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Shattered World
Guys, when did we break off?
Illustration by Greg Martin. Used with permission.

In settings taking place on a planet, the planet is generally in one piece.

In a Shattered World, this is not the case.

Maybe magic or science has Gone Horribly Wrong, causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, or maybe something else bad has happened, but a former planet is now broken into small pieces, floating through space. If this trope is used as a setting, these pieces will usually have settlements of some sort on them (not to be confused with Asteroid Thickets, which are normally just obstacles).

Unlike a Floating Continent, a Shattered World isn't hovering over a planet.

If the pieces are somehow hovering in an atmosphere with gravity, that's World in the Sky.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Scrapped Princess: The land which the work take place on is actually a big landmass broken off from Earth by aliens.
  • KO Century 3 Beast Warriors takes place in a future where the Earth is split in half.
  • Dead Leaves was so named for the resemblance to the shattered moon in the sky, explicitly noted in the anime.
  • The Digital World in Digimon Frontier has had large chunks taken out of it by Digimon that were corrupted by Cherubimon, though the pieces that are still intact remain where they were. The Royal Knights arc sees the remaining areas destroyed until the Digital World is just so many floating bits of ground with railroad tracks running between them.

    Comic Books 
  • The Triceraton homeworld in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of these. After the planet exploded, the Triceratons converted the different chunks into Floating Continent spaceships, which now comprise the backbone of the Triceraton fleet.
  • Somewhere in the 70s, Marvel Comics introduced Xandar, the homeworld of the Nova Corps. As part of its backstory, it was shattered and made into 4 interlinked habitats. (Summarily destroyed in 2005, in the start of Annihilation).
  • Earth itself was like this for some time before the first reboot of the Legion of Super-Heroes, being destroyed by the Dominators and rebuilt as a series of floating, interlinked, domed cities.

    Film 
  • The penultimate scene of The Film of the Book The Neverending Story.
  • In Galaxy Quest there is one shown as the Protector leaves the dock.
  • About a sixth of the Klingon-controlled moon Praxis is (sort of) intact, after the "incident" it suffered at the beginning of Star Trek VI.
    • In Star Trek Into Darkness, a shattered moon identical to Praxis is depicted in orbit of Qo'nos. Presumably, the Klingons studied the futuristic technology aboard the mining-ship Narada from the previous film, causing the mining accident to happen twenty years early.
  • In the 2002 version of The Time Machine, as a result of lunar mining gone awry, the Moon shattered and ultimately formed an asteroid belt.

    Literature 
  • The Star Wars Extended Universe has lots of these, including the Taspan system and the Graveyard of Alderaan.
  • In Brian Earnshaw's book Dragonfall 5 and the Space Cowboys, pieces of a small planet, called The Broken World. Inhabited by cowboy ranchers and actual blue grass.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the earth is split into 7 pieces each with their associated elements. Their exact location in relation to each other is unclear however whether they are in our solar system or separate dimensions.
  • The Shattered World, and its sequel, The Burning Realm, by Michael Reaves.
  • Many older SF books mentioned that the Solar System's asteroid belt is the remnants of a rocky planet Phaeton. See also Real Life section.
    • In Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein, there's a line that says it was destroyed by the Martians.
    • In Robert A. Heinlein's Space Cadet the heroes find that Phaeton was destroyed in a nuclear accident.
    • In David Weber's Dahak series alien invaders hit it with a big rock to destroy First Imperium military base.
      • Many more asteroid belts are found in other systems left after Fourth Imperium's civil war.
    • In Fredric Brown's Letter to a Phoenix the rebellious colony on the fifth planet was destroyed with the planet.

    Pinball 
  • Downplayed quite heavily in Earthshaker!, as Calfornia and Nevada split apart.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Spelljammer, some air worlds (e.g. Coliar in Realmspace) are swarms of islands rotating in a common atmosphere without one big body "below". The Astromundi Cluster with its asteroid leftovers of the two collided planets may also qualify.
  • One high-level adventure for the Mystara D&D setting brings the heroes to what's left of Old Alphatia, a planet destroyed by feuding wizards two thousand years ago. As these same wizards had previously enveloped their entire solar system with breathable air, some of the orbiting shards of their world are found to still be populated.
  • Averted by the Ravenloft setting, in which chunks of landscape have always drifted separately in the Mists, rather than being part of a larger planet.
  • Race For The Galaxy has one of these, but it's generally one of the least useful cards to play on your tableau, as it's worth both very few victory points, and generally doesn't provide any resources at all.

    Video Games 
  • There are those who think that the Borderworld of Xen from Half-Life is something like this. The Nihilanth's original home planet was destroyed in a war against The Combine, and, in his retreat, he transported the fragments, atmosphere, and some of the wildlife to Xen.
  • The setting of the MMO Aion: The Tower of Eternity. The war between the demonic Balaur and the holy Empyrean Lords destroyed the titular Tower of Eternity and split the planet of Atreia into 2 halves- the dark upper half became the home of those who would become the shadowy Asmodians, the brightly lit lower half the realm of the radiant Elyos.
  • The Chronicles of Spellborn
  • The Shadow Shard from City of Heroes.
  • High Charity from Halo is a mobile version of this.
  • Malachor V in Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords. The reason it became this way was due to Mandalorian Wars, where the Jedi Exile was ultimately left with no other option but to drop a superweapon onto the planet, thus ending the war once and for all.
    • Peragus in the same game may be a partial example as it has a large chunk blown out due to a mining accident. The first level of the games takes place in a mining within a large asteroid in orbit around the planet.
  • The setting of Sacrifice is a world that was shattered in a war between the gods.
  • After Sonic gets tricked into giving the Chaos Emeralds to Dr. Robotnik, the world ends up broken like this in Sonic Unleashed and it's then Sonic's job to fix everything.
  • Rock Star from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is this.
  • The planet in Star Fox Adventures had this happen, and the main quest is to put it back together before it gets more shattered and destroys the whole system with it.
  • The PS2 game Vexx was set on an exploded planet, various parts of which are scattered across the sky, with each level being a different one. there is a definite downwards direction, with it being possible (and infuriatingly easy) to fall off the edge.
  • The Great Spiral in Wizard101 is one of these held in a spiral. Each island rock or rock cluster is called a world with a unique theme and races. Transport between the worlds of the spiral happens through Cool Gates.
    • It was created when the grandfather tree using the pieces the first world that was shattered by a war between the three great races.
    • The same Spiral is also the setting of its sister game Pirate101. Here inter-world transport isn't through stylized doors. Pirates instead use giant sky whirlpools.
  • Outland, the remains of the planet Draenor shattered by demonic energies, is the main setting for the first expansion of World of Warcraft.
    • The Sundering in Cataclysm nearly reduced Azeroth to this. Only timely intervention by the Earthen Ring prevented complete devastation.
  • After blowing up a planet, you can colonize the resultant asteroid field in earlier games in the Space Empires series. You are unable to colonize asteroids anymore as of SEIV. Note that you can also create planets in the games, and you can accidentally (or intentionally) create a planet out of the asteroid colony.
  • On is shown in Tachyon: The Fringe in a Bora-controlled mining sector. It is likely that Bora themselves did it in order to better mine the planet's resources.
  • Star Trek Online: There are are a large number of these in the various systems in the game. Too many to list. Notably the Romulus system.
  • The Age of Spire from the fourth Myst game: According to the supplemental materials, it was a planet whose magnetic core became unstable, which repelled large chunks of metal (and lots of attached rock) right out of the planet. Enough time has gone by that the collective gravitational attraction of the chunks towards the center has reached equilibrium with the magnetic repulsion, long enough that the giant floating fragments have enough gravity to have an atmosphere and even some flora.
  • The world begins much like this in Legend of Mana - various lands were ripped up and turned into artifacts, which it falls upon the protagonist to piece back together however they prefer. (Of course, they say from the beginning that it's All Just a Dream, so...)
  • Bastion, full stop. As you traverse through the assorted levels, the ground underneath the Kid's feet comes together and falls apart at the slightest whim, even disregarding his habit of wantonly smashing everything he sees into bite-sized chunks.
  • Ar tonelico takes place on a floating continent and a humongous tower floating over a devastated, uninhabitable planet.
  • In The Tone Rebellion the goal is to reassemble your broken planet.
  • In Mugen Souls, it's eventually discovered that The Seven Worlds Were originally one big world, which was broken into seven pieces and reformed into seven different planets.

    Western Animation 
  • The Moon in the final shot of the Bugs Bunny / Marvin Martian short "Haredevil Hare".
  • Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (the original short), which also starred Marvin Martian.
  • Atmos from Storm Hawks, probably.
    • Actually, since there's clearly solid (though uninhabitable) land down below, Atmos is more of a Floating Continent world.
  • The French-Canadian cartoon Skyland takes place on a still-habitable shattered Earth
  • Transformers: Cybertron, while not completely shattered, does have some chunks missing out of it.
  • Not quite shattered, but a sizable chunk is missing from the planet containing the land of Ooo in Adventure Time. Implied to have occurred during the Great Mushroom War.

    Toys 
  • In BIONICLE, the planet of Spherus Magna split into Bara Magna, Aqua Magna, and Bota Magna due to the Shattering.

    Real Life 
  • The Earth and the Moon.
    • A now-discredited theory held that the Earth spun so fast in its early days that a globule fissioned off, forming the Moon.
    • Currently the Giant Impact Hypothesis is the big one. It's oddly not all that different from the fission theory. A Mars-sized object hit the Earth about 4.4 billion years ago and threw out enough material to form the Moon.
  • In a previous theory of the formation of The Solar System (now discredited), the asteroid belt was the remains of a fifth planet, Phaeton. Current theory instead says that Jupiter's gravity prevented the material in the asteroid belt from coalescing into a planet in the first place. This hasn't stopped the previous theory from popping up in Science Fiction stories, though, particularly in older stories or stories which aren't really all that "sciency" anyway, because a planet that blew itself up in a nuclear exchange ... or was blown up by someone else in retaliation ... makes a nice anvilicious Aesop.
    • This theory was further discredited by the fact that the combined mass of the asteroid belt would be smaller than Earth's moon, meaning it wouldn't even be a full planet under the current definition.
  • Some of the chunkier rings of the Solar System's Gas Giants may have once been fragile moons, torn apart by impacts or tidal forces. Some of the stranger moons appear to have formed from some of these large fragments colliding and having enough mutual gravitational attraction to stick.
  • Early space-probe images of Miranda, one of the moons of Uranus, depicted such a patchwork of terrain that it's been theorized that this small moon was once shattered, then re-coalesced from its scattered pieces.

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