MrInitialMan on Jan 12th 2012 at 12:06:44 AM
Last Edited By:
Basara-kun on Jul 10th 2018 at 11:08:11 AM
Page Type: Trope
Dust is a collection of particles shed from just about everything and distributed through everyday movement. That is, it's effectively a waste product of excess and so not easily formed from whole objects or people. Beyond incineration to turn something into ash, the only real way to make whole things into dust is some form of disintegration. This isn't all that common in real life.
However, in media it's quite a fun way of destroying something utterly. Early low-budget special effects techniques were able to create this sort of image, and it has been a popular visual since. When you're shooting a beam at a large block, you would expect it to turn to rubble or some lava-esque state; it will instead collapse into a pile of dust. Such conversions often will happen to parts of the object which are far away from the beam at the same instant as the spot the beam is actually hitting. It's also one way to present what seems like a very final death or even a kid-friendly, body-less death, or may be what is due to alien biology. If you enjoy Gallows Humor, someone nearby might call out "don't sneeze".
For living creatures, this may occur as a result of a Disintegrator Ray, or as a result of No Immortal Inertia and Rapid Aging. If done to human beings, can result in Empty Piles of Clothing. Compare Fading Away, where the disappeared character or thing fades away completely. Will often result in Sweeping Ashes.
- Every single Will It Blend? video involves grinding something to dust, and the host telling the audience not to breathe it in.
- This happens to any Youma hit by Moon Tiara Action in Sailor Moon. It didn't happen to some Youma, however- one was shattered to pieces after being hit instead.
- In the Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics version of Beauty and the Beast, Maria gets so sad while staying with the Beast that her emotions turn things such as dinner and flowers, into dust.
- Watchmen: As the heroes approach Ozymandias' hideout, Dr. Manhattan is caught in a trap: an intrinsic field remover that reduces him to atoms. This doesn't stop him in the least, as he explains after reforming himself a few seconds later, since experimenting with his intrinsic field was the first thing he did after the accident that gave him his powers.
- An early Donald Duck story by Carl Barks, entitled In Ancient Persian saw Donald and his nephews discovering a lost Persia city whose nobility had used a special radium compound to turn themselves into fine dust — on purpose, as the dust could be regenerated back into a living body at any time in the future. The story's main antagonist, an Omnicidal Maniac Mad Scientist is trying to seize control of the dehydrating formula to spread it throughout the planet and destroy the reviving formulas, thus becoming the last man on Earth. (Eventually, he suffers a Karmic Death of being dried-up himself, with his dust quickly getting mingled with the sand.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin is playing with Dad's binoculars when he drops them and breaks them. When Hobbes asks how bad the damage was, Calvin reveals a box of dust.
- Dungeon Keeper Ami: Vampires turn to ashes when they truly die, or at least, when killed with lightning.
- The Villain from Disney's Tangled is Really 700 Years Old, and seems about to suffer a Disney Villain Death. However, bereft of her source of vitality, she undergoes No Immortal Inertia to the point that impact with the ground results in a billowy dust cloud and Empty Piles of Clothing.
- As Princess Anastasia begins crushing the Artifact of Doom beneath her heel, The Villain Rasputin falls to the pavement and begins aging rapidly, until his skin and flesh crumble to ashes that blow away on the wind. This leaves only his jittering skeleton, which with one last crushing stomp by the plucky heroine, likewise dissolves into calcium salts that disappear completely in the wind. "Dasvidaniya," indeed.
- Coco: Victims of the Final Death disintegrate into dust, which then drifts off into the wind.
- The Minions decide to throw a birthday party for their Bad Boss, Count Dracula. They open his casket and awaken him. Groggily, Dracula sits upright. Then the goofballs cheer in unison, and throw open the sash to highlight their 357th birthday cake. Poor Drac screams and flails as direct sunlight shines upon his vampire self. In seconds, he's solidified into an ashen statue. Goes From Bad to Worse as one minion tries blowing on him, completing the disintegration.
- The Sanderson Witches in Hocus Pocus die this way when the power of the Black Flame Candle runs out.
- Batman: The Movie: Commodore Schmidlapp's "instant whiskeymaker" can be used to remove all of the water from living creatures, reducing them to dust.
- Night of the Comet: When the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, all of the living creatures fully exposed to the comet chemicals are reduced to a red dust.
- Life Force. If a zombie can't quickly drain more Life Energy after waking up, it explodes into dust.
- Constantine. After Constantine blasts Balthazar with Dragonsbreath and reduced him to pieces, the Big Bad reduces him to dust and blows him away, resulting in an Empty Pile Of Clothing.
- Professor Quinirus Quirrell dies this way in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. After revealing he's carrying Voldemort and try to kill Harry, he noticed his touch burns Quirrell's skin, so Harry grabs Professor's face with his hands and he started to burn at the point of being turned into ashes, this was due to the protective charm Harry's mother left in his skin when she died for him.
- In both movie versions of The Time Machine, books are so ancient by 802701 AD that they easily collapse into dust.
- A common form of death is seen in the Indiana Jones movies, in which the villains (Nazi leaders) finally take the treasures they're looking for and ended in a Fate Worse than Death, usually being converted into dust.
- Avengers: Infinity War: Though in the original comic book they simply disappeared, the popular movie adaptation has half the population of the universe disappear by fading into dust, including about half of the heroes, with some taken to memetic levels.
- According to Star Trek: Nemesis, exposure to thalaron radiation somehow converts liquid water in a living body to a solid. Double Agent Romulan Senator Tal-aura leaves a thalaron generator behind in the Senate chamber, where it looses its thalaron particles. Praetor Hiren is seen solidifying where he stands, his face crumbling to dust in patches. A similar fate may be construed for his fellow Senators during this coup d'etat.
- Done in the film version of I Am Number Four with all alien people and creatures, presumably to not leave lots of dead bodies lying everywhere, especially with an expanded audience including younger people.
- In Labyrinths of Echo, this is Shurf Lonli-Lokli's specialty. He owns an artifact that instantly dustifies anything it touches (except specifically designed Phlebotinum-Handling Equipment) and can also shoot disintegration beams up to a certain range.
- A bubble of evil does this to a city block in The Wheel of Time.
- Aging to dust happens at least twice in the original Twilight Zone series:
- A columnist loses his youth, then his life to a ageless beauty queen with a magical scarab ring in "Queen of the Nile".
- In "Long Live Walter Jameson", a charismatic and deeply knowledgeable history professor proposes to marry one of his students, but her father (a colleague on the faculty) objects to the match. It turns out that the professor lectures from experience, as he's been alive for centuries. One of his past wives shoots him fatally, and he ages rapidly as he dies, leaving his clothing full of dust.
- In the Buffyverse vampires explode to dust when they get staked. Makes a certain amount of sense for old vamps like the Master; but even fresh vampires, like those who just came out of the ground after being turned, turn to dust upon slayage. In Real Life it was designed that way so they wouldn't hae to deal with dead bodies lying all over the place.
- This Jerry Seinfield quote:
Men hang on to underwear until each individual underwear molecule is so strained it can barely retain the properties of a solid. It actually becomes underwear vapor. We don't even throw it out. We just open a window and it goes out like dandelion spores.
- Heroes: When Adam Monroe (who has Immortality as his special ability) gets his ability stolen by Arthur Petrelli he turns to dust, then crumbles.
- Doctor Who
- In the story "Nightmare of Eden", the monsters disintegrate into piles of dust when they're killed. This turns out to be an important plot point.
- In the first episode of Series 1 Finale, "Bad Wolf", humans are part of a futuristic and deadly version of The Weakest Link, in which "the weakest link" is turned into dust by a Disintegrator Ray. The good news is it isn't really disintegrated but teleported and alive, the bad news... is teleported into a Dalek ship to be processed.
- seaQuest DSV: The episode "By Any Other Name" has the crew arrive at an underwater research station where the crew has seemingly vanished, but they find strange piles of dust all over the place. Throughout, people keep disappearing, leaving more piles of dust. The culprit is eventually found to be some genetically engineered plant that suck the water out of people, leaving just dried piles of dust. It's about as silly as it sounds.
- The Magic: The Gathering card "All Is Dust".
- Warhammer 40,000: The backstory behind the Thousand Sons chapter is that the sorcerer Ahriman cast a spell that would protect the Chapter from mutation, which worked perfectly (From a Certain Point of View, as incinerated piles of dust are no longer susceptible to mutation). The vast majority of the Thousand Sons chapter now consists of Rubric Marines, who are suits of Animated Power Armor with the powdered remain of the former Marine inside and his soul bound to the armor.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- This is the result of a Disintegrate spell being cast on a creature that fails its save against it.
- 1st Edition ''Dungeon Master's Guide". The section covering the creation of magical potions mentions that when spectres and vampires are destroyed, they are reduced to dust.
- White Dwarf magazine
- Issue #24 adventure "The Lair of Maldred the Mighty". A metal trunk has Mort (a Glyph of Warding that causes destruction) laid on it. Anyone who touches the trunk without saying the glyph's name will set it off. Anyone affected by the glyph is turned to dust.
- Issue #26 article "Treasure Chest". The Dagger of the Dunedain kills any undead it hits and turns it into dust.
- In Devil May Cry 3, the demon mooks dissolves into sand upon defeat. Justified as they're indeed using sands as a conduit.
- In Undertale, monsters don't leave corpses when they die. Instead their body disintegrates into dust.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: After defeating Beast Ganon, Midna teleports Link and Zelda away before transforming into some kind of demonic glowing octopus-thing again. We then cut to Link and Zelda in the field, watching explosions rocking the castle. Then Ganondorf shows up on horseback, holding the Fused Shadow that Midna had been using as a hat the whole game.... and disintegrates it. Cue the second phase of the boss battle.
- When a character defeats Jinpachi Mishima in Tekken 5, he dissolves to dust, due to the fact that the evil spirit that possessed him engulfed him in flames.
- Crash Bandicoot: flame obstacles and attacks will burn Crash and turn him into a pile of ash.
- Blazblue Cross Tag Battle: Blake's Astral Heat ends with the opponent turning to dust that flies away upon the final hit.
- In Earthworm Jim games, when you lose a life, the Powered Armor implodes and usually Jim is turned to dust.
- The Whiteboard is going through a story arc where a marker went through a rock tumbler and was reduced to dust. Yes, the customer wants it fixed.
- The fate of Kabuta at the hands of Vaarsuvius in The Order of the Stick:
Vaarsuvius: Disintegrate.Kubota is reduced to a pile of ash.Vaarsuvius: Gust of Wind.A gust of wind blows away the ashes.Vaarsuvius: Now can we PLEASE resume saving the world?
- In Lioden's "Rise of the Serpent" event, the Chthonic Snakes that the player encounters while exploring crumple to dust if the player binds their essence to the Ankh. Interestingly, they do not turn to dust if the player fights and defeats them in battle.
- Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century
Duck Dodgers: And brother, when it disintegrates, it disintegrates! [Fires pistol - pistol disintegrates to dust] Well what do you know...it disintegrated.
- Marvin the Martian fires his A-1 Disintegrating Pistol at Duck Dodgers, reducing him to dust. Luckily Dodgers' assistant has a Acme Integrating Pistol and returns him to normal.
- Duck Dodgers fires his disintegrator pistol at Marvin.
- Mickey Mouse in the 1995 short cartoon Runaway Brain finds himself in a Shackle Seat Trap while Mad Scientist Doctor Frankenollie throws the Big Electric Switch. This results in the mind of Mickey Mouse being transferred to the body of a hulking, brutish monster, and vice versa. The monster-minded Mickey Mouse bursts his bonds and goes running around loose. The Mickey-minded monster seizes the Mad Scientist by his lapels, and demands that he reverse the process. At this point, the fiend's body falls to ashes out of his lab coat, thoroughly fried by his No OSHA Compliance device.
- In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode, "Take This Ed and Shove It", while attempting to extract three jawbreakers from Nazz's desk drawer when Nazz attempts to become a dentist under the Eds' advice, Eddy gets knocked out and has a dream where he and all the other Cul-de-sac Kids have aged by 90 years. When Eddy finally gets his hands on the desk drawer and the jawbreakers inside, it disintegrates into a pile of dust, which Edd points out has happened because it aged for 90 years.
- Bunnicula is reduced to a pile of ashes after being exposed to direct sunlight. Fortunately, since Bunnicula's eyeballs remain intact, he's still alive, just inert. Exposure to moonlight restores him to normal.
- Seen a lot in Looney Tunes classic shorts in which the character has Ash Face and the objects around are reduced to dust if an explosion occurs close to the character. Mostly seen in Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner series, in which Wile E. happened this because of some of the ACME Products he used to catch Road Runner.
- The Fairly OddParents!: In "Action Packed", after Timmy wishes the world were like an action movie, Jorgen, playing the villain, drains Cosmo and Wanda's magic to fuel his own, causing them to grow older and turn to dust.
Cosmo: Man, I was almost allergic to myself.
- In the Johnny Bravo episode "Bootman", when Johnny gets superpowers from wearing the boots of a superhero that got crushed by a meteorite, he tries to demonstrate the ability to use his Super Strength to pressurize rocks into gems... using some women's jewelry, which is turned into dust instead.
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