Complete with sea-floor highways!
"It seemed a sure bet that by the early '70s we'd be flipping a coin as to whether we'd be spending our holidays on the Moon or at the Poseidon Hilton on the bottom of the Caribbean."
—Tales of Future Past
Not just Underwater Ruins
or an Underwater Base
, but an entire city of people living and "breathing" underwater. It's usually created with futuristic technology or powerful magic, and a popular depiction is to have a fully surviving Atlantis
and/or water breathing Fish People
or Apparently Human Merfolk
. Usually though it's a modern attempt at colonizing the ocean floor, or a villain's secret lair.
As might be expected, living in such a precarious location makes these cities inordinately prone to having something go Horribly Wrong
. Be it sabotage causing the dome to break, an undersea volcano activating, or other disasters.
Compare Underground City
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Anime and Manga
- Daphne in the Brilliant Blue: The main cities of the aquatic New Eden were originally Underwater Cities created to escape the apocalypse. Heroine Maia is the last survivor of one of the cities which was destroyed before it could surface.
- The Fishman Island in One Piece is actually a big mass of land floating in a 2-layer resin bubble, underwater. The light source come from the mystical Sunlight Tree Eve, which transfers sunlight from the surface to the ocean deep.
- Nagi no Asukara has Shioshishio, a small town of Apparently Human Merfolk near a Japanese town on the coast. There's substantial friction between the neighbours over things like fishing rights.
- In Scion, Ethan discovers an underwater city built by an aquatic sub-species of the Lesser Races who were able to escape their lives of slavery.
- Both Marvel Comics and DC Comics have versions of Atlantis, although in both cases Atlantis is a big place with multiple cities.
- There was an arc in Aquaman where half of San Diego slid into the sea following a massive earthquake... and those who survived it instantly adapted to underwater conditions.
- The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft has Y'ha-nthlei, of the "titanic sunken porticos" and "labyrinths of weedy cyclopean walls." Located off the coast of Massachusetts and home to the Cthulhu-worshipping Deep Ones.
- Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus.
- Michael Reaves and Steve Perry's novel Dome, which is set in a futuristic underwater lab complex.
- Underwater colonies are a significant part of the backstory of "The Eve of RUMOKO" by Roger Zelazny.
- A city of cray (lobster-centaurs) is featured in China Miéville's The Scar.
- Attack from Atlantis by Lester Del Rey.
- The great city of hi'Leyi'a on the planet Pacifica, in the Star Trek Novel Verse. First mentioned in Star Trek: Titan, it finally appeared in Losing the Peace.
- Handled as realistically as possible in "Ocean on Top" by Hal Clement. A colony of humans is established on the ocean floor, using geothermal power to provide light and a specially-made oxygen-carrying dive fluid in place of air. But since the humans are less dense than water, the humans have to wear weights if they want to stay on the bottom or even have neutral buoyancy. They sleep tied to the ceilings of their buildings.
Live Action TV
- The Man From Atlantis episode "Crystal Water, Sudden Death".
- In the first episodes of Stargate Atlantis, the city is discovered to be underwater, having been submerged by the Ancients to escape constant orbital bombardment from the Wraith. In a subversion of the Gone Horribly Wrong situation mentioned above, when the shield fails, the city surfaces.
- In a Double Subversion, It didn't happen the first time around: In an alternate timeline, the city was flooded, and Dr. Weir escaped drowning in a time-traveling ship; she then convinced Ancient scientist Janus to add the fail-safe.
- ORCA in Ocean Girl is halfway between this and Underwater Base. The ORCA City project may be closer to this trope.
- seaQuest DSV is set in a world where the ocean floor has been so heavily colonized that there are whole underwater nations.
- In the cartoon segments of The Aquabats! Super Show!, the band tries infiltrate an underwater city beneath the moon's surface to save Jimmy the Robot.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, still reeling from his recent assimilation by the Borg, Picard is briefly tempted in "Family" to quit Starfleet and join the Atlantis Project, who are aiming to build one of these on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Several Dungeons & Dragons settings include undersea civilizations of merfolk, tritons, sahuagin or the like; some of these use air-filled domes as housing for surface-dwelling visitors. The Known World/Mystara campaign setting has the Kingdom of Aquas, which was once part of the Empire of Alphatia.
- In New Horizon, Aquilon's Reach has multiple underwater cities, as well as some atop glaciers. Unsurprisingly, they also boast the best navy in game.
- See the Shadowrun, 2nd Edition supplement Portfolio of a Dragon: Dunkelzhan's Secrets; in his will Dunkelzhan left a bequest of 5 million nuyen to the first party to establish a self-sustaining community of at least 100 persons on the ocean floor. Yamatetsu Corporation eventually won the bequest with their SoaTome AquaDomes.
- Transhuman Space has Elandra, an Australian-founded "free city" under the Pacific. It's more of a town than a city, really, but a respectably-sized one.
- Underwater cities have cropped up occasionally in the lore of Warhammer 40,000.
- Rapture from Bioshock, which gets extra points for being a Diesel Punk and Bio Punk city as well.
- The Crystal Dome from the last level of Heretic.
- The Call To Power series has sea cities.
- Aquaria has Mithalas City, which has long since been completely ruined after a Path of Inspiration corrupted its patron deity into a horrible monster. Guess what you end up fighting in the ruined cathedral.
- In Mass Effect, it's mentioned that Kahje, the homeworld of the aquatic Hanar has 90% of the surface covered by water and features impressive domed cities, originally built them for the Drell after the Hanar rescued most of their species from their dying homeworld, two centuries previously.
- In The Gamers Alliance, Adlivun is a thriving underwater city populated by merfolk known as merrows.
This is the year two thousand and twenty. The place is the Challenger seamount, the top of an underwater mountain, a complex beneath the sea. 250 men, women and children live here, each of them a scientist-pioneer. For this is our last frontier, a hostile environment which may hold the key to tomorrow. Each day these oceanauts meet new challenges, as they build their city beneath the sea. This is Sealab 2020.