"Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
A seriously tall building. So tall, in fact, that you probably won't read the caption under this page's image until you're near the bottom of the page.
Common in Speculative Fiction, these buildings tower over their surroundings, or may be part of a city of similar buildings.
Indeed, it is not uncommon for them to be a single city in their own right.
To qualify as a Star Scraper, a building must be clearly over 1,000 metres tall. The tallest building on Earth, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is 828 metres tall. For a city entirely made of those, see Skyscraper City.
Compare Space Elevator. When the Star Scraper is the home of the villain, it becomes an Evil Tower of Ominousness.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Eureka Seven: Most people live near or in some very, very tall tower-cities.
Atton Rand: Watch your step, or you'll be falling for hours. note which is a minor mistake: even if you fall from the surface and to the core of the earth, it would take no less than 42 minutes. Then again, if you consider the fact that gravity decreases (contrary to popular belief) as you fall down...
The Fifth Element. Made startlingly clear when Leeloo escapes from the medical facility, goes outside, and looks down, down. Earth is starting to resemble Coruscant complete with oceans being drained. See how New York City looks when the starliner is leaving.
The Thief and the Cobbler: ZigZag, the Evil Chancellor, has a tower that is ridiculously tall. The minaret with the three golden balls is supposed to be the tallest in the city, but seems fairly normal in comparison.
While its height is never mentioned, the model for Barad-dűr (Sauron's fortress) in The Lord of the Rings movies would be over a kilometer high if scaled up to full human scale note supplemental material indicates that it's a kilometer and a half high.
While there's no definitive height given for the buildings in Judge Dredd, the 2012 reboot Dredd places the height of the mega-structures dotting the landscape as over a kilometer tall.
Arthur C. Clarke's 3001 contains four towers that reach from the earth to geostationary orbit. Which means they're about 36 thousand kilometers tall—nearly three times the diameter of the planet itself—and several kilometers in diameter. "Seriously tall" doesn't begin to describe it.
They also double as space elevators, and link up to a single ring structure that's at geostationary orbit that completely circles the world to form a massive spaceport.
Not a skyscraper but a pyramid, the Last Redoubt/Great Redoubt from The Night Land easily qualifies - the main pyramid is seven miles tall, with a 3/4 mile observation tower on top of that.
The Tyrant's Dark Pyramid in Outernet is so high it reach the outer space.
While not quite an extremely tall building, the starscrapers in Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy are named such - as they are skyscrapers IN SPACE. Literally hanging off the outside edge of rotating space habitats.
Common in the Honor Harrington universe. Justified by the ubiquity of counter-grav technology.
The Cylinder from K. W. Jeter's Farewell Horizontal. A specific size isn't given, but most of humanity lives inside (or on) it, and most of the habitable area is well above the cloud layer.
The Tower of Babel in The Bible is said to be one of these.
Spearpoint, the last human city, and its counterpart on the other side of the world in Terminal World stretches from the ground all the way past the planet's atmosphere, tapering continuously. One character theorizes that they are a form of Space Elevator from before the fall of mankind and the creation of the Zones. They are hollow, and lead to a portal inside the planet for starships to use - hence why they extend out of the atmosphere.
Earthport in Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind stories is a vast, wineglass-shaped tower of virtually indestructible material reaching 25 kilometers above the city of Meeya Meefla (Miami, Fla), with foundations reaching down to the magma. It was built to absorb the exhaust from huge nuclear-powered spaceships, but was soon rendered obsolete by new technology and so large parts of it stand empty. Ancient elevated roads climb to partway up the tower, but since they are not made of indestructible material they are now abandoned and dangerous.
Live Action TV
Several examples exist in Doctor Who. Satellite 5, for instance.
The Thompson Tower in Thunderbirds was one of these... until it came crashing down.
Hive Cities in Warhammer 40,000, most notably Hive Primus from Necromunda. In most cases, it's a necessity: the lower atmosphere is so polluted by millenia of reckless industrial production that only fresh air pumped in from the top of the hive allows them to survive.
The Fang, the fortress of the Space Wolves. It is so high, spaceships dock to its peak. A partial subversion however, as the entire complex is carved out from the inside of a naturally-occurring mountain(!). The air circulation currents running from bottom to top of the mountain are strong enough to be used as a transportation network between levels.
Sharn, the City of Towers in Eberron. It's towers average at around 2km tall with some of the tallests having half to a full a kilometre more. Above them is a flying district of rich people called the Skyway. The city's three dimensional nature means most of the transit takes place with flying vehicules such as Soarsleds and Skybarges.
The Cardinal's tower in Mutant Chronicles is so high that on the top floor, gravity is negligible.
The Citadel in Half-Life 2, although that is an alien entity.
The Sunspire in Unreal, which shows up in the skyboxes of several maps before you actually reach it.
One of the arenas in Unreal Tournament, DM-Morpheusnote inspired by the Jump Program scene from The Matrix, hence the name. To quote the map description:
"LMC knew they had found an excellent arena at the very top of a newly constructed Galaxyscraper SuperStructure. Thanks to the modern miracle of super tensile solids, these three buildings reach a staggering 12 miles high at their pinnacle. The thin atmosphere and reduced influence of Earth's gravity provide an interesting test of the tournament athlete's ability to adapt and conquer in extreme environments."
The map returns in Unreal Tournament 2004 (DM-Morpheus3) with a similar companion in 2003 and 2004 (DM-Plunge).
Whittlebone's (driver of Mr. Slamm) dream is to build one in Twisted Metal 2.
You're tasked with turning Rupee Tower into one of these in Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland. As you throw more Rupees into the pool on top of it, it grows taller, allowing you to fly out to more distant locations. Eventually, it becomes so tall it goes right through the freaking moon... just in time for the final showdown with Uncle Rupee.
The Tower Of Babel in Illusion of Gaia. After climbing to the top, the player can look out at the background and see the curvature of the Earth. It also might double as a Space Elevator, since the allows the main character to simply fly into space to fight the Big Bad, without worrying about any pesky little details like "gravity".
Inverted (literally) in Halo 4: on the artificial "shield world" of Requiem, giant Forerunner structures hang down from the ceiling in the sky, dropping down to nearly ground level. It's actually rather striking, in a beautiful way, since because the "ceiling" is so high that it can't really be seennote (the ceiling is actually visible, but is so distant that one has to look carefully beyond the clouds above to see its texture), the overall effect, visually, is of unimaginally tall skyscrapers that are floating off the ground.
The novels mention that Precursors built towers that essentially bridged planets. They were also completely indestructible excluding a Halo's main weapon.
The Tower Of Babel in Xenogears, an ancient hollow irregular metallic cylinder stretching kilometers into the sky. It is actually the ancient hull of the kilometers-long spaceship that crashed on the planet in the Distant Prologue of the game, and how humanity first arrived on that world.
The geography of Dungeon Fighter Online includes two continents which may be part of complete worlds, one of which happens to be above the other. (The bottom's sky and clouds eventually turn into the top's ocean and abyssal fogbanks... somehow.) There's a tower connecting them, which players will find fairly early on. While the playable area of the tower isn't that big, it's implied that as players work their way through the multiple in-tower dungeons, they're unlocking access to rapid transit systems and skipping over most of what really is a monumental climb.
The Tower of Bab-il from Final Fantasy IV has its foot in the underworld (which is deep enough that airships have ample sailing space in it), crosses the surface through a huge hole and culminates high in the sky.
The upcoming expansion pack for SimCity has an addition called Mega-Towers which clearly fit this trope.
Steelport in Saints Row The Third has some belonging to the Syndicate, though no heights or floor counts are explicitly given.
Tower of God: The Tower probably puts most of the other examples to shame, considering it has more than 134 floors with each floor covering an area the size of North America, and the whole of the known universe exists within it.
In Homestuck, players of SBURB (or SGRUB) alter each others' houses with the game. Since one of the main goals is to reach increasingly high-up Gates in the sky, their houses eventually become these as a matter of necessity. Examples include John's house, Terezi's, and Jade's. Later panels show that these towers are nearly as tall as the entire Baby Planet's diameter in the late game.
Phineas and Ferb: One of the many things the title characters built and lost in a single day comes from "Doof Side of the Moon", where they built a star scraper that touched the earth's moon.
Batman Beyond, evident especially in the title sequence where Old Gotham and its skyscrapers (which should be equivalent to modern day buildings in New York or Chicago) are shown, before Neo Gotham comes into focus, making Old Gotham look like a scale model by comparison.