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Dig Attack

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An attack that a Mole Monster can use on targets, digging underneath the target and surfacing only to strike. Opponents are at the mercy of such an attack if they have no way of hitting the user underground and have to wait until the user breaches from the surface. May involve Fast Tunnelling and Worm Sign.

May overlap with Barrier-Busting Blow or Ankle Drag.

See also Antlion Monster and Sand Worm.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • One Piece: Miss Merry Christmas, who can turn into a mole, can dig underground and then entrap an enemy's legs from underground with her claws, then dragging him towards her partner, Mr. 4, to be bashed by his heavy baseball bat.
  • Naruto: During the Chunin Exam arc, Naruto dives into a hole in the field left from earlier in the battle and distracts his opponent Neji with a shadow Doppelgänger, then emerges from the ground beneath Neji and decks him with an uppercut to the jaw.
  • MapleStory: When Vellum surfaces, he deals damage to anyone under him, and can inflict Stun; he can also leap out and dive back in a large distance, dealing as much damage as the fire attack.
  • Pokémon Adventures: Kit, Dia's Lickilicky, knows is able to burrow into the ground to attack an enemy.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • In Legion of Super-Heroes storyline The Great Darkness Saga, Supergirl dodges Darkseid's Omega Beams by burying herself underground. Then she bursts out right below Darkseid, grabs him and body slams him back into the ground in quick succession.
    • Last Daughter of Krypton: During their battle with the Worldkillers, Kara suddenly feels the ground beneath her feet shaking. One second later, Deimax bursts out of the ground, hoisting a subway car which he hurls at Kara.
    • The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor: Since frontal direct attacks against Blackrock are useless, Kara buries herself underground and emerges right behind the villain.
      Blackrock: Supergirl— Behind me—?
      Supergirl: You think Con Ed has a monopoly on digging, Blackrock?

    Comic Strips 
  • Hal Foster's Prince Valiant has shown Viking raiders breeching the walls of Camelot by digging tunnels beneath the walls, and installing wooden support beams to control the load. When the tunnel has extended completely past the wall, the support beams are ignited. Once the supports fail, the ground above sinks, collapsing a large part of the stone wall with it. These failure gaps allow the Vikings to launch attack forays into the interior of Camelot. Truth in Television, as this has been a known and proven assault technique since ancient times.

    Fan Works 
  • In Loyalty, burying herself and attacking her enemies from below is Sakura's first jutsu, and one of her best. She turns it into an amazingly flexible tool.

  • Tremors
    • The Graboids' standard attack is to burrow underneath their human/animal prey, grab them with their tentacles and pull them underground (and into their mouths to be eaten).
    • The Graboids can attack vehicles resting on the surface by digging under them (dropping them underground) or bursting their tires. They have also been known to dig underground tunnels near the surface in a vehicle's path to trap it.
  • Flash Gordon (1980): While Flash is escaping from Prince Barin he's attacked by a monster living under the ground. It grabs him with its legs and expands around him, capturing him and trying to eat him.

  • Played straight in Tolkien's Legendarium and for humour in Pratchett's Discworld, it is hinted that this is how Dwarfs carry out war underground. Dwarf war appears to consist in aggressive mining, digging and listening for the other side's tunnels and shafts, and breaking through either to launch direct assaults or else to sneakily undermine and collapse enemy delvings.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Jim has just enough time to start freaking out about the blade beast in front of him, before the ground gives way under its legs and it's dragged underground by dozens of mandibles (from the ants ambushing it).
    Anthony: I wouldn't worry about it.
  • Dune. In the original novel, a Sand Worm traveling beneath the sand moves under a spice harvester and sucks it underground by creating a giant sand whirlpool.
    "The worm is now beneath the crawler," Kynes said. "You are about to witness a thing few have seen."
    Flecks of dust shadowed the sand around the crawler now. The big machine began to tip down to the right. A gigantic sand whirlpool began forming there to the right of the crawler. It moved faster and faster. Sand and dust filled the air now for hundreds of meters around.
    A wide hole emerged from the sand. Sunlight flashed from glistening white spokes within it. The hole's diameter was at least twice the length of the crawler, Paul estimated. He watched as the machine slid into that opening in a billow of dust and sand.
  • Richard Adams's Watership Down has The Lancer Bigwig hide in a hollow in one of the rabbit tunnels, then be covered in dirt. When the Big Bad General Woundwort comes to recapture his females, his forefeet sink into the hollow. This signals Bigwig to spring at him, catching Woundwort off-balance and with poor leverage. This tactic is faithfully depicted in Nepenthe Productions' Animated Adaptation.
  • Discussed in one of the Gor books, where the tactics of mining under a city's walls, and counter-mining are talked about in a digression by the narrator.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Unchained Woman". As Buck and his fellow prison escapee Jen Burton are trekking across a desert, Jen is attacked by an underground monster that uses a tentacle to pull her into its clutches.
  • The Time Team episode "Bridgenorth Castle" describes how, in real-life, merely the threat of a Dig Attack could be a winning move. The attackers dug a tunnel underneath the castle, which the besieged defenders could hear being dug, and because there was no way to counter-attack they had to surrender or face being exploded by gunpowder placed there. They surrendered.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons.
    • The Miner is a manta ray-like monster that hunts by burrowing up to within a few inches of the surface and sticking its poisonous barbed spines up through the surface. When a creature steps on the spines they're paralyzed for 20-400 minutes, during which time the miner eats it. It is very difficult to attack the miner unless it's dug out of its hiding place.
    • Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix. The caecillia is a 30 foot long worm that lurks under loose soil. When a creature approaches, it surfaces and attacks it.
    • Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix II: Terrors Beyond Tyr
      • Earth elemental beasts can move as quickly and easily through earth as most creatures can move through the air. They like to hide below the surface of the ground and erupt through it to attack their victim with total surprise.
      • Mastyrials are Scary Scorpions that grow up to 6 feet long. They hibernate underground and wait. When prey approaches, they detect it with their superior hearing, burst out of the ground and attack.
  • Shadowrun supplement Paranormal Animals of Europe: the Burrowing Beaver digs kilometers long tunnel systems underground. It can hear vibrations from creatures walking on the surface and collapse its tunnels under victims to trap them, then attack them.
  • The Tyranid Trygon from Warhammer 40,000 has the ability to dig underground and execute a devastating attack on the troops above it as it surfaces.
  • Villains & Vigilantes adventure Devil's Domain. The Sl'sssk demon's head is made up of eight long squid-like tentacles. The demon hides underground and sticks its tentacles up through the soil to grab creatures on the surface and pull them below.
  • Varanae generic RPG supplement Monstrum 1. The Sand Octopus lives underground and can attack creatures on the surface with its eight Combat Tentacles, each doing 1-6 Hit Points of damage.
  • SPI's Dragon Quest supplement The Enchanted Wood. One of the many dangers of the Enchanted Wood is the underground Spike Root plant. When a creature passes overhead they shoot out of the ground and pierce the victim like pungi stakes, draining the victim's blood to feed themselves.
  • Midkemia Press' Heart of the Sunken Lands. Starge's Moles burrow under game trails leaving hollow areas underneath them. When prey walks on the hollow area the moles will collapse the surface, trapping the victims in the hole and attacking them in a group.

  • In Henry V, one scene focuses on miners, who dig tunnels under the walls of the cities they're attacking.

    Video Games 
  • Dig Dug. While a monster is moving around on the surface your character can tunnel up below him and attack through the surface of the ground, pumping the monster full of air and destroying it.
  • Pokémon: The move Dig is a 2-turn attack that starts with the user digging underground and for the most part safe from any attack the opponent will do, then attacks on the next turn. Only moves like Magnitude, Earthquake, and Fissure, along with moves which bypass accuracy checks (depending on the generation), can hit a Pokemon using Dig. (Although the first two will deal double damage for doing so.)
  • StarCraft:
    • Starcraft I has the Zerg's burrowing ability, which allows every ground unit (except the Ultralisk) to burrow, sacrificing movement for invisibility. Lurkers, an evolution of the Hydralisk, need to be burrowed to attack by sending rows of spines at enemies.
    • Ultralisks in Starcraft II have an optional campaign-only ability called Burrow Charge, where they burrow, tunnel towards the enemy and breach explosively, damaging the units.
      • The Apocalisk has one of the greatest examples of the power of Zerg exploding from beneath your feet. Not only does the Apocalisk have the ability to use the above burrow effect to greater potential due to its sheer size, but when called from the center of a cluster of enemies it bursts from the ground and deals an extensive amount of initial damage before tearing through everything around it.
    • Roaches and Infestors can move around while buried. They can't attack, but the Roach heals a lot faster, while the Infestor can still create Infested Marines while underground. Banelings had the ability to do so as well, but were removed.
    • The Widow Mine is a unit introduced in the Heart of the Swarm chapter. Mobile-mode can reversibly burrow, becoming immobile, impossible to target without use of detection, as well as gaining the ability to attack any nearby enemies with high, Area of Effect damage. The drawbacks are lock-on activation lag and attack cooldown, but still it is available at a low tech level and complements strategies heavy on mechanical units.
  • Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne gave Crypt Fiends a burrow ability that increased their regeneration but prevented them from moving or attacking. Crypt Lords have the animation, but it goes unused save for certain cutscenes.
  • Inverted in Golden Sun: The Lost Age where the Scorpion King is found wandering the desert under the sand needs to be forced aboveground by pounding wooden stakes into its path.
  • Drill Man from Mega Man 4 and Ground Man from Mega Man & Bass both have moves involving digging into the ground and suddenly popping back up, usually right underneath Mega Man's feet and hacking off a chunk of the life bar in Collision Damage.
  • The mini-boss of Pluto's stage in Mega Man V is Gundrill, a drill machine that will drill out of the ceiling and ground, causing rocks to fly out every time it enters or exits.
  • In Mega Man X5, Grizzly Slash starts abusing this when he Turns Red. He can either come out of the ground and do a drill attack or come out of the sides of the cave and slash you with his claw.
  • Mega Man & Bass: Ground Man can sometimes go into the ceiling of the cave he's in and attack you with large drills from above.
  • In Mega Man ZX, Flammole has 2 variant of this: one where he goes up and down while he drills the ground and ceiling, trying to strike you from above/below, and another where he just goes back and forth underground and sending harmful debris everywhere.
  • Giant Spiders in Divinity: Original Sin have a Special Attack where they dig into the ground, come out behind their target, bite them In the Back, and dig back to their original position. This allows them to go straight for the Support Party Members, ignoring the frontline fighters and attacks of opportunity.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has Mystic Cave Zone's boss, Drill Eggman II, who drills into and out of the ceiling to try to attack Sonic and Tails, while also causing stalactites to rain down.
  • Sonic 3 & Knuckles has the mini-boss of Marble Garden Zone, which acts like Drill Eggman II, as well as Knuckles' boss for the chapter, who, besides digging, also extends a spiked chain whenever he enters and exits the ground, limiting the space for Knuckles.
  • In both Sonic Adventure games, Knuckles can dig underground once he finds the shovel claws upgrade. This is mostly used to find Master Emerald pieces that are buried underground. Sonic Battle takes this one step further by having Knuckles' burrow ability as a special move, in which after he goes underground, he can move under an enemy and pop up from below to his or her surprise.
  • In Mega Man Powered Up, one of Guts Man's attacks is to dig into the ground, then jump out from under the player carrying a Guts Block. He only uses this attack in New Style Mode, and only if the difficulty isn't set to "Easy". In "Hard", he does this three times in a row, the first two times immediately throwing the Guts Block upon surfacing.
  • Perimeter: Building stability, frame landing, energy gathering — all require perfectly flattened areas, so...
    • "Scummer" units have a say. They burrow and slowly travel underground leaving upset soil on the surface, at the very least diverting the attention of enemy terraformers to repair the "zero layer." They also can dive under the active barrier and transform into tanks once inside. Few units can attack underground.
    • Let an explosive one-shot bulky-drill-like ultimate unit of Empire faction activate near the base cluster and there's no chance for any structure to be left standing. It becomes invincible, then burrows, then proceeds to leave a moderately long line of erupting mini-volcanoes, dealing both direct and terrain damage.
  • League of Legends: Rek'Sai has the ability to burrow under the ground for improved mobility. One of her attacks involves bursting out from underneath an enemy, dealing damage and knocking them into the air.
  • Diablo III has sandworms that pop up from underground almost without warning to strike. Also, at one point in the story, Asmodan manages to infiltrate Bastion's Keep by digging into the larder which is several levels below the ground and sending troops to work their way up to the defenders.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Monster Hunter (2004): Diablos and Monoblos, despite being Flying Wyverns, make very little use of their wings to fly. Instead, they utilize the fingers in front to dig through sand incredibly quickly, and burst right under you leading to many a cart. However, when a sonic bomb or other source of loud noise is deployed near the monster while it's underground, it typically surfaces early and unprepared, allowing the Hunter to take advantage of its weakness.
    • Monster Hunter Freedom 2: Akantor can burrow underground and reappear elsewhere. Although it is used offensively, it is more often used to put a fair distance between itself and Hunters to make the Hunters easy targets for its devastating Sonic Blast attack. In the Updated Re-release Freedom Unite, Ukanlos not only can burrow underground as well, but also chase the hunter with homing accuracy while partially diving through the icy ground, which makes it very hard to dodge.
    • Monster Hunter 4: Zamtrios can sometimes burrow into the ground/underwater and then drill up under a Hunter's feet. It's particularly aggravating because right before it emerges, it creates tremors that disrupt Hunters, which lowers their chances of getting out of the way.
  • As an homage to platforming bosses of similar ilk, Mole Knight of Shovel Knight has two digging attacks. The first launches him at high speeds through the walls, offering a very small window of opportunity to hit him without getting an armor-clad onion-shaped villain in the face. The second has him digging down into the ground, then raising four Worm Sign earth mounds. The challenge is to find and dig out Mole Knight before he gains temporary invulnerability and sends lava spraying all over his boss room.
  • Dota 2: Sand King has the ability called Burrowstrike, where he burrows and quickly dashes forward, and due to his spiky back, his spikes protrudes the ground and anyone caught in it gets popped up and stunned. Perfect to set up for the destructive Epicenter.
  • Heroes of the Storm: One of Anub'arak's skill is to bury himself on the ground and dash, and re-emerge on command or after a certain length, stunning anyone in the vicinity of the place he resurfaced.
  • In Gems of War, the Rock Worm troop (which seems to be a Sand Worm, except for rock) has Burrow as its special attack, which allows it to attack the rearmost enemy of the other side.
  • In Heavy Weapon, this is used by the Mechworm boss. Fail to avoid the Wormsign in time and he will pop up under the player, and touching him is an instant-death regardless of shields. Even if you do dodge it, you also have to contend with the rain of destructible rocks that fly out.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn, rockbreakers are huge mole...worm...machine things. Aloy's likely first encounter with a rockbreaker happens when some Carja ask her to investigate tremors coming from a nearby quarry, causing an impromptu Boss Fight where the rockbreaker will repeatedly go underground and launch itself back up until you destroy its digging claws.
  • Megalon, the Toho Tunnel King, can dig beneath the surface to the enemy Kaiju and pop up for a not-so-sneak attack in Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee!. Digging, however, requires energy from a meter that acts both as a stamina and mana bar; dig too much and Megalon is forced to the surface to try and catch his breath after exhausting himself.
  • In Germination, the slam attack sends you drilling through the planet and popping out of the other side.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games: The miniboss of the Moonlit Grotto in Oracle of Ages is a mole with a drill nose that attacks from underneath (and is invincible while doing so). You defeat it by digging up its Worm Sign with the shovel and hitting it as it flops around.
  • In the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series, the Brotherhood of Nod makes extensive use of subterranean units. Their burrowing APCs and Devil's Tongue flamethrower tanks formed the backbone of many of their subversive strategies during the Second Tiberium War, with GDI deploying special sensor units and loads of concrete floor plates to defend against them. After a conspicuous hiatus in the Third Tiberium War, subterranean units returned with a vengeance in the Fourth, to the point that even their massive Crawlers arrive violently from underground, destroying everything in their arrival zone instantly.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Toph of Avatar: The Last Airbender can do this: since she "sees" through vibrations in the ground, she knows where the enemy is even underground.
  • Wakfu
    • Grougaloragran pulls this off after being pounded into the ground.
    • Ruel uses his Drill Tank at one point to fight a robot.
  • PJ Masks: Armadylan, being a fast tunneler, is capable of using these.

    Real Life 
  • The American Civil War featured Early Bird Cameos of several tropes that popped up again in World War I, and this was one of them. The Union armies in the trenches outside Petersburg in 1864 attempted to break the stalemate by digging a tunnel under Confederate lines, planting a whole lot of gunpowder, and blowing it up. It worked at first, blasting a huge hole in the Confederate trenches. However, thanks to incompetent leadership on the scene—the general in charge of the attack was back in his dugout, drunk—the Union soldiers charged into the crater rather than around it, and they were massacred when the Confederates recovered their wits and counterattacked.
  • In World War I, it was a common tactic to dig a tunnel beneath the enemy's trenches, fill it with explosives and detonate it. In the 1917 Battle of Messines, British engineers placed 22 mines under German lines, of which 19 exploded, killing 10,000 German soldiers and producing the loudest man-made sound up to the point.
  • Medieval siege warfare often included attempts by the attackers to undermine enemy walls and cause them to collapse in order to create breaches for the besieging army to exploit. In turn, the defenders would try to countermine these mines to collapse them before they reached the walls. The addition of explosives to the mix is a relatively new innovation on an old idea.
  • Trapdoor spiders use this trope to ambush prey, concealing their pre-made tunnels with lids made of silk and debris.
  • Quite a few seabed-dwelling fishes, marine worms, and crustaceans cover themselves with sand or duck into burrows to await passing prey.


Video Example(s):



Wildvine has the ability to quickly tunnel underground thanks to being a plant. He uses this to ambush the werewolf, and drags it through several meters of dirt and rock after it bites him.

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Example of:

Main / DigAttack

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