Excuse me sir, do you know where I could find the ground?
In a fictional and futuristic world, there is a certain way to show a city's prosperity and ambition. Build it high
. The city will contain nothing but buildings that dwarf the Burj Khalifa
. The issue of these tower's financial cost, environmental impact or mere usefulness will never be brought up. Nor will be the question of how many people
the city has to need such huge buildings. There are freaking big towers everywhere, that means you are in an absurdly rich city
, that's all you need to know.
If the issue of population is
brought up, it will usually be in a dystopian setting
where overpopulation plagues the planet or at least big cities, with the juxtaposition between the lower areas of town and the rich in their towers serving as a contrast between rich and poor.
A Skyscraper City may also be designed to give the viewers a "dreamy" feel by having the inhabitants evolving near or above the clouds. Or simply to give them a feeling of gigantism that disrupts their sense of proportions.
Common in Cyber Punk
settings, and a Sub-Trope
of Mega City
. Compare City Planet
, Star Scraper
and Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale
. Layered Metropolis
is a subtrope.
Anime & Manga
- Sternbild from Tiger & Bunny is so tall that has been divided into levels.
- The magic card "Skyscaper" in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX builds a city made entirely of skyscapers in the field.
- Gotham City from Batman. Even more so in The Dark Knight Saga and taken Up to Eleven in the posters.
- Mega City One in the Judge Dredd comics. An establishing shot in an early issue showed the Empire State Building, now an abandoned historical relic, dwarfed by the skyscrapers around it.
- Asgard is depicted this way in The Mighty Thor, and in any Marvel comic taking place there.
- Blade Runner appears to be set in that version of Los Angeles.
- Manhattan in The Fifth Element is so high that we see its ground only once, when Korben flees from the Police. Other than that, the endless rows of flying cars make it look like a bottomless city.
- Meanwhile City in Franklyn.
- 1927's Metropolis may be the Trope Codifier for visual fiction at least. (Seen here and here.)
- Coruscant from Star Wars takes this to a whole new level. The entire planet is encrusted with giant skyscrapers... built on top of older skyscrapers... built on top of even older skyscrapers. Oh, and a few of the skyscrapers are actually the giant construction droids that build more skyscrapers.
- Isaac Asimov's Trantor. (Seen here; the tall objects are retractable cooling towers above the main buildings of the city.)
- Ironically, most of the citizens of Trantor as also afraid of heights, as they never encounter enough open space to be able to judge how high up they truly are. When they actually encounter a window into the void, they can get a bit weak kneed.
- Actually, in later works (such as Prelude to Foundation), Asimov retcons the idea that Trantor is a Skyscraper Ecumenopolis. This is true of central business district-type areas, but most of Trantor is supposed to be suburban. (Asimov presumably did this to reconcile the fact that Trantor was an Earth-sized planet with "only" 40 billion people or so, while a planet covered entirely in Hong Kong-like urbanization would have a much larger population.)
- It also appears to be mostly covered by opaque domes of various sizes.
- The eponymous city from John Twelve Hawks' novel The Golden City is actually just three gigantic, terraced towers.
- Sharn from the Eberron campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons is one of the few fantasy (well, Dungeon Punk) versions. It's built on an area where flight magic is enhanced so the architects incorporated levitation spells into the structural supports. It's even a Layered Metropolis.
- Hive cities in Warhammer 40,000 are more accurately described as a kilometers-tall skyscraper the size of a city.
- Commorragh, the home of Dark Eldar is an impossibly large city composed largely of enormous scyscrapers, many of which are tall enough to serve as docking spars for startships.
- Much like Coruscant above, Warhammer 40K cities are said to be built in layers, with new levels being built on top of older ones, with the oldest even becoming buried by the weight of the buildings being added to it. In the hive cities these buried layers are generally where the outcasts live; mutants, psykers, heretics, xenos and possibly even genestealer cults.
- Isla del Sol in the late chapters of Bayonetta is hundreds of huge towers with a gigantic tower in the middle. When you get on top of that tower, Scenery Porn ensues.
- Aeropolis in F-Zero GX.
- The Dark City of Kingdom Hearts II definitely counts.
- Taris from KOTOR.
- Until Darth Malak orders his fleet to level the entire planet.
- Also Nar Shaddaa, AKA the Vertical City, in Jedi Outcast.
- In Mass Effect 2, most cities on the asari colony of Illium are built high to escape the heat of the surface. Higher levels are reserved for residential and commercial property and lower levels are used for industrial greenhouses and factories.
- The opening level of Ninja Gaiden II, aptly named "Sky City Tokyo" is exactly this. Your destination in the level is one of two twin towers... both built on top of an even bigger tower. Itself built several hundred meters above the ground. In the Updated Re-release Sigma II, you fight a Buddha statue the size of the Statue of Liberty (which you also fight afterwards) at the end of the level: it looks puny compared to the building it climbs.
- You can build a city like this in SimCity if you so choose.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog series is absolutely full of these, beginning with Star Light Zone in the original game.
- Stardust Speedway in Sonic CD is a bottomless city in all time periods Sonic is present in, even when it resembled Ancient Grome.
- The district of Station Square near Speed Highway in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Generations contains solely of buildings hundreds of stories tall and has no visible ground.
- Grand Metropolis, Casino Park, and BINGO Highway in Sonic Heroes are set ridiculously far up. Oddly, Power Plant, the follow-up stage to Grand Metropolis, always has a visible floor not far below. Hang Castle manages to give this feel to a Transylvanian castle.
- Future City in the Sonic Riders subseries has a ground floor far beneath but is generally not visible.
- With the exception of the park, Empire City in Sonic Unleashed is like this.
- Hengsha in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is on the way to becoming this. It's a giant two-tiered city split into Upper and Lower Hengsha. However, despite expectations, Lower Hengsha is not all-slums. It's where people tend to live and go out, while Upper Hengsha is where big businesses are located.
- The city of Anor Londo in Dark Souls has several occasions in which you must cross over deep chasms in between buildings. The whole level takes place on the city's rooftops with the ground nowhere in sight.
- Rapture in the BioShock series is like this. (At least from the outside; none of the actual levels look like they could be the actual inside of a skyscraper; either there are too many windows or too few floors or both.) It sort of makes sense since it was mostly a planned city in which "ground level" is the rocky ocean floor, useless for building roads on. It's a little trickier to explain how people did get from one building to the next; supposedly they used radio-guided bathyspheres, and a railway system before that, but no rails are ever seen from the outside and each metro station contains docking room for only one tiny sphere.
- In Batman Beyond, Gotham has grown even more massive, to the point where it seems to be nothing but superstructures. Rooftop parks, vertical commuter trains, and elevated neighborhoods are common. The opening shows Gotham's old skyline, which is positively dwarfed by the new skyline behind it.
- The Jetsons. You never see the ground throughout the whole series. The exception is in "The Flying Suit," where George flies down to the surface. It is bright, grassy, and populated by birds who took to the ground now that the humans are in the sky.