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Pluto Is Expendable
…and while they were arguing, the Borg came and ate it.

"What is this, a model of Pluto? That planet doesn't even exist anymore, you moron!"
Dr. Doofenshmirtz, Phineas and Ferb

Pluto has become the Butt Monkey of the solar system. Want to get someone's attention? Show that things are serious? That a villain can put his money where his mouth is? Screw the status quo! This time, change is happening, and it's something big! Something cosmic! Something on a large-scale level that would shock the world if it happened in Real Life! A change that will alter the universe! ... Er, well, at least the galaxy... The solar system?

What do you mean Reed Richards Is Useless? What can we alter about the universe that would be a big deal without being a big deal? It's not like we can blow up a planet...

Wait! What about one of those planets floating around the edge of the solar system? That insignificant, dark, icy one with one giant and four minuscule satellites — no one will miss that. It wasn't even important enough to be called a real planet. What was its name again?

Never mind. Let's blow it up!

The reason Pluto was downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet is based on the 2006 formalization of the definition (which itself sparked a lot of still-ongoing controversy and criticism, both within and without the astronomical community, for several reasons that include and go beyond Pluto's reclassification, so beware Internet Backdraft). To qualify, an astronomical body has to have four characteristics: (1) It's in orbit around a star or stellar remnant; (2) it's big enough to be spherical from its own gravity; (3) it's not too big that thermonuclear fusion has begun (in other words, it's not a star); and (4) it has cleared its orbit of all similar-sized objects. Pluto fails the fourth criterion as it is very similar in size, composition, and orbit to hundreds of other objects in a region of space called the Kuiper Belt. Ironically, Pluto is still one of the most valuable objects for exploration, since it's the closest Kuiper Belt object and can provide science with information about the solar system's formation. So much so, New Horizons is on its way to explore the planetoid.

See also Throwaway Country. Not to be confused with Mickey's dog. We hope.

Compare Uranus Is Showing for another planet that's... a different kind of Butt Monkey.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Sailor Moon: Pluto hasn't exactly had the most comfortable career as a Sailor; it gets lonely guarding the Gates of Time after a few centuries. Pluto's demotion as a planet became a joke among the Sailor Moon fandom. Ironically, the original manga had a Sailor Ceres among a group of asteroid based Sailors. Like Pluto, Ceres is now considered a dwarf planet (see the Real Life section).
  • In Getter Robo Armageddon, when a Negative Space Wedgie gets formed in the final moments of the series, Pluto naturally gets sucked in. This is right after the Getters had just destroyed Jupiter and three of its moons with THE Getter Tomahawk.
  • Averted in Star Blazers/Space Battleship Yamato. When the crew discovers an enemy base on Pluto, they consider using the Wave Motion Gun on it, but the captain vetoes use of the superweapon because Pluto harbors primitive native organisms which the heroes have no right to destroy. Later in the series, the evil Comet Empire shows off its muscle by destroying the Moon.
  • Subverted in Hellstar Remina, as the titular Planet Eater Cosmic Horror may eat it first, but then proceeds in a few weeks to eat every other planet in turn (including Jupiter, despite it being much larger than Remina), from outermost to innermost… And then it gets to Earth…
  • In Dragonaut: The Resonance Pluto is destroyed when the Eldritch Abomination Thanotos plows right through it on it's way to Earth.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Our Worlds At War DC Comics miniseries, Brainiac manages to take over Pluto, hollow it out, and turn it into a brand new Warworld. All without being noticed by the many and various interstellar agencies on Earth, Darkseid and his lieutenants on Apokolips (somehow relocated to the same solar system by Darkseid's badassery), or Imperiex and his many many miniaturized forms. It apparently stays that way until the 31st century, becoming a plot-point in Legion of Super-Heroes. Although there's been a Crisis Crossover since then, and that version of the Legion isn't the main future any more, so it's probably been quietly forgotten.
  • In DC One Million, many of the planets in the solar system have been converted into pleasant living spaces. Pluto, on the other hand, is a maximum-security asylum for the solar system's worst criminals, overseen by the 853rd century's version of Batman.
  • In the 2008 Virgin Comics revival of the classic 1950s British space hero Dan Dare, written by Garth Ennis, Pluto is destroyed by a "tamed" black hole controlled by Dare's nemesis, the Mekon. Since the series takes place in the "present" of Dan Dare's retroactive alternate history timeline, the destruction may have been a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Pluto's demotion to dwarf planet status in 2006.

    Film 
  • During the climatic caper of Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, the team uses planets in the solar system as their callsigns. Benji, the local Butt Monkey, ends up as Pluto.
  • In Chicken Little, if you look very closely at the aliens' map of the Solar System, Pluto appears to be the first to be crossed out. The movie was released just one year before Pluto's demotion.

    Literature 
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Before Dishonor: The Borg eat it. This "settles the debate," which had gone back and forth three or four times in the last four hundred years.
    • And, from Peter David's earlier novel Imzadi, discussing a high powered ground-to-air weapon:
    "Model I blew up during field testing and destroyed half of Pluto. No one cared—it was a boring planet anyway...I'm kidding, Lieutenant."
  • Averted in the novelization of Red Dwarf. Humanity decides to turn one of the nine planets into a gigantic rubbish dump, with a Eurovision Song Contest style contest deciding the loser. It comes down to a fight between Earth and Pluto. Earth loses, and becomes a literal Crapsack World.
  • In Larry Niven's book World Of Ptaavs, Pluto is set on fire by a spaceship's exhaust flame.
  • In Roger MacBride Allen's The Ring of Charon Pluto is used to create a wormhole to a multisystem to which the Earth was abducted.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Luna Lovegood fights Death Eaters in a room containing models of several planets. She then uses a Reductor Curse to blow up the model of Pluto as a distraction.
  • Turns out there's an alien prison inside Pluto in Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit – Will Travel.
  • In Perry Rhodan universe Pluto got destroyed in 3438 as collateral damage in the final showdown of the series' The Cappins story arc. (One of the more classic examples — when that issue was printed and sold, nobody had the slightest clue yet that Pluto's status as a planet would be called into question over thirty years later.)
  • Averted in H.P. Lovecraft's works, as Pluto -also known as Yuggoth- is an outpost of the powerful and devious Mi-Go.
  • Averted in a young adult novel titled No Passengers Beyond This Point in which a little girl views Pluto's demotion as representative of things being unstable and shifting - she's clearly psychologically bugged by it.

    Live Action TV 
  • When Jessie is carrying Emma's model of the solar system (her science fair project), she trips and Pluto falls off. During the judging of the science fair Emma wins, because the judges like that she remembered that Pluto is no longer a planet.
  • In the final season of Lexx, Stanley has the Lexx blow up Pluto, largely because it has been over a season since they've blown up any planets, and Lexx is getting antsy. They make a game out of it with Stanley having the Lexx 'snipe' Pluto while near Earth; it doesn't require a full-power shot.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • Neil deGrasse Tyson actually appeared as himself in one episode, where Rodney McKay proceeded to make fun of him.
      McKay: Hey at least I didn't de-classify Pluto from planet status. Way to make all the little kids cry, Neil, that make you feel like a big man?
    • Likewise, Dr. Tyson appears in The Big Bang Theory.
    Sheldon: I like Pluto, therefore, I don't like you.
  • "Did you hear about Pluto? That's messed up!"-Burton "Gus" Guster, Psych.
  • Averted (staggeringly) in the Doctor Who episode The Sun Makers, in which the last of humanity in a resource-stripped Solar System are relocated to Pluto, which now has six artificial suns. In the episode's defense, it was broadcast less than ten months before the discovery of Pluto's moon Charon, which revealed how ridiculously small Pluto really was. No excuse for the atrocious grasp of Newtonian mechanics, however.

    Music 
  • Nellie McKay sings "As far as I'm concerned, Pluto's still a planet" in "Identity Theft", an ode to nonconformity, from the Obligatory Villagers CD.
  • Aesop Rock's "Bring Back Pluto" uses this as its central inspiration.
  • The song "I'm Your Moon" by Jonathan Coulton is about this trope in general (and the declassification specifically), from the viewpoint of Pluto's moon Charon. The idea is if Pluto can't be a planet, then Charon and Pluto can just be moons of each other forever... turning the whole thing into a sweet (if bizarre) Love Song.
  • The astronomers' decision not to consider Pluto a planet is one more reason to disregard Colin Matthews's irreverent appendix to Gustav Holst's The Planets.

     Newspaper Comics 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Referenced by Scion when talking about old Hades/Pluto. Hades isn't a happy camper at the downsize of the planet that uses his name.

    Video Games 
  • In Super Robot Wars W, Pluto has become all but forgotten (foreshadowed in a scene in which Boss can't even remember it's name), until it's revealed that the Big Bad's base is there. To make matters worse, one of the penultimate boss' attacks features it skewering the victim so hard they go through the planet and out the other side.
  • Though you can find our solar system in Spore, Pluto isn't part of it.
  • In the final battle of Final Fantasy VII (English localization only), among the many planets destroyed in Sephiroth's ridiculously long attack, Supernova, Pluto is the first.
  • Averted in Mass Effect. It turns out Pluto's moon was really a Mass Relay making Pluto the Sol's system's main space port and first line of defense. Also, as a side effect of defrosting Charon, Pluto's orbit was circularized - that wasn't enough to give Pluto back "planet" status, though.
  • Guess what goes kaboom at the end of Starsiege?
  • In Super Scribblenauts, you get the "Astronomer" merit if you "decorate the sky with every planet in the solar system". Pluto does not count toward this.
  • In My Sims Agents, some of the planets are represented by decorative objects. Part of the description for Pluto says something like "(Well, some of us still believe it's a planet...)"
  • In TAGAP's upcoming third episode, Pluto's declassification from "planet" to "dwarf planet" really angers its inhabitants. They are preparing an invasion. Did I mention that they are Funky Green Penguins?
  • Ninth Rock kicks off with Spencer learning that Pluto has been demoted due to its small size, so he decides to sneak into MASA and find a way to make it bigger.
  • One of the story books in Puppeteer has Pluto lamenting it's not a planet anymore when the Sun Princess visits the furthest planets.
  • Averted in Battlezone 2. The base you are flying to investigate, and where a third of the game takes place, is on Pluto.

    Web Animation 
  • This episode of On The Moon.
  • In a story from wwwchargesdotcomdotbr in 2006, a man woke up from a four-year coma and his daughter was updating him on pieces of bad news. In the end, he said it was okay because his zodiac sign was ruled by Pluto. She was then thinking about how to explain another bad news.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Chester A. Bum blows up Pluto with nukes in an installment of Atop the Fourth Wall, just to get The Nostalgia Critic to take him seriously. The Critic is unimpressed. (He got more reaction from blowing up Hollywood, Rome and France.) This happened during a "Previously on Atop the Fourth Wall" segment, meaning that the above didn't really happen in the That Guy with the Glasses universe. Also when he reviews Sailor Moon, he points out this trope and then proceeds to shoot poor Sailor Pluto.
  • In a crossover video between Freddie Wong and Epic Meal Time, one of the things they add to the shot is some planets in the sky. When Pluto pops up, Freddie says "Pluto ain't a planet! Get that outta there!"

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: An alien Evil Overlord blows it up in a demonstration of what he'll do to Earth if he doesn't get his daughter back. And then the Voices of Alien X argue about its status as a (dwarf) planet. And more importantly it's never rebuilt.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Doofenshmirtz enters the science fair and ridicules a boy who is entering a model of Pluto (see the quote at the top of the page). The boy's older brother then gives Doofenshmirtz a shiner.
  • The Fairly OddParents: The president has a button that blows up "the planet" in case he became inexplicably evil. By the end of the episode, Cosmo pushes the button just because he can. Cue Pluto's destruction.
    Cosmo: "He said THE planet, he didn't say which one."
    Timmy: "Who cares? It's Pluto."
    Wanda and Cosmo: Hey! That's not nice!"
    Cosmo: That's where I keep my corn!"
  • Futurama: Dark matter spill in a penguin sanctuary in Pluto.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): Michelangelo eats Pluto. Or the doughnut representing Pluto in Donatello's diagram, at least.
    Mikey (munching): What? It's Pluto. Who cares about Pluto?
  • In Mission Hill, Gus and Wally made a B-grade sci-fi movie in The Fifties about a man from Pluto coming to Earth to get revenge for his planet being blown up.
  • In an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Blue Beetle fights the Planet Master, who uses various powers thematically linked to the planets of our Solar System, including the "cold of Pluto". Blue Beetle protests that Pluto isn't considered a planet anymore. Planet Master's response?
    "INSOLENCE!"
  • An episode of The Replacements has the family playing a mini golf course, where they must hit the ball past some obstacles, among them a rotating windmill of planets that block a hole. Mr. Daring puts his ball which gets deflected by one of the planets. Riley then tells him it was deflected by Pluto, to which he retorts that it is not even a real planet anymore.
  • An episode of Quack Pack was actually about Donald Duck becoming planet-sized and smashing Pluto to pieces because that's where his nephews (all pretending to be superheroes) are hiding. Also, a brief cameo of the ''other'' Pluto for extra bonus points.
  • In an episode of Smeshariki, resident Mad Scientist Losyash goes on a hunger strike after learning of Pluto's demotion. Seeing this, the Plutonians cancel their plans to attack Earth in retaliation.
  • Sidekick one episode suggested that Pluto as well as Uranus and Neptune were destroyed before, Eric mentions they only have 6 planets now when Saturn was destroyed by a laser.
  • This gets referenced in Metalocalypse when Pickles is guest-starring on a game show and is asked which celestial body is not longer considered a planet. Pickles, being extremely drunk, guesses the earth instead.
  • In "The Planet Name Game" on The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, the Cat, Nick and Sally travel into space and name the eight planets. Neither Pluto nor the controversy surrounding it are mentioned. Incidentally, this may be the first series of its type to touch the subject of naming the planets since the 2006 decision.
  • In Dogstar, Bob Santino blows up Pluto in order to demonstrate the power of the Santino Laser Cannon. He then offers r to blow up Mars so the sound will reach Earth sooner but is stopped from doing so by Fenwick.

    Real Life 
  • As noted in the intro, Pluto was delisted in 2006 by new standards (new in that before, there were no standards).
    • However, it's unlikely that Pluto would have been given full planet status in the first place if we'd known as much about the solar system as we do now; not only did we not know about the Kupier Belt at the time, but Pluto was initially thought to be considerably larger than it actually is.
    • Inverted with Ceres however. It too was made a dwarf planet (an upgrade from simply being a "large asteroid") because it is the only spherical object in the Asteroid Belt, as with Haumea, Makemake, and Eris since they were all discovered after Pluto was recognized.
      • Ceres was, however, considered a planet when it was first discovered in 1801. As scientists discovered more and more "planets" between Mars and Jupiter, the number of planets in the solar system rose to epic proportions. In the 1840s, Ceres and the rest of the tiny "planets" between Mars and Jupiter were demoted into a new category called "asteroids". And yes, the similarities to Pluto's demotion are obvious.
    • Pluto's reclassification has been averted in Illinois and New Mexico (The home state of the man who discovered Pluto), where the state legislatures have passed laws reclassifying Pluto as a planet. However, this has yet to occur in Arizona, where the discovery was made.
  • Many people and groups had delisted Pluto before the 2006 decision, most prominently the Hayden Planetarium when it reopened in a new building in 2000. Its director, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has since become a public spokesman in favor of Pluto's non-planethood due to that initial controversy- somewhat ironically and unwillingly since he's an astrophysicist, more concerned with the universe at large.
    • A more willing public face of the Pluto Perish movement is astronomer Mike Brown; not only is he actually a planetary astronomer, but he discovered Eris, the Kuiper belt object larger than Pluto that got it demoted in the first place. Brown takes a mildly ironic joy in his role in history; his Twitter handle is @Plutokiller and his autobiography is called "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming".
  • Due to the distance and size of Pluto, it can be destroyed with little more effect than a visible light in the sky. If we assume for simplicity that blowing up Pluto is inefficient enough that just as much energy goes into light, the energy that reaches the Earth would be roughly what we get from the sun in a fifth of a second. Destroying a true planet would most likely wipe out all life on any of the other planets. This is less about that Pluto is expendable as that it's small and far enough that we don't have to worry about being caught in the cross fire.


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