Explosions in fiction sometimes have a negligible effect outside of anything in the direct blast radius - buildings and sidewalks have relatively precise chunks taken out of them, but there's precious little singeing or shockwave damage. In the most blatantly overdone cases, the blast radius looks like a huge sphere of negative space 1500 feet across, with neat slices taken out of surrounding buildings, pavement, cars, hillsides, et cetera; there appears to have been no actual heat, let alone shockwaves, emanating from the explosion at all - the only result is that a massive spherical section of the environs appears to be missing.
This is often done with Phlebotinum-enabled explosives, allowing creators to Hand Wave this effect under the Rule of Cool. If the target of the attack happens to have a Beehive Barrier, expect anything surrounding him to be in similar pristine conditions.
Related to Convection Schmonvection, Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud, Pillar of Light and Kung-Fu Sonic Boom. Stylistically similar to Sphere of Power.
Slayers: Lina Inverse's ultimate spell worked much like this; everything inside the Dragon Slave's blast radius is devastated, while nothing outside of it is even touched. So did pretty much every other destructive spell in her repertoire for that matter.
Lina's best spell, the Giga Slave, is actually all about the sphere. It is capable of destroying anything, including gods, because it draws upon the power of The Lord of Nightmares, creator deity of all things. However, without being limited to a specific area "Destroy Anything" becomes "Destroy EVERYTHING". The spell is front and center for 3 of the 4 big bad fights of the first 3 seasons, and is mentioned as a last ditch resort against the last big bad. More importantly, it is the driving force of the entire second season.
AKIRA: shows up every time someone uses psychic powers, although sometimes only through implication (stress fractures in the walls/floor around the user). The first one of these, generated by the title character, was responsible for the destruction of Tokyo and the start of World War III.
The antibody coralians in Eureka Seven attack in this fashion, blowing precise, spherical holes into buildings (and anyone unfortunate enough to be in that part of said building).
Sho, the protagonist of the Guyver anime is encased in a gravity-based Sphere of Destruction as protection during his Transformation Sequence. The villains use this to their advantage in one episode, handcuffing Sho to his girlfriend in the knowledge that if he transformed, the sphere would annihilate her.
Subverted in Orguss 02, when a missile The Man Behind the Man fires at a city creates one of these - and the citizens find themselves still intact once it passes over them. Until they collapse, coughing up blood - neutron bombs, go figure.
The dome around Mugen/Infinity Academy during the climax of Sailor Moon S. The Sailor Scouts are even able to hold its expansion by using their powers at its exact border.
The BigBads of the first two seasons are destroyed this way, Queen Beryl and the Negaforce with a giant energy ball, and Wiseman with an exploding energy wave powered by two silver crystals, although in Wiseman's case the other Sailor Scouts may have been in the blast radius and were not harmed at all.
Used in Code Geass R2; the nuclear-sakuradite weapon FLEIJA causes everything within 8000 meters to cease to exist, surrounding objects are affected by the rapid expansion of air due to the initial explosion and also by the rapid vacuum effect caused by the collapse of the sphere. Picture here◊.
Probably the most obvious offender is Tien's Kikoho/Tri-Beam attack, which leaves absolutely massive holes in the earth that would look to be far beyond repair, yet somehow doesn't damage anything the blast doesn't hit, and doesn't even show any shockwaves like some energy blasts of the show do.
And then there's Frieza's gigantic Death Balls, which he primarily uses to destroy planets, but when he uses it on Namek it forms a neat hole that went all the way to the core before the planet was destroyed.
Dragon Ball GT: The very last attack ever unleashed in the entire series, and the single-most powerful, was a galactic-scale Spirit Bomb against True Final Boss Omega Shenron. Goku's energy had been all but wasted, and Omega Shenron had all seven Dragonballs in his chest, ready to kill literally everything he ran into. The only hope left for Goku was to call on the spiritual energy of every single living being in the galaxy, charging a gargantuan Spirit Bomb that he used to vaporize Omega Shenron, somehow managing not to waste Earth with him. Fitting for such an epic series to go out with a bang.
And again when the Point Barrier system, which had been modified as an omnidirectional sphere barrier, overloads and explodes. The sphere becomes a wave of destruction that vaporizes a good chunk of Ontario in seconds, with the Macross itself, unharmed, in the very center.
Macross Frontier features the "Dimension Eater"/"fold bomb", which generates an expanding swirly purple sphere of doom that shunts anything consumed by it into a Fold vortex (where it will be torn apart and disintegrated) as it grows to planetary scale before collapsing in on itself. Weaponized space wedgiesfor the win.
It gains points in that the original Dimension Eater used on Galia IV (see image above) is treated with all due horror and provides a Shocking Swerve for the series, as well as a Moral Event Horizon for a previously behind-the-scenes Big Bad. But by the end of the series, the NUNS fleet uses these as standard warheads for their iconic missile salvos. Brr.
Dark Schneider's Black Sabbath spell in the manga Bastard!!!! works like this, although it is somewhat justified as being a nuclear explosion contained in a force field, in order to focus all of the energy on one target
3rd Tsuchikage's attack (Genkai Hakuri no Jutsu) is a cube of destruction, which creates a cube with a sphere inside that explodes but is contained by the cube, leaving an imprint of its shape in anything only caught half-way in.
The destruction left by Danzo's Taking You with Me sealing technique is also perfectly spherical.
Deidara's "suicide bomber clone" to escape from Team Kakashi and Team Gai is also a sphere. As is C0, which left a town just outside of its radius unharmed even though the explosion was larger than the city itself.
The largest, most obvious example is the Tailed Beast Bomb. Depending on the size and density of the attack, the explosion can range from a mountain-destroying sphere, to a mountain-range-destroying sphere, to a county-sized cone of destruction that extends to space, and ultimately a blast that can destroy a small country. Interestingly, the larger the blast is, the less of an impact it has on the ground it engulfs, and there is a notable lack of a shockwave, despite the fact that it can cause tsunamis and that ring clouds form around it, similar to a nuke.
The Festum in Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor seem to shoot small black holes at their targets; the visible effect is a purple sphere for a couple of seconds which then disappears leaving a perfect spherical void. They appear to have a pull effect as one unfortunate Red Shirt found out in the first episode.
They explode into black holes when destroyed as well. The same technology is somehow incorporated into the Fafner's Fenrir System.
One of Kuma's powers, especially Ursus Shock in One Piece. In his case it doesn't seem to vaporize anything, just knock out all of the people and leave most of the architecture still standing, despite being an explosion of compressed air.
A strategic-class attack spell, banned by international treaty, in Scrapped Princess causes this. When used on a seaborne target, the spell leaves a bowl-shaped hole in the ocean, which quickly becomes a devastating tsunami.
Firing the Angel Arm in Trigun has this effect both at the target and, if used at a high enough power, at the point of origin.
It is implied that this is how the Tokyo Jupiter from RahXephon came to be. Detonating a Trans-Dimensional Drive can also create one artificially although no one has the idea of weaponizing it until the final battle.
Spoofed in the first five minutes of Nichijou, when Nanoruns into a random schoolboy. While it certainly looks impressive, the end result is just Nano and the boy getting stuck on different roofs (although Nano could easily get down if she weren't so timid), and a bunch of small items being thrown around the town (most of which end up falling on Yuko's head).
Rave Master has one in it's prologue. In an odd use of the trope, the explosion does have some affect other than destroying everything inside of it. Apparently the sheer force of it's destruction created a storm around the circumference of the blast, which has been going for 50 years by the time the protagonists find it.
According to the games they appear in, however, they don't. The one in the movie was never detonated.
The Dr.Manhattan-based WMDs in Watchmen work like this, at least upon initial detonation.
The Man Who Knew Too Little: Sergai described his bomb as working this way, claiming it would destroy everything in a thirty-meter radius and nothing outside. Which was important because Sergai himself was going to be present at the function where he was planning to set off the bomb. (However, when the bomb does eventually detonate, high in the sky, it looks like normal Impressive Pyrotechnics.)
The Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers has rockets and artillery shells that do this by detonating conventional explosives inside a very short lived forcefield.
In The Wheel of Time the cleansing of saidin made a black sphere (described as being Blacker Than Black) which chopped a spherical section - and the cursed city Shadar Logoth - out of the ground.
The damn thing also imploded, which left everyone in the area really windswept, but had a minimal effect on the surrounding area. The city itself and everything inside of it, however, was gone forever.
Similarly, in the Star Trek novel Federation, a crazed cyborg pursues Zefram Cochrane for centuries in hopes of learning to create a "warp bomb" based on an accident during the warp drive's testing. The effect works, creating a perfectly spherical radius of destruction - but the sphere can never be more than 18 meters across. (Any larger, and the drive works fine.) Conventional weapons are thus much more effective.
Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space trilogy gets some weapons that do this in the later books. There's one weapon that just nips everything in a chunk of space out of existence (its a real bitch to calibrate, since the only way to test the settings is to use it on your own ship, if you can't stop off at a convenient planet and use the atmosphere), and the "bubble bombs" which seem to work in a similar fashion.
Hypometric weapons, they're called. Roughly meaning, in this context, "absence of space-time". Nasty, because they can attack arbitrary points in space... lines of sight not required at all. The little bombs are called "bladder mines", and are used more like conventional warheads.
Bobbles in Vernor Vinge's The Peace War and its associated stories have this effect. It wasn't until some time after their first use (as weapons) that it was discovered the silver spheres were actually stasis fields, freezing their contents in time instead of simply destroying them. Then people started using them for one-way Time Travel.
Warp grenades in David Weber's Heirs of Empire trilogy move anything within a certain radius into hyperspace when they detonate.
Warp grenades in Simon Hawke's Time Wars series combine a time machine with a good old-fashioned nuclear device to provide ultimate destructive power within a pre-set (and adjustable) spherical radius, making seemingly neat and clean little nuclear bombs that just happen to have horrific unintended consequences (the extra destructive force is being shunted into another universe — an inhabited other universe, which gets fed up with being nuked and declares war).
The Babylon 5Expanded Universe trilogy The Passing of the Techno-Mages has Galen accidentally discover a new spell that creates a Sphere of Destruction that, after several seconds, collapses and takes everything in it into another universe. The spheres themselves cannot exceed two meters in diameter. However, there is no limit as to how many or how fast Galen can cast the spell. In a fit of rage, he uses the spell to destroy a skyscraper and level an entire city block by casting it dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
Yog-Sothoth of the Cthulhu Mythos is literally Spheres of Destruction: should anyone come into physical contact with "the Key and the Gate", bad stuff happens.
As if bound by God's own will, the surging radius seemed to hit a wall. It was as if the explosion were contained somehow in a giant glass sphere. The light rebounded inward, sharpening, rippling across itself. The wave appeared to have reached a predetermined diameter and hovered there.
The novo-vacuum in Greg Egan's hard sci-fi novel Schild's Ladder is an accidentally-created, large-scale version of this: an expanding sphere of 'new' spacetime more stable than our own, annihilating everything it overtakes. Fortunately, it only expands at half the speed of light.
Dungeons & Dragons: Fireballs and similar area effect spells are like this. At least it's specifically mentioned in Fireball's description that it creates almost no pressure.
Eldar distort weapons in Warhammer 40,000 remove perfect spheres from their targets, sending everything in the sphere straight to hell. Literally.
And then there's the Vortex Grenade, which is a Sphere of Annihilation by another name, and uses a template which follows this trope to a T. Anything that even touches the Vortex Grenade template is sucked straight into the Warp and killed instantly with no saves, regardless of special rules that grant immunity to instant death. The only exception are superheavy vehicles and gargantuan creatures, which take D3 structure points and D6 wounds worth of damage respectively (and are presumably left with a perfectly spherical hole in the side). The Vortex also randomly teleports around the battlefield at the start of each turn, making it very risky to use.
The Dark Eldar Void Bomb actually creates a spherical barrier of force fraction of a second before its warhead detonates, creating a catastrophic detonation contained by the force barrier. Everything outside the sphere is untouched, everything inside the sphere has been annihilated.
Then you have White Wolf's Exalted RPG, in which there are at least one spell which fits the trope - the Solar Circle Sorcery spell "Total Annihilation". Invoking the lost name of Ligier, the Green Sun (the sun in Hell, AKA Malfeas), begins with a fifty yard wide, five mile high pillar of green light. Everything caught in it takes major damage as it is destroyed. The pillar grows outward at a rate of 10 yards per second, from twenty five to fifty seconds depending on the caster (a sorcerer with the right hearthstone and good friends can boost this all the way up to 100 seconds).
The new Mythic Map Pack for Halo 3 features the new forge item called the Kill Ball. It is essentially this trope to a T.
Halo 2 and more directly Halo 3: ODST also shows the effect of the Assault Carriers jump basically being this as more or less everything enveloped by the massive "slipspace rupture" is torn away and carried off into slipspace with the ship. Not a perfect example though as their were some effects outside the radius including a shockwave and radiation release although the damage was still quite well contained all things considered and most of the city remained intact and functional.
In Reach, they use a "slipspace bomb" on an oversized Assault Carrier orbiting the planet. The bomb doesn't explode: it creates an oversized, circular slipspace rupture which, since it is in space and the released antimatter does not explode as it does in the above example, cleanly removes about a third of the ship around its center.
The MIDAS bomb in Front Mission 3. Of course, since it was a bomb made out of Applied Phlebotinum, we are told that this is how it wassupposedto work. In one cutscene, a MIDAS bomb is dropped on a seaside city; skyscrapers are neatly cleft in twain and left standing, and the sea begins rushing back in to fill the space left by the water that was instantly vaporized by the blast.
Of course, the story starts proper when one malfunctions, but still creates a lovely and very big sphere-shaped hole in what must be several floors of the bunker it was being kept in.
One mission in Star Trek Online has the player boarding a disabled Borg cube, only to find a massive, spherical void has been removed from the center of the vessel by an unknown race the Borg attempted to assimilate.
Giga-Graviton, Sin's ultimate weapon in Final Fantasy X, does this - with the added side effect that the vacuum created by the blast does even more damage when it resolves.
Well, it's not so much the vacuum, but the fact that it cut a perfectly cylindrical section out of the land and sea and the laws of physics took a few seconds to realise what was happening.
From the Marvel crossovers, actually. The original version, in Alpha, was a small ball with energy trails; this became a curved barrier in Third Strike.
Particularly bad in Scorched Earth, where even nuclear weapons exhibit this behavior.
In Lemmings, Bombers do this, via a self-destruct on a five-second timer, to any non-indestructible scenery within a fairly small radius of their position.
Most of the weapons of the 2D Worms games leave perfectly circular holes behind, although worms can still be damaged and moved outside the circular blast radius. Explosives in Worms 3D leave behind spherical craters - sort of. The "poxel" deformable landscape engine is pretty innovative, but the resolution of an individual poxel is quite low - so the craters are essentially "blocky spheres".
One might well say that nearly all computer game explosions work like this, as few have variable damage, and nearly none have shrapnel or spalling.
The Force Unleashed demonstrates this effect with the Force Repulse ability, which has the main character leap up and emit a shockwave of Force energy in a sphere around him, bowling over any unfortunate souls in his vicinity.
Technically they send everything within the blast radius into Subspace completely damage free as we see from the ending of Subspace Emissary when the final boss is defeated and all the locations affected by the bombs are returned.
Cybuster's "Cyflash" attack in Super Robot Wars takes it a step further: It only hurts what the pilot wants to hit (i.e. Enemy units).
Shu's mech, the Neo Granzon's ultimate attack, the Shukutaihou, is pretty much this crossed with a black hole. It also seems to get more and more large an destructive in each installment, that by the time of 2nd Original Genrations, it seems to be able to create and then destroy a galaxy.
Super Robot Wars in general runs with this as Map based attacks.
Same as the Almighty (aka neutral) spell Megidolaon from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga. It has the added bonus that is a transparent dome of energy, and then it detonates like glass, dealing huge damage (of course, strong characters can shrug off several straight Megidolaons, but eh.)
The nukes in Total Annihilation and the crawling bombs have this effect; using them effectively allows the player to cut circles out of an enemy base.
Some weapons in Tyrian- the banana bomb, in particular- work like this. They create a huge cyan sphere that does damage to everything in its radius, but which pops instantaneously into and out of existence and only persists for a moment.
The MPBM of Ace Combat Zero— the blast itself is a sphere, but the hitbox is a strangely shaped area of death... that's larger than the screen engulfing blast when it's fired by the ADFX-01... and thankfully smaller when it's fired by the ADFX-02.
The Golden Undead Warrior's berserker move in Guardian Heroes. It causes him to charge up for a few seconds and then unleash a gigantic explosion which will kill or severely maim anything it hits, in addition to knocking them clean offscreen. Just... pray you don't get hit by anyone while he uses it, or it'll hit (and kill) you too.
In Dragon Quest VIII focusing on "Unarmed" with Jessica rewards you with the "Magic Burst" super powerful attack.
Armored Core for Answer has Assault Armor which basically detonates your NEXT'S nuclear reactor for a high damaging blast around your NEXT.
The Quirium Cascade Mine (or "Q-bomb") in Oolite generates a literal Sphere of Destruction which, when it touches most objects, vaporizes them and causes them to generate one.
Asura's Wrath: Berserker Asura uses these in episode 12 along with Kamehame Hadouken's after completely loosing his shit when an innocent girl that's a lot like his daughter in looks is killed by Olga to destroy her and her space fleet. When pressing the burst button, he creates much bigger ones of these with each press of a burst, and effectively makes Olga retreat with her tail between her legs.
In the Episode IV DLC the True Final Boss uses these as attacks in his final form.
Bomb-type weapons in Virtual-ON tend to detonate in distinct sphere shapes, or at least have a visible maximum radius with a sharp cutoff. The various Temjins with bombs exemplify this best, as the resulting explosion is a glowing blue globe of energy. If any portion of an opponent's model overlaps the sphere, they get knocked flat on their backs. If they stand even a pixel completely outside its blast radius, however, it's little more than pretty fireworks.
The supervillainous Void, from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe can use what he calls "miniature dimensional rifts" as weapons. These take the form of silvery spheres of energy that, when they collapse, leave spherical areas of emptiness in anything they've touched.
The plot catalyst of the early Justice League episode "Legends" is a dimensional rift that carves a perfect sphere out of the surrounding area and dumps more than half the team in a Retro Universe.
Also, one episode appears to have neat explosions such as these, but it turns out that that's the first sign that whatever was caught in them (Superman falling into that category) wasn't destroyed, but sent forward in time. Supes eventually made it back with the help of a reformed Vandal Savage, who'd managed to wipe out all life on Earth in Superman's absence.
The Invader Zim episode "Walk For Your Lives" featured a slooooowly expanding Sphere Of Destruction (literally just an explosion moving in slow motion), simply vaporizing anything it came into contact with. Once it's accelerated, however, it becomes a standard explosion.
Our own sun will likely become this later on in its' life cycle, expanding into what's known as a 'red giant' star, many orders of magnitude larger than what it is now. When this happens, most of the planets in the inner solar system, possibly including Earth, will be engulfed and incinerated. The good news is that this won't happen for about 5 billion years yet, so most people alive today won't live long enough to see this happen, Chuck Norris being the notable exception.