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Absurd Altitude

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"Ed! Get down from the exosphere or I'm telling mom!"

A character, rising to some challenge, ascends to such incredible heights that the sky goes black, stars shine brightly, satellites in orbit hover just overhead, and the planet itself can now be seen floating in space below him.

Countries may even be labeled on the planet surface, as on a globe.

Despite the fact they've clearly left the atmosphere, Explosive Decompression is rarely invoked on a character in this situation. In fact, they can probably still breathe without problems. For cases when they ascended by building an impossibly-tall tower, see Star Scraper. For less over-the-top ascents, see Journey to the Sky.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rei Ayanami after merging wih the angel Lilith in End of Evangelion. For some context, she is seen standing (presumably) on the Earth and holding the Moon with her armsnote  without needing to reach upward.
  • In AKIRA, Tetsuo visits space for a couple of seconds to punch out a satellie laser weapon.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has Simon, Yoko and Kamina do this as they break through to the surface in the first episode. They may not leave the atmosphere but the curvature of the world is quite clearly visible.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, whenever Ash's Charizard uses Seismic Toss on his enemies, a globe will inexplicably appear as soon as Charizard starts to gain momentum so he can throw said enemy onto the ground.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • One Sunday strip shows views of Calvin ascending the ladder for the 'big' slide in the playground, climbing higher and higher and finally reaching orbit from Calvin's POV.
    • There was also the time they went to Mars. When they returned Calvin said he was pretty sure they lived in "a big purple country" and their house was "by the E in the word 'States'".

    Fan Works 
  • During the Unown meeting in the interim between the first Sinnoh Arc and the Unova Arc in We Are All Pokémon Trainers, the group gets teleported into space, being saved from dying due to the Unown's power. They end up seeing the planet in its entirety before being teleported to the Sinjoh Ruins.
  • In My Ridonculous Race while in Japan the Ice Dancers ride the famous Fujiyama coaster at Fujikyu Highland Theme Park. The ride to the top is described as going so high they pass demoiselle cranes, bar headed geese (both of which are species of birds known for flying over the Himalayas), and 2 people in a hot air balloon.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Ami ascends into space to use the great distance to delay her banishment into the Dark Gods' realm.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Delivery Stork in Dumbo looks down from the clouds and sees the southern United States, with all the states clearly labeled and colored.
  • In Over the Hedge, a propulsive propane tank sends Verne and R.J. over an airplane in flight.note 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • From the second film onward, this was the standard ending shot for Superman movies.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant falls off an incredibly high building in Toontown, so high only clouds are visible below and even an airplane flies underneath him. And in one of the Roger Rabbit shorts that were released with the movies as promos, Roger and Baby Herman go on a rollercoaster that goes this high.
  • The Blues Brothers contains a "live-action" example, where a car, full of pursuers of the main characters, run off the end of a bridge and suddenly find themselves plummeting onto downtown Chicago from a height of thousands of feet.
  • Happens to Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) when Slartibartfast takes him on a tour of Earth Two in a sort of hyperspeed elevator.
  • During The Hong Kong fight in Pacific Rim, Otachi grabs Gypsy Danger by its claws, before revealing that it has wings and can fly. It then, in about 30 seconds and seven flaps of its wings, carries itself and Gypsy Danger to what appears to be the edge of space.
  • In Moulin Rouge!, Zidler punches the Duke, causing his gun to fly through the air and hit the Eiffel Tower.


    Live-Action TV 

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The story of Daedaleus and Icarus from Classical Mythology. While attempting to escape King Minos' guards, Daedaleus and his son Icarus build fake wings as an attempt to fly off the island of Crete, but Icarus flies too high and as a result the sun (which is unusually very low in the sky) burns off his wings causing him to fall into the ocean and drown.
  • Haphaestus was thrown from the top of Mount Olympus, and per the Iliad, fell for more than a day, although he did land in the ocean (or in other accounts, on an island; ouch).
    • Wouldn't matter; after a certain height(which Olympus is well past, even in reality), water may as well be concrete.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Worlds of Synnibarr roleplaying game features an engineered mountain range that is impossible to climb for the simple reason that it extends beyond the planet's atmosphere.

    Video Games 
  • Avalon Code allows you to use a technique that literally combos an enemy into the sky, as the background shifts from the map you're on to the world map... then to the planet... then to the galaxy... and if you're really, really good (it's quite a feat even to get to this level, since the window gets smaller with each hit), you can make even the galaxy a small blue dot.
  • Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica: When your party is going up the space elevator to the satellite. The floors are made of glass!
  • Katamari Damacy games tend to do this towards the end, when the size of your katamari becomes comparable to the size of the Earth.
  • Terraria lets you visit the uppermost layer of the world, named Space. Depending on your gear and the size of your world, you could reach it in a single leap.
  • The Unreal Tournament map "Morpheus" is based on an absurdly tall triplet of skyscrapers, said to be 12 miles high. The version in the sequels takes this to even more ridiculous proportions.
  • In the flash game Dolphin Olympics you can jump over the moon or reach the Restaurant at the End of the Universe".
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Parodied in Stinkoman 20X6, where Stinkoman jumps this high to get over a wall that is only just out of his normal jumping reach, spending the rest of the stage first flying upwards, then falling down.
  • The La Costa Lotta hotel in Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! has a bungee jumping facility so high up that it reaches into space.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Rocko's Modern Life:
    • Done with a roller coaster in the episode "Carnival Knowledge".
    • "Who Gives A Buck" features an absurdly tall parking garage; Heffer gets a nosebleed on the way up, and a satellite is seen going by on the very top level.
    • Done with an office building in "Magic Meatball".
  • And on a diving board in The Fairly Oddparents.
    • Then there was the time Francis got shot into space by going off a skateboard ramp.
  • Shows up a few times in Ed, Edd n Eddy. In "A Pinch to Grow an Ed", the adjustable shoes Edd makes for Eddy extend into Earth orbit when they malfunction, this is what the page picture depicts. In "They Call Him Mr. Ed", Ed manages to build a space elevator from random junk.
  • In the Clarence episode "Water Park", the top of a roller coaster at the titular setting is seen above flying airplanes.
  • There is a bit of Lampshade Hanging in one episode of Family Guy when Brian and Stewie are flying over Europe in a balloon. Brian notes that he didn't know that borders and labels were actually visible from far up.
  • This happens once in Johnny Test, when Johnny's sisters made an amusement park ride that literally went all the way into space just to scare him out of having an amusement park all around the house.
  • Looney Tunes, anyone? Especially in the early episodes where the sky was still blue and cloudy even though Earth was getting smaller and smaller....
  • The first Droopy cartoon "Dumb Hounded" has the Wolf jumping off a skyscraper that's so tall the view down shows all of the northeastern U.S., with state lines delineated!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • The series uses the surface of the ocean for this, often times cutting to that little live-action island from the opening. Depending on whether basic physics feel like applying to the situation, a character going this high might fall back down as if through air, or float down gently.
    • "Big Pink Loser": When Patrick believes he won an award, he shows it off to the island.
    • At the end of "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost", Spongebob blows a bubble that carries Squidward out of the water, and the island is seen when his bubble reaches the surface.
    • In "Mrs. Puff, You're Fired", SpongeBob goes flying straight up from a ramp on a driving course (while crawling, no less) and pops up out of the water briefly.
  • In "Rollercoaster", first episode of Phineas and Ferb
  • Used seriously in Avatar: The Last Airbender in the episode "The Guru", when Aang is trying to induce the Avatar State. He is standing on a pathway in space, and looks down on his world before he comes crashing down when he realizes Katara's in danger.
  • Occurs in the House of Mouse animated shorts "Donald's Pool" and "Mickey's Rival Returns."
  • The ending of King Size Canary, which shows the Earth floating in the middle of an endless sky.
  • One Animaniacs episode had a shopkeeper get an item from the highest shelf, first running into a mountain goat and then a floating astronaut.
  • In the Rugrats episode "The Slide," Chuckie climbs to the top of a slide and looks down to see this, thus becoming afraid of all slides, the main thrust of the episode. The actual slide he was on wasn't really this high, it was just in his imagination. Also, the slide was indoors, so there were no stars or clouds as is usually the case for this trope.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "The Tower", the plot revolves around Finn attempting to build a tower into space so that he can find and get revenge on his absent father. It actually touches on the altitude issue, as his plan stalls when he gets too high and passes out from lack of oxygen.
  • The Steven Universe episode "Ocean Gem" features Lapis Lazuli trying to reach her Homeworld on a distant planet. Without a spaceship, she tries to leave Earth by hoisting the ocean's water into a tower that stretches far above the atmosphere.

    Real Life 
  • The Space Elevator, a proposed alternative to using shuttles to reach low earth orbit, would consist of a counterweight in geosynchronous orbit tethered to the surface with a super-strong cable which could then be "climbed" by the car. Sounds like something right out of one of these cartoons, but provided we're able to develop a strong enough material for the cable, it could become a reality in our lifetime. Unfortunately, there is no currently known material strong enough to act as a cable. Carbon nanotubes would be strong enough in theory but there is no way to make a cable out of them with current technology.