass slaughter.
- Hand Waved when the Gainax Ending reveals that the entire two seasons were some sort of simulation or theatrical piece on a massive sound stage. There are lots of such headscratchers in real fiction too.
- In the Sonic X adaptation of the plot of Sonic Adventure, it's stated that no one died when Chaos flooded downtown Station Square, because everyone evacuated in time. They also blew up the moon at one point.
- For the former, 4Kids Entertainment didn't think that the implied details were good enough, so they had one of their developers state in the middle of the climax's episode that everyone (including those harmed in explosions and falls) were perfectly okay.
- In Code Geass Nightmare of Nunnally, unlike in the main series, the consequences of triggering an avalanche on Narita are largely unexplored, given that the plot quickly moves on.
- The main series also plays this straight later on when Lelouch sets off Mount Fuji. No mention of an evacuation of all the towns surrounding the mountain for about 100 miles, which should include much of the Tokyo metropolitan area, is ever made. This is mitigated by the fact that Tokyo Settlement was the site of a nuke-equivalent explosion a few episodes earlier, causing millions of casualties and several Heroic BSOD and further mitigated by the fact that Lelouch is going for a Zero Approval Gambit (haha) at this point, so several hundred thousand casualties do more to advance his plans than anything else.
- Parodied in Dirty Pair Flash: After one of their little "accidents" involving a space station, Kei and Yuri are ordered to send a hand-written letter of apology to each one of the 300,000 survivors.
- The first El-Hazard OVA features this. When an Attack Animal is awakened, one of the villains immediately orders her to destroy an entire city, which she goes about efficiently and brutally. Fortunately this is an unimportant city, and throughout the continuity said villain never faces any consequences for ordering this destruction. The main cast even confronts him in the sequel OVA and nobody even brings up the subject. This also holds true for the living weapon herself, although she technically had no choice in the matter.
- The series finale of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has the entire cast fighting for the universe... in a robot large enough to use galaxies as weapons, which they do quite often. It's implied that the universe they fought in may have been created by their own warping power, and so nobody was actually in trouble.
- Lagann-hen takes it one step further and explicitly destroys the universe they were fighting in. The only way that scene makes sense is if they were in a pocket universe.
- Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea gives us a non-explosion version, where the main character causes sea levels to rise drastically, but no one ever points out that logically she could have killed millions of people.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion makes it abundantly clear that it intends to avert this from quite early on, not only showing how much damage is caused by Angel/ Eva scraps, but that people can and will get hurt or killed, the first case being Touji's sister, who is mentioned to have been hospitalised after a building collapsed on her. It carries this on to a greater extent in later episodes, as big chunks of Tokyo 3 get turned into craters, eventually culminating in The End of the World as We Know It.
- There are even numerous occasions where this is Lampshaded, mostly by NERV and SEELE personnel.
- Rebuild of Evangelion also makes sure to avert this trope, showing in great detail the devastation a massive tidal wave of liquified Angel can wreak on a Japanese city.
- In Dolores, i, the eponymous Humongous Mecha/Robot Girl causes a massive wave after falling to earth at hypersonic speeds, inundating a city up to at least the second floor. Although the damage is blamed on the heroes, there are oddly no fatalities mentioned.
- Averted in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Homura says that Walpurgisnacht (that thing that was juggling ripped-up buildings in Madoka's dream) will probably kill thousands of people even if they manage to defeat it. The muggles interpret it as a destructive superstorm. But Madoka ends up erasing it from existence entirely, so this doesn't happen.
- Lampshaded at the end of the JLA: Trial by Fire arc, when Plastic Man, fighting Fernus, a.k.a. Martian Manhunter, throws him through three buildings while saying "Thank god... for this crummy economy... or we'd never have abandoned buildings... to smash!"
- Afterwards, it's noted that the League rebuilt the city (it could've referred to that city in Russia, not New York).
- As mentioned in one of the page quotes, The Incredible Hulk can go a long way without killing anyone during his rampages. Hulk's buddy, Amadeus Cho, tries to explain this by suggesting that the Hulk is amazingly gifted, doing math to know exactly where every chunk of debris he creates will fall.
- At least during The Hulk and Superman's bout in DC Vs. Marvel, they were teleported to the Grand Canyon, where Superman lampshades that it would be one place they wouldn't hurt anyone collaterally.
- Averted in ''Banner,'' where the plot involves testing The Hulk as a Weapon of Mass Destruction by repeatedly dropping him in populated areas where he wakes up to find entire square city blocks leveled, complete with strewn body parts.
- Lampooned by Scott McCloud's Destroy!!, in which two quarreling superheroes demolish most, and finally all, of Manhattan. The punchline: "Well, at least no one was hurt."
- The Punisher, in his 30-odd years of punishing (racking up something in the order of 2000+ bodies, it's estimated) has never killed an innocent. It's reasoned that Frank's whole schtick is that he's a phenomenally well trained, extremely diligent US Marine, who makes damn sure everything's in place before he starts his "work".
- In the Welcome Back Frank Trade Paperback, he actually kills a copycat vigilante for not taking the same precautions and accidentally killing an innocent.
- Played straight for the most part in Astro City. The city is frequently attacked by hundred-foot-tall monsters or rampaging gods, but most collateral damage either occurs off-screen or with scenes showing heroes rescuing civilians. Most aftermath is limited to broken windows and litter in the streets, and the residents take this all in stride, praising the city's robust public works services.
- Parodied in The Far Side where one panel depicts the aftermath of King Kong with a Chalk Outline of King Kong on the street. Inside the outline of Kong are lots of outlines of people apparently flattened when he fell off the Empire State Building.
- Two others have the end of a dog leash coming out from under him, implying he crushed a dog, and a squashed shopping bag with a woman lamenting, "Well, there go my tomatoes."
- Invincible averts this trope, along with several other common comic book tropes. Whenever there's a big, city-leveling battle between superheroes and supervillains, innocent people die. The first time this happened was when Invincible's father was revealed to be a bad guy. Later issues revealed that thousands had died as they fought.
- Twilight Sparkle, being the genius that she is, helps give The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum an incredibly in-depth and Troperiffic monologue on the scientific problems of the The Conversion Bureau universe.
: "Is that what you're saying?
That somepony popped Equestria out of our reality and crashed it onto his
? How's that even meant to work? Several trillion tons of continent does not make a gentle impact on another world
, not without mega-tsunamis
and earthquakes that would level entire cities, followed by a dust cloud that would blanket the world in an artificial winter lasting decades! And what about the world we leave behind, what about Equus?
Would it just carry on spinning without a care, despite having a hole several-thousand-miles-across gouged out of the planet's crust? Even if you didn't breach the mantle, creating a supervolcano that would pull the planet inside-out, the change in mass and absence of the Princesses would throw the sun and moon out of their orbits, causing them to collide, or even worse, to impact with Equus itself! Anypony – anything, left behind would die, horribly!
Every griffon, every dragon, zebra, reindeer, whatever!"
Films — Animated
- The Incredibles: the whole reason that the various Supers were forced out of the heroing business is because society is tired of all the collateral damage and interference. (And because people figured out that lawsuits can be used on Supers.) However, at the very end, Violet is shown putting up a force-field when some wreckage from the explosion comes by, but no one seems concerned about anyone else being injured and you even see the neighbor kid from before standing just a couple dozen feet away a minute later completely unharmed. Never mind the climactic fight itself or the Underminer's appearance.
- After test audiences left WALL•E thinking that the ending of the movie left humanity doomed, the credits sequence was specifically designed to let people know they survived quite handily. This one is justified: humankind may now be living an a nearly-uninhabitable earth, but they're not stranded- they still have a fully-functioning cruise ship capable of meeting all their needs, and hundreds of friendly robots with various skills.
- In the Cutie Honey movie, Panther Claw have this giant drill-like tower underneath Tokyo Tower. Meaning: If you work in the area (which is a central business district in Real Life), don't bother coming in. Then, Scarlet Claw blows up three buildings. They all remain largely intact, save for a giant hole in the middle. One of them, hilariously, is Cutie Honey's former office, and the only reaction this gets is a dazed "what the...?" from the boss. And finally, the tower explodes. If you're in Tokyo when this kind of thing is happening, get out of the city. The only things we see? A traffic jam and other people not caring.
- Fridge Horror kicks in once you realize that there are also scads of women who have just been released from said structure. The fact that this was a mass kidnapping notwithstanding, these women would be effectively screwed.
Films — Live-Action
- The trope comes from Star Wars and is named after a theory that argues the destruction of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi turned the Ewok homeworld into a smoking wasteland. The Wookieepedia article explains that canonically, the Endor Holocaust did not happen, only existing as Imperial propaganda. Later material would Hand Wave it by explaining that the Death Star's destruction created a wormhole that sucked most of the debris (including The Glove of Darth Vader) into parts unknown. Furthermore, there has been a rebuttal to the original theory that argues the original theory overestimated the size of the Death Star by a substantial amount.
- In a classic demonstration of No Sense Of Energy, all of the focus tends to be on solid debris, when the real issue is the fact that enough energy was released from the main reactor to completely vaporize a metal structure hundreds of kilometers in diameter! All this energy, spanning the breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum, would have been released and traveling at the speed of light towards Endor, which was no more than a couple thousand kilometers below. By all rights it should have irradiated the heck out of Endor's atmosphere at the very least, if not superheated it to the point where the entire moon's surface got broiled.
- Robot Chicken closed out its second Star Wars special by subverting this trope and depicting the Endor Holocaust.
- In Legacy of the Force, Fury has a segment taking place on Endor, where the heroes camp out on a massive chunk of Death Star that managed to hit the forest.
- The Thrawn Trilogy averted this by having the exact situation happen to Honoghr, with the planet devastated by the fallout of a battle in orbit. Not all the damage to the planet was caused by fallout from that battle, though....
- There is also an issue from the Expanded Universe which covers a Stormtrooper detailing the horrific, Vietnam-esque situation of his time stationed on Endor. At the end, after describing how Ewoks would drive men mad and murder them in the night for weeks, he says he takes comfort in knowing the Death Star likely killed them all. He's then corrected by a local youth who tells him the Rebels caught all the big debris and the rest burned up in orbit. The Stormtrooper gets really sad about this.
- If X-Men Origins: Wolverine is to be believed, Wolverine is at least partially responsible for the Three Mile Island leak aka, one of the things that helped kill nuclear power, and the first major leak in American history. Granted, Deadpool could have stopped firing, but you've got to wonder what Wolvie was thinking causing his head to fall into the silo.
- There's also X2: X-Men United, as pointed out in this abridged script, when Stryker first makes Xavier use the other Cerebro to try to kill all mutants in the world (of which there are hundreds of millions). We are shown the X-Men writhing in pain. Then Magneto comes and rewires Cerebro to kill humans instead. All 6 billion of them. While Xavier is stopped a few minutes later, this means that for several minutes, every human in the world (including pilots, surgeons, high-rise construction workers, etc.) were immobilized with pain. Guess what, no collateral damage is mentioned. However, given that the president seems about to do something drastic with regards to mutants before Xavier stops him, there may, in fact, have been tremendous damage.
- Independence Day initially looks like it's going to avert the trope with the considerable concern about the collateral damage which would be caused by staging a nuclear attack on one of the alien ships, but then plays it straight anyway in the climax:
- The destroyed battleship was directly over the Area 51 bunker when it was destroyed (from beneath and in the center), yet it goes flying to one side until it's completely clear before crashing into the desert. How convenient; if it had gone straight down, it would have buried the bunker entrance and trapped everyone inside.
- The mothership was destroyed with a nuclear warhead that apparently made its reactor explode. See that debris burning up in the skies? That's nuclear fallout irradiating the atmosphere of the entire hemisphere. There's also the issue of 18.4 quintillion tonnes of alien mothership rubble falling out of orbit...or not. If it stays up there then space is now an unusable cluttered junkyard. If it falls in big chunks it's the end of life on Earth. If it falls in small chunks the heat of friction as it burns up will likely render the Earth uninhabitable.
- All those giant spaceships were hanging over major cities and historical places all over the world, but when they crashed, they apparently all aimed for unpopulated countryside. Very considerate aliens, indeed.
- In the movie Fight Club, when the narrator confronts Tyler about his plot to destroy 11 skyscrapers in the downtown area, Tyler explains that it won't kill anybody, as the buildings will be empty at that time. No mention is made of the possibility that the collapsing buildings might damage surrounding areas. The shooting script of the movie also says that Tyler, being a polymath, carefully arranged the bombs in the buildings to make sure they collapse inward on themselves with minimal collateral damage, as in a controlled demolition.
- The book, on the other hand, had only one building, which would topple and crush the national history museum. However, Tyler, being a considerate and self-sustaining individual, made the bombs out of a mixture that he knew only occasionally worked, that he had never quite managed to get working properly. It failed.
- Alien: Resurrection ends with the good guys destroying the aliens on the research ship by crashing it into Earth's surface. We get a view from space as it crashes into what appears to be the east coast of either Africa or India, producing an enormous explosion that realistically would undoubtedly have killed millions... maybe more than a xenomorph infestation. In this case it is implied that Earth was already a devastated wasteland ("Earth. What a shithole."). Lampshaded on the DVD Commentary, as one of the special effects guys asks if we'll ever learn what part of the planet was sacrificed — as if in response the Special Edition edit of the film ends with Call and Ripley on Earth, overlooking a demolished Paris. This reinforces the 'shithole' comment. All of the buildings are still standing, just very decrepit and dirty.
- Played completely straight in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer with Galactus (a huge sentient cloud-thing several times the size of earth) being completely obliterated as he hovers above the planet, having a snack. This would at least strip away Earth's atmosphere with the shock wave or, far more likely, just disintegrate Earth entirely. But no, the Richards/Storm wedding goes off as planned.
- Batman may have "one rule" in The Dark Knight Saga, but he causes a lot of incidental destruction:
- Batman Begins:
- Pointed out by an exasperated Alfred after the Tumbler chase, in which Bruce causes a lot of structural damage across the city and smashing into police cars. Alfred calls him out on his recklessness and emphasizes that it was a miracle that no one was killed.
- Bruce's actions set off a chain reaction, leading to the complete destruction of the ninja-monastery he was training at. It's rather unrealistic to think everyone made it out alive, especially the shackled prisoners. The extra irony is that Bruce rebelled in the first place because he had been ordered to kill one of said criminals. Sure, he went out of his way to ensure that Ducard didn't die, but even that didn't turn out to be such a good idea. While Batman doesn't kill, Bruce did, and probably had to do it more than once while travelling the world.
- In The Dark Knight he was tremendously lucky that there was no one in any of those cars he blew up (we even see two kids playing in a car one row over), or that no shrapnel from the Batmobile's "intimidate" setting hit those vagrants, and that when he went barreling on a very large, fast, heavy motorbike-thing through a shopping centre all the people in his way were agile enough to leap out of it. What if they'd chanced to be disabled, or obese, or if they'd simply frozen in shock?
- In the third act of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman shoots at Bane's Tumblers with the Batwing. One could argue that he knew exactly how to disable them from when he had one, being Crazy-Prepared and all, he doesn't know what modifications Lucius and/or Bane did, and machine guns aren't exactly precision instruments. During the climactic chase, he's shown firing on Bane's men, and Deadly Dodging a missile into one of those same Tumblers. Then he fires on the truck carrying the bomb to stop it, which kills Talia, and several tall buildings explode while he tries to take the bomb out of the city, with the implication that he blew them up, killing anyone in them or near them. What does it take to get Batman to break his one rule? A nuclear bomb, apparently.
- Near the end of Deep Impact, the crew of the spaceship sent to knock the comet off of its collision course with the Earth (they failed to do this) essentially turns their ship into a missile and flies straight at the comet as its entering Earth's atmosphere. We are treated to a nice light show. In reality, this would be the equivalent of detonation a massive bomb in Earth's upper atmosphere.
- Amazingly, despite making liberal use of Hollywood Science, rival movie Armageddon averts this trope as it's used to explain why they can't just Nuke the Killer Asteroid. Played straight at the end however.
- In the 1980 adaptation of Flash Gordon, the moon is hurtling towards the Earth, causing natural catastrophes. Flash "saves" the world just in time, but... er... forget it.
- At the climax of the V for Vendetta, the Houses of Parliament are destroyed by a massive bomb on a tube train beneath them. An explosion of such size would devastate a wide area around it, but miraculously the thousands of be-masked V supporters watching the show from only a few metres away are completely unharmed, rather than being shredded by flying debris.
- The Ghostbusters movies play this trope both ways. It's averted between the two films:The death of the giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man rained splodge over most of the city (and its inhabitants, and cars) and resulted in the devastation and demolition of several buildings; by the beginning of the second film, the Ghostbusters had been bankrupted by the subsequent lawsuits. But then it's played straight elsewhere in the films - at no point in either of the films (or the 2009 video game) is it confirmed that anyone has died from an encounter with a ghost. Considering some of the things we've seen the ghosts do (such as ghost driving vehicles - poorly), human causalities were a very real possibility.
- In the Oceans Eleven remake, Danny's crew uses an electromagnetic device to shut off all electricity in Las Vegas for 30 seconds. Realistically, we should be looking at pacemakers going haywire, car crashes in the thousands, hospital equipment failing, and God help them if any planes were flying low over the city when it happened. Yet the sequels still only refer to them as thieves, not as the most successful and high-tech terrorists of all time. note
- The first movie. Very strange logic on the part of the army to take the Allspark into the middle of downtown Los Angeles when a horde or psychotic giant alien robots plus the good guys' jet fighter air support, was destined to converge on its location. The ensuing battle destroys a huge number of buildings and who knows how many innocent bystanders. But the situation was so desperate that it was the only option.
- Transformers: Dark Of The Moon: has Cybertron itself in the process of being teleported to Earth's orbit. Cybertron is a massive, metallic world much larger than Earth, yet no effects on the tides and earthquakes are mentioned. Especially considering that one of Megatron's plots in the Generation One cartoon was to bring Cybertron close to Earth specifically to cause said tidal waves and earthquakes, and then harvest the energy from them. The movie's novelization does in fact mention this as a concern. Gen 1 ended with Cybertron either in Earth's orbit or between Earth and Mars with no problems.
- Sentinel does mention the Space Bridge warps our laws of physics, though. Plus, they wouldn't care about damage to the Earth anyway, and the heroes were too busy trying to win the war to focus on that.
- It does kind of gloss over if there were any casualties in the taking over of Chicago.
- In Battlefield Earth, most of the aliens live inside a large artificial dome that was constructed over the city of Denver, along with thousands of human slaves and lots of old human buildings that have been repurposed for Psychlo rule. The heroes plan to shatter the dome to suffocate most of the Psychlos since many of them will not be wearing their protective masks; very little time is given to the incredible collateral damage of shattering foot-thick glass all over the tops of everyone, humans included.
- Blue Thunder pulls an interesting one in having the big aerial battle sequences occur over a major city (presumably Los Angeles). In the course of the battle, Misguided Missiles hit a Japanese barbecue shop and a skyscraper, and a jet aircraft is shot down. While the people in charge do express dismay over these events, nowhere is it implied that anyone got killed, and the news voiceover that closes the film seems more concerned with the fate of the helicopter than with the flaming debris raining down over the city.
- It was a Sunday, so the skyscraper was empty. And the F-16's velocity took it out to the sea where it crashed harmlessly.
- ...and King Kong didn't land on anyone when he fell off that skyscraper. In fairness, surely the first thing any sane person would do if they say a giant ape climbing the Empire State Building being attacked by fighters would be to get out of Dodge.
- Those airplanes didn't hit Kong with every bullet. They had to land somewhere.
- The 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still ends with Klaatu causing his ship to emit a massive EMP wave that shuts down all the GORT nanites. It also shuts down every piece of technology on the planet, even things that should not be affected by EMP, such as analog watches. This means millions dead in hospitals, planes falling out of the sky, no way to get food or water to starving masses, etc. And billions of dead silicon-based nanites covering the landscape. Good luck making use of that land. Yes, Klaatu mentions our way of life will have to change. He just didn't mention most of us would die, while he happily flies off home, mission complete.
- Star Trek:
- In the 2009 Star Trek film, the Big Bad is stopped from destroying Earth, while he was drilling a big hole into Earth's crust to reach the core in the San Francisco Bay. Everybody is happy, but there is still a big hole in the bay, which can lead to all sorts of bad things for San Francisco and Starfleet (whose HQ and academy are in the city). Additionally, the film fails to mention that Starfleet is now in a bad shape, thanks to the loss of the majority of the graduating class and 6 top-of-the-line starships. There is also the loss of one of the founding member worlds of the Federation. There is also the threat of another war with the Romulans. Good luck convincing people that Nero was not associated with the Empire.
- Another point is that the drill was stopped from drilling, but not from falling. Something this large falling down to Earth from this height would have quite an impact.
- In Star Trek: Into Darkness, the question of the militarization of Starfleet and destabilization of the galaxy due to the discussion of Vulcan is a major plot point. In the film's climax, a starship crashes into San Fran. Though we don't see any bodies, the ship plows through shedloads of clearly-occupied buildings.
- Iron Man 2 features more collateral damage than you can shake an explosion at, including a swarm of combat drones going amok among a crowd of people, and not a single bystander is shown with so much as a scratch. Even the test pilot being shown having his spine snapped (bloodlessly) is pointed out to have survived.
- Albeit by an individual of extremely dubious trustworthiness.
- Hulk went out of its way to show that no-one died during the Hulk's rampages.
- Averted in two fifties era giant monster movies, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and The Giant Behemoth. In both of these films, disposing of the titular monster's corpse is a major concern for the heroes because of an extremely virulent germ contained in the blood of the former and the overwhelming radioactivity of the latter preclude destruction with more conventional weapons, which would scatter pieces of the monsters' corpses thus contaminating a large area.
- Averted in The Avengers, but in a subtle way. While no bodies or civilian deaths are seen in the Final Battle, a news report afterwards shows a bunch of grieving people in front of wall covered in memorials for innocents killed by the Chitauri, and a senator demanding that the Avenger's pay for the massive amount of damage to the city..
- Leviathans are also shown crashing into buildings when killed, and the Avengers shut down the portal to prevent the nuclear explosion from coming back to Earth.
- Director Joss Whedon also didn't want any of the jets to fall off the Helicarrier when it is attacked. He commented that it would kill innocent people, and he didn't want viewers blaming the Avengers or SHIELD for that. Prior to take off workers are shown strapping the jets down, as the explanation for why they didn't fall off.
- Much of Iron Man 3 and Agentsof Shield is dedicated to showing the aftermath of "The Battle of New York," and what kind of effects of the death toll and the knowledge there are other lifeforms in the universe has on the world.
- In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the Terminator on the protagonists' side promises not to kill anyone. A readout on his display confirms that his minigun antics at the Cyberdyne facility resulted in no casualties, but even without hitting anyone directly, he could have easily accidentally killed multiple people thanks to exploding grenades, errant shards of glass etc. To explain this, he is shown taking his time aiming his weapon so that the police have time to run away, and being a robot does give you some precise aim.
- In the film Surrogates widespread use of robot avatars may justify a lack of casualties in a car pileup but at the end every surrogate, which 98% of people use, is forcefully shut down. We are told this caused no casualties, which is incredibly implausible when you think of all the pilots, drivers, surgeons and others who would have been interrupted in the course of vital tasks.
- The 2% who don't use surrogates live somewhere else. The people who do use surrogates merely stay in their rooms and never leave. So no one would be doing anything vital when the surrogates shut down.
- In Man of Steel: The climatic battle practically destroys half of Metropolis with probably hundreds of thousands of people dead. Yet the very last scene has the Daily Planet running again as though nothing happened. Also there was a fight that began in an empty field, before Superman dragged the fight into Smallville. So averted, but no one seems in a hurry to suggest that maybe some of the deaths could have been averted if Superman decided not to keep fighting in populated areas.
- Taken to ridiculous extreme in R.I.P.D.. In the final battle, the magic McGuffin used by the Big Bad causes mass destruction in Boston, including several buildings being ruined. And guess what, by the end of film the Muggle world still doesn't know the existence of R.I.P.D. and ghosts
- While not an explosion, the climax toe Fast Five entails a chase where two muscle cars are dragging a vault filled with 100 million dollars through the streets of Rio. As they weave and turn the vault naturally does a lot of collateral damage to property, including going through a bank window in the middle of the day. We even see a woman standing right in front of the bank in the cut before the vault hits it.
- Countless soft science fiction stories feature weapons that are said to vaporize a person shot with them. The effects of those weapons are always depicted as making the victim disappear without any effect on the surroundings, rather than creating a large steam explosion or disintegrating the planet in the case where the entire mass of the person is converted to energy. Say an adult male human masses 100 kilograms. His rest mass energy is equal to 8.98755179 × 10^18 joules, by the famous E=mc^2. This is equivalent to the energy released by combusting 2.15 gigatons of TNT, or equivalently, 2,150 megatons or 2,150,000 kilotons. Compare to Little Boy (the Hiroshima bomb) at 13 to 18 kilotons (they don't have an accurate estimate), and Fat Man (the Nagasaki bomb) at 21 kilotons. The largest nuclear bomb ever tested was Tsar Bomba, at 50 megatons (50,000 kilotons). The energy contained in our hypothetical human is therefore over 40 times larger than the largest nuke.
- Dealt with 'realistically' as part of the plot in Neal Asher's Polity novel Gridlinked. The interplanetary transport system, called a runcible, is sabotaged causing a single person to arrive at a planet as pure energy. The ensuing explosion and resultant environmental impact kills off the entire planetary colony.
- Commented upon in a BattleTech novel where a commander berates a subordinate about firing indiscriminately in a crowded city in order to get to him. So it was a simulator fight, but it was still reckless behavior. The novels nonetheless show plenty of instances of combat in an urban setting. The presumably resulting civilian casualties are rarely even mentioned in passing unless it's explicitly a plot point (like the Smoke Jaguars' orbital bombardment and resulting total destruction of Edo, which was in fact considered over the top by even their allies and a genuine war crime by most everybody else). The Jade Falcons repeat the orbital bombardment in the animated series, but it's explicitly stated that the city's population was evacuated prior to the bombardment. A sourcebook for the series goes into further detail, comparing the two incidents, and bringing up the question of what the Falcons did with the people afterwards.
- In BattleTech, it's considered a fact that if you fight in a city, there will be civilian casualties. However, this trope is played straight in that the fusion reactors that power Battlemechs, if ruptured, would spread radioactive productsnote over a decent radius, but cities are never rendered even temporarily irradiated from this happening despite centuries of warfare.
- Deconstructed and averted in Final Watch. As explained there is a fundamental difference between Mass Sleep spells used by the Light Ones and the Dark Ones. The Light version allows the victim a few moments of consciousness to put whatever he's doing to a halt and make himself comfortable. The Dark one simply knocks everybody out. After the Dark spell is used the characters enter the area of effect and register numerous crashed cars, starting fires and other unpleasantries.
- Averted in Honor Harrington: Mission of Honor. The destruction of space stations orbiting the Manticoran system worlds causes a great deal of collateral damage from debris striking the planets below, including the complete destruction of a city, and a treecat clan being wiped out.
- Averted in Mikhail Akhmanov's novel Invasion, where the destruction of the alien mothership's computer causes its autonomous modules to crash and explode, while they were suspended above Earth's major cities, destroying countless historical artifacts and killing millions of people. However, this is still viewed as a victory, as the aliens were planning on enslaving humanity. This also serves to drive humanity to the stars in the later novels of the series. In all fairness, though, 40 million people is still a little low, given that these modules were filled with Antimatter.
- Mostly played straight in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. The rocks are carefully guided to cause minimum casualties (in the hundreds or maybe thousands at most), and in fact many were aimed at completely unpopulated areas as a show of force. However, some were aimed near heavily populated areas and if they were intercepted they were knocked off their intended course and caused a lot more damage. In addition, the ones aimed at unpopulated areas? Some people decided to mock the aim of the Lunar residents and picnic in some of those places. A textbook example of Too Dumb to Live.
- In fairness, those "heavily populated areas" were next door to the military bases and spaceports the Moonies were trying to bomb in the first place, not the actual targets themselves. And only one or two are mentioned as having been knocked off course in such a manner. (They specifically avoided targeting the headquarters of the government they were revolting against, since it happened to be dangerously close to the Taj Mahal. Quite apart from the PR implications of destroying the Taj Mahal, it was the favorite building of the revolutionary prime minister.)
- In the Star Trek novel Beneath the Raptor’s Wing, several starships carrying antimatter explode in orbit over Andoria. The planet is fine, but characters do note that had the explosions been a certain degree more powerful, the atmosphere could have been stripped away.
- In the novel Nuklear Age, this is parodied to an extent; a Giant Enemy Crab rampages through the city, destroying entire buildings, but no one is harmed because everyone happens to be out on a lunch break. Later, when a city block is nuked, casualties are handwaved by the fact that the people of the city had already been sent off to work in warehouses and construction zones, to build an invasion fleet for their new hypnotic master; and, towards the end, the trope is subverted with a quite vivid description of casualties.
- Partly averted in Vladimir Vasilyev and Alexander Gromov's novel Antarctic-online, in which the titular continent inexplicably finds itself in Central Pacific, while the islands that used to occupy the area find themselves near the South Pole. While the novel largely focuses on the political consequences of a continent that nobody wants suddenly becoming prime real estate, there is plenty of talk about the ecological consequences, such as many coastal cities being flooded in the near future as the result of the melting Antarctic ice cap (this is handled, more or less, realistically - it's stated that the process will last for millennia given the sheer amount of ice). There are immediate effects, though, such as tidal waves hitting the coasts from the sudden shift, and the numerous Polynesian islands, stuck in the Antarctic Circle, to evacuate. The world's nations wish to blame somebody, and the blame falls on the newly-declared sovereign Antarctic nation. Many nations demand reparations from Antarctic representatives, even though the continental "jump" was not their fault.
Live Action TV
- In the season 4 finale of 24, a military-grade nuclear missile is intercepted and destroyed just above downtown LA seconds before it was to detonate. While this should have spread several kilos of plutonium across the city in a "dirty bomb" effect, nobody seems to be concerned about this aside from a Hand Wave about NEST cleaning up the scene. Although the plutonium would only be particularly dangerous if inhaled or eaten, as the alpha radiation it emits wouldn't penetrate your skin. There was some handwave about prevailing winds blowing it away from the city. This is however still much better than the bomb actually going off though.
- Plutonium itself is much less radioactive than its fission products, which would be produced by nuclear explosion.
- 24 largely averts this tropes otherwise. In Season 2, they have to fly a nuclear bomb out of LA to have it detonate elsewhere. The short and long term effects of it detonating in the Pacific Ocean and the desert are both discussed. The only real concern for the desert is the fallout, but the ocean has a whole mess of problems. The characters routinely state they can't shoot down aircraft over populated areas, as the debris would result in fatalities. In a possible nod to Season 4 above, in Season 6 they stop a suitcase nuke from going off but there is a radiation leak. It is contained quickly, but it's pointed out that there will still be consequences from it.
- In Power Rangers, the Monster of the Week's energy blasts regularly hit the Zords and they fall back and through a building. Nobody ever talks about the implications of that... The later dodge of many fights happening in an Abandoned Warehouse District is an inelegant solution to say the least.
- In the first season, a news reporter almost always assured us that amazingly, no one was seriously hurt in the day's monster rampage.
- This was lampshaded in an episode of Power Rangers S.P.D. (though not intentionally) with the line "Thank goodness no one was in that building!" The Ranger saying it really had no way of checking, too. In another episode, a Monster of the Week says "I hate empty buildings!" before smashing one (not, by the way, the more menacing line used in the trailer.)
- A Lampshade Hanging in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters: In one episode, the heroes kablooify the Monster of the Week, and then reduce an enemy Humongous Mecha to scrap, in the good ol' Power Rangers/Super Sentai tradition. ...Then, the next episode begins with them having to clean up the wreckage of the enemy robot. The same thing happens in Power Rangers S.P.D., where the B-Squad Rangers had to clean up debris after the A-Squad's mecha battle.
- An EMP problem ensued in an episode of the short-lived alien invasion drama Threshold, where an EMP is unleashed in Miami to keep an alien signal from spreading. They know that it will cause a panic and result in various damages. There are injuries from it and the leader is told that there are no casualties so far. Caffrey also points out that the simple truth is they have stop the alien signal from getting out, regardless of collateral damage.
- To the show's credit, they take another two steps. A minimum safe-distance is cleared around the device, so no one is killed by the EMP itself; and they make no planes (and presumably helicopters) are in the blast radius when it goes off.
- A less lethal example; A character smugly points out that anyone losing data because of the EMP have only themselves to blame for not backing up, completely ignoring the many perfectly responsible backup schemes that don't go as far as storing the backed up data somewhere outside of your city (and this is before cloud backup became a widespread option too).
- Flash Forward averts it in the pilot. When almost everybody on Earth falls asleep for two minutes, there aren't exactly exemptions for drivers, pilots, or train conductors. Invoked though later, as while they keep showing residual damage on skyscrapers, all the cars are dent-free and the streets show no lingering, unfixed damage. What a public works department the USA must have!
- Played straight in the series finale, however. The good guys manage to figure out that the next black out will happen within a couple of minutes. Authorities and media are alerted, and then we get a montage of the black out in which everyone seems prepared and dramatic casualties appear to have been avoided. Except that two minutes are a rather shitty forewarning for such a global event. It's better than nothing but not much notice. Commercial planes have fly-by-wire. They can do the entire flight autonomously from taking off to landing without the need for human input. Air-line pilots right now are more observers then controllers.
- Doctor Who has plenty examples of this:
- In the Series 2 Christmas Special, Torchwood blows up the Sycorax's ship while it's still in atmosphere, with no ill effects, when just earlier, the ship's entry into the atmosphere shattered windows. This is justified because we see the beam pass by the Earth's moon before it strikes the ship. So, we should be able to assume the ship is more than 300,000km away from the planet. Earth's atmosphere stops at around 10,000km for all practical purposes, and then, there aren't many particles in the exosphere. Yes, parts of the ship reach the Mesosphere, burning like meteors into ash. Really, the explosion shouldn't have been that large on screen.
- In The Poison Sky, the Doctor sets the ENTIRE ATMOSPHERE of earth ablaze to eliminate all the poisonous gas the Sontarans have released, and nothing even gets SINGED.
- Defied in The Next Doctor, where after defeating the local 50 Foot Whatever, the Doctor makes sure to teleport it away before it falls over and crushes London. Along with why the event isn't recorded in history (the story being set in Victorian times), is justified in a later episode by the whole event being sucked into a crack in time.
- In "The Rings of Akhaten" the day is saved by the destruction of a "parasite sun". Fans have pointed out that this left nothing for the seven planets to orbit, nor any energy source for them. Oops.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures is subject to this, notably when the Moon had a closer orbit to Earth, an asteroid was within probably a few hundred kilometres of the surface, and all power everywhere was removed for a few minutes. No widespread damage or visible deaths. In series 4, after almost all humans were briefly taken away, Clyde and Rani noticed that the streets were surprisingly clean and un-wrecked.
- In Stargate Atlantis, huge sections of Atlantis are regularly demolished by alien invaders, natural disasters and our heroes - yet this seems to have very little overall impact on the city as a whole and the population, which appears to stay remarkably steady in numbers. Although the latter could be explained after contact is re-established with Earth as new personnel arriving to fill the gaps. Still, all in all, Atlantis is a gigantic city with some self-repairing ability. Over 90% of it is uninhabited; the expedition (numbering a couple thousand at most) stays almost exclusively in the central tower, while the Athosians live in colonies on the mainland.
- In "Adrift", a huge section of the city is taken out by an asteroid - Sheppard and Zelenka have to hop it in zero-g. No mention is never made of the missing chunk again, nor can it be seen in the establishing shots.
- Mercilessly averted in Battlestar Galactica: The opening credits feature a survivor count reminding you how every incident be it big or small in the previous episode is slowly chipping away at what's left of the Human race.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, in which the moon falls close enough to the planet for the Humongous Mecha-sized Four Giants to catch it, and is later disintegrated, all without harm to the surrounding area. The scenes with the moon in the atmosphere make the moon look a lot smaller than it does in the sky...
- Averted when it does hit - rather than just crushing the city like it might do, it catches fire in the low atmosphere and causes a planet-wide flaming shockwave that kills all living creatures. It also fucks up the earth's gravity fairly dramatically.
- And when it disintegrates... well, you can't have the moon suddenly disintegrate without massive changes to the planet's inhabitants' way of life.
- Although... Termina doesn't have lunar tides in the first place. You can wait at the ocean all three days and the level never changes. And the moon disintegrated? Maybe it was being teleported back up.
- Termina's moon is actually fairly small, only about the size of Clock Town (as you can see in the ending scenes, or by using cheats to fly up to it earlier on). It is also a lot closer than you think, and is "falling" very slowly. Probably not big enough to make much of a difference as far as tides are concerned, although at the speed that it's falling it shouldn't be catching on fire in the atmosphere or making much of an impact on collision (aside from crushing Clock Town). Let's just say Majora did it.
- Averted in Chrono Trigger. Near the end of the game, when Lavos goes out of control, the entire floating continent Zeal which used him as a power source crashes down to earth, bringing significant climactic change and death along with it.
- Notably Averted in City of Heroes. The Rikti invasion included an enormous mother ship that hovered over Paragon City. When it was eventually defeated by a huge gathering of heroes (many of which died in the battle), the ship crashed into a section of the city now known as the "Rikti Crash Site," which is walled off from the rest of the town and considered extremely dangerous for all but the most powerful and experienced heroes. It's also a quite sizable game map of what one would expect a cityscape to look like after a gigantic alien battleship fell on it.
- The back-story indicates that the heroes saw the damage they were doing when they took down the ships, so they then started tossing them into the ocean instead, which is why there's even a city left standing at all.
- Pick a cinematic attack in the game Touhou Soccer 2. There's no way the audience could have survived this. Rising Game starts with the world blowing up. And then Sakuya and Eirin send knives and arrows flying in every direction. If the explosion didn't kill the audience, all those pointy implements would've skewered them! ZUN is expectedly obtuse on the matter, and interpretations range from it being only dangerous to the intended target, only dangerous to people and not the surroundings (Perfect Memento mentions that while danmaku duels are pretty, a safe distance is advised), to potentially damaging everything it impacts but most people and things in Gensoukyou are resilient enough to avoid lasting damage.
- One between-levels cutscene in Afterburner Climax passes you orders to hunt down a nuke-bearing bomber, and explicitly tells you not to worry about the "sympathetic detonation" of the nuclear device.
- Averted (slightly) at the end of the Ghirlandaio mission in Valkyria Chronicles. The explosion that Selvaria causes is explicitly stated to have vaporized the entire army and demolished the fortress, but this has no impact on the player or Squad 7 because the army is painted as an unsympathetic hindrance to the militia.
- By that point, most of the Imperial army was defeated so the militia can handle their remnants. And if the Universal Conscription is anything to go by, I'm guessing that the bulk of Gallia's military might is in their militia anyway, which explains why the regular army doesn't get anywhere much while the militia does the heavy lifting.
- Explicitly lampshade-hung in Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception, where it's noted that the raining debris from the Gleipnir somehow never caused any casualties. As if in acknowledgement of this trope, however, earlier on we had Crux pleading for the Gleipnir Captain not to crash the airborne fortress into Santa Elva.
- The last mission of Ace Combat 5 involves shooting down a satellite aimed to fall on the Osean capital city, and explicitly carrying a nuclear bomb. It explodes less than twenty miles off the coast, and rains debris over the city. No indication of any damage is given.
- Air Force Delta Strike sends the squadron to destroy a space elevator located in the center of a city, then in the immediate next mission, you have to destroy the falling debris to prevent the Endor Holocaust
- Averted in EVE Online: The Empyrean Age. The falling wreckage from the Minmatar and Amarr fleets fighting over Mekhios were more destructive than any orbital bombardment could have been.
- Averted in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. When the second nuke goes off, Starfish Prime style, the ensuing EMP blast over D.C. knocks out aerial vehicles (despite their military grade electronics shielding), sending them crashing to the ground and killing fellow soldiers, as well as disabling the power grid on most of the east coast and destroying the International Space Station.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, the Lunar Cry causes monsters to rain down from the Moon. The last time this happened, it destroyed the Centra civilization and reduced most of a continent to a crater (plainly visible on the World Map). When it happens in the game, it even tints Esthar's sky red and infests the country-sized city with incredibly strong monsters. It is implied that despite the damage of the monster assault, the Estharian military is able to contain the situation because they were prepared for it. So it makes sense they had plans for next lunar cry.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, the ending has Cocoon falling towards Pulse, only to be saved by Ragnarok forming a giant crystal pillar to stop the fall. Logically, a very large portion of Cocoon's population should be dead (if nothing else, because the fal'Cie providing artificial gravity to the inside of the Hollow World were gone, to the detriment of the people on the upper half of the inner surface who are now subjected to the planet's gravity,) but the ending implies that there was No Endor Holocaust.
- Actually, it's mentioned in Final Fantasy XIII-2 that a lot of people were, in fact, killed. One sidequest in the game has you picking winter flowers for man to give to his young niece, who died in the fall.
- In Mass Effect 2, a gunnery sergeant is shouting down at his troops that if you fire a gun in space that projectile keeps on going and will eventually hit something. When using a weapon that strikes with the impact of a city-buster, this is a very bad thing, so under no circumstances are you to "eyeball" it.
Sergeant: "It keeps going until it hits something! That can be the ship, or the planet behind the ship! It may keep going into deep space, and hit someone else in ten thousand years! If you pull the trigger on this, you are ruining somebody's day, somewhere and sometime!"
- Sovereign's destruction at the end of the first game seemed to play this straight, except for the one piece that landed on the Citadel Tower. The sequel (set two years later) reveals that at least tens of thousands were killed by falling debris, and they're still clearing out debris and making repairs and are expected to continue for at least five years (five years more or five in total, it isn't clear). From the destruction of one ship; it was a big ship.
- Subverted in Arrival. To stop an imminent Reaper invasion, Shepard is reluctantly forced to cause the destruction of a Mass Relay, wiping out a solar system filled with 300,000 Batarians.
- In Mass Effect 3, the extended cut ending makes it clear that the Normandy's crew survived their crash, the mass relays were repaired and therefore averted the stranding of millions of aliens on Earth, and that galactic civilization rebuilt itself, possibly with the help of the repurposed, Shepard-controlled Reapers. The original ending before the extended cut involved exploding mass relays, some of which were located in rather populated solar systems, including our Earth's solar system. Add to that that an exploding relay would, according to the aforementioned Arrival DLC, destroy a solar system, and you might realize that humanity would have become a lot rarer. The extended cut, however, changed it into the relays simply falling apart, causing a LOT less damage. Compare Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies.
- Averted by the "destroy" extended ending with low preparation and EMS, which can be summed up as a galaxy wide extinction event for organic and synthetic life above microbes, whether involved in the war or not. There are bare few survivors and the narrator doesn't express much hope for their future.
- Despite the series already having a major metropolitan area and a military island base among its human casualties, and despite Shadow the Hedgehog being a Darker and Edgier spinoff, the game makes note that all civilians evacuated the capital city before it was destroyed by a giant space laser or overrun with alien forces. A slightly more justifiable example from the same game occurs during the final boss, where the heroic NPCs comment that they were able to escape the aliens' comet/organic spaceship, freeing the protagonist to not worry about destroying the thing.
- Sonic Unleashed is horrible about this, considering in the opening cutscene Eggman kind of, you know, cracks open the planet and no-one even considers the extremely high probability that he just slaughtered billions of people.
- The original Sonic Adventure is also guilty of this. Perfect Chaos assembles in the middle of Station Square, taking the city's populace by surprise. The cinematic before the fight clearly shows streets bursting into rubble as water erupts from beneath, and buildings being blown apart from within by flooding. When he's finished, the city is completely destroyed and flooded by hundreds of feet of water, and yet people are heard cheering Sonic on as he prepares to battle despite no one being visible.
- In Final Fantasy X, when you first fight Sin, you're treated to a couple cutscenes showing you exactly what you're about to fight. The attack shown is strong enough to pull the moon, and absolutely tear up the geography, leaving behind a series of tunnels and canyons filled with fire and rubble. After you beat Sin, you can go and visit the rest of Spira, and at no point did you see any collateral damage. Considering what happened at Djose, you'd think that thousands of people had died in those blasts. Nope. All the places are intact, and no one mentions dying in the attacks.
- Invoked in the Calm Lands, where battles are staged specifically to avoid collateral damage.
- It is mentioned in Final Fantasy X-2 that Sin fell on Bevelle during the final battle and did cause some damage to the lower districts, all of which seems to have been repaired in the two years between the two games.
- Averted in Mega Man X. The post-X5 games show that, if anything, the collateral damage caused by the pieces of Eurasia falling to Earth was even worse than what the damage would have been if simply the colony itself fell.
- The ending of Freespace is, while bittersweet, is still treated as a triumph, but let's look at what actually happened. Yes, the human and Vasudan colonies have survived, as shown by the Expansion Pack and the sequel, and have even prospered. But what about Earth? It has been cut off from the rest of the galaxy, meaning it's probably overpopulated, low on resources, and just had lost the ability to trade with other worlds, meaning planetary economy will be in ruins. Neither the Expansion Pack nor the sequel show what happens to Earth after the collapse of the wormhole. If Freespace 3 is ever made, it should be about pissed off descendants coming back into the galactic community to "thank" everybody for cutting off their only link to the rest of the galaxy.
- Yes, Earth was saved from being turned into an uninhabitable wasteland by the Lucifer, no one had any idea that blowing up a giant ship in subspace would destroy the subspace node it was done in and the ones who did it were stuck on the Earth side of the node, but humans tend to have short memory for good things and long memory for bad. The descendants will definitely blame their colonies and will probably think they caused this intentionally to gain independence. Assuming there are technologically proficient survivorsnote .
- This is addressed by numerous fan-made sequels, which often feature a war breaking out when the GTVA repairs the node and re-opens passage to Earth. There are also some fan-made stories taking place within the Sol system after the cutoff, generally showing the fragmentation of society, civil wars, and (usually) eventual reunification under a new government. None of this is actually canon.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, in May of 2011 a skeletal version of the Death Star was being built to destroy Valhalla (the afterlife). The player base eventually blew it up. This trope was very much not in effect.note .
- The second act of Warzone 2100's singleplayer campaign appears to dodge this one at first, as it takes place in the ruins of a city that had a nuclear warhead dropped on it. Then comes a mission where you have to prevent the opposing faction flying a large number of civilians out of the area. The realisation that those half-wrecked apartment buildings (which some players had probably shot at just to see the rather cool collapse animation) might have had people inside them made this mission something of a Wham Episode.
- Occurs in the Asura's Wrath demo. Physical God Wyzen assumes a form that is apparently larger than the planet the game is set on and attempts to crush Asura with a mountain-sized index finger, but he is destroyed. The following cutscene shows even larger explosion that should have shattered the planet as well. The gravitational effects of having such a vast entity suddenly materialize just outside the atmosphere are also absent.
- Asura's Wrath proper never lets the collateral damage hit anywhere near the scale it actually would. Yes, we're shown that humans have become slavishly loyal to The Seven Deities to the detriment of society and that the Ghoma burn villages left and right. However, the greater ecological effects, such as Wyzen's transformation, the Brahmastra's laser, or even Vlitra (an eight-headed snake growing out from the planet's core), are never addressed. By all accounts, Earth should have been space dust aeons ago.
- ''Final Fantasy IV features a couple instances of No Endor Holocaust. The Tower of Zot, a huge flying structure that falls apart moments after you leave it, never crashes anywhere. The Tower of Babil is perfectly fine (and is totally structurally intact, according to the sequels) after the Giant of Babil seemingly walks out of it. Similarly, in the sequels, there are almost no changes to the world map (not even changes to local climates, tides, or sea lanes) after one of the planet's moons flies off into deep space, never to return.
- Certain developments in Final Fantasy IV The After Years lead many players to assume that the planets on which the other Final Fantasy games take place were blown up as "failed experiments" by God, who is actually a Sufficiently Advanced Alien Evilutionary Biologist. Word of God assures us this did not happen.
- Occurs in Saints Row The Third, when STAG brings in a giant flying aircraft carrier to bomb Steelport. It eventually gets blown up, but the city miraculously does not get flattened by the falling debris.
- Averted with an earlier cargo plane the player infiltrates and brings down, however - it crashes into canisters carrying a zombie-creating virus from the previous game's DLC, and for the rest of the game the only people you find in that specific part of the city are zombies.
- The last act of Xenoblade has players witness no less than The Bionis and Mechonis, the Humongous Mecha/continents the game's characters live on, coming to life and engaging in mortal combat. No one is shown dying or being injured, even though the simple act of the Bionis moving its leg should have ended at least 3 civilizations.
- In Max Payne 3, the title character at one point is in a favela in Sao Paulo, where he comes across a drug lab belonging to a gang that is out to kill him. He decides to destroy the lab by setting fire to it using fireworks and explosives that also happen to be inside. Thing is, this being a favela where shoddily-built buildings are tightly packed together, the fire should have spread uncontrollably and destroyed a huge number of homes, but none of this appears to happen as the fire is contained only in that building.
- In Halo: Reach, Magnetic Accelerator Weapons are twice fired at targets not far off the ground, destroying them neatly. In the books, MACs are described as so powerful that they fire at 0.04% the speed of light and are used only in space because firing one at a planet would cause ecological disaster on the scale of the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. The seemingly careless use of them near the ground in Halo: Reach is lampshaded by one character, who expresses surprise that they're being used in-atmosphere. His commander's remark "One way to get [the Covenant]'s attention" suggests it's because they've passed the Godzilla Threshold. The general consensus among fans is that the MAC firings seen were fired at a slower speed to reduce their collateral damage.
- Also occurs in Halo Wars, where Captain Cutter's special ability is to fire MAC rounds from orbit to ground targets. Once again, no collateral damage.
- Apparently the [[The Mercury Men Mercury Men]] universe never heard of the Roche Limit; the Moon gets so close to the Earth that it's affecting the cloud cover. Possibly justified however, as we don't really know how the Gravity Engine works.
- How It Should Have Ended's take on Star Wars: A New Hope involved Grand Moff Tarkin deciding to expedite victory and destroy the planet around which the rebel base was in orbit. The base remains intact.
- For a look at what happens in these instances in real life, one need look no further than the tragedy of 9/11/01, in which the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, "merely" two buildings, not only resulted in about 2900 deaths, but spread dust and debris across the entirety of Lower Manhattan and caused significant damage to other nearby buildings, including 7 World Trade Center and the Bankers Trust building (which didn't collapse on its own, but had to be demolished later).
- Self-proclaimed "alternate historians" who advocate the hypothesis of a global diaspora from Atlantis are quick to invoke this trope, if asked how such an ancient sea-spanning trade empire managed to avoid spreading hundreds of virulent epidemic diseases and invasive species across the globe, along with their pyramid-building techniques.
- New WMD technologies and anything else involving large explosions or forays into the fundamental forces of the universe are often accompanied by a group of die-hard doomsday prophets proclaiming that this New Thing will definitely bring The End of the World as We Know It. So far, no device has lived up to this expectation.
- For instance, it was hypothesized that travelling at over forty mph (this was back when trains were just being introduced) would cause fatal brain haemorrhages. Another gem was the belief that the A-bomb would cause all the nitrogen in the atmosphere to fuse, killing everyone and everything on Earth. Some have espoused the belief that the Large Hadron Collider would produce microscopic black holes that would swallow the Earth.note
- It's just as well that the prevailing winds were not blowing when Chernobyl exploded. If they had been, the radiation would have blown south over Kiev, making that city uninhabitable. Although the explosion ruined large swathes of Belarusian and Ukrainian countryside, caused the abandonment of one town, Pripyat, and has caused cancer in many people, the city escaped largely unharmed.
- Many contemporary and not-so-contemporary sources have stated that the 1666 Great Fire of London, an infamous disaster which leveled about 90% of the city and even managed to purge it from the last great plague epidemic, killed no more than eight to twenty people, in total. Some have attributed to things such as Stuart-era London's above-average fire alert system, but even then, this death toll seems to be an extraordinarily generous Understatement for a Renaissance city of 80,000.
- A recent discussion on a professional military historians' bulletin board tried to ascertain the existence of any statistics for civilians deaths caused by bullets, shrapnel, and aircraft parts falling out of the sky during a dogfight. While no contributor could answer the question, many observed that the Japanese and Germans used to collect aluminum from crashed aircraft and steel splinters from flak shells for recycling. The Americans used drop tanks (external fuel tanks for extra range that could be jettisoned before combat to increase maneuverability) made out of paper after they realized the Germans were collecting the original metal tanks to ease their shortages.
- There have been numerous incidents in which people on the ground have been killed or injured when a plane crashes on them (this does not include purposely kamikaze or terrorist crashes, just accidental malfunctions and CFOT incidents).