Many works have the Holy Hand Grenade
: a purifying, holy blast of light and goodness which eradicates evil in sight, turning it into a dusty pile of ash.
However, what happens if it gets reversed?
The Unholy Nuke tends to be a power fit for a Big Bad
: a devastating magic/technique/ritual fueled by unholy power, often the Evil Counterpart
to a technique used by the good guys. Usually it involves Black Magic
and darkness, but other elements can play a role as well. Bonus points if it's Powered by a Forsaken Child
. It may be a Dangerous Forbidden Technique
. Sometimes an Evil Knockoff
will use this as a dark mirror of one of the hero's own powers. In Video Games
, expect to see it used by the Final Boss
See also Light Is Not Good
, Casting a Shadow
, Person of Mass Destruction
. May or not be part of a Yin-Yang Bomb
. Contrast Holy Hand Grenade
. See also Fantastic Nuke
, where the emphasis is on the scale of the damage done regardless of whether the spell is specifically "unholy" or not.
Anime and Manga
- Naruto has the Bijudama, which literally means 'Tailed Beast Ball/Tailed Beast Bomb', the strongest attack of a Tailed Beast or its Jinchuuriki. It gathers positive and negative chakra into a sphere, compresses it, and turns it into a Wave Motion Gun that, at full power, can wipe off mountains and even islands. The "unholy" part certainly fits when Naruto uses it in his berserk 4 / 6-tailed states, but Killer Bee is on good terms with his Beast and can use his full power at will. When Naruto achieves the same rapport with Kurama, they pull off a Bijudama stronger than six others put together.
- Nagato destroyed Konoha via a giant gravity nuke which is a giant form of Shinra Tensei.
- In Fairy Tail Jellal's magic Altearis consist in an extremely devastating orb. In the anime it sucks all the shadows in the room towards it and makes Natsu sick just by standing near it. Later, Brain / Zero's spell "Genesis Zero" is pretty much this, only with a tsunami of black shadows.
- Yaiba has the Devil King Sword's Full Moon Blast, used by Onimaru. Furthermore, all the attacks performed with the Devil King Sword are fueled by the negative feelings of the wielder.
- The Slayers:
- Lina Inverse's Dragon Slave spell (when it is not Played for Laughs). Just listen to the incantation:
One who is darker than twilight
One who is redder than flowing blood
Buried in the flow of time
In thy great name,
I hereby pledge myself to darkness
Those who stand before us in our way
All those who have become fools
Merge your power and mine
To grant destruction equally to all!!
- The "one" to whom the incantation addresses is no one other than Shabranigdo, the Satan figure of the Slayers world. Yes, this spell is often Played for Laughs. It's that kind of series.
- There's also the Giga Slave spell, which calls upon the (technically Chaotic Neutral) Lord of Nightmares, creator of all things. It's powerful enough to make the Dragon Slave look like a capgun, since it literally erases whatever it touches from existence... but if the caster loses control, it will destroy the entire universe.
- In Dragon Ball GT there is the Revenge Death ball, powered by the hate of Baby's followers. Also Omega Shenron's negative energy ball, made from all the bad karma left over from all the sins on Earth.
- In One Piece there's God Eneru with his infamous, island-annihilating Raigou◊.
- In Bleach Barraggan's Respira , Ulquiorra's Cero Oscuras and Lanza del Relampago, and Hollow Ichigo's horned Cero.
- The Lyrical Nanoha series has Diabolic Emission, a massive sphere of black energy that covers several city blocks and greatly harms targets caught within its blast radius. Its incantation is "In an ancient land, sink to the darkness."
- Digimon Frontier has a few. Velgemon has Dark Obliteration and ShadowSeraphimon has Strike of the Seven Dark Stars (Seven Hells in the Japanese version). Lucemon provides a more unusual example with his Ultimate Sacrifice attack, which uses light in addition to darkness.
- In Willow the main villain Bavmorda wants to use a ritual whose end is to wipe the victim away from existence.
- The Darkhallow ritual from The Dresden Files is the ultimate necromantic spell that kills everything, both living and spirit, within several miles' radius, then turns the caster into a Physical God.
- There's also the bloodline curse from Changes, which kills everyone related to a sacrificial victim. It is ultimately used by Harry to destroy the entire Red Court.
- The Thought Bomb in Darth Bane Path of Destruction is one such example; using Sith energy, it obliterates all Force-sensitives (and for those close enough, all life-forms) within its radius, including the Sith who used it.
- The Psalms of Isaak series brings us the Seven Cacaphonic Deaths of Xhum Y'Zir, which is every bit as nasty as it sounds. Devised by the Wizard-King Xhum Y'Zir two thousand years ago using Blood Magic to avenge the deaths of his seven sons at the hands of rebels, it calls down seven successive cataclysms on the target location, which are collectively more than enough to kill anyone and level any structure within the vicinity, leaving behind only a charred wasteland filled with bones (since Y'Zir specifically designed the spell not to harm bone, presumably to leave evidence of his handiwork for anyone to see). This was responsible for devastating much of the known world in the backstory (Y'Zir went a little overboard in his revenge), and is considered the most powerful and darkest spell ever devised, to the point that the mere threat of it being rediscovered causes kings to Freak Out.
- In Deadlands: Hell on Earth, these are actual demonic Magitek nukes. That destroy the world.
- Another very literal example is from GURPS Technomancer: the necronium bomb. Plain and simple nukes became unusable in that setting because they set off cataclysmic mana vortexes that may destroy the whole world in one blast, so the necromantic magical replacement was created.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The Talisman of Ultimate Evil. In the hands of an Evil High Priest it could be used to open a flaming crack at the feet of a Good priest and send him or her to the center of the planet.
- Unholy Water causes damage to creatures from the Upper Outer planes (the planes of Lawful Good, Neutral Good and Chaotic Good).
- In the Second Edition of AD&D, the creature Death Knight is able to use a unique 20th level fireball, which was off-limits to player characters from this edition on (they were limited to 10th level fireballs).
- Warhammer 40,000 is full of these. Basically any time Chaos is involved, expect Unholy Nukes to be flying thick and fast.
- Virus bombs are Imperial superweapons used to clear a planet of all life, but leaving infrastructure intact. however, they've stopped using the ever since they found out using them strengthens Nurgle, the Chaos god of disease.
- Exalted has a few of these to contrast the more enlightened ones:
- The Solar Circle Sorcery spell Total Annihilation isn't automatically unholy, given who wields it... but it's still the equivalent of a fantasy nuke, and relies on calling on a portion of the energy of Ligier, Hell's green sun.
- More directly descended from Ligier are Malfeas's more...extreme Green Sun Nimbus Flare expansions, and Demon Emperor Shintai. Both of which contain actual radiation sickness on hell steroids.
- Mouth of the Void, a Void Circle Necromancy spell that does hideous amounts of damage to all creatures over a large area. Given its level, it can only be learned by Abyssals, who usually aren't on the side of goodness and light. Usually.
- Several black cards in Magic: The Gathering work like this. The most straightforward is probably Damnation, which simply kills every creature on the field and stops them from being regenerated, and is the black mana equivalent to the otherwise identical Wrath of God. Others include Plague Wind, which does the same thing as Damnation but doesn't kill your own creatures and costs a lot more.
- The Old World of Darkness featured the Technocracy's "Code Ragnorok," a literal nuke, albeit a fairly small scale one, that detonates in the spirit world as well as the physical, destroying ghosts, spiritual beings and the souls of anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the blast. To their credit they only used it once, against a potentially world-ending threat.
- The spell "Flare" from Final Fantasy I can be this, as its counterpart is the "Holy" spell from the White Mage. Also in Final Fantasy II Flare takes the form of a dark nuclear blast and some powerful evil enemies can cast it.
- From Final Fantasy VII there's the Meteor spell cast by Sephiroth. Note that in previous games Meteor was far more neutral.
- Final Fantasy IX has the spell "Doomsday", which damages everyone on the battlefield with the Shadow element, and is the most potent Black Magic spell. To use it effectively, you have to shield your party from that element.
- in Final Fantasy XIV, Ultima becomes this, being the ultimate attack of the main storyline's final boss and explicitly mentioned as being powered by the resident God of Evil, Zodiark.
- The "Dark Holy" spell from Final Fantasy Tactics, used exclusively by the highest order of demons, fits this bill to a T. Its animation even parallels the Holy spell (Fade to Black vs Fade to White, ending with a deathly scream instead of an angelic choir.)
- In Mass Effect 2, when possessing a puppet, the Reaper Harbinger has a special version of of the "Warp" ability that probably qualifies (it's yellow with ominous black lightning as opposed to the usual blue).
- In Jedi Knight Jerec can use the "Destruction" Force Power. It's a Dark Side attack that consist in a fiery ball of flames and negative energy that destroy everything on its path.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic, Death Ripple damages all non-undead units on the battlefield. Unholy Word from V does the same, but also excludes demons.
- Spellforce: The Black Magic sub-branch of Death has the quickest damage output in the game.
- Secret of Mana had the unholy nukes dark force and evil gate.
- In Suikoden, pretty much all of the Soul Eater's spells are considered this.
- The Ultimate Insult from Escape from Monkey Island is one of the most powerful Voodoo artifacts around, though is not that lethal for the body, but annihilates the spirit.
- The Demonic Megiddo from the Castlevania series is the Dark Lord's most powerful attack, and tends to be a One-Hit Kill super powerful spell used mainly by Dracula or Death.
- The Carronnade from Breath of Fire IV is possibly the most horrific example of this trope ever, fueling its Unholy Nukes with soul-crushing torment and turning that anguish into a weapon of mass destruction that turns the area for miles around into a nightmare that gives Hell a run for its money.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny gives the Ruler of Darkness, Lord Dearche, a new Limit Break called Juggernaut, which is her equivalent to Hayate's Ragnarok. In contrast to Hayate's converging beam of white light, she rains down several black beams around her target then detonates them, engulfing her opponent and the battlefield in several explosions of darkness.
- While the series typically features demons armed with Black Magic curses versus angels equipped with Holy Hand Grenades, the first Nexus War game made an exception for Breath of the Dead Child, a nuke powered by the breaths of dying children harvested from haunted pediatric wards. The sequel's version is powered by dying breaths everywhere and is no longer age-specific.
- Warcraft III:
- The Death Coil spell is the Holy Light spell in reverse, healing a huge amount of life of an allied Undead unit or harming a living enemy for half the amount. In Warcraft II, it was (comparatively) even deadlier, as it could one-shot most units, two-shot the rest, and healed the Squishy Wizard caster with every cast.
- The Undead faction is the only one where every Hero Unit has an immediate high-damage spell targeting at least one unit (Impale and Carrion Swarm do damage in a line, Impale also adds stun, and Frost Nova damages all units around the target and slows them), meaning three Undead heroes can reduce an enemy hero's life to nothing in less than five seconds, forcing a retreat.
- In 8-Bit Theater Black Mage mentions that he gained his Hadoken spell (essentially an all-purpose nuke) through sacrificing children to his wanton gods of evil. This surprises no one.
- It's also mentioned that it's powered by consuming love from the universe, and that the divorce rate rises slightly every time he uses it.
- Dominic Deegan has a rare example of one used by a good character. Dark Soul Burst is a spell powered by anger and hatred, and is typically used by Luna when someone REALLY pisses her off. The first time it's used, it knocks out Siegfried, a rather strong royal knight, in a single shot.
- In The Order of the Stick, the "Familicide" spell is an extremely powerful necromantic spell that kills everyone related to its target, no matter how distant the blood connection. There are dire consequences when Spliced!V uses it against a Black Dragon to avert a Cycle of Revenge, since Girard Draketooth and his entire clan, the guardians of one of the Gates, were related to that dragon.
- The full extent of its effects is unknown, but the bomb that ended the Great Mushroom War in Adventure Time almost certainly qualifies. It does not appear to cause an explosion of the magnitude of a conventional nuke, but it exudes a greenish cloud of what appear to be tormented souls and creates a largish puddle of green toxic waste that mutates the first person exposed to it into an Omnicidal Maniac Lich powerful enough to serve as the series' Big Bad.