Follow TV Tropes


Disintegrator Ray

Go To

"Being a device that flouts conventional scientific consensus that the molecules composing the human body must be arranged 'just so', and not, for example, across a square-mile radius."
Manmelter description, Team Fortress 2

The cleanest variety of Death Ray. Whatever it strikes, be it commoner or king, is reduced to little more than sand and ozone (or simply vanishes in a flash of light). A great way to save money on special effects and not have to litter the place with corpses or blood. Only a few stories will bother to elaborate on where all that matter actually goes, or how the ray gun "knows" to stop disintegrating things once the original target is vaporized (rather than disintegrating everything in the area up to and including the very planet everyone is standing on). And it's even rarer for there to be any acknowledgement that the complete disintegration of an object the size of a human body should in and of itself result in a large release of energy. In other words, it should effectively turn the target's body into a bomb.note 

Be warned, however. If you should fall foul of a Disintegrator Ray, it may take much more than a stay at the Trauma Inn to cure that Status Effect. Even people whose Healing Factor can reconstitute their bodies From a Single Cell may have trouble doing so from a single atom (or less), which makes this a very effective weapon against them. If the shot is somehow shrugged off as not instantly lethal but still hurtful, expect it to hit for massive damage. Usually the more disintegrator rays there are, the less effective each one is. If there are countless Mooks with it, it is likely only moderately powerful. While if there are very few, they will be Instakill Mooks.

This may also make it the weapon most vulnerable to the Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality.

A Sub-Trope of Ray Gun and a Sister Trope of Disintegration Chamber.


    open/close all folders 

  • Played for dark laughs in a 2007 commercial for the now-defunct Yahoo! Answers, where a man accidentally disintegrates his wife while he's setting up a dodgy laser level that ends up being an actual laser beam. In contrast, the scenario where he buys a laser level recommended on Yahoo! Answers not only leaves his wife alive, but also straightens everything in the room, including his father's back. A bowdlerized version of the "bad" scenario shows the laser beam blasting the wife through the wall instead of vaporizing her.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto: Dust Release attacks leave nothing of their target behind, neatly cutting the edge of their area of effect.
  • The Irregular at Magic High School: Shiba Tatsuya's Decomposition magics, Mist Dispersion and Trident.
  • In Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Chamber's deflector beam has this effect on human targets when fired at low power, instantly reducing any unfortunate victim to a wispy cloud of ash with zero collateral damage. It notably sees use in episode 2, cleanly taking out several pirates without harming their hostages.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, this is what the explosions created by Yoshikage Kira's Killer Queen look like to non-Stand users: a puff of smoke, and suddenly a person is gone, with only a hand left behind. Stand users, of course, see it for what it is: a massive explosion. Although it apparently isn't very loud, even to them.
  • Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai: The Medoroa spell combines fire and ice magic to create an energy arrow. The victim's atoms will vibrate at the exact frequency required to dissolve it into dust.

    Comic Books 
  • Xs Omnibus: X's Radiant Destruction ability is this. He can control how it works to a limit, but usually it is used in a way that obliterates nonliving matter and slightly damages (or reduces the stamina of) living things. However, at full power, it can blast a fine hole through anything, even antimatter. Though that doesn't prevent the attack from being dodged.
  • Captain America: The second major invention of the WWII-era Baron Zemo was eventually revealed as being — tada!! — a laser beam.
  • Captain Electron: The Big Bad Dr. Manfred Zongor, possesses one of these, and tries to use it to dispose of the title character. Since Captain Electron is a near-indestructible Superman expy, it of course does nothing to him.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • Paperinik New Adventures: In one issue, Donald Duck switches from a M1911 handgun to a multiuse pistol that included, among other functions, a disintegrator ray. Considering it was wielded by the infamously irascible Donald, it's a miracle he never used it on people before switching to a paralyzer-only gun.
    • Everett Ducklair's sonic weapons fire a "ray" of sonic waves in such frequencies that break down the target. The only thing seen resisting those is an energy shield projected from Paperinik's Extransformer shield, another of Ducklair's inventions... And even that was crumbling disturbingly fast. Good thing Ducklair sells those only to the military (and makes sure anyone who gets their hands on them receives their visit)...
  • Foolkiller: Foolkiller's Purification Gun works this way; no attempt has ever been made to explain where it came from or how it works, which was intentional on the part of creator Steve Gerber.
  • New Gods: Darkseid's most oft-seen use of his Omega Beams is to disintegrate anyone he chooses. Furthermore, if he changes his mind (either because he found a further use for them or he just wants them to suffer more), Darkseid can restore anyone so hit just as easily.
  • Supergirl:
    • In The Girl with the X-Ray Mind, Kryptonian mad scientist Kru-El built one disintegrator gun capable of reducing anything to atoms, including Kryptonians. Since its prototype appears damaged, he tests it on Lesla-Lar, one of his own allies, who gets vaporized right away.
    • Subverted in The Untold Story of Argo City. Supergirl wants to use an experimental teleport gun, but upon testing she finds out it is a dangerous experimental prototype which has the effect of vaporizing its targets instead of sending them away.
      Supergirl: That Projector is dissolving the "Zor-El" android into a shower of molecular particles! He sacrificed his life for me!
      Allura Robot: I tried to warn you, Supergirl! That's exactly what would happened to you, if you had been struck by the vibrations of this gun!
    • In Brainiac's Blitz, the titular villain transforms his unbreakable force-field into a beam which may blast anything into atoms.
  • Superman: In "The Phantom Superboy", the Teen of Steel finds a sealed cache of forbidden Kryptonian weapons. One of them is a ray gun which is purported to be able to disintegrate anything, so he decides to test it on a mountain which railroad builders want to blast away. Superboy fires a single shot at the summit, and the whole mountain begins quickly melting into nothingness.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): While the purple healing ray usually has the rather opposite effect of helping tissue regenerate and repair itself when Diana turns it on the shadowy undead hordes of Tartarus which are attacking Paradise Island it blows a hole in them, and then swiftly causes them to disintigrate.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Contraptionology!: Disjunction beams are a form of magic designed to, essentially, make every atom in a given target not be attached to each other anymore.
  • With This Ring: Not quite a ray, but Alexander Tuttle adapts the "Crumbler" technology into bullets that disintegrate a hemisphere around their point of impact. They're notably effective at destroying force fields such as power ring constructs.

    Films — Animation 
  • Heavy Metal. In the "Harry Canyon" segment, the title cabbie is betrayed by a woman he helped: he destroys her with a device installed in his cab to prevent robberies.
  • Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back: Zartog uses a de-particle-izer to zap the scientists out of existence. They come back at the end.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The War of the Worlds:
  • The plot of The Pink Panther Strikes Again has the crazed Chief Inspector Dreyfus threatening the world with a ray that leaves next to nothing behind unless Inspector Clouseau is killed. The villain is Hoist by His Own Petard at the end. Perhaps due to sequelitis, he got better.
  • Queen of Outer Space:
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow homages all of Mad Science, including a hand held disintegrator pistol that fires a little blue ring that disintegrates a neat hole through a foot of metal. It's implied to be a Plasma Cannon that fires a torus (donut-shaped object) of plasma. It also jams at the worst possible time, resulting in his death.
  • Mars Attacks! has the Martians armed with disintegrators that leave a brightly colored skeleton behind (either red or green depending on the color of the ray).
  • The dirtship in The Core has an ultrasonic beam at the front that disintegrates everything in front of it so it can travel through to the center of the Earth.
  • Gort's eye beam in the original The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Used to disintegrate tanks, artillery pieces and individual weapons. After Klatuu was killed, his programming changes, and he uses it on humans, nearly doing so to Helen, but she manages to tell him the code word to make him stop.
  • Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. The beams emitted from the hands of the invader's armor suits and (sometimes) the devices in the bottom of the invaders' ships.
  • The American Astronaut: Professor Hess has a handgun that can turn people to ash if they forget his birthday.
  • Star Wars:
  • In District 9, one of the alien energy weapons can cause people to be destroyed whole, though instead of being vaporized, they just burst and splatter into a messy pile of blood.
  • Flash Gordon (1980): The flying robot in Ming's palace uses one to destroy an escaping lizard man and the pistol in Dr. Zarkov's pocket.
  • From the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Tesseract-powered Energy Weapons used by HYDRA in Captain America: The First Avenger fire blue bolts that violently explode when hitting an inanimate object and disintegrate any person hit with it. The only object immune to it (but not the knockback effect of the heavier versions) is Cap's own Stark-designed vibranium shield. The weapons are later collected and stored by SHIELD in order to build weapons with which to defend Earth.
    • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Toomes disintegrates Jackson Brice, who is attempting to blackmail him, with an alien-tech weapon. Then it turns out he thought it was the anti-gravity rifle.
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, this is what Thanos' Badass Fingersnap amounts to, except on a universe-wide scale. An untold number of the denizens on every planet are turned to ashes along with their belongings, and then scattered around, barely leaving any traces. Though they weren't so much killed as willed out of existence, and the act is undone in Avengers: Endgame.
  • In the movie Kids Vs Monsters, a bratty rich girl is disintegrated by an evil coffee-dispensing robot while the other kids in her group watch on. They are horrified as her empty hipster outfit falls to the floor at the robot's feet.

  • All The Skills - A Deckbuilding LitRPG: The red dragon that Arthur first meets attacks a carriage by breathing out a cloud of tiny purple flames that Arthur describes as undoing whatever they touch — spells, wood, clothes, even flesh. While this particular power seems rare, red dragons in general are known for such transformative effects.
  • The Martian "Heat Ray" in The War of the Worlds (1898) is one of the earliest examples of this trope, although it did tend to leave messy burnt bits around the edges of the blast zone.
    • Inside the blast zone, the messy burnt bits are smaller and harder to notice.
    • The "Heat Ray" was a death ray. The first true disintegrator appears in the 1898 Edison's Conquest of Mars.
  • In The Moon Men (1925) by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the alien invaders are armed with a disintegrator ray.
  • The quark-level dissociator spell from the Young Wizards series.
  • In Ringworld and Larry Niven's other Known Space stories, the Thrintun Slavers left a lot of their Lost Technology lying around in stasis, including a disintegrator digging tool that suppresses atomic valence— atoms simply fly apart. It is weaponized to slice a miles-deep canyon into a planet during the Man-Kzin Wars. The planet is now known as "Canyon", for its defining feature. And the weapon was called the "Wunderland Treatymaker" for its defining feature. The details are amusing enough to relate: one version of the Slaver Disintegrator suppressed the charge on electrons. Another suppressed the charge on protons. Neither version acted quickly enough to be useful as a weapon, but if two beams were fired in parallel, current would flow between them. Lots of current.
  • The "Little Doctor" (from "Doctor Device", from "M.D. Device", from "Molecular Disruption Device") in Ender's Game is an especially potent version. In its original form it fires a pair of beamsnote  which generate a field that breaks atomic bonds at the point where they meet — and uses the energy released to break the bonds of other nearby atoms in a chain reaction limited only by the vast void of space. The end result is that a single shot could take out a target of any size. Needless to say, the weapon was only used in space combat (at least until Ender had it used on the buggers' homeworld).
    • The prequel novel Earth Unaware has the "gravity laser" (or "glaser"), originally meant for very efficient asteroid mining but proving extremely effective against Bugger/Formic ships. It works by firing a focused gravity beam that breaks apart targets into atoms. It's heavily implied that the glaser is the ancestor of the Little Doctor.
    • Subsequent novels Nerf the glaser by pointing out that the hull of Formic starships are made of some Unobtainium that is impervious to any known weapon, including the glaser. Only smaller fighter craft (not made of the same material) can be destroyed.
  • In the Animorphs series, the Yeerks' Dracon beams were deliberately engineered to disintegrate living targets slowly and painfully. Other weapons did so more cleanly.
  • The disruption-balls fired by "The Gun That Shot Too Straight", in Ralph Roberts' short story.
  • Another of these weapons that works too well appears in Robert Sheckley's short story "The Gun Without a Bang."
  • The balefire weave of The Wheel of Time. Manifests as a beam of light that instantly banishes whatever it touches from existence, not even leaving dust behind. The destruction visited upon the target is so extreme, being killed with balefire prevents a person from being brought back to life, even by gods. If that isn't enough, contact with balefire also burns the very actions that the person recently took out of existence, undoing them.
  • A disintegrator ray is the weapon ultimately (and accidentally) created in the Arthur C. Clarke short story "Armaments Race" in Tales from the White Hart.
  • The Man Who Rocked the Earth by Arthur Train and Robert Wood.
  • Disintegrators are one of the earliest stock energy weapons introduced in Perry Rhodan. They work on the "disrupt molecular bonds" principle and so turn whatever they touch into expanding gasses and/or very fine dust; since the beam only affects what it touches directly (and doesn't, say, expand from that spot to magically consume the whole person or object), the technology has practical applications away from the battlefield as well.
  • The Ultravibe weapons in Richard K. Morgan's Broken Angels effectively did this... they were presumably some sort of intense directed broad-spectrum ultrasound device which vibrated targets apart. Used as battlefield weapons and mining devices. One character is hit by a big, warship-mounted version of these and is reduced to a thin, smooth red paste coating the surfaces of the docking bay he was in.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Insert Knob A in Hole B": Hansen and Woodbury use "demoleculizer rods" to take apart the crate, making sure not to damage the contents inside.
    • "Robot AL-76 Goes Astray": A robot creates a Disinto device powerful enough to destroy the top 3/4 of a mountain.
  • Colin O'Boyle's serialized novel, The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling, has one of these. After the main character accidentally shoots his kitchen island, it shivers, takes on an ashy appearance—as though a newspaper image of the island had been lit on fire—and then collapses into a pile of dust.
  • In Doom: Endgame, Fly is introduced to the Fred ray. The disintegrator weapon disturbs him because it has no visible emissions and just erases things from reality.
  • Through the Looking Glass features "chaos ball generators" that fire small Negative Space Wedgies, momentarily creating areas where ordinary forms of matter are physically impossible.
  • The Voyage of the Space Beagle: An atomic disintegrator is the only thing that can kill the Coeurl or the Ixtl. Unfortunately, firing one within the confines of the spacecraft is a hazard in itself, both because you don't want to start punching holes into hard vacuum and because of the secondary radiation.
  • Well World: Diviners can fire beams from their bodies that utterly erase whatever they hit. Once they make contact, the target is simply gone except for a clap of air rushing in to fill the void.
  • The Zombie Knight: Destruction-type servants throw a path of expanding space that obliterates any matter caught inside, forcing its atoms apart until the bonds between them fail. Since it affects space itself, there are no materials that can survive it, although very strong soul-strengthening can stop the beam.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7. In "Death Watch", a Combat by Champion is used by two civilizations as a substitute for war. Our heroes discover that one side has cheated by using an android. To foil the plot without exposing the deception (which would lead to a real war breaking out) Tarrant challenges the android to a duel, using a raygun built by Dayna (the daughter of a weapons scientist) to disintegrate the android and destroy the evidence.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Trio's Invisibility Ray also has this function, which Warren nearly uses on Buffy.
  • Doctor Who has numerous instances of this technology, the Daleks having one of the more frequently used.
    • "Robot" has the title character using a disintegrator gun and making a battle tank glow and disappear. When asked what the "range and power of that device is", the Doctor's answer was "the power is limitless, and as to range, it could cut a hole in the surface of the Moon". See also BFG.
    • However, the DeMat Gun used by the Fourth Doctor in "The Invasion of Time" is a special weapon. Powered by the Great Key of Time, it doesn't just disintegrate the target, it removes their entire existence from time itself.
    • Subverted in "Bad Wolf", where the ray used in several deadly game shows turns to be a transmat device, but those affected generally end up as Dalek meat (as in their cells are used to grow Daleks). In the next episode, "The Parting of the Ways", one of the robots from those deadly game shows turns up, with its ray having been upgraded to a genuine disintegrator, and inflicts the Daleks' only casualties before Bad Wolf arrives.
    • "The Idiot's Lantern": When the Wire is hooked up to the Alexandra Palace TV transmitter, it gains the ability to shoot electricity powerful enough to do this, with its unwilling minion Mr. Magpie as the victim.
    • "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" has the Family wielding these, one zap and the target is dust.
    • Missy replaces previous Masters' Tissue Compression Eliminator as her weapon of choice with a customised smartphone/PDA that includes a disintegrator beam.
  • The Goodies. In "UF-Friend or UFO" Bill is being chased by what he thinks is an alien, but Tim won't let him in the door, so he orders Graham's robot to open it. The robot promptly disintegrates the door, so Bill can't lock it after him.
  • An episode of The Invisible Man has the villain-of-the-week use a particle accelerator in this manner by throwing a colleague inside the accelerator tube before turning it on. The unfortunate victim is turned into energy atom-by-atom. Somehow, though, her energy essense survives and is visible in a certain spectrum (i.e. Darien can see it via quicksilver). The villain is Hoist by His Own Petard when the essense of his victim is able to exert control over the physical world and trap him in the same particle accelerator before turning it on.
  • In The Lost Room, the Eye has the ability to restore or disintegrate flesh. However, in order to use it, it has to be inserted into an empty eye socket. The villain manages to disintegrate a squad sent to take him out, but the aim of the Eye is terrible, as he later accidentally kills his Number Two this way.
  • Spoofed in the British comedy series Hyperdrive. The ruler of Queppu has a fearsome-looking Doom Ray that can disintegrate his enemies... provided they stand perfectly still for three days. And being zapped with it feels really good. So much for the slow and excruciating method of capital punishment.
  • The Mandalorian. The title character's rifle is powerful enough to disintegrate a person (it's not like Vader is around to tell him otherwise), but as it's a single shot weapon he only uses it for sniping, preferring his hand blaster for close-up work against multiple enemies.
  • The Outer Limits (1963): In "Soldier", the title character's weapon made the target glow and disappear.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • "I Hear You Calling" has an alien using a ray to disintegrate people infected with a deadly virus. The trope is subverted when the weapon turns out to be a portable teleporter, which the alien was using to transport the infectees to a planet where the environment neutralizes the virus.
    • In "Something About Harry", Harry Longworth and his partner Parker use an energy weapon on humans whose bodies have been occupied by the alien parasites. It turns the humans' bodies into green slime but leaves the parasites intact. The parasites are then placed in a special container.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Three shots of a Zat gun on Stargate SG-1 used to do this, but after the writers realized it was stupid, they quietly stopped using that function. A joke in a later episode implies that a fourth shot will reintegrate the target. Parodied in the "Wormhole X-treme!" episode, where a producer considers the concept "the dumbest thing I ever heard!" The Zat gun went through a few changes over the course of the show: originally, a single shot from the gun would wrack people with tortuous agony, but at some point along the way, this was replaced with a simple, humane "stun" effect.
    • The "woosh" effect of a Stargate being turned on will obliterate absolutely anything it touches at a subatomic level. One civilisation encountered used this in funerals to dispose of bodies. It was once used to destroy an Ori warship by turning on the supergate at the right moment. The same attack method was used in Stargate Atlantis to 'neutralize' the back half of a puddle jumper.
    • The Asgard used their Teleportation systems this way to spectacular effect in a second season episode, with a single ship completely disintegrating three pyramid ships and an entire Goa'uld army. This was never mentioned again, until Stargate Atlantis, where the Asgard have specifically built safeguards into the transporters they installed on human ships to prevent using them in an offensive capacity.
  • Used to the point of annoyance on Star Trek for years. No-one seemed to ever use the settings on phasers that were between stun and unmake utterly without burning the carpet... intentionally, at least.
    • In the TOS episode "The Conscience of the King", Lenore accidentally kills Karidian without disintegrating him, but a master of phaser use and safety, Lenore was not. Also, Karidian needed to give a Final Speech. This was the sole exception to the rule in TOS (if we don't count super-strong aliens who could shrug off phaser fire altogether.)
    • A couple of original-series episodes used a hand-phaser heat-ray setting to warm up a rock on a cold world, and coffee during a power outage, respectively, serving Roddenberry's vision of phasers as tools that are incidentally weapons.
    • There was one Deep Space Nine episode where a Disintegrator Ray used by a couple of snarky murderers did burn the carpet after unmaking their unfortunate target. "Oh? Now look what you did to the rug." They covered the stains with a chair, which was not enough to fool Odo.
    • In The Undiscovered Country, Starfleet subversives were disposed of via a point-blank phaser on stun. Rumor has it there's an episode in The Original Series where this phenomenon was mentioned. Then the topic was tabled until Next Generation era and beyond, during which phasers had ten settings and up.
      • But it was established in TNG that the phaser's highest setting didn't actually burn or vaporize, it broke down matter into Technobabblium particles which harmlessly dissipated. It's a plot point in one of the season-end three parters, when the crew scan the floor near a phaser shot for said particles to find if Picard was really killed, or just beamed away.
      • In one episode both Riker and Picard fire phasers at a human possessed by alien bugs, causing his head to explode and left behind a bloody corpse. Evidently this effect and the whole episode/storyline didn't go down too well.
    • In the original series episode "The Apple", a lightning bolt acted as a Disintegrator Ray.
    • And in the original series episode "The Changeling", Nomad's beam weapon vaporized many a red-shirt without trace.
    • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, V'Ger disintegrated entire Klingon battle cruisers.
    • In the TNG episode The Most Toys there is the Varon-T Disruptor, which combines this and Agony Beam, as it tears the body apart at the molecular level from the inside out, resulting in a relatively slow and excruciating death by disintegration compared to most phasers and disruptors, which is why it was banned in the Federation and only five were ever made.
    • Used to good effect in Star Trek: Enterprise. The technology of the time means that when set to kill, the weapons available don't do this no matter how much power is put into them. In the Mirror Universe episode, Archer gets an original-series phaser from the displaced Defiant. The shot of Admiral Black disintegrating gives a good look at how alien and advanced the tech is in a time when it isn't the norm.
    • Seems to happen a lot in Star Trek: Discovery, especially once they move to the 32nd century. Pretty much every handheld weapon disintegrates the target, and the Mooks are a little fatalistic about seeing their buddies vaporized with a single hit right in front of them and just keep on coming.
  • An episode of Time Trax featured a villain-of-the-week who is a high-tech weapons designer from the 22nd century. Two of his specialties include a powerful beam weapon and something called a "sonic demolecularizer". It fires a sonic blast that turns people and objects into a rapidly-disappearing cloud. Like the Big Bad, the villain is a personal case of Darien, whose partner was killed by the villain with the demolecularizer when they first came to arrest him in the future. There was nothing left to bury.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: According to the Greeks and at least one psychic from the early 20th century, Edgar Cayce, Atlantis was destroyed when they discovered machines that were essentially ancient ideas of the Disintegrator Ray.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The "disintegrate" spell does Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but only if it manages to kill the target, and is mutually canceling with force effects. This made it slightly less useful than most Save or Be Screwed spells, but the spell is still a fan favorite, purely because of the Rule of Cool. Destroyed remnants also require more serious magic to bring one Back from the Dead, so it makes sort of Deader than Dead.note 
    • Also appeared as one of beholders' Eye Beams (making an occasional smooth shaft or breach in the wall a hint, e.g. in Song of the Saurials or The Summoning). In 4th Edition, beholders could no longer do this, having more varied and balanced powers, but it was brought back in 5th edition.
    • In the earlier editions of the game, this was one of the special purpose powers that could be chosen for an intelligent sword with a special purpose. This effect was delivered on any hit with the weapon (in addition to its normal damage) against those that the weapon was dedicated to slaying. In fact, in the original D&D rules, this was the main power that Chaotic special purpose swords had against the Lawful beings that they were designed to slay — Lawful special purpose swords, in contrast, paralyzed Chaotic beings they were specialized against.
    • When undead monsters are destroyed by clerical turning, they are eradicated completely by holy power.
    • As pointed out in the undead-specific source book Libris Mortis, under 3.5E rules the disintegrate spell is useful to fight The Undead because it requires a constitution-based saving throw. Undead, having no constitution score, typically have low fortitude saves. Also, unlike most effects that target that particular defense (which Undead typically ignore), disintegrate works on inanimate objects (so it also works on Undead).
    • In the Planescape Splat book, Hellbound: The Blood War, one narrator who claims to be an expert on fiends lists the spell as a useful spell to use against them. He explains that fiends have lots of resistances against elemental attacks like fire, cold, and electricity, and each race of fiends has different resistances, but none of them have any special immunity to disintegrate.
  • GURPS Ultra-Tech has the "Reality Disintegrator" and the more traditional "Nucleonic Disintegrator".
  • Mutants & Masterminds includes the Disintegration power where a sufficiently damaging attack can entirely remove the target from existence, preventing regeneration. A single power feat allows the user to reverse the effect at will.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Necron Gauss weaponry, which disintegrates its target one molecular layer at a time. The practical upshot of this being, not actual immediate disintegration of the target, but all Gauss-type weapons doing damage regardless of the target's normal resistance to weapon types. E.g. an infantry Gauss flayer will damage a tank despite the tank's normal invulnerability to such small weapons.
    • The Dark Eldar also had Disintegrators as anti-vehicle weapons. What they did was shoot tiny packet of dark matter that would suck surrounding matter into a short-lived black hole, making it disappear without a trace. It's effect in-game was to treat any vehicle armour as being no better than a score of 12.
    • Adrathic Destructors are ancient human weapons that unravel the target's molecules, leaving naught but a flaring after-image. When the Emperor arose he had all existing Adrathic weapons handed over to him on pain of death, and then issued them to his Adeptus Custodes.
    • Volkite weapons are another Imperial technology lost to the ravages of time. They're basically heat rays so powerful that organic targets are instantly turned to ashes in a fiery conflagration. Even more impressively, the effect can chain to other nearby targets. These days, what few Volkite weapons remain functional are sacred relics that only the most elite or heroic warriors are allowed to carry onto the battlefield.
  • The first set of Magic: The Gathering has the Disintegrate spell as one of the staples for red magic. Its damage is limited only by how much mana you have, allowing you to either nuke a big creature or simply obliterate your opponent.
  • The Europans' weapon of choice in Rocket Age.
  • The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources
    • Spells
      • Sarta Nor's Spell of Deadly Disintegration fires a beam of intense energy that disintegrates anything its strikes.
      • Elrik's Spell of Magik Metal Disintegration creates a cone of rippling red energy that destroys all magikal items it hits.
    • Monsters: The Adamantine Golem can fire a cone of disintegration that destroys creatures up to 100 Hit Points and does 100 Hit Points of damage to creatures with more.
  • Paranoia: Plasma generators (basically flamethrowers, but with super-heated plasma) are highly likely to vaporize even an armored target. Unless they malfunction, in which case they're highly likely to vaporize the shooter instead. Do you risk repair, or just try to unstrap yourself and Outrun the Fireball? (And then pay a hefty fine for destruction of the plasma generator, plus any loyal citizens and other Computer property within the blast radius.)
  • Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution
    • Well, disintegrator touch or stare, really. Espers with entropy talents can make most materials decay to dust extremely quickly.
    • Masters of entropy can atomize living beings.
  • Starfire has 'primary beam' shipboard weapons: force beams with their entire effect focused into a two-inch-wide path, which whips right through deflector shields and disintegrates anything caught inside. It doesn't do much in terms of gross physical damage, but every shot has a chance of finding a vital computer nexus or even an antimatter magazine.
  • Disintegrator guns are found in Starfinder, where they have the Techno Babble official designation of "Protonic De-Couplers." Everyone calls them "Disintegrators" anyways


  • Weta Workshop markets several Steampunk rayguns, delightfully spoofed in their add on Youtube.
    Last but by no means least is the Goliathon 83 Infinity Beam projector. Designed for the gentleman who takes his sports hunting very seriously, its infra-wave undulations will dissolve 7/9th's of an African elephant in ten Earth seconds.

    Video Games 
  • The Commander in Total Annihilation has one of these, the aptly-named D-Gun. It fires a spiky red ball of energy that utterly obliterates whatever it touches, even something as massive as the Core Krogoth. Nasty weapon. It consumes 400 units of energy when fired, though, and has a very short range, so blowing up a Krogoth is likely to also blow up the Commander in the resulting nuclear blast.
  • Half-Life:
    • Combine dark energy weaponry in Half-Life 2 and its Episodes instantly disintegrates any enemies (with the exception of Gordon Freeman), including the Strider's mounted cannon, a mortar-like "suppression device" and the secondary fire of the Pulse Rifle. Seems to be an innate quality of all dark energy-based technology, as even the dark energy reactors in the Citadel disintegrate anyone who touches them.
    • The pulse machine guns equipped on the Striders and Gunships don't disintegrate their targets, but their impact does release a small amount of the particles that come off disintegrating targets, implying that they still work by disintegration, but on a much smaller level.
    • The Gluon Gun from Half-Life unleashes a deadly solid blue beam of destruction, one of the only weapons able to damage Gargantuas and almost instantly killing anything else the beam touches; it is a primo example of this trope.
  • Lavos, the Big Bad of Chrono Trigger, can fire off a Disintegrator Ray from its eye/maw, strong enough to reduce the main protagonist to dust... but only in cutscenes.
  • The final boss of Iji has a beam attack that not only kills you regard of how much life you have, it vaporized Iji so quickly that her usual dying scream is abruptly cut off, the entire bottom menu clears, and all your weapons and stats disappear.
  • The aptly named Disintegrator Ray in Destroy All Humans!. It's one of the most useful weapons in the series since it deals good damage, has an excellent rate of fire, and has lots of ammo, but it has the slight drawback of leaving behind no bodies for you to harvest brains from.
  • In Might and Magic games, Blasters work like this if enemies use them, having a chance of Eradicating a target. (But not when you do.)
  • Prey has a Leech weapon which, when loaded from a special terminal fires a big beam of energy at your foes, leaving a brittle, burnt, rapidly-disintegrating corpse behind.
  • The Particle Cannon from Wolfenstein (2009), which vibrates matter at such incredibly high frequencies that it instantly reduces enemies to green ash.
  • Several of the experimental weapons in Crusader disintegrate their targets. One weapon reduces its victim into dust, another completely destroys their molecular structure and vaporizes them at once, and so on. Note that killing enemies this way prevents them from dropping weapons or ammunition or supplies.
  • Various energy weapons in the Fallout series reduce enemy's bodies to nothing in spectacular fashion on a Critical Hit-induced kill: The plasma weapons in Fallout and Fallout 2 reduce victims to a puddle of (usually red) goo. The Fallout 2 Pulse Rifle had the hilarious effect of making the target's hair all stand on end, burning them to a crisp, and finally the charred corpse collapses into a pile of dust. Might also have caused X-Ray Sparks, to boot. Lasers in Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4 turn bodies into piles of ash, while plasma weapons now turn bodies into green goo. Despite this, the goo or dust can still be looted for perfectly intact items (even armor). Even better, you can loot the meat from disintegrated animals!
  • The disruptor rifle in Star Wars: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy can completely disintegrate most enemies with one fully charged shot. But they'll still conveniently drop their weapons for you. The only enemies it doesn't work on are Force-sensitive ones, who are Cheating Bastards and can dodge the hitscan weapon (to force you to use your lightsaber).
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 had at least three ways to disintegrate infantry; radiation (gloop), electricity (ash) and light (ash/dust).
    • Tiberian Sun had the Laser Tower, the small anti-infantry brother of the Obelisk, which toasted enemy infantry and reduced them to dust as well.
  • Rise of the Triad has the God Mode powerup, which is 30 seconds of invulnerability plus infinite use of energy balls that completely erase enemies from existence. As a nice bonus (for you), they also seek out enemies and go after all enemies in the vicinity.
  • In Space Quest, the slot machine fires one of these if you get triple skull & crossbones symbols, turning Roger to ashes. The Sariens' pulserays take this a step further, completely vaporizing the target.
  • In King's Quest III, this is one of the favorite spells your master Manannan will cast on you if you misbehave too often. ZAP, indeed!
  • Various weapons in Crusader have this effect on the protagonist or enemies, causing them to fade away into nothingness with an echoing scream.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy: In Metroid Prime, the Plasma beam will disintegrate a target completely if it's fully charged, while the uncharged shot sets things on fire. The Light beam does the same in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the Plasma Beam returns and, when combined with the Nova Beam, will turn a target to dust, even when uncharged if they are on fire long enough.
  • In Strife, you get the Mauler, which functions as a disintegrator shotgun with a combination energy bomb launcher. One character you speak to, who hints as to its existence and location, calls it "the weapon that vaporizes". Any humanoid targets you hit with it leave no corpse behind, and if you're killed by a Templar (the mook that wields these), you'll disintegrate as well.
  • Amorphous++ has the dreaded Void Eater. If it's not using its "Instant Death" Radius attack, it will charge energy, then fire out a black beam which disintegrates anything it touches (including mooks, like Sharps, Horrors, Grays, and even the Queen and Razor Queen; only excluding Grinders, who just crack instead). No amount of Reactive armour will save you either.
  • In League of Legends, Vel'Koz ultimate ability is called Lifeform Disintegration Ray.
  • Saints Row IV has a weapon called the "Disintegrator''. Downplayed in that the weapon doesn't so much disintegrate living matter as delete simulated people in a virtual reality, but it still has the visual effect of disintegrating into nothingness.
  • NetHack:
    • Black dragons breathe disintegration beams which, strangely, bounce off of walls instead of destroying them. There are five ways to survive a disintegration blast: 1) have equipped an item with "reflection" attribute, 2) wear black dragon scale mail, 3) have a shield or body armor equipped (in which case the item gets disintegrated instead of you), 4) get disintegration immunity by eating the corpse of a black dragon, 5) be wearing an amulet of life saving (which gets used up in the process).
    • If you piss off your god enough to try smiting you, and then survive their Bolt of Divine Retribution, they'll follow it up with a "wide-angle disintegration beam", which bypasses the first three disintegration-survival methods above, and will also disintegrate any of your armor that isn't itself disintegration-proof.
  • The Cow Mangler and Righteous Bison for the Soldier in Team Fortress 2, complete with the victim floating in the air before being vaporized (it's actually the same animation used in Half Life 2. The Engineer has his own with the Pomson 6000, and the Pyro gets a unique variation - the target disintegrating into a smoldering pile of cinders - with the Phlogistinator, Man Melter, and Third Degree.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon's Type-7 Particle Weapon vaporizes the flesh of its victims, leaving only charred skeletons. It's the game's go-to Sniper Rifle.
  • Laser guns in Another World do this to victims.
  • The N64 version of Duke Nukem 3D has a Plasma Cannon that vaporizes enemies.
  • The 'Disintegrate' skill for the Wizard in Diablo III causes any enemy killed by it to disintegrate completely. It can be upgraded to be fired from both hands, make enemies explode on death, and other neat tricks. Unfortunately it has Arbitrary Weapon Range.
  • Halo:
    • Halo 4 the Composer works just like this, but its true function is converting organic material to data, and use it to create more Prometheans. The remains of its victims are just piles of dust of where they once stood.
    • Also, some of the Promethean weapons - like the Binary Rifle, Scattershot, Incineration Cannon, and Pulse Grenade - disintegrate whatever organic beings they kill. This is because they were designed to kill the Flood in ways that would deny the Flood any usable/salvageable biomass.
  • Age of Wonders 3 gives us the ultimate spell in the Destruction specialization, Disintegrate. It has a chance of causing instant death, and even if that fails it still causes massive damage (more than any other spell in the game). The only downside is it's considered physical damage, meaning that certain enemies can resist or even ignore it.
  • With the appropriate skill perk, lightning spells from the Destruction school in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim can sometimes reduce a target to a pile of ash with a finishing blow. The primary function of this is to prevent any necromancers you may face from reanimating them. It's also worth noting that, if you fell a reanimated corpse, it will disintegrate regardless of the method used. As with the Fallout entry above, the loot that you can recover from the ash pile is just the same as it would be if the target's corpse was still intact.
  • Bomberman 64: Altair's flying robot fires a projected red beam that disintegrates anything that comes in contact with it, except Altair himself.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Several weapons and powers in Mass Effect 3 (most notably the Particle Rifle) disintegrate the corpses of any enemies killed by it. Useful for denying Cannibals anything to feed on and buff themselves.

  • In Captain Ufo, Ufo has Number One use a disintegration gun on some uncooperative aliens.
  • In Endtown handheld disintegration rays are commonplace, and D-bombs were one of the most common weapons of the apocalypse resulting in the surface being a vast wasteland. D-rays can also be dialed back to stun instead of kill.
  • In Everyday Heroes, Dr. Unpleasant has invented the Hyperframmiton™ Ray.
  • Many death rays in Girl Genius work like this. At one point, Agatha builds one (seen in here) that can zap huge holes in walls (and mountains), much to the distress of the castle she's in at the time. One particular instance has Agatha threaten to "put a hole the size of the Castle" in a man who was trying to kill her; the Castle crushes the man into paste before she gets the chance to deliver.
  • In Homestuck, Lord English has a shoop-da-whoop beam attack that can disintegrate even the souls of the dead wandering the dream bubbles of the outer ring which was a terrible shock to the fans, who until that point believed the dead would stick around and so nobody would "really" be killed
  • In Life With Lamarr, Magnusson uses the Neek Ray, which he later fits into his pet T-Rex's eye sockets.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Redcloak and Vaarsuvius both use Disintegrate as a go-to high-level spell for single targets. A big part of this is the fact that Redcloak especially looks completely badass when using it. It doesn't always work, though.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, the titular amorph is particularly fond of these. Schlock is especially fond of the soothing sound (read "ominous hum") his plasgun makes, and is immediately put off when offered one that comes without it.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In the episode "I Can't Stan You", Stan fights with another CIA agent over a disintegrator, and accidentally blasts the other agent with it; apparently, Stan mistakenly believed it to be a penis enlarger until then. "That almost went horribly wrong!"
  • In Ben 10: Omniverse, we find out that there's a gun of this type that's so dangerous because the "know when to stop disintegrating" feature these guns seem to have isn't foolproof. It somehow reads a target's DNA and sets about disassembling just the target. However, the DNA of one human is close enough to the next that if you shot a human with it, the effect would spread and everyone for hundreds of miles would get atomized. Big Bad Malware getting his hands on it would be a very bad thing indeed. In the end it's used on him. He's powerful enough by this point that he can reassemble himself even from that. And he does get to keep the thing. Oh, and that was just a bonus, it wasn't what he'd been after in the first place.
  • Bravestarr's mentor Jingles Morgan used this kind of weapon in "Fallen Idol". Bravestarr rightfully called it "a dangerous weapon", and admired Morgan for his ability to use it properly. This admiration was misplaced; he later discovered that his hero was wanted for murder, having used the weapon to kill someone after losing his temper. Unlike most depictions of such weapons, in this show it burns a hole through its target the size and shape of the beam but will not an object (or person) in one shot.
  • Bugs Bunny in Mad as a Mars Hare accidentally partially-disintegrates Marvin, requiring him to take a trip to a nearby "Reintegrator" device to get restored, while muttering "Being disintegrated makes me angry!"
  • Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century parodies this trope more than once: First Daffy/Dodgers dares Marvin the Martian to shoot him with his disintegrating ray because Dodgers is "wearing his disintegration-proof vest." Marvin fires, and the vest is the only thing not reduced to dust. (Fortunately for Daffy, his sidekick Porky restores him with an integrating pistol.) Then, when Dodgers tries to retaliate:
    Duck Dodgers: Ha-ha! Got the drop on you with my disintegrating pistol! And brother, when it disintegrates, it disintegrates!
    (Dodgers pulls trigger, pistol crumbles into dust.)
    Duck Dodgers: Heh, well, what do you know... it disintegrated.
  • The Ghost Dematerializer, preferred weapon of Filmation's Ghostbusters, functions as one of these, but it only works on ghosts, temporarily sending them to another dimension.
  • In Futurama Professor Farnsworth sells cheap disintegrator rays that actually just teleport people a few feet away, making it appear as though they've disintegrated until anyone bothers to look.
  • Heavy Metal: The "Harry Canyon" segment takes places in a futuristic, grungy New York City, where the protagonist, a cab driver protects himself from would-be robbers (and eventually a two-timing archeologist's daughter) with a hidden disintegrator activated by a button hidden under the gas pedal. It's implied that, because nobody outside of one world-wise, career criminal realizes until it's too late, this is not the norm for taxi cabs in the future, rather a personal choice by the driver himself.
  • Many The Herculoids villains had these, including the Electrode Men.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy finds a strange egg from outer space that shoots rays like this, not that he ever noticed.
  • One of several uses Kim Possible villain Shego makes of her powers.
  • Depending on the Writer, Kang and Kodos sometimes have these on the Halloween Episode of The Simpsons. (Kodos once vaporized the whole studio audience of The Jerry Springer Show.)
  • Space Ghost
    • "The Web". As a man escapes from the lair of the Black Widow he fires a weapon at a giant Insectoid Alien that reduces it to dust.
    • "Attack of the Saucer Crab". The title device has a weapon that it uses to annihilate a building and destroy the occupant. Jan specifically calls it a "disintegrator ray".
  • Star Wars Rebels: "Heroes of Mandalore" reveals this is the ultimate effect of the weapon that Sabine created for the Empire. It superheats an alloy found only in Mandalorian armor and turns its wearer into ash.
  • In the Teen Titans (2003) episode "X", Dr. Chang builds a xenotium-powered disintegrator cannon capable of destroying the whole city.
  • In The Transformers, Soundwave, the scientist-type of the Decepticons has an Arm Cannon laser that works this way, vaporizing anything it hits.
  • The Smurfs (2021): In "Diaper Daddy", the titlular character disintegrates Baby's diaper when he's finished with The Diaper Change.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series had Cable's gun as a somewhat more bombastic version of this: anything hit by it would fizzle with energy for a few seconds and then violently blow to bits. (Needless to say, this was never successfully deployed against a living target.)

    Real Life 
  • Something like this is theorized to happen within a black hole. Radiation contained within it, unable to leave the hole, is blueshifted by its gravity (read: gains more and more energy), as well as matter that falls into it, as if the hole was a particle accelerator. The energy gained by both is so high, comparable to the ones that existed during the Big Bang, that anything hit by it is said to end far worse than just disintegrated.note 
  • Radiation from nuclear reactors can weaken metals and eventually disintegrate them; risking a loss of reactor containment. This usually takes years, but matters when setting the design lifetime for a reactor.


Video Example(s):


J.W. Globwobbler Gets "Fired"

After Tom and Jerry wins The Fabulous Super Race, they were tied however which J.W. Globwobbler informs that their contract says they have to do the race all over again. They don't take this well and beat the living daylights out of him. J.W. then starts hazily rambling about how Hollywood is going to be good, earnest, family-friendly entertainment. The president of Hollywood's thinly-veiled Take That! response before vaporizing him and giving Irving his position as new head of Globwobbler Studios? "We can't have that kind of attitude in Hollywood." After spending most of the film being the beleaguered assistant to J.W., Irving finally gets the fame and glory that he deserves.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / DisproportionateRetribution

Media sources: